Ukraine conflict: North Macedonia confirms transfer of Su-25s to Ukraine, Mi-24 attack helicopters may follow

by Igor Bozinovski

Four non-airworthy North Macedonia Air Force Su-25 aircraft have been transferred to Ukraine. (Igor Bozinovski)

North Macedonia has donated Sukhoi Su-25 ‘Frogfoot' ground attack aircraft to Ukraine, Minister of Defence of North Macedonia, Slavjanka Petrovska said on 14 March. The announcement confirms Janes reports in July 2022 that four non-airworthy Su-25s (three single-seat Su-25s and one twin-seat Su-25UB) were transferred.

Petrovska said that equipment delivered to Ukraine so far consists of “infantry weapons and ammunition, artillery equipment, MBTs [main battle tanks], Sukhoi aircraft, anti-armour and anti-aircraft weapon systems, and equipment and ammunition for use by the military aviation”.

A new package of military aid intended to support Ukraine was approved at a government session held in Skopje on 14 March, Petrovska said, but she refused to provide details on the type or quantity of equipment. Petrovska did note that the donations made so far were not part of the formation of the Army of the Republic of North Macedonia (ARSM).

On 15 March, North Macedonian media outlets quoted government sources as saying that Ukraine has requested attack helicopters, and the possibility of the transfer of 12 Mi-24 ‘Hind' aircraft is being assessed.

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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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GAO says deficient maintenance leaves US F-35s well below mission-capable rate goal

by Zach Rosenberg

Grounded: the US Marine Corps' Lockheed Martin F-35Bs have lower mission-capable rates than their US Air Force counterparts; all types are well below their goals. (Lockheed Martin)

The Lockheed Martin F-35 is available to perform its scheduled missions 55% of the time, according to a US Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released on 21 September. The agency found fault in the Department of Defense's (DoD's) line and depot maintenance practices.

The report measured F-35 mission-capable (MC) rates through March 2023. The GAO attributed low MC rates largely to maintenance issues. Citing a DoD analysis, the GAO wrote that having the full array of maintenance capabilities would allow for a 65% MC rate for the US Marine Corps' F-35B and US Navy's F-35C and a 75% MC rate for the US Air Force's F-35A.

The top 10 culprits behind non-MC rates – including the engine, distributed aperture system sensor, integrated core processor power supply, and power thermal management system controller – cannot yet be repaired by DoD maintenance centres and must be sent back to manufacturers.

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Nordic exercise sees F-35A conduct first roadway operations

by Gareth Jennings

A Royal Norwegian Air Force prepares to take off from a Finnish road, during the type's first dispersed operation that was recently logged on Exercise ‘Baana 23'. (Finnish Air Force)

The Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) has operated from a roadway for the first time during Exercise ‘Baana 23' in Finland.

A pair of Royal Norwegian Air Force (RoNAF) F-35As performed the milestone on 21 September, landing on and taking off from a dedicated stretch of motorway near the Finnish town of Tervo as part of a wider dispersal of allied aircraft.

“This is a milestone, not only for the [Royal] Norwegian Air Force but also for the Nordic countries and for NATO,” Major General Rolf Folland, chief of the RoNAF, said. “This demonstrates our ability to execute a concept of dispersal. Fighter jets are vulnerable on the ground, so being able to use small airfields – and now motorways – increases our survivability in war.”

The two F-35As landed on the motorway at about 1500 h local time, immediately performing a ‘hot' refuelling (with the engine running) before departing for a simulated mission.

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North Macedonia has donated Sukhoi Su-25 ‘Frogfoot' ground attack aircraft to Ukraine, Minister of D...

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