Ukraine conflict: Surplus UK Sea Kings operating in Ukraine

by Gareth Jennings

Screenshot of a Twitter video posted by Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov on 21 January showing the first of three former UK Sea King helicopters in the service of Ukraine. (Government of Ukraine/Oleksii Reznikov Twitter)

Ukraine has commenced operations of at least one of three Westland Sea King helicopters donated by the United Kingdom.

The Defence Minister of Ukraine, Oleksii Reznikov, announced the development on his official Twitter account on 21 January, posting footage of one of the helicopters operating in high-visibility Ukrainian military markings.

“Sea King from the UK has arrived in its new kingdom near the Black Sea in Ukraine! It is a strong reinforcement for the Ukrainian Navy. Our co-operation will continue to increase. Thank you to [UK Defence Minister] Ben Wallace. Together, we will secure the seas and lands across all of Europe!” Reznikov tweeted.

News of the arrival in Ukraine came two months after Wallace announced in November 2022 that the former Royal Navy helicopters (since sold to HeliOps in the UK) would be transferred, and that 10 Ukrainian crews had already been trained on the type.

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Belgium formalises second MRTT tanker buy to bring NATO MMU fleet to 10

by Gareth Jennings

With this new Belgian MOU, the NATO Multinational MRTT Unit will field 10 KC-30M tanker-transport aircraft by the time deliveries are complete in 2027. (Royal Netherlands Air Force)

Belgium has formalised the procurement of a second Airbus A330-200 Multirole Tanker Transport (MRTT) as its contribution to the NATO Multinational MRTT Unit (MMU).

Minister of Defence Ludivine Dedonder signed the memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the additional aircraft on 24 March, bringing the Multinational MRTT Fleet (MMF) to 10 aircraft once deliveries are complete in 2027.

“On this occasion, Minister Dedonder confirmed Belgium's investment of EUR265 million [USD285 million] in the project,” the Belgian Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced.

Located at Eindhoven Air Base in the Netherlands, the 10 KC-30M (the NATO designation for the A330 MRTT) will be tasked to deliver 10,000 flight hours per year to the participating countries of Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Luxembourg, and Norway. With seven aircraftr delivered so far, the MMU declared initial operating capability the day prior to the Belgian announcement on 23 March. Full operating capability (FOC) is scheduled to coincide with the arrival of the ninth aircraft in 2024.

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US, South Korea conduct THAAD remote launcher deployment training

by Kapil Kajal

THAAD is a long-range, land-based theatre defence system. The easily transportable battery of weapons is designed to engage incoming tactical and theatre ballistic missiles out to 200 km and to intercept them as high as 150 km. The picture shows a THAAD interceptor launched from the Marshall Islands during a flight test in August 2019. (US Missile Defense Agency)

The US Forces Korea (USFK) and the Republic of Korea Army (RoKA)have conducted deployment training for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) remote launcher.

According to a joint press release by the USFK and the RoKA, the THAAD remote launcher deployment training was conducted “for the first time”, as part of the bilateral South Korea-hosted Exercise ‘Freedom Shield', which concluded on 23 March.

The normalisation of the THAAD operations and capabilities provided the USFK readiness to ensure continued resourcing of the unit, as well as an opportunity to modify the defence design by exercising remote launch options, the RoKA said.

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Nordic countries combine combat air power

by Gareth Jennings

A Swedish Gripen and Finnish Hornet combat aircraft conducting joint manoeuvres. Together with Denmark and Norway, the two countries will combine their combat aviation assets with a joint Nordic operational concept agreed upon in a letter of intent. (Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images)

The Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden have agreed on “seamless co-operation” between their respective air forces, with a letter of intent (LOI) announced on 23 March.

Signed on 16 March by the commanders of the four air forces, and in the presence of the Commander of US Air Forces in Europe (USAFE), General James B Hecker, at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, the LOI is billed as being the first declaration of its kind.

“The declaration of intent strengthens co-operation between the two countries and creates the conditions for strengthening the air defence of the Nordic countries,” a joint communique said. “The aim is seamless co-operation between the air forces of the two countries and the ability to operate together in all situations.”

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