Sep 25, 2016

India signs 36-unit Rafale contract

India has concluded a deal to acquire 36 Dassault Rafale fighters, with a contract signed in New Delhi by the nation’s defence minister, Manohar Parrikar, and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian on 23 September.
Finalisation of the contract brings to a close a long-running acquisition process to equip the Indian air force with the Rafale, which was selected as the winner of its medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) tender in 2012, defeating the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and Eurofighter Typhoon. Other previous candidates for the deal included the Lockheed Martin F-16, RAC MiG-35 and Saab Gripen.
The air force was originally slated to acquire 126 aircraft via the programme, but the original deal ran aground over cost concerns. It was revived by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to France in 2105, when he declared that 36 aircraft would be acquired in “fly-away” condition from Dassault. This was keeping in view the “critical operational necessity” of the service, he said at the time.
It remains to be seen if India will decide at a later date to acquire additional fly-away examples of the type, or whether production could be transferred to India at a later date – as was the intention under the original MMRCA tender.

US State Department Clears Sale of KC-46A Tankers to Japan

The US State Department on Wednesday approved a potential $1.9 billion sale of KC-46A refueling tankers to Japan, moving Boeing one step closer to finalizing its first international deal for the aircraft.
According to a Defense Security Cooperation Agency notice, the proposed deal includes four KC-46A aircraft, the associated Pratt & Whitney Model 4062 engines needed to power the plane, plus one additional spare. Japan would also receive training and support as part of the agreement.
Those aircraft will be equipped with the ALR-69A Radar Warning Receiver and Miniaturized Airborne GPS Receiver — both from Raytheon — as well as Northrop Grumman's AN/AAQ-24(V) Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures system.
Japan announced its intention to buy the KC-46 last October. The agreement was a major coup for Boeing, which has fought to find its first foreign customer for the tanker.

Roll Out of Japan Air Self Defense Force’s First F-35A

Senior Japanese and U.S. government officials joined Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) to celebrate the roll out of the first Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) F-35A Lightning II, marking a major milestone in Japan’s enhanced national defense and strengthening the future of the U.S-Japan security alliance.
The ceremony was attended by more than 400 guests from both governments, militaries and defense industries.
Kenji Wakamiya, Japan’s State Minister of Defense spoke at the event, saying, “With its low observability and network capability, the F-35 is the most advanced air system with cutting-edge capability as a multi-role fighter. As the security environment surrounding Japan has become increasingly severe, because of its excellence, it is very significant for the defense of Japan to commit to acquiring the F-35 year by year. Given that the United States Government has designated Japan as a regional depot in the Asia-Pacific area, introduction of F-35A to Japan is a perfect example, enhancing the Japan-US alliance.”
Japan’s F-35 program includes 42 F-35A Conventional Take Off and Landing aircraft, acquired through the U.S. government’s Foreign Military Sales program. The first four aircraft are built in Fort Worth and the remaining 38 aircraft will be built at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Final Assembly & Check-Out facility in Nagoya, Japan, where aircraft assembly is underway. Maintenance training for the first JASDF F-35A technicians is underway at Eglin AFB, Florida, and the first JASDF F-35A pilots are scheduled to begin training at Luke AFB, Arizona, in November.

Sep 24, 2016

USAF F-35A Catches Fire at Mountain Home Air Force Base

An F-35A caught fire during an exercise at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, the Air Force confirmed to Defense News.
The incident took place at around noon and involved an F-35A aircraft from the 61st Fighter Squadron located at Luke Air Force Base, the service said in a statement. No serious injuries seem to have been sustained by the pilot or nearby crew.
"The pilot had to egress the aircraft during engine start due to a fire from the aft section of the aircraft," Air Force spokesman Capt. Mark Graff said in an email. "The fire was extinguished quickly. As a precautionary measure, four 61st Aircraft Maintenance Unit Airmen, three Airmen from the 366th Maintenance Group and the 61st Fighter Squadron pilot were transported to the base medical center for standard evaluation."
Seven F-35As from Luke AFB, which is one of the bases responsible for joint strike fighter pilot instruction, had deployed to Mountain Home to conduct surface-to-air training from Sept. 10 to 24.
The root cause of the event is under investigation.

Sep 18, 2016

15 F-35 Models Grounded Due to Wiring Issue

The US Air Force has ordered the grounding of 13 F-35A models, as well as a pair of Norwegian F-35As, following the discovery of "peeling and crumbling" coolant tube insulation.
The issue appears to have been with a supplier of coolant lines, which are installed in the wings of the jet. During a routine maintenance check, it was discovered that the insulation on the lines were in some cases decomposing, which left residue in the fuel itself, according to a release from the Norwegian government on the grounding.
The issue has been traced back to the insulated coolant tubes manufactured by one particular provider that have only been installed in the wing fuel tanks of the 15 aircraft — 10 from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, two US and two Norwegian F-35As at Luke AFB, Ariz., and one plane at Nellis AFB, Nev.
The problem was first discovered this summer during depot maintenance of an F-35A being prepared for initial operational capability.

Sep 3, 2016

South Korea mulls purchase of four Boeing P-8 Poseidon aircraft

The South Korean military may buy four Boeing P-8 Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft in the wake of the successful test-firing of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) by North Korea on 24 August, the Korea JoongAng Ilbo newspaper quoted a senior government official as saying on 1 September.
"North Korea is preparing a number of strategic ways to attack the South using its submarine fleet on top of the SLBM development," said the official.
"We are discussing whether to purchase the latest maritime patrol aircraft to detect North Korean submarines to prevent surprise attacks from under water," he added.

Chilean Navy inducts new observation aircraft

The Chilean Navy (Armada de Chile) has received into service the first of seven Vulcanair P68 Observer 2 twin-propeller aircraft, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on 1 September.
The first of the Italian-built aircraft (designated Naval Aircraft 321 in Chilean service) arrived at the Naval Air Base at Concon on 1 July, ahead of its induction as a search and rescue, maritime police, medical aero-evacuation, and liaison platform in place of the now retired Cessna O-2 Skymaster.
While the MoD did not disclose when the remaining aircraft will be delivered, it did say that they type will begin operations with VC-1 Squadron in early 2017, flying from Puerto Montt and Iquique initially before being transferred to Talcahuano.

British Officials Consider Reprieve for Sentinel Fleet

Plans to ax one of the five Sentinel R1 ground surveillance aircraft operated by the British Royal Air Force (RAF) may temporarily be put on hold as officials consider reprieving the jet until a longer-term decision on the fleet's future can be made.
The RAF had been proposing to cut one of the aircraft from the fleet of Raytheon-developed Sentinel aircraft by early October as part of a broader bid to generate cash savings that under new government rules can be ploughed into other equipment budgets rather than being handed back to the Treasury.
One government source said it is now “ likely that the fifth aircraft it will be retained until the end of the financial year” to give time for a decision on longer-term plans for the aircraft.

China and Ukraine agree to restart An-225 production

China and Ukraine have signed an agreement to recommence production of the Antonov An-225 'Cossack' strategic airlifter, media from both countries have reported.
The agreement signed between the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) and Antonov on 30 August gives China access to the aircraft's designs and technologies for the purposes of domestic production, according to China's STCN news organisation and the Ukrainian Business Channel (UBR).
Powered by six Progress D-18T engines and having demonstrated a world-record payload of 253.82 tonnes, the An-225 (named Mriya in Ukraine) is the largest transport aircraft ever to have flown.

US cleared to complete T-6C sale to Argentina

A 30-day Congressional notification period has closed on a proposed sale of 24 Beechcraft T-6C Texan trainers to the Argentine air force, clearing the way for the US government and industry officials to complete negotiations on the estimated $300 million deal.
Coming only two months after the final delivery to the US Navy under the 20-year-old Joint Primary Aircraft Training Systems (JPATS) programme, the proposed T-6 sale to Buenos Aires offers a timely lifeline to the T-6C production line in Wichita, Kansas.
“We look forward to continuing our conversations with Argentina to offer the Beechcraft T-6C military trainer,” Beechcraft says.
By late June, Beechcraft had delivered more than 400 T-6 Texan IIs to the US Air Force and nearly 300 to the Navy, replacing an aging fleet of Cessna T-37s and Beechcraft T-34s. The company also has received a recent order from the UK Ministry of Defence to supply T-6 trainers for replacing Embraer Tucanos.