Nov 29, 2015

UK's Typhoon service life extended and numbers increased

The UK is to extend the service life of its Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft at the same time as boosting overall numbers, as it looks to maintain its frontline fighter strength.
The plan, which was disclosed in the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) released on 23 November, will see the Typhoon out-of-service date (OSD) extended from 2030 to 2040, with 24 aircraft that would have been retired before this date now being retained to form two new frontline squadrons.
There are currently 53 Tranche 1 and 67 Trance 2 Typhoons in service, and the RAF has begun receiving the first of 40 Tranche 3A aircraft (the status of the proposed buy of 43 Tranche 3B aircraft has not been confirmed). The Tranche 1s were slated for retirement between 2015 and 2019.
In addition to the increasing Typhoon numbers and service dates, the government has also recommitted itself to the capability enhancements for the aircraft that include the integration of additional air-to-air and air-to-surface weapons types, as well as an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar.
Given the software limitations of the Tranche 1, it is likely that, if as expected it is these platforms that are retained, these earlier aircraft will be used for air defence duties that do not require the Phase Enhancements (PE) upgrade packages earmarked for the Tranche 2 and Tranche 3 platforms. The Tranche 2 and 3 platforms will be prioritised for upgrades to include AESA and enhanced ground attack capabilities.

FAdeA tests first IA-58H Pucara with new engines

The first FAdeA IA-58H Pucara light strike aircraft equipped with new Pratt & Whitney Canada PT-6A-62 engines, after several delays, took its maiden flight on 24 November.
The aircraft selected (tail number AX-561) in June received a re-modelled set of wings from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to accommodate the replacement engines, and then went through several ground tests in preparation for the flight.
FAdeA initiated the Pucara's engine upgrade process in 2011, selecting the ubiquitous PT-6A-62 to replace the discontinued Turbomeca Astazou XVIG, which was proving difficult to maintain.
The project plans to upgrade as many as 20 frames from Argentine Air Force stocks, but currently only one set of re-modeled wings has been received from IAI and it is unclear if more will be forthcoming in the near term.

Spain reveals plans for armed MQ-9

Spain has confirmed that it will eventually try to weaponise its future fleet of MQ-9 Reaper unmanned air vehicles, although the immediate priority is to bring the surveillance-only variant into operation.
Madrid's programme to acquire a class III UAV for its air force began in September last year, with the Reaper eventually selected in mid-2015 over the competing Israel Aerospace Industries Heron TP.
“The LOA [letter of agreement] from the US government is about to be signed, and this could be done before the end of the year,” Col Enrique Martinez Vallas, former chief of acquisitions programmes for the Spanish Air Staff.
Vallas says there are no technical obstacles to adding offensive capability to the Reaper as it already has hardpoints for the carriage of weapons, but the US government would have to authorise any request for weaponisation.
That has become enabled following the easing of export restrictions in February, with Italy in November becoming the first nation - outside of the UK - to receive permission to arm its MQ-9 fleet.
Spain could follow suit, but Vallas notes that it took some ten years for Italy to be permitted to arm its Reapers. Madrid, he says, is more concerned with completing the basic acquisition for now.
Vallas says that although both the Heron TP and the Reaper met the air force's requirements, commonality with NATO allies was a key reason for the selection of the US-built platform.
Four aircraft and two ground control stations are due to be delivered under the proposed deal, and training will begin in 2016.
The first two aircraft plus one ground control station (GCS) will be delivered in 2017. Initial operational capability will be achieved with the second delivery, which is expected in 2018, while full operational capability and the final aircraft are expected in 2020.
The Spanish air force is also in the process of acquiring an upgraded variant of the Airbus Defence & Space Atlante UAV that will be able to carry a multi-sensor and weapons payload.
The contract may be signed this year or soon after the next cabinet is formed following a general election on 20 December. “It has more capabilities with automatic take-off and landing, increased endurance and payload,” Vallas says.

UK adding 9 P-8 Poseidons, 24 F-35 stealth fighters to its warplane repository

In a bid to fortify the country against terrorism and other security threats, the UK will be adding nine P-8 Poseidons and 24 F-35 stealth fighters to its repository of warplanes.
As part of the UK's increased spending on defence, the British Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the UK will be buying nine P-8 Poseidon long-range patrol planes from Boeing on Monday at the National Security Strategy (NSS) and Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR).
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, prior to the SDSR and NSS meeting, had announced that the country would also be expediting the acquisition of carrier-based F-35 stealth fighters.
Cameron has committed 2 % of the GDP for defence spending to fulfil a NATO target.

Nov 28, 2015

NAVANTIA Delivers Final Batch of Four Landing Crafts to Australia

Navantia has the pleasure in delivering to the Commonwealth in Sydney the final batch of four LLCs. This is a major achievement, where Navantia has played an important role – that of Prime Contractor for the first time in an Australian program. Since 2007, Navantia has been working in three important programs for the ADF, namely the Air Warfare Destroyers (AWDs), Landing Helicopter Docks (LHDs), and the LHD Landing Craft (LLCs), under different contractual schemes to deliver to the best of its ability.
On 16th December 2011, Navantia signed a contract with the then Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) under JP 2048 Phase 3 to build and deliver twelve LHD Landing Craft (LLCs) to the Commonwealth. All twelve have now been delivered to HMAS WATERHEN in Sydney on or ahead of schedule and to budget. The LLCs were built and tested in Cádiz, Spain, and shipped out to Australia.
Navantia understands that the first eight units are in operation with the RAN and are performing to the full satisfaction of Navy, having achieved various missions during sea trials with HMAS CANBERRA, which has also been commissioned into the RAN. Her sister ship, HMAS ADELAIDE, is due to be commissioned in Sydney on 4th December 2015.

Two F/A-50 Fighter Jets Arrive in Philippines

Two of a squadron of FA-50 Lead-In Fighter Trainers (LIFT) that the Philippines acquired from South Korea arrived Saturday morning, November 28, at the former US air base in Clark, Pampanga.
The Philippine Air Force (PAF) flew S-211 trainer jets in a diamond formation to meet the FA-50s over Tarlac. A Water Cannon Salute was given to the jets while they were taxiing.
The arrival of the fighter jets marks the return of the Philippine Air Force to the supersonic age.
The jets were flown to the Philippines by South Korean pilots and will only be formally turned over to the Philippine Air Force after a series of acceptance flights.
Ten more FA-50s will arrive between 2016 and 2017 to complete the squadron.
The military modernization comes as the country faces the aggressiveness of China in the South China Sea, where it has built artificial islands.

UK says French can use Cyprus RAF base for Syria strikes on Isil

Britain has offered the French air force the use of RAF Akrotiri on Cyprus to mount air strikes on Islamic State targets in Syria.
David Cameron said the UK would do "all in our power" to support France in its fight against Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (Isil) in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.

Completion of Kuwait Eurofighter contract delayed

Italian defence group Finmeccanica has delayed the completion of a contract to sell 28 Eurofighter jets to Kuwait to the middle of December.
Finmeccanica had expected to complete the deal, worth 7-8 billion euros, in November.
The delay is due to problems linked to pilot training and the dispatching of specialized personnel.

Nov 27, 2015

Latest AWACS deployed to combat theater

The latest E-3 Sentry version has made its first deployment to a conflict zone.
A Block 40/45 E-3G arrived in Southwest Asia on November 18, according to an Air Force announcement. The upgraded AWACS features improved communications, computer processing power, threat tracking and other enhancements to the 1970s-era systems on the aircraft.

Russia deploys warship to Mediterranean to destroy 'any target' after plane shot down by Turkey

Russia has deployed a missile cruiser to the Mediterranean to provide extra aerial security to its forces and to destroy any target that may "pose danger to its interests", following Turkey's shooting down of a Russian fighter jet on Tuesday.
The guided warship, "Moskva", is one of Russia's two biggest vessels in the Black Sea Fleet and will be positioned off Latakia, off the Syrian coast. It is intended to strengthen Russia's base in the region.

Russia to deploy S-400 defense missile system to Khmeimim airbase in Syria

The Russian Air Force base in Latakia will be reinforced with S-400 SAM system, which will soon be deployed there, Russia's Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said on Wednesday.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Russian Su-24 was shot down by a Turkish F-16 fighter jet near the Turkish-Syrian border. One pilot died in the incident. The second one was rescued and brought to the Russian airbase in Latakia.
Moscow maintains the jet did not violate Turkey's airspace. It ditched on Syria's territory four kilometers from the border.
Shortly afterwards, the MoD announced three steps to be taken following the attack on the Russian Su-24 bomber, including providing aerial cover by fighter jets for every airstrike, boosting air defense by deploying guided missile cruisers off the Latakia coast, and suspending all military-to-military contacts with Turkey.

Germany will send Tornado jets to Syria

Germany will deploy Tornado reconnaissance jets to support France in the fight against Islamic State militants in Syria.
Germany is also considering sending a frigate and refueling planes as part of the mission.

Nov 22, 2015

Airbus C295W winglet tour touches down in Bolivia

The Airbus C295W winglet roadshow stopped off in the city of El Alto in Bolivia this week to demonstrate the new type’s performance in hot and high conditions.
The aircraft registered ANX-1255 of the Mexican Navy (SEMAR) is on a promotional tour of Latin America to demonstrate how the winglets improve the aircraft’s performance and provide 4% fuel savings over standard wingtips.

Hill AFB Prepare to Deliver Indonesian F-16C Block 52 ID

U.S. sells used F-16s to foreign countries, Hill AFB gets planes ready
Pilots and their warplanes at Hill Air Force Base are prepared to fight, when called to duty; but you might be surprised that Hill is getting F-16s ready to fight -- for somebody else.
From Pakistan to Poland -- Thailand to Oman -- Bahrain to Singapore -- two dozen countries have bought F-16s from the United States government.
"Today we've seen plenty of interest in acquiring F-16s," said Greg Brown, Deputy Director of the F-16 Program Office, which has operations at Hill and Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio.
On the tarmac, and inside a hangar at Hill last week, 2News was shown F-16s for Indonesia, which has bought more than twenty planes in the last couple of years, at a reported price in the range of $700 million.
What does an F-16 go for?
"It depends, if it's a new aircraft, it could be anywhere between $60 - 70 million," said Pamela Lee, F-16 International Branch Chief. A single used one might be half that much; and in the used market, Hill is a highly technical mechanic and body shop. The State Department is the sales office, deciding who can buy, and if a deal flies.
F-16s have gone to stable countries, not perceived as militaristic -- Belgium, Denmark, Norway. But the fighters have also gone to nations wracked by violence and political turmoil.
Iraq, where ISIS may control most cities, has purchased planes -- and may get three dozen F-16s. In September, Iraq is said to have used the jets to drop bombs on ISIS targets.
F-16s have also gone to Egypt, scene of protest, political upheaval, and a coup; though the State Department said sales have been put on a two year "pause."
But what safeguards are there, to ensure American military planes don't wind up in enemy hands?
In interview at Hill and with a State Department spokesman, it emerged that buyers must agree to U.S. monitoring for the life of the plane, and that the F-16 can't be resold without U.S. approval. Further, the United States can withhold technical support, and cut-off buyers.
"At every step of the process, we are taking the potential for misuse of the U.S. defense equipment into account," said State Department spokesman David McKeeby.
The sales goal is, "to further U.S. national security."
He said the sales mean, "We don't have to be everywhere. We can share the burden maintaining global security."
War planes have found up in enemy hands. In the 1970s, Iran flipped from friend to foe.
Iran may still have U.S. F-4s, F-5s and F-14 fighters that may have come through Hill.
2News Brian Mullahy was a passenger in a Hill F-15 for a dog-fight training run over the west desert, a G-force punishing mission. That plane was not exactly like the F-16s delivered to foreign governments. The restoration or the reconfiguration of a fighter jet work-horse can take years.

Nov 21, 2015

Japan orders first E-2D Advanced Hawkeye AEW aircraft

Japan has ordered its first Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) system aircraft.
The order for Japan will fit into the US Navy’s 25-aircraft, $3.6 billion multi-year contract for the E-2D that was signed in June 2014.
The Japan Air Self-Defence Force has 13 E-2Cs in service, which range between 22 and 34 years in age.

KC-46 Tanker Completes Key Flight Tests

KC-46 Tanker recently completed aerial refueling initial airworthiness, the latest step on the road to full air refueling capability.
The team conducted what is called “free air stability” testing and worked to validate the plane’s aerodynamic model during the flights.
The initial airworthiness validation is the first of two major milestones necessary for the new tanker to conduct its core mission.
Soon after completing fuel dock, Boeing will begin conducting full refueling flight tests with six kinds of receiver aircraft, including another KC-46.

LRASM begins Super Hornet flight testing

The US Navy has begun airworthiness testing of LRASM Missile on the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet carrier-borne strike fighter.
Developed and integrated under an accelerated programme to meet the Offensive Anti-surface Warfare (OASuW) Increment 1 programme, LRASM is a highly autonomous, precision-guided anti-ship standoff weapon that leverages the basic design of the AGM-158B Joint Air-to-Surface Stand-off Missile Extended Range (JASSM-ER) but introduces additional sensors and systems specific to the offensive anti-surface warfare mission. It has been conceived to be able to penetrate sophisticated shipborne defences and with reduced dependence on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms, network links and GPS navigation.

France Sends Charles de Gaulle Carrier Against ISIS

The French Navy’s Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier sailed Wednesday from Toulon naval base, and headed for the eastern Mediterranean to support coalition operations in Iraq and Syria.
The sailing, announced Nov. 5, has taken greater significance since the terrorist attacks here last week, as French President François Hollande has pledged to punish the ISIS forces which claimed responsibility for the killings.
The nuclear-powered vessel up anchored at 11:00 in the morning Paris time with 26 fighter jets on board and will arrive on station in the next few days.
HMS Defender, a Type 45 destroyer, has been assigned to sail with the French carrier, the British Ministry of Defence said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has asked the Russian Navy to sail with the Charles de Gaulle as a sign of political support. The Russian intelligence service has concluded that ISIS used a homemade bomb to bring down an Airbus 321 airliner flying over the Sinai desert, killing all 224 on board.

USAF A-10s and C-130s destroy Islamic State fuel trucks

The Defense Department on Wednesday evening released video of a series of airstrikes targeting fuel trucks operated by the Islamic State group.
The Pentagon video — which refers to the Islamic State group as "Daesh," a derogatory Arabic term for the militant group — said the strikes took place Monday near Abu Kamal, Syria, as part of Operation Inherent Resolve.
The strikes destroyed 116 tanker trucks.
"This is our first strike against tanker trucks, and to minimize risks to civilians, we conducted a leaflet drop prior to the strike," spokeperson said.

In Spain, Jordan's King Shows Interest in A400M, C295

King Abdullah II of Jordan showed interest in the A400M airlifter and the multirole C-295 aircraft during his visit to the Airbus Defence and Space factory in Getafe near Madrid.
King Abdullah visited the facilities of Airbus with King Felipe VI of Spain. Both monarchs took a photo inside the cockpit of an A400M already prepared to be delivered to the British Royal Air Force.
In July 2014, Jordan announced an agreement with US company ATK to convert a Royal Jordanian Air Force C-295 into a gunship to provide “additional capabilities, more firepower and flexibility for the defense of the Kingdom.” That new C-295 will join two smaller AC-235s made by Airbus in Spain and also modified for ground attack by ATK. defensenews

Nov 19, 2015

Russian strategic bombers hit ISIS positions with cruise missiles, smart bombs

Russia’s Defense Ministry has released new videos of retribution attacks on Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) with strategic bombers launching smart bombs and cruise missiles.
Strategic aviation was scrambled shortly after confirmation that the Russian passenger plane that crashed in Egypt's Sinai Desert on October 31 was downed by a terrorist bomb.
On November 17, crews of Tu-160, Tu-95MS and Tu-22M3 long-range bombers of the Russian Aerospace Forces carried out strikes with air-based cruise missiles on the ISIS objects on the territory of Syria.

Spanish ship 'Juan Carlos I' embarks MV-22 Osprey squadron

Spanish Navy LHD 'Juan Carlos I', ship has embarked a USMC MV-22 Osprey squadron for the first time and is demonstrating a great level of interoperability between the two services
The Spanish Navy (Armada Española) has claimed to be the first non-US naval service to embark a squadron of the US Marine Corps' (USMC's) Bell Boeing MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft on board one of its ships. The embarkation took place during Exercise 'Trident Juncture 2015'.
The four Osprey transports, are stationed at the Morón de la Frontera Air Base in southern Spain.
For 'Trident Juncture 2015' the aircraft were embarked with six of the Armada's AV-8B Harrier and an AB-212 helicopter from the 27,000-tonne landing helicopter dock (LHD) Juan Carlos I .
The role of the Ospreys during the exercise was to ferry mixed companies of US Marines and their Portuguese and Spanish counterparts, the Fuzileiros and Infantería de Marina respectively.
The Ospreys were escorted during the insertion and extraction of the troops by the Spanish Navy's Harriers. In all 100 US Marines were embarked on the LHD, including support personnel, over a period of three days.
Apart from the tactical missions, some of the US pilots had the opportunity to complete their deck landing qualifications, performing landings and take-off from different spots of the flight deck.

Colombian Air Force explores Eurofighter in Spain

A team from the Colombian Air Force (FAC) evaluated the Eurofighter during a visit to one of the two Spanish Air Force wings operating the European multirole fighter.
The trip included two flight missions with the Ala 11 (Wing) based at Morón de la Frontera near the southern city of Seville, the Spanish Air Force revealed in the November edition of its official publication, Aeronáutica y Astronáutica .
It said the FAC team was also given a demonstration of various exercises such as in-flight refuelling.
Ala 11, which shares its base with the US Marine Corps' rapid reaction force for Africa, also gave a presentation of logistics support, including maintenance of the aircraft and its weapons systems.

Nov 15, 2015

France requests extra C-130s from US

The DSCA announced on November 10 that the State Department had approved a possible Foreign Military Sale (FMS) to France of four C-130 Hercules transport aircraft for an estimated cost of USD650 million.
The sale includes two C-130J transport and two KC-130J tanker/transport aircraft.
The French air force is requesting the four aircraft to supplement its fast aging C160 Transall fleet, delays to the Airbus A400M transport aircraft and the low availability of its current fleet of 14 C-130H fleet, which have an average age of 27.

F-35's Joint Strike Missile Completes Flight Test

The Joint Strike Missile designed for the F-35 fighter jet successfully completed a flight test last week.
The missile was launched from an F-16 based out of Edwards Air Force Base, California, over the Utah Test and Training Range, according to a Nov. 11 statement from Norwegian defense company Kongsberg, which develops the JSM jointly with Raytheon. The successful test validated the maturity of the JSM, according to the release.
The medium-range, anti-ship and land-attack JSM is specifically designed to fit inside the Air Force conventional take-off and landing F-35’s weapons bay, but can also be modified to fit the Navy and Marine Corps variants. Norway is buying 52 F-35s, which will integrate the JSM.
Marking a crucial step forward for the international program, Norwegian F-35 pilots are about to begin training alongside their US and Australian counterparts at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. Two Norwegian F-35s touched down at Luke on Tuesday, and later that day a Norwegian pilot flew the plane for the first time, according to a Lockheed Martin statement.

UAE signs for two Saab 340-based early warning aircraft

Saab has announced receipt of a $218 million contract to supply to the United Arab Emirates Air Force and Air Defence with two Saab 340-based airborne early warning and control system aircraft.
The company's contract follows "several years" of discussions over the supply of airborne surveillance equipment. It also follows other good news for the manufacturer, which late last week performed the first flight of a Saab 340-based AEW aircraft for export buyer Thailand.
The Erieye radar has previously been integrated onto the Embraer EMB-145 regional airliner for customers including Brazil and Greece, and is undergoing final system testing aboard a Saab 2000 turboprop for launch customer the Pakistan air force.

Nov 14, 2015

Argentina to sign for AESA-equipped Kfir fighters

Argentina is expected to sign a contract on 10 November covering the purchase of 14 Kfir Block 60 fighters. The nation's air force opted to acquire upgraded examples of the Israel Aerospace Industries-produced combat aircraft, which have been non-operational for two decades.
IAI had been offering a Block 60 version of the roughly 40-year-old Kfir design, powered by a GE Aviation J79 engine. The company says the powerplant will be supplied in a "zero-hour" condition after a complete overhaul, with replacement required after 1,600 flight hours.
The upgraded fighter also will be fitted with an Elta Systems EL/M-2032 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, and use open architecture avionics that will allow the customer to instal other systems. Elta says the sensor provides an all aspect, "look-down shoot-down" performance, and will support simultaneous air-to-air and strike missions, with the ability to track up to 64 targets.

2 Norwegian F-35s arrive at Arizona air base for training

An initial contingent of Norwegian F-35 fighters has arrived at an Arizona air base to be used in pilot training.
Base officials said two Norwegian F-35s arrived Tuesday at Luke AFB, which is located on the west side of the Phoenix metro area.
According to base officials, Norway will have seven F-35s stationed at Luke.
Luke got its first F-35 in March 2014 and currently has 30.

Kuwait buying Sniper pods

Kuwait has received U.S. government approval to buy Sniper advanced targeting pods.
Kuwait is approved to buy 14 AN/AAQ-33 pods, according to a Defense Security Cooperation Agency news release. The total value of the sale is estimated at $115 million.

F-15Es arrive in Turkey to attack Islamic State group

Six F-15Es arrived Thursday at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, to take part in airstrikes against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.
The aircraft come from the 48th Fighter Wing based at Royal Air Force Lakenheath in Britain.
The six F-15Es will join U.S., Turkish and other allied aircraft taking part in airstrikes against the Islamic State. Their mission is different from the six F-15Cs that arrived in Turkey on Nov. 6, which are tasked with protecting Turkish airspace.
About 300 airmen are deployed along with the 12 F-15s.
In addition to the F-15s, the U.S. has 12 A-10s with the 75th Fighter Squadron from Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, currently deployed to Incirlik. Separately, about 300 airmen, including a Guardian Angel Weapons System, are deployed to Diyarbakir Air Base in Turkey to rescue any U.S. or coalition pilots who go down over Syria or Iraq.

Nov 13, 2015

Northrop's long-range U.S. bomber work paused after protest

Work on a recently awarded long-range strike bomber contract to Northrop Grumman Corp has been paused after rivals Boeing Co and Lockheed Martin protested against the selection process, the U.S. Air Force said. Air Force spokesman Major Robert Leese said the order to stop work was issued after a formal protest was filed on Nov. 6.
In October, the Air Force selected Northrop, maker of the stealth B-2 aircraft, to develop and build the new bomber over a bid by a Boeing and Lockheed Martin team.
Boeing and Lockheed Martin complained that the selection process was "fundamentally flawed."

JF-17 Thunder gets order at Dubai Air Show

The JF-17 Thunder, a fourth-generation fighter jet co-developed by China and Pakistan, has bagged its first sale at the Dubai Air Show.
According to Chinese media reports, the aircraft's developers have already signed a contract with an anonymous buyer as they look forward to more orders in the future.

USAF B-52. bombers flew near China-built islands in South China Sea

Two U.S. B-52 strategic bombers flew near artificial Chinese-built islands in the South China Sea this week and were contacted by Chinese ground controllers but continued their mission undeterred, the Pentagon said on Thursday.
The latest U.S. patrol in the disputed South China Sea occurred in advance of President Barack Obama's visit to the region next week to attend Asia-Pacific summits where he is expected to reassert Washington's commitment to freedom of navigation and overflight in the area.
China claims most of the South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion in global trade passes every year, and the United States has said it will continue conducting patrols to assure unimpeded passage. Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan have rival claims in the region.

First Storm Shadow Missile Succesfully Released From Typhoon

A Typhoon Instrumented Production Aircraft (IPA) has successfully completed a release of the MBDA Storm Shadow, conventionally armed, stealthy, long-range stand-off precision missile, Eurofighter GmbH has announced
This continues the series of trials that Eurofighter Partner Company, Alenia Aermacchi, is leading to demonstrate the full integration of the Storm Shadow missile with Typhoon's weapon system.

Nov 8, 2015

Israel approves funds for 'Air Force One' conversion

Israel's cabinet has approved a budget to purchase and adapt an "Air Force One"-style aircraft that will serve the nation's prime minister.
Worth approximately $100 million, the allocation is the first real step in the implementation of a long-delayed programme.
Israel has in recent years looked for such an aircraft to substitute the use of those leased from Israeli airlines to fly the prime minister around the world, but budget constraints and public criticism have blocked the process so far.

Nov 6, 2015

Iraq receives first L-159 jets from the Czech Republic

Iraq has received the first of its L-159 light attack and training aircraft from the Czech Republic.
The Czech Ministry of Defence cleared the sale of 11 surplus and four active-duty L-159s to Iraq earlier in the year. In all, the IqAF is to receive 10 single-seat L-159A Advanced Light Combat Aircraft (ALCA) light strike platforms, two twin-seat L-159B Albatros II trainers, and three spare parts airframes by the time deliveries are complete in 2017.
Based on the L-39/59, the L-159 has a larger, redesigned nose to accommodate a radar; a longer fuselage; the option for a single-seat armoured cockpit with 297 kg of additional fuel in lieu of the rear seat for the ALCA model; modern controls and avionics; as well as permanent wingtip fuel tanks. The aircraft features seven external stores stations - one under the fuselage and three under each wing - and can carry the AIM-9 Sidewinder AAM, the AGM-65 Maverick ASM, and SUU-20 or CRV-7 unguided rocket pods, up to a maximum payload of 2,700 kg (5,952 lb).

UK considering retaining early model Typhoons to maintain fighter numbers

The United Kingdom is considering the option of retaining some or all of its early-model Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft as it looks to prevent fighter numbers falling to their lowest levels since the Royal Air Force (RAF) was formed in 1918.
Speaking in the House of Commons on 3 November, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence, Philip Dunne, said that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is currently reviewing its earlier decision to retire the 53 Tranche 1 Typhoons in 2018. While he said that this work is being done in anticipation of the upcoming Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), he declined to be drawn on when a decision might be announced.
"The Ministry of Defence is reviewing the potential utility of all its current platforms, including its fleet of Tranche 1 Typhoon aircraft, as part of the ongoing Strategic Defence and Security Review. Where there is clear merit in extending the life of existing equipment in terms of both military utility and value-for-money, the opportunity to do so will be considered in the context of the wider review. It is therefore not appropriate to anticipate decisions on the Typhoon Tranche 1, or other capabilities, that have not yet been made," he said.
The minister's comments come on the back of a government disclosure in July that 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 Tranche 1 Eurofighter Typhoon fleets in 2019.
The RAF currently fields 192 frontline combat aircraft, made up of 87 Tornados; 53 Tranche 1 Typhoons; and 52 Tranche 2 and Tranche 3A Typhoons (deliveries of which are ongoing). Although all 40 Tranche 3A Typhoons should be with the RAF by 2019 and deliveries of the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter will have begun, under current plans the UK will have just 127 frontline combat jets in 2019 - the lowest number since the RAF was formed more than a century earlier.

Chinese Submarine Stalked USS.Ronald Reagan

A Chinese attack submarine stalked the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan near Japan last month in the closest encounter between a carrier and a People’s Liberation Army Navy submarine since 2006, according to American defense officials.
The Chinese submarine sailed very close to the Reagan during the weekend of Oct. 24.
The incident occurred as the Reagan sailed from its home port to the Sea of Japan around the southern end of Japan.
Days later, in the Sea of Japan, the Reagan was targeted for a close flyby by two Russian Tu-142 bombers that flew within a mile of the ship at an altitude of 500 feet. U.S. Navy jets were scrambled to escort the bombers away from the carrier group.
The submarine encounter also occurred days before the USS Lassen, a guided missile destroyer, carried out a freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea.
The Lassen’s passage within 12 miles of a disputed island in the South China Sea on Oct. 26 was fiercely denounced by the Chinese government. Chinese spokesmen, both military and civilian, said the passage was a violation of Beijing’s territorial sovereignty, a claim rejected by the United States, which said the ship was sailing in international waters.
Pacific Fleet and Pacific Command spokesmen declined to comment on the submarine encounter.

A400M completes grass runway certification tests

Airbus Defence and Space has successfully completed certification testing of the A400M on a grass runway. The tests using the development aircraft MSN2 took place over a three week period at the airfield of Écury-sur-Coole in France in September and examined the aircraft’s behaviour on grass and natural soil runways.

US State Department OKs Spain Buying MQ-9 Reaper Drones

The US State Department has cleared the sale of MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles to Spain's military.
The sale, which covers four MQ-9 Block 5 aircraft and associated equipment, parts and logistical support, would be worth an estimated $243 million.
Spain is looking to join the United Kingdom, France, Italy and the US as countries operating the MQ-9.
Spain intends to use the drones purely for ISR, so the vehicles will not be armed.
In addition to the systems themselves, the sale would include 20 Embedded Global Positioning System/Inertial Guidance United (three per aircraft plus eight spares); two Mobile Ground Control Stations; five multi-Spectral Targeting Systems (one per aircraft plus one spare); and five Synthetic Aperture Radar, Lynx AN/APY-8 (also one per aircraft plus a spare).
Although the notice that the State Department has cleared the sale was posted on the DSCA's website, that does not mean the sale has been completed. Congress must still OK it, and then a contract must be drawn up and finalized.

Iranian F-14 Flies Again After 14 Years On Ground

Iranian experts have successfully overhauled US-made fighter jets, said Brigadier General Massoud Rouzkhosh, commander of the Shahid Babaei Air Base in central Isfahan city.
Among those aircraft, an F-14 fighter jet was overhauled after being grounded for 14 years.
Also, an F-7 fighter jet, as well as a Pilatus PC-7 training aircraft, were overhauled at Shahid Babaei base.
The two aircraft were grounded for over seven years.

France to deploy Charles De Gaulle carrier to help operations against Islamic State

France will deploy its aircraft carrier to support operations against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq to bolster Paris' firepower in the region amid international efforts to launch Syrian peace talks.
French warplanes struck their first targets in Syria at the end of September. It was the first country to join the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq and has also provided limited logistical support to Syrian rebels it considers moderate, including Kurds.

Nov 3, 2015

Israel requests extra squadron of F-15s

Israeli sources confirm that details of the request were agreed during a recent meeting between the defence ministers of the USA and Israel in Washington DC. This included the Israeli air force expressing its operational need for another squadron of F-15s, to ensure that the type can remain the "backbone" of its capabilities.
While details of the F-15 request have not been released, the sources say that it involves the latest Silent Eagle-standard aircraft, which would also be equipped with Israeli-developed systems. Enhancements introduced with the advanced strike asset include the ability to carry an increased number of air-launched weapons and the addition of conformal fuel tanks for extended-range performance.
The Israeli air force as operating 25 F-15Is – the youngest of which are 16 years old – and a combined 58 older F-15A/Cs.
Other systems being requested by Israel in order to maintain its operational edge include V-22 tiltrotors, KC-46A tankers, additional F-35s and bunker-busting bombs that have until now not been exported by the USA.

Lebanese Super Tucano contract awarded

Sierra Nevada Corp. a USD172.5 million contract to deliver six Embraer EMB 314/A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft and associated support and equipment to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF).
The contract was announced by the US Department of Defense on 30 October and is expected to be completed by 31 July 2019.
The Lebanese request for six Super Tucanos was announced by the US Defense Security Co-operation Agency (DSCA) in June.

Airbus reveals further C295 enhancements

Airbus Defence and Space (DS) is developing a number of new capabilities for its C295 medium-lift transport aircraft that are designed to enhance its support and special forces functionalities, it was disclosed on 2 November.
New air-to-air refuelling (AAR) and 'extreme' short take-off and landing (XTOL) capabilities are planned for the twin-turboprop airlifter in the coming months.

F-35 Fires Gun During Aerial Test for First Time

For the first time, a US Air Force F-35 fighter jet has successfully fired its internal gun from the air.
The aerial gun test marks another milestone in the Pentagon's effort to certify the F-35A's internal 25mm Gatling gun. Lockheed Martin released a video Monday of F-35 test pilot Maj. Charles “Flak” Trickey firing the first aerial gun burst from the four-barrel weapon.
The F-35A completed the test during an Oct. 30 flight at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

Airbus Targets Helo Refueling, Paratrooper Airdrops for A400M

Airbus is seeking ways to allow the A400M to refuel helicopters and airdrop paratroopers on both sides of the fuselage, two capabilities seen as key for the military transport.
Air forces of the client nations are “very frustrated” and eager to have the capabilities fitted.
Air-to-air refueling is a vital function for special forces helicopters flying in the vast sub-Saharan Sahel region as that capability reduces contact with the harsh, gritty sand that is wearing down helicopter engines. That is one of the capabilities contracted but which is late to be fitted on the new transport.
Refueling helicopters will be “very difficult to achieve,” but Airbus has not abandoned the capability. An option to be explored is to use a 120- to 150-foot hose, compared to the present 90-foot hose, to allow helicopters to fly a safe distance as they refuel.
France hopes to have 11 A400Ms by the end of 2016, of which six should be fitted with the capabilities for self defense, airdrops and landing on rough strips.
Other features that need attention are software for airdrops of heavy cargo loads and self-protection systems.
An urgent need for helicopter refueling is reflected in the French plan to acquire four C-130s, of which two will be equipped for that mission.
The Direction Générale de l’Armement procurement office also is looking in Europe for second-hand C-130Hs, with two units for transport and two for helicopter refueling, and also for a company to convert a C-130 to refueling, he said.
Among the Airbus research projects being conducted is the fitting of the C-295 medium transport for in-flight refueling.
Another key capability is paratroopers jumping simultaneously from the side doors. The computer modeling shows a risk of the parachutes converging and colliding as they open, a critical moment in the airdrop.
One possible solution might involve using a specific kind of parachute.
Free-fall jumping from one of the doors, from the ramp, and a static line automatic release from the ramp have been certified.
Airbus plans to deliver between 13 and 17 units this year, with the last four due in December. A previous schedule set a minimum of 14 deliveries but a deadly crash on May 9 of an A400M due for Turkey reduced that number by one.
Next year, 23 units are due for delivery as production speeds up. That compares to seven or eight delivered last year.
France (7), Britain (4), Germany (1), Turkey (1) and Malaysia (1) have the plane in service, with Spain due to receive its first unit in the second quarter 2016, and one for Belgium and Luxemburg in the first half 2019.
Airbus is in “serious negotiations” with potential export clients for the A400M. Sales of more than 300 units over the next 30 years are expected. Three South American countries have asked for extra information.

Nov 1, 2015

Venezuela Allocates $480 Million to Import 12 Su-30MK2 from Russia

Venezuela is to set aside $480 million to buy 12 Sukhoi Su-30MK2 in order to beef up its air force, Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez said in Caracas on Friday.
According to the Venezuelan defense minister, the nation’s authorities deem important "the continuous strengthening of the republic’s defensive capability along with redoubled efforts to improve public health and education".
"Despite a global oil price slump and the economic war being waged on this country, the president realizes the necessity for the armed forces to have what they need to have to accomplish the mission assigned by the constitution," the defense minister stressed. Padrino said a new Sukhoi jet batch would beef up the 23-aircraft fleet in service with Venezuela now.
President Maduro had voiced his intention to acquire Su-30 fighters from Russia in September 2015 - right after an aircraft of the type crashed in the state of Apure for an unknown reason while on patrol along the Venezuelan-Colombian border.
Venezuela and Russia signed a contract for 24 Su-30MK2 aircraft in 2006. The delivery was fulfilled in 2008.
Venezuela is the Latin American leader in terms of Russian armament imports..
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the country in 2013-2014 took delivery of 12 S-125 Pechora-2M (SA-3 Goa) surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems with 550 V600 (SA-3B) SAMs, 48 2S19 Msta-S self-propelled artillery systems, 123 upgraded BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicles, including armored recovery vehicles, 1,000 9M117 (AT-10) Bastion antitank missiles (delivered in 2011-2013), three S-300VM (SA-23) SAM systems with 75 9M82M (SA-23A) and 150 9M83M (SA-23B) SAMs, 12 Buk-M2 (SA-17) with 250 9M317 SAMs, 12 9A52 Smerch multiple-launch rocket systems (in 2013), 114 BTR-80A armored personnel carriers (in 2011-2014) and 92 T-72M1M main battle tanks (in 2011-2013).