Saudi receives first Chinooks

by Gareth Jennings

Saudi Arabia has received its first CH-47F Chinook helicopters, similar to this US Army model. (US Army)

Boeing has handed over the first CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopters for Saudi Arabia, a company representative told Janes on 24 January.

Confirmation came after an image of at least the first four helicopters in Royal Saudi Land Forces (RSLF) livery apparently at a port of debarkation was posted online, seeming to confirm that deliveries of up to 48 such helicopters approved by the US government in 2016 had begun.

“We can confirm that Chinook aircraft [for Saudi Arabia] have been delivered to the US Army. We are currently contracted for eight new Chinook helicopters [for Saudi Arabia], and anticipate delivery to the US Army to continue through 2022. Since this is an FMS sale, our customer is the US Army,” Boeing said.

Although Boeing declined to divulge further details, the US Defense Security and Cooperation Agency (DSCA) had previously disclosed that the approved Saudi Arabian Chinook procurement of 48 helicopters was valued at USD3.51 billion in 2016.

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RAF, RAAF reform respective 80 Sqns as US-based F-35 data centres

by Gareth Jennings

The chiefs of the RAF and RAAF reconstituting their respective 80 Squadrons during a joint ceremony at Eglin AFB in the US. (Crown Copyright)

The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) stood up their respective 80 Squadrons on 17 April to serve as US-based data units for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).

Announced by the RAF, the two separate but linked squadrons were reconstituted during a joint ceremony at Eglin Air Force Base (AFB) in Florida.

“At the event, the [UK] Chief of the Air Staff, [Air Chief Marshal] Sir Richard Knighton, and [Australian] Chief of the Air Force Air Marshal Robert Chipman, formally awarded the dormant 80 Squadron number plates for each service to their respective teams within the Australia, Canada, and United Kingdom Reprogramming Laboratory [ACURL],” the RAF said.

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DRDO test-fires ‘Indigenous Technology Cruise Missile'

by Kapil Kajal

The ITCM (pictured above from its test on 18 April) is a technology demonstrator programme to validate the capability of small turbofan engines. (Indian Ministry of Defence)

India's state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) test-fired its ‘Indigenous Technology Cruise Missile (ITCM)' from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) in Chandipur off the northeastern coast of Odisha, the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) said in a press release on 18 April.

“During the test, all subsystems performed as per expectation and the missile performance was monitored by several range sensors like radar, electro optical tracking system (EOTS), and telemetry deployed by [the] ITR at different locations to ensure complete coverage of the flightpath,” the MoD said.

The flight of the missile was also monitored from the Su-30-MKI aircraft of the Indian Air Force, the MoD added.

The missile followed the desired path using “waypoint navigation and demonstrated very-low-altitude sea-skimming flight”, according to the MoD.

“This successful flight test has also established the reliable performance of the indigenous propulsion system developed by the Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE), Bengaluru,” the MoD said.

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Equatorial Guinea flying new Chinese helicopters

by Jeremy Binnie

One of the new Z-9WE helicopters at Malabo airbase. (Partido Democrático de Guinea Ecuatorial)

The Armed Forces of Equatorial Guinea (FAGE) is now operating two new Harbin Z-9 helicopters, the country's ruling Democratic Party (Partido Democrático de Guinea Ecuatorial: PDGE) revealed on 9 April when it reported that Vice-President Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue had inspected the aircraft.

The PDGE released photographs showing the vice-president with at least one of the new helicopters at a location that could be identified as the airbase at Malabo International Airport. It was fitted with a gimballed electro-optical system under its nose and pylons for weapons that can include guns, rockets, and anti-tank missiles.

The Z-9 is the Chinese-made version of the Airbus AS365 Dauphin. The PDGE identified the new helicopters as the Z-9WE variant. It added that Equatorial Guinea is considering acquiring additional combat helicopters.

The FAGE was not previously known to have any Chinese aircraft in its fleet, which consists almost entirely of Soviet-era types.

For more information on the Z-9, seeHAIG (Airbus Helicopters) Z-9 Haitun .

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