Mar 16, 2018

US Air Force adds new deficiencies to KC-46’s list of problems

The U.S. Air Force’s troubled KC-46 tanker program has hit another bump, adding two of the most serious types of deficiencies yet to the list of problems manufacturer Boeing needs to fix.
The service on Thursday evening disclosed two “category one” deficiencies involving the remote vision system and centerline drogue systems.

Qatar Signs Deal For 28 NH90

Qatar has signed a €3 billion (U.S. $3.7 billion) deal to buy 28 NH90 helicopters.
The deal, covers 16 NH90s in a tactical transport configuration and 12 NH90s in a naval configuration.
Qatar also ordered 16 H125 light single-engine helicopters in a training configuration.
Italy’s Leonardo, a partner in the European NHIndustries consortium, which builds the NH90, will act as prime contractor on the NH90 deal and will handle final assembly and delivery of the 12 naval helicopters from its Venice–Tessera facility in northern Italy.
Consortium partner Airbus will handle final assembly and delivery of 16 tactical transport variants from its facility in Marignane, France.

Chilean Air Force confirms delivery timeline for Black Hawk helos

Chilean Air Force(FACh) has confirmed the service is to receive all of its recently ordered Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk helicopters by the end of this year.
The first three of six S-70i helicopters ordered in December 2016 will be delivered to Chile in August, with the remaining three following in October.
After several years of searching and studying, the FACh selected the Polish-built S-70i so as to receive the aircraft as soon as possible. Since the air force has fielded a single S-70A since 1998, it has some experience of the type.
The FACh’s S-70i Black Hawks have been built to the US Army’s UH-60M standard, and will be especially useful for high-altitude operations. Once in service, they are being used to augment the service’s existing S-70A, Bell 412EP/SP, UH-1H, and Bell 206 JetRanger III helicopter fleet.

Mar 14, 2018


The Angolan military has ordered three C295 transport aircraft from Airbus, and will use them for transport and maritime surveillance duties.
The three aircraft are being acquired for nearly 160 million euros, according to documents seen by the Lusa news agency last week. Lusa reported that Angolan President Joao Lourenco on 2 March authorised commodities trading company Simportex to finalise the contract for the aircraft with Airbus Defence and Space.
The contract is worth 159.9 million euros. It will be financed by Banco Bilbao and Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA) of Spain and be included in the contract of the Public Investment Programme of the Angolan government.
It appears the C295s will be used by the Angolan Navy for maritime surveillance, according to Angolan media. Given the price tag, it is likely that this includes specialised maritime surveillance equipment. Maritime patrol variants of the C295 are fitted with the Fully Integrated Tactical System (FITS) for mission control, and this includes a search radar, electro-optical sensors, magnetic anomaly detector and other avionics. Weapons can include torpedoes, missiles, mines and depth charges.

Mar 11, 2018

Modified King Airs to boost Kuwaiti defences

Kuwait has secured approval to advance a possible intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) fleet acquisition comprising four modified Beechcraft King Air 350ERs. The purchase would introduce a new capability for Kuwait, which Flight Fleets Analyzer shows as currently lacking special-mission aircraft.
If completed, the deal will lead to prime contractor Sierra Nevada modifying the twin-turboprops with mission equipment including a Leonardo Seaspray 7500E surveillance radar and L3 Wescam MX-15HDi electro-optical/infrared sensor. The aircraft would also receive a secure communications fit, missile warning receivers and countermeasures dispensers for self-protection.


Saudi Arabia could be set to acquire a follow-on batch of 48 Eurofighter Typhoons, pending the conclusion of government-to-government discussions with the UK disclosed on 9 March.
"The UK government has signed a memorandum of intent with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to aim to finalise discussions for the purchase of 48 Typhoon aircraft," BAE says. The Royal Saudi Air Force already has acquired 72 of the European type, with deliveries under its Project Salam acquisition having concluded last year.

Mar 8, 2018

Kazakhstan plans to acquire additional Su-30SM fighter aircraft

Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) is planning to procure additional Sukhoi Su-30SM multirole fighter aircraft from Russia, according to a 6 March report by Russian news agency TASS.
“Within the framework of the agreement on military-technical co-operation with the Russian Federation in 2018, the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Kazakhstan plans to conclude a contract for the supply of Su-30SM multirole aircraft, and until 2020 it has planned to purchase [additional] Su-30SM aircraft and Mi-35 helicopters,” the MoD in Astana told TASS without providing further details or the number of additional aircraft to be procured.

Indonesia confirms A400M acquisition plan

The Indonesian Air Force has confirmed its plans to procure the Airbus Defence and Space (DS) A400M transport aircraft.
The service announced on 7 March that it is to acquire two aircraft to support the civil government in transporting supplies between the western and eastern regions of the country. No details pertaining to timelines or contract values were disclosed.
Indonesia’s interest in the A400M was reported in January 2017. At that time, government and defence industry sources said Indonesia was looking to buy up to five aircraft, and had set aside USD2 billion for the procurement. This initial report was followed in April 2017 by the news that the Indonesian government was preparing to enter into contract discussions with Airbus DS over the procurement.
The TNI-AU has a need to modernise and enhance its fixed-wing airlift capabilities currently afforded by 19 Lockheed Martin C-130B/H and L-100 Hercules, six Airbus DS-PT Dirgantara (PTDI) CN235s, seven Airbus DS-PTDI C212s, and nine Airbus DS-PTDI C295s. Since 2000, five C-130s have crashed.

Mar 7, 2018

F-35B lands aboard amphib for first Indo-Pacific deployment on Navy ship

The F-35B Lightning II landed aboard the amphibious assault ship Wasp on March 5, the first time the aircraft has deployed aboard a U.S. Navy ship in the Indo-Pacific.
Assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit based in Okinawa, Japan, the F-35B will aid the Expeditionary Strike Group in a routine patrol to strengthen regional alliances and provide rapid-response capabilities.

Mar 4, 2018

Argentine MoD, FAdeA reach deal for three Pampa IIIs

A contract for three FAdeA IA-63 Pampa III advanced training aircraft for the Argentine Air Force was approved on 23 February, according to the official bulletin of the Chief of the Cabinets of Ministers.
The USD30.3 million contract was paid half up-front and the remainder is to be disbursed as deliveries are made.
In addition to the three aircraft, state-owned FAdeA is also providing Ground Control Mission Planner Station software, two Mobile Mission Planner Stations, and back-up equipment.
The contract was initially revealed on 14 December 2017. The Ministry of Defense (MoD) and FAdeA had been negotiating a production contract since early 2017 and expected to conclude the deal that same year, but budget decisions delayed its conclusion.

Japan Authorizes study on operating F-35B from Izumo

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera dropped a bombshell admission March 2 by saying he authorized studies into whether advanced F-35B stealth fighter jets can be deployed on the Maritime Self-Defense Force's Izumo helicopter carrier.
Such activity would fly in the face of war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution that prohibits Japan from maintaining more than the bare minimum to protect itself.
Aware of the political ramifications of his comment in the Upper House Budget Committee session, Onodera added, "No decision has yet been made about whether the F-35B will actually be attached to the Izumo."
The Izumo is the largest vessel in the MSDF fleet and any move to refit it into an aircraft carrier would face an uproar from the opposition parties.
Akira Koike of the Japanese Communist Party called Onodera's comment "an important admission" in light of the government's past refusal to possess an aircraft carrier due to the nation's exclusively defensive posture.
"But he (Onodera) is now saying consideration is being given to fundamentally change the posture of the nation," Koike said.
The U.S.-made F-35B is the most advanced stealth fighter jet and unlike the F-35A now used by the Air SDF, it can take off from a short runway and also land vertically like a helicopter.
In the Upper House Budget Committee session, Onodera said, "Regarding the Izumo, research has been conducted on which among the latest aircraft could possibly take off and land on it. The most representative aircraft is the F-35B. (The research) is intended to accumulate fundamental information regardless of the conclusion reached in the future."
But he stopped short of stating whether the Constitution banned the possession of any aircraft carrier. He would only say "attack" aircraft carriers that had many aircraft capable of loads with extreme destructive power or anti-land attack capabilities would not be allowed.

Israel concerned over Su-57 debut in Syria

Video footage appearing to show Su-57s arriving in Syria was confirmed by pictures captured by an Israeli imaging satellite. The new type's deployment marks the peak of Moscow's direct intervention so far in Syria's long-running civil war.
Israeli sources assess that Russia has sent dozens of new weapon systems to Syria, to undergo testing under combat conditions. But the Su-57's arrival – which places two of the world's most advanced stealthy combat aircraft within close proximity – creates a unique situation.
While Israel has not reacted officially to the development, a senior source says there is no doubt that Moscow has sent its newest fighter to the region in order to test it against Western technologies.
In mid-February, the biennial "Juniper Cobra" exercise, which also involves US forces, began in Israel. The three-week activity is aimed at improving the nation's defences against ballistic missile threats, using a scenario where US assets are deployed to provide assistance.
The exercise creates a situation where a large number of advanced radars are looking at the airspace across the region, making the Su-57's arrival of particular interest.
Russia claims to have developed a new radar system that can detect stealth aircraft, but sources suggest that the Sunflower system may lack the fidelity required to support targeting by missiles.
Syrian reports indicate that the Israeli air force is flying over the country on a daily basis using manned and unmanned platforms, and also striking targets. Moscow's new deployment – made two weeks after a border clash during which an Iranian-operated stealth unmanned air vehicle and an Israeli Lockheed F-16 were shot down – means the "hot line" established to deconflict the movements of Russian and Israeli aircraft will become more critical.

Feb 10, 2018

Maiden flight for Japanese EC-2 ELINT aircraft

An electronic intelligence (ELINT) variant of the Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) C-2 transport aircraft made its maiden flight on 8 February.
The milestone for the ELINT C-2 was not announced officially by the manufacturer, but was marked by images and video of the event posted online.
Designated EC-2 on account of its electronic mission, the aircraft is recognisably different from the baseline airlifter in that it has several appendages and other fairings attached to its upper and side fuselage, and atop the tail. The aircraft's radome is more bulbous compared with the airlifter's, and it is fitted with a large number of underfuselage antennas.

Russia confirms Iskander-M Kaliningrad deployment

The Chairman of the State Duma Defence Committee, Vladimir Shamanov, on 5 February confirmed for the first time the permanent deployment of Iskander-M missiles in Russia’s Kaliningrad Baltic exclave, independent Russian news agency Interfax has reported.
Plans for the deployment were announced by the Russian Ministry of Defence on 31 January.
On 5 February, Lithuanian Defence Minister Raimundas Karoblis warned that Russia had now permanently stationed Iskander systems in the Kaliningrad region.
Shamanov replied, “We have them in place now, so what?”
The missiles are going to the 152nd Guards Missile Brigade based at Chernyakhovsk, in the Kaliningrad exclave.
In response, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė said the Iskander deployment near Kaliningrad “means a threat not only to Lithuania, but also to half the European states”.

China PLA scrambles Su-35s, J-20s to S China Sea as US Navy sails in

Beijing has responded to the US Navy’s ramped-up presence in the South China Sea – an aircraft carrier strike group led by the USS Carl Vinson has been scheduled to call at Vietnamese ports next month – with squadrons of advanced fighters including Su-35s and J-20s that will soon start patrolling the 3.5-million-square-kilometer sea.
Further incidents involving US and Chinese forces appear inevitable after the China News Service revealed that the US guided-missile destroyer Hopper came within 12 nautical miles of Scarborough Shoal (Huangyan Island) last month, and was intercepted by the Chinese missile destroyer Huangshan. CNS said the US warship steered away from the area after a brief standoff.
Similar encounters in the air are set to become frequent as well, as the People’s Liberation Army has dispatched an unconfirmed number of Su-35 multirole fighters to the sea for joint combat cruise missions.
This is “a pragmatic action for the air force to fulfill its mission in the new era and conduct combat training exercises” above the South China Sea, said a statement by the PLA Air Force on its Weibo social media account.
It is also rumored that several J-20s already in service with the PLAAF will fly south to join Russian-made counterparts to test the 4.5th generation fighter’s operational reliability.

Israel strikes​ Iranian targets in Syria after F-16 fighter jet shot down

An Israeli jet was shot down during an attack on Iranian targets in Syria yesterday, in the most serious confrontation between the foes since the start of the civil war.
Israel said it sent an F-16 jet to disable an Iranian drone which entered into Israeli territory from Syria earlier on Saturday morning.
The military said it then faced massive anti-aircraft fire from the Syrian regime that forced two pilots to abandon the aircraft, which crashed in northern Israel.
One pilot was seriously wounded and the other lightly. Syrian officials reported large explosions in the centre of the country and the Syrian counter fire set off warning sirens throughout northern Israel.
The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) said it struck at least a dozen targets after the jet was downed, including three aerial defence batteries and four Iranian targets near the capital Damascus.
Saturday's incident marked the first time an Israeli aircraft has been shot down by Syria since the Lebanese civil war in 1982.

Feb 3, 2018

First modernised Tu-160 makes maiden sortie

Russia's United Aircraft has flown the first remanufactured Tupolev Tu-160, with the supersonic aircraft performing a short flight from Kazan on 25 January.
Watched by a crowd of VIPs including Russian president Vladimir Putin, the 7min sortie was performed at an altitude of 300m, to check the aircraft's handling characteristics.
As well as modernising the aircraft with new avionics and engines, Tupolev has made extensive alterations to the existing airframe.
The Tu-160 was last produced in 2008 and the current upgrade process is part of an effort to re-establish the final assembly facility in Kazan.

UK begins Gazelle helicopter replacement effort

Initial work is under way to replace the British Army's active fleet of 22 elderly Aérospatiale Gazelle AH1 helicopters, as the venerable type nears retirement.
Air Cdre Al Smith,declined to reveal the platform under consideration, or the timeline for any acquisition. The latter is driven by the out-of-service date for the Gazelle, which could be accelerated from a current target of 2025 if the type becomes more costly to support due to a shortage of spare parts.
Employed by the Army Air Corps in the reconnaissance and battlefield liaison role, the Gazelle also relies on a pool of what Smith describes as "really highly trained" flightcrew, who are used to operating as a single pilot in "quite challenging weather conditions".

Jordan completes Black Hawk deliveries

The Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF) has received into service its final batch of new Sikorsky S-70 Black Hawk helicopters.
Delivery of the final UH-60M-standard platforms aboard a US Air Force (USAF) Boeing C-17 Globemaster III strategic airlifter took place in December 2017, and was part of a wider handover that included 12 such helicopters supplied to the kingdom over the nine months.
The build-up of the RJAF’s Black Hawk inventory is geared at reinforcing the defence of border security against Islamic State forces in neighbouring Syria and Iraq, and to enable the Royal Jordanian Army’s Quick Reaction Forces to immediately deploy anywhere in the country. The US Congress appropriated USD470 million in 2017 to the Jordanian armed forces, including training for pilots, crew chiefs, and maintenance technicians, as well as spare parts, ground equipment, weapons, ammunition and shelters for the Black Hawks.

Airbus fires laser-guided rockets from H145M helicopter

Airbus Helicopters has announced a successful test-firing campaign of 70mm laser-guided rockets from its H145M helicopter.
The rocket tests, which were conducted in early December but announced Jan. 31, are part of the company’s development of its HForce weapons packages meant for military services looking to arm rotorcraft.
The tests were conducted at the Alvaden test range in Sweden, with the Thales FZ275 LGR, which stands for laser-guided rocket, and an MX-15D electro-optical system from L3 Wescam, according to Airbus.
The rockets are intended to deliver a precision strike, which seeks to limit civilians casualties, particularly in asymmetric combat.
The tests followed ballistic firing tests in Hungary in October, another key step in the development of the HForce weapon system for the H145M military helicopter.
Qualification of the ballistic HForce weapons package is expected at end of this year, with laser-guided rockets due to be certified by the end of 2019.

13 hypoxia-like events in one week led to USAF T-6 fleet grounding

The 19th Air Force’s fleet of T-6 trainers were grounded after 13 unexplained events, such as hypoxia in a single week.
The bulk of the unexplained physiological events ― 10 of them ― occurred at Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi. Two other events occurred at Vance Air Force Base in Oklahoma, and another happened at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas.
The unexplained events included conditions such as hypoxia, or too little oxygen in the body; hypocapnia, or too little carbon dioxide in the blood; and hypercapnia, or too much carbon dioxide in the blood.

First operational JASDF F-35A makes its debut at Misawa AB

Japan Air Self-Defense welcomed the first operational Force F-35A Lightning II during an arrival ceremony at Misawa Air Base, Jan. 26.
In the upcoming Japanese fiscal year, nine more aircraft will join this one to incept the first fifth-generation fighter squadron as part of the JASDF’s 3rd Air Wing.
In total, JASDF plans to acquire 42 F-35As as successors to its F-4s. A commemorative ceremony is scheduled for Feb. 24 at Misawa AB to celebrate the official initial deployment of a JASDF F-35A.
"The F-35A will bring transformation in air defense power and significantly contribute to the peace for citizens and ensure security,” said JASDF Maj. Gen. Kenichi Samejima, the 3rd AW commander.

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.