Jun 29, 2015

First RAAF C-27J Touches Down in Australia

The first of 10 C-27J (A34-001) tactical airlifters for the RAAF has touched down at its new home of RAAF Base Richmond.
A second C-27J, A34-002, is expected to be delivered to Richmond in August.
A34-001 had entered Alenia Aermacchi’s Turin assembly line in December 2012 and first flew on December 18 2013. It was ferried to L-3 in Waco in March 2014 for fitment of its ballistic protection matting, EW/self-protection systems, and communications suite. The RAAF then accepted the first two C-27J Spartans onto the Commonwealth register, and commenced training on the aircraft at L-3’s facility at Waco, last December.
The C-27Js are being acquired as battlefield airlifters to replace the capability lost with the retirement of the DHC-4 Caribou in 2009. The C-27Js will be based at Amberley.

Jun 28, 2015

Finland Air Force intercepted Russian IL-76 suspected of violating its Airspace

Finland Air Force F-18 Hornet fighters were scrambled Friday afternoon when it is believed that a Russian IL-76 military transport aircraft violated Finnish airspace south of the coast town of Porvoo.
The suspected violation took place at around 2:15 PM on Friday. The Russian aircraft was identified and photographed by Finnish Air Force fighters sent to investigate.
Finland Border Guard is investigating the incident as a possible violation of the nation's airspace.
This was the second incident of its kind this year. The first involved a Polish aircraft. Last year, there were five confirmed violations of Finland's airspace. Five of those were by Russian planes.

Jun 27, 2015

F-35B begins 'ski-jump' trials for carrier operations

The F-35 has begun ground-based trials of the 'ski-jump' technique for launching the aircraft from the decks of aircraft carriers, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on 23 June.
In the test, an F-35 of the STOVL variant, took off from NAS Patuxent River in Maryland using a ramp that shares the same dimensions as those fitted to the Royal Navy’s now-decommissioned Invincible-class carriers.
Wilson said the test on 19 June re-proved the concept developed by the UK to launch its Sea Harrier jets from the decks of its through-deck cruiser carriers in the late For the F-35B, the 'ski-jump' will be used to launch jets from the decks of the Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales carriers being built for the UK Royal Navy, and may be adopted by other customers such as Italy.

US Marines deploy Four MV-22 Osprey from Spain To Gabon

Four MV-22 Ospreys, two KC-130J Hercules tankers, more than 150,000 pounds of gear and almost 200 U.S. Marines and sailors have effectively relocated half of a continent away from their base in Moròn, Spain, effectively enabling the force to reach an estimated 400 additional miles inland, June 10-15.
The Marines worked with the government of Gabon to test the full-scale employment of the force on the continent. Their forward-staged compound, known as a Cooperative Security Location, is complete with dining, living, hygiene, and command and control facilities. The location also provides the Marines with easy access to their MV-22 Osprey and KC-130J aircraft, which are critical in providing a crisis-response capability over a geographically dispersed area.

Philippines confirms its interest in getting P-3C, helicopters from Japan

The Department of National Defense on Thursday confirmed reports that it is planning to acquire a P-3C patrol aircraft from Japan to boost the military’s capabilities especially in monitoring the nation’s maritime boundaries.
Several P3-C Orion aircraft from Japan’s Self Defense Force are participating in ongoing military exercises in Philippines.
The aircraft, together with a Philippine Navy Islander spotter plane, conducted a joint patrol exercise near the Recto (Reed) Bank off the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea).
Aside from the Orion aircraft, Galvez said the Philippines is also eyeing to acquire helicopters from Japan.

Antonov debuts An-178 airlifter at Le Bourget

A highlight for the static display at this year's Paris Air Show is the new Antonov An-178 transport aircraft.
The twin-jet tactical airlifter is making its debut appearance outside of Ukraine during the event. This appearance comes just over a month after it began flight trails out of Kiev-Antonov Airport (Gostomel).
Set to replace the An-12 'Cub', the An-26 'Curl', and the An-32 'Cline' airlifters in the Ukrainian Air Force, the 18-tonne-payload An-178 should also be a viable contender on the international fixed-wing medium-lift market. Its nearest rivals will comprise the Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 Hercules (22 tonnes); the Embraer KC-390 (23 tonnes); and the United Aircraft Corporation-Hindustan Aeronautics Limited Multirole Transport Aircraft (15-20 tonnes).
The An-178 is essentially an An-158 regional jet with a rear loading ramp.
The aircraft has a maximum payload of 18 tonnes and a range of 1,000 km fully loaded. Its cruise speed is 445 kt, and requires a 2,500 m runway from which to operate.

Sweden To Get 1st ASW NH90 Helicopter in Fall

After much delay, Sweden is due to receive its first NH90 helicopter for anti-submarine warfare this autumn, with final operating capability achieved within three to five years thanks to a full delivery of five aircraft.
"We have not been pleased with this program, it is very late," said Swedish procurement chief Lena Erixon. "With what is happening in the Baltic, it is very important," she added.
An unidentified submarine, possibly Russian, was spotted in the Stockholm archipelago in October last year, in violation of Swedish territory.
The new ASW NH90, part of a larger order of 18 of the helicopters by Sweden, will be equipped with a new light torpedo, which will also equip Swedish submarines.

RAAF to get two more A330 MRTT KC-30

It appears likely that the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) is to acquire two more Airbus A330 MRTT to add to its current fleet of five, although no formal confirmation is yet available.
A brief comment to this effect - since removed - appeared on the website of the Spanish Embassy in Canberra on 25 June.
The acquisition of an additional two MRTTs (KC-30A in Australian service) was informally forecast by then defence minister David Johnston in August 2014.

Jun 25, 2015

Italy Plans First F-35 Flight in October

Editor's Note: This article was corrected to clarify the process of customer F-35 acceptance flights and pilot training.
The first F-35 flight outside the US will take place in October when Italy's first F-35 begins test flights after rolling off the country's final assembly line.
After entering service with the Italian Air Force, the aircraft, AL-1, will then fly across the Atlantic in the first quarter of 2016, probably via the UK and Iceland, to Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, where Italian pilots will train.
Details of the pending flights emerged as activity ramped up this month at Italy's final assembly line at Cameri Air Base in northern Italy, which is owned by the Italian Defense Ministry and operated by Finmeccanica unit Alenia Aermacchi and Lockheed Martin.
The facility, the only one of its kind outside the US, was designated last year to also serve as the maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade hub for European- and Mediterranean-based JSFs.
In March, the first of Italy's planned 90 JSFs rolled off the line, and this month its engines were turned on for the first time.
The first six F-35As are scheduled to be delivered by October 2016, with four more in 2017, four in 2018, seven in 2019 and 13 in 2010. That is far lower than the 24 aircraft a year the line was designed to handle, a drop due to Italy's trimming of its order.

Sri Lanka revealed as first foreign buyer of JF-17

Sri Lanka will become the first foreign country to acquire the JF-17 Thunder.
The order will be for around 18-24 aircraft.
The Pakistan Air Force announced that they will begin delivery of the JF-17 to Sri Lanka from 2017.

Ghana orders five A-29 Super Tucano

Ghana has ordered five Embraer A-29 Super Tucano .
Embraer says Ghana intends to use the Super Tucanos for “advanced training, border surveillance and internal security missions”.
The order follows recent announcements that Mali and Lebanon will buy Super Tucanos. Embraer revealed last week that Mali has placed an order for six aircraft, and the US government recently approved the sale of six American-made versions to Lebanon.
The aircraft has been in production since 2003. Embraer says it has secured “more than 210 firm [A-29] orders”, and about 190 have been delivered to date.
Ghana does not currently have a dedicated, fixed-wing attack aircraft. Ghana operates about 20 military aircraft including a small fleet of Russian Mi-17 utility helicopters and two Airbus C295 transports.
Ghana is the fifth African nation to procure the A-29 – joining Angola, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Mali.

Israel offers surplus F-16 to Croatia

Israel is offering Croatia surplus F-16A/Bs upgraded to the ACE configuration, as replacements for its Mikoyan MiG-21 fighters.
The Israeli air force is phasing out its F-16A/B-model trainers, ahead of deliveries of the new-generation Lockheed F-35A, which are expected to begin in 2017.
The F-16 ACE upgrade provides an Elta Systems EL/M-2032 fire control radar with synthetic aperture radar mapping modes. The aircraft also can be equipped with a variety of new weapons and sensors.
If a buyer is found for the ex-Israeli air force fighters, they could receive advanced weapons, including Rafael’s Python 5 air-to-air missile.
Croatia earlier this year confirmed plans to replace its MiG-21. Second-hand F-16s are being offered by the USA, while Sweden is promoting upgraded Saab Gripen C/Ds.

Airbus resumes A400M deliveries

Airbus DS has resumed deliveries of the A400M following the lifting of a grounding order that had been in place since the fatal crash of aircraft MSN023 in May.
The first production-standard aircraft to leave the Seville final assembly line, since the grounding was enacted by the Spanish authorities on 9 May, was delivered to the French Air Force on the same day that the suspension of flight was lifted on 19 June. This aircraft, MSN019, is the seventh to be delivered to France and the 13th to be delivered in all.
Airbus DS has not released a timeline for further deliveries, but the assembly line has also completed the build of four aircraft for the United Kingdom. These will now undergo pre-delivery checks and trials before being flown to Royal Air Force (RAF) Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.
With the Spanish Directorate General of Armament and Material grounding now lifted, the entire fleet of three company-owned testbeds, four production-standard platforms, and 13 operational aircraft is cleared to fly. Of those customers that have already received aircraft, France maintained the flying status of its aircraft throughout, while Germany, Malaysia, Turkey, and the UK temporarily suspended flights of their aircraft. The UK has now resumed flying.
The Spanish authorities that are leading the investigation into the fatal crash of MSN023 have yet to officially comment, but Airbus DS has issued two notices to operators based on its own analysis. These notices are related to the A400M's four EuroProp International TP400-D6 engines, three of which malfunctioned on the ill-fated flight that claimed the lives of four of the six crew members.

Jun 21, 2015

Russia Signed First Export Contract of Ka-52 Alligator Attack Helicopters

Russia has signed its first contracts on the export of Ka-52 Alligator attack helicopters, the head of Rosoboronexport’s delegation in Paris Air Show 2015 said Thursday.
Rosoboronexport did not specify the volume of contracts or with whom they were signed.

Saudi Arabia orders four C295s

The Ministry of Interior of Saudi Arabia has purchased four Airbus Defence and Space C295W transport aircraft.
Photographs recently published on the internet by aviation enthusiasts show a C295W at Seville in the markings of the Uzbekistan Air Force, indicating this will be the recipient of the other four.

Russia to Begin Testing Three More T-50 PAK-FA Stealth Fighter Prototypes

United Aircraft Corp. plans to deliver three more prototypes of an advanced stealth fighter jet to the Russian military for testing as early as next year, a company official said.
The president of the Moscow-based company, Yuri Slyusar, said three more of the T-50 PAK-FA, a fifth-generation stealth fighter made by United Aircraft subsidiary Sukhoi, will be transferred to the Russian air force in late 2016 or early 2016 as part of a test program.
That will bring the total number of T-50 prototypes to eight, according to a fact sheet distributed at the event. The PAK-FA first flew in 2011.
Compared to the previous generation fighters, the PAK-FA combines the functions of a strike aircraft and a fighter, thus offering a number of unique capabilities, the fact sheet states. As the fifth-generation aircraft, it has an essentially new thoroughly integrated avionics package providing superior automatic control and intelligence support.
While the T-50 has experienced some development challenges such as engine flameouts, the aircraft is performing well in tests.
The governments of Russia and India have partnered to develop an export version of the aircraft. Russian officials have trained their Indian counterparts and supplied with them data and software to work on research and development.
The Indian version of the aircraft “will have some differences from the Russian prototype due to specific requirements of the Indian air force,” the fact sheet states.
Unlike the previous Paris Air Show, when Russian aircraft such as the Su-35 dominated the skies and dazzled the crowds, the government doesn’t have any military aircraft performing at this year’s event largely because it wanted to focus attention on new civilian aircraft such as plans for a new wide-body airliner to be developed in collaboration with China.
Slyusar also said the company expects to sign a contract this year to sell 24 Su-35s for the Chinese military and is in talks to ink a deal to perform more maintenance work on Russia aircraft.

US, Spain Sign Deal On Permanent Base For Africa Force

Washington and Madrid signed a deal Wednesday setting up a permanent force of 2,200 US Marines based in southern Spain who can be swiftly deployed to crises in Africa.
The US already has a rapid reaction force of about 800 troops at Morón de la Frontera, near Seville, who were deployed temporarily in the wake of the 2012 attack on a US mission in Benghazi, eastern Libya.
Wednesday's accord amends a 1988 defense partnership between the two countries.
The main mission of the Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response unit will be to protect US embassies in Africa, evacuate civilians in difficulty, or intervene in conflicts or humanitarian crises.
It will come under the US military command for Africa (AFRICOM) which is based in Stuttgart, Germany.

Jun 20, 2015

Pentagon Building Cruise Missile Shield To Defend US Cities From Russia

The Pentagon is quietly working to set up an elaborate network of defenses to protect American cities from a barrage of Russian cruise missiles.
The plan calls for buying radars that would enable National Guard F-16 fighter jets to spot and shoot down fast and low-flying missiles. Top generals want to network those radars with sensor-laden aerostat balloons hovering over U.S. cities and with coastal warships equipped with sensors and interceptor missiles of their own.
One of those generals is Adm. William Gortney, who leads U.S. Northern Command, or NORTHCOM, and North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD. Earlier this year, Gortney submitted an “urgent need” request to put AESA radars on the F-16s that patrol the airspace around Washington. Such a request allows a project to circumvent the normal procurement process.
While no one will talk openly about the Pentagon’s overall cruise missile defense plans, much of which remain classified, senior military officials have provided clues in speeches, congressional hearings and other public forums over the past year. The statements reveal the Pentagon’s concern about advanced cruise missiles being developed by Russia.

Saudi Arabia takes delivery of final A330 MRTT

Airbus Defence and Space has delivered the sixth and final A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) to Saudi Arabia.
This is the third aircraft in a second batch of three MRTTs ordered by the kingdom in 2009. The previous two aircraft in the batch were delivered from 2014. The first three MRTTs ordered under a 2008 contract were delivered between 2011 and 2013.
Airbus has also provided details of the new version of the MRTT, six of which will be delivered to Singapore as the launch customer. The changes relate to the fact that the baseline commercial airliner airframe from which the MRTT will be converted is a new model of the A330.
The A330 MRTT is operated by the UK's Royal Air Force as the Voyager (11 of 14 aircraft delivered under a long-lease arrangement), United Arab Emirates (three aircraft), and Australia as the KC-30A (five aircraft). India has selected the platform for a six-aircraft tanker requirement, while 12 of the type are to be supplied to the French Air Force from 2018 in a configuration specific to that operator. Qatar announced an order for two aircraft.
The Netherlands, Poland, and Norway are negotiating with Airbus over the pooled acquisition of a common fleet of MRTTs under an initiative facilitated by the European Defence Agency. The MRTT is also a candidate for South Korea's requirement for four tankers and a selection of the winning bid is expected at the end of this month.
Airbus is also talking to existing MRTT customers about potential extra sales of one or two aircraft each. Australia publically expressed an interest in acquiring additional KC-30A tankers in August 2014.
With the order book swelling there is available capacity for additional MRTT conversions should there need to be a ramp-up in production, according to Airbus. Two buildings are dedicated to the conversion work at the company's Getafe facility in Spain, the process taking between 9 and 10 months to complete.
Spanish airline Iberia was sub-contracted for the conversion of two aircraft in the initial batch for Saudi Arabia at its facility at Barajas, and this capacity can be called upon again if necessary.

France to modify NH90 for special forces sooner than expected

France's special forces are poised to begin operating the NH90 Caïman sooner than expected, after the helicopter proved itself during Operation 'Barkhane' in Mali.
The 4ème RHFS is expected to customise the NH90 for the special forces role, and the familiarisation will play a key role in shaping their requirements. It is expected that the 4ème RHFS will want to add another electro-optic/infrared (EO/IR) system for observation, a datalink, and a rope system for extraction. A basic set of requirements for customising the NH90 to special forces' needs could be written before the year's end.
Compared with the H225 Caracal, the NH90 offers better range and speed.
Initial operational capability on the NH90 was declared before the 1er Régiment d'Hélicoptères de Combat (RHC) deployed to Mali in November 2014, although full operational capability will not be announced before mid-2016.
Within a few months, the Malian theatre should receive a third NH90 and a plan exists to send a fourth one in due course. Fifteen have been delivered so far, as the availability of the airframes is not an issue, but the French Army Light Aviation (ALAT) is struggling to train more crew and maintenance specialists.

Jun 18, 2015

USAF may send F-22s to Europe

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James has raised the possibility of deploying F-22 Raptors to Europe to deter Russia.
The F-22, which flew its first combat mission in September over Syria, now is part of every strike package that goes into Syria as part of the war against the Islamic State terrorist group.
F-22s are stationed at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia; Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida; Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii; and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. They deploy to Kadena Air Base, Japan, from time to time and F-22s are forward deployed to southwest Asia in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
Earlier this month, the U.S. sent B-2 and B-52 bombers to Europe as part of military exercises.

Airbus Hopes To Get New A400M Orders Soon

The crash of an Airbus A400M military transport plane last month hasn't affected export orders, the firm's chief executive said Wednesday, adding Airbus hoped to land new customers soon.
Initial analysis of the black boxes showed that three of the four engines had failed.
Airbus's chief executive Tom Enders told France's Europe 1 radio that the crash was a tragic event but that so far it had not had an impact on orders as countries that use the plane were convinced of its merits.

Airbus Unveils New Helo at Paris Air Show

Airbus has given details of plans to develop a new heavy helicopter, known as the X6, which it believes will become a successor to its NH90 and H225 helicopters with military customers in 15 years time.
The 19-passenger, 10-ton-plus helicopter will go through a "concept phase" over the next two years before full development starts.
The helicopter will be initially conceived for oil and gas customers, and will feature fly-by wire controls, a first for a civil helicopter.
The firm would be keeping its NH90 and H225 on the market for the next 15 years, with the aim of bringing the X6 on the market after that, he said.

France to accept next A400M in the coming days

France has demonstrated the load-carrying credentials of its A400M tactical transport at Le Bourget, as it gets ready to take delivery of a seventh example from Airbus “in the coming days”.
Weighing in at a cool 29t, a VBCI armoured vehicle – used “everywhere” by the nation’s army – has been repeatedly loaded onto the French air force aircraft on display outside Airbus’s chalet. A growth version tipping 32t is to come soon.
Defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian opted to keep the nation’s A400Ms in operational use following a fatal accident involving the type in Spain on 9 May. Its fleet has logged more than 150 flight hours since then, in locations including Africa and the Middle East.

UK interested in Japan's P-1 As Submarine Hunter

The British have shown interest in the P-1 Maritime Patrol Aircraft in a potential $1 billion deal to replace the Nimrod as Britain’s submarine hunter.
Britain signaled their interest after Japanese Prime Minister decided to reverse previous self-imposed Japanese defense export restrictions and allowed domestic manufacturers like Kawasaki to find foreign partners.
Kawasaki developed the P-1 as a replacement for the P-3C for the Japanese Self Defense Force.
Since then, the P-1 has developed into a competitor for Boeing’s P-8 maritime patrol aircraft.

France To Conduct Parachute Tests With A400M

A six week parachute drop test using an A400M aircraft will go ahead by end June. The planned campaign was held up after an A400M crashed last month.
After the crash, France continued to fly its six A400Ms in operations in Africa and the Middle East and has racked up 150 flight hours since the crash, said the official. The crash has been linked a software fault.
France is set to accept its seventh A400M in "the coming days," said the official.
The British Royal Air Force halted flights with its two A400Ms after the incident in Spanish but said on Wednesday it was resuming flights.

Qatar orders four more C-17

Qatar is to boost its fleet of C-17 strategic transports to total eight aircraft.
Qatar Emiri Air Force already has four of the giant airlifters in service with first example intoroduced in 2009.

JF-17 wins first export order for an undisclosed Asian Country

The Chengdu/Pakistan Aeronautical Complex JF-17 Thunder fighter has secured its first confirmed export deal.
“A contract has been signed with an Asian country,” says the Pakistan air force officer who leads sales and marketing efforts for the type.
Citing client sensitivities, he declined to specify the customer and the number of aircraft it will obtain. Deliveries will start in 2017.
The aircraft is making its flying debut at this year’s air show. Pakistan’s air force has brought three examples this year. One will appear on the static display, one will appear in the flying display, and the third will serve as a backup.
Pakistan has received 54 examples. The first 50 were originally delivered in a Block I configuration, and these are in the process of being updated to a Block II standard.
An additional 46 aircraft will be delivered in the Block II configuration. A subsequent 50 aircraft, which will push Pakistan’s fleet to 150 examples, will have a Block III configuration. These will all be delivered by the end of 2018.
A two-seat variant is also planned, which will serve mainly as a trainer. Pakistan produces 58% of the airframe and China 42%.

Jun 13, 2015

US approves A-29 Super Tucano sale to Lebanon

Sierra Nevada Corporation could receive an order from Lebanon for six of its American-built A-29 Super Tucanos following the US government’s approval of a potential foreign military sale.
The company is in a partnership with Brazil’s Embraer to deliver 20 of the light-attack turboprops to the Pentagon for transfer to the Afghan Air Force. The first batch of aircraft built in Jacksonville, Florida, arrived at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia last September for the start of training.
Lebanon could buy up to six Super Tucanos.
The potential sale comes as the US government approves another potential deal with Lebanon for an undisclosed number of Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire II missiles.

NATO withdraws first E-3A AWACS from service

NATO has withdrawn one of its Boeing E-3A (AWACS) aircraft from service, due to budget restrictions.
The alliance currently operates 17 E-3As out of Geilenkirchen Air Base in Germany. NATO's E-3As entered service from 1982 onwards. Originally 18 were purchased by NATO, however one was lost in a non-fatal accident in July 1996.
The alliance awarded Boeing a USD250 million contract in August 2014 to make only 13 of them Global Air Traffic Management (GATM)-compliant, in addition to an initial trials aircraft. This had raised the prospect of three of the aircraft being cut.
At present, only 14 of the 17 aircraft in the NATO AEW&C fleet are currently programmed for modernisation.
The aircraft (no.449) made its final operational flight on 13 May, and will be formally retired on 23 June when it flies to the US Air Force's 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group in Arizona - better known as 'The Boneyard'.

Experts skeptical about Russia's Tu-160 bomber production plans

Recent declarations by Russian officials regarding plans to re-start production of the Tupolev Tu-160 strategic bomber, combined with various other announced procurements, are being met with scepticism by a number of experts. The two reasons most commonly cited for this are that Russian industry lacks the numbers of qualified personnel necessary to support so many procurements taking place simultaneously and that the funding available is nowhere close to what would be required.
The Russian deputy defence minister for procurement, Yury Borisov, told news outlets on 4 June that the envisioned new-build Tu-160 would essentially be a new aircraft due to its onboard systems being several generations beyond the 1980s-era avionics suite of the original Tu-160. "This aircraft would be designated the Tu-160M2," he said, adding that, "according to our plans, this will most likely happen sometime after 2023".
In addition to the plan for a modernised Tu-160, another initiative calls for 130 Mikoyan MiG-31 interceptors to be brought up to the MiG-31BM configuration. Central to that upgrade is the installation of a new avionics suite, modernised crew stations fitted with state-of-the-art displays and a new variant of the onboard radar set.
In addition, the chief of staff of the Russian Air Force (VVS), Colonel General Viktor Bondarev, is also calling for large numbers of Sukhoi Su-30MK, Su-35 and T-50/PFI fifth-generation fighters, Su-34 fighter-bombers, and a new domestic version of the MiG-35 that was formerly proposed for export to India.
A commonly cited weakness of today's Russian defence sector is that the workforce is only a small fraction of its former, Soviet-era size, with a commensurate drop in its capacity.

Russian Fighter Jets Fly over US Ships During NATO Baltic Exercise

Russian ships and fighter jets made their presence known during the opening days of a 17-nation strong NATO exercise in the Baltic Sea by shadowing alliance ship movements and buzzing aircraft over ship formations.
"During our formations shortly after we left port, we had some company from Russian ships shadowing us, and about mid-afternoon we were overflown by two Russian jets. They looked like Su-24s," U.S. 6th Fleet commander, Vice Adm. James Foggo, told reporters June 8. "They made a few passes and then a couple of Russian Corvettes came up on either side of the formation as we were conducting our exercises -- nothing untoward, just showing interest and showing that they know we are here."
The BALTOPS exercise, slated to take place through June 20, is an annually recurring multi-national NATO exercise designed to show the alliance is prepared and ready to defend the Baltic region.
Overall, BALTOPs includes 49 ships, 61 aircraft and one submarine, U.S. Navy officials said.
Exercises are taking place in Poland, Sweden and Germany as well as various parts of the Baltic Sea.
The Su-24 Russian fighter jet flyover comes on the heels of a recent incident in the Black Sea involving a Navy destroyer, the USS Ross.

India to Test INS Vikrant, First Homegrown Aircraft Carrier

India is set to begin testing its first indigenously built aircraft carrier.
On Wednesday, India undocked its first homegrown aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, after all structural construction of the ship was completed. Major equipment have gone in. Cabling, piping, electrical works, heat and ventilation works will take place now. Delivery of systems and components for the aviation complex is expected anytime now.
The INS Vikrant makes India only the fifth country to indigenously design and build an aircraft carrier after France, the United Kingdom, Russia and the United States.
The INS Vikrant will be 40,000-tons, with a length of 260 meters and a width of 60 meters. It has two take-off runways and a landing strip with three arrester wires, capable of operating STOBAR aircraft including the indigenous LCA, as well as a range of helicopters.

Kuwait seeking 24 H225M Caracal helicopters

Kuwait is lining up a purchase of 24 Airbus Helicopters H225M Caracals, with a deal to be signed "as soon as possible".
The acquisition of the 11t-class rotorcraft was discussed during a telephone call between French president and Emir of Kuwait, according to a statement posted on the French president's official website.

Sweden Wants To Sell JAS-39 Gripen jets to India after France Rafale deal falters

Sweden is looking to export its Gripen fighter jets to India, seizing an opportunity after India Prime Minister effectively killed an $11 billion deal with France's Rafals two months ago.
Swedish Defense Minister said he would pitch Saab's Gripen in a meeting on Wednesday with Indian counterpart. He's also planning to meet with state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.
The single-engine Gripen lost out to Dassault's twin-engine Rafale jets in India's 2007 tender for 126 planes.
Saab is not the only manufacturer that has been given new hopes by the disintegration of Dassault's deal. Boeing's F/A-18 Super Hornet, Lockheed Martin's F-16 Fighting Falcon, United Aircraft's MiG-35 and the Eurofighter Typhoon were all part of the original tender process.
India's air force currently has 240 MiG's in its fleet of about 25 squadrons. It estimates that at least 45 squadrons are needed to repel a joint attack from Pakistan and China, according to an Indian parliament committee report released in December 2014.

Airbus Still Waiting For Spain A400M Test Flights To Resume

Airbus is still waiting for Spain to give the green light to resume test flights of the A400M.
The Spanish defense ministry had on Thursday announced that some restrictions would be lifted.
An Airbus spokesman said planes that have recently rolled off the assembly line in the southern Spanish city of Seville would remain grounded and will not undergo the test flights, explaining that the misunderstanding arose from a misinterpretation of the ministry statement.
Flights are understood to resume in the coming days.
Airbus hopes to deliver 13 of 17 A400Ms this year if it obtained the green light to resume the test flights.

Russia SU-27 Fighter Flies Dangerously Close To USAF RC-135 Plane

A Russian fighter jet flew dangerously close to an American reconnaissance aircraft during an "unprofessional" intercept in international airspace over the Black Sea last month, the Pentagon said Friday.
The American RC-135 was conducting routine operations May 30 when a Russian SU-27 Flanker flew up from behind, passed underneath then crossed over to the American plane's right-hand side. "This intercept was conducted unprofessionally" . "It may have been a lack of training on the part of the Russian pilot. It may have been just a general level of unprofessionalism of the individual who was flying the Flanker", told USAF Spokeperson
The Russian plane came within just 10 feet of the US aircraft.
The US plane was intercepted a second time on the same flight, but that was deemed to have been done appropriately.
Russian and US planes routinely monitor each other's movements in international airspace, but this encounter is the latest in a series of incidents sparking concerns over how Russia carries out airborne intercepts.
On April 7, a Russian Flanker jet performed "aggressive manuevers" in close proximity to a US reconnaissance plane in an incident that occurred over the Baltic Sea, in international airspace north of Poland.
The US Navy last month posted a video on YouTube showing a Russian SU-24 jet flying close to the American guided-missile destroyer USS Ross in the Black Sea. The Navy said the Russian jet was not carrying weapons.

Jun 9, 2015

Pakistan Will Show Its JF-17s in Paris Air Show

At least three Pakistan Air Force JF-17, departed for Paris today, to participate in the upcoming Paris Air Show 2015.
One JF-17 fighter aircraft will perform in the flying display and another will be on static display throughout the Air Show.
The JF-17 Thunder has already participated in various air shows around the world including Farnborough Air Show (UK), Zhuhai Air Show (China), Turkish Air Show (Turkey) and Dubai Air Show (UAE).

Russian Air Force Grounds Tu-95 Fleet after fire in engines

A Tupolev Tu-95 overran the take-off runway in Russia's Amur Region, the press service of the Russian Defense Ministry reported Monday.
"The accident occurred during a practice flight at the Ukrainka airfield in the Amur region at 17:00 Moscow time. The Tu-95 ran over the runway during acceleration. There was no ammunition onboard. According to preliminary information, engine fire was the cause behind the accident," the ministry said.
Flights of Tu-95 strategic bombers have been suspended, the ministry said.
"The commander-in-chief of the Russian air forces has ordered to suspend Tu-95 flights for a period of investigation," the press service said.

Airbus hopes to resume A400M pre-delivery test flights soon

Airbus hopes to be able to restart production test flights of its A400M military aircraft soon, paving the way for a rapid resumption of deliveries that were halted following a recent crash, the company said on Sunday.
Its chief executive simultaneously moved to allay Spanish concerns about its workers carrying the blame for the accident, which has been linked in part to a software installation error.
A senior Airbus executive was quoted last month as blaming the crash on poor quality controls in Seville where the A400M is completed. The remarks ruffled feathers in Spain, where an investigation is continuing into the causes of the crash.
Airbus Group Chief Executive Tom Enders sought on Sunday to smooth the concerns.

USAF Deploy B-2, B-52 bombers to Europe for military exercises

Two U.S. Air Force B-2 stealth bombers on Sunday joined B-52s in Europe for additional exercises.
The Spirits and airmen from the 509th and 131st Bomb Wings traveled from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, to RAF Fairford, England, and conducted hot-pit refueling and engine-running crew change skills tests, according to an Air Force news release.
The events were meant to demonstrate the "ability of the aircraft to forward deploy and deliver conventional and nuclear deterrence anytime and anywhere," the release said. The release did not say how long the B-2s would remain in the region.
On Friday, three B-52 bombers deployed to Europe where they will fly training missions over the Baltic Sea.
The Stratofortresses and 330 airmen, assigned to 5th Bomb Wing, Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, will participate in multinational exercises Baltic Operations 15 (BALTOPS) and Saber Strike 15 during their month-long deployment to RAF Fairford.
The aircraft will demonstrate the "United States' long-range global strike capability" in the region in addition to coordinate training with partners and allies at a time when Russian-backed separatists have increased their offensive in eastern Ukraine.
Recently, Russian aircraft acted aggressively toward American warships in international waters. The Navy released footage last week of Russian Su-24 aircraft flying past the USS Ross in the Black Sea.

Canada Finally Advances Search Plane Bid

After more than 10 years of delay, Canada is moving forward with its purchase of new search-and-rescue aircraft in a competition that could attract bids from European and US aerospace firms.
Lockheed Martin, Alenia and Airbus are expected to respond to the request for bids for the CAN 3.1 billion dollar (US $2.9 billion) program.

Vietnam eyes Western warplanes, patrol aircraft to counter China

Vietnam is in talks with European and U.S. contractors to buy fighter jets, maritime patrol planes and unarmed drones, as it looks to beef up its aerial defenses in the face of China's growing assertiveness in disputed waters.
The battle-hardened country has already taken possession of three Russian-built Kilo-attack submarines and has three more on order. Upgrading its air force would give Vietnam one of the most potent militaries in Southeast Asia.
The previously unreported aircraft discussions have involved Swedish defense contractor Saab, Eurofighter, and U.S. firms Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing,.
Vietnam has ordered about a dozen more Russian Sukhoi Su-30 front-line fighters to supplement a fleet of older Su-27s and Su-30s.
Vietnam had held talks over the Typhoon warplane made by Eurofighter as well as the F/A-50 light fighter jointly developed by Korea Aerospace Industries and Lockheed.
Lockheed had discussed its Sea Hercules, the maritime patrol version of its C-130 transport plane.
Boeing wanted to sell its maritime surveillance aircraft P-8 Poseidon.
Vietnam has already started moving slowly away from Russia in recent years, buying Canadian Twin Otter amphibious planes and Airbus C-212 maritime patrol aircraft for its coastguard and Airbus C-295 transport planes.
Airbus Defence had been in talks to offer maritime patrol and airborne early warning systems on the C-295.

U.S. orders components for 94 F-35s

The U.S. Department of Defense is awarding Lockheed Martin a $920.3 million advance acquisition contract for long lead time items for F-35 fighters.
The materials, parts and components are for the manufacture of 94 F-35A Lightning II low-rate initial production aircraft -- 44 F-35As for the U.S. Air Force, two each for Italy and Turkey, eight for Australia, six for Norway, and 16 for other countries.
In addition, this contract provides for the procurement of parts for the manufacture of 14 F-35B variant aircraft for the U.S. Marine Corps, Britain and Italy and for two F-35C variant aircraft for the U.S. Navy and Marines.

Jun 6, 2015

Canada looks at Ex-US presidential helicopters for SAR Mission

Lost hikers or stranded fishermen could find themselves being rescued by helicopters once designed to transport U.S. presidents.
The Canada's Department of National Defence had been insistent that the presidential helicopters, purchased in 2011 for spare parts for Canada’s current search-and-rescue choppers, would never be used as actual aircraft.
But in an about-face, the military and DND now acknowledge they are looking at doing just that.
Defence sources say senior officers inside the Royal Canadian Air Force have successfully argued that since the $3-billion helicopters, known as the VH-71, were airworthy, it didn’t make sense to strip them down for parts. They are pushing for the aircraft to be added to the RCAF flight line.
When Barack Obama came to the presidency, he balked at the high cost of the VH-71 helicopter program, which had been started under former president George W. Bush. Around $3 billion had already been spent and the program was expected to more than double in price.
As a result, the U.S. government shut down the program.
The VH-71s are similar to the search-and-rescue Cormorant helicopters currently used by the RCAF.
The nine new helicopters, as well as more than 800,000 spare parts, were purchased by DND for about $164 million. Seven of the choppers are airworthy.
Defence sources say the RCAF is considering using the helicopters to bolster the search-and-rescue fleet in the coming years since it will have to remove some Cormorants from service as they go through what is known as a mid-life upgrade.
A fleet of 21 helicopters would allow for better coverage, particularly in the Arctic.
Canada embarked on the presidential helicopter deal with the aim of trying to cut down on the excessive amount of time the Cormorants spent on the ground because of a lack of parts.

The Philippines Could Acquire P-3C Orion From Japan

Japan and the Philippines agreed to strengthen security ties and discussed transferring military equipment and technology on Thursday in Tokyo's latest move to strengthen cooperation with Southeast Asian countries to counter China's maritime ambitions.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and visiting Philippine President Benigno Aquino also agreed to expand joint training and exercises between their militaries and to co-operate in building up the Philippines Coast Guard.
China has become increasingly assertive in the South China Sea, building artificial islands in areas over which the Philippines and other countries have rival claims.
The Philippines has already handed the Tokyo government a list of Japanese military equipment it wants to acquire such as P-3C maritime surveillance aircraft, a senior Philippine naval officer has said.

Lithuanian Air Force receives first AS-365 Dauphin For SAR Mission

The Lithuanian Air Force received the first of three AS365 N3+ Dauphin search and rescue (SAR) helicopters on 2 June. The second and third helicopters will be delivered by Airbus Helicopters by the end of 2015.
The Lithuanian armed forces signed the order for three Dauphins with Eurocopter in October 2013.
The AS365 N3+ Dauphin will replace the Russian Mi-8 helicopter fleet currently being used by the air force that is reaching the end of its service life.

India Requests ISTAR Aircraft From US

India has offered to buy two intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) aircraft from Raytheon on a government-to-government basis.
The Defence Ministry's official release did not mention India's offer, but the MoD source said the proposal has been kept low key.
The Air Force has already been briefed by Raytheon about the ISTAR aircraft and has evinced interest in wanting to procure planes that will use an active electronically scanned array radar and be able to scan more than 30,000 kilometers in a minute and analyze that data in 10 to 15 minutes to identify the targets.

Kuwait, Italy Discuss Eurofighter Buy

Kuwait has started discussions to buy up to 28 Eurofighters.
Kuwait is discussing the deal with the Italian Defense Ministry, the Italian Air Force and Italian firm Alenia Aermacchi.
Talks started May 31 and representatives of the Italian Defense Ministry, Air Force and Alenia Aermacchi are in Kuwait participating.
The talks cover the possible acquisition of two squadrons — or between 24 and 28 aircraft.
Under a military cooperation deal signed between Italy and Kuwait, two groups of Kuwaiti pilots have already trained at the Italian Air Force's training school in Lecce in southern Italy.
The report that Kuwait is talking to Italy follows reports last month that the US government was in discussions with Kuwait to sell up to 40 Boeing F/A-18 E and F Super Hornet strike fighters.A Eurofighter deal would be welcome news for the European consortium building the aircraft, which consists of Italy's Finmeccanica, BAE Systems and Airbus, after the French Rafale scooped new orders from Egypt and Qatar.

Jun 4, 2015

Russia to complete Tu-160 upgrades ahead of time

Russia is to complete a major upgrade of its Tupolev Tu-160 'Blackjack' strategic bomber fleet a year earlier than previously announced, with the final aircraft now set to be delivered back to the air force in 2019.
The work, is geared at replacing all of the aircraft's Soviet-era equipment with modern systems.
The first phase, now completed, involved bolstering the aircraft's nuclear armament with the capacity to carry 12 conventionally armed Raduga NPO Kh-555 (AS-15 'Kent') long-range cruise missiles and laser-guided bombs. The first such upgraded aircraft was delivered back to the air force in April 2008.
The second phase is focused on replacing the radar, as well as the electronic navigation and communication systems. The first flight of a Tu-160 fitted with these new systems took place out of the Kazan Aircraft Plant (KAPO) east of Moscow in November 2014. The aircraft's engines are also to be upgraded under this effort at a later date.
The modernisation programme to the 16 bombers in the air force's inventory is now expected to be completed in 2019, rather than 2020 as previously stated.
Russia's new PAK-DA bomber is expected to make its maiden flight in 2019, before being inducted into service in the 2023-25 timeframe to replace the Tu-160, Tu-22M3, and Tu-95 platforms.