Update: South Africa contracts Gripen support from Saab

by Gareth Jennings & Akshara Parakala

South Africa has signed a three-year support deal with Saab that would address availability problems with its Gripen C/D fleet. (Janes/Patrick Allen)

South Africa has contracted Saab to provide three years of support to some of its fleet of Gripen C/D combat aircraft.

Announced by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) on 19 September, the ZAR532 million (USD30 million) deal covers service, repairs, maintenance, and minor updates to the South African Air Force's (SAAF's) fleet of Gripen C/Ds that it has fielded operationally since 2008. The contract runs from 2022 to 2025.

While the SAAF officially lists 17 single-seat Gripen Cs and nine two-seat Gripen Ds in its inventory, two aircraft have been described as being beyond economic repair.

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Swift win: Chinese military aircraft show links to Western technology

by Akhil Kadidal & Akshara Parakala

Two Chengdu J-20 stealth fighters perform during Airshow China 2022 at Zhuhai on 8 November. (Zhou Guoqiang/VCG via Getty Images)

China's development of military air platforms continues to show strong links to designs and concepts originating from the West.

During Airshow China 2022, 121 aircraft (including models) and 54 types of ground equipment were displayed by more than 740 companies worldwide, according to Chinese state-owned media. Out of this, 55% of exhibits were unveiled for the first time, according to the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC). The corporation added that 43 exhibits were domestically developed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

In addition, about 50 aircraft and associated weapons and equipment displayed at the air show were developed by domestic industry and operated by the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), AVIC said.

Janes assessment of 14 technology demonstrators, in-service aircraft or models exhibited at the air show found design or capability similarities with platforms in other countries.

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Royal Australian Navy to acquire Bluebottle USVs

by Julian Kerr

When deployed, the solar sail of the Bluebottle (pictured) harnesses both solar and wind energy. In headwinds or winds more than 25 kt, the solar sail automatically folds onto the deck of the USV. (Ocius)

The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) is acquiring five Bluebottle unmanned surface vessels (USVs) to enhance its ability to experiment and advance the operational employment of uncrewed systems under, on, and above the water.

Disclosing a AUD4.9 million (USD3.3 million) contract with Sydney-based Ocius Technologies, Rear Admiral Peter Quinn, head of the Navy Capability in the RAN, said on 25 November that this represented a significant investment in sovereign industry capability to advance the ability of the RAN to effectively employ robotic and autonomous systems.

“We have vast areas that we need to patrol, which we can't do with a small number of crewed ships. We have to and will be investing in uncrewed platforms that will be out there persistently conducting surveillance,'' he said.

The 22 ft solar, wind, and wave-powered vessels would be used in developing new uncrewed underwater systems technology, and as testbeds for above-water and low-water surveillance, he said.

Ocius CEO Robert Dane told

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China's J-15 naval jet appears with indigenous WS-10 engines

by Akhil Kadidal & Prasobh Narayanan

China appears to have fitted at least one SAC J-15 naval fighter with a domestic WS-10B Taihang engine. The potential maturity of this powerplant could free China from its dependency on Russia for combat jet engines. (AFP/Getty Images)

A Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) J-15 ‘Flying Shark' naval fighter has been fitted with what appears to be a pair of domestically developed engines.

The aircraft was spotted in a video imagery of a hangar at an SAC factory. The footage was aired on 23 November during a China Central Television (CCTV) news report on the 10th anniversary of the J-15 starting sea trials on China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning.

Janes assesses that the new engine is a variant of the Liming WS-10 Taihang engine. There is a roughly even chance that the ‘B' variant of the Taihang has been installed in the jet. According to Janes Aero-Engines data, the WS-10B is potentially a more powerful version of the WS-10A. The thrust rating of the WS-10B is 135 kN (30,350 lb st).

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