F-35, Eurofighter ECR back in the mix for Germany

by Gareth Jennings

Seen mocked up in Luftwaffe markings in this artist's impression, the F-35 is once again being considered by Germany as a potential solution to its Tornado replacement requirement. (Lockheed Martin via Janes/Gareth Jennings)

Germany is again eyeing the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter and Eurofighter Electronic Combat Role (ECR) as potential solutions to its Tornado replacement requirement.

It was reported on 8 January that the country's newly installed Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht had told Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz that the previously discounted F-35 and overlooked Eurofighter ECR were again being considered as replacements for the Luftwaffe's Panavia Tornado Interdiction and Strike/Electronic Combat Reconnaissance aircraft.

“The aim is to clarify again whether buying the more modern F-35 aircraft could be an alternative, and whether the Eurofighter [Electronic Combat Role (ECR)] could [also] be considered for a second task for the Tornado fleet [of] electronic combat,” Lambrecht was reported by the Deutsche Presse-Agentur to have told Scholz.


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Qatar receives M-346 jet trainers

by Gareth Jennings

One of three M-346 advanced jet trainer aircraft recently delivered to the Qatar Emiri Air Force under the scope of its International Flight Training School agreement with Italy was seen at a recent pilot graducation ceremony at Al Udeid Air Base. (Government of Qatar)

Qatar has received its first Leonardo M-346 Master advanced jet trainer aircraft from Italy, the manufacturer confirmed to Janes on 26 January.

The M-346s were ordered as part of an agreement for Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF) training at Italy's International Flight Training School (IFTS), with the first aircraft appearing in Qatar during a student pilot graduation ceremony at Al Udeid Air Base on 26 January.

“The QEAF has ordered six aircraft as part of an agreement for the Qatari pilot training at the International Flight Training School,” Leonardo told Janes, adding, “The first three aircraft [...] are now in Qatar”.

The Italian government announced in November 2020 that QEAF pilots would be trained at the IFTS, which is operated as a joint venture by Leonardo and the Italian Air Force at Lecce-Galatina and Decimomannu Air Base in Sardinia.

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US approves Egyptian C-130J purchase

by Gareth Jennings

Egypt is to acquire the latest C-130J variant Hercules to augment its older model aircraft. (Lockheed Martin)

The United States has approved the sale to Egypt of 12 Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules airlifters for USD2.2 billion.

Announced by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) on 25 January, the approval covers the ‘long-bodied' C-130J-30-variant Hercules, as well as mission equipment, spares, training, and support.

“This airlift capability would assist with [Egypt's] border security, the interdiction of known terrorist elements, rapid reaction to internal security threats, and humanitarian aid,” the DSCA said. “Egypt also intends to utilise these aircraft for maritime patrol missions and search-and-rescue missions in the region”.

As noted in the approval notification, Egypt already operates a mix of legacy C-130s and so should have no difficulty absorbing these additional aircraft into its armed forces. The Egyptian Air Force (EAF) currently fields 22 C-130Hs, three C-130H-30s, and two EC-130H Hercules aircraft that were acquired from 1978, 1990, and 2001 respectively. The fleet is operated by 4 and 16 squadrons of the Cairo International Airport Transport Regiment.

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Japan steps up development of high-powered microwave weapons

by Kosuke Takahashi

Japan's Ministry of Defense (MoD) has allocated new funding for the development of high-powered microwave (HPM) weapons.

The MoD's Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA) has allocated JPY7.2 billion (USD63.2 million) for fiscal year (FY) 2022, which starts in April, to fund efforts to complete a prototype of an HPM radiation weapon system by FY 2026.

ATLA documents seen by Janes also show that the agency aims to develop four technologies by FY 2026 that will be used in the new HPM system.

These technologies comprise: a small- and high-powered module that uses an active phased-array antenna; heat systems that enable a ‘streamed' HPM beam to be directed at an aerial target with maximum continuous power; HPM fire-control technologies to track and beam HPM energy at targets; and technologies to deal with multiple unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) at once.

ATLA said the capability of existing air-defence systems is limited, given the increasingly wide range of threats. It added that an HPM weapon would meet future requirements for a persistent capability at a low cost.

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Germany is again eyeing the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter and Eurofighter E...

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