Nov 30, 2014

French Defence Minister to hold Rafale talks on Monday with Indian Counterpart

With final negotiations over the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) deal for purchase of 126 Rafale fighter aircraft remaining inconclusive, the issue will figure prominently when French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian holds talks with his Indian counterpart Manohar Parrikar on Monday.
As per the terms of contract, the first 18 jets come in fly-away condition from France within 36 months of the contract being signed. The remaining 108 are to be manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in India over the next seven years with Transfer of Technology (ToT).
Major differences cropped up between India and France over the extent of ToT and also the Air Force insisting on delivery guarantees from Dassault for the planes manufactured by HAL, which the French firm has so far been reluctant to provide.
For France, the deal is a lifeline as the entire French aerospace sector is involved in the Rafale programme and it has no international customers so far. This deal will give a major fillip to the French economy.
Eurofighter Typhoon, meanwhile, is still hopeful of making a comeback. British defence secretary Michael Fallon said in Delhi last month: “Eurofighter has made it very clear that should the negotiations not progress with the French, then we are ready to get into negotiations with the Indian government.”
The Eurofighter was one of the six aircraft in the MMRCA contest and was shortlisted along with the Rafale. Eventually, being the lowest bidder, Rafale was declared the winner.
Given the urgency of the Air Force to replace its MiG fleet and arrest the dwindling squadron strength in the light of delayed induction of the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft, a re-look at the process is not feasible. But with the price reduction offered, on the technicality of L1, there is a remote option for Eurofighter to be back in the fray.

Iran’s New Training Plane Displayed

A new single-cabin aircraft, made by Iran for training purposes, was put on display in a recent aviation exhibition, dubbed K10.
The light aircraft has been manufactured by HESA in two different classes, K10 and K10-1.
With the flight ceiling of 14,000 feet, the plane can be employed for both training purposes and recreational use.
The plane is run with an Austrian-made Rotax engine producing 100 horsepower. Equipped with emergency parachute, K10 is a single-cabin aircraft that can accommodate a co-pilot as well.
Iran’s Defense Minister had already stressed the need for a home-made aircraft for training purposes in the air force units.
He had also noted that the new aircraft, designed and manufactured indigenously, flies at hypersonic speeds and could also be employed as a logistic plane.

Nov 29, 2014

India Denies Reports That it Will Cancel French Rafale Jet Deal

India is not planning to cancel the deal on purchasing French Rafale jets despite earlier media reports that it would do so if France refuses to deliver Mistral helicopter carriers to Russia, a high-ranking source in Indian Defense Ministry told Sputnik Thursday.The statement comes after French President Francois Hollande postponed the delivery of the first Mistral-class helicopter carrier to Russia over the situation in Ukraine on November 25.
According to earlier media reports, India warned in September it would cancel the contract signed with French Dassault Aviation company on the supply of 126 Rafale fighter jets if Paris refuses to fulfil its obligations under the Mistral contract.

British F-35B Begins Weapons Testing in the US

In recent test series, US Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II the combined test force configured to carry weapons load operated by the Royal Air Force completed initial aircraft handling trials carrying ASRAAM and Paveway IV weapons. The tests were carried out at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, MD in the USA by a test team including personnel from the UK BAE Systems.
Two F-35B completed nine flights with MBDA’s ASRAAM missiles and Raytheon’s Paveway IV enhanced laser guided bombs. The flights involved different configurations of both weapon types on the aircraft.
The test used ‘dummy’ weapons rounds, which are identical in fit and form to the operational weapons. The aircraft loaded with the weapons were tested on the STOVL aircraft. The initial tests are an important step in integrating weapons onto the F-35B, allowing test pilots to understand how they affect the way the aircraft performs and handles.
The UK’s Royal Air Force (RAF) already uses ASRAAM and Paveway IV on the Eurofighter Typhoon and Panavia Tornado GR4. The successful tests are a step towards full interoperability between the current and future fast jets that will be used by the RAF and the UK’s Royal Navy from 2018.

RAN commissions first-of-class Canberra

The sealift capability of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has been dramatically increased by the commissioning of the 27,800-tonne landing helicopter dock (LHD) HMAS Canberra in Sydney on 28 November.
Based on the design of the Spanish Navy's aircraft carrier Juan Carlos , the 231 m Canberra can embark, transport, and deploy more than 1,000 troops and their equipment from alongside or by helicopter and landing craft.
Canberra , the RAN's largest-ever ship, will be joined in 2016 by sister ship Adelaide . The hulls of both ships were constructed by Navantia at its Ferrol facility in northwest Spain and subsequently transported by heavy-lift ship to BAE Systems in Melbourne for addition of the superstructure, fitting out, and systems integration.
Design changes for the RAN included upgrades to air conditioning, Australian explosives standards in the magazines, enhanced firefighting and medical facilities, and four Typhoon remote-controlled 25 mm weapons systems at each corner of the hull for close-in defence. The Australian-developed Nulka hovering anti-missile decoy will be fitted at a later date.
The flight deck is configured for simultaneous operation of four medium-sized helicopters, such as the NHIndustries NH90 (MRH90 in Australian service) or the Sikorsky S70A-9 Black Hawk, or four Boeing CH-47D/F Chinooks. Up to eight medium helicopters can be accommodated in the hangar, and up to 18 can be carried if the light vehicle deck is also utilised.
The four Navantia-built LCM-1E watercraft carried by each LHD can transport a maximum load of 54 tonnes via the ship's well deck.
The ship will then spend four weeks in the Coral Sea on hot weather trials, followed by four weeks off Tasmania for the cold weather equivalent. Amphibious development trials will subsequently take place off Townsville, Queensland.
These are expected to involve the so-called Amphibious Ready Element, a 350-strong infantry company with supporting elements and enablers that will be on 48 hours' notice to deploy.
An Amphibious Ready Group - a battalion-based combat team with enablers that will involve about 2,000 troops and require both LHDs to transport - is scheduled to be operational by 2017.
Initial operational capability (IOC) for Canberra is expected to be reached in 2016, enabling the ship to participate in that year's Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise.
RAN Canberra retain the ski-jump ramp of the Juan Carlos design, and earlier this year Prime Minister ordered an assessment of the benefits of the F-35B short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant of the Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter and modifying the LHDs to operate them.
Although the assessment is intended to help inform the Defence White Paper and Force Structure Review expected in mid-2015, the general reaction from senior defence sources has been that additional capability would not be justified by the time, cost, and risk involved.

France To Send 6 Mirage Jets To Jordan Against Islamic State

The French government said that six Mirage fighter jets would be deployed to Jordan on Thursday to assist in the fight against the Islamic State group.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls had already on Sunday announced the deployment of the fighters to Jordan, to join forces against the extremist group in Iraq but the arrival of the warplanes was expected at the end of the month.
France already has nine Rafale fighter jets in the United Arab Emirates as it participates in US-led airstrikes in Iraq.
Paris has however declined to take part in operations in Syria, where IS has also overrun large swathes of territory.

Japan mulls financing body to boost weapons exports

The Japan government is considering the creation of a financing arm for weapons exports, a move that would accelerate Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s shift away from the country’s pacifist past and strengthen its regional security ties as China’s military power grows.
As a first step, the government plans to convene an advisory panel to consider specific proposals to create a way to finance military sales by Japanese firms and fund defense industry cooperation abroad, according to four people involved in the matter.
A number of potential deals under discussion in recent months could benefit from concessional financing from Tokyo. They include a possible sale of state-of-the-art submarines to Australia, US-2 patrol seaplanes to India and the development in Japan with foreign companies of a troop-carrying helicopter.

Egypt receives ten Apaches

After delivery was suspended for many months, the Egyptian Air Force has finally received ten Apache helicopters from the United States.
On November 24 the Egyptian Air Force (EAF) released a photo showing the helicopters, covered in white protective plastic, after being delivered to an Egyptian port
On April 22 this year, the United States was lifted its suspension of military aid to Egypt, allowing deliveries to go ahead.
Egyptian military aid was suspended in October 2013.
Egypt was also due to receive four F-16C/D fighter jets, M1 Abrams main battle tank kits (for local assembly) and Harpoon Block II missiles but it appears that delivery of these items is still suspended. The United States normally sends $1.5 billion in mainly military aid to Egypt every year.
The Egyptian Air Force ordered 12 Apaches in 2009 to augment the 35 that have been in service since 2003 with the Egyptian Air Force’s 550 Attack Helicopter Regiment. The status of the remaining two Apaches is not clear.

Bulgaria will not buy new jet fighters before 2017

The saga of Bulgaria’s long-delayed purchase of new military jet fighters to meet Nato requirements is set to continue unresolved for a few more years because the state will give no investment loans or state guarantees for large projects before 2017.
This has emerged from a transcript of the Bulgarian cabinet’s November 26 meeting, at which Prime Minister and his ministers agreed only to support a project to construction a gas interconnector link with Greece.
The cabinet declined for now to give financial support to two major projects, the Defence Ministry’s 800 million leva modernisation project and the Regional Development Ministry’s plan to repair and modernise the road network, which has a price tag of about 300 million leva. Both would require a state loan.
Bulgaria joined Nato in 2004 and committed to having eight multi-purpose jet fighters at Nato’s disposal by 2016. Four should be available for operations and four to guard Bulgarian airspace, part of the alliance’s integrated air defence system.
Bulgaria still is using Soviet-era Russian MiG aircraft, incompatible with the needs of Nato and which pose huge problems in maintenance and because of the need to bring in spare parts from Russia.
Should the fighters not be replaced, Turkey and Romania, also both Nato members, would have to continue to assist in guarding Bulgarian airspace.

Royal Navy May Ask US Marines to fly its F-35B on new HMS Queen Elizabeth Following Delays on Deliveries to UK

The Royal Navy may ask US squadrons to fly off its new aircraft carrier following delays to its new F35B fighters.
MoD insiders said the US Marine Corps would be offered the use of HMS Queen Elizabeth for flight operations.
The UK plans to have its first F35 squadron operational by 2018, but there may be further delays.
The plan is for one squadron of British F35s to be ready for service at sea by 2021. But even if it is achieved, it will create a gap of years where the Queen Elizabeth is ready but British squadrons are not.
In February, BBC's Newsnight was told that it would be placed "within days". But persistent doubts about the F35's enormously complex software, and an engine fire this summer caused successive delays to the decision.
When the British purchase was announced, last month, it was for just four of the planes. The MoD says that this order will allow trials to start from the Queen Elizabeth on time with "UK F35Bs, flown by UK pilots".
But the slowdown in the expected purchasing rate is bound to delay the aircraft's entry into squadron service.
Asking US jets to fly from the Queen Elizabeth would be a sensible way of bridging the gap between the carrier being completed, and a British squadron of jets being available.
However, the MoD said on Wednesday that it was "not aware" of any further delay to the timetable for the first operational squadron.
Even if the timetable is kept, senior naval officers are nervous that a gap in capability during 2018-2021.
With a Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) expected to get under way in 2015, the huge ships, which have long been the subject of controversy in Whitehall, are likely to come under fresh scrutiny.

Nov 28, 2014

First UK A400M Atlas Delivered To The RAF

The first of the RAF’s A400M Atlas military transport aircraft has been officially unveiled at RAF Brize Norton.
The aircraft will replace the existing fleet of C-130 Hercules which have been the tried and trusted workhorse of the RAF’s Air Transport Fleet for decades.
The UK is the third country to operate the aircraft, after France and Turkey. The programme will see a total of 22 aircraft delivered to the RAF in the coming years.
Delivery of the aircraft – which was assembled in Seville, Spain - took place at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, where the fleet will be based and where its pilots and ground crew will benefit from state-of-the-art training facilities.

Lockheed Offers Unmanned U-2 Concept

U-2 advocates push optionally manned variant as a rival to Global Hawk.
Lockheed Martin has crafted a reduced-cost plan to “optionally man” its U-2, throwing a new possibility into the mix as Congress weighs whether to shift to an Global Hawk unmanned aircraft fleet for high-altitude reconnaissance. With an optionally manned U-2, advocates for the so-called Dragon Lady say the venerable aircraft finally can match the endurance offered by the RQ-4B Global Hawk.
Amy Butler-aviationweek

Nov 27, 2014

France delays delivery of Mistral warship to Russia 'indifinitely'

French President François Hollande delayed indefinitely on Tuesday his decision on whether to deliver the first of two Mistral helicopter carriers ordered by Russia citing the "current situation" in eastern Ukraine.
The statement follows months of speculation about the contract, with Paris coming under intense pressure from its NATO allies to scrap the contract.
The Vladivostok was supposed to be the first of two Mistral-class helicopter carriers delivered to Russia according to the original deal signed in 2011.
The ships, which were built in the western French port city of Saint-Nazaire, were scheduled to be delivered to Russia by the last quarter of 2014.
The concern in France, which is suffering from record-high unemployment and stagnant growth, is that it not only loses the receipts from this sale but also that its credibility as a weapons exporter is compromised.
Russia has reportedly warned Paris of "serious" consequences unless France delivers the first of two Mistral-class helicopter carriers by the end of November.
However, Russia's Deputy Defence Minister Yuri Borisov told RIA news agency on Tuesday that Russia would not pursue claims against France over non-delivery, but expected the contract to be fulfilled.

U.S. Marines, Spanish Soldiers Train Helicopter Heavy Lift Capabilities

U.S. Marines assigned to Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response – Africa trained with Spanish soldiers from Transport Helicopter Battalion 5 in externally sling loading heavy equipment at Spanish Helicopter Base Coronel Mate, Colmenar de Viejo, Spain, Nov. 18 -19, 2014.
During the multi-day event, the Marines and Spanish soldiers conducted training in helicopter support teams, sling loading equipment to a Spanish Army CH-47 Chinook. The training event included day and night operations in which they lifted water bladders and vehicles by a single-point sling load, using only one lift cable; dual-point sling load, using two lift cables; and tandem lifts, lifting two water bladders or trucks at the same time.
The training event allowed the Marines and soldiers to sustain technical skills while enhancing operational capacity between the Spanish Military and U.S. Marines, strengthening their partnership.
SPMAGTF-CR-AF is rapid response force able to conduct a broad range of military operations in U.S. Africa Command’s operational region, including: U.S. Embassy reinforcement, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations, rescue of downed pilots, and other missions as directed.

700X NAS, First Royal Navy Drone Squadron

700X – X for ‘Xperimental’ – Naval Air Squadron will be at the vanguard of the Fleet Air Arm’s venture into the world of unmanned flight with ‘eyes in the sky’ pilotless aircraft.
The squadron has been established at RNAS Culdrose to oversee the deployment of Remotely Piloted Air Systems (RPAS) to pave the way for similar aircraft in the future.
For nearly a year, ScanEagle has been launched from the decks of HMS Somerset, Northumberland and Cardigan Bay, and is now being flown from HMS Kent, which has just arrived in the Arabian Sea to begin counter-piracy patrols.
Launched by a catapult on a 14ft ramp, ScanEagle can remain airborne for 12 hours operating at ranges of up to 40 miles from the mother ship, beaming live video of what it sees – by day or night, thanks to its electro-optical and infra-red camera – directly into the ship’s operations room.
Since being introduced to ships deployed east of Suez at the beginning of the year, ScanEagle has clocked up nearly 1,500 hours on missions.
It was brought in to provide eyes for the Royal Navy’s minehunting force in the Gulf, but has proved equally useful in counter-piracy and counter-smuggling operations thanks to its ability to constantly watch over a boarding operation – or monitor a suspicious vessel pretty much undetected.

First Paveway IV Release for RAF Typhoons at RAF Lossiemouth

No 1(Fighter) Squadron, based at RAF Lossiemouth, successfully released 2 live Paveway IV weapons at Cape Wrath Training Area as part of the Squadron’s task to deliver the latest Typhoon capability upgrade, known as P1Eb.
P1Eb is predominantly an air to ground capability upgrade; it provides enhancements to the Litening III Laser Designator Pod (LDP) and Helmet Equipment Assembly (HEA) (helmet mounted sight) integration, as well as with Paveway IV. The LDP can now also be used seamlessly with the HEA to visually identify air tracks at long range, as well as identifying, tracking and targeting points on the ground.
The Paveway IV offers increased precision, stand-off, and flexibility of employment, and the Typhoon can release a number of weapons to different targets in a single pass.
1(Fighter) Squadron has conducted 8 Paveway IV drops this week, with a mix of profiles including GPS and laser guidance; pre-planned and target of opportunity using the HEA; and employing both impact and airburst fusing settings on the weapon.
1(Fighter) Squadron will release a further 20 Paveway IV weapons when they deploy to the USA for Exercise Red Flag in January 2015. The Typhoon aircraft will be conducting full swing role training sorties, day and night, fighting through the hostile air and ground threats, and then conducting the Paveway IV releases as part of the missions. These sorties will also involve full integration with the US Air Force F22 Raptor aircraft, which is a key area for the RAF as it looks to introduce the Lightning II in the coming years.

Nov 25, 2014

Imminent Rafale sale to Qatar

France's Dassault Aviation declined comment on Monday on a media report that said France could soon sell at least two dozen Rafale combat jets to Qatar.
Europe 1 radio reported France was in "very advanced negotiations" to sell a tranche of at least 24 of the Dassault-built fighters to the Gulf state, which has been seeking a total of 72 warplanes to renew and expand its fleet of French Mirage 2000 jets.
Defence sources say France and Qatar have held intense negotiations in recent months over fighters and other arms.

Europe formally kick-starts tanker procurement project

Europe has formally begun the acquisition process for a new aerial refuelling capability under the Multinational MultiRole Tanker Transport (MRTT) Fleet (MMF) project.
With the European Defence Agency having already harmonised requirements, a co-operation agreement was signed between the NATO Support Organisation and the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR) to launch the acquisition phase of the MRTT MMF project on the same day as the announcement.
According to OCCAR, this agreement sets the framework and conditions under which it will manage the acquisition phase of the aircraft on behalf of NATO. The project will be led by the Netherlands, with Norway also participating. Both nations have established a support partnership within the NATO Support Organisation (NSPO), which will oversee the acquisition and operational sustainment of the MRTT MMF aircraft.
Although not mentioned in this announcement, Belgium and Poland are expected to join the project also. Airbus Defence and Space is likely to contest the requirement with its A330-200 MRTT platform, as is Boeing with its KC-46A Pegasus. Service providers AirTanker and Omega Air have also expressed an interest in bidding. A downselect is expected before the end of the year, with a contract award due before the end of 2015. Initial operating capability is scheduled for 2019.

Nov 24, 2014

Italy deploys latest Mangusta attack helo variant to Afghanistan

Italy has deployed the latest version of the AgustaWestland Mangusta attack helicopter, the AW129D, to Afghanistan.
Task Force 'Fenice', the Italian Army Aviation component of Train Advise Assist Command West (TAAC-W) in Afghanistan, started testing the new version of the helicopter in early November. Once testing is complete, the new version will replace the earlier A129 CBT Mangusta, which has flown more than 10,500 hours in Afghanistan and was previously deployed in Iraq.
The AW129D is fitted with Rafael's Toplite III turret and Spike ER (Extended Range) missiles, and retains the Oto Melara TM-197B turret armed with a 20 mm gun. The new version has been tested in numerous firings in Sardinia, where missiles have been fired in all conditions, while Mangusta pilots also carried out target laser designation to guide bombs dropped from air force fighters. The Toplite III turret allows a much longer target detection, recognition, and identification range compared to the old HeliTOW, designed in the mid-70s.
Currently Task Force 'Fenice', based on the 5th Army Aviation Regiment, operates an improvised explosive device disposal (IEDD) 'Purple Team' (currently formed of one A129 CBT and one NH90 utility helicopter with a heli-sniper/JTAC and an eight-man IEDD team on board), and a reconnaissance and combat 'Red Team' (formed of two A129s).

UK orders first operational F-35 combat aircraft

UK has signed for its first four operational F-35 as part of the Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP 8), announced on 21 November.
The order marks an initial buy from the MoD's Main Gate 4 acquisition approval process for 14 jets to equip the Royal Air Force's (RAF's) 617 Squadron, which is scheduled to stand-up as the UK's first operational F-35B unit in 2016.
The UK already has two operational test and evaluation (BK-1 and BK-2) and one training aircraft (BK-3) delivered and flying out of Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. A third test aircraft (BK-4) has been signed for and is due to be delivered in early 2016.
Set to equip both RAF and Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm (FAA) units, the F-35B will be flown as a common pool along the lines of the now deactivated Joint Force Harrier. In 2016 the first unit - 617 'Dambusters' Sqn - will stand up with the first 14 operational aircraft and BK-3 at Beaufort Pilot Training Center at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Beaufort, South Carolina.
The government will approve the UK's bulk F-35B buy (the final number minus the 14 aircraft of Main Gate 4 and the four test and training aircraft) in its Main Gate 5 announcement in 2017. Numbers are yet to be decided, but with the UK having so far committed itself to just 48 aircraft it is highly likely that the final order will be substantially less than the 138 programme of record. Following Main Gate 5, the overall cost of the programme will be published.
In 2018, 617 Sqn will transfer to its future home station at RAF Marham in the UK, and in December of that year the UK will declare initial operating capability - land (IOC - Land) for its F-35B force.
The second unit - the FAA's 809 'Immortals' Naval Air Squadron - will be created ahead of the commencement of sea trials aboard the future HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier in 2018, with the full operating capability (land and maritime) being declared in 2023.

Airbus and Lockheed Considering To Team to Develop a Nato Fighter

Domingo Ureña, Airbus Defence and Space executive vice president for military aircraft, speaking on a panel at the 2014 NATO Industry Forum in Split, Croatia, on Nov. 13, discussed the need to collaborate more with industry from various countries on issues such as cybersecurity when he was asked if that meant he would be open to teaming up with Boeing or Lockheed on a new fighter. His response?
“Why not? Why not?”
It may seem surprising, given the historic competition between the European giant and its American cousins.

Pentagon, Lockheed Finalize 8th F-35 Lot

The Pentagon today announced it has reached a final agreement with Lockheed Martin on the eighth low-rate initial production (LRIP-8) lot of F-35 joint strike fighters.
The contract covers 43 production models, with a total value of $4.7 billion. That dollar figure includes half a billion in advanced procurement funding. Under the terms of the contract, Lockheed Martin will cover 100 percent of cost overruns.
A handshake agreement, without some cost details, was announced in October.
The average airframe cost dropped roughly 3.5 percent from LRIP-7, and are down 57 percent since LRIP-1.
Those costs do not include engine prices. The Pentagon signed an LRIP 8 agreement with engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney in October.
Overall, US forces will receive 19 F-35As for the Air Force, six F-35Bs for the Marine Corps and four F-35C models, three for the US Navy and one for the Marines. In addition, the contract covers the first two F-35As for Israel, the first four F-35As for Japan, two additional F-35As for Norway and two F-35As for Italy.
F-35 program head, told reporters Oct. 31 that he plans to negotiate LRIP 9 and 10 together as a package in January.

Nov 23, 2014

China building airstrip-capable island on Fiery Cross Reef-Spratly Islands

China is building an island at least 3,000 m long on Fiery Cross Reef that could be the site for its first airstrip in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.
Satellite imagery of the island taken on 8 August and 14 November shows that in the past three months Chinese dredgers have created a land mass that is almost the entire length of the reef.
Fiery Cross Reef lies to the west of the main Spratly island archipelago and was previously under water; the only habitable area was a concrete platform built and maintained by China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN).
The new island is more than 3,000 m long and between 200 and 300 m wide: large enough to construct a runway and apron. The dredgers are also creating a harbour to the east of the reef that would appear to be large enough to receive tankers and major surface combatants.
The existing structure on the reef's southwestern edge was home to a PLAN garrison and had a pier, air-defence guns, anti-frogmen defences, communications equipment, and a greenhouse. The concrete structure is currently not attached to the new island, but if previous Chinese land reclamation projects in the Spratlys are any guide, it is only a matter of time before it is joined up.
The Spratly Islands are claimed by Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam. All but Brunei occupy islands or have built structures on reefs and shoals to assert their claims.
China has been at a distinct disadvantage compared with other claimants in the Spratly Islands as it is the only claimant not to occupy an island with an airfield. Taiwan has Itu Aba (Taiping) island, the Philippines has Pagasa island, Malaysia has Swallow Reef (a reef on which it reclaimed land and built an airstrip), and Vietnam has Southwest Cay.
The work at Fiery Cross thus brings parity but is likely to cause alarm among the other claimants. China has previously shown it is willing to spend blood and treasure to assert its territorial claims in this region. Given its massive military advantage over the other claimants in terms of quantity and quality of materiel, this facility appears purpose-built to coerce other claimants into relinquishing their claims and possessions, or at least provide China with a much stronger negotiating position if talks over the dispute were ever held.

Russia to develop new AWACS aircraft based on IL-76MD-90A plane

Beriyev Aviation on Friday will receive the first series Ilyushin Il-76MD-90A plane for making an advanced airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft on its base, the plane manufacturer.
The A-100 Premier AWACS aircraft prototype will be made on the Ilyushin aircraft basis in Taganrog (in Russia’s southern Rostov region), the company said.
The manufacturing cycle for one Il-76MD-90A plane is two years and 13 aircraft of the IL-76 family are currently at different stages of manufacture.
The advanced AWACS plane A-100 Premier designed to replace the A-50 aircraft will have an advanced active phase array capable of detecting and tracking airborne and land-based targets.
The Russian Air Force has around 20 A-50 Mainstay AWACS planes, based on the Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft. The A-50 is equipped with the large Liana surveillance radar with its antenna in an over-fuselage rotodome and can control up to ten fighter aircraft for either air-to-air intercept or air-to-ground attack missions.

Nov 22, 2014

Russia Sends Mig-31 Foxhound Fighter Jets To Ukraine Border, In Escalation Of Tension Over Separatist Region

In a move that could tip the balance of the Ukrainian conflict in favor of the Russian-backed separatists, Russia is sending a unit of advanced interceptor fighters to an airbase close to the Ukrainian border. Operating from there, the Mig-31 fighter jets would be able to survey airspace well inside Ukraine without actually flying over the country.

Pakistan wants to buy Chinese FC-31 (J-31) stealth aircraft

The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has expressed interest in procuring fourth generation stealth fighter aircraft FC-31 from China.
It is for the first time that a senior government functionary has confirmed talks with China over purchase of the longer-range stealth aircraft — an issue that has been a subject of speculation in defence circles since the 10th edition of the Zhuhai Air Show (China) held earlier this month, when the aircraft was unveiled.
The FC-31 is being developed by China primarily for the export market. Chinese officials claim that several countries have expressed interest in the aircraft believed to be comparable to US F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
What particularly interests the PAF is that FC-31 prototype (J-31) and JF-17 use the same Russian Klimov RD-93 engines.
China and Pakistan had earlier co-produced JF-17 Thunder. Pakistan has been eagerly trying to market this fighter aircraft.
Pakistan, which is at present producing Block-2 of JF-17 at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Kamra, is eyeing orders from countries in the Middle East and Africa.

Nov 21, 2014

India likely to order 106 more Pilatus aircraft to train pilots

India is likely to go in for 106 more Swiss Pilatus PC-7 basic trainer aircraft (BTA), the bulk of which will be produced domestically, to help train rookie IAF pilots in a project worth around Rs 7,000 crore.
This comes after defence PSU Hindustan Aeronautics' attempt to develop its own BTA called HTT-40 failed to pass muster with the defence ministry. First, it would have been much more expensive than the Pilatus BTA already being inducted by IAF. Second, it would have not met the timelines specified long ago.
So, the defence acquisitions council (DAC) is slated to consider the case for 106 additional Pilatus at the meeting to be chaired by Manohar Parrikar on Saturday, say sources.
One option is to buy 38 Pilatus off-the-shelf, with the rest 68 being produced by the 5 Base Repair Depot (BRD) of IAF at Sulur. Other options could include importing only 10 BTA, with 96 being made in India.

El Ejército del Aire se prepara para desplegar Typhoon en los Países Bálticos

El Mando Aéreo de Combate (MACOM) lleva a cabo del 17 al 21 de noviembre el ejercicio de evaluación Silver Week 14, con objeto de preparar a las unidades que a partir de 1 de enero próximo participarán en la misión de la OTAN de protección del espacio aéreo de los Países Bálticos.
En este sentido se han desplegado en el Aeródromo Militar de Lanzarote, perteneciente al Mando Aéreo de Canarias (MACAN), aviones Eurofighter de las Alas 11 y 14, así como aviones KC-130 Hércules de reabastecimiento en vuelo del Ala 31 y Falcon 20 de guerra electrónica del 47 Grupo Mixto de Fuerzas Aéreas.
Asimismo, aprovechando el despliegue y, con objeto de maximizar recursos y minimizar costes, se aprovecha para evaluar conjuntamente la capacidad operativa de los Eurofighter, la capacidad de proyección de una Agrupación Aerotáctica (AAT) a una distancia superior a 1.500 kilómetros, así como su capacidad para operar desde el Aeródromo Militar de Lanzarote a modo de base de despliegue. De este modo, el ejercicio servirá como adiestramiento avanzado para los aviones F-18 del 462 Escuadrón y del Grupo de Alerta y Control (GRUALERCON) ubicados en la Base Aérea de Gando (Gran Canaria).

USAF sends F-22s to Japan for deterrence exercise

The Air Force sent its most advanced stealth fighter to Japan this month to fly in a training exercise aimed at deterrence and maintaining security in the region.
F-22s flew from Kadena Air Base as part of exercise Keen Sword, underway from Nov. 8 through Nov. 19, as tensions in the area have risen over maritime disputes in the South China Sea. The F-22s are from the 525th Fighter Squadron at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.
Keen Sword is a bilateral exercise that has been held biennially since 1986.
Air Force F-22s have recently been active in training exercises in the region, serving as a deterrence to North Korea and as a show of force to China. Last spring, F-22s were sent to Osan Air Base, South Korea, to participate in exercise Foal Eagle, a large-scale drill alongside South Korean forces.

Belgium Receives Last NH90 Troop Transport Helicopter

The last of four NH90 troop transport helicopters ordered by Belgium, was handed over in Marignane, France, Nov. 13.
The other three have clocked up 450 flying hours since the first one entered service Oct. 2, 2013. Belgian pilots are among the most intensive users of the NH90, wiht an average availability of 67%.
The last two of four NATO Frigate Helicopters ordered by Belgium will be delivered at the end of November and the first half of 2015, respectively, replacing navy Sea Kings in the search and rescue role.

Pakistan receives surplus Jordanian F-16s

The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has received into service 'a squadron' of F-16 fighter aircraft from the Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF).
The F-16A/B fighters have just recently arrived in Pakistan, and will be used to augment the PAF's existing F-16 fleet, which is heavily involved in counterinsurgency operations along the country's border area with Afghanistan.
The purchase of surplus RJAF F-16s was first mooted in February, with deliveries commencing in April. 12 F-16A and 1 F-16B Block 15 aircraft will be received to increase the size of its jet fleet. All of these aircraft have undergone mid-life upgrades.
Former Jordanian aircraft have been assigned to 19 Squadron at PAF base Mushaf (Sarghoda).
When the deal for the surplus Jordanian aircraft was disclosed earlier in the year, the PAF stated that it had also approached at least two other countries for additional F-16s. The status of these discussions is unclear.
Prior to the Jordanian deal, the PAF fielded 12 F-16C and 6 F-16D Block 50/52 jets, and between 45 and 50 F-16A/B aircraft. These earlier aircraft have now all been upgraded to Block 52 standard by Turkish Aerospace Industries.

Eurofighter and NETMA sign €1bn Typhoon Captor E-Scan radar contract

Eurofighter has signed a €1bn contract with the Nato Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency (NETMA) to develop the Captor E-Scan radar for the Typhoon multi-role fighter, during a ceremony in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Signed on behalf of the UK, Germany, Spain and Italy, the contract will see the integration of the Captor E-Scan on-board the aircraft to help further improve Typhoon's combat effectiveness.
Eurofighter CEO Alberto Gutierrez said: "The signing of this contract is a massive boost to all of us and is a pivotal moment.
"It enhances a weapons system that offers a mix of capabilities that is simply unmatched anywhere in the world."
UK Defence Equipment, Support and Technology Minister Philip Dunne said: "The development of this AESA [active electronically scanned array] radar is a significant step in delivering technology that will ensure the Royal Air Force is equipped to meet the evolving demands of operations.
Designed to retrofit to both Tranche 2 and Tranche 3 Typhoons, the radar is expected to add new mission capabilities, such as simultaneous radar functionalities, air surveillance and air-to-ground and weapon control to the aircraft.
The Captor E-Scan radar is equipped with a very large sized antenna and repositioner, which enables a greater number of transmitter receiver modules, hence providing greater power and reception, leading to earlier target detection and greater utility across the electronic warfare spectrum.

First Flight of Russia's modernised Tu-160 bomber

Russia’s strategic bomber Tupolev Tu-160 has performed the first flight after modernisation, flying during 2 hours and 40 minutes.
At present the Tu-160 missile carriers are undergoing the first stage modernisation with replacement of nearly all the onboard radar equipment and avionics.
Last year, the Tu-160 missile carriers performed a long-distance flight from Russia’s Volga area to Venezuela. They took off from the Engels base in the Saratov region, flying over the Caribbean Sea and the eastern Pacific, along the southeast coast of the North American continent and landed at the Simón Bolivar International Airport near the Venezuelan capital Caracas.
The planes flew more than 10,000 kilometers during 13 hours. After that they performed a flight from the Venezuelan Maiquetia airport to Managua airport in Nicaragua. The strategic bombers covered a distance of more than 2,500 kilometres in three hours.

France will acquire twelve A330 MRTT air-to-air refuelling aircraft

The first delivery is foreseen for 2018, followed by the second in 2019, and then at a rate of one or two per year.
The contract with Airbus Defence and Space is already ready for official award. The contract covers the development and qualification of the specific French configuration.
France is the sixth nation to order the A330 MRTT Australia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom which have ordered a total of 34 aircraft. In addition, India and Qatar have selected the MRTT and are in the final stages of contractual negotiations for six and two aircraft respectively. A total of 22 aircraft are currently in service and the aircraft has been battle-proven in recent coalition actions.
In French service the A330 MRTT will be equipped with a combination of Boom System and underwing hose-and-drogue refuelling pods, and will be configured in a variety of layouts carrying up to 271 passengers as well as medevac arrangements.

Japan selects Global Hawk

Japan’s Ministry of Defense has officially announced the selection of Northrup Grumman’s Global Hawk.

Japan announces decision to buy V-22

The Japan Ground Self-Defense has budgeted for FY2015 to buy V-22, according a proposal of the US Government.
"The V-22 was intended to have satisfied all the necessary requirements as of the Ground Self-Defense Force tilt - rotor machine".

Nov 19, 2014

RAF To Be Equipped With Bunker Busting Version of Paveway IV

British combat jets are on course to be armed with a new bunker busting version of the Paveway IV precision guided bomb.
Raytheon UK, the weapon’s maker, is conducting preparatory work using an existing contract with the MoD ahead of a possible deal next year to equip Royal Air Force and Fleet Air Arm jets with a compact warhead.
The contractors carried out ground trials at the UK’s Pendine test range in 2012.
A new warhead and fuze for the Paveway IV would replace earlier generation weapons like the Paveway III bunker buster used by the Royal Air Force in Libya in 2011.
The new generation Paveway IV has a 500-pound warhead compared with 2,000-pounds for the Paveway III.
Paveway IV is carried by RAF Tornado jets and was recently cleared for action onboard the Typhoon.
Typhoon contractor BAE Systems announced earlier this month that two Paveway IVs had been released from the combat jet simultaneously for the first time during a recent flight test.
Aside from the Tornado and Typhoon, the Paveway IV will also be fitted to the F-35B when it enters service with the RAF and the Royal Navy later in the decade.
The weapon has also been acquired by Typhoon and Tornado operator Saudi Arabia.
Executives are now targeting Oman as a second Paveway IV export customer following their purchase of Typhoon jets.

India’s Su-30s to be back in use this week

The Indian Air Force’s Sukhoi Su-30MKI fleet, which was grounded last month over a crash near Pune, will be back in use this week, according Air Chief Arup Raha.
The Pune crash on October 14 was an accident which appeared to be automatic firing of the seats. Court of Inquiry (CoI) is about to be complete and the findings are being finalised.
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 Su-30 jets from Russia.
Grounding the fleet of Sukhoi-30 aircraft for technical checks will not affect further contracts for the deliveries of these Russia-developed planes to India.

Nigerian Air Force Interested in Textron’s Scorpion Combat Jets

The Nigerian air force is concerned that efforts to acquire new combat aircraft from Textron to battle Boko Haram militants will be blocked over concerns about the country’s human rights record.
The air force currently relies on a fleet of older jets, including Chinese-made F-7 planes and European Alpha Jets.
Textron has been marketing the Scorpion military jet as a low-cost option for many nations that can’t afford more traditional and expensive designs.
The country would initially look to acquire 12 jets to form one squadron. A formal request to buy the plane has not been made, though that could happen soon. The company have said first deliveries could occur 18 months after they receive an order.

Sweden Gripen scrambled after French aircraft entered Swedish airspace

Following unconfirmed reports that a Russian plane entered Swedish airspace on Saturday, the Swedish military has told the aircraft actually came from French Air Force.
"We can confirm that it was a French aircraft and now we have to investigate the details of this".
His comments followed earlier allegations in Sweden's Expressen newspaper that a Russian plane was "a couple of kilometres on the wrong side of the border" but "quickly turned eastward" when a Swedish Jas Gripen plane approached.
Officials in France have yet to comment on the Swedish military's confirmation of a French plane in Swedish airspace.
The claims about a possible Russian violation emerged just a day after Russia's President Vladimir Putin went on German television and insisted that his country had not violated international airspace.
Last month, Swedish intelligence officials released a picture of a Russian jet flying closely beside a Swedish intelligence plane, in what they described as "a growing trend" in international airspace.
The news followed revelations in September that two Russian Su-24 fighter-bombers had been detected flying over Swedish airspace to the south of Öland. The planes were one kilometre inside Swedish territory for about 30 seconds.
Carl Bildt - who was Sweden's foreign minister at the time - described the flights as "the most serious aerial incursion by the Russians during my years as foreign minister".

Israel may halve second order of F-35 fighters to 10-15 units

Israel may soon order 10 to 15 U.S.-made F-35 fighter jets, around half the number previously mentioned by defence sources in both countries.
A reduced Israeli purchase could dent international confidence in the plane.
Israel bought 19 F-35s for $2.75 billion in 2010, with delivery scheduled between 2016 and 2018. Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon, visiting the United States last month, agreed to a preliminary deal for 25 to 31 more planes subject to approval by an Israeli ministerial committee.
An Israeli defence official said the ministerial committee would likely compromise with a staggered plan whereby 13 F-35s would be bought now and another 18 in 2017. The 2010 deal gave Israel the option to buy 75 planes, or three squadrons.

Brazilian air force Could Acquire up to 108 Gripen

A leading Brazilian air force figure has confirmed that 108 Saab Gripen NG multi-role fighters will be acquired for the force.
Following the announcement in October that a $5.8 billion contract had been signed for the first batch of 36 aircraft, an air force representative confirmed that the full requirement will be for 108 airframes.
The Gripen will initially replace Dassault Mirage 2000C fighters that have already been retired, and eventually the Northrop F-5EM and Alenia/Embraer A-1M aircraft that are still in service.
The 108 will be delivered in three batches, and although it has not yet been decided how many of these will be single-seater and how many will be two-seater aircraft, under the terms of the October contract eight of the first batch of 36 will be two-seat variants.
Brazil has been in discussions with the US Navy regarding the ideal mix of single- and two-seater aircraft that the force needs, plus it has been talking to the South African air force, which also operates the Gripen.
Fifteen of the first batch will be wholly built in Brazil, while the other 21 will be made by Brazilian and Swedish engineers.
The Gripen will also have the indigenous-built Mectron MAR-1 air-to-surface/air-to-air anti-radiation missile on board.

Nov 18, 2014

RAF Takes Delivery of First A400M Atlas

The Royal Air Force has officially taken delivery of its first Airbus A400M Atlas airlifter with the aircraft landing at the Brize Norton airbase Monday.
The first of 22 aircraft ordered by the British was signed over to the RAF last Friday and delivered Monday from the Airbus Defence and Space assembly line in Seville, Spain.
Britain joins France and Turkey as operators of the A400M. Next in line to receive its first aircraft is Germany, the first of 53 aircraft on order. Germany’s is scheduled to be handed over by the end of the month.
Airbus has orders for 174 aircraft from eight nations. Other nations involved in the pan-European program are Belgium, Luxembourg and Spain. Malaysia has also signed up as the first export customer.
The RAF will use the aircraft to prepare for flight crew training and familiarization ahead of a formal acceptance ceremony scheduled for Nov. 27 at the Brize Norton, where Prime Minister David Cameron is the local member of Parliament.
A second A400M is on schedule to be delivered to the RAF soon after the formal ceremony and a third aircraft is due to be handed over to the British by the end of the year.
The first RAF A400M squadron is planned to stand up next summer
Britain is receiving delivery of their first aircraft earlier than originally planned after the MoD agreed to a production slot swap with France.
The British aircraft are scheduled to eventually replace the RAF’s fleet of Lockheed Martin C-130Js. The Air Force also operates a number of Boeing C-17s and the Airbus A330 MRTT tanker transport aircraft as part of its airlift fleet.

South Korea Moving Closer To Lockheed F-16 Deal

South Korean officials are expected to approve a plan this week paving the way for Lockheed Martin to take over its F-16 upgrade program.
A Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) spokesman said his agency is scheduling a top decision-making council Nov. 19 to approve a plan to change the KF-16 partner company, following cancellation of a $1.7 billion BAE Systems contract to give 134 KF-16 fighters new avionics and radar systems.
A pair of KF-16 C/D Block 52 jets has already been sent to a BAE factory in Fort Worth, Texas, to be equipped with an up-to-date mission computer, cockpit-display and other avionics systems. Phase 2 of the upgrades would have involved the integration of the Raytheon active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars, ALR-69A all-digital radar warning receiver and weapon systems integration.
A new Lockheed contract would likely fill similar needs, but may swap out Raytheon’s AESA for Northrop Grumman’s model. Lockheed selected Northrop to provide radars on its contract to upgrade Taiwan’s F-16 fleet.

US looking to replace re-manufactured MH-47Gs with newbuild helos

The US Army is looking at options for replacing its remanufactured Boeing MH-47G special-mission Chinook helicopters with newbuild platforms.
According to a request for information (RfI) released on 14 November, the Technology Applications Program Office is conducting market research in support of the acquisition for the production of replacement airframes for the currently fielded 61 legacy MH-47G aircraft.
The disclosure that the US Army is looking to replace its rebuilt MH-47G helicopters comes just weeks after the service took delivery of the first of eight newbuild platforms. With the final re-manufactured aircraft having been delivered to the US Army in 2011, these aircraft have seen an extremely high tempo of operations in the harsh environment of Afghanistan.
Used by special forces, such as the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, the MH-47G differs from regular-model Chinooks in that it is equipped with double-capacity fuel tanks, an in-flight aerial refuelling probe, a digital advanced flight control system, and sensors and electronic warfare kit specified by the Special Operations Command.

F-35C Completes Initial Sea Trials aboard Aircraft Carrier

The F-35C Lightning II carrier variant Joint Strike Fighter completed its first phase of developmental test (DT) aboard an aircraft carrier Nov. 14, three days ahead of schedule aboard USS Nimitz (CVN 68).
During the DT-I event, F-35C Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) the F-35 Lightning II Integrated Test Force (ITF) from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23 (VX-23) located at Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River in Patuxent River, Maryland, tested the carrier suitability of the aircraft and its integration with carrier air and deck operations in the at-sea environment, achieving 100 percent of the threshold test points.
The aircraft demonstrated exceptional performance throughout its initial sea trails, accelerating the team's progress through the DT-I schedule and enabling them to conduct night operations - a milestone typically achieved during the second at-sea phase of developmental tests, as evidenced by the test schedules of the F/A-18 Hornet and F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet.
The cadre of DT-I test pilots logged a total of 39.2 flight hours as they conducted 33 flights featuring 124 catapults, 222 touch-and-go landings, and 124 arrestments. There were zero unintentional hook-down bolters, or missed attempts to catch an arresting wire on the flight deck. (Two hook-down, intentional bolters were conducted as part of the DT-I test plan.)

Think Thank says Australian F-35B purchase wouldn't make sense

Acquiring F-35B (STOVL) fighters to operate from the Royal Australian Navy's (RAN's) two 27,800-tonne Canberra class landing helicopter dock (LHD) amphibious ships would not be justified, a leading think-tank has concluded.
This issue could be addressed in a Defence White Paper expected around mid-2015. However, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) said the benefits of such a capability would be marginal at best and would not be justified by the costs.
The study pointed out that the LHDs - the first of which will be commissioned early in 2015 and the second in 2016 - could not carry a full complement of helicopters and amphibious troops with their vehicles and equipment and simultaneously deploy a useful number of STOVL aircraft and additional support aircraft.
Even in a STOVL-only configuration an LHD would face challenges in generating enough F-35B sorties continuously to protect itself and ships in company against a capable adversary, the study said.

Russian warplanes risking safety of European airliners, says Nato chief

Russia is placing civilian flights at risk by dispatching jet fighters and bombers into European airspace without following safety procedures, according to Nato’s secretary general.
Nato fighters had intercepted Russian military aircraft over 100 times so far this year, compared with 30 such incidents in 2013.
Russia’s long-range bombers and spy planes usually stay in international airspace, but they deliberately ignore safeguards designed to reduce the risk of collision with civilian flights. In particular, they switch off the “transponders” that allow aircraft to detect one another: “The problem is that many of the Russian pilots don’t turn on their transponders, they don’t file their flight plans and they don’t communicate with civilian air traffic control. This poses a risk to civilian air traffic and therefore this is a problem, especially when the Russian activity increases – because they have more Russian military planes in the air.”
In March, a Boeing 737 from Scandinavian Airlines came within a split second of colliding with a Russian spy plane. The airliner, carrying 132 passengers, had just taken off from Copenhagen on a routine flight to Rome when it passed within 300 feet of a Russian IL-20 surveillance aircraft.
The intruder had switched off its transponders and failed to contact air traffic control. Only the quick reaction of the Scandinavian Airlines pilot – and the fact that the incident occurred in daylight and in good visibility – prevented a near miss from becoming a disaster.
Stoltenberg urged Russia to obey the “norms” of flying in crowded airspace. “It’s not illegal to fly military planes in international airspace,” he said. “But it’s not in accordance with good norms to do it without communicating with civilian air traffic control.”
“They are posing a risk and that’s the reason why we would like them to turn on their transponders, to file their flight plans and to communicate with civilian air traffic control, especially since the number of Russian planes has increased.”
Almost every week, formations of Russian bombers probe the borders of European countries, testing the reaction times of their potential adversaries and, on occasion, carrying out mock attacks.
Britain is responsible for policing thousands of square miles of airspace over the Atlantic and the North Sea. The most recent known incident occurred on Oct 29 when RAF Typhoon fighters intercepted two Russian TU-95 Bear bombers approaching over the North Sea. Both turned back before reaching British airspace.

Two F-16 Netherlands fighters intercept Russian plane over Baltic Sea

Two Dutch F16 fighter jets, part of a NATO force patrolling the skies above the Baltic states, intercepted a Russian Ilyushin transport aircraft flying near Estonian and Lithuanian air space, the Netherlands said on Thursday.
After the interception, which took place late on Wednesday, the Ilyushin flew off in the direction of the Russian city of Kaliningrad, russian exclave sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania, both NATO members as are the other two Baltic states Estonia and Latvia.
The Dutch defence ministry said in a statement the Ilyushin had been flying in international air space but had been intercepted when it approached the air space of the two countries without filing a flight plan.
It said the plane did not intrude into their air space as an earlier ministry statement had said.
Russia's defence ministry also made clear the plane had remained in international air space.
Last month, NATO said it had conducted more than 100 intercepts of Russian aircraft this year, about three times as many as in 2013, amid sharply increased tensions between the West and Moscow over the Ukraine crisis.
The Western military alliance has recently reported increased levels of Russian military activity in the skies above the Baltic Sea. Last month, Norway scrambled F-16s to track four Russian bombers.
President Vladimir Putin has committed to reinvigorating Russia's armed forces, which had been undermined by the economic troubles that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union. He denies any aggression towards NATO.
Members of the U.S.-led NATO alliance have stepped up their vigilance since the Ukraine crisis erupted earlier this year.
On Thursday the defence ministers of Britain, the three Baltic states and four Nordic countries - NATO members Norway and Denmark and neutral Finland and Sweden - agreed to step up cooperation on intelligence and air force training to counter Moscow's increased activity in northern Europe.