Jordan signs LOA for F-16 Block 70s

by Gareth Jennings

Having been approved for 16 F-16 Block 70s earlier in 2022, Jordan has now signed an LOA for eight. It is likely that these are a first batch, with another eight to follow. (Lockheed Martin)

Jordan is to join the international F-16 Block 70/72 programme, with manufacturer Lockheed Martin announcing on 16 June that the country has signed a letter of acceptance (LOA) for the aircraft.

According to the announcement, the Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF) is to receive eight Block 70 aircraft (powered by the General Electric F100-GE-129D engine rather than the Pratt & Whitney F100-PW229EEP engine of the Block 72) to be built at Greenville in South Carolina.

“The selection of new-production F-16 aircraft extends Jordan's existing fleet of F-16s, bringing advanced capabilities to the mission combined with affordable operating and life-cycle costs,” Lockheed Martin said.

No details pertaining to contract values or delivery timelines were disclosed.

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US Navy begins converting former RAF E-3D into E-6B trainer

by Gareth Jennings

A former RAF E-3D being converted into a surrogate E-6B trainer for the US Navy at Lake Charles Airport in Louisiana. (NAVAIR)

The US Navy (USN) has begun conversion of a Boeing E-3D Sentry Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AEW&C) aircraft into a surrogate trainer for the service's E-6B Mercury long-endurance command, control, and communications (C3) fleet.

The Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) announced the commencement of conversion work on 4 October, noting that the former UK Royal Air Force (RAF) E-3D will have a number of external features removed to better resemble the outer mould line of the E-6B.

“The process has begun to turn this E-3D into an E-6B in-flight trainer. The outer mould line will be modified to resemble an E-6, and the aerial refuelling probe and radar dome will be removed,” the command said.

Work is being performed at Lake Charles Airport in Louisiana (site of Northrop Grumman's Lake Charles Maintenance and Modification Center), where the aircraft has been stored since 2021. According to NAVAIR, once the maintenance and modification are complete, flight-testing is scheduled to start in early 2024.

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Carrier Ford departs on first official deployment

by Michael Fabey

Aircraft carrier USS Gerald R Ford departed Norfolk, Virginia, on 4 October for its first official deployment. (Janes/Michael Fabey)

The US aircraft carrier USS Gerald R Ford (CVN 78) departed Norfolk, Virginia, a bit after 1300 h local time on 4 October for its first official deployment.

The deployment was scheduled for 3 October, but had to be delayed because foul weather forced the halting and curtailment of port operations in Hampton Roads, US Navy (USN) officials said.

Ford will not be deployed as part of the USN's Global Force Management deployment like most of the other service ships in service. Instead, the carrier will be sent on a Retained Service deployment, Vice Admiral Daniel Dwyer, commander of United States 2nd Fleet and Joint Force Command, said on 26 September during a media briefing about USN plans for the carrier.

The ship's first Global Force Management deployment is slated to take place in 2023, Vice Adm Dwyer said.

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India's Light Combat Helicopter inducted into service

by Akhil Kadidal

Senior defence officials and officers inducted the HAL Light Combat Helicopter Prachanda into service on 3 October 2022. From left: Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari (chief of Air Staff), Air Marshal Vikram Singh (air officer commanding-in-chief of South Western Air Command), Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, and Chief of Defence Staff General Anil Chauhan. (Janes/Akhil Kadidal)

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has inducted the first production units of the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the air force.

The attack helicopter was inducted into service with the official name of ‘Prachanda' by India's Defence Minister Rajnath Singh at Jodhpur Air Force Station on 3 October. The IAF said it has raised a new unit to operate the helicopters. This unit, known as No 143 Helicopter Unit (HU), was raised on 1 June 2022, according to the IAF.

The IAF added that the first LCH was handed over to the unit on 18 July 2022. The first LCH subsequently arrived at Jodhpur Air Force Station on 3 September.

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Jordan is to join the international F-16 Block 70/72 programme, with manufacturer Lockheed Martin an...

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