F-16 Block 70 makes maiden flight, first aircraft destined for Bahrain
25 January 2023
by Gareth Jennings
The first F-16 Block 70 shortly after departing on its maiden flight on 24 January. As well as being a first for the wider programme, it also marked an important milestone for Bahrain, which is due to receive this particular aircraft in the coming months. (Lockheed Martin)
The first Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 70 Fighting Falcon made its maiden flight on 24 January, ahead of its delivery to Bahrain.
The twin-seat F-16D conducted its first test flight out of Lockheed Martin's new Greenville facility in South Carolina, with the manufacturer saying the approximately 50-minute flight included airworthiness checks, such as engine, flight control, and fuel system checks, as well as basic aircraft handling.
The F-16 Block 70 represents the latest standard of the F-16 that made its maiden flight in 1974. It features the Northrop Grumman AN/APG-83 active electronically scanned array radar (derived from the F-16E/F Block 60 AN/APG-80 and also known as the Scalable Agile Beam Radar), a new Raytheon mission computer, the Link 16 datalink, modern cockpit displays, an enhanced electronic warfare system, and a ground collision avoidance system.
Upgrade and retention of Tranche 1 Eurofighters ‘technically feasible', BAE Systems tells UK Parliament
03 February 2023
by Gareth Jennings
Currently destined for retirement in 2025, the UK's Tranche 1 Eurofighter Typhoon force could be extended according to BAE Systems. (Janes/Patrick Allen)
There is no technical reason why the UK Royal Air Force (RAF) could not upgrade and retain its fleet of Tranche 1 Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft, BAE Systems told the country's parliamentary Defence Select Committee in January.
In a written response to the committee submitted on 23 January, the lead UK contractor in the Eurofighter consortium said that it would be “technically feasible” to bring the RAF's remaining 30 Tranche 1 jets up to a standard where they could be retained in service rather than retired in 2025, as currently planned.
“It is technically feasible to bring a Tranche 1 aircraft to the standard of a Tranche 2 or Tranche 3 aircraft. BAE Systems has previously provided data to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) that outlines the scope of structural and avionic modifications that would be required,” BAE Systems said, noting that it has not been asked to provide an assessment of the non-recurring design effort, or associated costs, to implement such an upgrade.
Indo-Russian venture completes production of AK-203 first batch
03 February 2023
by Kapil Kajal
The AK-203 assault rifle is chambered for 7.62×39 rounds and can use ammunition and magazines that exist within the Indian Army supply chain. The weight of the rifle is 3.8 kg, the length is 690 mm with a folded butt and 930 mm with an extended butt, and the rate of fire is 700 rds/min. (Janes/Kapil Kajal)
Indo-Russian Rifles Private Limited (IRRPL) – a joint venture between Russia and India to manufacture AK-203 assault rifles for the Indian Armed Forces – has completed the production of the first batch of rifles in Korwa Ordnance Factory in Amethi, Uttar Pradesh.
Alexander Mikheev, director general of Russian defence export agency Rosoboronexport, which is one of the stakeholders in IRRPL, said that the joint venture has produced the first batch of 7.62 mm Kalashnikov AK-203 assault rifles and the beginning of deliveries to the Indian Army is expected soon.
India's Chief of the Army Staff General Manoj Pande recently said that the joint venture will produce 5,000 AK-203 rifles by March 2023.
The UK's RC-135W Rivet Joint fleet has been operating at almost 200% of the normal tempo. (Crown Copyright)
UK Royal Air Force (RAF) RC-135W Rivet Joint signals intelligence (SIGINT) aircraft have been operating at nearly three times their normal operating tempo to support intelligence-gathering operations in the Black Sea theatre, according to the service's senior operations officer.
Delivering the annual Sir Sydney Camm Lecture at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London on 1 February, Air Marshal Harvey Smyth, deputy commander (operations), added that operations over the last year had put crews “well within harm's way”.
Operated by No 51 Squadron at RAF Waddington, the three Rivet Joint aircraft – ZZ664, ZZ665, and ZZ666 – form part of a wider enterprise between the RAF and the United States Air Force (USAF). As part of the RAF's Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) Force, the RC-135W fleet is used to monitor, collect, and analyse communications and radar signals of interest.