Pentagon budget 2023: Services desire additional F-35 aircraft

by Gillian Rich

A F-35A Lightning II takes flight. (Lockheed Martin)

The US Air Force (USAF), Navy (USN), and Marine Corps (USMC) all want more Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighters than they officially requested for fiscal year (FY) 2023, the services told Congress in their respective unfunded priority lists.

The Pentagon officially requested USD11 billion for 61 F-35 fighters in 2023, down from the 94 it had previously projected, but the services recently told lawmakers they would like additional aircraft if possible, according to the unfunded priority lists obtained by Janes.

More specifically, the USAF would like USD921 million for seven additional F-35A conventional variant fighters to augment its official request for 33 fighters.

The USN, meanwhile, said it could use an additional USD708 million in FY 2023 for six more F-35C carrier variant jets than its request for nine aircraft.

USMC leaders also said they would like USD357.6 million more than they officially requested for three additional F-35B short take-off and landing variantjets, which would mean acquiring 18 F-35B aircraft next year, along with three additional F-35C aircraft above its official request for four aircraft.


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UK launches next phase of UAS Heavy Lift challenge

by Olivia Savage

The Royal Navy trialling Windracers Autonomous Systems' Ultra fixed-wing UAS (pictured) in the UASHLC. (Crown Copyright 2022)

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has launched Phase 2 of the Unmanned Aerial Systems Heavy Lift Capability (UASHLC) challenge.

According to the pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) published on 5 August, the MoD is seeking to “support and inform the development of maritime operating concepts and enable assessment, analysis, exploration, and evaluation of the use of UAS for beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) payload delivery and broader UAS capabilities”. The MoD is therefore seeking to accelerate the development of one or more suppliers' platforms, as well as the key technologies that will enhance UAS operational capabilities.

The closing date for suppliers to submit a PQQ is 5 September, with a contract expected to run from September 2022 to August 2027, the MoD said. Up to GBP95 million (USD116 million) is available for the programme, the MoD added.

The MoD was unable to provide further comment at the time of publication.


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Czech Republic to buy Heron UAVs from Israel

by Gareth Jennings

The Czech Republic is looking to buy three Heron 1 UAVs from Israel, with the deal expected to be concluded by the end of 2022. (IAI)

The Czech Republic is to buy three Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Heron 1 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) as part of the country's wider Concept of Capability Construction of the Army of the Czech Republic plan.

The Czech Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced the plan on 8 August, saying that negotiations for the procurement are to begin with the Israeli government shortly as it plans to acquire equipment seen “as crucial in conducting aerial reconnaissance and performing other tasks for direct combat support and protection of Czech army units”.


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Iraq returns CH-4 UAV to service

by Jeremy Binnie

One of the IAAC's CH-4s displayed with AR-1 missiles and FT-9 bombs at Balad Air Base. (Iraqi Ministry of Defence)

The Iraqi Army Aviation Command (IAAC) has returned its first Chinese-made CH-4 armed unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to service, it was announced on 8 August, when Minister of Defence Juma Enad Saadoun visited the IAAC area of Balad Air Base.

The Iraqi Ministry of Defence (MoD) released a video showing Saadoun being shown a ground control station and watching a CH-4 armed with AR-1 laser-guided missiles and FT-9 bombs take-off.

Saadoun said in the video that the UAVs played a large role in the war against the Islamic State extremist group, but were put in storage in 2017 because of their age. A contract was signed with the manufacturer in 2021 to return them to service and the work began about a month ago, he said.

The Iraqi MoD unveiled the CH-4s in October 2015 but did not reveal how many it had acquired.


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https://www.janes.com/defence-news/air-platforms/latest/pentagon-budget-2023-services-desire-additional-f-35-aircraft

The US Air Force (USAF), Navy (USN), and Marine Corps (USMC) all want more Lockheed Martin F-35 Ligh...

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