Apr 20, 2022

NEWS 2022 April, 20

US sends aircrafts, parts to Ukraine

Ukraine's military has received additional aircraft as well parts for repairs to get damaged aircraft flying again, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.

Ukraine has defied expectations of allies and military experts by not only keeping its air force operational nearly two months after the start of Russia's invasion but actually repairing aircraft and, apparently, adding to its inventory.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby did not offer details on which countries provided aircraft, but acknowledged new transfers and said Ukraine had more operable fighter aircraft than it had two weeks ago.

"They have received additional aircraft and aircraft parts to help them get more aircraft in the air," Kirby told a news briefing, without elaborating.

Kirby said Washington had not provided any aircraft to Kyiv.

"We certainly have helped with the trans-shipment of some additional spare parts that have helped with their aircraft needs, but we have not transported whole aircraft," he said.

The United States has announced plans to transfer Russian-made helicopters to Ukraine that had once been intended for Afghanistan.


Apr 9, 2022

NEWS 2022 April, 9

NATO fighters intercept Russian Jets over Black Sea from base in Romania

NATO jets scrambled from this Romanian base four times in the last 20 days to intercept Russian fighters that launched from Crimea, flying toward NATO territory along the Black Sea coast. Each time, the Russian jets turned away without incident, but the flights represent a growing threat to the alliance.

The intent of the Russian practice was not immediately clear to the NATO air policing commanders and Combined Air Operations Centre in Torrejon, Spain. But, it underscored the importance of the mission to protect the skies over what defense officials say is the NATO front line in the Russian war with Ukraine.


Congress blocks USAF A-10 retirement

Last year, the Air Force announced it wanted to retire 42 A-10C Thunderbolt II planes, all but seven of which are housed at the Tucson base. Dumping those jets in 2022 would have made room to bring testing and training for the A-10 and the HH-60 combat search-and-rescue helicopter from Nellis AFB in Nevada to Davis-Monthan.

Davis-Monthan is home to A-10Cs, HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters, HC-130 Hercules transport jets and the EC-130H Compass Call electronic warfare planes. It’s been on the cusp of change for years: Officials have tried and failed multiple times to dump at least some of the Air Force’s 280 or so A-10s in favor of longer-range, stealthy platforms, and are replacing Pave Hawks and Compass Calls with newer models.

The Air Force wanted to move Nellis’s A-10 weapons instructor course and test and evaluation work to Arizona this year. The HH-60G’s advanced tactics course for instructors, test and combat units would join them in 2024.


Slovakia has provided its S-300 air defense 'legacy' systems to Ukraine

Slovak Defence Minister said the United States will deploy a Patriot air defense system in his country next week.

Announcement came shortly after Slovakia donated its Soviet-era S-300 air defense system to Ukraine at its request that Slovakia was willing to provide its S-300 to Ukraine on condition it has a proper replacement.

Additionally, Germany and the Netherlands have agreed to send troops armed with Patriot missiles to Slovakia as part of 2,100-strong force made up of soldiers from several NATO members states, including the U.S. The force will form a battlegroup on Slovak territory to boost NATO defenses on the alliance’s eastern flank.

NATO members Bulgaria, Slovakia and Greece have S-300s, which can fire missiles hundreds of miles and knock out cruise missiles as well as aircraft.

Slovak Prime Minister recently visited the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv with top European Union officials, ahead of a planned meeting with Ukrainian President.

Zelenskyy had mentioned S-300s by name when he spoke to U.S. lawmakers by video last month, appealing for defense systems that would allow Ukraine to “close the skies” to Russian planes and missiles.


Mar 29, 2022

NEWS 2022 March, 29

First Mission for Spain's Ejercito del Aire A330

The flight will transport 85 Ukrainian orphans to Spain. The children, who will travel under the tutelage of their caregivers from the orphanage.

The aircraft used is the first of three A330 units acquired by Spain which are being converted to multi-role transport and supply aircraft at the Airbus facilities in Getafe. 

This is one more of the humanitarian flights organized by the Ministry of Defense since the war in Ukraine began.


Canada to Buy 88 F-35 Fighter Jets From Lockheed Martin After Years of Delays

Canada announced plans Monday to buy 88 US-made F-35 stealth fighter jets to replace its aging flee of F-18s.

The new aircraft’s central role will be to patrol North American air space with the US Air Force under NORAD and it could also be tasked with helping to bolster NATO defenses in Europe, or other overseas missions.

Lockheed Martin beat out Saab’s Gripen, after Boeing’s Superhornet was excluded from the running, and an Airbus-led consortium and France’s Dassault Aviation withdrew their Typhoon and Rafale fighters from the competition.

Ottawa had earmarked 19 billion Canadian dollars ($15 billion) for the purchase six years ago. Negotiations with Lockheed Martin would now proceed to finalize the contract within the next seven months with delivery of the aircraft as early as 2025.

Canada spent two decades helping to develop the stealth fighter with the United States and its allies.

But when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau‘s Liberals swept to power in 2015 he scrapped three previous administrations’ plans to purchase the state-of-the-art F-35 to replace its aging F-18 fleet, calling it too expensive.

Prior to Monday, Canada was the only nation in the partnership not yet committed to buying the F-35s.

It follows Germany’s announcement mid-March to buy 35 F-35s as part of a multi-billion-euro push to modernize its armed forces in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and Finland’s order of 64 stealth fighters in December after seeing a spike in incursions into its airspace by Russian jets in recent years.

Airbus said when it withdrew from the Canadian competition in 2019 that NORAD security requirements were too expensive, while sources told AFP that Dassault Aviation was unable to meet technical requirements tied to Canada’s membership in the Five Eyes intelligence sharing group of nations.

The Five Eyes group is comprised of Canada, the United States, Britain, Australia, and New Zealand.

Ottawa had planned to buy 18 new Boeing Super Hornets as a stopgap while it relaunched the procurement competition, but that deal fell apart over a trade dispute.

Canada bought 18 used Australian F-18 jets to fill an air force interim capability gap. These were similar to its own F-18s, which were first deployed in 1983.


USAF wants to retire and scrap up to 33 F-22 Raptors

The Air Force plans to retire nearly three dozen of Tyndall Air Force Base’s F-22 fighter jets in fiscal 2023, ending tentative plans to move them to Virginia that have been on hold for more than three years.

The Raptors have been flying out of nearby Eglin AFB in Florida since a hurricane destroyed Tyndall in October 2018.

Officials want to divest 33 of the service’s oldest F-22s and use that money to instead research cutting-edge combat jet designs under the “Next-Generation Air Dominance” program. If Congress approves the idea, it would send all but three Block 20 Raptors to the “boneyard” at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, Arizona, and shrink the overall fleet from 186 to 153 fighters.

The Air Force’s remaining F-22s would be redistributed across the Raptor squadrons, which include units at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia; Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii; and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, and Eglin.

Eglin has hosted flying operations for the 325th Fighter Wing since Hurricane Michael destroyed their previous home at Tyndall Air Force Base in the Florida Panhandle. That includes the Air Force’s only F-22 training unit, the 43rd Fighter Squadron.


USAF wants to retire 150 Aircraft but add up to 24 F-15E

The Air Force is looking to get rid of 150 aircraft, including 21 Warthogs, and add 24 F-15 fighter jets with an eye toward the Pacific region, according to its proposed $169.5 billion budget for fiscal year 2023 released Monday.

The Air Force request rolled out Monday as part of the Pentagon’s proposed $773 billion fiscal year 2023 budget.

The Air Force budget adds $2.7 billion over the previous year in procurement, with about $1.4 billion earmarked for 24 F-15 EX fighter jets. In 2022, the service added 12.

The Air Force also projects divesting 21 A-10 Thunderbolt II attack jets, known as Warthogs, in this proposed budget, which will be backfilled by F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jets.


Mar 28, 2022

NEWS 2022 March, 28

Germany Looks To Acquire Arrow 3 Missile Defense System From Israel Amid Increasing Threats From Russia

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Inspector General of the Bundeswehr Eberhard Zorn have discussed possibilities to acquire the Arrow 3 missile defense system from Israel.

Arrow 3 would cost Germany 2 billion euros and the anti-ballistic missile system would enter into service in 2025. The defense system could cover Poland, Romania and the Baltics.

There has been no final decision on Arrow 3 yet.


Mar 27, 2022

NEWS 2022 March, 27

Greece acquires six additional Rafales

This new contract, which follows Greece’s acquisition of 18 Rafale in January 2021, will increase to 24 the number of Rafale operated by the Hellenic Air Force.

Following the arrival at Tanagra Air Base of the first six Rafale of the Hellenic Air Force on 19 January 2022, the 18 Rafale relating to the first contract will be fully deployed in Greece by the summer 2023.The six additional Rafale will then be delivered to the Hellenic Air Force shortly thereafter, starting from the summer 2024.


Heavy losses for the Russian Air Force in Ukraine Invasion

Anti-aircraft missiles like the Stinger and Igla are not the only threats Russian pilots face in the skies over Ukraine.

A dangerous combination of doctrine, training and equipment is partly to blame for the heavy losses the of Russia’s Air Force.

Russia has not modified its ground-attack tactics and is conducting many of its attacks at low altitude, which puts Russian planes in the lethal envelope” of shoulder-fired man-portable air defense systems (MANPADs), wrote the Atlantic Council in an assessment.

The exact total of Russian and Ukrainian aircraft lost so far is unclear. On the Russian side, at least 32 helicopters and 13 fixed-wing aircraft have been damaged or destroyed, though the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claims to have killed 81 planes and 95 helicopters. Ukraine meanwhile is down to just 56 combat aircraft, after starting the war with 98, according to Flight Global’s 2022 World Air Forces directory. For context, the U.S. lost 27 fixed-wing aircraft and five helicopters in combat across five or so weeks during the 1991 invasion of Iraq in Desert Storm.

The VKS prioritizes tactical, close air support missions over strategic missions far from the frontlines. That’s all well and good, but Russian pilots are put at greater risk while trying to achieve this mission because of the technology they work with. While the U.S. Air Force has used precision-guided munitions to great effect since at least Desert Storm, the Russian air force has nowhere near the same quantity of so-called ‘smart’ bombs. Instead, Russian pilots must use unguided ‘dumb’ bombs. But to use them accurately, pilots have to fly low and slow, which makes them vulnerable to attack from the ground.

Russia running out of precision munitions in Ukraine war

Russia is running out of precision guided munitions and it is more likely to rely on so-called dumb bombs and artillery, a senior Pentagon official said on Thursday.

Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl speculated that he did not believe President Vladimir Putin wanted to have an all out conflict with NATO.

Turkish drone became the star of the Ukrainian defense

Widely circulated videos of Russian armored vehicles being destroyed from the air have thrust forward a lesser-known drone called the Bayraktar TB2. Defense News Weekly's in-house expert walks through how the TB2 became central to Ukraine's defensive arsenal.

Mar 24, 2022

NEWS 2022 March, 24

Spain interested in Horus-Shield Anti-Drone System

A few weeks ago, a demonstration of the operation of the anti-drone system , from Thales, Horus Shield (part of Eagle Shield Thales’ solution), took place at the airfield of the Segovia town of Marugán. This demonstration is part of the tests approved by the Spanish Army as part of the Fuerza 2035/BRIEX 2035 initiative, which aims to adapt the Spanish Army to the operational environment foreseen for that year.

The event, was attended by personnel from Army units and from the Spanish General Directorate of Armament and Material (DGAM).

Horus Shield is a versatile anti-drone system; offering numerous information to the user on a single screen.


New engine will keep B-52 until 2050

The re-engining is the centerpiece of an upgrade that will keep the Stratofortress operationally relevant for another 30 years. The contract for the B-52 Commercial Engine Replacement Program (CERP) was awarded last fall. Two new F130 engines have been built and if development and testing proceeds as planned, the first re-engined B-52s will be operational in about five years. Upgrades include “new engines, a new radar, Advanced Extremely High Frequency and Very Low Frequency communications improvements, data link updates and cryptologic improvements, as well as several smaller efforts.  

The B-52 will also be the initial platform for the AGM-183 Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon, or ARRW, USAF’s first hypersonic missile, as well as the sole platform for the nuclear AGM-181 Long-Range Standoff (LRSO) missile.  The F130 is a militarized version of Rolls-Royce’s commercial BR725, which the Air Force flies on its C-37 VIP transport and E-11 BACN (Battlefield Airborne Communications Node). After a three-year contest in which Rolls bested GE Aviation and Pratt & Whitney, the company won a $500.9 million initial contract in September 2021, to develop and test the F130 on the B-52. Once complete, Rolls will provide some 650 F130s to equip 76 B-52s. Each F130 engine will replace one Pratt & Whitney TF33. The overall program is valued at about $2.6 billion.


Russian Navy is firing anti-ship missiles against ground targets in Ukraine 

New Videos Show Russian Navy Firing 8 Naval Cruise Missiles From the Black Sea

The Russian Navy fired eight long-range naval cruise missiles from a guided-missile warship near the Black Sea port of Sevastopol, according to multiple videos of the launch on several posts on social media.

Several posts on Instagram and Telegram show a video of eight missiles launching from a ship operating off the coast of Crimea that bear the same characteristics of a Kalibr NK SS-N-30 naval guided cruise missile, which launches vertically and then quickly pivots 90 degrees to travel parallel to the ground.

The Russian Navy has been largely operating in a supporting role throughout the 27-day invasion and has not played a direct role in the conflict, aside from an early amphibious assault outside of Mariupol.


Mar 23, 2022

NEWS 2022 March, 23

USA Sending Ex-Soviet Air Defense Missiles Systems to Ukraine

The Pentagon over the years has acquired Soviet equipment as part of a clandestine program, and now such weapons are going to Ukraine

The U.S. is sending some of the Soviet-made air defense equipment it secretly acquired decades ago to bolster the Ukrainian military as it seeks to fend off Russian air and missile attacks, U.S. officials said.

The systems, which said include the SA-8, are decades old and were obtained by the U.S. so it could examine the technology used by the Russian military and which Moscow has exported around the world.


Japan spots Russian amphibious ships traveling between its islands

Japan says Russian amphibious ships transiting through a narrow strait between its islands could be moving fresh forces from Russia’s far east to Ukraine.

Four landing ship tanks, including one with its deck full of military trucks, were seen sailing in the Pacific Ocean westbound in the middle of last week, according to a news release from the Joint Staff’s Public Affairs office within Japan’s Defense Ministry.

The ships were the Alligator IV-class Nikolay Vilkov; the Ropucha I-class Oslyabya and Admiral Nevelskov; and the Ropucha II-class Peresvet. All four belong to the Russian Navy’s Pacific Fleet and make up the entirety of its major amphibious units.

Photos released by the ministry showed the top deck of the Nikolay Vilkov packed with at least 17 military trucks..

The ships were then detected by Japan on the morning of March 16, 220 kilometers northeast of Cape Shiryazaki.

The vessels were watched from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s destroyer JS Shiranui and P-3C maritime patrol aircraft.

The route taken by the Russian ships appears to suggest they were heading from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky in Russia’s Kamchakta Peninsula to Vladivostok, where they will most likely be loaded onto westbound trains if they are indeed bound for Ukraine.


Mar 22, 2022

NEWS 2022 March, 22

USAF deploys F-16s from Aviano AB to Croatia

Two F-16s deployed from Aviano Air Base, Italy, to Croatia on March 16, taking part in  combat employment exercises and bolstering NATO’s southeastern flank, the Air Force announced.

The F-16 fighters’ arrival comes just a few days after a military drone crashed in the Croatian capital of Zagreb amid nearby war between Russia and Ukraine. Croatian officials say the drone had a bomb, but they have not determined whether it was Russian or Ukrainian. The incident has led Croatian leaders to criticize NATO for a perceived slow response.

On March 15, Newsweek reported that Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in a press conference that the U.S. would send the F-16s to “give support of Croatia’s security.”

A subsequent press release from U.S. Air Forces in Europe stated that the fighters would deploy to Croatia’s 91st Air Base at Pleso, just outside the capital.

This marks just the latest deployment of USAF fighters to Eastern Europe. In the lead-up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, F-16s deployed to Romania, F-15s went to Poland, and F-35s landed in Germany. As the invasion first unfolded, F-35s from Germany were deployed to NATO’s eastern flank, including Romania. A B-52 also deployed to the region around the same time, as part of what USAFE called a “long-planned Bomber Task Force Europe mission over the Arctic and Baltic Sea regions.”


NATO deploys Patriot missiles to Slovakia

The Patriot air defence system has started arriving in Slovakia from NATO countries.

The system will be operated by German and Dutch troops and will initially be deployed at the Sliac airport to help reinforce the defence of NATO's eastern flank.

The Patriot system will be part of a new NATO battlegroup in Slovakia, which neighbours Ukraine.

Russia has warned against any shipments of advanced air defences to Ukraine and has warned it may target Western arms supplies.


Production of first New Zealand P-8 has started

Boeing has “laid the keel” of the first P-8A destined for the New Zealand Defence Force, . New Zealand holds orders for four of the jets.

Aircraft keels run the length of fuselage bellies, though P-8 keels have “unique aspects of the P-8 configuration, such as the integration of an internal weapons bay”, Boeing says.

The New Zealand Defence Force will use the Boeing-built maritime patrol aircraft, powered by CFM International CFM56 turbofans, to replace six ageing Lockheed P-3K2 Orion turboprops.

Current operators include the armed forces of Australia, India, Norway, the United Kingdom and the USA. Customers yet to begin flying the jets include Germany, New Zealand and South Korea.


MiG-31 Still Strong launching Kinzhal Hypersonyc Missiles in Ukraine war

Russia announced the use of the Kh-47M2 Kinzhal (Dagger) air-launched high-speed ballistic missile for the first time against a target in Ukraine on 19 March.

A video released by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) of the Russian Federation purportedly showed the missile being used against a Ukrainian ammunition depot in the west of the country.