USAF Conducts Successful AIM-9X Tests | Kuwait & Qatar Await FMS Approvals | SK’s KF-X Fighter Program Moves AheadJan 25, 2016 00:20 UTC
- The USAF has successfully tested the AIM-9X missile on the F-35 fighter for the first time. The test of the heat-seeking missile took place on January 12 at the Pacific Sea Test range. The F-35 will eventually carry two AIM-9X missiles on its wings, and four of the the radar-guided AIM-120 missiles internally. The success of the test moves integration of the AIM-9X forward, with introduction across the F-35 fleet expected in Block 3F in 2017.
- The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) hopes to fit and trial a laser weapon on a high flying Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, to counter ballistic missiles at the boost phase. The announcement comes four years after the USAF’s laser equipped Boeing 747 test plane was abandoned, after sixteen years and $5 billion of development. While the Boeing 747 system was ultimately flawed, the concept was proven effective. It is believed that laser technology development over the next three years will be able to have UAVs capable of using the technology and operating at 65,000 feet for several days.
Middle East North Africa
- Kuwait will stick to its $3 billion order of twenty-eight F-18 Super Hornet fighters despite delays in the approval process from Washington. The two years of delays in the deal’s approval has worried both US industry executives, and military officials concerned over rising tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran in the region. Kuwait, a member of the Saudi-led coalition participating in military action in Yemen have been supporting efforts primarily with its air force and F/A-18s.
- Qatar’s desire to obtain seventy-three F-15Es has received the backing from US senators John McCain and Bob Corker. Both men have criticized the Obama administration over the delays to the order approval process. Qatar, along with Kuwait, have been waiting for approval for sales for fighters for over two years. The delivery would come in two batches, the first would see thirty-six jets delivered, and the remaining thirty-seven following over a course of forty-two months.
- Falling oil prices and a weakening currency may effect Norway’s participation in the F-35 program. The increase in economic worries has seen Norway look to re-evaluate its defense spending commitments as the Krone falls against the US dollar, making the already expensive F-35 acquisition seem even more pricey. Alternatives to covering the costs of the fifty-two plane commitment may see the order reduced, or spending cut from elsewhere. The slash in other areas would force Norway to rethink its military strategy, and perhaps rely much more heavily on NATO.
- Hungary may flaunt trade sanctions imposed on Russia and look to purchase thirty attack helicopters in the region of $490 million. The deal may expand to further military sales between the two countries, with Russia looking explore new markets with neighbouring countries. Many Eastern European nations are looking to replace antiquated Soviet-era weaponry with that of Western manufacturers such as Poland, Bulgaria and Czech Republic, all looking away from Russia. On the other hand, Hungary may join Serbia in being patrons of Russian hardware, to counter expansion of NATO member air defense systems and deployment along their borders.
- South Korea’s KF-X fighter program has kicked off as officials from KAI, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), Lockheed Martin, the Indonesian Defense Ministry and PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI) met in Sacheon, South Korea for the first time. Six prototypes of the fighter will be produced by 2021 with completion of the development due for 2026. 120 fighters will be produced by 2032 to replace the F-4 and F-5 jets in service. Collaboration in the program sees Lockheed Martin provide twenty-one key technologies used in the US F-35 fighter and the government of Indonesia is to provide $1.4 billion toward research and development in the project. Seoul will spend $7.1 billion in the project’s development.
- India’s upcoming fighter acquisition for the INS Vishal aircraft carrier is heating up. Following Dassault’s announcement that it is to pitch the Rafale to New Delhi, RAC MiG may enter the competition offering the MiG-29K. The carrier will be capable of carrying fifty jets. While India has recently sealed a deal to purchase Rafale fighters for the Air Force, their current aircraft carrier, the INS Vikramaditya uses a navalized version of the MiG-29. This may lead to some real competition as both companies will look to increase their foothold in the Indian market, while the Indian government will be looking to increase its indigenous production of military hardware under the “Make in India” initiative.
- The arrival of four A-29 Super Tucanos in Afghanistan: