Air news

Covid-19 impacts Super Hornet timeline for Kuwait

By Gareth Jennings 15 January 2021
Deliveries of 28 Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet combat aircraft to Kuwait have been delayed due to the ongoing Covid-19 health crisis, a company official told  Janes  on 14 January.   Kuwait is to join Australia as a Super Hornet (pictured) export customer with an initial contract for the production of 28 aircraft. The Gulf nation has been approved to buy up to 40 such aircraft by the US government. (Commonwealth of Australia)  The 22 single-seat F/A-18Es and six twin-seat F/A-18Fs that were contracted in a government-to-government de...

US Air Force's Roper says service should better sell modernisation technologies to Congress

By Pat Host 15 January 2021
The US Air Force (USAF) needs to better explain to lawmakers how the service will benefit from technologies such as digital engineering to accomplish its modernisation goals, said Will Roper, the assistant secretary for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics (AT&L), on 14 January.  According to the service’s outgoing acquisition chief, the USAF should stop arguing that it simply needs to retire older platforms without better justifying its requests. The USAF wants to divest legacy aircraft such as McDonnell Douglas KC-10A Extender aerial refu...

Australia selects AH-64E Apache Guardian to replace Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters

By Julian Kerr 15 January 2021
Canberra has selected the Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopter to replace the Australian Army’s fleet of 22 Airbus Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters (ARHs), Australian Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said on 15 January.  Canberra announced on 15 January that it selected the Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian (seen here in Taiwanese service) attack helicopter to replace the Australian Army’s fleet of 22 Airbus Tiger ARHs. (Republic of China Army )  The first of 29 Apaches equipped with improved sensors, communications suites, attac...

Globemaster III marks 4 million hours

By Gareth Jennings 15 January 2021
The Boeing C-17 Globemaster III strategic transport aircraft surpassed the 4 million flight hours milestone.  As a member of the global C-17 userbase, the United Kingdom has contributed 140,000 of the 4 million hours so far flown. (Crown Copyright)  The milestone was announced on 15 January by the UK Royal Air Force’s (RAF) 99 Squadron that operates the type. Having entered service with the US Air Force (USAF) in 1993, it took 13 years for the type to reach one million hours in March 2006, with the two million hours coming only five years lat...

Variant of Z-20 helicopter may be under development for PLAN Marine Corps

By Andrew Tate 14 January 2021
An image has emerged on Chinese social media platforms suggesting that a variant of the naval Harbin Z-20 helicopter may be under development for use by the People’s Liberation Army Navy Marine Corps (PLANMC).  The image emerged around 12 January a...

UK grows national F-35 support with LANCE contract

By Gareth Jennings 14 January 2021
The United Kingdom is growing the level of organic sustainment and support it is able to provide for its fleet of Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning combat aircraft, with the GBP76 million (USD101 million) Lightning Air System National Availability Enterprise (LANCE) contract.  With 21 of an initial planned 48 F-35B aircraft so far delivered to the UK, the country has announced Project LANCE to grow the level of organic national support for the fleet. (Crown Copyright)  Announced on 14 January, the Project LANCE award signed by Lockheed Martin a...

US Air Force downselects Northrop Grumman for F-16 electronic warfare suite

By Pat Host 14 January 2021
The US Air Force (USAF) has downselected Northrop Grumman as the sole contractor to complete final project efforts to provide the electronic warfare (EW) suite for the service’s Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon fleet.  Northrop Grumman spokesman Stephen Lamb said on 11 January that the company was selected in 2019 to develop a prototype internally mounted EW suite and digital radar warning receiver for F-16s. Northrop Grumman, he said, is performing on this contract. L3Harris was also competing under this contract. However, L3Harris spoke...

Boeing, Lockheed Martin respond to cancelled German heavy-lift helo tender

By Gareth Jennings 14 January 2021
The two bidders for Germany’s heavy-lift helicopter requirement have responded to the country’s decision to cancel the Schwerer Transporthubschrauber (STH) tender without warning in late 2020.  The CH-53K (foreground) and CH-47F (background) that were competing the now-cancelled STH requirement both featured on the flightline at the ILA Airshow 2018 in Berlin. (Janes/Gareth Jennings)    Both Boeing and Lockheed Martin told   Janes  on 13 January that they remain ready to support the Luftwaffe’s continued requirement to replace...

UK RAF C-17 practises operating from austere airstrips

By Tim Ripley 13 January 2021
A UK C-17 Globemaster transport has for the first time trained to operate from austere airstrips as part of a drive to expand the operational envelope of the eight Royal Air Force (RAF) aircraft of the type.  An RAF C-17 practised landing and taking off from the Fort Polk training facility in Louisiana on 26 December 2020. (Crown Copyright)    The aircraft from 99 Squadron carried out a series of landings on and take offs from a dirt strip in the United States to give crews experience operating in this new environment, RAF Brize Norton,...

Update: Raytheon's Blackjack sensor payload passes critical design review

By Pat Host 13 January 2021
Raytheon Intelligence and Space’s (RI&S’) sensor payload for the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA’s) Blackjack small satellite programme passed its critical design review (CDR) in November 2020, the company has announced.  RI&S demonstrated during CDR that vital sensor components – such as the focal plane, cryocooler, telescope, and electronics – are in fabrication. The company also provided updated sensor analysis, which dictates optimal performance parameters, such as orbit, for missions, according to a company statemen...

Indian Cabinet approves procurement of 83 Tejas LCA aircraft

By Gabriel Dominguez & Rahul Bedi 13 January 2021
India’s Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) approved on 13 January the procurement of 83 indigenously designed Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) for the Indian Air Force (IAF), including 73 Mk 1A fighters and 10 Mk 1 dual-seat trainers.  The Indian government’s Press Information Bureau (PIB) announced that same day that the CCS, which is headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, cleared the acquisition of the aircraft for INR456.96 billion (USD6.24 billion) along with work on the design and construction of related infrastructure for INR12 bill...

PTDI hands over first of nine Bell 412EPI helicopters to Indonesian Army

By Gabriel Dominguez 13 January 2021
State-owned aircraft manufacturer PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI) has delivered the first of nine Bell 412EPI multirole medium helicopters on order for the Indonesian Army (Tentara Nasional Indonesia-Angkatan Darat or TNI-AD).  PDTI announced on 30 December 2020 that it delivered the first of nine Bell 412EPI multirole helicopters ordered for the Indonesian Army in December 2018. (PTDI)  The company said in a statement posted on Twitter that the rotorcraft, which was handed over to the service on 29 December 2020, is part of a USD183 million...

USAF awards USD1.7 billion for KC-46A tankers

By Gareth Jennings 13 January 2021
The US Air Force (USAF) has awarded Boeing USD1.7 billion for Lot 6 production of the KC-46A Pegasus tanker-transport aircraft.  A pair of Boeing KC-46A Pegasus tanker aircraft prior to delivery to the USAF. Boeing is now under contract for 79 of the USAF’s planned 179 tanker-transports. (Janes/Gareth Jennings)  Announced by the US Department of Defense (DoD) on 12 January, the contract covers 12 aircraft and will be complete by 30 April 2023.  With this award, Boeing is now under contract for 79 of the 179 tankers included in the USAF’s KC-...

France orders Parrot micro UAVs

By Nicholas Fiorenza 12 January 2021
The Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA), the French defence procurement agency, has ordered Anafi USA micro-unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from Parrot, the agency and company have both announced.  Initially, 150 systems totalling 300 of the quadricopter UAVs will be supplied to French air force, navy, and army regular and special forces under a tender launched in February 2020. The French Armed Forces Ministry said in a press release on 12 January that the micro-UAVs would be used for reconnaissance for troops deployed on operations, on...

AVIC releases CGI of twin-seat J-20 fighter aircraft

By Gabriel Dominguez 12 January 2021
The state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) has for the first time released a computer-generated image (CGI) in a promotional video showing a twin-seat version of the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group (CAIG) J-20 ‘fifth-generation’ multirole fighter aircraft.  While the concept of a two-seat variant of the J-20 is not new and CGIs of such a variant have circulated online for years, the fact that this latest image comes directly from AVIC increases the likelihood that such a variant will be produced.  Released on 8 January on...

India's DRDO hands over locally developed landing gear systems for Tapas and SWiFT UAVs

By Gabriel Dominguez & Rahul Bedi 12 January 2021
The Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE) of India’s state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has handed over retractable landing gear (RLG) systems for fitment onto the Rustom-II/Tapas and the Steal...

Leonardo delivers Miysis DIRCMs for UK Shadow fleet

By Gareth Jennings 12 January 2021
Leonardo has delivered to the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) Miysis Directed Infrared Countermeasure (DIRCM) suites for integration aboard the Royal Air Force’s (RAF’s) Raytheon Shadow special mission aircraft fleet.  Leonardo staff at the company’s Edinburgh facility in Scotland marked delivery of the final Miysis DIRCM system for the UK’s Shadow fleet in late 2020. (Leonardo)  Speaking to Janes on 11 January, Head of DIRCM Campaigns at Leonardo Edinburgh, Dave Gourlay, said that despite restrictions placed on the workforce due to Covid-19, t...

China's WJ-700 Falcon armed reconnaissance UAV makes maiden flight

By Kelvin Wong 12 January 2021
Beijing-based Haiying General Aviation Equipment (Hiwing), a subsidiary of state-owned defence prime China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC), has formally unveiled its indigenously developed WJ-700 medium/high-attitude long endurance (MALE/HALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) at an undisclosed location on 11 January.  The company also announced that the turbojet-powered WJ-700 – now officially known as the Lieying (Falcon) “high-altitude, high-speed integrated surveillance and strike”, or armed reconnaissance UAV – had perform...

Rafael unveils Magic Fly to support indoor fighting

By Yaakov Lappin 11 January 2021
Rafael has unveiled a series of autonomous systems with automatic target-recognition capabilities to find targets inside buildings, reducing the exposure of frontline soldiers.  Rafael’s Magic Fly-Raven mini-UAV can be tasked with finding enemy combatants inside a building. (Rafael Advanced Defense Systems)  Company sources said the new systems are designed to provide ground forces with detailed intelligence on threats in enclosed spaces where communications are unreliable, vision is limited, and navigation is challenging.  The systems includ...

ASW-capable variant of Z-20 helo may soon enter PLA Navy service

By Andrew Tate 11 January 2021
A photograph posted on the WeChat social media platform of the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN’s) South Sea Fleet (SSF) suggests that the anti-submarine-warfare (ASW)-capable variant of the Harbin Z-20 helicopter is close to entering service.  Published in early January the image is the first to be released to the public showing the aircraft operating at sea. It is also one of several photographs posted by the SSF illustrating activities during recent large-scale exercises.  An image published by the PLAN’s SSF in early January showing...
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