Switzerland signs Air2030 contracts

by Gareth Jennings

Having made its selection of the F-35A (pictured) and Patriot earlier in 2021, Switzerland has now signed contracts for both systems. (Commonwealth of Australia)

Switzerland has signed for both the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II and the Raytheon Patriot ground-based air-defence systems (GBADS) to fulfil its Air2030 requirement.

The Federal Council announced the milestones on 26 November, some five months after the country announced its decision in July to procure 36 F-35As and five Patriot GBADS based on the highest overall benefits for the lowest overall costs.

“Contracts for the purchase of the F-35A combat aircraft and the Patriot long-range ground-to-air defence system have been finalised by Armasuisse with the US government,” the council's announcement stated.

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PLA says J-20 tracking foreign military aircraft in East China Sea ADIZ

by Akhil Kadidal

Beijing has acknowledged at least one sortie by a Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter into China's ADIZ to identify and track foreign military aircraft. China's ADIZ is controversial as it overlaps the ADIZs of other neighbouring countries, especially Japan. (Janes)

China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) has announced that it has dispatched a Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter into China's air defense identification zone (ADIZ) to ‘track' foreign military aircraft. This includes potential stealth aircraft such as the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II.

The PLA Daily announced on 15 August that a PLA Air Force pilot, Yang Chunlei, had flown a J-20 into the ADIZ in July. This is the first tacit acknowledgement by Beijing that it is conducting J-20s sorties into the ADIZ with the purpose of monitoring military aircraft from other countries. The Chinese state-owned website, China Daily, suggested that the J-20 is being used to detectLockheed Martin F-35s operated by the United States, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF), and the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) in the region.

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France completes Mali withdrawal

by Jeremy Binnie

The last helicopter hangar at the French base in Gao is taken down (a photograph released on 7 August). (Armée Française - Opération Barkhane)

The French military announced on 15 August that it has completed its withdrawal from Mali, saying the last unit from its main base at Gao had crossed into Niger earlier that day.

It said that the “major logistical challenge” was completed in less than six months after it was ordered by President Emmanuel Macron on 17 February and stressed that it remained committed to fighting terrorism in the Sahel in close co-ordination with its African partners.

The decision to withdraw from Mali was prompted by successive coups in Bamako in 2020 and 2021 and the resulting military-led transitional government's decision to turn to Russia for support. Meanwhile, there has been growing popular resentment of the French military presence and the perceived lack of progress it had made against the various militant groups operating in Mali since the intervention to stabilise the country in 2013.

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Australia plans to drop PC-21 from attack controller training

by Akhil Kadidal

RAAF Pilatus PC-21 aircraft from No 4 Squadron are working with the Royal New Zealand Air Force to enhance New Zealand's Joint Terminal Attack Controller training. However, Australia is likely to drop the PC-21 from future JTAC training because of the aircraft's limitations. (LACW Catherine Kelly/Commonwealth of Australia)

Australia is “developing options” to better meet Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) training.

The country's JTAC training programme is being sustained by 49 Pilatus PC-21 training aircraft serving with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). However, Australia's Department of Defence (DoD) told Janes that the PC-21 is only able to “satisfy up to 80% of JTAC training system live-fly requirements”.

“It does not have the ability to provide the live weapons passes needed to complete initial, currency, and proficiency training,” the DoD added.

The need for another option appears to have been highlighted amid the RAAF's deployment of a detachment of PC-21s from No 4 Squadron to New Zealand. The aircraft are participating in a combined training exercise with the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) from 8 to 19 August.

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