US, Turkey continue talks to settle F-35 dispute

by Gareth Jennings

The first of six F-35As that Turkey officially received before being expelled from the programme in 2019. Washington and Ankara are now holding talks to settle outstanding legal issues. (Lockheed Martin)

The United States and Turkey held a second round of talks geared at settling outstanding issues related to Ankara's expulsion from the international Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme.

The US Department of Defense (DoD) announced the continuation of talks on 23 January, saying that talks had taken place in Washington, DC, following an earlier round in Ankara. With this round having taken place on 18 January, a third is scheduled for Ankara in the second quarter of 2023.

Turkey was expelled from the F-35 programme in 2019, having refused US demands that it not acquire the Russian S-400 ground-based air-defence system for fears it may compromise the security of the ‘fifth-generation' stealth jet.

At the time of its exclusion, Turkey had accepted six of the 100 F-35As it intended to acquire. Although accepted, these aircraft remained in the US and were subsequently subsumed into the US Air Force (USAF).

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China shows concept of tailless future fighter jet

by Akhil Kadidal

China displayed a concept model of a future stealth fighter jet at Airshow China 2022 in Zhuhai on 6 November 2022. (CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

The Chinese aviation industry has revealed a concept of the country's next-generation fighter jet.

A video released on 31 January in the WeChat video channel of the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) showed three twin-engined aircraft in flight. The aircraft appeared to resemble the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) J-20 fifth-generation, multirole fighter aircraft but without tailfins or the frontal canard.

The diamond-delta wing of the concept aircraft also appeared similar to the wings of the J-20 but slightly larger. Citing experts, the state-owned newspaper, Global Times , speculated that the concept aircraft is China's next-generation fighter jet.

The CGI imagery shown in the video appears to be connected to a model of a tailless, next-generation fighter displayed at Airshow China 2022 held at Zhuhai in November.

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Indian Army issues RFI for life extension of Smerch rockets

by Kapil Kajal

The Indian Army seeks to extend the life of 300 mm rockets used with the BM-30 Smerch Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS). In the image, the employees of Russian arms company Splav can be seen loading a 300 mm rocket in Smerch MLRS. (Splav)

The Indian Army has released a tender to support its programme for the life extension of 300 mm rockets used with the BM-30 Smerch Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS).

According to a request for information (RFI) by the Indian Army, the service seeks to identify private Indian vendors for participating in the proposal for life extension of all variants of Smerch ammunition, and facilitate the preparation of request for proposals (RFP).

The Indian Army proposed the life extension of four variants of 300 mm Smerch rockets, the RFI added. The four variants are 300 mm 9M55S fuel-air explosive (FAE) warhead, 300 mm 9M55F high explosive (HE) fragmentation significant wave height (SWH)-70 km, 300 mm 9M528 HE fragmentation SWH-90 km, and 300 mm 9M55K cluster warhead.

The Indian Army said that the life-extension methodology of any ammunition depends on its design configuration, composition and quantity of explosives ,

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Luftwaffe progresses Büchel Air Base refit ahead of F-35 arrival

by Gareth Jennings

An artist's impression of the F-35 in Luftwaffe markings, shown at ILA Berlin Air Show 2022. (Lockheed Martin via Janes/Gareth Jennings)

The Luftwaffe is progressing work to upgrade Büchel Air Base ahead of the arrival of the first Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) later this decade.

The Inspector of the Air Force, Lieutenant General Ingo Gerhartz, visited the base, which is planned to accommodate all 35 of the Luftwaffe's F-35As, on 6 February, with the service's official Twitter account noting that work is moving forward.

“Things are progressing in Büchel at the [Tactical Air Wing 33]. Runway and infrastructure are made fit for the future and F-35,” the Luftwaffe posted.

Located near Bonn, Büchel Air Base currently accommodates Panavia Tornado Interdiction Strike (IDS) aircraft of Tactical Air Wing 33. Although not confirmed, it is understood that this location is where the NATO nuclear weapons that the aircraft will carry are stored.

While the Bundeswehr has not disclosed the specific work to be undertaken at Büchel Air Base, Lockheed Martin recently outlined to Janes the general work that an airbase would typically need to undergo prior to receiving F-35s.

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