Saturday, December 31, 2011

Saudi Arabia to purchase 84 F-15SA, upgrade current F-15 fleet

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Air Force officials announced the next chapter in a partnership with the Royal Saudi Air Force as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia recently signed a $29.4 billion Foreign Military Sales Letter of Offer and Acceptance solidifying their plans to purchase 84 F-15SA fighter aircraft and upgrade their current fleet of 70 F-15S aircraft to the SA configuration.

"We are excited about this program and the increased capability it will bring to Saudi Arabia, a strategically important partner in the Middle East region," said Heidi Grant, the deputy undersecretary of the Air Force for International Affairs. "Building partner capacity is becoming even more important and the Royal Saudi Air Force is undertaking a vast effort to not only modernize their fighter fleet but to invest heavily in quality training."

As part of the agreement, Saudi airmen will be attending Air Force technical training courses at a number of Air Force installations, including Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, and Keesler AFB, Miss. Saudi airmen will train alongside their U.S. Air Force counterparts, enriching training for both countries and enhancing an already strong relationship between the two countries.

The Air Force will also coordinate English language training for the students at Lackland AFB, Texas, officials added.

"Air Education and Training Command offers high-quality, advanced training to our international partners in a number of skill sets," said Brig. Gen. Tim Zadaliss, the AETC director of operations. "This agreement allows the U.S. Air Force the opportunity to assist the Royal Saudi Air Force in not only modernizing their equipment, but ensuring they will have a well trained force to maintain and operate it."

Officials said that under the agreement, students may begin arriving this year, and in 2012, the service expects to train more than 300 Saudi airmen in Air Force technical training courses.

The U.S. Air Force has been training members of the Royal Saudi Air Force on U.S. soil for more than 25 years, officials said. Since 2007, more than 1,000 Royal Saudi Air Force students have attended U.S. Air Force training programs, including pilot, navigator, logistics, maintenance and explosive ordnance disposal training, as well as professional military education courses.

The program, which includes the largest foreign military sales contract in U.S. history, is being led by Lt. Gen. Thomas Owen, Aeronautical Systems commander and will involve program management personnel at Robins AFB, Ga., Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, and Langley AFB, Va., as well as many other Air Force and Navy organizations.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The first three-ship F-35A formation flight occurred over the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards AFB

The first three-ship F-35A formation flight occurred over the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards AFB on 10 December 2011. Flying lead was Maj. Matthew Hayden in AF-2, with Lt. Col. Dwayne Opella in AF-3, and Maj. Steven Spears in AF-4 forming up on his wing. This was Flight 85 for AF-4.

Boeing Delivers 2nd Peace Eye AEW&C Aircraft To Republic Of Korea Air Force Peace

Boeing Delivers 2nd Peace Eye AEW&C Aircraft To Republic Of Korea Air Force Peace :Eye No. 2 is 1st To Be Modified By Korea Aerospace Industries

The Boeing Company today delivered the second Peace Eye 737 Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft to the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF).

The aircraft was delivered ahead of schedule to ROKAF Base Gimhae, the main operating base for the Peace Eye fleet. Peace Eye No. 2 is the first aircraft in the fleet to be modified into an AEW&C configuration by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) at its facility in Sacheon.

PM visit: India to buy 42 ‘upgraded’ Sukhois

After negotiating for more than a year, India has firmed up an order with Russia for the purchase of 42 upgraded Sukhoi-30 MKI aircraft to strengthen its aging fleet. An agreement confirming this purchase will be signed during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Russia starting Thursday.

While the Cabinet Committee on Security had taken a decision on buying 42 additional Sukhoi MKIs last year, negotiations have taken longer because India was also keen to include some of the features found in fifth generation fighter aircraft. Finally, the Russian side agreed to upgrade the SU-30 MKIs to its latest version known as ‘Super Sukhoi’ with additional characteristics.

The new version is expected to include a new cockpit, an upgraded radar and certain stealth features to avoid radar detection. Significantly, the upgraded Sukhoi-30 MKIs will be able to carry a heavier weapons load, especially the airborne version of the Brahmos cruise missile. India is also looking to upgrade most of its SU-30 MKIs in the long run.

While Russia may have lost out in the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft deal because of not being able to offer certain additional features, officials said, Moscow has assured New Delhi that it will roll out its best in upgraded SU-30 MKIs.

“The defence cooperation is robust and excellent. Our two countries have developed maturity that individual deals will not affect the ties,” said Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai while responding to a question on whether the MMRCA rejection will impact defence ties.

The deal, estimated at over Rs 20,000 crore, will be operational in three years with the first delivery expected in 2014 and the last by 2018. Once the 42 aircraft are inducted, the total strength of SU-30 MKI fleet will go up to 272. It may be noted that by 2017, India plans to phase out 120 MiG 21s and with the MMRCA still not a done deal, the SU-30 MKI fleet will be the mainstay.

Meanwhile, India and Russia have still not finalised the agreement for two more reactors at Koodankulam. Though indications are that the deal will not be signed during the PM’s visit, Mathai said that a call is yet to taken on the subject.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Lockheed Martin Rolls Out Final F-22 Raptor

MARIETTA, Ga., Dec. 13, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The final Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) F-22 Raptor rolled off the assembly line here today and was commemorated with a ceremony recognizing contributions from thousands of people associated with the design and construction of the Raptor fleet.

This F-22 Raptor (Lockheed Martin tail number 4195) now moves into production flight check and will deliver to the U.S. Air Force in 2012, completing the operational fleet at 187 jets.

"This event honors the many men and women of Team Raptor who have taken this plane from concept to reality," said Jeff Babione, vice president and general manager for Lockheed Martin's F-22 program. "For the last 17 years, regardless of the challenges, they always remained singularly focused, delivering the world's greatest fighter. Each Raptor – from the first jet to last jet – is a reflection of the dedication, hard work and professionalism of our workforce."

Operational F-22s are based at Langley Air Force Base, Va.; Elmendorf AFB, Alaska; Holloman AFB, N.M.; and Hickam AFB, Hawaii. Air Force F-22 units have deployed to Kadena Air Base, Japan, and Andersen AFB, Guam, as part of rotational deployments designed to enhance security in the Pacific theater. The Raptor has conducted joint and coalition training both stateside and overseas in locations including the United Arab Emirates.

Lockheed Martin partners with the Air Force to ensure Raptor availability, performance and reliability, and to enhance the aircraft's capabilities to keep it ahead of emerging and proliferating threats.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 126,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporation's 2010 sales from continuing operations were $45.7 billion.

Japan to pick Lockheed’s F-35 as new stealth fighter

SEOUL — Japan is set to select the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II JSF as its new stealth fighter, Japanese news media reported Tuesday, upgrading its air defense at a time when China and Russia pose growing threats to its territory.

The multibillion-dollar deal with the U.S. defense company also opens new opportunities for Japan to cooperate with Washington, its closest ally and military partner.

Japan will purchase roughly 40 fighter jets, the Yomiuri newspaper said, and as part of the deal, it will receive classified information about the F-35’s construction, allowing some of the fighter’s components to be manufactured in Japan.

The Japanese government will make a formal announcement about the decision on Friday, both the Yomiuri and the Kyodo news agency said. Japanese government officials often provide off-the-record briefings to the domestic news media in advance of major decisions.

Since September, Japan has been weighing bids from three of the world’s largest defense contractors. In addition to Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin, Seattle-based Boeing offered the F/A-18 Super Hornet, and a four-country European consortium, Eurofighter GmbH, offered its Typhoon. The decision for Japan came after years of declining defense budgets — a stark contrast to the rapid spending increases of an increasingly aggressive China.

Defense analysts had pegged the pair of U.S. bidders as the favorites, with diplomacy influencing the selection. But Japan also picked the priciest of the bids — a fraught decision at a time when the country must uncover untold billions to finance the reconstruction of its disaster-devastated northeastern coastline. Among the bidders, the F-35 uses the most advanced technology — with so-called “fifth-generation” design and a top-of-the-line stealth capability. The deal could be between $6 billion and $8 billion, according to estimates from defense experts.

Amid several high-profile territorial disputes with China and Russia, Japan has grown sensitive to incursions from its neighbors, often scrambling planes to chase off Chinese and Russian fighters. Japan’s newest defense strategy emphasized the growing threat of China, which this year will increase its military spending by more than 12 percent. Earlier this year, China tested its own stealth fighter, the Chengdu J-20, which features its own fifth-generation stealth technology.

Tokyo will receive its first four F-35s in 2016, the Yomiuri said. Eventually, the planes will replace the fleet of antiquated F-4s.

The F-35 has faced criticism for years of delays and cost overruns, with per-plane costs nearly doubling during development. But the Pentagon still expects the plane to come into service in 2016, and the Air Force, Navy and Marines plan to purchase more than 2,000 planes over the next 25 years.

Japan intends to import the first four planes that it will acquire in 2016, Kyodo said, but in the following years, it expects a hand in some of the production. Such a move would help domestic defense manufacturers, who now struggle under a national ban that restricts weapons exports.

The weapons export ban is a fundamental part of Japan’s pacifist constitution, but politicians have recently indicated an interest in relaxing the law. That would give Japan a place in joint development projects — a move that would be welcomed in Washington.

Air Force's Sukhoi jet crashes near Pune, pilots safe

Pune: A frontline Sukhoi jet of the Indian Air Force (IAF) crashed near Pune today but the two pilots bailed out to safety, an officer said.

"Today at around 1.15 p.m. a Sukhoi fighter jet, which took off from the Lohegaon Air Force Base for a sortie, presumably developed a technical snag and crashed," the base commander, Air Commodore V. R. Chaudhry told reporters.

"Two officers - Wing Commander Suhail, who was the pilot and Flight Lieutenant Nautiyal, who was the weapons system operator - ejected out of the aircraft after manoeuvring it over barren land," Chaudhry added.

The aircraft crashed at Wade-Bholai village, 20 kilometres from Pune.

The search for the aircraft's black box is on. The impact of the crash was such that the wreckage was strewn over a of one kilometre radius.

"While the preliminary circumstantial reason could be a technical snag, we are investigating the matter. Both the officers were highly competent. They showed great presence of mind and courage by steering the aircraft towards a safe location and thus avoiding any civilian damage," Chaudhry said.

"Both the officers have been taken to the Command Hospital in Pune," Chaudhary added.

He further said that the land belonged to the Sadhu Vaswani Mission.

The aircraft burst into flames on crashes but seven tenders were pressed into service by various agencies - military and civil - to douse the blaze.

Around 25 policemen from the Lonikhand police post that was closest to the crash site rushed to the spot after being informed by the villagers about an aircraft hurtling towards the ground.

According to the police, the villagers saw the two pilots bailing out of the aircraft and landing in an area named Hargude Vasti, half km ahead of the crash site.

This is the third crash of a Sukhoi Su-30 since its induction in 1997.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Successful first flight on the indigenous Airborne Warning and Control System, built by the DRDO's Centre for Airborne Systems


The first fully modified Aircraft for indigenously developed Indian Airborne Warning and Control System (AEW&C) took to skies yesterday, as part of its first maiden flight in Embraer facilities at Sao Jose dos Campos in Brazil with about 1000 Mission System Components provided by CABS, DRDO. These include the critical item – AESA (Active Electronic Scanning Antenna) Radar Antenna developed by DRDO and certified from ANAC, International FAR Certification Agency.

“The flight is a major milestone towards realizing the dream of indigenous Airborne Early Warning and Control System, which will put India into a select club of countries” said Dr. VK Saraswat, Scientific Advisor to Raksha Mantri congratulating DRDO Scientists and M/s Embraer Engineers on this achievement.

While this Aircraft will now undergo full certification process over next two years, India will receive two aircrafts by middle of next year. Here, the Mission Systems developed by various DRDO labs will be integrated with these aircrafts. Currently, these systems are undergoing ground integration and evaluation at the Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS), Bangalore.

Two of these systems will be delivered to IAF after detailed Test and Evaluation by 2013.

With the advent of this, India is looking forward to join the league of countries capable of developing and delivering such complex Airborne System of Systems to its user.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Rafale team fights back after Swiss Gripen win

France's Dassault-led Rafale International team has announced its surprise at being eliminated from a Swiss fighter contest, and claimed that the selection of the Saab Gripen NG on cost grounds does not reflect Berne's previous evaluation of its aircraft.

The Swiss Federal Council on 30 November announced its intention to sign a deal with Saab next year for 22 Gripens, with its decision also having ruled out a Cassidian-led bid based on the Eurofighter Typhoon. It confirmed choosing the Swedish fighter due to factors including its lower acquisition and maintenance costs, but conceded that the selection marked a decision "not to position Switzerland at the highest European level as regards the performance of new combat aircraft".

In a statement issued late the same day, the Rafale industry team countered that "The Swiss-tailored Gripen only exists on paper", and claimed that its completion posed "technical development and production risk significantly increasing the financial efforts required of the Swiss authorities". It also challenged the customer nation's wider assumptions on cost.

"The Rafale's capacities would enable the Swiss confederation to meet its operational requirements with a smaller number of aircraft at an equivalent or lower cost, as was demonstrated during the assessments by the Swiss air force," it said.

Detailed flight evaluations of the Gripen, Rafale and Typhoon were completed in Switzerland in late 2008, with the nation having amassed almost a combined 130h on the rival types, including 60h on the French candidate.

Switzerland picks Gripen for F-5 replacement deal

Saab's Gripen programme has received a major boost, with the Swiss government confirming its selection of the type to replace its air force's Northrop F-5s.

Announced on 30 November, the decision to choose the Gripen comes at the expense of rival offers from Dassault, with the Rafale, and the Eurofighter consortium, which had been promoting the Typhoon.

"Saab is both proud and delighted that Gripen has been chosen as the Swiss air force's future multirole fighter aircraft," the Swedish manufacturer said. "Saab stands prepared to start negotiations and await the next steps of the process."

Switzerland had planned to select an F-5 replacement last year, having already conducted extensive flight evaluations with all three candidate aircraft. Its requirement had been set at about 22 aircraft, but was shelved in August 2010 when it became clear it could not raise the funds required to complete a purchase. The Swiss Federal Council will receive a final outline for a 22-aircraft deal in February 2012, the government has announced.

Saab chief executive Håkan Buskhe claimed in a statement that the Swiss decision underlines Gripen's position as "a world-class fighter system that provides the best value for money". The aircraft is already in operational use with the air forces of the Czech Republic, Hungary, South Africa, Sweden and Thailand.

In a bid supported by the Swedish government, Saab's proposal will lead to the establishment of "a long-term strategic industrial co-operation aimed at creating sustainable high-tech jobs, transferring technology and generating export business," the company said.

It previously pledged to at least meet a 100% offset requirement linked to a Gripen NG purchase, while Stockholm also expressed possible interest in the Swiss-built Pilatus PC-21 as a potential replacement for its Saab 105 jet trainers.

If confirmed, a win in Switzerland will provide a much-needed boost to Saab's status as a fighter manufacturer, after its Gripen was eliminated in another high-profile contests in India.

The Swiss air force has an active inventory of 41 F-5E fighters and 12 F-5F trainers, as listed in Flightglobal's MiliCAS database. The service also has 33 Boeing F/A-18C/Ds in its combat aircraft fleet.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Swiss opt for Saab's Gripen fighter jets

* Swiss to buy 22 JAS-39 Gripen

* Gripen the cheapest option among bidders

* Critics slammed Gripen for poor performance in tests

* Greens want deal put to referendum (Adds details, reaction)

ZURICH, (Reuters) - Switzerland has chosen to replace its fighter jet fleet with 22 of Swedish defence and aerospace group Saab's JAS-39 Gripen, Defence Minister Ueli Maurer said on Wednesday, dealing a blow to French rivals.

Neutral Switzerland has wrangled for the past three years over how to replace its ageing Northrop F-5E/F Tiger fighters, purchased in 1976 and 1981, with up to 33 new aircraft.

"With the Gripen the cabinet has opted for a fighter jet that fulfils military requirements, but at the same time can be tolerated financially over the medium and long-term by the defence ministry and the army," the government said in a statement.

Saab shares were up 9.3 percent to 118.70 Swedish crowns by 1548 GMT.

The hotly contested Swiss deal was seen as laying down a marker in the European aerospace sector.

Other bidders included the Rafale built by France's Dassault Aviation and EADS's Anglo-German-Italian Eurofighter Typhoon.

The 3.1 billion Swiss francs ($3.41 billion) price tag for the 22 Gripen was considerably less than rival bids, Maurer told a news conference in Berne.

The purchase of new jets is politically contentious in Switzerland and has been plagued by delays and a funding squeeze.

Last year the cabinet said it would push back the purchase of new fighters until 2015, giving ministers time to come up with a financing plan.

In September the Swiss lower house of parliament increased the defence budget to 5 billion francs from 2014 to finance a 100,000-strong army and the purchase of new fighter jets.

The Swiss decision faces opposition from some parliamentarians and within the military. Swiss media reported the Gripen fared worse in evaluation tests than the Rafale and the Eurofighter.

The Green Party, which has long opposed replacing the fighter jets, said on Wednesday it would fight the decision in parliament and call a referendum on the issue.

Dassault has yet to find a foreign buyer for its multi-role Rafale, billed as one of the most effective fighters in the world but also one of the most expensive.

Saab has already sold its jets to Sweden, the Czech Republic, Hungary and South Africa. ($1 = 0.9102 Swiss francs)

Switzerland picks Gripen jets over Rafale, Eurofighter

GENEVA — The Swiss government said on Wednesday it will purchase 22 Swedish-made Gripen fighter jets to replace its ageing F5 fighter fleet in an estimated 3.1 billion Swiss franc (2.5 billion euro) deal.

"The Federal Council has decided to acquire 22 Saab Gripen fighter planes to replace the obsolete F5 Tiger," a statement said.

The planes were selected over the French Dassault Rafale and the EADS Eurofighter, also being considered for the multi-billion Swiss franc contract.

The candidates had been subjected to a robust evaluation lasting several years, the government said, and by opting for the Gripen had chosen a jet which "fulfils military demands" while being financially sustainable.

The planned purchase will be put to parliament as part of the government's 2012 arms programme.

During its last session the Swiss parliament charged the government with launching the acquisition process for new planes by the end of the year.

"This decision allows us to acquire a high performance plane without compromising other military branches or their essential equipment," said the government.

During a press conference in Bern, Swiss Defence Minister Ueli Maurer described the model as "technically excellent" while estimating the cost of the deal at up to 3.1 billion Swiss francs -- said to be the cheapest of the three options.

Saab shares rose in Stockholm after the announcement, gaining 9.6 percent to 119 kronor (13 euros/17.6 dollars).

The choice came as a relative surprise in Switzerland after media reported several days ago that the Swedish plane had not fully passed technical tests. A Paris-based analyst specialising in the air defence industry said the Rafale option was considerably more expensive and had little chance of winning the contract however.

Saab admitted it made "huge concessions over the price to ensure it got the contract", the analyst said, while adding that the deal could still be put to a referendum if there was sufficient opposition.

Saab said Wednesday it was "proud and delighted" over Switzerland's decision.

"Given that Switzerland is known globally for applying (the) highest procurement standards and requesting state-of-the art technologies, Saab is both proud and delighted that Gripen has been chosen as the Swiss Air Force's future multirole fighter aircraft," Saab said in a statement.

The Swiss selection "confirms that Saab is a market-leader in the defence and security industry and that Gripen is a world-class fighter system that provides the best value for money", Saab CEO and president Haakan Buskhe said.

Courtesy (AFP)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Morocco receive its first new fighter from Lockheed Martin Advanced Block 52 F-16 Fighting Falcon

Morocco is set later this week to receive its first new fighter since 1981 with the arrival of four Lockheed Martin F-16s at Ben Guerrir Air Base.

Lockheed confirmed that Morocco's first four F-16 Block 52s, which are powered by Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 engines, departed the final assembly centre in Fort Worth, Texas.

The Moroccan Air Force will receive 20 more F-16s to become the 25th operator of the fighter jet worldwide. Lockheed won the contract in 2008 after the Moroccan government broke off advanced negotiations with France for the Dassault Rafale.

The complete deal for fighters, weapons and other systems was valued by the US government at more than $2.5 billion. That includes 24 F-16s, engines and Northrop Grumman APG-68(V)9 radars. Weapons also wrapped into the deal include the Raytheon AIM-120C7 AMRAAM, Raytheon AIM-9M Sidewinder, and both laser- and satellite-guided smart bombs.

Russia’s Baltic radar to monitor missile launches across Europe, Atlantic

Russia’s radar station in the Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad will monitor missile launches from the North Atlantic, as well as the future European missile defense system, the Aerospace Defense Forces chief said on Friday.

“We will be able to control the entire European continent and the Atlantic, including the European missile defense system,” Lt. Gen. Oleg Ostapenko said.

The radar station is ready to go into operation as part of the national missile early warning attack system, he said.

In addition, Iskander tactical missiles will be deployed in the Kaliningrad region “in the near future,” the general said.

Russia’s air defense system will have the capability to intercept any type of missiles, any targets at any speed, including hypersonic ones, Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said on Tuesday.

The new system, comprising air defense, missile defense, missile early warning attack and space control systems, should be up and running by December 1.

Ostapenko’s remarks come after President Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday that Russia would move "advanced offensive weapon systems" to its European borders in response to a planned U.S.-backed NATO missile shield if talks on the project fail.

Moscow is seeking written, legally binding guarantees that the shield will not be directed against it. Washington, however, has refused to put its verbal assurances in writing.

Washington responded by saying it would not alter its plans for a European missile defense project, despite increasingly tough rhetoric from Moscow.

Russia to move missiles to EU borders if U.S. shield talks fail - Medvedev

Russia may deploy "advanced offensive weapon systems" on its borders with Europe in response to a planned U.S.-backed European missile shield, President Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday.

Medvedev's comment came as he outlined a series of possible “appropriate measures” if missile defense talks between Moscow and Washington result in failure. Moscow is seeking written, legal guarantees that the shield will not be directed against it, but Washington has refused to put its verbal assurances in writing.

In a live broadcast on national television, Medvedev said the U.S. and NATO had failed to "take our concerns about the European missile defense into account."

If there was no progress on the issue, he went on, Russia would “deploy in the west and the south of the country advanced offensive weapon systems which will target the European component of the missile defense network.”

Medvedev was speaking ahead of a NATO ministerial meeting in Brussels on December 7-8.

Other military measures outlined by Medvedev included the placement of an early-warning radar in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad and the increased protection of nuclear deterrent assets around the country.

The U.S and NATO plan to place elements of the European missile shield in Poland and Romania. The Alliance has dismissed Russia’s concerns over the shield, saying it needs it to deal with “rogue states” such as Iran.

Russia and NATO tentatively agreed to cooperate on the European missile defense network at the Lisbon Summit in November 2010, but differences in approaches toward the project led to a deadlock in negotiations.

Medvedev reiterated on Wednesday Russia’s proposal to create a joint missile defense system. He also said, however, that Russia would not participate in a project that went against its interests.

"We will not agree to take part in a project that may weaken our deterrent potential in a relatively short time - five or six or eight years. And the European missile defense is exactly this kind of project," said Medvedev, who steps down next spring to allow his mentor Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to return to the Kremlin.

Russia made similar threats when the George Bush-era missile shield was announced and there was immediate speculation in at home and abroad that Medvedev's tough statements were made to satisfy rising nationalist sentiments ahead of the December 4 parliamentary polls.


Medvedev also said that if talks on the European missile shield develop in a manner unfavorable to Russia, Moscow may halt its disarmament and arms control efforts, including participation in the new strategic arms reduction treaty with the United States.

“Given the direct link between strategic offensive and defensive weapons, reasons could emerge for Russia's withdrawal from the START treaty. This is stipulated by the treaty itself,” he said.

The missile shield dispute between Russia and the United States has undermined efforts to build on improvements in relations between the former Cold War foes and is intensified by Russia's uncertainty over U.S. policy after the November 2012 presidential elections.

At the same time, Medvedev expressed hope that there was still a chance of reaching an agreement with the United States and NATO on missile defense.

“If our partners approach the task of heeding our legitimate security interests in an honest and responsible way, I am sure we will manage to come to terms,” the president said.

He added, though, that Russia would closely monitor the situation and react accordingly to each new phase in the implementation of the European missile shield project.

Decks cleared for Rs 5000 crore IAF deal for missiles, trainer jets

All decks have been cleared for two crucial defence deals, together worth over Rs 5,000 crore, to acquire 75 Swiss turbo-prop aircraft to train rookie pilots as well as around 450 advanced French missiles to arm upgraded Mirage-2000 multi-role fighters.

Defence ministry sources say the two deals have now been "sent" to the Cabinet Committee on Security for the "final nod" after "clarifying all objections" of finance ministry. "The contracts will be inked after the CCS clears within a week or so," said a source.

This comes at a time when MoD and IAF are busy calculating the "lowest bidder" between French Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon for the mega medium multi-role combat aircraft
project to acquire 126 fighters at a cost likely to touch $20 billion. But while these fighter deliveries will begin from 2015 , IAF wants to induct trainers earlier to train new pilots. The hurry to acquire 75 Swiss Pilatus PC-7 basic trainers is critical since IAF's 114 piston-engined HPT-32 jets have been grounded since August 2009 due to repeated engine failures.

"We want to begin our first course on the Pilatus trainers from July 2013," said a senior officer. IAF, of course, is already inducting 123 British Hawk AJTs (advanced jet trainers), at a cost of around Rs 16,000 crore, but they are meant for "advanced'' combat training. The contract for the around 450 fire-and-forget, all-weather MICA (interception and aerial combat missiles) systems with French company MBDA, too, has been in the pipeline for quite some time.

It flows from the Rs 10,947 crore programme finalized in July for an upgrade of 51
Mirage-2000s with the help of French companies Dassault Aviation (aircraft manufacturer)
and Thales (weapons systems integrator).

While the first two fighters are being sent to France next month for the upgrade, the remaining 49 will later be "souped up" with new avionics, radars, mission computers, glass cockpits, helmet-mounted displays, electronic warfare suites, weapon delivery and precision-targeting systems by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd in India. The overall upgrade project cost will go beyond Rs 15,000 crore over the decade it will take to be completed. Down to just 33-34 fighter squadrons (each has 16 to 18 jets) from a 'sanctioned strength' of 39.5

The 63 MiG-29s are to be upgraded under a $964 million deal inked with Russia in March
2008. Then, apart from the 126 MMRCA, IAF is also inducting 272 Sukhoi-30MKIs contracted
from Russia for around $12 billion. Moreover, the first lot of the around 120 indigenous
Tejas Light Combat Aircraft will join IAF from end-2013 onwards. On top of this all, India plans to induct 250-300 stealth fifth-generation fighter aircraft co-developed with Russia from 2020 onwards, in what will be its biggest-ever defence project at around $35 billion.

India signs contacts with Russia, France, Ukraine to upgrade IAF fleet

Contracts have been signed with Russia, France and Ukraine for upgradation of the flying fleet of Indian Air Force, Defence Minister A K Antony informed the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

"Contracts have been signed with RAC MiG Russia for upgradation of MiG-29 aircraft, with Spets Techno Export from Ukraine for upgradation of An-32 aircraft and with Thales, France along with with HAL for upgrade of the Mirage-2000 aircraft," he said in a written reply.

He said mid-life upgradation of the fleet is a continuous process and is undertaken to retain the combat relevance of the aircraft.

Antony said the capability building of IAF to meet emerging security challenges is taken as per the Long Term Plan of the force.

"The Capability building involves both upgradation of existing systems and platforms as well as induction of state of the art modern equipment," he said.

On procurement of amphibious assault vessels, he said, "A contract has been concluded with GRSE, Kolkata in September for construction of eight Land Craft Utility ships, which are likely to be inducted in the Indian Navy during 2013-15."

On purchase of Light Utility Helicopters (LUHs), Antony said, "There is a proposal for procurement of 187 Light Utility Helicopters under design and development project undertaken by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)."

He said the project was sanctioned by the Government in February 2009 and was proceeding as per approved time lines.

To a question on development of Kaveri engine for advanced version of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), also known as Tejas Mk-II, Antony said, "DRDO is negotiating with French firm SNECMA for co-development and co-production of Kaveri Aero Engine for the LCA, Tejas Mk-II.

Eurofighter, Rafle extend dogfight from India to UAE to win commercial tender

ABU DHABI: Eurofighter and Rafale, the two finalists in the fray for India's big combat jet order, have extended their dogfight to the UAE to win another commercial tender.

So far, only the French Dassualt's Rafale appeared to be in the bidding for an order for 60 aircraft for the UAE Air Force but a spokesman for EADS Cassidian, the four-nation consortium which makes the aircraft, confirmed that the company had received a formal Request for Proposal (RfP) a few weeks back and that "we are working hard to deliver a response".

Who else has been invited is not known but sources in Lockheed Martin told India Strategic defence magazine ( that the company was in discussions here "to supply additional aircraft." It is not clear if these "additional" cover a few more, or are the replacement for 60 Mirages that the UAE wants to phase out.

Boeing has also made presentations to the UAE on its F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and F-15E Strike Eagle, but again, there are no firm indications on whether the RfP has been sent to Boeing also.

Notably, Rafale had completed all the mandatory flight tests and discussions were on only to fix the price. But on Nov 16, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan, said at the Dubai Airshow that Dassault's proposal was "uncompetitive and unworkable".

The French company declined comment.

A Eurofighter spokesman, though, confirmed that Britain, one of the partners in the project, had made a presentation to the UAE Air Force on October 17 and after that, the RfP was issued to EADS Cassidian, the four-nation consortium that includes Germany, Britain, Italy and Spain.

It may be recalled that the UAE had purchased 80 F-16 Desert Falcons from Lockheed Martin configured with Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) and other combat radars in 2000. All of them, designated Block 60 due to specific and exclusive UAE requirements and which cost nearly 25 to 30 percent more than the US Air Force'sown F 16s, were delivered beginning 2004 for about $8.5 billion.

The UAE had also ordered the Mirage 2000, again configured to its specific requirements and designated Mirage 2000-9, from Dassault in 1998. An older lot was also converted to the new Dash-9 standards with new avionics, combat radars and laser pods. Overall, there are around 60 Mirage aircraft, equipped with MBDA's Black Shaheen subsonic cruise missiles and advanced weapons. Dassault is supposed to buy these back under its RfP terms, and do whatever -- keep them or sell them.

Sources here told this writer that informal discussions on selling the Mirage 2000-9s have been held "at the diplomatic level with India" but that there has been no interest from New Delhi. Details were not given.

The UAE's F-16 Block 60 is the most advanced F-16 version and Lockheed Martin brought these to India for flight demonstrations for the Indian Air Force's Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) competition.

Of the six aircraft origianlly in the fray, the IAF has shortlisted only the Eurofighter and Rafale, and a decision on the choice is likely to be announced by the defence ministry, which is now considering the financial demands for the deal from the two companies.

What happens in the UAE should have no bearing on the Indian MMRCA competition as IAF has already selected only Rafale and Eurofighter, disqualifying four others on the basis of number of points scored in flight and weapon tests. The former IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik, who had announced the decision on shortlisting, observed though that "all the competing aircraft (the US F-16 and F-18, the Swedish Gripen and the Russian Mig 35) were good".

The UAE's decision to seek new bids, however, has two implications: That its own selection process has to start afresh, and that the winner in the Indian competition will have to fine-tune its offer in the final negotiations but after the selection.

Russian Air Force to get 90 aircraft in 2012

The Russian Air Force will take delivery of about 90 new or modernized fixed and rotary wing aircraft in 2012, a Defense Ministry spokesman said on Tuesday.

The Air Force will receive up to 10 Su-34 Fullback fighter-bombers, about 10 Su-25SM Frogfoot attack fighters, and an unspecified number of Su-35S Flanker-E multirole fighters, Col. Vladimir Drik said.

The Su-35S is Russia’s advanced “Generation 4++” fighter.

New acquisitions will also include over 20 attack helicopters, such as the Mi-28N Night Hunter and the Ka-52 Alligator, as well as “highly modernized” Mi-35 Hind helicopters.

The Air Force will also receive about 30 Mi-8 transport and five Mi-26T heavy lift helicopters.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Info - Eurofighter flying over UAE: how to arrange an iconic air-to-air photo shoot

Dubai Air Show 2011; Clear blue skies, an RAF Typhoon, a Spartan C-27J, the world’s most famous aviation photographer and a team of enthusiastic pilots and crew – independently, they are all incredible assets at an air show, but in combination, they meant the possibility of an epic photo shoot over Dubai and Abu Dhabi’s most iconic landmarks। The question is, how was it all made possible and what challenges did they face? The answer is an easy one; team work, flexibility, opportunity and a shared passion for the world’s most advanced multi-role combat aircraft.

One of the benefits of being a consortium comprising of four of Europe’s leading aerospace manufactures is that at an air show such as Dubai, you have a wealth of capabilities under one proverbial roof. As a result, Italian partner company Alenia Aeronautica provided a military transport aircraft in the form of a Spartan C-27J as photo and film platform, German partner company EADS provided an expert film crew, world-renown photographer Katsuhiko Tokunaga brought his selection of cameras and the Royal Air Force, straight from exercises at Al Dhafra air base in Abu Dhabi, brought a Eurofighter Typhoon.

Whilst we had all the ingredients and a fantastic opportunity for some great photos and video, it would not have been possible without the approval from Dubai and Abu Dhabi air traffic control, the UAE authorities and the UK government. Even when both aircraft were airborne, there was still uncertainty as to whether the aircraft had clearance in the air space entering Abu Dhabi. This was quickly resolved thanks to the good relationships the pilots of both the Spartan and the RAF crew have with air traffic control.

The flight passed along the coast of Dubai, over the Atlantic Palm, the World islands and then on to Abu Dhabi where both aircraft circled over the bold red of Ferrari world, the Emirates Palace and the spectacular Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. With some incredible images and video footage captured, the aircraft made the return trip to Dubai International airport, passing alongside the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa which measures 2,723ft. or 828m. The aircraft flew as fast as 180-210 knots and their heights varied from 2000ft to 5000ft.

The RAF Typhoon, piloted by Squadron Leader Bolton was “directed” throughout the flight by photographer Tokunaga whose expert eye saw him reposition the aircraft with simple hand gestures to achieve the best possible shots. The results were stunning.

See for yourself how the flight unfolded with a video documenting the trip. Attached are some images from the flight but go online now to visit our image gallery to download the images taken. The video can also be found in our video library:


Press Release - Two Eurofighter Typhoons Display at Dubai Air Show 2011

Just a few days after participating in a complex exercise in Al Dhafra, Abu Dhabi and with aircraft still in Malaysia for exercise BERSAMA LIMA 11, two Typhoon jets will appear at the 2011 Dubai Air Show 2011. At the event, where a Typhoon will be flying daily in the air display, Eurofighter will have a large pavilion to exhibit the latest technologies developed for the worlds most advanced multi-role combat aircraft.

The presence of the two jets at the most important air show in the region will be further proof of the excellent deployment capabilities of the Typhoon,already proven during Libyan operations when jets from the Royal Air Force and Italian Air Force redeployed to Southern Italy air bases to operate in supportof United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973.

The deployment in Libya has clearly defined the key functions of the aircraft, ranging from the vital task of air superiority, with the capability to engage multiple targets at long, medium or short range using AMRAAM, IRIS-Tor ASRAAM missiles, to the newly established surface attack role, striking atlong range with precision weapons. In addition, Typhoon delivered close airsupport to ground forces including the supply of intelligence, a show offorce and weapon attack.

Participation in the Libyan operations marked the combat debut of the Typhoon and the first time it has been used as a swing-role platform. Typhoon covered two vital roles over Libya that were previously discharged by two separate platforms.

The fact that the airframe is largely constructed of carbon fibre composites and light alloys to save weight meaning it consumes less fuel and can carry more weapons was never more vital than on the five hour plus missions along the Libyan coastline and after six months of operations, Dubai Air Show 2011 is a perfect showcase for the Typhoon.

At the show, Eurofighter will display a selection of the range of capabilities for the Typhoon, including:

  • The Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar which thanks to the large aircraft nose, allows for an optimised array with the addition ofan innovative re-positioner to broaden the field of regard to more than 200 degrees, some 50% wider than traditional fixed plate AESA radar systems.
  • The most advanced Helmet Mounted Symbology System (HMSS) which forms a key component of the Eurofighter Typhoon weapon system, improving tactical performance for Eurofighter pilots by providing essential flight and weapon aiming information through line of sight imagery.
  • The Meteor missile - considered the "game changer" in terms of kill probability thanks to its dynamic performances, speed and range.
  • The Marte anti-ship missile.
  • The Thrust Vectoring Nozzle (TVN) for the Eurojet EJ200 engines.

These technological developments on the Typhoon open the door to industrial collaborations between local industries and the Eurofighters partner companies keen to develop the partnership with aerospace and high-tech companies in the growing technology and industrial base of the Gulf region.

Already in service with the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF), the Typhoon is considered the perfect "desert eagle". The aircraft already demonstrates its full capabilities in the arid, hot and humid climate of the Gulf region. Thanks to its exceptional thrust-to-weight ratio, the Typhoon suffers less than other fighters in the difficult environmental conditions and is able to exploit at full its payload capability and range performances.

Totally interoperable with current and future Gulf and allied air forces assets, the Typhoon is the perfect coalition fighter to offer deterrence to the Gulf States today and in the future.


The first international Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II has rolled out of the factory

The first international Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II has rolled out of the factory. The United Kingdom Ministry of Defence will use the short takeoff/vertical landing (jet, known as BK-1, for training and operational tests.

Sukhoi Company adds the third PAK FA prototype to flight tests program

Moscow — Today the first flight of the 3-rd prototype of the fifth generation aviation complex (PAK FA) took place in Sukhoi’s KnAAPO aircraft plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur. The plane was piloted by distinguished test pilot of the Russian Federation, the Hero of Russia Sergey Bogdan. The aircraft spent in the air a little more than an hour and landed on the factory airfield runway. The flight was successful, in full accordance with the flight plan. Stability of the aircraft test was conducted during the flight as well as evaluation of the power plant systems’ performance. The aircraft proved itself well in all phases of the planned flight program. The pilot confirmed reliable operation of all systems and components.

The first flight of the PAK FA was held on January 29, 2010 in Komsomolsk-on-Amur. In early March 2011 the second flight model took off there. At present, work is underway on the full range of ground and flight tests. The first public demonstration of the fighter was held on August 17 this year at the International Aviation and Space Salon MAKS-2011 in Zhukovsky near Moscow. At the present time more than 100 flights have been made on the flight test program.

The PAK-FA program provides for the creation, production organization and adoption by the Russian army of the 5th generation fighter. This will enhance the combat capabilities of the Russian Air Force, will help the aviation and related industries to attain new industrial and technological level, adding new impetus to the development of scientific schools, providing a stable workload for defense industry enterprises involved in its development and production. This top priority program for the Sukhoi Company will contribute to the development and implementation of materials, element base and high technologies of high innovative potential for the aviation industry and the economy of the country as well as for development of other projects of unified aviation complexes of new generations.

Compared with previous generations of fighters, the PAK FA has several unique features, combining the functions of an attack aircraft and fighter. The aircraft is equipped with a fifth-generation avionics with integrated function of “Electronic pilot” and next-generation radar with a phased antenna array. This equipment reduces the pilot’s workload and helps him concentrate on tactical objectives. The on-board equipment of the new aircraft allows the exchange of data in real time with ground control systems and other aircraft. The PAK-FA is made of composite materials with innovative technologies. Its aerodynamic design and measures to reduce the engine’s visibility provide very low level of radar, optical and infrared visibility while significantly improving combat effectiveness on air and ground targets, at any time, in both visible and adverse weather conditions.

Friday, November 18, 2011

India developing UAV similar to American Predator drone

India is developing an umanned aerial vehicle (UAV) similar to American Predator drones with an investment of Rs 1,500 crore and planning an unmanned combat vehicles, a key official involved in the project said today.

UAV Rustom-2 project is spread over 66 months, Director of Bangalore-based Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), a Defence Research and Development Organisation ( DRDO) laboratory, P S Krishnan, told PTI here.

Rustom-2 would have a wing-span of 21-odd metres and an endurance of 24-hours-plus, as against seven-odd metres and 12-15 hours of Rustom-1, which has already completed five flights. ADE is the nodal lab for these projects.

Rustom-2 would have new payloads such as synthetic aperture radar, maritime patrol radar and collision avoidance system, among others, he said.

"With its capability and the amount of payload it can carry, it (Rustom-2) compares well with (American) Predator (drones) and other class of vehicles," Krishnan said.

The Predator is a nickname given to one in a series of UAVs, or pilotless drones, operated by the Pentagon, the CIA and, increasingly, other agencies of the US federal government such as the border patrol.

Asked if India is also developing unmanned aerial combat vehicles, he said "we are thinking of that one. Some plans will be there".

Meanwhile, Rustom-1, the Medium Altitude Long Endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (MALE - UAV), would be integrated with payloads by next month, Krishnan said.

"We have demonstrated all the flying characteristics of the Rustom more or less in the final form".

Krishnan said the Indian Army is keenly watching the developments of Rustom-1, which has the potential military missions like reconnaissance and surveillance, target acquisition, target designation, communications relay, battle damage assessment and signal intelligence.

India has also started working on solar-power UAVs but is still at the R&D stage.

DRDO's Chief Controller (Aero), A Subhananda Rao, said this solar-powered UAV would have an endurance of "almost one week".

"Solar power will have to be harnessed and energy converters of higher efficiency will have to be designed," Rao told reporters.

"Lot of technological challenges are there. But definitely we will be getting into that. We are making a case for project sanction", he added.