Dec 30, 2017

India retires MiG-21 MiG-27ML Fleet

The Indian Air Force on Friday bid adieu to two of its old Russian-origin MiG fighter aircraft, one of which was flown by the Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa in its swansong flight.
At the Nal airbase in Rajasthan, Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa flew the last sortie of the Hawkeyes, 108 Squadron, bringing a glorious end to the reign of the MiG-21 T-96 aircraft, flown by the squadron.
This comes days after former IAF chief Fali Homi Major flew the last sortie of the Mi-8 helicopter in Bengaluru before the choppers stopped flying.
"It is in the IAF tradition to have the senior-most pilot fly the oldest machine while bidding adieu," said an IAF official.
The 108 Squadron is being 'number-plated', which means it would remain dormant for the time being and would be re-formed to produce new aircraft.
In Hashimara in West Bengal, the last MiG-27 ML roared for the last time in its farewell flight.
Named Bahadur, the swing-wing MiG-27 ML has the single most powerful engine in the world with a variable geometry wing that allows a pilot to change the wing sweep angle while flying as per the mission requirements.
The aircraft, which was flown by the 22 Squadron, is also being number-plated.
Though the MLs have retired, they are not the last swing-wing aircraft in service. Some of the MiG-27s were upgraded to MiG-27 UPG, which will continue to fly.
The MiG-27 UPGs are based in Jodhpur.

Dec 27, 2017

South Korea, Japan Mull interested in F-35Bs for Amphibious Assault Ships

South Korea's navy is looking to buy stealthy F-35B aircraft, the Marine Corps jump-jet variant of the Joint Strike Fighter, for its new Dokdo-class amphibious assault ships.
Citing military sources, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said the Lockheed Martin Corp.-made short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) F-35Bs would be part of South Korea's long-term plan to build a "blue water" navy.
South Korea currently has one amphibious assault ship, the 14,300-ton, 653-foot Dokdo, which is the largest ship in the South Korean navy. A second Dokdo-class amphib is planned for 2020.
Japan is also considering buying F-35Bs to operate from its helicopter carrier, the Japan Times reported.
The problem for South Korea and Japan will be in redesigning the decks of the amphibs to take the heat and stress of the F-35B vertical landings. The Dokdo class ships now are configured to support 10 helicopters.

Dec 25, 2017

US Navy Block III Super Hornet upgrades to begin this spring

Unlike the legacy Hornet fleet, the Super Hornet modification will not entail one large replacement such as the centre barrel, says Dan Gillian. Instead, modifications will be distributed across the aircraft with a focus on corrosion, a perennial hurdle for the carrier-based aircraft.
After testing two F/A-18 “learning aircraft,” Boeing found corrosion was well maintained on Super Hornets that fly regularly but cropped up often on aircraft that had been grounded for a while. Boeing will not change materials on the aircraft but plans to use data analytics to predict how the navy should handle varied corrosion issues, Gillian says.

Dec 23, 2017

South Korea plans to buy 20 additional F-35

South Korea plans to buy an additional 20 F-35A stealth fighter aircraft from the United States,less than two months after U.S. President Donald Trump announced Seoul would be purchasing billions of dollars in new military equipment.
In 2014 South Korea formally announced a plan to buy 40 F-35As.

A400M Refuels Up to 6 Spanish Air Force EF-18M in Flight Over Spain

An Airbus A400M has successfully refueled six Spanish Air Force F-18 fighters in a single mission as part of an air-to-air refueling (AAR) human factors certification flight. The 13 December mission featured a complex series of AAR scenarios such as changes of area, receivers with unknown priorities, and unexpected increases in numbers of receivers. Through multiple contacts, the six aircraft simulated a fleet of eight. The F-18s included the first Spanish operational fighters to be refueled by the A400M and belonged to the Spanish Air Force Test Centre (CLAEX) and the 12th Operational Wing based at Torrejón. A total of 11.4 tonnes of fuel was dispensed using both the underwing pods and the center hose refueling unit. Certification authorities on board confirmed good results and the flight validated the A400M two-crew cockpit concept for tanker missions.

USAF B-1Bs Preparing for Return to the Middle East

B-1B bomber aircrews anticipate returning to the Middle East in coming months and have been training for the evolving battlespaces in Iraq and Syria, as well as Afghanistan, according to officials here.
"We're working real hard inside of our training network," said Col. Karl Fischbach, commander of the 7th Operations Group. "The ranges that we have were set up really well to simulate the environment, and we're going to attend the next Red Flag [in January] and Green Flag [exercises] in the [upcoming] year, and really focus on what we need to get ready for the CentCom operation."

Dec 16, 2017

Colombia May Buy Used Eurofighter Typhoons From Spain

Colombian Air Force is currently evaluating the procurement of second-hand Eurofighter Typhoons from Spain.
If this acquisition goes through, it will make Bogotá the first client for the type in the Americas. It would also represent a significant qualitative leap for the Colombian Air Force, which uses an updated version of the IAI Kfir as its main fighter type.
This proposal also implies that the Typhoons will belong to the Tranche 2 standard and come equipped with the advanced Meteor missile. For now, only enough aircraft to equip a single fighter wing are being considered.
However, there are still several options on the table regarding the modernization of the Colombian Air Force.
Colombia has been contemplating the acquisition of a wide range of aircraft, with mostly used units due to cost concerns, which include the Mirage 2000 and the Rafale from the French company, Dassault, the American Lockheed-Martin F-16 and Boeing F/A-18, the Swedish Saab JAS-39 Gripen, and even the Russian Sukhoi Su-30. Even newly-made Typhoons from the UK were contemplated.
As it is, the Spanish Eurofighter deal is just one more in a long series of possibilities, although supported by the extraordinary good relations currently enjoyed by Madrid and Bogotá.

Dec 9, 2017

U.S. Air Force completes delivery of 24 F-16s to Indonesia

After nearly five years, the Ogden Air Logistics Complex completed regeneration work on the last six Block-25 F-16C Fighting Falcon aircraft for the Government of Indonesia.
The delivery is the result of an aircraft acquisition and refurbishment agreement approved by the U.S. government to deliver a total of 24 Block-25 C and D variant F-16s to the Indonesian Air Force.
The aircraft, formerly flown by U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard units, had been warehoused by the Ogden ALC's 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group located at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, Ariz.
The jets will depart on a five-day transoceanic flight and will require mid-air refueling and two overnight stops before arriving in Indonesia.

Dec 8, 2017

Qatar acquires 12 additional Rafale

In the presence of the President of the French Republic, Mr. Emmanuel Macron, and his Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Qatar Armed Forces and Dassault Aviation signed an agreement on future cooperation and the exercise of an option for 12 Rafale.
This new order follows on from the contract signed on 4 May 2015 between the State of Qatar and Dassault Aviation for the acquisition of 24 Rafale, thus raising the number of Rafale aircraft operated by the Qatar Emiri Air Force to 36.

Third RAAF F-35 makes first flight

The Royal Australian Air Force’s third F-35A Lightning II, A35-003, has completed its first flight.
Photographer Carl Richards captured these images of A35-003 taking off on its first flight, from Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, on December 1.
The aircraft is due to be delivered to Luke Air Force Base, Arizona in early 2018 to be used for pilot and maintainer training, before being permanently relocated to Australia in 2020.
A35-003, known to its manufacturer Lockheed Martin as AU-3, had its RAAF markings, including its 3 Squadron tail flashes, applied in early November, the final phase of the aircraft’s production process.

Dec 6, 2017

Spanish Navy Receives Fifth Upgraded AB-212 Helicopter

On Tuesday 5 December, SENER and Babcock España, joint venture partners, presented the fifth upgraded Agusta Bell 212 (AB-212) to the Directorate General of Armament and Material (Dirección General de Armamento y Material, DGAM) of the Spanish Ministry of Defence as part of a total of seven units that came into service in 1974. The two last units will be delivered in 2018.
The presentation ceremony took place at Babcock's Aeronautical Maintenance Centre in Albacete.
SENER and Babcock España have entered a joint venture with the purpose of completing the life extension program of these seven AB-212 helicopters belonging to the Spanish Navy. This will extend their operational life in at least 15 years, by incorporating advances in equipment and avionics.
Thanks to this program, the helicopters will be able to operate without restriction in controlled military and civilian airspaces, in compliance with the requirement of new regulations, as well as giving them self-protection and defence systems that will allow them to be deployed in multinational missions with a low-medium threat level. aviationpros

Russian Air Force sends TU-95M Strategic Bombers to Indonesia as part of a Navigation Exercise

The Russian Air Force has for the first time sent strategic bombers to visit an airport in eastern Indonesia on Tuesday, as the Russian military increases its presence in Southeast Asia following years of relative inactivity.
In a statement, Russia’s Defence Ministry said two Tupolev Tu-95MS Bears flew from the Amur region, in Russia’s far east, to Frans Kaisiepo Airport in Biak, on the northern coast of Indonesia’s eastern province of Papua as part of an international visit.
The ministry said that during the flight, the Tu-95MS bombers were refueled in the air by Ilyushin Il-78 tankers over the Pacific Ocean, adding that “the flight was carried out in strict accordance with the International Air Law.”
The bombers were supported by two Ilyushin Il-76MD airlifters that had landed at Biak the day before. The Indonesian Air Force, in announcing the visit, said that the bombers were conducting a long-range navigation exercise.
Mike Yeo-defensenews

Israel declares F-35s ready for operations

The Israeli Air Force on Wednesday declared its initial squadron of nine F-35 stealth fighters ready for operational use, less than a year after the first two fifth-generation fighters were delivered to the country by the U.S. Air Force.
In a Dec. 6 announcement, the Israel Defense Forces noted that Israel is the only country besides the U.S. to declare operational capability for the F-35 — a weapon system that “enhances strategic and operational capabilities” and improves readiness “in a wide range of scenarios and threats in all arenas.”
While an early December initial operational capability had been long-planned by the Israeli Air Force and F-35 prime contractor Lockheed Martin, the announcement comes after multiple strikes in Syria attributed to the Israeli Air Force earlier in the week. In at least two attacks over a 72-hour period earlier in the week, the Syrian regime announced that it had launched surface-to-air missiles against Israeli aircraft.
Israel has not confirmed or denied its role in the recent Syrian attacks. Yet, it has publicly insisted it would act to prevent Iran from establishing a permanent presence in the war-torn country north of its border.

Russia flies first Su-57 fitted with new Product 30 engine

Russia’s latest fighter aircraft flew on 5 December for the first time with the NPO Saturn “Product 30” engine, which will be the production standard for the Sukhoi Su-57.
Sukhoi has built and flown nine flight test prototypes of the Su-57 fighter powered by NPO Saturn Product 117 engines, which are derived from the AL-41F-1S afterburning turbofans developed for the Su-35.
But the Russian air force plans to replace the Product 117 in series production starting in 2020 with the Product 30 engines, possibly featuring a new engine core of which few details are known.
Russian government officials have said the Product 30 will provide more thrust and fuel efficiency, with reduced weight and maintenance requirements.
The 5 December test flight by Sukhoi chief test pilot Sergei Bogdan from the Gromov flight test centre at Zhukovsky AB lasted 17min, according to Russia’s Ministry for Industry and Trade.
Photos and video of the flight shows the Product 30 installed in the No. 1, or port-side, engine position, with a Product 117 engine remaining on the starboard side. The Product 30 features a serrated engine nozzle, compared to the flat nozzle on the Product 117.
The flight test was conducted by the second Su-57 aircraft prototype, also known as T-50-2.

U.S.Plans To Re-Stablish an Air Base in Iceland Sending Sub Hunting Planes

The Pentagon is preparing to spend millions of dollars to fix up a Cold War-era air base in Iceland as Washington rushes to keep an eye on a new generation of stealthy Russian submarines slipping into the North Atlantic.
Tucked away in the 2018 defense budget sitting on President Donald Trump’s desk is a provision for $14.4 million to refurbish hangars at Naval Air Station Keflavik to accommodate more U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon reconnaissance aircraft, a key surveillance asset for locating and tracking submarines, a defense official confirms.
The move comes as new Russian nuclear and conventional submarines have been making more frequent trips through the area known as the “GIUK gap” — an acronym for Greenland, Iceland, and the United Kingdom — the route for the Russian Northern Fleet to enter the Atlantic Ocean.
The United States and Iceland have agreed to increase rotations of the American surveillance planes to Iceland next year, Pentagon spokesman Johnny Michael confirmed to Foreign Policy.
Inside the alliance, there is concern over NATO’s ability to locate and track the new Russian submarines as they move silently into the open ocean. NATO officials have admitted that the past two decades of anti-piracy operations near Africa and support for ground operations in the Middle East have distracted from the anti-submarine mission which was at the core of the Cold War mission in the Atlantic.

Canada Scraps Plan To Buy 18 New Brand Superhornets, Plans To Buy 2nd Hand Hornet from Australia

Canada is scrapping a plan to buy 18 Boeing Co (BA.N) Super Hornet fighter jets amid a deepening dispute with the U.S. aerospace company, three sources familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.
Instead, the Liberal government will announce next week it intends to acquire a used fleet of older Australia F-18 jets, the same kind of plane Canada currently operates, said the sources, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the situation.
The move underlines Ottawa’s anger at a decision by Boeing to launch a trade challenge against Canadian planemaker Bombardier Inc (BBDb.TO), which the U.S. giant accuses of dumping airliners on the American market.
It also casts into question the future of Boeing’s military sales in Canada. Boeing says its commercial and defense operations in Canada support more than 17,000 Canadian jobs.
Canada and Mexico are locked into increasingly acrimonious negotiations with the United States over the NAFTA trade pact, which President Donald Trump says has not done enough to protect U.S. jobs.

First KC-46A Tanker for U.S. Air Force Completes First Flight

The first Boeing KC-46A tanker that will be delivered to the U.S. Air Force next year successfully completed its first flight and airborne tests today, taking off from Paine Field at 10:32 a.m. PST and landing approximately three-and-one-half hours later.
“Today’s flight is another milestone for the Air Force/Boeing team and helps move us closer to delivering operational aircraft to the warfighter,” said Col. John Newberry, U.S. Air Force KC-46 System program manager.
During the flight, Boeing test pilots took the tanker to a maximum altitude of 39,000 feet and performed operational checks on engines, flight controls and environmental systems as part of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-approved flight profile. Prior to subsequent flights, the team will conduct a post-flight inspection and calibrate instrumentation.
“We’re very proud of this aircraft and the state-of-the-art capabilities it will bring to the Air Force,” said Mike Gibbons, Boeing KC-46A tanker vice president and program manager. “We still have some tough work ahead of us, including completing our FAA certification activities, but the team is committed to ensure that upon delivery, this tanker will be everything our customer expects and more.”
The newest tanker is the KC-46 program’s seventh aircraft to fly to date. The previous six are being used for testing and certification and to date have completed 2,200 flight hours and more than 1,600 “contacts” during refueling flights with F-16, F/A-18, AV-8B, C-17, A-10, KC-10 and KC-46 aircraft.
The KC-46, derived from Boeing’s commercial 767 airframe, is built in the company’s Everett facility. Boeing is currently on contract for the first 34 of an expected 179 tankers for the U.S. Air Force.
The KC-46A is a multirole tanker that can refuel all allied and coalition military aircraft compatible with international aerial refueling procedures and can carry passengers, cargo and patients.

USAF B-1B bomber in attack drill show of force to North Korea

The US military has flown a B-1B bomber over South Korea as part of a massive joint aerial drill, in a move seen as a warning to the North.
The B-1B Lancer plane simulated bombing a military field.
The drill is taking place a week after Pyongyang fired what it claimed was a new intercontinental ballistic missile which could hit mainland US.
The US has previously deployed bombers as a show of force after North Korean missile or nuclear tests.
South Korea's military said the US bomber took part in the simulation with US and South Korean fighter jets.
It took place at the Pilsung range in north-eastern Gangwon province, about 150km (93 miles) from the border with North Korea, reported Yonhap news agency citing the military.
More than 200 planes and thousands of troops are involved in the Vigilant Ace aerial exercise, which ends on Friday and had been planned before North Korea's latest missile launch.
Pyongyang, which routinely condemns US-South Korea's joint military exercises as rehearsals for war, called the latest drill "nuclear war provocation moves" in state media on Monday.
The drill is taking place as the UN's political chief Jeffrey Feltman visits Pyongyang for dialogue, in a rare visit by a senior UN official.
Tensions have been running high since the missile launch late last month, which triggered international condemnation and a warning from the US that the North Korean regime would be "utterly destroyed" if war broke out.
South Korea's military also plans to launch a combat unit of weaponised drones called "dronebots" next year, Yonhap reported quoting an unnamed official.
The "dronebots" would conduct reconnaissance on core North Korean targets such as nuclear and missile sites, and could also launch attacks, though the report did not give further details on how this could be done.

Dec 3, 2017

Six US F-22 stealth fighter jets arrive in South Korea for joint Vigilant Ace air drills

Six U.S. F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets arrived in South Korea on Saturday for joint air drills between Seoul and Washington slated for next week in a show of force against North Korea.
The fighter planes will join the allies' annual airborne exercise named Vigilant Ace to be held from Dec. 4-8, according to the South Korean Air Force.
The U.S. also plans to send F-35A and F-35B stealth jets, F-16C fighter planes and others including an unspecified number of B-1B bombers.
The South Korean Air Force will dispatch F-15K, KF-16 and F-5 fighter jets and other planes for the exercises with about 230 aircraft at eight U.S. and South Korean military installations being mobilized.

Second NH90 Sea Lion Helicopter for German Navy helicopter takes off

NH Industries on 24 November performed the maiden flight of the second prototype of the NH90 Sea Lion being developed for the German navy.
The milestone comes about a year after the initial flight-test vehicle took off from the Donauwörth facility of NHI consortium member Airbus Helicopters.
A phase of development testing focused on avionics and software will now take place, lasting several months.
Further modifications to the aircraft will take place in 2018, says Airbus Helicopters, bringing it to the delivery standard before further qualification testing.
The initial serial production aircraft is now in final assembly, ahead of first delivery scheduled for late 2019.
Germany has ordered 18 Sea Lions to replace its navy's fleet of aged Westland Sea King 41s.

Japan to conclude X-2 programme in March 2018

Japan's Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA) is approaching the end of testing with the Mitsubishi X-2 technology demonstrator aircraft.
The twin-engined fighter has completed 34 sorties, says Hirofumi Doi, manager of Japan's Future Fighter Program at ATLA. The first two flights were conducted by Mitsubishi, the subsequent 32 by ATLA at Gifu air base. The aircraft's maiden flight occurred on 22 April 2016.
ATLA's original plans called for 50 flights. Doi declined to specify how many more flights would occur, but says that the X-2 demonstration project will be concluded in March 2018. What happens to the aircraft after this has not been determined. The aircraft was previously designated ATD-X.

Dec 2, 2017

France receives its first A400M fitted with pods for midair refueling

France’s procurement office has revealed it received its 12th A400M airlifter, which is the first in the European program to be fitted with two underwing pods for in-flight refueling of fighter jets. The A400Ms already in service will have the fuel pod added as they undergo a retrofit over time. The latest A400M will be flown to the air base at Orleans, south of Paris, in the next few days. France is due to receive a further three A400Ms by 2019, as set out by the 2014-19 military budget law.
Pierre Tran - defensenews

Romania signs deal to buy Patriot missile defense system

Romania announced it wanted to buy Raytheon-made Patriot air and missile defense systems from the U.S. government in April and has been on the fast track to getting those systems, signing an agreement to make the purchase Wednesday.
Romania signed a letter of offer and acceptance, which, according to Raytheon, “paves the way for Romania’s Patriot force to rapidly reach Initial Operational Capability, and sets the stage for the U.S. government to begin contract negotiations with Raytheon.”
Romania will be the 14th Patriot customer worldwide.
According to a Defense Security Cooperation Agency notification of the possible sale to Romania, the country wants seven Patriot Configuration 3+ units, complete with radars, a control station, antennas, launching stations and power plants. Also included are 56 Patriot MIM-104E Guidance Enhanced Missile TBM (GEM-T) missiles and 168 Patriot Advanced Capability — 3 Missile Segment Enhancement missiles.
The sale, according to the notice, could be worth up to $3.9 billion.
Jen Judson - defensenews

Philippines Orders Six A-29 Super Tucano

Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer has announced a firm order of six A-29 Super Tucano light-attack and advanced training aircraft for the Philippine Air Force.
The Southeast Asian nation, which is battling several insurgencies including against Islamic State-linked militants on several islands in the south of the country, had named Embraer as the sole compliant bidder for its close-air support aircraft requirement under the first stage of its Horizon modernization program in early June.
The order makes the Philippines the second Southeast Asian user of the Super Tucano after Indonesia. According to Thursday’s news release from Embraer, deliveries of the aircraft will be concluded in 2019. The value of the contract was not announced.
Mike Yeo-defensenews

Armed US Drones to Start Flying Over Niger

The United States and Niger have reached an agreement permitting armed American military drones for use against jihadist terror groups in the African nation, a U.S. official told VOA.
The agreement, finalized this week, is a major expansion of U.S. military’s efforts to counter terrorism in Africa. It is unclear whether the drones will be used to carry out targeted strikes or solely as a defensive measure.
Until now, the U.S. has only been conducting airstrikes against terrorists on the continent operating inside Libya and Somalia. Officials say that arming drones based in Niger would expand the military’s ability to go after extremists in West Africa, where Nigeria-based Boko Haram, Algeria-based al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and Islamic State fighters operate.
Pentagon spokeswoman Army Major Audricia Harris would not comment on the new permissions.

Nov 25, 2017

UK military chief ‘sympathetic’ to cut in F-35 fighter jet order

Deputy chief of UK defence staff says move would reflect ‘reality of world we are living in’
One of the UK’s most senior military chiefs has suggested that Britain may cut the number of F-35 combat jets it buys in the future as pressure grows on its defence budget.
Despite a commitment to buy 138 F-35B Lightning II fighter jets from the US manufacturer Lockheed Martin, Lieutenant General Mark Poffley, deputy chief of the UK defence staff, told MPs on Tuesday that he was “sympathetic” to the idea that the overall number could eventually fall.
“That’s the reality of the world we are living in,” added Lt Gn Poffley.
Earlier Stephen Lovegrove, the most senior civil servant at the Ministry of Defence, revealed that the cost of an initial tranche of 48 F-35s could rise from £9.1bn in 2025 to £13bn in 2048.
The MoD said the extra £4bn was to cover the “whole life costs” of the planes including support costs, training and maintenance. It insisted that the UK was still committed to buying its full quota. “Our plan to buy 138 F-35 jets over the life of the programme has not changed, with only the US planning to buy more aircraft,” it said.
The F-35 jets will provide the main strike force for Britain’s two new aircraft carriers, the first of which, HMS Queen Elizabeth, is due to be officially commissioned into the Royal Navy on December 7.

USAF'S F-22s conduct first airstrikes in Afghanistan

In a first use of expanded military authorities in Afghanistan, U.S. warplanes destroyed eight Taliban opium production facilities in Helmand Province Sunday, the top U.S. general there said Monday.
U.S. Forces Afghanistan commander Gen. John Nicholson said U.S. and Afghan forces in total took out 10 facilities on the first day of Operation Jagged Knife, a combined air operation that involved Afghan A-29s and U.S. B-52s and F-22s to take out a series of factories that Nicholson said were used as a revenue source for the Taliban.
The operation marked the first use of the F-22 to conduct airstrikes in Afghanistan. The highly advanced stealth fighter has capabilities that exceed what should have been necessary to destroy a Taliban target, raising questions as to why that platform was selected.
On Monday, Nicholson said the F-22 was selected in a last-minute decision, based on what aircraft was available with the capability to carry a small diameter precision bomb. Nicholson showed a clip of a target hit by an F-22 that dropped 250-pound small diameter bombs inside a compound. The bombs destroyed two of the structures inside the compound, leaving one, “to avoid collateral damage,” Nicholson said.

Tomahawks get faster processors, better flight paths

Powered by new processors that run 20 times faster, Navy missiles should now fly more accurately to their targets following a major upgrade and electronics enhancements.
The Tactical Tomahawk Weapons Control System (TTWCS), in service since 2004, recently underwent improvements that include faster processors and increased cybersecurity controls.
Most notably, planners in the Tomahawk Weapons System Program Office (PMA-280) ditched older proprietary processors in favor of state-of-the-art multicore X-86 multicore processors, which run 20 times faster.

United States to deploy 6 F-22 Raptor stealth fighters to Korea next month

The United States is planning to send six F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets to a joint air force exercise in South Korea next month in what is believed to be U.S. action to put maximum pressure on North Korea, military officials here said on Thursday.
"Six F-22 fighters from the U.S. Air Force are scheduled to join the joint South Korea-U.S. air force exercise Vigilant Ace from Dec. 4-8," the officials said.
The fighters will fly to the Korean Peninsula from Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan and stay at an air base in South Korea throughout the exercise, according to officials. Up to four F-35A Lightning stealth fighters are also likely to join the deployment, they said.
The U.S. fleet will reportedly engage in enemy infiltration and precision strike drills with South Korean Air Force fighter jets during the exercise.
It would mark the first time the U.S. has deployed six Raptors to Korea at once and is sure to put pressure on North Korea with the overwhelming military force by the allies.
The planned deployment comes as the U.S. steps up the deployment of strategic assets to South Korea in a show of force aimed at pressuring North Korea to the maximum level. Early this month, three U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carriers were deployed to the East Sea after powerful American fighter jets flew near North Korea in the previous months.
The move is also sure to lead to an angry reaction from North Korea and threats to retaliate as similar operations have done in the past.

Finland Plans To Replace F-18C/D Fleet with at Least 64 New Fighter Jets

Finland's Ministry of Defence plans to send out invitations to tender for the purchase of 64 new fighter jets. The new jets will replace the current stock of 64 F/A-18 Hornet jets, which have served the Finnish military since 1992.
The defence report, which was approved by the Parliament in February, says that the readiness of the current fleet must be fully maintained after the procurement.
"We have interpreted that to mean 64 fighter jets. Because the new jets are not faster and can't stay up in the air any longer than the current ones, we will require the same number of jets to maintain the performance of our air defence", says Lauri Puranen from the Ministry.
"That is the minimum number we need to defend a country of this size."
Parliament has decided that it will spend between 7 and 10 billion euros the new jets, which will make the acquisition the most purchase by Finland ever.
The ministry said it will send out invitations to tender in early 2018 to Boeing and Lockheed Martin from the US, Saab from Sweden, Dessault Aviation in France and the British-European BAE Systems.
The new government taking up office in 2019 will make a decision about purchasing fighter jets to replace the current stock of Hornet jets at the end of 2021. The current fleet will be retired by 2030.
In August President Donald Trump caused a minor controversy when he announced during a joint press conference with President Sauli Niinistö that Finland was buying fighter jets from the US. That claim was denied by Niinistö later on Twitter.
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Nov 19, 2017

United Arab Emirates To Upgrade Mirage 2000-9 Fleet

Dassault confirmed that the UAE's armed forces "have announced their intention to sign a contract for the upgrade of their Mirage 2000-9 fleet."
The company declines to provide further information, but says it "welcomes this decision, and is grateful to the UAE authorities for their trust". It also points to the single-engined fighter's "high-quality participation in international coalition operations".
“The Mirage 2000-9 has proven through time it is one of the best aircraft there is in the operational field," the UAE defence ministry tells FlightGlobal. "The upgrade is to fulfill mission needs and requirements, which have changed based on what is going on in the [Middle East] area. It requires new technologies to be able to operate the aircraft.”
Avionics supplier Thales stands to benefit from the prospective contract, having supplied equipment including the Mirage 2000-9's radar, mission computer, electronic warfare systems, cockpit displays and helmet-mounted cueing technology.
The UAE air force has an active fleet of 55 Mirage 2000-9s, including 14 trainers, plus 10 earlier-generation Mirage 2000s. The assets are aged between 13 and 28 years.

First Tu-160M2 airframe rolled out

The first Tu-160M2 supersonic strategic bomber was rolled out at the PJSC ‘Tupolev’ Gorbunov Aircraft Plant’s factory in Kazan, Russia, on 16 November.
The aircraft is built around an incomplete Tu-160, likely to be one of the three airframes placed in storage in the early 1990s. One of these airframes, RF-94115, is in service with the Russian Air Force at Engels Air Base, close to Saratov, flying with the 2nd Aviation Group’s 6950th Aviation Brigade. This airframe was removed from storage and completed to the basic Tu-160 standard, becoming operational in 2008. Another airframe arrived in Kazan in 2009, and there is a strong possibility that it is this aircraft that was used for the Tu-160M2 roll out. The location of the third airframe is unknown at this time.
Three operational Tu-160s have been modernised to Tu-160M standard, and it is possible that the remaining airframes in line for an upgrade will receive Tu-160M2 specifications, which will reportedly take place at the same time as the building of new airframes. The only comparable difference between the M and M2 standard is the new Kuznetsov NK-32-2 turbofans. However, funding may make this impossible and
Tony Roper - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

HMS Queen Elizabeth to formally join fleet

The UK Royal Navy’s first Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier is to complete its contractors’ sea trials and formally join the fleet on 7 December.
UK defence secretary Gavin Williamson made the announcement on 16 November during his first visit to the carrier, while it was at sea sailing around the southwest of England.
He said the commission ceremony would be conducted by Queen Elizabeth II in Portsmouth Naval Base after the ship completes its contractors’ trials, run by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance. After the ceremony, the ship will be formally titled HMS Queen Elizabeth.
The ship left Portsmouth on 30 October to begin the second phase of its contractors’ trials, which are focused on proving the performance of its communications, radar, and other sensors. Open-source AIS transponder tracks indicate that the carrier operated around Land’s End and the north coast of Cornwall during the first two weeks of the trials.
Tim Ripley - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

Nov 18, 2017

United Arab Emirates orders five Airbus C295 aircraft

The United Arab Emirates Air Force & Air Defence has ordered five Airbus C295 medium transport aircraft.
The agreement, announced at the Dubai Airshow, takes the C295 orderbook past 200, underlining the type’s market leadership in its class.
The aircraft will serve with the UAE Air Force replacing the existing CN235s still in operation. Deliveries will begin in the fourth quarter of 2018.
Orders for the C295 in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region now total 51.
C295 sales pass the 200 mark.

Norway To Buy 60 AIM-120C AMRAAM

The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Norway for AIM-120 C-7 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM) for an estimated cost of $170 million. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on November 14, 2017.
The Government of Norway requested a possible sale of sixty (60) AIM-120 C-7 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM) and four (4) AMRAAM guidance section spares. Also included are missile containers, weapon system support, support equipment, spare and repair parts, publications and technical documentation, personnel training, training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor engineering, logistics, technical and support services, and other related elements of logistics and program support. The estimated total case value is $170 million.
This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by improving the security of a NATO ally which continues to be an important force for political stability and economic progress in Europe.

A400M gearbox fix slips into 2018

The process for approving a permanent propeller gearbox (PGB) fix for the Airbus Defence & Space A400M will take longer than previously expected, according to propulsion system supplier Europrop International (EPI).
Earlier this year, EPI outlined an ambition to secure European Aviation Safety Agency certification for a "Pack 2" series of modifications to the TP400-D6 engine's Avio Aero-supplied PGB in the third quarter of this year. The activity involves design enhancements intended to reduce vibration and "reinforce endurance and reliability".
"EPI wants to provide a fully mature PGB configuration, which requires extensive analysis and tests," the engine consortium tells FlightGlobal, with the latter activity including "rig tests and full engine tests". "Consequently, we plan to achieve certification at the beginning of 2018,” it adds.

Nov 12, 2017

France sells five used Super Etendard fighter planes to Argentina

France has sold five used Super Étendard fighter planes to Argentina, which has an outdated military fleet and is hosting large international events in coming years, the French ambassador in Buenos Aires said.
The planes were negotiated during talks over the sale of four ships from French shipbuilding company Naval Group to Argentina, a discussion that Ambassador Pierre Henri Guignard said in an interview is ongoing.

USA discussing F-35 sale to United Arab Emirates

The US government is discussing the potential sale of Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters with the United Arab Emirates, the US Air Force’s vice chief of staff has confirmed.
After the Obama administration pushed back on a previous request from the UAE, the possibility of an F-35 sale appears to have gained renewed traction under President Donald Trump.
In an interview with reporters on the eve of the Dubai air show, Gen Stephen Wilson confirmed news reports on the preliminary discussions with the UAE.

Canada expects fifth-generation fighter contract by 2021

The Royal Canadian Air Force expects to release a new request for proposals for its fifth-generation fighter competition by 2019 with a contract award by 2021, the RCAF’s commander says this week.
In June, Canada proposed 88 new fighters for the RCAF , an increase from the previous government’s plan to purchase 65 jets to replace the aging CF-18 fleet, but did not outline a timeline for the RFP.
Canada launched an open competition for the CF-18 replacement last summer following a campaign promise from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal party to step away from the controversial Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The government is considering all options, including the F-35, although a Boeing F/A-18 acquisition appears unlikely in the wake of the airframer's commercial dispute with Bombardier.
RCAF commander Lt Gen Michael Hood would not comment directly on whether Boeing’s Super Hornet is still under consideration in the competition. This autumn the government announced it had suspended direct engagement with Boeing.
“I would say my personal relationship is limited to the support of our ongoing Boeing products and those normal day-to-day discussions we would have with them,” Hood tells FlightGlobal at the annual Dubai International Air Chiefs Conference.
Meanwhile, Canada is considering options for an interim CF-18 replacement. The government had previously proposed buying 18 new Super Hornets, but the commercial dispute has pushed the government to change course and examine Canada’s used Boeing F/A-18A/B Hornets. Last month, Canada submitted a formal declaration known as an expression of interest to Australia. Canada operates a similar Hornet configuration and both the CF-18s and Australian F/A-18A/Bs began operating within a few years of each other. Canada also bought the intellectual property on the jet and already uses L-3 for F/A-18 sustainment, Hood adds.

Germany declares preference for F-35 to replace Tornado

The German Air Force has a shortlist of existing platforms to replace its Panavia Tornados from 2025 to 2030, but the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) is the service’s “preferred choice", a senior service official said on 8 November.
Speaking under the Chatham House Rule, the official said that the F-35 already fulfils most of the requirements that the Luftwaffe requires to replace its Tornados in the 2025 to 2030 timeframe, and that it offers a number of other benefits besides.
“The Tornado replacement needs to be fifth-generation aircraft that can be detected as late as possible, if at all. It must be able to identify targets from a long way off and to target them as soon as possible.
“The German Ministry of Defence [MoD] is looking at several aircraft today, including the F-35 – it is commercially available already, has been ordered by many nations and is being introduced into service today, and has most of the capabilities required.”
Germany had previously engaged Airbus Defence and Space (DS) in defining the requirements for a future Tornado replacement under its Future Combat Air System (FCAS) programme. However, the timelines involved of an anticipated retirement of the Tornado in about 2030 has caused the Luftwaffe to look instead at an already developed platform. As the official explained, “The timeframe suggests we need to start introducing successor in about 2025 to cover the Tornado retirement in 2030 – we need a five-year transition phase. That is only seven years away, and so it is very unlikely that industry could develop and introduce an entirely new aircraft type that fulfils the functionalities that we require. History show that the Eurofighter took 25 years before the first aircraft was introduced.”
Gareth Jennings - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

Spain's Ejército del Aire Eurofighter and nEURON UCAV Dodfight over Gulf of Lyon France

Nov 11, 2017

Draken International Expands Fleet with Acquisition of 22 Mirage F1M Fighter Jets From Spain Ejército del Aire

Draken International, has acquired 22 Mirage F1M and F1B fighter jets in an effort to enhance adversary services for the United States Air Force and other Department of Defense clients. The Mirage F1Ms were predominantly flown by the Spanish Air Force and have been fully modernized. This acquisition increases Draken’s fleet size to over 100 fighter jets as the company continues to expand its capabilities.
With the completion of the procurement phase, the Mirage F1Ms will soon join Draken’s existing fleet of radar-equipped Douglas A-4K Skyhawks and Aero Vodochody L-159E “Honey Badger” fighter jets. Draken remains the only commercial air service provider to have purchased, imported, certified and executed sustained flight operations with radar-equipped and threat representative fighter aircraft. These important capabilities inherent to the Draken Mirage F1M, L-159 and A-4 are essential for supporting Draken’s Nellis AFB ADAIR contract which provides adversary training for the prestigious USAF Weapons School, Red Flag exercises, operational test support, RTU support, and Combat Air Forces abroad.
Draken International is also prepared to use all 22 Mirage F1Ms for various contracts within the US Department of Defense to include the US Navy, US Marine Corps, as well as numerous coalition militaries. As the sole provider of commercial adversary services to the USAF, Draken International is primed to deliver extensive capacity to cover the majority of the 42,000 flight hour requirement for supporting combat readiness training at 12 operating locations throughout the US.
The US Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center (NAWDC), which includes the Weapons School (TOPGUN) and Carrier Air Wing Training, is currently reviewing proposals from contract air service providers for a high-end supersonic, radar-equipped adversary solution at Naval Air Station Fallon. Draken’s Mirage F1M offers Fallon an extremely cost-effective Mach 2+, radar-equipped platform that meets or exceeds all posted requirements.
In 1996, the Spanish Air Force, along with Thomson-CSF (Thales Group), spent $96M on a modernization upgrade, including cockpit enhancements, LCD MFDs, Advanced HUD, INS/GPS, Electronic Attack systems and a special performance upgrade for the Cyrano IVM radar. The Spanish Mirage F1M fleet was decommissioned in February 2013 and stored in Albacete Air Base, Spain until Draken’s purchase in September 2017. After extensive research, these Mirage F1s proved to be the best equipped and lowest time fighters of their kind available to the industry.
Sean Gustafson, VP of Business Development at Draken stated, “Our operations and maintenance teams are committed to providing our customers a credible, safe, and cost-effective service. This acquisition strategy is consistent with other fighter fleets we have purchased. In fact, purchasing fighter jets with modern radars and sensors well in advance of expected demand is the principal reason why Draken is the world’s largest provider of this vital service. Capacity and capability will continue to be the cornerstone of our organization as we continue to set the standard for the rest of the industry to follow.”

South Korean KAI In Advanced Talks With Argentina and Botswana About FA-50 Golden Eagle

Korea Aerospace Industries Co. (KAI), the country's sole aircraft manufacturer, said Friday it is in talks with nine countries to export its trainer aircraft.
The company exported a total of 145 trainer planes -- made up of the turboprop KT-1 basic trainer and the supersonic T-50 advanced jet to countries in Europe and emerging markets in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. The total value of sales has reached US$3.7 billion so far.
In a press meeting, KAI President and Chief Executive Kim Jo-won said talks with Botswana and Argentina are at an "advanced stage" and "good results" are expected later this year or early next year.
"As the countries with which KAI are in talks are developing economies, they require financial loans from South Korean banks in order to place the aircraft order with KAI," Kim said.

Nov 4, 2017

Eurofighter Typhoon completes Brimstone missile trials successfully

A series of live firings of the Brimstone precision strike missile from a Eurofighter Typhoon have been completed successfully, adding enhanced capability to the aircraft.
The trials, conducted from BAE Systems’ Military Air & Information at Warton, Lancashire, UK, form part of a programme of new enhancements which will be rolled out across the Royal Air Force (RAF), ensuring Typhoon remains at the cutting edge of combat capability.

Iraq receives three more US F16 fighter jets

Iraq's Ministry of Defence announced on Thursday that it has received three new F16 aircraft from the United States, bringing the total to 17 since Baghdad signed a nearly $2 billion purchase-deal with Washington in 2014.
The deal was for 36 fighter jets, but Iraq will receive only 34 since two crashed during training of Iraqi pilots in the United States.
The planes arrived at Balad airbase, north of the capital Baghdad, the ministry said in a short statement without giving more detail.

Nov 1, 2017

U.S. sends nuclear-capable B-2 stealth bomber on mission in Pacific ahead of Trump visit to Asia

The U.S. military sent a nuclear-capable B-2 stealth bomber from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri on a long-range mission to the Pacific area of operations over the weekend, it said Sunday, a day after Pentagon chief Jim Mattis highlighted rival North Korea’s “accelerating” atomic weapons program during a visit to South Korea.
The U.S. military’s Strategic Command said in a statement that the type of long-range mission conducted was to “familiarize aircrew with air bases and operations in different geographic combatant commands, enabling them to maintain a high state of readiness and proficiency.”
In a message likely intended to reassure Japan and South Korea ahead of U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to Asia, which kicks off later this week, the statement also referred to the B-2 mission as “a visible demonstration of commitment to our allies and enhancing regional security.”
The flight path of the B-2 was unclear, and Strategic Command did not respond to a request for comment, but the last time one of the stealth bombers flew near the Koreas was during a rare show of force over the peninsula in 2013. Military experts say that any U.S. strike on North Korea would almost certainly involve the powerful bombers.

Slovakia receives first C-27J Spartan airlifter

Slovakia officially inducted into its inventory the first of two Alenia Aermacchi C-27J Spartan tactical transport aircraft on 31 October.
The twin-engined turboprop, which actually arrived in-country the previous week, was welcomed into service during a ceremony at Malacky-Kuchyna air base near the Austrian border. Malacky-Kuchyna is home to the Slovak Air Force’s (Vzdusné sily Slovenskej Republiky) transport wing which currently fields the Let L-410 Turbolet twin-turboprop cargo aircraft.
Slovakia has acquired the C-27J to replace the already-retired Warsaw Pact-era Antonov An-26 ‘Curl’ airlifters it inherited with the split from the Czech Republic in 1993. Following a protracted procurement process that lasted about six years, a contract was signed in 2014 that was estimated to be worth EUR120 million (USD152 million at the time).
This first aircraft was due to have been delivered in 2016, and the Slovak Ministry of Defence noted that negotiations are ongoing with Alenia Aermacchi’s parent company Leonardo with regard to penalty fees resulting from its late arrival. The second C-27J is now scheduled to arrive at Malacky-Kuchyna at the beginning of 2018.

US Approves Sale of 12 Bell UH-1Y to Czech Republic

The Czech Republic is looking to update its fleet of military helicopters with a deal worth $575 million. Approved by the U.S. State Department, the Czech Republic is set to receive 12 Bell Helicopter UH-1Ys.
The Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress Oct. 11 of the foreign military sale, which includes the UH-1Ys, as well as 25 of General Electric’s T-700 401c engines, 13 Honeywell GPS systems and 12 M240 machine guns.
“The Czech Republic intends to use these helicopters to modernize its armed forces and strengthen its homeland defense and deter regional threats,” the State Department said in a statement. “This will contribute to the Czech Republic’s military goal of updating its capabilities while further enhancing interoperability with the United States and other NATO allies.”

India Could Be Interested in Canadian Navy SH-3 Sea Kings

It seems the air force's venerable CH-124 Sea King helicopters will find life after retirement from the Canadian military following six informal expressions of interest from either countries or organizations interested in buying them.
While Public Works will not reveal the potential bidders, it is known that India is one country that might want to keep flying the aircraft.
An official in Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan's office confirmed on background that the matter was raised in one of the meetings during his visit to India last spring.
The Indian navy already flies Sea Kings and is reportedly in urgent need of helicopters, according to the Financial Express, one of the country's business publications.
The introduction of the CH-148 Cyclone helicopters has allowed the Canadian air force to take 16 of its 28 Sea Kings out of service, but spokesperson Capt. Trevor Reid said they have not yet been turned over to Public Works for disposal.
The federal government began soliciting interest in selling the old helicopters in the fall of 2015. Spokesperson Pierre-Alain Bujold said National Defence has also not formally served notice that it intends to sell the helicopters.
Once that takes place there is only a limited number of buyers who would qualify.
"Due to the controlled nature of military assets, [Public Works] does not sell these assets to individual persons," said Bujold in an email. "Assets are sold exclusively to pre-approved foreign governments, original equipment manufacturers, and their licensed representatives."
The last Sea King is slated to be taken out of service in December 2018

1st Norway's F-35 Set To Arrive in country This Week

Norway can finally expect delivery of the first of its new F35 fighter jets from the US later this week. Three of the F35s are due to arrive on Thursday.
The new jets, ordered after years of political debate to replace Norway’s ageing fleet of F16s, make up what the Norwegian defense ministy describes as the country’s largest single acquisition ever made. They’re now expected to cost a whopping NOK 73 billion by the time all are delivered over the next seven years.
Plans call for six new F35s to be delivered every year until 2024. “This is all about the defense department’s ability to ensure Norsk sovereignty, also against future threats,” Gen Maj Morten Klever told news bureau NTB.
Norway’s defense minister and defense chief are due to be on hand at a formal takeover ceremony to be held at the fighter jets’ new base at Ørland next Friday, November 10.

Indonesia selects NASAMS air defence system

KONGSBERG has signed a contract worth 77 MUSD with the Ministry of Defence of Indonesia to supply a NASAMS air defence system.
The contract comprise delivery of a complete NASAMS system with command posts, radars, launchers, radios and integration, and training and logistics support. AMRAAM missiles will be provided in a separate government-to-government agreement between Indonesia and the United States.
Several nations have chosen NASAMS, including Norway, Finland, The Netherlands, USA, Spain, Oman and now Indonesia.