Apr 29, 2018

Study Concludes that Japan Izumo-class Vessels able to operate F-35B

The Defense Ministry commissioned a study into the possible conversion of the Maritime Self-Defense Force's Izumo helicopter carrier into a full-fledged aircraft carrier in case Japan was required to provide rear-line support for a U.S.-led war.
The ministry in April 2017 asked Japan Marine United Corp., a Tokyo-based company that built the vessel, to look into ways to improve the capabilities of the Izumo.
Japan Marine United submitted its report to the Defense Ministry in March and the ministry released details, with some bits blacked out, on April 27.
The report states that the Defense Ministry's precondition for the study was to look into how the Izumo could be used to provide rear-line support to the U.S. military.
The company was asked to provide estimates for the cost and construction schedule if changes were made to allow U.S. F-35B stealth fighter jets to land vertically on the deck and to use elevators to transport aircraft to their hangars.

Japan Pitches P-1 for France and Germany maritime patrol aircraft requirement

Japan is offering its Kawasaki P-1 maritime patrol aircraft for a Franco-German requirement for a new aircraft. The move is part of the island nation’s efforts to secure its first major arms sale since a self-imposed ban on arms exports following World War II was lifted four years ago.
Two P-1s are currently in Berlin, Germany, participating in the ILA 2018 air show, with Reuters, citing Japanese government sources, reporting that Japan has asked P-1 manufacturer Kawasaki Heavy Industries, or KHI, to explore possible partnerships with France’s Dassault Aviation and Thales.
France and Germany are in the preliminary stages of a program to find a “European solution” to replace their respective anti-submarine maritime patrol aircraft. Their defense ministers are due to sign a letter of intent to formalize the plan at the air show, and a road map for the program is expected by June.
France wants to replace its Breguet Atlantique turboprop anti-submarine aircraft, and Germany is looking for a new platform to take over from the Lockheed Martin P-3C Orion it currently operates.
KHI will almost certainly face competition from Airbus for the Franco-German program. The European aerospace giant recently launched a military variant for its popular A320neo civil airliner, which it says can be customized for a wide variety of roles and missions depending on customer requirements.
Other potential contenders for the program include Boeing’s P-8A Poseidon multimission aircraft and possibly Saab’s Swordfish.

Apr 28, 2018

‘Eurodrone’ model unveiled at Berlin Air Show

Airbus, Dassault and Leonardo have revealed the first full-scale model of an envisioned European drone at the Berlin Air Show, upping the the visibility ― and scrutiny ― of a project meant to epitomize the continent’s growing military profile.
The medium-altitude, long-endurance aircraft rides on a twin-turboprop propulsion system and will come in a strike-capable configuration when it reaches the actual flying stage in the mid-2020s. Germany, France, Italy and Spain have a hand in the program, though only the first three are considered the principal main industry partners, with Germany’s Airbus in the lead.
Notably, companies are building the unmanned plane so it can operate immediately in the dense European airspace. Past practice of first acquiring a drone and later worrying about requisite certifications has proven to be problematic, especially for the Germans.
The mock-up is based on a vehicle configuration agreed by the partner nations in mid-2017.

France says it will consider letting UK join fighter aircraft (FCAS) partnership with Germany

Though France is focused on its work with Germany on a Future Combat Air System, Paris will later consider the U.K. as a partner on the wide-ranging project for a network of manned and unmanned fighter aircraft, according to the Armed Forces Ministry.
The goal of the Franco-German alliance is to design and build a new fighter jet to eventually replace the Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon. Other armed and unarmed aircraft will be integrated into that Future Combat Air System.

Apr 25, 2018

Serbia receives four MiG-29 fighter jets from Belarus

Serbia’s army has received four MiG-29 fighter jets from Belarus. Serbia is currently operating 14 MiG-29.Six MiG-29 fighter jets reached Serbia in October 2017. Now the warplanes are to be modernized in three stages. The country plans to spend a sum from 180 million to 230 million euro for these purposes. Along with MiG-29 fighter jets, Russia’s assistance to Serbia will include 30 T-72 tanks and 30 BRDM-2 combat patrol vehicles.

Royal Thailand Navy HTMS Chakri Naruebet in anti-submarine exercise with U.S. Navy

The U.S. Navy and Royal Thai Navy (RTN) kick off exercise Guardian Sea in the Andaman Sea, April 25. The five-day anti-submarine and maritime domain awareness exercise will involve cooperative evolutions designed to enhance mutual capabilities in anti-submarine warfare while also improving information sharing between the two navies.
The guided-missile destroyer USS Halsey (DDG-97), a Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine and a P-8 Poseidon will be participating from the U.S. Navy. Participating assets from the RTN include helicopter carrier HTMS Chakri Naruebet (CVH 911), Khamronsin-class corvette HTMS Long Lom (FS 533), Naresuan-class frigate HTMS Taksin (FFG 422) and HTMS Naresuan, and S-70B Seahawk helicopter.

After Brexit, Spain’s Rota base will be new strategic HQ for the EU

The southern Spanish town of Rota, in Cádiz province, is already home to the Spanish Navy’s biggest military base, and also to what is probably the largest US naval base in all of southern Europe. But after Brexit, in March of next year, Rota will also house one of the European Union’s five operational headquarters (OHQ), replacing the current one at Northwood, in Eastbury, Hertfordshire.
Rota also hopes to replace Northwood as headquarters of Operation Atalanta, the EU naval mission that fights piracy off the coast of Somalia.

Apr 22, 2018

US Air Force thinking about retiring the F-15 sooner than planned

The Air Force is still considering retiring many of its fourth-generation F-15 Eagle fighters — and it could happen by the end of the next decade.
Air Force officials said in March 2017 that it was considering retiring its 236 F-15 C and D fighters and replacing them with F-16 Fighting Falcons.
Lt. Gen. Jerry Harris, the Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and requirements, told Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., during a Senate Armed Services air land forces subcommittee hearing Wednesday that the service is still studying its options with the F-15 ― especially as it brings the newest F-35 fighters on board.

Portugal to lead, France and Spain to augment NATO Air Policing in Baltics

The 47th rotation of NATO fighter jets safeguarding the Baltic Allies airspace will be led by Portugal while France and Spain - within the framework of enhanced Air Policing - will be augmenting the mission from May 2018 on.
The Portuguese Air Force will deploy four F-16M fighter jets from Air Base No 5 Monte Real to Šiauliai, Lithuania, for the fourth time to provide Air Policing capabilities to safeguard the skies over Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The 90-strong detachment of pilots, ground crews and support personnel will take over the lead of NATO Allied Air Command’s Air Policing mission from Denmark on May 2 during a ceremony at Šiauliai Air Base.
French Air Force Mirage 2000-5 fighters and Spanish Eurofighter jets will augment the peacetime mission of Air Policing in the Baltics that started with the accession Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to NATO in 2004.
The French detachment will be based at Ämari Air Base, Estonia, and bring four Mirage 2000-5 from 01.002 wing "Cigognes” and approx. 100 personnel from their home base at Luxeuil in the east of France. This is the seventh time French fighters conduct the NATO mission in the Baltics.
The Spanish Eurofighter detachment comprised of six jets and approx. 130 personnel from 11th Wing at Morón Air Base will be deployed at Šiauliai, too. Spain led the BAP mission in 2006 and 2016 and augmented it out of Ämari in 2015 and 2017, making this the fifth tour to the Baltics.


The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Mexico of MH-60R Multi-Mission Helicopters for an estimated cost of $1.20 billion. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on April 18, 2018.
The Government of Mexico has requested to buy eight (8) MH-60R Multi-Mission Helicopters, equipped with: twenty (20) T-700 GE 401 C engines (16 installed and 4 spares); sixteen (16) APS-153(V) Multi-Mode radars (8 installed, 8 spares); ten (10) Airborne Low Frequency Systems (ALFS) (8 installed and 2 spares); fourteen (14) AN/APX-123 Identification Friend or Foe transponders (8 installed and 6 spares); twelve (12) AN/AAS-44C Multi-Spectral Targeting Systems Forward Looking Infrared Systems (8 installed, 4 spares); twenty (20) Embedded Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation Systems (EGI) with Selective Availability/Anti-Spoofing Module (16 installed and 4 spares); thirty (30) AN/AVS-9 Night Vision Devices; one thousand (1,000) AN/SSQ-36/53/62 Sonobuoys; ten (10) AGM-114 Hellfire missiles; five (5) AGM-114 M36-E9 Captive Air Training missiles; four (4) AGM-114Q Hellfire training missiles; thirty eight (38) Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System (APKWS) II rockets; thirty (30) Mk -54 Lightweight Hybrid Torpedoes (LHTs); twelve (12) M-240D machine guns; twelve (12) GAU-21 Machine Guns.

Apr 21, 2018

Lockheed Martin to propose stealthy hybrid of F-22 and F-35 for Japan

Lockheed Martin Corp plans to offer Japan a stealth fighter design based on its export-banned F-22 Raptor and advanced F-35 Lightning II aircraft.
Lockheed has discussed the idea with Japanese defense ministry officials and will make a formal proposal in response to a Japanese request for information (RFI) after it receives permission from the U.S. government to offer the sensitive military technology.
The decision on whether to release parts of the highly classified aircraft designs and software to help Japan stay ahead of Chinese advances will test President Donald Trump’s promise to overhaul his country’s arms export policy.
The proposed aircraft “would combine the F-22 and F-35 and could be superior to both of them,” said one of the sources.
Japan, which is already buying the radar-evading F-35 to modernize its inventory, also wants to introduce a separate air superiority fighter in the decade starting 2030 to deter intrusions into its airspace by Chinese and Russian jets.
The country’s air force currently flies the F-15J, based on the Boeing F-15; and the F-2, based on the Lockheed Martin F-16.

B-21 bomber finishes preliminary design review

A U.S. Air Force official told a Senate subcommittee Wednesday that the new B-21 bomber has completed its preliminary design review and that he was “comfortable” with the progress made by builder Northrop Grumman Corp.
The bomber is now on its way to critical design review, said Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch Jr., the military deputy of the office of the assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition.
Citing the “nature of the work,” Bunch declined to go into further detail about how the Air Force planned to spend the $2.3 billion it requested for the bomber program for fiscal year 2019 when asked by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). However, he said the program was “continuing engineering manufacturing development” and “some of those risk reduction areas.”
SAMANTHA MASUNAGA | The Los Angeles Times (Tribune News Service)stripes

3-D printer keeps F-35B flying during USS Wasp deployment

State-of-the-art parts fabrication is keeping America’s most advanced stealth fighter in the air during its first deployment aboard the USS Wasp.
When a plastic bumper for a landing-gear door wore out this month on an F-35B Lightning II embarked on the amphibious assault ship, a 3-D printer was used to whip up a new one.
The Iwakuni-based jet from Fighter Attack Squadron 121 later flew successfully with the new part, a Marine statement said.
Called “additive manufacturing,” the process from Naval Air Systems Command allowed the Marines of Combat Logistics Battalion 31 to create the new bumper and get it approved for use within days, the statement said. Otherwise, they would have had to replace the entire door assembly, which is expensive and time consuming.

Apr 15, 2018

Germany fears steeper Tornado costs after the UK ditches its planes

The planned phasing out of the United Kingdom’s last Tornado aircraft has German officials scrambling to deal with the increasing costs of a shrinking fleet.
Continuing aircraft reductions in the tri-national program, which also includes Italy, have led to “significant technical, logistical and financial risk” in maintaining the 1980s-era fighter-bombers, officials have told lawmakers in a confidential report seen by Defense News.
While the prospect of Britain’s exit from the aircraft program has been known since November 2016, there is “no sufficient and comprehensive planning in place” for sustaining the remaining German planes, the report warns.
German defense leaders decided in 2016 to extend the life of the Tornado through 2035, with an assessment planned this summer of implementation plans to that end. Berlin originally purchased 357 aircraft; 93 are still in the inventory today, 88 of which belong to the Luftwaffe, according to the defense ministry.
A handful of German Tornados packed with reconnaissance equipment are currently deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, flying missions over Iraq and Syria.
The defense ministry’s March 2018 report leaves open the question of how, and if, the UK would retain some kind of role in the program. Last November, the document states, there was talk about introducing a new, fixed scheme for financial contributions, abandoning the practice of going by the number of airframes used in each nation.
The British plan to use the Eurofighter Typhoon and the F-35 to absorb missions flown by Tornados. In Germany, the Typhoon appears to be the defense ministry’s preference for a follow-on aircraft, though there are also voices advocating for the F-35. Officials have requested information on both planes from the manufacturers, plus data from the maker of the F-18 and the F-15.

Israel offers upgrade package for South Africa’s Gripens

The South African Air Force has been offered enhanced capabilities for its Gripen fighter aircraft with a suit of new advanced systems developed by Israeli company Rafael.
The Israeli company's offers a concept that it claims can bring fighter aircraft to a an advanced 4.5 generation standard by upgrading the different systems.
The concept is being evaluated by the Indian Air Force for its Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) fighter aircraft.
The upgrade suit that according to Rafael can enhance the fighter aircraft's capabilities to a 4.5 generation standard includes the Rafael BNET which is an advanced IP Mobile Ad-hoc Network Software Defined Radio (SDR) for tactical operations. According to Rafael It offers unique high spectrum efficiency, as well as cognitive capabilities.
The upgrade package may also include two types of Israeli developed air-air missiles - the IR Python 5 and the I-Derby ER radar-guided 100 km range missile.
The South African Air Force’s Gripens are already equipped with the Rafael Litening 3 targeting pod. The upgrade proposed by Rafael includes enhancing the Litening to its 4.1 version.
Rafael has been working closely with the Swedish manufacturer Saab to offer the upgrade package to users of the Gripen.

Royal Air Force Tornados join Syria strikes, launching Storm Shadow missiles

Four Royal Air Force Tornados GR4s joined the strikes against Syria, launching Storm Shadow missiles at a base 15 miles west of Homs.
The Tornado is UK's primary ground attack jet and has been used to carry out numerous air strikes in Syria and Iraq in recent years.
Set to be retired from service next year after almost four decades on operations, the Tornado, with a maximum speed of Mach 1.3, has also seen action in Libya and Afghanistan.
The main Tornado squadrons are based at RAF Marham in Norfolk, which will become the new home of the cutting-edge of the F-35 Lightning stealth fighter jets.
There are currently six of the jets based at RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus, a location some 315 miles (510km) from Syria.

Apr 11, 2018

Draken International Signs Agreement with Paramount Aerospace Systems to Regenerate 22 Mirage F1M Aircraft Ex Spanish Air Force

Draken International, a global leader in advanced adversary air services, has signed an agreement with Paramount Aerospace Systems, a subsidiary of Paramount Group, for the overhaul and ongoing engineering support of their recently acquired fleet of Mirage F1M aircraft from the Spanish Air Force.
Draken acquired 22 Mirage F1M and F1B fighter jets in an effort to enhance adversary services for its US Department of Defense and allied nation customers. The Mirage F1Ms were predominantly flown by the Spanish Air Force and received a full radar and avionics suite modernization in the late 1990s. This acquisition along with the most recent purchase of twelve supersonic radar equipped South African Denel Cheetah fighter jets increased Draken’s fleet size to over 150 fighter aircraft.
With the completion of the procurement phase, the Mirage F1Ms will now undergo reassembly, restoration and airworthiness certification by Paramount Aerospace Systems at Draken’s Lakeland, FL maintenance facility. Paramount Aerospace specializes in the modernization of fixed wing platforms including leading the previous modernization of the Mirage F1M while still in Spanish Air Force military service. Paramount possesses extensive capabilities on the Mirage F1 with full airframe and engine overhaul capability, as well as the ability to upgrade and modernize avionics and mission systems.

Apr 7, 2018

India re-opens competition to supply 110 fighters

A global competition to sell more than 100 fighters to the Indian air force re-opened for the third time in a decade on 6 April.
The IAF released a 73-page request for information to six companies to supply 110 single- and twin-seat fighters over a maximum of 12 years.
Facing a 3 July deadline, responses are expected from the Boeing F/A-18E/F Block III, Dassault Rafale F3R, EurofighterTyphoon, Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 70, United Aircraft Corp MiG-35 and Saab Gripen E.
It will be a familiar competition for the six bidding teams. The same teams squared off in 2009 for the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) contract for 126 fighters. India selected the Rafale, but cancelled the contract seven years later.
Instead, the IAF awarded Dassault a contract to deliver 36 Rafales in 2016, and launched a competition for a contract to build 114 single-engine fighters, which limited the field to the F-16 and Gripen.
The IAF scrapped that contest two months ago under pressure from the Indian Congress to consider single- and twin-engined fighters.
The new RFI re-opens the competition to twin-engined fighters made in the USA, Western Europe and Russia.
The RFI sets no standards for the number of engines in the IAF’s future fighter, and repeatedly references the singular or plural term, “engine/s”, in requests for data about the propulsion system.
About 82 of the 110 fighters should be single-seat aircraft and the rest should be two-seat versions, the RFI says.
A maximum of about 16 or 17 fighters can be built outside the country, but the rest must be built within India by local companies or an Indian production agency, the document shows.
As expected, technology transfer and “Made in India” will be priorities in the IAF’s bid evaluations. The bidders must describe in their responses to the RFI how they will use Indian companies as suppliers for systems and aircraft production.

Potential MQ-4C sale to Germany

Northrop Grumman’s long courtship with Germany’s requirement for a high-altitude unmanned air system took another step toward a contract on 5 February.
The US State Department approved a potential sale of four MQ-4C Tritons to Germany, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced on 5 April.
The approval allows Northrop to export the high-altitude surveillance aircraft, but doesn’t mean Germany has committed to sign a contract.
The DSCA notification says the full package, including a ground control station, spares and support, is worth $2.5 billion.
Germany would acquire a modified version of the MQ-4C configuration that Northrop has developed for the US Navy, but the notice doesn’t list the changes.
The USN’s version of the aircraft comes with several major sensors, including Northrop’s multi-function airborne system (MFAS) radar, a camera-based targeting system and electronic support measures.
In 2000, Germany launched a programme to acquire a high-altitude UAV for electronic surveillance. Northrop delivered one “Euro Hawk” aircraft to Germany, using an RQ-4B Global Hawk airframe and an Airbus sensor payload. But the Germany cancelled the Euro Hawk programme due to financing and airspace integration problems.
The Australian government also plans to buy the MQ-4C for the maritime surveillance mission in the Pacific and Indian oceans.

Spain Purchases 17 CH-47F Helicopters

The US State Department has approved a possible sale of CH-47F aircraft for an estimated cost of $1.3 billion to Spain.
The Government of Spain has requested to buy 17 CH-47F cargo helicopters with customer-unique modifications, 21 Common Missile Warning System (CMWS) AN/AAR-57A(V)8, and 42 Embedded Global Positioning System (GPS) Inertial Navigation System (INS) (EGI).
Also included are mission equipment, hardware and services required to implement customer-unique modifications, communication, Aircraft Survivability Equipment (ASE), and navigation equipment including AN/ARC-231 Multi-mode radios, AN/ARC-201D SINCGARS radios, AN/ARC-220 High Frequency (HF) Radio, Identification, Friend or Foe (IFF), AN/AAR-57A(V)8, and the Radar Signal Detecting Set (RSDS), AN/APR-39A(V)1, special tools and test equipment, ground support equipment, airframe and engine spare parts, technical data, publications, MWO/ECPs, technical assistance, transportation of aircraft and training, and other related elements of logistics and program support.

Apr 3, 2018

Kuwait Has Acquired 28 Super Hornets

Boeing was awarded a contract worth up to $1.17 billion to produce and deliver 22 F/A-18E and 6 F/A-18F Super Hornets for the government of Kuwait by 2022, the US Defence Department announced on 30 March.
State Department approval of the sale of F/A-18 Super Hornets to Kuwait was first announced in November 2016, with the country requesting a total of 40 Super Hornets, including 28 fighters for initial delivery, plus the option to order 12 more. Boeing was to provide Raytheon APG-79 active electronically scanned array radars and 20mm guns for the jets, per the original sale announcement.

Luftwaffe German Tornados unsuitable for NATO missions

The German armed forces may not be able to use the Tornado fighter jet for NATO missions, according to a defense ministry report seen by Reuters.
The report says that so far, it has not been possible to build an encryption device for secure data transfer into the jet, which entered service in the 1970s.
The communication devices of the Tornado also do not meet current standards, the report said, meaning there’s a risk that information could be intercepted.
“This could in the worst case mean that the demand for an encrypted communication system for the Tornado weapons system can’t be achieved. That means the Tornado weapons system may not take part in NATO missions,” the report states.
A spokesman for the German air force said its 10 Tornado jets registered for the NATO Response Force met current requirements, without providing further details.
Germany wants to start phasing out the Tornado jets in 2025 and the defense ministry has said that the Eurofighter Typhoon is the leading candidate.