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Jan 15, 2017

Germany to deploy eight attack and transport helicopters to Mali

Germany's cabinet on Wednesday approved the deployment of eight attack and transport helicopters as well as 350 additional soldiers to Mali as part of a U.N. peacekeeping mission, sources told Reuters.
The helicopters will replace those of the Dutch army, and the additional troops will service and maintain the fleet.
After the deployment, Germany will have some 1,000 soldiers in Mali taking part in the 15,000-strong U.N. mission that oversees a peace deal agreed in 2015 between the government and rebels.
The additional deployments will have to be approved by the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament.
The four attack helicopters and a similar number of transport machines will stay in Mali until mid-2018.
reuters

Jan 14, 2017

KC-46 schedule unlikely to go as planned

Based on the tanker replacement programme’s history, its current schedule is “aggressive and unlikely to be executed as planned,” Michael Gilmore wrote in his annual report. In a prime example of schedule delay, the US Air Force had planned to complete 66% of testing by the end of the engineering, manufacturing and development phase. By the beginning of low-rate production last August though, Boeing had completed only 30% of EMD testing, the report states.
When Gilmore’s office approved a test and evaluation master plan in November 2016 that would support KC-46’s entrance into low-rate production that August, it did so with lingering concerns about leaving enough time to correct discrepancies between the end of developmental testing and the beginning of initial operational test and evaluation, he writes.
“Execution of the current schedule assumes historically unrealistic test aircraft fly and re-fly rates,” Gilmore writes.
Though the programme is on track to become an effective aerial refueling platform, several capabilities still require correcting or additional testing. During testing last January, Boeing discovered higher than expected axial loads on the tanker’s refueling boom. That pushed Boeing’s scheduled low-rate initial production decision from June to August while Boeing redesigned the boom control system.
Boeing implemented a hardware-based solution for the refueling issue, which involved inserting two bypass valves in the fly-by-wire-controlled boom to relieve the aerodynamic pressure. However, the current boom represent a prototype rather than a production-ready design.
Last year, the KC-46 successfully refueled a USAF A-10, allowing the programme to move ahead toward initial production. Boeing also demonstrated aerial refueling with the the US Navy’s F/A-18 and AV-8B using the centreline and wing drogue systems and the KC-46 as a receiver aircraft. The company also completed refueling demonstrations on the C-17 airlifter and F-16 using the aerial refueling boom. But Gilmore notes Boeing has only performed daylight refueling operations and none of the aircraft have been certified as receiving platforms.
flightglobal

Jan 13, 2017

China receives first four Su-35s

Beijing has taken delivery of four Sukhoi Su-35 fighters: the first installment in an acquistion that will see it receive 24 examples.
News of the jets' arrival in China was revealed in a report by state news organ China Daily.
The report, citing the People’s Liberation Army Air Force, claimed that Moscow was apparently “eager to complete the Su-35 deal” owing to the “commissioning” of the Chengdu J-20 fighter, which made its public debut with a flying display at Airshow China in Zhuhai in November 2016. Negotiations between Beijing and Moscow for the Su-35 deal dragged on for several years prior to this point.
flightglobal

Jan 11, 2017

First US Marines F-35B Squadron Moves to Japan

A Marine Corps F-35B squadron has transferred from the United States to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Japan, marking the first permanent international deployment of the joint strike fighter, the service announced Tuesday.
Marine Corps spokesman Capt Kurt Stahl told Defense News that 10 F-35Bs from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA-121) departed Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in Arizona on Monday, with the first jets slated to arrive in Japan on Wednesday. All 10 F-35s will arrive at Iwakuni by Thursday. Eventually, an additional six jets will be relocated from Yuma to Iwakuni, bringing the squadron up to a full 16 aircraft.
VMFA-121 is a part of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.
“The transition of VMFA-121 from MCAS Yuma to MCAS Iwakuni marks a significant milestone in the F-35B program as the Marine Corps continues to lead the way in the advancement of stealth fighter attack aircraft,” the service said in a statement.
defensenews

Jan 10, 2017

Spanish frigate 'Cristobal Colón' deploys to Australia for AWD support

Spanish Navy’s Álvaro de Bazán-class frigate Cristóbal Colón is scheduled to embark on a long-term deployment to Australia on January 9.
Under an agreement between the two navies, the Aegis-equipped frigate will spend 120 days in Australia where it will help train future Australian Hobart-class destroyer sailors of the Australian Navy.
By integrating into the Australian Navy fleet, Cristóbal Colón will provide dedicated training and familiarisation opportunities for the crews of Australian destroyers Hobart, Brisbane and Sydney.
NUSHIP Hobart, the first of three destroyers, will start category 5 sea trials in mid-January 2017 and will be assisted in the process by ESPS Cristóbal Colón.
If everything goes according to plan, the Spanish frigate is expected to return to Ferrol, Spain in early August 2017.
This is not the first time a Spanish Navy ship is integrating into the Royal Australian Navy. Back in 2013, Spain sent its replenishment ships ESPS Cantabria to Australia where it remained for eight months.
navaltoday

Jan 6, 2017

The Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16s arrives in Lithuania to take over Baltic air policing mission

A contingent of Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon combat aircraft and personnel arrived at Siauliai Airbase in Lithuania on 2 January to assume the lead for NATO's Baltic Air Policing (BAP) mission.
Four F-16s and more than 120 personnel from the Leeuwarden and Vokel bases in the Netherlands arrived in Lithuania to relieve a contingent of French Air Force Dassault Mirage 2000s from 5 January. The Dutch F-16s will be supported in their mission by four German Air Force Eurofighter Typhoons that are based at Amari Airbase in Estonia, and which are being extended for a second four-month rotation.
Some 43 rotations have now been conducted since the NATO mission was launched in 2004. This will be the third time that the RNLAF has participated in the NATO BAP mission to protect the airspaces of the former Soviet republics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, having previously undertaken the role in 2005 and 2014.
janes

US offered Britain the F-117 stealth aircraft

Recently declassified documents from the British National Archives have confirmed what was largely an unofficial rumour.
The declassified documents from the British National Archives show that former US President Ronald Reagan had offered British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher a chance for both countries to work on the F-117 stealth fighter programme back in 1986.
The programme was given the code-name Project Moonflower. It is understood that the British Ministry of Defence declined the offer as it was still a ‘black programme’.
The later version offered to the Royal Air Force in 1995 was the F-117C. The aircraft was to be a baseline F-117A fitted with British avionics and EJ200 engines, plus a number of BAE structural components or sub-assemblies.
The F-117 was based on the Have Blue technology demonstrator and was the first operational aircraft to be designed around stealth technology. The maiden flight of the Nighthawk took place in 1981 and the aircraft achieved initial operating capability status in 1983.
The Nighthawk was shrouded in secrecy until it was revealed to the public in 1988.
ukdefencejournal

Japan in talks with New Zealand for C-2 P-1 aircraft

C-2 (08-1201,68-1203)
Japan is in negotiations with New Zealand to export the Self-Defense Forces' patrol and transport aircraft, in hopes of beating out U.S. and European competition to score its first large-scale arms contract.
The deal will also involve the maintenance of the planes, and is potentially worth billions of dollars. Tokyo in September provided unclassified information on the P-1 maritime patrol plane and C-2 transporter, both developed by Kawasaki Heavy Industries, in response to Wellington's requests.
Representatives from Japan's defense ministry and Kawasaki Heavy are in New Zealand for negotiations. Japan could come up with a proposal in the first half of 2017 concerning the price, production process and maintenance of the planes. It will also consider jointly producing certain parts with New Zealand.
New Zealand will choose the winning bid as early as this summer out of a pool including American and European proposals. The Japanese government will also negotiate a treaty with New Zealand to allow the transfer of defense equipment and technology, a prerequisite to the potential deal.
The P-1, deployed by the Maritime SDF, was designed as a successor to the mainstay P-3C patrol aircraft. It can pick up even faint submarine signals through underwater sensors, and is also known to be fuel efficient and extremely quiet.
The bidding "will be a one-on-one fight with Boeing's P-8 patrol plane," a Japanese official said.
The C-2, meanwhile, can carry heavy loads over long distances. It was first delivered to the Air SDF in June 2016, with plans for deployment this March. The aircraft shares the same parts in the wing and other areas with the P-1, which will allow New Zealand to save money if it adopts both models. Airbus and several other companies are considered Japan's main rivals for the transporters.
The Japanese government adopted three principles on the transfer of defense equipment and technology in April 2014, greatly relaxing the requirements for arms exports. But it has done little under the new rules. Japan was outbid by France on Australia's new fleet of submarines in April, and lost a bid on anti-submarine patrol aircraft for the U.K. to the U.S. in November 2015.
nikkei

General Atomics contracted for MQ-9 sale to Spain

General Atomics has received a $56 million contract action order to provide MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft for the government of Spain.
The order is an adjustment to an existing basic ordering agreement between the United States and Spain. General Atomics will be tasked with providing the Reaper and its associated equipment.
According to the U.S. Department of Defense, the work will be performed at Poway, Calif., and is expected to be complete by Jan. 31, 2019. The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio is listed as the contracting activity.
The MQ-9 Reaper is a turboprop-powered unmanned aircraft system designed for intelligence gathering and targeted strike missions, and features a flight endurance of over 27 hours. The aircraft can operate at altitudes of 50,000 feet, and can carry a 3,000-pound payload.
As a follow-up to the company's MQ-1 Predator, the Reaper is twice as fast as its predecessor, and can carry a 500 percent larger payload.
upi

Argentinian Kfir negotiations set to resume

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has so far exported 40 Kfir Block 60 upgraded fighter aircraft, and plans to assemble and upgrade another 12-14 for Argentina.
Sources say negotiations about the proposed sale to Argentina are about to resume, following two previous rounds of talks that did not result in a contract.
Sources in Latin America say the price of the proposed deal is the main stumbling block, but “not the only one”.
The Kfir Block 60 is the latest version of the fighter, which includes J-79 engines. It also takes the aircraft back to zero flight hours after a total overhaul, and will cover the next 1,600 flight hours before another overhaul is required.
The upgraded fighter carries an Elta 2032 active electronically scanned array radar, and will have an open architecture that will allow the customer to install other systems.
According to Elta, the radar provides an all-aspect, look-down, shoot-down performance, operating simultaneous multi-mode air-to-air and advanced strike missions.
Kfir jets are in service with the air forces of Colombia, Ecuador and Sri Lanka.
The Colombian air force has upgraded its Kfirs to the existing level, dubbed C-10/12, which includes an Elta EL/M-2032 radar, a Rafael Litening targeting pod, a head-up display colour cockpit, and an aerial refuelling system.
flightglobal

Israel retires F-16A fleet

The F-16A has been in service with the IAF since 1980, and has participated in all combat operations since then, including an attack on an Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981.
In recent years older aircraft were operated mainly by the IAF's “red squadron” in an adversary training role, and the Israeli ministry of defence is now trying to sell 40 F-16As.
In 2014, the IAF completed an extensive upgrade of its F-16C/D variants, under the Barak 2020 programme. This included structural treatment and the installation of a new digital debriefing system, plus a new head-up display.
Other systems have also been installed, but no details on their capabilities have been revealed.
The upgrade has been performed in the squadrons with supervision of the IAF’s main technical unit number 22, the force’s central maintenance depot.
flightglobal

Dec 24, 2016

Trump Tells Twitter He Wants A Super Hornet With F-35 Capabilities

President-elect Donald Trump again took to Twitter on Thursday to question the cost of the F-35 fighter jet, advocating for modernization of a fourth-generation Boeing alternative that experts say would not likely be possible.
“Based on the tremendous cost and cost overruns of the Lockheed Martin F-35, I have asked Boeing to price-out a comparable F-18 Super Hornet!” he tweeted at 5:26 p.m. EST.
Lockheed Martin stock, which had closed at $252.80 a share, tumbled down to $247.75 at about 7 p.m. EST, a 2 percent decline. At the same time, Boeing stock shot up by about 1.49 percent, increasing from $157.46 to $158.95 a share.
What this means for Lockheed Martin and its top competitor Boeing in the long term is not exactly clear. Although the F-35 has been plagued with its share of cost overruns and technical issues, the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is a fourth-generation plane that lacks many of the capabilities that define a fifth-generation plane, such as stealth and sensor fusion. Redesigning a Super Hornet to meet the same requirements as the F-35 would require years of development and engineering time and probably billions of dollars.
defensenews

US Air Force F-35s Likely Coming Soon to Europe

The Air Force’s top civilian on Monday hinted the service could deploy a number of F-35As to Europe as early as 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,” said Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James 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.”
The trip to Europe would be the first operational overseas deployment of the Air Force's A-model, which officially reached initial combat capability in August.
The service will also send a theater security package of F-15s from Louisiana and Florida Air National Guard units to Europe this spring to conduct training exercises with partners, similar to the deployment of F-22s to Romania last April.
James likely is nearing the end of her tenure as Air Force secretary this January, and plans to deploy the F-35 could change under the new presidential administration. However, she advised her successor to move forward with deployments to Europe that showcase US air dominance, adding that such activities are key for deterring hostile Russian military action that has become more prevalent since its invasion of Crimea.
"Russia is a country that does understand force,” she said. “At a time like this, at a time when I believe they are pushing and poking and testing, I think the alliance needs to demonstrate that resolve and show force.”
Also of vital importance is US involvement in the Baltic air policing mission – a NATO effort to guard the airspace of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, she said.
defensenew

Dec 17, 2016

China live-fires aircraft carrier group amid Taiwan tensions with US

China’s Liaoning aircraft carrier battle group has conducted its first exercises with live ammunition, in a show of strength as tensions with the US and Taiwan escalate.
China’s first and only aircraft carrier led large-scale exercises in the Bohai Sea, the navy of the People’s Liberation Army announced late on Thursday.
The drills involved dozens of ships and aircraft in the carrier group and more than 10 air-to-air, anti-ship and air defence missiles were tested, it said.
The group also performed reconnaissance exercises, tests of early warning systems, aerial interception and missile defence.
The goal of the exercises was to “test the performance of weapons and the training level of the team”, the statement said.
China’s national broadcaster CCTV showed footage of J-15 fighter jets taking off from the carrier and firing missiles.
The drills come as a heated war of words intensifies between Beijing and the US president-elect, Donald Trump, who broke convention by speaking directly to the Taiwanese president, Tsai Ing-wen, and even suggested Washington could jettison the decades-old “One China policy” – a diplomatic compromise allowing the US to do business with both China and Taiwan while only recognising Beijing.
Since Trump’s and Tsai’s phone call, China has sent military aircraft close to Japanese territory near the Miyako Strait and reportedly sent a bomber to circumnavigate disputed territory in the resource-rich South China Sea – flights its air force has described as “routine”.
The US Pacific commander said on Wednesday that the US would keep challenging China’s “assertive, aggressive behaviour in the South China Sea” despite Beijing’s rapid development of artificial islands capable of hosting military planes.

Satellite images published this week by a US thinktank showed structures on Chinese-built artificial islands that appeared to be large anti-aircraft guns and close-in weapons systems (CIWS) designed to take out incoming missiles and enemy aircraft, the thinktank said.
China’s defence ministry said the construction was mostly for civilian use and necessary military installations were for self-defence.
Beijing is seeking to build a “blue water” navy capable of operating in distant seas and has embarked on an extensive project to modernise its two million-strong military, the world’s largest.
The Liaoning is a secondhand Soviet ship built more than 25 years ago. It was commissioned in 2012 after extensive refits.
In December 2015 China’s defence ministry announced the country was building a second aircraft carrier based entirely on domestic designs.
theguardian

Dec 8, 2016

Chile signs for Black Hawk helos

Chile has signed for six Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk helicopters to be delivered in 2018.
The contract signing followed a type selection made by the Chilean Air Force (Fuerza Aérea de Chile: FACh) in September, in which the Black Hawk beat off competition from Leonardo Helicopters, Airbus Helicopters, Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI), and Rosoboronexport, which had offered the AW149, H215, Surion, and Mi-17 'Hip' respectively.
The S-70i (international) helicopters are to be built by Sikorsky's subsidiary, PZL Mielec, in Poland. Improvements made on the S-70i over the baseline Black Hawk include a fully integrated digital glass cockpit featuring colour 6x8-inch (15x20 cm) multifunction display (MFD) units and a dual digital automatic flight-control system (AFCS). It also features a digital map and more powerful General Electric T700-GE-701D engines (but with T700-GE-701C control systems).
Once delivered, they will augment the one S-70 that the FACh received in 1998 as well as its remaining rotary fleet of mainly Bell 412 and UH-1H platforms. While the current plan is to procure just six aircraft, Sikorsky has previously told that there is the potential for more to be bought at a later date.
janes

Spain Joins A400 Cooperative Aircraft Maintenance Contract

Spain has joined Britain and France in signing a maintenance contract for the A400M military airlifter, allowing the three nations to draw on a common pool of spares and technical support, Airbus Defence and Space announced Wednesday.
The contract follows an initial two-year service deal Britain and France signed in December 2014.
The contract offered major cost cuts, greater efficiency and flexibility to meet operational needs, the company said.
Airbus DS called on other client nations of the A400M Atlas to join the common maintenance deal, which came into effect Dec. 1 with an initial two-year phase. Spain received its first A400M on that day.
Britain’s Defence Equipment and Support agency, France's Direction Générale de l’Armement, and Spain’s Direccion General de Armamento y Material signed up for the deal through OCCAR, the international program management organization.
Germany signed in 2014 a separate, four-year deal for its A400M fleet, with two contracts — one for system support and the other for material management.
defensenews

Nigeria Takes Delivery of Pakistani-made Super Mushshak Trainer Aircraft

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has taken delivery of the first four out of 10 MFI-17 Super Mushshak primary trainer aircraft ordered from the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC), five months after the two parties signed a supply and delivery agreement.
They were commissioned into service four days after delivery to Kaduna on Dec. 1. According to the supply contract signed in June this year, the PAC would also provide technical training to the NAF teams charged with operating and maintaining the aircraft.
Four more on-loan aircraft would be delivered to Nigeria in early 2017. By mid-2017, the loaned aircraft would be replaced with new assets, which are already under assembly.
The four have since been commissioned into service at the 301 Flight Training School in Abuja, replacing an aging fleet of Dana Air Beetle trainer variants which has been in service since 1995.
Apart from Nigeria, four Super Mushshak trainers are in service with the Pakistani Air Force. Global interest in the Super Mushshak soared in 2016 with Qatar signing a deal for the supply of eight in May.
Late in November, the Turkish Air Force signed a memorandum of understanding that set the groundwork for acquisition of up to 52 trainers. Iran, Oman, Saudi Arabia and South Africa are also reported to be interested in acquiring the aircraft.
A derivative of the Mushshak aircraft, the Super Mushshak is a version of the Saab MF-17 Supporter, which is produced in Pakistan under license from Sweden.
The latest version is powered by a 260 horsepower Textron Lycoming IO-540 V4A5 engine. It features a US-designed glass cockpit as well as environmental controls.
According to Abubakar, Nigeria will soon take delivery of four new, Russian-made Mi-35N attack helicopters from Russia and three JF-17 Thunder aircraft from Pakistan.
The West African country has also ordered at least three ex-Brazilian Air Force Super Tucano light-attack aircraft. A parallel aircraft-refurbishment program has led to the restoration and recommissioning of helicopters, which include three Mi-24V and Mi-35P attack variants, two EC-135s, two AugustaWestland A109s, and one Super Puma.
A single Beechcraft light aircraft, one Falcon jet, one Diamond DA-42 and two Dornier DO-228 maritime surveillance planes have also been restored and returned to service.
defensenews

Airbus Awarded Canadian Search-and-Rescue Project

Canadian Cabinet ministers will announce Dec. 8 that the Airbus C-295 has been selected as the country’s new fixed-wing search-and-rescue (SAR) aircraft.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and Procurement Minister Judy Foote will release the details that morning at the Royal Canadian Air Force base in Trenton Ontario.
The deal will be worth around CAN$3 billion (US $2.3 billion) and would include long-term, in-service support.
The Airbus Defense and Space C-295 was selected over the C-27J aircraft from Leonardo (formerly Finmeccanica ).
Embraer of Brazil also bid the KC-390 for the Canadian program.
Airbus officials declined to comment, referring questions to the Canadian government.
Sajjan’s press secretary, Jordan Owens, declined to confirm any details on the contract award set for Thursday.
Airbus Defence and Space has teamed with key Canadian firms for the project and other ventures on the C-295.
The new planes will replace the Royal Canadian Air Force’s 40-year-old Buffalo aircraft and older-model C-130s currently assigned to search-and-rescue duties.
Airbus previously said it will build a new training facility in Comox, British Columbia, if it wins the contract.
The Fixed Wing Search and Rescue (FWSAR) aircraft project is divided into a contract for the acquisition of the aircraft and another contract for 20 years of in-service support.
The Air Force expects all aircraft for the FWSAR program to be delivered by 2023.
The FWSAR project originally envisioned acquiring 17 aircraft. But that has now changed and will be capability based, according to government officials. The aerospace firms submitted in their bids the numbers of aircraft they believe are needed for Canada to handle the needed SAR capability.
In the bids, the firms were required to submit prices and aircraft numbers for a fleet to operate out of four main existing bases across Canada. Information was also requested for having planes operating from three bases.
The Canadian government originally announced its intent in the spring of 2004 to buy a fleet of new fixed-wing SAR aircraft, but the purchase has been on and off ever since.
The FWSAR project was sidelined over the years by more urgent purchases of equipment for Canada’s Afghanistan mission as well as complaints made in the House of Commons by domestic aerospace firms and Airbus that the Air Force favored the C-27J aircraft for the fixed-wing SAR plane.
The Air Force strenuously denied any preference for an aircraft.
defensenews

Nov 22, 2016

Canada Plans to Buy 18 Super Hornets, Start Fighter Competition in 2017

Canada will explore an interim buy of 18 Super Hornet fighter jets from Boeing, a blow to Lockheed Martin that kicks a final decision on whether to procure the F-35 further down the road.
"Canada will immediately explore the acquisition of 18 new Super Hornet aircraft to supplement the CF-18s until the permanent replacement arrives," the Canadian government announced in a release. "Canada's current fleet is now more than 30 years old and is down from 138 aircraft to 77. As a result, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) faces a capability gap."
Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said Canada will launch a larger fighter competition next year, after it wraps up its defense policy review. But the competition will likely take about five years, which kicks the decision into the next administration. Liberal Party Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had vowed not to buy the F-35 joint strike fighter.
"We have a capability gap. We have selected the minimum number of aircraft to meet this capability gap here. At the same time, we are launching a full competition and making sure that we take the appropriate time, without cutting corners to get the right airplane," said Sajjan.
"Boeing is honored to provide the Royal Canadian Air Force with the only multi-role fighter aircraft that can fulfill its immediate needs for sovereign and North American defense," the company stated in a news release. "The Super Hornet's advanced operational capabilities, low acquisition and sustainment costs, and Boeing's continued investment in the Canadian aerospace industry — US$6 billion over the past five years alone — make the Super Hornet the perfect complement to Canada's current and future fighter fleet."
Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin was less pleased with the decision, restating its hope that the Canadian government would ultimately purchase the fighter.
“Lockheed Martin recognizes the recent announcement by the Government of Canada of its intent to procure the 4th generation F/A-18 Super Hornet as an interim fighter capability,” the company said in a statement. “Although disappointed with this decision, we remain confident the F-35 is the best solution to meet Canada's operational requirements at the most affordable price, and the F-35 has proven in all competitions to be lower in cost than 4th generation competitors. The F-35 is combat ready and available today to meet Canada's needs for the next 40 years.”
Further down the road, Lockheed could strip Canadian industrial participation — which totals 110 Canadian firms with $750 million in contracts, according to Lockheed —should the country ultimately opt not to by the F-35. The company has not signaled whether it would be willing to do so.
defensenews

Nov 19, 2016

Spain receives first Airbus A400M transport

Airbus Defense and Space has delivered the first of 27 Spanish-made A400M airlifters to the Spanish air force.
The aircraft was delivered during a brief ceremony at the A400M final assembly line in Seville, Spain.
With the handover Spain became the sixth country to have received the A400M.
It will replace the Spanish Air Force's aging C-130 cargo aircraft type. It can also be used as a tactical air-to-air tanker.
Airbus is to deliver 14 aircraft to Spain by 2022. The remaining aircraft are slated for delivery from 2025.
upi

Serbia in Talks With Russia over Acquisition of Six MiG-29

The Serbian government is in talks with Russia over a potential acquisition of six Mikoyan MiG-29 fighter jets and an undisclosed amount of armored vehicles.
The discussed procurements are to intensify Serbia’s military cooperation with Russia, which also offered to sell Belgrade Buk anti-aircraft missile systems on mobile launchers. However, Serbian officials said they cannot afford to purchase the systems, which cost about $60 million per battalion, a government source in Belgrade told local daily Vecernje Novosti.
The Serbian Ministry of Defence considers acquiring new aircraft as one of its top procurement priorities, as the Serbian air force's existing fighter jet fleet is expected to lose its operational capacity in the next two to three years. Should Belgrade decide to obtain the MiG-29s from Moscow, the aircraft are to be overhauled and modernized by the Russian defense industry under a deal estimated to be worth about $50 million.
defensenews

China says aircraft carrier now ready for combat

China's first aircraft carrier is now ready to engage in combat, marking a milestone for a navy that has invested heavily in its ability to project power far from China's shores.
The Liaoning's political commissar said in an interview with Tuesday's Global Times newspaper that his ship is "constantly prepared to fight against enemies," signaling a change from its past status as a platform for testing and training.
Senior Captain Li Dongyou's comments appear to indicate that the ship has taken on its full aviation complement. Purchased as an incomplete hull from Ukraine more than a decade ago, it was commissioned in 2013.
China hasn't described specifically how it intends to use the Liaoning, but it is seen as helping reinforce China's increasingly assertive claims in the South China Sea in the face of challenges from the U.S. Navy and others.
militarytimes

Combat Training Yak-130 of Myanmar Made its First Flight

The first Yak-130 advanced jet trainers for Myanmar Air Force first flew in Irkutsk.
Combat training aircraft Yak-130, built by an aircraft factory "Irkut" Corporation, it was designed as an advanced trainer aircraft and has light strike capability.
Took to the skies over Irkutsk, Yak-130 has an "export" serial number and is intended for delivery to Myanmar under the contract in 2015. Myanmar should get about ten of these aircraft, the first three aircrafts under the contract will be delivered up to the end of 2016.
Myanmar will become the fourth foreign buyer of Russian combat training aircraft Yak-130, also bought Algeria, Bangladesh and Belarus.
defense-studies

Nov 12, 2016

French Defense Minister blamed Airbus for failing to deliver operational A400Ms.

French officials are in tough talks with Airbus Defense & Space for a timely delivery of a more capable “tactical” version of the A400M military transport plane, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said.
“The problem is the company,” Le Drian told the defense committee of the lower house National Assembly on Nov. 2, the official minutes of which were recently released. “Today, the A400Ms delivered are not operational – and the problem does not concern just France: that is the case everywhere.
“As this meeting is public, perhaps my remarks will reach Mr. Enders. It can be said that the talks I have with the Airbus executives are … lively.”
Tom Enders is chief executive of Airbus group. The Air Force is flying the A400M in its basic version as a cargo plane into secure airbases.
“I have asked for a plan to catch up, both for the aircraft’s capabilities and delivery rate,” Le Drian told members of parliament. The delivery delays were unacceptable and the lack of capabilities for parachute drops, self defense and landing on short runways caused concern.
The ministry has reached an agreement for 2016, he said. “I hope it will be upheld,” he said. “In any case, we have an extremely close dialog with the company.”
France had ordered four Hercules C-130J transport planes to meet urgent requirements and tackle the problems of an aging fleet, but that purchase had not been planned at the outset, he said.
The French Air Force expects to receive by the end of the year six A400Ms of the “tactical” version, Air Chief of Staff Gen. André Lanata told the French Senate Foreign Affairs, Defense and Armed Forces Committee on Oct. 12. Parachute drops are key to that tactical model, he said.
A tactical model is equipped with a protected cabin and a self-defense system to protect the aircrew and aircraft when flying over hostile zones.
“We expect the company concerned to make every single effort to allow us to undertake our very many operational commitments,” Lanata said.
The A400M engine is now the major concern for the service, as the motors require an inspection every 80 hours, an unsustainable rate leading to fleet availability shortages, he said.
An interim solution to the engine will be delivered between now and Spring 2017 until a permanent remedy is ready, which will make the situation manageable – which it is not right now, he said.
Airbus D&S declined comment on the issue.
Of the six tactical aircraft, three will be new units and three will be retrofits of the A400M aircraft already in service with the Air Force. The service flies eight of these as cargo lifters into secure areas.
defensenews

Oct 22, 2016

Poland picks Black Hawks after end of H225M talks

Sikorsky’s Polish subsidiary PZL Mielec already appears to be benefiting from the collapse of acquisition talks between its rival Airbus Helicopters and the Warsaw government.
Last week the country’s ministry of economic development ended nearly 18 months of protracted wrangling over a 50-unit commitment for H225M Caracal helicopters. It cited irreconcilable differences about the level of industrial offset proposed, which it said needed to equal the Zl13 billion ($3.4 billion) of the main contract.
However, all three branches of Poland’s armed forces still require new helicopters and its defence ministry has wasted little time in pushing business towards PZL Mielec, which assembles the S-70i Black Hawk for the international market.
During a visit to the firm’s assembly facility, defence minister Antoni Macierewicz said it would work to quickly finalise a deal for S-70is for operation by Polish special forces.
flightglobal

The Afghan Air Force could receive four more Embraer A-29

The Afghan Air Force could receive four more Embraer A-29 light attack turboprop aircraft, adding to 20 already on contract, the US Air Force says in a new contracting notice.
The four aircraft would be assembled by Embraer at the company’s Jacksonville, Florida, facility, but the prime contractor could change.
Sierra Nevada teamed with Embraer to win the original bidding contest with Hawker Beechcraft, which is now part of Textron Aviation.
The USAF is considering other sources to procure up to four A-29s from Embraer for delivery to the Afghan Air Force, according to a “sources sought” notice posted on 6 October.
Sierra Nevada remains on contract to maintain the Afghan air force A-29 fleet to a mission capability rate of 80%, so any new prime contractor must continue working with the Sparks, Nevada-based company.
flightglobal

Germany may buy as many as six C-130Js

Germany has signalled its intention to acquire as many as six Lockheed Martin C-130J tactical transports as its frustrations deepen with the underperforming Airbus Defence & Space A400M.
As part of a memorandum of understanding with France, signed by the defence ministers from both countries, the Hercules would be part of a “common air transport squadron” to be created by 2021.
“According to current demand forecasts, four to six German aircraft in the common transport squadron are planned,” says the country’s defence ministry, which would station the C-130J fleet in France.
flightglobal

Norway requests 12 F-35As in proposed block buy

Norway could buy 12 more Lockheed Martin F-35As for delivery in 2021 and 2022 under a new spending plan submitted to Parliament.
The proposal, if approved, would raise the total number of authorised F-35A purchases to 40 aircraft, or only 12 short of the Norwegian air force’s requirement.
The requested authorisation also would allow Norway to participate in a proposed “block buy” for the F-35’s US and international partners.
The F-35 Joint Programme Office is working to package purchases of hundreds of F-35s spread over two or three years from 2018 to 2020 into a single order commitment.
flightglobal

Oct 15, 2016

Russian Tu-95 and Tu-22M3 Bombers to Patrol Airspace Between Hawaii and Japan

A new division of Tu-95MS and Tu-22M3 strategic bombers will soon appear in the Russian Far East to patrol the area over the Pacific Ocean inside the Japan – Hawaii – Guam triangle.
Military experts see the creation of a new air group as a clear signal to the Asia-Pacific nations and the US that Russia is serious about is current pivot to Asia.
It will be already the second heavy bomber air group in the Russian Aerospace Forces after a division of Tu-160, Tu-95MS and Tu-22M3 bombers that have been so successful mopping up terrorists in Syria, was added last year.
The newly-formed division will include dozens of strategic and long-range bombers to be deployed in Irkutsk and Amur regions.
Soviet missile-carrying bombers patrolled those areas keeping an eye on “enemy activity.” These regular patrols were called off during the 1990s and early 2000s, but now it looks like Russian bomber flights inside the Japan-Guam-Hawaii triangle are back.
Since 2014 Russian Tu-95MS bombers have regularly been spotted off the coast of Japan which scrambled fighter planes to intercept the Russian “Bears” (NATO reporting name for the Tu-95MS). In November a pair of Tu-95MS bombers circled the US island of Guam in the Western Pacific without straying into US airspace. Even though Guam is not a US state, it has been a US unincorporated territory since 1898. This Russian military beef-up in the Pacific means that Moscow is serious about its current pivot to Asia.
sputniknews

USAF F-16s from Italy are quietly deployed to Djibouti

The U.S. Air Force has quietly deployed a number of KC-135s and F-16s to Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, this was at the request of Africa Command.
U.S. Africa Command said it was a “precautionary measure in order to protect Americans and American interests in South Sudan if required.”
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