Ukraine conflict: Biden beefs up F-35 presence in UK

by Gareth Jennings

The US is to beef up its F-35 presence in Europe, with a further two squadrons to be sent to RAF Lakenheath in the UK. (US Air Force)

The United States is to send two additional squadrons of Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft to the United Kingdom as part of a wider ramp-up of capabilities in Europe following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

US President Joe Biden made the announcement at the NATO Madrid Summit on 29 June, with the two new F-35A squadrons being despatched to the home of the US Air Force's (USAF's) 48th Fighter Wing at Royal Air Force (RAF) Lakenheath in the UK.

“Today I'm announcing the United States will enhance our force posture in Europe and respond to the changing security environment as well as strengthening our collective security,” Biden said, announcing the F-35A deployment as part of a wider package of military assurance measures for European NATO alliance members.


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RAF continues roll-out of A400M capabilities with first operational aerial refuelling

by Gareth Jennings

The view of the A400M receiver aircraft from the Voyager mission controller console. (Crown Copyright)

The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) is continuing the process of rolling out the capabilities of the Airbus A400M C1 Atlas, announcing on 11 August the first operational aerial refuelling of the airlifter.

For the milestone, an A400M received fuel from an Airbus Voyager KC3 tanker via the centreline hose reserved for large aircraft receivers. The airlifter was refuelled 900 n miles southwest of Ascension Island, extending its 4,100 n miles range to accommodate the remaining 2,600 n miles to Mount Pleasant Airfield on the Falkland Islands.

“The execution of long-range air-to-air refuelling by front-line crews is a major milestone for Atlas. The ability of this aircraft to operate at significant range from the UK, demonstrates our enhanced and resilient force sustainment capabilities,” said Wing Commander Stuart Patton, Officer Commanding 30 Squadron.


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Update: Taiwan reports underplay ‘hundreds' of PLA aircraft in live-fire drills

by Akhil Kadidal

Taiwan said that the PLA flew 49aircraft into the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) on 5 August whereas China has said that it is flying ‘hundreds' of aircraft into the ADIZ. (VCG via Getty Images)

China says it is dispatching hundreds of combat aircraft to the six live-fire zones around Taiwan. However, Taipei's daily air incursion reports show smaller figures. Janes assesses that this could partly be because of strains on the country's radar network.

China launched a four-day live-fire exercise around Taiwan from 4 August, in response to a visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on 2 August.

On the first day of the drills, the People's Liberation Army's (PLA's) Eastern Theatre Command said that it had “dispatched hundreds of fighters, bombers, and other multitype [aircraft] to the airspace in the north, southwest, and southeast of Taiwan Island”.

The PLA added that the aircraft are conducting “day and night” joint reconnaissance flights, air assault training, and support flights. All six live-fire zones are within Taiwan's Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ).


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Chinese UAVs continue Taiwan incursions, says Taipei

by Oishee Majumdar & Akshara Parakala

Norinco's Loitering Dragon FL5A (pictured above) is one of the UAVs identified by Janes in a propaganda video released by the PLA against the backdrop of its military exercises around Taiwan since 4 August. (Janes/Akshara Parakala)

Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND) said the country continues to face incursions by Chinese unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) even after a series of live-fire drills conducted by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) came to an end on 7 August.

The Kinmen Defense Command of the Republic of China Army (RoCA) announced on 10 August that one batch and one sortie of unidentified UAVs had entered over “the restricted waters” of the Beiding Island in Taiwan's Kinmen County on the evening of 9 August.

The RoCA troops stationed in the area fired flares to warn off the UAVs in accordance with standard operating procedures, the command said.

The MND has assured that the RoCA is capable of swiftly responding to such threats.


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