Air news

DARPA's Gremlins programme achieves first mid-air capture and recovery

By Richard Scott 08 November 2021
DARPA and Dynetics have completed the first mid-air recovery of an X-61 Gremlins Air Vehicle. (DARPA)  The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and Dynetics have completed a first successful in-flight capture and recovery of an unmanned air vehicle under the agency's Gremlins programme.  A fourth round of flight tests performed last month at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah, saw two X-61 Gremlin Air Vehicles (GAVs) fly in formation with a Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules before one was recovered to the aircraft.  Launched by DARPA's...

Chinese air force deploying recently unveiled J-16D in combat training

By Gabriel Dominguez & Andreas Rupprecht 08 November 2021
A screengrab from video footage released by CCTV on 6 November showing a J-16D bearing PLAAF insignia. The state broadcaster revealed that same day that the service had begun deploying this new EW-capable variant in combat training. (CCTV)  China's People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has begun using the new electronic warfare (EW)-capable variant of the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) J-16 fighter aircraft in combat training.  Footage released by state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) on 6 November shows at least two J-1...

USAF commits nearly USD11 billion to future F-22 upgrades

By Gareth Jennings 08 November 2021
The US Air Force has earmarked close to USD11 billion to future upgrades for its fleet of 186 F-22 Raptor aircraft over the coming decade. (US Air Force)  The US Air Force (USAF) has committed nearly USD11 billion to future upgrades for the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor combat aircraft.  The service awarded the original equipment manufacturer USD10.863 million on 5 November for Advanced Raptor Enhancement and Sustainment for the F-22 Program Office.  “This [indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity] contract vehicle provides support for the neces...

US Air Force moves ahead with new SIGINT sensor prototypes

By Carlo Munoz 08 November 2021
A nose view of the RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 20 AV 04 2015 that shows the types enlarged under fuselage sensor housing and the provision for SIGINT antennas built into both sides of its forward fuselage. (Northrop Grumman Corporation)  The US Air Force (USAF) is moving headlong into the prototype phase of the service's new, open architecture-based signals intelligence (SIGINT) programme, tapping Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems to develop the sensor hardware and networking backbone in support of the effort.  Engineers at BAE Systems and Northrop...

UK expands UKMFTS contract with Affinity

By Gareth Jennings 08 November 2021
Student pilots and instructors at RAF Valley shortly after completing a training sortie aboard the Textron T-6 Texan II. (Crown Copyright)  The United Kingdom has expanded its UK Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS) with Affinity Flying Training Services (AFTS), awarding a further GBP65 million (USD88 million) on 8 November.  The uplift for the 50/50 joint venture of Elbit Systems UK and Kellogg Brown and Root Limited covers for 12 years of operation of four additional Textron T-6C Texan II trainer aircraft received in 2020.  “The additio...

US Army awards USD69.6 million contract for 300kW-class laser weapon development

By Ashley Roque 05 November 2021
The US Army recently awarded a General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) and Boeing team with a contract worth up to USD69.6 million to demonstrate a 300kW-class solid state laser system, according to the service. If the air defence weapon w...

FEINDEF 2021: SCR converts target drone into UAV

By David Ing 05 November 2021
SCR is to start selling a version of its SCRAB target drone converted into a UAV system. (SCR)  Sistemas de Control Remoto (SCR) is to start selling a version of its SCRAB target drone converted into an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) system, which it presented at the International Defence and Security Fair (FEINDEF) being held in Madrid on 3–5 November.    The company's managing director, José Antonio Ceballos Peláez, told   Janes   on 4 November the SCRAB was especially apt for producing a fast flying UAV that can reach speeds...

Saudi Arabia receives clearance to buy follow-on AMRAAM missiles

By Gareth Jennings 05 November 2021
Saudi Arabia is acquiring additional AMRAAM missiles to replenish stocks for its Eurofighter (pictured) and F-15 fighters. (BAE Systems)  Saudi Arabia has been cleared by the US government to replenish its stock of Raytheon AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAMs).  The Foreign Military Sales (FMS) approval, which was announced by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) on 4 November, covers up to 280 AIM-120C-7/C-8-variant missiles (the notification did not provide definite numbers for each version), plus spares,...

UK receives new Reaper UAV to support transition to Protector

By Gareth Jennings 05 November 2021
The UK has 10 MQ-9A Reaper UAVs in its inventory once more, after the receipt of a single aircraft earlier in the year to replace a previously retired platform. (Crown Copyright)  The United Kingdom has received a new General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) MQ-9A Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), bringing the fleet back up to full strength in support of the upcoming transition to the GA-ASI MQ-9B Protector RG1 platform.    The Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed to   Janes   on 5 November that the single Block 1 M...

Image emerges of CAIG's two-seat J-20 prototype in flight

By Gabriel Dominguez & Andreas Rupprecht 05 November 2021
An image has emerged on Chinese social media platforms showing that a two-seat prototype of the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group (CAIG) J-20A fifth-generation multirole fighter aircraft has conducted what appears to have been its maiden flight.  Rel...

Russian military to receive 200 aircraft, 26 S-350 and S-400 air-defence systems, says Putin

By Dmitry Fediushko 04 November 2021
The Russian armed forces is set to receive approximately 200 aircraft and 26 S-350 and S-400 air-defence systems in the coming years, President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting with military officials and representatives of the defence industry in...

Israel deploys new aerostat radar

By Yaakov Lappin 04 November 2021
The TCOM aerostat that will carry the Sky Dew elevated radar system, at a site in northern Israel. (Israeli Ministry of Defense)  The Israeli Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced on 3 November that the Israel Missile Defense Organization (IMDO) is testing an aerostat with a new radar capable of detecting long-range threats.  It said the High Availability Aerostat System (HAAS) was made by the US company TCOM and was recently inflated at a site it has established in northern Israel. The radar has been developed with the US Missile Defense Agenc...

New US naval aviation vision emphasises nuclear-powered carriers in future air power

By Pat Host 04 November 2021
A F-35C taxis on the flight deck of Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS  Carl Vinson  (CVN 70) in the South China Sea on 31 October 2021. A new USN strategy document reaffirms the importance of CVNs to future air power despite the platform's vulnerability to advanced anti-ship missiles.  (US Navy)  A new US Navy (USN) strategy document has reaffirmed the importance of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers (CVNs) to future air power, despite the platform's vulnerability to advanced anti-ship missiles.    Released on...

USAF inspector general recommends airstrike procedure changes

By Ashley Roque 04 November 2021
There was “no violation of law” associated with a 29 August US military airstrike in Kabul, Afghanistan, that killed 10 civilians; however, the “interpretation” of the intelligence was flawed, according to the US Air Force's (USAF's) Inspector Gene...

UK expands scope of Shadow upgrade

By Gareth Jennings 04 November 2021
Having entered service in 2007, the Shadow is operated out of RAF Waddington by 14 Squadron. (Raythein)  The United Kingdom has expanded the upgrade of its Raytheon Shadow R1, adding additional special mission aircraft to the effort and integrating new equipment.  The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said on 3 November that Raytheon UK had been awarded GBP110 million (USD150 million) to add a further two Beechcraft King Air 350-derived Shadow R1 electronic intelligence (ELINT) aircraft to the R2 upgrade. The company will also integrate the Leonardo-...

Indonesian Air Force's C-130H transports to undergo avionics upgrade

By Alessandra Giovanzanti 04 November 2021
The Indonesian Air Force's (Tentara Nasional Indonesia Angkatan Udara, TNI-AU's) fleet of Lockheed Martin C-130H tactical transport aircraft is set to be upgraded with more advanced avionics as part of efforts to optimise operations, improve pilot...

F-35 being pitched to new European customers

By Gareth Jennings 03 November 2021
Seen in US Marine Corps service, the F-35 is competing several European fighter tenders. (US Air Force)  An official has noted new active sales campaigns in Europe for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).  Speaking under the Chatham House Rule, the official said that, in addition to the already known competition in Finland and the previously disclosed requirement in Greece, the F-35 is currently engaged in hitherto undeclared campaigns in two other European countries.  “A number of other [European] countries have...

Indian MoD approves acquisition of military equipment worth USD1.07 billion

By Gabriel Dominguez 03 November 2021
A HAL Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) conducting high-altitude trials in the Himalayas in September 2020. On 2 November the Indian MoD approved the procurement of indigenous military equipment worth a combined INR79.65 billion, including 12 LUHs. (HAL)  India's Ministry of Defence (MoD) has approved the procurement of indigenous equipment worth INR79.65 billion (USD1.07 billion) for the country's three military services, according to a statement by the Indian government's Press Information Bureau (PIB).  The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC),...

Morocco to upgrade bases for new F-16s

By Jeremy Binnie 03 November 2021
Moroccan F-16's sit on the runway prior to take-off at the 6th Air Base (Ben Guerir) during Exercise ‘African Lion 2021' in June. (US Air Force )  The Royal Moroccan Air Force (RMAF) is looking to upgrade two of its airbases as part of its F-16 multirole fighter programme, according to a request for information (RFI) released by the US Air Force on 2 November looking for contractors interested in carrying out the work.  Most of the work will be carried out at the 5th Air Base (Side Slimane), where the winning contractor will design and build...

Indian Air Force tests new indigenous long-range glide bomb

By Gabriel Dominguez & Rahul Udoshi 02 November 2021
The Indian Air Force (IAF) tested a new, locally developed ‘Long-Range Bomb (LRB)' from one of its Sukhoi Su-30MKI multirole fighters on 29 October, according to a statement issued the same day by the Indian government's Press Information Bureau (P...
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