Jul 27, 2015

Taiwan Pursues MH-60R ASW Helos

Taiwan's Navy seeks to procure eight to 10 MH-60R Seahawk anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters via the US Foreign Military Sales program to replace aging MD500 "Defender" helicopters.
An announcement is expected by the end of this year and a possible letter of acceptance in 2016.
Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense confirmed that the MD500s are scheduled for retirement and that it was seeking a replacement.

USAF Will not Sell A-10 To Anyone

The US Air Force has closed the lid on discussions about shopping the A-10 Warthog to allies. USAF will not sell the close-in attack aircraft to anyone.
Boeing triggered speculation about whether the US government would consider selling the aircraft it wants to retire when a company official told reporters there have been “early discussions” about international sales.
“It’s something we would be interested in, but again, it depends where the air force goes with retirements”.

Turkish jets hit PKK targets in Iraq

Turkey attacked Kurdish insurgent camps in Iraq for a second night on Sunday, in a campaign that could end its peace process with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
Ankara, which called for a special NATO meeting on Tuesday to discuss its security concerns, said two soldiers were killed and four wounded in an earlier attack by PKK militants.
Long a reluctant member of the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State, Turkey made a dramatic turnaround this week by granting the alliance access to its air bases and launching air raids against both the jihadist movement and the PKK.
It has no plans to send ground troops into Syria and the air strikes there are meant to give support to moderate Syrian rebels fighting Islamic State.

Jul 22, 2015

Denmark's first MH-60R helicopters prepare for delivery

Denmark is one step closer to becoming the second international customer to have the U.S. Navy’s MH-60R Seahawk helicopter in its inventory. The first two aircraft arrived at Lockheed Martin’s Owego, New York facility for digital cockpit and integrated mission systems and sensors installation July 9 and are anticipated to be delivered to the Navy later this year.

Russia's Stealthy New Nuclear Bomber Is in Big Trouble

Russia is delaying production of its new fifth-generation PAK DA strategic bomber.
Production of the PAK DA has been delayed in order to resume producing Tupolev Tu-160M2 bomber.
According to the plans, serial production of the [Tu-160] aircraft new version [the Tu-160M2] is to be implemented starting from 2023.
The PAK DA project will be somewhat shifted beyond [2023, when it is currently to begin entering service], otherwise there is no sense in it,” Borisov said.
As The National Interest previously noted, back in May Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced that Russia had decided to resume production of the Soviet-era Tu-160 nuclear bomber, which NATO refers to as Blackjack.
Russia later revealed that the decision to restart production of the Blackjack bomber was made directly by Russian President Vladimir Putin. “The supreme commander [president of Russia] and the Russian defense minister have taken a decision on reviving production of the Tu-160M aircraft,” Col. Gen. Viktor Bondarev, the commander-in-chief of Russia’s Air Force, said in late May.

U.S. Marines Complete F-35B Readiness Inspection

The U.S. Marine Corps has completed an operational readiness inspection (ORI) of its first F-35B squadron, the last major hurdle before the service can assess whether VMFA-121 in Yuma, Arizona, is suitable to declare initial operational capability (IOC).

US sends F-16 jets to Iraq in push for Anbar province

The US has sent four F-16 fighter jets to the Iraqi Air Force, which could soon be incorporated in a push to take back Anbar province.
Since the Islamic State group began their rampage across Iraq last year, Baghdad has leaned heavily on Washington for military assistance.

The RAF Will Have Only 127 Combat Jets by 2019, with the loss of Tornados and early Typhoons

The UK's frontline fast-jet force is set to fall to its lowest numerical strength just ahead of the turn of the decade, with the almost simultaneous retirement of both the Panavia Tornado GR.4 and early model Eurofighter Typhoon fleets, the government disclosed on 21 July.
Currently, the Royal Air Force (RAF) fields 53 Tranche 1 Typhoons and 87 Tornados which, when coupled with the Tranche 2 and 3A Typhoons now flying, brings its frontline combat inventory up to 192 aircraft. Although the loss of 140 aircraft by 2019 represents a 77% reduction in the current force strength on paper, it should be noted that this will be offset somewhat by the continued delivery of the Tranche 3 Typhoons, as well as the arrival of the first Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters.
Even so, while all 40 Tranche 3A Typhoons should be with the RAF by 2019, the United Kingdom is expected to have received only about 15 to 20 F-35Bs by this time (to be operated by both the RAF and Royal Navy). When the loss of the Tornados and Tranche 1 Typhoons is taken into account, the United Kingdom will be left with about 127 frontline combat jets at best when this happens (the lowest number that the RAF will have fielded since its creation in 1918).

Airbus trials aerodynamic enhancements for Eurofighter Typhoon

Airbus has completed flight-testing of a package of aerodynamic upgrades to the Eurofighter Typhoon that are geared at enhancing the combat aircraft's agility and weapons-carrying ability.
The flight trials of the Aerodynamic Modification Kit (AMK) were part of the wider Eurofighter Enhanced Manoeuvrability (EFEM) programme.
The AMK comprises additional fuselage strakes and leading-edge root extensions that are designed to increase the maximum lift created by the wing by 25%.
Flight trials had yielded some better-than-expected results, with the angle-of-attack capability being 45% greater than that of the unmodified aircraft, and roll-rates up to 100% higher. The flight trials followed around five years of studies, with Eurofighter test pilots and operational pilots from Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom conducting 36 sorties from Manching, Germany, on the Instrumented Production Aircraft (IPA) 7.
In terms of expanding the Typhoon's air-to-air and air-to-surface capabilities, Eurofighter has recently undertaken a series of separate weapon trials that include the MBDA Meteor beyond-visual-range (BVR) air-to-air missile (BVRAAM), the MBDA Storm Shadow/Taurus cruise missiles, the MBDA Brimstone low-collateral air-to-surface missile, and the Raytheon Paveway IV precision-guided bomb. Airbus has also revealed that it is looking to integrate a variety of anti-shipping missiles onto the aircraft to increases its maritime role. The goal is to have the full multirole Phase 3 Enhancements (P3E) package in place by 2018, to coincide with the retirement from UK service of the Panavia Tornado GR.4 strike aircraft.
The Euroradar Captor electronically scanned (E-Scan)/Captor active electronically scanned array (CAESAR) radar is currently in its Extended Assessment Phase (EAP), with an integration contract signed by Eurofighter and partner nations on 19 November 2014. The Captor-E/CAESAR is being provisioned for the Tranche 3 aircraft, and will be retrofittable to Tranche 2 platforms also. Once fielded, the new AESA radar should offer some electronic attack capability and simultaneous multimode operation, plus significantly expanded air-to-air capability (it will also have additional functions at the customer's request).

Tornado Brimstone incident halts UK operations against Islamic State

An inquiry has been launched after two MBDA Brimstone missiles 'fell' from a Royal Air Force (RAF) Panavia Tornado GR4 fighter as it landed at Akrotiri in Cyprus on 15 July, as it returned from anti-Islamic State operations over Iraq.
Part of the air base was evacuated as a precaution while teams retrieved the two detached missiles from the closed runway.
The Brimstone missiles became dislodged as the Tornado GR4 aircraft carrying them landed in poor weather conditions. It could have happened because of a high angle of attack..
Six RAF Tornado GR4 fighter bombers are based at RAF Akrotiri taking part in operations against Islamic State militants.

Jul 14, 2015

Finland receives final NH90 helicopter

Finland received into service the last of its 20 NH90 helicopters.
The helicopter was handed over to the Finnish Defence Forces during a ceremony at Patria's domestic production facility.
Finland signed its contract for the 20 NH90 TTH helicopters in 2001, as a part of a common acquisition programme with Sweden and Norway to replace its ageing fleet of Mil Mi-8 'Hip' transport helicopters.
The first helicopter for Finland made its maiden flight, in 2004. Deliveries were due to be complete in 2010, but were set back by programmatic delays.

China Wants to Develop a New Long-Range Stealth Strategic Bomber

China needs to develop a new long-range strike bomber capable of attacking targets farther out in the Pacific. This is the principal conclusion of a meeting of Chinese military officials, according to AFP citing a full-page China Daily article published last Tuesday as its source.
In the meeting the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) was also referred to as a “strategic force” a title usually reserved for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Second Artillery Corps – Beijing’s “de facto strategic missile force,” according to China Daily.
The new bomber should be capable of striking targets as far as the “second island chain” – an area stretching from the Kurils in the North through Japan, the Bonins, the Marianas, the Carolines and Indonesia in the South – the paper further states.
The PLA’s definition of a long-range strategic bomber is a minimum range of 8,000 km (5,000 miles) without refueling and the capacity to carry a payload of more than 10 tons of air-to-ground ammunition.
This definition would correspondent to the sparse details available on China’s prospective subsonic stealth bomber – the H-20 (or H-X) – which could enter service by 2025 some analysts note.
H-20 is believed to be able to evade modern air defense systems and penetrate deep into the enemy territory. Some analysts argue that the primary mission of the new bomber will be do attack U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups.
The PLAAF currently operates approximately 15 H-6K nuclear-capable bombers, a locally built version of the Russian Tupolev Tu-16 Badger which can “reach Okinawa, Guam and even Hawaii from China’s mainland, depending on the bombers armament.

Russian TU-95 Crashes In Far East Russia

A Tupolev Tu-95MS aircraft has crashed in the region of Khabarovsk in the Russian Far East.
The Defense Ministry says the strategic bomber crashed on the morning of July 14 during a training flight 80 kilometers from the regional capital, Khabarovsk.
The plane did not have any bombs aboard and fell in a remote place. The plane's crew managed to eject from the aircraft before it crashed.
It is the second military plane to have crashed in the Khabarovsk region in the last eight days. On July 6, a SU-24M bomber crashed while taking off on a training mission, killing two pilots aboard.
The Defense Ministry launched an investigation into that crash and grounded all Su-24 bombers until the end of the inquiry.

F-35B Begins New ‘Operational Readiness Inspection’ This Week Before IOC Decision

The Marine Corps added one final test before deciding whether to declare initial operational capability for the Lockheed Martin F-35B Joint Strike Fighter (JSF): a first-ever Operational Readiness Inspection.
The ORI for the first F-35B squadron, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 121, is scheduled to begin today and will last four or five days..
In addition to that maintenance test, the ORI will also include assessments of five areas of flight operations with live ordnance at up to a division-level context.

First F-16s Arrive in Iraq

The first batch of U.S.-provided F-16s has arrived in Iraq, following a string of delays over security and other concerns.
The big question overhanging the shipment, though, is whether the Iraqis can fly them.
The Obama administration said Monday that the first group of Iraqi pilots has been trained.
Iraq purchased 18 F-16s in 2011 for $3 billion, and another 18 for $830 million two years later, for a total of 36 aircraft.
There have been numerous delays in getting the F-16s to Iraq, mostly because of the deteriorating security situation there.
How prepared they will be remains to be seen, and defense aviation experts voiced concerns earlier this year.

Jul 6, 2015

Uzbekistan orders four C295s

A picture has appeared online of an Airbus Defence & Space C295W medium transport in an Uzbekistan air force livery, with the aircraft being one of four of the type that are believed to have been ordered by the service last year.
It is understood that the undisclosed order was placed in May 2014 during the Kadex exhibition in Kazakhstan, and the first Uzbekistan C295 completed its maiden flight on 17 June from the company’s site in Seville, Spain.
In February 2014 a delegation from Uzbekistan visited Airbus’s Getafe site in Spain to see the C295,.
The transport's emergence follows on from a separate deal announced during the Paris air show earlier this month, under which Saudi Arabia's interior ministry also order four winglet-equipped C295Ws.

Russia grounds MiG-29 fleet following crash

The Russian Air Force has grounded its fleet of MiG-29 'Fulcrum' combat aircraft following a crash on 3 July.
All of the approximately 280 single- and twin-seat MiG-29s in the air force's inventory are subject to the order, which was imposed after the Head of Aviation Safety, Major-General Alexander Berzan, was forced to eject from his aircraft after one of the two engines caught fire near Rostov-on-Don in southwest Russia..
It is standard practise for the Russian Air Force to ground aircraft types following such incidents, and the MiG-29s will not return to flying status until the preliminary results of the investigation are known.

Lockheed's F-35 Live-Bomb Drops Hit Targets

The first live-bomb drops for F-35 JSF in a nontest environment were successful as the Marine Corps gets ready to declare the jet combat ready.
Fourteen pilots dropped 30 weapons last week over a restricted area in southeastern California, and all of the high-explosive weapons went off.
"The weapons employment went extremely well and validated the simulated procedures pilots have been training to and gave us confidence in the jet's ability to perform with real weaponry as advertised. These were the first ordnance expenditures by a fleet squadron in a nontest environment," said Major Brendan Walsh, a pilot and operations officer, in an emailed statement to IBD.

A400M deliveries continue, as UK receives third airlifter

The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) has received into service the third of 22 A400M Atlas transport aircraft, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on 6 July.
The airlifter arrived at its homebase at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, having completed pre-delivery trials at the Seville final assembly line in Spain, where it had been held up for some weeks following the fatal crash on 9 May of an aircraft destined for Turkey. There are currently three further aircraft at Seville, which are due to be flown to the United Kingdom in the coming days and weeks.
It is anticipated that the RAF will have received its first seven aircraft by the end of September, at which point the service will declare initial operating capability (IOC) for the type. All 22 aircraft are scheduled to be in service by 2022, to coincide with the retirement of the planned Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules.

UK to begin testing national A400M capabilities shortly

The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) is to begin safety testing of a number of country-specific capabilities for its A400M Atlas transport aircraft at the end of July, the government disclosed on 2 July.
Several dedicated national capabilities, such as UK parachutes and aerial delivery systems, that need to be cleared from a safety perspective will undergo testing at the end of July and continue through until March 2018, to clear their release to service.
The RAF is to roll out its A400M capabilities in a series of tranches, with Tranche 1 comprising basic strategic airlift (2015); Tranche 2 involving non-permissive operations and inter-theatre operations (from 2016), as well as deployable intra-theatre capability (from 2017); Tranche 3 will involve tactical transport, including airdrops (from late 2017); and Tranche 4 involving advanced capabilities and full support to the Airborne Assault Task Force (from 2018 to 2022).
The UK has so far received two of its 22 aircraft, with a further four undergoing pre-delivery trials at the company's final assembly line (FAL) in Seville, Spain. Initial operating capability (IOC) was due to be declared in March, but delays to initial deliveries had pushed this date back to September.
The RAF's 206 Squadron is currently testing the first A400Ms to arrive at RAF Brize Norton, with crews to be trained by 24 Squadron. Once trained, these personnel will be assigned to the first operational A400M unit: 70 Squadron. A second operational unit is due to be stood up in 2018.
Deliveries of all 22 A400M aircraft to the RAF are set to conclude in 2022, to coincide with the retirement of the Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules.

Jul 4, 2015

Lockheed Legion Pod takes flight on F-16

Lockheed Martin has flight tested its new Legion Pod infrared search-and-track system for the first time on its F-16 Fighting Falcon in Fort Worth, Texas, as the US Air Force explores upgrades to make its legacy fighters more competitive against modern airborne threats.
The pod carries the Lockheed IRST21 sensor, which traces its lineage back to the Grumman F-14 Tomcat and is now in operation on the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet and international F-15 platforms.
Legion Pod is aimed at a USAF programme to provide the F-15C Eagle with a passive, long-range infrared sensor capability, and the service is also exploring options for its Lockheed F-16s.

Jul 1, 2015

Mali To Acquire 11 Super Tucanos

Embraer is continuing its African presence with a sale to Mali of 11 Super Tucanos A-29 light attack and advanced trainer turbo-prop aircraft.
In a statement posted to its website, Embraer announced Mali signed an order for six A-29s while the Ghanaian Defense Ministry agreed to procure five of the aircraft.
Both countries intend to use the Super Tucanos for advanced pilot training, border surveillance and a wide range of other internal security missions.

South Korea Will Boy Four A330MRTT, Rejecting Boeing Propposal

South Korea said on Tuesday it chose the Airbus A330 as in-flight refuelling tankers for its Air Foce.
Airbus' A330 MRTT beat Boeing Co's KC-46A and Israel Aerospace Industries' MMTT for the tender, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration said in a statement.