Nov 25, 2017
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
Nov 19, 2017
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
#Eurofighter #Ala11 @EjercitoAire versus nEUROn (drone de combate europeo) sobre el Golfo de León #Francia @AirbusDefence @Dassault_OnAir pic.twitter.com/WKjqJKC6DW— Ejército del Aire (@EjercitoAire) 12 de noviembre de 2017
Nov 11, 2017
Draken International Expands Fleet with Acquisition of 22 Mirage F1M Fighter Jets From Spain Ejército del Aire
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.”
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.”
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
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.
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.