Jan 27, 2018

Singapore to receive A330 MRTT Airbus tanker in September this year

Singapore will take delivery of its first Airbus Defence and Space A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport later this year, as the country’s Air Force celebrates its 50th anniversary.
According to a news release issued by Singapore’s Defence Ministry detailing events and activities that the Republic of Singapore Air Force will hold to mark the anniversary, the A330 MRTT will make its first public appearance at a parade on Sept. 1, the date the service was formed in 1968 as the Singapore Air Defence Command.
The latest photos of the aircraft — taken at Toulouse, France, in November 2017 during the testing and evaluation phase following the conversion to the tanker configuration — show it still in its tan primer and not yet painted in the Air Force’s colors.
Singapore announced its order of six A330 MRTTs in March 2014 to recapitalize its fleet of midair refueling tankers. The Air Force currently operates a fleet of four Boeing KC-135R Stratotankers, acquired and refurbished in 2000 from stored ex-U.S. Air Force airframes.
The Republic of Singapore Air Force also has about five of its 10 Lockheed Martin C-130B/H Hercules airlifters plumbed for the tanker role, although they are no longer used in this role, as the Air Force currently does not operate aircraft equipped for refueling by probe.
The first Air Force A330 MRTT will be delivered in what is known as the MRTT Enhanced configuration, featuring a package of aerodynamic improvements, structural modifications and avionics updates over the previous baseline military variant. France and South Korea will also be receiving their A330 MRTTs in this standard.
Mike Yeo defensenews

USAF’s KC-46 tanker is almost ready for prime time

The head of Air Mobility Command said the KC-46 Pegasus is about 94 percent complete with tests needed for the aircraft’s second — and final — FAA certification.
Gen. Carlton Everhart visited Boeing in Washington state to get a hands-on look at the Air Force’s new refueling tanker.
“If everything stays on track and the weather holds, I think [Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration] can probably get everything done in the next 60 to 70 days, hopefully less,” Everhart told Air Force Times on Wednesday after flying on the KC-46 for the first time.
In December, the FAA certified the 767-2C, which is the modified 767 commercial plane that forms the basis of the KC-46.

Jan 23, 2018

Italy receives second G550 for AEW

Following a lead example that was delivered in late 2016, the new command-and-control aircraft has been acquired under a $750 million deal that also includes ground support equipment and a logistics support package. Rome has separately purchased an IAI-produced Earth observation satellite under its part of the arrangement, while Tel Aviv acquired 30 Leonardo M-346 advanced jet trainers for the Israeli air force.
"The first [CAEW] aircraft has already participated in several drills with NATO air forces, to the utmost satisfaction of the customer," Israel's defence ministry says.

Myanmar signs order for six Su-30s

Myanmar is to obtain six Sukhoi Su-30 fighters under a deal signed during a visit by Russia's defence minister to the Southeast Asian nation. TASS news agency quotes deputy defence minister Lt. Gen. Alexander Fomin as saying that the aircraft will be the main fighter aircraft of the Myanmar air force. The mainstay of Myanmar's combat fleet are 39 Mikoyan MiG-29 aircraft. The country is also shown as having orders for 16 Chengdu/Pakistan Aeronautical Complex JF-17 fighters.

Spain Receives Latest Standard Eurofighter Typhoon with Enhanced Air-to-Surface Capabilities

Photo credits to AirbusDS
The aircraft were manufactured at the Getafe Final Assembly Line in the P1Eb FW (Phase 1 Enhanced Further Work) configuration which marks a key step in the overall Eurofighter evolution plan.
This same configuration is being retrofitted to in-service aircraft by other Eurofighter nations. It provides increased integration of a variety of air-to-surface weapons and enhanced targeting among other improvements.
Spanish procurement agency DGAM took delivery of the aircraft on 22 December and they were subsequently ferried to Albacete air force base to enter service. The remaining six of the 73 aircraft currently contracted by Spain will be delivered to the same P1Eb FW standard during 2018 and 2019.

Jan 21, 2018

Russia begins delivering S-400 air defence systems to China

Russia has begun delivering the Almaz-Antei S-400 Triumf self-propelled surface-to-air missile (SAM) system to China under the terms of a contract signed in 2014, TASS news agency cited an unnamed source close to the Russian military-industrial complex as saying on 18 January.
The source, who did not reveal how many S-400s are set to be delivered, pointed out that the contract did not envisage either a technology transfer or licensed production of the systems.

The Air Force may not get B-21 bombers on time

he Air Force’s B-21 Raider program could stagnate under a year-long continuing resolution, as the lower funding stream would slow development and possibly even delivery of the new bomber, the service’s number-two civilian warned Thursday.
Congress is rushing to avoid a government shutdown, which will occur unless lawmakers pass a short-term funding stopgap by Friday. But the Air Force is getting increasingly worried that even the best case scenario — another CR — could curb key modernization efforts like the B-21, its Undersecretary Matt Donovan said.
“A long-term CR will limit execution of the engineering, manufacturing and development phase, the EMD phase, of the B-21,” he said at an Air Force Association event. “We would be limited to the FY17 funding level, which is far below the FY18 budget request. This will have the effect of postponing delivery of the critical strategic capability to the joint warfighter.”
The Air Force allotted $2 billion in its unclassified FY18 budget request for continued EMD activities, up from $1.3 billion the previous year. While the B-21 program currently remains on track, Donovan stated the program will be negatively affected as early as April if the Defense Department remains entangled in a CR.
Northrop Grumman won the B-21 contract in 2015 after a protracted battle with a Boeing-Lockheed Martin team. The Air Force currently intends to buy at least 100 B-21s, with the fielding of the first bombers planned for the mid-2020s.

Jan 20, 2018

B-52 bombers join B-2s, B-1s in Guam for second time in history

About a week after the Air Force deployed three B-2 Spirit stealth bombers to Guam, six B-52H Stratofortress bombers joined them on the island Tuesday.
The B-52s from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana deployed to Andersen Air Force Base along with about 300 airmen. The aircraft and personnel will support the U.S. Pacific Command’s continuous bomber presence mission, replacing six B-1B Lancer bombers, which are scheduled to return home to Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, at the end of this month.
But for a few days at least, all three types of bombers — the nuclear-capable B-2s and B-52s and the conventional B-1Bs — will be flying together out of the U.S. territory in the Pacific, just the second time that has happened, according to a Pacific Air Forces news release. The first time was in August 2016 as part of an historic integrated bomber operation.
The B-2 Spirits and about 200 airmen, assigned to the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, arrived Jan. 8 in support of U.S. Pacific Command’s bomber assurance and deterrence mission.

Indonesia puts KC-46A Pegasus, Airbus A330 MRTT on frame for aerial tanker requirement

The Indonesian Air Force (Tentara Nasional Indonesia – Angkatan Udara) has begun a study to expand the service’s aerial refuelling capabilities, with a view on establishing a formal acquisition programme for two airframes by 2024.
The aircraft types that are being compared in this study are the A330 multirole tanker-transport (MRTT) from Airbus, and what the Indonesians allude to as a militarised version of the Boeing 767 tanker, in reference to the KC-46A Pegasus.
Issues that will be scrutinised in the study include suitability for Indonesian operational requirements, compatibility of refuelling methods with the TNI-AU’s fleet of aircraft, interoperability with existing and future assets, and life-cycle costs.
Prior to June 2015, the TNI-AU operated a fleet of two pod-equipped KC-130Bs, which were delivered in the early 1960s. One of these aircraft crashed in Medan on 30 June of that year after developing engine troubles, and since then the TNI-AU has had to rely on a single airframe of the type for its aerial refueling needs.

U.S. State Department clears potential sale of F-35s to Belgium

The U.S. State Department on Friday pre-emptively approved a sale of F-35s to Belgium, opening the door to an expedited purchase once the country selects its future fighter.
The proposed deal, worth an estimated $6.53 billion, would cover 34 F-35A conventional takeoff and landing models made by Lockheed Martin and 38 F-135 engines manufactured by Pratt & Whitney.
It also includes electronic warfare systems, communications gear, a full mission trainer and Lockheed’s Autonomic Logistics Information System — which facilitates maintenance, mission planning and logistics — as well as other equipment, the Defense Security Agency stated.
The F-35 is overwhelmingly considered the favorite for the Belgian fighter competition, which will replace the country’s 54 F-16s with 34 new jets. Should Belgium select the joint strike fighter, the total value of the deal will likely change after negotiations, as DSCA often puts forward a high contract estimate.
Competing against the joint strike fighter are the Dassault Rafale ,and the Eurofighter Typhoon,

Jan 14, 2018

USAF Lakenheath F-15s intercept Russian fighters in Baltic Mission

The Air Force on Friday released a video showing two recent instances in which F-15s deployed to Šiauliai Air Base, Lithuania, intercepted Russian Navy Su-30 Flankers near the Baltics.
The video compilation shows one encounter on Nov. 23 and another on Dec. 13. According to descriptions posted by the military, both incidents involved two Russian fighters in international airspace near the Baltics. In both encounters, the F-15s were scrambled because the Russians did not broadcast the codes required by air traffic control, and did not file a flight plan, the Air Force said.

Jan 13, 2018

B-2 Spirit stealth bombers, 200 airmen deploy to Guam

Three B-2 Spirit stealth bombers and approximately 200 airmen arrived at Andersen Air Force Base on Guam Monday.
The aircraft and airmen, assigned to the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, deployed to Guam in support of U.S. Pacific Command’s bomber assurance and deterrence mission, according to Pacific Air Forces.
During this “short-term deployment,” the B-2s will conduct local and regional training sorties. They will also work with “key regional partners, ensuring bomber crews maintain a high state of readiness and crew proficiency.”
The nuclear-capable stealth bombers join several B-1B Lancer conventional bombers at Andersen Air Force Base. PACOM has said the Lancers are “ready to fulfill [U.S. Forces Korea’s] Fight Tonight mission if called upon to do so.”

Royal Thailand Air Force Received First Two KAI T-50TH

South Korea’s aircraft manufacturer Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. (KAI) has began delivery of its T-50TH trainer jets to Thailand’s Air Force as a part of a deal won from the Thai government in 2015.
The jets arrived at Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base via a 12-hour 6,658 kilometer ferry flight after leaving Sacheon, South Gyeongsang Province, at 9 a.m., and flying through Taiwan, the Philippines, and Malaysia, on Monday.
An unnamed official from KAI said that it signed a $110 million contract with the Thai government in 2015 to export four T-50TH trainer jets. Two of four aircrafts were delivered on Monday and the remaining two will arrive in the Southeast Asian country in March, the official said.
KAI also signed a $260 million worth contract to export 8 more T-50TH to Thailand in July, last year.
KAI delivered 15 T-50i aircrafts to Indonesia in 2014 and 12 FA-50PH jets to the Philippines in 2015.
T-50 aircrafts were first exported to Indonesia in 2011. A total of 64 T-50 aircrafts worth $2.9 billion have been exported so far to the Middle East and Southeast Asia. KAI is currently pushing to export T-50 advanced aircrafts to the United States, Botswana, and Argentina.
Moon Ji-woong and Lee Eun-joo-pulsenews

Jan 7, 2018

Proposal to convert MSDF's Izumo into aircraft carrier merges at Japan´s Defense Ministry

The regular review of Japan's National Defense Program Guidelines is fast approaching, and attention is likely to be focused on the Self-Defense Forces' offensive strike capability.
Within the Defense Ministry, there is even a proposal circulating to convert the Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF)'s Izumo helicopter carrier into a regular aircraft carrier. The idea is unlikely to be adopted, as it would risk shaking the foundations of Japan's defense-only policy. However, discussions on how best to prepare the SDF with defense capabilities have heated up noticeably within the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, as China continues to emerge as a major military power and North Korea forges ahead with its ballistic missile and nuclear arms programs.
The current National Defense Program Guidelines were approved by the Cabinet in 2013, along with the five-year "Mid-term Defense Program" plan specifying equipment acquisition priorities. The guidelines will expire in mid-2020.
The proposal to convert the Izumo into a true aircraft carrier apparently emerged primarily from among the Defense Ministry's uniformed personnel, taking advantage of Prime Minister Abe's policy of reviewing both the defense program outline and midterm defense buildup plan.

Jan 6, 2018

Turkey makes deal to buy Russian-made S-400 air defense system

Turkey and Russia have finalized a contract for the acquisition and deployment of the Russian S-400 long-range air and anti-missile defense system on Turkish soil.
The contract involves the acquisition of one S-400 system with an option to purchase a second system.
The delivery of the S-400 system was scheduled for the first quarter of 2020.
The S-400 system would be operated by Turkish personnel and would be supported by a locally developed identification friend or foe, or IFF, system.
On Dec. 25, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey would borrow the loan in Russian rubles instead of U.S. dollars so the debt would be less.

France receives first C-130J transport

France's first Lockheed Martin C-130J was delivered to its Orléans air base on 22 December 2017.
Carrying the service registration 61-PO, the tactical transport is the first of four C-130Js being acquired by Paris. Its second airlifter will be received later this year, while a pair of KC-130J tanker/transports – needed to refuel combat helicopters in-flight – are to follow during 2019.
The first delivery followed the approval of type certification for the new-generation Hercules by France's DGA defence procurement agency, under a procurement approved in January 2016.

US Army begins process to buy 35 more UH-72s

The US Army on 4 January took the first step in the process to award a contract to Airbus for up to 35 more UH-72 Lakota helicopters.
The notice notes that only Airbus owns the technical data on the UH-72, which means any potential competitor would have to acquire the data from the OEM to build the twin-engined aircraft.
Airbus has delivered more than 400 UH-72s to the army since 2006. The re-designated H145 aircraft lack a military airworthiness certificate by design, rendering the fleet limited to peacetime support roles. In 2014, the army also selected the UH-72A to replace the Bell Helicopter TH-67 as a primary trainer.
The army’s approved budget in Fiscal 2017 contains funds to buy 23 UH-72As, so up to another 12 could be purchased later.
Airbus assembles the UH-72 from a factory in Columbus, Mississippi, although major components are built in Europe.
The new order from the army is necessary to keep the facility open.

Jan 1, 2018

Japan signs for KC-46A tanker

Boeing has secured up its first international customer for the KC-46A Pegasus tanker, with the announcement that Japan has signed up for a single aircraft.
The Foreign Military Sale (FMS) is valued at USD279 million and was announced by Boeing on 22 December. As well as one KC-46A, the contract covers support.
Japan selected the KC-46A under its KC-X aerial refuelling competition in October 2015. The Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) is looking to acquire four new tankers to augment its current fleet of four Boeing KC-767J platforms. The sale of four KC-46As to Japan was approved by the US government in September 2016. The total value was given at that time as USD1.9 billion.
While the latest contract announcement did not provide a delivery timeline, the earlier KC-X announcement called for the first aircraft to be received by the JASDF in 2020. With delays to Boeing’s programme to deliver up to 179 KC-46As to the US Air Force (USAF), it is likely that this initial schedule will be pushed back.