AFSOC & Navy Collab on Laser Mounted Weapon | Postponements and Firsts for F-35 | Japan Plans Test Flight for ATD-X in Q1Dec 07, 2015 00:20 UTC
- Helibras has completed the first stage of integrating its AM39 anti-ship missile for the Brazilian Navy. The system is to be added to the fleet of Airbus H225M helicopters which have started to come into operation in Brazil. The laboratory tests involved testing the linking capabilities between the missile launchers and the naval mission system developed by the Brazilian Navy for the helicopters. Testing with live munitions is said to begin in 2016. Completion will see a brand new missions system developed by Brazil in conjunction with Helibras and Airbus.
- The US Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) and US Navy are to collaborate on the development of a laser mounted weapon for the AC-130 aircraft. The move comes as the Navy has been developing and researching energy directed weapons with their Laser Weapon System, which saw deployment aboard the Afloat Forward Staging Base USS Ponce last year. The lasers success will be the basis for a cooperation between the two branches, and how this can aid the development of a similar system for aircraft. The AC-130 will conceivably see a miniaturized version of the one used on the USS Ponce, and possess both offensive and defensive capabilities. It is hoped the lasers will help gunships disable enemy systems and improve identification of targets on the ground. This would avoid incidents such as the bombing of the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan in October.
- Denmark has further postponed its selection of a new fighter to replace the F-16 until 2016. After it was initially reported that they would select the F-35 this month, funding issues around the acquisition have caused the new government to put further consideration into the commitment. After contributing an estimated $291 million into the project, issues surrounding technical problems and soaring costs may have the Danes looking elsewhere for their fighter needs. Denmark hasn’t been the only country having a wobble over the F-35. Canada announced last month that it was withdrawing from the Joint Strike Fighter development program, and last week, the Australian Senate voted in favor of an inquiry into their acquisition plans.
- Italy has received its first F-35 fighter after it came off the assembly on Thursday. While six other countries have received the planes, Italy is the first to have the final assembly done outside of the US. The unveiling took place at the Cameri Air Base where the final assembly and check out (FACO) line is located. It is owned by the Italian government and operated by Italy’s Alenia Aermacchi and Lockheed Martin. Italy will also have the honor of taking the F-35 on its first ever trans-Atlantic flight in February 2016, when three Italian pilots are set to receive training at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona.
Middle East & North Africa
- Pakistan has announced plans to acquire 5th generation fighters internationally and still continue to develop its own line of JF-17 planes. The move comes as regional rivals have been upgrading military capabilities, with India recently purchasing 126 Rafale fighters from France. According to Pakistan Air Force (PAF) chief Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman, the desired choice for the PAF is the Lockheed Martin F-35, but they are also looking at other options. Pakistan will continue to export the JF-17 to other countries with Egypt the latest country to express interest in the plane.
- To buy or not to buy, that is the question. Indonesia’s planned purchase of three AW101 helicopters has been put on hold after gaining severe criticism. Costing $55 million each, the deluxe VVIP helicopter was deemed too lavish a purchase in the current economic climate. While President Widodo rejected the planned purchase after a cabinet meeting last Thursday, Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo has since claimed that purchases are still in the strategic equipment plan for 2015-2018, but will not go ahead with the delivery as of yet. Looks like those 25 year old SuperPumas are going to be around for a little while longer.
- South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) has been accompanied by high level diplomats to discuss the KF-X fighter program with Lockheed Martin. The trip to the US follows the visit by Lockheed staff to Seoul last month to discuss the transfer of 21 technologies from their F-35 fighter jet. The inclusion of diplomats shows that Korea is looking to bolster their bargaining power amid the refusal to allow the transfer of four key technologies by the US government. DAPA claimed that they are capable of developing these four key technologies, but failure to secure the remaining 21 would be of serious consequence to the development of Korea’s own indigenous fighter.
- Japan has made plans to test its very own fifth generation stealth jet, making it only the fourth country in the world to do so. The maiden flight of the ATD-X will take place in the first quarter of 2016 and aims to replace the current F-2 fighters in service. The development program is the most expensive in Japan’s history, costing $324 million. Japan’s announcement comes at a time when President Abe is modernizing the Japanese Self-Defence Force and new laws to send Japanese troops abroad. The re-militarization has received much chagrin from neighbours China and South Korea as well as domestic protests against Japan’s resurgent ultra-nationalism.
- The Russian military’s footage of the S-440 anti-missile system in action under electronic jamming conditions: