F-35 restrictions lifted at Luke AB | Azeri-Israeli drone deal on hold, ‘life-fire’ probe underway | IAF wants more RafalesSep 01, 2017 05:00 UTC
- The US Air Force has lifted altitude restrictions for F-35A flights operating from Luke Air Base, while investigations continue into what caused five incidents of pilot oxygen deprivation earlier this summer. Aircraft were grounded in June after five different Luke pilots experienced symptoms similar to hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation, while conducting F-35A training flights between May 2 and June 8. While flights later resumed on June 21, they did so with a number of restrictions in place, including a base-wide ban on flying the F-35 at altitudes higher than 25,000 feet. The USAF said that while no singular cause has been identified, the service has used the incident as an opportunity to reduce potential causes for labored breathing [and] carbon monoxide ingestion, as well as refine their procedures and training.
Middle East & Africa
- Egypt will receive the first 15 (of 46) Kamov Ka-52 ‘Alligator’ attack helicopters by the end of 2017. The helicopters were ordered as part of a multi-billion-dollar defence deal with Russia, which also includes 50 Mikoyan MiG-29M/M2 multi-role fighters from United Aircraft Corporation. Cairo is also in negotiations with Rostec for an unknown quantity of the Alligator’s naval equivalent, the Ka-52K ‘Katran’, for use on its two newly acquired Mistral landing platform docks (LPD). The French-built Mistral LPD can carry up to 16 medium-to-heavy and attack helicopters in its hangars. However, this does not mean that Egypt will necessarily fit the LPD with solely Ka-52Ks, it may push for a mix of attack, utility and transport helicopters.
- The Israeli Defense Ministry has suspended the export licenses of local drone manufacturer Aeronautics to one of its clients. A company statement to the stock markets did not name the country facing the ban, but Israeli media have reported Azerbaijan as the country in question. In early August, drone operators hired by Aeronautics complained that during a demonstration flight of the firm’s Orbiter 1K loitering munition for Azeri officials, they were asked to target Armenian military positions by the Azerbaijan military, something they refused. The Orbiter was then supposedly operated by company officials, with a live-fire test reportedly lightly injuring two Armenian soldiers. By blocking the sale, Aeronautics stands to lose $20 million.
- Russia is hoping that the recent testing of new weapons systems in Syria will result in increased orders from foreign customers. “The chance to test weapons in real combat can’t be overestimated,” Deputy Defence Minister Yuri Borisov said on Wednesday. “Customers have started queuing up for the weapons that have proven themselves in Syria.” He added that their use during combat operations has allowed designers to fix any glitches they encountered faster than would otherwise have been the case, and listed the Su-30 and the Su-35 fighter jets, new helicopter gunships, missiles, electronic warfare systems, infantry weapons, and other equipment as weapons that were tested for the first time during the Syrian campaign. Moscow has been directly aiding the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with air support since September 2015, greatly allowing Damascus to retake control of much territory previously held by opposing rebel and jihadist factions.
- Saab is planning to link up with India’s Adani Group to bid for a contract to make Jas-39 Gripen fighter aircraft in India. The pairing will face off against a team consisting of Lockheed Martin and local partner Tata Advanced System—offering the F-16—in a two-horse race to equip the Indian military with single-engine fighter jets to be produced locally under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make-in-India” initiative. New Delhi is expected to issue a formal request to both foreign firms over the next few days to provide information about their plans to design, develop and produce combat jets in the country.
- The Indian Air Force (IAF) is looking at additional orders of Rafale fighter aircraft from French aerospace manufacturer Dassault, doubling its current order of 36 units. Ministry of Defence (MoD) sources state that such a follow-on Rafale order would cost 60% of the initial package’s value (the September 2016 agreement cost $8.8 billion), which also includes weapon systems, India-specific customizations and a five-year support package guaranteeing an operational rate of 75%. Dassault hopes to sell as many as 200 Rafales to India over the next decade, with CEO Eric Trappier hinting that subsequent orders could lead to the transfer-of-technology to enable India to take on a substantive share of the fighter’s sourcing. Besides expanding upon IAF orders, Dassault is also looking at the Indian Navy’s bid for 57 carrier-borne fighters as an avenue for additional Rafale orders in the country.
- Japan’s defense ministry has requested an additional $160 million in funding for the procurement of faster, longer-range missiles to boost its operational range in the region. Around $90 million of the requested missile development funds of $160 million will go on studying hypersonic missiles to quickly penetrate enemy defenses. While the missile development funding is relatively small, it could nonetheless spark controversy, since Japan’s war-renouncing constitution imposes restrictions on strike weapons for the military. If approved, the proposal for a rise of 2.5 percent in defense spending to $48 billion will be the sixth straight annual increase in defense spending under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government. Other funds will go towards ballistic missile defense upgrades, six F-35 stealth fighters, four V-22 Osprey tilt rotor troop carriers, as well as orders for new naval vessels, including a submarine and two compact warships.
- Flight demo of M-346 Advanced Jet Trainer at Random Airshow: