Russia to move naval drills away from Irish coast

by Tony Roper

The Project 11711 large landing ship Pyotr Morgunov , one of three Northern Fleet large landing ships headed to the Mediterranean. (Michael Nitz)

Russia has agreed to relocate a live-firing exercise that was planned to take place in international waters in the Irish Sea, Moscow's ambassador to Ireland has announced.

The Irish Aviation Authority was originally notified on 21 January of the Russian Navy's plans to carry out the live artillery and missile firing in early February, 240 km southwest of the Irish coast. However, the announcement raised objections from the Irish government and Irish fishing groups.

In a press release issued on 29 January, Russian ambassador to Ireland Yury Filatov said that in response to requests from the Irish government and the Irish South & West Fish Producers Organisation, it was decided that the exercises would be moved to outside of the Irish exclusive economic zone (EEZ) “with the aim to not hinder fishing activities by the Irish vessels in traditional fishing areas”.

The Russian Navy has scheduled multiple out-of-area exercises that will continue throughout February across all of its areas of responsibility. To this end, it has been transiting ships from bases to exercise areas since mid-January.

On 26 January the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced that a detachment of Northern Fleet ships had entered the Barents Sea to operate in conjunction with the Arctic Expeditionary Group of Forces and Troops. The flotilla was led by Project 1164 Slava-class cruiser Marshal Ustinov, with Project 22350 Admiral Gorshkov-class frigate Admiral Kasatonov and Project 1155 Udaloy-class destroyer Vitse Admiral Kulakov as escorts.

They will likely join with the two Baltic Fleet Project 20381 Steregushchiy-class corvettes, Soobrazitelny and Stoikiy , which departed Baltyisk on 24 January and commenced their transit of the English Channel on 29 January.

Meanwhile, the three Northern Fleet large landing ships of the 121st Landing Ship Brigade (LSB) that were reported as transiting the North Sea towards the English Channel on 22 January – the Project 775M Ropucha-class ships Olenegorskiy Gornyak and Georgiy Pobedonosets , and the Project 11711 Ivan Gren-class ship Pytor Morgunov – did not loiter in the Irish Sea area as had been expected, and have instead headed to the Mediterranean, following the three Baltic Fleet Ropucha-class large landing ships of the Baltic Fleet's 71st LSB, Kaliningrad , Minsk , and Korolev .

They will all join the continuous Russian Navy deployment in the Mediterranean, which currently includes three Project 636.3 Improved Kilo-class diesel-electric submarines – Krasnodar, Novorossiysk , and Rostov-on-Don – the Project 11356 frigate Admiral Grigorovich and the Project 21631 Buyan-M-class corvette Vishny Volochek. The latter is to be replaced by Orehovo-Zyevo, which transited the Bosporus on 21 January, with the Project 12700 Alexandrit-class minesweeper Vladimir Emelyanov following a day later.

The Pacific Fleet's Project 1164 Slava-class cruiser Varyag and Project 1155 Udaloy-class destroyer Admiral Tributs, along with the support tanker Boris Butoma, were noted in the Gulf of Aden heading towards the Red Sea and Suez Canal on 26 January, confirming the MoD's announcement that they would be taking part in the joint exercises in the Mediterranean.

In addition to the out-of-area deployments, regional exercises are also taking place around all of the Russian Navy's main bases and areas of operations.

The Northern Fleet's Project 1144 Kirov-class cruiser Pyotr Velikiy carried out air defence exercises at Severomorsk, defending the navy base using its own systems and via data produced by the regional air defence centre of the Northern Fleet. This was in conjunction with multi-ship exercises working on anti-submarine, anti-surface, and artillery tasks in the Barents Sea to establish a defence around the Kola Peninsula bastion.

The same taskings were carried out by the ships, submarines, and aircraft of the Baltic, Black Sea, and Pacific fleets, as well as the Caspian Flotilla, according to multiple press releases by the MoD.

Indonesia receives final C-130J-30

by Akhil Kadidal

Indonesia was supposed to receive its fourth and fifth (and final) C-130J-30s in January 2024. In this January 2024 picture is the first C-130J-30 received by Indonesia (serial no A-1339), which arrived in Indonesia on 6 March 2023. (Eko Siswono Toyudho/Anadolu via Getty Images)

The Indonesian Air Force (TNI-AU) has announced that it has received its fifth and final Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 Super Hercules.

“The fifth C-130J-30 (with tail number A-1342) has arrived at Halim Perdanakusuma Air Base in Jakarta,” the Indonesian Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced on 16 May. Janes has previously reported that the acquisition of the five aircraft was part of a Direct Commercial Sale (DCS) contract with Lockheed Martin.

According to the original delivery schedule, four C-130J-30s were to be delivered by October 2023, with the final aircraft to be delivered in January 2024. According to the MoD, three C-130J-30s were delivered in 2023: the first in March 2023 (serial no A-1339), the second aircraft in June 2023 (A-1340), and the third in August 2023 (A-1343). A fourth aircraft (A-1344) was delivered in January 2024.

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UK continues search to sell surplus Hercules airlifters

by Gareth Jennings

One of the last C-130Js in RAF service made its farewell flypast in June 2023. The MoD is continuing its search to find buyers for this and 14 other surplus airframes. (Crown Copyright)

The UK is continuing its search to find buyers for its fleet of retired Lockheed Martin C-130J/C-130J-30 Hercules airlifters, with the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) telling Janes that it has identified several potential buyers.

The Royal Air Force (RAF) retired one ‘short' C-130J (C5 in UK service) and 13 ‘stretched' C-130J-30 (C4) airframes on 31 March 2023 (with the type's final farewell flypast following in June 2023), all of which, along with an additional C5 aircraft carried over from the previous round of retirements in 2015, are now available to overseas buyers.

“The Defence Equipment Sales Authority (DESA) is managing the sales programme on behalf of the MoD and continues to actively pursue sales with a number of potential buyers,” the ministry said on 10 May.

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BAE touts long-term relevance of Eurofighter to UK

by Gareth Jennings

Currently scheduled to be retired in 2040, the Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 could serve the UK as a force multiplier to its higher-end F-35 and Tempest aircraft well beyond that date, BAE Systems says. (Crown Copyright)

BAE Systems has touted the continued relevance of the Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 to the UK, saying the ‘fourth-generation' combat aircraft can provide much-needed mass and resilience beyond its projected out-of-service date (OSD).

Speaking at the site of the BAE Systems' Warton production facility in northern England on 14 May, Mike Baulkwill, Combat Air Strategy director at the company, said that, with the international Eurofighter operator base set to fly improved and upgraded variants of the type out into the 2060s, the Royal Air Force (RAF) could retain its own aircraft beyond its current 2040 OSD.

“The Typhoon will be relatively enduring, as sometimes you will not want to use your higher-end aircraft [such as the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning and/or Tempest] – the Typhoon and the Typhoon Evolution [along with Eurofighter Evolution, the name being given to the Long-Term Evolution [LTE] mid-life refresh standard aircraft now being developed] is in a good place for that,” Baulkwill said.

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