Air news

Naval Group-Airbus Helicopters expands VSR700 flight envelope ahead of sea demo

By Gareth Jennings 14 April 2021
Naval Group-Airbus Helicopters has expanded the flight envelope of the VSR700 unmanned helicopter demonstrator during recent trials on behalf of the French Navy.  An artist’s impression of Naval Group-Airbus Helicopters VSR700 shipborne UAV. (Naval Group-Airbus Helicopters)  Airbus announced on 13 April that the VSR700 vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) had achieved 60 kt, “entirely opening its flight envelope at low speed”.  In 2018 the Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA) French defence procurement agency c...

Bell begins AH-1Z build for Bahrain

By Gareth Jennings 14 April 2021
Bell has begun assembly of the first of 12 AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters for Bahrain ahead of the commencement of customer deliveries later this year.  Bahrain Ambassador to United States, Shaikh Abdulla Al Khalifa, signs the first of 12 AH-1Z attack helicopters for the Royal Bahraini Air Force during a visit to Bell’s Amarillo production plant in Texas. (Bell)  The manufacturer announced the milestone on 12 April following a visit to the Amarillo, Texas, production facility by the Bahraini ambassador to the United States, Shaikh Abdulla Al...

Serbia unveils new equipment

By Igor Bozinovski 13 April 2021
Serbian Armed Forces (SAF) capabilities and equipment were presented to Bahrain Royal Guard commander Major General Nasser bin Hamad al-Khalifa at Batajnica airbase near Belgrade on 6 April.  During the dynamic display, an SAF H145M helicopter arme...

South Korea signs for MH-60R helos

By Gareth Jennings 13 April 2021
South Korea has signed for 12 Lockheed Martin MH-60R Seahawk anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters for USD447.2 million.  South Korea has signed for 12 MH-60R Seahawk ASW helicopters, having selected the type for its MOH Batch II requirement in December 2020. (US Navy)  Announced by the US Department of Defense (DoD) on 12 April, the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) contract is for the second phase of South Korea’s maritime ASW helicopter procurement programme. All 12 helicopters will be delivered to the US Navy by December 2024, ahead of thei...

US Air Force seeks EO/IR sensor options for MQ-9

By Carlo Munoz 13 April 2021
US Air Force Material Command’s intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) directorate is gathering industry input for a slate of “alternative and improved” options for electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) sensors, designed for the air service’s MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial system (UAS) and other medium altitude UAS platforms.  “As a critical component of the current MQ-9 weapon system, the EO/IR sensor’s capabilities are integral to the combined ISR and Strike mission,” according to a 9 April request for information (RFI). “As such...

USMC to acquire two Reaper UAVs

By Gareth Jennings 13 April 2021
The US Marine Corps (USMC) is to acquire a pair of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) MQ-9A Reaper medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and related systems.  In a notification posted on the beta.sam....

Lockheed Martin contracts L3Harris for Viper Shield F-16V Block 70/72 electronic warfare system

By Pat Host 13 April 2021
Lockheed Martin in February sole-sourced L3Harris a cost-plus development contract to put its new AN/ALQ-254(V)1 Viper Shield electronic warfare (EW) system on the F-16V Block 70/72 Fighting Falcon combat aircraft.  The Viper Shield will have software-defined technology components that reveal digital radar threats and provide robust countermeasure capabilities in a fully-integrated, internally-mounted system, according to a company statement. The baseline version of the Viper Shield will be integrated into the aircraft’s fuselage, saving spac...

US Navy starts RFCM pod trials from P-8A Poseidon

By Richard Scott 12 April 2021
The US Navy (USN) has begun flight testing a new pod-mounted radio frequency countermeasure (RFCM) prototype developed for the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.  A member of the Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 20 puts a pod-mounted radio frequency countermeasure system on a P-8A Poseidon. (US Navy)  A first airworthiness flight was completed by the Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 20 (VX 20) on 12 March at the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) Atlantic Test Ranges. The pod has subsequently undertaken further test...

Taiwan registers largest number of PLA aircraft entering its ADIZ since at least mid-September 2020

By Gabriel Dominguez 12 April 2021
Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) announced on 12 April that a total of 25 Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft entered the island’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ) on 12 April: the largest number registered since the MN...

Leonardo to unveil UK New Medium Helicopter demonstrator

By Tim Ripley 12 April 2021
Leonardo is to unveil a demonstrator helicopter at its Yeovil plant in Somerset in May to spearhead its bid to win the UK’s recently announced New Medium Helicopter (NMH) competition with its AW149 helicopter.  Leonardo is competing for the UK’s NMH with its AW149 helicopter. (Leonardo)  The AW189 helicopter is currently being painted black at Yeovil to allow it to be used to brief UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) procurement officials, military personnel, government decision makers, and media representatives on the potential of the company’s sis...

Update: US Air Force completes XQ-58A Valkyrie's first payload release test

By Pat Host 12 April 2021
The US Air Force (USAF) on 26 March completed the Kratos XQ-58A Valkyrie’s first release from its internal weapons bay, and its sixth flight test.  This test at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, conducted in partnership with Kratos and Area-I, demonstrated the ability to launch an Altius-600 small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS) from the XQ-58A’s internal weapons bay, according to a service statement. Kratos, Area-I, and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) designed and fabricated the sUAS carriage and developed software to enable release. Af...

US, UK surge surveillance flights over Ukraine and Black Sea

By Tim Ripley 12 April 2021
US and UK surveillance aircraft have surged their operations in response to Russia’s military build-up along Ukraine’s eastern border and in Crimea since the end of March.  USAF E-8C JSTARS aircraft like the one pictured have been tracked flying along Belarus’s western border four times since 1 April. (USAF)  Open source tracking detected the increase in allied airborne surveillance flights following the reported increase in US European Command’s (USEUCOM’s) watch condition (WATCHCON) from “possible crisis to potential imminent crisis” after...

Boeing begins Poseidon assembly for Norway

By Gareth Jennings 12 April 2021
Norway’s procurement of five Boeing P-8A Poseidons took a major leap forward on 12 April, with the announcement by the manufacturer that assembly of the first maritime multimission aircraft (MMA) at its facilities near Seattle, Washington, had begun.  The 737-800 fuselage built by Spirit Aerosystems in Wichita, Kansas, arrived by rail at Boeing’s Renton plant on 12 April. It will be mated to 737-900 wings and other flight systems on Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ 737 production line, ahead of delivery to Boeing’s Defense, Space & Security at ne...

Number of JASDF scrambles drops 23% in FY 2020/21

By Kosuke Takahashi 12 April 2021
The Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) scrambled its fighter aircraft a total of 725 times in fiscal year (FY) 2020/21 in response to foreign military aircraft approaching the country’s airspace: a decrease of 23% compared with the same period in...

Update: JSM successfully released from F-35A

By Robin Hughes 12 April 2021
The Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency (Forsvarsmateriellm - FMA), in association with Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace (KDA), the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI), and the US Department of Defense F-35 Joint Program Office, conducted two initial in-flight test releases of a Joint Strike Missile (JSM) from the F-35A CTOL (Conventional Take-Off and Landing) Lightning II multirole stealth fighter over Edwards Air Force Base, California, in February.  Disclosed on 20 March, the test, which was conducted using an instrumented JSM weapon...

US Navy seeks GPS alternatives for hypersonic weapons

By Carlo Munoz 10 April 2021
The Department of the Navy is seeking prototype proposals for a non-GPS-based position, navigation, and timing (PNT) system, that will eventually be integrated into the sea service’s future arsenal of hypersonic weapons and platforms.  The solicitation, issued by the navy via a Request for Solutions (RFS) notice by the Strategic & Spectrum Missions Advanced Resilient Trusted Systems (S2MARTS) other transactional authority (OTA), has yet to be formally released to industry for response. But programme officials noted in the presolicitation not...

Pentagon budget 2022: White House reveals USD715 billion topline request

By Ashley Roque & Michael Fabey 09 April 2021
The Biden administration has notified Congress that it will request USD715 billion in discretionary funds for the Department of Defense (DoD) next year, an increase over this year’s enacted topline budget.  On 9 April the White House’s Office Management and Budget (OMB) announced that it will request USD753 billion in national defence funding for fiscal year (FY) 2022, with the bulk of which is for the DoD. The Pentagon’s coffer would get a 1.6% increase over the FY 2021 enacted funding level of USD704 billion. However, with roughly a 1.7% 12...

South Korea rolls out prototype of its first indigenous fighter aircraft

By Gabriel Dominguez & Dae Young Kim 09 April 2021
Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) has rolled out a prototype of the multirole fighter aircraft being developed for the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) under the Korean Fighter eXperimental (KF-X) programme.  South Korea rolled out the first prototype of its KF-21 Boramae multirole fighter aircraft in a ceremony held on 9 April at KAI headquarters in Sacheon. (DAPA)  Officially named KF-21 Boramae, the locally developed twin-engined aircraft was officially unveiled in a ceremony held on 9 April at KAI headquarters in the South Korean c...

Northrop Grumman maturing Firebird maritime capabilities

By Gareth Jennings 09 April 2021
Northrop Grumman is maturing the maritime and littoral capabilities of its Firebird optionally-piloted unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for prospective customers,  Janes  was told on 8 April.   The Firebird is an optionally-piloted unmanned aircraft that can operate several discrete payloads simultaneously, and its ability to carry a pilot overcomes the ’flight through civilian airspace’ problems. (Northrop Grumman)  Autonomous Systems Chief Strategist, Jon Haun, said that particular interest has been shown by a number of go...

Chinese company Zhongtian Feilong unveils UAV ‘mothership'

By Greg Murray & Gabriel Dominguez 08 April 2021
Chinese company Zhongtian Feilong announced on 1 April that it successfully carried out a “technical verification” flight of a newly developed unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that is capable of deploying a number of smaller UAVs for use in different roles, including on reconnaissance and attack missions.  Referred to by the company as an “unmanned airborne swarm system”, the vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) UAV, which took to the skies on 20 March from an unspecified airport in China, is a twin-boom design employing a pusher propeller for f...
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