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.