Jan 29, 2017

Indonesia approves acquisition of five Airbus A400Ms

Indonesia has approved a sum of USD2 billion for the acquisition of five Airbus A400M Atlas multirole aircraft to boost the country's military airlift capabilities, multiple sources from within Indonesia's government and defence industry confirmed to IHS Jane's on 18 January.
The airframes will be acquired in the transport and utility configuration, and will be operated across the Indonesian Air Force's (Tentara Nasional Indonesia - Angkatan Udara: TNI-AU's) Aviation Squadrons 31 and 32.
The acquisition, which received an official greenlight from the Indonesian House of Representatives' commission on defence, intelligence, and foreign affairs (Komisi I) in mid-January 2017, was approved with the condition that the final three airframes undergo final fit-out at state-owned PT Dirgantara's facilities in Bandung.

Jan 15, 2017

Germany to deploy eight attack and transport helicopters to Mali

Germany's cabinet on Wednesday approved the deployment of eight attack and transport helicopters as well as 350 additional soldiers to Mali as part of a U.N. peacekeeping mission, sources told Reuters.
The helicopters will replace those of the Dutch army, and the additional troops will service and maintain the fleet.
After the deployment, Germany will have some 1,000 soldiers in Mali taking part in the 15,000-strong U.N. mission that oversees a peace deal agreed in 2015 between the government and rebels.
The additional deployments will have to be approved by the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament.
The four attack helicopters and a similar number of transport machines will stay in Mali until mid-2018.

Jan 14, 2017

KC-46 schedule unlikely to go as planned

Based on the tanker replacement programme’s history, its current schedule is “aggressive and unlikely to be executed as planned,” Michael Gilmore wrote in his annual report. In a prime example of schedule delay, the US Air Force had planned to complete 66% of testing by the end of the engineering, manufacturing and development phase. By the beginning of low-rate production last August though, Boeing had completed only 30% of EMD testing, the report states.
When Gilmore’s office approved a test and evaluation master plan in November 2016 that would support KC-46’s entrance into low-rate production that August, it did so with lingering concerns about leaving enough time to correct discrepancies between the end of developmental testing and the beginning of initial operational test and evaluation, he writes.
“Execution of the current schedule assumes historically unrealistic test aircraft fly and re-fly rates,” Gilmore writes.
Though the programme is on track to become an effective aerial refueling platform, several capabilities still require correcting or additional testing. During testing last January, Boeing discovered higher than expected axial loads on the tanker’s refueling boom. That pushed Boeing’s scheduled low-rate initial production decision from June to August while Boeing redesigned the boom control system.
Boeing implemented a hardware-based solution for the refueling issue, which involved inserting two bypass valves in the fly-by-wire-controlled boom to relieve the aerodynamic pressure. However, the current boom represent a prototype rather than a production-ready design.
Last year, the KC-46 successfully refueled a USAF A-10, allowing the programme to move ahead toward initial production. Boeing also demonstrated aerial refueling with the the US Navy’s F/A-18 and AV-8B using the centreline and wing drogue systems and the KC-46 as a receiver aircraft. The company also completed refueling demonstrations on the C-17 airlifter and F-16 using the aerial refueling boom. But Gilmore notes Boeing has only performed daylight refueling operations and none of the aircraft have been certified as receiving platforms.

Jan 13, 2017

China receives first four Su-35s

Beijing has taken delivery of four Sukhoi Su-35 fighters: the first installment in an acquistion that will see it receive 24 examples.
News of the jets' arrival in China was revealed in a report by state news organ China Daily.
The report, citing the People’s Liberation Army Air Force, claimed that Moscow was apparently “eager to complete the Su-35 deal” owing to the “commissioning” of the Chengdu J-20 fighter, which made its public debut with a flying display at Airshow China in Zhuhai in November 2016. Negotiations between Beijing and Moscow for the Su-35 deal dragged on for several years prior to this point.

Jan 11, 2017

First US Marines F-35B Squadron Moves to Japan

A Marine Corps F-35B squadron has transferred from the United States to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Japan, marking the first permanent international deployment of the joint strike fighter, the service announced Tuesday.
Marine Corps spokesman Capt Kurt Stahl told Defense News that 10 F-35Bs from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA-121) departed Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in Arizona on Monday, with the first jets slated to arrive in Japan on Wednesday. All 10 F-35s will arrive at Iwakuni by Thursday. Eventually, an additional six jets will be relocated from Yuma to Iwakuni, bringing the squadron up to a full 16 aircraft.
VMFA-121 is a part of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.
“The transition of VMFA-121 from MCAS Yuma to MCAS Iwakuni marks a significant milestone in the F-35B program as the Marine Corps continues to lead the way in the advancement of stealth fighter attack aircraft,” the service said in a statement.

Jan 10, 2017

Spanish frigate 'Cristobal Colón' deploys to Australia for AWD support

Spanish Navy’s Álvaro de Bazán-class frigate Cristóbal Colón is scheduled to embark on a long-term deployment to Australia on January 9.
Under an agreement between the two navies, the Aegis-equipped frigate will spend 120 days in Australia where it will help train future Australian Hobart-class destroyer sailors of the Australian Navy.
By integrating into the Australian Navy fleet, Cristóbal Colón will provide dedicated training and familiarisation opportunities for the crews of Australian destroyers Hobart, Brisbane and Sydney.
NUSHIP Hobart, the first of three destroyers, will start category 5 sea trials in mid-January 2017 and will be assisted in the process by ESPS Cristóbal Colón.
If everything goes according to plan, the Spanish frigate is expected to return to Ferrol, Spain in early August 2017.
This is not the first time a Spanish Navy ship is integrating into the Royal Australian Navy. Back in 2013, Spain sent its replenishment ships ESPS Cantabria to Australia where it remained for eight months.

Jan 6, 2017

The Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16s arrives in Lithuania to take over Baltic air policing mission

A contingent of Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon combat aircraft and personnel arrived at Siauliai Airbase in Lithuania on 2 January to assume the lead for NATO's Baltic Air Policing (BAP) mission.
Four F-16s and more than 120 personnel from the Leeuwarden and Vokel bases in the Netherlands arrived in Lithuania to relieve a contingent of French Air Force Dassault Mirage 2000s from 5 January. The Dutch F-16s will be supported in their mission by four German Air Force Eurofighter Typhoons that are based at Amari Airbase in Estonia, and which are being extended for a second four-month rotation.
Some 43 rotations have now been conducted since the NATO mission was launched in 2004. This will be the third time that the RNLAF has participated in the NATO BAP mission to protect the airspaces of the former Soviet republics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, having previously undertaken the role in 2005 and 2014.

US offered Britain the F-117 stealth aircraft

Recently declassified documents from the British National Archives have confirmed what was largely an unofficial rumour.
The declassified documents from the British National Archives show that former US President Ronald Reagan had offered British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher a chance for both countries to work on the F-117 stealth fighter programme back in 1986.
The programme was given the code-name Project Moonflower. It is understood that the British Ministry of Defence declined the offer as it was still a ‘black programme’.
The later version offered to the Royal Air Force in 1995 was the F-117C. The aircraft was to be a baseline F-117A fitted with British avionics and EJ200 engines, plus a number of BAE structural components or sub-assemblies.
The F-117 was based on the Have Blue technology demonstrator and was the first operational aircraft to be designed around stealth technology. The maiden flight of the Nighthawk took place in 1981 and the aircraft achieved initial operating capability status in 1983.
The Nighthawk was shrouded in secrecy until it was revealed to the public in 1988.

Japan in talks with New Zealand for C-2 P-1 aircraft

C-2 (08-1201,68-1203)
Japan is in negotiations with New Zealand to export the Self-Defense Forces' patrol and transport aircraft, in hopes of beating out U.S. and European competition to score its first large-scale arms contract.
The deal will also involve the maintenance of the planes, and is potentially worth billions of dollars. Tokyo in September provided unclassified information on the P-1 maritime patrol plane and C-2 transporter, both developed by Kawasaki Heavy Industries, in response to Wellington's requests.
Representatives from Japan's defense ministry and Kawasaki Heavy are in New Zealand for negotiations. Japan could come up with a proposal in the first half of 2017 concerning the price, production process and maintenance of the planes. It will also consider jointly producing certain parts with New Zealand.
New Zealand will choose the winning bid as early as this summer out of a pool including American and European proposals. The Japanese government will also negotiate a treaty with New Zealand to allow the transfer of defense equipment and technology, a prerequisite to the potential deal.
The P-1, deployed by the Maritime SDF, was designed as a successor to the mainstay P-3C patrol aircraft. It can pick up even faint submarine signals through underwater sensors, and is also known to be fuel efficient and extremely quiet.
The bidding "will be a one-on-one fight with Boeing's P-8 patrol plane," a Japanese official said.
The C-2, meanwhile, can carry heavy loads over long distances. It was first delivered to the Air SDF in June 2016, with plans for deployment this March. The aircraft shares the same parts in the wing and other areas with the P-1, which will allow New Zealand to save money if it adopts both models. Airbus and several other companies are considered Japan's main rivals for the transporters.
The Japanese government adopted three principles on the transfer of defense equipment and technology in April 2014, greatly relaxing the requirements for arms exports. But it has done little under the new rules. Japan was outbid by France on Australia's new fleet of submarines in April, and lost a bid on anti-submarine patrol aircraft for the U.K. to the U.S. in November 2015.

General Atomics contracted for MQ-9 sale to Spain

General Atomics has received a $56 million contract action order to provide MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft for the government of Spain.
The order is an adjustment to an existing basic ordering agreement between the United States and Spain. General Atomics will be tasked with providing the Reaper and its associated equipment.
According to the U.S. Department of Defense, the work will be performed at Poway, Calif., and is expected to be complete by Jan. 31, 2019. The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio is listed as the contracting activity.
The MQ-9 Reaper is a turboprop-powered unmanned aircraft system designed for intelligence gathering and targeted strike missions, and features a flight endurance of over 27 hours. The aircraft can operate at altitudes of 50,000 feet, and can carry a 3,000-pound payload.
As a follow-up to the company's MQ-1 Predator, the Reaper is twice as fast as its predecessor, and can carry a 500 percent larger payload.

Argentinian Kfir negotiations set to resume

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has so far exported 40 Kfir Block 60 upgraded fighter aircraft, and plans to assemble and upgrade another 12-14 for Argentina.
Sources say negotiations about the proposed sale to Argentina are about to resume, following two previous rounds of talks that did not result in a contract.
Sources in Latin America say the price of the proposed deal is the main stumbling block, but “not the only one”.
The Kfir Block 60 is the latest version of the fighter, which includes J-79 engines. It also takes the aircraft back to zero flight hours after a total overhaul, and will cover the next 1,600 flight hours before another overhaul is required.
The upgraded fighter carries an Elta 2032 active electronically scanned array radar, and will have an open architecture that will allow the customer to install other systems.
According to Elta, the radar provides an all-aspect, look-down, shoot-down performance, operating simultaneous multi-mode air-to-air and advanced strike missions.
Kfir jets are in service with the air forces of Colombia, Ecuador and Sri Lanka.
The Colombian air force has upgraded its Kfirs to the existing level, dubbed C-10/12, which includes an Elta EL/M-2032 radar, a Rafael Litening targeting pod, a head-up display colour cockpit, and an aerial refuelling system.

Israel retires F-16A fleet

The F-16A has been in service with the IAF since 1980, and has participated in all combat operations since then, including an attack on an Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981.
In recent years older aircraft were operated mainly by the IAF's “red squadron” in an adversary training role, and the Israeli ministry of defence is now trying to sell 40 F-16As.
In 2014, the IAF completed an extensive upgrade of its F-16C/D variants, under the Barak 2020 programme. This included structural treatment and the installation of a new digital debriefing system, plus a new head-up display.
Other systems have also been installed, but no details on their capabilities have been revealed.
The upgrade has been performed in the squadrons with supervision of the IAF’s main technical unit number 22, the force’s central maintenance depot.