Oct 31, 2014

F-35C’s First Carrier Landing Scheduled for Next Week

The naval variant of F-35 is set to land upon the deck of USS Nimitz (CVN-68) next week. Two of the single-engine F-35C stealth fighters are set to carry out a set of sea trials onboard the carrier to ensure that the jets can operate safely from the flight deck.
“They will fly on the third of November, and the first time that they touch the deck of the Nimitz will be with a trap,” Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, the Joint Strike Fighter program executive officer told reporters on Oct. 30.
The Joint Strike Fighter Program Office is deploying test aircraft CF-3 and CF-5 to the carrier. The jets were set to arrive at Yuma, Arizona, from Fort Worth, Texas, on Oct. 30. The two aircraft will be prepared for their trials at Yuma over the next “couple of days,” he added.
The two jets are fully instrumented and are cleared to operate with a full flight envelope. Once onboard Nimitz, the jets will be run through the gamut of carrier operations.
Dave Majumdar-news.usni

Mexican navy orders two more Airbus Military C295 transports

The Mexican navy has ordered two more Airbus Military C295s to add to its four-strong fleet of the medium transports.
Announced on 29 October, the new aircraft will add to the navy’s fleet of Airbus Military transport aircraft, which includes six CN235s and two C212s in addition to the C295s.
The navy will operate the new aircraft for military, civil and humanitarian missions.
The Mexican air force operates six C295s, with four more on order, all of which are expected to be delivered by mid-2014.
Two CN235s are also operated by the federal police in Mexico, making the nation the largest Airbus Defence and Space customer in Latin America.
In May, Mexico carried out an evaluation of the company’s A400M tactical transport in country. A “Grizzly” was flown to Mexico City International airport and carried out a series of demonstrations.

Airbus developing ship-based UAV

Airbus is developing a ship-based version of its TANAN rotary UAV.
Airbus has teamed up with French shipbuilder DCNS to integrate TANAN into ships. Airbus will provide the UAV, payloads, data link and ground station, while DCNS will handle integration into the ship's combat system.
TANAN operate at a maximum altitude of 13,000 feet for eight hours, at a range of up to 110 miles. The Airbus-DCNS agreement come as the U.S. Navy prepares to conduct trials of the MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter.

China Calls On Japan To End Jet Scrambles

China called on Japan on Thursday to stop scrambling its jets against Chinese aircraft following a rise in the number of such operations, saying it was source of flying safety concerns.
Tension has been high between China and Japan in recent months, with each accusing the other of flying military aircraft too close to its own jets in a long-running territorial dispute.
Both sides claim a string of Japanese-administered islets in the East China Sea, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. Beijing declared an air defense zone covering most of the East China Sea last year, sparking protests from Japan and the United States.
Japan's fighter jet scrambles against Chinese planes rose 29 percent to 103 in July-September, accounting for more than half of Tokyo's total scrambles in the three-month period.
In June, China summoned Japan's defense attache to lodge a protest after the two countries traded accusations over the conduct of military jets over the East China Sea.

F/A-18 line could run beyond 2017

Boeing remains optimistic about the F/A-18 fighter assembly line in St. Louis, saying there's a good chance the line could stay open beyond 2017.
Current orders will keep the assembly line open until 2016. If approved, a Congressional proposal to buy 12 EA-18G Growlers, would allow Boeing to keep the line up running end of 2017.
Boeing has more than a “50-50 chance” of receiving enough Navy and foreign orders to keep the Super Hornet line open beyond that date.

Israel said to cancel aircraft V-22 Osprey purchase from US

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has canceled a still-unsigned deal with the US for six V-22.
The V-22 Osprey, was seen as part of Israel’s future capacity to move Special Forces troops to countries as distant as Iran.
The aircraft can carry up to two dozen soldiers, can fly roughly 720 kilometers and, crucially, can be re-fueled in midflight.
US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced the deal during a visit to Israel in April 2013. The deal was to include, Hagel said at the time, anti-radiation missiles, advanced radars for Israel’s F-15s, KC-135 refueling aircraft and, “most significantly,” the V-22.
Ya’alon, decided to cancel the acquisition, against the advice of the IDF chief of General Staff and the Israel Air Force’s commander, on account of budgetary constraints and lessons learned in the wake of the 50-day battle in Gaza this summer, during which a need for improved armored vehicles, for instance, rose to the surface.
The reported decision to cancel the deal came three days after Israeli officials said the army would buy a second squadron of US-made F-35 fighter jets.

Russia and China are Continuing negotiation on Su-35

Moscow and Beijing are continuing talks on the delivery of Su-35 Flanker fighters to China and the contract is currently being clarified.
“Russia and China are continuing negotiations on the Su-35 and the process of agreeing the documents is ongoing".
Earlier in September, Rosoboronexport said that Moscow and Beijing were expecting to seal the deal on the Su-35 jets in 2014.
According to open sources, China plans to buy 24 Su-35 fighters from Russia. Negotiations on China’s purchase of the Russian Su-35 were opened in 2010.

France Denies That It’s Ready to Deliver Mistral Class Warship to Russia

President François Hollande’s government disputed on Thursday a Russian claim that France was preparing to hand over the first of two Mistral-class warships to Moscow in mid-November.
“The conditions have not today been met for delivering the Mistral,” Finance Minister Michel Sapin told RTL radio. Those conditions, he said, are a return to normalcy in Ukraine and “that Russia play a positive role there.”
He spoke a day after RIA Novosti, a state-controlled news agency in Russia, quoted the deputy prime minister, Dmitri O. Rogozin, saying that Moscow had received an invitation to take delivery of the first helicopter carrier Nov. 14. The report said the invitation, to Rosoboronexport, the Russian organization responsible for importing military goods, also included one to attend the so-called floating-out ceremony for the second.
In 2011, France signed a deal to build two Mistral-class helicopter carriers for the Russian Navy. The agreement, calls for the first warship to be delivered in 2014. The ships carry helicopters, troops and landing craft, and they would give Russia the ability to carry out invasions across its neighboring seas.
France’s allies have been at best ambivalent about the deal. Robert M. Gates, the former United States defense secretary, had tried to dissuade the Sarkozy administration from helping to modernize the Russian military. Mr. Hollande has sought to honor the contract to preserve jobs at the STX France shipyard in the port city of St.-Nazaire. But Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March and its encouragement of separatists in eastern Ukraine have made it politically impossible to hand over the ships without a significant de-escalation of tensions.
DCNS, the French contractor responsible for building the warships, sought to clarify the situation in a statement Thursday morning. The company said it was “still awaiting the required export authorization to be granted by the French government.”

Мi-28 Russian helicopters join service in Iraq

The Iraqi Ministry of Defense assured the entrance of the Mi-28 Russian helicopter (Night Hunter) to the service to support terrorism fighting and Iraqi infantry forces.
This is the first group of helicopters included by the contract concluded with the Russia to provide Iraqi Army with modern fighting helicopters.

Oct 30, 2014

Pentagon Acquisition Chief Doubts UMSC’s July F-35 IOC Target

It is growing more and more likely that July 1, 2015, will not mark the initial operational capability (IOC) declaration for the F-35B desired by the U.S. Marine Corps.
Despite years of Pentagon officials fervently holding firm to the milestone, Pentagon procurement chief Frank Kendall is opening the door to a delay.
In May 2013, the Pentagon outlined the F-35 IOC plans for the Air Force, Navy and Marines.
Marine IOC includes the first squadron, VMFA-121, with 10-16 F-35Bs and enough trained pilots and maintenance officials to deploy for war. The first F-35B unit is slated for its initial deployment in 2017 to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan.
The Marines have maintained the most aggressive schedule among F-35 customers because of concern for its aging F-18s and AV-8Bs; F-35B development was prioritized over that of the Air Force and Navy variants earlier in the program to satisfy the Marines’ pressing need.
The service initially will use the fighter’s 2B software package, which is limited in capability, to conduct basic close air support and interdiction activities. Weapons included in the initial package are the AIM-120C7 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile, Joint Direct Attack Munition and GBU-12 laser-guided bomb.
The likeliest culprit for missing the IOC date next summer is the time required to modify enough F-35Bs to the proper configuration.
Amy Butler-aviationweek

Taiwan to take delivery of first batch of Black Hawks in December

Taiwan will begin taking delivery of UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from the United States by the end of this year, with the first batch of six of the 60 aircraft set to arrive in mid-December.
The helicopters will be shipped to Taiwan in seven batches, with the final batch scheduled to arrive in 2018.
The U.S. government announced in early 2010 that it was selling Taiwan the 60 UH-60 Black Hawk.
They will be mainly used for transportation by the Army, while 15 of them will be used for disaster relief.
They will replace the Army's aging fleet of UH-1H utility helicopters.

Oct 29, 2014

France to Deliver First Mistral to Russia Around Mid-November

The ceremony for France handing over to Russia the first Mistral helicopter carrier will occur in mid-November of this year.
Earlier in September, French President threatened to suspend the deliveries of the ships over Moscow’s alleged involvement in the Ukrainian conflict.
In October, Kremlin chief of staff Sergei Ivanov claimed that Moscow will sue France in case the obligations on the Mistral carriers are not fulfilled. Last week, the Russian Navy said the country is not dependent on France on the issue and is capable of building similar warships on its own.

Most Spanish Eurofighter jets can't fly

According to Spanish daily El Confidencial Digital, unnamed military sources have warned that the Eurofighter Typhoon air fleet is crippled by breakdowns, lack of spare parts and delayed inspections.
The claims come just a day after Spain announced plans to pump €10 billion ($12.7 billion) into new defence programs after six years of cutbacks as a result of the economic crisis.
Eurofighters were not, however, named in the list of projects due to receive a funding boost.
The investment will instead go towards the new F-110 frigates, drones, and the infamous S-80 sinking submarines.
Only six Eurofighters in Spain's Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) service in bases at Morón de la Frontera and Albacete are currently capable of taking off, according to military insiders. These jets are kept ready to scramble 24 hours a day, year-round, to intercept suspicious aircraft in Spanish airspace.
The rest of Spain's Eurofighter planes have allegedly been grounded by breakdowns, missing spare parts and queues for inspections after reaching the maximum number of hours in the air.
In June, Spain's foreign minister claimed that four Eurofighters would be sent to the Baltic region as part of the country's NATO commitments. But because of the condition of the Eurofighter fleet, sources inside the military claim that ageing F-18 fighter jets were being prepared to be sent instead.
Official Ministry of Foreign Affairs sources denied this and insisted that Spain would still be able to send Eurofighters as originally intended. They also denied the existence of any shortage of spare parts.

New Spanish Frigate F-110 Detailed

Spanish shipbuilder Navantia Tuesday revealed details of the F-110, a new guided-missile project to replace the Spanish Navy’s Santa Maria-class frigates in the 2020s.
The aim, he said, is to move to a detailed design and construction contract in 2016, with the first of five new frigates entering service in 2022.
Developed jointly by the Spanish Navy and Navantia, the multi-mission frigates will have a variety of warfare capabilities, ranging from anti-air, -surface and –submarine warfare, to power projection and asymmetric warfare features.
Major design details still need to be decided.
The ships will probably be armed with a five-inch gun and vertical-launch missile systems, likely two 8-cell launchers.
A large hangar and flight deck aft will be sized for two helicopters, plus unmanned aircraft systems.

UK to upgrade Sentinel R.1s for maritime operations

The United Kingdom is to begin the process of upgrading its fleet of Sentinel R.1 Airborne Stand-Off Radar (ASTOR) surveillance aircraft to conduct maritime operations in mid-2015.
A contract for the development and installation of the maritime-capable software upgrade aboard the Royal Air Force's (RAF's) five aircraft will be signed in spring (Q2) 2015.
This upgrade should enable the Sentinel R.1 to detect surface vessels and potentially submarine periscopes. Additional sensors could be fitted to further boost the platform's maritime surveillance capability.
The Sentinel R.1 was originally slated to be retired in 2015 as a result of budget cuts announced in the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) in 2010, but an impressive showing in Afghanistan and Libya has prompted the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to delay this until 2018.

UK Orders STOVL F-35s in 1st Production-standard Buy

Britain is to order its first batch of production-standard F-35 for operation by the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force.
The British have agreed in principle to order four of the F-35B to get underway an ordering process which will see the Ministry of Defence place a contract a year for four years until a multi-year deal kicks in after low-rate initial production (LRIP) lot 11.
A formal contract is expected to be signed in the next few weeks.
The contracts will be placed annually. The four aircraft are scheduled for delivery in 2016. LRIP 9 aircraft will be scheduled for delivery in 2017. It's scheduled to have 18 aircraft in five years time.
Britain has already ordered four F-35Bs for testing and evaluation. Three of those jets have been delivered and the fourth is due to be handed over in early 2016. The jets are based at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.
All of the jets delivered to the UK’s first operational squadron will temporarily remain in the US and are planned to transition to their main operating base at RAF Marham, in eastern England, in 2018.
The British program of record is for 138 aircraft but the actual number to be purchased will not be decided until the next strategic defense and security review is undertaken in the second half of next year.
The aircraft will be used by the RAF from land bases and the Royal Navy aboard two 65,000-ton carriers now being built.
Flight trials onboard the first of the two carriers, Queen Elizabeth, are scheduled to start in 2018 with the first landings expected to take place off the US East Coast. The carrier is being fitted out at a yard in Scotland and is expected to be handed over to the Royal Navy in 2016. An operational capability including helicopters and F-35s is scheduled for 2020.
When the RAF Tornado jets are scrapped, currently scheduled for no later than the end of 2019, British strike aircraft capabilities will be shared by the F-35 and the Eurofighter Typhoon.

Israel to buy 25 more F-35

Israel plans to buy a second batch of F-35, bringing its total number on order to about 44.
Israel bought 19 F-35s in 2010, a deal that included options for up to 75 planes. Israeli Defence Minister, visiting the United States last week, placed a preliminary order for about 25 more F-35s.
The first batch of planes is scheduled to arrive in Israel between 2016 and 2018. The second purchase needs final approval by an Israeli government panel.
Israel will benefit from various efforts under way by Lockheed and engine maker Pratt & Whitney, to lower the cost to produce the jets.
Israel had hoped to buy as many as 31 jets in the second batch, and could increase its order from 25 if the price comes down further.
The new order of jets would be delivered beginning in 2019, with terms of the contract to be finalized by year-end, said the sources.

Peruvian Navy to acquire Super Seasprite helos from Canada

Peru has awarded General Dynamics Canada a contract to upgrade four Kaman SH-2G Super Seasprite helicopters - formerly in service in the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) - with integrated mission systems and to overhaul a fifth prior to delivery to the Peruvian Navy.
The upgrades will offer "enhanced surveillance and search-and-rescue capabilities" by leveraging technology developed by GD Canada for the Royal Canadian Air Force's (RCAF's) Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone anti-submarine warfare (ASW), surveillance, and search-and-rescue helicopter. The RCAF is replacing its ageing Sikorsky SH-3 Sea Kings with Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclones.
The contract was signed on 9 October.
The SH-2G acquisition marks an important boost for the Peruvian Navy's embarked ASW capabilities, which currently consists of only two Sikorsky SH-3D and two AB 212ASW helicopters, all four with more than 30 years in service.
These incoming SH-2Gs had been in service with the RNZAF since 2001 before being acquired by General Dynamics Air Canada.
Meanwhile, the RNZAF Super Seasprite fleet is being replaced by eight former Australian SH-2G(I), the first of which performed its maiden flight last April.

Navantia gets deal to study frigates for Australia

Navantia, the Spanish state-owned ship builder, announced on 23 October that it had signed a deal to study the SEA 5000 future frigate programme.
The contract is designed to support research into adding radar systems to its F-105 frigate as Australia prepares to buy eight ships, and is looking at using assistance from Navantia to build the ships domestically instead of reaching a deal with an overseas supplier. The UK's Type 26 frigate and Italian variant of the FREMM are considered likely overseas competition.
The contract is for nine months of work.

Airbus and TATA teams up for HS748 Replacement in Indian Air Force wiht C-295

Airbus today announced that it has teamed up with Indian private firm Tata Advanced Systems to bid for the ~$2 billion deal to replace 56 Hawker Siddley HS748 Avro transports in service with Indian Air Force with the C295.Responding to the programme requirements, Airbus said today, "A total of 56 Avro aircraft are to be replaced. In the event of contract award, Airbus Defence and Space will supply the first 16 aircraft in ‘fly-away’ condition from its own final assembly line. The subsequent 40 aircraft will be manufactured and assembled by Tata in India. This will include undertaking structural assembly, final aircraft assembly, systems integration and testing, and management of the indigenous supply chain.
Airbus firmly believes that the C295 is the best aircraft to replace the IAF Avro fleetThis will hopefully be a good fight. Other airframers expected to announce their 'teamings' with Indian firms for the contest include Alenia Aermachhi with the C-27J Spartan, and Antonov with the An-148. HAL hates the idea of this fight, given that the process itself requires an industrial stamp of approval for competing facilities in the country -- factories that hopefully directly compete in the future with HAL. Apart from Tata, companies like Reliance, Larsen ; Toubro and Mahindra could compete.

Oct 28, 2014

Signed Contract for 43 Low-Rate Initial Production, 29 for US, 2 F-35As for Israel, 4 F-35As for Japan, 2 F-35As for Norway 2 F-35As for Italy and 4 F-35B for UK

The Pentagon and Lockheed Martin have reached an agreement in principle for the production of 43 F-35s under Low-Rate Initial Production lot 8 (LRIP 8) contract.
The LRIP 8 contract provides for the production of the first two F-35As for Israel, the first four F-35As for Japan along with two F-35As for Norway and two F-35As for Italy. The United Kingdom will receive four F-35Bs.
Deliveries will start in 2016.
The LRIP 8 contract procures 29 U.S. aircraft including 19 F-35As, six F-35Bs and four F-35Cs. It also provides for the production of the first two F-35As for Israel, the first four F-35As for Japan along with two F-35As for Norway and two F-35As for Italy. The United Kingdom will receive four F-35Bs. The contract also funds manufacturing-support equipment as well as ancillary mission equipment.

Oct 27, 2014

UK Pilots could be taught in basic flying skills on Beechcraft T-6C

The next generation of British military pilots will be taught their basic flying skills on a T-6C trainer if a deal between Ascent Flight Training and an Israeli-US industry consortium known as Affinity conclude final negotiations.
Ascent, the Lockheed Martin-Babcock partnership responsible for the UK military flying training systems (UKMFTS) program, has selected the Elbit Systems/KBR Affinity team as preferred bidder for the fixed-wing aircraft service provider element of the scheme.

Brazil signs for 36 Gripen E/F fighters

Saab and Brazil have signed a contract for the development and production of 36 Gripen NG fighter aircraft for the Brazilian Air Force.
On 18 December 2013 Brazil selected the Gripen NG to be its next-generation fighter aircraft, through the F-X2 evaluation programme. Since then all parties have negotiated to finalise a contract. Today’s announcement marks the successful conclusion of that process.

Iron Dome being navalised

RAFAEL is extending the Iron Dome Counter-Rocket, Artillery and Mortar defense system to the maritime domain, to protect surface vessels from a wide range of threats, including ballistic trajectory and direct attack weapons. The navalized system is dubbed ‘C-Dome’

Oct 25, 2014

MQ-8C Fire Scout readied for upcoming ship-trials

The US Navy has undertaken land-based flight tests of the MQ-8C Fire Scout in preparation of seat-trials later in the year.
The tests, saw the unmanned helicopter perform a series of take-offs and precision landings on sloped surfaces to simulate a ship at sea.
As the Bell 407-based MQ-8C uses the same autonomous take-off and landing systems as the already deployed Schweizer Aircraft 330-based MQ-8B, the tests were carried out primarily to verify their function on the larger platform.

Slovakia approves purchase of two C-27J

Slovakia military will purchase two Italian tactical transport aircraft C-27J Spartan for, the government decided at its October 22 session. This move completes the almost six-year procurement process that began in 2008 in the wake of the crash of military aircraft An-24 close to Hungarian village Hejce in which 42 Slovaks died.

USS Nimitiz readies for 1st F-35 carrier landing

Before the Navy’s oldest active aircraft carrier docks for a 16-month maintenance period, it’s helping other ships get ready for deployment, and next month, will host the first landing of the F-35C on a carrier.
The Marine version of the Joint Strike Fighter, the short-takeoff, vertical-landing F-35B, has made successful landings aboard ships at sea. But the Navy’s version, the F-35C, which is designed to land on carriers, has not — in part because of problems with the tail hook.
The landing test will take place on the Nimitz after the conclusion of the current task group exercise, which began Monday off San Diego and includes U.S. guided missile cruisers and guided missile destroyers as well as four Canadian ships and a Yokosuka-based Japanese ship.

Australia Selects EC-135 as Helicopter Training For Navy and Army

The Helicopter Aircrew Training System (HATS) will be based at HMAS Albatross in Nowra, NSW. The preferred partner for HATS, Boeing Defence Australia, has proposed a training system that will include purpose designed syllabi based on 15 Airbus Helicopter EC-135 twin-engine ‘glass cockpit’ training helicopters; three full-motion Thales EC 135 Flight Simulators and addition of a flight deck to Navy’s new sea-going training vessel. Final contract negotiations with Boeing will conclude directly.
“This will deliver a fully integrated modern training environment with both in-flight and virtual environments on contemporary twin-engine helicopters and flight simulators.
“These will prepare both Navy and Army for the new generation of advanced combat helicopters such as the Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter, MRH-90 Taipan, MH 60R Seahawk Romeo and our new CH-47F Chinook Foxtrots.”

Oct 24, 2014

The F-117 is still flying

The F-117 “Nighthawk” was officially retired in 2008, and in theory the fleet of stealthy fighters has mothballed up. But rumors have persisted in recent years about one or more Nighthawks still flying out in the desert. Those rumors were proven this month when posted photos appeared to show an F-117 taking off for a flight at Tonopah Test Range in Nevada.
USAF has been reached out for comment with no answer.
Perhaps the F-117 keep on flying for radar signature testing or for fatigue testing for materials that were used on the plane.
Another option is they are test beds of a different kind — retrofitted into unmanned systems, perhaps to check on the capability of optionally-manned systems for stealth aircraft. And of course it’s possible they are being kept warm in case of military need, but it’s hard to see what gap they would be fitting specifically in the military network.

Oct 23, 2014

Finland begins study on new fighter aircraft

Finland's replacement for its Boeing F/A-18 Hornet fleet is expected to cost the country about EUR6 billion.
Finland's Ministry of Defence launched an exploratory working group in early October to examine maintenance and performance capabilities of potential candidates. Options for modernising the current fleet, acquired in 1995, to enable operations beyond 2030 are also to be examined.
If the country opts to procure a new platform, decommissioning the current Hornet fleet is expected to begin in 2025, with the last aircraft leaving active duty in 2030.
The working group's report is to be completed by mid-2015.

Lockheed Martin and Turkey's Roketsan sign F-35 missile deal

Lockheed Martin and Turkish missile manufacturer Roketsan signed an agreement Wednesday to produce and sell Turkey's SOM-J air-launched cruise missile for the F-35 Lightning II combat jet.
The agreement envisages the development, production, marketing, selling and supporting the SOM-J for internal carriage on the F-35 or external carriage on other aircraft.

Indian Air Force Grounds Its Entire Sukhoi-30 Jet Fleet

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has grounded its entire fleet of Russia-developed Sukhoi-30 fighter aircraft to undergo safety checks, following the latest accident in Pune.
The fleet of about 200 Su-30 jets currently grounded represents almost a third of the country’s fighter fleet. The IAF is due to purchase another 72 of the aircraft from Russia.
An IAF Sukhoi-30 MKI crashed into a field in the Pune district on Tuesday. There were no casualties as both the pilot and the co-pilot had ejected to safety.
The Su-30 MKI is the IAF’s elite fighter-bomber. It was built under license by India's Hindustan Aeronautics.

China's Liaoning Aircraft CarrierIs Having Some Technical Difficulties

China's carrier Liaoning has had some notable technical problems in recent weeks.
China's sole aircraft carrier, unexpectedly powered down during a sea trial last week. The vessel appeared to suffer a steam explosion which temporarily knocked out the carrier’s electrical power system according Chinese-language media report.
The Lianoning's troubles reveal an important tension within China's defense outlook.

NATO Fighters scrambled as Russian spy plane violates Estonian air space

A Russian intelligence aircraft briefly crossed into NATO airspace earlier this week, NATO said Wednesday.
The NATO’s radars detected an unidentified plane flying near NATO airspace in the Baltic Sea at about 9 a.m. CET on Tuesday. Danish F-16 fighter jets were scrambled, as were Portuguese F-16s that were part of NATO’s air policing mission over the Baltics. They were assisted by fighters from Sweden.
The Russian plane, an IL-20 intelligence collection aircraft, took off from Kaliningrad and flew over the Baltic Sea toward Denmark, NATO said, and it was met by aircraft from the three nations. As the IL-20 turned and headed south, it began approaching the airspace of Estonia, a NATO member.
The Russian aircraft entered Estonian airspace near the island of Saaremaa for less than one minute, an incursion of about 600 meters, NATO said. Portuguese F-16s made visual contact with the IL-20 and escorted it away from NATO airspace.
Russian officials denied the assertion. The Russian Defense Ministry told local news agencies that the plane had not violated Estonian airspace and was on a routine training mission from Kaliningrad in international airspace.
It’s standard procedure for NATO planes to scramble and intercept any unknown aircraft that approach NATO airspace. The Alliance said in a statement Wednesday that such flights are potentially dangerous, because Russian military planes often don't file flight plans or use their onboard transponders, leaving civilian air traffic control operators unable detect them or ensure they don't interfere with civilian air traffic.

Oman RAFO Retires Jaguar Aircraft After 37 Years In Service

The Royal Air Force of Oman (RAFO) held a ceremony to mark the retirement of its SEPECAT Jaguar ground attack aircraft after 37 years of service. The ceremony was held at the Al Shafaq Club in Seeb last week.
The move leaves India as the only country in the world still using Jaguars.
The Jaguars have now been replaced by new F16 aircraft. Although the ceremony was held last week, RAFO had officially retired its SEPECAT Jaguar operations, with the aircraft carrying out a disbandment flypast at the Thumrait airbase in August.
RAFO received its first Jaguar in 1977, under a 12-aircraft acquisition programme from the UK.
A second batch was ordered in 1982 and introduced the following year.

Russian Air Force Receives New Su-34

Russia's Southern Military District aviation regiment has received six new Su-34 fighter-bombers, renewing the regiment's fleet by 75 percent.
In the near future the SMD is expecting to receive more than 40 new aircraft, including the modernized Su-27 SM3 fighters and Mi-35 attack helicopters.

Hellenic Air Force retires A-7 Corsair II from service

The Hellenic Air Force (HAF) held a decommissioning ceremony for its A-7 Corsair II aircraft at Araxos Air Base, home of the 116 Combat Wing, on 17 October.
The world's last operator of the A-7 Corsair II, 336 Squadron, decommissioned 15 A-7E and two TA-7C aircraft at the event.
The HAF acquired 60 A-7Hs and five TA-7Hs from LTV between 1975-1980 and then 50 A-7Es and 18 TA-7Cs from the US Navy's inventory after the first Gulf War, which arrived in country in 1993-1994. Greece's total fleet of 133 Corsair IIs then made it the largest international operator of the type, which was retired from US Navy service in 1993 but also operated by Portugal and Thailand.
The A-7 Corsair II saw service in five HAF squadrons, marking in total 355,000 missions and 440,000 flight hours. Thirteen pilots were also lost in flight accidents involving the type.
336 Squadron, the HAF's second-oldest squadron, is scheduled to receive half of the co-located 335 Squadron's Lochkheed Martin F-16 Block 52+ Advanced aircraft, thus continuing its operations.

Canada’s CF-188 Hornets depart for Operation Impact to fight ISIS

Operation Impact is the Canadian Armed Forces’ contribution to coalition assistance to security forces in Iraq who are fighting against ISIL.
The Hornets will transit through 3 Wing Bagotville, Quebec, before flying to Kuwait to participate in Operation Impact.
Canadian contribution to coalition operations against ISIL includes six CF-188 Hornet, one CC-150T Polaris air-to-air refueller and two CP-140M Aurora long-range patrol aircraft to provide reconnaissance capabilities and approximately 600 personnel. Seventy members of the Canadian Armed Forces are already working with American forces in an advisory and assistance role by providing strategic and tactical advice to Iraqi security forces.

Thailand Buys 5 EC645 for Navy and 2 EC725 for Air Force

Thailand’s navy and air force will acquire two Airbus Helicopters rotorcraft types: the light-utility EC645 T2 and the 11-ton-class EC725.
The Royal Thai Navy signed for five EC645 T2s to be deployed on transport duties and other missions, with deliveries scheduled to begin in 2016. Its purchase represents the first export order of this militarized version of the EC145 T2
The Royal Thai Air Force’s reorder of Airbus Helicopters’ EC725, the military service is obtaining two EC725 tactical transport rotorcraft for SAR/CSAR missions, operating from Wing 2 at Lop Buri Air Base. These aircraft will be provided in 2017, joining the four previously-ordered EC725s booked in 2012 for deliveries from 2015.
EC725 is currently operated by the military forces of France, Brazil, Mexico, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.

China starts construction of second indigenous aircraft carrier

Work on China's secondlocally designed and built aircraft carrier will soon get under way at Jiangnan Shipyard.
When completed, the carrier and another under construction in Dalian will give the PLA Navy two fully functioning, battle-ready aircraft carriers.
The recently completed Liaoning, the refitted former Soviet carrier Varyag, is classed as a training platform, not a full combat vessel, by the navy, since it went into service in September 2012.
The new carrier to be built at the Jiangnan Shipyard will use conventional, not nuclear power.
Military experts said China would not attempt a nuclear-powered carrier until a range of issues were resolved, such as the reliability of nuclear-powered engines, crew training and establishing a reliable home port for carrier maintenance.
Chinese shipbuilding industry sources said the design for the second carrier had not been completed.
The first locally designed carrier is being built in Dalian, where the Liaoning was completed in a decade-long fit-out.
The Dalian Shipyard completed the new carrier's steel plate cutting ceremony at the end of last year.

Brazil and Argentina to negotiate over the joint purchase of JAS-39 Gripen

Brazil and Argentina are to hold negotiations over the possible procurement of Brazilian-made JAS-39 Gripen, but Swedish-designed, jet fighters.
The decision was announced in Brazil by visiting Argentine Defense Minister.
Brazil's Ministry of Defense said the talks over the possible purchase of 24 Brazil-produced Gripens would include not only the conditions of purchase but also Argentina's participation in the production of the Saab-designed aircraft.
Brazil and Argentina already cooperate on a number of defense projects.
Brazil is expected to sign an agreement with Sweden later this year for the procurement of 36 Saab Gripen multi-role fighter aircraft, with provisions for technology transfer and local manufacturing.

Oct 22, 2014

Syria Says It Shot Down 2 of 3 'Islamic State Warplanes'

Syria’s air force has destroyed two of three warplanes reportedly seized by fighters of the Islamic State group in the north of the country accordin Information Minister.
The jihadists were reported to have seized the three planes, believed to be MiG-21 and MiG-23 jets, from Syrian military airports now under IS control in the northern provinces of Aleppo and Raqa.

B-52s headed to Europe for second time this year

U.S. Strategic Command will send B-52bombers to participate in Exercise Noble Justification this month in support of NATO allies and partners.
The bombers will practice “command, control and employment of simulated conventional weapons operations” as part of the maritime component of the NATO exercise taking place in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea.
The participation of U.S. bombers in Exercise Noble Justification, was specifically requested by NATO leadershi.
The B-52s will be the third deployment of bombers to the European continent in the last five months — in June, two B-2 stealth bombers from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, joined two B-52s from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, and one B-52 from Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, in RAF Fairford, England, for military exercises in the region.

Mexican air force 787 starts VIP conversion

The government of Mexico has acquired a Boeing 787 for operation by its air force in VIP configuration and transport duties.
Now carrying air force markings and the registration TP-01/XC-MEX, the aircraft purchased by Mexico was the sixth and final flight-test example of the 787-8, and was previously named ZA006.
The Mexican air force already operates a trio of 737s and one 757-200 for VIP transport tasks.

Embraer rolls out first KC-390 prototype

Embraer rolled out the first of two KC-390 prototype transport aircraft at its production facility, north of Sao Paulo, on 21 October.
The ceremony was attended by officials from 32 countries. Maiden flight of KC-390 is scheduled for later this year.
To date, Embraer has secured a production contract for 28 KC-390 aircraft for the Brazilian Air Force (Forca Aerea Brasileira - FAB). The two prototypes will be refurbished and delivered to the FAB once flight trials are complete to give Brazil a fleet of 30 aircraft.

Oct 20, 2014

RAF Now Flying Improved Typhoon Aircraft

Typhoon fighters equipped with a package of new capabilities have entered operational service with the Royal Air Force.
BAE Systems, said Friday that the first 15 of the RAF aircraft fitted with what is known as the Phase 1 Enhancements Package (P1E) are now in service.
Separately, BAE is also working on a new set of upgrades for the jet. BAE expects to be under contract to integrate the latest version of the Brimstone ground attack missile, known as Brimstone 2, on Typhoon in the first quarter of 2015.
By next April the RAF should have received 35 of the Tranche 2 fighters upgraded with the new P1E capabilities, that will eventually see all 67 aircraft of the type in the British fleet modified.
The RAF expects to declare full operational capability in April.
The upgrade includes integration of the Paveway IV precision guided bomb, full air-to-surface integration including a Litening III targeting pod, and full integration of the IRIS-T short-range air-to-air missile used by all the Typhoon operators except the UK.
Other Eurofighter partner nations will receive P1E enhancements starting in 2015.
Only Tranche 2 aircraft will receive P1E. The enhancements come as standard on Tranche 3 aircraft now being delivered to European Typhoon partners and customers like Saudi Arabia and Oman.
Brimstone 2 is expected to enter service on RAF Tornado jets next year.

ROKAF F-16 Upgrade: Problems With S. Korea-BAE Deal Could Open Door to Lockheed

South Korea is threatening to break an agreement with BAE Systems to upgrade its fleet of KF-16s, opening a window of opportunity for competitor Lockheed Martin to reclaim its dominance in theF-16 upgrade market.
The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) selected BAE Systems’ North American subsidiary in December 2012 as prime integrator to take charge of software and hardware upgrades for 134 KF-16 aircraft. It represented the first time any company had beat Lockheed, the original producer of the F-16, for upgrades to the jet.

USAF Strike Chief Urges B-52 Engine Replacement

The head of US Air Force Global Strike Command wants the service to consider installing new engines on its aging B-52 fleet, but budget realities could intervene.
While noting that there is no money planned in the fiscal 2016 budget request for such a program, industry representatives have expressed confidence that putting newer engines on the bombers could reduce fuel consumption and sustainment costs.
Improving fuel consumption rates would also cut the number of tankers needed to support bombers during missions.
Industry figures shows that installing new engines on the fleet would pay for itself by the mid-2030s — not as quickly as the service would like, but since current plans call for the B-52 to operate through 2040, one that makes sense.

Japan Has Doubled The Number Of Times It's Scrambled Fighter Jets Against Russia Over The Past 6 Months

The number of times Japanese fighter jets scrambled to ward off Russian military aircraft more than doubled in the last six months, amid diplomatic tensions between the two countries.
The increased activity in Japan's north also comes as the armed forces pivot their focus southwards towards China.
According to government figures, instances of fighter jets scrambling into the skies above Japan jumped by 73 percent in the six months through September, led by sorties confronting Russian bombers and spy planes.
Scrambles jumped to 533 from 308 a year earlier, and the total is on course to surpass figures seen during the last fiscal year.
Flights dispatched specifically to meet Russian aircraft in the latest six months soared to 324 from 136, although they eased during the second half of the period under review.
Hokkaido is a Japanese island to the north of the country's main land mass, and it lies close to four smaller islands which are claimed both by Japan and Russia.
The territorial dispute has prevented Japan and Russia from concluding a formal peace treaty and helps explain Japan's north-facing military posture, with mechanized infantry divisions and tank brigades set up to repel a feared Soviet invasion.
That task is being complicated by Japan's decision to join Western sanctions against Moscow for its annexation of the Crimea peninsula in March.
Russian aircraft often fly a circuitous route around the long Japanese archipelago.
Countering them are fighter jets, including two squadrons of Japanese F-15 fighter jets, around 40 aircraft, at Chitose air base, less than 200 miles from the Russian border.
Incursions in Japan's northern air zone in the latest six months rose to 189 from 110 a year earlier.

Taiwan takes final delivery of AH-64E Apache helicopters

Taiwan has taken the delivery of six more AH-64E Apache attack helicopters from the United States, the fifth and final batch of for 30 of the newest Apache model.
They flew to an Army Aviation Special Forces base in Tainan Sunday evening after being unloaded and assembled in the southern port city a day earlier, the Army said.
The model E is the latest in the Apache attack helicopter series. The U.S. and Taiwan are the only two countries using it so far.