Dec 24, 2016
“Based on the tremendous cost and cost overruns of the Lockheed Martin F-35, I have asked Boeing to price-out a comparable F-18 Super Hornet!” he tweeted at 5:26 p.m. EST.
Lockheed Martin stock, which had closed at $252.80 a share, tumbled down to $247.75 at about 7 p.m. EST, a 2 percent decline. At the same time, Boeing stock shot up by about 1.49 percent, increasing from $157.46 to $158.95 a share.
What this means for Lockheed Martin and its top competitor Boeing in the long term is not exactly clear. Although the F-35 has been plagued with its share of cost overruns and technical issues, the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is a fourth-generation plane that lacks many of the capabilities that define a fifth-generation plane, such as stealth and sensor fusion. Redesigning a Super Hornet to meet the same requirements as the F-35 would require years of development and engineering time and probably billions of dollars.
“Now that the F-35 has been declared combat capable, we will deploy our newest fighter to Europe in the not too distant future,” said Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James during a speech at the Atlantic Council. “Matter of fact, if I were a betting woman, I wouldn’t at all be surprised if the F-35 didn’t make an appearance, perhaps, next summer. The unique combination of stealth, situational and sensor fusion will play an important role in reassuring allies and providing deterrence.”
The trip to Europe would be the first operational overseas deployment of the Air Force's A-model, which officially reached initial combat capability in August.
The service will also send a theater security package of F-15s from Louisiana and Florida Air National Guard units to Europe this spring to conduct training exercises with partners, similar to the deployment of F-22s to Romania last April.
James likely is nearing the end of her tenure as Air Force secretary this January, and plans to deploy the F-35 could change under the new presidential administration. However, she advised her successor to move forward with deployments to Europe that showcase US air dominance, adding that such activities are key for deterring hostile Russian military action that has become more prevalent since its invasion of Crimea.
"Russia is a country that does understand force,” she said. “At a time like this, at a time when I believe they are pushing and poking and testing, I think the alliance needs to demonstrate that resolve and show force.”
Also of vital importance is US involvement in the Baltic air policing mission – a NATO effort to guard the airspace of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, she said.
Dec 17, 2016
China’s first and only aircraft carrier led large-scale exercises in the Bohai Sea, the navy of the People’s Liberation Army announced late on Thursday.
The drills involved dozens of ships and aircraft in the carrier group and more than 10 air-to-air, anti-ship and air defence missiles were tested, it said.
The group also performed reconnaissance exercises, tests of early warning systems, aerial interception and missile defence.
The goal of the exercises was to “test the performance of weapons and the training level of the team”, the statement said.
China’s national broadcaster CCTV showed footage of J-15 fighter jets taking off from the carrier and firing missiles.
The drills come as a heated war of words intensifies between Beijing and the US president-elect, Donald Trump, who broke convention by speaking directly to the Taiwanese president, Tsai Ing-wen, and even suggested Washington could jettison the decades-old “One China policy” – a diplomatic compromise allowing the US to do business with both China and Taiwan while only recognising Beijing.
Since Trump’s and Tsai’s phone call, China has sent military aircraft close to Japanese territory near the Miyako Strait and reportedly sent a bomber to circumnavigate disputed territory in the resource-rich South China Sea – flights its air force has described as “routine”.
The US Pacific commander said on Wednesday that the US would keep challenging China’s “assertive, aggressive behaviour in the South China Sea” despite Beijing’s rapid development of artificial islands capable of hosting military planes.
Satellite images published this week by a US thinktank showed structures on Chinese-built artificial islands that appeared to be large anti-aircraft guns and close-in weapons systems (CIWS) designed to take out incoming missiles and enemy aircraft, the thinktank said.
China’s defence ministry said the construction was mostly for civilian use and necessary military installations were for self-defence.
Beijing is seeking to build a “blue water” navy capable of operating in distant seas and has embarked on an extensive project to modernise its two million-strong military, the world’s largest.
The Liaoning is a secondhand Soviet ship built more than 25 years ago. It was commissioned in 2012 after extensive refits.
In December 2015 China’s defence ministry announced the country was building a second aircraft carrier based entirely on domestic designs.
Dec 8, 2016
The contract signing followed a type selection made by the Chilean Air Force (Fuerza Aérea de Chile: FACh) in September, in which the Black Hawk beat off competition from Leonardo Helicopters, Airbus Helicopters, Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI), and Rosoboronexport, which had offered the AW149, H215, Surion, and Mi-17 'Hip' respectively.
The S-70i (international) helicopters are to be built by Sikorsky's subsidiary, PZL Mielec, in Poland. Improvements made on the S-70i over the baseline Black Hawk include a fully integrated digital glass cockpit featuring colour 6x8-inch (15x20 cm) multifunction display (MFD) units and a dual digital automatic flight-control system (AFCS). It also features a digital map and more powerful General Electric T700-GE-701D engines (but with T700-GE-701C control systems).
Once delivered, they will augment the one S-70 that the FACh received in 1998 as well as its remaining rotary fleet of mainly Bell 412 and UH-1H platforms. While the current plan is to procure just six aircraft, Sikorsky has previously told that there is the potential for more to be bought at a later date.
The contract follows an initial two-year service deal Britain and France signed in December 2014.
The contract offered major cost cuts, greater efficiency and flexibility to meet operational needs, the company said.
Airbus DS called on other client nations of the A400M Atlas to join the common maintenance deal, which came into effect Dec. 1 with an initial two-year phase. Spain received its first A400M on that day.
Britain’s Defence Equipment and Support agency, France's Direction Générale de l’Armement, and Spain’s Direccion General de Armamento y Material signed up for the deal through OCCAR, the international program management organization.
Germany signed in 2014 a separate, four-year deal for its A400M fleet, with two contracts — one for system support and the other for material management.
They were commissioned into service four days after delivery to Kaduna on Dec. 1. According to the supply contract signed in June this year, the PAC would also provide technical training to the NAF teams charged with operating and maintaining the aircraft.
Four more on-loan aircraft would be delivered to Nigeria in early 2017. By mid-2017, the loaned aircraft would be replaced with new assets, which are already under assembly.
The four have since been commissioned into service at the 301 Flight Training School in Abuja, replacing an aging fleet of Dana Air Beetle trainer variants which has been in service since 1995.
Apart from Nigeria, four Super Mushshak trainers are in service with the Pakistani Air Force. Global interest in the Super Mushshak soared in 2016 with Qatar signing a deal for the supply of eight in May.
Late in November, the Turkish Air Force signed a memorandum of understanding that set the groundwork for acquisition of up to 52 trainers. Iran, Oman, Saudi Arabia and South Africa are also reported to be interested in acquiring the aircraft.
A derivative of the Mushshak aircraft, the Super Mushshak is a version of the Saab MF-17 Supporter, which is produced in Pakistan under license from Sweden.
The latest version is powered by a 260 horsepower Textron Lycoming IO-540 V4A5 engine. It features a US-designed glass cockpit as well as environmental controls.
According to Abubakar, Nigeria will soon take delivery of four new, Russian-made Mi-35N attack helicopters from Russia and three JF-17 Thunder aircraft from Pakistan.
The West African country has also ordered at least three ex-Brazilian Air Force Super Tucano light-attack aircraft. A parallel aircraft-refurbishment program has led to the restoration and recommissioning of helicopters, which include three Mi-24V and Mi-35P attack variants, two EC-135s, two AugustaWestland A109s, and one Super Puma.
A single Beechcraft light aircraft, one Falcon jet, one Diamond DA-42 and two Dornier DO-228 maritime surveillance planes have also been restored and returned to service.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and Procurement Minister Judy Foote will release the details that morning at the Royal Canadian Air Force base in Trenton Ontario.
The deal will be worth around CAN$3 billion (US $2.3 billion) and would include long-term, in-service support.
The Airbus Defense and Space C-295 was selected over the C-27J aircraft from Leonardo (formerly Finmeccanica ).
Embraer of Brazil also bid the KC-390 for the Canadian program.
Airbus officials declined to comment, referring questions to the Canadian government.
Sajjan’s press secretary, Jordan Owens, declined to confirm any details on the contract award set for Thursday.
Airbus Defence and Space has teamed with key Canadian firms for the project and other ventures on the C-295.
The new planes will replace the Royal Canadian Air Force’s 40-year-old Buffalo aircraft and older-model C-130s currently assigned to search-and-rescue duties.
Airbus previously said it will build a new training facility in Comox, British Columbia, if it wins the contract.
The Fixed Wing Search and Rescue (FWSAR) aircraft project is divided into a contract for the acquisition of the aircraft and another contract for 20 years of in-service support.
The Air Force expects all aircraft for the FWSAR program to be delivered by 2023.
The FWSAR project originally envisioned acquiring 17 aircraft. But that has now changed and will be capability based, according to government officials. The aerospace firms submitted in their bids the numbers of aircraft they believe are needed for Canada to handle the needed SAR capability.
In the bids, the firms were required to submit prices and aircraft numbers for a fleet to operate out of four main existing bases across Canada. Information was also requested for having planes operating from three bases.
The Canadian government originally announced its intent in the spring of 2004 to buy a fleet of new fixed-wing SAR aircraft, but the purchase has been on and off ever since.
The FWSAR project was sidelined over the years by more urgent purchases of equipment for Canada’s Afghanistan mission as well as complaints made in the House of Commons by domestic aerospace firms and Airbus that the Air Force favored the C-27J aircraft for the fixed-wing SAR plane.
The Air Force strenuously denied any preference for an aircraft.