Chinese air force deploying recently unveiled J-16D in combat training

by Gabriel Dominguez & Andreas Rupprecht

A screengrab from video footage released by CCTV on 6 November showing a J-16D bearing PLAAF insignia. The state broadcaster revealed that same day that the service had begun deploying this new EW-capable variant in combat training. (CCTV)

China's People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has begun using the new electronic warfare (EW)-capable variant of the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) J-16 fighter aircraft in combat training.

Footage released by state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) on 6 November shows at least two J-16D examples taking off from an undisclosed location in China and conducting flight manoeuvres, with the media outlet noting that the aircraft, which were shown bearing PLAAF insignia, were deployed in “combat-oriented drills”.

The images confirm that the variant has formally entered PLAAF service, although it is unclear when they were taken. CCTV reported that that J-16D will be used to provide EW support for the other combat aircraft, including the service's J-20 fifth-generation multirole fighter.

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US Army selects Griffon Aerospace and Textron Systems for Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems Phase 2

by Zach Rosenberg

Griffon Aerospace's Valiant. (Griffon Aerospace)

The US Army on 26 September selected the Griffon Aerospace Valiant and Textron Systems Aerosonde Mk 4.8 Hybrid Quadrotor (HQ) for the second phase of the Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems (FTUAS) competition.

Phase 2 of FTUAS is intended to advance the two designs through critical design review (CDR), the last step before building and testing a prototype aircraft.

“Following the CDR, the remaining [companies] will participate in flight demonstrations and MOSA [Modular Open Systems Architecture] third-party verification in the third agreement option period before delivering production representative weapon systems and support equipment for developmental testing and operational demonstrations,” the army said in a statement. “These systems will undergo numerous evaluation activities such as environmental testing, electromagnetic environmental effects testing, transportability testing, MOSA verification, flight-testing, and technical manual verification conducted at [corporate] and government facilities.”

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KVD-002 UCAV strengthens PLAGF's airborne ISR capability

by Akhil Kadidal

The KVD-002 UCAV is capable of supporting the PLAGF's large fleet of attack and transport helicopters. (Janes)

The People's Liberation Army Ground Force's (PLAGF's) acquisition of the new KVD-002 integrated surveillance unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) has reinforced the modernisation of its airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities.

Since 2021 the PLAGF has focused on the acquisition of ISR or target-detection platforms such as the KVD-001 fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and HAIG Z-11WB light attack and surveillance manned helicopter, according to Janes inventory data. The PLAGF began inductions of these two platforms in 2021.

The KVD-002, which was unveiled for the first time during the 6th China Helicopter Exposition at Tianjin in September 2023, augments the capabilities of both the KVD-001 and the Z-11WB. Introductory text for the KVD-002 at the exposition described the UCAV as the PLAGF's “first integrated surveillance and combat system”. The KVD-002 has been developed to co-operate with helicopters in combat operations, the text added.

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Sweden to upgrade Gripen C/D engines for greater performance and lower costs

by Gareth Jennings

Seen in a test rig, the RM12 engine that powers the Gripen C/D is to be upgraded by GKN Aerospace. (GKN Aerospace)

Sweden is to upgrade the powerplant of its Saab JAS 39 Gripen C/D combat aircraft for greater performance and lower life-cycle costs, GKN Aerospace announced on 3 October.

GKN Aerospace currently holds the type certificate for the General Electric (GE) F404 turbofan-derived Volvo Aero RM12 engine in the Gripen C/D and has been contracted by the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) to implement the upgrade in co-operation with the FMV, Saab, and GE.

“The GBP2 million (USD2.42 million) contract is the last part of a development project that GKN Aerospace has been conducting since 2019,” the company said. “In addition to enhancing key components within the engine, the development work also involves updating the engine software in the aircraft system.”

As noted in the announcement, upgraded RM12 engine testing will take place at GKN Aerospace's facility in Trollhättan, Sweden, with flight-testing undertaken by the FMV and Saab.

According to Janes World Air Forces

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China's People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has begun using the new electronic warfare (EW)-c...

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