Switzerland signs Air2030 contracts

by Gareth Jennings

Having made its selection of the F-35A (pictured) and Patriot earlier in 2021, Switzerland has now signed contracts for both systems. (Commonwealth of Australia)

Switzerland has signed for both the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II and the Raytheon Patriot ground-based air-defence systems (GBADS) to fulfil its Air2030 requirement.

The Federal Council announced the milestones on 26 November, some five months after the country announced its decision in July to procure 36 F-35As and five Patriot GBADS based on the highest overall benefits for the lowest overall costs.

“Contracts for the purchase of the F-35A combat aircraft and the Patriot long-range ground-to-air defence system have been finalised by Armasuisse with the US government,” the council's announcement stated.


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Hypersonix, Kratos, team to develop and fly DART AE hypersonic vehicle

by Richard Scott

The blueprint of the DART AE multimission hypersonic drone technology demonstrator. (Hypersonix Launch Systems)

US contractor Kratos Defense & Security Solutions is to provide the rocket booster motor for the DART AE multimission hypersonic drone technology demonstrator being developed by Australian company Hypersonix Launch Systems.

Announcing the agreement on 25 January, the two companies said they were aiming for a first flight of DART AE in 2023.

DART AE is being developed by Hypersonix as a multimission, hypersonic vehicle fully 3D-printed from high-temperature alloys and powered by a hydrogen-fuelled SPARTAN scramjet engine. Designed to operate at speeds between Mach 5 and Mach 12, SPARTAN is described by Hypersonix as a “fifth-generation, zero-emission, clean hydrogen scramjet engine with a publicly disclosable range of 500 km”.

Amiga Engineering has previously been contracted by Hypersonix for the additive engineering build of the SPARTAN scramjet. Manufacture is being undertaken under an Australian government grant, awarded in August 2020, covering the build of a flight-ready scramjet engine and fuel system.


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USMC stands up first operational CH-53K unit

by Gareth Jennings

A CH-53K King Stallion (foreground) and a CH-53E Super Stallion (background) are staged during a redesignation ceremony at Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina, on 24 January. The squadron received its first CH-53K King Stallion, and the ceremony signified the beginning of the US Marine Corps' modernisation from the legacy CH-53E to the CH-53K in support of the expeditionary warfare vision for future-force employment. (US Marines)

The US Marine Corps (USMC) has stood up its first operational unit for the Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopter, the service announced on 15 January.

Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron (HMH) 461 at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) New River, North Carolina, has been formally redesignated as the first fleet CH-53K unit, trading in its CH-53E Super Stallions.

“The CH-53K will allow the quick massing of combat power, agile manoeuvre, resilient logistics, and predictive maintenance, and be used in the Marine Corps' execution of expeditionary advanced base operations, a key component of the commandant of the [US] Marine Corps' force design,” the USMC said.


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Delivery of Bulgarian F-16s to be delayed

by Aleksandar Mladenov & Gareth Jennings

Bulgaria is set to receive eight F-16 Block 70 aircraft, analogous to the US Air Force M7 standard pictured, with a request for a further eight. The country has been told to expect a delay in its deliveries due to supplier and Covid problems. (US Air Force)

Delivery of the eight Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 70 Fighting Falcon combat aircraft for the Bulgarian Air Force is to be delayed by ‘several months' due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Bulgarian Defence Minister Stefan Yanev announced the news during a hearing in front of the Defence Committee of the Bulgarian Parliament on 25 January.

Yanev said he had received information from the manufacturer citing delays in the supply chain that would affect all customers of the newly-produced F-16s. He said he expected the delay to be measured in months, but then added that the exact length would be known in the second half of February, when a US delegation is set to arrive in Sofia to discuss the Bulgarian programme.


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Switzerland has signed for both the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II and the Raytheon Patriot groun...

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