Jan 30, 2016

Russian Air Force suspends Flights of MiG-31 fighters due to air crash in Siberia

Flights of the MiG-31 fighters have been suspended until the causes of the Monday crash of this aircraft are found out, a source in the Chief Command of the Russian Aerospace Forces told TASS. "The decision to suspend the flights of this type of aircraft has been made until the causes and circumstances of this air accident are established," the source said. According to him, the emergency plane pilots were promptly found and evacuated by the search group. "Their lives and health are not in danger, they will soon return to their duties," the source said. According to him, "the preliminary cause of the MiG-31 fighter crash is a technical failure." Gallery 23 photo © Sergei Savostyanov/TASS Russian Air Force: best warplanes, helicopters and airlifters The Russian Defense Ministry reported earlier on Monday that the MiG-31 crashed fighter was performing a planned training flight. The fighter of the Central Military District’s Air Force and Air Defense grouping went out of control during a combat mission drill and crashed in a wooded area 40 kilometres northwest of the town of Kansk," the ministry added.

Boeing wins contract to build new Air Force One

Boeing has won a contract to start preliminary work on a new fleet of Air Force One presidential aircraft based on its 747-8 jumbo jet, the Pentagon said on Friday.
The U.S. Air Force awarded Boeing an initial contract worth $25.8 million to reduce risk and lower the cost of the program by looking at the tradeoffs between the requirements and design of the new plane, according to the Pentagon's daily digest of arms deals.
Details about the total value of the new contract have not been released, but the Air Force has previously said that it had earmarked $1.65 billion for two replacement jets.
The Air Force first announced in January 2015 that Boeing's 747-8 would be used to replace the two current Air Force planes used to transport the U.S. president. Air Force One is one of the most visible symbols of the United States.
The Air Force now operates two VC-25s, specially configured Boeing 747-200Bs, which are nearing the end of their planned 30-year life.
The 747-8 is the only four-engine commercial jet Boeing makes, providing an extra margin of flight safety over the more standard twin-engine planes.
Boeing last week said it would cut production of the 747-8 in half in September and take a $569 million charge in the fourth quarter as it faces dwindling sales.

Egypt takes delivery of Second Batch of Rafale fighters

Egypt has taken delivery of three Rafale fighters from France, the second batch of fighter jets under a contact last signed last year.
The three fighters were delivered in Cairo on Thursday.
Egypt now has a total of six Rafales. The first batch of three aircraft was delivered in July.
Under the deal with France, Egypt ordered 24 Rafales and a FREMM frigate for its Navy. The frigate from DCNS is already operational.

Royal Netherlands Air Force F16 jets to start bombing in Syria

Dutch F16 fighter jets will take part in bombing raids over Syria, ministers agreed on Friday.
The Netherlands currently has four F16 fighters flying missions over Iraq and their mission will now be extended to eastern Syria. In addition, the Netherlands will ‘intensify’ its support for the Iraqi army and Kurdish forces in Iraq Kurdistan. The Netherlands has been under pressure from France and the US to get involved. However, the Dutch role in the wider region will stop at the end of June, when the Netherlands military campaign is due to end in July. Belgium will then take over from the Dutch but will confine its efforts to Iraq.

KC-46 Tanker Completes First Refueling Flight

Boeing’s KC-46 tanker marked a key milestone Sunday by successfully completing its first aerial refueling test.
During the Jan. 24 flight, the Boeing and US Air Force test team completed a series of test points with the aircraft before successfully transferring 1,600 pounds of fuel to an F-16 fighter jet. The KC-46, took off from Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington.
During the 5 hour, 43 minute flight, the tanker’s refueling “boom” – a rigid, telescoping tube that an operator on the aircraft extends and inserts into a receptacle on the receiving aircraft for fuel transfer – remained stable and performed well, the statement reads.

Dassault Expects Rafale Contract With India Within Month

Dassault Aviation expects India to sign a contract for Rafale fighter jets in a month's time, following Monday's signing of an intergovernmental, with France opening the door to the sale of 36 Rafale fighters.
France saw the signing as a big step forward but the financial negotiations remain to be closed, said President François Hollande.

Japan’s Stealth Fighter Finally Revealed

This Thursday, Japan’s new Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency revealed the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Advanced Technology Demonstrator – Experimental (ATD-X) fifth-generation fighter technology demonstrator, now dubbed X-2 and unofficially named ‘ShinShin,’ to the media at a heavily guarded hangar at a regional airport near the city of Komaki, in Aichi Prefecture. It has previously been showcased once already in May 2014.
The X-2 is the country’s first domestically produced full-scale test model—a technology demonstrator—of a new indigenous stealth fighter jet design, which has been under development at a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
The aircraft—an will not be armed and is slated to be retired in three years, after having undergone extensive tests of advanced fifth-generation fighter technologies, for which Japan’s Defense Ministry has allocated 2.3 billion yen ($19.3 million) in the next fiscal year alone. It will be a testbed platform for multiple technologies including next generation electronically scanned array radar systems, multi-dimensional 3D thrust vectoring concepts, and fine-tune the aircraft’s stealth capabilities. (The X-2 features a special carbon-fiber composite material that absorbs radar waves.)
The X-2 program’s goal is to eventually produce Japan’s first indigenously-designed fifth-generation air superiority fighter, designated F-3, with serial production slated to begin in 2027, although various delays in the development of the X-2 prototype including issues with the engine control software –scheduled to be fully developed by 2018– make a later date more likely.
The X-2 with a length of 14.2 meters and a wingspan of 9.1meters is scheduled to make its maiden flight in February 2016.
Prior to its first test-flight, the aircraft will undergo extensive taxiing and ground trials at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries testing center located in Aichi Prefecture on Japan’s main island of Honshu. From there the fighter prototype is expected to fly to Gifu Air Field, an airbase of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, situated in the neighboring prefecture of Gifu sometime in February.
Lockheed-Martin is purported involved in the development of the X-2 prototype. The American aircraft maker was prohibited from selling its F-22 Raptor stealth air superiority fighter to Japan in the 2000s, causing Tokyo’s defense industry to kick-start development of the X-2.

Jan 29, 2016

Bahrain considering F-16V order

Bahrain is nearing a decision on whether to launch a major programme to modernise its Lockheed Martin F-16s and acquire an additional batch in an advanced V-model configuration.
Facing increased operational demand due to its involvement in the coalition campaign against Islamic State militants in the Middle East, the Royal Bahraini Air Force is looking to boost capabilities.
Modernising Bahrain’s in-service fleet to the F-16V standard would include the integration of an active electronically scanned array sensor.
In parallel with the upgrade, the service could also acquire “17 or 18” new-build F-16Vs.

JF-17 Block II advances with new refuelling probe

Images revealed on Chinese websites on 23 January indicate the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) FC-1 export fighter - co-developed with Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, which calls it the JF-17 Thunder - is advancing into a 'Block II' development and reportedly testing new weapons.
New images of an FC-1 at the CAC airfield with port number 229 show the first employment of an apparently Chinese-designed aerial refuelling probe: an important feature of the JF-17 Block II version. The probe features a streamlined tube, is located below the aircraft's cockpit canopy frame and may be detachable.
Chinese reports indicate the refuelling probe design will be used by the Block II version of the FC-1/JF-17. However, this is not yet confirmed as the Chinese-designed refuelling probe differs from an initial version first seen on a JF-17 in Pakistan in late 2013. This previous design was entirely cylindrical and its shape and placement just behind the canopy frame indicate there was probably design assistance from Denel Aviation of South Africa. Denel, formerly Atlas Aviation, has previously assisted with outfitting some Pakistani Mirage III fighters with refuelling probes.
Other images that appeared on Chinese websites in late January showed the new refueling probe-modified FC-1 in flight testing on an unknown but likely recent date.

Russia carries out more long-range bombing sorties over Syria

Russian long-range bombers returned to action over Syria after a pause of just over two months in an attempt to drive back Islamic State forces besieging a government-held city in the east of the country.
The Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on 25 January that Tupolev Tu-22M3 ('Backfire') bombers flew 18 sorties to engage Islamic State assets in the eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr (Deir ez-Zour) between 22 January and 24 January.
The MoD released a video showing two bombers taking off from a Russian airbase and each dropping about 12 FAB-250-270 unguided bombs, purportedly over Syria.
The previous round of long-range bomber strikes announced by the Russian MoD took place on 17-20 November and included Tu-95MS and Tu-160 bombers launching cruise missiles in addition to Tu-22M3s dropping unguided bombs.

Kuwait To Sign Deal for 28 Eurofighters

Kuwait is expected to sign a deal to buy 28 Eurofighter aircraft on Jan. 31, acording to an Italian Ministry of Defense source.
Italy, which is one of the four industrial partners on the Eurofighter program alongside the UK, Spain and Germany, has taken the lead in marketing the aircraft to Kuwait.
Two senior Kuwaiti Military officials confirmed on Wednesday that the Minister of Defense Khaled al-Jarrah al-Sabah will sign the Eurofighter contract on Sunday.
The decision came after repeated US delays regarding the acquisition of a new fleet of Boeing F-18 Super Hornets
"We were trying to acquire the F-18 Super Hornets and replace the existing fleet of F-18s with Super Hornets and Eurofighter Typhoons," he said. "However, we cannot wait for the American approval and need to update our Air Force now."
A second official stated that a meeting was held with Italian Air Force officials in Turin in mid-November.
"We have discussed the Eurofighter deal, which was expected to be finalized in Kuwait in December but was delayed due to problems on the pilot training," he said.
"Our Air Force wanted to send the pilots for training in the United Kingdom, not Italy, due to the language barriers; however the deal was finalized after there was an agreement on sending them to train in Italy," he added.
"The training program is expected not to take less than 18 months," he said.
Kuwait has agreed to buy 22 single-seat and six twin-seat Typhoons in a government-to-government agreement.
Industry sources have said the deal, which could be worth up to €8 billion (US $8.7 billion), could see the Kuwaitis become the first export customer for the active electronically scanned array radar being developed for the jet.
The aircraft are expected to be new-build, third tranche, swing-role versions of the fighter, with deliveries starting in 2019 and possibly covering munitions such as the Storm Shadow and Meteor.

Pentagon: Russian Fighter Conducted ‘Unsafe’ Intercept of U.S. Recon Plane Over Black Sea

According to the Pentagon, a Russian Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker intercepted a RC-135U Combat Sent “flying a routine route in international airspace over the Black Sea.
The statement indicated the U.S. is “looking into this particular incident.”
The fighter came close and its thrust “disturbed the controllability” of the U.S. surveillance aircraft.
The intercept of the RC-135U – designed to record radar emissions from potential adversaries to develop countermeasures — is the latest of a string of incidents between NATO and Russian forces since Russia seized control of the Crimean region of Ukraine in 2014.
The incident is the latest in a string of intercepts since over the last two years that the Pentagon has deemed unsafe.
The Pentagon has labeled several intercepts of variants of the RC-135 surveillance planes over the Baltic, Black Sea and the Pacific Ocean at the edge of Russian controlled airspace as “unprofessional” and “provocative.”
In 2014 a Russian Sukhoi SU-24 Fencer made repeated passes over USSDonald Cook (DDG-75), a ballistic missile destroyer, while it was conducting operations in the Black Sea.
Later that year, the Canadian frigate HMCS Toronto was buzzed by Fencers operating in the Black Sea.
Russian officials have complained of the uptick in U.S. surveillance flights since 2014.
“US RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft carry out flights almost daily,” Col. Gen. Viktor Bondarev, commander-in-chief of the Russian Air Force, said in late 2014.
“In 2014, more than 140 RC-135 flights have taken place compared to 22 flights in 2013.”

Jan 24, 2016

Bahrain express interest in PAK FA 5th Gen. Fighter

Bahrain has expressed interest in Russia’s multipurpose fighter of the fifth generation ‘Sukhoi’ T-50 (PAK FA). The start of serial production of an export version is scheduled for 2020.
Mass production of Russia’s Sukhoi T-50 fifth-generation fighter jets will begin in 2017.

Jan 23, 2016

Despite Pressures From China, Taiwan Might Procure Harriers

Taiwan will have the opportunity to procure refurbished AV-8 Harrier Jump Jets as the US Marine Corps (USMC) begins replacing the aircraft with F-35B stealth fighters, said US government sources.
The Harriers will be offered to Taiwan through the Pentagon’s Excess Defense Articles (EDA) program under the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency.
The AV-8 would fulfill Taiwan’s much-needed vertical and/or short takeoff and landing (V/STOL) requirement. China is expected to destroy Taiwan’s air bases within the first few hours of a war with its estimated 1,400 short-range ballistic missile arsenal and the Harrier’s V/STOL capability will allow the Taiwan air force to maintain air operations by hiding the aircraft in the mountainous interior.
A US defense industry analyst working in Taiwan said that it was a “great idea,” but the USMC’s AV-8s are “too worn to be of much sustainable service value, at least not without some, probably very costly, structural rehabilitation and avionics upgrade.”
The Taiwan Air Force is not crazy about the AV-8 and there is tremendous pressure to continue efforts to secure procurement of the F-35B short take-off and vertical landing aircraft (STOVL) aircraft.

F-35 fires first AIM-9X missile

An F-35 fighter jet from the 461st Flight Test Squadron launched an AIM-9X missile for the first time over the Pacific Sea Test Range Jan. 12.
The flight sciences aircraft, AF-1, of the Joint Strike Fighter Integrated Test Force, was piloted by David Nelson, the Lockheed Martin chief F-35 test pilot at Edwards Air Force Base.
The AIM-9X is an advanced infrared missile and the newest of the Sidewinder family of short-range air-to-air missiles carried on a wide range of fighter jets.
The missile was launched at 6,000 feet.

Jan 22, 2016

Life of RAF Tornado squadron further extended to 2018

Further detail on the UK Ministry of Defence’s November Strategic Defence & Security Review (SDSR) has revealed the retirement of a Panavia Tornado GR4 squadron will be pushed back to 2018, from the previously announced 2017 date.
Last August, defence secretary Michael Fallon said a delayed retirement from 2016 until March 2017, of the Royal Air Force’s 12 Sqn, would allow the type to continue operating until the Eurofighter Typhoon was able to fully take over the ground-attack role in Iraq and Syria. However, the next retirement of a Tornado squadron has now been pushed back further, to 2018.
The Tornado is proving its worth against Islamic State militants in the Middle East and the demand for it is high; 12 Sqn was returned to service in January 2015 to join Operation Shader after originally disbanding in 2014 after the withdrawal from Afghanistan. Three squadrons are required to support the operation, with one deployed at any given time, one in a preparation role and another on stand down.
The recent SDSR also noted the UK will acquire the planned 138 Lockheed Martin F-35s over the life of the programme, and will “buy some of these aircraft more quickly than previously planned, creating an additional frontline squadron by 2023”, according to the factsheet.

India Deploys P-8I Sub-Killer Planes to Counter Chinese Subs

India has deployed two of its most advanced maritime patrol/anti-submarine warfare aircraft, the Poseidon 8I, at a military base in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, located in the Indian Ocean, The Times of India reports.
The deployment comes as a response to repeated forays of Chinese conventional and nuclear submarines into the Indian Ocean, according to Indian defense officials who spoke to The Times of India on the condition of anonymity.
The two aircraft are just about to complete their two week deployment at India’s farthest military outpost, 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) away from the Indian mainland.
In addition, the India has also deployed drones at the island.

India To Evaluate Rafale for Navy

In an expected move, the Indian government has directed the Navy to undertake detailed briefings with Dassault Aviation regarding the Rafale aircraft.
An Indian Defence Ministry source said the government wants commonalities between logistics and spares for fighters with the Navy and Air Force.
A detailed briefing on Rafale for the Indian Navy is planned for Jan. 29.
A Navy official said the service needs 54 fighter aircraft but refused to say if Rafale has been shortlisted.
Meanwhile, French President Francois Hollande will arrive in India Jan. 24 along with French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian to sign the protocol agreement (an inter-governmental agreement ) on purchase of 36 Rafales and a formal agreement will be signed in New Delhi Jan. 25.

Germany to choose between Chinook and CH-53K for heavy-lift successor

Germany is moving ahead with an acquisition programme to replace its air force's Sikorsky CH-53 heavy-lift helicopters, with the choice narrowed to two types.
One key driver for Berlin's effort under the fledgling heavy transport helicopter project is the need to purchase a rotorcraft already in production, rather than launching a clean-sheet development programme.
Luftwaffe capability manager in charge of the programme, says only two heavy-lift helicopters effectively meet that requirement: the Boeing CH-47F Chinook and Sikorsky's CH-53K King Stallion – being developed for the US Marine Corps.
As the helicopter will be used to support special forces operations and combat search and rescue tasks, an aerial refuelling capability is required, he says. However, Germany presently has no tankers suitable for the role. Although it is a customer of the Airbus Defence & Space A400M, the tactical airlifter is unable to perform in-flight refuelling of rotorcraft.

Northrop Will Fly T-X Prototype This Year

Northrop Grumman intends to fly a prototype of the company’s T-X concept early this year, in anticipation of an upcoming Air Force competition to replace the aging T-38 fleet used for advanced jet training.
Northrop is working with aerospace company Scaled Composites, which it acquired in 2007, on an internally funded T-X demonstrator aircraft, Tom Vice, president of the company’s aerospace sector, told reporters Jan. 14 during a media trip. Vice did not specify exactly when the prototype would fly, but said the event would take place in the first half of this year.

Russia may be looking to build air base in Syria near Turkish border

Russia could be making moves to establish an air base in northeastern Syria along the border with Turkey, a development that could further complicate the overall situation in the region, two U.S. officials told CNN on Thursday.
The officials say the U.S. has seen a "limited" number of Russian military personnel, more akin to an exploratory party, looking at an airfield in Qamishli, Syria, possibly to determine how they might use the site in the future.
"We don't know what their intent is, but it is something we are watching closely," one official said, citing the already fraught relationship between Turkey and Russia following an incident late last year when Turkey shot down a Russian military jet that Ankara claimed had breached Turkish airspace.

U.S. deploys F-22 Raptor stealth fighters to base in Japan

The U.S. Air Force flew eight F-22 stealth fighters to Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo on Wednesday, but U.S. officials said the move was a scheduled deployment.
The arrival of the Lockheed Martin aircraft, one of the most advanced fighter jets in operation, comes in the wake of North Korea's fourth nuclear test and Taiwan's elections.
The deployment comes after the nuclear aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis departed the western coast of the United States last Friday. The vessel can sail anywhere from Japan to the southern Pacific and could dock in Yokosuka, Japan, to join the USS Ronald Reagan.
U.S. Forces Japan stated the F-22s, originating from Alaska, are to remain at the base until Jan. 22, as part of a scheduled drill. F-16 fighter jets are also due to arrive at the location.
Stars and Stripes reported the F-16s are from the 18th Aggressor Squadron, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska.

Jan 21, 2016

Argentina declares state of emergency, allows shooting down aircraft

The Argentine government on 19 January implemented a state of security emergency, setting in place new procedures aimed at making it easier to fight organised crime and human and drug trafficking, and to secure the country's borders.
As part of these efforts, the government mandated an increase in security procedures regarding air transport and the acquisition of systems needed to improve maritime surveillance capabilities for ports, borders, and jurisdictional waters.
For its airspace, the government said its state of emergency allows the air force to identify, warn, intimidate, and eventually force uncooperative aircraft to land.
The presidential decree is not a 'shoot-down law', but it basically allows for a similar procedure to be applied if it is needed, and expands its application to other security areas, such as rivers and land borders.

Israel gives green light to F-15I upgrade

Israel will embark on a “deep” upgrade of its Boeing F-15I Ra’am fleet as it looks to maintain the type as the backbone of its air force’s strike capability, despite the parallel acquisition of the Lockheed Martin F-35.
The enhancement has been mooted for some time, but Tel Aviv has recently given the green light to the programme.
Modifications will include structural changes, the addition of an active electronically-scanned array (AESA) radar, updated avionics and new, unspecified weapon systems.
A selection process for the radar is ongoing, with a decision due mid-year. It is thought Israel favours the Raytheon APG-82(V)1 radar selected by the US Air Force for its F-15Es.

Spanish Eurofighters intercept two Russian aircrafts in NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission

Eurofighter Typhoon's Spanish Air Force deployed in the NATO mission, based in the Lithuanian Siauliai on Tuesday made his first interception operation of Russian aircraft that were not identified and were flying in the airspace of responsibility.
Two military aircraft were intercepted, identified and monitored to avoid from penetrating the airspace of the Baltic countries. The first was an IL-20 belonging to the Russian Air Force flying within the area of responsibility for Kaliningrad, while the second was a TU-134 "Crusty".
After completing 1 hour and 44 minutes flight, fighters returned to their base in Lithuania.
Esteban Villarejo abcblogs

Jan 16, 2016

US Delivers Four A-29 Super Tucano To Afghanistan

Four A-29 turboprop light attack aircraft have been handed over to the Afghan government.
The planes arrived in Afghanistan on Jan. 15 after a long ferry flight from Moody Air Force Base.

The First Israeli F-35I Has Been Revealed

This weekend, the advanced phase in the production of the F-35I ("Adir") began by the reveal of the first Israeli JSF fuselage in a formal ceremony. Simultaneously, the "Adir" squadron establishment team took off for the simulator in the U.S, an important milestone in the acquisition process.
The leaders of the MoD Mission to the United States and "Lockheed Martin" noted this weekend, in a formal ceremony in Texas, U.S, the beginning of the advanced phase of the production of Israel's first F-35I, in preparation for the completion of its manufacturing and its launch this June. In the ceremony which was held in the "Lockheed Martin" factory in Fort Worth Texas, the Israeli jet's fuselage was revealed for the first time. In the height of the ceremony, the Director of the Israeli MoD Mission to the U.S Aharon Marmarosh, signed the fuselage of the first jet in the name of Israel and wrote in Hebrew: "Onward and Upward. Good Luck with your mission".

Britain uses Brimstone missiles for first time in Syria

Britain carried out several air strikes against Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria on Sunday, deploying its Brimstone missiles for the first time there.
Britain says its Brimstone missiles, which are designed to hit fast-moving targets and have already been used by Britain's Tornado jets in Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq, should bolster the fight against IS by delivering so-called surgical strikes that minimise civilian casualties.

Russia and Serbia To Discuss MiG-35 Sale

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin arrived in Belgrade on Saturday evening.
He was taking part in a meeting of the Serbia-Russia Intergovernmental Committee for Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation on January 11-12 but unofficially, one of the reasons for this visit is Serbia's intention to buy MiG-35 warplanes from Russia.

Jan 15, 2016

USAF begins receiving new B-52 'smart' weapons bay launchers

Boeing has delivered enhanced internal weapons bay launchers that enable the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress to carry satellite-guided munitions in the weapons bay for the first time, following several months of successful ground and flight testing, the company announced on 13 January.
Six of the US Air Force's (USAF's) 76 B-52Hs are now equipped with the new system, according to the company. The 1760 Internal Weapons Bay Upgrade (IWBU) enhancement modifies an existing Common Strategic Rotary Launcher in the internal weapons bay into a Conventional Rotary Launcher and increases the total number of smart weapons the B-52 can carry and deliver.
The launchers, which can be transferred between aircraft, can carry, target, and launch eight Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs). Future increments of the launcher are expected to add the capability to carry Joint Air-to-Surface Stand Off Missiles (JASSMs) and Miniature Air Launched Decoys (MALDs).

Afghanistan to Receive 12 New MD530 Attack Helicopters

The Afghan Air Force (AAF) has placed an order for 12 more MD530F Cayuse Warrior light attack helicopters fitted with a so-called Enhanced Mission Equipment Package (EMEP) for the 2016 fighting season, MD Helicopters, Inc. announced in a January 11 press release.
MD Helicopters already delivered 12 MD530F Cayuse Warrior aircraft to the AAF for the 2015 fighting season and has also converted five unarmed MH-6 Little Bird helicopters into MD530F light attack gunships, bringing the total number of Cayuse Warrior light attack aircraft in the AAF up to 16.

Germany Begins Negotiations With Israel On Leasing Heron TP

The Bundeswehr has begun negotiations with the Israelis on leasing armed Heron TP medium-range long-endurance unmanned aerial systems (UAS) to bridge the gap until it acquires a European UAS by 2025, along with France, Italy and Spain.
Heron TP was chosen in favor of the US Predator/Guardian Eagle armed UAS because the latter will only be available in one and a half years, according to the Bundeswehr, and because the former better meets its technical requirements, such as different weapons suites and a backup landing system. However, the Bundeswehr is keeping its options open in case its requirements are not met and to keep the competition open.
The Bundeswehr aims to lease three to five systems, which will be based in Israel but will be assigned to Taktische Luftwaffengeschwader (Tactical Air Force Squadron) 51 in Jagel, northern Germany, the same unit which is providing Tornado Recce aircraft for Germany's mission to support the international coalition fighting the so-called Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. Training will be provided in Israel.

USAF to Delay A-10 Retirement, Thanks to ISIS

After trying to retire the battle-tested Warthog for the past two years, Air Force officials concede that the plane is key to the war on ISIS.
The Air Force is shelving its immediate plans to retire the A-10 Warthog attack plane, which has become critical to the U.S. bombing campaign against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, Pentagon officials tell Defense One.
Air Force officials say they still need to retire the A-10 to make room for newer warplanes, but that the calculus for its sunsetting has been thrown off by commanders’ demands for the Warthog now.
Putting the A-10’s retirement plans on hold is a key policy shift that will be laid out next month when the Pentagon submits its 2017 budget request to Congress, said Pentagon officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the Obama Administration’s spending plan before its official release.
An Air Force spokeswoman declined further comment because the Pentagon’s budget request has not been finalized and publicly released.
Top Air Force officials had already hinted that the A-10 retirement plans might be put on hold due to the planes’ demand in combat.
The venerable attack plane, often championed by Army and Marine Corps ground forces, was built to fly low and slow, close to the battlefield to work in tandem with ground troops. Top Air Force officials acknowledged that the A-10 flies these so-called close air support missions better than any other plane in the arsenal. But officials said other aircraft could fly these missions, albeit not as well as the Warthog. Retirement, they said, would free up money to pay for newer planes, like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, a more expensive warplane intended to replace the A-10 and F-16 fighter.
Two years ago when the Air Force first proposed sending the A-10s into retirement, the service planned to shift maintenance workers from the Warthog to the F-35. At the time, no American forces were in Iraq or Syria and Washington was preparing to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. But since then, ISIS has spread across the Middle East and a resurgence of the Taliban has delayed the drawdown in Afghanistan.
The Air Force’s request to retire the A-10 has met with a wide wave of negative responses. In the midst of it all, the Air Force has deployed squadrons to fly combat missions against ISIS in both Iraq and Syria. Warthogs have also deployed to Europe where they flew in military drills with NATO allies.
Opponents of the A-10 retirement say the plane is effective both in lethality and cost for the current wars when compared to newer, high-performance aircraft like the F-16 fighter or B-1B bomber.
Congress has routinely blasted the Air Force’s A-10 retirement plans and blocked its retirement.

Jan 10, 2016

U.S. flies B-52 over South Korea after North's nuclear test

The United States deployed a B-52 bomber on a low-level flight over its ally South Korea on Sunday, a show of force following North Korea's nuclear test last week.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un maintained that Wednesday's test was of a hydrogen bomb and said it was a self-defensive step against a U.S. threat of nuclear war.
North Korea's fourth nuclear test angered both China, its main ally, and the United States, although the U.S. government and weapons experts doubt the North's claim that the device was a hydrogen bomb.
The massive B-52, based in Guam and capable of carrying nuclear weapons, could be seen in a low flight over Osan Air Base at around noon (0300 GMT). It was flanked by two fighter planes, a U.S. F-16 and a South Korean F-15, before returning to Guam.
The United States is also considering sending a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to waters off the Korean peninsula next month to join a naval exercise with Seoul.

Azerbaijan interested in JF-17

Pakistan Presidenthas said that Azerbaijan and Nigeria are interested in purchasing Pakistani defence products, including the upgraded JF-17 fighter aircraft.
Referring to his recent visit to Azerbaijan, the president said he had discussed ways of enhancing cooperation between the two countries in different areas.

All Clear: India To Sign Deal For 36 Rafales This Month

The all-clear is here, and there's no way to tell it but straight. Livefist can confirm that India and France are all set to sign a government-to-government deal this month for the supply of 36 Dassault Rafale fighter jets to the Indian Air Force. A crucial final meeting on Monday, Jan 18 of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) will provide final approval, paving the way for contract signature. France's Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, arrives in Delhi when the DAC meets, spurring reports that an agreement has already been reached -- with formalities pending.
All 36 jets will be supplied in flyaway form from Dassault's facility. The deal will be signed on January 25 in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi & French President François Hollande who will be in Delhi later this month as chief guest at India's Republic Day Parade.

Jan 9, 2016

German Tornados based in Turkey flew their first operational flight

Two Luftwaffe Tornados took off from Incirlik airbase, Turkey on Jan. 8 for Germany’s first operational flight over Syria.

Airbus A400M deliveries to Turkey seen delayed in 2016

Deliveries of two A400M military transport planes to Turkey in 2016 are expected to be delayed and talks are ongoing on delivery of a replacement for one that crashed on its maiden flight last year.
Ankara signed a deal for 10 of the Airbus heavy cargo and troop carriers in 2003.
Turkey received two of the aircraft in 2014 and was due to receive two more last year, but only one was delivered. The second plane crashed in Spain on May 9, killing four test crew.
According to the A400M agreement, two aircraft should be delivered to the Turkish Air Force in 2016, in April and June. But it is anticipated that there will be delays in these deliveries," he added.
The delivery calendar had to be updated after last year's crash and a subsequent halt in testing, the official said.
The planes, costing just over 100 million euros each, are assembled in Spain, which has long sought to emerge from France and Germany's shadow within Europe's largest aerospace company.
After the May crash, flights of the two aircraft previously delivered to the Turkish Air Force were suspended for safety reasons.

Chabelley Airfield in Djibouti The small airstrip that is the future of America’s way of war

The Pentagon is quietly building up a small airstrip in a remote region of east Africa as part of its war against Islamic militants. More importantly, the airfield is a complex microcosm of how Washington runs military operations overseas — and how America’s way of war will probably look for the foreseeable future.
Chabelley Airfield is less than 10 miles from the capital of the small African nation of Djibouti. The small airport is the hub for America’s drone operations in the nearby hotspots of Somalia and Yemen.
But in spite of all of this, Chabelley isn’t what it might otherwise seem – at least not officially. You see, the site is not technically an American base.
“Chebelley [as the Pentagon likes to spell it] was categorized by the U.S. Global Defense Posture Report to Congress as an enduring Cooperative Security Location based upon the U.S. strategic interests in maintaining access for the foreseeable future.”
In plain English, Washington does not own the site, sometimes referred to by the acronym CSL. In contrast to the big American bases in Europe and Asia during the Cold War, the Pentagon has favored cutting deals with countries for access to existing runways and ports in its fight against militants around the globe something that make sense in an era of shrinking budgets

Jan 8, 2016

Nigeria plans to procure three JF-17 fighters

Nigeria plans to acquire three JF-17 Thunder multirole fighter aircraft in 2016.
The procurement plans, which set aside $25 million for the fighters, were reported by Nigerian newspaper Punch. The Nigerian government also plans to acquire ten PAC Super Mushshak basic trainers and two Mi-35M helicopters.
Punch obtained the information on the government's procurement plans from a leaked copy of their 2016 budget, which was presented to the National Assembly by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari in December 2015.
Nigerian defense officials have been reportedly interested in the JF-17 following the IDEAS 2014 exhibition in Pakistan. DefenceWeb reports that during the exhibition a Pakistani defense official stated Nigeria was close to signing a contract for the jets to modernize its air force.

The Contract for the Yak-130 for Myanmar

According to the published Corporation "Irkut" the schedule of purchases for 2016 in a number of export customers combat training aircraft Yak-130 in the middle of last year has been refilled. June 22, 2015 signed a contract № P / 1510411150511 for the supply of aircraft Yak-130 and the consignee of the property "104" (Myanmar).
It is possible that the delivery of the first aircraft under the contract will start in 2016. As a corporation for the current year is a contract with the 420 military representation for quality control and acceptance of products under contract. In addition, before the end of 2017 on the territory of Myanmar should be deployed specialized simulator combat use of the Yak-130.
On the manifestation of interest on the part of Myanmar to the plane Yak-130 was reported back in 2012, when it was held a demonstration flight experienced combat training Yak-130 with pilot g / n 104. Thus, Myanmar will be the fourth export customer for the Yak-130 after Algeria, Belarus and Bangladesh. In addition, still not fully clear the fate of the "frozen" contract for 36 aircraft to Syria. In the fall of 2015 in a number of media reports about renewal of the contract, have not yet found its confirmation.

Jan 6, 2016

Slovakia Looks to Replace Mig-29s with Gripens

Slovakia is set to go ahead with leasing external link Saab’s Gripen jet fighter, although final contracts will not be signed until after elections due in March. The Gripens will replace the Mig-29 fighters currently on loan to the Slovak Air Force after the current lease ends this year. A more cost effective way of obtaining a fleet, leasing six to eight Gripens between now and 2029 is estimated external link to cost about $340 million.

L-3 G550 contract suggests new Australian surveillance deal

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) could be due to receive a new electronic intelligence (ELINT) and signals intelligence (SIGINT) aircraft, following a recent US Air Force contract award to L-3 Communications.
In a deal announced on 28 December 2015, the USAF granted a $92.6 contract for an “undefinitized contract action task order for Australia government G550 aircraft procurement and maintenance”.
The work – which is understood to involve two aircraft – will be performed at L-3's Greenville site in Texas, and should be completed by 30 November 2017.
No details were given about the nature of the work, or about the number of aircraft involved. The RAAF also has yet to formally announce a requirement for such an intelligence-gathering aircraft.

Egyptian navy buys 46 Ka-52K attack helicopters

Egypt is to acquire 46 navalised Kamov Ka-52K attack helicopters to equip its new French-built Mistral-class amphibious assault ships.
No delivery timeframe has been released, however, although Egypt is likely to receive the two helicopter carriers by mid-year.
The naval variant of the Ka-52 features folding coaxial rotors and stub-wings.

Japan’s 5th Generation Stealth Fighter to Make Maiden Flight in Early 2016

Japan’s Ministry of Defense Technical Research and Development Institute (TRDI) announced that a prototype of Tokyo’s first indigenously-designed fifth-generation air superiority fighter, the Mitsubishi ATD-X Shinshin, will make its maiden flight in February 2016, according to Japanese media reports.
Prior to its first test-flight, the aircraft will undergo extensive taxiing and ground trials at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries testing center located in Aichi Prefecture on Japan’s main island of Honshu. From there the fighter prototype is expected to fly to Gifu Air Field, an airbase of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, situated in the neighboring prefecture of Gifu sometime in February.

Russia receives its first ordered MiG-29SMTs

Russia has received the first of the MiG-29SMT 'Fulcrum' multirole fighter aircraft that it ordered in April 2014.
The extra 16 aircraft were ordered for the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) as a stop-gap measure to compensate for delays to the MiG-35S aircraft that still has yet to be ordered. It is believed that the 16 extra MiG-29s are divided between 14 MiG-29SMT fighters and two MiG-29UB trainers.
The first aircraft were delivered in late December to the 116th Training Centre of Combat Applications of the Russian Air Force is headquartered.
Russia already operates 28 MiG-29SMT fighters, although it did not order them. Instead, they were diverted into Russian service after their intended recipient, Algeria (which had ordered 36 of the aircraft), rejected them due to quality concerns. Unlike the aircraft built for Algeria, the aircraft ordered for the VKS are fitted with an internal electronic warfare (EW) suite, according to the MiG report.
Visually the MiG-29SMT can be most easily identified by an extended spine (beyond the extension first seen in the MiG-29S) to include extra fuel. This doubles the aircraft's air-to-air mission radius to 836 n miles (1,550 km; 963 miles).

Ghana to get Mi-35 helicopter

The Ghanaian Air Force is in the process of acquiring one Mil Mi-35 assault helicopter, Chief of Air Staff Air Vice Marshal Michael Samson-Oje revealed in his end-of-year message.
Summing up his service's other procurement programmes, AVM Samson-Oje said the new Harbin Z-9EH helicopters were delivered on time in 2015, the acquisition of Embraer Super Tucano turboprops was "far advanced", and that an additional Airbus C295M transport was expected to be delivered in January 2016.
Ghana received four Z-9EHs in September 2015, has ordered five Super Tucanos, and already has two C295s in service.

Boeing wins 10-year T-38C contract as USAF looks to T-X

Boeing has defeated an unnamed challenger to secure a 10-year contract worth up to $855 million for Northrop T-38C Talon avionics and logistics support, maintaining its involvement with the widely-used aircraft through 2026 as the US Air Force fields a replacement “T-X” combat trainer.
Boeing completed a major T-38A/B avionics suite upgrade in 2007, converting 463 Talons to the T-38C standard by replacing analog components with a new digital cockpit. Northrop Grumman, meanwhile, has delivered replacement wings sets over the past decade, while general upkeep of the 55-year-old supersonic trainer is managed organically from the air force’s Ogden Air Logistics Complex at Hill AFB in Utah.
Meanwhile, structural upgrades to more than 150 T-38s through the “Pacer Classic III” structural modification are being performed by maintainers, extending the venerable trainer’s life to 2029.

The Rise And Fall Of The Argentine Air Force

There was a time when the Fuerza Aérea Argentina (Argentine Air Force) was considered to be one of the best Air Forces in Latin America, if not the world. Created into its own independent entity out of the Argentine Army in 1945, the Argentine Air Force began a massive modernization program which saw them becoming the first country in South America to operate jet aircraft.
This occurred when they took delivery of British made Gloster Meteors in 1947. As well as operating a formidable bomber force that was made up of Avro Lincolns and Lancasters, all of which were also acquired from Britain.
In later years, Argentina went as far as attempting to develop their own indigenous jet aircraft with the aid of former Luftwaffe personnel and other German engineers. A program which resulted in the creation of the FMA IAe 33Pulqui II, making Argentina the first country in Latin America to develop its own jet aircraft and 6th in the world to do so. Even though the Pulqui never entered service (the Government had decided to purchase F-86 Sabers from the U.S. Instead.) , it still showed just what the Argentine Air Force was truly capable of and as the years passed, they continued to build up its fleet by adding newer and more advanced aircraft to its already impressive line up.
But that all changed in the 1980’s, the Falklands War in 1982. Where in an attempt to shift attention away from their troubled economy, the Military Junta which ruled the Latin American country at the time, invaded the British Territories of East and West Falklands.
Thinking that the British government (who had supplied Argentina with a number of military equipment in the years before the invasion) would be unable, if not unwilling, to commit military forces to retake the islands.
The resulting conflict saw the Argentine Air Force sustain heavy losses, losing dozens of fighters, helicopters, cargo aircraft, and even two Canberra Bombers, the majority of which were shot down by Royal Navy and Royal Air Force Harrier jets.
Many had believed to be no match for Argentina’s fleet of supersonic Mirage jet fighters.
By contrast, the Argentine Air Force could only boast of one air to air kill when 2 IA-58 counter-insurgency aircraft shot down a scout helicopter during the battle of Goose Green. Even though both the air force and navy had gained some successes during the conflict, it still was not enough to secure a victory for Argentina as the British were able to retake the islands just after two months since the war began. It also did not help that a number of aircraft and equipment had been captured and shipped back to Britain after the Argentine surrender.
The years following the war saw the Argentine military as a whole and especially the Argentine Air Force , took a sharp decline as the country’s economy worsened and traditional arms suppliers placed arms embargos on their former client.
This saw the Latin American nation unable to procure new assets. After some of these embargoes were lifted in the 1990s and Argentina was able to acquire upgraded A-4s from the United States, the military still continued their steady decline throughout the decade and into the 2000s.
Today, the Argentine Air Force is nothing more than a shadow of its former self. 2015 saw the Argentine Air Force retiring their remaining Mirage and Dagger Fighters, as their airframes had reached a point where they were no longer safe to fly.
Leaving only their remaining fleet of A-4AR “Fighthawks” and IA-63 advanced jet trainers to fill the gap left by these aircraft. Both of which are unsuited for air to air combat and are largely outmatched by aircraft used by their neighbors Chile and Brazil. Even more so, a shortage of spare parts could also see their A-4 fleet being grounded in the near future.
Recent attempts to acquire new aircraft such as the Chinese JF-17, the Swedish Saab Gripen (which is made with British components) and even secondhand Kifr jets from Israel have all failed due to either technological, political, or economic restrictions suffered by the Argentine government.
Problems in the air force also extend to their fleet of C-130 transport aircraft, as their airframes are starting to show their age. These aircraft provide a vital component of the air force, as they are used to not only supply Argentina’s arctic bases, but also assist in supplying their peace keeping contingents in Haiti and Cyprus. Though these aircraft have undergone major upgrades, and Argentina has shown interest in acquiring new aircraft to replace the C-130s, it is unknown whether if they would be able to keep their current fleet flying for long, or even if they will have a transport wing as the economic situation in the country worsens.
It is believed that in the years to come, the Argentine Air Force will cease to exist as a major military component of the Argentine Armed Forces and with an economy in shambles and embargoes still in place due to the Falklands war, it is still unknown whether if the Argentine Air Force will ever fully recover. It is possible that what was once Latin America’s most formidable air forces, maybe flying into the sunset for the last time.

Jan 3, 2016

Algeria to buy Su-34

In an interview with Vedomosti, the director of Novosibirsk Aircraft Production Association revealed that Rosoboronexport has received an order from Algeria to buy the Su-32 – export designation for the Su-34 fighter-bomber.
Algeria had been negotiating about the sale for eight years.

France to buy four C-130J Hercules due to A400M Delays

France said on Friday it would buy four C130 Hercules military transport planes from U.S. weapons maker Lockheed-Martin due to problems with European planemaker Airbus's A400M.
A Defense Ministry source had said in May that France had penciled several hundreds of millions of euros into its latest defense budget for the possible purchase of those four planes and would make a decision by year-end.
"I confirmed the purchase a few days ago," Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said during a visit to a military base in Jordan from which French jets are carrying out strikes on Islamic State targets in Syria.
The delivery of the C130s could start in 2017, a French military source said.
Le Drian did not go into details over issues with the A400M.
In July, Airbus Group had told buyer nations of the A400M transporter aircraft, which has been developed for seven European NATO nations, that it would not deliver all of its high-tech defenses according to plan.
An A400M crashed during a test flight in May.