Dec 31, 2015
Col. Yang Yujun, a spokesman from the Ministry of Defense, told reporters that the 50,000 ton China-designed vessel is being constructed in the northern port of Dalian with domestic technology.
In February, officials in Changzhou, eastern China, said Jiangsu Shangshang Cable Group — a local company — won a contract to supply cabling for the carrier, but their comments were soon deleted from the internet.
Chinese media has published images appearing to show the development of the vessel. The country's aircraft carrier program is a state secret.
China's existing aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, isn't yet fully operational. In October, the Associated Press reported that 27 U.S. Navy personnel visited it, where they discussed issues including training.
Yang said work on the second carrier has drawn on China's experience refitting the Liaoning, which was purchased from Ukraine in 1998.
He said the new carrier will have a ski-jump take-off, unlike the the Liaoning, but did not say when it will enter service, according to Reuters.
China, which has included new frigates, destroyers and nuclear submarines in its naval fleet, claims territorial sovereignty to virtually all of the South China Sea, which includes some of the world's busiest trade routes. Five other countries have competing claims in the same region.
Dec 26, 2015
All parts of the German patriot air missile defense systems have been loaded on a Danish ro-ro ship named “Britannia Seaways”.
The German government announced earlier this year that the patriot defense system was set to be withdrawn as its term would terminate early January 2016.
The patriot systems were demounted from Turkey’s southeastern province of Kahramanmaraş, where it was positioned for three years.
The German patriot was deployed to the Gazi Barracks in Kahramanmaraş in January 2013, after Turkey’s appeal to NATO, against missile attack threats from Syria.
A military ceremony marking the term end of the Patriots was held at the barracks last month.
Currently, the only patriot batteries stationed in Turkey are Spain’s, which are located in the southern province of Adana.
Initially, the Dutch, U.S. and German missile systems were stationed in early 2013. Spanish patriots replaced the Dutch systems early 2015.
Spain agreed to extend its patriot surface-to-air missiles along Turkey’s border to shoot down any missiles from Syria’s conflict fired into Turkish territory.
Dec 25, 2015
The Defense Acquisition Procurement Administration plans to ink the deal with Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd.
South Korea hopes to produce its own fighter jet to replace the aging fleet of F-4s and F-5s by mid-2020.
Last month, KAI secured Indonesia's assurance that it will pay for 20 percent of the total cost expected to reach $15 billion.
Under the contract between the DAPA and KAI, six test planes will be manufactured by 2025.
The KF-X project received a boost from the U.S. pledge to transfer some of its jet technologies. But South Korea faces a daunting task of finding an alternative as the U.S. made it clear that four core technologies will be excluded.
Those are the active electronically scanned radar, infrared search-and-rescue system, electro-optical targeting pod and radio frequency jammer.
Dec 24, 2015
The Italian Air Force is a leader in the utilization of Predator and MQ-9 RPA to support a wide range of Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions in Italy, over the Mediterranean, and in support of NATO operations. Italy is the first country in Europe to have achieved an RPA airworthiness certification.
Russia is not equipping its jets with air-to-air missiles to fight ground-based ISIS militants but rather to prevent Turkish F-16s from shooting down more of its planes.
Turkey, a NATO ally, shot down a Russian Su-24 bomber on Nov. 24, claiming it had violated Turkish airspace, but Moscow rejected the claim.
Numerous analysts also pointed out that even if the Russian jet did cross through the tiny strip of Turkey bordering Syria, it would have only been in Turkey for a matter of seconds.
During the last stage of the modernisation, between 2013 and 2015, the helicopters were fitted with torpedo launchers, extending their operability to anti-submarine warfare. The Pumas had previously been fitted in 2012 with two machine guns, of 7.62 mm and 12.7 mm respectively, for anti-piracy operations. The helicopters can also be used in anti-surface warfare operations, as well as for transport, surveillance, or search-and-rescue missions.
The seven helicopters will be delivered between 2017-18. The Tigers will be the attack version, or hélicoptère appui-destruction (HAD), which are equipped with a more powerful engine, improved targeting system, additional combat external fuel tanks, and certified for Hellfire and Spike air-to-ground missiles in addition to the Mistral air-to-air weapon.
The latest order brings the French fleet to 67 Tigers and follows a request last year from the French Army to send a mixed batch of some 10 attack and transport helicopters to boost the present deployment of helicopters supporting troops in the Barkhane anti-insurgency operation in the Sahel.
Dec 22, 2015
On 16 December, the Finnish ministry of defence notified the governments of France, Sweden, the UK and the USA that it will be seeking information on seven aircraft types from five different manufacturers.
Requests for information (RFI) will be issued by March 2016, Finland says, which will include the Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Rafale, Saab Gripen, Boeing F-18 and F-15, and Lockheed Martin F-35 and F-16.
Replies to the RFI are to be submitted to Helsinki by the end of October 2016, with the contest to be launched in “spring 2018”, followed by a selection in 2021.
HX was introduced in October after a working group recommended the F-18s be replaced with new multi-role fighters, concluding extending the life of the Hornet fleet would not be cost-effective.
Plane flown over half of all escort missions in 16-month campaign, ACC says
Majority of F-22 strikes against buildings, oil infrastructure, Air Force says
NOTE: F-22 made combat debut last year in early strikes against Islamic State; it was declared combat ready in December 2005
Through Feb. 2 at seven-month-mark of campaign, F-22s flew 112 Syria and Iraq sorties, dropped 132 munitions
The US State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Australia for CH-47F aircraft, related equipment and support. The estimated cost is $180 million. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on December 18, 2015.
Dec 21, 2015
Although Lockheed’s long-term relationship with Korea through the country’s indigenous T-50 programme has been expected to form the basis for its T-X offering, Skunk Works declines to confirm that the clean-sheet offer is off the table for the $8 billion new-build trainer contest.
The unveiling at KAI’s Sacheon facility came as somewhat of a surprise, with no advanced notices sent to aerospace reporters by either company, and no Lockheed press release. The event was attended by a mostly South Korean audience, including the country's president Park Guen-Hye.
Dec 20, 2015
An advanced team is leaving for Moscow on Dec. 17 to negotiate the purchase of the S-400 systems.
Sources in MoD, however, said it is not certain if the deal for the S-400 will be inked during the upcoming Dec. 24-25 visit by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Moscow.
Dec 19, 2015
As reported previously the aircraft was supposed to fly home in December. However industry sources told Malaysian Defence that it was more likely that the flight is expected next year though the exact timing remained uncertain.
The delay was unavoidable as the manufacturer of the A400M, was under pressure from other buyers to deliver their aircraft first. The fatal crash in May – which caused a temporary test flight pause – is the main reason for the delays in delivery.
During the test flights and until the aircraft is accepted by RMAF, the aircraft will carry the EC400 registration number. This is the same flight number for all the A400M undergoing flight and acceptance tests at Seville.
It is likely that the third aircraft will be delivered in late 2016 and fourth in early 2017.
Dec 13, 2015
The handover of the aircraft, dubbed Peace Eagle in Turkish service, concludes a delivery process which began last year. The three aircraft previously handed over will now be upgraded with new software to bring them up to a common configuration with this latest addition to the fleet.
While Boeing has not commented on the nature of these upgrades, the company has previously stated it was looking to give the platform the ability to detect and track incoming ballistic missiles. Other improvements proposed that build on the Block 40/45 upgrade for the 707-derived E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) platform include equipping the aircraft for the airborne command-and-control mission, as well as for the onboard control of unmanned aerial vehicles. The fitting of an infrared search-and-track sensor has also previously been touted by Boeing.
Turkey signed up for the 737 AEW&C programme in May 2003. Under the deal, Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), Turkish Airlines, Havelsan, and Aselsan received workshare as part of an offset deal with local industry.
The first fully integrated 737 AEW& C was due to be handed over to Turkey in 2009. That date was not met with Boeing having informed Turkey in November 2006 of a 26-month programme slippage arising from delays caused by software and equipment integration problems. Further delays ensued that it was not until 21 February 2014 that the first example was delivered, with a second following at the beginning of May and a third on 4 September 2014. With the final example now handed over, all four aircraft are assigned to 131 Squadron at Konya.
The plane departed from Seville, Spain last Dec. 4 and made stopovers in several countries before landing in the Philippines.
The last C-295 transport aircraft was flown by pilots of Airbus Defense and Space.
It will still undergo technical inspection and acceptance process before it will be turnover to the PAF.
Last Dec. 5, President Benigno S. Aquino graced the turnover of the second C-295, two FA-50PH supersonic lead-in fighter jets and six AW-109E Attack Helicopter at 250th Presidential Airlift Wing Ramp,Villamor Air Base while Secretary Voltaire Gazmin led the turnover of the first C-295 last March 30.
The three C-295 medium-lift fixed-wing acquisition program is part of the PAF modernization program amounting.
Navantia has been working in three important programs for the ADF since 2007, namely the Air Warfare Destroyers (AWDs), Landing Helicopter Docks (LHDs), and the LHD Landing Craft (LLC), under different contractual schemes to deliver to the best of its ability. ASC has signed a contract with Navantia whereby Navantia will provide the Shipbuilding Management Services (SMS) for the AWD Program.
Navantia will bring it significant experience in AWDs to support ASC in building the AWDs. Navantia is fully committed in delivering this key capability to the Royal Australian Navy, as it has already done with the two LHDs, HMAS CANBERRA and HMAS ADELAIDE, this last unit being commissioned into the RAN on the 4th of December.
Dec 12, 2015
BAE Director of programs and support said that the Taranis program had “met all its test objectives”
The purchase will bring the total number of jets authorized by Norway to 28.
The deployment, which happened sometime after 1 December, brings the number of Su-34s in Syria up to eight. Russia also has 11 Su-24M tactical bombers, 12 Su-25 attack aircraft, four Su-30SM multirole fighters, and an Il-20M electronic intelligence (ELINT) platform at the base. A 12th Su-24M was shot down by a Turkish F-16 on 24 November.
Russian responded to that incident by deploying an S-400 strategic surface-to-air missile (SAM) battery. The Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) released photographs of two 5P85SM launchers at the base on 26 November. The satellite imagery from 1 December shows another two S-400 launchers had arrived by that date, but not the 92N6 engagement radar needed to form an operational system.
Asked whether the United Kingdom would be asking the Pentagon to provide some form of stopgap measure until the P-8s are available in order to deal with an influx of Russian submarine activity in Europe, Fallon said that will be an issue brought up during his Friday meeting with US Defense Secretary Ash Carter.
The UK announced the decision to buy nine P-8 aircraft in its Strategic Defense and Security Review, with the first three planes expected to come online in 2020. However, analysts have warned that leaves a gap in British capabilities, one emphasized by Russia's actions.
Sources have previously told Defense News that the two governments are looking at having two US Navy P-8s, with British crews available, operate from the UK in order to bridge the gap between now and when the first P-8s come online.
India had contracted 45 MiG-29K carrier-based fighters from Russia in two batches — 16 fighters in 2004 along with the contact for acquiring aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya and another 29 fighters in 2010. In fact, India is the first launch customer of the carrier variant of MiG-29 even before the Russian Navy. While 16 aircraft currently fly from INS Vikramaditya, the remaining Mi9-29K are to operate from the under-construction indigenous carrier Vikrant, scheduled to enter service in 2018.
The trials involved a Boeing Chinook, a Eurocopter Cougar, and a Eurocopter Tigre from the army's Air-mobile Force (FAMET), with the helicopters conducting deck landings and take-offs from the Mistral-class amphibious assault (LHD) vessel BPC Dixmude .
The ‘Team 21’ consortium, which includes Pilatus Aircraft and local MRO provider Hawker Pacific, was announced as the preferred tenderer for the pilot training system requirement in September.
Included in the deal is the acquisition of 49 PC-21 trainer aircraft, seven flight simulators and updated courseware for an initial seven-year term from 2019.
Dec 11, 2015
RAF Tornado GR4s, Typhoon FGR4s and Reaper remotely piloted aircraft have flown daily armed reconnaissance missions over both Syria and Iraq, collecting valuable intelligence on terrorist activity. In the course of these patrols, a number of targets have been successfully attacked by our aircraft.
With the arrival of the last HC6 platform at the type's main operating base of Royal Air Force (RAF) Odiham in Hampshire, the United Kingdom now fields 38 HC4, eight HC5, and 14 HC6 Chinooks for its full component of 60 helicopters.
The handover marks the conclusion of HC6 deliveries that began in December 2014, with full operating capability now set to be declared.
The HC6 is essentially the same model helicopter as the CH-47F flown by the US Army.
Proposals for an MLU for the aircraft have been recommended since 2008, but repeatedly deferred as a cost-saving measure.
Although yet to be announced by the French Ministry of Defence, approval for the MLU was granted on 3 December. In total, 55 aircraft will be modernised and will soldier on until at least 2030. The first aircraft to go through the MLU process should be delivered in 2019.
The Mirage 2000D entered service in 1993 France purchased a total of 86. About 60 of these remain in service today and the 2000D community is heavily committed on overseas operations.
The Mirage's modernisation is seen as an absolute necessity for the French Air Force. The service will be struggling to maintain a total fleet of 185 combat aircraft (225 in total for France, including 40 Navy's Rafales) in the years to come, with Rafale production for France now on standby and assets increasingly committed to training Rafale export clients.
South Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said on 9 December that approvals for 21 technology suites have been granted by the United States following negotiations that continued through November.
The technologies form a central part of the defence offset programme attached to Lockheed Martin's sale of F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft to the Republic of Korea Air Force. Seoul agreed to purchase 40 F-35s.
Addressing guests at the 50th anniversary celebration of the Number 4 Squadron, which is the vanguard of the air command, at the main Air Force Base in Accra last week, Ghanaian Air Force Chief of Air Staff Air Vice Marshal Michael Samson-Oje said they are on the verge of concluding pre-delivery negotiations with Brazilian aerospace company Embraer Defense.
If confirmed, the new deal will increase Ghana's 2015 Super Tucano A-29 acquisitions to nine as it follows a pre-existing contract for the supply of five A-29s, which was confirmed by both parties during the Paris Air Show in June.
Also taking off from Jagel was a Luftwaffe A400M with 40 personnel from the squadron, while an Airbus A310 multi-role tanker transport departed from the military airport at Cologne-Wahn.
All four aircraft arrived in Incirlik late in the afternoon of Dec. 10.
Up to six Luftwaffe Tornado Recce aircraft are due to begin flying reconnaissance missions over Syria from Incirlik in January.
Dec 8, 2015
The weeklong deployment in Singapore, which began Monday, came as Secretary of Defense Ash Carter met his Singaporean counterpart Ng Eng Hen in Washington and signed a new agreement to step up defense cooperation.
A U.S. defense official said such deployments in Singapore were expected to become a regular occurrence, happening as often as every three months. The official did not have authorization to speak publicly about the plans and requested anonymity.
The aircraft was handed over to the German Air Force during a ceremony at the final assembly line in Seville, Spain, just less than a year after the first aircraft was delivered on 18 December 2014.
Germany is set to receive 53 A400M aircraft to replace the ageing Transall C-160.
The original requirement for 73 aircraft was reduced in 2011 to 53, and may yet be reduced further to 40.
The grounding came after three helicopters in as many locations crashed within 10 days, killing a total of eight soldiers.
The training accidents brought the total of Class A mishaps -- accidents in which there is a fatality or more than $2 million damage -- to four in fiscal 2016, which began on Oct. 1, according to the Army’s Combat Readiness Center.
By comparison, a total of 13 such accidents occurred in all of fiscal 2015, resulting in 15 fatalities, according to the center.
"Several planes are now primarily testing airborne avionics. The tests proving the aircraft’s flight characteristics have practically been completed," the deputy defense minister said.
Deputy Defense Minister Borisov earlier told the media the Russian military would purchase only a squadron of PAK FA fighter jets, compensating this with a larger order for Sukhoi Su-35.
Until now, India had confined itself only to providing training and non-lethal supplies to Afghanistan, largely due to Pakistan's sensitivities that were of concern to the Western coalition. Also, New Delhi could never conclusively decide on the risks of such a decision attracting terr ..
Dec 7, 2015
The aircraft, which is the first of an expected 30 upgraded Il-76 'Candid' airlifters to be built through to 2020, was delivered to Ivanovo-Severnyy Airbase about 200 km northeast of Moscow. Also referred to as the Il-476, the Il-76MD-90A made its maiden flight on 22 September 2012. The first aircraft was delivered to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for operational test and evaluation in April 2015.
Developed from the Soviet-era Il-76 'Candid', the Il-76MD-90A features a digital 'glass' cockpit as well as modernised flight, navigation, and communication systems. Structural improvements include a modified wing and reinforced landing gear. The engines have also been updated, giving the aircraft a 60-tonne payload (up from 40 tonnes for the baseline Il-76) and a 12% reduced fuel consumption. The upgraded platform can fly up to 8,500 km with a 20-tonne load or 4,100 km with a 50-tonne load.
While the VVS has a stated requirement for 100 such aircraft (as well as about 40 Il-76MD-90A-derived Il-478 tankers), President Vladimir Putin announced a contract for 39 in October 2012. This number was reduced again to just 30 aircraft earlier this year.
Further to the Il-76MD-90A procurement, the VVS is upgrading 30 to 35 of its existing Il-76s to the Il-76MDM standard. The Il-76MDM modernisation involves refurbishing the aircraft's existing engines and equipping them with many of the new systems installed on the Il-76MD-90A.
Progress in the FRP has also been complicated by rising development costs and technical problems relating to Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning 11, which along with Boeing's F/A-18 Super Hornet and the Eurofighter consortium’s Typhoon, is one of three short-listed candidate aircraft in the Danish competition.
That the Ministry of Defense has seen three different ministers come and go in the past two years, with political oversight for the FRP moving from Nicolai Wammen to Carl Holst and to the present minister, Peter Christensen, has also been a contributing factor in extending the decision-making process.
Christensen has told the Parliamentary Defense Committee (PDC) there will be no announcement on aircraft selection until all funding issues have been resolved and the government finalizes a finance plan.
This Danish government is set to announce a selection in the first quarter of 2016.
The three competitors have submitted bids for 24, 30 and 36 aircraft to the MoD's Project Office. Denmark had originally sought bids for up to 48 aircraft to replace the Danish Air Force’s aging F-16s.
However, economic uncertainty and tougher public spending cuts have reduced Denmark’s appetite for higher budgets and lowered its ambitions regarding the number of aircraft to be acquired.
Halting operations with the F-16C/D unit will be part of a major adjustment programme aimed at tailoring the air force's inventory to future challenges, while taking into account the limitations of the nation's defence budget.
Earlier this year, a contract was signed for the purchase of another 14 F-35 (Adir) fighters for the Israeli air force. The service and defence ministry had wanted to 31, but strong opposition in the Israeli cabinet limited the number in a $2.82 billion deal. The order includes options for the 17 additional aircraft.
According to the Israeli defence ministry – which signed a first, 19-aircraft order in 2010 – the first two F-35s will land in the nation at the end of 2016.
Israel is operating 77 F-16C fighters and 48 D-model trainers.
Instead DARPA will spend the next year studying how to harness the volatile nitrous oxide-acetylene propellant and, in parallel, modifications to existing small rockets that would enable the agency place small satellites on orbit on 24 hours notice at a cost of less than $1 million.
In March 2014, Boeing Defense Space and Security of Huntington Beach, California, won a contract potentially worth $104 million to build and demonstrate the Airborne Launch Assist Space Access (ALASA) system. The program was intended to demonstrate the capability to launch up to 45 kilograms of payload into low Earth orbit on short notice for as little as $1 million.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina handed them over to the Air Force on Sunday at the BAF Bangabandhu Base in Dhaka.
Bangladesh had signed a deal with Russian state arms export agency Rosoboronexport to buy 24 Yak-130 trainers developed by the Irkut Corporation.
The deal was signed in 2013.
Bangladesh also signed a deal to purchase two AW 139 helicopters, which will be used by the BAF to perform maritime search and rescue (SAR) operations and other utility missions.
Dec 6, 2015
“I believe the number is 100,” James said today at an event at the National Press Club, offering a rare detail on the service's plans for the hush-hush contract recently awarded to Northrop Grumman.
The service has faced mounting pressure in recent months to procure more LRS-Bs than the planned 80 to 100 planes, particularly in the face of increased aggression from Russia and China.
It comes two days before German MPs are expected to vote in favour of military action against Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria.
Defence Minister has stressed that only six of the operational Tornado jets would be needed for the proposed mission.
Germany decided to join the fight against IS after an appeal by French President Francois Hollande in the wake of the 13 November Paris attacks.
But the readiness of Germany's armed forces has long been the subject of criticism.
"The state of our flying systems remains unsatisfactory," the German army's chief of staff General Volker Wieker was quoted as saying on Wednesday.
The defence ministry report, obtained by German media, blamed the problem on the "lack of availability of various spare parts".
Six Tornado reconnaissance aircraft, a naval frigate and a 1,200-strong force will be sent to Syria under the proposals backed by the German cabinet on Tuesday.
The Bundestag is set to start debating the plans on Wednesday, with a vote expected on Friday.
The Omar oil fields were targeted for the second time, using two Tornados and, for the first time, two Typhoons.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, who is visiting the British base for the Syria mission in Cyprus, said: "Last night saw the full force of the RAF."
Four Tornado jets launched the first UK air strikes in Syria on Thursday.
Bombing began hours after MPs gave their backing for military action, with the oil fields, which are in eastern Syria, targeted.
During his visit to RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, Mr Fallon thanked military personnel.
He made no assurances about the length of the campaign, telling them only it was "not going to be short or simple".
“On Nov. 25th, two Russian bomber aircraft circumvented Guam, transiting international airspace,” said Army Maj. Dave Eastburn, a Pacific Command spokesman.
The latest bomber flights around the island were the fourth time in the past three years that Russian bombers circumnavigated Guam.
Earlier incursions took place on Dec. 13 and Nov. 12, 2014, and Feb. 12, 2013. During the 2013 incident, U.S. F-15 jets were scrambled to intercept the bombers.
Eastburn declined to specify the exact type of bombers involved in the circumnavigation and sought to play down the incident, noting that the flights “in no way” violated U.S. airspace around the island.
Other officials said the bombers were Tu-95 Bear H nuclear-capable bombers.
One defense official said Japanese jet fighters intercepted the bombers during an earlier stage of the Guam overflight.
Tu-95s are known to carry Russia’s new long-range Kh-55SM cruise missiles, which can be armed with either nuclear or conventional warheads and have a range of up to 1,800 miles.
The command said in a statement no U.S. jets were dispatched to intercept the Russian bombers since the aircraft were flying in international airspace.
Dec 5, 2015
The sources said a Russian S-300 anti-aircraft system, sold to Cyprus 18 years ago but now located on the Greek island of Crete, had been activated during joint drills between the Greek and Israeli air forces in April-May this year.
The activation allowed Israel's warplanes to test how the S-300's lock-on system works, gathering data on its powerful tracking radar and how it might be blinded or bluffed.
One defense source in the region said Greece had done so at the request of the United States, Israel’s chief ally, on at least one occasion in the past year. It was unclear whether Israel had shared its findings with its allies.
The handover took place at Italy’s Cameri Air Base, where Italy’s joint strike fighters are being assembled, after the aircraft made its first flight at Cameri in September.
The aircraft, AL-1, is expected to fly across the Atlantic in February to Luke Air Force Base in Arizona — marking the first trans-Atlantic F-35 flight — where Italian pilots will train in it under US supervision. Enroute to the US, the plane will be refueled by an Italian 767 tanker.
The FACO line at Cameri is the only one of its kind outside the US and will also serve as a maintenance hub for European based JSFs after being designated for the role by the Pentagon last year.
AL-1, the first of Italy’s currently planned 90 JSFs, came off the line in March and its engines were turned on for the first time in June.
Italian pilots are already training at Luke. Last month, two Italian pilots completed initial F-35 training there, making the first F-35 flights under the control of Italian pilots. The US Air Force said one of the pilots flew an Australian F-35.
Dec 2, 2015
An Airbus C295W aircraft belonging to the Mexican Navy and operated by a mixed crew from Airbus Defence and Space and SEMAR flew from Río Gallegos Airport in Argentina to the Marambio Base, the first flight ever by a C295 to Antarctica.
The C295W landed in Marambio at 11.45 on 27 November, returning to Río Gallegos nearly eight hours later. The Argentinian Marambio Base, in the Seymour Island in the North of Antarctica, frequently suffers temperatures below -30ºC with extremely strong winds.
During its tour of the region, the C295W has already visited Bolivia and Chile and after the phase in Argentina will continue to Paraguay and Panama before completing the tour in Mexico in early.
14 A400Ms will be delivered to Spain by 2022 after which a decision will have to be made on how to proceed with the remainder of the acquisition – postponed until 2024.
The air force is struggling to fund the full acquisition and is in discussions with Airbus regarding its plans. Spain is contractually obliged to proceed with the full fleet, and a decision to reduce the buy or sell the remaining 13 aircraft to other customers would have to be agreed by the manufacturer and the Spanish government.
Despite this, Airbus says it “greatly welcomes” Spain’s decision to restructure the delivery schedule.
The first aircraft destined for Spain is due to be delivered in 2016, with its wings having arrived at the final assembly line in Seville in October, and under the new plans nine roll-on mission kits for the type will be provided that can be used on any of its 14 examples. That will include a defensive aids suite, satellite communications and in-flight refuelling pods.
Spain has also reafirmed plans to acquire three Airbus A330 multi-role tanker transports. A contract for these had been expected during 2015, but this is likely to be pushed back to next year, due to a general election in the nation on 20 December.
Meanwhile, a multi-mission capability for the Airbus C295s the Spanish air force already operates is being discussed by the air force and manufacturer. This could include maritime surveillance and anti-submarine warfare capabilities, plus the ability to support special operations forces.
Spain operates a fleet of 13 C295s that are between seven and 14 years old. These could be reconfigured, or new examples acquired for the multi-mission role.
In 2014 the three other nations announced plans to share the burden of operating multirole tanker transports in Europe, and now Germany has decided that as its A310 tanker fleet ages, it will join the effort.
The nations involved are in the negotiation stage with Airbus regarding acquisition of the shared fleet, which had previously been touted as a buy of four of the type.