Sep 30, 2013

Iran's Revolutionary Guard unveils attack drone

Iran unveiled  an unmanned attack aircraft described as its most sophisticated drone to date that can reach much of the Middle East, including Israel.
The Shahed-129, or Witness-129, has a range of 1,700 kilometers (1,050 miles), a 24-hour non-stop flight capability and can carry eight bombs or missiles capable of hitting both stationary and moving targets.Iran frequently makes announcements about strides in military technology, but it is virtually impossible to independently determine the actual capabilities or combat worthiness of the weapons it produces.
Also is announced that a copy of the RQ-170 Sentinel drone will be built soon.

RAF's Merlin 10 Years on Ops

The RAF Merlin Force is celebrating its return from 10 years of continual operational deployments following the withdrawal from Afghanistan. The RAF Merlins, which are based at RAF Benson, Oxfordshire first deployed to Bosnia in 2003 and have since provided essential helicopter lift for land forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
With the first Merlin helicopters being delivered in 2001, the Merlin Force spent the next two years training relentlessly to operate the technologically sophisticated aircraft. On 31 March 2003 they achieved Initial Operating Capability and a day later they deployed to Bosnia in support of Operation OCULUS: the start of the Merlin Force’s enduring commitment to operations that has lasted for over 10 years.
The Merlin deployed to Bosnia in support of the UK’s continuing commitment to Peace Support Operations in the Balkans Region as part of the Stabilisation Force. The SFOR logo was fitted to the side of the aircraft and, from its base at the Banja Luka Metal Factory, the Merlin immediately set to work providing aviation support in the form of moving troops and supplies by air.

Turkey Pushes T-129 Gunships for Pakistan, but US Could Scupper Deal

Turkey is aggressively lobbying to give T-129 attack helicopters to Pakistan to replace its aging AH-1F fleet and is prepared to agree to generous terms with cash-strapped Pakistan to do so.
However, the US could sink the deal and make a counteroffer of helicopter gunships to Pakistan that could be too good to refuse.
Pakistani media reports state a deal with Turkey could lead to local production of the T-129 at Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC), but speculation that preparations are already underway to build a new helicopter production facility there could not be confirmed.
Turkey made its latest push during Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Sept. 16-18 visit to Turkey for the Third High Level Cooperation Council meeting. Sharif was given a demonstration of the T-129’s capabilities and a potential deal was discussed.
Turkish officials confirmed talks have “matured to a certain extent,” and Turkey remains committed to any possible deal, not only for financial benefits but also potential strategic gains.
Azerbaijan is reportedly looking to buy 60 T-129 helicopters. Jordan’s King Abdullah, who was in Turkey in March, visited Turkish Aerospace Industries, co-maker of the T-129, and examined both the helicopter gunship and Turkey’s first locally-developed drone, the Anka.
Despite Turkey’s hopes, however, the US might try to tempt Pakistan with a deal for the AH-1Z Viper helicopter.
No one at the defense section in the US Embassy would comment on the matter, but details were confirmed by sources in Pakistan familiar with the deal.
Pakistan has been awarded US $300 million in foreign military financing for FY2013-2014, which could be used to procure the Viper attack helicopters, made by Bell.

Airbus Delivers First A400M Military Transport Plane to French Air Force

After years of delays and huge cost overruns, Airbus on Sept. 30 delivered its first A400M, handing over the huge turboprop to France.
The pan-European aircraft maker hopes the official handover ceremony at the Airbus Military plant in Seville will launch strong sales to air forces worldwide following a difficult birth.
The French minister, who was returning to a military base in Orleans aboard the plane after the ceremony, said France still planned to take 50 of the A400M aircraft, which has propellers more than 5 meters (16 feet) long.
But the minister, who celebrated the A400M as a "technological feat," said France would take only 15 planes "right now" in its 2014-19 supply program currently being debated in parliament.

Indonesia Reveals Plan to Boost Defense and replace F-5s

The Indonesian Defense Force is set to receive an upgrade with plans to train more pilots and add eight new squadrons of fighter jets, by 2024.
The military also hopes to replace its old F-5 Tiger fighter aircraft with aircraft that are more advanced both in terms of technology and weaponry.

Pentagon finalizes $7.8 billion in F-35 contracts with Lockheed

The U.S. Defense Department said it signed a $4.4 billion contract for a sixth batch of 36 F-35 aircraft, with the average cost of the planes down 2.5 percent from the previous deal. All but $743 million of that amount had already been awarded to the company under a preliminary contract.
The two sides also signed a $3.4 billion contract for 35 aircraft in a seventh batch, which reflected a 6 percent drop in the average price from the fifth group.

Iran unveils its RQ-21 clone

Iran has unveiled an indigenous UAV dubbed Yasir that looks like a clone of the Boeing Insitu RQ-21.

El Príncipe de Asturias preside en Sevilla la entrega del primer A-400M a Francia

El Príncipe de Asturias entregará este lunes en Sevilla el primer avión de transporte militar A400M a Francia en un acto simbólico en la factoría de EADS-CASA en San Pablo, en Sevilla. A partir de ahora aumentará progresivamente el ritmo de producción. A finales de 2015 se harán dos aviones y medio al mes.

Sep 29, 2013

Chinese Media Takes Aim at J-15 Fighter

In an unusual departure for mainland Chinese-language media, the Beijing-based Sina Military Network (SMN) criticized the capabilities of the carrier-borne J-15 Flying Shark as nothing more than a “flopping fish.”
On Sept. 22, the state-controlled China Daily Times reported the new aircraft carrier Liaoning had just finished a three-month voyage and conducted over 100 sorties of “various aircraft,” of which the J-15 “took off and landed on the carrier with maximum load and various weapons.” This report was also carried on the official Liberation Army Daily.
Contradicting any report by official military or government media is unusual in China given state control of the media.
What sounded more like a rant than analysis, SMN, on Sept. 23, reported the new J-15 was incapable of flying from the Liaoning with heavy weapons, “effectively crippling its attack range and firepower.”
The fighter can take off and land on the carrier with two YJ-83K anti-ship missiles, two PL-8 air-to-air missiles, and four 500-kilogram bombs. But a weapons “load exceeding 12 tons will not get it off the carrier’s ski jump ramp.” This might prohibit it from carrying heavier munitions such as PL-12 medium-range air-to-air missiles.
To further complicate things, the J-15 can carry only two tons of weapons while fully fueled. “This would equip it with no more than two YJ-83K and two PL-8 missiles,” thus the “range of the YJ-83K prepared for the fighter will be shorter than comparable YJ-83K missiles launched from larger PLAN [People’s Liberation Army Navy] vessels. The J-15 will be boxed into less than 120 [kilometers] of attack range.”
Losing the ability to carry the PL-12 medium-range air-to-air missiles will make the J-15 an “unlikely match” against other foreign carrier-based fighters.
“Even the Vietnam People’s Air Force can outmatch the PL-8 short-range missile. Without space for an electronic countermeasure pod, a huge number of J-15s must be mobilized for even simple missions, a waste for the PLA Navy in using the precious space aboard its sole aircraft carrier in service.”
Built by the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation, the J-15 is a copy of the Russian-made Su-33. China acquired an Su-33 prototype from the Ukraine in 2001. Avionics are most likely the same as the J-11B (Su-27). In 2006, Russia accused China of reverse engineering the Su-27 and canceled a production license to build 200 Su-27s after only 95 aircraft had been built.
Vasily Kashin, a China military specialist at the Moscow-based Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, suggests the J-15 might be a better aircraft than the Su-33. “I think that there might be some improvements because electronic equipment now weighs less than in the 1990s,” he said. It could also be lighter due to new composites that China is using on the J-11B that were not available on the original Su-33.
Despite improvements, Kashin wonders why the Chinese bothered with the Su-33 given the fact that Russia gave up on it. Weight problems and other issues forced the Russians to develop the MiG-29K, which has better power-to-weight ratio and can carry more weapons. “Of course, when the Chinese get their future carriers equipped with catapults, that limitation will not apply and they will be able to fully realize Su-33/J-15 potential — huge range and good payload,” Kashin said.
The Liaoning is the problem. The carrier is small — 53,000 tons — and uses a ski jump. From Russia’s experience, “taking off from the carrier with takeoff weight exceeding some 26 tons is very difficult,” Kashin said.
A possible answer is that it was unable to take off with both. “The article says that it can only carry ‘two tons’ of missiles and munitions when fully fueled, which is 4,400 pounds, and two YJ-83s plus two PL-8s would weigh over 4,000 pounds, leaving no margin for any PL-12s. But I don’t see why it couldn’t take off with PL-12s if it wasn’t carrying YJ-83s.” Cliff concludes that the J-15 should be capable of carrying PL-12s when it is flying purely air-to-air missions and that “it probably just can’t carry PL-12s when it is flying a strike mission.”
Kashin said the J-15, unlike the Su-33, should have a “potent” internal countermeasures suite, thus allowing for more space for weapons. The SMN report suggests it has an external electronic countermeasures (ECM) pod.
Weight issues should also not be too much of a problem for the J-15, he said, since the Su-33 did fly from the same type of carrier carrying “6-8 air-to-air missiles and Sorbtsia ECM pods carrying something like 6 to 6.5 tons of fuel.”
China’s next carriers will reportedly use electromagnetic catapults, Kashin said, but “limitations are significant when it comes to air-to-surface weapons, which limit the J-15’s use as a multirole fighter.

Sep 27, 2013

Taiwan's Navy Launches Surface-to-Air Missile

Taiwan’s navy launched its premier surface-to-air missile from the deck of a warship Thursday, its first test of the weapon in six years, destroying a drone simulating a Chinese air attack.
The US-made Standard II missile, fired from the Kidd-class Makung destroyer, soared into the skies over the ocean dozens of miles east off Hualien, eastern Taiwan, hitting the drone.

Japan Requests AWACS Upgrade

Japan is looking to purchase a Mission Computing Upgrade (MCU) for its four E-767 Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) platforms.
The potential deal, disclosed on the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) website Friday morning, would net contractor Boeing an estimated $950 million.
The MCU would include a quartet of Electronic Support Measure systems, eight AN/UPX-40 Next Generation Identify Friend or Foe systems, eight AN/APX-119 IFF Transponders, and four Raytheon-developed KIV-77 Cryptographic Computers. Also included in the proposed deal are support and test equipment, as well as engineering and technical support.
The deal will require “multiple trips” to Japan involving both the US government and contractors over a period of eight years.
The E-767 is an AWACS platform designed for Japan. It is similar to the US E-3 Sentry, some of which are based at Kadena Air Force Base in Japan.

U.S. F-22 stealth fighter pilot taunted Iranian F-4 Phantom combat planes over the Persian Gulf

Earlier this year, Pentagon Press Secretary, said that an IRIAF F-4 Phantom attempted to intercept a U.S. MQ-1 drone flying in international airspace off Iran.
IRIAF F-4 Phantom jets came to about 16 miles from the UAV but broke off pursuit after they were broadcast a warning message by two American planes escorting the Predator.
The episode happened in March 2013, few months after a two Sukhoi Su-25 attack planes attempted to shoot down an American MQ-1 flying a routine surveillance flight in international airspace some 16 miles off Iran, the interception of the unmanned aircraft failed. After this attempted interception the Pentagon decided to escort the drones involved in ISR (intelligence surveillance reconnaissance) missions with fighter jets, either F-18 Hornets with the CVW 9 embarked on the USS John C. Stennis whose Carrier Strike Group is currently in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility or F-22 Raptors like those deployed to Al Dhafra in the UAE.
New details about the episode were recently disclosed by Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh who on Sept. 17 not only confirmed that the fighter jets providing HVAAE (High Value Air Asset Escort) were F-22 stealth fighters but also said that:
“He [the Raptor pilot] flew under their aircraft [the F-4s] to check out their weapons load without them knowing that he was there, and then pulled up on their left wing and then called them and said ‘you really ought to go home’”

Belarus to upgrade its Mig-29 Fulcrum fighter jets

As reported, the Belarusian Air Force has withdrwan from use its Su-27 Flanker fleet.
Nonetheless it still operates several MiG-29 Fulcrums. The news is that these aircraft are to be modernized.
The modernization programme has been already prepared and includes new weapons.
It is not the first time that Fulcrums are being modernized, as four of them were upgraded to BM standard (Belarusian Modernized). The aircraft received capability to use modern weaponry, such as R-77 air-to-air missiles, Kh-29, Kh-25 air-to-ground missiles and Kh-31 anti-ship weapon. Laser guided bomb capability was also added with the use of a targeting pod.
What is more the MiGs are able to perform aerial refueling.
The planned upgrade is going to be based on MiG-29BM standard with additional glass cockpit avionics, new radar with ground scanning capability and a sat-nav system, based either on GLONASS or GPS.
The Belarusian Air Force is still in weak condition. The Russians are helping their neighbours by placing Su-27 aircraft in Lida, near the Poland’s Eastern border.

J-31 stealth fighter designed for export, says PLA admiral

The J-31, China's second prototype fifth-generation stealth fighter, designed by Shenyang Aircraft Corporation, will be produced for the export market instead of for China's air force and navy, according to Admiral Zhang Zhaozhong of the PLA Navy.
While the Washington-based Strategy Page said the J-31 has the potential to become a future carrier-based stealth fighter for the PLA Navy, Zhang said it is unlikely the plane will serve aboard Chinese aircraft carriers. Unlike the J-20 designed by the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group, the J-31 was never a development program intended for the Chinese military, Zhang said.
Like the FC-1/JF-17 Xiaolong or Thunder multirole fighter designed jointly by China and Pakistan, the J-31 will be most likely be a model intended for export to China's allies and strategic partners, which may include countries like North Korea and Iran. Chinese fighters are a much cheaper alternative to US fighters for developing countries, even those which are able to buy military hardware from the United States.

Belgium seeks 40 AIM-9X Block II missiles

Belgium has requested a possible sale of 40 AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder Block II All-Up-Round Missiles, 36 CATM-9X-2 Captive Air Training Missiles, 2 CATM-9X-2 Block II Missile Guidance Units, and 10 AIM-9X-2 Block II Tactical Guidance Units, 4 Dummy Air Training Missiles, containers, missile support and test equipment, provisioning, spare and repair parts, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical data, U.S. Government and contractor technical assistance and other related logistics support, and other related elements of logistics and program support.

France flew first MQ-9 flight

A French crew has flown the first MQ-9 flight at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, on Sept. 24.

Eurofighter to bid in new South Korea fighter contest

Eurofighter will bid again to sell fighter jets to South Korea after the country's government cancelled a contest that U.S. rival Boeing was poised to win.
Seoul rejected Boeing's bid to supply 60 warplanes, saying it would restart the multi-billion-dollar process to get a more advanced, radar-evading fighter.
Boeing's F-15 Silent Eagle, the only bid within budget, had been poised to win the $7.7 billion tender after competing with Lockheed Martin's F-35A and the Eurofighter Typhoon.
Lockheed's F-35 is now widely seen as the front-runner, but Eurofighter would fight to stay in the race.

Sep 26, 2013

India To Induct Agni-V In 2014

India says it plans to induct the Agni-V ballistic missile into the country’s armed forces by the end of 2014 after the successful launch of the missile last weekend.
The test-firing, the second in two years, was conducted from Wheeler Island off the coast of the eastern state of Odisha. The missile, powered by three-stage solid rocket motors, flew on a predefined path and reached its destination with expected precision.
Jay Menon-aviationweek

First RoCAF P-3C arrives in Taiwan

First of 12 Lockheed Martin P-3C for Taiwan arrived at Pingtung AFB on Sept. 25.

IRIAF unveils F-4 with Nasr missile

Iran has unveiled the Qader and Nasr missile on Sept. 22. The Nasr is shown being carried by a F-4E.

Indonesian air force has full squadron of Russian Shukoi jet fighters

The Indonesian Air Force has a full squadron of Russian Shukoi jet fighters stationed at the Hasanuddin airbase in Makassar, South Sulawesi.
The squadron was complete after six new units of Shukoi SU- 30MK2 arrived to join the 10 units already here earlier.
The war planes were stationed at the Air Squadron 11 in the Hasanuddin airbase of Makassar.
The forming of the squadron is part of the program to develop the country`s air defense under strategic plan of 2010-2014.
All of the units of SU-30 MK 2 and SU-27 SKM series of Sukhoi jet fighters were ordered by the Indonesian government under a contract signed in July 2007.
They came by phases arriving at Iswahyudi airbase of Madiun in 2003, and at the Sultan Hasanuddin airbase in 2009, 2010 and 2013.
Deliveries of the six units of aircraft bought at a price of US$470 million was nine months earlier than the schedule set in the contract on June 28, 2014.
The six units were delivered with spare parts in four phases with the first phase in February, 2013 and the last on Sept 4, 2013.

US relocates drones airfield after Djibouti crashes

The Pentagon is shifting its drone operations from a US base in Djibouti to a more remote airfield after local officials voiced concern about possible collisions with commercial aircraft.
"There was a concern over what would happen if a MQ-1 (Predator drone) obstructed a runway, and that it would have a significant impact on commercial air operations," said an official.
After the attacks of September 11 2001, Camp Lemonnier -- located next to the Djibouti international airport -- took on crucial strategic importance for Washington as a site for stationing special operations forces and drones for assaults on Al-Qaeda militants in Yemen and Islamist Shabab forces in Somalia.

Second T-50I delivery flight to Indonesia

Two more T-50Is were delivered to Indonesia on Sept. 25.

Sikorsky finishes build of first UK Long SAR aircraft

Sikorsky has finished assembly of the first “baseline” S-92 to be delivered to Bristow Helicopters for the UK’s Long SAR requirement.
It will be handed over to the operator in July next year following fit-out with search and rescue mission equipment at the airframer’s facility in Coatsville, Pensylvania.
In all, Bristow will receive seven brand-new examples of the 11t type in the period to July 2015. Four additional airframes, based in Sumburgh and Stornoway, are already in use under the UK’s Gap SAR contract and will transfer across when the new regime begins in 2015.
Bristow won the 10-year SAR deal in March this year. It will see the company take over search and rescue operations from Royal Navy and Royal Air Force units, replacing aged Westland Sea Kings with the S-92s and AgustaWestland AW189s.
They will be equipped with FLIR Systems Star Safire 380-HD imaging equipment.

Sep 25, 2013

UCAS X-47B centennial flight

The X-47B (AV-2) conducted the 100th flight for the Navy's Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration (UCAS-D) program on Sept. 18. The Navy UCAS program successfully completed all objectives for the carrier demonstration phase with the X-47B in July.

China aircraft carrier flight tests gather steam

China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, has returned to its home port after its longest sea trial to date, during which over 100 sorties with its Shenyang J-15 fighters took place.
In a statement on its web site, China’s defence ministry announced rapid progress in flight testing with the ship, which it has designated as a platform for researching carrier operations.
During the tests, the ship-borne J-15 fighters made 100-odd sorties in all, conducting the tests of such subjects as taking-off with maximum payload along the long and short runways on the aircraft carrier, arresting-cable-controlled landing with maximum payload, and multi-weapon configuration take-off and landing.
In addition, the warship appears to have recovered and launched aircraft at short intervals, suggesting the navy is exploring techniques and procedures for rapid sortie generation.
This was the ship’s longest duration sea trial since its maiden voyage in October 2012. The Liaoning was previously the Soviet-era carrier Varyag, which China has refurbished.

US military to fund Niger DA42 upgrade

The US Navy intends to pay for an upgrade to Niger’s two Diamond Aircraft DA42 surveillance aircraft.
One aircraft will be outfitted with an L-3 Wescam MX-15 electro-optical/infrared sensor with a range-finding laser, plus data transmission and encryption capabilities and new operator display screens. The second aircraft will gain satellite communications equipment and radios.
The US military has been actively upgrading intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) equipment for Sahel-region governments, ostensibly to allow for operations against Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
At least two US-owned General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft are based in Niamey, Niger’s capital, to conduct ISR operations over Mali. As the border between Mali and Niger is essentially porous, operations are thought to be conducted over Niger in addition to other area nations.

Turkey, Russia conduct joint air military exercise

Turkey and Russia are conducting a two-day joint air military drill under the NATO-Russian Cooperative Airspace Initiative.
The joint exercise is being held to test, evaluate, and develop both the equipment and personnel of the new Ankara Area Control Center’s ability to oppose the use of civilian aircraft in terror attacks while cooperating with Russia under the Aegis of the NATO-Russia Cooperative Airspace Initiative.
The exercise will utilize two F-16 jet-fighters from Turkish Air Force, as well as one TU-154 and four SU-27 jetfighters from Russian Air Force.

Japanese firm looks for partnership in India for servicing of US-2

ShinMaywa Industries Ltd has intensified its search to identify an Indian collaborator, mainly for maintenance, repair, and overhaul US-2 aircraft for servicing US-2 to Indian Navy.
The company, however, wouldn’t want to partner with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
Having earlier shown interest in the Indian Navy’s requirement for nine such platforms, primarily to carry out search and rescue, the company, which has limited presence in the Indian civil aviation market for nearly 20 years, hopes to forge a strategic alliance with India in the larger context of the expanding Indo-Japan relations.

Sep 24, 2013

South Korea Rejects Boeing Bid For $7.7b Fighter Deal

South Korea decided Tuesday against awarding a $7.7 billion jet fighter deal to Boeing, the sole remaining candidate and said it would re-tender its largest ever defense contract.
The deal to provide 60 advanced combat fighters was aimed at replacing the air force’s aging fleet of F-4s and F-5s and had initially attracted bids from Boeing, US rival Lockheed Martin and the European aerospace consortium EADS.
Boeing, with its offer of F-15 Silent Eagles, had ended up the sole eligible candidate after proposals from the other two came in over South Korea’s stated budget, and the firm was expected to be named the winner on Tuesday.
But the state Defense Acquisition Programme Administration apparently decided the F-15 did not meet the air force’s current requirements, especially in the light of the nuclear threat from North Korea.

New Sikorsky S-97 Raider similar to the mysterious Stealth “Osama Bin Laden raid” helicopter?

This week, Sikorsky is expected to start the assembly of the S-97 Raider helicopter prototype.
The helicopter, among the choppers pitched for the U.S. Army’s Armed Aerial Scout program, to replace the Army’s aging fleet of OH-58 Kiowa Warriors, in use since the late 1960s, features a futuristic shape (compared to that of current helos) and is based on Sikorsky’s X-2 technology.
The S-97 will be a high-speed helicopter with coaxial main rotors and pusher propeller with a capability to either accomodate six troops or sensor in addition to the two pilots in the typical side-by-side cockpit.
The image of the first fuselage, released by Sikorsky, brings to light some interesting details about the Raider and a loose similarity with the MH-X Stealth Black Hawk helicopter exposed by the Osama Bin Laden raid.
Not only the Raider’s nose section is compatible with the concept I developed with AviationGraphic’s Ugo Crisponi in 2011 but the new chopper features a retractable landing gear is a feature that we thought was among the things that could keep the MH-X stealth and silent.
Most probably the MH-X (whose shape remains unknown) is different from the S-97, however it is safe to believe tha Sikorsky has embedded some of the features developed for the secret, radar evading U.S. Army Stealth Black Hawk used by the Navy SEALs at Abbottabad in May 2011, in the new chopper pitched to the Army.

Russian Aircraft Carrier Admiral Kuznetsov to Take Part in Barents Sea Drills

Russia's carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, will take part in five-day naval exercises in the Barents Sea from Saturday until September 25.
The Admiral Kuznetsov set sail from the naval base in Severomorsk , heading toward the exercise area in the Barents Sea.
The warship was assigned to the Northern Fleet in January 1991. It is capable of carrying 26 Su-33 Flanker-D and MiG-29K Fulcrum-D carrier-based fighter jets, and 24 anti-submarine helicopters.

First Lot-4 Rafale with AESA radar delivered as standard

France has received the first Lot-4 Rafale with AESA radar delivered as standard.

MQ-8C Fire Scout Readies for Flight Operations

Northrop Grumman turned on the power to the U.S. Navy's first MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter and rotated the aircraft's four blades for the first time during initial ground testing and engine runs at Naval Base Point Mugu, Calif., Sept. 20.
Northrop Grumman is the Navy's prime contractor for the Fire Scout program and is currently under contract to produce MQ-8C aircraft for deployment beginning in 2014.


The Indian Navy has received the first of 17 Hawk Advanced Jet Trainers, becoming the third naval operator of the Hawk along with the US Navy and the Royal Navy.

J-15 testing buddy refueling on board Liaoning

BAE Systems to offer T-6C to Australia

BAE Systems announced on Sept. 11 that it has teamed with Beechcraft and CAE to bid for the Australian Defence Force’s fixed-wing pilot training system with the Beechcraft’s T-6C Texan II.
BAE Systems has provided services to Australia’s forces for flight screening and basic flying training since 1992.
The company is also teamed with Beechcraft in the US to support T-6-based pilot training for the US Navy.
The Australian pilot training system competition, known as Project AIR 5428, has been underway since 2005, but a formal request for tender was released in August.
The BAE Systems/Beechcraft/CAE team is the first to break cover in the current incarnation of Air 5428.
Boeing Defence Australia is also interested in the competition.
The Pilatus PC-21 is the main competitor to the T-6C, but the Swiss company is yet to reveal its plans for the pilot training system.
AIR 5428 will replace the separate fixed-wing basic and advanced flying training programs with a single system that will take a candidate from flight screening to wings and will make significant use of simulation and other synthetic training aids.
The tender is due to close in February and the successful system will graduate its first students in early 2017.

Sep 23, 2013

First pilotless F-16 flies first remotely controlled mission at Tyndall Air Force Base

The first unmanned QF-16 Full Scale Aerial Target flew on Sept. 19 at Tyndall Air Force base in Florida, demonstrating the next generation of combat training and testing.
The aircraft has joined the 82nd Aerial Target Squadron to serve as an aerial target for testing against potential adversaries, radars, surface and air-to-air missiles.

Sikorsky S-97 Raider Begins Final Assembly

Sikorsky will begin final assembly of its S-97 Raider helicopter prototype this week.
That puts the helicopter manufacturer — which is competing for the US Army’s Armed Aerial Scout program — on track for a first flight at the end of 2014.
The Raider is based on the X-2 technology developed by Sikorsky in the late 2000s, but grows the size and weight significantly. Where the X-2 demonstrator was a one-person, 5,000-pound platform, the Raider will be roughly 11,000 pounds with room for six troops in its combat assault mode. In reconnaissance mode, that space could be used for extra equipment or ammunition.
Despite that growth, Sikorsky executives are confident the design will bring a mix of speed and maneuverability that helicopters have not yet achieved.

Various Obstacles Confront Russia’s T-50 Project

There is no shortage of uncertainty about the future of Sukhoi PAK-FA T-50 fifth-generation fighter project. These doubts are driven by problems with major subsystems, delays with the aircraft’s introduction into service, and plans to defray some of the R&D cost by making India a developmental partner on the aircraft.
Russia’s NIIP radar design bureau, the traditional supplier for Sukhoi-design aircraft, has developed prototype models of the N050 active electronically scanning array (AESA) radar set with impressive results. However, the N050 is a hand-assembled product and currently the industrial base capacity to series produce the N050 does not exist. Furthermore, the PPMs [transmit/receive modules] are produced at the Istok military electronics enterprise on a limited scale, which has made the radar’s cost prohibitive.
In the same vein, the T-50’s composite panels are also handmade using the same basic technology as the well known Sukhoi range of all-composite aerobatic sports aircraft.
The fifth-generation engine that is to power later versions of the T-50 is still mostly on paper. The flight-test aircraft are powered by the same Saturn 117S engine that is installed in the Su-35, and this will also be the engine for the initial production batches of the T-50.
Above all, without changes to the aircraft it is questionable whether or not the T-50 will actually be a low-observable design. Several aspects of the aircraft as currently configured will produce unacceptably high RCS, as well as IR, signatures, according to U.S. industry experts.
Another factor is that the T-50 program was considered to be economically viable only if India stepped up to purchase at least 250 of the aircraft, and also would share in the R&D effort. But India is planning to procure only around half that number of fifth-generation fighter aircraft. Sources in the Indian MoD state they cannot afford both the T-50 and the Dassault Rafale that was selected as the winner in the MRCA competition. If the situation becomes an “either or” proposition the T-50 may be jettisoned in favor of the French fighter.

Iran Parades 30 Missiles With Range of 2,000km

Iran paraded 30 missiles with a nominal range of 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles) Sunday, the first time it had displayed so many with the theoretical capacity to hit Israeli targets.
Iran displayed 12 Sejil and 18 Ghadr missiles at the annual parade marking the anniversary of the outbreak of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.
The stated range of both missiles would put not only Israel but also US bases in the Gulf within reach.

Indonesian Air Force takes delivery of four Grob G 120TPs

Indonesian Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said that the recent attention given to the Indonesian Air Force (TNI AU) would result in a first class air force.
“The air force base in Makassar [South Sulawesi] will receive six new Sukhoi jet fighters soon,” Minister Purnomo said during the hand-over ceremony for four training aircraft at the 101st Training Squadron (Skadik) hangar, Adisutjipto Air Force Base (AFB), on Friday.
The four German-made Grob G120TP-A are part of an order of 16 airplanes — worth some US$72 million — to be delivered in stages until 2014.

P-3C maritime patrol aircraft to arrive in Taiwan

The first of a batch of P-C marine patrol aircraft purchased from the US will arrive in the country today or tomorrow depending on the impact of Typhoon Usagi.
Apple Daily reported yesterday that according to the air force, the P-3C Orion will take off from the US and stop in Guam or Hawaii before arriving at Pingtung Air Force Base.
The aircraft will be flown by US pilots with Taiwanese air force personnel on board.

Hard-up RAF flies second-hand RC-135 jets in US air force colours to save £3million cost of repainting them in British colours

The RAF's new fleet of second-hand spy planes will fly in U.S. colours because defence bosses say it is not cost effective to repaint them.
Instead of the air force's uniform light grey, the three RC-135 Rivet Joint aircraft, which were bought from the U.S., will keep their design of a white top, black nose and grey underside.
The Ministry of Defence said it would cost £3million to repaint them.

Japan looking at getting 20 V-22s to help defend remote islands

A plan has been drawn up to improve the maneuverability of the Japan Self-Defense Forces, especially in helping to defend remote islands.
In its budgetary appropriations requests for fiscal 2014, the Defense Ministry has called for ¥100 million in funds to study the feasibility of acquiring MV-22 Osprey vertical takeoff and landing transport aircraft.
The ministry is considering incorporating budgetary requests for purchasing Ospreys in its budget estimates for fiscal 2015, with a view to deploying about 20 of the tilt-rotor aircraft with the Ground Self-Defense Force in the next few years.
Ospreys have the combined advantage of taking off and landing like a helicopter and switching to the high-speed performance of fixed-wing aircraft in the air.

Sep 22, 2013

US Navy's P-8A deploying to Western Pacific in December

Squadron VP-16 out of Jacksonville Naval Air Station, also known as the War Eagles, will deploy with the new P-8A for the first time when they head to the Western Pacific in December.
The P-8A Poseidon is replacing the Navy’s aging fleet of P-3 Orions, introduced in the early ’60s.

Sep 20, 2013

Singapore steps toward F-16 upgrade

Singapore has officially stated its intention to upgrade its Lockheed Martin F-16 C/D aircraft according Defence Minister in comments to the parliament. The plan is to upgrade avionics and extend lifespan.
This is the first time that Singapore has publicly stated its intention to upgrade its F-16s. Industry observers have long expected that Singapore will upgrade some, if not all, of its 60 F-16s. The upgrade it is likely to commence in 2015.
A key element of any Singapore F-16 upgrade will be the addition of an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar. Raytheon will pitch its Raytheon Advanced Combat Radar (RACR) and Northrop Grumman its Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR) for this part of the requirement.
In South Korea earlier this year, Raytheon and BAE Systems won contracts to upgrade 134 Block-standard F-16s.
Defence Minister also reiterated Singapore's interest in the Lockheed Martin F-35. Media reports and US officials have said that Singapore is likely to buy the F-35B short take-off and vertical landing variant of the aircraft.

RAF VC10s to make last operational flight

The last operational Vickers VC10s will perform the type’s final flights for the Royal Air Force on 20 September, before being retired from use.
A final pair of Rolls-Royce Conway-engined VC10 tankers are due to conduct the sortie from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, bringing to an end a 47-year service life.
Flown by personnel from 101 Sqn, the aircraft should perform a last air-to-air refuelling mission, before conducting a series of separate flypasts at air force bases and other sites around the UK. Their formal retirement will be completed by the end of September.

Tunisia has requested a possible sale of Block 1 Avionics Upgrades on Tunisia’s fleet of 12 F-5s.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress on September 18 of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Tunisia of F-5 avionics upgrades and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support.
The upgrade includes 12 LN-260 Standard Positioning System Embedded Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation Systems (GPS/INS), Control Display Unit, Electrical Power, and Environmental Control System, repairs, Material Condition Inspection, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor engineering, technical and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistical and program support.

La Fuerza Aérea del Perú mantiene interés por el Embraer Super Tucano

La Fuerza Aérea del Perú (FAP) continúa interesada en la adquisición de entre 10 a 12 aviones de ataque ligero Embraer A-29 Super Tucano para su despliegue en la lucha asimétrica con elementos narcoterroristas en la zona del VRAEM (Valle de los Ríos Apurímac, Ene y Mantaro).
De acuerdo a informaciones publicadas en diversos medios de prensa locales, a estos aviones se sumarán un número no especificado de sistemas aéreos no tripulados y alrededor de dos docenas de helicópteros, muy probablemente del tipo Mi-171Sh, de origen ruso.

NATO plans major east European exercise, reassures Russia

After years of fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, NATO plans a major exercise in eastern Europe in November to brush up its conventional warfare skills, but insists it is not practicing with Cold War foe Russia in mind.
Exercise "Steadfast Jazz" in Latvia and Poland from November 2-9 shows the 28-nation alliance refocusing on its core task of defending its own territory as it winds down its long combat mission in Afghanistan.