Jun 23, 2018

Germany’s fighter jet race could start dropping bidders this summer

A multibillion dollar program to replace the German military’s Tornado aircraft is nearing another round of decisions that could narrow the field of bidders.
The due date for a “quality gate” review, as the wide-ranging analysis is called in Bundeswehr jargon, has been on the calendar for this month. But officials now say the exercise could last through the summer.
The discussions are principally about realizing an extended service life for the 1970s-era Tornados, though exactly by how long remains to be seen. Closely linked to that question is an examination of what potential follow-on aircraft are best suited to pick up the legacy planes’ roles in a variety of life-span scenarios.
Officials emphasize that no decision has been made on who will build the new planes to replace roughly 90 Tornados.
A formal competition is expected to begin later this year or early 2019 among those aircraft types still deemed suitable by the government at that time. In the running is the Eurofigher Typhoon, Lockheed Martin’s F-35, and Boeing’s F-15 and F-18.

M-346 Possible new trainer for Spanish Air Force

i2taly wanted to show the capabilities of the advanced air trainer M-346 to the Spanish Air Force,during acts of "75 years of Academia General del Aire". Ejercito del Aire needs a new system to replace the old phased out C-101.

Turkey’s first F-35 officially to be delivered in ceremony June 21 despite US Senate opposition

A highly anticipated ceremony for the delivery of Turkey’s first two F-35 fighter jets from the United States will take place at the defense contractor Lockheed Martin’s headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas on June 21, despite successive attempts by the U.S. Congress to block the supply of the new generation fighters to its NATO ally.
Lockheed Martin will conduct a rollout ceremony in Fort Worth and the jets will move on to Luke Air Force Base in Arizona where Turkish F-35 pilots and technicians will receive training.
Turkey has been a partner of the active development program of the U.S.-led multinational Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program since the early 2000s and plans to upgrade its air defense with around 100 F-35s in the next decade.
June 21’s ceremony will mark an historic milestone in this regard for the delivery of the first batch of F-35s to Turkey.

Boeing set to deliver first KC-46 aerial tanker to USAF in October

Boeing has reached an agreement with the US Air Force to deliver its first KC-46 Pegasus tanker in October 2018.
The Chicago-based aerospace manufacturer was contracted to deliver the first batch of 18 KC-46s by August 2017 but missed that deadline after having production issues. The USAF said it now expects that the first 18 aircraft will be delivered by April 2019.
This agreement paves the way for delivery of the first new tanker to the USAF 16.5 years after the US Senate first proposed a replacement plan for the Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker, a 1950s-era tanker.
The first KC-46 will be delivered to McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas. Then, aircraft will be delivered to Altus AFB in Oklahoma and Pease AFB in New Hampshire. Boeing said it now has 43 aircraft in some stage of production, including 34 aircraft which are now in the final stages of build.

Jun 16, 2018

Dutch Air Force Assembling Their F-35 in Italy

Assembly is underway in Italy on a F-35 Joint Strike Fighter destined for the Netherlands Air Force.
The Netherlands is planning to assemble most of its F-35s at the line at Cameri in northern Italy, where Italian Air Force and Navy F-35s are already being assembled.
Dutch secretary of state for defense, Barbara Visser, attended a ceremony at Cameri on Thursday to mark the start of the work on Dutch aircraft.
The aircraft is the ninth of the Netherlands’ order of 37 F-35As. The first eight are being assembled at Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth facility in the U.S.
The first Dutch F-35 assembled in the U.S. will roll off the Fort Worth line in January 2019 and will head to Luke Air Base for pilot training, said Plankman. “Six or seven of those assembled in the U.S. will go to Luke,” he added.
Under a deal struck with the Italian government, the remaining 29 Dutch aircraft will all be assembled at Cameri, which is owned by the Italian government and operated by Italian state-controled defense firm Leonardo in partnership with Lockheed Martin.
AN9 will be completed in February 2019 before undertaking test flights in Italy and heading to the Netherlands around October 2019. “It will be the first F-35 to arrive in the Netherlands,” said Plankman.
Cameri has already delivered F-35As to the Italian Air Force, which are flying from Italy’s Amendola Air Base.
In January, the first F-35B to be assembled outside the U.S., which is destined to fly with the Italian Navy, was handed over to Italy at Cameri.
Italy is currently due to purchase 60 F-35 As and 30 F-35Bs.

Jun 6, 2018

First Four RAF F-35 fighter jets land in UK


The first of Britain’s next-generation fighter jets, the F-35B Lightning have arrived home two months ahead of schedule in a major milestone for the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy.
The first of Britain’s new cutting-edge aircraft arrived into RAF Marham, their new home in Norfolk. They touched down this evening after a trans-Atlantic flight from the United States, where Britain has more of the jets and 150 personnel in training.
The F-35s took off from Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort earlier today, and were flown by British pilots of the newly-reformed 617 Squadron, which was immortalised by the famous Dambusters’ raid of World War II.

Jun 5, 2018

Turkey to take delivery of first F-35 on Jun. 21 at Fort Worth

Turkish authorities have received an official invitation to receive the country's first next-generation F-35 Lightning II jet on June 21 at Fort Worth.
Turkey's first F-35A will enter service in November 2019 after the completion of a pilot training program. The other jets will start coming at regular intervals.

China Navy Liaoning carrier group reaches initial operational capability

China’s first aircraft carrier group, formed around the carrier Liaoning , has reached initial operational capability (IOC).
The exercises conducted by the carrier group have become more demanding and “the carrier formation’s comprehensive system of offence and defence has been effectively tested”, MND spokesperson told reporters during a press conference.
Although training and developing a cadre of pilots capable of operating the carrier-borne J-15s at sea has been a dominant activity since the commissioning of Liaoning , the carrier has also completed several exercises with its escort group.
According to the state-owned China Daily newspaper, Liaoning and its escorts headed into the South China Sea after taking part in the Fleet Review on 12 April, and “conducted a series of combat training operations, practising air defence, anti-ship and anti-submarine tactics, and strikes against land targets”.
Following these exercises, the carrier and its escort group sailed east of Taiwan and into the Western Pacific where they conducted further training, which “involved sophisticated situations in the air and on the water” and tested the commanders’ ability “to make decisions when faced with complicated circumstances”.
The group was monitored at the time by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).

Jun 3, 2018

Kazakhstan to boost Su-30SM fleet

Announced during the KADEX exhibition in Astana on 24 May, the new deal is for an undisclosed number of aircraft. "The contract will be completed in 2020," says Irkut.
The Kazakhstan air force has eight Su-30SMs in active use, with these aged at up to three years. A further 17 examples were already on order prior to the new deal being announced. Astana had previously expressed interest in acquiring up to another 11 of the two-seat type. The Kazakhstan air force also operates 12 single-seat Su-27s.

Sweden set to close Patriot missile deal

Sweden will close a deal in the next few weeks with U.S. arms maker Raytheon Co (RTN.N) to buy the Patriot air defense missile system as it modernizes its armed forces amid heightened tensions with Russia.
Moscow’s brief war with Georgia in 2008 and its annexation of the Crimea Peninsula six years later has pushed Sweden, not a NATO member but with close ties to the alliance, to rebuild its armed forces after decades of neglect.
Sweden’s current air defense system, which is over a decade old, cannot shoot down enemy ballistic robots.
The Patriot deal would includes fo r firing units, parts, training and an undisclosed number of missiles.
The contract also includes an option to expand the purchase to up to 300 missiles. Delivery is expected to start in 2021.

US Air Force Reapers are now flying ISR missions from Poland

The U.S. Air Force’s MQ-9 Reaper drone quietly started flights from Miroslawiec Air Base, Poland, in May, but the service isn’t saying exactly why.
In response to a query, U.S. Air Forces in Europe would only say that the Reapers will be unarmed and only used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance for its “strategic location in Eastern Europe.”

US Air Force F-22 Raptors are back at Kadena for the first time since 2014

F-22A Raptors this week returned to Kadena Air Base in Japan for the first time in more than three years, the Air Force said.
In a release, Pacific Air Forces said that the fifth-generation fighters, aircrew and support personnel were from the 525th Fighter Squadron at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska.
They are taking part in the theater security package program under the recently-renamed U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, which is intended to “signify a continued commitment to regional stability and security.”
In a follow-up email, the 18th Wing at Kadena said that fourteen Raptors are deploying there. They will also train with local assigned units, the 18th said.

Watch some Spanish Air Force / Ejército del Aire Patches


May 31, 2018

Lebanon Air Force received a second batch of four Super-Tucano

The army's Air Force on Tuesday afternoon took over the second batch of the four super-Tucano planes, a donation from the US authorities in favor of the Lebanese army.

Germany near to lease five Heron TP, To Be based in Israel, only for Intel missions

Germany — Government leaders are close to winning parliamentary approval for the country’s first weapons-capable drone, pitching a plan this week to lease the aircraft now and negotiate for the missiles later.
The plan is to lease five aircraft from manufacturer Israel Aerospace Industries, managed by Airbus under a contract to be finalized in June. The fleet would be stationed in Israel and, lacking missiles, simply provide intelligence for German forces.
The deal with industry includes having the aircraft available for deployment into a conflict zone within two years of contract signing.
The Heron TP is something of a trial balloon for Germany in the field of armed drones. An envisioned joint European drone project — with Germany, France, Italy at the core — is widely expected to produce a strike-capable unmanned aircraft by roughly the middle of the next decade. Still, officials are making a distinction in the so-called “Eurodrone” program, arguing that the base configuration will include a reconnaissance capability only, to be augmented by weapons if national policy permits it.
General Atomics last year fought, but lost in court, the Berlin government’s decision to effectively sole-source the drone deal to Israel without giving the U.S. company a chance to bid.

May 26, 2018

Pakistan signs for T129 attack helos

Pakistan has formally signed for 30 TAI T129 attack helicopters from Turkey, it was disclosed on 24 May.
The confirmation of the anticipated sale to Pakistan was made in the political manifesto that Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) has released ahead of the general election scheduled for June. The manifesto states that “a very short while ago a contract for the sale of 30 attack helicopters was signed with Pakistan”.
Pakistan is known to have evaluated the Turkish-built version of the AgustaWestland A129 Mangusta as part of an ongoing effort to procure a new attack helicopter for the country’s army. With the Pakistan Army having already ordered 12 US-built Bell AH-1Z Vipers, it had since 2014 been trialling the Chinese-built Z-10 and since 2016 the T129.
Gareth Jennings, London - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

Spanish Navy ESPS "Juan Carlos I", arrives in Kuwait, for Helicopter Mission In Iraq

Spanish Navy Flagship Aicraft Carrier 'Juan Carlos I', arrived in Kuwait carrying three CH-47D Chinook and two AS-532 Cougar in support of Operation "Inherent Resolve" in Iraq, according EMAD.
The unit will operate out from iraqi city of Taji, carrying out transport missions between, Bagdad, Besmayah and Taji and is under command of Gala Gallego, from Batallón de Helicópteros de Maniobra IV (Bhelma IV).
The Spanish Helicopters will support Spanish Forces deployed in Iraq, and another from International Coalition against Daesh.
Juan Carlos I, is being scorted by ESPS 'Blas de Lezo' Type F-100 frigate.

May 24, 2018

Germany cleared by US State Department to Buy 6 KC/C-130Js

The U.S. State Department has cleared the potential sale of three C-130J-30 Super Hercules airlifter and three KC-130J tankers to Germany.
The aircraft are meant to help the German Air Force conduct airlift, air refueling and air drop missions as part of a French-German allied squadron based in Evreux, France. The C-130Js would provide crucial air refueling capability to German and French fighter and light transport aircraft, as well as helicopters, according to the annoucement.

Philippines to receive Cobra helicopter from Jordan

The Philippines has confirmed it is to receive used U.S.-built Cobra helicopter gunships donated by Jordan, marking the first time the country will operate dedicated attack helicopters.
The helicopters were offered to the Philippines sometime in 2017.
Jordan had initially offered to donate four helicopters to the southeast Asian country, although this was later reduced to two. Jordan had earlier donated at least three Cobra helicopter gunships to Kenya from its fleet of almost 50 Cobras, which include ex-U.S. Army helicopters acquired in 2001 and 15 more from neighboring Israel in 2015.
The AH-1F Cobras being donated to the Philippines are capable of utilizing guided anti-tank missiles. The country has already taken delivery of the Israeli Rafael Spike Extended Range missile for its Navy’s fast-attack craft and selected the Spike Non Line Of Sight for its Leonardo AW159 Wildcat naval helicopters,
As such, integrating the Spike, which is already being used on Israel’s Cobra helicopters, would appear to be the likely route for the Philippines when funding is available.
The Philippines has been battling insurgencies on several fronts, including a five-month-long battle with Islamic State-linked militants who seized control of the city of Marawi in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao in May 2017.
The military took back the city after a protracted urban battle with the help of manned and unmanned surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft from the U.S. and Australia.
During the battle, the Philippine Air Force conducted airstrikes using fixed-wing aircraft along with Leonardo A109E utility and Hughes MD-520MG light-attack helicopters, although the use of unguided bombs, rockets and gunfire resulted in several instances of friendly fire casualties when troops were accidentally hit by airstrikes while in close contact with the militants.
Mike Yeo - defensenews

US drones being based in Greece for the first time

The U.S. Air Force has begun using MQ-9 Reaper drones out of Larisa Air Force Base, located halfway down Greece’s eastern side, near the Aegean Sea.the aircraft are being temporarily stationed at Larisa while their usual base in Africa undergoes repairs.
The drones are being stationed at Larisa under the aegis of an existing joint training order between the two nations.

May 20, 2018

The First Four F-35B For Royal Navy arriving in UK Next Month

Four F-35Bs will arrive in the first tranche of stealth fighters to transfer from the USA to the UK, flying into RAF Marham in East Anglia.
The Norfolk air base will be the home of the Lightning Force – when the strike fighters are not embarked on HMS Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales.
Two Royal Navy and two RAF pilots will be at the controls of the multi-million pound aircraft for the transatlantic flight; they are assigned to the newly-reformed – and legendary – 617 Squadron, the Dambusters.

May 9, 2018

Afghanistan begins Black Hawk operations

The Afghan Air Force (AAF) flew its first operational mission with its recently acquired Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters on 7 May.
The mission, which was disclosed by the 438th Air Expeditionary Wing, saw at least three helicopters fly in support of Afghan provincial elections.
The AAF is set to receive 159 Black Hawks by 2020 as the United States transitions the country’s armed forces over from its approximately 80 Russian-built Mil Mi-17 ‘Hip’ helicopters that are nearing the end of their service lives. To date, eight have been received over two batches in September 2017 and January 2018, with the first six pilots having graduated from training in November 2017.
Before entering into Afghan service, these former US Army aircraft first undergo a major refurbishment and upgrade.

May 5, 2018

Germany To Acquire 6 C-130J Super Hercules

The US State Department approved the sale of six Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules transport and tanker aircraft to Germany for an estimated $1.4 billion, according to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.
The approval comes as the aircraft’s larger European competitor, Airbus Defence & Space’s A400M transport aircraft, has struggled with production issues and has ramped down its delivery rate. Germany is a launch customer for the A400M, along with European NATO nations Spain, Belgium, Britain, France, Luxembourg and Turkey.
Lockheed Martin’s potential sale includes three C-130J-30s, the stretch version of the aircraft, and three KC-130Js, the aerial refueling version of the aircraft.

USAF Next-generation B-21 bomber will be headed to 3 bases

The Air Force has identified Ellsworth, Dyess and Whiteman Air Force Bases as the upcoming homes for the in-development B-21 Raider long-range stealth bomber.
The U.S. Air Force says bases in Missouri, South Dakota and Texas will receive the next-generation B-21 bomber to replace existing aircraft starting in the mid-2020s.
The Air Force said Wednesday that Dyess Air Force Base in Texas, Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota and Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri have been chosen as “reasonable alternatives ” to host the new B-21 bomber.
Officials are expected to make a final basing decision in 2019 after compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act and other regulations. The B-21 is to replace B-1 and B-2 aircraft.

US Air Force B-52s patrol South China Sea

The Air Force on April 24 flew B-52H Stratofortress bombers to the South China Sea as part of a training mission.
Pacific Air Forces spokeswoman Lt. Col. Megan Schafer said the B-52s took off from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, where they conducted a training mission in the vicinity of the South China Sea. The bombers then flew to the Okinawa, Japan, area to train with American F-15C Strike Eagles before returning to Guam.
The bombers were among six B-52s the Air Force deployed to Guam from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana in January.

Russian SU-27 jet buzzes US P-8 over Baltic Sea

A P-8 Poseidon was intercepted by a Russian jet over the Baltic Sea on Tuesday. A Russian jet came within 20 feet of a Navy surveillance aircraft as it flew in international airspace over the Baltic Sea on Tuesday, CNN reported.
The intercept involving the Russian Su-27 jet and a Navy P-8 Poseidon was considered safe, but unprofessional. Tuesday’s intercept follows a January incident, when a Su-27 flew within 5 feet of a EP-3 Aries spy plane flying in international airspace over the Black Sea, forcing the American aircraft to fly through the Russian jet’s flight wash.

May 1, 2018

Finland’s HX program takes next step

The Finnish government has issued a request for quotation (RfQ) to four nations in order to find potential bidders for Helsinki’s HX fighter replacement programme.
Finland has requested bids from France, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States, all of which responded to the request for information that was issued in 2016.
Those bidding for the replacement of the Boeing F/A-18C/D Hornet fleet are Boeing with its upgraded F/A-18E/F Super Hornet; Dassault with the Rafale; Eurofighter with the Typhoon; Saab with the Gripen; and Lockheed Martin with the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.
The government is seeking 64 aircraft with weapons and sensors, alongside support, training systems, and spares.
“To reduce the risk involved in the integration of different systems, the tenderers are requested to provide comprehensive solutions meeting the operational requirements,” the government said in a statement.
Finland will begin to phase out its Hornet fleet from 2025, and a selection of the replacement is expected to be made in 2021.
The next phase following the RfQ issue is to begin in the second half of 2019, when final offers will be negotiated with each of the bidders. The final quotations would be requested in 2020, the government said.
The bids will be assessed based on the ability to meet five military scenarios: counter-air; counter-land; counter-sea; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and long-range strike.

Apr 29, 2018

Study Concludes that Japan Izumo-class Vessels able to operate F-35B

The Defense Ministry commissioned a study into the possible conversion of the Maritime Self-Defense Force's Izumo helicopter carrier into a full-fledged aircraft carrier in case Japan was required to provide rear-line support for a U.S.-led war.
The ministry in April 2017 asked Japan Marine United Corp., a Tokyo-based company that built the vessel, to look into ways to improve the capabilities of the Izumo.
Japan Marine United submitted its report to the Defense Ministry in March and the ministry released details, with some bits blacked out, on April 27.
The report states that the Defense Ministry's precondition for the study was to look into how the Izumo could be used to provide rear-line support to the U.S. military.
The company was asked to provide estimates for the cost and construction schedule if changes were made to allow U.S. F-35B stealth fighter jets to land vertically on the deck and to use elevators to transport aircraft to their hangars.

Japan Pitches P-1 for France and Germany maritime patrol aircraft requirement

Japan is offering its Kawasaki P-1 maritime patrol aircraft for a Franco-German requirement for a new aircraft. The move is part of the island nation’s efforts to secure its first major arms sale since a self-imposed ban on arms exports following World War II was lifted four years ago.
Two P-1s are currently in Berlin, Germany, participating in the ILA 2018 air show, with Reuters, citing Japanese government sources, reporting that Japan has asked P-1 manufacturer Kawasaki Heavy Industries, or KHI, to explore possible partnerships with France’s Dassault Aviation and Thales.
France and Germany are in the preliminary stages of a program to find a “European solution” to replace their respective anti-submarine maritime patrol aircraft. Their defense ministers are due to sign a letter of intent to formalize the plan at the air show, and a road map for the program is expected by June.
France wants to replace its Breguet Atlantique turboprop anti-submarine aircraft, and Germany is looking for a new platform to take over from the Lockheed Martin P-3C Orion it currently operates.
KHI will almost certainly face competition from Airbus for the Franco-German program. The European aerospace giant recently launched a military variant for its popular A320neo civil airliner, which it says can be customized for a wide variety of roles and missions depending on customer requirements.
Other potential contenders for the program include Boeing’s P-8A Poseidon multimission aircraft and possibly Saab’s Swordfish.

Apr 28, 2018

‘Eurodrone’ model unveiled at Berlin Air Show

Airbus, Dassault and Leonardo have revealed the first full-scale model of an envisioned European drone at the Berlin Air Show, upping the the visibility ― and scrutiny ― of a project meant to epitomize the continent’s growing military profile.
The medium-altitude, long-endurance aircraft rides on a twin-turboprop propulsion system and will come in a strike-capable configuration when it reaches the actual flying stage in the mid-2020s. Germany, France, Italy and Spain have a hand in the program, though only the first three are considered the principal main industry partners, with Germany’s Airbus in the lead.
Notably, companies are building the unmanned plane so it can operate immediately in the dense European airspace. Past practice of first acquiring a drone and later worrying about requisite certifications has proven to be problematic, especially for the Germans.
The mock-up is based on a vehicle configuration agreed by the partner nations in mid-2017.