Jan 10, 2021

The Iraqi Air Force’s F-16 fleet is on the brink of collapse

A total of 23 Iraqi Air Force Lockheed Martin F-16IQ Viper fighter jets took part in an impressive flyby to mark the centenary of the country’s army. 
This is despite recent reports that Baghdad’s fleet of F-16s, the pride of the country’s air force and arguably its most capable combat assets, is suffering from serious readiness problems. The Iraqi Air Force originally acquired 36 F-16C/D Block 52s. Two of the jets were lost in separate accidents during their initial period of training in the United States. The remaining 34 Vipers are assigned to the 9th Fighter Squadron at Balad Air Base and have previously flown combat operations against ISIS. 
The same story quotes active and retired members of the Iraqi military who describe “poor jet maintenance and mismanagement” leading to the F-16s regularly failing to meet required maintenance standards. Officials confirmed to the Iraq Oil Report last December that only seven jets from the F-16 fleet were able to fly “without serious risk of crashing,” while the operational jets were being kept airworthy using spare parts cannibalized from the other aircraft. This is clearly a short-term solution that will eventually lead to all aircraft becoming non-airworthy in the long-term. The poor state of the jets may well have been the reason behind the decision to remove the F-16s from air tasking orders. logistical issues have affected aircraft availability, a knock-on effect of budget shortages due to the falling price of oil, together with the ongoing security situation in the country, which has led to a reduction in the Lockheed Martin-provided contractor support needed to properly maintain the jets. 
The lack of money to support the F-16s has led to Baghdad taking out a $2.7-billion loan from the United States to cover ammunition and maintenance for the jets. 

Third Chinese Aircraft Carrier Nears Completion

The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reports that the Jiangnan shipyard is beginning a three-year expansion that will include a new ship design and research center, additional workshops, fabrication facilities, quays, and other shipbuilding infrastructure. 
Some of the new shipyard will support the yard’s commercial vessel work but much appears to be focused on the aircraft carrier building program of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). China’s first aircraft carrier, the Type 001 Liaoning, was rebuilt on a gutted, unfinished Ukrainian aircraft carrier hull and might be considered a modernized variant of the Soviet Kuznetsov-class carrier. China built an improved version of the Liaoning, designated the Type 001A, which it named the Shandong. PLAN’s third and fourth carriers will be an entirely new design called the Type 002. 
They are expected to be much larger than the Liaoning and Shandong, and unlike those ships, which use ramps to assist planes in take-off, are reported to feature electromagnetic catapults. 

France conducts improved ASMPA nuclear missile test shot from Rafale

France has performed a first test firing of an updated MBDA ASMPA nuclear missile from a Dassault Rafale fighter. Conducted on 9 December 2020, the test activity involved the airframer and weapons provider, plus the flight-test organisation of France’s DGA defence procurement agency. 
Tracking of the unarmed medium-range missile was performed from facilities in Biscarrosse, Hourtin and Quimper. 
The French air force and navy have been equipped with supersonic ASMPA strategic weapons since 2009 and 2010, respectively, currently on F3-standard Rafales. Paris in December 2016 launched a mid-life modernisation activity for the weapon, intended to address obsolescence issues and “improve missile performance”. An MBDA fact sheet describes updates as including “significantly enhanced” range and penetration capabilities, along with the integration of a “new, medium energy thermonuclear charge”. 

India to sign $2.5-billion contract for 56 C-295 transport planes for IAF

Airbus Defence and Space and Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) will jointly execute the project to equip the air force with 56 C-295 transport aircraft under the Make-in-India initiative in the aerospace sector. 
India will sign a $2.5-billion contract his year for the supply of 56 medium transport aircraft to the Indian Air Force to replace its fleet of aging Avro-748 planes, officials familiar with the development said on Tuesday. 
Airbus Defence and Space and Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) will jointly execute the project to equip the air force with 56 C-295 transport aircraft under the Make-in-India initiative in the aerospace sector. Under the contract, Airbus will supply the first 16 aircraft in flyaway condition while the remaining 40 will be assembled in India by TASL. 

Jan 6, 2021

Final design of South Korea’s light aircraft carrier

The carrier is based on the America-class and British Queen Elizabeth-class. It will not have a ski-jump or well deck like USS America. It will have two islands similiar to the British carrier. While one island is for navigating the ship and the other for flight deck control. The South Koreans are adopting two islands so that one island can still operate the ship if the other is damaged during an attack. 
The aircraft elevators are both on the starboard side. This approach was chosen in order to give more space to the flight deck. The carrier will not have an organic airborne early warning capability, the task force will rely on a destroyer with powerful radar to scan the skies while F-35Bs will provide additional air surveillance coverage if necessary. 
Concept mirrors the Italian approach that will be practice on ITS Cavour. For protection against airborne threats, the ship will be armed with a Close-In Weapons System (CIWS) and the Surface-to-Air Anti-Missile (SAAM) from LIG Nex1. 

Dec 25, 2020

Belgian Air Force receives first A400M

The Belgian Air Force has taken delivery of its first of seven Airbus A400M.
The aircraft was handed over to the customer at the A400M Final Assembly Line in Seville (Spain) and subsequently performed its ferry flight to the 15th Wing Air Transport in Melsbroek (Belgium), where the aircraft will be based. This A400M, known as MSN106, will be operated within a binational unit composed of a total of eight aircraft, seven from the Belgian Air Force and one from the Luxembourg Armed Forces. The second A400M for Belgium will be delivered in early 2021.  

Dec 10, 2020


Spanish industry has been formally included within a multinational effort initiated by France and Germany to develop a Future Combat Air System (FCAS), following a 10-month “onboarding” process. 
The step sees Madrid attain equal status to Paris and Berlin during the FCAS initiative’s Joint Concept Study activity, including a Phase 1A work package launched in February 2020. Airbus Spain will be prime contractor for work related to the FCAS project’s low observable technology, acting in partnership with Airbus Germany and Dassault. 
Airbus also will head New Generation Fighter (NGF) activities for Madrid, while Indra is to lead on sensors. Current Phase 1A activities are working towards a series of technology demonstrations to be conducted from 2026, including of an NGF platform, which should get airborne for the first time in the second half of that year. 

Dec 7, 2020

Spain’s first PC-21 enters ground testing phase

Pilatus has conducted the first engine run of a PC-21 trainer for the Spanish air force. 

Photographed at the airframer’s Stans site in Switzerland on 2 December, the lead aircraft has already been painted, and carries the air force registration E.27-01. 

Madrid on 30 January 2020 signed a €204 million ($247 million) contract to acquire 24 of the turboprops, along with simulators and support services. 

At that time, it said the first six aircraft would be delivered in 2020. Spain will use the Swiss-built type to begin replacing an aged inventory of 60 CASA C-101 jet trainers, which Cirium fleets data shows have been in use for up to 40 years. 

Dec 5, 2020

Final Two MQ-9 Reaper for Spain delivered

General Atomics delivered the final two MQ-9A Block 5 (RPA) and a Ground Control Station (GCS) to the Spanish Air Force (SpAF) on Nov. 23, 2020, completing a Foreign Military Sales acquisition of four aircraft and three GCSs. 
The new MQ-9s will be operated by the 233rd Squadron at Talavera la Real Air Base near Badajoz, Spain.  
The final delivery was preceded by acceptance test procedures (ATP) completed at GA-ASI's Gray Butte Flight Operations Facility near Palmdale, Calif. on Sep. 29, 2020. The ATPs were witnessed by the U.S. Air Force MQ-9 System Program Office (SPO) acting on behalf of Spain's Directorate General for Armament and Materiel (DGAM) procurement team due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

The successful ATPs, in conjunction with the integration of System 1 by the SpAF in Badajoz, Spain, resulted in Spain's issuance of an Airworthiness Military Type Certificate for the aircraft, which is first time this has been done for the MQ-9A Block 5. 

The 233rd Squadron has flown nearly 300 hours with its MQ-9A Block 5 aircraft and is steadily building the expertise of its crewmembers and maintainers as the SpAF moves towards declaring the Initial Operational Capability for the system. 

The Republic of Mali orders an additional Airbus C295

The Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Mali has placed a firm order for an additional Airbus C295 airlifter in the transport configuration. 
This second aircraft, to be delivered in 2021, will supplement the first C295 already in operation since December 2016 which has already accumulated 1,770 flight hours and transported more than 38,000 passengers and 900 tonnes of cargo in less than four years of operations. This new order also includes an integrated logistics support package with spare parts for the two aircraft and training for flight crews and mechanics. 
This acquisition is in response to the urgent need of the authorities of the Republic of Mali to have permanent air transport capacity within a very short timeframe, providing a vital link supporting operations and actions for the development of isolated areas in the northern regions of the country.  airbus

France and Indonesia in talks for the purchase of 48 Rafale fighters

Negotiations between France and Indonesia for the purchase of 48 French Rafale fighter jets are “very well advanced”, French Defense Minister Florence Parly said on Thursday, confirming earlier press reports. 
“If this order goes through ... that means 7,000 jobs during 18 months. That is massive”, Parly told BFM TV. 
French website La, citing several sources, reported a deal could be signed soon. Indonesia would like to seal a deal before the end of the year but French negotiators want to take the time necessary to fine-tune the details, it said. 
Parly also said France was talking to Greece, Finland and Switzerland about Rafale jets 

Sep 27, 2020

USS Carl Vinson Preparing for First F-35C Deployment

Next year, the most advanced carrier air wing in history will sail to the Pacific aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70). Last week, the Carrier Air Wing 2 took the first steps in getting its new F-35C Joint Strike Fighters and CMV-22B Ospreys integrated into the air wing and aboard the carrier. 
Vinson went to sea with its air wing for the first time in this deployment cycle, following a lengthy maintenance availability to upgrade the ship to support the Navy’s first deployment of its fifth-generation fighter and a new cargo aircraft to support it. 
Though there are still some little details to work out – moving the new F-35C Joint Strike Fighter safely around the deck, practicing with new firefighting equipment designed for the large nacelles on the CMV-22B Osprey – ship and air wing officials say they’re ready to spend this workup cycle figuring out how to leverage the F-35C’s stealth and data-sharing capabilities to make this advanced carrier air wing as lethal as possible.

The first Brazilian Gripen has flown in Brazil

September 24, the first Brazilian Gripen E, designated by Brazilian Air Force (FAB) as F-39 Gripen, concluded its first flight in Brazil. 
The aircraft flew from the airport in Navegantes to Embraer´s facility in Gavião Peixoto. 
The official presentation of the aircraft is scheduled to take place during the Aviator’s Day and the Brazilian Air Force Day ceremony in Brasilia, celebrated on the 23rd of October. 

Sep 26, 2020

Canada receives its first new search and rescue CC-295 aircraft

The new fleet will be called Kingfisher. Within the First Nations of the Northwest, the kingfisher has long been recognized for its speed and agility, as well as its keen searching and hunting skills. 
Found all across Canada, the kingfisher well represents the abilities of our own search and rescue crews to accomplish their lifesaving role. Specifically designed to perform search and rescue missions across Canada, the aircraft is equipped with integrated sensors that will allow crews to locate persons or objects from more than 40 kilometers away, even in low-light conditions. 

Its communications systems will increase interoperability with other search and rescue assets, such as the CH-149 Cormorant. The fleet of 16 aircraft will be replacing the CC-115 Buffalo and CC-130H Hercules fleets in their search and rescue role at four locations across Canada, and represents a value of $2.4 billion. The aircraft received earlier this month will remain at 19 Wing Comox while the RCAF completes aircrew training, followed by operational testing. 

During the transition period and while the CC-295 Kingfisher is being operationalized, fixed-wing search and rescue services will continue through existing fleets, along with the CH-149 Cormorant and CH-146 Griffon helicopters. The delivery of this aircraft marks an exciting new chapter in Canada’s long and proud search and rescue history, and this project has created hundreds of new jobs for Canadians. 
The CC-295 contractor, Airbus Defence and Space, continues to make investments into the Canadian aerospace and defence industry through the Industrial and Technological Benefits Policy. Strategic work packages directly related to the aircraft are providing Canadian companies the opportunity to participate in global supply chains and creating high-value jobs. canada


Sep 22, 2020

First Brazilian Gripen arrives in-country

The first Saab Gripen E for Brazil arrived in-country on 20 September, having been shipped from Norrköping in Sweden. 
This first Gripen E is a flight test instrumentation (FTI) aircraft (serial number FAB4100) that has been flying in Sweden since August 2019. Now in Brazil, FAB4100 will undergo further testing at the Gripen Flight Test Center (GFTC) in Gavião Peixoto, São Paulo, before being officially presented to the country at the air force’s Aviator Day event in Brasília on 23 October. 
The Brazilian Air Force (Força Aérea Brasileira: FAB) has ordered an initial batch of 28 Gripen Es and eight twin-seat Gripen Fs to be delivered through to 2024. Saab is to build 13 aircraft at its facility in Linköping, Sweden, with the remaining 23 being built in Brazil. 

USAF's F-16s from 555TH FS 'Triple Nickel' Aviano AB head to Bulgaria for Thracian Viper exercise

Six F-16s from the 555th Fighter Squadron at Aviano Air Base in Italy arrived in Bulgaria Friday for training exercises with the Bulgarian, Greek and Romanian air forces. 
Other airmen and units from U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa ― including airmen from the 435th Air Ground Operations Wing at Ramstein Air Base, about 150 airmen from the 555th, and additional Aviano airmen ― are also joining the 555th for Thracian Viper 20, USAFE said in a Friday release. 
Thracian Viper, which began Friday and will run until Sept. 25, is a multilateral training exercise that aims to improve the allies' ability to work with and fight alongside Bulgaria, the release said. It is taking place at Graf Ignatievo Air Base in Bulgaria. 

Sep 21, 2020

Germany to form A400M Multinational Air Transport Unit with Hungary

Germany is establishing a new multinational unit to operate the Airbus A400M transport aircraft, with Hungary committed as its first partner.
The Bundeswehr announced on 17 September that the Multinational Air Transport Unit (MNAU) was being established at Wunstorf Air Base in northern Germany, home to the Luftwaffe’s A400M force. 
This new international unit will relocate to Lechfeld Air Base in the far south of the country with 10 of the Luftwaffe’s 53 contracted A400Ms, as well as additional A400Ms that might be provided by partner nations. 

Romania received the first batch of Patriot surface-to-air missiles from the US.

Romania has received the first batch of Patriot surface-to-air missiles from the US. 
According to a Reuters report, the induction of the missile system will help Romania enhance its air defences as it seeks to upgrade its weaponry to Nato standards. 
Romania has already decided to increase defence spending to 2% of its gross domestic product (GDP), as suggested by the US to all Nato members to combat external threats. 

OUTBREAK of COVID-19 on Royal Navy's HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier is currently in Portsmouth after her scheduled departure yesterday was postponed. It comes after ‘fewer than 10’ sailors tested positive on September 7. 
That delayed her departure from Portsmouth Naval Base until two days later. She then returned to her homeport on Sunday to collect supplies for F-35B fighter jet trials. Now the Royal Navy has confirmed ‘additional positive cases’ onboard the £3.1bn warship. 
Her remaining 1,000-strong crew are following Public Health England guidelines. Some who tested positive last week have since been cleared to return to work having tested negative. 
A Royal Navy spokesman said: ‘Retesting the ship’s company has confirmed a number of additional positive cases. ‘Those individuals have been removed from the ship and the remaining ship’s company continue to follow PHE guidelines.’ ‘The timing of sailing of our ships is dependent upon a number of factors. The decision to sail rests with the captain.’ 
The ship is listed as being due to sail from Portsmouth on Friday at around 1pm-2pm. 

Four A-29s have arrived in Philippines

Four out of the six new Embraer Defense and Security A-29 "Super Tucano" close-air support aircraft, which are intended to beef up the Philippine Air Force (PAF)'s close-air support capabilities, have landed in Clark Air Base, Angeles City, Pampanga on Saturday. 
Department of National Defense (DND) spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said the four aircraft have landed in Clark Air Base around 1:06 p.m. while the other two are still in New Delhi, India, awaiting for clearance and would be flown to the Philippines at a later date. 
Embraer company pilots flew the aircraft from the company airfield in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and made fueling stops in the Canary Islands, Portugal, Malta, Egypt, Bangladesh, the United Arab Emirates, India, Thailand, and Vietnam before landing in the Philippines. 

Jul 20, 2020

Indonesia wants to buy Eurofighters from Austria

After initial clearance from the United States State Department to buy an MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, news broke that Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto intended to buy jet fighters from Austria.
Austrian newspaper Die Presse reported on Sunday that Prabowo had sent a letter to his Austrian counterpart Klaudia Tanner offering to buy the country's 15 Eurofighter Typhoon jet fighters.
The letter was dated July 10 and arrived at the Austrian Defense Ministry late last week, Die Presse reported.

Jul 16, 2020

Russian Shtorm aircraft carrier to potentially be fitted with S-500 anti-aircraft systems

According to some sources, the Russian aircraft carrier "Project 23000E Shtorm", which is planned to enter service with the Russian Navy in the next decade, will be equipped the S-500 Prometheus anti-aircraft missile system.
The S-500 Prometey also known as 55R6M "Triumfator-M", is a Russian surface-to-air missile/anti-ballistic missile system under development by the Almaz-Antey Air Defence Concern. Initially planned to be in production by 2014, it is currently targeting 2021 for the first delivery.
The Prometheus S-500 is expected to have an extended range of up to 600 km (an improvement of 200km over the S-400) and simultaneously engage up to 10 targets.
Project 23000E or Shtorm is a proposal for a supercarrier designed by the Krylov State Research Center for the Russian Navy. The cost of the export version has been put at over US$5.5 billion, with development expected to take ten years.

Boeing and USAF ink deal for F-15EX fighter jet

The U.S. Air Force awarded Boeing a nearly $1.2 billion contract to build the first lot of eight F-15EX advanced fighter jets to help the service meet its capacity requirements and add capability to its fighter fleet. The award also covers support and one-time, upfront engineering costs. Already under construction at the Boeing F-15 production facility in St. Louis, the first two jets deliver next year.
The F-15EX will replace the oldest F-15C/Ds in the service’s inventory. Eight F-15EX aircraft were approved in the fiscal year 2020 budget and 12 were requested in the FY21 budget. The Air Force plans to purchase a total of 76 F-15EX aircraft over the five-year Future Years Defense Program.
The F-15EX is a two-seat fighter with U.S.-only capabilities. It features a deep magazine that can carry a load of advanced weapons. The platform also requires minimal transitional training or additional manpower and little to no infrastructure changes, ensuring the continuation of the mission.
The most significant difference between the F-15EX and legacy F-15s lies in its Open Mission Systems (OMS) architecture. The OMS architecture will enable the rapid insertion of the latest aircraft technologies. The F-15EX will also have fly-by-wire flight controls, a new electronic warfare system, advanced cockpit systems, and the latest mission systems and software capabilities available for legacy F-15s.

Jul 15, 2020

US approves sale of 105 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft to Japan

The US Department of State has approved a potential USD23.11 billion Foreign Military Sale (FMS) to Japan of 105 Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter aircraft along with related equipment and services, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced on 9 July.
Tokyo, which has already ordered 42 conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) F-35A aircraft, has requested to buy 63 more units of this variant along with 42 units of the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) F-35B.

UK signs £65m contract for first three Protectors

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has ordered its first three of a planned 16 Protector RG1 unmanned air vehicles from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, with the £65 million ($82 million) contract announced on 15 July.
Also including three ground control stations and support equipment, the launch production order follows what the MoD describes as a “successful development phase” activity performed by General Atomics in the USA.
With its first production order now in place, the MoD says operations with the Protector fleet will start by mid-2024. The type will replace the Royal Air Force’s (RAF’s) current General Atomics Reapers.

Spain to receive new Eurofighters under Project 'Halcon'

Spain is set to receive new Eurofighter combat aircraft to augment its existing fleet and to begin the process of replacing its Boeing EF-18 Hornet fleet.
The proposed deal that the government is currently negotiating with Airbus, announced on 9 July, will involve an initial 20 Eurofighters being delivered to the Spanish Air Force (Ejército del Aire Español [EdAE]) to replace Hornets based on the Canary Islands.
The deal, which Airbus is expected to be signed in 2021, would be the first part of a wider plan to retire the service’s Hornets with the latest-standard Eurofighters between 2025 and 2030, dubbed Project ‘Halcon’ (Falcon).
These Tranche 3+/Tranche 4 Eurofighters (company officials have used both designations) would be of the latest Tranche 3 standard, and will also feature an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and other modifications. For Spain, the AESA would be ‘Radar 1’, development of which is being led by Hensoldt and Indra.
This new Eurofighter procurement and the retirement of the Hornets is part of a wider modernisation plan for the EdAE’s combat fleet that is called Road Map 2035++.
The EdAE currently fields 73 Eurofighters, comprising 19 Tranche 1, 34 Tranche 2, and 20 Tranche 3 aircraft, as well as 91 EF-18A and EF-18B Hornets. The Road Map 2035++ seeks to manage these fleets out to, and beyond, the introduction of the New-Generation Fighter that Spain is to develop alongside France and Germany as part of the wider Future Combat Air System (FCAS).

May 10, 2020

USAF B-1s fly to Baltics to train with Danish fighters

Two B-1B Lancer bombers flew from Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota to the Baltic region Tuesday to take part in a Bomber Task Force mission and train with the Danish air force.
In a Wednesday release, U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa said that the pair of B-1s, from Ellsworth’s 28th Bomb Wing, conducted integration and interoperability training with Danish F-16s over Bornholm Island, which is in the Baltic Sea and is part of Denmark.
The bombers also flew over Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, and helped Estonian joint terminal attack controllers practice close air support on the long-range, long-duration mission.

Spanish Air Force Airbus A400M suffers birdstrike while landing at Zaragoza Air Base

On 7 May, a Spanish Air Force (Ejército del Aire) Airbus A400M Atlas military transport was damaged following a bird strike. The aircraft was on approach to Zaragoza Air Base, located around 262 km northeast of Spain’s capital Madrid.
Nobody got injured in the incident but the aircraft suffered substantial damage to its under-fuselage near one of the aft wheel wells.


V-22 Ospreys bound for Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) units arrive in Japan at Marine Corps Air Station, Iwakuni, May 8, 2020. The V-22 off-load marked the first time JGSDF V-22s arrived on Japanese soil.

May 8, 2020

First German government A350 arrives for outfitting in Hamburg by Lufthansa

Airbus has transferred the first of three A350-900s for the federal German government to Hamburg for outfitting at the Lufthansa Technik facility.
The aircraft flew from the airframer’s Hamburg Finkenwerder plant to the city’s main international airport on 7 May.
It bears the civil registration D-AGAF but will be re-registered with the government’s special air wing as ‘10+03’.
Two other aircraft – to be designated ‘10+01’ and ‘10+02’ – are still undergoing manufacture.