Jun 30, 2014

Boeing offers KC-46 for South Korea tanker requirement

Boeing has submitted its response to a request for proposals to supply South Korea’s first in-flight refuelling capability, pitching KC-46 for the four-aircraft deal.
Boeing has previously said international deliveries of the KC-46 could begin in 2018, with its first development example to be flown for the first time later this year, and USAF deliveries to start in 2016.
Airbus officials earlier this month confirmed the company’s intention to contest the South Korean requirement. The nation’s air force already operates its smaller CN235 medium transport.

Bangladesh Navy to receive K-8W, Mi-171Sh aircraft

The Bangladesh Navy will take delivery of nine K-8W training aircraft from China by the end of 2014.
The K-8W aircraft will be used to train pilots at the naval aviation command in Chittagong. The aircraft is currently is service with the Bolivian and Venezuelan air forces.
Besides the K-8W aircraft, the Bangladesh Navy is also anticipating the delivery of five Mi-171Sh multirole medium helicopters. The aircraft were procured from Russia under are likely to be inducted by 2015 for maritime surveillance and search-and-rescue operations.
The Bangladesh Navy established a naval aviation command in July 2011 to strengthen its maritime capabilities, with an initial force of two AgustaWestland AW109 helicopters. Since then, it has taken delivery of two Dornier 228 NG maritime patrol aircraft and is now awaiting the delivery of three Harbin Z-9 helicopters from China, and the five Russian Mi-171Sh helicopters.
The delivery of nine K-8W trainers may also signal the navy's intent of ultimately operating jet-powered fixed-wing aircraft.

Italy Seeks Bigger JSF Workshare

Italy’s defense minister, during a Friday meeting with US Defense Secretary, will ask the US to boost the Italian workshare on the Joint Strike Fighter program at its final assembly line, even as Italy reduces spending on the aircraft.
Italy has built a final assembly line for its JSFs at its Cameri air base in northern Italy, which is facing a shortfall in production after Italy cut its order from 131 to 90 aircraft.
A deal has meanwhile been struck to assemble Dutch jets at the plant. Talks are also underway with Norway.
However Norway’s first JSF is in the early stages of assembly at Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth, Texas, facility and Norway does not plan to switch facilities.
Italy has also frozen the signing of new JSF contracts following a vote last year in parliament over budget concerns. Only six aircraft have been contracted from the program’s low rate initial production (LRIP) 6 and 7.
Italy has also authorized procurement of long-lead items for two LRIP 8 conventional JSFs and two LRIP 9 aircraft — a conventional version and a short-takeoff vertical-landing (STOVL) aircraft.
No further orders will be made until a new white paper on Italy’s defense requirements is completed in December.
The freeze on orders has affected payments for long-lead items for four LRIP 10 aircraft, two conventional and two STOVL, which were due in February to maintain delivery schedules.

Vietnam inducts DHC-6 aircraft into air naval brigade

The People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) Navy inducted a Viking DHC-6 twin turboprop aircraft into its 954 Air Force-Naval Brigade on 17 June.
The 954 Air Force-Naval Brigade was established in July 2013 to undertake maritime patrol and search-and-rescue (SAR) tasks, and is seen as a Vietnamese counter to Chinese claims to disputed maritime territories. A report carried in Vietnamese state media indicated that the DHC-6 will be joined by more aircraft in the near future to form a squadron that will be tasked with maritime patrol duties in what is termed in Vietnam the "East Vietnam Sea".

U.S. has armed drones over Baghdad

A U.S. official confirmed that armed American drones started flying over Baghdad in the previous 24 hours to provide additional protection for 180 U.S. military advisers in the area. Until now, U.S. officials had said all drone reconnaissance flights over Iraq were unarmed.
Using the drones for any offensive strikes against insurgent Islamic State in Iraq and Syria fighters would continue to require approval from U.S. President Barack Obama.
Also on Friday, Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani said disputed areas in northern Iraq, including the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, are part of the Kurdish autonomous region from now on after the Iraqi central government failed to hold a long-awaited referendum.

USAF Interceptions of Russian Aircraft Rise as Russia Boosts Air Power

The Russian Air Force is upgrading its long-range aircraft, making increasing encounters near US airspace. The Russian Aircraft are, much better than they ever were during the Cold War and increasingly sophisticated and increasingly capable.
US and NATO aircraft have been intercepting Tu-95 Bear, Tu-160 Blackjack and Tu-22 Backfire strategic bombers and numerous fighter aircraft since 2007 when the Russian Air Force resumed long-range aviation missions, which had stopped at the end of the Cold War.
The intercepts typically take place near Alaska and down the western coast of Canada and the continental US. In Europe, they typically occur over the Baltic and North seas.
Since the middle of the past decade, the Russia Air Force has been modernizing its bomber aircraft and long-range missiles.
There have been upgrades to cruise missiles, including a conventional version of the nuclear Kh-55. Another project long talked about is upgrading the Kh-22 anti-ship missile. Within the last year, photos of a Russian test aircraft carrying bright red missiles with a new panel under the nose are believed to be an upgraded Kh-22.
Russia also has aspirations of fielding a new bomber aircraft toward the middle the 2020s.

Russian Defense Ministry plans to buy 32 Ka-52K helicopters for Mistral ships

Russian Deputy Defense Minister visited the Progress aircraft manufacturing company, based in the city of Arsenyevsk, Primorye Territory, where he discussed potential acquisitions of Kamov Ka-52K ship-based helicopters for Mistral-class helicopter carriers, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a press release.
The plant is in a stable position and has a long-term contract on the delivery of 146 Ka-52 Alligator helicopters for the period up to 2020. Further plans include [the sale of] 32 ship-based helicopters. When commenting on a contract with Russia's Navy, the deputy minister said that the "Navy is expecting Ka-52 helicopters, which will be placed on board the Mistral-type ships currently under construction."

Myanmar to Purchase Chinese-Pakistani JF-17 Fighter Jets

According to local media, Myanmar will become the first foreign purchaser of the JF-17 Sino-Pakistan jointly produced fighter.
Currently, only Pakistan’s Air Force operates the J-17 and.
Although the report is unconfirmed, it is extremely plausible. To begin with, Myanmar has previously operated or currently operates a number of Chinese-made aircraft including: 48 NAMC A-5C fighters, 52 Chengdu F-7M Airguard fighters and 4 Y-8 medium lift transports. The Southeast Asian nation’s air force also recently purchased Sky 02A Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) from China, and built domestic copies of them.
Myanmar is also believed to operate 4-10 Karakorum-8 jet assault and trainer planes, which were also jointly produced by China and Pakistan. Some reports indicate that the deal for the K-8s also included a license in-country component.
Myanmar also reportedly considered purchasing the JF-17 a few years back before ultimately deciding to buy Russian-made Mi-29s. However.

Germany Ready To Keep Patriot Missiles In Turkey's Southeast

Germany's Defense Ministry dismissed media reports over claims that Patriot Missile Batteries in Turkey would be withdrawn at the end of 2014, adding that the mission could be extended for two more years.
Germany has announced it is prepared to extend its deployment of Patriot missile batteries in Turkey if Ankara requires it. The announcement on Monday came one day after the German press reported that NATO allies had begun talks on halting the mission - which Ankara had requested in 2012 amid possible threats from Syria - at the end of 2014, following the removal of chemical weapons from its southern neighbor.
The German parliament decided in late January to extend its deployment of Patriot missiles in Turkey until Jan. 31 2015, with the possibility of a further extension. The batteries have been stationed in Kahramanmaras since January 2013 and have been operating under the command and control of NATO.
The mission involves up to 400 troops from the German military.The U.S. and the Netherlands also operate two Patriot missile batteries each as part of the NATO mission.

Government of Canada to Reduce Challenger Fleet

The Canadian Minister of National Defence, announced today that the Government of Canada will reduce the Royal Canadian Air Force's fleet of CC-144 Challenger aircraft from six to four effective immediately. Savings from this initiative are estimated at $1.5M per year and will be redirected towards higher operational needs such as search and rescue.

More F-35s grounded following Eglin fire

The Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps have halted all F-35 flights after a fire damaged an Air Force F-35A during takeoff Monday morning at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.
Initially only F-35A flights at Eglin were grounded Tuesday, and the base said then it expected flights to resume Wednesday.
The Air Force said Thursday that major commands, including Air Force Education and Training Command, Air Combat Command and Air Force Materiel Command have decided to stop F-35A flights while the investigation continues into Monday’s fire, as a precautionary measure.
Eglin is home to all F-35 instructor pilot training, including for the F-35B and F-35C variants of other services and other nations. The Navy said Thursday that local commanders at Patuxent Naval Air Station, Maryland, and Eglin have decided to stop F-35C flights while the investigation continues.
Eglin officials have not released any information on the extent of the damage.

Iraq receives first Russian combat aircrafts

The first batch of the Sukhoi of five Su-25 combat aircrafts from Russia has arrived in Iraq on Saturday, to enhance the combat capability of the country’s Air Force.
The aircrafts were delivered to Iraq on board an Antonov-124-100 of the Russian Air Force. Iraq’s Defence Ministry has published on its website a video of unloading. Iraq’s Air Force office said the aircrafts would be used “within next 3-4 days to support combat operations against ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant terrorist group).”
The officer said Russian specialises who had arrived in Iraq would provide necessary technical service.

Jun 29, 2014

USAF Awards Sikorsky, Lockheed CSAR Helicopter Contract

The US Air Force awarded Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin a contract Thursday for the Combat Rescue Helicopter program.
The deal for 112 Sikorsky Black Hawks, outfitted with Lockheed mission equipment, brings to a close a more than decade-long Air Force quest to purchase a replacement for its HH-60G combat search-and-rescue helicopters. The Sikorsky-Lockheed team was the only bidder in the competition.
The program had been star-crossed. Over a more than 15-year period, the Air Force unsuccessfully tried to acquire new machines to replace battle-worn HH-60G Pave Hawks. A 2006 deal to buy Boeing Chinooks fell apart due to mistakes made when the Air Force evaluated bids.
Since then, the program was delayed, mainly due to internal Pentagon squabbling. Air Force officials debated the mission requirements and whether the effort should be combined with a separate Air Force helicopter program. Air Force Special Operations Command tried to take over the mission from Air Combat Command, while other services questioned the need for the entire combat search-and-rescue mission.
When all of those issues were finally put to bed, the one-time No. 2 Air Force acquisition priority completely fell off the list. By 2013, the Air Force budget had tightened and sequestration hit the Pentagon.

Eurofighter new aerodynamics test set for end 2014

Eurofighter will by year-end make is final proof-of-concept test flight on an aerodynamic modification kit that promises to improve the combat aircraft’s subsonic turn rate by 15%.
Adding leading edge root extensions and extended trailing edge flaps, and reshaping the side-of-cockpit ILS antennae covers as 70° delta strakes should improve the aircraft’s agility for close-quarters combat.
The root extensions – or LERX – have already flown and show significant improvement in the subsonic airflow over the wings.
A further boost to agility could also come from the addition of thrust vectoring.

Boeing proposes high-speed Apache, heavier Chinook

As the US Department of Defense pursues a family of high-speed rotorcraft, Boeing officials say two stalwarts of the current fleet – the AH-64 Apache and CH-47 Chinook – must be kept viable for decades to come.
The AH-64E entered service last year, but an F-model is already on the drawing boards. Some upgrades – the 3,000shp turboshaft in development under the army’s improved turbine engine programme (ITEP).
Boeing officials also believe high-speed capabilities can be added to the 40-year-old Apache design. Possibilities include adding a retractable landing gear, wingstubs to offload lift from a single main rotor in high-speed cruise and a tail rotor that articulates 90° to provide forward thrust.
Boeing is scheduled to deliver the last CH-47F in Fiscal 2019, ending a production run that began in 1961. Boeing now is proposing to remanufacture F-models with a higher gross weight.
In the past, Boeing has proposed a 31,800kg (70,000lb) class variant with a 30cm (1in) wider fuselage to accommodate up-armoured HMMWV (Humvee) trucks. Budget realities have forced the company to propose a more modest solution now. The “H-model” CH-47, as proposed, strengthens the airframe and the propulsion system to lift 24,500kg, or about 1,810kg more than the existing helicopter.
The proposals seem to clash with the company’s interests in the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) programme. Boeing has teamed with Sikorsky to develop the high-speed SB-1 Defiant for the joint multi-role technology demonstrator (JMR-TD), which is a intended to be a scaled down version of the FVL-Medium concept to replace the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk after 2030.

Jun 27, 2014

First Royal New Zealand Air Force Beechcraft T-6C Takes Flight

The first RNZAF Beechcraft T-6C advanced trainer has made its first flight from Beechcraft’s Wichita facility in Kansas on June 10.
The aircraft – NZ1401 – made the flight with a Beechcraft company crew at the controls and lasted two hours, and functionality checks such as flight performance and handling characteristics were conducted. It will carry the US civil registration of N2824B while the initial flight test program is completed.
New Zealand ordered 11 T-6Cs in January to replace CT-4E trainers in the basic course, and elements of the advanced course currently conducted by the King Air. The first six RNZAF Qualified Flying Instructors (QFIs) are due to commence their conversion to the T-6C in August, and the first four aircraft will be delivered by the end of this year.
The aircraft will be based at Ohakea, and will commence pilot training in mid-2015 by which time all 11 aircraft will have been delivered.

Iraq have bought Sukhoi Jets from Russia and Belarus

Iraqi Presiden said that Iraq had bought a number of used Sukhoi fighter jets from Russia and Belarus. He said the aircraft could be flying missions in Iraq "within a few days".
Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the crisis with Mr Maliki by phone last Friday, the Kremlin reported on its website at the time.
Russia has confirmed his full support for the government's efforts to rid Iraqi territory of "terrorists", they said, without giving details.

Philippines Air Force to get first 4 Huey helicopters of 21

Four of 21 UH-1 helicopters acquired by the Philippines military from North American suppliers arrived last Sunday.  Three more Huey helicopters might be delivered next month.


BAE Systems has begun to upgrade 134 South Korean F-16 aircraft in partnership with the U.S. Air Force.
Two of the F-16s recently arrived at the company’s modification facility in Fort Worth, Texas, where they will be equipped with advanced weapons and next-generation avionics, including advanced mission computers, new cockpit displays, and advanced radars and targeting sensors.
The work is part of a Foreign Military Sales program for the Republic of Korea’s fleet of KF-16C/D Block 52 aircraft over several years. With a contract now in place, the program marks the first time a non-original equipment manufacturer is performing a major upgrade for a 4th-generation U.S. fighter jet. .
Under terms negotiated by the Republic of Korea Air Force and the U.S. government, the company is performing Phase One of the KF-16 program, which also includes associated equipment, parts, training, and logistical support. Phase Two will begin this year and will fund completion of the systems integration and flight test activities, followed by production and installation of the upgrades.

First 2 Philippines Air Force F/A-50s to be Delivered in September 2015

Philippines Defense Secretary on Thursday said that the first two South Korean made F/A-50 "Fighting Eagle" jet aircraft will be delivered by September 2015.
Prior this, Air Force pilots with high jet time and maintenance crews, will be first sent to South Korea for briefing and training.
Delivery of the remaining F/A-50s is expected to be completed within two years after the delivery of the first two.
After the F/A-50s, it's hoped to acquire modern fighter aircraft.
The Philippines and South Korea signed the contract for the 12 F/A-50 units last March 28.
The F/A-50 will act as the country's interim fighter until the Philippines get enough experience of operating fast jet assets and money to fund the acquisition of more capable fighter aircraft.

Jun 26, 2014

Marines, Air Force F-35 Flights Stalled

The F-35A struck by fire as it took off from Eglin Air Force Base has been secured and is under armed guard in a secure hanger and the Air Force and Marines are not flying their versions of the Joint Strike Fighter until they know more about the fire’s causes.
The 33rd Fighter Wing, responsible for F-35 training at Eglin Air Force Base, said Wednesday morning that its “commander has decided to continue the temporarily suspension of F-35A flights at Eglin in the interest of safety as we continue to investigate the cause of the mishap.”
The fire-damaged plane, has been secured as if it were a production aircraft and this was a problem unlikely to affect the rest of the F-35 fleet. This is the first time all the commands and services have grappled with a potentially serious flight incident and it seems pretty clear that no one is sure what the protocols are for a plane that is both in the test phase and in low rate production.

Australia begins training LHD crew with MRH90 helicopters

The Royal Australian Navy has begun training the aviation crew of its first Canberra-class amphibious assault ship (LHD) on MRH90 helicopters.
The training is being conducted on a dummy deck that simulates Canberra's helicopter landing platform. The LHD is able to accommodate up to 11 MRH90 helicopters in its hangar.
Australia procured the first MRH90 (NHIndustries NH90) in 2005, to replace the army and navy's Sikorsky Black Hawk and Sea King helicopters. Australia is due to receive a total of 46 MRH90 helicopters by 2015.
Training procedures include launch and recovery operations from the simulated flight deck and vertical replenishment exercises where an underslung load is moved from one "ship" to another.

Iran Secretly Sending Drones and Supplies Into Iraq

Iran is directing surveillance drones over Iraq from an airfield in Baghdad and is supplying Iraqi forces with tons of military equipment and other supplies, according to American officials.
The secret Iranian programs are a rare instance in which Iran and the United States share a near-term goal: countering the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, the Sunni militants who have seized towns and cities in a blitzkrieg across western and northern Iraq.
Senior American officials emphasized that the parallel efforts were not coordinated.
Both the United States and Iran have small numbers of military advisers in Iraq. As many as 300 American commandos are being deployed to assess Iraqi forces and the deteriorating security situation, while about a dozen officers from Iran’s paramilitary Quds Force have been sent to advise Iraqi commanders and to help mobilize more than 2,000 Shiites from southern Iraq, American officials say.
Iranian transport planes have been making twice-daily flights to Baghdad with military equipment and supplies, 70 tons per flight, for the Iraqi forces.
The Iranian involvement comes as Syria has intervened militarily by carrying out airstrikes in western Iraq against ISIS fighters, according to American officials..

Jun 25, 2014

Mexico plans to acquire 5 UH-60M Black Hawk

The US State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Mexico for 5 UH-60M Black Hawk Helicopters and associated equipment, including , 13 T700-GE-701D Engines (10 installed and 3 spares), 12 Embedded Global Positioning Systems/Inertial Navigation Systems (10 installed and 2 spares), 10 M134 7.62mm Machine Guns, 5 Star Safire III Forward Looking Infrared Radar Systems, 1 Aviation Mission Planning System, and 1 Aviation Ground Power Unit.
Mexico intends to use these helicopters to expand its existing naval/maritime support in its efforts to combat drug trafficking organizations.

F-35As grounded at Eglin after Monday's fire

Flights of F-35A fighters are grounded Tuesday at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, one day after a “significant fire” damaged one of the aircraft during takeoff.
The planes are grounded while officials investigate the cause of the fire. The base expects that the initial investigation will last one day, and that the aircraft will be cleared to resume flights Wednesday.
Other variants of the aircraft, the F-35B and F-35C, are not flying Tuesday, but that is due to “unfriendly weather” in Florida rather than concerns about the aircraft.
At about 9:15 a.m. Monday, fire broke out on the aft end of an F-35A piloted by an instructor pilot, who was taking off as part of a two-ship formation for a continuation training mission. The pilot was able to stop the jet, shut down the engine and egress safely.
Last February, the Defense Department grounded all F-35s for about a week after a crack was found in the engine of the Marine Corps F-35B variant. An investigation found that heat cracked a blade in the engine of the aircraft.

USS Nimitz heads into 16-mo. overhaul in 2015

The US Navy fleet’s longest-serving flattop is slated for a much-needed break from the deployment cycle next year, when it enters a 16-month maintenance period.
Navy Personnel Command is working to make the transition as smooth as possible.
Nimitz returned from its most recent deployment with Carrier Strike Group 11 in December 2013, following nine months cruising 5th, 6th and 7th Fleets.

India unhappy at Russia's Mi-35 sale to Pakistan

India's defence links with Russia are under strain following Moscow's recent decision to supply Mi-35 'Hind E' attack helicopters to Pakistan.
Senior Indian officials are closely monitoring Russian attempts to sell an unspecified number of Mi-35s to Pakistan: a move that would tear up a decades-old informal understanding between Delhi and Moscow against supplying Islamabad any materiel.
Pakistan's national security and foreign affairs adviser travelled to Moscow to thank Russian Foreign Minister for the helicopters on 21 June, just two days after Indian leaders raised concerns in New Delhi with visiting Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin.
It remains unclear how many Mi-35s Russia has agreed to supply and the status of negotiations. The Pakistan Army's existing attack helicopter fleet is made up of a mix of AH-1F/S Cobras supplied by the United States. These are used to provide surveillance, attack, and close air support to ground forces engaging militants in the Tribal Areas and surrounds.

Mauritania turns DC-3 into surveillance aircraft

The Mauritanian Air Force has increased its ability to monitor the country's vast, sparsely populated territory by upgrading its Basler Turbo BT-67 with an electro-optical (EO) turret and associated mission systems so it can carry out surveillance as well as transport duties.
The BT-67 is a refurbished DC-3 acquired by the FAIM in 1999. The US Department of State Air Wing operates at least one BT-67 that has been similarly upgraded with an under-nose FLIR Systems Star SAFIRE turret.
L-3 Wescam said it had delivered two MX-15 sensor turrets to Mauritania, but these had been fitted to Cessna 208 Caravan aircraft. Although the FAIM was not previously known to operate Caravans, it is possible that one unit could have been moved to the BT-67 in-country.
The FAIM also operates Embraer EMB-314 Super Tucanos that are equipped with Star SAFIRE III turrets, according to FLIR Systems, but the BT-67 has a significantly longer endurance than these light attack aircraft.

Navantia upgrades Algerian amphibious ship

Spanish shipyard Navantia has handed over the amphibious ship LSTH Kalaat Beni Rached to the Algerian Navy after a major 18 month long upgrade, in Ferrol, Spain, on June 12 after complete overhauls of engines and systems, life extension repairs and the integration of a new command and control system, new gun and targeting systems and the structural modernisation of the vessels for greater performance and safety.
Navantia received the Algerian contract in July 2012, covering Kalaat Beni Rached (BDSL 473) and her sister ship Kalaat Beni Hammad (BDSL 472). The latter arrived in Ferrol earlier this month for her overhaul.
The two amphibious logistics ships were built in the United Kingdom in the 1980s. They feature a bow ramp to land vehicles with, a large internal vehicle storage area and ramps fore and aft. Although a hangar is not fitted, a helicopter deck can operate heavy helicopters.
Algeria is in the process of expanding its navy in recent years as it faces problems such as smuggling, illegal migration and indigenous terrorism. These threats mainly affect Algeria's harbours and maritime communication routes and ships passing through the Straits of Gibraltar. The country is also maintaining a strong navy to deter its neighbours, notably Morocco.
In April 2012 it emerged that Algeria had signed a contract with the China Shipbuilding Trading Company for three light frigates, after ordering two Meko A200N frigates from Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems in March 2012. The three light frigates will displace around 2 800 tons fully loaded, and will be powered by MTU diesel engines. Algeria has also ordered two new Tiger class corvettes from Russia. The Tiger corvette (Project 20382) is an export model of the Project 20380 Steregushchy class, which is the Russian Navy’s newest corvette class.
In January Italian shipyard Fincantieri launched the Algerian Navy’s Kalaat Beni-Abbes landing helicopter dock ship, which will be delivered to Algeria later this year. Algeria may order a second of the type in the coming months.

Israeli jets bomb Gaza after rocket fire

Israeli planes pounded Gaza late Tuesday night, in a retaliatory strike after several rockets were shot at southern Israel hours earlier.
The IDF Spokesperson’s office said in a statement that Israeli aircraft struck “5 concealed rocket launchers in northern Gaza, one terror activity site in central Gaza, and a weapon manufacturing facility in southern Gaza.” It said the strikes came in response to a salvo of rockets from the Gaza Strip earlier in the evening.
At least five missiles were fired at Israel, according to media and military accounts.
Another rocket fired out of Gaza landed inside a residential community in the Sdot Negev region.
The Iron Dome anti-missile system shot down two rockets fired at the Hof Ashkelon region in quick succession. Two more rockets fired at the area landed in open areas.
More than 200 rockets have been fired on Israel since the beginning of the year.

Jun 24, 2014

Australia reveals interest in F-35B

Australian defence chiefs have told that Prime Minister coalition government is considering whether to acquire a number of short take-off and vertical landing Lockheed Martin F-35Bs.
Canberra confirmed in April it will acquire 58 F-35A Lightning IIs for the Royal Australian Air Force, adding to the 14 already on order to replace the RAAF's Boeing F/A-18A/B Hornet.
Australia has long-stated a requirement for 100 air combat aircraft. However, because it acquired 24 F/A-18F Super Hornets in 2009-2010 as a bridging capability between the retirement of the General Dynamics F-111C and the introduction of the F-35A, it has deferred a decision on Phase 2C of the project until the early- to mid-2020s.
The F-35B proposal is being pushed by Abbott’s office, and if acquired the aircraft would be fielded from the Royal Australian Navy’s two new LHD-class vessels – the first of which is to be commissioned as HMAS Canberra later this year.
The two 27,000t LHDs currently under construction in Melbourne, Victoria are based on Spain’s King Juan Carlos 1 (L-61) vessel, built by Navantia. When ordered, the LHDs were intended for amphibious and regional humanitarian assistance missions. They have capacity for a battalion of troops, up to 100 vehicles, four large amphibious watercraft and a dozen or more helicopters to be embarked for such missions.
There has long been an intention to conduct operational ‘cross-decking’ operations with US Marine Corps and UK Royal Navy fixed and rotary-wing aircraft.
HMAS Canberra will be followed by HMAS Adelaide in 2016.

USAF: F-35 Fire Will Not Ground Fleet

The fire that broke out on an F-35A model Monday will not ground the fleet or alter plans to bring the Joint Strike Fighter to the UK, service officials said.
No other F-35A models have been grounded by the fire, which broke out as a pilot was preparing for a flight Monday morning at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida..
However, the damaged F-35 model is still on the runway while investigators determine the cause of the fire, which may lead to altered or curtailed test flights from other models at Eglin.
The Pentagon expects a preliminary assessment of damage by week’s end, but may not receive engineering analysis until further down the line.
Perhaps most importantly for the program, plans appear on track to bring a pair of F-35B “jump jet” variants to the UK for the Royal International Air Tattoo and Farnborough air shows. Both Pentagon and Lockheed Martin officials view that appearance, the first flight of the plane overseas, as a milestone for a program that is becoming increasingly reliant on foreign sales.

Japan delays C-2 service entry after door issue in testing

Japan is delaying the introduction into service of the Kawasaki C-2 transport aircraft to investigate why a door broke during pressurisation testing in January.
The Technical Research and Development Institute (TRDI) was investigating the cause.
The MoD had planned to deploy the first operational C-2 in early 2015. This now appears unlikely to happen.
The JASDF requires up to 60 C-2s to replace Kawasaki C-1 and Lockheed Martin C-130H transports, with 10 originally scheduled to be delivered in the next four years.
The C-2 is intended to provide much greater range than the platforms it is replacing, with a stated range of 3,023 n miles (5,598 km; 3,478 miles) when carrying its maximum payload of 30 tonnes.
JASDF officials have previously said they want to modify some C-2s for surveillance and reconnaissance operations, which are currently carried out by NAMC YS-11 airframes that are more than 40 years old. The MoD has approved the purchase of six ex-US Marine Corps KC-130Rs to replace YS-11 transports in Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force service.
Japan's shortage of airlift capabilities was also highlighted in the 3 March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Kawasaki has also offered a civilian cargo version of the C-2, called the YCX, on the international market.

F-35 Catches Fire on Takeoff at Eglin AFB

A USAF F-35 caught fire when attempting to take off from a Florida Air Force base Monday morning.
The plane, which is assigned to the 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, the unit that trains F-35 pilots for the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and international militaries, experienced a fire in the aft end of the aircraft.
The pilot successfully shut down the plane and escaped unharmed.
The fire is the second major incident experienced by the program in recent weeks. Test flights were temporarily halted on June 13 for inspections of an oil flow management valve fitting inside the engine.
No F-35s have been destroyed since production began in 2006. Lockheed has delivered more than 100 F-35s since then.
The aircraft are being used for operational testing and pilot training only. The Marine Corps is expected to declare its version of the aircraft battle-ready next year.

JF-17 Developments Indicate Aircraft Is Still On Track

Contrary to speculation, development of the JF-17 aircraft continues apace with avionics and weapons carriage capability improvements, work ongoing on future variants, and impending establishment of the third squadron.
The current fleet had logged 10,000 hours and flown over 13,500 sorties.
It was also revealed that the third squadron would be raised toward the end of the year.
Among these improvements are avionics, aiming at improving situational awareness and, but still centered on the NRIET KLJ-7 radar which supports the SD-10 beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile.
Integrating some additional smart and indigenously developed weapons is underway.
Short-range air-to-air armament, however, still consists of the PL-5E II, a recent variant of an aged weapon.
Potential payload shortcomings have also been highlighted by analysts. The JF-17 is often seen with three large drop-tanks indicating low internal fuel capacity and/or high consumption by the Klimov RD-93 engine.


Israeli warplanes bombed a series of targets inside Syria early Monday, in response to a cross-border attack that killed an Israeli teenager the previous day.
Israel said it struck nine military targets inside Syria. The targets were located in the Golan Heights. There was no immediate response from Syria.
In Sunday's attack, an Israeli civilian vehicle was struck by forces in Syria as it drove in the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights. A teenage boy was killed and two other people were wounded in the first deadly incident along the Israeli-Syrian front since Syria's civil war erupted three years ago.
The sudden burst of violence has added to the tense situation in Israel, where forces have spent the past week and half in a broad ground operation in the West Bank in search of three teenage boys believed to have been abducted by Hamas militants.
Israel has carefully monitored the fighting in Syria, but has generally kept its distance and avoided taking sides. On several occasions, mortar shells and other types of fire have landed on the Israeli side of the de facto border, drawing limited Israeli reprisals. Israel is also believed to have carried out several airstrikes on arms shipments it believed to be headed from Syria to Hezbollah militants in neighboring Lebanon.
It was not immediately clear whether Syrian troops or one of the many rebel groups battling the government carried out Sunday's deadly attack in the Golan, but the attack was intentional. Israel has repeatedly said it holds the Syrian government responsible for any attacks emanating from its territory, regardless of who actually carries them out.

US Army moves Apache helicopters to Hawaii

Eight U.S. Army’s Apache Helicopters arrived in Hawaii on Friday for this summer’s Rim of the Pacific joint exercises, after which half of those Apache Guardians will be sent deeper into Asia as part of the Army’s Pacific Pathways initiative.
Under Pacific Pathways, the Army is developing small units that will be forward-deployed for quick response to humanitarian emergencies or regional threats. Between actual crises, the units will train with various partner countries.
This is the first time the new Echo version of the Apache helicopter has been brought to Hawaii. Two dozen of them were deployed to Afghanistan this spring for the first time.
The eight Apaches, along with about 40 soldiers, will be in Hawaii for about two months. The aircraft will be stationed at Wheeler Army Airfield, 15 miles north of Honolulu.
Following the two-month RIMPAC exercise, two of the Apaches will join the Tiger Balm exercise held in Hawaii with Singapore.

Hungarian air-force may police Austrian skies

Expected budget restrictions mean that Austria may be reliant on Hungary air-force to fly missions in Austria's air space.
If a jet is hijacked over Austria, the air-force is scrambled -- but from Hungary, since Austria lacks the capabilities.
Austria would be heavily dependent on its nearest EU allies in the event of a military situation, due to the unexpected costs and budget restriction of current capabilities.
In real terms, Austria's latest defense budget will spend 0.5% of the country's GDP.
The move to radically cut defense spending and rely on allies increases the likelihood that Austria will experience what happened in Switzerland earlier in the year, when a hijacked Ethiopian plane was forced to land in Geneva - escorted by French fighters, since Swiss military planes only fly during regular office hours.

India Dhruv helicopter likely to be deployed on-board Indian Navy INS Vikramaditya

Indigenously-built Dhruv helicopter is likely to be deployed on INS Vikramaditya for carrying out the role of detecting hostile submarines.
If inducted, ALH will be the first indigenous system to be integrated on the warship, which operates only imported equipment such as the MiG 29K naval combat fighters and the Kamov-31 helicopters.
HAL is undergoing trials for carrying out role of detecting hostile submarines using systems developed by the DRDO.
The system would be tried further before any final decision is taken on deploying the twin-engine chopper on board the carrier.
The Dhruv is also part of the Coast Guard inventory which uses it for search and rescue operations in coastal areas.

Jun 22, 2014

Government of Canada Signs agreement with Sikorsky for CH-148

Canada announced that it has completed all required amendments to both the acquisition and long-term in-service support contracts with Sikorsky for the acquisition and maintenance of 28 CH-148 Cyclone helicopters for the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). These contract amendments are further to the Principles of Agreement announced in January 2014.
The amended acquisition will ensure the delivery of helicopters with operational capability to begin retirement of the Sea Kings in 2015.
In its final configuration, the CH-148 Cyclone will be one of the most capable maritime helicopters in the world. The CH-148 Cyclone will also be fully interoperable in a modern battle space, and will be able to concurrently conduct a full spectrum of anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare in hostile, high-threat environments.
News Canada

Dassault poised to win a contract from Qatar for 72 Rafales

Dassault is poised to win a contract from Qatar for 72 Rafale jets, a French government official said.
A contract would probably come in two batches of 36 aircraft. The topic will be discussed when Qatar ruler visits France next week, as negotiations continue. The Qatari Ministry of Defense and Dassault Aviation had no comment.
Dassault sees prospects for sales to Canada and Malaysia.
French President Francois Hollande has been discussing the sale of the jets with Qatar for more than a year. Hollande told journalists on a visit to Qatar’s capital, Doha, a year ago, that as much as three quarters of Qatar’s military hardware comes from France.
Qatar, which shares the world’s biggest gas reservoir with Iran, has been looking to replace its existing fleet of 12 Mirage fighter jets with more modern aircraft.

Tu-95 bomber fires new cruise missiles at Kamchatka range in training

A Tu-95MS strategic bomber in exercises on Friday fired six new high precision cruise missiles at targets in Kamchatka.
The ground targets in the Kura firing range in Kamchatka were hit successfully.
The cruise missiles were launched during air tactical exercises of air squadrons from the Engels air force base, the Saratov region in Russia's southeastern European part. Eight strategic bombers Tu-95MS missile carriers from the Engels base participated in the exercises. The aircraft took off for the missions from the Ukrainka air field, the source added.
The crew of the Tu-95 was in the air for about seven hours.

Iraq Eyes Czech Mi 24 helos To Combat ISIL Militants

The Czech Republic is in talks to sell Russian-built Mil Mi-24 helicopters to the Iraqi Defense Ministry.
Currently, the Czech Air Force operates 17 Mi-24 helos. Of these, seven aircraft could be sold to the Iraqi government, according to Czech ministry officials.
The minister said that, in addition to the helos, the Iraqi government has expressed interest in purchasing Aero L-159 light combat aircraft.
Should the deal go through, the helos will be modernized and Iraqi pilots will undergo training in the Czech Republic. The copters are to be used to bolster Iraqi efforts to combat Sunni insurgents in the country’s north, where militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) captured several cities this month.
The twin-engine aircraft is a combat helo with transport capabilities. It is enabled with a maximum speed of 310 kilometers per hour, has a load capacity of 2.4 tons, and a flight range of 750 kilometers, according to data from the Czech Defense Ministry. The aircraft is manufactured by the Moscow Mil helicopter plant.

IAI to offer converted tankers to South Korea

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is to offer the Korea an aerial refuelling solution based on its converted Boeing 767-300ER Multi-Mission Tanker Transport (MMTT) tanker.
In offering its MMTT, IAI joins Airbus Defence and Space and Boeing which are offering South Korea their A330-200 MultiRole Tanker Transport (MRTT) and KC-46A Pegasus platforms respectively.
As well as being cheaper to procure, IAI's pre-owned solution need not give anything away to its new-build rivals in terms of either through-life support costs or reliability.
To date, Colombia and Brazil have signed up for IAI's B767 MMTT conversions, with one 767-200 and two 767-300 aircraft respectively. Besides South Korea, IAI is also looking at offering nations a pooled tanker capability, similar in scope to the three Boeing C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft operated by NATO's Strategic Airlift Capability.

Jordan Seeks To Convert C-295 Into Gunship

Jordan is stepping up its gunship capability following the signing of a deal with aircraft builder Airbus Military and weapons supplier ATK to convert one of the C-295 transports in service with its Air Force into an aerial enforcer.
The Jordanian state-owned King Abdullah II Design and Development Bureau signed a deal at Eurosatory to work cooperatively with ATK and Airbus to develop a C-295 gunship.
The twin turboprop C-295 is best known as a transport aircraft but is increasingly being offered in special mission roles. The Jordanian deal is the first time it will be used as a gunship.
The signing comes just weeks after the Royal Jordanian Air Force took delivery of two smaller Airbus CN-235 transports converted into the gunship role, where they are known as the AC-235.
The AC-295 gunship configuration will be based on the AC-235, which includes integrated mission and fire control systems, electro-optical and radar sensors, Hellfire missiles, ATK’s side-mounted M230 30mm chain gun, an integrated defensive suite, and 2.75-inch guided rockets.
The prince would not confirm final fleet numbers but a source said it was possible a new aircraft would also be purchased from Airbus Military to round out the total Jordanian gunship capability to four aircraft.

Lockheed F-35 Bulkhead Cracks Solution Proposed

Lockheed Martin and the Pentagon say a fix has been found that should prevent more bulkhead cracks on the Marine Corps version of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
On-the-ground stress testing may resume as soon as Sept. 30, officials said. It was suspended this past September after inspections found cracks in three of six bulkheads on a plane used for such tests.
The suspension increased scrutiny of the Marines’ F-35B, the most complex of three versions because it is intended to take off like a conventional fighter and land like a helicopter. The F-35B, is supposed to be declared combat-ready next year.
Lockheed, has redesigned the bulkhead. The new bulkhead will be installed in aircraft to be made in the ninth production contract that’s scheduled to awarded next year. Retrofit kits will be sent to depots to strengthen the aircraft already delivered, she said.
To provide an extra margin of assurance, the Marine, Air Force and Navy versions of the F-35 are all required to undergo tests for the equivalent of 16,000 flight hours. The Marine version was supposed to complete its second 8,000 hours of testing by the end of this year.
The ground-testing aircraft had accumulated 9,480 hours when testing was stopped.

Qatari C-17 alleged to have visited Libya

The Libyan Air Force posted a photograph of a military transport on its Facebook page on 15 January, alleging it was a Qatari aircraft that had landed at a base controlled by one of the country's militias.
Much of the Libyan Air Force, including the people who control the Facebook page, is loyal to Khalifa Haftar, a former Libyan Army officer who launched an offensive against Islamist militias in the east of the country in May without approval from the country's weak central authorities.
The aircraft in the photograph is a Boeing C-17 Globemaster III strategic transport aircraft with a Qatari flag on its tail. While the Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF) operates four C-17s that were delivered between 2009 and 2012, there is nothing to prove the photograph was taken in Libya.
Flight records obtained by the panel of experts that monitors the UN arms embargo on Libya show that Qatari C-17s visited Tripoli's Mitiga International Airport twice and Binina Airbase outside Benghazi once between 15 January and 16 April 2013.
The panel is attempting to investigate allegations that the aircraft picked up arms shipments in Libya that were flown to Turkey and supplied to Syrian insurgents. It noted in its 19 February report that, after the three Libyan flights returned to Qatar's Al-Ubeid Airbase, the next C-17s to depart flew to Ankara.
Earlier in June, Haftar's spokesman Muhammad Hijazi accused Sudan of supplying Qatari-funded weapons to Islamist militias, saying a shipment had been flown to Mitiga International Airport for a militia loyal to Abdel Hakim Belhaj on 6 June. Belhaj is a veteran commander of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) who is now the leader of Libya's Al-Watan party. He is widely perceived to be one of the main beneficiaries of Qatari support during and since the 2011 rebellion that overthrew Muammar Ghadaffi in 2011.
The Libyan Air Defence Command, which is also loyal to Haftar, potentially has the ability to detect aircraft flying across the country's southeastern border with Sudan. It announced in October 2013 that it had repaired a P-12/18 surveillance radar and associated operations room in Al-Kufrah: a remote southeastern district that borders Sudan and Chad.
Colonel Alswarmi Khalid Saad, the spokesman for the Sudan Armed Forces, denied that Sudan has supplied weapons to militants in Libya. He added that the two countries now have excellent defence ties and that dozens of Libyans are currently studying at its military college.
The UN panel of experts has reported that Sudan has leased three Mi-24/35 combat helicopters to Libya in contravention of the arms embargo. One of the helicopters crashed in July 2013 and photographs posted on the Binina Airbase's Facebook page indicate that at least one (an Mi-24/35P with serial number 959) of the two survivors is currently operating in support of Haftar's forces.
The latest allegations imply that Qatar is again sending arms to Libya, rather than shipping them out for Syrian rebels. While the extent to which this is happening remains unclear, Libya is another potential arena for the Saudi-Qatari rivalry.
If the Saudi-backed government in Cairo can be persuaded to refuse Qatari military transports permission to fly through Egyptian airspace, then Sudan offers a potential route or transhipment point for weapons going to or from Libya.
This raises the possibility that the MiG-21 fighters operated by the Libyan Air Force elements that are loyal to Haftar could try to intercept transport aircraft flying across the Libyan-Sudanese border with the help of the early warning facility in Al-Kufrah.

US Marines receive full complement of Harvest HAWK gunships

The US Marine Corps (USMC) has received into service the 10th and final Lockheed Martin KC-130J Hercules to be modernised with the Harvest HAWK mission package, the company announced on 16 June.
Developed to fulfil an urgent operational requirement in Afghanistan, the Harvest HAWK conversion programme equipped the KC-130J with a roll-on/roll-off dual-screen fire-control console mounted in a removable cargo platform in the aircraft's cargo compartment, a Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control AN/AAQ-30 Target Sight Sensor mounted under the port-side wing fuel tank, and a Common Data Link.
The aircraft's weapons fit comprises four AGM-114P Hellfire II laser-guided air-to-surface missiles mounted on the port-side refuelling pylon, and MBDA GBU-44/E Viper Strike and Raytheon Griffin A air-to-surface missiles launched from a ramp-mounted 10-round rack and a pressurised dispenser dubbed the 'Derringer Door'. A sideways-firing Mk 44 30 mm cannon has been deferred to a later Block III upgrade.
The first Harvest HAWK kit was deployed to Afghanistan with VMGR-352 in October 2010. The type has since become the close air support (CAS) platform of choice for ground forces.

US flying F-18 surveillance missions over Iraq

The United States is flying F-18 surveillance missions over Iraq from USS George HW Bush aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf, as President Obama weighs options for "increased security assistance" in the country.
It was already known that the Obama administration had authorized "manned and unmanned" surveillance flights, but F-18's are not traditional surveillance aircraft -- they are attack aircraft.
The White House said Obama reviewed with lawmakers "our efforts to strengthen the capacity of Iraq's security forces to confront the threat from [ISIS], including options for increased security assistance."
ISIS, an offshoot of Al Qaeda, has seized Mosul, Tikrit and other Iraqi towns as members of the Iraqi military abandon their posts. The Iraqi government reportedly has appealed for the Obama administration to launch airstrikes.
Iraqi security forces are now less capable than when the US president withdrew the entirety of forces without successfully negotiating a remaining U.S. presence capable of preserving and mentoring.