Aug 23, 2014

Indonesia and US to sign Apache Memorandum of Understanding

Indonesia and the United States are expected to sign an agreement soon to facilitate the Indonesian Army's (TNI-AD's) enhanced operation of on-order Boeing AH-64E Apache attack helicopters.
The Indonesian Ministry of Defence said on 20 August that the memorandum of understanding (MoU) will cover the handling and security of data and communications received by the Apache during TNI operations.
The MoU is currently under review by the TNI chiefs of staffs. Defence Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said he hoped this review would be completed soon to enable ratification of the MoU so the US could deliver the Apache helicopters to Indonesia before the 69th anniversary of the TNI on 5 October.

F-16V Passes Radar Integration Milestone

Lockheed Martin has moved forward with a major milestone on its F-16V upgrade.
The company completed a Critical Design Review to ensure Northrop Grumman’s Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR) design has met requirements handed down by the US Air Force. The improved radar capabilities brought by SABR are at the core of the F-16V modification.
Taiwan is slated to be the first customer to receive the F-16V upgrade. In addition to SABR, the upgrade enhances the electronic warfare suite, mission computer and cockpit.
While Lockheed and US officials insist radar upgrades for Taiwan’s F-16 fleet are still on track, officials in Taiwan have expressed concerns over a US Air Force decision to back out of a major avionics update known as CAPES.
Northrop was selected by Lockheed over competitor Raytheon to provide the radar upgrade in a hotly contested battle. The upgrade market for F-16s, operated by 25 countries, is expected to remain a fertile growth area for companies at a time when new jet production is coming down.
The F-16V will be the most advanced model of the F-16, at a time when the legacy models are showing wear and tear. The US Air Force has ordered all F-16B and D models be checked for damage after a series of cracks grounded over half its F-16D fleet.

Lockheed, suppliers brainstorm how to lower F-35 operating costs

Lockheed met with 90 key suppliers last week to brainstorm ways to lower the long-term cost of operating and maintaining the F-35 fighter jets from the Pentagon's current forecast of $1.02 trillion through 2065.
Top officials from the Pentagon's Defense Contracts Management Agency and the Defense Contracts Audit Agency were also on hand during two days of talks in Fort Worth, Texas.
Tom Owen, vice president of F-35 sustainment strategies for Lockheed, told Reuters the meeting was "an initial, early step" toward mapping out specific measures to cut the plane's hefty sustainment costs.

First RNZAF T-6Cs Touch Down

The first two Beechcraft T-6C Texan II trainers for the Royal New Zealand Air Force touched down at Whenuapai, RNZAF Base Auckland this week .
The two aircraft will be formally handed over to the RNZAF in October after intial pilot and maintenance training is completed. To be based at Ohakea, all 11 T-6Cs on order are due to be delivered by June 2015, allowing the first RNZAF pilot training course on the aircaft to begin in early 2016.

Aug 17, 2014

UK RAF Has Been Flying RC-135 Over Northern Iraq

The UK has been secretly flying its most advanced surveillance aircraft, the newly acquired RC-135 Rivet Joint over northern Iraq during the humanitarian crisis there, the Defence Secretary has revealed.

Qatar to receive Pilatus PC-21 by year end

The delivery of Swiss trainer aircraft Pilatus to Qatar remains ‘on schedule,’ Swiss Ambassador Martin Aeschbacher has told Gulf Times.
Two years back, the Pilatus aircraft manufacturer had landed the major deal, which included the sale of a fleet of 24 PC-21 trainer planes to Qatar, as well as a package of ground-based training tools, logistical support and maintenance.

Aug 15, 2014

Mexico orders next batch of T-6C+ Texan IIs

The Mexican Air Force (FAM) has issued a follow-up contract for a fourth batch of Beechcraft T-6C+ Texan II armed trainers.
This project is the largest so far and follows three previous tranches for 24 Texans, which were procured to equip the Air Force Air Tactical Military School at the No.11 Military Air Base (BAM-11) in Santa Gertrudis, Chihuahua, and the 402nd Air Squadron based at BAM-2 in Ixtepec, Oaxaca.
The new aircraft are to begin replacing the Pilatus PC-7 light interceptor and close air support aircraft that has been in service with the 201st, 202nd, and 203rd Air Squadrons.

Germany to start airlifting aid to Iraq

Germany plans to send aid to northern Iraq on Friday, according to national media reports. Four German Transall military aircraft are set to take off for Erbil, carrying 36 tons of food and supplies to UN organizations for further distribution.
On Tuesday, amid talks to increase European aid to Iraq, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen announced Berlin would support Iraq's army in its efforts to fight the Islamic State terror group (IS) by delivering non-lethal military aid such as armored vehicles, helmets, night-vision equipment, booby-trap detectors and medical supplies.

US jets strike IS armored vehicles in Iraq

US jets and drones launched more air strikes in northern Iraq on Thursday to destroy vehicles operated by extremist fighters from the so-called Islamic State, the military said.
The latest operations came after President Barack Obama said the air campaign had achieved its initial objectives but warned of more strikes to protect US personnel in the Kurdish city of Arbil.
US Central Command said drones and fighter jets took part in the latest strikes, the first at 1505 GMT to take out two armed trucks that had been firing on Kurdish forces.
The second strike took place just over 30 minutes later, targeting an MRAP -- a heavy armored truck of the type supplied by Washington to Iraqi forces and presumably captured by IS forces in recent months.
All aircraft exited the strike area safely.

USAF B-52 Flew a Nonstop Surveillance Mission Over Panama Canal

The 2nd Bomb Wing, Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, flew a B-52 Stratofortress bomber on a nonstop mission from the United States to the U.S. Southern Command area of operations Aug. 12 during PANAMAX 2014 - an annual U.S. Southern Command-sponsored exercise series that focuses on ensuring the defense of the Panama Canal.
An almost entirely simulated exercise, the 15.5-hour long-range B-52 sortie, which originated at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, and ended at Barksdale Air Force Base, was the lone exception. Flown by the 96th Bomb Squadron, the seven-person aircrew exercised providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support to forces defending the Panama Canal from a myriad of threats.

U.S. halts Hellfire missile transfer requested by Israel

The White House has instructed the Pentagon and the U.S. military to put on hold a transfer of Hellfire missiles that Israel had requested during its recent operation in the Gaza Strip.
During Israel's Operation Protective Edge, White House officials were dismayed to discover how little influence they wield over the topic of Israeli arms shipments, against the backdrop of the U.S. government's unhappiness with the widespread damage inflicted upon Palestinian civilians.
During the Gaza war, White House officials came to realize that large amounts of weaponry are being passed to Israel via direct channels to the Pentagon, with little oversight by the political arena.
In light of that, and against the backdrop of American displeasure over IDF tactics used in the Gaza fighting and the high number of civilian casualties caused by Israel's massive use of artillery fire rather than more precise weapons, officials in the White House and the State Department are now demanding to review every Israeli request for American arms individually, rather than let them move relatively unchecked through a direct military-to-military channel, a fact that slows down the process.

Aug 14, 2014

Paramount's AHRLAC makes its first flight

What is being billed as Africa’s first wholly designed and built military aircraft, the Paramount Group’s Advanced High-Performance Reconnaissance Light Aircraft (AHRLAC), reached a significant milestone with its maiden flight on 7 August.
The aircraft makes its 'official public' first flight on 13 August.
The initial prototype, or Experimental Demonstrator (XDM), will prove flight characteristics and test the aircraft’s performance. A second prototype under construction, the Advanced Demonstrator (ADM), will be used to test the AHRLAC’s mission and weapon systems, as well as its Martin-Baker Mk 17 ejection seat.
Conceived as an affordable intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and light-strike platform to address the lower end of that growing market niche, the tandem twin-seat AHRLAC is powered by a Pratt & Whitney PT6a-66 950 hp pusher turboprop. It is designed to offer a payload with full fuel in excess of 800 kg and provide an endurance of more than 7.5 hours.
Since the launch of the AHRLAC project in September 2011 the Paramount team has spent 315,000 hours on the design and construction of the first prototype. Of the aircraft's 6,000 parts, 98% were designed using sophisticated CATIA software and produced locally by the engineering team.

Russia to Develop MiG-31 Replacement Starting In 2017

Russia is hoping to start developing a replacement for the Mikoyan MiG-31 Foxhound interceptor starting in 2017 according to state media.
“From 2017 we will start working on a new long-range interceptor to replace MiG-31,” Col. Gen. Viktor Bondarev, commander of the Russian Air Force, told RIA Novosti.
Russia hopes that the new interceptor will enter service in 2025. Bondarev had said in 2013 that the Russian air force was hoping to induct a MiG-31 replacement by 2020. Russia still has at least 122 MiG-31s, which it is expecting to retire by 2028.

India Talks To Buy French Rafale Fighter Jets Still On

India’s talks to buy Rafale fighter jets from France’s Dassault Aviation in a 2012 deal worth $12 billion are still underway but are complex, Indian Defence Minister Arun Jaitley has said.
India chose Dassault for “exclusive negotiations” for 126 Rafale jets, but successive deadlines to complete contract have slipped by.

U.S. MV-22 Ospreys operating in northern Iraq

U.S. helicopters and MV-22 Ospreys are on the ground in northern Iraq and operating from a secure airfield protected by Kurdish forces, the latest sign of an expanding Iraq mission that now includes about 1,000 U.S. troops, defense officials said Wednesday.
The Ospreys arrived overnight Tuesday as they ferried about 130 additional U.S. troops into the airfield, which is in or near the Kurdish city of Irbil.

Further Restrictions Lifted for F-35 Test Fleet

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter test fleet will be able to fly six hours between engine inspections for weapon test and refueling missions, as restrictions on the fifth-generation fighter continue to ease.
Previously, the entire F-35 fleet was limited to three hours of flight time before an engine inspection was required as an investigation continues into a fire that heavily damaged an F-35A model on June 23.
The test fleet is made up of 20 F-35 fighters. The remaining 79 F-35s are still operating under the full restrictions.
During the inspection into the cause of the June 23 fire, the Pentagon grounded the entire fleet. On July 15, the planes were cleared to fly with heavy restrictions.
In late July, the Pentagon eased up on some restrictions for the test fleet. Speed restrictions were relaxed from Mach 0.9 to Mach 1.6, while maneuverability restrictions were eased slightly from 3 Gs to 3.2.
Top officials from the US Air Force, have expressed confidence that the engine problem will be overcome.

Japan to acquire two 777-300ERs for VIP role

The Japanese government plans to obtain two Boeing 777-300ER aircraft to replace a pair of 747-400s used for the VIP transport mission.
The planned acquisition was confirmed by All Nippon Airways (ANA), which the Japanese defence ministry confirmed as the provider of heavy checks for the aircraft.
It is not clear whether Tokyo will order new-build aircraft from Boeing, or refit 777-300ERs now in commercial service.
The aircraft, to be operated by the Japan Air Self Defense Force, will replace a pair of 747-400s now used in the VIP mission. Media reports in Japan indicate that the 747s will be retired in fiscal year 2018, which ends on 31 March 2019.
The 747s are maintained by ANA rival Japan Airlines, which also put in a bid for the 777 maintenance contract.

Indian Air Force conducts Akash missile’s user trial

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has fired Akash nuclear capable supersonic missile from the launch complex III of Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur, Odhisa, India.

Oman retires last Jaguar strike aircraft

Oman has retired its last four operational Sepecat Jaguars, with the strike aircraft carrying out a disbandment flypast with 8 Sqn at its Thumrait air base on 6 August.
The Royal Air Force of Oman received its first Jaguars in 1977, under what was originally a 12-aircraft acquisition from the UK. A second batch of the type was ordered in 1982, and introduced from the following year.
Muscat's retirement of the Jaguar leaves the Indian air force as sole operator of the Jaguar, with 161 Sepecat Hindustan Aeronautics-supplied examples in use.
The Oman air force, which had previously expected to halt operations with its remaining Jaguars in 2012, earlier this year took delivery of its first aircraft in the USA from a follow-on order for 12 Lockheed Martin F-16C/Ds. The service already has 10 of the single-seat fighters and a pair of two-seat trainers in use from a previous contract.
Oman also has also ordered 12 Eurofighter Typhoons to meet its future requirements, with these to be supplied by BAE Systems from later this decade.

Poland advances MiG-29 upgrade

Deliveries of upgraded RAC MiG-29s to the Polish air force are continuing, and negotiations for a second batch may begin soon.
The upgrade is being performed by Poland's WZL-2 Military Aviation Works, and is based on a design and systems supplied by Israel Aerospace Industries. The modernisation package includes new avionics, cockpit instruments and an advanced debriefing system.
WZL-2 last year delivered the first of 13 upgraded MiG-29A fighters and three UB-model trainers from the current contract. The work involves roughly half of the Polish air force's fleet of the type.
Separately, the WZL-2 depot is to perform a basic upgrade on 18 Sukhoi Su-22s for the service. This will enable Poland to extend operations with the type for another 10 years.
Long-term, Poland also has an interest in potentially acquiring the Lockheed Martin F-35, to join its air force fleet of 48 F-16C/Ds.

Russia cancels Syrian S-300 deal

The S-300 air defence systems that Syria ordered from Russia will probably now be scrapped after the cancellation of the deal.
Russia has used its Security Council veto to prevent the imposition of a UN arms embargo on Damascus and has admitted delivering some S-300 components to the Syrians. However, the deal was put on hold after it brokered the agreement under which Damascus surrendered its chemical weapons.
Meanwhile, Iran continues its attempts to persuade Moscow to resurrect the S-300 deal that was cancelled after a UN arms embargo was imposed on the Islamic republic in 2010.

Japanese MoD denies reports of 2015 first flight for ATD-X prototype

The Japanese Ministry of Defense (MoD)'s Technical Research and Development Institute (TRDI) and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) have both dismissed news reports that the Advanced Technology Demonstrator-X (ATD-X) fighter prototype will make its maiden flight in January 2015.

Aug 13, 2014

Doing The Math: Saving A-10s By Cutting F-35s

In February 2014, Secretary of Defense Hagel briefed that retiring the A-10 fleet would save $3.5 billion over five years. That equals a savings of $700 million per year, not exactly chump change. A few months later, in April, the Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. Mark Welsh, actually bumped the estimate up by exactly $700 million, to $4.2 billion. This means either the A-10’s annual operating expenses went up by 20% to $840 million per year, or the new savings is calculated over six years instead of five. Either way, the intended message was unambiguous: Air Force leadership did some math and made a logical decision. Retiring the A-10 fleet will save a lot of money, and these days saving money is a necessity, not an option.
But in June, the House of Representatives voted to prevent the Air Force from retiring the Warthog, leading Air Force Secretary Deborah James to ask where they want to find the money instead.
It’s a great question and one worth answering. Are there other, perhaps better ways to come up with $4.2 billion in savings? Where else could the Air Force look? One alternative is the Joint Strike Fighter, often described as the most expensive weapons system in history. Let’s do a little math here – but don’t worry, I’ll keep it as painless as possible.

US Clears Major Arms Sales to Saudi, Turkey

The US cleared two major potential sales to Saudi Arabia and Turkey, DSCA announced Tuesday.
The Saudi government has requested $2 billion in upgrades for its E-3A airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft. The Saudi military operates five AWACS.
The agency also cleared a possible sale to Turkey for 145 AIM-120C-7 advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles missiles and associated equipment.
Those missiles will be used on the Turkish Air Force’s fleet of F-16 fighters, although the DSCA notice adds that they could also be used on the country’s eventual F-35 fleet.

Russian Air Force will use modernised MiG-31 for another 15 years

MiG-31 interceptor will be modernised to remain at Russia’s Air Force for another 15 years, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said after visiting several defense enterprises in Nizhny Novgorod.
“The aircraft is being modernised, and it is made here, in Nizhny Novgorod, at the Sokol aircraft plant.”

Russia says begins military exercises in Kurile islands also claimed by Japan

Russia began military exercises in the Kurile Islands in the Pacific Ocean, a Defence Ministry spokesman said on Tuesday, a move likely to anger Japan, which also lays claim to them.

USAF to increase nuclear manning levels

The US Air Force (USAF) is to boost manning levels at Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) missile and bomber wings as part of a wider push to improve the operational effectiveness and morale of its nuclear forces.
The increase, announced on 7 August, will see "hundreds" of additional airmen assigned across five nuclear bases, beginning this year.

Why F/A-18F Super Hornets dropped the first U.S. bombs in Iraq

When the U.S. military launched its first airstrikes in Iraq in three years on Friday, it was F/A-18F Super Hornets flying off the USS George H.W. Bush that carried the mission out. That’s no accident, defense officials and analysts say. The aircraft is used for the Navy’s “forward air controller-airborne” mission, meaning it is more effective in surveying the battlefield, identifying targets and painting them with lasers for bombs.
The George Bush has three other Hornet squadrons on board: the “Tomcatters” of Fighter Strike Squadron 31, the “Valions” of Fighter Strike Squadron 15 and the “Golden Warriors of Fighter Strike Squadron 87, all of Oceana. The Tomcatters fly single-seat F/A-18Es, while the Valions and Golden Warriors fly older single-seat F/A-18Cs, Navy officials said. For other missions, the single-seat aircraft have some advantages, too: The weight of the second aviator’s body and ejection seat cut into the aircraft’s performance.

Pentagon: Effectiveness of U.S. airstrikes in Iraq remains limited

The Pentagon’s top war planner said the military campaign’s impact remains limited after four days of airstrikes in northern Iraq, and the Islamic militants continue to be a powerful force capable of terrorizing Iraqi civilians and seizing territory.

U.S. Sending 100 Air Missions Daily Over Iraq

The U.S. Navy and Air Force are scheduling as many as 100 attack, reconnaissance and support missions daily over Iraq, according to a U.S. military official.
The flights have averaged 90 a day since Aug. 9, including as many as 30 by Air Force refueling tankers, according to the official, who asked not to be identified discussing the data. The sorties are mostly, but not exclusively, over northern Iraq.
Since Aug. 8, U.S. aircraft have been attacking mortar positions, mobile artillery, convoy vehicles and armored personnel carriers under President Barack Obama’s authorization for airstrikes against the militant Islamic State to protect religious minorities and American personnel in Erbil, the seat of the Kurdistan Regional Government

Spain Ala 14 Eurofighter Typhoons’ role in Exercise Anatolian Eagle in Turkey

Twelve Eurofighter Typhoons belonging to the Royal Air Force and the Ejército del Aire (Spanish Air Force) took part in the international edition of Anatolian Eagle, from June 9 – 20 at Konya airbase, Turkey.
The Spanish Typhoons were tasked with pure Fighter Sweep missions: their role was to conduct offensive counter air missions, destroying all the enemy aircraft within the area of responsibility and to clear the way for incoming attack planes.
Depending on the length of the sortie, the aircraft flew with two or three drop tanks, an AIS (Airborne Instrumentation Sub-system) pod for the flight data downlink to the ground ACMI sensors, and a dummy IRIS-T air-to-air missile.
For the Ala 14 pilots, who were taking part in their first expeditionary experience with the Typhoon, their participation in Anatolian Eagle was an important opportunity to validate and enhance their reference tactics, share knowledge and improve cooperation with personnel from different nations, and fly the Eurofighter in a challenging scenario, with up to 60 aircraft flying at the same time, in a large, almost unrestricted airspace.

RAF Deploys Tornado Aircraft to Support Humanitarian Operations in Iraq

The Royal Air Force has sent Tornado aircraft from RAF Marham so they can be ready to support humanitarian operations in Iraq if required.
A small number of aircraft, fitted with state of the art Litening III reconnaissance pods, left Norfolk this afternoon. They will be pre-positioned in Cyprus and available to fly over the crisis area at short notice to provide vital intelligence to assist the delivery of the UK Aid provided by the Department for International Development. So far, three consignments of aid have been delivered to the area by the RAF using Hercules aircraft.

Aug 12, 2014

First A400M for Royal Air Force moved under its own power for the first time

Yesterday the first Atlas destined for the RAF moved under its own power for the first time. Today, its first taxiing trials are taking place. Due in to RAF Brize Norton later this year, Atlas will replace the Hercules fleet. Keep watching for further updates on the progress of ‘MSN015 ‘.

Aug 11, 2014

Poland Retains Su-22s, Wants New Attack Helicopters

Faced with a worsening security situation in neighboring Ukraine, Poland has issued a requirement for new attack helicopters. Meanwhile, the country’s choice of 72 new multirole helicopters remains undecided. Budget shortfalls continue to frustrate the armed forces’ desire for new equipment. Earlier this year, Poland decided to retain one squadron of aging Su-22 strike aircraft for up to 10 more years, since it cannot afford a replacement.
Poland currently operates 28 Mil Mi-24 attack helicopters, the remnants of 52 acquired since 1978. The new proposal is to buy about 32 replacements in two stages, with an initial 20 to be followed by 12 more beginning in 2022. Candidates include the AgustaWestland AW129 or its Turkish sibling, the TAI T-129; the Airbus Helicopters EC665 Tiger; and the Boeing AH-64E Apache. Offers are scheduled to be considered next year.
Meanwhile, the multirole helicopter contract award has been postponed until next year, two years later than originally envisioned. The AgustaWestland AW149, Airbus Helicopters EC725 Caracal and Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk are in contention, each OEM having partnered with a local company for production and support (PZL-Swidnik, Heli-Invest and Mielec, respectively). The army is slated to receive 48 helicopters for troop transport, with the air force receiving 10 for SAR, and the navy receiving another six for SAR plus six for the ASW role. They will replace about 16 Mi-8s, 10 Mi-14s and 20 Mi-17s that remain in service from much larger numbers acquired previously.
The decision to retain 12 single-seat and six two-seat Su-22Ms for another 10 years was taken last February and was driven by the choice of the Aermacchi M346 as the air force’s new jet trainer. The air force received 110 Su-22s beginning in 1984; 32 remain in service. They have received only minor avionics upgrades.
The Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Block 52 is Poland’s frontline fighter, with 48 delivered between 2006. Poland hopes to share the development cost of future upgrades, such as an AESA radar, with the U.S. Air Force. However, the U.S. F-16 upgrade program faces an uncertain future. The air force also operates two squadrons of MiG-29s.

Russian Arctic Helicopter Ready for Deliveries in 2015

Deliveries of the Mi-8AMTSh-VA helicopters, a variant of the Mi-8 medium twin-turbine transport helicopter modified for use in the Arctic, may begin as early as next year, managing director of the Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant (UUAP), said Friday.
The aviation plant reported that the helicopter meets all the requirements in order to excel in the harsh weather conditions of the Far North. Its design will allow it to operate in low temperatures and low visibility, including during the polar night

Su-25 Attack Aircraft Production May Resume

Ulan-Ude Aviation may resume the production of Sukhoi Su-25 fighter jets, according the plant’s managing director:
“We used to produce the Su-25 jets and today our equipment is still in good condition, so the question is under consideration. Some serious investment will be needed, and it is likely that another factory will take up the production. But if the government orders us to do it, we shall do it. If the production is to be transferred to somebody else, so be it”.

South Korea interested in Iron Dome

South Korea is interested in buying the Iron Dome anti-missile system, its manufacturer, Rafael , said yesterday.
Iron Dome, which uses guided missiles to shoot down the Katyusha-style short-range rockets favored by Palestinian and Lebanese guerrillas, has scored around a 90% success rate in the month-old Gaza war.
According Rafael CEO the system’s performance had fuelled foreign interest in it, including by South Korea, which is in an armed standoff with North Korea.
“[South Korea] is very worried not only about rockets, but other things as well".
Rafael has not made public any foreign sales so far, giving priority to supplying Iron Domes to Israel, which has fielded nine out of a planned total of 12 interceptor units.
Washington has extensively funded the Israeli deployment and supplies of interceptor missiles.

Aug 9, 2014

India eyes 39 more Apaches

India has offered to significantly increase an order for AH-64 attack helicopters, Indian officials said, as U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel began a visit to New Delhi on Thursday aimed at boosting defence and strategic ties.
The Apache gunships and a deal for Chinook helicopters, will top the agenda in Hagel's talks on Friday with the new administration.
India has offered a follow-on order of 39 AH-64D Apache helicopters in addition to the 22 now being negotiated. The sides have been wrangling over the price of the gunships, however.
India was the top foreign buyer of  U.S. arms last year.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Suggests Resuming MiG-31 Interceptor Aircraft Production

The production of MiG-31 interceptor aircraft should resume, as they could prove effective for another 15 years, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said Friday.
“The aircraft had no rivals. That was the opinion of the Military-Industrial Commission, the Defense Ministry, the industry on the whole and even the State Duma, which used to hold special hearings on the subject of the interceptor. The production should be revived, as the jet is being upgraded. This fighter will certainly be effective for another 15 years, with its various modifications that are up to today’s military requirements,” Rogozin said.
The deputy prime minister went on to say that he believed the aircraft had big export potential and expected high demand for the MiG-31.
The MiG-31 is a long-range supersonic interceptor aircraft based on the MiG-25. The MiG-31 went into production in 1979, with some 500 delivered. In 1994, production of the jets was curtailed.

CH-53K to Make First Flight Within a Year

The next-generation heavy-lift helicopter for the Marine Corps will make its first flight within the next year.
Sikorsky was planning for the first flight in late 2014, but the testing of the Ground Test Vehicle (GTV), a full-scale CH-53K secured to the ground, has been slower than expected.
The Sikorsky-built CH-53K is slated to be the long-needed recapitalization of the service’s rotary-wing heavy-lift capability, scheduled to reach initial operational capability in 2019.
The CH-53K, named the King Stallion during its roll-out ceremonies, is to be the replacement for the CH-53E Super Stallion. The CH-53K looks similar to the CH-53E, but is an almost total redesign of the older type. It is equipped with new-design engines, rotor system, transmission system and other features, and will have three times the payload capacity of the older helicopter. The Marine Corps plans to procure 200 CH-53Ks to replace its 151 CH-53Es.

US looking to upgrade ISR kit on Niger Diamond DA42MPP aircraft

The US government is seeking a supplier to upgrade the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities on two aircraft operated by Niger.
The draft statement of work (SOW) issued by the US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) covers the upgrade of ISR equipment on a pair of Diamond DA42MPP (Multi-Purpose Platform) aircraft currently fielded by the Niger Air Force (Armee de l'Air du Niger).
Niger took delivery of its two DA42MPP aircraft in October 2008 as part of a wider enhancement of the African nation's airborne surveillance capabilities that included the provision by France of eight Humbert Tétras microlights. The DA42MPPs are primarily tasked with counter-narcotics, -people, and -arms smuggling.
The DA42MPPs are equipped with the Airbus Defence and Space Electronics Goshawk 350 airborne observation system incorporating day and night sensors, as well as a Scotty satellite datalink allowing real-time relay of video, voice, and data to ground stations.

First USAF F-35s in Pacific likely headed to Eielson, Alaska

The first F-35s assigned to Pacific Command will likely be stationed in inland Alaska, at Eielson AFB.
The base was picked based on its location, existing infrastructure and proximity to a training range. Eielson also is home to Pacific Air Force’s premiere training exercise, Red-Flag Alaska, and is easily accessible by training partners from Korea and Japan.
If officially selected, the base will host two F-35 squadrons. They would join an F-16 aggressor squadron and a KC-135 refueling unit already at the base.
The preliminary decision means that the Air Force’s newest fighters, the F-35 and the F-22, would both be in Alaska. F-22s have been based at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson since 2007.The base has been undergoing renovations recently, including improvements at the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex and construction of a new 168-room dormitory.
Air Combat Command’s new F-35 homes have already been announced, with Hill Air Force Base, Utah, set to become the first operational base and Burlington International Airport, Vermont, to be the first Air National Guard base.

Textron AirLand Scorpion takes part in National Guard training exercise

The Textron AirLand Scorpion doesn’t yet have a buyer, but that hasn’t stopped the plane from taking part in a major National Guard training exercise this week.
Billed as an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) plane with strike capabilities, the jet provided live video feed during Vigilant Guard 2014, which brought several Guard units to Kansas to run through various emergency scenarios.
This is the first time a non-Guard plane takes part in a major exercise National Guard exercise.
Kansas is the Scorpion team’s home state.

IAF grounds Dhruv fleet following crash

The Indian Air Force has grounded its entire fleet of 40 locally designed Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopters (ALHs) after one of them crashed on 26 July, killing all seven IAF personnel on board.
Comprehensive checks are to be conducted on all of the twin-engine ALHs before they resume operations.
Flight data recorder of the crashed Dhruv had been recovered from the accident site, and sent to its manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), for analysis.
India's military operates some 140 Dhruvs, which have been built by HAL since 2002. On 19 July the Indian Ministry of Defence's Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) approved the purchase of 32 additional Dhruvs for the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard.
Since its induction into service over a decade ago, the entire ALH fleet has been grounded several times due to technical problems, stemming principally from limited engine power in its deployment at altitudes above 4,800 m in the Himalayan regions. The IAF operates ALH support missions to sustain Indian Army formations deployed in this inhospitable mountainous region.
Two Dhruvs, have recently gone down in Siachen - in August 2013 and in March this year - and two of seven sold to the Ecuadorian Air Force in 2008 have also crashed.
Meanwhile, Defence Ministeris scheduled to reconsider the long-awaited procurement of 197 light utility helicopters for the IAF and Army Aviation Corps (AAC.
The LUH programme, under which 133 platforms are earmarked for the AAC and 64 for the IAF, is aimed at replacing the Chetak (licence-built Aerospatiale Alouette III) and Cheetah (licence-built Aerospatiale SA 315B Lama) helicopters inducted into service more than four decades ago.
Eurocopter's AS550 Fennec platform is pitted against Russia's Kamov Ka-226 Sergei model in the LUH acquisition. However, the procurement - pending for over a decade - currently stands deferred as it is under federal investigation over corruption charges.
The acquisition was previously cancelled in 2007 following allegations of wrongdoing in the selection procedure.

USAF Works to Extend Life of C-130 Fleet

The U.S. Air Force is working to extend the service life of its fleet of C-130 combat delivery aircraft by replacing center wing boxes on some of the planes and adding new avionics, electronics and instrumentation, service officials told Military​.com.
The modernization effort encompasses maintenance and technological improvements to the older C-130 H-model planes as well at the more modern C-130J aircraft.
The Air Force now operates 362 C-130s, including 260 H-models and 102 more modern J-models. Overall, the services’ fiscal year 2015 budget calls for the delivery of 134 J-models and maintenance of 194 H-models for a total force size of 328 C-130s.
The service eventually expects to buy a total of 168 J-models.

Russia orders Ka-52K helicopters for Mistral-class LHDs

Russia has ordered a batch of 32 Kamov Ka-52K 'Hokum B' naval attack helicopters for the Russian Navy's Mistral-class landing helicopter dock (LHD) vessels.
Each Mistral-class LHD is capable of operating an air wing of around 16 naval helicopters, although their air group composition has yet to be finalised. One option could see the LHDs operating a mixed air group of eight Ka-52K strike helicopters and eight Ka-29TB 'Helix' assault transport helicopters. One or two Ka-27PS 'Helix-D' search-and-rescue helicopters may also be included. No order has yet been placed for other potential elements of the Mistral's air wing, although these could be drawn from existing stocks.
The main technological challenge that the Mistral-class will present to the Russian Navy is the need to adapt them, given that they have been built in compliance with civil-use standards and requirements - rather than to military standards.
The two Mistral-class vessels in production for the Russian Navy have been modified compared with the baseline version for the French Navy. These changes include changes in hull construction to enable them to be used in northern latitudes, including in ice conditions. The height of the vessels has also been increased due to modifications to the ships' internal hangars to allow them to accommodate large helicopters like the Ka-52K and Ka-27PS.
The vessels have been modified for the installation of extra armament, including anti-air systems and large calibre automatic weapon stations for combating surface threats, to enable the Russian Navy to use them in the open sea with a smaller escort.

USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier launches first airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq

On Aug. 8, at approximately 10:45 UTC, the U.S. military launched the first targeted airstrike against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorists.
According to Pentagon, “Two F/A-18 aircraft dropped 500-pound laser-guided bombs on a mobile artillery piece near Erbil. ISIL was using this artillery to shell Kurdish forces defending Erbil where U.S. personnel are located.”
Image credit: RC-Pro Photography

Water bundles aboard a C-17 before a humanitarian airdrop over Iraq

Pentagon footage of a U.S. F/A-18 airstrike on a target in northern Iraq

Aug 7, 2014

Sukhoi transferred a batch of Su-30M2 fighters to the Russian Air Force

Sukhoi transferred a batch of multipurpose Su-30M2 fighters to the Russian Air Force in the framework of the 2014 State Defense Order. The Russian Air Force Commission checked the technical documentation on the combat aircraft at the airport of Sukhoi’s subsidiary — Komsomolsk-on-Amur aircraft plant (KnAAZ). The military pilots tested fighters on the ground and in the air. Afterwards the new aircraft flew to the place of their deployment. This year the Air Force will receive a few more Su-30M2.

NATO To Modernize AWACS Fleet

Boeing has received a contract from NATO to install digital flight decks and avionics on 13 of the alliance’s AWACS aircraft.
Under an earlier Engineering Manufacturing and Development (EMD) contract, Boeing installed a new digital flight deck and avionics on one NATO AWACS. Flight testing begins in the fourth quarter of this year with delivery scheduled for December 2015. Boeing also will upgrade the flight deck and avionics of a U.S. AWACS aircraft beginning this November.