Dec 31, 2014

Italian Eurofighters landed in Lithuania for Baltic Air Policing Mission

On 28 of December four Italian Eurofighter Typhoon have landed in the Lithuanian Air Force Air Base in Šiauliai. From the 1st of January they will take part in the NATO Air Policing mission in the Baltic States. This will be the first time when Italian troops are deployed in this NATO mission in Lithuania.
Along with fighters from Grosseto Air Base to Šiauliai Air Base, Italian Air Force transport aircraft KC-767 have landed and transported soldiers to participate in the mission, also equipment and installation.
Italian troops will take over the NATO Air Policing mission for four months from Portuguese soldiers who are patrolling with four F-16 "Fighting Falcon" fighters and reinforcement from the Canadian Royal Air Force with four fighters F-18 “Hornet”.
Polish Air Force with four MiG-29's will provide reinforcement for Italian troops.
On 31 December the Handover and Takeover ceremony of military contingents conducting Air Policing mission over the Baltic States will be held in the Lithuanian Air Force Air Base in Šiauliai. The Portuguese and Canadian Royal Air Force contingents which have been patrolling in the Baltic air space for four months will be replaced by the incoming Italian troops with four “Eurofighters Typhoon” fighters and the supporting Polish Air Force contingent with four “MiG-29” fighters.
The Italian Air Force detachment that have been deployed to the mission in the Baltic States from their permanent deployment sites in Italy have already arrived in Lithuania on 28 December.

Spanish Eurofighters arrive in Estonia for Baltic Air Policing

RAF A400M In Gibraltar Today

Dec 29, 2014

Spanish Eurofighters arrive in Lithuania for Baltic Air Police

V-22 to get a tanker option

This new capability will extend the range of combat aircraft without having to turn to other services or allies for aerial refueling.
This will make the air combat element more independent and flexible since it won't have to rely on other services' tankers, and because the Osprey doesn't require a well-developed airstrip like fixed-wing aircraft.
A prototype refueling system was tested in August, 2013 in Texas. In that evaluation, an Osprey equipped with tanks and a refueling hose flew as fighters trailed behind it. The aircraft "safely deployed, held stable, and retracted the refueling drogue as an F/A-18C and an F/A-18D Hornet flew just behind and to the side of the aircraft," Boeing, one of the companies that created the V-22, reported in a news release.
Giving the V-22 this new capability won't pigeon-hole the aircraft as a tanker and the Osprey will primarily be used to fly Marines and their gear. The tanker system is a piece of roll-on, roll-off equipment that will be temporarily installed on a particular aircraft, allowing it to switch between different types of missions.
The tanker capability is one of the latest modifications to the V-22.

Russia to station additional SU-27 combat aircraft in Belarus

Russia is to permanently deploy an additional eight Sukhoi Su-27 'Flanker' fighters to Belarus, as relations with the West remain tense.
The eight Su-27s will join the four already based at Baranovichi Air Base, near the Belarus borders with Lithuania and Poland.
Russia deployed its first Su-27 fighters to Belarus in late 2013, and had deployed six Su-27 fighters, as well as transport and airborne early warning and control aircraft, to this location in the immediate aftermath of the annexation of Crimea in March. It had, however, since reduced the number of 'Flankers' permanently stationed there to four.

US Marine Corps receives first carrier variant F-35C

The US Marine Corps (USMC) has received its first carrier variant (CV) Lockheed Martin F-35C.
The USMC is acquiring a mixed fleet of short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) F-35B and CV F-35C aircraft. The current plan is for the Corps' current AV-8B Harrier IIs to be replaced by 353 F-35Bs, and its Boeing F/A-18 Hornets to be replaced by 67 F-35Cs. Initial operating capability for the F-35B is slated to be achieving in the coming months, while that for the F-35C is expected in 2018.
CF-19 was the 36th and final F-35 to be delivered this year. Aircraft delivered in 2014 comprised 23 conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) F-35As to the US Air Force (USAF), two F-35As to the Royal Australian Air Force, four F-35Bs to the USMC, six F-35Cs to the USN, and one F-35C to the USMC.
With the programme still in low-rate initial production (LRIP), the final two lots (LRIP 10 and LRIP 11) are due to be contracted in the next couple of years. After 2016, Lockheed Martin intends to ramp-up to full-rate production of about one aircraft per day.

Russia Plans To Offer Argentina Long-Range SU-24 Fighter Bombers, Falklands Defence Under Review After Military Deal between Russia and Argentina

The Argentinian
fighter jet deal involves a lease/lend of 12 Sukhoi Su-24 supersonic, all-weather attack aircraft. They are old but NATO still regards the code-named “Fencer” as a “super-fighter” with an impressive 2,000-mile range and ability to deploy laser-guided missiles.
The aircraft, which Moscow will swap for beef and wheat, would be able to mount air patrols over Port Stanley.
UK Ministry of Defence officials fear Buenos Aires would take delivery of the planes well before the deployment in 2020 of the Navy’s 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth and its F-35B fighters, leaving a “real window of vulnerability”.
Defence cuts have left the Falklands with just four RAF Typhoon fighters, Rapier surface-to-air missiles and fewer than 1,200 troops, supported by a naval warship that visits throughout the year.
The deal involves a lease/lend of 12 Sukhoi Su-24 supersonic, all-weather attack aircraft.
Russia has been increasing its links with Argentina since 2010, when it provided two Mi17.
Buenos Aires needs to replace its decrepit fighter fleet but its attempts over the past two years have failed so far.
In October, Argentina Defence Minister announced the purchase of 24 Saab Gripen fighters, which were to be provided by Brazil, which has just purchased 36, but United Kingdom squashed the deal as some of the jet’s parts are made in the UK Tensions over the islands resurfaced after exploratory seabed drilling revealed the promise of an oil bonanza.

First Flight Of USAF KC-46A Pegasus

Dec 27, 2014

KC-46A out of the Everett paint hangar ready for 9am flight to BFI on December 28

Dec 26, 2014

Comienza el Despliegue de los Typhoon del Ejército del Aire en los Países Bálticos

El próximo lunes, 29 de diciembre, volarán hacia Estonia los cuatro Eurofighter del Ala 11, que hasta el mes de abril, garantizarán la seguridad del espacio aéreo de los Países Bálticos.
Los aviones se desplegarán en la Base Aérea de Ameri, a unos 40 kilómetros al suroeste de Tallín.
Más de 120 hombres y mujeres del Ala 11, con base en Morón de la Frontera (Sevilla), se desplazarán hasta Estonia. Algunos de ellos ya están allí y los demás se irán incorporando a lo largo de los próximos días. Es el caso del grueso del personal de mantenimiento, que volarán el domingo 28 en un Hércules del Ala 31 (Base Aérea de Zaragoza).
En su vuelo hasta el Báltico, los Eurofighter irán acompañados por un Boeing 707 del 47 Grupo con base en Torrejón de Ardóz (Madrid), en el que viajará otro grupo de integrantes del Ala 11, en apoyo a la misión.
El Ejército del Aire ya desempeñó esta misión en el año 2006. En aquella ocasión fueron aviones Mirage F-1M del Ala 14 de la Base Aérea de Albacete los que se desplazaron, también durante cuatro meses, a la Base Aérea de Siauliai , en Lituania.

Iranian Army Detects Foreign Spy Planes During Large-Scale Drills

Iran's military have detected and issued warnings to several foreign aircraft intercepted during the first day of a large-scale military exercise.
The aircraft were not from countries in the region.
Iran's military exercises, code-named Muhammad Rasullullah (Muhamad the Messenger of God) which involve the country's Army Ground Force, Air Force, Air Defense Force and Navy, started on Thursday and will last until December 31.
According to Tasnim, the first two days of Iranian drills will be devoted mainly to ground force exercises.
During drills on Thursday, Iran flew two versions of its domestically-produced Mohajer (Migraint) reconnaissance drones, the Mohajer2-N (M2-N) and Mohajer 4 (M4). Both versions of the Mohajer drones can handle a wide range of civil and combat tasks, including aerial reconnaissance, search and rescue, cartography and oil pollution patrol missions. The Mojaher drones can also be armed with missiles. The newest of two, the M2-N drone was unveiled late in November at the International Iran Kish Airshow.

Iraq Strikes ISIS With Su-25

Iraqi pilots on Russian Sukhoi SU-25 fighter jets bombed Islamic State targets near the city of Tikrit, forcing militants to flee the area, a local military source said.
According to the source, these are the first Sukhoi flights to take place near Tikrit.
Iraq received a batch of Russian-built Su-25 aircraft in June, after the United States delayed delivery of F-16 fighter jets, which the Iraqi Air Force had planned to use in the fight against the Islamic State.

Russian Air Force to get 6 more modernized Tupolev Tu-160 bombers in 2015

Russia’s Long Range Aviation will get another 6 modernized strategic bombers Tupolev Tu-160 in 2015 and will bring the number of Tu-95MS bombers to 43, according Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Air Force.
The Russian Long Range Aviation which marks the 100th anniversary of creation on Tuesday is armed with the Tu-160, Tu-95MS and Tu-22M3 bombers. According to reports, the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) launched a program for these planes’ modernization. This year, pilots received after repair 9 strategic Tu-95MS and 9 long-range Tu-22M3, as well as one modernized Tu-160 bomber.
Units of long-range aviation operate the strategic missile carriers Tupolev-160 and Tupolev-95MS, long-range strategic bombers Tupolev-22M3, refueling jets Ilyushin-78, special-task aircraft Antonov-30b, the transport turboprops Antonov-12 and Antonov-26, as well as Mi-8 and Mi-26 helicopters.
Russia’s next-generation strategic bomber — PAK DA (prospective aviation complex for long-range aviation) is to perform its first flight in 2019. The new plane will be delivered to the army in 2023-2025.

Turkey receives second A400M

Turkey has received its second A400M from Airbus consortium.
“Delivery of our MSN0013 aircraft, with the tail number 14-0013, the second of 10 aircraft to be procured within the content of the A400M Strategic Transport Aircraft Program organized by our undersecretariat, has been completed as of Dec. 22, 2014,” the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) said in a written statement released late on Dec. 23.
Following the handover which was formalized at Airbus’s final assembly line in Seville, the aircraft landed in the 12th Air Transportation Main Base Command in Erkilet in the Central Anatolian province of Kayseri earlier on Dec. 23.
Turkey finally accepted its first A400M aircraft in April, ending a months-long controversy over whether the aircraft met technical specifications.
Apart from Turkey, the aircraft has also been ordered by the air forces of Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Spain and the UK.
Turkey is a 5.5 percent shareholder in the A400M program, with TAI supplying fuselage and wing parts for the plane to Bremen, Germany and Filton, England for integration before final assembly in Seville, Spain.

Dec 25, 2014

USAF F-16D return to flight after longeron repair

Air Force officials removed 82 two-seat F-16D Fighting Falcons from flight earlier this summer after discovering cracks along the canopy sill longeron between the front and rear pilot seats. The longeron is a major structural component that carries significant loads during dynamic flight operations of the F-16.
Aircraft maintainers have been working on getting those F-16s back into the air since mid-October and are nearing completion of repairs on the F-16D aircraft that belong to Luke.
In November, the first F-16D was returned to operational status.

Dec 23, 2014

Iran: "Several USAF U-2 spyplanes shooed away by our missile systems”

A senior Iranian commander announced on Monday that the country's air defense units have alarmed several reconnaissance and surveillance planes, including some U-2 stealth aircraft, to stay away from Iran's borders.
The increase in the number of spy planes flying near the Iranian borders comes as the country is preparing for joint military exercises which are due to be held in the Southeastern parts of Iran by the Ground, Air and Naval Forces along with Khatam ol-Anbia Air Defense Base on December 25-31.
Earlier this month, Iran's top air defense commander announced that a U-2 stealth aircraft was alarmed to stay away from the country's borders.

First F-35 Assembled In Italy To Roll Out Early Next Year

Officials in Italy are preparing for the rollout of their first F-35A from the final assembly and checkout (FACO) facility at Cameri Air Base in northern Italy early next year.
That first aircraft is slated to roll off the line by March 2015.
Cameri is the site of Italy’s hub for long-running Eurofighter Typhoon and Tornado work.
The military leadership there had hoped to assemble at least 250 fighters at the FACO, including Italy’s original plan for 131 fighters in addition to the Netherlands’ original plan for 85.
Though the final numbers are up in the air, Italy designed the FACO with significant work growth in mind. Rome is likely a top contender as the Pentagon assesses options for a heavy airframe repair in Europe.
Rome has installed 11 workstations suited for final assembly work, including four for the electronic mating and assembly system (EMAS) customized for F-35 work. These are the same EMASs used in Fort Worth. But at least five workstations were designed for maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) tasks there, and some can be reconfigured should more MRO work be needed.

USAF To Shut Down Two C-17 squadrons

The Air Force will inactivate two C-17 squadrons over the next two years in a budget-saving move.
Sixteen C-17 Globemasters — eight from the 17th Airlift Squadron at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, and eight from the 10th Airlift Squadron at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington — will transition from primary inventory to backup inventory. That means the planes will no longer receive funding for personnel and flying hours but will continue to get necessary resources to support weapon system sustainment.
Eventually, however, the Air Force plans to transfer the aircraft to the reserve component.
The inactivations were first announced in March as part of budget submissions.
The C-17 squadron at Charleston will make the transition in fiscal 2015, followed by the McChord C-17 squadron in fiscal 2016.
As of this May, the Air Force had 187 C-17s in its active-duty inventory, 14 in the Air Force Reserve and 12 in the Air National Guard.

Italy orders three more M-346s

Finmeccanica-Alenia and Italian National Armaments Directorate signed in Rome a contract to provide the Italian Air Force with further three advanced trainer aircraft M-346,identified as T-346A by the Italian Air Force.
The contract is part of a wider agreement already signed by the parties in 2009 for the total supply of 15 M-346s. At that time, a contract for a first tranche of six aircraft and related flight simulators had been signed.
The aircraft will work as the training pillar for the new generations of air tactical pilots, both Italian and international, at 61° Stormo in Lecce, where the Italian Air Force flight school – opened also to pilot students coming from other Countries – is based.
The M-346 has won the international bids (Singapore, Israel and Poland), with a total of 59 aircraft ordered to date.

Dec 22, 2014

Embraer KC-390 will fly in January

Embraer has scheduled the first flight of the KC-390 aerial refueling tanker for early January.
The tanker and transport aircraft was originally scheduled to fly before the end of the year, but production updates from Embraer began to raise doubts in late summer.

Russian air force takes first modernised TU-160 and TU-95

Russia’s air force has today received the first examples of a number of modernised strategic bombers – a Tu-160M and Tu-95MSs - following upgrade work performed by manufacturer Tupolev.
Enhancement activity on the supersonic Tu-160 includes “partial replacement” of the aircraft’s avionics and weapons systems. First flight of the initial example took place on 16 November.
A second phase of modernisation will begin in 2016 with the addition of uprated Kuznetsov NK-32 engines.
Russian Air Force has an active inventory of 13 of the long-range bombers.
A further delivery will take place before year-end, says Tupolev, with an additional 20 aircraft to be modernised in the 2015-16 timeframe.

Iraq Requests Abrams Tank, Humvee Sale

The US State Department has signed off two potential sales to Iraq, one for for M1A1 Abarams tanks and another covering M1151A1 up-armored Humvees.
The Abrams request would deliver 175 of the heavy tanks. Those tanks would be in the upgraded configuration featuring a 120mm gun. Also included in that sale would be 15 M88A2 tank recovery vehicles, tens of thousands of rounds of 120mm ammunition, 190 AN/VRC-92 vehicular dual long-range radio systems and 700 M1028 commercial utility cargo vehicles, among other support gear.
The second sale would deliver 1,000 Humvees to the Iraqi forces, equipped with M2 .50 caliber machine guns and MK-19 40mm grenade launchers.

Russian Nuclear Bombers Again Buzz Guam

Russian strategic bombers conducted a third circumnavigation of the U.S. Pacific island of Guam last week as other bombers flew close to Alaska and Europe, defense officials said.
Two Tu-95 Bear H bombers made the flight around Guam, , on Dec. 13. No U.S. interceptor jets were dispatched to shadow the bombers.
Separately, two Canadian F-18s intercepted two Bear bombers that intruded into the Alaska air defense identification zone on Dec. 8.
Around the same time in Europe, NATO jets intercepted Russian Tu-95 and Tu-22 Backfire bombers also conducting provocative flights.
Russian warplanes, including four Bear Hs and two Tu-22M Backfire bombers were shadowed as they flew simulated bombing runs from bases in Russia to the Baltic Sea enclave of Kaliningrad for four days beginning on Dec. 7.
Regarding the Guam air defense zone incursions, “U.S. Pacific Command can confirm that two aircraft entered Guam’s outer air defense identification zone on Dec. 13”.
The aircraft were flying safely in international airspace and in accordance with international norms; as such, the decision was made to not intercept them.
It was the second time in a month that nuclear-capable Russian bombers buzzed the island.
Earlier Russian bomber flights around the 36-mile-long island took place in November and on Feb. 12, 2013. During the 2013 incursion, F-15 jets were scrambled to intercept the part of bombers.
Both earlier flights were timed to political events, including President Obama’s meeting with Putin in Australia and the president’s state of the union message in 2013.
The latest bomber flights near Guam appear timed to the Obama administration’s plan for imposing additional economic sanctions on Russia for its military annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea and continuing destabilization operations in eastern Ukraine.

Indian Navy seeks US MQ-4C UAVs for ocean surveillance

The Indian Navy has earlier shown interest in acquiring six to eight of the maritime variants of the US high altitude, long endurance (HALE) Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) for extended ocean surveillance MQ-4C Triton.
The Global Hawk has been deployed by the U.S. in Japan, and the U.S. this week approved the sale of four Global Hawks to South Korea. Australia and Japan too have expressed interest in these drones, though Australia later backed out because of the high price.
If the deal goes through, it will be a huge force multiplier for the Indian military in carrying out round-the-clock surveillance across the border or tracking suspicious vessels in the open seas. Apart from the UAVs, both sides are also working to conclude final negotiations of the $2.5 billion helicopter deal for 22 Apache attack helicopters and 15 Chinook heavy lift helicopters.

Dec 21, 2014

First Naval LCA-Tejas Takes off from Ski-jump

The prototype of India's 4+ generation indigenous Light Combat Aircraft for the Navy taking off from the Shore-Based Test Facility ski-jump at INS Hansa naval air base in Goa on Dec. 20, 2014.

Canada Confirms Buy Of Additional C-17

Canada's Defence Minister has formally announced that the air force will get a fifth C-17 heavy-lift transport plane.
The federal cabinet recently signed off on the proposal, which the military has been pushing for, calling it a uniquely time-sensitive opportunity because Boeing aircraft, the U.S. manufacturer, has closed the assembly line.
The big jets are currently being used to ferry supplies to not only the country's CF-18 air task force, operating out of Kuwait, but they're also carrying weapons from allies to Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq.

Egypt receives 10 Apache helicopters from U.S

Egypt received 10 Apache helicopters from the United States in the past week, a sign of easing tensions between the long-time allies confronting Islamist extremism across the region.
The United States originally announced in April that it had decided to lift its hold on the delivery of the attack helicopters, imposed last year after the military toppled elected president Mohamed Mursi and cracked down hard on his Muslim Brotherhood supporters.
The Pentagon said in September that the United States would deliver the helicopters to support Cairo's counter-terrorism efforts.
Egypt is fighting an Islamist insurgency targeting mostly security personnel and based mainly in the lawless Sinai Peninsula bordering Israel and the Gaza Strip.
The most powerful militant group there, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, swore allegiance last month to Islamic State, the al-Qaeda offshoot that swept across northern Iraq and Syria earlier this year and now faces U.S.-led air strikes.
Egypt has created a one-kilometer buffer zone along the border with Gaza by clearing houses and trees and destroying subterranean tunnels it says militants use to smuggle arms from Islamist-controlled Gaza.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who as army chief ousted Mursi, has also expressed concern over militants who are thriving in the chaos of post-Gaddafi Libya and are opposed to the Cairo government.
Critics say Egypt's crackdown on Islamists is trampling on human rights and expanding to include peaceful protesters as well as secular and liberal activists.

The Netherlands, Poland and Norway to Prepare Negotiations to Buy A330 MRTT Tankers

The Netherlands, Poland and Norway have decided to prepare negotiations with Airbus Defence & Space for the acquisition of a fleet of A330 MRTT multirole transport and air-to-air refuelling aircraft. The participating nations would welcome other nations to join the initiative either before an actual procurement or subsequently.
This initiative, facilitated by the European Defence Agency, consists of the pooled acquisition and operation of a common fleet of aircraft by the three nations. Other nations will also be able to contribute to the overall programme through joining the acquisition phase and/or in-service phase. An initial operating capability is expected for 2019.
After market research supported by a targeted request for information, the three nations have identified that only one military off-the-shelf solution met their key requirements in terms of capabilities and timeframe. The nations therefore agreed to create a NATO Support Agency (NSPA) partnership which tasked the Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d’ARmement (OCCAR) to prepare negotiations with Airbus Defence and Space for a possible acquisition of a fleet of A330 MRTT. This engagement in further negotiations does not constitute a commitment by EDA, NSPA, OCCAR or the Participating nations to place an order either as a result of this dialogue or at a subsequent stage.
A single configuration has been selected for this common fleet of multirole tanker transport aircraft, which should all be equipped with a rigid boom as well as underwing pods, thus allowing to refuel a large variety of receivers. They will also meet the users’ requirements in terms of passenger transport, strategic airlift, and medical evacuation. By developing synergies with similar fleets, the nations will further contribute to a reduced fragmentation and increased interoperability of air-to-air refuelling aircraft in Europe.
This decision is in accordance with the 22 March 2012 declaration of Defence Ministers to further develop European air-to-air refuelling capabilities, as well as with the letter of intent signed in November 2012 by ten nations. The December 2013 European Council also endorsed air-to-air refuelling as one of four key capability programmes to be developed by European Member States.

Netherlands commits to first operational F-35s

The Netherlands announced on 15 December that it will sign a contract in April 2015 for an initial eight Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters (JSFs).
In total the Netherlands is planning to buy 37 F-35s, with the first of the eight initial aircraft expected to enter service in 2019. Full operational capability (FOC) is expected to be attained in 2024 with all aircraft delivered.
The bulk of the F-35s will be tasked with performing quick reaction alert (QRA) duties in defence of national airspace. In total five aircraft are projected to be permanently based in the US for training purposes. The Netherlands previously ordered two test aircraft, based at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.
Meanwhile, only four F-35s will be available for international missions such as the current one in Jordan for strikes against the Islamic State in Iraq.
At the beginning of November, 323 Squadron was charged with overseeing the operational test and evaluation (OT&E) phase, preparing for the arrival of the first F-35 in 2019 at the squadron's homebase of Leeuwarden. This unit was also responsible for the introduction of the F-16.
The low number of aircraft that the Dutch MoD envisages being able to deploy abroad has prompted public criticism.
That the Netherlands would likely only be able to deploy such a small fleet of aircraft for foreign missions, though, should come as no surprise.
The country already struggles to find aircraft to deploy abroad from its current fleet of 60 Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcons. For example, in order to deploy Dutch F-16s to Jordan to take part in the strikes in Iraq against the Islamic State, a planned Dutch participation in the next rotation of the NATO Response Force (NRF) had to be cancelled.
With an even smaller fleet of available aircraft it is logical to assume that the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) will have a reduced ability to deploy aircraft abroad in the future. One potential solution could be to operate a mixed fleet of aircraft, retaining some of the newer F-16 airframes in service for QRA duties beyond their proposed retirement date of 2024.
While this would impose some additional logistical and training costs on the RNLAF, this could be made up by reduced F-35 operating costs and a potential reduction in F-35 numbers. If done with the aim of increasing the overall size of the RNLAF's fast jet fleet beyond its currently envisaged strength of 37 aircraft, it could be a fairly low-cost way to free up more of the Dutch F-35 fleet for operational deployments. The alternative would be to increase the overall number of F-35s purchased closer to the original goal of 85 aircraft - a requirement cut to just 35 operational and two test aircraft in September 2013.

Dec 20, 2014

Russian Tu-22M Backfire carrying a Raduga Kh-22 anti-ship missile intercepted by Norwegian F-16 off Norway

Alenia Offers M-346 Master to Thailand

Alenia Aermacchi is offering its M-346 Master advanced jet trainer aircraft to Thailand as a replacement for its ageing Aero Vodochody L-39 Albatros platforms.
No further details of the offer were disclosed. The RTAF currently fields 30 L-39 aircraft.
The tandem twin-seat, twin-engined, M-346 can operate both as a trainer and a light attack platform, making it well suited to the RTAF's requirements. It is provisioned for nine hardpoints, and can carry a range of 'dumb' and 'smart' munitions, AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, AGM-65 Maverick air-to-surface missiles, and Brimstone anti-armour/low collateral missiles.

Dec 19, 2014

Germany takes delivery of first A400M

Airbus has formally delivered the first Airbus A400M military transport ordered by Germany. The Bundeswehr accepted the aircraft at the A400M Final Assembly Line in Seville. The A400M will replace the C-160 Transall.

Airbus Helicopters delivers the first NH90 and the first two HAD-E Tigers to the Spain

Airbus has completed official delivery of the first two Tiger helicopters in the new HAD-E version and the first NH90 GSPA tactical transport helicopter destined for the Spanish Army Airmobile Force (FAMET).
These three helicopters were assembled in the Spanish plant in Albacete, which successfully carried out the industrial phase, airworthiness certification and technical acceptance.
Airbus Helicopters España will supply a total of 22 NH90 helicopters to the Spanish Armed Forces under a delivery schedule that continues through to 2021. The Spanish plant is responsible for assembly of all the NH90 helicopters for the Spanish Armed Forces, along with manufacture of the front fuselage section both for the Spanish helicopters and for those destined for export.
As for the combat helicopters, Tiger deliveries belong to the new HAD-E version, which offers numerous advantages compared to the HAP-E Tigers currently in service: a new MTR-E turboshaft with 14% more power, an improved optronic vision system, Spike air-to-ground missiles, an Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) system coupled with an interrogator and a new electronic warfare and countermeasure system.
The Spanish Army purchased a total of 24 of these helicopters. To date, six HAP-E Tiger helicopters have been delivered to the Attack Helicopter Battalion. Their satisfactory deployment in Afghanistan during 2013 represents an important milestone for this helicopter.

No C-17 delivered to Algeria, Boeing confirms

Algeria has not received into service a Boeing C-17 Globemaster III strategic airlifter, the manufacturer confirmed on 17 December.
A C-17 in Algerian Air Force (al Quwwat al Jawwiya al Jaza'eriya) markings was reported to have landed at Algiers Houari Boumediene Airport on 10 December, the Secret Difa3 blog reported eyewitnesses as saying. However, it has since emerged that this may have in fact been an aircraft belonging to the Qatar Emiri Air Force, though it is unclear how the roundels could have been confused.
With the C-17 production line due to close down in early 2015, there had been speculation that Algeria's interest may have come too late.
When Boeing announced the line closure in 2013, it said it was to build additional aircraft, dubbed 'white-tails', in the expectation that customers would be found (India and Kuwait were the only contracted customers still to receive aircraft at the time of the announcement).
According to Boeing, there were 10 white-tails remaining before the company recently sold two "to an undisclosed customer". The identity of this customer remains unknown.
In November Australia signed for four more aircraft, leaving just four of the white-tail C-17s available. Canada is reportedly interested in acquiring another aircraft, India has previously stated that it would like a further six (although the numbers on the line no longer remain for this to happen), and there are reports that New Zealand has expressed an interest in one or two as well. Earlier reported interest from NATO and the Partnership for Peace nations for additional aircraft is no longer there. The same is true for the United Kingdom, which had suggested procuring more aircraft but will not now do so.
With its current strategic transport inventory made of the Soviet-era Ilyushin Il-76 'Candid' platforms, and with its tactical C-130H Hercules platforms having been procured from the United States in the early 1980s, Algeria has been looking to update its airlift capabilities.
To this end, it ordered six Airbus Defence and Space (DS) C295 tactical transport aircraft in 2005, five of which have been delivered. In addition to the C295 and still desired C-17 procurements, Algeria has also expressed interest in the Airbus DS A330-200 MultiRole Tanker Transport (MRTT) and Boeing KC-46A Pegasus aircraft, although again there has been no confirmation of any contract having been placed.
As indicated by these latest procurements and expressions of interest, Algeria is increasingly looking to buy Western rather than Russian military equipment across its fleet types.
In 2009 AgustaWestland signed a contract for up to 100 helicopters (following on from a 2007 order for Merlin and Lynx search-and-rescue helicopters) for Algeria, and US company General Atomics has reportedly been in discussions with regard to its Predator-series unmanned aerial vehicle. In addition, the country has also been linked to the possible sale of Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Saab Gripen E/F, and Dassault Rafale fighters, as well as Saab Erieye and Boeing 737 airborne early warning aircraft.

Russia plans to receive 55 PAK-FAs by 2020

The Russian Air Force (VVS) will have received 55 Sukhoi PAK-FA (T-50) fighter aircraft by 2020, according the deputy director of the United Aircraft Corporation's (UAC's) combat aircraft department.
The first PAK-FA deliveries are scheduled for 2016.
Five PAK-FAs have been produced and three more are now being constructed at the Sukhoi Aviation Holding Company.

Portugal sells surplus C212s to Uruguay

Portugal is to transfer to Uruguay two C212-300 Patrullero maritime surveillance aircraft formerly in service with the Portuguese Air Force (FAP). A contract for the transfer was signed in Lisbon on 18 December between Portuguese Secretary of State for National Defence, and her Uruguayan counterpart.
The contract signature follows a letter of intent issued on 24 July after Uruguay had expressed an interest in buying the aircraft in late 2013.
Both aircraft will be delivered to the Uruguayan Air Force (FAU) during the summer of 2015. The package includes spares, documentation, as well as maintenance services by the FAP, such as structural and systems inspections and associated testing. The fleet will be delivered in "as is" condition to Uruguay with the nose radar installed.
The two C212-300s will join three C212-200 Aviocar transports and a single C212-200MP maritime patrol aircraft currently in service with the FAU's No 3 Air Squadron at Carrasco.
Portugal officially withdrew the aircraft from service in December 2011, having received them in March 1994 from Spain's Construcciones Aeronáuticas SA (CASA), now part of Airbus Defence & Space. The aircraft were used in search and rescue tasks and as part of the country's maritime surveillance system.
This is the second transfer of surplus Portuguese platforms to Uruguay after the Portuguese Navy frigates NRP João Belo (F480) and NRP Sacadura Cabral (F483), along with Mk 44 torpedoes, were transferred to the Uruguayan Navy in April 2008 as part of a March 2008 deal worth EUR13 million.

Aero Vodochody in Talks with Thailand over L-39 Replacement

Czech aircraft maker Aero Vodochody is in negotiations with the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) to supply replacements for at least four Aero Vodochody L-39 Albatros jet trainers.
Aero is offering its L-159 ALCA or L-39NG as replacement aircraft.
The RTAF currently operates a total of 36 L-39ZA/ART, most of which were westernised with Israeli avionics and are capable of firing Raytheon AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles.
The bulk of these aircraft were procured during the early to mid-1990s. However, a smaller number of unwesternised L-39s were acquired during the 1980s and are approaching the end of their service lives.

Dec 18, 2014

Dutch NH90 deliveries to resume

Deliveries to the Dutch armed forces of its remaining seven NH90 maritime helicopters – halted on the back of corrosion issues – are set to resume after the two sides hammered out a compromise agreement.
The acceptance process was stopped in June after problems were noticed on two aircraft that had been deployed at sea. Subsequent analysis by the Dutch National Aerospace Laboratory found a number of design faults contributed to the corrosion.
Under the terms of the deal announced on 16 December, the NHI consortium – comprising Airbus Helicopters, AgustaWestland and Fokker – accepts full responsibility for the issue and will bear the cost of developing any modifications, repairs and preventive measures.
In all, some 75 points from the 100 identified now have solutions, with the remainder to be addressed in early 2015.
Two further deliveries of NH90 NFHs to the Netherlands Defence Helicopter Command are anticipated in 2014.

USAF approves AGM-158B JASSM-ER Full Rate Production

The USAF has approved full-rate production (FRP) for the Lockheed Martin AGM-158B Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile - Extended Range (JASSM-ER)for 2017.
The USAF received the autonomous, stealthy cruise missile into its arsenal early this year following Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) flight testing in 2013. The low-rate initial production (LRIP) lots 11 and 12 of the JASSM contract awarded in December 2013 included 100 ER missiles; LRIP 13 and 14 are still being negotiated but are expected to include more than 100 ER missiles. Lockheed Martin's production line can accommodate up to 360 missiles per year and is expected to begin doing so in 2017.
JASSM-ER has more than two-and-a-half times the range of the baseline AGM-158A JASSM, meaning it can be launched from outside of defended airspace and the coverage of long-range surface-to-air missiles, and is intended for use against high-value, well-fortified, fixed and re-locatable targets.
The baseline JASSM is integrated on the Boeing (Rockwell) B-1, the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit, the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, the Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon, the Boeing F-15E Eagle, and internationally, on the Royal Australian Air Force's Boeing F/A-18A/B Super Hornet. The JASSM-ER is integrated only on the B-1B Lancer, but there are efforts under way for F-15E, F-16, and B-52 integration.
As the Pentagon shifts emphasis from the Middle East to the Pacific, the JASSM-ER combined with the B-1 is seen as a crucial weapon for providing combatant commanders the ability to hold at risk targets behind sophisticated air defences from long ranges. The stealthy, supersonic B-1 will be able to carry up to 24 JASSM-ERs; twice the number of baseline JASSMs carried by the B-52. JASSM releases can be either mission planned against fixed targets or retargeted dynamically in flight with waypoints, a feature unique to the B-1.

New Training Helicopters for Royal Malaysian Air Force

A decision will made soon on the company to provide the training helicopters for the Royal Malaysian Air Force.
Under the programme, RMAF will receive a number of helicopters for basic and advanced rotary training to replace the Allouette III currently still in service at its training centre.
RMAF was expected within the next “one month or so” for the programme.
The helicopters under consideration are from the Airbus Helicopters stable namely the latest variants, of the EC120 and the EC135.
Several companies have submitted the proposal under the PFI programme, apart from Aerotree Defence and Services Sdn Bhd, which currently leased two Super King Airs, to the RMAF for its multi-engine aircraft conversion training.

Dec 17, 2014

Israel's Arrow 3 missile shield fails interception test

Israel's upgraded ballistic missile shield failed its first live interception test on Tuesday.
Operators of the Arrow 3 battery at Palmahim air base on the Mediterranean coast canceled the launch of its interceptor missile after it failed to lock on to a target missile fired over the sea.
Arrow is among several elements of an integrated Israeli aerial shield built up to withstand potential future missile and rocket attacks by Iran, Syria or their guerrilla allies in Lebanon and Gaza.
Arrow 3 interceptors are designed to fly above the earth's atmosphere, where their warheads detach to become kamikaze satellites, or "kill vehicles", that track and slam into the targets. Such high-altitude shoot-downs are meant to safely destroy incoming nuclear, biological or chemical missiles.
Arrow is jointly developed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and U.S. firm Boeing Co. Its earlier version, Arrow 2, was deployed more than a decade ago and officials put its success rate in trials at around 90 percent.

South Korea signs Global Hawk deal for 2017-2019 delivery

South Korea has signed a USD657.4 million Foreign Military Sales contract for four Northrop Grumman RQ-4B Block 30 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), two spare engines, and two ground control systems, the US Department of Defense announced on 16 December.
Deliveries are to begin by 2017 and will be complete by 2019. South Korea first expressed interest in the Global Hawk in 2005 and made a formal request for aircraft in 2009.
The Block 30 Global Hawk's synthetic aperture radar will be helpful in penetrating the mist that often obscures parts of the Korean peninsula, while the system's endurance of some 35 hours and ability to operate at altitudes of 50,000 to 65,000 ft (15,240 to 19,810 m) will provide Seoul with a persistent intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capability.
South Korea has always been heavily dependent on US ISR assets for its security. The Global Hawk purchase is the first step in giving it an independent ISR capability.

Mexican Navy to get five more UH-60M Black Hawk

Sikorsky Aircraft has been awarded a contract modification for five more uniquely configured UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters for the Mexican Navy (Armada de México - AdM).
Sikorsky is expected to complete manufacturing the UH-60Ms by 30 May 2016.
In September the Pentagon announced a contract for eight of the utility helicopters for the AdM and another deal for 18 'green' UH-60Ms for the Mexican Air Force (Fuerza Aérea Mexicana - FAM).
As the most modern variant of the Black Hawk, the UH-60M incorporates more powerful and reliable General Electric T700-GE-701D engines, enhanced rotor blades and a fully digital 'glass' cockpit.
The Mexican Federal Police (Policía Federal - PF) also operate the UH-60M. Three UH-60Ms were delivered to the AdM in August 2011, with the PF also receiving three at the same time.
The navy UH-60Ms differ slightly from those to be operated by the air force in that they are equipped with a winch and auxiliary fuel tanks. Both the AdM and PF platforms are also fitted with a forward-looking infrared (FLIR) sensor, which is not listed as being requested for the FAM's UH-60Ms.

USAF Tanker Platform Slated For Dec. 27 Year-end Debut

Boeing is planning for first flight of its 767-2C – upon which the U.S. Air Force’s new KC-46 tanker will be based – by year’s end, six months late.
The delay is due to a poor design by Boeing for the wiring bundles needed for the aircraft. The original design lacked required safe separation for some of the wiring as required by the Air Force; Boeing discovered the problem and reported it to the government.
The first flight test window for the 767-2C – which includes wiring, plumbing, doors and floors – is set for Dec. 27 with a backup one day later.
This first flight for engineering and manufacturing development (EMD)-1 aircraft is critical toward the next first flight milestone. EMD-2, the first fully configured KC-46 aerial refueler, is slated to take to the skies in April.
Any delay to this first KC-46A flight past April jeopardizes the schedule for a milestone production decision expected by Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall in September. The September decision would clear the way for the first two low-rate initial production lots of seven and 12 aircraft, respectively.
These milestones are included in a new test plan being crafted by Boeing, which won the tanker contact in 2011 over an Airbus A330-based design.
Boeing has already begun testing its new boom design in a wet fuel system integrated laboratory.

Royal Australian Navy prepares for March 2015 flight trials on first-of-class LHD HMAS Canberra

The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) will commence first-of-class flight trials on board its newly-commissioned landing helicopter dock (LHD) vessel HMAS Canberra in March 2015.
The ship was commissioned on 28 November and is expected to be cleared to operate the MRH-90 multirole helicopter, the S-70B-2 Seahawk, and the CH-47F Chinook.
Commander Michael Waddell, Officer in Charge of the RAN's Aircraft Maintenance and First deck-handling trials took place on 26 November while the ship was alongside at the RAN's Fleet Base East in Sydney, with an MRH-90 and an S-70B-2, and did not involve flight operations.
The actual flight trials while the ship is at sea will be conducted for about eight weeks from early March 2015.
The trials in March 2015 will only involve the MRH-90 and the S-70B-2.
There are no plans currently to embark any other aircraft on the LHDs besides the MRH-90, the S-70B-2, the Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter, and the CH-47F. The Tiger and the CH-47F will undergo sea trials on board Canberra in 2016.
Although the Canberra class is currently only intended to operate rotary-wing aircraft, the retention of the ski-ramp forward (a legacy of the design's antecedents in Spain's Juan Carlos I strategic projection ship) has raised the possibility that the ships could, in due course, operate fixed-wing short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft.
In May 2014, a spokesman for Defence Minister told that the country will consider acquiring the STOVL variant of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.

The Netherlands Will Receive First F-35 in 2019

The first JSF jet fighter aircraft will arrive in the Netherlands in 2019. The Netherlands will buy eight aircraft a year from 2019, taking the total to 37. The first of the jet fighters will be stationed at the airforce base in Leeuwarden. Later, the base at Volkel will also be equipped to take them. The JSF is replacing the current fleet of ageing F-16 jets. Most of the JSFs will be used for training purposes and to defend Dutch air space. Just four will be available for military missions abroad.

The A-10 jet carries out its first airstrikes against the Islamic State

The A-10 Thunderbolt II attack jet has been carrying out airstrikes against the Islamic State since late November on a near-daily basis, a U.S. military official said Tuesday. It marks the first time the use of the pugnacious plane against the militant group has been confirmed, although U.S. military officials disclosed last month that they had deployed the A-10 in support of the mission in Iraq and Syria.
The jet is beloved by U.S. ground troops for its ability to strikes enemy fighters from the air, but it remains in a fierce budget battle in Washington. Air Force officials and some fiscal conservatives have advocated retiring the aircraft to save money and using other planes for close-air support missions. A compromise in the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act will keep it flying at least one more year, but it’s future afterward is still uncertain.
The slow-moving jet isn’t designed to get into dogfights with fighter jets, but is well suited for the mission in Iraq and Syria.
Air Force officials said last month that the A-10s had arrived at an undisclosed base in the region between Nov. 17 and Nov. 21, and will support Operation Inherent Resolve – the mission against the Islamic State – and other operations in the region. The jets will be part of the 332nd Air Expeditionary Group, which was reactivated Nov. 16.

Dec 15, 2014

US approves Chinook sale to Greece

The US State Department has approved the sale of 10 Boeing CH-47D Chinook transport helicopters to Greece.
The deal was announced by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) on 11 December and includes spare engines, as well as defensive aids and communications and navigation equipment.
Specifically, the equipment to be provided comprises 23 T55-GA-714A engines (20 installed and three spares), 12 AN/AAR-57 common missile warning systems (10 installed and two spares), 12 AN/ARC-220 high-frequency (HF) radios, 12 AN/ARC-186 very high-frequency (VHF) AM/FM radios, 12 AN/ARC-164 ultra-high-frequency (UHF)-AM, 12 AN/ARN 123 VOR ILS marker beacons, 12 AN/ARN-89 or AN/ARN-149 direction-finder sets, 12 AN/ASN-128 Doppler/GPS navigation sets, 12 AN/ARC-201D or AN/ARC-201E VHF FM homing radios, 12 AN/APX-118 transponders, three AN/APX-118A transponders, and 12 AN/APR-39A(V)1 radar signal detecting sets.
In addition to the 10 CH-47Ds, the Hellenic Army is also acquiring spare parts for its fleet of 28 Boeing AH-64A+/DHA Apache attack helicopters.
Once in service, these 10 CH-47Ds will join the nine CH-47D (upgraded CH-47C) and six CH-47SD (Super-D) helicopters that the Hellenic Army has fielded since 1993 (received as CH-47Cs in 1981) and 2001, respectively. It is expected that these new helicopters will form a second CH-47 aviation battalion.

Algeria may have received C-17 airlifter

A C-17 in Algerian Air Force (al Quwwat al Jawwiya al Jaza'eriya) markings landed at Algiers Houari Boumediene Airport on the same day as the announcement, the Secret Difa3 blog reported eyewitnesses as saying.
Boeing has previously confirmed Algerian interest in the C-17, but had not responded to a request for comment. In September 2013 Boeing told IHS Jane's that the company was in the early stages of negotiations with Algeria for a number of different types of aircraft, including the C-17.

Airbus Helicopters delivers second Super Puma to Bolivian Air Force

The Bolivian Air Force (FAB) has received the second of six Airbus AS332 C1e Super Puma helicopters, Airbus Helicopters announced on 12 December.
The FAB purchased the light-medium helicopters in late 2013 to fight drug trafficking and perform various other internal security missions. The first helicopter was delivered in August and the remaining four are expected to enter service by 2016.
The deal includes a technology transfer programme that comprises the training of technicians and pilots in France and Bolivia.
Once fielded, the Super Pumas will augment 16 Bell UH-1H 'Huey' helicopters (delivered in 1975), 2 AS350B3 Ecureuils (2009), 1 SE3160 Alouette III (2007), 2 EC 145s (2012), and 6 Robinson R44 Raven II trainer helicopters (2011) in making up the FAB's rotary-wing fleet.
More than 110 Super Puma helicopters are currently in service in Latin America and Airbus has orders pending for more than 50 additional aircraft..

UK-Bahrain Base Deal Could Lead to Typhoon Sales

Hopes of Britain selling Typhoon combat jets and other defense and security equipment to Bahrain have been buoyed by a deal between the two countries to extend Royal Navy facilities at the Mina Salman naval base in the Arabian Gulf.
Britain has been in discussions over a possible government-to-government sale of 12 to 14 Typhoons to Bahrain for several years.
Bahrain’s King has said on a number of occasions he would like to buy the Eurofighter-built jet. Some senior officials in Bahrain, however, have been pushing for some form of evaluation of rival jets.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain’s closest ally, already operates the Typhoon.

Turkey aspires to produce local fighter jet by 2023

Turkey wants to locally produce a fighter jet by 2023 to fulfill its objective of meeting all defense equipments domestically, Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz said Sunday.
Yilmaz said in an interview that Turkey produced warships, advanced gunship attack helicopters, training aircraft and high precision cruise missiles completely or largely by its own domestic means.
He said that currently, 55 percent of Turkish Armed Forces’ needs were met domestically and plans were being made to increase this to a near hundred percent by 2023, the year the country marks the centennial of The Republic of Turkey.

Japan looks to obtain AIM-120C7 air-to-air missiles

The US Defense Security Cooperation agency has notified congress about a possible sale of 17 Raytheon AIM-120C7 AMRAAM missiles to Japan.
In addition to the 17 missiles, the package includes two captive air training missiles, test and support equipment, spare parts, documentation, and other elements.
The DSCA adds that Japan already uses an earlier variant of the AMRAAM, the AIM-120C5.

Russia Confirmation Four Su-30MK2 Fighters to Vietnam

Vietnam has received 2 Su-30MK2 new in early December and will continue to receive two more aircraft by the end of the month.
Interfax-AVN military news citation Russian diplomat said Wednesday 12/12, factory Sukhoi in Komsomolsk-on-Amur has started providing multi-purpose fighter Su-30MK2 new to Vietnam Men under a contract signed in 2013.
"Two out of 12 Su-30MK2 contract in 2013 was handed over to Vietnam in early December last," the source said.
According to this source, the end of the month 12/2014, Sukhoi will continue handing Su-30MK2 2 Next, the remaining 8 units will be handed over in 2015.
According to the newspaper Militaryparitet 2 Su-30MK2 new, bearing number 8583 AND 8584 was a super-heavy transport aircraft An-124-100M Ruslan company Volga-Dnepr Airline (Russia) were transported to the airport Danang on Friday 6/12.
Up to now, Vietnam has purchased 36 Russian Su-30MK2 fighters. These include 4 units in the first contract to buy 2003, 8 units purchased in 2009, 12 in 2010 and the purchase buy 12 more aircraft in 2013.