April, 2018 Military Aviation News

Losing US air superiority risks ground forces

04/19/2018

The asymmetric advantage that the U.S. military possesses ? and that has prevented enemy aircraft attacks on American ground forces since April 15, 1953 ? is eroding.

RAAF receives final C-27J airlifter

04/19/2018

The Royal Australian Air Force has received its tenth and final Alenia C-27J Spartan tactical transport. “The Spartan provides flexibility to defence operations, allowing us to land at airfields that are smaller or unsuitable for our much larger transport aircraft like the [Lockheed Martin] C-130J Hercules and [Boeing] C-17A Globemaster,” says defence minister Marise Payne.

New software flaw requires FAA intervention to avoid KC-46 schedule slip

04/19/2018

A newly-discovered software flaw could trigger another schedule delay for the Boeing KC-46A Pegasus unless the US Federal Aviation Administration approves a temporary waiver from certification requirements. In a document submitted to the FAA on 26 March, Boeing requests a time-limited exemption from the FAA’s supplemental type certification criteria for the 767-2C, the commercial aircraft model on which the KC-46A is derived.

USAF awards Lockheed Martin $928 million contract for hypersonic cruise missile

04/19/2018

Huntsville, Alabama-based Lockheed Martin Space will develop the US Air Force’s first hypersonic cruise missile under a new contract awarded on 18 April. The indefinite-delivery and indefinite quantity award worth up to $928 million suggests the USAF is ready to move past several decades of development and demonstrations of weapons that can cruise for long distances at speeds exceeding Mach 5.

UK re-forms 617 Sqn for F-35B era

04/19/2018

The Royal Air Force's 617 Sqn – the UK's first frontline unit to field the Lockheed Martin F-35B – has been officially re-formed during a ceremony in Washington DC. Staffed by a mix of RAF and Royal Navy pilots and support personnel, lead elements of 617 Sqn are currently involved in training at MCAS Beaufort in South Carolina, using the UK's current 15 short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) Lightning IIs.

NATO faces down Russia: Fighter jets scrambled to DEFEND Europe four times in ONE WEEK

04/18/2018

Russian military planes were intercepted by the NATO Air Policing team tasked with guarding airspace over the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. NATO fighters were scrambled to escort the Russian aircraft on four separate occasions between April 9 and April 14, according to the Lithuanian Ministry of Defence. On each occasion the Russian aircraft were flying to or from Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave situated between Poland and Lithuania along the Baltic coast.

The US Air Force is short more than one-quarter of the fighter pilots it needs, according to a government report

04/18/2018

Air Force officials have been warning about the force's dire pilot shortage, and a recent Government Accountability Office report illustrates just how bad the shortfall has gotten. The report assesses the gaps between the actual number of fighter pilots that the Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy have and the number of positions they are authorized to have.

Army Aviator Describes the Biggest Problems Facing Military Aviation

04/18/2018

This past Friday, an AH-64 Apache helicopter crashed during a training mission at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, the latest in a slew of deadly mishaps from across the services in the past week. The accident comes on the heels of a damning report from the Military Times, documenting an alarming rise in accidents stretching back over four years.

Will Malaysia Buy Pakistan’s JF-17 Fighter Jet?

04/17/2018

Pakistan and Malaysia are purportedly engaged in preliminary talks over the possible procurement of an unknown number of Pakistan Aeronautical Complex/Chengdu Aerospace Corporation (PAC/CAC) JF-17 “Thunder” multirole fighter jets, a PAC official told IHS Jane’s at the Defense Services Asia (DSA) 2018 exhibition in Kuala Lumpur on April 16.

JASSM-ER makes combat debut against Syrian chemical weapons facilities

04/17/2018

US, French and British aircraft fired several cruise missiles at chemical weapons research and production facilities in Syria on 13 April, resulting in the combat debut of the Lockheed Martin AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile Extended-Range.

German Sea Lion helicopter development gathers pace

04/17/2018

NH Industries (NHI) is gearing up to begin qualification activities later this year for the naval-variant NH90 helicopters being procured by Germany under its Sea Lion programme. Berlin is to acquire 18 NFH rotorcraft as replacements for its navy's 21-strong fleet of elderly Westland Sea Kings, used for search and rescue and transport missions, with deliveries of the first three examples to take place in late 2019.

Syria fired 40 missiles 'at nothing' after allied air strikes destroyed three Assad chemical sites

04/15/2018

he Assad Regime fired 40 defensive missiles at thin air in a failed attempt to save the three Syrian chemical weapons sites destroyed by allied air strikes, the Pentagon said. A total of 105 missiles rained down on a research centre in Damascus as well as a storage site and a bunker 15 miles west of Homs at 4am Syrian time.

F-22 Raptor Came To A Rest On Its Belly During Major Mishap Friday At NAS Fallon

04/15/2018

An F-22A Raptor belonging to Elmendorf Air Force Base's 3rd Wing was involved in a major mishap this weekend. Details remain sketchy and are likely to change, but a source told The War Zone that the jet may have retracted its gear too early during takeoff, with the aircraft slamming back down on the runway at relatively high speed and skidding its way to a stop. Thankfully the pilot was able to egress from the aircraft without major injuries.

US and allies launch strikes on Syria chemical weapons sites

04/14/2018

The US, UK and France have bombed multiple government targets in Syria in an early morning operation targeting alleged chemical weapons sites. The strikes are in response to a suspected chemical attack on the Syrian town of Douma last week. "A combined operation with the armed forces of France and the United Kingdom is now underway," President Trump said in an address to the nation. Explosions were reported near the Syrian capital Damascus.

Indian Air Force carries out 10,000 sorties of combat aircraft fleet in 3 days

04/14/2018

Aiming to prepare itself for a short and swift two-front war against China and Pakistan, the Indian Air Force (IAF) carried out around 10,000 sorties of its entire combat aircraft fleet in three days across the country to demonstrate its capability to undertake high intensity operations with the limited number of aircraft available.

HAL, Mahindra join Boeing in Indian Super Hornet push

04/14/2018

Boeing has teamed with Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) and Mahindra Defence Systems for its bid to sell more than 100 F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets to India’s air force. The partnership is aimed at bringing together the global supply chains, advanced manufacturing experience and design capabilities of all three companies to produce and support Super Hornets in India if it is selected to meet the requirement.

Syria war: Weapons key players have at their disposal

04/13/2018

Indications suggest that the type of strike being planned by Washington, with the possible assistance of the UK and France, will involve weapons launched from warships or submarines at long range. Any aircraft used would be either firing weapons from beyond the reach of Syria's surface-to-air defence systems or be drones that can be remote-controlled.

Portion of A-10 fleet to move into backup status in lead up to FY25

04/13/2018

The Air Force expects it will have to ground a portion of the A-10 fleet in the years running up to fiscal year 2025, as the life of their wings runs out, but the service believes it will not effect operations, a three-star general said Thursday. “We are not confident that we’re flying all of the A-10s that we currently possess through 2025 with our plan,” said Lt. Gen. Jerry Harris, deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and requirements, during a House Armed Services Committee panel.

Boeing joins hands with HAL, Mahindra for 'Make in India' Super Hornet fighter jet

04/13/2018

Eying the mega IAF contract for 11o fighter jets, Boeing today announced a partnership with PSU Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Mahindra Defence Systems (MDS) for manufacturing the F/A-18 Super Hornet in India. The US aerospace major said the partnership will also work for joint development of future technologies in India, saying it will transform India's aerospace and defence ecosystem.

Marine Corps experimenting with sharing F-35’s data with soldiers

04/13/2018

The US Marine Corps is experimenting with several ways to provide soldiers on the ground a link to sensor data gathered by the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II and other unmanned aircraft on a tablet computer.

F-35's 11-year flight test phase comes to an end

04/13/2018

A Lockheed Martin F-35C on 11 April completed the final test flight of the programme’s system development and demonstration (SDD) phase, capping off an 11-year-long saga spanning 9,200 sorties and 17,000 flight hours for three major variants.

Pentagon refuses delivery of F-35s over repair dispute

04/12/2018

The US Department of Defense is refusing delivery of F-35 Lightning IIs over a dispute with manufacturer Lockheed Martin about who should pay for repair costs to fix a production error found on the aircraft last year.

Boeing contract shows details of LRSO integration on B-52

04/12/2018

The US Air Force granted Boeing Defense, Space and Security a contract worth up to $250 million to integrate the forthcoming Long Range Stand-Off cruise missile on the B-52H Stratofortress.

Israel considers packaging V-22 with heavy-lift helicopter purchase

04/12/2018

Israel has revived discussions with the US government over a potential acquisition of Bell Boeing V-22 Ospreys as the programme looks abroad to fill vacant production capacity. The Israeli government last year froze a plan to buy six V-22s, three years after the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified Congress of a potential sale of the tiltrotor aircraft to Tel Aviv.

US presents F-16 aircraft in Bratislava

04/11/2018

If the offer is accepted, the first fighter planes should arrive in Slovakia by the end of 2022. Representatives of the US aerospace, defence, security, and advanced technology company, Lockheed Martin, presented an offer to sell F-16 aircraft to Slovakia on April 10. If Slovakia accepts the offer, the first F-16 fighter jets could arrive in the country by the end of 2022, they said, as quoted by the TASR newswire.

India’s air force just started a $19.5 billion fighter program — sort of

04/11/2018

The Indian air force has launched a very ambitious $19.5 billion program to buy 110 military fighters. The problem is, the country’s Ministry of Defense says it is only a fact-finding exercise and there is no commitment from the government on the program as of now. The IAF on April 6 issued a Request for Information or RFI to all major global aviation companies to bid on the 110 fighter buy.

Boeing's 100th P-8 Poseidon enters final assembly

04/11/2018

The 100th Boeing P-8A Poseidon entered final assembly in Renton, Washington in March.The maritime patrol aircraft is destined for the US Navy in fall 2018 and is part of a string of backorders that Boeing said will keep its P-8 production line running until 2022. The aerospace manufacturer said it has delivered 82 aircraft since the launch of the programme in 2011, and in total has 127 aircraft contracted to the US Navy, Australia, United Kingdom and India.

AAS-equipped P-8A could replace E-8C

04/11/2018

The US Navy's P-8A Poseidon could pick up a new mission if the US Air Force is allowed to follow through on plans to cancel a replacement for the Northrop Grumman E-8C JSTARS. The navy is buying 117 P-8As to perform anti-submarine warfare and maritime patrol missions, but a subset of the fleet is being equipped with Raytheon's Advanced Airborne Sensor (AAS) radar.

Serbia closes on new helicopter orders

04/11/2018

Serbia has begun talks with Russia over the acquisition of four Mil Mi-17 transport helicopters and the same number of Mi-35 attack rotorcraft. The likely purchase was revealed by Belgrade's defence minister Aleksandar Vulin, after a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoygu in Moscow. Previous indications from Serbia's defence ministry were that the order would probably only be for six Mi-17s.

Opinion: 5 US Military aircraft crashes in a week shows what happens when lawmakers use the budget as a bargaining chip

04/10/2018

Yet another deadly crash on Friday evening brought the total number of American service members to die during routine aircraft operations last week to seven, as a rash of recent incidents have reignite concerns about the dismal state of readiness the U.S. military has found itself in.

Lockheed's MQ-25 reuses USN fighter engines, landing gear

04/10/2018

New details of Lockheed Martin’s bid for the MQ-25 Stingray contract reveal a flying wing unmanned tanker with several key components re-used from aircraft already on board the US Navy’s aircraft carriers.

France and Germany to push ahead with new joint MPA

04/10/2018

France and Germany are to jointly develop a future maritime patrol aircraft (MPA), with a letter of intent covering the programme to be signed by the nations' defence ministers on 27 April. Destined to replace the countries' respective fleets of Dassault Atlantique 2 and Lockheed Martin P-3C Orions, the new aircraft will be available to coincide with the out-of-service dates for both models, says the German navy. This is likely to be in the 2030s.

Thailand commissions four T-50 trainers

04/10/2018

The Royal Thai Air Force has commissioned the first four Korea Aerospace Industries T-50TH advanced jet trainers. The commissioning ceremony took place on 4 April at Thai air force base, says KAI in a statement. The four aircraft were originally ordered in 2015, with a follow on order for eight additional examples placed in 2017. These will be delivered in 2020.

The death toll for rising aviation accidents: 133 troops killed in five years

04/09/2018

In the last three weeks, six military aviation crashes have killed 16 pilots or crew — a tragic development that has cast a spotlight on a growing crisis: Accident rates have soared over the last five years for most of the military’s manned warplanes. Through a six-month investigation, the Military Times found that accidents involving all of the military’s manned fighter, bomber, helicopter and cargo warplanes rose nearly 40 percent from fiscal years 2013 to 2017.

Air Force Thunderbirds Identify Their Fallen Pilot

04/08/2018

The Air Force Thunderbirds released the identification of the pilot lost in Wednesday’s crash of an F-16 Fighting Falcon during a training exercise in a brief statement issued today. The Thunderbirds jets were in the air over the squadron’s Nevada Test and Training Range north of their base at Las Vegas when someting went wrong causing Thunderbird 4 to crash in the isolated region.

U.S. military grounds aircraft in Djibouti after multiple accidents

04/08/2018

At the request of the Djiboutian government, the U.S. military has halted its air operations in the East African country, a critical location in the fight against terrorism, following two accidents involving military aircraft, three defense officials told CNN. On Tuesday, a U.S. Marine Corps Harrier jet crashed at the country’s international airport. The pilot was able to eject and was treated at a medical facility but has since been released according to several officials.

Will India Become a Naval Superpower Thanks to Aircraft Carriers?

04/08/2018

With one large carrier in service and another on the way, India has become one of the world’s pre-eminent naval aviation powers. How did the program come about? Where is it going? And what is the strategic rationale for India’s massive investment in aircraft carriers?

2 soldiers die in helicopter crash, bringing to 7 the number killed in military aviation mishaps this week

04/08/2018

Two soldiers were killed in a training flight of an Apache attack helicopter at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. The two deaths in the crash Friday night brings to seven the number of service members who have died just this week in three military aviation crashes in the United States. Two other aviation mishaps in the east African nation of Djibouti resulted in no casualties.

House Armed Services chairman: Military readiness 'at a crisis point'

04/08/2018

The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee called the deaths of two soldiers in an Apache helicopter crash in Kentucky on Friday "heartbreaking" in a statement Saturday, adding that military readiness is in crisis. Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, said he grieves "over the loss of our men and women in uniform," and added that "the tragic deaths of troops killed in aviation accidents over the past month is especially heartbreaking."

Germany, France to move ahead on sixth-generation combat aircraft

04/08/2018

Plans for a Franco-German combat aircraft are set to kick off in earnest at the Berlin Air Show later this month, officials told French media on the sidelines of a meeting of the two countries’ defense ministers in Paris on Thursday. The idea of a joint “systèmedecombat aérien dufutur,” or SCAF, came out of a bilateral Cabinet decision last summer, part of a larger effort to promote the Berlin-Paris relationship in a militarily stronger Europe.

India re-opens competition to supply 110 fighters

04/07/2018

A global competition to sell more than 100 fighters to the Indian air force re-opened for the third time in a decade on 6 April. The IAF released a 73-page request for information to six companies to supply 110 single- and twin-seat fighters over a maximum of 12 years.

Senegal signs for new-generation L-39NGs

04/07/2018

Aero Vodochody has secured its first buyer for the new-generation L-39NG, with Senegal to acquire four armed examples from the Czech Republic manufacturer. Confirming its selection on 4 April, Aero Vodochody said: "The order contains four aircraft in a light-attack version, maintaining also the full training capability." Its deal with Dakar also covers the provision of training services for pilots and maintainers, plus ground-support equipment, spare parts and logistics support.

Boeing tankers refuel each other in KC-46 milestone test

04/07/2018

Boeing announced that its KC-46 Pegasus aerial tanker programme completed its fuel on-load testing, part of its overall supplemental type certificate, by successfully transferring 66,200kg (146,000lb) of jet fuel to another KC-46 during flight using the centreline boom. The fuel transfer took place during a 3h, 40min-long flight on an undisclosed date, Boeing says.

Saab offers AEL wide area display for Gripen E buyers

04/07/2018

Brazilian-made wide area and head-up displays for the Saab Gripen E/F will be offered to all customers of the single-engined fighter as a potential cockpit upgrade, says Mikael Franzén, head of Business Unit, Gripen Brazil.

Colombian air force chief pushes for more Black Hawks

04/07/2018

The Colombian air force’s appetite for the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk has not waned five months after the government in Bogota signed an agreement ending a 50-year-old conflict with FARC guerrilla fighters. “I hope we will have enough budget to continue acquiring this aircraft,” says Gen Carlos Eduardo Bueno Vargas, speaking on 4 April during a Sikorsky press conference.

The Navy's Secret Wish: Bring Back the Old F-14 Tomcat from the Dead?

04/04/2018

While the requirement for a carrier-based long-range strike capability is a frequent subject of discussion around Washington, the U.S. Navy’s need for improved air superiority capabilities is often neglected. The service has not had a dedicated air-to-air combat aircraft since it retired the Grumman F-14 Tomcat in 2006. But even the Tomcat was adapted into a strike aircraft during its last years in service after the Soviet threat evaporated.

US Air Force to deploy CV-22 tiltrotor aircraft to Japan early

04/04/2018

The U.S. Air Force has said today that it will deploy the CV-22 tiltrotor aircraft to Japan this week, more than a year ahead of schedule. In a statement issued earlier today, U.S. Forces, Japan, or USFJ, announced that five U.S. Air Force Bell-Boeing CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft are scheduled to arrive at Yokota Air Base in Tokyo later this week, ahead of the previously announced fiscal 2020 timeline.

Homestead Air Reserve Base may get 24 new fighter aircraft

04/04/2018

The Homestead Air Reserve Base, which currently utilizes F-16C planes to carry out Air Force Reserve Command related missions, might permanently gain up to 24 new F-35A aircraft, which combine stealth, sensor fusion and unprecedented situational awareness in combat, according to a notice of intent issued by the U.S. Air Force.

Netherlands outlines 10-year defence spending plan

04/04/2018

The Netherlands has unveiled a new long-term defence plan, which includes additional funding to boost operational readiness. Presented by recently appointed defence minister Ank Bijleveld-Schouten, the white paper proposes annual spending of €1.5 billion ($1.84 billion) – or about 1.3% of gross domestic product.

F-35s Are Now Practicing Their Dogfighting Skills Over Okinawa

04/03/2018

The U.S. Air Force’s F-35A Joint Strike Fighters are practicing air-to-air combat in the skies over Okinawa, Japan. The new multi-role fighter jets are facing off against American and Japanese F-15 Eagle fighters and also against each other, allowing both jets to practice fighting stealthy adversaries while F-35 pilots gain valuable experience.

MoD asks IAF to issue request for information for $15-billion order before DefExpo

04/03/2018

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has asked the Indian Air Force (IAF) to send out the request for information (RfI) for a $15-billion order for 100 fighter aircraft before the DefExpo starting April 11 in Chennai.

China’s first home-grown aircraft carrier set to carry out maiden sea trial

04/03/2018

China’s first home-built aircraft carrier, the Type 001A, will embark on her maiden sea voyage in the northeastern Bohai Sea later this month, sources close to the military said. “Beijing will arrange a celebration for the first sea trial because the Type 001A was the first aircraft carrier fully designed and produced by Chinese shipbuilders,” one of the sources told the South China Morning Post.

Why America’s Two Top Fighter Jets Can’t Talk to Each Other

04/03/2018

With the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lightning II, the U.S. has fielded two of the world’s most sophisticated, maneuverable and stealthy fighter jets. They both function as airborne shepherds of America’s flock of older combat aircraft, using their state-of-the-art systems to communicate threats and targets on the ground and in the air. Unfortunately, they have a difficult time communicating with each other.

Boeing awarded contract to deliver 28 Super Hornets to Kuwait

04/03/2018

Boeing was awarded a contract worth up to $1.17 billion to produce and deliver 22 F/A-18E and 6 F/A-18F Super Hornets for the government of Kuwait by 2022, the US Defence Department announced on 30 March. State Department approval of the sale of F/A-18 Super Hornets to Kuwait was first announced in November 2016, with the country requesting a total of 40 Super Hornets, including 28 fighters for initial delivery, plus the option to order 12 more.

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