Apr 15, 2018

Germany fears steeper Tornado costs after the UK ditches its planes

The planned phasing out of the United Kingdom’s last Tornado aircraft has German officials scrambling to deal with the increasing costs of a shrinking fleet.
Continuing aircraft reductions in the tri-national program, which also includes Italy, have led to “significant technical, logistical and financial risk” in maintaining the 1980s-era fighter-bombers, officials have told lawmakers in a confidential report seen by Defense News.
While the prospect of Britain’s exit from the aircraft program has been known since November 2016, there is “no sufficient and comprehensive planning in place” for sustaining the remaining German planes, the report warns.
German defense leaders decided in 2016 to extend the life of the Tornado through 2035, with an assessment planned this summer of implementation plans to that end. Berlin originally purchased 357 aircraft; 93 are still in the inventory today, 88 of which belong to the Luftwaffe, according to the defense ministry.
A handful of German Tornados packed with reconnaissance equipment are currently deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, flying missions over Iraq and Syria.
The defense ministry’s March 2018 report leaves open the question of how, and if, the UK would retain some kind of role in the program. Last November, the document states, there was talk about introducing a new, fixed scheme for financial contributions, abandoning the practice of going by the number of airframes used in each nation.
The British plan to use the Eurofighter Typhoon and the F-35 to absorb missions flown by Tornados. In Germany, the Typhoon appears to be the defense ministry’s preference for a follow-on aircraft, though there are also voices advocating for the F-35. Officials have requested information on both planes from the manufacturers, plus data from the maker of the F-18 and the F-15.

Israel offers upgrade package for South Africa’s Gripens

The South African Air Force has been offered enhanced capabilities for its Gripen fighter aircraft with a suit of new advanced systems developed by Israeli company Rafael.
The Israeli company's offers a concept that it claims can bring fighter aircraft to a an advanced 4.5 generation standard by upgrading the different systems.
The concept is being evaluated by the Indian Air Force for its Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) fighter aircraft.
The upgrade suit that according to Rafael can enhance the fighter aircraft's capabilities to a 4.5 generation standard includes the Rafael BNET which is an advanced IP Mobile Ad-hoc Network Software Defined Radio (SDR) for tactical operations. According to Rafael It offers unique high spectrum efficiency, as well as cognitive capabilities.
The upgrade package may also include two types of Israeli developed air-air missiles - the IR Python 5 and the I-Derby ER radar-guided 100 km range missile.
The South African Air Force’s Gripens are already equipped with the Rafael Litening 3 targeting pod. The upgrade proposed by Rafael includes enhancing the Litening to its 4.1 version.
Rafael has been working closely with the Swedish manufacturer Saab to offer the upgrade package to users of the Gripen.

Royal Air Force Tornados join Syria strikes, launching Storm Shadow missiles

Four Royal Air Force Tornados GR4s joined the strikes against Syria, launching Storm Shadow missiles at a base 15 miles west of Homs.
The Tornado is UK's primary ground attack jet and has been used to carry out numerous air strikes in Syria and Iraq in recent years.
Set to be retired from service next year after almost four decades on operations, the Tornado, with a maximum speed of Mach 1.3, has also seen action in Libya and Afghanistan.
The main Tornado squadrons are based at RAF Marham in Norfolk, which will become the new home of the cutting-edge of the F-35 Lightning stealth fighter jets.
There are currently six of the jets based at RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus, a location some 315 miles (510km) from Syria.

Apr 11, 2018

Draken International Signs Agreement with Paramount Aerospace Systems to Regenerate 22 Mirage F1M Aircraft Ex Spanish Air Force

Draken International, a global leader in advanced adversary air services, has signed an agreement with Paramount Aerospace Systems, a subsidiary of Paramount Group, for the overhaul and ongoing engineering support of their recently acquired fleet of Mirage F1M aircraft from the Spanish Air Force.
Draken acquired 22 Mirage F1M and F1B fighter jets in an effort to enhance adversary services for its US Department of Defense and allied nation customers. The Mirage F1Ms were predominantly flown by the Spanish Air Force and received a full radar and avionics suite modernization in the late 1990s. This acquisition along with the most recent purchase of twelve supersonic radar equipped South African Denel Cheetah fighter jets increased Draken’s fleet size to over 150 fighter aircraft.
With the completion of the procurement phase, the Mirage F1Ms will now undergo reassembly, restoration and airworthiness certification by Paramount Aerospace Systems at Draken’s Lakeland, FL maintenance facility. Paramount Aerospace specializes in the modernization of fixed wing platforms including leading the previous modernization of the Mirage F1M while still in Spanish Air Force military service. Paramount possesses extensive capabilities on the Mirage F1 with full airframe and engine overhaul capability, as well as the ability to upgrade and modernize avionics and mission systems.

Apr 7, 2018

India re-opens competition to supply 110 fighters

A global competition to sell more than 100 fighters to the Indian air force re-opened for the third time in a decade on 6 April.
The IAF released a 73-page request for information to six companies to supply 110 single- and twin-seat fighters over a maximum of 12 years.
Facing a 3 July deadline, responses are expected from the Boeing F/A-18E/F Block III, Dassault Rafale F3R, EurofighterTyphoon, Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 70, United Aircraft Corp MiG-35 and Saab Gripen E.
It will be a familiar competition for the six bidding teams. The same teams squared off in 2009 for the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) contract for 126 fighters. India selected the Rafale, but cancelled the contract seven years later.
Instead, the IAF awarded Dassault a contract to deliver 36 Rafales in 2016, and launched a competition for a contract to build 114 single-engine fighters, which limited the field to the F-16 and Gripen.
The IAF scrapped that contest two months ago under pressure from the Indian Congress to consider single- and twin-engined fighters.
The new RFI re-opens the competition to twin-engined fighters made in the USA, Western Europe and Russia.
The RFI sets no standards for the number of engines in the IAF’s future fighter, and repeatedly references the singular or plural term, “engine/s”, in requests for data about the propulsion system.
About 82 of the 110 fighters should be single-seat aircraft and the rest should be two-seat versions, the RFI says.
A maximum of about 16 or 17 fighters can be built outside the country, but the rest must be built within India by local companies or an Indian production agency, the document shows.
As expected, technology transfer and “Made in India” will be priorities in the IAF’s bid evaluations. The bidders must describe in their responses to the RFI how they will use Indian companies as suppliers for systems and aircraft production.

Potential MQ-4C sale to Germany

Northrop Grumman’s long courtship with Germany’s requirement for a high-altitude unmanned air system took another step toward a contract on 5 February.
The US State Department approved a potential sale of four MQ-4C Tritons to Germany, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced on 5 April.
The approval allows Northrop to export the high-altitude surveillance aircraft, but doesn’t mean Germany has committed to sign a contract.
The DSCA notification says the full package, including a ground control station, spares and support, is worth $2.5 billion.
Germany would acquire a modified version of the MQ-4C configuration that Northrop has developed for the US Navy, but the notice doesn’t list the changes.
The USN’s version of the aircraft comes with several major sensors, including Northrop’s multi-function airborne system (MFAS) radar, a camera-based targeting system and electronic support measures.
In 2000, Germany launched a programme to acquire a high-altitude UAV for electronic surveillance. Northrop delivered one “Euro Hawk” aircraft to Germany, using an RQ-4B Global Hawk airframe and an Airbus sensor payload. But the Germany cancelled the Euro Hawk programme due to financing and airspace integration problems.
The Australian government also plans to buy the MQ-4C for the maritime surveillance mission in the Pacific and Indian oceans.

Spain Purchases 17 CH-47F Helicopters

The US State Department has approved a possible sale of CH-47F aircraft for an estimated cost of $1.3 billion to Spain.
The Government of Spain has requested to buy 17 CH-47F cargo helicopters with customer-unique modifications, 21 Common Missile Warning System (CMWS) AN/AAR-57A(V)8, and 42 Embedded Global Positioning System (GPS) Inertial Navigation System (INS) (EGI).
Also included are mission equipment, hardware and services required to implement customer-unique modifications, communication, Aircraft Survivability Equipment (ASE), and navigation equipment including AN/ARC-231 Multi-mode radios, AN/ARC-201D SINCGARS radios, AN/ARC-220 High Frequency (HF) Radio, Identification, Friend or Foe (IFF), AN/AAR-57A(V)8, and the Radar Signal Detecting Set (RSDS), AN/APR-39A(V)1, special tools and test equipment, ground support equipment, airframe and engine spare parts, technical data, publications, MWO/ECPs, technical assistance, transportation of aircraft and training, and other related elements of logistics and program support.

Apr 3, 2018

Kuwait Has Acquired 28 Super Hornets

Boeing was awarded a contract worth up to $1.17 billion to produce and deliver 22 F/A-18E and 6 F/A-18F Super Hornets for the government of Kuwait by 2022, the US Defence Department announced on 30 March.
State Department approval of the sale of F/A-18 Super Hornets to Kuwait was first announced in November 2016, with the country requesting a total of 40 Super Hornets, including 28 fighters for initial delivery, plus the option to order 12 more. Boeing was to provide Raytheon APG-79 active electronically scanned array radars and 20mm guns for the jets, per the original sale announcement.

Luftwaffe German Tornados unsuitable for NATO missions

The German armed forces may not be able to use the Tornado fighter jet for NATO missions, according to a defense ministry report seen by Reuters.
The report says that so far, it has not been possible to build an encryption device for secure data transfer into the jet, which entered service in the 1970s.
The communication devices of the Tornado also do not meet current standards, the report said, meaning there’s a risk that information could be intercepted.
“This could in the worst case mean that the demand for an encrypted communication system for the Tornado weapons system can’t be achieved. That means the Tornado weapons system may not take part in NATO missions,” the report states.
A spokesman for the German air force said its 10 Tornado jets registered for the NATO Response Force met current requirements, without providing further details.
Germany wants to start phasing out the Tornado jets in 2025 and the defense ministry has said that the Eurofighter Typhoon is the leading candidate.

Mar 30, 2018

Qatar Increases Rafale Order From 24 to 36 Units

Qatar’s decision to buy 12 more Rafale fighter jets as part of an existing contractual option with Dassault Aviation has officially come under effect, the company said.
This phase in the acquisition process indicates the Gulf state has paid its down payment, allowing Dassault to record the deal in its 2018 order book.
“The exercise of the option for the purchase of 12 additional Rafale fighters for Qatar comes into effect today,” Dassault said in statement March 27.
Qatar said Dec. 7 it took up the option, which was in a May 4, 2015, contract with Dassault for an initial order for 24 Rafale jets. This order will bring Qatar’s total of Rafales to 36. The 2015 deal was worth €6.3 billion (U.S. $7.8 billion) and included missiles, training pilots and some 100 mechanics.

Poland Places Order for 4 Additional M-346

Leonardo and the Armament Inspectorate of the Polish Ministry of National Defense have signed a contract to supply four additional M-346 Advanced Jet Trainers (AJT) that will join the Polish Air Force’s existing fleet of eight aircraft by 2020. The contract, worth more than 115 million euro, includes a support package. It also contains options for additional four aircraft and support package.
The four additional M-346 aircraft will be delivered by 2020 and will join the fleet of eight already in service.

French Navy Deploying 12 Rafales To USA For Training

Aviators from the French Navy will be in Hampton Roads starting in April to train with the U.S. Navy.
Navy officials say 27 pilots will conduct air–to–air and air–to–ground training at Naval Air Station Oceana and Naval Station Norfolk -- as well as Field Carrier Landing Practice (FCLP) at Naval Auxiliary Landing Field Fentress.
The French pilots will be flying 12 Marine Nationale Rafale-M multi-role fighter jets and one E-2C Hawkeye airborne command.
Officials say the squadrons training in Hampton Roads are being hosted by Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8.
Following the above training, the squadrons will embark the USS George H.W. Bush for around two weeks for day and night flight operations.
The French pilots are training aboard the George H.W. Bush because France's aircraft carrier, the Charles De Gaulle, is undergoing a mid-life overhaul, officials say.
French carriers have similar catapult systems to U.S. carriers.

Israel Sells Croatia 12 F-16 Fighter Jets for $500 Million

Croatia's government has approved the purchase of 12 used Israeli F-16 fighter aircraft in a package worth $500 million.
The deal was agreed at a meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the prime minister of Croatia, Andrej Plenkovic, at the World Economic forum in Davos in January.
The deal, which includes the training of pilots in Israel, aircraft armament, a training simulator and the construction and equipping of facilities at Croatia's military airports, is lead by Israel Ministry of Defense in cooperation with the Israeli Air Force along with Elbit and Israel Aerospace Industries.

Mar 24, 2018

France Receives 14th A400M Ahead of Schedule

France received its 14th A400M Atlas military airlifter on March 16, a hand over earlier than expected due to the higher quality of the aircraft, the Armed Forces Ministry said Thursday.
“This delivery took place several months in advance of the scheduled date, thanks to significant improvement in the quality of the aircraft delivered,” the ministry said in a statement. The plane was flown March 20 to the Orleans airbase, a short flight south of the capital.
The quality of the 13th and 14th A400M were improved, such that the Direction Générale de l’Armement certified the aircraft in only three weeks, about half the time previously needed, a spokesman for the procurement office said.
Delivery of the 14th unit means the A400M fleet is now large enough for the air force to fly operational missions and also, shortly, to conduct test flight campaigns to certify further tactical capabilities, including in-flight refueling of Rafale fighter jets, the spokesman said. Other planned tests include landing the transport aircraft on rough airstrips.

Mar 22, 2018

Australia declares IOC for P-8A ahead of schedule

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has declared initial operating capability (IOC) for the Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime multimission aircraft (MMA), five months ahead of schedule.
The milestone, comes with six of the 12 aircraft currently under contract now at the type’s homebase of RAAF Edinburgh in South Australia. A further three aircraft are currently going through the approval process for a final fleet of 15.
Australia acquired the P-8A to replace the 19 Lockheed AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft that have been in service since the 1960s. The 15 P-8As will be operated in tandem with seven Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft systems (UASs), which will be acquired once development has been completed by the manufacturer and the US Navy (USN).
Deliveries to the Australia began in November 2016, since which time 10 and 11 Squadron have been building up the P-8A’s capabilities. .
Australia's P-8A programme dates back to June 2007.
In February 2014 the Australian government announced its approval for the acquisition of eight P-8A, with a further four being announced in July 2016. The final three were committed to in the 2016 Defence White Paper but are yet to be contracted..

Mar 16, 2018

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

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

Qatar Signs Deal For 28 NH90

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

Chilean Air Force confirms delivery timeline for Black Hawk helos

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

Mar 14, 2018


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

Mar 11, 2018

Modified King Airs to boost Kuwaiti defences

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


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

Mar 8, 2018

Kazakhstan plans to acquire additional Su-30SM fighter aircraft

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

Indonesia confirms A400M acquisition plan

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

Mar 7, 2018

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

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

Mar 4, 2018

Argentine MoD, FAdeA reach deal for three Pampa IIIs

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

Japan Authorizes study on operating F-35B from Izumo

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

Israel concerned over Su-57 debut in Syria

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

Feb 10, 2018

Maiden flight for Japanese EC-2 ELINT aircraft

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

Russia confirms Iskander-M Kaliningrad deployment

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

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

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