First remanufactured Apache helos arrive in Netherlands

by Gareth Jennings

The first of 28 Royal Netherlands Air Force AH-64D Apaches to be converted to the latest AH-64E standard seen at its rollout in March 2022. (Netherlands Ministry of Defence)

The first Boeing AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopters to be remanufactured to the latest AH-64E Apache Guardian standard have arrived back in the Netherlands.

The Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) said on 7 December that the first two of 20 helicopters to be operated in the Netherlands (a further eight will be sent to Fort Cavazos – formerly Fort Hood – in Texas for training) were transported via a US Air Force Boeing C-17A Globemaster III airlifter to Woensdrecht Air Base.

These and follow-on helicopters will be assembled and tested at Woensdrecht, before being flown to their future operating station of Gilze-Rijen Air Base.

The Netherlands began shipping its AH-64D helicopters to Boeing's Apache production facility at Mesa, Arizona, for overhaul and remanufacture to the latest AH-64E standard in November 2020.

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Update: Enhanced Chinese Sky Hawk stealth UAV conducts flight tests

by Akhil Kadidal

CASIC is enhancing its Sky Hawk low-observable UAV for improved stealth characteristics and greater range. This graphic is based on the most recent imagery of the UAV, from February 2024. (Janes)

China's Tianying (Sky Hawk) tailless low-observable, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has started flight-testing following upgrades to its “main parameters”. According to Chinese state-owned media, the changes improve the UAV's “stealth” characteristics and “endurance”.

Janes has assessed video imagery of the Sky Hawk conducting a test flight aired by the state-owned broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) on 27 February. The video footage of the UAV also showed it in flight with its tricycle landing gear in wheels down position, which is indicative of preliminary flight-testing.

The upgraded UAV exhibits some design changes compared with an earlier iteration displayed during the China Air Show 2018 at Zhuhai. One prominent change is an expansion of the wing aileron surfaces. The UAV also appeared to have a new antenna for very-/ultra-high-frequency (V/UHF) communications on its mid-dorsal surface.

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NATO Arctic exercise includes Finland as new member, elevates US Marine Corps' command role

by Michael Fabey

US marines conduct cold-weather training in preparation for NATO Exercise ‘Nordic Response 2024' in Setermoen. (US Marine Corps)

With the kick-off of Exercise ‘Nordic Response 2024' in February in the Norwegian Arctic, NATO is including Finland forces for the first time as a new official allied member and has transferred the Land Component Command headquarters for the exercise to the US Marine Corps' II Marine Expeditionary Force (II MEF), another first.

The component, including Norwegian, Swedish, and Finnish division forces, will exercise under II MEF by, with, and through the Norwegian hosts.

“This is the first time we're doing this exercise with [a] new NATO ally, and that to me is significant,” Lieutenant Colonel Charles Nash,the deputy chief of plans for the expeditionary force and a lead planner for the component, told Janes during a 1 March interview.

“It allows us to look at battlespace differently – to take a fresh look at it, and develop more interdependence and integration with our allies,” Lt Col Nash said.

He said he had some “unique conversations” with Finnish force leaders that helped him reframe how he perceived the Arctic and conducting operations there.

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GCAP partners progress concept design

by Akhil Kadidal

Discussions on work share agreements for the sixth-generation GCAP fighter aircraft are scheduled to start in March 2024. (BAE Systems)

Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom are in talks on the preliminary design of the sixth-generation Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP) aircraft, with discussions on the division of responsibilities for the overall programme expected to start in March.

A spokesperson for Japan's Acquisitions, Logistics and Technology Agency (ATLA) told Janes on 29 February that the three countries “have been proceeding with conceptual design and preliminary design, in which the discussions on the fighter's concept is under way”.

Discussions on the division of responsibilities among the programme partners are also expected to start later in March, according to a statement by Japan's Defence Minister Minoru Kihara on 1 March. However, Japan is at an impasse over its military export laws, which could restrict the sale of the GCAP aircraft to foreign countries. According to Kihara, the government seeks to resolve this matter before decisions on work share begin.

Japanese government officials discussed the matter on 28 February with efforts to reach consensus on the matter, Kihara said.

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