Tough times for Tejas after IAF report deficiencies | KAI chase down T-50 sales, LM suggest price slash | F-35A airframe passes durability tests
- Draken International announced November 9 that they have successfully acquired 22 Mirage F1M and F1B fighters from Spain. The acquisition now brings Draken’s fleet size to over 100 fighter jets and will go towards enhancing its adversary air services provided to the US Air Force (USAF), Navy, USMC, as well as coalition militaries and Department of Defense (DoD) partners. In 1996, the F1s underwent a $96 million upgrade program which included cockpit enhancements, LCD MFDs, Advanced HUD, INS/GPS, Electronic Attack systems and a special performance upgrade for the Cyrano IVM radar. Since their retirement from Spanish service in 2013, the F1s have been stored in Albacete Air Base, Spain until Draken’s purchase this September.
- The US Navy released Thursday a $34.6 million award to Lockheed Martin for integration work with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and small-diameter bomb (SDB) II. Under the terms of the deal, Lockheed will carry out weapons capabilities technology maturation and risk reduction pre-engineering, manufacturing and development activities for dual-capability F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter aircraft and small-diameter bomb 2 (SDB-II) in support of the Marine Corps and Air Force. Work will take place at Fort Worth, Texas, with a scheduled completion time of July 2018.
Middle East & Africa
- Speaking at the Dubai Airshow, Major General Abdullah Al Sayed Al Hashemi, Chief of the Military Committee and spokesman for the UAE Armed Forces, announced that it will upgrade its 80 F-16 jet fighters as part of a $1.63 billion program agreed with Lockheed Martin. The ministry also announced other deals, including $17.9 million to US-based OTNA INC for Blu-109 ammunition and a $9.5 million agreement with Thales Communications and Security SAS to secure defense communications. Al Hashemi added that the UAE is also interested in procuring the fifth-generation F-35, calling it “an excellent jet,” but did not comment on discussions ongoing with Washington over such a purchase. Fourth generation jets also being looked at by the Emirates include the Sukhoi Su-35, Eurofighter Typhoon, and Dassault Rafale, however, no deals have ever reached completion.
- Turkey has completed the purchase of the S-400 air defense system from Russia. The announcement was made by Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli who added that Ankara was also in discussion with the Franco-Italian Eurosam consortium to help develop a missile defense system of its own. Last Wednesday, Canikli signed a letter of intent with France and Italy in Brussels to strengthen cooperation in defense projects including missile defense. The agreement is likely to start with Eurosam working with Turkish companies to develop an indigenous platform based on the SAMP-T missile system.
- Airbus Helicopters has completed the first-firing trials of the HForce weapon system integrated onboard a H145M Light Utility Helicopter. Testing of HForce took place at Pápa Airbase in Hungary and the system included guns (FN Herstal HMP400), unguided rockets (Thales FZ231) and cannons (Nexter NC621) as well as an electro-optical targeting system by Wescam (MX15) and a helmet mounted sight display by Thales (Scorpion). Before HForce receives qualification on the H145M, expected for 2018, the system will undergo development testing of laser-guided rockets in Sweden before the end of the year and followed by additional live-firing trials in summer 2018.
- BAE Systems announced the successful conclusion of durability testing of its F-35A airframe. The completion is the culmination of the F-35A’s third life testing at BAE Systems’ testing facility in East Yorkshire in England, which is equivalent to 24,000 hours of “flying,” and easily exceeds the F-35 programme requirement of a service life of 8,000 flight hours. The F-35B and F-35C durability test airframes already have completed 16,000 hour second life testing, with additional tests being conducted to maximize the life of the aircraft. Known officially as AJ-1, the F-35A airframe is designed to operate from conventional runways and is the only F-35 variant to carry an internal cannon.
- Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) announced Friday that it is in talks with as many as nine potential customers for its T-50 advanced trainer aircraft—of which Botswana and Argentina were highlighted as being at “an advanced stage” of negotiations with the two deals hoped to be completed either by the end of 2017 or in early 2019. In an effort to boost sales chances, KAI are also planning to offer loans to interested parties with developing economies through Korea Export-Import Bank of Korea and the Korea Trade Insurance Corporation in order to lessen the burden of such purchases. Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin, who have partnered with KAI to offer a version of the trainer to the USAF’s Advanced Pilot Training (APT) program, have requested a price slash to the trainers so it can outbid the Boeing-Saab team who have developed a clean-sheet design known as the T-X trainer.
- Indian Air Force (IAF) officials have listed a number of deficiencies found with the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) as part of efforts to argue for sourcing foreign-made fighter aircraft rather than increasing orders of the indigenous Tejas. Assessments made by the service and presented to government found that when compared to foreign-made fighter aircraft such as Saab’s JAS-39 Gripen and Lockheed Martin’s F-16, the Tejas posted poorer airborne endurance—59 minutes compared to two hours—and could carry less payload—three tons against nearly six tons and seven tons by the Gripen and F-16 respectively. Maintenance requirements were also greater on the Tejas with 20 hours of serving needed for every hour of flying against six hours for the Gripen and 3.5 hours for the F-16. The Tejas’ service life is also half that of the 40 years found in both the Gripen and F-16. While 123 Tejas fighters have been ordered for the IAF, only four have been delivered, and the IAF desperately needs additional single-engine fighter aircraft to fill a 42 fighter squadron requirement to fight a two-front war. Retirements of ageing MiG-21 aircraft is making the issue worse, with a further 11 of 33 available squadrons due for retirement over the next two years.
- H145M completes first test-firing of the HForce weapon system:
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