Ukraine conflict: Ukraine reportedly strikes Russian airbase

by Gareth Jennings

Seen in Armenian service, the Soviet-era OTR-21 Tochka close-range ballistic missile system was reportedly used by Ukraine to attack a Russian military airfield on 25 February. (Ministry of Defence of Armenia)

Ukraine reportedly attacked a Russian airbase on 25 February, marking the first time that Kyiv conducted an offensive military action outside of its national borders since Russia launched its renewed invasion of the country on 24 February.

The stated attack, the supposed aftermath of which was widely circulated on social media along with images of damaged and burning facilities and aircraft, saw Millerovo Air Base (AB) in Russia's Rostov region seemingly struck with multiple ballistic missiles fired from Ukraine.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) of Ukraine had not responded to a Janes request for confirmation and comment at the time of publication. However, a senior Janes Russia and open-source intelligence (OSINT) analyst confirmed that the location shown in the aftermath images of the burning facility is Millerovo AB, some 20 km inside the Russian border with Ukraine.

According to reports, the base was hit by an undisclosed number of surface-launched OTR-21 Tochka (SS-21 ‘Scarab'/9M79) ballistic missiles, with imagery showing facilities and at least one Sukhoi Su-30SM ‘Flanker-H' combat aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) 31st Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment on fire.

As noted by Janes Weapons: Strategic , the Tochka is a close-range ballistic missile (CRBM), with its 9M79 missiles having a range of between 15 and 70 km. The 9M79-series missiles can be armed with unitary high-explosive blast fragmentation and submunition warheads. The Ukrainian Ground Forces is understood to have received or inherited 500 such missiles, although it is not known how many remain in its inventory.

US Navy begins converting former RAF E-3D into E-6B trainer

by Gareth Jennings

A former RAF E-3D being converted into a surrogate E-6B trainer for the US Navy at Lake Charles Airport in Louisiana. (NAVAIR)

The US Navy (USN) has begun conversion of a Boeing E-3D Sentry Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AEW&C) aircraft into a surrogate trainer for the service's E-6B Mercury long-endurance command, control, and communications (C3) fleet.

The Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) announced the commencement of conversion work on 4 October, noting that the former UK Royal Air Force (RAF) E-3D will have a number of external features removed to better resemble the outer mould line of the E-6B.

“The process has begun to turn this E-3D into an E-6B in-flight trainer. The outer mould line will be modified to resemble an E-6, and the aerial refuelling probe and radar dome will be removed,” the command said.

Work is being performed at Lake Charles Airport in Louisiana (site of Northrop Grumman's Lake Charles Maintenance and Modification Center), where the aircraft has been stored since 2021. According to NAVAIR, once the maintenance and modification are complete, flight-testing is scheduled to start in early 2024.


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Carrier Ford departs on first official deployment

by Michael Fabey

Aircraft carrier USS Gerald R Ford departed Norfolk, Virginia, on 4 October for its first official deployment. (Janes/Michael Fabey)

The US aircraft carrier USS Gerald R Ford (CVN 78) departed Norfolk, Virginia, a bit after 1300 h local time on 4 October for its first official deployment.

The deployment was scheduled for 3 October, but had to be delayed because foul weather forced the halting and curtailment of port operations in Hampton Roads, US Navy (USN) officials said.

Ford will not be deployed as part of the USN's Global Force Management deployment like most of the other service ships in service. Instead, the carrier will be sent on a Retained Service deployment, Vice Admiral Daniel Dwyer, commander of United States 2nd Fleet and Joint Force Command, said on 26 September during a media briefing about USN plans for the carrier.

The ship's first Global Force Management deployment is slated to take place in 2023, Vice Adm Dwyer said.


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India's Light Combat Helicopter inducted into service

by Akhil Kadidal

Senior defence officials and officers inducted the HAL Light Combat Helicopter Prachanda into service on 3 October 2022. From left: Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari (chief of Air Staff), Air Marshal Vikram Singh (air officer commanding-in-chief of South Western Air Command), Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, and Chief of Defence Staff General Anil Chauhan. (Janes/Akhil Kadidal)

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has inducted the first production units of the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the air force.

The attack helicopter was inducted into service with the official name of ‘Prachanda' by India's Defence Minister Rajnath Singh at Jodhpur Air Force Station on 3 October. The IAF said it has raised a new unit to operate the helicopters. This unit, known as No 143 Helicopter Unit (HU), was raised on 1 June 2022, according to the IAF.

The IAF added that the first LCH was handed over to the unit on 18 July 2022. The first LCH subsequently arrived at Jodhpur Air Force Station on 3 September.


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Ukraine reportedly attacked a Russian airbase on 25 February, marking the first time that Kyiv condu...

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