Spain launches Halcon II follow-on buy of Eurofighter combat aircraft

by Gareth Jennings

A mock-up of the Eurofighter Typhoon featuring Halcon II livery was displayed at the Paris Air Show 2023. (Janes/Gareth Jennings)

Spain has officially launched its anticipated Halcon II follow-on buy of Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft, budgetary documents released by the government show.

Published by the Council of Ministers on 12 September, the documents say that 25 additional Eurofighters (designated C.16 in national service) will be acquired to replace the Boeing EF-18 Hornet (C.15M) aircraft that the Spanish Air Force (Ejército del Aire Español: EdAE) is decommissioning from 2030.

“The C.15M aircraft fleet is currently about to begin the process of decommissioning, scheduled for around 2030, so it is necessary to replace it. This requires the acquisition of 25 new EF2000 [Eurofighter] aircraft, engines, and associated mission support systems,” the council said. A Eurofighter spokesperson confirmed to Janes that this represents the launch of the Halcon II procurement rather than an expansion of the previous Halcon I buy of 20 aircraft.

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Poland operates F-16s from roadway for first time

by Gareth Jennings

A Polish Air Force F-16D touches down on a 2 km stretch of Route 604 on 25 September, marking a first for the type in national service and a return to roadway operations for the service for the first time in 20 years. (General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces)

Poland operated its Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon combat aircraft from a public roadway for the first time during exercises on 25 September.

The event took place on a 2 km closed-off section of the Route 604 national highway between the towns of Ruskowo and Przeździał Wielki in the northeast of the country, and marked the start of a series of such exercises involving the F-16 and MiG-29 ‘Fulcrum' fighter that will run through to 3 October.

As well as being a first for Poland's F-16 force, the roadway exercise marks a return to dispersed operations for the Polish Air Force –known officially as the Air Force Inspectorate (Inspektorat Sił Powietrznych: ISP) – for the first time in over 20 years.

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New US Army rifles expected to be fielded on time despite fume fixes

by Meredith Roaten

The US Army's XM7 rifle uses 6.8 mm ammunition. The rifle will be delivered to soldiers for a limited user test in October. (US Army)

The US Army will deliver the XM250 automatic rifle and the XM7 rifle to a unit in the 101st Airborne Division by the second quarter of fiscal year (FY) 2024, according to army officials.

The 101st Airborne Division received the first deliveries of the weapon on 20 September and will test those weapons in limited user tests starting in October, officials said during a media day at Aberdeen Proving Ground. The weapon is expected to reach the first unit equipped milestone in early 2024 despite toxic fume issues that the service is addressing, Doug Bush, US assistant secretary of the army for acquisition, logistics, and technology, told reporters on 19 September.

On the media day, soldiers demonstrated two weapons from the Next Generation Squad Weapon (NGSW) family of systems. SIG Sauer's XM7 (previously known as XM5) NGSW-Rifle (NGSW-R) will replace the M4/M4A1 carbine weapon, and the company's XM250 NGSW-Automatic Rifle (NGSW-AR) will replace the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW).

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NATO to adopt SAPIENT as C-UAS standard

by Olivia Savage

At the ‘TIE23' exercise, SAPIENT enabled the integration of companies' C-UAS sensory information into 12 different command-and-control applications. (Janes/Olivia Savage)

NATO will adopt the Sensing for Asset Protection with Integrated Electronic Networked Technology (SAPIENT) protocol developed by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) as a C-UAS (counter-unmanned aircraft system) standard, Janes learnt at NATO's Exercise ‘C-UAS Technical Interoperability' 2023 (TIE23) in Vredepeel, Netherlands, held from 12 to 22 September.

A year-long ratification process will begin in 2024 with 14 countries required to approve it before it is formally adopted as a NATO Standardisation Agreement (STANAG), Cristian Coman, chief scientist for the Joint Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance division at NATO Communications and Information Agency (NCI Agency), told Janes and other media representatives at the exercise.

SAPIENT was developed by the UK's Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) as an open standard that allows the fusion and integration of autonomous sensory information into a single integrated picture. The MoD has already adopted it as a standard for C-UAS.

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