Nov 19, 2017

United Arab Emirates To Upgrade Mirage 2000-9 Fleet

Dassault confirmed that the UAE's armed forces "have announced their intention to sign a contract for the upgrade of their Mirage 2000-9 fleet."
The company declines to provide further information, but says it "welcomes this decision, and is grateful to the UAE authorities for their trust". It also points to the single-engined fighter's "high-quality participation in international coalition operations".
“The Mirage 2000-9 has proven through time it is one of the best aircraft there is in the operational field," the UAE defence ministry tells FlightGlobal. "The upgrade is to fulfill mission needs and requirements, which have changed based on what is going on in the [Middle East] area. It requires new technologies to be able to operate the aircraft.”
Avionics supplier Thales stands to benefit from the prospective contract, having supplied equipment including the Mirage 2000-9's radar, mission computer, electronic warfare systems, cockpit displays and helmet-mounted cueing technology.
The UAE air force has an active fleet of 55 Mirage 2000-9s, including 14 trainers, plus 10 earlier-generation Mirage 2000s. The assets are aged between 13 and 28 years.

First Tu-160M2 airframe rolled out

The first Tu-160M2 supersonic strategic bomber was rolled out at the PJSC ‘Tupolev’ Gorbunov Aircraft Plant’s factory in Kazan, Russia, on 16 November.
The aircraft is built around an incomplete Tu-160, likely to be one of the three airframes placed in storage in the early 1990s. One of these airframes, RF-94115, is in service with the Russian Air Force at Engels Air Base, close to Saratov, flying with the 2nd Aviation Group’s 6950th Aviation Brigade. This airframe was removed from storage and completed to the basic Tu-160 standard, becoming operational in 2008. Another airframe arrived in Kazan in 2009, and there is a strong possibility that it is this aircraft that was used for the Tu-160M2 roll out. The location of the third airframe is unknown at this time.
Three operational Tu-160s have been modernised to Tu-160M standard, and it is possible that the remaining airframes in line for an upgrade will receive Tu-160M2 specifications, which will reportedly take place at the same time as the building of new airframes. The only comparable difference between the M and M2 standard is the new Kuznetsov NK-32-2 turbofans. However, funding may make this impossible and
Tony Roper - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

HMS Queen Elizabeth to formally join fleet

The UK Royal Navy’s first Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier is to complete its contractors’ sea trials and formally join the fleet on 7 December.
UK defence secretary Gavin Williamson made the announcement on 16 November during his first visit to the carrier, while it was at sea sailing around the southwest of England.
He said the commission ceremony would be conducted by Queen Elizabeth II in Portsmouth Naval Base after the ship completes its contractors’ trials, run by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance. After the ceremony, the ship will be formally titled HMS Queen Elizabeth.
The ship left Portsmouth on 30 October to begin the second phase of its contractors’ trials, which are focused on proving the performance of its communications, radar, and other sensors. Open-source AIS transponder tracks indicate that the carrier operated around Land’s End and the north coast of Cornwall during the first two weeks of the trials.
Tim Ripley - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

Nov 18, 2017

United Arab Emirates orders five Airbus C295 aircraft

The United Arab Emirates Air Force & Air Defence has ordered five Airbus C295 medium transport aircraft.
The agreement, announced at the Dubai Airshow, takes the C295 orderbook past 200, underlining the type’s market leadership in its class.
The aircraft will serve with the UAE Air Force replacing the existing CN235s still in operation. Deliveries will begin in the fourth quarter of 2018.
Orders for the C295 in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region now total 51.
C295 sales pass the 200 mark.

Norway To Buy 60 AIM-120C AMRAAM

The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Norway for AIM-120 C-7 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM) for an estimated cost of $170 million. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on November 14, 2017.
The Government of Norway requested a possible sale of sixty (60) AIM-120 C-7 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM) and four (4) AMRAAM guidance section spares. Also included are missile containers, weapon system support, support equipment, spare and repair parts, publications and technical documentation, personnel training, training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor engineering, logistics, technical and support services, and other related elements of logistics and program support. The estimated total case value is $170 million.
This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by improving the security of a NATO ally which continues to be an important force for political stability and economic progress in Europe.

A400M gearbox fix slips into 2018

The process for approving a permanent propeller gearbox (PGB) fix for the Airbus Defence & Space A400M will take longer than previously expected, according to propulsion system supplier Europrop International (EPI).
Earlier this year, EPI outlined an ambition to secure European Aviation Safety Agency certification for a "Pack 2" series of modifications to the TP400-D6 engine's Avio Aero-supplied PGB in the third quarter of this year. The activity involves design enhancements intended to reduce vibration and "reinforce endurance and reliability".
"EPI wants to provide a fully mature PGB configuration, which requires extensive analysis and tests," the engine consortium tells FlightGlobal, with the latter activity including "rig tests and full engine tests". "Consequently, we plan to achieve certification at the beginning of 2018,” it adds.

Nov 12, 2017

France sells five used Super Etendard fighter planes to Argentina

France has sold five used Super Étendard fighter planes to Argentina, which has an outdated military fleet and is hosting large international events in coming years, the French ambassador in Buenos Aires said.
The planes were negotiated during talks over the sale of four ships from French shipbuilding company Naval Group to Argentina, a discussion that Ambassador Pierre Henri Guignard said in an interview is ongoing.

USA discussing F-35 sale to United Arab Emirates

The US government is discussing the potential sale of Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters with the United Arab Emirates, the US Air Force’s vice chief of staff has confirmed.
After the Obama administration pushed back on a previous request from the UAE, the possibility of an F-35 sale appears to have gained renewed traction under President Donald Trump.
In an interview with reporters on the eve of the Dubai air show, Gen Stephen Wilson confirmed news reports on the preliminary discussions with the UAE.

Canada expects fifth-generation fighter contract by 2021

The Royal Canadian Air Force expects to release a new request for proposals for its fifth-generation fighter competition by 2019 with a contract award by 2021, the RCAF’s commander says this week.
In June, Canada proposed 88 new fighters for the RCAF , an increase from the previous government’s plan to purchase 65 jets to replace the aging CF-18 fleet, but did not outline a timeline for the RFP.
Canada launched an open competition for the CF-18 replacement last summer following a campaign promise from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal party to step away from the controversial Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The government is considering all options, including the F-35, although a Boeing F/A-18 acquisition appears unlikely in the wake of the airframer's commercial dispute with Bombardier.
RCAF commander Lt Gen Michael Hood would not comment directly on whether Boeing’s Super Hornet is still under consideration in the competition. This autumn the government announced it had suspended direct engagement with Boeing.
“I would say my personal relationship is limited to the support of our ongoing Boeing products and those normal day-to-day discussions we would have with them,” Hood tells FlightGlobal at the annual Dubai International Air Chiefs Conference.
Meanwhile, Canada is considering options for an interim CF-18 replacement. The government had previously proposed buying 18 new Super Hornets, but the commercial dispute has pushed the government to change course and examine Canada’s used Boeing F/A-18A/B Hornets. Last month, Canada submitted a formal declaration known as an expression of interest to Australia. Canada operates a similar Hornet configuration and both the CF-18s and Australian F/A-18A/Bs began operating within a few years of each other. Canada also bought the intellectual property on the jet and already uses L-3 for F/A-18 sustainment, Hood adds.

Germany declares preference for F-35 to replace Tornado

The German Air Force has a shortlist of existing platforms to replace its Panavia Tornados from 2025 to 2030, but the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) is the service’s “preferred choice", a senior service official said on 8 November.
Speaking under the Chatham House Rule, the official said that the F-35 already fulfils most of the requirements that the Luftwaffe requires to replace its Tornados in the 2025 to 2030 timeframe, and that it offers a number of other benefits besides.
“The Tornado replacement needs to be fifth-generation aircraft that can be detected as late as possible, if at all. It must be able to identify targets from a long way off and to target them as soon as possible.
“The German Ministry of Defence [MoD] is looking at several aircraft today, including the F-35 – it is commercially available already, has been ordered by many nations and is being introduced into service today, and has most of the capabilities required.”
Germany had previously engaged Airbus Defence and Space (DS) in defining the requirements for a future Tornado replacement under its Future Combat Air System (FCAS) programme. However, the timelines involved of an anticipated retirement of the Tornado in about 2030 has caused the Luftwaffe to look instead at an already developed platform. As the official explained, “The timeframe suggests we need to start introducing successor in about 2025 to cover the Tornado retirement in 2030 – we need a five-year transition phase. That is only seven years away, and so it is very unlikely that industry could develop and introduce an entirely new aircraft type that fulfils the functionalities that we require. History show that the Eurofighter took 25 years before the first aircraft was introduced.”
Gareth Jennings - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

Spain's Ejército del Aire Eurofighter and nEURON UCAV Dodfight over Gulf of Lyon France

Nov 11, 2017

Draken International Expands Fleet with Acquisition of 22 Mirage F1M Fighter Jets From Spain Ejército del Aire

Draken International, has acquired 22 Mirage F1M and F1B fighter jets in an effort to enhance adversary services for the United States Air Force and other Department of Defense clients. The Mirage F1Ms were predominantly flown by the Spanish Air Force and have been fully modernized. This acquisition increases Draken’s fleet size to over 100 fighter jets as the company continues to expand its capabilities.
With the completion of the procurement phase, the Mirage F1Ms will soon join Draken’s existing fleet of radar-equipped Douglas A-4K Skyhawks and Aero Vodochody L-159E “Honey Badger” fighter jets. Draken remains the only commercial air service provider to have purchased, imported, certified and executed sustained flight operations with radar-equipped and threat representative fighter aircraft. These important capabilities inherent to the Draken Mirage F1M, L-159 and A-4 are essential for supporting Draken’s Nellis AFB ADAIR contract which provides adversary training for the prestigious USAF Weapons School, Red Flag exercises, operational test support, RTU support, and Combat Air Forces abroad.
Draken International is also prepared to use all 22 Mirage F1Ms for various contracts within the US Department of Defense to include the US Navy, US Marine Corps, as well as numerous coalition militaries. As the sole provider of commercial adversary services to the USAF, Draken International is primed to deliver extensive capacity to cover the majority of the 42,000 flight hour requirement for supporting combat readiness training at 12 operating locations throughout the US.
The US Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center (NAWDC), which includes the Weapons School (TOPGUN) and Carrier Air Wing Training, is currently reviewing proposals from contract air service providers for a high-end supersonic, radar-equipped adversary solution at Naval Air Station Fallon. Draken’s Mirage F1M offers Fallon an extremely cost-effective Mach 2+, radar-equipped platform that meets or exceeds all posted requirements.
In 1996, the Spanish Air Force, along with Thomson-CSF (Thales Group), spent $96M on a modernization upgrade, including cockpit enhancements, LCD MFDs, Advanced HUD, INS/GPS, Electronic Attack systems and a special performance upgrade for the Cyrano IVM radar. The Spanish Mirage F1M fleet was decommissioned in February 2013 and stored in Albacete Air Base, Spain until Draken’s purchase in September 2017. After extensive research, these Mirage F1s proved to be the best equipped and lowest time fighters of their kind available to the industry.
Sean Gustafson, VP of Business Development at Draken stated, “Our operations and maintenance teams are committed to providing our customers a credible, safe, and cost-effective service. This acquisition strategy is consistent with other fighter fleets we have purchased. In fact, purchasing fighter jets with modern radars and sensors well in advance of expected demand is the principal reason why Draken is the world’s largest provider of this vital service. Capacity and capability will continue to be the cornerstone of our organization as we continue to set the standard for the rest of the industry to follow.”

South Korean KAI In Advanced Talks With Argentina and Botswana About FA-50 Golden Eagle

Korea Aerospace Industries Co. (KAI), the country's sole aircraft manufacturer, said Friday it is in talks with nine countries to export its trainer aircraft.
The company exported a total of 145 trainer planes -- made up of the turboprop KT-1 basic trainer and the supersonic T-50 advanced jet to countries in Europe and emerging markets in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. The total value of sales has reached US$3.7 billion so far.
In a press meeting, KAI President and Chief Executive Kim Jo-won said talks with Botswana and Argentina are at an "advanced stage" and "good results" are expected later this year or early next year.
"As the countries with which KAI are in talks are developing economies, they require financial loans from South Korean banks in order to place the aircraft order with KAI," Kim said.

Nov 4, 2017

Eurofighter Typhoon completes Brimstone missile trials successfully

A series of live firings of the Brimstone precision strike missile from a Eurofighter Typhoon have been completed successfully, adding enhanced capability to the aircraft.
The trials, conducted from BAE Systems’ Military Air & Information at Warton, Lancashire, UK, form part of a programme of new enhancements which will be rolled out across the Royal Air Force (RAF), ensuring Typhoon remains at the cutting edge of combat capability.

Iraq receives three more US F16 fighter jets

Iraq's Ministry of Defence announced on Thursday that it has received three new F16 aircraft from the United States, bringing the total to 17 since Baghdad signed a nearly $2 billion purchase-deal with Washington in 2014.
The deal was for 36 fighter jets, but Iraq will receive only 34 since two crashed during training of Iraqi pilots in the United States.
The planes arrived at Balad airbase, north of the capital Baghdad, the ministry said in a short statement without giving more detail.

Nov 1, 2017

U.S. sends nuclear-capable B-2 stealth bomber on mission in Pacific ahead of Trump visit to Asia

The U.S. military sent a nuclear-capable B-2 stealth bomber from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri on a long-range mission to the Pacific area of operations over the weekend, it said Sunday, a day after Pentagon chief Jim Mattis highlighted rival North Korea’s “accelerating” atomic weapons program during a visit to South Korea.
The U.S. military’s Strategic Command said in a statement that the type of long-range mission conducted was to “familiarize aircrew with air bases and operations in different geographic combatant commands, enabling them to maintain a high state of readiness and proficiency.”
In a message likely intended to reassure Japan and South Korea ahead of U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to Asia, which kicks off later this week, the statement also referred to the B-2 mission as “a visible demonstration of commitment to our allies and enhancing regional security.”
The flight path of the B-2 was unclear, and Strategic Command did not respond to a request for comment, but the last time one of the stealth bombers flew near the Koreas was during a rare show of force over the peninsula in 2013. Military experts say that any U.S. strike on North Korea would almost certainly involve the powerful bombers.

Slovakia receives first C-27J Spartan airlifter

Slovakia officially inducted into its inventory the first of two Alenia Aermacchi C-27J Spartan tactical transport aircraft on 31 October.
The twin-engined turboprop, which actually arrived in-country the previous week, was welcomed into service during a ceremony at Malacky-Kuchyna air base near the Austrian border. Malacky-Kuchyna is home to the Slovak Air Force’s (Vzdusné sily Slovenskej Republiky) transport wing which currently fields the Let L-410 Turbolet twin-turboprop cargo aircraft.
Slovakia has acquired the C-27J to replace the already-retired Warsaw Pact-era Antonov An-26 ‘Curl’ airlifters it inherited with the split from the Czech Republic in 1993. Following a protracted procurement process that lasted about six years, a contract was signed in 2014 that was estimated to be worth EUR120 million (USD152 million at the time).
This first aircraft was due to have been delivered in 2016, and the Slovak Ministry of Defence noted that negotiations are ongoing with Alenia Aermacchi’s parent company Leonardo with regard to penalty fees resulting from its late arrival. The second C-27J is now scheduled to arrive at Malacky-Kuchyna at the beginning of 2018.

US Approves Sale of 12 Bell UH-1Y to Czech Republic

The Czech Republic is looking to update its fleet of military helicopters with a deal worth $575 million. Approved by the U.S. State Department, the Czech Republic is set to receive 12 Bell Helicopter UH-1Ys.
The Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress Oct. 11 of the foreign military sale, which includes the UH-1Ys, as well as 25 of General Electric’s T-700 401c engines, 13 Honeywell GPS systems and 12 M240 machine guns.
“The Czech Republic intends to use these helicopters to modernize its armed forces and strengthen its homeland defense and deter regional threats,” the State Department said in a statement. “This will contribute to the Czech Republic’s military goal of updating its capabilities while further enhancing interoperability with the United States and other NATO allies.”

India Could Be Interested in Canadian Navy SH-3 Sea Kings

It seems the air force's venerable CH-124 Sea King helicopters will find life after retirement from the Canadian military following six informal expressions of interest from either countries or organizations interested in buying them.
While Public Works will not reveal the potential bidders, it is known that India is one country that might want to keep flying the aircraft.
An official in Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan's office confirmed on background that the matter was raised in one of the meetings during his visit to India last spring.
The Indian navy already flies Sea Kings and is reportedly in urgent need of helicopters, according to the Financial Express, one of the country's business publications.
The introduction of the CH-148 Cyclone helicopters has allowed the Canadian air force to take 16 of its 28 Sea Kings out of service, but spokesperson Capt. Trevor Reid said they have not yet been turned over to Public Works for disposal.
The federal government began soliciting interest in selling the old helicopters in the fall of 2015. Spokesperson Pierre-Alain Bujold said National Defence has also not formally served notice that it intends to sell the helicopters.
Once that takes place there is only a limited number of buyers who would qualify.
"Due to the controlled nature of military assets, [Public Works] does not sell these assets to individual persons," said Bujold in an email. "Assets are sold exclusively to pre-approved foreign governments, original equipment manufacturers, and their licensed representatives."
The last Sea King is slated to be taken out of service in December 2018

1st Norway's F-35 Set To Arrive in country This Week

Norway can finally expect delivery of the first of its new F35 fighter jets from the US later this week. Three of the F35s are due to arrive on Thursday.
The new jets, ordered after years of political debate to replace Norway’s ageing fleet of F16s, make up what the Norwegian defense ministy describes as the country’s largest single acquisition ever made. They’re now expected to cost a whopping NOK 73 billion by the time all are delivered over the next seven years.
Plans call for six new F35s to be delivered every year until 2024. “This is all about the defense department’s ability to ensure Norsk sovereignty, also against future threats,” Gen Maj Morten Klever told news bureau NTB.
Norway’s defense minister and defense chief are due to be on hand at a formal takeover ceremony to be held at the fighter jets’ new base at Ørland next Friday, November 10.

Indonesia selects NASAMS air defence system

KONGSBERG has signed a contract worth 77 MUSD with the Ministry of Defence of Indonesia to supply a NASAMS air defence system.
The contract comprise delivery of a complete NASAMS system with command posts, radars, launchers, radios and integration, and training and logistics support. AMRAAM missiles will be provided in a separate government-to-government agreement between Indonesia and the United States.
Several nations have chosen NASAMS, including Norway, Finland, The Netherlands, USA, Spain, Oman and now Indonesia.

Oct 29, 2017

First French C-130J rolls out

The first of four Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules transport aircraft for the French Air Force was rolled out from the Marietta production facility in Georgia on 20 October.
The aircraft was rolled out in front of the cameras for the first time after being painted in national colours and markings.
France has ordered two C-130J-30- and two KC-130J-variant aircraft for a combined USD170 million, that includes configuration changes to the former. The contracts are expected to be complete by 30 August 2020.
The French Air Force is purchasing four C/KC-130J aircraft to supplement its ageing Transall C-160s, and to compensate for delays to the Airbus Defence and Space A400M transport aircraft and the low availability of its current fleet of C-130Hs.
The rollout of the first aircraft came just two days after the deputy chiefs of defence staff of France and Germany agreed details of the countries joint C-130J squadron. Under the agreement, a joint air transport squadron consisting of four French and six German C-130Js based at the French airbase in Évreux, Normandy, will be set up, with initial operational capability scheduled for 2021 and full operational capability due in 2024.

Yemeni Houthi Claim To Have Shoot Down Saudi Eurofighter

Yemeni armed forces said they shot down the a Saudi Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon with a surface-to-air missile as it was flying in the skies over Nihm district east of the Yemeni capital city of Sana’a on Friday evening, Saba news agency reported.
"We have the capacity to develop the Yemeni Air Defense and we are willing to (give) more surprises as long as the aggression continues," the Yemeni military chief, General Ibrahim al-Shami, said on Friday.
The general also confirmed that Yemeni forces are changing their air strategy to counter Riyadh, calling on the Saudi regime to "take these advances" seriously.
The downing of the jet came after Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, said Riyadh’s aggression against Yemen, which began in March 2015, will continue.
Since March 25, 2015, Saudi Arabia and some of its Arab allies have been carrying out airstrikes against the Houthi Ansarullah movement in an attempt to restore power to fugitive former President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh.

Oct 22, 2017

USAF Ready To Put B-52 Bombers 24 Hour Ready Alert

La. —  The U.S. Air Force is preparing to put nuclear-armed bombers back on 24-hour ready alert, a status not seen since the Cold War ended in 1991.
That means the long-dormant concrete pads at the ends of this base’s 11,000-foot runway — dubbed the “Christmas tree” for their angular markings — could once again find several B-52s parked on them, laden with nuclear weapons and set to take off at a moment’s notice.
“This is yet one more step in ensuring that we’re prepared,” Gen. David Goldfein, Air Force chief of staff, said in an interview during his six-day tour of Barksdale and other U.S. Air Force bases that support the nuclear mission. “I look at it more as not planning for any specific event, but more for the reality of the global situation we find ourselves in and how we ensure we’re prepared going forward.”

First Batch of Mi-28 UB Helicopters Ready for delivery to Russia

Via Rostec

Spanish Navy receives SH-60Fs

THE FIRST two ex-US Navy Sikorsky SH-60Fs purchased by the Spanish government at a cost of €40m in December arrived at Base Naval de Rota on August 10. The Seahawks were brought to Spain on board the frigate Cristóbal Colón (F-105). The two helicopters – HS.23-14/‘01-1014’ and HS.23-15/‘01- 1015’ – are part of the Helicóptero de Transporte
Táctico Naval (HTTN, Naval Tactical Transport Helicopter) programme that plans to replace the ageing fleet of SH-3 Sea Kings flown by 5a Escuadrilla.
A total of six refurbished SH-60Fs will be acquired. Initially, the new helicopters will be assigned to 10a Escuadrilla of the Flotilla de Aeronaves de la Armada (Spanish Naval Aviation), which already operates a fleet of 12 SH-60B Seahawk Block I Core B LAMPS III aircraft. The ‘Foxtrots’ will be reassigned to 5a Escuadrilla once the final Sea Kings are retired.
Roberto Yáñez

Indian Air Force wants out of FGFA fighter program with Russia

The ambitious $10 billion Indo-Russian program for joint development and production of fifth generation fighter aircraft, or FGFA, faces a new serious hurdle, as the Indian Air Force demands a discontinuation of the project.
Senior IAF leadership recently expressed apprehension to the Ministry of Defence, claiming the proposed FGFA program with Russia does not meet desired requirements like U.S. F-35 fighter type capabilities, disclosed a senior IAF official. That official added, that “IAF is not keen to continue with the program.”
The proposed FGFA program does not meet desired stealth and cross section features compared to a F-35 fighter, the official explained, thus major structural changes are needed that cannot be met in the existing Russian prototypes.
FGFA also does not have modular engine concept, making maintenance and serviceability of the fleet expensive and troublesome. A second service official said the modular engine concept is required for the fleet serviceability and availability of FGFA aircrafts at short notice, since it can be done by the user itself.
Russians have offered non-modular engines for FGFA and its maintenance and other relations can only be handled by the manufacturer.
Russian Embassy diplomats here were unavailable for comments.
Vaijinder K Thakur, retired IAF squadron leader and defense analyst disagreement with the Air Force assessment of capability, saying that the current Russian FGFA prototype, known as Su-57, features the AL-41F1 engine. But the production variant of FGFA would be fitted with the Product 30 engine which is 30 percent lighter, features improved thrust, and has better fuel efficiency and fewer moving parts. That results in improved reliability and 30 percent lower life-cycle cost, Thakur said.
Without having operated U.S. fighters, the IAF is hardly in a position to pronounce judgment on the comparative long-term operating costs of Russian and U.S. fighters, Thakur added.

USAF may bring back Skyrider Vietnam-style combat plane

The Air Force’s ongoing interest in adding a fleet of light-attack aircraft to its arsenal is a reminder that, sometimes, slower and cheaper can be better.
Half a century ago, the Air Force’s legendary A-1E Skyraiders — affectionately known as Spads, after a wood-and-wire World War I fighter — proved their mettle in the skies over Vietnam, providing close-air support for American and Vietnamese troops on the ground.
Air Force leaders now see a similar need for a low-cost, slower-moving aircraft for counter-insurgency, close-air support, and aerial reconnaissance missions in low-threat environments. The idea would be to use them against the Islamic State and other terrorist groups in the Middle East and Africa.
The purchase of low-end attack aircraft, which could take off and land on shorter runways, would also reduce the wear and tear on state-of-the-art fighters deployed to the Middle East, extending the lives of those airframes.
In August, Air Force pilots at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, flew four different light attack aircraft in series of flight demonstrations to test how well the aircraft could perform in a desert environment. The planes tested include the A-29 Super Tucano by Sierra Nevada Corp. and Embraer; the AT-802L Longsword from L3 Technologies and Air Tractor; and the the AT-6 Wolverine turboprop and Scorpion, both made by Textron. The Scorpion is the only jet in the mix.