Oct 17, 2017

Israel steps back from V-22 purchase

The Israeli air force has frozen its evaluation of the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey, with a senior defence source indicating that the tiltrotor is unable to perform some missions currently conducted using its Sikorsky CH-53 transport helicopters.
In January 2014, the US Department of Defense notified Congress about its intention to sell six V-22s to Israel. This followed an evaluation conducted by air force personnel, which led to the service seeking a rapid acquisition to support special operations. The proposed purchase met with opposition from elsewhere within Israel's defence ministry, however.
Other potential candidates to replace the Israeli air force's aged CH-53s by around 2025 include Sikorsky's new CH-53K and the Boeing CH-47 Chinook.
Some of the service's current CH-53s have amassed more than 10,000 flying hours, and it expects to continue operating updated examples until 2028.

Serbia to buy S-300 missile systems, MiG-29 jets from Belarus

The Serbian Ministry of Defenee is planning to purchase S-300 long-range surface-to-air missile systems and seven Mikoyan MiG-29 fighter jets from Belarus.
The deals are to be signed this November during an official visit by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic to Minsk where he will meet with his Belarusian counterpart, Alexander Lukashenko, a Serbian government source told local daily Tanjug.
The unnamed official said that “the offer that is on the table and which will be announced in November is much more favorable than the one that we obtained from Moscow.”
The value of the planned deal was not disclosed.

US clears Greek F-16 upgrade sale

The U.S. State Department has cleared an F-16 upgrade package for sale to Greece, with an estimated worth of over $2.4 billion.
The proposed sale, posted Tuesday by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, would help Greece “as a deterrent to regional threats, strengthen its homeland defense, and execute counter-terrorism operations,” according to the sale notification.
The upgrade package will bring Greece’s fleet of Block 30, Block 50, Block 52+, and Block 52+ Advanced F-16 configurations to the F-16 V standard.
The core of the F-16V upgrade is the APG 83 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radars, of which 125 are included in the proposed package. In addition, the stated package includes 123 Modular Mission Computers, 123 LINK-16 Multifunctional Information Distribution System Joint Tactical Radio Systems, 123 LN260 Embedded Global Navigation Systems (EGI)/Inertial Navigation Systems, and 123 Improved Programmable Display Generators, plus assorted supplies and training.

Oct 15, 2017

Japan to receive additional AMRAAM missiles

Japan is to receive a further batch of Raytheon AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAMs) following approval of a potential sale by the US State Department.
The approval, announced by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) on 4 October, covers 56 AIM-120C-7-variant missiles, plus support..
The deal must be approved by Congress before it can proceed.
The Japanese Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) already fields the AIM-120C-7, having been cleared to receive its first batch of 17 missiles in 2014. These augment the earlier AIM-120C-5 variant currently in the force’s inventory.
The AIM-120C-7 is a new design with distinct capability upgrades from previous AMRAAM versions. The missile has upgraded antenna, receiver, and signal-processing hardware to meet operational requirements in countering new threats, and smaller electronic components to provide internal space for future system growth.
The missile is fitted with an active radar seeker – similar to that of the AIM-120A, but with a number of software upgrades – and is powered by a propulsion system similar to the AIM-120C-5 equivalent, but with an enlarged rocket motor.

Oct 14, 2017

Belarus Preps Angolan SU-30 Aircraft to Depart

A review of satellite imagery shows some new developments at the 558th Aircraft Repair Plant in Baranovichi. Co-located at the 61st Fighter Airbase, the Belarusian-based Plant overhauled two former Indian Su-30K Flanker attack aircraft, imagery from August and September 2017 suggests.
According to domestic sources, the two aircraft will be upgraded to the “KN” standard before making their way to Angola and into the service of National Air Force of Angola (FANA). The camo pattern of the observed aircraft matches previous handhelds of FANA’s Su-27.
In total, the southern Africa country is expected to receive up to 12 Su-30KN fighters by early 2018, Aleksandr Vorobei, the CEO of the 558th Aviation Repair Plant, told Sputnik on 19 September 2017.
However, reports from July suggest Angola may acquire all 18 of the former Indian fighters. Luanda reportedly remains in negotiation with Russia’s Irkut Corporation, which still owns the aircraft parked at Baranovichi.
At present, imagery of the repair plant shows at least 7 remaining SU-30K parked near the drive-through maintenance hangar, suggesting that Angola’s work order is well underway and that the additional aircraft are in fact available.
While some sources (here and here) reported that Angola has taken delivery, imagery suggests that the first batch had yet to depart the repair plant by late September.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras fly in an F-16D

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was given a ride in a HAF F-16D during his visit to the 110th Combat Wing at Larisa air base on Oct. 12.
The hour-long flight took him across Halkidiki, Mt. Athos, Limnos, Agios Efstratios and Skyros.

Oct 12, 2017

Italy Eurofighters to stay in Bulgaria for two extra weeks

Italian Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon jet fighters will continue to guard Bulgarian air space for a further two weeks, after the Bulgarian government decided on October 11 to extend the mission initially planned to end on October 15.
In June 2017, Bulgaria’s government authorised the participation of the four Italian Air Force aircraft in air policing, from July 15 for three months.
The Eurofighters are based at the Graf Ignatievo Air Force Base. A team of 110 people from the Italian Air Force is participating in the mission.
The Italian Air Force is involved in the air policing mission in co-operation with Bulgarian Air Force MiG-29s. Each party to the mission is bearing the costs of it own force’s participation.
Italy was one of three bidders to submit proposals to Bulgaria in 2016 to supply fighter jets to the Air Force, offering second-hand Eurofighters. The bid was ranked second, behind the offer by Saab to supply newly made-to-order Gripens. However, Bulgaria’s jet fighter acquisition process, meant to ensure Nato-standard replacements for the Air Force’s ageing Soviet-made MiGs, is currently stalled amid domestic political machinations.

Oct 8, 2017

Portugal deploys F-16s to Romania

A Portuguese Air Force F-16 detachment deployed to Borcea Air Force Base, Romania in mid-September for training and exercise missions within the Assurance Measures framework.
On September 18, 2017, Portugal landed a military force in support of four F-16 fighter jets, starting a two-month deployment to the Romanian Air Base of Borcea for the exercise "Falcon Defense 2017".
The Portuguese fighter aircraft will fly training missions in the area in support of NATO policy, to include combined joint missions with the Romanian Air Force, Army and Navy and the Canadian Air Force CF-18s, also deployed in the region, conducting enhanced Air Policing and training missions in Romania. Some of this flying activity will be controlled by a NATO E3-A AWACS operating over the two Allies on the Black Sea shores. The aim of this training is to hone skills and further consolidate cross-Ally interoperability.
Portugal transferred to the Romanian Air Force, 12 F-16 aircraft, while providing training to more than 80 Romanian military personnel in Portugal. With all the fighters delivered, the Portuguese Air Force is now conducting joint training of tactics, techniques and procedures for operations of the jets until late 2018.
"This training deployment is highly beneficial” said Detachment Commander, Lieutenant Colonel João "Jedi” Rosa, who is in charge of 70 military to include pilots, operators, maintainers as well as communications, logistics and other specialists. "While my team has the opportunity to practice deployment and operation, they can, simultaneously, test skills and capabilities away from their home base. Additionally, we are able to fly joint training sorties alongside with our Allies further strengthening the bonds and the interoperability of this Alliance”, he added.
This deployment is one example of Allies organizing joint training activities underlining cohesion and interoperability and showcasing the level of cooperation and consistency required to maintain high NATO standards.

Oct 7, 2017

Paramount Group bolsters Dassault Mirage F1 fleet

South Africa's Paramount Group has acquired four twin-seat Dassault Mirage F1s from the French government to support aggressor training.
The surplus French air force fighters will be operated by its Paramount Aerospace Systems subsidiary.
Paramount declines to disclose the purchase price.
No decision on delivery dates or operating locations has been taken, with these governed by potential customer requirements.
The acquisitions will join the company's existing fleet of single-seat Mirage F1s, which it bought from the South African air force in 2006.
As well as aggressor and pilot training, the Mirages will be used to aid maintenance and support instruction.

Serbia Takes Delivery Of First Of Six MiG-29 Fighters From Russia

A transport plane has delivered two Russian MiG-29 fighter jets to Serbia, the initial shipment of a six-jet deal that could add to East-West tensions in the Balkans.
The warplanes arrived disassembled aboard a massive Antonov An-124 transport plane that landed at a military airport in the Belgrade suburb of Batajnica on October 2.
The MiGs are being provided by Moscow at no charge, but their assembly, repair, and refurbishing costs are expected to near $235 million in total.
The four other jets are set to arrive sometime before October 20, when they are likely to be displayed in Belgrade during a Liberation Day parade. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu is scheduled to attend.
In March, Serbia’s Aleksandar Vucic, then prime minister and now president, confirmed earlier reports that Russia would provide the six MiG-29 fighters "as a gift."
He added that the planes would enter military service by the end of 2017 after refurbishing and pilot training.
Russia also committed to provide 30 T-72 tanks and 30 BRDM-2 patrol combat vehicles to Serbia for free.
Vucic said on October 2 that Serbia also planned to improve its defenses and has been negotiating with Moscow for the purchase of Russian-made S-300 antiaircraft systems.

Oct 1, 2017

Germany lifts Tiger helicopter grounding

Germany has lifted a flight ban on the fleet of Airbus Helicopters Tiger attack rotorcraft operated by its army, but has yet to restart operations with the type.
Berlin grounded the Tiger, except for operational emergencies, following a late-July fatal crash near Gao in Mali in which two servicemen were killed.
Although the investigation into the accident has yet to reach any conclusions, the German defence ministry believes the helicopter is safe to fly again, with certain restrictions in place.
These relate mainly to speed and weight limits, as well as use of the autopilot. It says the constraints on the helicopter's use are "low and acceptable".
"[The inquiry] has cleared a lot of factors," it says. "It is clear to fly again under certain circumstances but we do not know yet the exact reason for the accident."
It says a series of tests will be performed on its 51-strong Tiger fleet, prior to the restart of operational flights.
Little detail has emerged from the crash investigation, but the Tiger appears to have lost its main rotor blades after entering into a sudden steep descent.
It hit the ground around 10s later, and the wreckage was consumed by a post-impact fire.
The defence ministry says the inquiry is looking at the ill-fated Tiger's flight control system as a potential cause of the accident, as its operation appears to have differed from that recorded on similar aircraft.

Reaper operations ramp up in France

A French MQ-9 has taken part in 'Serpentex 2017': a JTAC exercise hosted by France in Corsica
The MQ-9's participation marks the French Reaper fleet's first real domestically based operation
The sole French General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) MQ-9 Reaper based in France has taken part in its first international close air support exercise, ‘Serpentex 2017’, above Corsica in the last month.
France’s MQ-9s have operated out of Niamey, Niger, for Operation ‘Barkhane’ since 2014, but the first domestically based French MQ-9 only began flying out of Air Force Base 709, its home base in Cognac, southwestern France, on 6 July.
The Reaper flying out of Cognac is controlled by a French landing and recovery element (LRE), although, as in Niamey, GA-ASI provides the ground maintenance element.
Exercise ‘Serpentex’, which took place from 11-29 September this year, trains joint terminal attack controllers (JTACs) from several NATO countries to conduct close air support missions, with the French Reaper used for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) duties and to lase targets on the exercise’s range. The Reapers flown during Operation ‘Barkhane’ have been used to ‘buddy-lase’ precision-guided bombs and Hellfire missiles launched from Mirage strike aircraft and Tiger HAD helicopters respectively.
An average of one Reaper mission per day is launched from Cognac for Exercise ‘Serpentex’. The unmanned aerial vehicle’s (UAV’s) transit from Cognac to Corsica involves a three-hour flight at an average speed of 180–210 kt along a specific military air corridor, which is activated specifically for the duration of the flight.

Argentine Navy eyes US surplus P-3Cs

A technical delegation from the Argentine Navy visited the United States at the end of September to inspect and select two Lockheed Martin P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft (MPAs) soon to be become surplus to the US Navy (USN) for potential procurement, military sources in Buenos Aires have told Jane’s .
The delegation visited Air Station Whidbey Island at Oak Harbor in Washington state: the USN’s main West Coast MPA base. The aircraft being inspected are P-3Cs that are still operational but soon to be replaced by new Boeing P-8 Poseidon multimission maritime aircraft. According to the sources, Argentina is seeking a “warm transfer” of the MPAs that might be selected (i.e., a relatively direct transfer from the US to Argentine service).

South Korea to order additional TA-50 trainer/light attack aircraft

South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) has announced programmes to procure additional TA-50 trainer/light attack aircraft from Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) and expand the production of a locally developed military communications system.
In a press release published on 26 September the MND said the procurement of the TA-50 – a derivative of KAI’s T-50 Golden Eagle advanced jet trainer – was necessary to meet expanding air-combat training requirements. The MND said it plans to acquire the aircraft from 2019 but did not disclose the number of platforms it intends to procure.
It added that the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) trainer aircraft requirements were expected to increase significantly in the future due to the requirement to replace ageing Northrop F-5F trainers and the induction of frontline combat platforms including the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft and the proposed Korean Fighter Experimental (KFX) aircraft.
The RoKAF is scheduled to take delivery of the first of 40 on-order F-35 fighters from 2018, while the KFX, which is under development, is expected to enter service from around 2026.

USAF may soon start combat-testing new aircraft that could fight alongside the A-10

The Air Force is preparing to launch Combat Dragon III, a combat demonstration meant to test light-attack aircraft in the field, according to Aviation Week.
Air Force leaders have not yet reached a final determination about the exercise, but officials have forged ahead.
"We are preparing as if we're going," Air Force Reserve Col. Mike Pietrucha, who is light-attack adviser to Air Combat Command, told Aviation Week.
The service has selected a squadron commander and settled on a detachment of 70 people, Pietrucha said.
Those personnel will be drawn from operational squadrons, and staff and will be required to have at least 1,000 flight hours and combat experience, among other qualifications.
At the beginning of this year, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said the service was looking for an inexpensive fighter that could perform close-air-support missions over the battlefield.
The aircraft in question was reportedly envisioned as a cheap plane available commercially and which could handle combat missions — including close air support, basic surface attacks, and rescue escorts — against insurgents and even near-peer adversaries.
In August, the Air Force conducted the Light Attack Experiment, or OA-X, at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. The service said OA-X was part its efforts to "explore cost-effective attack platform options" and featured Textron's Scorpion and AT-6 Wolverine, the Super Tucano A-29 made by Embraer and Sierra Nevada, and Air Tractor's AT-802L Longsword.

Sep 30, 2017

China’s J-20 stealth fighter jet is in service

China has officially commissioned the Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter into service, the country’s defense ministry has announced.
Wu Qian, a spokesperson for the country’s Ministry of National Defense, also said in a media conference on Thursday that flight tests are being conducted as scheduled. The type is currently in low rate production for China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force, or PLAAF, with at least six examples known to be undergoing operational testing since late 2016 with the service’s 176th Air Brigade at Dingxin Airbase in China’s Gansu Province.
The J-20 is classified by the PLAAF as a fourth-generation — broadly equivalent to fifth-generation in the West — medium- and long-range fighter jet with stealthy characteristics, although these are mainly confined to the frontal aspect of the design

Romania in advanced talks to buy 36 F-16s from U.S.

Romanian authorities are under "advanced discussions for the purchase of another 36 F16 warplanes," Defense Minister Mihai Fifor said on Wednesday.
"Next week we will close this part of the programme with (...) F16. We are under advanced discussions to buy another 36 such aircraft, from the United States, not from Portugal. We have sent the necessary documents to see the purchasing price. We are at the beginning of this negotiation and we hope we will be able to buy another 36 warplanes," the defense minister said.
He said he wanted the pilots to fly with these fighter jets to be trained in the country.
"We are also interested in the viewpoint of the Romanian defense industry, because we continue to develop in Craiova the 'Soim' [Hawk] programme, for this aircraft to become the training plane for the pilots who will operate F16," explained Mihai Fifor.

Canada considered getting Hornets from Kuwait

Canada kicked the tires on the idea of buying used fighter jets from Kuwait to address a shortage of CF-18s, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan revealed Thursday, but found they wouldn't be ready in time.
The revelation comes amid a bitter and escalating dogfight between U.S. aerospace giant Boeing and Montreal-based Bombardier, which has the backing of Justin Trudeau's federal Liberal government.
The Liberals had planned to buy 18 Super Hornets from Boeing to fill what they claim is a critical shortage of fighter jets, but have since threatened to go elsewhere over the Bombardier dispute.

Germany and Norway place firm order for fleet of five NATO-owned Airbus A330 MRTT tankers

Airbus Defence and Space has received a firm order for five Airbus A330 MRTT Multi Role Tanker Transports from Europe’s organisation for the management of cooperative armament programmes – OCCAR – on behalf of NATO Support & Procurement Agency (NSPA) and funded by Germany and Norway.
The order follows the announcement on 29 June of a Memorandum of Understanding under which the two nations would join Netherlands and Luxembourg in the European/NATO Multinational Multi-Role Tanker Transport Fleet (MMF) programme.
A contract amendment signed at the OCCAR headquarters in Bonn, Germany today adds five aircraft to the two previously ordered by Netherlands and Luxembourg and includes four additional options to enable other nations to join the grouping. It includes two years of initial support.
The programme is funded by the four nations who will have the exclusive right to operate these NATO–owned aircraft in a pooling arrangement. The aircraft will be configured for in-flight refuelling, the transport of passengers and cargo, and medical evacuation flights.
The first two aircraft have already been ordered to be delivered from Airbus Defence and Space’s tanker conversion line at Getafe near Madrid and all seven are expected to be handed over between 2020 and 2022.

Sep 21, 2017

Afghanistan receive first Black Hawk helos

The Afghan Air Force (AAF) received on 18 September its first batch of Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopters.
The delivery, which was announced on the same day on the Facebook page of the 438th Air Expeditionary Wing (EAW), saw two UH-60s arrive at Kandahar Airfield in southern Afghanistan aboard a US Air Force (USAF) Boeing C-17A Globemaster III transport aircraft.
The AAF is set to receive 53 Black Hawks as the United States transitions the country’s armed forces over from its approximately 80 Russian-built Mil Mi-17 'Hip' helicopters. These former US Army aircraft are undergoing a major refurbishment and upgrade effort prior to delivery to Afghanistan. No delivery timeline has been disclosed.

Qatar to buy 24 Eurofighter Typhoons

Eurofighter looks to have secured another Middle Eastern customer after Qatar signed a statement of intent to buy 24 Typhoons.
The peninsular Arab country is in the midst of a wide-ranging modernisation and expansion of its air arm, the Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF).
The UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon signed the statement of intent with his Qatari counterpart Khalid bin Mohammed al Attiyah in Doha yesterday, September 17.
The bid to sell Typhoons to Qatar is being led by BAE Systems and if the deal is concluded it will represent the UK’s first major defence contract with the Gulf state. It would keep the production line at Warton, Lancashire, active beyond 2019.
A deal could be finalised and signed in around a month.
Qatari interest in the Typhoon comes hot on the heels of deals to acquire fighters from France and the US: the Dassault Rafale and Boeing F-15QA, respectively.
On June 14 an agreement was concluded for the acquisition of 36 F-15QAs, a variant of the F-15E Strike Eagle tailored to Qatari requirements. The $12bn deal was signed in Washington by Khalid bin Mohammed al Attiyah and US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.
The deal was signed amidst a diplomatic crisis that saw the country severing ties with much of the rest of the Middle East. Saudi Arabia and three other countries broke off diplomatic relations with Qatar on June 5. The deal also followed comments by President Donald Trump that described Qatar as “a funder of terrorism at a very high level”.

US Air Force could ground A-10s as early as FY18 as life of wings runs out

The Air Force may be forced to ground a portion of its A-10 Warthog squadrons as early as fiscal year 2018, as their wings age out before replacements can be provided, the head of Air Force Materiel Command said Wednesday.
Although the service plans to keep the majority of its A-10 fleet into the forseable future, leaders have acknowledged that it will be forced to retire three Warthog squadrons unless it is given money for new wings. Currently, 109 out of 281 A-10s need their wings replaced to extend their lives to 16,000 flight hours.

Sep 16, 2017

Israel Receives Two additional “Adir” F-35I stealth fighters

Israel's latest pair of Lockheed Martin F-35s landed at Nevatim air base on 14 September. The arrivals brought the total number of "Adir" jets operated by the nation's air force to seven.
"The arrival of two additional aircraft will allow us to become operational according to plan," says Brig Gen Eyal Grinboim, base commander at Nevatim.
By the end of this year, a further two F-35Is will join the air force's "Golden Eagle" squadron. The service plans to conduct an inspection in December, ahead of declaring initial operational capability (IOC) with the stealthy type.

South Korea responds to North Korea Firing a Taurus Missile

Korea's military fired two ballistic missiles in a swift response to North Korea's latest missile test on Friday, the Yonhap news agency in Seoul reported.
The action is unusual and shows a toughening response to North Korea's provocations, despite South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Thursday ruling out the return of nuclear weapons to South Korea because of fears it would spark an arms race.

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Russia delivers four Mi-35M helos to Pakistan

Russia has completed delivery of four Mil Mi-35M 'Hind E' attack helicopters to the Pakistan Army Aviation Corps (PAAC), Brigadier General Waheed Mumtaz, spokesperson for the Defence Export Promotion Organization of Pakistan, was quoted by Russian news agency RIA Novosti as saying on 25 August.
"The contract was signed, we received all four [helicopters], and now we get new equipment," Brig Gen Mumtaz told reporters at this year’s Army-2017 defence exhibition, which took place from 22-27 August near Moscow.
The spokesperson said that Pakistani pilots are now becoming acquainted with the new equipment. Based on the PAAC’s experience with the helicopters, Islamabad will now decide whether to place an order for additional helicopters as well as for other Russian military equipment and platforms, he was quoted as saying.
Pakistan and Russia had agreed to the Mi-35M deal in August 2015 in a move that was considered a breakthrough between the two countries. Pakistan's minister for defence production, Rana Tanveer Hussain, was quoted by local media last December as saying that Islamabad paid a total of USD153 million for the four helicopters.
Mindful of Indian concerns, Moscow had for years opted against engaging in any military co-operation with Pakistan.
However, in 2014 Russia decided to lift its self-imposed arms embargo against the South Asian country.

Saab presents new Gripen Aggressor

Saab is pitching a dedicated ‘Aggressor’ variant of its Gripen C fighter aircraft for the upcoming UK and US pilot training requirements.
Speaking at the DSEI exhibition in London where the new variant of the multirole fighter was unveiled, the head of Gripen sales and marketing, Richard Smith, said that the Gripen Aggressor has been tailored for pilot training role, and that the UK Air Support to Defence Operational Training (ASDOT) and the US Adversarial Air (AdAir) requirements.
“There are two countries where we see market potential for the Gripen Aggressor; namely in the UK for ASDOT and in the US for AdAir. We have a product that matches the requirements, and we have the business case to make it work,” Smith said.
The Gripen Aggressor is essentially a newbuild Gripen C that has had its offensive weapons capability (including the internal cannon) removed. While it is currently modelled on the single-seat Gripen C, Smith noted that a twin-seat Gripen D version could be offered if a customer requested it.

Canada cleared to buy 18 F/A-18E/Fs

The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Canada of ten (10) F/A-18E Super Hornet aircraft, with F414-GE-400 engines; eight (8) F/A-18F Super Hornet aircraft, with F414-GE-400 engines; eight (8) F414-GE-400 engine spares; twenty (20) AN/APG-79 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radars; twenty (20) M61A2 20MM gun systems; twenty-eight (28) AN/ALR-67(V)3 Electronic Warfare Countermeasures Receiving Sets; fifteen (15) AN/AAQ-33 Sniper Advanced Targeting Pods; twenty (20) Multifunctional Information Distribution Systems–Joint Tactical Radio System (MIDS-JTRS); thirty (30) Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems (JHMCS); twenty-eight (28) AN/ALQ-214 Integrated Countermeasures Systems; one hundred thirty (130) LAU-127E/A and or F/A Guided Missile Launchers; twenty-two (22) AN/AYK-29 Distributed Targeting System (DTS); twenty-two (22) AN/AYK-29 Distributed Targeting Processor (DTP); one hundred (100) AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder Block II Tactical Missiles; thirty (30) AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder Block II Captive Air Training Missiles (CATM); eight (8) AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder Block II Special Air Training Missiles (NATM); twenty (20) AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder Block II Tactical Guidance Units; sixteen (16) AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder Block II CATM Guidance Units. Also included in this sale are AN/AVS-9 Night Vision Goggles (NVG); AN/ALE-47 Electronic Warfare Countermeasures Systems; AN/ARC-210 Communication System; AN/APX-111 Combined Interrogator Transponder; AN/ALE-55 Towed Decoys; Joint Mission Planning System (JMPS); AN/PYQ-10C Simple Key Loader (SKL); Data Transfer Unit (DTU); Accurate Navigation (ANAV) Global Positioning System (GPS) Navigation; KIV-78 Duel Channel Encryptor, Identification Friend or Foe (IFF); CADS/PADS; Instrument Landing System (ILS); Aircraft Armament Equipment (AAE); High Speed Video Network (HSVN) Digital Video Recorder (HDVR); Launchers (LAU-115D/A, LAU-116B/A, LAU-118A); flight test services; site survey; aircraft ferry; auxiliary fuel tanks; aircraft spares; containers; storage and preservation; transportation; aircrew and maintenance training; training aids and equipment, devices and spares and repair parts; weapon system support and test equipment; technical data Engineering Change Proposals; technical publications and documentation; software; avionics software support; software development/integration; system integration and testing; U.S. Government and contractor engineering technical and logistics support; Repair of Repairable (RoR); repair and return warranties; other technical assistance and support equipment; and other related elements of logistics and program support. The estimated total case value is $5.23 billion.

Sep 9, 2017

Russia may build new 115,000-tonne aircraft carriers by 2020

The Russian industry will be able to build aircraft carriers having a displacement of 110,000-115,000 tonnes by 2020, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said on the Rossiya-24 round-the-clock TV news channel on Tuesday.
"When we build new shipyards and a huge dry dock in the Far East, if there is such a contract, it will be possible to create an aircraft carrier having a displacement of 110,000-115,000 tonnes. We will be capable of doing that starting from 2020," Rogozin said.
Russia’s future aircraft carrier will cost "far less" than its US counterparts.
He remarked that contracts for such ships would depend on the needs of Russia’s General Staff, which determines the need for aircraft carriers of that class.
Rogozin speculated that the Zvezda shipyard in the Far East may become a place for building such ships. Work is in progress there to build a 114-meter-wide dry dock.
"We now have no restrictions regarding the tonnage of civil or naval ships we may choose to build there," he said.
The Russian Navy earlier said the Russian fleet hoped to get a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier by the end of 2030. Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov said the contract for building an aircraft carrier might be signed by the end of 2025. And Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov said a sketch project of what may become Russia’s aircraft carrier of the future had been presented to the Defense Ministry.

First A330 MRTT Phénix for France makes maiden flight

Airbus Defence and Space has successfully completed the maiden flight of the first A330 MRTT Multi Role Tanker Transport for France. The aircraft, which will be known in French service as Phénix, is the first of nine ordered by the French Defence Procurement Agency DGA, plus another three expected to be confirmed. It is the second new standard A330 MRTT to fly, featuring structural modifications, aerodynamic improvements giving a fuel-burn reduction of up to 1%, upgraded avionics computers and enhanced military systems. The aircraft was converted in Getafe from a standard A330 assembled in Toulouse. The crew reported that the aircraft performed in line with expectations during the 3h 25min flight. The Phénix fleet will be equipped with a combination of the Airbus Aerial Refuelling Boom System (ARBS) and underwing hose-and-drogue refuelling pods, and can carry 272 passengers or be configured for medical evacuation. First delivery is due in 2018. Fifty-one A330 MRTTs have been ordered by eight nations of which 28 have been delivered.
Photo: Pablo Cabellos / Airbus

Bahrain Requests 19 F-16V

The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Bahrain for F-16V aircraft with support. The estimated cost is $2.785 billion.
The Government of Bahrain has requested a possible sale of nineteen (19) F-16V Aircraft; nineteen (19) M61 Vulcan 20mm Gun Systems; twenty-two (22) F-16V F-110-GE-129 Engines (includes 3 spares); twenty-two (22) APG-83 Active Electronically Scanned Array Radars (includes 3 spares); twenty-two (22) Modular Mission Computers (includes 3 spares); twenty-two (22) Embedded Global Navigation Systems/LN260 EGI (includes 3 spares); twenty-two (22) Improved Programmable Display Generators (iPDG) (includes 3 spares); and thirty-eight (38) LAU-129 Launchers. This sale also includes nineteen (19) AN/ALQ-211 AIDEWS Systems, thirty-eight (38) LAU-118A Launchers, forty-two (42) AN/ARC-238 SINCGARS Radio or equivalent, twenty-two (22) AN/APX-126 Advanced Identification Friend or Foe (AIFF) system or equivalent, twenty-two (22) cryptographic appliques, secure communication equipment, spares and repair parts, personnel training and training equipment, simulators, publications and technical documentation, U.S. Government and contractor technical support services, containers, missile support and test equipment, original equipment manufacturer integration and test, U.S. Government and contractor technical support and training services, site survey, design, construction studies/analysis/services, associated operations/maintenance/ training/support facilities, cybersecurity, critical computer resources support, force protection and other related elements of logistics and program support. The total estimated program cost is $2.785 billion.

Sep 2, 2017

India’s Air Force Interested in 36 More Rafale Fighter Jets From France

The Indian Air Force (IAF) is interested in placing a follow-up order for 36 additional fourth-generation Dassault Rafale multirole fighter jets, according to Indian Ministry of Defense (MoD) sources.
The Indian government and French aircraft maker Dassault Aviation signed a 7.87 billion euros agreement for the sale of 36 Rafale fighter jets in September 2016, following four years of protracted negotiations. Delivery of the Rafale fighter jets is expected to begin in November 2019 and will likely be completed in the middle of 2022.
Sources have now revealed to The Times of India that the IAF has made “some presentations” on the operational need for an additional 36 Rafale fighter jets arguing that a follow-up order would just cost around 60 percent of the original acquisition and induction price.
The IAFs first Rafale fighter jet squadron will be based in West Bengal, whereas the second squadron is slated to be based in Haryana. Both IAF bases will be able to accommodate an additional squadron of 18 aircraft each. “This will cut down the induction costs of the 36 additional fighters,” IAF sources said.

USAF set to activate its first fully combat capable F-35 squadron

The first squadron of fully combat capable F-35 Lightning II fighter jets is set to be activated this September, reports UPI. The fighter jets will be ready following the completion of software upgrades that will allow the full utilization of its weapons and sensor systems, according to the report.
F-35s that have not yet been upgraded to the Block 3F software have some combat capability, but won’t be able to use the full range of weapons and sensors until the new software is installed. The 34th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, will receive the first F-35s equipped with the software, followed by a training squadron at Luke AFB, also in September.
The US Air Force declared its first squadron of F-35As ready for battle in August 2016, 15 years after Lockheed Martin won the contract to build the fighter jet.

U.S. B-1B bombers, South Korea jets conduct flight operation after North Korea missile launch

Two U.S. nuclear-capable strategic bombers conducted a joint operation with South Korean air force fighter jets on Thursday, the Yonhap news agency reported, two days after North Korea launched a missile that flew over Japan sharply raising tension.
Four U.S. stealth F-35B jets also took part in the operation, Yonhap reported.

F-35 altitude restrictions lifted at Luke Air Force Base

A wing commander at Luke Air Force Base on Wednesday lifted an altitude restriction on F-35 flights at the Arizona base, but Air Force investigators are no closer to understanding what prompted five incidents of pilot oxygen deprivation earlier this summer.
Between May 2 and June 8, five different Luke pilots experienced symptoms similar to hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation, while conducting F-35A training flights. That prompted Brig. Gen. Brook Leonard, commander of the 56th Fighter Wing, to order a pause in flight operations in June while officials from the Air Force and the F-35 Joint Program Executive Office analyzed each incident. Although they had hoped to find a common thread linking the incidents together, no root cause has emerged.

US Air Force announces date for X-37B launch for September 7th

The U.S. Air Force’s secretive X-37B space plane will make its debut launch on the SpaceX Falcon 9 on Sept. 7, the Air Force’s top civilian said Thursday.
“If the weather is good,” the Boeing-built X-37B will launch from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, announced U.S. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, who declined to comment on the nature of the mission the space plane will perform.
“It’s one of our experimental platforms,” she said during an exclusive interview with Defense News and Air Force Times on Aug. 31.
The September launch will mark the start of the X-37B’s fifth mission, during which it will be outfitted with the Advanced Structurally Embedded Thermal Spreader, or ASETS-11, created by the Air Force Research Lab to “test experimental electronics and oscillating heat pipes in the long duration space environment,” the service said earlier this summer.

Aug 26, 2017

Indonesia Hopes to Sign Su-35 Purchase Deal By End of 2017

Indonesia hopes to sign a contract on the purchase of Russia's Su-35 fighter jets by the end of 2017, Indonesian Ambassador to Russia Mohamad Wahid Supriyadi told Sputnik on Wednesday.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Indonesian Ambassador to Russia Mohamad Wahid Supriyadi said Jakarta expects to receive 11 aircraft as part of the countertrade program memorandum of cooperation, which the envoy said is the final stage before the contract is signed.
Russia's Rostec state corporation signed the memorandum with the Indonesian Trading Company earlier in August.
Su-35 is a multi-purpose super-maneuverable fighter of the 4++ generation, equipped with thrust-vectoring engines, ensuring the aircraft’s superiority over other jets of the same type. The jet’s maximum speed amounts to 1,550 miles per hour with a flying range reaching 2,100 miles.

India approves Apache acquisition for Army

New Delhi's Defence Acquisition Council has approved the acquisition of six AH-64E Apache attack helicopters for the army at a cost of $651 million.
The deal still needs final approval from the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), and a formal contract could take up to a year.
In September 2015, Boeing received orders for 22 AH-64E Apache’s and 15 CH-47F Chinooks. The contract also contained options for 11 Apaches and 7 Chinooks.
Boeing will commence air force Apache deliveries in 2019. Once the air force receives all 22 of its Apaches, then the army's six will be delivered.
Boeing will supply the Apache platform as a direct commercial sale (DCS). The engines, sensors and armament will be supplied by the US Govt as a foreign military sale (FMS).

Aug 15, 2017

Australia, Germany and Spain ground Tiger attack helicopters

Australia has joined Germany in grounding its fleet of Airbus Helicopters Tiger attack rotorcraft in the wake of a fatal crash in Mali in which two crew members were killed.
Investigations are ongoing into the late July accident involving a German army-operated example that came down in unexplained circumstances around 44nm (82km) northeast of Gao.
Berlin immediately withdrew its Tigers from service, although its four aircraft remaining in Mali – deployed as part of a multinational fight against an Islamic insurgency – will be allowed to perform missions in emergency situations, says its defence ministry.
Australia on 14 August decided to cease flying its Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopters "until further information becomes available".
Spain is also thought to have suspended flights of its army's Tiger inventory, although there has been no official confirmation of the move.
Madrid’s defence ministry says: "The army will follow the technical recommendations of the manufacturer once it conducts the necessary investigations and checks to find out what could have caused the accident."
France, the other operator of the Tiger, continues to fly its helicopters in Mali, but most domestic training missions are on hold in any case because of the summer holidays.
So far, little detail has been released about the circumstances of the crash, but statements from the German defence ministry indicate that the Tiger lost its main rotor blades after entering into a sudden steep descent.
It hit the ground around 10s later, and the wreckage was consumed by a post-impact fire.
Crash investigators have recovered the helicopter’s flight-data recorders, but both are heavily damaged and may be unable to be accessed.
With Airbus Helicopters not directly participating in the accident probe, it was required, as part of its contract with the nations, to issue a notice advising that the Tiger is unsafe, without being able to offer any safety guidance. This was released shortly after the crash and updated on 10 August.
"Airbus Helicopters declares [an] UNSAFE condition for all Tiger versions. AH can neither identify the part, the failure of which would lead to the accident, nor the origin of the failure (design, manufacturing, maintenance). Consequently, AH is not in the position to propose a protective measure," says the warning.

Aug 5, 2017

Finland suspects Spanish fighter jets of airspace violation

The Finnish Ministry of Defence reported on Tueday that it suspects two Spanish F-18 fighter jets of having violated Finnish airspace.
According to the Ministry of Defence's report, the airpace violation took place over the Gulf of Finland south of Upinniemi at approximately 9 a.m. on Tuesday, reported Finnish public broadcaster Yle (link in Finnish).
The Finnish Border Guard is investigating the incident.
Five F/A-18 Hornets of the 15th Wing of the Spanish Air Force have been stationed in Estonia since Spain took over the rotating Baltic Air Policing mission based out of Ämari Air Base this May.

USAF awards contract for two 747-8s to be modified as future Air Force One aircraft

The Air Force awarded a Boeing contract modification Aug. 4, 2017, to purchase two commercial 747-8 aircraft for future modification to replace the two aging VC-25A Boeing 747-200 presidential support aircraft.
This contract modification follows a set of awards in 2016 for risk reduction activities. The Air Force has already requested Boeing to provide proposals to design, modify, test and field two Presidential mission-ready aircraft. These efforts will be awarded via future contract modifications. The program expects to begin aircraft modifications in 2019 and reach initial operational capability in 2024.
These aircraft will start providing worldwide presidential airlift support in 2024, after a series of modifications and tests. Boeing will modify their Federal Aviation Administration-certified commercial 747-8 aircraft to meet presidential operational requirements to help ensure an affordable program.

Israel weighing interest in F-35B STOVL-variant F-35

New threats faced by Israel have placed the potential purchase of short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant Lockheed Martin F-35Bs as a high priority.
Discussions are under way, with Israel's defence ministry hoping to reach a decision before a new 10-year Foreign Military Financing agreement with the USA comes into effect in 2019.
Deliveries of conventional take-off and landing F-35Is to the Israeli air force continue, with the service having so far placed orders for 50 examples. The “Golden Eagle” squadron which operates the "Adir" and the air force's flight test squadron continue to adapt the stealth fighter to meet the nation's specific requirements, with this work including the addition of a number of Israeli-developed systems.
Israel's initial requirement was for 75 F-35s, and the need to replace older Boeing F-15 fighters – the oldest of which were delivered in 1976 – is becoming a high-priority issue.
Sources indicate that the Israeli air force will have to choose between obtaining additional F-35s – potentially including STOVL examples – or an advanced version of the F-15. No details have been revealed of the potential F-15 variant on which evaluations are being based, but this is expected to be capable of carrying an expanded weapons load.

Aug 4, 2017

Romania Plans to Buy 36 F-16 jets by 2022

Romanian Defence has unveiled plans by Bucharest to acquire High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, and 36 F-16 fighter jets by 2022. The announcement comes in the wake of Romania’s Supreme Council of National Defence approving a plan to spend €9.8 billion (U.S. $11.6 billion) on military procurements in the years 2017 to 2026.
Romania is also aiming to purchase Patriot missiles from U.S. company Raytheon to boost its air defense capabilities, and the government plans to pay the first installment for the systems this November.

US approves A-29 Super Tucano sale to Nigeria

The U.S. State Department has approved a $593 million foreign military sale to Nigeria, including 12 A-29 Super Tucano light-attack aircraft, in order to further the nation’s campaign against the militant group Boko Haram.
Nigeria has been seeking permission from the U.S. government to buy A-29s since 2015; however, the Obama administration had put the sale on hold due to concerns about the country’s human rights record.
In February, U.S. President Donald Trump signaled his support for the sale during a phone call with Nigerian President

USS Gerald R. Ford's first flight ops

The Gerald R. Ford is now officially an aircraft carrier, having recovered and launched aircraft four different times.
Not only were Monday’s flight operations a milestone for the newly commissioned ship, but it ushered in a new, high-tech era for flight deck technology. Yet it could still be a few more years before the Navy sees whether the new Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System, known as EMALS, will meet all of its promise.
But the system isn’t expected to be fully capable for another couple of years. In 2014, it was discovered in testing at Lakehurst, New Jersey, that fully loaded aircraft carrying fuel were experiencing unacceptable load levels on their wings during launches.
The fix is a software upgrade for the EMALS what won’t be installed until 2019, during the ship’s post-shakedown availability. Until then, launching aircraft is not restricted, but not any with heavy fuel or bomb loads.

Jul 29, 2017

France has offered to donate 31 Jaguars to India

French daily Le Point has confirmed that President Emmanuel Macron intends to donate 31 ex-French Air Force Jaguar fighters to India
The information was first disclosed by Defense News and a high-ranking French military source has confirmed the story to Le Point.

USAF using Tesla Model S as U-2 chase cars


The U.S. Air Force had previously used the Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 as chase cars for the U-2 spy plane. The flying branch has now switched to the Tesla Model S for the task.
The electric car was seen accompanying a U-2S taking off at RAF Fairford earlier this month.

Jul 9, 2017

Pentagon seeks increased P-8 ties with Norway, UK

The United States, United Kingdom and Norway have agreed in principal to create a trilateral coalition built around the P-8 maritime aircraft — though exactly what that means remains unclear.
The Pentagon announced June 29 that the three countries had established a “statement of intent to lay out guiding principles for a trilateral partnership with P-8A aircraft.” In addition, the announcement said the nations are working on a “framework for further cooperation in areas such as readiness, enhancing defense capability, and interoperability.”

Austria set to replace Eurofighter Typhoons, Economically Unsustainable

Austria is set to replace the small fleet of fighter jets to patrol its airspace following an announcement today that the collection of Eurofighter Typhoons and Saab 105 OE aircraft would be phased out.
Defense Minister Hans Peter Doskozil's decision follows the advice of an expert commission that had studied options for securing the country's skies after 2020. At that time, the subsonic Saab planes would reach the end of their economic lives and would be retired anyway. And because the fleet of 15 Eurofighter Typhoons are of the early Tranche-1 generation, those aircraft also are considered militarily sub par in their current configuration and economically unsustainable.

Jul 2, 2017

Block 5 MQ-9 debuts in combat

The latest version of the MQ-9 Reaper, the Block 5 variant, flew its first successful combat mission June 23, 2017, in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
The aircrew flew a sortie of more than 16 hours with a full payload of weapons including GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles. During the mission, the crew employed one GBU-38 and two Hellfires while providing hours of armed reconnaissance for supported ground forces

Jul 1, 2017

Germany, Norway join European multinational MRTT program

NATO has taken an important step in improving its ability to refuel aircraft in mid-air, with two Allies joining a European programme to acquire and operate new tanker transport aircraft.
Defence Ministers from Germany and Norway joined a Memorandum of Understanding for a European multinational fleet of Airbus tanker transport aircraft, originally created by the lead-nation Netherlands and Luxembourg. The two countries launched the initiative in July 2016 by ordering two Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport aircraft, which are due to be delivered in 2020. With Germany and Norway joining the initiative, the fleet is expected to expand to up to seven aircraft.
This multinational fleet arrangement is a concrete step towards reducing the overall European shortage in air-to-air refueling and the over-reliance on U.S. capabilities. At today’s signing ceremony, Assistant Secretary General for Defence Investment Camille Grand stressed that “this initiative highlights the value of a multinational approach to capability development – working together provides cost-effective and flexible solutions.”
Belgium intends to join this programme in early 2018, and the initiative remains open to other new members. The procurement programme is another example of the increasingly close cooperation between NATO and the European Union.