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Sep 25, 2016

India signs 36-unit Rafale contract

India has concluded a deal to acquire 36 Dassault Rafale fighters, with a contract signed in New Delhi by the nation’s defence minister, Manohar Parrikar, and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian on 23 September.
Finalisation of the contract brings to a close a long-running acquisition process to equip the Indian air force with the Rafale, which was selected as the winner of its medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) tender in 2012, defeating the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and Eurofighter Typhoon. Other previous candidates for the deal included the Lockheed Martin F-16, RAC MiG-35 and Saab Gripen.
The air force was originally slated to acquire 126 aircraft via the programme, but the original deal ran aground over cost concerns. It was revived by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to France in 2105, when he declared that 36 aircraft would be acquired in “fly-away” condition from Dassault. This was keeping in view the “critical operational necessity” of the service, he said at the time.
It remains to be seen if India will decide at a later date to acquire additional fly-away examples of the type, or whether production could be transferred to India at a later date – as was the intention under the original MMRCA tender.
flightglobal

US State Department Clears Sale of KC-46A Tankers to Japan

The US State Department on Wednesday approved a potential $1.9 billion sale of KC-46A refueling tankers to Japan, moving Boeing one step closer to finalizing its first international deal for the aircraft.
According to a Defense Security Cooperation Agency notice, the proposed deal includes four KC-46A aircraft, the associated Pratt & Whitney Model 4062 engines needed to power the plane, plus one additional spare. Japan would also receive training and support as part of the agreement.
Those aircraft will be equipped with the ALR-69A Radar Warning Receiver and Miniaturized Airborne GPS Receiver — both from Raytheon — as well as Northrop Grumman's AN/AAQ-24(V) Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures system.
Japan announced its intention to buy the KC-46 last October. The agreement was a major coup for Boeing, which has fought to find its first foreign customer for the tanker.
defensenews

Roll Out of Japan Air Self Defense Force’s First F-35A

Senior Japanese and U.S. government officials joined Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) to celebrate the roll out of the first Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) F-35A Lightning II, marking a major milestone in Japan’s enhanced national defense and strengthening the future of the U.S-Japan security alliance.
The ceremony was attended by more than 400 guests from both governments, militaries and defense industries.
Kenji Wakamiya, Japan’s State Minister of Defense spoke at the event, saying, “With its low observability and network capability, the F-35 is the most advanced air system with cutting-edge capability as a multi-role fighter. As the security environment surrounding Japan has become increasingly severe, because of its excellence, it is very significant for the defense of Japan to commit to acquiring the F-35 year by year. Given that the United States Government has designated Japan as a regional depot in the Asia-Pacific area, introduction of F-35A to Japan is a perfect example, enhancing the Japan-US alliance.”
Japan’s F-35 program includes 42 F-35A Conventional Take Off and Landing aircraft, acquired through the U.S. government’s Foreign Military Sales program. The first four aircraft are built in Fort Worth and the remaining 38 aircraft will be built at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Final Assembly & Check-Out facility in Nagoya, Japan, where aircraft assembly is underway. Maintenance training for the first JASDF F-35A technicians is underway at Eglin AFB, Florida, and the first JASDF F-35A pilots are scheduled to begin training at Luke AFB, Arizona, in November.
lockheedmartin

Sep 24, 2016

USAF F-35A Catches Fire at Mountain Home Air Force Base

An F-35A caught fire during an exercise at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, the Air Force confirmed to Defense News.
The incident took place at around noon and involved an F-35A aircraft from the 61st Fighter Squadron located at Luke Air Force Base, the service said in a statement. No serious injuries seem to have been sustained by the pilot or nearby crew.
"The pilot had to egress the aircraft during engine start due to a fire from the aft section of the aircraft," Air Force spokesman Capt. Mark Graff said in an email. "The fire was extinguished quickly. As a precautionary measure, four 61st Aircraft Maintenance Unit Airmen, three Airmen from the 366th Maintenance Group and the 61st Fighter Squadron pilot were transported to the base medical center for standard evaluation."
Seven F-35As from Luke AFB, which is one of the bases responsible for joint strike fighter pilot instruction, had deployed to Mountain Home to conduct surface-to-air training from Sept. 10 to 24.
The root cause of the event is under investigation.
defensenews

Sep 18, 2016

15 F-35 Models Grounded Due to Wiring Issue

The US Air Force has ordered the grounding of 13 F-35A models, as well as a pair of Norwegian F-35As, following the discovery of "peeling and crumbling" coolant tube insulation.
The issue appears to have been with a supplier of coolant lines, which are installed in the wings of the jet. During a routine maintenance check, it was discovered that the insulation on the lines were in some cases decomposing, which left residue in the fuel itself, according to a release from the Norwegian government on the grounding.
The issue has been traced back to the insulated coolant tubes manufactured by one particular provider that have only been installed in the wing fuel tanks of the 15 aircraft — 10 from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, two US and two Norwegian F-35As at Luke AFB, Ariz., and one plane at Nellis AFB, Nev.
The problem was first discovered this summer during depot maintenance of an F-35A being prepared for initial operational capability.
defensenews

Sep 3, 2016

South Korea mulls purchase of four Boeing P-8 Poseidon aircraft

The South Korean military may buy four Boeing P-8 Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft in the wake of the successful test-firing of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) by North Korea on 24 August, the Korea JoongAng Ilbo newspaper quoted a senior government official as saying on 1 September.
"North Korea is preparing a number of strategic ways to attack the South using its submarine fleet on top of the SLBM development," said the official.
"We are discussing whether to purchase the latest maritime patrol aircraft to detect North Korean submarines to prevent surprise attacks from under water," he added.
janes

Chilean Navy inducts new observation aircraft

The Chilean Navy (Armada de Chile) has received into service the first of seven Vulcanair P68 Observer 2 twin-propeller aircraft, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on 1 September.
The first of the Italian-built aircraft (designated Naval Aircraft 321 in Chilean service) arrived at the Naval Air Base at Concon on 1 July, ahead of its induction as a search and rescue, maritime police, medical aero-evacuation, and liaison platform in place of the now retired Cessna O-2 Skymaster.
While the MoD did not disclose when the remaining aircraft will be delivered, it did say that they type will begin operations with VC-1 Squadron in early 2017, flying from Puerto Montt and Iquique initially before being transferred to Talcahuano.
janes

British Officials Consider Reprieve for Sentinel Fleet

Plans to ax one of the five Sentinel R1 ground surveillance aircraft operated by the British Royal Air Force (RAF) may temporarily be put on hold as officials consider reprieving the jet until a longer-term decision on the fleet's future can be made.
The RAF had been proposing to cut one of the aircraft from the fleet of Raytheon-developed Sentinel aircraft by early October as part of a broader bid to generate cash savings that under new government rules can be ploughed into other equipment budgets rather than being handed back to the Treasury.
One government source said it is now “ likely that the fifth aircraft it will be retained until the end of the financial year” to give time for a decision on longer-term plans for the aircraft.
defensenews

China and Ukraine agree to restart An-225 production

China and Ukraine have signed an agreement to recommence production of the Antonov An-225 'Cossack' strategic airlifter, media from both countries have reported.
The agreement signed between the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) and Antonov on 30 August gives China access to the aircraft's designs and technologies for the purposes of domestic production, according to China's STCN news organisation and the Ukrainian Business Channel (UBR).
Powered by six Progress D-18T engines and having demonstrated a world-record payload of 253.82 tonnes, the An-225 (named Mriya in Ukraine) is the largest transport aircraft ever to have flown.
janes

US cleared to complete T-6C sale to Argentina

A 30-day Congressional notification period has closed on a proposed sale of 24 Beechcraft T-6C Texan trainers to the Argentine air force, clearing the way for the US government and industry officials to complete negotiations on the estimated $300 million deal.
Coming only two months after the final delivery to the US Navy under the 20-year-old Joint Primary Aircraft Training Systems (JPATS) programme, the proposed T-6 sale to Buenos Aires offers a timely lifeline to the T-6C production line in Wichita, Kansas.
“We look forward to continuing our conversations with Argentina to offer the Beechcraft T-6C military trainer,” Beechcraft says.
By late June, Beechcraft had delivered more than 400 T-6 Texan IIs to the US Air Force and nearly 300 to the Navy, replacing an aging fleet of Cessna T-37s and Beechcraft T-34s. The company also has received a recent order from the UK Ministry of Defence to supply T-6 trainers for replacing Embraer Tucanos.
flightglobal

Aug 30, 2016

Luke AFB receives Air Force’s 100th F-35 on heels of IOC announcement, unit activation

The F-35 Lightning II program took another huge step forward Aug. 26 when the Air Force’s 100th F-35, designated AF-100, arrived here following the recent announcement of the fifth-generation jet fighter’s initial operational capability.
“This marks a milestone and shows the fact that the F-35 program has continued to grow, progress and support initial operational capability,” said Brig. Gen. Brook Leonard, the 56th Fighter Wing commander. “It is also a ‘scare factor’ for our enemies that we are able to produce such an incredible platform at such a high production rate and that it’s getting out in the field in larger and larger numbers.”
Luke Air Force Base received its first F-35 in March 2014 and developed the training and tactics for the program. The fleet has since grown to more than 40 F-35s at the base, including those of partner nations such as Australia and Norway. The base also recently activated its third F-35 unit -- the 63rd Fighter Squadron.
af.mil

Aug 27, 2016

First Japan Air Self Defense Force F-35A Makes First Flight

The first Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) F-35A successfully completed its maiden flight here today. The jet, known as AX-1, took off at 1112 and landed at 1246 local time. The flight was piloted by Lockheed Martin’s F-35 test pilot Paul Hattendorf.
Japan is on record to purchase 42 F-35A Conventional Take Off and Landing, or CTOL, aircraft, acquired through the U.S. government’s Foreign Military Sales program. The first four aircraft are in assembly in Fort Worth and are anticipated to deliver before the end of 2016. The remaining 38 aircraft will be assembled at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries final assembly & check-out facility in Nagoya, Japan. Aircraft assembly is also underway at the Nagoya facility. Maintenance training for the first Japan maintainers has already begun at Eglin AFB, Florida, and training of the first JASDF F-35 pilots will begin at Luke AFB, Arizona, in November 2016.
f35.com

Aug 26, 2016

Sin fecha para el segundo Escuadrón de Eurofighter para el Ala 14 de Albacete

El programa para completar el armamento del Ala 14 en la Base Aérea de los Llanos con Eurofighter continúa, pero la dotación no será «a corto plazo»
Más de cuatro años después de que los primeros Eurofighter llegaran al Ala 14 de la Base de Los Llanos todavía se espera la dotación del segundo escuadrón, el 141, si bien ya se ha completado la plantilla de 18 aviones para el primero, el 142. Los planes de Defensa y del Ejército del Aire pasan por ir dotando al segundo escuadrón del mismo sistema de armas, pero se trabaja sin fecha concreta.
latribunadealbacete

Aug 13, 2016

Singapore, France could Receive First Airbus MRTT in 2017

Airbus Defence and Space (DS) expects that the next new Airbus A330-200 Multirole Tanker Transport (MRTT) will be delivered to either the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) or the French Air Force.
"The next [MRTT] is either [for] Singapore or France," Fernando Alonso, Head of Military Aircraft at Airbus DS, told reporters in Kuala Lumpur in early August.
"Australia has bought two additional ones. Those are something quite special as they are second-hand ones," he added, referring to the two former Qantas-operated A330 airliners that are being converted into MRTT platforms by Airbus DS. However, he did not provide exact time frames for the deliveries.
defense-studies

Aug 6, 2016

USA DSCA APPROVES T-6C DEAL FOR ARGENTINA

The U.S. State Department has approved a possible $300 million foreign military sale to Argentina for T-6C Texan aircraft.
Buenos Aires requested 24 of the trainer aircraft, as well as spare engines, initial spare parts, support equipment, communications equipment, studies and surveys, contract logistics support and technical services, aircraft technical publications, aircraft ferry and support, life support equipment, initial maintenance training, initial pilot training, follow-on training, alternate mission equipment, Air Force Material Command services and travel, unclassified minor modifications and engineering change proposals, ground-based training system, operational flight trainer and operational flight trainer spare parts.
upi

Jul 2, 2016

Russian Frigate Again Plays Games With US Ships

The same Russian frigate that, according to the US Navy, spent more than an hour June 17 maneuvering erratically and unsafely near a US aircraft carrier and destroyer in the Mediterranean Sea was at it again Thursday, this time near a different carrier. And this time, the ship’s reputation as a dangerous driver was anticipated.
The Yaroslav Mudryy, a Project 1154 Neustrashimy-class frigate wearing pennant number 777 was, according to a US Navy report, conducting shadowing operations of the aircraft carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower carrier strike group as the flattop was flying combat operations against ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq.
The Russian frigate closed on the cruiser San Jacinto, operating as the carrier’s air defense commander, in an action a Navy message characterized as “abnormal, [un]safe and unprofessional.”
defensenews

Jun 11, 2016

Malaysia Takes Delivery of its Third A400M

RMAF took official delivery of its third A400M airlifter at the Airbus Defence and Space facility in Seville.
It is yet to be determined when the A400M will fly to Subang airbase, the home of 22nd Skn, but based on previous two A400Ms, it is likely that the aircraft will make it home by July.
The 03 was supposed to be delivered in April but was delayed after engine and air-frame problems were in discovered in German and French A400ms.
RMAF had never officially confirmed whether its A400Ms were also affected by the problems but the first aircraft was seen in its hangar in early March with its engine panels opened.
The 22nd Skn currently operates two A400Ms, the first arrived in March, 2015 while the second in late December. The fourth and final aircraft is expected to be delivered by year end.
It is expected with the fourth A400M delivered, 22 Skn will ramped up its operational use of the air-lifters. Although the squadron had conducted test loading of Army vehicles, mostly 4X4s trucks, it had yet to conduct flights carrying them.
Currently, the two A400Ms of the 22 Skn mostly carry personnel and their belongings. The longest known trip so far is to Korat airbase in Thailand, in support of the Air-Thamal 2016, the annual exercise between RMAF and the Thai Air Force.
defense-studies

May 28, 2016

TAI in Talks to Upgrade Pakistani F-16s

Tusas Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) is negotiating with Pakistan to upgrade 74 Pakistani Air Force (PAF) F-16 fighters, company officials said.
“The negotiations are being held through our Pakistani representative,” a TAI official said. “We are hopeful about an eventual deal in view of our excellent relations with PAF.”
If finalized the deal will involve upgrades on a batch of 74 PAF F-16 aircraft, including 14 fighters Pakistan will acquire from Jordan.
defensenews

Vietnam May Request F-16s, P-3 Orions From US

With the lifting of the US arms embargo to Vietnam, a US defense industry source indicates Hanoi is seeking to improve its air defense and maritime security capabilities with the procurement of F-16 fighter aircraft from the US Pentagon’s excess defense articles (EDA) program and refurbished P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft, armed with torpedoes.
defensenews

F-22 Restart for US Air Force Not 'A Wild Idea'

Although US Air Force and industry officials have repeatedly dubbed reviving Lockheed Martin’s F-22 production line as a nonstarter, the service’s outgoing chief of staff said Thursday it might not be such a crazy idea after all.
Gen. Mark Welsh's comments marked the first time since Congress floated the idea last month that Air Force leadership has acknowledged an F-22 restart as anything but pie in the sky.
defensenews

Pentagon says China aircraft intercept violated 2015 agreement

The Pentagon has concluded that an intercept of a U.S. military aircraft by Chinese fighter jets last week over the South China Sea violated an agreement the two governments signed last year, a U.S. defense official said on Thursday.
The Pentagon findings contradict what the Chinese Defense Ministry said earlier in the day.
Last year, the United States and China announced an agreement establishing rules of behavior to govern air-to-air encounters and creating a military hotline.
reuters

May 27, 2016

First Two Dutch F-35s Land in the Netherlands

The Netherlands' first two F-35s landed at Leeuwarden Air Base on Monday, marking the fifth-generation jet's first eastbound transatlantic crossing.
The jets, made the journey from Edwards Air Force Base.
This appearance comes just weeks before Lockheed Martin's joint strike fighter is scheduled to make its international debut at the Royal International Air Tattoo and Farnborough Air Show in the United Kingdom
defensenews

Boeing Will not Deliver 18 KC-46 Tanker To USAF In 2018 As Innitially Planned

Boeing’s KC-46 tanker program will miss a major contractual deadline to deliver 18 ready-to-go aircraft to the US Air Force next year.
Due to ongoing issues with the KC-46’s refueling systems, Boeing will not be able to deliver the 18 certified tankers to the Air Force as planned by August 2017, a major contractual obligation known as Required Assets Available, or RAA.
It is unclear what impact this delay will have on Boeing's contract to replace the Air Force's aging KC-135s. Both company and service officials said they are continuing to assess the implications.
defensenews

May 7, 2016

U.S. seeks to approve A-29 Super Tucano Sale for Nigeria in Boko Haram fight

The U.S. administration is seeking to approve a sale of as many as 12 A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft to Nigeria to aid its battle against the extremist group Boko Haram, U.S. officials say.
Washington also is dedicating more intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets to the campaign against the Islamist militants in the region and plans to provide additional training to Nigerian infantry forces.
The sale could offer Nigeria a more maneuverable aircraft that can stay aloft for extended periods to target Boko Haram formations.
reuters

Australia is spending $640 million on naval supply ships made in Spain

The Turnbull government’s massive spend on Australia’s naval capability continued today after signing a deal to spend $640 million on two naval replenishment ships built in Spain .
Unlike recent announcements by the prime minister about building submarines and other ships in Australia, today’s decision to give the contract to Madrid-based Navantia was low key.
Defence minister Marise Payne confirmed Navantia as the preferred tenderer, beating South Korea’s Daewoo, for the two auxiliary oiler and replenishment (AOR) vessels in March.
Australia’s current supply ship, HMAS Success, launched in 1984, will reach its end of life in 2021, and needs to be replaced urgently.
The navy’s other supply ship, HMAS Sirius, is a former commercial oil tanker commissioned in 2006 and does not have the capability for other supplies. Navantia, which build the Royal Australian Navy’s two newest vessels, the landing helicopter dock ships, Canberra and Adelaide, will build two 19,500-tonne dual tanker and supply ships.
The contract stipulates that $130 million of the build will involve local industry for combat and communication systems, and elements of the onboard cranes. And an initial $250 million, five-year sustainment contract, also signed with Navantia, will be undertaken in Australia.
businessinsider

Apr 30, 2016

Lockheed Martin reveals lower than expected F-35 production

Production of F-35 fighter jets came in below expectations during the first quarter. Only six units were produced between January and March.
Output was slowed by several "administrative" factors. These included the process of transitioning between production lots and of getting acceptance for certain software. Lockheed's operational performance also suffered. Although sales were up, earnings dropped to USD794 million, down from USD878 million during the same quarter last year.
janes

Airbus Reports A400M Engine Gearbox Problems Will Cause Delays

Airbus faces a potentially heavy financial hit due to problems on the engine gearbox of the A400M. Aibus is now facing a serious challenge for production and customer deliveries of the A400M due to new, unexpected issues on the engine propeller gearbox. Airbus warned there could be a “significant” cost in repairing the gearbox.
A deep industrial and technical study is underway to find short- and long-term solutions, the company said. Negotiations with clients are continuing on a revised schedule for installing mission capabilities and delivery of the aircraft.
The four turboprop engines on the A400M are built by a European consortium comprising ITP of Spain, MTU of Germany, Rolls-Royce and Safran. Avio Aero, an Italian subsidiary of General Electric, builds the gearbox.
defensenews

Apr 23, 2016

F-35B May Be In Spanish Navy's Future

The Spanish Navy has a midterm problem to tackle or maybe it would be more accurate to say it has a dilemma the country’s next defense minister must solve: Should the force continue with fixed-wing combat aviation and, if yes, is the F-35B the solution?
According to Admiral Chief of Naval Staff Jaime Muñoz-Delgado, "Our fleet of Harrier aircraft has a useful life until the period between 2025 and 2027. And there is only one short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) option on the market: Lockheed Martin's F-35B. This is the reality."
The Spanish naval chief registered the concern Tuesday during a meeting with reporters. The problem with this solution is a limited defense budget.
Nowadays the "Armada Española" has a fleet of 12 AV-8B Harrier II Plus attack planes that formed the core of the 9th Aircraft Squadron more than 30 years ago.
The Spanish Navy Harriers can carry out missions ashore or from the landing helicopter dock Juan Carlos I.
In November 2014, the Ministry of Defense extended the agreement to support the Harrier program after approving an investment of €47.6 million (US $54.1 million) between 2014 and 2024.
"There isn't an official plan or proposal to pursue the acquisition of F-35Bs but the problem will be there in 10 years," Muñoz-Delgado stressed.
He mentioned the possibility of a joint strategy with the Spanish Air Force, which in the 2020s will need to start thinking about replacing its F-18s.
The US Marine Corps' F-35B reached initial operational capability last July 31. The variant is also being delivered to the UK, and the Italian Air Force will also operate it.
Esteban Villarejo defensenews

USAF basing revised bomber count on 'minimum' of 100 B-21s

US Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) expects to complete an analysis of its bomber force numbers by the end of this calendar year, but already says that number will be based around a “minimum” operational requirement for 100 Northrop Grumman B-21s.
The major command’s chief Gen Robin Rand said at the Air Warfare Symposium in February that America’s needs somewhere between “175 and 200” combined strategic and conventional bombers.
The command counts 159 bombers in its inventory today including the B-1B, B-52H and B-2A.
“AFGSC continues to analyse the required future bomber force structure which includes successfully fielding a minimum of 100 B-21s,” an AFGSC spokeswoman says in an email. “AFGSC is very focused on ensuring we are ready with properly trained operators and maintainers for the B-21. The minimum of 100 B-21s that we intend to field will fly with a mix of legacy bombers and the total number of bombers required is still being evaluated.”
The air force has moved forward with its $80 billion bomber acquisition after teammates Boeing and Lockheed Martin unsuccessfully challenged the selection of Northrop.
The secretive B-21 aircraft, powered by an undisclosed Pratt & Whitney engine, will enter service sometime in the mid-2020s. It will replace the B-1 and B-52, and eventually the Northrop B-2.
flightglobal