Apr 30, 2016

Lockheed Martin reveals lower than expected F-35 production

Production of F-35 fighter jets came in below expectations during the first quarter. Only six units were produced between January and March.
Output was slowed by several "administrative" factors. These included the process of transitioning between production lots and of getting acceptance for certain software. Lockheed's operational performance also suffered. Although sales were up, earnings dropped to USD794 million, down from USD878 million during the same quarter last year.

Airbus Reports A400M Engine Gearbox Problems Will Cause Delays

Airbus faces a potentially heavy financial hit due to problems on the engine gearbox of the A400M. Aibus is now facing a serious challenge for production and customer deliveries of the A400M due to new, unexpected issues on the engine propeller gearbox. Airbus warned there could be a “significant” cost in repairing the gearbox.
A deep industrial and technical study is underway to find short- and long-term solutions, the company said. Negotiations with clients are continuing on a revised schedule for installing mission capabilities and delivery of the aircraft.
The four turboprop engines on the A400M are built by a European consortium comprising ITP of Spain, MTU of Germany, Rolls-Royce and Safran. Avio Aero, an Italian subsidiary of General Electric, builds the gearbox.

Apr 23, 2016

F-35B May Be In Spanish Navy's Future

The Spanish Navy has a midterm problem to tackle or maybe it would be more accurate to say it has a dilemma the country’s next defense minister must solve: Should the force continue with fixed-wing combat aviation and, if yes, is the F-35B the solution?
According to Admiral Chief of Naval Staff Jaime Muñoz-Delgado, "Our fleet of Harrier aircraft has a useful life until the period between 2025 and 2027. And there is only one short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) option on the market: Lockheed Martin's F-35B. This is the reality."
The Spanish naval chief registered the concern Tuesday during a meeting with reporters. The problem with this solution is a limited defense budget.
Nowadays the "Armada Española" has a fleet of 12 AV-8B Harrier II Plus attack planes that formed the core of the 9th Aircraft Squadron more than 30 years ago.
The Spanish Navy Harriers can carry out missions ashore or from the landing helicopter dock Juan Carlos I.
In November 2014, the Ministry of Defense extended the agreement to support the Harrier program after approving an investment of €47.6 million (US $54.1 million) between 2014 and 2024.
"There isn't an official plan or proposal to pursue the acquisition of F-35Bs but the problem will be there in 10 years," Muñoz-Delgado stressed.
He mentioned the possibility of a joint strategy with the Spanish Air Force, which in the 2020s will need to start thinking about replacing its F-18s.
The US Marine Corps' F-35B reached initial operational capability last July 31. The variant is also being delivered to the UK, and the Italian Air Force will also operate it.
Esteban Villarejo defensenews

USAF basing revised bomber count on 'minimum' of 100 B-21s

US Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) expects to complete an analysis of its bomber force numbers by the end of this calendar year, but already says that number will be based around a “minimum” operational requirement for 100 Northrop Grumman B-21s.
The major command’s chief Gen Robin Rand said at the Air Warfare Symposium in February that America’s needs somewhere between “175 and 200” combined strategic and conventional bombers.
The command counts 159 bombers in its inventory today including the B-1B, B-52H and B-2A.
“AFGSC continues to analyse the required future bomber force structure which includes successfully fielding a minimum of 100 B-21s,” an AFGSC spokeswoman says in an email. “AFGSC is very focused on ensuring we are ready with properly trained operators and maintainers for the B-21. The minimum of 100 B-21s that we intend to field will fly with a mix of legacy bombers and the total number of bombers required is still being evaluated.”
The air force has moved forward with its $80 billion bomber acquisition after teammates Boeing and Lockheed Martin unsuccessfully challenged the selection of Northrop.
The secretive B-21 aircraft, powered by an undisclosed Pratt & Whitney engine, will enter service sometime in the mid-2020s. It will replace the B-1 and B-52, and eventually the Northrop B-2.

B-52 Bombers Carry Out First Airstrikes Against ISIS in Iraq

The U.S. Air Force's B-52 Stratofortresses on their first combat deployment to the Mideast since the 1991 Gulf war have conducted their initial airstrikes against ISIS, military officials said Wednesday.
"On Monday, this iconic platform conducted its first mission against an [ISIS] weapons storage facility in Qayyarah" in northwestern Iraq south of Mosul, said Army Col. Steve Warren, a spokesman in Baghdad for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve.
Earlier this month, the B-52s, flying out of the al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar, replaced B-1 Lancer bombers in the Air Force inventory for precision-guided bomb attacks against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and for close-air support missions for local forces. The B-1s returned to the U.S. for maintenance and upgrades.
The Eisenhower-era B-52s last conducted airstrikes in the Mideast from a base in Saudi Arabia against Iraq during Operation Desert Storm in the early 1990s. The aircraft also flew operational missions against the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.

Japan's X-2 fifth-generation demonstrator makes maiden flight

The MHI X-2, formerly ATD-X, 'Shinshin' (Spirit) fifth-generation fighter technology demonstrator made its maiden flight on 22 April.
The milestone, which took place a day later than scheduled because of poor weather, saw the experimental aircraft depart from Nagoya Airport before conducting a series of flight characteristics trials. It landed at the Japan Air Self-Defense Force's (JASDF's) Gifu Air Base, some 50 km to the north.
MHI has been developing the aircraft's airframe since 2009.

India Air Force Jets Arrive In Alaska To Red Flag 'Aggressors'

Red Flag ALASKA 16-1 that begins April 28. The Indian Air Force's contingent (4 x Su-30MKI, 4 x Jaguar Darin II, 2 x Il-78M & 2 C-17 Globemaster III) arrived on April 16 amd have been on routine practice runs at the base with USAF jets.
The joint exercise will involve simulated interdiction, attack, air superiority, defence suppression, airlift, air refueling and reconnaissance aircraft -- all profiles the IAF has proven to be formidable at in past Red Flags/Cope India/Thunder exercises.

Apr 17, 2016

French Navy Atlantique shows new designation ability over Iraq

A French Navy Dassault Atlantique 2 (ATL2) maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) has conducted a target designation mission for the first time in Iraq.
Flying from Jordan the ATL2 with a forward air controller (FAC) on board the aircraft conducted 'buddy lasing' for a fighter aircraft striking an insurgent target in Iraq.
The aircraft is one of three French Navy Atlantiques equipped with an L-3 Wescam MX-20 digital electro-optical/infrared turret as part of an upgrade begun in 2013 to enable the aircraft to designate GBU-12 and GBU-51 Paveway 500 lb guided bombs.

Russian Air Force Modernised Bombers TU-95M TU-160 M1 To Debut on Victory Day Parade

The Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) is to showcase its modernised strategic bombers at the Victory Day flypast over Moscow for the first time on 9 May.
Rehearsals on 13 April saw a Tupolev Tu-160M1 'Blackjack' bomber and three Tu-95MS 'Bear' bombers with external weapons pylons for the carriage of Kh-101/102 cruise missiles practising their overflights of the capital city ahead of the annual event

Apr 12, 2016

Mexico orders more Black Hawk helos

Sikorsky has been awarded a USD54.9 million contract to build seven "uniquely configured" UH-60M Black Hawk utility helicopters for Mexico, the US Department of Defense (DoD) announced on 12 April.
The contract is due to be completed on 28 February 2019.
The UH-60M is already in service with the Mexican Air Force, navy, and Federal Police, although this latest contract notification does not disclose an end user.
The UH-60M is the newest Black Hawk variant in service, and incorporates more powerful and reliable General Electric T700-GE-701D engines, enhanced rotor blades, and a fully digital 'glass' cockpit.

USAF F-22 Raptors are back in Europe

F-22 stealth jets are back in Europe for more exercises with NATO and partner allies, U.S. European Command announced Monday.
The Raptors deployed to RAF Lakenheath, England, from the 95th Fighter Squadron at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, and will continue training in Europe until May, EUCOM said. The exact number of fighter jets and airmen was not disclosed.
The multirole fighter aircraft will forward deploy from the United Kingdom to NATO bases to "maximize training opportunities, affirm enduring commitments to NATO allies, and deter any actions that destabilize regional security."
In August, the Air Force deployed four F-22s to Europe for the first time ever as part of the European Reassurance Initiative — a Pentagon effort designed to allay European partners' fears about Russian aggression in the region.