Update: Airshow China 2021: Chinese air force unveils EW variant of J-16 multirole fighter aircraft

by Andreas Rupprecht & Alessandra Giovanzanti

A screengrab from CCTV footage released on 24 September showing the SAC J-16D electronic warfare aircraft in Zhuhai a few days before the start of the Airshow China 2021 defence exhibition. (CCTV)

The People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has unveiled an electronic warfare (EW) variant of the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) J-16 multirole fighter aircraft at the Airshow China 2021 defence exhibition being held from 28 September to 3 October in Zhuhai.

Known as the J-16D, the two-seat aircraft was seen parked in the static display area of the exhibition bearing standard PLAAF insignia. Wang Ya'nan, chief editor of the Beijing-based Aerospace Knowledge magazine, was quoted by the Global Times newspaper as saying that this suggests the platform is in service.

Additionally, the aircraft bears construction number ‘0109' on the side of its engine intakes, indicating that it is the ninth aircraft from the first production batch. However, the platform features no serial number on its tail, making it difficult to determine which unit it has been assigned to.

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US Navy seeks new ‘Aggressor' training aircraft

by Gareth Jennings

Seen in USN colours as part of Boeing's pitch for the service's Undergraduate Jet Training System requirement, the T-7A Red Hawk is likely to be one of the candidate platforms put forward for the USN's recently released Tactical Surrogate Aircraft requirement. (Boeing)

The US Navy (USN) has issued a request for information (RFI) for a new Aggressor aircraft for ‘red air' combat training.

The Tactical Surrogate Aircraft (TSA) requirement released on 21 October would see a new aircraft type perform three primary pilot training missions, namely to augment flight time and training in front-line type model series aircraft, provide adversary air support, and to serve as a flight lead aircraft for fleet replacement squadrons.

“The aircraft needs to simulate and/or replicate current and future fighter aircraft systems by providing the training environment and relevant experience to build tactical skills, systems management skills, and decision-making skills required for weapon system employment actions. These actions will be influenced by environmental information, avionics outputs, sensor data, weapon-cueing, and manoeuvre elements,” the RFI said.

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Elbit Systems divests Ashot Ashkelon holding

by Charles Forrester

Israel's Elbit Systems announced on 21 October that it had signed an agreement to sell its 84.98% stake in component manufacturer Ashot Ashkelon to private equity fund FIMI Opportunity Funds.

The deal is valued at USD88 million and will involve Elbit Systems also selling its capital notes in the firm to FIMI. An expected timeline for the sale was not disclosed, however, it remains subject to regulatory approvals and other closing terms.

The remaining 15.02% of the company stake will be a free-float on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

Ashot Ashkelon manufactures a variety of subcomponents and parts for the civil and military aerospace sector, including engine shafts and rotating parts, gearboxes, and transmissions. The company also manufactures heavy-duty transmissions, final drives, and suspension systems for commercial and military land systems.

Ashot Ashkelon reported 2020 revenues of ILS307.4 million (USD95.6 million) and a gross profit of ILS29.8 million, according to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

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ADEX 2021: Korean Air signs MOU with Insitu to develop VTOL UAV

by Alessandra Giovanzanti

A computer-generated image of the KUS-VS ‘lift & cruise' VTOL UAV that Korean Air is currently developing for tactical operations. At ADEX 2021 the company signed an MOU with Insitu to develop a new lightweight, modular VTOL UAV. (Korean Air)

Korean Air and Boeing subsidiary Insitu have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to develop a new lightweight, modular, vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

Signed on 22 October during the 19-23 October Seoul International Aerospace & Defense Exhibition 2021 (ADEX 2021), the MOU is expected to create new synergies by combining “Korean Air's expertise in UAV development and production with Insitu's state-of-the-art UAV technologies, including high-performance mission equipment, system optimisation, and manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T) operations”, according to a joint statement.

Korean Air is known to be developing the Korean Unmanned System (KUS)-VS VTOL UAV, a model of which was on display at ADEX 2021. The tactical UAV will employ “lift & cruise” technology that combines a take-off rotor and a flight rotor to enable vertical take-off and landing and high cruise speed flight, noted the company.

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