Jan 31, 2015

UK RAF deploys AWACS against Islamic State

Coalition air operations against the Islamic State have been bolstered by the deployment of a UK Boeing E-3D Sentry AWACS aircraft to RAF Akrotiri on Cyprus.
The deployment of the aircraft on 28 January from the 8 Squadron at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire was revealed in an announcement posted on the UK Ministry of Defence's Twitter feed later that day.
It followed an announcement by UK Prime Minister David Cameron in Washington, DC, on 16 January that the RAF's ISTAR capability committed to Operation 'Shader', as the UK mission in Iraq and Syria is code-named, would be enhanced.

Brunei confirms Black Hawk transfer to Malaysia

Brunei confirmed its intention to transfer its S-70As Black Hawks to Malaysia on 28 January.
In a statement titled 'Defence Co-operation between Brunei Darussalam and Malaysia', the Brunei Ministry of Defence said that the transfer of the Royal Brunei Air Force (RBAF) S-70As to Malaysia would take place in September when the RBAF's S-70i Black Hawks become operational.
The ministry did not state how many helicopters would be transferred, but the RBAF has four S-70As in service.
The statement ended by saying that the transfer would contribute to the capabilities of the Malaysian armed forces and to the efforts of the two countries in maintaining regional peace and stability.

NH90 Customers Still Frustrated By Spares And Reliability Problems

With 250 helicopters in service and almost 70,000 flight hours achieved fleet-wide, it would seem that global NH90 operations would finally be gaining traction. Several customers have flown the NHIndustries (NHI) helicopter in Afghanistan and carried out anti-piracy missions off Somalia, and France is flying it in Central Africa. Yet small problems that blighted the helicopter in its earliest days of operation are still causing concern today.

US New Budget Will Feature 6th Gen Fighter

The fiscal 2016 future years defense program (FYDP) slated to be released on Feb. 2 "reverses the decline in defense spending over the past five years and works to address the under-investment in new weapons by making targeted investments in those areas we deem to be the highest priority," Deputy Defense Secretary said.
Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall told a Senate panel that there is money in the next budget for the Air Force to begin work on its 6th generation fighter
The program will involve the Navy and the Air Force as well.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has been working on a series of studies on 6th generation fighter technologies for the past several years, and Air Force officials have said they expect to begin flying the next-generation jets by as early as the 2030s.
The 6th Gen Fighter Center will invest in unmanned undersea vehicles; sea mining; high speed strike weapons; an advanced new jet engine; rail gun technology; and high energy lasers."

Jan 30, 2015

Russia says patrols near UK airspace were 'routine'

Russia has dismissed claims its planes caused "disruption to civil aviation" in the UK this week, saying its actions were not "threatening" or "disruptive".
The UK Foreign Office said the Russian planes, which came near UK airspace on Wednesday before being "escorted" by RAF jets, were "part of an increasing pattern of out-of-area operations".
Russia's ambassador to the UK said the concerns were "not understandable".
He insisted the patrols were "routine" and met "international legal norms".
Typhoon fighters were scrambled from RAF Lossiemouth and RAF Coningsby to escort the Russian aircraft, and the RAF said the mission lasted 12 hours.
Russian military pilots are becoming more and more aggressive, flying at escorting RAF aircraft and keeping radio and transponder silence.
The Foreign Office refused to give details of the disruption to civil aviation.
BBC defence correspondent said the Russian planes - two Tu-95 Bear H bombers - came within 25 miles of the UK.
The bombers did not file a flight plan, did not have their transponders switched on and "weren't talking to air traffic control".

Vietnam Grounds Decades-Old Huey Choppers After Fatal Crash

Vietnam's military announced Friday it has temporarily grounded Vietnam War-era U.S.-built helicopters after a crash killed four personnel.
The UH-1 "Huey" chopper crashed in farmland on Wednesday soon after taking off from Ho Chi Minh City on a training flight.
Army Deputy Chief of Staff said all UH-1 helicopters would be grounded for maintenance checks. He said an investigation discovered that crew members had found a problem with the control system of the doomed aircraft and had tried unsuccessfully to fix it.
The chopper, one of some 50 Hueys originally belonging to American forces but seized by the victorious communists when the war ended in 1975, was overhauled in the United States in 2012. He said had been decommissioned for failing to meet safety standards, but declined to say how many are still in service.

Bulgaria Eyes New Fighter Jets

Bulgaria is considering buying new fighter jets.
Defense Minister aims to visit the US in the first quarter of this year to discuss the potential procurement.
The defense investment strategy presented by the country's previous government states Bulgaria aims to acquire new fighter jets to replace its Soviet-built aircraft. When the country joined NATO in March 2004, Sofia vowed to replace six of its Mikoyan MiG-21 aircraft and acquire eight new fighter jets by 2016.
Due to the "inflated" cost of maintenance, the Bulgarian ministry would also no longer rely on Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG to repair and service the country's 12 MiG-29 fighter jets, and could instead opt for awarding a new contract to a Polish defense company.
The current contract is set to expire in September, and the Defense Ministry is negotiating with Poland, which offers preferential conditions to Bulgaria.

Jan 29, 2015

USAF Identifies Boeing 747-8 For Next Air Force One

Secretary of the Air Force, has determined the Boeing 747-8 will serve as the next presidential aircraft, commonly known as Air Force One.
“The Boeing 747-8 is the only aircraft manufactured in the United States (that), when fully missionized, meets the necessary capabilities established to execute the presidential support mission, while reflecting the office of the president of the United States of America consistent with the national public interest.”
Analyses of the capability requirements conclude a four-engine, wide-body aircraft is required to meet the needs of the Air Force One mission. Market research determined there are two four-engine platforms that could meet the requirements; the 747-8 manufactured by Boeing in the state of Washington, and the A380 manufactured by Airbus in Toulouse, France.
The decision, made official through a Determinations and Findings document, authorizes the commercial aircraft purchase by other than full and open competition. This decision, in conjunction with the notification of the Air Force’s intent to award a sole source contract to Boeing for the modification of the 747-8, allows discussions with Boeing that will likely lead to a contract for the aircraft platform as well as the modifications necessary to missionize the aircraft.
This decision is not a contract award to procure 747-8 aircraft. It's still needed to finalize the overall acquisition strategy and conduct risk-reduction activities with Boeing to inform the engineering and manufacturing development contract negotiations that will define the capabilities and cost.
The Air Force wants to own enough of the technical baseline to permit competition for sustainment throughout the aircraft’s planned 30-year life cycle..
The current fleet of VC-25 presidential aircraft has performed exceptionally well, but it is required an upgrade. Parts obsolescence, diminishing manufacturing sources and increased down times for maintenance are existing challenges that will increase until a new aircraft is fielded.

Spanish Patriot Missiles Deployed and Working in Turkey’s South

Spainish Patriot air defense missiles have been deployed in the southern Turkish province of Adana, as part of Turkey’s request for NATO assistance on the country’s border with Syria.
The battery commander of the Spanish Patriot air defense missile system, said they have deployed Patriot missiles at the General Recai Engin barracks in Adana.
Five launchers are now active. All the launchers are equipped with four missiles. The missiles are specifically designed for any ballistic missile threats and have been deployed to destroy such missiles, if any are fired.
Spain decided in September to send Patriot missiles to Turkey as part of its NATO obligations to replace units from the Netherlands which were being withdrawn. Naval ships carrying the missiles arrived at the port of Iskenderun in Turkey’s southern province of Hatay on Jan. 9.
The U.S., Germany and the Netherlands each sent two Patriot batteries in 2012 to bolster Turkish air defense in response to a request from Ankara for NATO assistance for Turkey’s border security against any possible attack from Syria. The U.S. and German contingents will remain in Turkey.

Royal New Zealand Air Force to Upgrade P-3K Orion

The New Zealand Ministry of Defence has revealed the total cost of the seven-year project is projected to be $332.3 million.
The P-3K Orion Upgrade Project would finish halfway through this year with only a software upgrade to go.
Equipment such as computers, mission systems, radar systems, wiring and antennas had been upgraded.
"The configuration of the aeroplane it was quite modern compared to some P3s in the world, but the computing power that was put in the original upgrade back in the 80s/90s was about the power of a commodore 64."
The planes were first introduced into service in 1965.

UK details operational conversion unit plan for F-35

The UK’s future operational conversion unit for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is expected to begin providing training using five of the stealthy aircraft.
Five F-35Bs will be used to deliver in-country OCU services from July 2019. The unit will be located at the RAF Marham.
Pilot conversion training for the UK F-35 force will be until that point delivered in the USA, in co-operation with a US Marine Corps squadron.
Three F-35Bs have been delivered so far for the UK’s IOT&E involvement, with a fourth to follow. Funding was approved late last year for the nation’s first 14 operational examples. Four of these are now on order, which the MoD says should be accepted between May and October 2016.

Jan 28, 2015

USAF F-15E damaged in Spain Albacete Air Base Crash

Eight injured U.S. airmen were treated for scrapes, burns, smoke inhalation and other minor injuries. One of the three U.S. aircraft participating in the exercise is known to be damaged, but U.S. airmen have been unable to look at it because the crash area has not been deemed safe. Another aircraft is too close to the crash site to determine if it has been damaged.

AC-130J Will Get 105 mm Cannon ASAP; Laser Later

Sometimes smart bombs aren’t the smart choice. That’s why the aging AC-130 gunship is still revered by ground troops for its ability to fire a 105mm cannon — a weapon normally mounted on light tanks. That’s why the head of Air Force Special Operations, decided the new model, the AC-130J Ghostrider, had to have the 105 instead of relying on missiles.
The U model, aka “Spooky,” is the classic gunship configuration with multiple cannon, including the 105 mm. The W model, aka “Stinger II,” was a special innovation for Afghanistan that had smart weapons — Griffin Missiles and Small Diameter Bombs — but no gun heavier than 30mm. The J-model Ghostrider was originally supposed to enter service looking a lot like the Stinger, with a 30mm gun, Griffins, and SDBs, but with enough spare power and room to maybe mount the 105 mm at some later point.
The venerable 105 gun is in some ways more precise than smart weapons, because its shells contain much less explosive than even the Small Diameter Bomb. Because those shells are smaller than missiles or bombs, an airplane can also carry a lot more of them. And they’re a lot less expensive than smart weapons.
As for the J-model, the first two aircraft will not have the 105mm gun installed. That’ll have to be retrofitted later.
The big gun isn’t the only upgrade the Ghostriders will need, however. They currently lack the full suite of defenses found on the older aircraft. They have chaff, flares, and lasers to blind heat-seeking missiles, the Large Aircraft Infra-Red Counter Measures (LAIRCM) system. What they don’t have is countermeasures against radar-guided missiles. The Air Force can’t simply pull the needed systems off retiring aircraft, either, because they’re hardwired in. AFSOC just put out a Request For Proposals for radio-frequency countermeasures for the J-model.
The two test aircraft flying now are “Block 10″ Js with seven crew and no 105 cannon. What’s required for Initial Operating Capability (IOC) will be the Block 20, with the 105 and two more crew, a sensor operator and the cannon gunner. The ultimate Ghostrider? The Block 40, of which anywhere from zero to seven would be built, would carry a directed energy weapon.

Portugal approves F-16, Hercules Upgrade

Portugal approved its military programming law for the next 12 years on 22 January, although the plan to complete this in 2026 will be reviewed every four years
The air force's 30 F-16AM/BM Fighting Falcon fighters will receive further software upgrades and its six C-130H Hercules transport aircraft will be modernised to extend the type's service life until 2030. These transports will be eventually replaced by Embraer KC-390s after Portugal firmed up a letter of intent with Brazil for six aircraft in September 2010.
These measures are leading a deep structural and equipment modernisation plan for Portugal and come after the country exited a three-year EU-IMF economic adjustment programme in June 2014.

Jan 27, 2015

Ukraine approves An-70 Production and Will Introduce it into Service

Ukraine has approved production of the Antonov An-70 transport aircraft and will introduce it into service with its armed forces.
The decision to adopt the An-70 was taken by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) following a test programme that was concluded in June 2014. Serial production will now begin, although the company did not specify numbers or timelines.
The An-70 has been jointly developed by Ukraine and Russia and is in the same category of airlifter as the A400M Atlas from Airbus.
The An-70 is likely to find itself competing not just with the A400M, but against the Embraer KC-390 and the Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 Hercules also.
The An-70 has been a troubled project from the outset, with development dating back to the Soviet-era.

Indonesia To Buy 8 AH-64E

Boeing has been awarded a contract for eight AH64E Apache Guardian attack helicopters for Indonesia, US Department of Defence (DoD) disclosed on 27 January.
The contract will be complete by 28 February 2018.
The announcement that a contract has been awarded brings to an end a process that first began in late 2011. At that time, Indonesia said it was looking to acquire surplus AH-64D Apache Longbows from European stocks to augment its existing fleet of Mi-35 attack helicopters procured from Russia in 2008.

Spain: Death count rises to 11 in a Greek F-16 crash at Albacete Air Base

The death toll from the crash of a Greek F-16 fighter jet at a Spanish military base during an elite NATO pilot training program rose to 11 Tuesday after a French airman who suffered serious burns died, Spain's Defense Ministry said.
The death came as Spanish investigators probed what caused the jet to lose thrust during takeoff Monday and crash into five parked planes at the Los Llanos air base in southeastern Spain, triggering a series of explosions and a raging fire.
Two pilots aboard the Greek F-16 were killed along with eight French air force members on the ground and the French airman who died Tuesday, the ministry said in a statement.
By Tuesday afternoon authorities had not retrieved the 10 bodies at the scene because workers were still cleaning up highly toxic fuel at the crash site.
Twenty French and Italian citizens were injured and four remained hospitalized in Madrid undergoing treatment for severe burns.
The Greek F-16 pilots and other military personnel from seven NATO countries were taking part in an annual one-month training exercise called the Tactical Leadership Program.
The NATO countries who sent personnel to this year's program were Britain, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain and the United States.

Jan 25, 2015

Colombian Air Force grounds IAI-built Kfir aircraft fleet

The Colombian Air Force (FAC) has reportedly grounded its entire fleet of IAI Kfir C-10.
The move is a precautionary measure against the risks of their operation after one aircraft crashed while performing approach manoeuvres near the Air Combat Command Base No. 1 in Colombia last month.
A preliminary investigation has indicated that the aircraft suffered a 'flameout,' forcing its pilot to follow protocols for ejection in the wake of low altitude, low speed and minimal chance of re-igniting the engine under such conditions.
The investigation has also ruled out the bird air strike hazard (BASH) as well as ingestion of birds by the general electric J79-GE J1EQD turbojet engine.
Meanwhile, the FAC is apparently planning to ship the power plant to IAI's Lahav division for inspection, due to the lack of clarity about the causes of the flameout.
According to the publication, the Colombian Ministry of National Defence (MND) is also planning to look out for a new company to provide the necessary maintenance of the aircraft, and also solve the ongoing problem caused by its engines.
The move is apparently driven by the dissatisfaction of the FAC high command and primarily the concerns of the pilots flying the aircraft, which have been maintained by the Israeli companies.
To date, the J79-GE J1EQD engines are believed to have caused four accidents involving three TC12 two-seaters, and one C10 single-seater aircraft.
IAI's Lahav division has been performing maintenance and repair of the Colombian Kfir engines since their introduction into service.
The Colombian Air Force is expected to have 24 Kfir C-10 aircraft in its inventory.

First Australian pilot to start F-35 training

The first Australian pilot is set to start training to fly the new and advanced F-35A Lightning combat aircraft.
Squadron leader Andrew Jackson will begin initial flight training at Eglin US Air Force base in Florida in the United States this week.
Australia's second F-35A pilot Squadron leader David Bell, a qualified test pilot, will start training in mid-2015.
Australia is committed to buy 72 JSF aircraft with the first arriving from the US in late 2018.
The first two rolled off the production line last year. They will remain in the US in pool of training aircraft.
The RAAF's first operational JSF squadron to be established by 2020, replacing ageing F/A-18A/B Hornets at RAAF Bases Williamtown (NSW) and Tindal (NT).

U.S. Navy Approves F/A-18 Super Hornet IRST System for Production

The F/A-18 Super Hornet infrared search and track (IRST) system, developed and integrated by Boeing and Lockheed Martin, received approval from the U.S. Navy to enter low-rate initial production.
The IRST system consists of Lockheed Martin’s IRST21 sensor, the GE Aviation FPU-13 Fuel Tank Assembly and the Meggitt Defense Industry Environmental Control unit. The system demonstrated its production readiness through a series of extensive assessments and reviews, including flight tests.
IRST is expected to deploy on the F/A-18 Super Hornet in 2017.
In addition to detecting airborne threats, IRST significantly enhances multiple target resolution compared to radar, providing greater discrimination of threat formations at longer ranges. Data from the IRST21 sensor is fused with other onboard F/A-18 sensor data to provide maximum situational awareness to the warfighter.

Jan 23, 2015

Afghanistan to receive additional armed MD 530F helos

Afghanistan Air Force is to receive 20 armed MD 530F Cayuse Warrior helicopters to provide additional fire-support to the country's security forces.
The United States is to donate the 20 armed MD 530F helicopters in addition to those unarmed platforms already fielded as trainers.
Afghanistan has five MD 530F trainer helicopters in service. It would seem that a further eight platforms have now been added to this follow-on order.
The MD 530Fs will be equipped with gun pods and rockets, and will be armoured to protect the two crew members. The weapons package will comprise the FN Herstal Heavy Machine Gun Pod (HMP), featuring the company's M3 12.7 mm (.50 calibre) machine gun. This HMP, which will be carried on external weapons planks, has a rate of fire of 1,100 rds/min and a 400-round ammunition box.
To accommodate the extra weight of this equipment, the helicopters will be upgraded with high-capacity landing gear.
Work to weaponise these helicopters will commence shortly. Deliveries to Afghanistan are expected to begin later in the year. Once in service, these armed MD 530F platforms will provide fire-support alongside the machine-gun-equipped Mil Mi-17 'Hip' and machine gun and rocket-equipped Mi-35 'Hind' helicopters, as well as the Embraer A-29 Super Tucano light attack turboprop aircraft, due to arrive towards the end of 2015.
The MD 530F is the latest in a line of MD 500-series helicopters that trace their lineage back to the Hughes OH-6 Cayuse of the Vietnam War.

Italian Amry to upgrade Mangusta helicopter

The Italian army is seeking an enhancement package for its AgustaWestland AH-129D Mangusta attack helicopter, which it hopes will be upgraded within five to six years.
Two options have been considered: to "exploit the current Mangusta" or acquire a new attack helicopter derived from the AW149.
The army is looking for enhancements in speed, endurance, altitude, situational awareness, human-machine interface and information exchange/command and control. It is also looking to decrease the handling and workload burdens.
The upgrade timeframe “depends on money”, but it is hoped it will be in service by around 2020.
The Italian army expects a new tactical UAV capability to be delivered by June 2015 when the Textron Systems Shadow 200 joins its inventory to complement the Mangusta helicopter.

BrahMos Testfire in March

The test of the air version of supersonic cruise missile BrahMos will be conducted in March this year.
On the visit of Russian Defence Minister to the BrahMos Aerospace Headquarters, CEO and Managing Director of BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited said the missile’s first test launch is expected in March If everything goes according to the plan, and will definitely be carried out from the Su-30MKI. Both the launcher and the missile are ready.
If test-fired successfully, BrahMos will be the first weapon system in the world to have such capability. As of now, there is no such weapon available in the world.
Jointly developed by India and Russia, the 8.4-metre BrahMos missile, the fastest in the world, has a flight range of 290 km and carries a conventional warhead up to 300 kg, thus delivering with high-precision, devastating power at supersonic speed of Mach 2.8.
BrahMos Aerospace has had to reduce the weight of the air version of the missile as it is to be launched from a moving platform unlike its land and navy versions.

USAF Upgrades B-52 Weapons Bay to Carry Smart Weapons

Sixty-one years since the type’s first flight, the US Air Force is upgrading the weapons bays of the Boeing B-52 to carry satellite-guided conventional munitions.
A crew of Boeing and US Air Force technicians installed a prototype of the new weapons bay launcher in a B-52 at Edwards AFB, California.
The prototype modifies a rotary launcher intended to carry nuclear weapons to carry conventional weapons.
The initial version will allow the B-52 to carry satellite-guided Boeing joint direct attack munitions internally.
Future upgrades should give the bomber the ability to carry stand-off munitions, such as the Lockheed Martin AGM-158 joint air to surface standoff missile (JASSM) and the Raytheon ADM-160 miniature air-launched decoy, Boeing says.
The B-52 carries such so-called “smart” weapons on wing-mounted pylons now. Moving the weapons into the internal bays should reduce fuel consumption by 15%.
It also means the B-52 can carry eight more cruise missiles inside the weapons bay.

Jan 22, 2015

Malaysia to upgrade and arm S-61 "Nuri" fleet

Malaysia is to boost its ability to combat future militant incursions by arming its AgustaWestland AW109s and transferring upgraded Sikorsky S-61 “Nuri” utility helicopters to army aviation control.
Prompted by an incursion made by Sulu rebels in Sabah in 2013, Kuala Lumpur has already outfitted three of the Royal Malaysian Air Force’s S-61s with 12.7mm door guns.
The army plans to arm the AW109 helicopters with 7.62mm gatling guns.
Malaysia had previously planned to remove its aged Nuri fleet from use by 2012. However, with the nation having ordered only 12 of a planned 28 Airbus Helicopters EC725s as replacements, this has forced the service to prolong the life of its Sikorskys.
If proven viable through a pilot project involving one aircraft, up to 26 S-61s will receive upgrades to their main and tail rotor blades and gearboxes, and be equipped with a digital datalink, self-protection equipment, armoured protection and a pintle-mounted machine gun at the cargo door.
Malaysia’s interest in acquiring a dedicated attack helicopter capability has failed to advance due to budget pressures. Its army has previously evaluated types including the Airbus Helicopters Tiger, Bell AH-1Z, Boeing AH-64 Apache and Denel Rooivalk.

First Airbus A400M Airlifter for Malaysia Rolled Out of Paintshop

The first Airbus A400M for the Royal Malaysian Air Force has now been painted in its new colours at the Airbus Defence and Space facility in Seville, Spain.
In the coming days the aircraft, known as MSN22, will perform its first ground tests and flights before delivery.
RMAF pilots, maintenance engineers and technicians are already undergoing training at the Airbus Defence and Space International Training Centre in Seville, Spain.

Northrop Developing 6th Gen Fighter Plans

Northrop Grumman has stood a pair of teams dedicated to developing a "sixth-generation" fighter for both the Navy and Air Force, years before the US Navy or Air Force intends to issue requests for information on potential replacements for current aircraft.
Both the Air Force and Navy have begun preliminary planning for what is referred to as next-generation air dominance, or "sixth-generation" fighters. After working together on the F-35 joint strike fighter, the two services are looking at procuring their own respective jets.
The Navy's program is dubbed F/A-XX, while the Air Force's effort is known as F-X.
That program is expected to award a contract to either Northrop or its competitor, a team of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, in late spring or early summer.

Slovakia eyes Black Hawk buy

Slovakia is leaning towards the purchase of Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters after receiving promises from the US government over support for the acquisition.
Slovak defence minister,said that new rotorcraft could be acquired through the Foreign Military Sales mechanism.
The helicopters would arrive gradually, but the first two examples could potentially be delivered by year-end.

Brazil to Acquire 3 KC-767 From IAI

The Brazilian air force and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) have renewed contract negotiations over Brazil's acquisition of three Boeing 767-300ERs that will be converted into tankers.
Attempts to finalise the terms of the deal – which was agreed in mid-2014 – were delayed by general elections held in Brazil last October.
An initial contract with IAI was signed last year, but the exact details of the conversion plan were not concluded.
Once operational, the converted 767s will reinstate a jet-based in-flight refuelling capability to the Brazilian air force that lapsed when it retired its four Boeing KC-137s. The replacement assets will be equipped with underwing hose-and-drogue refuelling pods.

Jan 21, 2015

UK places into storage Reaper UAVs not involved in Iraq operations

RAF MQ-9 UAVs that are not involved in operations against the Islamic State in Iraq have been returned to the UK and placed into storage.
The UK transferred an undisclosed number of its 10 Reaper UAVs from Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan to a secret location in the Middle East in late 2014 as it ramped up its mission against the Islamic State in Iraq. The remainder were returned to the UK.
The RAF's Reapers are operated by 39 Squadron out of Creech Air Force Base in Nevada and by 13 Squadron out of RAF Waddington. According to the MoD, placing the airframes into storage will have no impact on unit manning levels.
The UK procured its Reaper fleet as an urgent operational requirement specifically for use in Afghanistan. Just prior to the end of that operation, the MoD announced that the fleet was to be brought into the RAF's core fleet and returned to the UK.
However, as the largest and most complex UAV in the RAF's inventory the Reaper is not cleared to operate in UK airspace. With no airspace clearance to fly and the aircraft themselves set to be in crates, it is unclear how 13 and 39 Squadron pilots/operators will maintain their currency on the type and be ready when the MoD next decides to field them operationally.

Netherlands UN attack helicopters strike Mali rebels in north

Dutch United Nations attack helicopters carried out air strikes on Tuareg rebel forces in northern Mali on Tuesday, the first such engagement by Dutch forces serving in the U.N. mission in Mali.
The U.N. mission, known as MINUSMA, said it was responding to heavy weapons fire directed at its peacekeepers in the town of Tabankort. It said the helicopters only destroyed a rebel vehicle after firing warning shots that were ignored.
The incident highlights how Mali's north is still awash with various armed groups and is likely to complicate the last round of U.N.-backed peace talks due to take place next month between the government and the rebel factions that are involved.
Some 450 Special Forces troops, intelligence operatives and four Apache helicopter gunships from the Netherlands have been deployed in northern Mali as part of a force of up to 12,000 men.

Russia may send S-300 missile system to Iran

Russia might deliver a long-overdue S-300 air defence missile system to Iran, honouring a contract that was cancelled in 2010 following strong pressure from the West.
Russian Defence Minister is visiting Tehran and signed an agreement with Iranian Defense Minister to boost cooperation.
The two countries could resolve problems with the delivery of the advanced missile system.
The United States and Israel heavily lobbied Russia to block the missile sale, saying it could be used to shield Iran's nuclear facilities from possible future air strikes. Iran in turn has taken Russia to arbitration to finalise the sale.
Russia's ties with Iran have strengthened recently due to Western sanctions that they are both now facing and added that the two countries were looking to expand their cooperation in other areas.

More A400M Delivery Delays Expected In 2015

Supplier woes are forcing to revise delivery plans for the A400M tactical transport aircraft this year.
Airbus is taking a look at the entire plane and will announce a new schedule at the end of February.
A total of 10 from 170 A400Ms have been handed over to four of seven partner nations in the past two years.
Some A400Ms will be handed over this year with the current standard,(SOC-1), which allows for airdrops of troops and support equipment, while others will feature an upgrade to SOC 1.5, which will add full aerial delivery and some basic tactical capabilities such as initial aerial refueling.
Airbus expects to deliver some aircraft to France this year, though possibly not as many as Paris expects.
Since late 2013 Airbus has delivered six A400Ms to France in a baseline configuration.
Turkey received two A400Ms last year and expects two more to be delivered this year.
Britain last year received the first of 22 A400Ms on order through 2019, while Germany’s first A400M was handed over earlier this month, after the nation’s defense ministry complained that the aircraft was not up to specification. Berlin has ordered 53 of the aircraft and expects five more to be handed over this year.

Peru buys Dutch AB412 search and rescue helicopters

An agreement has been reached between the Dutch and Peruvian governments on the sale of three Agusta-Bell AB412 SP helicopters.
The helicopters were stationed at Leeuwarden Air Base and at Vlieland and were tasked for search-and-rescue SAR missions, often for the NATO air forces exercise area north of the Netherlands.
The aircraft doubled as air ambulances for islanders in the vicinity and as coastguard assets.

Jan 20, 2015

UAE to donate Super Tucanos to Iraq

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is to supply Iraq with a number of Embraer EMB-314 Super Tucano light strike aircraft to help combat the Islamic State, a government official has reportedly disclosed.
The UAE had recently ordered up to 24 Super Tucanos on 17 January that the emirates will transfer an undisclosed number to the Iraqi Air Force (IqAF).
Six of these 24 aircraft were to be supplied from the FAB's own inventory so as to expedite deliveries..
As well as the Super Tucanos, the UAE is also reported to be donating up to 10 Dassault Mirage 2000-9 combat aircraft, plus other ground-based weapons systems to the Iraqi government.

Canada Unhappy with F-35, Looking For an Alternative

The objectives of major defense procurement projects have also been called into question external link. Because the F-35 has greatest advantage in the objective of overpowering a state with top anti-air resources, Canadian officials are now questioning external link whether this is something relevant to Canada, especially in the face of a lopsided price disadvantage versus other fighters. Reportedly, the only other fighter contending still against the F-35 is Boeing’s Super Hornet. This analysis, a product of the 2012 decision to delay what was to be a $45 billion purchase of F-35s, did not draw a conclusive recommendation, although it did note that the likelihood of requiring a mission profile uniquely suited to the F-35 was low.

Spanish Eurofighters conduct 1st alpha scramble in NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission

Jan 19, 2015

Navy: China has not attacked U.S. aircraft carrier

The aircraft carrier George Washington has not been attacked, and World War III has not begun, despite what tweets from United Press International say, the Navy has confirmed.
The carrier is in port, not in the South China Sea.
"It started on Twitter, where six fake headlines were posted in about 10 minutes, starting about 1:20 p.m. Some of them were about the Federal Reserve; others contained a false report that the USS George Washington had been attacked."
Editors learned of the hacking when they noticed a "breaking news" banner for a false story about the Federal Reserve, the statement said.

Belgium Reveals Wish List For New Fighter

Belgian defense officials have detailed their wish list for their future fighter aircraft,while preparing to present their case to the country’s next government. But despite shortlisting five Western fighters last summer, there are indications that the country may be drawing closer toward selection of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II

Jan 18, 2015

UAE Offers Mirage Fighters to Iraq

The United Arab Emirates may be offloading up to 10 Mirage 2000-9s to the Iraqi Air Force in March.
The decision comes after the Dec. 15 visit of Iraqi Prime Minister to Abu Dhabi to "discuss mechanisms to enhance cooperation between the two countries and dry up the sources of terrorism."
During discussions, the UAE offered a batch of upgraded Mirage 2000-9s to Iraq, they are expected to be under 10 aircraft.
The UAE has 36 multirole Mirage 2000 fighters that have been in service since 1986, 30 of which have been extensively refurbished and then upgraded to the same standard as the newer fleet of 32 Mirage 2000-9s delivered starting in 2003 by France's Dassault Aviation.
The technologies and advanced capabilities that the Mirage 2000-9s incorporate include Dassault's "Rafale technology.
The UAE in 2014 also offered an undisclosed number of Mirage 2000-9s to Egypt as part of its Falcon Eye military satellite deal with France. According to the source, discussions included the possible purchase of 40 Rafale Fighters and the refurbishment of the UAE's Mirage 2000-9 fleet with intent to provide to the Egyptian Air Force.
The UAE is also completing the purchase of 24 Embraer EMB-314 Super Tucano light strike aircraft for border patrol and anti-insurgency operations. A number of those will also be provided to the Iraqi Air Force.

Jan 17, 2015

US Marines F-35B can fire missiles

It is still up in the air whether the US Marine Corps will have combat-ready Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning IIs by its July 1 deadline for initial operational capability (IOC), but the first 10 jets are now fully cleared to fire weapons.
The portion of the 2B software that manages weapons separation has completed the necessary testing, the Pentagon’s Joint Program Office (JPO) announced on 15 January. The F-35B’s software was validated after several weapons separation tests
The Marine Corps still plans to go IOC on 1 July, a deadline it has chased so fervently that the service agreed to field 10 jets with the less-capable Block 2B software. The US Air Force's first F-35As will be fielded with the intermediate 3i configuration, which incorporates a new helmet and mission processors using 2B software, and finally with Block 3F after that final software configuration is fielded as early as 2017. Older jets will be retrofitted with 3F at a later date.
Live fire ground testing of the F-35B was completed in early September. In October, the F-35B was certified to perform day and night close air support missions with the 2B software.
Separations testing with a 113kg (250lb) Boeing GBU-39 small diameter bomb was completed 20 November. The aircraft also completed flutter testing with the MBDA AIM-132 short-range air-to-air missile and Raytheon Paveway IV laser-guided bombs in late 2014.
An F-35 also fired two MBDA AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles and a Boeing joint direct attack munition (JDAM) during weapon delivery accuracy tests, marking the first supersonic guided missile launch. It also was the first time the F-35 has hit a target with a JDAM using coordinates generated by the electro-optical targeting system (EOTS).
The announcement comes on the heels of controversy over reports that software necessary to operate the conventional takeoff and landing F-35A’s main 25mm gun, the General Dynamics GAU-22, would not be ready until years after the service declares IOC in 2016. Reports indicated the gun would not be operational until 2019..
Comprehensive flight test on the F-35A’s 25mm gun system is scheduled to begin mid-year at Edwards AFB, California, and will include ground fire tests, muzzle calibration, flight test integration and in-flight operational tests, the JPO says.
The Marine Corps’ F-35B and navy’s F-35C have no internal gun. Marines will have the option of carrying the GAU-22 in an externally mounted pod.
The 25mm missionized gun pod carried externally, centerline mounted on the F-35B and F-35C also begins testing this year to meet U.S. service’s desired schedule for full warfighting capability software known as 3F. The 3F software is currently planned for delivery with the low rate initial production nine (LRIP 9) US aircraft in 2017.
Both the A and C models completed weapon milestones in 2014. The F-35C launched an AIM-120 AMRAAM, the last separation test needed to certify the variant’s Block 2B software.
The F-35A finished the final buffet, load and high-angle of attack testing necessary for its Block 2B software.

Indian Air Force finally gets Tejas,after a wait of 32 years

Thirty-two years after the project was sanctioned, the first indigenously -built Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) was on Saturday handed over by indian Defence Minister to the Indian Air Force.
The handover signals the start of a process of induction of the fighters being built at India.
The aircraft that has been handed over has got Initial Operational Clearance-II, which signifies that Tejas is airworthy in different conditions.
The Final Operational Clearance (FOC) is expected by the year-end.
Twenty aircraft will be built by 2017-2018, to make the first squadron of the aircraft. The LCA programme was initiated in 1983 to replace the ageing MiG-21s in IAF's combat fleet but has missed several deadlines due to various reasons.

Croatia to sell surplus military Mi-24Vs, An-32Bs and PC-9s

Croatia is looking to sell a wide range of its surplus Croatian Air Force aircraft.
The country hopes to sell seven Mil Mi-24V 'Hind' attack helicopters, two Antonov An-32B 'Curl' tactical transport aircraft, and six Pilatus PC-9 turboprop trainer aircraft).
The country has set a deadline of 28 January for interested parties to submit a letter of intent.
The principal reasoning behind the sale of the aircraft is financial, caused by the declining state of the Croatian economy and its defence budget, although other reasons are also at play.
Croatia's Mi-24Vs were in limited use after the conflicts of the 1990s, and were withdrawn from service over a decade ago. Their sale has previously been contemplated on multiple occasions, but at least once a prospective sale is understood to have been squashed by active opposition from Moscow.
The two An-32Bs were recently used in Croatian Air Force service, including in both Iraq and Afghanistan, but with the aircraft due to undergo a period of deep maintenance Croatia now seeks to sell them. No official thought was given to their conversion for a naval surveillance role, although such aircraft are sorely missed in Croatia.
The sale of the PC-9s is driven partially by the imbalance between the number of training aircraft Croatia has for its pilots and its meagre number of available supersonic fighter aircraft. However, with Croatia's MiG-21 upgrade programme finally reaching completion, and with demand for foreign pilot training growing, the sale of the PC-9s may be reconsidered in the near future.

Jan 16, 2015

F-35 On Track for IOC

F-35 fighter jet is on track both to meet the Marine Corps's July target to declare the jet ready for combat use and to meet the Air Force's target date a year later, top U.S. military officials said Thursday.
The F-35 B-model, was making good progress and should meet the Marine Corp's target for initial combat use.
Air Force Chief of Staff told a separate news conference at the Pentagon that he was confident the Air Force would meet its target date of declaring the F-35 A-model ready for initial combat use by August to December 2016.
He said the Air Force had found a way to maintain its initial detachment of operational F-35s despite a shortage of technicians caused by lawmakers' refusal to allow the Air Force to retire its A-10 attack planes.
Mabus said the Navy still expected to declare the F-35 C-model, ready for combat use by the end of the decade, as planned. The Navy tested the F-35C on board a ship for the first time in November.

Peru Orders Two C-27J

The contract, which brings the number of C-27J Spartans ordered by the Peruvian Air Force to four, also includes integrated logistic support and technical assistance. The first two aircraft, ordered in December 2013, will be delivered to FAP in the first few months of 2015, while the second order will be delivered in 2016 and 2017. The aircraft will be operated by 8th Air Group based at Callao, on the country's central coast.

Egypt May Buy Rafale Fighters

France and Egypt are close to an agreement for the sale of twenty Rafale Fighters and two FREMM multi-mission frigates.
According to reliable sources, a French Delegationvisited Cairo early in the week to assess the security of Egypt in the event of an agreement with French manufacturers.

Jan 15, 2015

Slovakia considering US Black Hawk offer

Slovakia is seriously considering an offer proposed by the US government to procure nine Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from the US via the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme.
Slovakia is seeking to replace its fleet of Russian-made Mi-17 'Hip' medium transport helicopters because of the cost of their maintenance and to reduce dependence on supplies of spare parts from Russia.
In September the MoD announced plans to procure two Alenia C-27J Spartan transport aircraft. The MoD is now looking to retire its MiG-29 'Fulcrum' fighters and Mi-17 helicopters, and replace them with Western aircraft.

Australia upgrading C-130s

Upgrades to the Royal Australian Air Force's (RAAF's) 12-strong fleet of C-130J-30 tactical transports are being progressed in parallel with changes in aircrew training intended to provide the government with a broader range of combat-focused options.
Installation of satellite communications in the first C-130J to augment its existing high frequency radio link should be completed in February, followed in June by installation secure beyond line-of-sight datalink.

Charles de Gaulle to sail for Gulf, possible participation in Islamic State air strikes

The French Navy's aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle is deploying with its battlegroup to the Gulf, and is understood to be preparing to contribute to coalition air strikes against Islamic State.
Sailing on 13 January, the carrier battlegroup - which includes a nuclear-powered attack submarine - will head from Toulon through the Suez Canal to the Indian Ocean and the Gulf on Operation 'Arromanches'. The deployment is scheduled to last until May at the earliest.
While there has been no confirmation from French authorities, the carrier - with about 20 combat aircraft embarked - is likely to support air strikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq, Operation 'Chammal'.
'Chammal' was launched in response to an official request for assistance from the Iraqi government. The operation currently involves 15 French Air Force combat aircraft, one Boeing E-3F Airborne Warning and Control (AWACS) aircraft, and one Boeing C-135FR tanker, as well as two French Navy Breguet Atlantique maritime patrol aircraft.
Public confirmation of Charles de Gaulle 's participation in the strikes could come on 14 January, when president François Hollande is scheduled to give his annual new year's speech to the armed forces aboard the carrier in the Mediterranean.
Charles de Gaulle 's embarked air assets include two squadrons of fighter aircraft: 11F (or flotille) with the Dassault Rafale M aircraft, and 17F with the Dassault Super Etendard Modernisé (SEM). The SEM aircraft are scheduled to be withdrawn from service in 2016 and replaced by the Rafale M. Also present on board are two Northrop Grumman E-2C command-and-control aircraft from squadron 4F.
The Rafale M aircraft on board are currently configured to F3.3 standard, with full capacity in air-to-air and air-to-ground missions.

Russia to build more Arctic airfields

Russia is to have 14 operational airfields in the Arctic by the end of the year.
Ten airfields will be constructed by the end of 2015, in addition to the four already in use.
Separately, Russia has announced it is to boost its military capabilities in the annexed Crimea region, and in its Baltic enclave of Kalingrad.
While the United States has been pivoting its forces and its strategic focus to the Asia-Pacific region to better counter China, Russia has been increasingly focusing its efforts in the Arctic.
As the melting Arctic sea ice has opened up trade routes and potential oil reserves, Russia, more than the other four nations of Canada, Denmark, Norway, and the United States that each claim parts of the Arctic Circle's outer ring, has been beefing up its military presence in the region.
In May 2012, Russia's Ministry of Defence announced that several Arctic air bases that had fallen into disuse with the end of the Cold War would be reopened. Airfields at Novaya Zemlya, Naryan-Mar, Ostrov Greem-Bell (Graham Bell Island), and Rogachyovo have since been made operational. While the re-opening of these Arctic bases has been largely symbolic in the context of national claims on the region's resources, MiG-31 'Foxhound' interceptors have been based near Murmansk to provide additional air defence coverage of the region.
In addition to opening up the bases and the basing of the MiG-31s at Murmansk, Russia is expected to deploy a number of Pantsir-S1 ground-based air defence systems in the region, and is also upgrading its Mil Mi-8 'Hip' helicopters to function in the harsh conditions.
Russia is also increasing its special forces presence in the Arctic by more than 30%, with the revamped 61st Independent Naval Infantry Regiment to be stationed alongside the re-formed 200th Independent Infantry Brigade at Sputnik Base, Pechenga, inside the Arctic Circle (16 km from the Norwegian border and 65 km from the Finnish border).
Overarching all of this is the formation of Russia's Arctic Joint Strategic Command, which was activated on 1 December 2014. This new command, which is based on the Northern Fleet and headquartered at Severomorsk, is being equipped with assets and personnel transferred from Russia's Western, Central, and Southern (but not Eastern) Military Districts, with which it will be on a par.

Russia Wants Formal French Answer on Mistral

The French procurement office Tuesday declined to comment on a report Russia has asked for a written statement on whether the Mistral class helicopter carrier will be delivered to Moscow.
Russia officially sent a written request to France for an explanation of the refusal to deliver the Mistral warship.
Russia has called on France to either deliver the Mistral or hand back the payment.
DCNS, prime contractor for the Mistral, organized an official handover of the Vladivostok on Nov. 14, the first of the two helicopter carriers bought by Russia.
France on Nov. 25 suspended the delivery and said the warship would only be released if a real cease-fire was observed in Ukraine.