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.