Sep 26, 2015

Twelve USAF A-10Cs landed at Amari Air Base, Estonia

Twelve A-10 Thunderbolt IIs and approximately 350 Airmen from the 74th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron arrived at Amari Air Base, Estonia September 21, as part of a theater security package deployment in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve.
The Airmen and aircraft, deployed from the 23d Wing out of Moody Air Force Base, Ga., will augment the U.S. Air Forces in Europe's existing efforts as part of OAR to conduct training with NATO allies to further develop interoperability and demonstrate U.S. commitment to the security and stability of Europe.

Sep 25, 2015

KC-46A makes historic first flight

Boeing’s first fully-configured KC-46A aerial refuelling tanker has begun its long-awaited first flight, lifting off from Paine Field in Washington today after some weather-related delays.
The 25 September flight to Boeing Field marks a significant step in the next-generation tanker programme, but comes approximately nine months behind schedule and almost five years after the Pegasus entered development.
"During this flight, they’ll check the basic integrity of the aircraft and exercise all the systems – operational checks on engines, flight controls and environmental systems," a Boeing spokeswoman said in statement after takeoff at 1:24pm Pacific Time.
This first flight had been expected in late 2014, but significant missteps such as misplaced wiring and more recently a contaminated fuel system have repeatedly setback the multibillion-dollar development programme, which is working toward a Pentagon “milestone C” low-rate production decision, now expected in April 2016.

Venezuela to Buy at Least 12 SU-30

Venezuela will purchase at least 12 fighter jets from Russia, President Nicolas Maduro said Sunday.
On Friday, a Venezuelan Air Force Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jet crashed on the country's border with Colombia.
The Venezuelan government also plans to sign a contract with China on military equipment delivery, the president added. The equipment will be used to fight drug trafficking, particularly from Colombia, according to him.

Super Tucano deliveries to Afghanistan delayed until early 2016

The Afghan Air Force (AAF) is to receive its Embraer-Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft slightly later than anticipated, with the first units now set to arrive in-country in early 2016 rather than later this year as had been previously announced.
The delay was not explained by the US Air Force's (USAF's) 438th Air Expeditionary Wing, which disclosed the new schedule, the unit only saying that training of AAF personnel was continuing out of Moody Air Force Base (AFB) in Georgia.
The AAF is slated to receive 20 Super Tucanos (with an option for a further 20) to replace the Mil Mi-35 'Hind' as the service's primary close-air-support platform.

Russian fighter jets enter Syria with transponders off

A U.S. official told CNN Thursday that Russian fighter jets turned off their transponders as they flew into Syria in an apparent attempt to avoid detection. The official said the fighters flew very close to a transport plane that had its transponder on and functioning.
U.S. satellites rapidly saw that the aircraft were there, according to the official.
The assessment over the weekend was that the fighter jets were on their way. The same official said the Russians have begun flying drones around the coastal city of Latakia.
With no ISIS fighters in the area, the move raises serious questions about the Russians' intentions with their military buildup, which the U.S. has questioned the purpose of and watched with wariness. The action points to a higher likelihood that the Russian plan is to prop up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad rather than fight the terror group.
The U.S. has its own effort underway to defeat ISIS but has also said that Assad must go.
Asked about what the U.S. can do about the situation, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told CNN at a press conference Thursday that "it's a matter of seeing what the Russians do."
Carter said he hopes the Russians will fight ISIS, "but if it's a matter of pouring gasoline on the civil war in Syria, that is certainly not productive from our point of view."

The U.S. Air Force is Ground-Testing Laser Weapons for Future Use on F-15s, F-16s and F-35s

The Air Force Plans its First Airborne Tests of Laser Weapons by 2021.
The Air Force plans to arm its fleet of fighter jets with laser weapons able to incinerate enemy targets in the not-too-distant future.
Aircraft-launched laser weapons could eventually be engineered for a wide range of potential uses, including air-to-air combat, close air support, counter-UAS, counter-boat, ground attack and even missile defense, officials said.
Air Force Research Laboratory officials have said they plan to have a program of record for air-fired laser weapons in place by 2023.
Ground testing of a laser weapon called the High Energy Laser, or HEL, is slated to take place this year at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., service officials said.
The High Energy Laser test is being conducted by the Air Force Directed Energy Directorate, Kirtland AFB, New Mexico.
The first airborne tests are expected to take place by 2021, Air Force officials have said.

Sep 23, 2015

France, Egypt agree on Mistral warship deal

France has agreed to sell two Mistral helicopter carriers to Egypt after their sale to Russia was cancelled in August.
Cairo has sought to boost its military power in the face of a two-year insurgency based across the Suez Canal in the Sinai peninsula and fears the conflict in neighbouring Libya could spill over. Egypt's allies are also keen to burnish its image in a region beset by turmoil.
A French defence ministry source said the contract was worth about 950 million euros, but unlike the deal with Moscow would not include any technology transfer.
As of yet there had been no talks on the potential armament for the carrier, which can hold up to 16 helicopters and 1,000 troops.
A diplomatic source said Cairo wanted to base one ship in the Mediterranean and another in the Red Sea, making it available for future operations in Yemen, where Egypt is part of a Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels.
The French government agreed to reimburse 950 million euros to Moscow last month after the Mistral sale to Russia was cancelled as a result of the Ukraine crisis.
The deal with Egypt comes as France has nurtured new links with Sunni Arab states, which appreciate its tough stance on their Shi'ite rival Iran and similar positions on the region's conflicts.
France has also benefited from what some Gulf countries perceive as disengagement from a traditional ally, the United States.
The sale will take the number of French naval vessels sold to Egypt to seven in just two years.
Egypt last year bought four small Gowind warships, built by Mistral manufacturer DCNS, which is 64 percent owned by the French state and 35 percent by defence group Thales.
It also acquired a French frigate as part of a 5.2 billion euro contract for 24 Rafale warplanes earlier this year, France's first overseas export of the fighter jet.

Sep 19, 2015

Pakistan confirms Su-35 talks

The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has discussed buying Su-35 'Flanker-E' fighter aircraft from Russia in potentially the largest defence deal between the two countries, but a final decision is yet to be made.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov had said talks were underway for an unspecified number of Su-35s, which follow a recent agreement to provide Mi-35M 'Hind E' attack helicopters to Islamabad.
While the official said "it's too early to say if a deal will conclude and the terms", the fact that discussions have taken place shows Russia's willingness to sell advanced hardware with Pakistan despite Moscow's longstanding ties with India.
The official said Pakistan's interest in the Su-35 was driven by the PAF's need for a twin-engine fighter "that can fly for a longer range than the JF-17 and penetrate more deeply into the enemy's territory". The PAF flies a mixed fleet of Lockheed Martin F-16s, Dassault Mirage-5s, Chinese-manufactured F-7s, and the JF-17 Thunder, which is jointly produced by China and Pakistan.
Pakistan is in discussions with China to buy 30 to 40 FC-31s - the export version of China's J-31 fifth-generation platform, because it is fitted with two RD-93 Russian Klimov engines, which also powers the JF-17. PAF in the past also considered the purchase of up to 40 Chengdu J-10 fighters.

Russia sends fighter jets to Syria

US Defense Secretary spoke with his Russian counterpart Friday as Russian military moves inside Syria continued to escalate with the arrival of fighter jets.
US Secretary and Russian Defense Minister agreed to "further discuss mechanisms for deconfliction in Syria".
Shoygu told Carter that the recent Russian military buildup in Syria is "defensive in nature" and aimed at supporting Russian obligations to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The U.S. policy is that Assad, a close ally of Moscow, must leave office in order to resolve the years-long civil war, and U.S. officials have warily watched Russia's military support of the Syrian regime.
However, with U.S. aircraft also operating in the country as America roots out ISIS, it is important that the two powers coordinate their military presence to avoid accidental encounters.
An intelligence official called the Russian buildup in Syria "significant" and said it would represent "the first major expeditionary force deployment" outside the former Soviet space that Moscow has undertaken since the war in Afghanistan.
Reports indicate the military buildup in Syria could consist of combat aircraft that are capable of striking ground targets, providing close air support and intercepting aircraft, and small numbers of main battle tanks and armored personnel carriers to transport troops to the battlefield.
Moscow's ultimate intentions are unclear, but initial signs suggest a focus on providing air support to Syrian forces and to humanitarian relief operations. The U.S. also expects Russia to send a small presence of ground forces to support these operations.

Sep 18, 2015

First functional Boeing KC-46A tanker to fly 25 September

The air force’s developmental next-generation tanker, the Boeing KC-46A, is expected to make its maiden flight 25 September.
Preparation for the first flight paused for 30 days after a chemical mixup contaminated the integrated fuel system and any schedule margin built into the programme is long gone.
Despite several setbacks and an almost one-year schedule delay, the second engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) aircraft, the first functional tanker, is in fuel dock after receiving repairs and should be airborne by the month’s end.
The first KC-46A is expected to start passing fuel in January or February 2016 after a few months of general flying.
As part of its test programme, the aircraft will pass fuel to a F-16, C-17, F/A-18, A-10, AV-8B and another KC-46A.
A “milestone C” production and fielding decision is expected in April 2016 and two contract awards for low-rate initial production will follow in quick succession. The first low-rate production contract is for seven aircraft and the second buys a dozen tankers.
EMD-1, the 767-2C freighter the tanker is based on, has completed flutter testing and EMD-4 is scheduled to begin ground demonstrations later this month. Mission system verification demonstrations will continued through November, according to the updated schedule.

Royal Thailand Air Force Selects T-50

Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) said Thursday that it has signed a $110 million deal to export four T-50TH supersonic trainer jets to Thailand.
Under the deal, the Korean company will deliver the trainer jets within 30 months.
Thailand has selected the KAI T-50TH over the Chinese-made L15 to replace aging trainer aircraft for its Air Force.
Thailand has been operating L39 trainer jets made by the Czech Republic, and is replacing them as it has been more than 30 years since their production.
At the end of last year, the Thai government approved a budget to purchase four new trainers.
Competitors in a bidding battle included the United States, Russia and Italy as well as Korea and China.
Sixteen T-50 were exported to Indonesia in 2011.
Korea had also signed a deal with Iraq to export 24 T-50IQs in 2013, and with the Philippines to export 12 FA-50PHs, a light combat version of the T-50, in 2014.
South Korea government is also seeking to sell 24 FA-50s to Peru by participating in the country's fighter purchase project.

U.S. Marine F-35Bs Will Operate From British Queen Elizabeth Carriers

The U.S. Marine Corps will deploy its Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II strike fighters on combat sorties from Britain’s new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, a senior U.K. Royal Navy officer has confirmed.
Responsible for delivering the two 65,000 ton ships, said that using Marine aircraft and pilots to bolster the U.K.’s nascent carrier strike capability would be a natural extension of coalition doctrine.
Each of the 284 m-long carriers, fitted with a ‘ski jump’ bow ramp instead of the catapults and arrester wires once planned, will accommodate up to 40 aircraft: short takeoff/vertical landing F-35B strike fighters, helicopters, or a blend of fixed-wing and rotary tailored to the mission in hand.
Britain took delivery of its first Lightning II aircraft in 2012 and currently has three; the fourth is due to roll off Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth production line in January 2016.
Britain’s F-35Bs are scheduled to arrive at Marham Air Base in eastern England in mid-2018, achieving initial operating capability by the end of that year. A deployable U.K. carrier strike capability should be ready by late 2020.

Russia building forward air base in Syria

The Pentagon acknowledged Monday that the Russian military is building a forward air base in Syria, a move that could complicate U.S. and coalition effort to mount daily airstrikes against Islamic State militants.
Satellite imagery suggests the activity includes reinforcing aircraft runways, building helicopter pads, installing mobile housing units, and constructing several new buildings including an air traffic control tower, according to Stratfor, a private intelligence company.
On Monday, Russia was positioning tanks and artillery along the perimeter of the air base.
The Russian activities have "been progressing on a daily basis," Davis said.
The buildup is one of Moscow's most aggressive military provocations in years, with the apparent goal of boosting the military defenses of its ally, embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad, whose forces have suffered a series of battlefield losses to Islamic State extremists and other rebel groups.
But the move poses risks as U.S. aircraft fly dozens of daily sorties over Syria and launch airstrikes against Islamic State targets on the ground.
Latakia is about 100 miles from Islamic State-held territory near Aleppo.
Latakia is a political stronghold for Assad and his Shia Alawite sect. It is widely believed that Assad would return to the Latakia area if the government's capital in Damascus fell to rebels or Islamic extremists.
Latakia is about 60 miles north of Tartus, a port city where the Russians maintain a small naval base.
Russia reportedly also has used Iraqi airspace to fly large transport aircraft into Syria. U.S. officials have urged allies in the region to deny Russia the use of their airspace. But despite having about 3,500 U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq, the U.S. has no direct control over Iraqi airspace.
In late August, Alligator-class and Ropucha-class Russian landing ships were sighted moving south through Turkey's Bosphorous Strait and heading toward the Syrian coast. Photographs appeared to show armored ground vehicles on board the vessels.

Sep 17, 2015

USAF F-35A could deploy quickly after IOC next year

The USAF F-35 could deploy overseas as soon as it reaches initial operating capability in 2016, said Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, director of the Air Force's F-35 Integration Office.
The service is still on pace to field a squadron of F-35s by the IOC goal of Aug. 1, 2016. It would likely include between 12 and 14 aircraft, 30 pilots and 240 maintainers and support personnel.
The first squadron will start off with three missions: close air support, interdiction of enemy aircraft, and suppression and destruction of enemy air defenses.
The USAF currently has 74 F-35As, and pilots have a combined 19,500 flight hours. Across the entire program for all services, more than 2,000 service members are trained as maintainers.
Another issue is finding international bases for the F-35 that can be used for resupply and depot maintenance, part of the "Global Sustainment System" the Air Force is attempting to set up.
Currently the service is evaluating 17 candidate locations in multiple allied nations.

RAF transport aircraft ready for worldwide operations

The handover of the seventh A400M aircraft from Airbus Defence and Space means the programme for 22 aircraft has achieved its In-Service Date (ISD), a declaration of the fleet’s capability to undertake extended world-wide tasks.
Four of the aircraft are now operating from Brize Norton while three others are being fitted with UK-specific systems required to operate in hostile environments, ahead of the next operational capability milestone which is due next year.
Since taking delivery of its first A400M Atlas in November, named ‘City of Bristol’, the aircraft has undertaken a range of training and operational sorties around the world to test its capability and to build up the first cadre of A400M aircrew.

Argentine Coast Guard receives first H225 helicopter

The Argentine Coast Guard took delivery of its first Airbus Helicopters H225 Super Puma helicopter on 16 September.
The H225 (formerly known as the Eurocopter EC 225) was purchased as part of the Argentine Coast Guard's fleet modernisation programme, which called for the service's three SA 330L Puma helicopters to be replaced with new-generation helicopters.

Australia completes first air strike against Islamic State in Syria

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has successfully conducted its first air strike against an Islamic State target over eastern Syria, Australian minister for defence told reporters on 16 September.
"Two days ago an Australian Hornet fighter aircraft destroyed a Daesh (Islamic State) armoured personnel carrier with a precision-guided missile".
The confirmation comes in the wake of a statement issued by the United States Central Command on 15 September listing Australia as one of the coalition partners that have conducted air strikes in Syria.
The RAAF began operations in support of the US-led coalition over Iraq and Syria in September 2014, flying from Al Minhad airbase in the UAE. In October 2014, the service's F/A-18Fs conducted its first air strikes on an Islamic State target in Iraq.

Sep 13, 2015

Russian cargo planes 'carrying aid' arrive in Syria

Two Russian cargo planes carrying 80 tonnes of humanitarian aid have landed in Syria, Syrian state media say.
It comes amid reports that Russia is stepping up military support to the Syrian government.
The planes flew into an air base near the coastal city of Latakia, a stronghold of President Bashar al-Assad.
Russia has been a key ally of President Assad during Syria's bloody four-year civil war.
Analysts say that without the Kremlin's backing, President Assad may have fallen by now.
The planes flown in to Latakia on Saturday were carrying materials for setting up a tent camp for refugees, according to Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Maj Gen Igor Konashenkov.
He said the shipment included beds, mattresses, stoves, water cisterns and food.
US officials have said Russia may be giving President Assad extra military support because he has suffered substantial territorial losses to rebels.
The Syrian government recently lost control of a key air base in the north-eastern province of Idlib.
Last Tuesday, Bulgaria refused to allow Russian aircraft to cross its air space amid fears that Russia was sending extra military support to Syria.
Russia later said it had been given permission to fly over Iranian territory en route to Syria.
On Wednesday, officials in Washington quoted by Reuters said Moscow had sent more aircraft and two tank landing ships to Russia's naval base in the Syrian coastal city of Tartus. They also said a small number of naval infantry forces had been deployed.
While Russia has backed the Syrian government and provided it with arms, the US wants to see President Assad removed.
The war between President Assad's regime and various rebel groups has so far killed at least 240,000 people and displaced millions.

Sep 12, 2015

Algeria to Purchase 14 SU-30

Russia and Algeria have signed a contract for the sale of 14 SU-30.
Algeria is one of Russia's biggest defense customers and already has 44 of Russia's heavy multi-role Su-30MKI fighter jets in service. A total of 28 of the planes were delivered under a 2006 contract, and 16 more were delivered under a 2010 contract.
The latest Algerian Su-30 contract was signed in the spring of 2015, but the deal has only been announced now.
The deal is the second contract announced this week for new Su-30 fighters.
On Tuesday, Russian Defense Minister announced that the Russian military had signed an agreement with Irkut for eight of the newer variants of the fighter jet, known as the Su-30SM.
Russian military is preparing to sign a 75-fighter contract by the end of the year. Irkut is expected to complete deliveries under a 2011 contract for 60 of the Su-30SM fighters.

Sep 11, 2015

RAF Typhoons intercept Russian TU-160 aircraft near UK airspace

RAF Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) fighter aircraft scrambled from RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland yesterday to meet two Russian aircraft.
The Typhoon pilots visually identified the two Russian aircraft and escorted them whilst in the UK area of interest. Air to air refuelling (AAR) support was provided by an RAF Voyager aircraft from RAF Brize Norton.

Italian Air Force begins pilot training on T-346A

The Italian Air Force has started training its first pilots on the Alenia Aermacchi T-346A (M-346A) at Lecce-Galatina Air Base in Italy.
Italy has ordered 15 M-346As and has three more on option; five have been delivered, with eight due by March 2016.

Netherlands to acquire 14 more CH-47F rotorcraft

Recognising the Chinook’s importance in missions such as deploying quick reaction forces and humanitarian assistance, the Dutch air force has decided to retire its 10 ageing CH-47Ds – which were delivered from 1995 – and upgrade its existing six F-model examples, which entered use from 2013.
Following their delivery from 2019, the Dutch aircraft will receive some modifications in the USA to meet the nation’s operational demands and certification standards. These will include installing crash-protected seats in the cockpit and cabin, and a VHF radio to enable secure communications with ground forces. Self-protection and icing detection equipment, a fast rope insertion and extraction system and an emergency locator transmitter will also be provided, along with a piloting function for its forward-looking infrared system.

Italy Air Force KC-767s could support first F-35 transatlantic crossing

The Italian Air Force is aligned to complete the first transatlantic crossing of the Lockheed Martin F-35 when its first two aircraft fly from Novara, Italy, to Arizona in early 2016, and those aircraft are likely be refuelled along the way by Italian Boeing KC-767A tankers.
The US Marine Corps’ planned hop across the pond to London for the Farnborough Airshow last year was thwarted by an F-35A engine fire that temporarily grounded the entire fleet.
Now, with the delivery and successful first flight of the first Italian F-35A from the Cameri Final Assembly and Check Out facility, the Italian Air Force is expected to make the historic journey before any DOD aircraft, and its KC-767 is on track to be fully certified to support the crossing.
The KC-767 completed its first refuelling of an F-35 in late July during a qualification flight at Edwards AFB in California. It is the first international tanker to do so.

Kuwait To Purchase 28 Typhoons

Kuwait has agreed to purchase 28 Typhoon combat jets in a deal with the Italian government.
Kuwait has agreed to buy 22 single seat and six twin-seat Typhoons in a government-to-government agreement.
Italian firm Finmeccanica's Alenia Aermacchi division has been leading the Eurofighter effort to sell the Typhoon to the Kuwaitis.
Kuwait could be the first export customer for the active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar being developed for the jet by Italy's Selex ES.
Saudi Arabia and Oman are already Typhoon customers in the region. The Saudis have been talking about a further buy of the jets and Bahrain is also another potential customer.
The deal follows reports in May that the Kuwaitis were in discussions with the US to purchase up to 40 Boeing F/A-18 fighters.
The position on those negotiations is unknown.

Sep 8, 2015

Pakistan claims first airstrike with indigenous UAV

The Pakistan Army on 7 September claimed to have successfully used an indigenously built armed unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to target a Taliban location for the first time.
A terrorist compound was hit and three militants were killed in the Shawal valley of north Waziristan close to the Afghan border. The air strike was carried out by the indigenous Burraq UAV.
The strike was the first time that a Pakistani UAV had demonstrated an offensive capability in the battlefield, departing from the country's known use of UAVs for reconnaissance purposes.
The Burraq and Shahpar UAVs, both of which can be armed, were designed and built in country, although few technical details have been revealed.
Analysis of the two UAVs' platforms shows a close resemblance to China's CH-3 UAV..
Pakistan has a close working relationship with China for joint development of military hardware.

France Offers Rafale in Malaysian Contest

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has formally pitched the Dassault Rafale in Malaysia’s tender for fighter jets.
France has submitted an offer of the Rafale, marking the start of official discussions on this subject between France and Malaysia.
Le Drian, with a high-level political and industrial team, landed in Malaysia Tuesday and visited the Sudang airbase where Malaysia’s first Airbus A400M transport aircraft is stationed. The two ministers underlined at the news conference their strategic partnership and the strengthening of bilateral cooperation in maritime security, anti-terrorism and anti-piracy.
The Rafale competes with the Boeing F/A-18, Saab Gripen and Eurofighter Typhoon as Malaysia seeks 18 new fighters to replace its MiG-29s. Kuala Lumpur is unlikely to make a pick before 2018 as the Asian nation has been hit by a fall in the price of oil and commodities.

First flight success for Italian-assembled F-35

The first F-35 Lightning II to have been assembled away from Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth site in Texas has performed its debut flight, from Cameri air base in Italy.
Conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) aircraft AL-1 completed a 1h 22min flight on 7 September.
Future Italian air force asset AL-1 was completed at Italy’s final assembly and check out facility (FACO) at Cameri, which was established under a cooperation agreement with the Italian government and local industry partner Alenia Aermacchi. Its debut represents “the programme’s first-ever F-35 flight outside the United States”, Lockheed notes.
Having been rolled out in March, “AL-1’s official delivery to Italy is expected by the end of the year”.
Italy is currently planning to acquire up to a combined 90 F-35As and short take-off and vertical landing B-model examples for its air force and navy. These will be completed at the Cameri FACO, along with some of the CTOL aircraft to be bought by the Netherlands.

Bulgaria blocks Russian 'aid' aircraft from airspace

Bulgaria refused Russian aircraft permission to cross its airspace late last week, amid fears that Russia is boosting its military support to Syria.
Bulgaria's foreign ministry said it suspected the aircraft were not carrying aid, as Russia claimed.
A spokenwoman for the ministry, said Bulgaria had not come under pressure from its Nato allies.
Russia has been a key ally to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad during his four-year civil war with rebels groups.
"The planes were said to carry humanitarian aid but we had information - that we had every reason to trust - that the declared cargo was not the real one," said Ms Zhoteva.
She said the decision to deny the Russian aircraft permission was taken late last week but did not give details about how many planes were involved.

Iraq air force hit ISIS with new F-16s

Iraq has put F-16 warplanes acquired from the United States into action against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group for the first time, the commander of the air force said Sunday.
“Fifteen air strikes were carried out in the past four days,” Staff Lieutenant General Anwar Hama Amin told AFP following a news conference in Baghdad.
“Smart weapons” were used in the strikes, Amin said, without specifying the type.
Defense Minister Khaled al-Obaidi told the news conference that the strikes had achieved “important results” and that the jets will have “an impact on the conduct of operations in the future.”
Amin told the news conference that the F-16 strikes had taken place in Salaheddin and Kirkuk provinces, north of Baghdad.
The first four Iraqi F-16s arrived from the United States in mid-July, out of a total of 36 Washington has agreed to sell to Baghdad.

U.S. asks Greece to deny Russian flights to Syria

The United States has asked Greece to deny Russia the use of its airspace for supply flights to Syria, after Washington told Moscow it was deeply concerned by reports of a Russian military build up in Syria.
The Greek foreign ministry said the request was being examined. Russian newswire RIA Novosti earlier said Greece had refused the U.S. request, adding that Russia was seeking permission to run the flights up to Sept. 24.
Russia, which has a naval maintenance facility in the Syrian port of Tartous, has sent regular flights to Latakia, which it has also used to bring home Russian nationals who want to leave.

Sep 6, 2015

France 'may extend airstrikes on Isil to Syria'

President Francois Hollande is studying the possibility of sending French warplanes to attack Isil in Syria.
France was the first country to join the US-led coalition carrying out air strikes on Isil targets in Iraq and has supplied weapons to what it considers moderate rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
But it has so far ruled out bombing the terror group’s bases in Syria out of fear that this might benefit the Assad regime.

Russia seeking airspace clearance for military flights into Syria

US intelligence has captured evidence of a significant escalation of Russia's military engagement in Syria's civil war, including satellite images of an apparent Russian base for staging troops and heavy equipment under construction near a port city that is a stronghold for Syrian President Bashar Assad, U.S. officials say.
The reconnaissance photos of possible military housing being built near the international airport in Latakia province provides strong evidence of deepening involvement by President Vladimir Putin's government in the four-year-old Syrian war, according to the officials, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
In addition, the Russians have asked at least one country bordering Syria for a window of time to fly a detachment of warplanes over its territory and into Syria, the officials said. The officials would not name the country, but Turkey lies between Russia and Syria.
U.S. officials have not come to a firm conclusion about Russia's military intentions in Syria. But they fear Moscow will help Assad's forces attack the government's opponents, some of whom the U.S. backs. The increased Russian involvement could extend Assad's hold on power and further prolong a civil war that has pitted shifting alliances of dozens of armed factions, including the Islamic State militant group, against the government in Damascus.

Sep 5, 2015

8th and final C-17 Delivered to Australia

While this was not the last ever C-17 — the final plane, No. 279, is in paint production — Friday’s ceremonial delivery of the eighth and the last C-17 Australia’s air force procured was nevertheless punctuated with references to the end of the plane’s production by 2015’s sunset.
“With the departure of this aircraft, the time is fast approaching. Boeing will shutter our doors,” said U.S. Lt. Col Laird Abbott, addressing former and current Boeing employees and government officials.
In 2013, a week after Boeing delivered its final C-17 transport plane to the U.S. Air Force, company officials said they did not have enough foreign orders to justify keeping the program open and announced that they would slowly shut down the Long Beach plant, which at the time employed about 2,200 employees. The company also said in 2013 that 13 C-17s were without customers.
Today, a smaller group of employees remain at Boeing to work on the final plane and all but one C-17 has been sold to foreign customers, including Qatar and Australia.
Australia procured its first C-17 in 2006 after its prime minister toured Pakistan and Iraq.

Cyber missions could fuel Boeing EA-18G orders: U.S. Navy chief

The Pentagon is evaluating whether potential cyber missions could drive demand for additional EA-18G, Growlers, the top U.S. Navy officer told on Thursday.
Any decisions about additional orders of Growlers should be included in the Pentagon's budget request for fiscal 2017, since Boeing will shut the production line after all orders have been fulfilled.
Boeing said it was imperative to map out any additional orders now, given the high cost of restarting production once the line closed.
Boeing was pursuing several other foreign orders, but he did not believe they were large enough to sustain production of the jets.
Boeing's combined St. Louis production line for F/A-18E/F fighter jets and the EA-18G Growlers was slated to shut in 2017, until Congress added funding for 12 more F/A-18E/F Super Hornets to the fiscal 2016 budget plan, and Boeing signed a deal to sell 28 of the jets to Kuwait.
If those orders are confirmed, the line should remain open well into 2019, Boeing has said.

Sep 4, 2015

Sukhoi Su-35 To Replace Indonesian F-5 Tiger Aircraft

Indonesia has selected Russian Su-35 fighter aircraft to replace 16 F-5 Tiger aircraft.
The Ministry of Defense considered Sukhoi as a replacement for the F-5 Tiger, he said, because Air Force pilots are accustomed to flying Sukhoi.
If the deal goes through, it will be the first export of the Sukhoi Su-35 outside of Russia. China too is reported to be negotiating to buy the aircraft.

UAE Confirms Interest in Mistral Ship

A United Arab Emirates government official has confirmed the government's interest in acquiring one of two French Mistral-class amphibious assault ships originally ordered by Russia in 2011.
France and Russia last month reached a political agreement to cancel the Mistral deal and Paris is paying back Moscow's advance payments on the two warships. France paid Russia more than US $1 billion in compensation for the non-delivery.

Two USAF F-22 Raptors land in Ämari Air Base, Estonia

Two F-22 Raptors of the 95th Fighter Squadron out Tyndall AFB in Florida landed in Ämari Air Base at noon.

RAF Receives Second RC-135 Rivet Joint 7 Months Ahead of Schedule

As part of its Airseeker Programme, the second signals intelligence aircraft has been delivered to the RAF, seven months early, the MOD has announced.
The specialist surveillance aircraft was handed over today at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk and will be deployable on operations within a matter of weeks.
Since delivery of the first aircraft last year, over 60 improvements have been incorporated into the second aeroplane ranging from upgrades to the aircraft’s mission systems to engine improvements providing increased fuel efficiency and durability.

USAF First operational F-35As arrive at Hill AFB

The Air Force ushered in a new era of combat air power today as Hill Air Force Base received the service's first two operational F-35As.
Hill's active duty 388th Fighter Wing and Reserve 419th Fighter Wing will be the first combat-coded units to fly and maintain the Air Force's newest fifth-generation fighter aircraft.
Hill has been called the "ideal home" for the F-35 because of its proximity to the Utah Test and Training Range and Hill's Ogden Air Logistics Complex, which performs F-35 depot maintenance and modifications.
The 388th and 419th Fighter wings were also the first units in the Air Force to fly combat-coded F-16s when they entered the fleet.
The wings will receive one to two F-35s per month until 72 aircraft have been delivered.
Both the 388th and 419th have trained F-35 pilots ready to begin flying the new jets, and there are more pilots and maintainers currently in training.
The wings will take a week to familiarize themselves with the aircraft, receive parts and begin tracking the aircraft in a maintenance database.

Sep 1, 2015

US Marines fuel Spanish Typhoons fighters mid-flight

A Eurofighter Typhoon with the Spanish Air Force receives fuel from a U.S. Marine KC-130J Hercules with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa, August 13, in Spain. A total of five Spanish pilots and their aircraft had the opportunity to practice their air-to-air refueling skills with the Marines.

Russian jets spotted off Sweden's east coast

Swedish military identified and followed two Russian TU-22 fighter planes escorted by a pair of SU-27 aircraft flying east of the island of Gotland on Monday morning.
The Russian planes flew above southern parts of the Baltic Sea and east of Gotland.
A military spokesman told The Local that the planes had stayed in international airspace and that the Swedish air force had followed them only to inspect them more closely.

Pampa III takes first flight

Argentina's FAdeA IA-63 Pampa III advanced training aircraft took its first flight earlier in August, officials announced.
The Pampa III, provided through an upgrade programme by Israeli company Elbit Systems, maintains the general characteristics of the Pampa II, but incorporates two multi-functional screens, daytime and nighttime modes, and a simulation system that allows pilots to train more efficiently. The air force is also considering adding Elbit's Targo helmet-mounted display (HMD) system
Following approval of the trial aircraft's subsystems, it is expected that the Targo HMD will be standard across the Pampa III fleet.
The cockpit includes an Elbit SU 967 heads up display.

150th KC-10 Extender aircraft delivered to USAF

Northrop Grumman has delivered the 150th KC-10 Extender air-to-air refuelling tanker aircraft to the US after providing major improvements.
The aircraft received product reliability improvements as part of its CF6-50 engine overhaul programme, offering a 15-year high in engine fleet performance.
In addition, the programme saw advancements in system modernisation and engineering and depot production. These upgrades offered a three-year sustained mission-capable rate that exceeds the Air Force's 85% standard.

Russian jets in Syrian skies

Russia has begun its military intervention in Syria, deploying an aerial contingent to a permanent Syrian base, in order to launch attacks against ISIS and Islamist rebels.
Russian fighter pilots are expected to begin arriving in Syria in the coming days, and will fly their Russian air force fighter jets and attack helicopters against ISIS and rebel-aligned targets within the failing state.
According to Western diplomats, a Russian expeditionary force has already arrived in Syria and set up camp in an Assad-controlled airbase. The base is said to be in area surrounding Damascus, and will serve, for all intents and purposes, as a Russian forward operating base.
In the coming weeks thousands of Russian military personnel are set to touch down in Syria, including advisors, instructors, logistics personnel, technical personnel, members of the aerial protection division, and the pilots who will operate the aircraft.