UK stands up second operational F-35B squadron

by Gareth Jennings

The UK stood up 809 NAS as its second front-line F-35B unit at RAF Marham on 8 December 2023. (Janes/Gareth Jennings )

The UK stood up its second operational squadron for the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning combat aircraft on 8 December.

The Royal Navy's (RN's) 809 ‘Immortals' Naval Air Squadron (NAS) was reconstituted at the home of the Lightning Force at Royal Air Force (RAF) Marham in Norfolk.

The squadron joins the RAF's 617 ‘Dambusters' Squadron as the UK's two front-line units for the ‘fifth-generation' short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) jet, with 207 Sqn serving as the operational conversion unit (OCU) at the same location, and 17 Test and Evaluation Sqn at Edwards Air Force Base (AFB) in California.

As with 617 Sqn, 809 NAS is drawn from both the RAF and the RN, with both services performing land- and carrier-based operations of the aircraft.


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Indian Army issues tender to procure light vehicles

by Kapil Kajal

The Indian Army has been seeking to replace its ageing Maruti Gypsys and Mahindra MMs with new light vehicles since the early 2010s in a phased manner. As part of this, the service awarded a contract to Tata Motors to supply 3,192 4×4 Safari Storme vehicles (pictured above) in 2016. (Janes/Kapil Kajal)

The Indian Army has issued a tender to procure 4×4 ‘light vehicles' to perform general service (GS) roles.

According to a request for proposal (RFP) issued by the Indian Army on 29 February, the service intends to procure 1,054 light vehicles under the ‘Buy (Indian)' category. Under this category of procurement, at least 50% of the purchased product must be indigenous.

The gross weight of the new light vehicles must be more than 2,500 kg, and the vehicles are required to provide mobility in hilly, high-altitude, cross-country, and desert terrains, the RFP said. The light vehicles will be utilised for rapid deployment of small teams in conventional as well as counter-insurgency operations, the RFP added.


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India test-fires very short-range air-defence system

by Kapil Kajal

VSHORADS – pictured above from a DRDO test in March 2023 – is a tripod-launched missile system designed to strike moving aerial targets such as unmanned aerial vehicles, helicopters, and fighter aircraft. (DRDO)

India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) test-fired two of its very short-range air-defence system (VSHORADS) missiles from a ground-based portable launcher, the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) said in a press release on 29 February.

The tests were conducted on 28 and 29 February from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) in Chandipur, Odisha, the MoD said.

“These tests were carried out against high-speed unmanned aerial targets under different interception scenarios. During all the test flights, the targets were intercepted and destroyed by the missiles, meeting the mission objectives,” the MoD added.

A DRDO official told Janes on 1 March that the tests were a part of the developmental process of the missiles.


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Enhanced Chinese Sky Hawk stealth UAV takes to flight

by Akhil Kadidal

CASIC is enhancing its Sky Hawk low-observable UAV for improved stealth characteristics and greater range. (Janes)

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

Developed by the No 3 Research Institute of the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC), the Sky Hawk has been designed to conduct stealth-based reconnaissance and attack missions, according to state-owned media. CASIC has previously said the Sky Hawk will operate either independently or alongside other unmanned platforms for force multiplication.

On 27 February the state-owned broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) aired footage of the Sky Hawk conducting a test flight.

According to CASIC, the Sky Hawk is designed for multirole operations at “high altitude, high stealth” and with “high autonomy”. As a force multiplier, the Sky Hawk could help support People's Liberation Army Air Force's (PLAAF's) unmanned operations such as stealth penetration, precision attack, and multidimensional attack, Janes assesses.


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https://www.janes.com/defence-news/defence/latest/uk-stands-up-second-operational-f-35b-squadron

The UK stood up its second operational squadron for the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning combat aircr...

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