Update: Russia amasses amphibious forces in Black Sea

by Tim Ripley & Bruce Jones

Russia has continued its build up of amphibious forces in the Black Sea for upcoming exercises with the passage of four Project 775 Ropucha-class large landing ships through the Bosphorus on 17 April.


        The Russian Northern Fleet Project 775 Ropucha-class large landing ship
        Kondopoga
        is pictured transiting the Bosphorus en route to the Black Sea on 17 April.
       (Devrim Yaylali)

The Russian Northern Fleet Project 775 Ropucha-class large landing ship Kondopoga is pictured transiting the Bosphorus en route to the Black Sea on 17 April. (Devrim Yaylali)

The four ships – Kaliningrad and Korolev from the Baltic Fleet, and Kondopoga and Aleksandr Otrakovskiy from the Northern Fleet – passed northbound through the Bosphorus en route to the Black Sea, according to amateur ship watchers who posted photographs of ships moving through the waterway online.

On the same day, 15 Caspian Sea Flotilla vessels, including three artillery boats, eight landing craft, and four support vessels, were filmed by local media passing under the Kerch Bridge and then sailing west towards Sevastopol, possibly to link up with the Ropucha-class ships.

According to a Black Sea Fleet statement, the Caspian Flotilla vessels are now under its operational control for upcoming exercises.


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Indonesia begins contract negotiations for two Scorpene Evolved submarines

by Ridzwan Rahmat

An Indian Navy Scorpene submarine. Indonesia has begun negotiations to procure the Scorpene Evolved variant of the boat, which will be equipped with lithium ion batteries. (Naval Group)

Representatives from French shipbuilder Naval Group have arrived in Jakarta to begin contract negotiations for two lithium ion batteries-equipped Scorpene Evolved diesel-electric submarines (SSKs).

Separate sources have confirmed to Janes that negotiations for the possible contract began at the Indonesian Ministry of Defense's (MoD's) office on Jalan Medan Merdeka Barat on 26 February. A major point of the discussions included how the programme would be financed should a contract materialise.

As part of its offer, Naval Group has partnered with the French government's Directorate General of the Treasury to fully fund the programme via three sources of loans, Janes has been informed.

These include a credit facility with France's Banque publique d'investissement and a direct loan from the Directorate General of the Treasury, which would fund up to 85% of Naval Group's portion of the contract.


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General Atomics XQ-67A Off-Board Sensing Station conducts first flight

by Zach Rosenberg

The XQ-67A in flight (location unknown). (GA-ASI)

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) has flown the XQ-67A unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for the first time, the company announced on 29 February.

“Flight demonstration of this system is a major first step towards showing the ability to produce affordable combat mass,” said Trenton White, Air Force Research Laboratory's (AFRL's) Off-Board Sensing Station (OBSS) programme manager, in a statement announcing the flight.

The flight took place on 28 February at GA-ASI's Gray Butte Flight Operations Facility, outside Palmdale, California.

It comes a year after the AFRL selected GA-ASI to build the XQ-67A under the OBSS programme, intended to result in a UAV that could fly ahead of manned aircraft and pass data back, effectively extending their ability to detect and track targets.

“OBSS is the first aircraft type built and flown using a common core chassis developed by GA-ASI that promotes commonality across multiple vehicle types,” said Michael Atwood, GA-ASI vice-president of advanced programmes.


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Lockheed Martin delivers first KC-130J for Germany

by Gareth Jennings

The first KC-130J for the Luftwaffe departs the Marietta production facility in the US, bound for the joint Franco-German C-130 squadron in France. (Lockheed Martin)

The first Lockheed Martin KC-130J tanker-transport aircraft for the Luftwaffe was delivered to the joint Franco-German C-130 air-transport squadron at Évreux-Fauville Air Base in northern France on 28 February.

The first of three German KC-130Js departed the company's Marietta production facility in Georgia for the ferry flight to France, where it joined three Luftwaffe C-130J-30, two French Air and Space Force (Armee de l'Air et de l'Espace: AAE) KC-130J, and two AAE C-130J-30 aircraft already delivered. The final two Luftwaffe KC-130Js are to be delivered by the end of 2024, for a final joint fleet of five KC-130J and and five C-130J-30 aircraft.

The C-130 air-transport squadron at Évreux-Fauville Air Base in northern France will have unrestricted exchange of aircraft, aircrews, and maintainers, as well as technical and logistical support based on a common pool of spare parts and a common service support contract. “Ten aircraft, two nations, one association – there has never been anything like this in Europe,” the Bundeswehr has previously said.


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Russia has continued its build up of amphibious forces in the Black Sea for upcoming exercises with ...

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