UK Reaper shown carrying new undisclosed sensor payload

by Gareth Jennings

Seen for the first time on imagery released by the MoD on 18 April, this UK Reaper is fitted with two cheek-mounted sensor arrays (one on each side of the aircraft). A previously classified blade antenna can also be seen fitted to the underfuselage. (Crown Copyright)

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has released imagery of the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc (GA-ASI) MQ-9A Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) fitted with a previously undisclosed new payload.

Released on 18 April to coincide with a media event at the Royal Air Force (RAF) Waddington marking 10 years of UK-based combat operations, the imagery shows a Middle East-based Reaper fitted with a check-mounted sensor array on each side of the aircraft. The image also shows a previously classified blade antenna fitted to the underfuselage.

The MoD provided no details as to the nature of either payload, although Commanding Officer 13 Squadron and Reaper Force Commander, Wing Commander Stuart McAdam, told Janes at the media event that the Reaper now has “a very comprehensive” signals intelligence (SIGINT) suite, as well as a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) capability to see through weather.

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Update: US CV-22B Osprey crashes in Japanese waters

by Akhil Kadidal

The US Air Force said the Bell Boeing CV-22B involved in the mishap was an aircraft from the 353rd Special Operations Wing. The unit operates its CV-22Bs from Yokota Air Base near Tokyo. (US Air Force)

A Bell Boeing CV-22 Osprey of the US Air Force (USAF) has crashed in Japanese waters.

In a statement later on 29 November US Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) said the CV-22B Osprey from the 353rd Special Operations Wing was involved in the “mishap”.

The aircraft was “performing a routine training mission off the shore of Yakushima Island, Japan, with eight airmen on board,” the AFSOC statement said, adding that the aircraft had taken off from Yokota Air Base.

In a press conference in Tokyo later on 29 November Japanese Parliamentary Vice-Minister of Defense Hiroyuki Miyazawa said the CV-22 “made an emergency water landing off the coast of Yakushima” at 1440 h local time. Clarifying his use of the term “emergency landing”, Miyazawa said the Ministry of Defense (MoD) had “received an explanation from the US side … that the pilots did their best [to control the aircraft] until the very end”.

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South Korea selects KC-390 for acquisition

by Akhil Kadidal

An Embraer rendering of the KC-390 shows the aircraft with the emblem of the Republic of Korea Air Force's 251st Tactical Air Support Squadron (of the 5th Tactical Transport Wing), which is based at Gimhae, near the southern city of Busan. (Embraer)

The South Korean government has announced that it has selected the Embraer KC-390 Millenium transport aircraft for its Large Transport Aircraft-II (LTA-II) acquisition programme.

The decision was made during the 157th Defense Acquisition Program Committee meeting on 4 December, according to the Defense Acquisition Programme Administration (DAPA). The procurement has a contract value of KRW710 billion (USD543.3 million). The purchase plan for the programme was originally approved during the 142nd Defense Acquisition Program Committee meeting in March 2022.

According to DAPA, the KC-390 was selected following the Defense Security Committee's deliberations. “The ‘Large Transport Aircraft II' is a project to secure additional large transport aircraft operated by the air force [Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF)] through overseas purchases to meet the peacetime shortage,” DAPA said.

It is unclear how many aircraft will be procured. A DAPA spokesperson told Janes

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Japan becomes observer on Eurodrone project

by Gareth Jennings

A mock-up of the Eurodrone displayed at the Paris Air Show 2023. Japan has now joined the programme as an observer. (Janes/Gareth Jennings)

Japan has attained official observer status on the Eurodrone project, the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR) announced on 30 November.

The letter of approval was presented in Berlin by OCCAR Executive Administration Director Joachim Sucker to the Japanese Ambassador to Germany, Hidenao Yanagi.

Also known as the European medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) remotely piloted air system (RPAS), the Eurodrone was officially launched in February 2022 by Germany, along with France, Italy, and Spain.

Mock-ups presented at several European air shows show the twin-engined Eurodrone to be slightly larger than the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) MQ-9A Reaper. Although intended primarily as an intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) vehicle (including signals intelligence), there will be an option for it to be armed (the MBDA Akeron LP air-to-surface missile was recently selected as one weapon type for the platform).

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The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has released imagery of the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, I...

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