Airshow China 2021: Chinese air force displays upgraded JH-7A fighter-bomber

by Andreas Rupprecht & Alessandra Giovanzanti

A PLAAF JH-7 aircraft, presumed to be the JH-7A2 variant, photographed in early August 2019 during the Aviadarts competition of the International Army Games held in Russia. The upgraded variant was displayed to the public at Airshow China 2021 in Zhuhai. (Russian Ministry of Defence)

The People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has, for the first time, displayed to the public an upgraded variant of the Xi'an Aircraft Corporation's JH-7A fighter-bomber.

Known as JH-7A2 (also spelled JH-7AII), the new variant was showcased at the outdoor exhibition area of Airshow China 2021, which was held from 28 September to 3 October in Zhuhai.

The aircraft was seen carrying several pods, including the KL700A (also known as the KG700) electronic countermeasures (ECMs) pod on an outer wing pylon and the bigger and heavier KG800 ECM/jammer pod on the inner wing pylon. These pods had previously been seen on the JH-7A aircraft, however, they had not yet been displayed to the public.

The JH-7A2 was also shown carrying a targeting pod designated K/JDC03A, which is similar in appearance to the standard K/JDC01 laser targeting pod used to designate targets for LS-500J laser-guided bombs.

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South Korea prioritises offsets on KF-21 programme

by Jon Grevatt

South Korea's KF-21 fighter aircraft (pictured above) made its first flight in July 2022. Mass production of the aircraft is expected to start in 2026. (Korea Aerospace Industries)

South Korea has added its domestically developed KF-21 (Boramae) fighter aircraft to its list of priority defence offset projects during the coming few years.

The aircraft's inclusion on the offset list underscores the high level of foreign involvement in the KF-21 development programme and also Seoul's determination to locally source replacements.

South Korea's list of priority defence offset projects is administered by the Defense Administration Program Administration (DAPA). The list identifies the technologies that DAPA wants local industry to gain access to through the defence offset programme.

A new priority offset list was issued by DAPA in mid-August, with the KF-21 included for the first time. The list covers priorities during 2022–24 and beyond, although offset requirements linked to the KF-21 programme are scheduled to be discharged during 2024–32.

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Qatar Emiri Air Force receives first Typhoons, readies aircraft for QRA duty

by Tim Ripley

Qatari Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft at BAE Systems Warton site. (Tim Ripley)

Four Qatari Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft are to depart from BAE Systems Warton site “within days” to take up quick reaction alert (QRA) duty ahead of the FIFA World Cup in November and December.

The Qatar Emiri Air Force's (QEAF's) first Typhoons were officially accepted into service by Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah, Qatar's deputy prime minister and minister of state for defence affairs, in a ceremony at Warton on 15 August.

Speaking at the Warton event, Cliff Robson, BAE Systems Group managing director – Air, said that the aircraft would be operational from “day one” of their arrival at Dukhan Airbase in Qatar, where the company has established support facilities.

Robson described BAE Systems contract with Qatar as a “turnkey solution” and said it would be providing training and support “for years to come.”

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Iran hosting UAV competition for Russia's Army Games

by Jeremy Binnie

A Shahed-191 displayed at the IRGC's National Aerospace Park in Tehran. (Iranian Students News Agency)

An Iranian base that is allegedly used to train foreign terrorists to operate unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is hosting part of the International Army Games 2022, raising questions about earlier reports that Russians are training to operate UAVs in Iran.

The Fars News Agency cited a senior officer in the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force as saying on 15 August that the Falcon Hunting UAV competition would be held in Kashan, near Isfahan, as part of the games. It will involve teams from Armenia, Belarus, Iran, and Russia.

Visiting teams in the International Army Games often use equipment supplied by the host, which was initially the Russian military in 2015, but the event has since expanded, with 12 countries hosting competitions this year.

The IRGC has a base at Kashan Airport that has been used for its larger UAVs since at least 2016, when it was identified as the location of the test site for a copy of the US RQ-170 stealth UAV that crashed in Iran in December 2011.

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The People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has, for the first time, displayed to the public an u...

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