IFC 2022: Luftwaffe reaffirms F-35A, Eurofighter EK procurement plan

by Gareth Jennings

The Luftwaffe is to acquire 35 F-35As to partially satisfy its Tornado replacement requirement. (Janes/Gareth Jennings)

The Luftwaffe has restated its earlier declared intent to satisfy its Tornado replacement requirement with Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter and Eurofighter Electronic Combat (Elektronischer Kampf: EK) aircraft, despite recent reports this was being reconsidered because of budgetary pressures.

Speaking at the IQPC International Fighter Conference (IFC) 2022 held in Berlin from 16 to 18 November, the Commander of the Air Force Forces Command, Lieutenant General Günter Katz, said that the intent to procure 35 F-35As and 15 Eurofighter EKs remains.

This statement on 16 November was contrary to German media reports over recent weeks that F-35 numbers were being revised downwards and the Eurofighter EK was to be replaced by the Boeing EA-18G Growler as a result of inflationary pressures on the EUR100 billion (USD103.86 billion) Söndervermögen (special fund) uplift in national defence spending that was introduced on the back of Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February.

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UK Rivet Joint fleet ups tempo for Black Sea ops

by Richard Scott

The UK's RC-135W Rivet Joint fleet has been operating at almost 200% of the normal tempo. (Crown Copyright)

UK Royal Air Force (RAF) RC-135W Rivet Joint signals intelligence (SIGINT) aircraft have been operating at nearly three times their normal operating tempo to support intelligence-gathering operations in the Black Sea theatre, according to the service's senior operations officer.

Delivering the annual Sir Sydney Camm Lecture at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London on 1 February, Air Marshal Harvey Smyth, deputy commander (operations), added that operations over the last year had put crews “well within harm's way”.

Operated by No 51 Squadron at RAF Waddington, the three Rivet Joint aircraft – ZZ664, ZZ665, and ZZ666 – form part of a wider enterprise between the RAF and the United States Air Force (USAF). As part of the RAF's Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) Force, the RC-135W fleet is used to monitor, collect, and analyse communications and radar signals of interest.

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South Korean army showcases future fighting force

by Kapil Kajal

The RoK Army has created an Army Tiger Demonstration Brigade to test manned-unmanned operations that leverage technologies including AI and unmanned systems such as this 6×6 unmanned surveillance vehicle developed by Hanwha Defense. (Hanwha Defense)

The Republic of Korea (RoK) Army has showcased a new combat unit known as the Army Tiger Demonstration Brigade (ATDB) in a training exercise with the United States.

The exercise was held in Paju city, near the North Korean border. The US Army's quick reaction unit known as Stryker Brigade Combat Team also participated in the drills.

The ATDB is designed to integrate artificial intelligence (AI), unmanned systems, and intelligence-based concepts into the RoK Army combat brigades in the coming decade and beyond.

South Korea's Ministry of National Defense (MND) created the ATDB in 2022 within the RoK Army's 25th Infantry Division in Yangju, Gyeonggi-do province, which is responsible for command-and-control operations.

“Since declaring the first ATDB in 2022, the RoK Army is planning to gradually reform the structure and power system of its brigades and turn all combat brigades into ATDBs by 2040,” an MND spokesperson told Janes.

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India test-flies Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle

by Kapil Kajal

The HSTDV, seen here from a test in September 2020, uses an Agni-1 short-range ballistic missile as the solid rocket booster to place the vehicle into the altitude needed to ensure the operation of the scramjet. (DRDO)

India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has conducted a flight test of the Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV).

A DRDO official confirmed with Janes that the test was conducted from APJ Abdul Kalam Island off the northeastern coast of Odisha. However, the DRDO did not confirm the test results. It said it is assessing the test data and will share the results soon.

The HSTDV was tested for the third time with the current test. The first test flight of the HSTDV took place in June 2019. An Agni-1 short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) was used as the solid rocket booster to place the HSTDV into the altitude needed to ensure the operation of the scramjet.

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