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Aug 15, 2017

Australia, Germany and Spain ground Tiger attack helicopters

Australia has joined Germany in grounding its fleet of Airbus Helicopters Tiger attack rotorcraft in the wake of a fatal crash in Mali in which two crew members were killed.
Investigations are ongoing into the late July accident involving a German army-operated example that came down in unexplained circumstances around 44nm (82km) northeast of Gao.
Berlin immediately withdrew its Tigers from service, although its four aircraft remaining in Mali – deployed as part of a multinational fight against an Islamic insurgency – will be allowed to perform missions in emergency situations, says its defence ministry.
Australia on 14 August decided to cease flying its Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopters "until further information becomes available".
Spain is also thought to have suspended flights of its army's Tiger inventory, although there has been no official confirmation of the move.
Madrid’s defence ministry says: "The army will follow the technical recommendations of the manufacturer once it conducts the necessary investigations and checks to find out what could have caused the accident."
France, the other operator of the Tiger, continues to fly its helicopters in Mali, but most domestic training missions are on hold in any case because of the summer holidays.
So far, little detail has been released about the circumstances of the crash, but statements from the German defence ministry indicate that the Tiger lost its main rotor blades after entering into a sudden steep descent.
It hit the ground around 10s later, and the wreckage was consumed by a post-impact fire.
Crash investigators have recovered the helicopter’s flight-data recorders, but both are heavily damaged and may be unable to be accessed.
With Airbus Helicopters not directly participating in the accident probe, it was required, as part of its contract with the nations, to issue a notice advising that the Tiger is unsafe, without being able to offer any safety guidance. This was released shortly after the crash and updated on 10 August.
"Airbus Helicopters declares [an] UNSAFE condition for all Tiger versions. AH can neither identify the part, the failure of which would lead to the accident, nor the origin of the failure (design, manufacturing, maintenance). Consequently, AH is not in the position to propose a protective measure," says the warning.
flightglobal

Aug 5, 2017

Finland suspects Spanish fighter jets of airspace violation

The Finnish Ministry of Defence reported on Tueday that it suspects two Spanish F-18 fighter jets of having violated Finnish airspace.
According to the Ministry of Defence's report, the airpace violation took place over the Gulf of Finland south of Upinniemi at approximately 9 a.m. on Tuesday, reported Finnish public broadcaster Yle (link in Finnish).
The Finnish Border Guard is investigating the incident.
Five F/A-18 Hornets of the 15th Wing of the Spanish Air Force have been stationed in Estonia since Spain took over the rotating Baltic Air Policing mission based out of Ämari Air Base this May.

USAF awards contract for two 747-8s to be modified as future Air Force One aircraft

The Air Force awarded a Boeing contract modification Aug. 4, 2017, to purchase two commercial 747-8 aircraft for future modification to replace the two aging VC-25A Boeing 747-200 presidential support aircraft.
This contract modification follows a set of awards in 2016 for risk reduction activities. The Air Force has already requested Boeing to provide proposals to design, modify, test and field two Presidential mission-ready aircraft. These efforts will be awarded via future contract modifications. The program expects to begin aircraft modifications in 2019 and reach initial operational capability in 2024.
These aircraft will start providing worldwide presidential airlift support in 2024, after a series of modifications and tests. Boeing will modify their Federal Aviation Administration-certified commercial 747-8 aircraft to meet presidential operational requirements to help ensure an affordable program.
af.mil

Israel weighing interest in F-35B STOVL-variant F-35

New threats faced by Israel have placed the potential purchase of short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant Lockheed Martin F-35Bs as a high priority.
Discussions are under way, with Israel's defence ministry hoping to reach a decision before a new 10-year Foreign Military Financing agreement with the USA comes into effect in 2019.
Deliveries of conventional take-off and landing F-35Is to the Israeli air force continue, with the service having so far placed orders for 50 examples. The “Golden Eagle” squadron which operates the "Adir" and the air force's flight test squadron continue to adapt the stealth fighter to meet the nation's specific requirements, with this work including the addition of a number of Israeli-developed systems.
Israel's initial requirement was for 75 F-35s, and the need to replace older Boeing F-15 fighters – the oldest of which were delivered in 1976 – is becoming a high-priority issue.
Sources indicate that the Israeli air force will have to choose between obtaining additional F-35s – potentially including STOVL examples – or an advanced version of the F-15. No details have been revealed of the potential F-15 variant on which evaluations are being based, but this is expected to be capable of carrying an expanded weapons load.
flightglobal

Aug 4, 2017

Romania Plans to Buy 36 F-16 jets by 2022

Romanian Defence has unveiled plans by Bucharest to acquire High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, and 36 F-16 fighter jets by 2022. The announcement comes in the wake of Romania’s Supreme Council of National Defence approving a plan to spend €9.8 billion (U.S. $11.6 billion) on military procurements in the years 2017 to 2026.
Romania is also aiming to purchase Patriot missiles from U.S. company Raytheon to boost its air defense capabilities, and the government plans to pay the first installment for the systems this November.
defensenews

US approves A-29 Super Tucano sale to Nigeria

The U.S. State Department has approved a $593 million foreign military sale to Nigeria, including 12 A-29 Super Tucano light-attack aircraft, in order to further the nation’s campaign against the militant group Boko Haram.
Nigeria has been seeking permission from the U.S. government to buy A-29s since 2015; however, the Obama administration had put the sale on hold due to concerns about the country’s human rights record.
In February, U.S. President Donald Trump signaled his support for the sale during a phone call with Nigerian President
defensenews

USS Gerald R. Ford's first flight ops

The Gerald R. Ford is now officially an aircraft carrier, having recovered and launched aircraft four different times.
Not only were Monday’s flight operations a milestone for the newly commissioned ship, but it ushered in a new, high-tech era for flight deck technology. Yet it could still be a few more years before the Navy sees whether the new Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System, known as EMALS, will meet all of its promise.
But the system isn’t expected to be fully capable for another couple of years. In 2014, it was discovered in testing at Lakehurst, New Jersey, that fully loaded aircraft carrying fuel were experiencing unacceptable load levels on their wings during launches.
The fix is a software upgrade for the EMALS what won’t be installed until 2019, during the ship’s post-shakedown availability. Until then, launching aircraft is not restricted, but not any with heavy fuel or bomb loads.
navytimes

Jul 29, 2017

France has offered to donate 31 Jaguars to India

French daily Le Point has confirmed that President Emmanuel Macron intends to donate 31 ex-French Air Force Jaguar fighters to India
The information was first disclosed by Defense News and a high-ranking French military source has confirmed the story to Le Point.
monde

USAF using Tesla Model S as U-2 chase cars

        

The U.S. Air Force had previously used the Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 as chase cars for the U-2 spy plane. The flying branch has now switched to the Tesla Model S for the task.
The electric car was seen accompanying a U-2S taking off at RAF Fairford earlier this month.
alert5



Jul 9, 2017

Pentagon seeks increased P-8 ties with Norway, UK

The United States, United Kingdom and Norway have agreed in principal to create a trilateral coalition built around the P-8 maritime aircraft — though exactly what that means remains unclear.
The Pentagon announced June 29 that the three countries had established a “statement of intent to lay out guiding principles for a trilateral partnership with P-8A aircraft.” In addition, the announcement said the nations are working on a “framework for further cooperation in areas such as readiness, enhancing defense capability, and interoperability.”
defensenews




Austria set to replace Eurofighter Typhoons, Economically Unsustainable

Austria is set to replace the small fleet of fighter jets to patrol its airspace following an announcement today that the collection of Eurofighter Typhoons and Saab 105 OE aircraft would be phased out.
Defense Minister Hans Peter Doskozil's decision follows the advice of an expert commission that had studied options for securing the country's skies after 2020. At that time, the subsonic Saab planes would reach the end of their economic lives and would be retired anyway. And because the fleet of 15 Eurofighter Typhoons are of the early Tranche-1 generation, those aircraft also are considered militarily sub par in their current configuration and economically unsustainable.


Jul 2, 2017

Block 5 MQ-9 debuts in combat

The latest version of the MQ-9 Reaper, the Block 5 variant, flew its first successful combat mission June 23, 2017, in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
The aircrew flew a sortie of more than 16 hours with a full payload of weapons including GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles. During the mission, the crew employed one GBU-38 and two Hellfires while providing hours of armed reconnaissance for supported ground forces
af.mil

Jul 1, 2017





Germany, Norway join European multinational MRTT program

NATO has taken an important step in improving its ability to refuel aircraft in mid-air, with two Allies joining a European programme to acquire and operate new tanker transport aircraft.
Defence Ministers from Germany and Norway joined a Memorandum of Understanding for a European multinational fleet of Airbus tanker transport aircraft, originally created by the lead-nation Netherlands and Luxembourg. The two countries launched the initiative in July 2016 by ordering two Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport aircraft, which are due to be delivered in 2020. With Germany and Norway joining the initiative, the fleet is expected to expand to up to seven aircraft.
This multinational fleet arrangement is a concrete step towards reducing the overall European shortage in air-to-air refueling and the over-reliance on U.S. capabilities. At today’s signing ceremony, Assistant Secretary General for Defence Investment Camille Grand stressed that “this initiative highlights the value of a multinational approach to capability development – working together provides cost-effective and flexible solutions.”
Belgium intends to join this programme in early 2018, and the initiative remains open to other new members. The procurement programme is another example of the increasingly close cooperation between NATO and the European Union.
nato





Boeing upgrades Saudi AWACS

Among the enhancements to improve radar capabilities and reduce repair time for the airborne surveillance fleet are systems that increase the original equipment’s radar sensitivity and expand the range for tracking targets," according to a Boeing news release.
The Radar System Improvement Program upgrades comprise a new radar computer, a radar control maintenance panel and electrical and mechanical software and hardware, Boeing said.
“The modernized software, multiple radar nodes and overall enhanced operation make this is [sic] the most significant upgrade to the AWACS radar since it was developed in the 1970s," said Keith Burns, Boeing's Saudi AWACS program manager.
c4isrnet

US approves sale of modified G550 wiit ISR Equipment for RAAF

The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Australia for Gulfstream G550 Aircraft with Airborne Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance, and Electronic Warfare (AISREW) mission systems. The estimated cost is $1.3 billion. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on June 23, 2017.
The Government of Australia requested the possible sale of up to five (5) Gulfstream G-550 aircraft modified to integrate Airborne Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance, and Electronic Warfare (AISREW) mission systems, Global Positioning System (GPS) capability, secure communications, aircraft defensive systems; spares, including whole life costs of airborne and ground segments; aircraft modification and integration; ground systems for data processing and crew training; ground support equipment; publications and technical data; U.S. Government and contractor engineering, technical and logistics support services; flight test and certification; and other related elements of logistical and program support. The total estimated program cost is $1.3 billion.
dsca

Jun 17, 2017

Qatar orders 36 F-15QA fighters

Qatar has signed a deal for 36 Boeing F-15QA fighter aircraft.
The deal is reportedly worth $12 billion, according to media reports quoting official Qatari sources.
The deal was finalised in Washington DC by Qatari defence minister Khalid Al Attiyah and US defence secretary Jim Mattis.
Attiyah says the deal reflects increased Qatari and US collaboration in the fight against terrorism. The aircraft will also increase interoperability between US and Qatari forces.
“We thank the Qatari and U.S. governments for moving forward with the F-15 agreement," says Boeing. "We are very grateful for their continued confidence in Boeing.”
In November 2016, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) expressed optimism that the deal would go through. The original number, however, was for 72 F-15QAs.
The F-15QA is an advanced variant of the two-seat F-15E Strike Eagle. Equipped with an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, it is effective in both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions.
Qatar operates 12 Dassault Mirage 2000 aircraft with an average age of 19.1 years. It also has orders for 24 Rafale fighters.
flightglobal

Images show Myanmar Air Force JF-17/FC-1 conducting flight tests in China

Images have emerged on Chinese online forums showing what appears to be one of the first Pakistan Aeronautical Complex/Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation (PAC/CAC) JF-17 Thunder/FC-1 Xiaolong multirole combat aircraft on order for the Myanmar Air Force (MAF) conducting test flights in China.
Released around 13 June the images show a single-seat JF-17/FC-1 with the standard camouflage and tail insignia of the MAF being flight-tested at what appears to be CAC's airfield in Chengdu.
janes

SAAB JAS-39 Gripen E makes maiden flight

The Saab Gripen E combat aircraft made its maiden flight from the company's Linköping production facility on 15 June.
The flight lasted for 40 minutes, during which the pilot "carried out a number of actions to demonstrate various test criteria including the retracting and extending of the landing gear," Saab said, adding that the aircraft performed as expected.
This milestone was slightly delayed from the original date of late 2016, as the company decided to finalise all of the software development ahead of commencing the flight trials process to reduce risk to the programme.
With 39-8 being used mainly for airframe and general flight control tests, a second prototype (39-9) will be used as a tactical systems testbed, while the third and final single-seat prototype (39-10) will fly as a production-standard airframe. The twin-seat Gripen NG demonstrator (39-7) that provided much of the risk mitigation for the Gripen E will continue to serve as a general test platform throughout the flight trials effort.
As previously highlighted by Saab, the Gripen E's enhancements over the earlier C/D models can be categorised in terms of survivability, sensors, general systems, payload, communications, performance, range, avionics, and human-machine interface/sensor fusion.
Sweden is due to receive the first of 60 Gripen Es (perhaps rising to 70, depending on a governmental decision that is to come) in 2019, with deliveries running through to 2026. In anticipation, the Swedish Air Force (SwAF) has already begun developing the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) that it will employ for the type.
Speaking to reporters at the home of the service's Operational Test and Evaluation (OT&E) squadron at Malmen Airbase in southern Sweden, Major Johan Jeppsson, director of operations for the unit, said in late May that, "We see what new tactics might be needed, and we then introduce those to the operational squadrons.
janes

May 6, 2017

Japan seeks to give P-3 patrol planes to Malaysia

Japan is looking to donate retired military patrol aircraft to Malaysia, letting that Southeast Asian country keep closer watch over the South China Sea to rein in China's maritime expansion.
Parliament is currently weighing revisions to the foundational law of the Ministry of Defense that would allow equipment to be given to other nations at no cost. Currently, some form of compensation is legally required for any national asset. Malaysia will likely be the first beneficiary once that change is made, receiving P-3C patrol aircraft previously used by the Maritime Self-Defense Force.
nikkei

Italy rolls out first F-35B assembled outside US

The first F-35B to be assembled outside the U.S. was rolled out in Italy on Friday at a ceremony at the country’s assembly line.
The aircraft, BL-1, will fly for the first time in late August and is due to be delivered to the Italian ministry of defense in November, Lockheed Martin said in a statement. An Italian pilot will then fly the jet in early 2018 to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, for “Electromagnetic Environmental Effects certification,” Lockheed Martin said.
It will also take a role in pilot training in the U.S., an Italian source added.
The next Italian F-35B aircraft is scheduled for delivery in November 2018.
Italy has already delivered seven F-35A aircraft from its Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) facility at Cameri in northern Italy, three of which are now flying from the Italian Air Force’s Amendola Air Force base in southern Italy. The other four are participating in pilot training at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona.The three now in operation have flown more than 100 hours from the base, including tanking with the Italian Air Force’s B767 tankers and sorties alongside Italian Eurofighters, M-346 jet trainers and the Air Force’s new Gulfstream Airborne Early Warning aircraft.
Two more F-35As are expected to be delivered from Cameri to Amendola this year, one in July, and the other in the fourth quarter. Another milestone: an F-35A assembled at Cameri made the type’s first transatlantic crossing in February last year.
defensenews

US F-22s intercept Russian bombers escorted by fighters near Alaska

Two Russian bombers, flanked by a pair of fighter jets, were intercepted by stealth US F-22 aircraft off the coast of Alaska on Wednesday, according to North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).
The Russian TU-95 Bear bombers and their SU-35 fighter jet escorts stayed in international airspace but did fly as close to 50 miles from Point Hope, Alaska.
In the U.S. Air Force fleet
This is the first time Russian bombers have been accompanied by fighters in these types of flights since 2015, a US official told CNN.
A Russian A-50 Mainstay surveillance plane also later flew into the area but remained in international air space and was not intercepted.
The US military sees these flights as routine and pose no concern, according to the US official.
cnn.com

May 1, 2017

USAF Deployed Eight F-16 aircraft and more than 200 Airmen to Albacete, Spain

ALBACETE AIR BASE, Spain – Eight F-16 aircraft and more than 200 Airmen from the active duty 388th Fighter Wing and Air Force Reserve 419th FW from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, are currently at Albacete Air Base, Spain, to participate in the NATO Tactical Leadership Programme through May 19.
TLP is an annual NATO Mission Commander’s School training program and is designed to provide joint training to increase NATO air defense with participating allies.
“The Tactical Leadership Program is a good opportunity for all the participating nations to work together,” said Master Sgt. Daniel LaBrake, Combined Aerospace Logistics Coordinator and the only enlisted member from the U.S. Air Force stationed at the Spanish air base.
Hill’s fighter wings will participate in training with NATO allied air forces from ten other countries.
“This is excellent training with some intense air operations and top of the line NATO jets from our coalition allies,” said Lt. Col. Surya Frickel, 466th Fighter Squadron commander.
During the large force exercise, the Hill AFB pilots will fly alongside 20-30 allied aircraft daily and against as many adversaries. Part of the learning that goes on is how to operate safely with the different aircraft and unfamiliar environments, as well as different languages and procedures.
“This exercise is a good example of the United States’ cooperation and long-lasting commitment to the security of Europe and maintaining readiness with our NATO allies,” Frickel said.
Though the wings have been on several training deployments together, this is the first time Utah’s 419th and 388th FWs are participating in TLP.
“Traditionally, squadrons stationed in Europe participate in TLP,” LaBrake said. “So it has been a new challenge to coordinate all of the moving parts so these Airmen can come overseas and get this experience.”
The deployment marks the last time the iconic multi-role fighter is scheduled to deploy from Hill AFB. F-16 aircraft from Hill's fighter wings have been flying over the skies of northern Utah for nearly 40 years.
“This is the last time the F-16 will deploy with the Hill designator ‘HL’ painted on its tail,” said Col. Michael Miles, 388th Maintenance Group commander. “We are extremely proud of the job we have done with the F-16 and we must do our best here at TLP to preserve the memory of the aircraft that is so dear to our hearts.”
Hill’s fleet of F-16s is being replaced by the Air Force’s newest fighter jet, the F-35 Lightning II. The first operational F-35As arrived at Hill AFB in October 2015. Hill currently has 20 F-35As and will eventually be home to 78 aircraft and three operational squadrons by the end of 2019. The 388th and 419th FWs fly and maintain the aircraft in a Total Force partnership, which capitalizes on the strength of both components.
hill.af.mil

Apr 29, 2017

New Zealand requests 4 P-8A Patrol Aircraft

New Zealand has requested the potential sale of up to four (4) P-8A Patrol Aircraft. Each includes: commercial engines, Tactical Open Mission Software (TOMS), Electro-Optical (EO) and Infrared (IR) MX-20HD, AN/AAQ-2(V)1 Acoustic System, AN/APY-10 Radar, ALQ-240 Electronic Support Measures. Also included are eight (8) Multifunctional Information Distribution System Joint Tactical Radio System (MIDS JTRS); five (5) Guardian Laser Transmitter Assemblies (GLTA) for the AN/AAQ-24(V)N; five (5) System Processors for AN/AAQ-24(V)N; thirty (30) AN/AAR-54 Missile Warning Sensors for the AN/AAQ-24(V)N; ten (10) LN-251 with Embedded Global Positioning Systems (GPS)/Inertial Navigations Systems (EGIs); support equipment; operation support systems; maintenance trainer/classrooms; publications; software, engineering, and logistics technical assistance; foreign Liaison officer support, contractor engineering technical services; repair and return; transportation; aircraft ferry; and other associated training, support equipment and services. The total estimated cost is $1.46 billion.
dsca

Greece Requests 5 CH-47D Chinook From US Army

The Government of Greece requested the possible sale of five (5) CH-47D helicopters, seven (7) Common Missile Warning Systems (CMWS) (one (1) for each aircraft plus two (2) spares), and twelve (12) T55-GA-714A turbine engines (two (2) for each aircraft plus two (2) spares). Also included are mission equipment, communications and navigation equipment, ground support equipment, special tools and test equipment, spares, publications, Maintenance Work Order/Engineering Change Proposals (MWO/ECPs), technical support, and training, and other associated support equipment and services. The total estimated cost is $80 million.
dsca

Apr 14, 2017

US Air Force F-35s making first operational deployment to Europe this weekend

The U.S. Air Force’s F-35A is deploying internationally for the first time this weekend, heading to Europe to conduct training exercises with NATO allies, the Pentagon announced Friday.
The Defense Department offered sparse details about the event, which will involve deploying a “small number” of F-35As from the 388th Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, to an undisclosed location in Europe.
The joint strike fighters will take off sometime this weekend. After landing, they will then spend several weeks in the region as part of the European Reassurance Initiative, the department’s effort to strengthen military ties with European allies to help deter Russian aggression on the continent.
“This training deployment signifies an important milestone and natural progression of the F-35 program, allowing the Air Force to further demonstrate the operational capabilities of the fifth generation fighter aircraft,” the Defense Department said in a news release. “It also assists in refining requirements for eventually basing the F-35A in Europe, which is scheduled to receive the aircraft in the early 2020s.”
In December, former Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James hinted that the service would go to Europe this summer.
“Now that the F-35 has been declared combat capable, we will deploy our newest fighter to Europe in the not too distant future,” she said then during a speech at the Atlantic Council. “Matter of fact, if I were a betting woman, I wouldn’t at all be surprised if the F-35 didn’t make an appearance, perhaps, next summer. The unique combination of stealth, situational and sensor fusion will play an important role in reassuring allies and providing deterrence.”
defensenews

Mar 26, 2017

China says U.S. should respect China's air defense zone after B-1B flight over ADIZ

China said on Thursday the United States should respect its air defense identification zone (ADIZ), after Chinese officials warned a U.S. bomber it was illegally flying inside China's self-declared zone in the East China Sea.
The Pentagon rejected the Chinese call and said it would continue its flight operations in the region.
China declared the zone, in which aircraft are supposed to identify themselves to Chinese authorities, in the East China Sea in 2013, which the United States and Japan have refused to recognize.
CNN, citing the U.S. Pacific Air Forces, said a B-1 bomber was flying near South Korea on Sunday, and that its pilots responded to Chinese air traffic controllers by saying they were carrying out routine operations in international airspace. The aircraft did not deviate from its flight path.
reuters

Mar 25, 2017

India to Begin Contract Negotiations to Acquire at least 56 Airbus C-295

The IAF is set to begin negotiations contract negotiations for acquiring 56 Airbus C-295, to replace its ageing fleet of HS-748 Aircraft. The Border Security Force is also looking at four C-295 for movement of its troopers within the country. The aircraft is to be made in India by TATA in partnership with Airbus. Airbus will supply 16 from its final assembly line in Spain in fly away condition. The following 40 aircraft will be manufactured by TATA.
economictimes.indiatimes

Mar 22, 2017

Russia Supplies to Myanmar First Three Yak-130 Combat Trainers

Russia has completed the delivery of the first batch of Yak-130 combat trainer aircraft to Myanmar, the contract will be fully executed in 2017.
ussia plans to deliver additional Yak-130 combat trainer aircraft to Myanmar next year.
sputniknews