Apr 30, 2014

F-35 is Liaoning's worst nightmare

The US F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is capable of combating China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning.
In a hypothetical aircraft carrier battle between China and the United States, the main fighter jets would include the United States' F-35C and China's J-15.
The F-35 is equipped with extremely powerful offensive capabilities for both land and sea combat, with a weapons load of eight tonnes and the capacity to carry four AIM20C and AIM-9X mid-range and short-range air-to-air missiles.
In an attack on the Liaoning the F-35 could carry joint strike missiles developed in Norway, which have a range of 290 kilometers. The J-15, on the other hand, could carry two YJ8-3 anti-missiles with a range of only 180 km.
In terms of radar technology, the US has the clear upper hand with its AN/APG-81 AESA radar developed by Northrop Grumman, which has a thousand transceivers with the ability to simultaneously search for 23 moving targets, including 19 targets in just 2.4 seconds, after which it would turn to tracking mode.
Even against China's J-20, the F-35 would still be the first to detect its opponent due to its superior radar.

Czech, Slovak Militaries Launch Joint Air Patrols, Eye Arms Procurement

Under an agreement signed by the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the countries’ air forces will launch joint air patrols in January. The initiative has been debated for years, but was recently accelerated by the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
In addition to air patrols, increased cooperation between the Slovak and Czech militaries will also include special forces operations and military procurements.
Under the plan, the first joint procurements are to include radars and personal weapons for Czech and Slovak troops.
To increase its air combat capability, the Slovak Air Force is also planning to replace its MiG-29 fighter jets with new aircraft. According to senior defense officials, the most likely scenario is the acquisition of Saab JAS 39 Gripen also operated by the Czech Air Force.

Taliban claim they shot down US AC-130 warplane in eastern Afghanistan

The Afghan Taliban claimed that their forces hit an US Air Force AC-130 gunship with antiaircraft fire and forced it to land in the eastern province of Logar.
The Taliban released a video purporting to show their forces hitting what appears to be a US Air Force C-130 aircraft. The AC-130 is a heavily armed ground attack variant of the C-130 airframe.
The video "was posted on the Facebook page of Bot Shikan on April 27, 2014, and was promoted on the Twitter account of an Afghan Taliban website representative on April 29.
The video shows a group of Taliban fighters firing antiaircraft machine guns mounted on the backs of pickup trucks. The video then shows tracer rounds fired at what appears to be a C-130. Several rounds appear to hit the aircraft and bright flashes are seen underneath the plane. The video then shows what the Taliban claim is the wreckage of the aircraft as well as footage of the plane as it lands on or near an airbase in Logar province. At the end of the video, the Taliban show a helicopter and another aircraft being fired upon.
The International Security Assistance Force has not reported that any of its aircraft have been shot down or crash-landed, and would neither confirm nor deny that the aircraft shown in this video was fired upon by the Taliban.
The release of video of the C-130 coming under attack took place just one day after the Taliban claimed to have shot down a British Army helicopter in the southern province of Kandahar. ISAF confirmed that a helicopter crashed and five ISAF soldiers were killed on April 26.
The United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence denied that the Taliban shot down the Lynx helicopter, which is used by the Joint Special Forces Aviation Wing to ferry troops such as the SAS and SBS on missions, and are also heavily armed for supporting fire. The Ministry of Defence instead claimed that the helicopter was likely brought down by a technical problem.
On at least one occasion, ISAF has denied a Taliban claim to have shot down a Coalition helicopter in Afghanistan, only to backtrack on the statement. In December 2013, the Taliban claimed to have shot down a US Army Blackhawk helicopter in the southern Afghan province of Zabul and killed six soldiers.
ISAF quickly denied the report.

Pakistan interested in buying Mi-26 helicopters

Government of Pakistan has the ability to purchase an interest in heavy transport helicopters Mi-26, according to Itar-Tass .It is about delivering ten machines of this type. Whether began negotiations for the supply of helicopters, is still unknown. Not specified, and possible timing of signing the agreement.
Currently in service with Pakistan no one helicopter Mi-26. It clarifies the agency from 1996 to 2010, Russia supplied Islamabad about 70 multipurpose helicopters Mi-8/17/171.

9.000 horas de vuelo de los AMX de la Aeronautica Militare Italiana en Afganistan

Los cuatro cazas AMX de la Aeronautica Militare Militare han alcanzado 9.000 horas de vuelo en 3.000 misiones efectuadas desde el 7 de noviembre de 2009, desde la base de Herat dentro de la misión ISAF de la OTAN en Afghanistán.
Las aeronaves proceden del 51° stormo con base en Istrana y del 32° stormo, con base en Amendola, y están encuadradas en el grupo de vuelo “Black Cats” de la Joint Air Task Force. Realizan misiones de inteligencia, vigilancia y reconocimiento, en favor del Regional Command West.

Apr 29, 2014

Canadian CF-18 Fighter aircraft bound for Romania

Canada Defence Ministerwas in Bagotville, Quebec, this morning to mark the departure of CF-18 fighter aircraft headed for Romania.
These fighter aircraft, along with support personnel, are travelling to Romania in order to conduct training activities in support of immediate reassurance measures. They will join Romania and other NATO Allies currently operating in the region as part of NATO Reassurance Measures to Central and Eastern Europe.
The six CF-18 fighter aircraft come from 425 Tactical Fighter Squadron based out of 3 Wing Bagotville, Quebec, and departed at approximately 9:00 a.m. this morning.
The Government of Canada is contributing to NATO reassurance measures in order to promote security and stability in Eastern and Central Europe. Fifteen operational planning staff deployed on April 22 to augment Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe staff in Casteau, Belgium.

F-35 Stealth Jet Can’t Hide From Russian Radar

The F-35 may be that the JSF is not, in fact, stealthy in the eyes of a growing number of Russian and Chinese radars. Nor is it particularly good at jamming enemy radar. Which means the Defense Department is committing hundreds of billions of dollars to a fighter that will need the help of specialized jamming aircraft that protect non-stealthy—“radar-shiny,” as some insiders call them—aircraft today.
These problems are not secret at all. The F-35 is susceptible to detection by radars operating in the VHF bands of the spectrum. The fighter’s jamming is mostly confined to the X-band, in the sector covered by its APG-81 radar.
What the JSF does have is a jamming function—also known as “electronic attack,” or EA, in militaryese—in the radar. It also has an expendable radar decoy—BAE Systems’ ALE-70. Both are last-ditch measures to disrupt a missile engagement, not to prevent tracking.


Thales announces the delivery of the final standard for the maritime patrol aircraft to Turkey as part of the MELTEM II programme, for which Thales is the prime contractor.
To this day, five of the six aircraft have been delivered to this standard, with the sixth set for delivery before the summer.
This follows the three maritime surveillance aircraft which were sent to the Turkish coastguards last year.

Brazilian Navy signs Exocet missile contract

The Brazilian Navy has signed a contract with Brazilian Aerospace Avibras to develop a new version of the Exocet AM39 B2 air-to-surface missile produced by European missile house MBDA.
The weapon is to be used on the Eurocopter EC725 that is being produced for the Brazilian Navy by Helibrás in Sao Paulo.
The AM39 will have about 50% domestic content with a Brazilian motor.

United Kingdom dispatching 4 fighter jets to patrol airspace over Baltic states

Britain is dispatching four Typhoon fighter jets to patrol the airspace of Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
They will perform their patrolling mission alongside with six fighter jets of the Polish Air Force and will serve as a replacement for six F15 jets of the US Air Force.
British Defense Secretary said the Typhoons would support Poland’s contribution to the operation destined to calm down the apprehensions of easternmost member-states of the North-Atlantic pact.
The effort also involves more than 50 members of ground personnel.

India successfully test fires exo-atmospheric missile interceptor

India successfully test-fired for the first time an exo-atmospheric missile interceptor.
The missile operates outside the atmosphere and is part of the country’s efforts to create a shield against an incoming enemy missile at an altitude of over 100 km.
It successfully intercepted an incoming ballistic missile, a modified variant of the Prithvi.
The test was successful.

Apr 28, 2014

Dutch air force scraps DC-10 transport

A Royal Netherlands Air Force-owned DC-10 transport/freighter has been flown to the UK for scrapping, less than three years after entering use with the service.
Aircraft T-255 departed Eindhoven air base for the last time on 11 April, and was flown to Newquay airport in the UK.
Originally operated by United Airlines, the DC-10-30 was acquired by the Netherlands in 2004, and underwent extensive modernisation before being delivered in May 2011 after lengthy project delays. It was deemed surplus to requirements as part of a package of defence cuts announced later that year, and subsequent efforts to find a new buyer for the 334 Sqn-operated transport failed.
Some parts from the retired aircraft will be used to support the Netherlands’ retained pair of KDC-10 tanker/transports, which have already received the same cockpit and systems modifications as T-255. The nation’s military airlift inventory also includes four modernised Lockheed Martin C-130Hs.

U.S. Air Force F-15C jets intercept Russian spyplane over the Baltic

According to the Latvia’s Military, the U.S. Air Force F-15C deployed to Lithuania, to provide Air Policing in the Baltics region, intercepted an Il-20 spyplane.
Russian Air Force missions in the area often requires NATO jet fighters to perform Alert Scrambles, to intercept Il-20 spyplanes, Tu-22M Backfire bombers and Su-27 fighter jets. Such close encounters have become a bit more frequent since Russian invasion of Crimea and subsequent international crisis over Ukraine.
On Feb. 24, two F-15Cs taking part to a flyby in Estonia were diverted to intercept a Russian plane before overflying the city of Pärnu.
On Apr. 25, two Tu-95H bombers were intercepted by RAF Typhoons, Dutch and Danish F-16s during a long range patrol around UK.
Via theaviationist

China may build 3 more carriers amid territorial disputes

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy may build three Liaoning-class aircraft carriers to prepare for a potential conflict with Japan in the Asia-Pacific region.
Light aircraft carriers such as the Liaoning and Japan's Izumo have become vital for the PLA Navy and Japan Maritme Self-Defense Force amid territorial disputes between the two countries. It added that Japan may become an even greater threat to China if the country successfully introduces a Tarawa-class amphibious assault ship from the United States and deploys its F-35B fighters with vertical take-off and landing ability aboard the ship.
To face Japan in a potential combat situation, the PLA Navy needs to construct at least three aircraft carriers based on the Liaoning.
Meanwhile, if Japan is unable to purchase the Tarawa-class amphibious assault ship, the Izumo alone can carry at least 24 F-38B fighters after the vessel's fuel supply facility is removed, while Tokyo will likely choose to purchase cheaper but older AV-8 fighters.
Japan's F-35B fighter is designed mostly for surface attack missions and it is thus unable to compete against China's J-15 carrier-based fighters. But neither China nor Japan is likely to deploy aircraft carriers against each other over a narrow battlefield like the disputed East China Sea. If the local conflict escalated into a full scale war, it would be up to the United States to decide whether or not to fight for Japan.

Pakistan inducts first batch of F-16 fighter jets from Jordan

Pakistan received on Sunday its first batch of F-16 fighter jets delivered from Jordan.
Sources said that the Pakistan had signed a contract with Jordan for the supply of 13 fighter jets out of which five were delivered at the Mushaf Mir Airbase in Sargodha and inducted in the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) fleet.
The inclusion of the 13 jets would take the strength of the PAF F-16s to 76.
Media reports indicated the PAF had agreed to purchase an entire squadron from Jordan, consisting of 12 A models and one B model. According to one news report, the jets "were in good condition since they had attained Mid-Life Update (MLU) and they would be providing service for another 20 years with almost 3,000 hours on average available to them for flying."

Last F-22s arrive at Tyndall

With the arrival of the last four F-22s earlier this month, the Air Force’s newest Raptor squadron is operational, and Tyndall Air Force Base is now home to the largest group of the fifth-generation fighter.
Four F-22s touched down April 8 at the Florida base, completing the transfer of 24 Raptors originally scheduled for early 2013. The flight finished the transfer of the 24 F-22s and seven T-38 Talons.
The aircraft came from Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., which is receiving two F-16s and 950 personnel from Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., which in turn is receiving new F-35s. The F-16s began arriving at Holloman in early April.
This marks the end of the entire transfer of 24 jets from Holloman.
The jets first began arriving at Tyndall in January. The move was delayed a year after Congress failed to pass a fiscal 2013 budget.
As the last jet touched down, the 95th Fighter Squadron at Tyndall was declared initial operational capability ready. The squadron will begin its work with a deployment to participate in Operation Combat Hammer, an air-to-ground Weapons Systems Evaluation Program at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

Apr 27, 2014

Fully configured MC-27J completes first flight

Alenia Aermacchi, and ATK announced that the demonstrator of a fully configured MC-27J multi-mission tactical transport aircraft completed its first flight from the company's Turin test flight centre.
The demonstrator aircraft is optimized for ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) and SAR missions.
The MC-27J, successfully completed a first phase of ground and flight tests in the spring of 2013. The series of tests were conducted by ATK and Alenia Aermacchi personnel at Eglin Air Force Base in the U.S. The tests demonstrated the C-27J’s ability to host a self-contained, roll-on/roll-of gun pallet (RORO) using ATK’s proven GAU-23 30mm cannon in a side firing configuration. Live fire tests and a timed demonstration of the capability to quickly transition from a cargo configuration to a weaponised configuration of the aircraft exceeded all test objectives.

Philippines unveils plan to buy more aircraft

Philippines President Benigno Aquino III on Friday unveiled a plan to acquire more air assets, including patrol aircraft, to boost the capability of the Air Force.
The President said the Armed Forces would purchase eight combat utility helicopters, six close air support aircraft, two-long range patrol aircraft and radar systems.
It's also intendend to buy full motion flight simulator to improve PAF pilots training.
These are on top of the new FA50 from South Korea that will be delivered to the Air Force next year.
In 2005, were retired Phlippines last F-5 freedom fighter.

Royal Navy warship 'monitoring' Russian naval vessel

A Royal Navy warship is monitoring the activity of a Russian destroyer as it transits past United Kingdom territorial waters.
HMS Dragon, Type 45 destroyer moved into position last week north of Scotland to be able to respond to the activity of the Russian vessel, Vice Admiral Kulakov.
In what the MoD are calling a "well-established and standard" response, HMS Dragon will track the Russian vessel as she transits south.

Russian aircraft carrier still in the Mediterranean Sea. NATO planes watch closely

Aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov is still in the Mediterranean where it operates watched closely by NATO E-3 AWACS.
Even if it has reportedly ended its mission and headed for Severomorsk, Russia’s aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov is still sailing in the Mediterranean Sea.
Its position can be determined based on the NOTAMs (Notice To Airmen) issued for the Algiers FIR (Flight Information Region).
Two of them provide details about the area of operation of the aircraft operating from the carrier:
A0962/14 – AIRSPACE RESERVATION FOR RUSSIAN NAVY WILL TAKE PLACE PLAN FLTS FM ACFT CARRIER AVIATION WI AREA BRAVO (B): 3900N 00500E 3900N 00700E 3740N 00700E 3720N 00500E 3900N 00500E. SFC – FL180, APR 23 24 25 AND 26 HR:0800-1700, 23 APR 08:00 2014 UNTIL 26 APR 17:00 2014. CREATED: 21 APR 09:54 2014
A0961/14 – AIRSPACE RESERVATION FOR RUSSIAN NAVY WILL TAKE PLACE PLAN FLTS FM ACFT CARRIER AVIATION WI AREA ALPHA (A): 3745N 00220E 3825N 00400E 3720N 00400E 3700N 00210E 3745N 00220E. SFC – FL160, APR 24 25 AND 26 HR:0800-1700, 24 APR 08:00 2014 UNTIL 26 APR 17:00 2014. CREATED: 21 APR 09:47 2014
While such warnings are often issued for (U.S.) aircraft carriers hence they are not really special, what is worth noticing is that the flying activity of the Russians in the Mediterranean Sea is watched closely by NATO E-3 planes.
Indeed, it seems that NATO AEW (Airborne Early Warning) planes have frequently operated in the Southeastern Mediterranean in the last few days, while Admiral Kuznetsov transited south of Malta towards the waters off Algeria, between Sardinia and the Balearic islands.
Most probably, the E-3s are not only observing the Sukhoi Su-33 Flanker-D all-weather carrier-based air defence fighters but also performing routine electronic surveillance by means of onboard electronic support measures (ESM).


The Turkey Defense Industry announced that the first T129 ATAK Raid Helicopter (ARH), which is the first helicopter produced in Turkey, was included in the inventory of the Turkish Armed Forces on April 22.
The ATAK was produced within the agreement signed between the Undersecretariat of the Defense Industry and Turkish Aerospace Industries (TUSAŞ) on Sep. 7, 2007, which envisages the supply of nine pieces of T129 ARHs helicopters.
The T129 ARH helicopter with two crews has two LHTEC CTS800-4ATurboshaft engines, each of which has a power of 1.360 horsepower and is able to reach a maximum speed of 288 kilometers an hour. With a maximum take-off weight of 5,000 kilograms, the helicopter has coverage of 556 kilometers. Carrying artillery of 500 projectiles of 20 millimeters on the nose, the T129 ARH helicopter can project 76 missiles with four pods under the wings.

Sweden wants cruise missiles 'for defence'

The Swedish government has announced plans to beef up its defence forces by fitting its fleet of Gripen fighter jets with long-range cruise missiles.
The high-precision missiles would chiefly act as a deterrent to other countries that might be considering an attack on Sweden.
The cruise missiles would be added to the next generation of Gripen jets, and would be able to cause severe damage to targets 1,000 kilometres away. Current cruise missiles can only travel half that distance. The new missiles can fly at low altitude, have GPS guidance, and can manoeuvre like an aircraft.
The Swedish Armed Forces pointed out that other countries in the wider Baltic area, including Finland and Russia, were investing in similar weapons.

RAC MiG continues on “radical modernization” of the MiG-31

Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG and Aviadvigatel have confirmed that work continues on “radical modernization” of the MiG-31 Foxhound, with the focus on extending the performance of the aging, out-of-production Mach 3 interceptor so that it can carry out not only air-defense duties but also serve the recently established VKO, the Russian acronym for the country’s Air and Space Defense (Command). Under a directive from the Russian defense ministry, RAC MiG is working on new versions of the aircraft more capable than the current MiG-31BM.
The Russian government has decided to support MiG-31 development and modernization following heated discussions in parliament. Aviadvigatel has submitted reports about the current status of the D30-F6 fleet, the equipment used to manufacture it and the supply of parts. There were 1,500 engines and 500 airframes built. The existing MiG-31 fleet has amassed a moderate number of flying hours and their engines have a long lifetime remaining. There is a stock of engines and spares.
Russia currently has 180 MiG-31s. The aircraft first flew in 1976, and the follow-on MiG-31M first took to the sky in 1985. The MiG-31D appeared in 1987 and demonstrated its ability to fly at Mach 2.83 with six long-range air-to-air missiles on a typical 3.5-hour intercept mission. During a trial in 1994 a developmental MiG-31 destroyed a low-flying target from a distance of 162 nm (300 km).
The most recent variant, the MiG-31BM, is a multirole aircraft with the redeveloped Zaslon-M passive phased-array radar, capable of detecting up to 10 targets simultaneously at a range of up to 175 nm (324 km). It can employ the RVV-BD active radar-guided weapon, with a firing range of 108 nm (200 km). The MiG-31BM can also carry R-77 infrared-guided air-to-air missiles, Kh-31 air-to-surface missiles and KAB-500 EO/IR-guided bombs. The Sokol plant in Nizhny Novgorod continues to upgrade in-service aircraft to the MiG-31BM configuration at a rate of 15 aircraft per year. The facility has a Russian MoD contract for about 60 MiG-31BMs for delivery between 2011 and 2018.

China's aircraft carrier Liaoning will undergo its first interim maintenance

China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, returned to Dalian Shipyard dock to undergo its first interim service on April, 17, 2014.
Experts predicted that the service will last for six months.
The Liaoning formally entered into service with the Chinese navy in September 2012. Prior to this, ten sea trials had been conducted. In August 2013 the Liaoning returned to Dalian port to resolve problems identified during test sailings and pilot training. However, this time the maintenance work will include the replacement of certain large parts.

New Growler construction may depend on upcoming US Navy exercise

The Navy will conduct a battle exercise off the West Coast next month that could help determine whether another 22 more EA-18G Growler aircraft will be built.
The Navy’s Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group will conduct three days of exercises to see whether seven or eight Growlers on an aircraft carrier — rather than the five currently assigned — would provide better support for attacks from fighter jets and ground forces.
The test will involve eight Growlers on the aircraft carrier.
Thousands of jobs and dozens of suppliers in Missouri are tied to the construction of the plane, which in five years will be the Pentagon’s primary weapons system designed to block and disrupt enemy electronics.
The Navy currently has 138 Growlers in its fleet or under construction, and the 22 extra would be used to boost its capability to work jointly with other branches of the military.
Under pressure to cut the future Defense Department budget in the wake of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and large federal deficits, President Barack Obama did not include the $2.1 billion price tag for the new planes in his 2015 budget. The Navy has put the additional 22 Growlers on its “unfunded priorities” list.

USAF 48th AEG to validate Amari Estonian Air Base as NATO FOB

Airmen from the 48th Air Expeditionary Group recently took a trip to Amari Air Base, Estonia, to engage and certify the aircraft arresting system, taking a critical step toward validating the new NATO Forward Operating Base.
Barrier maintenance Airmen from the 435th Construction and Training Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, deployed to the 48th Air Expeditionary Group at Siauliai Air Base, Lithuania, travelled to Estonia for the third time to certify the aircraft arresting systems and work alongside fellow Estonian air force counterparts.
Two F-15C Eagles, originally from RAF Lakenheath, U.K., helped conduct the certification.
Fighters staged at each end of the runway took turns engaging the barrier by taxiing at about 130 miles per hour with their tail hook lowered so as to hook onto the cable, which gradually slowed the aircraft to a safe, complete stop.
The Air Force requires barrier engagement tests every 12 months if not engaged by a plane in a one-year time span.

Apr 26, 2014

RAF Typhoons intercept Russian 'Bears'

The RAF has released pictures of two long-range Russian reconnaissance aircraft intercepted as they approached British airspace north of Scotland this week.
Two Typhoon quick reaction fighters were scrambled on Wednesday as the two Tu-95 aircraft.
Pictures taken by the Typhoon pilots based at RAF Leuchars show the fighters shadowing the Bears in international airspace.
The four engine turboprop long-range aircraft can be fitted to carry missiles, or conduct airborne surveillance and have been in service for more than 50 years.
Defence sources said Bears regularly probed Nato airspace and Typhoons are routinely scrambled to investigate them. There were eight similar incidents last year.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said the fighters were launched “to determine the identity of unknown aircraft that approached the Nato Air Policing Area north of Scotland and could not be identified by other means.
The aircraft were subsequently identified as Russian military reconnaissance Bears. The Russian Bears aircraft remained in international airspace as they are perfectly entitled to do.
The Russian Tu-95 ‘Bear H’ aircraft had been intercepted and then handed over to Danish F-16 fighters as they flew towards Danish airspace. They were then picked up again by the Typhoons as they turned back towards the UK, before they finally headed off towards Norway.
During the sortie Typhoons were refuelled twice from a RAF Voyager aircraft, from RAF Brize Norton.

France Sending Four Rafale Fighter Jets to Poland

France will send four Rafale fighter jets to Poland next week as part of a show of NATO commitment to Central Europe and the Baltic states , which have been rattled by the escalation of tensions between Russia and Ukraine.
The four warplanes will be sent to Malbork in northern Poland on April 28 on a double mission: to train the Polish air force and stand ready for air patrols over the Baltic states under NATO command.

USS Taylor Returns to Black Sea, 3 NATO Ships Now in Region

U.S. Navy frigate USS Taylor (FFG-50) has returned to the Black Sea for the second time in as many months.
The ship is now one of three NATO ships in the Black Sea joining the ballistic missile defense (BMD) guided missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG-75) and the French ship signals intelligence ship Dupuy de Lôme (A759).
The frigate is part of a U.S. presence mission to reassure allies in the region following political unrest in Ukraine that resulted in the annexation of Crimea by Russia.
The ship recently returned from an unscheduled maintenance period at Souda Bay, Greece after running aground attempting to moor in Turkey in February.
Donald Cook and Dupuy de Lôme entered the Black Sea on April 10.
Taylor’s stay in the Black Sea from Feb. 5 to March 9, was deemed by the Russian government as a violation of the so-called 1936 Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Straits.
Montreux rules call for warships from countries with out a coast on the Black Sea to depart after 21 days.
U.S. officials said it would abide by the Montreux convention.
U.S. paratroopers were scheduled to arrive in Poland today for a series of exercises to reassure allies. Bilateral exercises are also planned for Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia.
Earlier this month a Sukhoi SU-24 Fencer buzzed Donald Cook in what the Pentagon called, a “provocative” action.

Sikorsky demonstrates optionally piloted Black Hawk

Sikorsky has conducted the first flight of its Optionally-Piloted Black Hawk (OPBH) helicopter.
The flight saw the OPBH demonstrate autonomous hover and flight operations while under the control of a man-portable ground control station (GCS).

Apr 25, 2014

El Ala 12 en acción con armamento aire suelo en el ejercicio Tormenta

Finland should opt for F-35 over Gripen if the price is right, minister says

Finland should reject overtures to procure the Saab Gripen E fighter aircraft, if the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) can be acquired at a comparable cost, the country's defence minister said.
Finland should not put Nordic defence co-operation ahead of performance when choosing between the Swedish-built Gripen E and the US-built F-35, providing there is little difference in cost between the two types.
The proposal to strengthen Finland's defence ties with its Nordic neighbour Sweden through a Gripen E buy was made by the speaker of parliament, and the country was named by Saab officials in March as a potential future customer.
Finland appear to favour the F-35 as a potential replacement for the air force's current 55 Boeing F/A-18C and seven F/A-18D Hornet fighters.
Aircraft costs are notoriously difficult to nail down.
It is likely that any future Finnish fighter procurement competition would also include offerings from Boeing with its F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Dassault with the Rafale, and Eurofighter with the Typhoon.


Apr 23, 2014

Canada to send 6 CF-18s for NATO operation in Eastern Europe

F16 Fighting Falcons parked on the flightline in Romania during Exercise Dacian Viper bilateral training.

Typhoon starts windtunnel tests with conformal fuel tanks

The Eurofighter Typhoon’s proposed conformal fuel tank (CFT) configuration has entered windtunnel testing in the UK.
BAE is currently assessing the aerodynamic characteristics of carrying two fuselage-mounted conformal fuel tanks on the Typhoon aircraft.
A new configuration item for the Tranche 3 production standard Typhoon, the conformal structures would free up under-wing pylons frequently used to carry external fuel tanks, but recently employed in testing to carry the MBDA Storm Shadow and Taurus Systems KEPD 350 cruise missiles. All Tranche 3 aircraft are being manufactured with the required structural and fuel system modifications to carry the CFTs.
The four-nation Eurofighter consortium exhibited a full-size model of the Typhoon with the conformal tanks fitted at the Dubai air show last November, with the adaptation having been on offer to the United Arab Emirates, which subsequently halted talks linked to a potential Typhoon acquisition.

Sweden To Boost Military Spending

Sweden announced Tuesday that it will increase its annual defense spending over the next 10 years, citing the crisis in Ukraine and an “unsettling” development in Russia.
The right-wing government said that spending would rise gradually until 2024.
"The recent past has been characterized by a deeply unsettling development in and around Ukraine,” “Russia has occupied parts of a sovereign state.”
the government said in a statement.
The government said the focus of the increase would be on the Baltic Sea and the Swedish island of Gotland, located in the region.
Sweden, which is not a NATO member, wants to expand its fleet of fighter jets from 60 to 70 JAS-39E, buy two new submarines to reach a total of five and refurbish other ships.
Sweden’s military preparedness has been questioned in the local media over the last months, especially after Russia caught the Swedish air force off guard during a military exercise simulating an air attack on the country in March 2013.

Australia orders 58 F-35 Lockheed Martin stealth fighters

Australia will order 58 more F-35 Prime Australina Minister said on Wednesday.
Australia approved the purchase of 14 of the stealth fighters in 2009, and the additional jets will provide the Royal Australian Air Force with enough aircraft to form three operational squadrons and one training squadron.
The first F-35 aircraft will arrive in Australia in 2018 and enter service with the RAAF in 2020.
The Australian purchase is a signal of confidence in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program, which is about 70 percent over budget and years behind schedule.
Australia has moved recently to upgrade its air defense capabilities, announcing in February that it would buy eight of Boeing P-8A Poseidon and committing in March to purchasing the U.S. Navy's MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft.

India Wants Domestic Production of Pilatus Trainers

After contracting 75 basic trainer aircraft from Pilatus in 2012, India wants to buy an additional 106 that would be license-built by a domestic company.
But domestic defense firms find the proposal uneconomical, and state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) is pushing its own homegrown basic trainer, though the Indian Air Force has already rejected it.
The request for information, described by the defense industry as the first of its kind, asks selected domestic companies if they would participate in the proposed program to build 106 Pilatus PC-7 Mark-II trainers under license in the “Buy and Make (Indian)” category, which restricts contracts to domestic defense companies and requires that at least half of the components and subsystems come from domestic sources.
Domestic companies, in turn, find the “Buy and Make (Indian )” program for Pilatus uneconomical because of the limited order. A chosen domestic company and the Swiss original equipment manufacturer would produce the trainer. However, no domestic partner has so far confirmed talking to Pilatus on the program.
HAL is also developing a homegrown trainer and is trying to block the proposed Pilatus program.
A HAL official said the basic trainer it is developing, the HTT-40, would be more advanced than the PC-7 as it will have weapon-firing capabilities and other advancements. The HTT-40 is expected to fly by 2015.
Last year, the Air Force proposed that HAL license-produce the Pilatus aircraft but HAL rejected the proposal, saying it was working on its own project.

U.S. to deliver Apache helicopters to Egypt

The United States said on Tuesday it will deliver 10 Apache attack helicopters to Egypt, relaxing a partial suspension of military aid, to help Egypt's counter-terrorism operations in the Sinai Peninsula.
No other military aid beyond the Apaches, built by Boeing Co., is going to be freed up at the moment. That meant that delivery of other hardware, like F-16 fighter jets, remains on hold.
The move to free up the delivery of the Apaches underscores the importance that Washington places on ties with Egypt, which for decades has been among the largest recipients of U.S. military and economic aid.

4 Army units heading to Eastern Europe

The U.S. military in Europe is sending four company-sized infantry units, a total of about 600 soldiers, to Eastern Europe, the latest effort to reassure NATO allies in light of Russian aggression in Ukraine.
Four countries — Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia — each will receive a company of paratroopers from the U.S. Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team based in Vicenza, Italy.
U.S. European Command will maintain a rotation of ground forces in those countries for at least the next several months. The companies will conduct live-fire training exercises with local military forces for about one month, then will depart and be replaced by another U.S. Army company.
Last week NATO announced that it would have “more planes in the air, more ships on the water and more readiness on the land” but details of those additional operations have not been made public.
The Army deployment marks the first sustained addition of ground forces into Eastern Europe since Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine’s Crimea region began in late February.
The Pentagon expects to announce further U.S. troop deployments within NATO soon.
Last week, USA extended until the end of the year the deployment of about 200 airmen and Air Force F-16 fighters and C-130 cargo planes in Poland.
At Powidz Air Base, also in Poland, U.S. Air Force KC-135 tankers also are temporarily flying daily missions to refuel NATO-owned surveillance aircraft tracking Russian military movements along the eastern frontiers of Poland and Romania.

Apr 22, 2014

U.S. approves sale of 18 Black Hawk helicopters to Mexico

The U.S. government on Monday said it had approved the potential sale of 18 UH-60M Black Hawk.
The State Department approved the possible sale and Congress was notified last Thursday by the Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which oversees foreign arms sales.
U.S. lawmakers have 30 days to block the sale, although such action is rare.
The deal was announced ahead of an upcoming trip to Mexico by US Defense Secretary.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency said the sale would significantly increase and strengthen Mexico's ability to provide in-country airlift support for forces fighting drug trafficking organizations.

Apr 21, 2014

El #DestacamentoMamba de @EjercitoAire alcanza las 100 horas de vuelo en apoyo a la misión #UE en #RCA

Wildcat helicopter replacing Royal Navy's Westland Lynx passes first major test

The newest helicopter in the Royal Navy's arsenal came through its toughest test, spending a fortnight taking part in Europe's biggest naval war games.
Wildcat joined HMS Dragon on Exercise Joint Warrior. It is the first time the helicopter – normally based at RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset with 700W Naval Air Squadron – has spent such a concerted time at sea, and the first time it has taken part in the exercise aboard a ship.
From next year, Wildcat will start to replace the Lynx as the mainstay of aerial operations by the Royal Navy's Type 23 frigates and Type 45 destroyers.
Although it looks similar to its predecessor, Wildcat is a different aircraft, from the way it handles, to the equipment aboard – which is a generation ahead of that on the Lynx.
Later this year Wildcat will go through two months of intensive Operational Sea Training with a Type 23 frigate to prepare ship and helicopter for deployment.
Wildcat is due to be declared operational in early 2015 and is due to deploy for the first time with a Royal Navy warship on the North Atlantic patrol next May.

New Japan AWACS unit

A new E-2C early warning patrol plane unit was launched Air base in Naha, Okinawa, to bolster surveillance amid repeated intrusions by Chinese vessels into Japanese territorial waters.
Defense Minister told JASDF members at a ceremony commemorating the unit’s launch that they face “a dangerous situation” because China’s continued attempts to “change the status quo by force and threaten the rule of law could trigger emergencies.”
Chinese vessels have been shadowing or intruding into Japanese territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands on a regular basis since the chain was effectively nationalized by the Japanese government in 2012.
The uninhabited islets in the East China Sea, long administered by Japan, are claimed as Diaoyu by China and Tiaoyutai by Taiwan and are believed to be near lucrative gas and mineral deposits.
The JASDF has 13 E-2C aircraft deployed at Misawa airbase in Aomori Prefecture, but four of them will be transferred to Naha to bolster the new unit.
Another new unit will be established at an JASDF base in Shizuoka.

F-35 Program Manager: More Buyers Needed to Help Lower Production Costs

The Pentagon released new cost estimates for 78 major weapon systems that has a mix of good and bad news for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. While the long-term costs of the program are slightly down, production expenses have increased.
The only bright spot in the report is that F-35 operations and support costs — the cost of operating the entire fleet of 2,443 U.S. aircraft through 2065 — dropped nearly 9 percent. But acquisition costs from 2012 to 2013 increased about 2 percent. Aircraft production costs increased 1 percent. The F-35 engine costs climbed6.7 percent.
The F-35 program includes 1,763 F-35A models for the Air Force, 340 F-35Bs for the Marine Corps and 340 F-35Cs for the Navy. Several hundred are being bought by foreign allies.
The surest way to lower cost, he said, is to bring in more foreign buyers into the program. There are orders of 40 F-35s by South Korea and 19 F-35 for Israel. Another potential customer is Japan, which has a fleet of about 200 F-15s, half of which have been modernized. About 30 percent of F-35 components are made outside the United States, which exposes U.S. aircraft buys to fluctuations in foreign currency rates.
High-rate production is scheduled to start in 2018, when 154 airplanes (90 for the United States) would be built. By 2019, production would rise to 168, of which 96 would be for the United States.

Apr 20, 2014

F-35 Fleet Surpasses 15,000 Flying Hours

The F-35 Lightning II fleet recently surpassed 15,000 flight hours.
As of April 7, operational F-35s had flown 8,050 hours while System Development and Demonstration aircraft had accumulated 7,123 flight hours. In 2014, F-35A test aircraft have flown 328 hours; F-35B test aircraft have accumulated 191 hours; and F-35C test aircraft have flown 91 hours. In comparison, operational F-35As have flown 963 hours, while their F-35B and F-35C counterparts have accumulated 1,012 and 98 hours respectively for the year.
Also there were successful tests of AIM-120 AMRAAM in February and March.
The U.S. Marine Corps plans to declare IOC in 2015, while the U.S. Air Force and Navy intend to declare IOC in 2016 and 2018.

Apr 19, 2014

Lithuania plans to buy more L-39

Lithuania plans to buy more L-39 ZA light jet trainer aircraft over the next two years to boost readiness of the county’s Air Force.
Lithuania plans to buy the aircraft in 2015-2016. .
L-39 ZA jet trainer aircraft are necessary for training specialists of the Lithuanian army, ensure combat readiness of pilots of the Air Force and provide direct aviation assistance for all types of the Lithuanian Armed Forces.
Lithuania has one L-39ZA Albatros.

Navy Set to Pick Presidential Helicopter Contractor

The Navy plans to select the contractor who will build the next generation presidential helicopter next month.
It appears the service will only have one contractor to choose from, Sikorsky, after two other teams dropped out of the bidding process. AgustaWestland and Northrop Grumman had planned to offer the AW101 helicopter, and Boeing had discussed offering modified versions of the V-22 Osprey and the CH-47 Chinook. Both dropped out.
That would leave Sikorsky as the lone bidder with the company set to offer its S-92 helicopter to replace the aging VH-3D Sea King.
The Navy plans to build a fleet of 21 operational aircraft and 2 test aircraft for the president. Marine Helicopter Squadron One will fly the new aircraft. Full operational capability is expected in 2022 and the first test aircraft will be delivered in 2016.
The Navy’s selection of a new contractor will come five years after the former contract with Lockheed Martin and AgustaWestland to building the helicopter was canceled. Cost overruns had ballooned by so much.
The former helicopter was so advanced it was supposed to survive a nuclear blast.
Five years later the Navy is ready to start anew, likely with the same company who built the aging presidential helicopter.

Aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov ends Mediterranean mission, leaves for Atlantic Ocean

Russia's aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov has accomplished its mission within the Russian naval force in the Mediterranean and has headed for northeastern areas of the Atlantic Ocean, heading for Severomorsk. The aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov is expected to return to base by late May.
Over 350 flights were performed from the carrier's deck with the total duration exceeding 280 hours.
The Admiral Kuznetsov crew also had joint exercises with other ships of the Russian naval force, among them missile and artillery shooting from the Kinzhal air defense missile system and the AK-630 artillery system jointly with the North Fleet destroyer Admiral Levchenko.
In the course of its long-distance voyage the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov twice visited the port of Limassol in the Republic of Cyprus.
The Admiral Kuznetsov departed on the long-distance voyage from the North Fleet main base, Severomorsk, on December 17, 2013.

Apr 18, 2014

The Real Reason China Wants Aircraft Carriers

Last week, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was the guest of honor for a tour of China’s aircraft carrier Liaoning, an event that once again raised U.S. media interest in China’s navy.
It is not clear how many or what kind of carriers China will eventually build—whether they will more closely resemble Liaoning or be somewhat more modest in design, akin to U.S. Wasp-class amphibious assault ships. The former point China toward grander power projection missions; the latter toward the more immediate goal of establishing hegemony over its neighbors, many of whom have territorial disputes with China in the South and East China Seas. But it does appear that the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has the aircraft carrier “bug” and the implications for the United States are large, whichever course Beijing takes.
If not to take on the United States, why is the PLAN pursuing an expensive future of aircraft carrier power projection?
When it comes to navies and ships, size matters. Because of its ability to project daunting lethal power at great distances the aircraft carrier has been the dominant symbol of naval power for seven decades. The ability to operate one as a power projection platform represents the “table stakes” in any discussion of what constitutes a world-class navy.
The Neighborhood
As China surveys its geostrategic environment, a baseball diamond of nations is inscribed, with India at first base, Australia at second and Japan at third. Each of these nations operates some form of aviation assault platform capable of launching fixed wing aircraft, although the Japanese Izumo class would have to be reconfigured to do so. China wants to play ball against a benign infield.
The Mission
The most consequential misconception about the PLAN carrier program is that it is designed as part of a strategy to deter the United States from using its naval power to mediate East Asian conflict, the “mirror imaging” mentioned above. This is not the case.
China is building the capability to project power from the sea in order to build its strength relative to its neighbors, primarily those with whom it has ongoing territorial seas claims (Vietnam, the Philippines, and Japan). China does not need to build a navy as large or as powerful as the U.S. Navy in order to create fear and uncertainty among its neighbors. It only needs to build a navy with the credible means to project power over those neighbors’ shores.
Put another way, the strategic target of the PLAN in building a carrier force is not the U.S. Navy, but the network of alliances that longstanding U.S. economic and security interests in the region aim to preserve. Creating uncertainty and doubt in the minds of regional governments that the United States can continue to assure their security is at the heart of China’s desire to see the U.S. diminished in the region.
Some of the pieces of China’s strategy are clear: aggressively assert excessive territorial claims, build striking power to enable what one U.S. Navy intelligence expert called “short, sharp” wars to contest those claims, and create an anti-access capability that would slow down the U.S. response to such an action. Working these three lines of approach simultaneously, China hopes to prevail without conflict, by accomplishing what Dr. Andrew Krepinevich of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments has called the “Findlandization” of the Pacific.
Some have suggested that the Chinese carrier program is actually a boon for U.S. interests. They contend that the expense of building and equipping a fleet of aircraft carriers would help enfeeble PLA defense spending—a fate like that which the U.K. is now experiencing as it tries to build and equip a single aircraft carrier (of two planned).
While constructing a carrier and its associated air wing is expensive, the Chinese economy—and unquestionably the will of their ambitious leadership—can easily come up with the resources necessary to fit out a few aircraft carriers, especially as the peril to U.S. interests in the region is in geometric proportion to the investments in Chinese carrier aviation. The PLAN is on solid strategic ground in pursuing carrier-based power projection, and while their approach is not a direct threat to U.S. forces (or is not likely to be a threat in the foreseeable future), it serves as a long-term, slowly metastasizing threat to the most significant competitive advantage the U.S. enjoys in the region – its network of friendships and alliances.

Canada Sends Fighter Jets To Eastern Europe

Canada is deploying six CF-18 fighter jets to Eastern Europe as part of NATO’s response to the worsening crisis in Ukraine.
NATO has increased air sorties and additional navy ships in the region as Ukrainian and pro-Russian forces face off.
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — which border Russia and have sizeable ethnic Russian populations — have all sought reassurances, as have Ukraine’s neighbors Poland and Romania.
Canadian minister said he is concerned about “expansionism on the part of Russia under the presidency of Mr. Putin.
“I believe this to be a long-term serious threat to global peace and security, and we’re always prepared to work with our allies in NATO and elsewhere to try and bring whatever stability we can to the situation.”
The United States has also sent fighter aircraft to the Baltic states and Poland, to bolster confidence in member countries once ruled by Moscow.

Russia orders more MiG-29SMT fighters

 Russia has signed a contract with RAC MiG for 16 more MiG-29SMT , including ground support and test equipment. The order will see the RAC MiG deliver the aircraft to the Russian Air Force by 2016.
An order of 16 MiG-29SMT fighters was first suggested by Russian Deputy Defence Minister in August 2013 to make up for the lack of an immediate order of RAC MiG's newer MiG-35S 'Fulcrum-F' fighter aircraft. The new MiG-29SMTs will allow the Russian Air Force to maintain its operational inventory of light fighter aircraft.
According to the UAC, an order for the MiG-35S from the Russian Air Force is now scheduled to occur in 2016. The company expects that around 100 MiG-35S fighters will be procured in the short term.
Although the MiG-29SMT is already in service with the Russian Air Force, this is Russia's first order for the aircraft. The Russian Air Force received 28 MiG-29SMTs between 2009 and 2010, although these were aircraft originally ordered for Algeria, which subsequently rejected the aircraft.
According RAC MiG, the MiG-29SMT is "well proven in operations and has a significantly expanded range of weapons to attack both air and ground targets", compared with early 'Fulcrum' variants.
The most visible external difference between the MiG-29SMT and other 'Fulcrum' aircraft is the extended fuel-tank in the spine of the aircraft, which doubles the mission radius of the MiG-29SMT variant when operating in an air superiority role to 836 n miles (1,550 km; 963 miles). Internally the MiG-29SMT features a significantly improved systems fit. The airframe of the MiG-29SMT is, however, the original 'Flanker' airframe, rather than the newer, lighter, 9.15 aluminium-lithium alloy airframe of the MiG-29M. The 16 aircraft ordered are understood to be new build.

1000 horas de vuelo del Destacento MARFIL del Ejército del Aire en Apoyo a Mali

Iran Gets an Unlikely Visitor, an American Plane, but No One Seems to Know Why

Iran had an unlikely visitor: a plane, owned by the Bank of Utah. Bearing a small American flag on its tail, the aircraft was parked in a highly visible section of Mehrabad Airport in Tehran.
But from there, the story surrounding the plane, and why it was in Iran — where all but a few United States and European business activities are prohibited — grows more mysterious.
The Federal Aviation Administration said it had no information about the investors in the aircraft or who was operating it. Officials waiting at the gangway at Mehrabad Airport said only that the aircraft was “V.I.P.”
The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, the federal government’s primary enforcer of sanctions against Iran, declined to comment on the plane’s presence there. Under United States law, any American aircraft would usually need prior approval from the department to go to Iran without violating a complicated patchwork of rules governing trade.
In the case of this particular aircraft,the Commerce Department typically would have to grant its own clearance for American-made parts to touch down on Iranian soil.
Iranian officials also declined to comment on the purpose of the plane’s visit or passengers’ identities. A spokesman for Iran’s United Nations mission in New York, said: “We don’t have any information in this regard”
In the case of this plane, one spotter spied it leaving an airport in Zurich around the time of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, held in January. Another photographer tracked the plane, identified by its call letters N604EP on the tail engines, departing a London-area airport for Ghana last October.
But this week’s spotting by a New York Times reporter in Tehran carries particular intrigue because it involves Iran, a country still effectively shunned by the global financial system.
Officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the very presence of an American-flagged aircraft parked in broad daylight suggested its flight had been approved as part of a legitimate business trip. What is more, they said, the easily identifiable plane was not likely to be part of a covert diplomatic mission.
The secrecy surrounding the plane is compounded by federal aviation regulations that can make it virtually impossible to determine who was flying it.
The private plane, like thousands of similar ones, is owned through a trust — a complex legal structure often established to help foreign individuals or corporations invest in planes that can fly freely within the United States.

German P-3C Orion upgrade approved by US State Department

The US State Department has approved a upgrade package for Germany's eight Lockheed Martin P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft.
The package comprises the procurement, integration, and installation of hardware and software to upgrade the mission computer and acoustic systems.
The eight P-3Cs have been in service with the German Navy since they procured from the Netherlands as Dassault Atlantic replacements in 2005. Prior to entering German service, the aircraft had already undergone the Capabilities Upkeep Program, which is based on the US Navy's Anti-Surface Warfare Improvement Program. New sensors include AN/APS-137(B)5 Imaging synthetic aperture radar as well as new electronic warfare and communications suites.
Despite these issues, the German Navy's P-3Cs have proven themselves during operational deployments under the auspices of Operation 'Enduring Freedom' in Afghanistan and Operation 'Atalanta' off Somalia. The P-3Cs are operated by Naval Aviation Command's 1 Submarine Hunting Squadron and 2 Submarine Hunting and Reconnaissance Squadron out of Nordholz, on the Baltic coast.

An-70 passes Ukraine state tests

The Antonov An-70 propfan tactical transport plane has passed state acceptance trials and is finally ready to enter series production.
That might be a cause for celebration in the course of most military equipment programmes, particularly one that has been as tortuous and drawn-out as that of the An-70. The event, however, comes against a background of unprecedented political tension between Moscow and Kiev and uncertainty about the future of their joint military industrial co-operation that could yet see the aircraft consigned to history.
The aircraft is recommended for acceptance into the armed forces and also for serial production.
If the aircraft is ready, however, the intended customers are unlikely to be placing orders any time soon.
Russia has been involved with the programme since its inception in the Soviet-era, and has maintained intermittent involvement since Ukraine became independent. Interest from Moscow has waned in recent years, with the Russian Air Force openly sceptical about the aircraft, particularly in relation to its engine problems. In April 2013, Antonov admitted the Russians had withdrawn from involvement in the test programme in November 2012 because of frustration at its slow progress.
Russia would also be unlikely to want to procure an aircraft partly built in a Ukraine aspiring for NATO or EU membership. Another significant problem for Ukraine would be funding for the aircraft. While Russia has a stated requirement for around 60 aircraft to replace its ageing An-12 fleet, Ukraine has previously said it was ready to buy just a handful (between three and five according to local media - it has a requirement for considerably more).
Some commercial heavy cargo operators such as Volga Dnepr have previously expressed an interest in a civil variant of the type designated An-70T, but series production is all but unthinkable without a major military customer from one of the developer nations.