May 31, 2014

Bulgaria's Government to Decide on New Fighter Planes in June

Bulgaria's Government will decide on the future of the project for buying new fighter planes for the air forces in June. In the next 30 days the Government will decide whether it will buy new type of fighter jets, or will renovate the old MiG-29s.
Bulgaria's government is gathering offers from the major producers. Italy has already made an offer for second-hand Eurofighter jets.

Portugal to induct Harpoon Block II for submarines in 2014

The Portuguese Navy (Marinha Portuguesa) is planning to introduce the UGM-84 Sub-Harpoon Block II missile later this year to equip its two Type 214 (locally known as Type 209PN) Tridente-class attack submarines NRP Tridente (S 160) and NRP Arpão (S 161).
Eight Portuguese Navy RGM-84 Block I surface-launched anti-ship missiles are being adapted into Block II weapons in Den Helder, the Netherlands, with the installation of upgrade kits. Upgrade of the first missile was completed on schedule at the end of 2013; the navy plans to formally induct the updated UGM-84 missile into service in the fourth quarter of 2014.
Portugal also purchased eight capsules and associated containers in 2009 under its Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LoA) agreement with the United States.
In mid-2012, Tridente carried out sea trials at the US Navy's (USN's) Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Connecticut, where it fired several capsules to qualify both the missile launch procedure, and integration with the weapon system's fire control unit and other submarine systems.
The diesel-electric/air-independent propulsion submarines were delivered with the Advanced Harpoon Weapon Control System (AHWCS) fitted. Alongside active radar guidance for the prosecution of anti-ship targets, the Block II introduces GPS-aided inertial navigation to provide a land attack capability against fixed targets.
Along with the missiles, the boats' eight 533 mm torpedo tubes are capable of firing Black Shark heavyweight torpedoes, 24 of which were purchased in March 2005.
Intended to replace the Albacore-class Daphné boats, Tridente and Arpão were commissioned in June and December 2010 respectively. The vessels were acquired in April 2004 for EUR833 million by the Portuguese procurement agency (DGAIED) from what is known today as ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS).

May 30, 2014

Russian Naval Aviation Monitoring NATO Warships in Black Sea – Source

Naval wings of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet have resumed training flights over neutral waters of the sea to monitor the activity of NATO.
During the flights, combat training is carried out to provide surface image coverage in the neutral waters of the Black Sea. These flights, performed mainly by Su-24 attack aircraft, allow monitoring of NATO warship maneuvers, which have increased in activity in recent months.
NATO member countries deployed three ships to the Black Sea earlier this month: the French La Fayette-class frigate Surcouf, the French Dupuy de Lôme intelligence ship, and the US Ticonderoga-class Aegis guided-missile cruiser Vella Gulf something unmotivated for Russia.
The operations are in compliance with international regulations that govern flights over the neutral waters.
NATO Secretary General Anders said Tuesday the alliance would intensify its naval presence in the Baltic and Black Seas amid the crisis in Ukraine.

Israeli phased out the AH-1 attack helicopter fleet due to budget cuts

Israel has phased out its AH-1 'Cobra' attack helicopters in favour of using drones.
Israel's last squadron of Cobras, was pulled from service late last year. The decision was previously kept under wraps but disclosed in an increasingly public feud between the Defence Ministry and Treasury over budget cuts.
Israel began flying Cobras after the 1973 Middle East war, when its forces were battered by Egyptian and Syrian armour and air defence units.
With Egypt now at peace with Israel, and Syria riven by a more than 3-year-old revolt, the main threat Israel faces from their territories, as with neighbouring Lebanon and Gaza, is sneak attacks by guerrilla rocket crews or riflemen.
Israel retains two squadrons of Apache helicopters. It also flies an undisclosed number of pilotless drones.
The Cobras were axed as part of budget cuts.
Israel had a fleet of approximately 33 AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters.
Locally made Israeli drones increasingly patrol combat zones such as the Gaza Strip. They can circle for long hours on propeller engines, beaming back video to mark ground targets or to guide troops.

Peru to Get 8 Mi-17 Helicopters in November

Peru's Air Force will receive a delivery of eight new Russian-made helicopters in November, with an additional 16 to come in 2015.
The Mi-171Sh multi-purpose helicopters were sold to Peru in December, and are likely to replace the eight Mi-17 transport helicopters that were sold to Peru in 1984.
The Peruvian government has set aside $11 million to repair and refit the three Mi-171s it bought in 2010, and an additional $2.8 million to overhaul the presidential transport Mi-17-1B.
Russia will build a maintenance and repair center for the helicopters in Peru by 2016. Peru will be able to offer the services of this center to other countries in the region that own Russian helicopters and aircraft like the Su-25 fighter jet.

Ukraine army helicopter shot down near Sloviansk

Pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine have shot down a military helicopter near Sloviansk, killing 14 people.
The rebels used a Russian-made anti-aircraft system. An army general was among the dead.
The town of Sloviansk has seen fierce fighting between separatists and government forces in recent weeks.
Russia has reiterated calls for Ukraine to stop its military campaign against the pro-Moscow rebels.

Latest Voyager arrival completes 'core' fleet for RAF

The ninth Airbus A330 Voyager from the UK’s Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) programme touched down at the Royal Air Force’s Brize Norton base in Oxfordshire on 29 May, completing the service’s “core” fleet of the type.
Flown to the RAF’s air transport hub from Airbus Defence Space’s Getafe modification centre near Madrid, Voyager ZZ338 will begin operations once transferred to the UK military aircraft register.
Eight converted Voyagers have now been delivered to Brize Norton for use by the service’s 10 and 101 squadrons, including five three-point tanker/transports and two equipped with under-wing pods only. The ninth – currently unmodified – example is operated by AirTanker and retained on the UK civil aircraft register. All of the aircraft are configured with a 291-seat, single-class passenger cabin, and are capable of carrying a maximum fuel load of 111t.
Since entering use, the UK’s Voyagers have been flown for a combined 9,750h, and have transported more than 172,000 passengers. In the air-to-air refuelling role the fleet has completed over than 230 sorties and delivered in excess of 400t of fuel, supporting types including the RAF’s Eurofighter Typhoons and Panavia Tornado GR4s.
In addition to supporting quick reaction alert activities with Typhoons in the UK and the Falkland Islands, the Voyager fleet is also currently supporting testing of the RAF’s future tactical transport.ZZ334, a three-point tanker, has completed the military conversion programme and is currently in Spain as part of the UK’s commitment to support the Airbus A400M flight test programme.
A further five Voyagers will be delivered by the end of 2016.

Budget spat grounds Israeli training flights

The high command of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) has cancelled almost all air force training flights until further notice, due to budget cuts.
Announced on 28 May, the decision means training flights for reservist pilots – usually carried out once a week – will also be cancelled. The air force's flight academy is the only unit not impacted by the decision.
According to the defence ministry, a cash injection is needed just to continue basic functions for the remainder of the year. It is also asking for increased funding in 2015.
Israel's finance ministry is against any increase in the defence budget, claiming money can be saved though a change in spending procedures.

May 29, 2014

Third NATO Ship Enters Black Sea, Russia Vows Increased Military Air Presence

A French frigate entered the Black Sea on Wednesday, growing the number of NATO surface warships in the region to three.
Surcouf (F711) La Fayette-class frigate was spotted by amateur photographers crossing the Bosporus strait on Wednesday joining French signals intelligence ship Dupuy de Lôme (A759) and U.S. guided missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG-72) — both which entered the region earlier this month.
In reaction to the increased NATO naval presence in the region, Russian officials said they would begin to fly more air patrols over the Black Sea.
"During the flights, combat training is carried out to provide surface image coverage in the neutral waters of the Black Sea," state run RIA Novosti quoted a military source.
A Fencer buzzed the guided missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG-75) in April in what the Pentagon called a "provocative and unprofessional Russian action."

Spain to extend AV-8B Harrier service life

The Spanish Navy has been promised EUR70.3 million for extending the lifespan of its Harrier EAV-8B carrier-borne strike aircraft beyond 2025.
The allocation was announced by the cabinet on 23 May, five months after the Chief of Navy Staff, warned that the Armada's fixed-wing capability could be coming to an end.
A government statement said the investment was necessary because funds were not available to buy replacement aircraft to operate from the service's sole flat top, the Juan Carlos I .
The opportunity to extend the programme of our EAV-8B Plus Harrier has opened up because the United States is also going to extend the useful life of its Harrier aircraft, in the face of development delays with the new vertical take-off F-35 JSF.
Spain has a joint programme with the United States for the Harrier, which was set up in 1990 with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for development and support that also included Italy.
A 10-year agreement covering post-production and life-cycle support, in which those three countries were joined by the United Kingdom, was signed in 2004 and is due to run out on 9 December.
Speaking at a press briefing in January, spanish chief of Navy Staff said the only possible replacement for the Harrier was the F-35.
But as Spain had not been involved in the project from the start, trying to join at a late stage would make the aircraft "very expensive".
He warned then that the navy's Harriers would need to be retired between 2020 and 2025 and that "we have to start thinking, to see if we can come up with a replacement".
The AV-8B was acquired originally for the Armada's first modern aircraft carrier, Principe de Asturias , which was decommissioned in December 2013, following the commissioning of the much larger Juan Carlos I .

Qatar nears talks to buy Rafales

Qatar could firm up its interest in buying French Rafale fighter planes.
The contract is of vital importance for Dassault and the French government.
Dassault has had difficulty in selling the aircraft abroad, despite successful high-profile combat missions in Libya and Mali.
Qatar Emir might announce during his visit to Paris that Qatar have opted for the Rafale and would open exclusive talks with Dassault Aviation.
Negotiations would last about a year but the contract would be less complex than one signed with India.
France, which expects to slow down the rate of production of the planes owing to a lack of export orders, and Qatar resumed talks on the matter in March.
In March, the head of Dassault Aviation, Eric Trappier, said that the company had reached an understanding with India on how to organise construction of the plane in India. India began exclusive talks with Dassault in January 2012, for the purchase of 126 fighters.

Brazil details new C295 acquisition

The Brazilian Air Force between 2016 and 2017 is scheduled to receive the three Airbus C295 military transport aircraft it purchased in April.
The new aircraft are to enhance endurance, range, and cargo capability, for the FAB.
The contract also includes service support for five years, field service representatives, aircraft ground equipment, a mission support centre, training services, and more. Mission fittings cover the company's Fully Integrated Tactical System mission suite, a thermal imaging system, personnel locator, file transmission system, and satellite communication capability.

Turkey Completes Predesign of Indigenous Helo

Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), has completed critical predesign work for what will become the country’s first indigenous utility helicopter, a 5-ton, twin-engine, light helicopter that will start flight tests in five years.
The helicopter will be in the Turkish inventory by 2023.
The Turkish government last year signed a contract with TAI for the design, development and manufacturing of the helicopter. A TAI official said the helicopter is intended to replace Turkey’s aging UH-1s, but it also could be used to meet helicopter training needs of the Army.
Turkey could eventually buy more than 800 helicopters and with exports final sales numbers could reach about 1,200.
TAI also is the prime local contractor of a $3.5 billion program under which Sikorsky will co-produce 109 utility helicopters for the Turkish military. Turkey intends to use know-how and technology transfers from the Sikorsky-led program in its indigenous helicopter effort.
Turkey in 2011 selected Sikorsky Aircraft as its partner company to lead production of the country’s next-generation utility helicopters.

Australia could buy F-35B

Australia will consider buying the F-35B in addition to the conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) variant to which it has already committed.
The F-35B would be considered within the construct of the Defence White Paper, which is due in the second quarter of 2015.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has instructed planners working on the White Paper to examine the possibility of buying F-35Bs to operate from the Royal Australian Navy's (RAN's) two Canberra-class landing helicopter dock (LHD) amphibious ships.
The first of the two 27,800-tonne LHDs is currently undergoing delivery trials. The second will be commissioned in 2016.
The government announced on 23 April its decision to acquire a further 58 F-35As to take Australia's total commitment to 72. The first two will be delivered later this year, although they and subsequent deliveries will not arrive in Australia until late in 2018.
It is unclear whether any F-35B acquisition would be in addition to the 72 CTOL variants or be subtracted from that number.
Informed sources confirmed the prime minister's interest in the STOVL aircraft but pointed out that significant upgrades would be necessary to the LHDs to operate F-35Bs on anything more than a cross-decking basis with the US Marine Corps and other partner nations.
These upgrades would need to include heat-resistant deck coating for extended operations, additional fuel and weapons bunkerage, and enhancements to the command and control facilities, which are now focused on amphibious operations involving helicopters and water craft.

May 28, 2014

Belgian air force introduces A321 transport

The Belgian air force's new Airbus A321 was officially presented on 20 May, as a replacement for an A330-300 which had been in use since late 2009.
The asset will be used to transport troops and conduct the emergency evacuation of people and cargo, if required.
Based at Brussels-Melsbroek, the grey-liveried aircraft has already conducted its first operational flight, to Bamako in Mali.
The new aircraft is leased from a Portuguese company.

Brazil to add third converted 767 tanker

Brazil is to sign a revised contract soon to add a third converted Boeing 767-300 tanker to its air force inventory.
In March 2013, the Brazilian air force selected Israel Aerospace Industries for the conversion of two commercial Boeing 767-300ERs, with options for an additional two. These will replace the service’s four retired KC-137s, which had been in use since 1986.
The modified 767s will be configured with under-wing hose-and-drogue refuelling pods to support Brazilian air force fighters.
IAI is offering the Boeing 767 in a flexible configuration comprising hose-and-drogue pods, a boom, or both. It has already delivered one modified example to the Colombian air force, nicknamed “Jupiter”.

Royal Navy takes over Hawk T1 jets

Fast jets operating out of the Royal Naval Air Station at Culdrose in Cornwall have been returned to full military control.
The 14 Hawk T1 jets now make up 736 Naval Air Squadron and are flown by military and civilian pilots.
Until recently the aircraft were operated by private contractor SERCO which still provides three of the civilian pilots.
Their role includes acting as target aircraft to train ship crews.
Lt Cdr Tim Flatman, the squadron's commanding officer, says they will also help train pilots for the new Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier, pretending to be enemy aircraft and missiles.

RC-135 Rivet Joint first RAF flight

The first RC-135W flight with a Royal Air Force crew in the U.K. has been completed.

Scorpion jet pitched for Swiss air force

Textron is bidding to sell its Scorpion jets to the Swiss government at one-seventh the cost of Swedish Gripen fighter planes turned down by voters in Switzerland this month.
Acording Textron president “The Scorpion is ideally suited to Switzerland’s circumstances”, It is cheaper than the Gripen and still meets 90 percent of the tasks at hand”.
Swiss voters on May 18th shot down a deal approved by the government to buy 22 Gripen fighter jets from Saab.
The planes were to replace the Swiss air force’s fleet of 54 F-5.
Scorpion, is not a supersonic fighter and is not intended to be and is designed to be an affordable option for air forces to provide air space surveillance and intelligence.
The Swiss department of defence is not commenting on the Scorpion proposal.

Ambassador IV missile craft bound for Egypt

The first two Ambassador IV-class fast missile craft to be built for Egypt in the United States are being prepared for delivery.
The two vessels were seen being loaded into a civilian transport ship in Florida, on 25 May. First-of-class S Ezzat (682), which was officially handed over to the Egyptian Navy on 19 November. The second Ambassador IV, F Zekry (683), was handed over in December.

May 27, 2014

UK's Rivet Joint Wins Interim Approval To Fly

Britain’s new Rivet Joint RC-135W aircraft has secured an interim release to service allowing the signals intelligence platform to fly for the first time since it was delivered last November.
The aircraft, part of the Airseeker program, has been grounded at the Royal Air Force base at Waddington awaiting approval for release to service by the Military Aviation Authority (MAA) and others at the Ministry of Defence.
The vintage age of the original design and the unavailability of some design and qualification evidence has posed problems for RAF safety authorities conducting the release to service approval process.
The RC-135W’s are the first of three signals intelligence aircraft due to be delivered to the Royal Air Force by the US government under an Foreign Military Sales agreement signed in 2010.
The aircraft are 50-year-old KC-135 tankers upgraded and modified to the Rivet Joint configuration.
The aircraft has recently been granted interim approval pending a full release to service later in the year and flew for the first time May 23.
The aircraft is on track to enter service by the end of the year. A second Rivet Joint is scheduled for delivery next year and the final aircraft should be handed over two years later.
Britain axed its remaining Nimrod R1 signals intelligence aircraft after the 2011 military campaign in Libya.
Royal Air Force air and grounds crews have been co-manning US Air Force Rivet Joint aircraft and ground stations with American personnel to retain skills and operational capabilities.

Sweden May Fund Gripen-E Even Without International Partner

The Swedish government has signaled it is ready to roll back a stipulation in its 2012 agreement with Saab that required an international partner to be in place before funding could continue for the Gripen-E project.
The government’s new, softer line, reinforced by the Ministry of Defense, puts the Gripen-E project into the category of “too big to fail.”
In the 2012 Gripen-E project agreement with Saab, the MoD stipulated that it held the right to rescind funding if an international partner could not be found to share costs and develop export markets for the aircraft. The Swedish state has already invested more than $300 million in the Gripen-E development program.
Saab has now turned its attention to Brazil. Sweden continues to negotiate a broad industry partnership to produce an initial 36 Gripen-Es for the Brazilian Air Force in cooperation with the country’s aerospace sector. Under this industrial program, Saab is building an aircraft production facility outside Sao Paulo.
Under a framework agreement signed in February 2013, Saab is contracted to deliver 60 Gripen-E aircraft to the Swedish Air Force. This could rise to 80 when the defense allocation is increased significantly after 2015 to accommodate an expanded 40-year Gripen-E program.

UK To Acquire Missile Warning System for Helos, Fixed-Wing Craft

Britain is buying a BAE Systems third-generation (Gen 3) common missile warning system (CMWS) that helps protect helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft against small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades, as well as missiles.
The military will replace some second-generation systems and outfit new aircraft. Platforms, including Apache, Chinook, Wildcat and Merlin helicopters, will receive the equipment.
The contract will ensure armed forces will have around 300 systems in total. The system would be used predominantly on rotor-wing aircraft, but one fixed-wing platform would also be outfitted.
Small arms and rocket-propelled grenades have been a constant threat to air crews in Afghanistan.

USS George Washington departs Yokosuka; carrier’s future uncertain

The aircraft carrier USS George Washington embarked Saturday on what is likely one of its last patrols of the western Pacific Ocean as a Japan-based carrier.
About 5,500 sailors, Marines and other personnel left Yokosuka for a cruise that will include multiple port visits throughout Asia, as well as exercises at sea with Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force.
Long-term patrols for a carrier generally run about six months, though they have been lasting considerably longer recently. The USS Truman returned to Virginia in April after nearly nine months away.
Some carriers, like George Washington, often return to their homeport for a mid-patrol break.
In the summer of 2015, USS Ronald Reagan is scheduled to replace George Washington as the Navy’s Japan-deployed carrier.
USS George Washington’s future remains uncertain after that.
The ship is scheduled for a mid-life nuclear refueling and maintenance overhaul in 2016, which would take up to four years to finish. Some lawmakers and Pentagon officials have suggested retiring the ship instead, in order to meet mandatory budget caps on defense spending.

Success for First Aegis Ashore Missile Launch

The first launch of an anti-ballistic missile from a new shore-based version of the classic Aegis missile system was successfully carried out in Hawaii.
Aegis Ashore is being developed for installation on land facilities in Europe. Ground for the first installation was broken in October at a military base in Romania, and the system is scheduled to become operational by late 2015.
Launch of a Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) Block IB, from a test installation , was conducted by the Missile Defense Agency, the US Navy and engineers from Lockheed.
The test validated the layout of Aegis Ashore, which differs from the shipboard installation familiar to thousands of cruiser and destroyer sailors in that the vertical launch cells are considerably farther from the system’s command-and-control facilities.
In Hawaii, the launcher is about three-and-a-half miles from the Aegis deckhouse . The layout in Romania will be closer together.
Aegis Ashore uses a system nearly identical to the seagoing version, with the same vertical launch system, fire control system and SPY-1D radar. The building housing the system is strikingly similar, inside and out, to the steel deckhouse of Aegis ships.
The test, was also the first launch of an SM-3 by Aegis Baseline 9, the latest iteration of the Aegis combat system.
The flight test in Hawaii used Aegis Ashore Controlled Test Vehicle 01, and used a simulated target.
Only one more Aegis Ashore flight test is scheduled in Hawaii. An event using a real target is planned for next year.
The US Army Corps of Engineers is building an Aegis Ashore complex on 269 acres at a base near Deveselu, Romania.

Russian Air Force to receive 16 MiG-29SMT in 2015-2016

Sixteen MiG-29SMT will join the Russian Air Force in 2015-2016. Eight planes will be shipped next year and another eight in 2016.
The contract is aimed at maintaining combat readiness of the Russian fleet of light fighters. The Russian Air Force had received 18 MiG-29SMT fighters in 2009-2010.
The MiG-29SMT is a qualitatively new version of the MiG-29 light frontline fighter. The plane may be equipped with a broad variety of air-to-air and air-to-surface weapons and can efficiently destroy aerial, ground, and seaborne targets.
It was reported that the MiG-29SMT's combat efficiency had tripled compared to the basic MiG-29 version, and its operation costs had been reduced by some 40 percent.

Czechs will accede to NATO request to protect Iceland for longer

The Defense Ministry has no problem complying with the NATO request to extend the autumn mission of Czech Jas-39 Gripen fighters in Iceland.
The government and the Chamber of Deputies,must approve the new mandate.
Iceland air policing this autumn by Czechs, was planned for three weeks, and it is intended to be extended at least twice, and probably longer.
The mission will possible double the costs.
The Czech fighters will supervise the security of Iceland, which does not have its own military, between September and December. Physically, the planes will only be on the island for about three weeks. The mandate approved in 2012 expects a maximum stay of five weeks. For the rest of the time, the Gripens would only fly to the northern Atlantic Ocean from the Czech Republic in case of danger.
In the Baltics, the aircraft of NATO states stay in the countries throughout the mission. Czech aircraft supervised the air spaces of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in 2009 and 2012.

PLAAF aircraft carried out road runway exercise

PLAAF Su-27UBK, Z-9 and Y-7 carried out a road runway exercise on S82 Zhengmin expressway in Kaifeng, Henan province.


Brazil Army to upgrade Esquilo/Fennec helicopter fleet

Brazil will retrofit a total of 36 Esquilo/Fennec helicopters under a contract signed with Thales, that will provide its Integrated Electronic Stand-by Instrument (IESI). Completion is expected in 2018.
The first batch of six helicopters will be completed by 2014.
The upgrade includes new artificial horizon, altimeter and airspeed indicator.

PLAAF Su-27s intercept JSDF aircraft

Japanese military aircraft flying over the East China Sea have been intercepted by PLAAF fighters for the first time on May 24.

RMAF To Upgrade Radar Technology

The Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) has to expedite upgrading the national defence radar system as some of the radars are more than 15 years old.
RMAF is also studying the need to upgrade the airspace detecting system.
Defence Minister said the country's radar system and national defence should be re-evaluated being that the government had exposed its military capability and assets during the search and rescue mission for MH370.

May 24, 2014

Canada’s modernized CP-140M achieved IOC

The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) knows it as the Block III CP-140M Aurora long-range patrol aircraft. Fourteen Auroras are undergoing a significant modernization; six have now passed rigorous RCAF testing and achieved “Initial Operational Capability” (IOC).
The Block III modernization puts the Aurora tops among the world's leading surveillance planes of its kind.
19 Wing Comox, British Columbia, and 14 Wing Greenwood, Nova Scotia, are home to the Aurora. The aircraft functions primarily as a command, control, communication, computer, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance platform for domestic and international operations.
The Aurora, Canada's strategic surveillance aircraft, is tasked with domestic surveillance of Canada’s Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic coastlines and maritime approaches. It also conducts anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, maritime and overland ISR, strike coordination, and supports search and rescue in a secondary role.
The Aurora was originally acquired in the 1980s, and the Aurora Incremental Modernization Project (AIMP), consisting of blocks of modernization work, began in 1998 to upgrade its capabilities. To ensure its continued viability as an ISR platform, the RCAF additionally developed the Aurora Extension Proposal (AEP), which combines the original Aurora Incremental Modernization Project and the Aurora Structural Life Extension Project (ASLEP) with three additional capability enhancements. Moreover, the total number of modernized and life-extended aircraft is now 14, up from 10.
This work will ensure that the fleet remains effective up to the 2030 timeframe.

ROKAF F-15 Scrambled against Russian IL-38 entering South Korea Air Space

Seoul formally protested joint naval drills by China and Russia in the East China Sea that intruded into Korea’s air defense identification zone (Kadiz).
According to the Korean Ministry of National Defense on Tuesday, the training area for the military exercises conducted by Beijing and Moscow partly overlapped with the Korean and Japanese ADIZs.
A no-fly zone declared by China for the joint maritime drill with Russia intruded 230 kilometers (142 miles) northward into the Kadiz and 172 kilometers eastward, according to a Korean military official.
Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said that in a response, Korea stepped up surveillance and reconnaissance activities in the part of its air defense zone area in which China and Russia were conducting military exercises.
At around 8:40 a.m. yesterday, two Russian IL-38 maritime patrol aircraft crossed in Korea’s air defense zone for less than an hour.
In response, Korea scrambled two Air Force F-15K fighter jets and transmitted a radio message warning the planes to retreat. The Russian planes retreated.
Russian aircraft have violated the Kadiz before, and defense officials here did not confirm if these aircraft were a part of the China-Russia naval drills.

Royal New Zealand Navy new SH-2G(I) undergos test flights with Penguin missile

The new Royal Zealand Navy SH-2G(I) Super Seasprite helicopter is undergoing test-flights at Kaman fitted with one of the powerful Penguin missiles these helicopters will use.
Ten of these machines are on order to replace the existing five Seasprites.
The first should arrive late this year with all in service by 2016.

Finnish jets scrambled to intercept Russian planes

Tensions along the European Union border with Russia are high and increasing. The Finish Air Force had to scramble two jets over the Gulf of Finland after two Russian aircraft entered Finland's airspace without permission.
The information was confirmed by the Finnish Defence Ministry. A Russian state aircraft entered Finnish airspace after 6 P.M.
The Russian planes entered Finnish air space within two hours of each other and they were not commercial aircraft. Finnish fighter jets were scrambled to carry out a reconnaissance flight over the Gulf of Finland where the intrusion happened.
People living in Eastern Uusimaa could hear the sonic boom created by the Finnish jets. Finland and Russia share a common 1,300 kilometer land border.

RQ-4 arrives in Misawa AFB, Japan

Sweden May Fund Gripen-E Even Without International Partner

The Swedish government has signaled it is ready to roll back a stipulation in its 2012 agreement with Saab that required an international partner to be in place before funding could continue for the Gripen-E project.
The government’s new, softer line, reinforced by the Ministry of Defense, puts the Gripen-E project into the category of “too big to fail.”
In the 2012 Gripen-E project agreement with Saab, the MoD stipulated that it held the right to rescind funding if an international partner could not be found to share costs and develop export markets for the aircraft. The Swedish state has already invested more than $300 million in the Gripen-E development program.
Sweden had long pinned its Gripen-E international partner hopes on Switzerland, but this avenue of cooperation was closed on May 18 when the Swiss rejected a government plan to spend $3.5 billion on acquiring 22 aircraft from Saab.
Saab has now turned its attention to Brazil. Sweden continues to negotiate a broad industry partnership to produce an initial 36 Gripen-Es for the Brazilian Air Force in cooperation with the country’s aerospace sector. Under this industrial program, Saab is building an aircraft production facility outside Sao Paulo.
Under a framework agreement signed in February 2013, Saab is contracted to deliver 60 Gripen-E aircraft to the Swedish Air Force. This could rise to 80 when the defense allocation is increased significantly after 2015 to accommodate an expanded 40-year Gripen-E program.

Russia's PAK-DA bomber to fly in 2019

Russia's future PAK-DA strategic bomber aircraft should complete its maiden flight in 2019 and state tests and supplies will be completed in 2023 after which the aircraft will begin to enter service.
The PAK-DA programme has lumbered on since first being disclosed in 2007. United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) is under contract to develop the aircraft, with the holding company's Tupolev design bureau and the KAPO production plant in Kazan developing the aircraft.
The new aircraft type is understood to be designed to include reduced radar cross-section 'stealth' features, although speculation over whether the PAK-DA will feature a flying wing or convention design has yet to be answered.
In 2012 a debate emerged in Russian policy circles over the need for the PAK-DA, and on whether it should be capable of hypersonic speeds. With the programme continuing, this debate appears to have been settled, and it is understood that the aircraft will not be hypersonic - unsurprisingly given the immense technical challenge involved. In April, the head of UAC is understood to have confirmed that Tupolev had completed the design of the PAK-DA and that fabrication of certain parts for a prototype had begun.
When, and if, the PAK-DA does enter Russian Air Force service the aircraft will likely cause older Russian strategic bomber designs to be phased out of service. Currently Russia operates three strategic bomber types, all also designed by Tupolev: the Tu-22M3 'Backfire; Tu-95 'Bear'; and the Tu-160 'Blackjack'.

Eurofighter launches new Typhoon enhancement package

Eurofighter has rolled out a major capability enhancement package for its Typhoon at the ongoing 2014 ILA Berlin Air Show in Germany.
The package incorporates lessons learned during the operations in Libya, and are designed to significantly enhance the air-surface capabilities and completely revise the human machine interface for multirole operations.
The enhancements are also expected to enable the pilot to seamlessly transition between air-to-air and air-to-ground modes.
Phase 1 Enhancements (P1Eb) package is a significant advancement for the programme, and allows Typhoon to realise both its air-to-air and air-to-ground capability to full effect.
This package also paves the way for the Eurofighter to deploy deep strike stand-off weapons that can target high-value highly protected surface targets. The company is currently conducting the integration and flight test of the Storm Shadow missile.
The package also integrates the Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM), which has higher average speed than conventional missiles, and when combined with Typhoons' kinetics, is claimed to deliver a 'no escape zone' greater than three times that of comparable weaponry.
The package also includes a suite of capability upgrades for the aircraft's defensive aids sub system (DASS), and the latest interoperability updates for its multifunction and distribution systems (MIDS).

May 23, 2014

SOCOM Soon Getting More Capable, Deadlier Ospreys and C-130s

US Special Operations Command fixed-wing fleet will add a forward-facing gun and better armor to its 50 CV-22 Ospreys and, Hellfire missiles to the AC-130 fleet, along with new command and control and radio frequency jammers and countermeasures to both platforms that can be rolled on and rolled off, depending on the mission.
After three of AFSOC’s Ospreys were shot up over Juba, South Sudan in December, resulting in the injuries of four Marines on board, the command realized that the birds needed better armor.
SOCOM leadership is also working on beefing up the firepower on the aircraft, testing new forward-firing weapons that it wants to put in place by the end of this year.

US Aircraft sent to Italy for possible Libya evacuation

A Marine crisis-response team has deployed additional aircraft to Sicily as it awaits orders for a possible evacuation of American officials in Libya.
Seven Ospreys and three KC-130s from an air base in Spain have been positioned at U.S. Naval Air Station Sigonella with another Osprey arriving soon.
About 180 Marines and sailors with the team were moved last week with six aircraft from Morón Air Base in Spain; there are now 250 Marines there. The move was in response to growing concerns over militia battles in northern Libya and their proximity to Americans at the embassy in Tripoli. Several countries, including Saudi Arabia and Algeria, have already closed their diplomatic missions in Tripoli.
There have been no requests for assistance from the Marines in Sigonella. But if called on to help with evacuations of U.S. diplomatic personnel the team is in a posture and in a location that should they be needed in North Africa, specifically Libya, that they would be ready to do so.
The crisis-response team has been mobilized periodically as threats arise in Africa. The team took part in embassy evacuations in South Sudan last year.
The battles in Libya come after fighters loyal to a former regime general and later rebel leader attacked Islamist militias in the eastern city of Benghazi and the parliament in Tripoli.

Saudi Arabia, Spain sign security co-operation agreement

Spain and Saudi Arabia have signed a security co-operation agreement, which covers any future defence sales between the two countries.
The agreement was announced in Madrid on 19 May, following the return of a Spanish ministerial delegation to Saudi Arabia led by King Juan Carlos.
King Juan Carlos has been involved in a series of trade missions around the Gulf Cooperation Council nations in recent weeks, starting with the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, which is aimed at boosting Spanish trade with the region, particularly in the areas of defence and infrastructure.

Airbus seeks deal to supply Germany with Israel drones

Airbus signed a deal on Wednesday with Israel Aerospace Industries to team up on a bid for a bridging contract to supply the German armed forces with military drones until 2020.
The armed forces currently use an IAI Heron 1, which is made by the Israeli firm and operated by Airbus Defence & Space. However, Germany's contract with the two companies is due to expire in 2015.
Airbus Defence & Space said on Wednesday it had struck a deal with Israel Aerospace Industries to make an offer to supply Germany with an upgraded drone, the Heron TP, after 2015 to allow the country to keep its surveillance capabilities until the arrival of a European drone.
The German government would have the choice of either a purchase option or a lease for the system, Airbus said.
European aerospace companies on Monday put forward proposals for a medium-altitude long endurance (MALE) drone program that would have to be agreed by governments in the region, before potential production for 2020.

May 21, 2014

Brazil to order 28 KC-390

Embraer signed a firm order with the Brazilian Air Force for the supply of 28 production KC-390 tactical transport/tanker aircraft.
First delivery of production aircraft is expected at the end of 2016, with production under the contract running for ten years.
In addition to the aircraft, the contract includes a comprehensive logistics support package covering spare parts and maintenance services.
This is the first firm order of the type and it paves the way for the conclusion of further firm sales for the program´s current industrial partners Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Portugal and the Czech Republic.
These countries have signed memorandum of understanding comprising potential demand for a further 32 KC-390.
To be able to certify the KC-390 for Antarctic operations, one of its most demanding roles, comprehensive cold weather tests are to be held, possibly in Canada.
Final assembly is to begin in June.

B-52s get communications upgrade

The U.S. Air Force has begun upgrading the communications and computers of its B-52 fleet. The first B-52 has received its Boeing Combat Network Communications Technology (CONECT) upgrade.
CONECT is currently in low-rate initial production, though the Air Force anticipates modernizing its entire B-52 fleet with the innovative CONECT capability. The CONECT kits are being installed at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma.

US Senators Develop Plan to Keep A-10s Flying for One Year

Senate Armed Services Committee members have cobbled together a plan to keep the US Air Force’s A-10 attack planes flying for another year.
Committee Chairman, told reporters on Tuesday that he and other panel members who want to block the service’s plans to retire the fleet to save money have found hundreds of millions in budgetary offsets to keep the venerable attack planes flying.
The House Armed Services Committee-approved A-10 provision prohibits retiring the attack planes until the US comptroller general makes a number of certifications and completes several studies, including a report to evaluate all Air Force platforms that are used for CAS missions.
The comptroller general also would be required to assess the cost per plane for conducting CAS missions, such as whether other aircraft are able to successfully perform CAS missions, and the capabilities of each plane used in that role.

Swiss voters reject Gripen purchase

Swiss voters have rejected the country's planned purchase of 22 Saab Gripen E in a landmark referendum on 18 May.
In a major blow to Saab, the country voted 53.4% against the proposed purchase of the Gripen E to replace the F-5 Tiger II fighter aircraft.
The Gripen E had been selected by Switzerland in November 2011 to replace the F-5s.
The 54 Tiger II fleet has been in Swiss service since 1978 and is scheduled to be withdrawn from service in 2016. Meanwhile, the other element of the Swiss Air Force's combat fleet, its 32 Boeing F/A-18C/D Hornets, is itself currently scheduled to be withdrawn from service in 2025. With the purchase of the Gripen now rejected, Switzerland urgently needs a solution to maintain the country's air policing capabilities.
A short-term solution could involve upgrading and refurbishing the country's existing Tiger II fleet, which could be maintained in service until at least 2020.
Other options include relaunching the original Tiger replacement programme, in which the Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Rafale had also competed. Alternatively, with the purchase of Gripens now ruled out, Switzerland could lease a fleet of the aircraft, as the Czech Republic and Hungary do.

Poland receives first Leopard 2A5 MBTs

Poland has received its first batch of Leopard 2A5 from ex-German Army stocks.
A total of 11 Leopard 2A5s were delivered by rail to west Poland, where their intended user, the 34th Armoured Cavalry Brigade, is based.
Poland ordered a total of 105 Leopard 2A5 MBTs, plus 14 of the earlier Leopard 2A4 variant and around 200 support and logistics vehicles, from ex-German stocks in 2013. Poland already operates 124 Leopard 2A4 MBTs, plus a large inventory of Soviet-era T-72M and PT-91. The new Leopards will replace the 34th Armoured Cavalry Brigade's two battalions of PT-91 tanks, while Poland's T-72M MBTs are planned to be phased out of service.
49 of the new tanks should be delivered by mid-2014, with all vehicles being delivered by mid-2015.