First batch of three F-16s lands in Pakistan

Sunday, June 27, 2010
By Shakil Shaikh

ISLAMABAD: With top security officials terming it a great breakthrough,the first batch of three latest version F-16 C/D Block-52 high-techFighting Falcons landed in Pakistan on Saturday.

“Theinduction of multi-role F-16 C/D Block-52 will give a great edge and apotent punch to Pakistan Air Force (PAF),” said a top official, whoexpressed his happiness over the arrival of Lockheed Martin’s F-16s atthe PAF Base Shahbaz (Jacobabad).

These US Falcons reachedPakistan under “Peace Drive I” programme, continuing a long traditionof naming F-16 international sales programmes with the word Peace. Theprogramme raises the total number of F-16s ordered by Pakistan to 54.The Pakistan Air Force received its first F-16, in the Block 15 F-16A/Bconfiguration, in 1982. Pakistan has been operating Lockheed Martinaircraft since 1963, when it received C-130B airlifters.

Trainedat Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, Pakistani pilots brought the fightingFalcons to Pakistan. These pilots were the first to train in the USsince 1983, when the last class of Pakistani pilots trained at the LukeAir Force Base, Ariz.

Air Marshal Mohammad Hasan, Deputy Chiefof the Air Staff (Operations) and Air Marshal Waseem-ud-Din, DeputyChief of the Air Staff (Administration), along with other senior PAFofficials, received the aircraft at the base.

Pakistanattaches great significance to its air defence needs, as it had signeda contract with the US government in the year 2005-06 for theacquisition of 18 F-16 C/D Block 52 aircraft.

Under thisarrangement, PAF would receive these state-of-the-art aircraft from theUS in different batches. The delivery of all 18 aircraft would becompleted by the end this year.

The F-16 C/D Block 52 aircraftis a high tech fighter aircraft equipped with sophisticatedstate-of-the-art avionics suite, latest weapons with night precisionattack capability. These aircraft are much superior to the F-16A/Bsalready in the inventory of the PAF. In June 2005, Pakistan requestedthe Foreign Military Sale (FMS) of 36 F-16C/D block 50/52 aircraft. InJune 2006, the Pentagon notified Congress of its intention to approvethe sale and Lockheed Martin was awarded a contract for 12 F-16C andsix F-16D block 52 aircraft in Dec 2006. The aircraft will be armedwith AMRAAM and Sidewinder missiles and the Sniper targeting pod.

Thenew planes purchased by Pakistan, Block 52 versions of the multi-rolefighter, are far more advanced than the older A-model versions and willallow pilots to conduct operations at night and greatly enhance theiruse of precision munitions.

Pakistan Recevied Its 3 F-16s Block52

Brazilian Engineers Already Working on the Gripen Fighter Project

While the Brazilian government decides to give another chance for the companies to improve their offers in the bid for the new fighter planes Brazil is buying, the technology transfer for this type of airplane has already begun with at least one of the competitors, Saab.
[Led] by Akaer, the companies Friuli, Winnstal, Minoica and ImbraAerospace sent a team of 20 Brazilian engineers and technicians to Swedento start working on the project of the new Swedish fighter, the GripenNG, produced by Saab Aerosystems. Besides the Swedish group, theAmerican Boeing and the French Dassault are competing to sell 36fighters to the Brazilian Air Force.

"The actual cooperation with Saab started on August 31, with the objectiveof totally engaging all companies in the project, including themastering of important technologies in the aircraft and access to allsensitive areas in the company plant in Linköping, Sweden",explains the Akaer CEO, César Augusto da Silva. T1, the holding joiningthe five Brazilian companies involved in the new Swedish fighterproject, will be responsible for projecting and manufacturing the central and rear fuselages and wings of the Gripen NG.
According to the Akaer officer, though the success of thepartnership with Saab is in a way dependent on the F-X2 project,considering the possibility that Brazil becomes the launching client ofthe Gripen NG if it is chosen, this factor is not necessarily decisivefor the permanence of the Brazilian companies in the development of thenew fighter. "Our companies were selected in an international offerwithin Saab’s strategy of finding international partners for the project," he explains.
Technology transfer in the area of structures made of composed materials,according to the Akaer director, will enable Brazilian companies tobecome world-class suppliers for any client of the Gripen NG fighter.The holding's idea is to form a new aeronautical center in Brazil inthe area of intelligence development and airplane production cycle,leaving behind the phase of being a mere part supplier.
"We would not be involved only in the process of making parts withno added value or engineering activity. The issue is not only making,but knowing how to make, and we have started learning that in thisjoint work," comments Akaer technical director Ricardo Fontes. Theinformation exchange in the project, engineering andmanufacturing areas of the Swedish fighters is being done, according to Fontes, with the authorization of the Swedish government.
Akaer predicts that as from next year a team of at least 150engineers and technicians from the T1 holding will start working inBrazil together with 20 Swedish specialists. The Brazilians already inSweden will work there for a six-month period, according to Fontes.
The directors of Akaer estimate that in four years the holding'sturnover will reach US$ 500 million and around 2.9 thousand job postswill be created in the next 10 years. "If the F-X2 result favors theGripen, in six months we will double the current number ofcollaborators," says Silva. "The partnership with Saab may be a hugetechnological leap with the same impact AMX had to Embraer, when theywere enabled to develop their very successful family of regional jets."
Brazil will help shaping supersonic plane wings
The manager of the Structural Segments Project of the new Swedish fighter Gripen NG, materials engineer Fernando Ferraz, responsible for the area of engineering and quality in Akaer, was summoned to coordinate the training of the 20 Brazilian engineers who are in Sweden learning to decipher the technology of supersonic airplanes. "It is the first time a Brazilian company has the chance to shape the wing of a supersonic airplane."
From the manufacturing standpoint, according to the engineer, the level of requirements for the parts, which will be made of composed materials, is more critical because the parts are thicker and the materialsare more resistant than those used in civil aircraft. "Akaer is quiteexperienced in the project and calculation areas, but with the GripenNG program we will also acquiremanufacturing know how."
One of the points highlighted by him is that during the phase oflearning new technologies, the Brazilian team will be involved in the development processfrom the beginning. "We will use computer tools involved in the processfrom the initial concept to the end product." According to Ferraz, inBrazil there is still nocompany in the aeronautical sector, with the exception of Embraer, that can integrate the whole process of producing an important part of a plane.
The suppliers in the Brazilian aeronautical chain, according to him,have reached a very good technical level, but have managing andintegration deficiencies. "This is our opportunity to change thatsituation. We will gain integration in a quicker way." Today, theintegration is done through foreign suppliers that receive partiallyfinished sets and finish them in Brazil.

Indian air force a third of China’s: air force chief

New Delhi: India's air force is just a third the size of rival China's and far short of the aircraft required to meet the security challenges it faces, the country's air force chief said Wednesday.
"Our present aircraft strength is inadequate. Aircraft strength isone third that of China," said Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik was quotedas saying by the CNN-IBN website Wednesday.
"The government of India is doing a lot to augment air force capability," he said in a speech in Gandhinagar, capital of India's western Gujarat state.

The comments come against the backdrop of media reports about Chinese army and air "incursions" into India in the past several weeks that have been denied by both New Delhi and Beijing.
The Asian giants and economic rivals have yet to agree on their morethan 4,000 kilometre (2,480 mile) border, the dispute over which datesback to a brief but bitter conflict in 1962 that exposed India'smilitary vulnerability.
India says China occupies 38,000 square kilometres (14,670 squaremiles) of its territory, while Beijing claims 90,000 square kilometresor the wholeof the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.
Naik said there were two ways to counter China's reported incursions.
"One way is to take up weapons and go to the border. The other wayis to build systematic weapons capability to tackle the threat," hesaid.
Naik's remarks follow similar ones by former navychief Sureesh Mehta, who last month said India could not compete withChina on defence spending and warned Beijing was "creating formidablemilitary capabilities".
India has begun trials of the world's leading fighter jets as it prepares to place an order for 126 planes in a contract worth 12 billion dollars.

Lockheed Begins F-16 Trials for Indian Air Force

BANGALORE, India: US aerospace major Lockheed Martin on Monday beganflying its three fighter F-16s here for trials of the medium multi-rolecombat aircraft (MMRC) that the Indian Air Force (IAF) wants to buy, to replace its ageing MiG-21 fleet.

"The field trials will be conducted in Bangalore, Jaisalmer and Leh till Sep 18 in different conditions. We had the trainingphase from Sep 3-5 in preparation for the trials," Lockheed'sinternational communications manager John Giese said. The trials nearJaisalmer in Rajasthan and Lehin Jammu and Kashmir next week will be to test the fighters in hotweather conditions and in high-altitude mountain ranges.

The three F-16s, which are in service with the United Arab Emirates(UAE) Air Force and stationed at Dubai air base, flew into Bangalore onSep 2, with Lockheed test pilots, US Air Force pilots and a team of engineers and technicians, for the 12-day trials.
"The fighters landed two days behind schedule due to inclementweather and operational reasons. The training phase includedfamiliarising the IAF's evaluation teams with the aircraft'scapabilities and technologies, especially its latest electronic warfareand navigational aids," Giese said.
During the training phase, the fighters were stationed at thestate-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) airport on the outskirts ofthe city. Demonstration of the aircraft, ability of its various systemsand the glass cockpit were held at the IAF's Aircraft Systems &Training Establishment (ASTE) complex, which is adjacent to the HALairstrip.
"As part of the trial preparation, all the three F-16s took to skies twice a day on hour-long sortiesdespite cloudy weather and intermittent rains Sep 3-5. They flew mostlyin south-westerly direction towards Mysore," a senior air trafficcontrol (ATC) official said on Sunday.
IAF's test pilots flew with Lockheed's test pilots in the tandemtwin-seater for a firsthand 'feel' of the aircraft and its ability tomanoeuvre for combat operations.
Though the advanced fourth generation F-16s participating in thetrials are not 'Super Viper', they are closest to the new version thecompany will offer to the IAF if it wins the estimated $10-billionorder for the 126 planes.
"The F-16IN Super Viper will be tailor-made to meet the requirementsof the IAF and will be the ultimate fourth generation fighter," Gieseclaimed.
According to Michael R. Griswold, Lockheed director, the F-16s, withfifth generation capabilities, will demonstrate to the IAF theirstriking power, speed, accuracy and its awesome 360-degree manoeuvres, with its sophisticated active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar.
The other five aircraft in the fray for the order are Boeing'sF/A-181N Super Hornet, the Dassault Rafale, the Saab Gripen, theRussian MiG-35 and the European consortium EADS Eurofighter Typhoon.
As per the global tender floated last year, the winning bidder willhave to deliver 18 aircrafts in fly-away condition, while the remaining108 will be manufactured by HAL under a technology transfer deal.
The F-16trials are taking place three weeks after Boeing flew in its two SuperHornets Aug 14 and conducted trials for about 10 days from Aug 17 inBangalore, Jaisalmer and Leh.
"Initially, the IAF pilots will co-pilot the aircraft, takingcontrols mid-air after familiarizing themselves with the systems andthe advanced navigation aids. In the subsequent trials, the IAF pilotswill take command of the aircraft for evaluating its variousparameters, including the use of weapons," a Lockheed official said.
The IAF has formed twin teams of two test pilots each for thetrials, which will be conducted in three stages: pilot familiarzsation,field trials and weapons systems trials. The third stage will beconducted in the country of manufacture.
The technical evaluation was completed early this year after the sixmanufacturers responded to the IAF's Request for Proposal (RFP) inAugust 2007.

India defence drive attracts global suppliers

India's drive to protect itself after last year's Mumbai attacks is attracting interest from some of the world's biggest companies who see opportunities in the push for improved homeland security.The government, after shunning the private sector for decades, isembracing it as an ally in the quest for new security strategies and technologies following the Mumbai bloodbath last November that left 166 people dead.
"Indian companies right now don't have the capability, but they areacquiring it through overseas joint ventures as the opportunity is hugein the homeland security domain," says Amit Singh from theConfederation of Indian Industry.

"Public sector enterprises cannot meet this demand."
India plans to spend 30billion dollars on military contracts by 2014, while junior defenceminister Pallam Raju announced last week a separate 10 billion dollarhomeland security upgrade to be completed before 2016.
"There are significant opportunities for the private industry topartner in the homeland security and sub-conventional warfare space,"Raju told a military meeting earlier this month.
India began opening up its defence industry to the private sector in2001 and allowed foreign firms to own 26 percent of local ventures,although a surfeit of red tape put off many companies.
Seeking to encourage investment in Indian industry, Raju said New Delhi would acquire up to 70 percent of its homeland security hardware from the domestic private sector.
US-based Raytheon and Boeing, Germany's Carl Walther, Britain's BAESystems and France's Thales are among the scores of firms now seeking apiece of the pie.
Along with the traditional defence suppliers, interest is coming from non-military firms, such as software giant Microsoft, IT company Cisco and Motorola, the US telephony group.
"We are working extensively with various agencies in India to maketechnology which will help you concentrate on your mission," SubodhVardhan, head of Motorola India told the military meeting.
India had previously focused defence spending on its conventionalmilitary, but the Mumbai raids exposed poor communication, outdatedequipment and weak border controls, and led to a reappraisal ofpriorities.
Like other countries, India realised that it needed new strategiesto fight threats from militant groups, both homegrown and external.
The country plans to arm its paramilitary police with new weaponry,anti-mine trucks, drones and body armour, as well as acquire the latestsecurity surveillance gear, communications and software.
India's 29 states have already begun upgrading their police forces, with plans to take on 150,000 new recruits.
To source its hardware, India had previously ignored the Indianprivate sector because of its total dependence on the Soviet Union forweapons imports.
But within a decade of the Communist bloc's breakup, bickering withRussia over costs and delivery prompted the government to crank updomestic production.
According to retired Lieutenant General Vinay Shankar, Indianindustrial houses staking claims in the sector include Larsen &Toubro, Tata, Mahindra & Mahindra, Godrej Boyce and Bharat Forge.
"Following them, are a large number of second and third tier companies covering a wide range of technologies," he wrote in the latest edition of India Defence Weekly military magazine.
In a recent address to an internal security summit attended by statechief ministers, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh cited "credibleinformation" that militants in Pakistan were plotting new attacks on India.
New Delhi blames Pakistani "official agencies" for abetting the militant attack in Mumbai.
India also faces myriad internal security threats, includinginsurgencies in seven of its northeastern states and a rebellion byIslamic separatists in disputed Kashmir.
Bomb blasts last year rocked the cities of Ahmedabad, Bangalore,Guwahati, Jaipur and the capital Delhi, and Maoist rebels are nowactive in more than half of the country's 29 states, particularly inthe east.
A previously little-known defence think tank, the Group forForecasting and Analysis of Systems -- or G-Fast -- has groupedtogether military scientists to adviseNew Delhi on its security policies.
"In sub-conventional warfare the challenges are quite a few because technologies are emerging and terrorists are adopting them," G-Fast director Manik Mukherjee said.
"We need to re-look and re-engineer existing technologies to meet the challenges," he said, urging companies to participate in areas spanning military communications, computer software, manufacturing and research.
Foreign and domestic groups are set to be out in force at India'sfirst ever homeland security exhibition -- Indesec -- to be held inOctober inNew Delhi.
It has already drawn 130 private firms from 20 countries, with the largest contingent of 20 firms from Israel.

Indian navy grounds Sea Harrier fighter fleet

MOSCOW: The Indian Navy has suspended flights of its fleet of carrier-based Sea Harrier fighter jets following a fatal crash of one of the aircraft off Goa last week, local media reported.
"The Sea Harriers have been grounded following the crash that left afighter pilot dead," the Times of India newspaper quoted Navy officialsas saying.
The 10 Sea Harrier jump jets will remain on an airfield in the Goa province until the probe into the crash is completed, the officials said.
The decision to ground the Sea Harriers leaves India's only aircraft carrier, the Viraat, practically without air power.

The 50-year-old Viraat recently left dry dock at the Cochin Shipyard following an 18-month comprehensive refit, and is expected to become fully operational in two months.
The Indian Navy has been forced to extend the service life of theageing Viraat for another five years due to prolonged delays in theconstruction of its first indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC) andRussia's failure to deliver the refitted Admiral Gorshkov on schedulein 2008.
According to the paper, the 40,000-ton IAC, which is being built atthe Cochin Shipyard, "will be ready only by 2015 at the earliest,"while the 44,570-ton Admiral Gorshkov, which is undergoing an overhaulat the Sevmash Shipyard in North Russia, may be delivered to India by2013.
However, New Delhi and Moscow are still in a deadlock over the finalprice of the original $1.5 billion 2004 contract, which includesdelivery of 16 MiG-29K Fulcrum carrier-based fighters. Russia hasclaimed it underestimated the scale and the cost of the AdmiralGorshkov's modernization, and has asked for an additional $1.2 billion, which New Delhi said was "exorbitant."

Russia to deliver Su-30MK2 fighters to Vietnam

ZHUKOVSKY: Russia will fulfill a contract on the delivery of eight Su-30MK2 fighters to Vietnam in 2010, state arms exporter Rosoboronexport said on Wednesday.
Russia and Vietnam signed a of $500 million agreement on the sale of eight Su-30MK2 fighters in January 2009.
"The contract was signed in January, and we will fulfill it in2009-2010," Alexander Mikheyev, deputy general director ofRosoboronexport said at the MAKS-2009 air show near Moscow.
Mikheyev said Vietnam had already made several advanced paymentsunder the contract and the deliveries would be made in two batches offour aircraft each.

Su-30MK2 is an advanced two-seat version of the Su-27 Flanker multirole fighter with upgraded electronics and capability to launch anti-ship missiles.
Russia's Federal Service for Military Cooperation said in June that Vietnam had expressed interest in buying additional Su-30MK2 fighters and talks on a new contract could start in the near future.
Military aircraft continue to dominate Russia's arms exports, and are expected to total about $2.6 billion in 2009 sales.

Structural Fault in MIG-29 Fighter Planes

 Russia has pointed out structural faults in MiG-29 aircraft. Therewas a MiG-29 accident in Russia in December 2008. RAC-MiG has intimatedthat corrosion on the fin root ribs has been identified as the cause ofcrack development.
There is no plan to decommission MiG-29 aircraft.
The repair scheme and preventive measures are in place and IAF hasnot encountered major problems concerning the issue. IAF has notentered into a new deal for procurement of MiG-29 aircraft.
This informationwas given by Defence Minister Shri AK Antony in a written reply to ShriPrabhat Jha & Balavant Alias Bal Apte in Rajya Sabha today.

India says satisfied with Su-30 fighter, despite crash

NEW DELHI: India is satisfied with the performance of Russian Su-30MKI fighters, despite a crash in April, and plans to double the number in service with the air force by 2015, the defense minister said on Wednesday.
The Indian Air Force originally ordered 50 SU-30MKI aircraft from Russiain 1996-98 and an additional 40 planes in 2007. Hindustani Aeronautics(HAL) was also contracted to build 140 aircraft in India between 2003and 2017 under a licensed production agreement.

"We have purchased 98 Su-30MKI combat jets since 1996. By 2015, weare planning to increase their number to 230," A. K. Antony told theupper house of the Indian parliament.
"The Indian Air Force is happy with the aircraft and we believe it is one of the best in the world," he added.
Antony said the investigation into the cause of the April 30 crash of an Indian Air Force Su-30MKI was still underway.
The plane crashed during a routine training flight near a village 170km from the town of Jaisalmer in the northeastern state of Rajasthan, killing one of its two pilots.
The incident was the first since the Su-30MKI was put into service with the Indian Air Force in 2002.
Russia sent in May a group of 20 experts to examine the wreckage of the plane and help the Indian Air Force with the investigation.

Israel drops Indian jets venture under US pressure: report

Jerusalem: Israel has dropped out of a multi-billion dollar joint venture with a Swedish firm to develop new fighter jets for India because of US pressure, a newspaper reported on Monday.
Israel Aerospace Industries was planning to develop a new model of the Swedish-made Gripen fighter jet with its manufacturer, Saab, to compete in a tender to sell the planes to India's armed forces, the Jerusalem Post said.
But the state-owned firm backed out on the orders of the Israelidefence ministry "after the Pentagon expressed concern that Americantechnology, used byIsrael, would be integrated into the Gripen," the newspaper said.
It said Washington had likely pressured its close ally because two major US aircraft manufacturers -- Boeing and Lockheed Martin -- are also participating in the tender for more than 120 aircraft estimated at 12 billion dollars (8.5 billion euros) .
"This is not the first time that the defence ministry forced a localcompany out of a deal due to concerns that competition with American companies would cause friction with the United States," it said.
In 2008, the defence ministry ordered Israel Military Industries notto submit a bid for a 500 million-dollar deal for the manufacture of anew tank for Turkey because it would have been in competition with USfirms, it said.
Israel replaced France in 2007 as India's second-largest armssupplier after Russia and could grab the number one slot through a vastarray of defence agreements already signed with New Delhi.
In May, India took delivery of its first Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) plane as part of a deal with Israel worth more than one billion dollars.

First Pakistan made JF-17 to fly by end this year

ISLAMABAD: Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman on Saturday said that first Pakistan made JF-17 - Thunder - aircraft would fly in the country’s airspace by end of this year.He made this announcement while addressing the Graduation Ceremony of No 38 Combat Commanders’ Course which was held at Pakistan Air Force Base, Mushaf (Sargodha).
In his address to the graduating Combat Commanders, he said, TheJF-17 Thunder program is on track. “We will start production of thisaircraft from 30th of this month and Inshallah 1st Made inPakistan JF-17 aircraft will fly in Pakistan's airspace by end of this year.”

“PAF has extensively flown against the militants in Swat as well asin FATA. Application of airpower has brought about tangible results.This is a new type of warfare in which PAF has been participating for the first time during the last one year or so in support of Pakistan Army. We will continue our contribution towards our national security effort as long as it is required.”
Referring to the challenges confronted the nation, he said ‘thechallenges, both internal and external, that confront us today and ourresponses to these have to be viewed in the broader perspectiveof the changes that are shaping the geopolitical landscape of theworld. Apart from the traditional hostile adversary, new frontiers ofconflict have lately emerged for us in the West and from within. Thesedevelopments pose a great deal of threat to ournational security.”
The Chief Guest awarded certificates and trophies to the graduatingofficers who underwent a strenuous and professionally demanding course.
The Chief of the Air Staff Trophy for the best Combat Commander wasawarded to Squadron Leader Haider Shahbaz Ali while Air OfficerCommanding Air Defence Command Trophy for best Combat Controller wasawarded to Squadron Leader Saquib Rehman.
Earlier on his arrival, the Chief Guest was received by AirCommodore M Ashfaque Arain, Base Commander PAF Base, Mushaf. Theceremony was attended by Principal Staff Officers and field commandersofPakistan Air Force.

First Flight for South African Gripen C

The first single-seat Gripen C destined for the South African Air Force flew for the first time on Thursday 11th June.
The aircraft, number 39.2101, was flown by Saab test pilot Richard Ljungberg. It took off from Saab's facility at Linköping in Sweden at 13.00 and touched down safely back at Linköping at 14.03 in the afternoon.
The aircraft will undergo a short flight test programme ahead of delivery to South Africa in October.
South Africa has ordered 17 Gripen C and 9 dual-seat Gripen D fighters under a comprehensive military transformation and modernisation programme.

Medvedev makes sales pitch for Russian warplane

 MOSCOW: Russia would like to expand sales of such warplanes as the Su-34 throughout the world, President Dmitry Medvedev said in an interview with Chinese TV released on Monday.
Sukhoi Su-34 Fullback, an advanced two-seat fighter-bomber and attack aircraft, was flown by Medvedev in March.
The president told China Central TV his flight was supposed to "deliver several messages."
He said he wanted to "learn firsthand about the potential of Russianequipment," and was able to see for himself that "this equipment isreally great."
He added that as commander in chief, he wanted to share firsthand experience with "people serving in the Armed Forces," including the "strain and other challenges."
Medvedev said Russia was "interested in expanding the geographicbase" for the export of these aircraft "to include our neighbors, aswell as other countries."
The Su-34 is armed with a 30mm GSh-301 gun and 180 rounds of ammunition and can fire up to 1,500 rounds a minute.
The aircraft can carry an array of missiles, including air-to-air,air-to-surface, anti-ship and heat-seeking missiles, and guided andunguided bombs.
Full-scale production began in January 2008, and 24 Su-34 aircraftare expected to be in service by 2010. In January 2008, the Russian Air Force said it would procure 70 aircraft by 2015.
Experts say the new bomber has the potential to become the top plane in its class for years to come.

First Saudi Typhoon Aircraft Rolled Out

The Roll Out Ceremony for the first two Typhoon aircraft constructed for the Royal Saudi Air Force was held at BAE Systems' Warton site yesterday.
The ceremony, which was attended by the Saudi Assistant Minister ofDefence and Aviation, His Royal Highness Prince Khalid Bin Sultan binAbdul Aziz Al Saud, representing the Saudi Deputy Prime Minister andMinister of Defence and Aviation, His Royal Highness Crown PrinceSultan bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, and the Minister for the Armed Forces, Mr Bill Rammell, representing the Secretary of State for Defence, included a fly past by one of the RSAF Typhoons.
This represents another significant stage in the progress of theSalam Project, which covers the supply of 72 Typhoon aircraft tothe Royal Saudi Air Force in accordance with the Understanding Document signed by both Governments.

The Minister for the Armed Forces, Bill Rammell, said:
"This ceremony is a very significant milestone for the Salam Project. The Royal Saudi AirForce is getting a fantastic aircraft. Typhoon is a world-class,multi-role aircraft and will provide the RSAF with the defencecapability it needs to meet the defence challenges of today and for the foreseeable future.
"The industrial benefits of the Project are also substantial forboth nations and will help to sustain several thousand, skilled jobs inthe UK and Saudi Arabia over the next ten years."
Background Information
  • The Governments of Saudi Arabia and the UK signed a formal understanding in 1985 for thesupply of Tornado IDS, Tornado ADV, Hawk and PC-9 aircraft, togetherwith associated support services, equipment, weapons, ammunition and electronic warfare systems; the aircraft have all since been delivered.
  • The two governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding(MOU) in 1986 elaborating the arrangements put in place the previousyear. This formalised the role of British Aerospace (BAe) (as it wascalled at the time) as the main contractorfor the whole programme, andestablished a UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) Project Office then withinthe Defence Export Services Organisation (DESO) to coordinate theactivities of UK MOD in support of the programme, and to monitor thecontracted activities of BAe. The two governments signed the "New BuyTornado Agreement"for the supply of additional Tornado IDS aircraft in 1993.
  • On 21 December 2005 the then Secretary of State for Defence, DrJohn Reid, signed an Understanding Document which was intended toestablish a greater partnership in modernising the Saudi Arabian ArmedForces and develop close service-to-service contacts, especiallythrough joint trainingand exercises. Under the terms of the document it was agreed thatTyphoon aircraft would replace Tornado ADV aircraft and otherscurrently in service withthe Royal Saudi Air Force. BAE Systems wouldalso invest in local Saudi companies, develop an industrial technologyplan, and provide suitable training for thousands of Saudi nationalsproviding through life support for key in-service equipments.
  • On 17 September 2007, the Governments of Saudi Arabia and the UKannounced that agreement had been reached on the sale of 72 Typhoonaircraft. This new defence cooperation programme, which has beendesignated the Salam Project, will eventually be supported bysubstantial logistical and training packages. The final details ofthese support packages are still subject to further discussion betweenthe Governments, but limited aircrew and technician training hasalready started inthe UK in preparation for the delivery of the first Typhoon aircraft to Saudi Arabia later this summer. The Roll-Out ceremony marks the beginning of the delivery stage of the Salam Project.
  • Role of UK MOD: The 1986 MOU requires the UK Government to ensure that all equipment, spares, training and technical work supplied by the main contractor (BAE Systems) are in accordance with Saudi requirements. This requirement will continue for the Salam Project. BAE Systems'performance in meeting requirements is monitored by the MoD's DirectorGeneral Saudi Armed Forces Project (DGSAP) and his staff, based inLondon andSaudi Arabia.

Dassault’s Rafale Back in Indian Fighter Race

he Times of India reported onMay 22 that the Dassault Rafale is back in the race for an Indiangovernment contract to build 126 new medium multirole combat aircraft for the country's Air Force.The paper said that the Rafale had been booted out of thecompetition to supply the jets by the Indian Defence Ministry afterDassault failed to respond properly in its technical bid toward theGSQRs (general staff qualitative requirements) drawn up by the IAF. Thepaper then quoted an unnamed Defense Ministry official stating thatDassault had since supplied missing information and that the Rafalewould now participate in IAF field trials of the competitors.
There will be two sets of field trials, according to The Times. Thefirst set is scheduled for July and August and the second in the winterof 2009-2010. The aircraft will be flown in the mountainous region ofLeh, the hot Rajasthan desert, and the humid region around Bangalore.
After field trials the field of six fighters- the Rafale, the Lockheed Martin F-16, the Boeing F/A-18, Saab's Gripen, the RAC MiG MiG-35, and the Eurofighter Typhoon- will be winnowed down to a short list of three aircraft. Commercialbids by the three remaining candidates will then be opened andevaluated. The IAF would like the aircraft to be delivered by2012-2013, but the evaluation and bidding process is expected to take aminimum of two years. Under the circumstances, a contract cannot beexpected before 2011.
UAE Considering Rafale Jet Fighters
ABU DHABI, UAEs --- According to UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan, discussions between the UAE and Franceabout the possible Emirati purchase of the new generation French Rafalejet fighter are moving ahead. Officials from the UAE made hints in 2008that the tiny Gulf state was considering the acquisition of Rafalefighters as a solution for the replacement of its 60 French-built Mirage combat aircraft. Such a deal is believed to be valued between EUR6-8 billion ($8-11 billion).
France, along with the U.S., is one of the UAE's key arms suppliers.One snag in the potential sale of the Rafale to the UAE for the Frenchis that any deal is likely to be precluded by the demand that Franceeither take back theMirage 2000-9 jets or find a suitable buyer on theglobal market. France, still seeking an export market for its DassaultAviation aircraft, might settle for buying back the surplus Mirages inorder to achieve the sale.

UAE still in talks to buy Rafale planes from France

Abu Dhabi: The United Arab Emirates and France are continuingnegotiations on the Gulf Arab state's potential purchase of FrenchRafale fighter planes, the UAE's foreign minister said on Monday.
"It will take a bit more time" to complete the talks, SheikhAbdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan told AFP ahead of French PresidentNicolas Sarkozy's visit to the Gulf state for talks on bilateralmilitary ties.
A deal would be a major boost for the plane's maker Dassault Aviation, which has yet to sell any Rafales for export.
A Dassault spokesman told AFP on Saturday that "a deal is unlikely in the next few days."
The UAE said in June 2008 that it was "seriously" considering replacing its fleet of 60 Mirage 2000 combat planes with Rafale.
Asked about progress in the talks, Sheikh Abdullah said on thesidelines of the conference that the private sector "would also beinvolved", in reference to Dassault.
Kouchner said he is "not in charge of the matter", while Sarkozy's Elysee office recently said that "there was progress".
Dassault previously held talks with Saudi Arabia, the largest Arab economy, on a possible deal, but the world's top oil exporter eventually opted to buy Eurofighter jets from Britain.
Dassault is also expected to re-enter a race to win a12-billion-dollar fighter plane deal in India after it was disqualifiedfor failure to meet technical requirements.
France is a leading military supplier to the UAE, which bought more than 400 Leclerc tanks from French firm GIAT in 1994.
Sarkozy was due to arrive in the capital later on Monday to inaugurate a French military base, the first in the region, as part of a 1995 defence pact that binds the two countries.

PLA Navy Modernization: Preparing for “Informatized” War at Sea

By: Andrew S. Erickson
In recent years, senior Chinese Communist Party(CCP) leaders and high-ranking military officers have repeatedlyemphasized the importance of naval modernization. Most prominently, CCPGeneral Secretary, President and Central Military Commission (CMC)Chairman Hu Jintao in a December 2006 speech to People’s LiberationArmy Navy (PLAN) officers underscored the need “to build a powerfulPeople’s navy that can adapt to its historical mission during a newcentury and a new period” (International Herald Tribune, December 26,2006). Similarly, PLAN Commander Wu Shengli and Political Commissar HuYanlin promoted the importance of naval modernization in an articlethat appeared in the authoritative CCP journal Seeking Truth [1]. Thisgrowing sense of urgency about naval modernization appears to be afunction of increasing concern about maritime security issues,particularly Taiwan, the protection of maritime resources and energysecurity. These missions drive the PLAN’s requirements, not only fornew platforms, but also for command, control, communications, computer,intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) capabilities.

Enhancingthe PLAN’s information technology and communications capabilities isthus seen as critical to the success of Chinese naval modernization.According to one recent article in Modern Navy, a PLAN magazine, “[t]heinformatization of shipboard weapons and equipment is the core ofmaritime joint combat … the Chinese Navy should vigorously build datalinks for maritime military actions and fundamentally change the way tocarry out tasks in the future,” ultimately creating a “networked fleet”[2]. Reaching this goal hinges on narrowing the gap between the PLANand the world’s most advanced navies through the development,acquisition and integration of advanced information technology.

PLAN “Informatization”

ThePLAN is undergoing an unprecedented transformation from what wasessentially a coastal defense force to a more offensively orientedservice capable of executing a variety of regional missions. As part ofthis impressive modernization program, a number of new surface shipsand submarines have entered service in recent years. China’s newsurface ships include Russian-built Sovremennyy guided missiledestroyers (DDGs), indigenously developed Luzhou and Luyang I and IIDDGs as well as Jiangkai I and II guided missile frigates (FFGs), inaddition to Houbei-class PTG wave piercing catamarans. Among the PLAN’snew submarines are Kilo-class diesels acquired from Russia and thedomestically developed Shang nuclear-powered and Song and Yuanconventional attack submarines. With the addition of these newplatforms, the PLAN is improving its surface warfare, undersea warfareand air defense capabilities. The PLAN also appears poised to become anincreasingly important part of China’s nuclear deterrence posture withthe addition of several Jin-class SSBNs, which will be armed with JL-2SLBMs. According to China’s 2006 Defense White Paper, the PLAN “aims atgradual extension of the strategic depth for offshore defensiveoperations and enhancing its capabilities in integrated maritimeoperations and nuclear counterattacks” [3].

China’sleaders perceive their nation to be confronting a strategic environmentin which “[m]ilitary competition based on informatization isintensifying” [4]. This view both highlights the growing importance ofinformation technology in military modernization and places a heavypremium on striving for information dominance in any future conflict.Indeed, many Chinese analysts write about the role of information in astyle reminiscent of U.S. publications on “network centric warfare.”For example, according to one recent article by three PLAN researchers,“[i]n the information age, information has become one of the mainsources of combat power” [5].

PLAN C4ISR Systems

Formany years, the entire PLA, including the PLAN, faced majorshortcomings in its C4ISR capabilities, but Beijing has embarked on amassive effort to modernize, upgrade and expand its communicationsinfrastructure. One of the key results of this communications upgrade,which has been bolstered by the rapid development of China’s civilianinformation technology and telecommunications industries, was theconstruction of a national fiber-optic communications network thatprovides the PLA with much greater communications capacity, reliabilityand security. According to one source, “in the coastal militarycommands, a gigantic optic-cable communication network has been set up,which guarantees the optic-cable communication among the headquartersof each military command. Meanwhile, satellite communication has beenapplied more widely, which ensures smooth communication between the topcommanding organ and the headquarters at different levels of themilitary commands” [6]. Chinese research institutes have also“developed a VSAT [Very Small Aperture Terminal] communication systemconsisting of mobile vehicle-borne components” as well as new microwaveand troposcatter communication systems [7]. Additionally, China isupgrading some of its traditional HV, VHF and UHF communication systems[8]. Improving military computer networks and making them available tomore and more units also has been a priority for the PLA as it expandsits communications networks, another key “informatization” developmentthat has major implications for the PLAN. Indeed, recent reportsindicate that all PLAN units at the division level and above are nowconnected to military computer networks, and that current plans focuson extending coverage to lower-level units [9].

Beijinghas likewise intensified its efforts to improve its space-based C4ISRcapabilities, which are particularly crucial for naval informatization.Navigation and positioning has been another major area of emphasis withimplications for military modernization and the informatization of thePLAN. In addition to using GPS and GLONASS and working with the EU onthe Galileo navigation satellite system, China has deployed theindigenous built Beidou Navigation System-1 comprised of foursatellites, and plans to develop a larger system called Compass (orBeidou-2) comprised of thirty-five satellites. Chinese developments insmall satellites and maritime observation satellites are also ofparticular interest from the perspective of naval informatization. Inaddition, the PLAN is improving the capabilities of its ocean surveyand reconnaissance ships, which are responsible for a number of tasks,including surveying, gathering meteorological and hydrographicinformation, laying and repairing undersea cables, and intelligencecollection.

Trends in C4ISR Research and Development and Naval Training

Onemajor area of emphasis appears to be the development of C4ISRcapabilities required to implement an access denial strategy. Accordingto the 2007 Department of Defense report on Chinese militarycapabilities, “[t]o prevent deployment of naval forces into westernPacific waters, PLA planners are focused on targeting surface ships atlong ranges … One area of apparent investment emphasis involves acombination of medium-range ballistic missiles, C4ISR for geo-locationof targets, and onboard guidance systems for terminal homing to strikesurface ships on the high seas or their onshore support infrastructure”[10]. China is already developing the capability to target U.S. shipswith ballistic missiles, such as the DF-21 MRBM [11]. “China isequipping theater ballistic missiles with maneuvering reentry vehicles(MaRVs) with radar or IR seekers to provide the accuracy necessary toattack a ship at sea,” according to the Office of Naval Intelligence[12]. If supplied with accurate real-time target data from China’sgrowing constellation of ISR satellites or other sources, terminalseekers and maneuvering warheads could threaten targets such asairbases and aircraft carriers [13].

Chineseresearchers also emphasize the importance of linking platforms togetherinto an integrated whole, suggesting that this will continue to be amajor focus of defense R&D programs. This is consideredparticularly important for the PLAN. According to an article by WangHangyu, a researcher at the PLA’s Naval Engineering University, “[a]platform-centric navy cannot bring into full play the potentials of itssensors and weapons,” but “effective networks formed with multipleplatforms and multiple sensors can enable the resources of militarystrength to grow steadily” and “resource sharing among variousplatforms and coordinated allocation of the resources of alloperational forces can enable the currently available resources ofmilitary strength to be fully utilized” [14]. According to an articleby Li Qiang, a researcher affiliated with the PLA’s Academy ofEquipment Command & Technology, “[i]n order to effectively fuse allC4ISR system elements and achieve a seamless connection from sensors toshooters it is necessary to solve the problems of data integration”[15].

Unmannedreconnaissance systems appear to be another area of emphasis in ChineseC4ISR-related research. Indeed, recent technical articles indicate thatChinese scientists and engineers are conducting research on varioustypes of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) [16]. Chinese researchers arealso working on unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs). For example, onerecent article by PLAN researchers addresses the sonar capabilities ofremotely operated vehicles (ROVs), which could have applications in ISRand a number of other maritime warfare mission areas [17].

ThePLAN’s focus on technological developments notwithstanding, Chineseplanners realize that rapid improvements in hardware will not be fullyeffective without corresponding increases in the ability of militarypersonnel to operate them under realistic combat conditions. In keepingwith recent PLA-wide guidance from the General Staff Department thatstresses making training more realistic and challenging, the PLAN hasemphasized making training approximate the actual battlefieldenvironment as much as possible. Official sources indicate that thePLAN is striving to make training more rigorous [18].

Chinesereports frequently highlight the importance of conducting trainingunder “complex electromagnetic conditions,” which necessitates suchactivities as jamming, electronic attacks, reconnaissance andelectronic deception [19]. The PLAN is also conducting opposing forcestraining featuring “Blue Force” detachments playing the role of enemyunits and making extensive use of modeling and simulation to enhancetraining. Another area of emphasis for the PLAN is joint training.According to one recent article in the PLAN’s official newspaper, “[a]sprofound changes take place in the form of war, future warfare will beintegrated joint operations under informatized conditions. Training isthe rehearsal for war, and what kind of a war we fight determines whatkind of training we should conduct” [20]. Articles in the same officialnewspaper highlight the PLAN’s recent involvement in “informatized”multi-service training activities, some of which have focusedspecifically on enhancing joint communications capabilities [21].

Conclusion: How Good is Good Enough?

EnhancingChina’s naval capabilities is a key component of China’s militarytransformation, as reflected by recent leadership statements and thedevelopment of several new classes of surface ships and submarines.Moreover, informatization is clearly a central aspect of PLANmodernization and naval C4ISR modernization will have importantimplications in areas such as joint operations and command and control.Chinese C4ISR modernization has become a top priority and PLANinformatization appears to have made some impressive progress in recentyears. It remains unclear, however, how close the Chinese actually areto achieving the so-called “informatized force.” The PRC’s 2006 DefenseWhite Paper established a goal of being able to fight and wininformatized wars by the mid-21st century. This reflects a perceivedgap between the Chinese armed forces and the world’s most advancedmilitaries, which Chinese writers often suggest will take decades toovercome. At the same time, however, it also raises the issue ofdistinguishing between the “ideal” capability the Chinese navy seeks toestablish in the long term and that which might simply prove “goodenough” in the short term. Indeed, even a relatively simple system ofdeconfliction by time or geographic area might be sufficient in aTaiwan scenario. This suggests that the PLAN might achieve anemployable capability with surprising rapidity, especially if itpursues one that falls short of the standards set by U.S. proponents of“network centric warfare,” but that is nonetheless capable ofcontributing to the achievement of China’s operational and strategicobjectives.

Russia freezes warplane contract with Syria

MOSCOW: Russia has put on a hold a contract to deliver MiG-31E Foxhound interceptor-fighters to Syria, a Russian business daily reported on Wednesday, citing defense-industry sources.
According to Kommersant, the $400-500 million contract for thedelivery of eight MiG-31E aircraft was signed in 2007. Since productionof MiG-31E's had stopped in 1994, Syria was to receive retrofittedaircraft fromRussia's Air Force reserves.
There has been no official comment on the decision to freeze thecontract, but an industry source quoted by the daily said the contractwas terminated due to Damascus's financial problems.
In the winter of 2005, Russia forgave 70% of Syria's debt, which at the time stood at $13.4 billion. After that Damascus still owed Moscow $3.6 billion.
Later in the year, Russia resumed military cooperation with Syria, delivering, in particular, Strelets surface-to-air missile systems.
Earlier this month, some Russian and foreign media reported Belarus was planning to sell S-300 surface-to-airmissiles and Iskander tactical missile systems to Iran, and said thatTehran had arranged to transfer some of the systems to Syria. However,the Belarusian president denied the country had any plans to sellweapons to Syria or Iran.

RAF’s Eurofighter Typhoon Tranche 3 in Final Stages

The Prime Minister has today confirmed that the UK will move ahead with its international partners with the final stages of procuring a third batch of Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft for the Royal Air Force.
The NATO Eurofighter Tornado Management Agency (NETMA) will continuenegotiations with industry with a view to getting the best possibledeal for the Partner Nations (UK, Germany, Italy and Spain).Negotiations will address both procurement and support costs.
The Prime Minister said:

"I am pleased that we are moving forward with this important programme with our partner nations. This will strengthen Britain's defence capability, and will create new jobs in advanced manufacturing that Britain needs to emerge stronger and fitter from this global downturn.
The Defence Secretary John Hutton said:
"We look forward to receiving an affordable bid from European industrythat will allow us to proceed with a programme that will deliveradvanced multi-role aircraft to the Royal Air Force and maintainhigh-technology skills and industrial capability acrossthe UK and Europe.
"Subject to the satisfactory outcome of these negotiations, I hopethat we will be in a position to sign a contract later this year."
The MoD will now initial the ministerial agreement which the otherpartner nations (Germany, Italy and Spain) signed on 2 April 2009. Thisagreement contains a statement of principles, including the need toachieve significant through-life savings, which will underpin the nextstage of negotiations between NETMA which acts as the contracting agenton behalf of the partner nations and industry.
The contract for the third tranche of Typhoon aircraft will besigned once there is a satisfactory conclusion to these negotiations,and each Partner Nation's Approving Authority has accepted the terms ofagreement.

US buys Su-27 fighters from Ukraine for ‘aggressor’ training

MOSCOW: The United States has bought two Su-27 Flanker fighter aircraft to help train U.S. air force pilots to cope with the growing number of 4th-generation Russian aircraft sold around the world, a U.S. online magazine said.
The two aircraft have been bought from a private Ukrainian company by the Reno-based Tac Air, which provides training and test support for the military.
The fighter jets will also be used to test the effectiveness of new U.S. radars and electronic warfare equipment, the Strategy Page reported.

The 33-ton Su-27 is similar to the U.S. F-15, but costs some 30% less, the source said.
Su-27 fighter jets have been produced in Russia since 1982. They arestill widely used in the Russian Air Force and are gradually undergoingmaintenance repairs to extend their service life.
The Su-27 Flanker and its variant, the Su-30 Flanker C, account for a major share of Russia's arms exports. In the past, Russia's Sukhoi aircraft maker sold Su-27 and Su-30 fighters to China, India, Malaysia, Venezuela and Algeria.
In 2007, Sukhoi exported 50 of these aircraft, accounting for 50% of Rosoboronexport's export revenues.
According to U.S. sources, the two aircraft, which have beenacquired in a commercial variant, stripped of weaponry, are beingoverhauled and modified by the U.S. Pride Air company.

Thailand Air Force Scraps Plan to Buy More Gripen Fighters

Budget cuts have compelled the air force to shelve its planned purchase of six more Swedish-made Gripen fighters, the Bangkok Post reports. As the government decided on Wednesday to slash the defence budget for the next fiscal year from 171 billion to 151 billion baht, the air force had to ditch its plan to order six more Gripen fighter jets worth 15 billion baht, commander Itthaporn Subhawong said.
The air force has already bought six Gripen jets worth 19 billion baht with the planes due for delivery next year. The air forceneeds the other six Gripen jets to complete a fleet of 12 that willreplace its ageing F-5 fighters scheduled to be decommissioned in 2011.

With only six Gripen jets, the air force was not confident of protecting national security, according to the air force chief, who also warned that the decision would weaken national defence where competitive weaponry is vital.
"This affects the potential of the armed forcesbecause they need modern weaponry. If we must defend the nation withweapons that cannot match [our enemies'] or are outdated, nobody willhave respect for us," ACM Itthaporn said.
He said that the six other Gripen jets were necessary for nationaldefence. "We must explain what is essential and need a review fromthe government. Weapons result in national security. Without strong defences, neighbours will not have respect for us.
"We, all soldiers, are ready to sacrifice our lives for the nationbut in any fight we must have competitive weaponry. The life of everysoldier is valuable. If a conflict erupts and we have weapons that donot compare, soldiers will be killed," he said.
The Swedish fighters will be stationed at the air force base in Surat Thani to protect the Gulf of Thailand, the Andaman Sea and all areas in the southern region of the country.
The air force plans to use them as its main fighters instead of the F-16 jets used now.
The Defence Ministry was one of the agencies hit hardest by thebudget cuts, implemented because government revenues have fallen shortof target and the need to raise money to pay for economic stimulusschemes.
A ministry source said there was a question whether relations between the Democrat Party-led coalition and the armed forces would sour because the armed forces had supported the government but received budgetary reductions in return.

F-35B Exceeds STOVL Thrust Requirement

FORT WORTH, Texas: The F-35B Lightning II short takeoff/verticallanding (STOVL) variant has demonstrated during testing that itproduces excess vertical thrust - more than required to carry out itsmissions. The tests, conducted on a specially instrumented "hover pit,"also validated the performance of aircraft software, controls, thermalmanagement, STOVL-system hardware and other systems.
"The performance level measured was absolutely exceptional," said J.D. McFarlan, Lockheed Martin F-35Air Vehicle lead. "We demonstrated 41,100 pounds of vertical thrustagainst our requirement of 40,550 pounds. This means we will deliverexcellent margin for the vertical landing and short takeoff performancewe've committed to our STOVL customers," he said. Those customersinclude the U.S. Marine Corps, the United Kingdom's Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, and the Italian Navy and Air Force.

The F-35B is powered by a single Pratt & Whitney F135 enginedriving a Rolls-Royce lift fan. The F135 is the most powerful engineever flown in a jet fighter.
During hover-pit testing, the aircraft is anchored to a metal grate14 feet above a sloped concrete floor, separating the jet from groundeffect and enabling it to simulate free-air flight. Sensors measurethrust and the aircraft's response to pilot inputs. The testing alsodemonstrates control of the doors associated with the STOVL propulsionsystem: engine auxiliary inlet, fan inlet, fan exit, roll posts, anddoors that open to enable the Rolls-Royce three-bearing swivel duct toarticulate and vector engine thrust. In other tests, metal plates areinstalled atop the hover-pit grate, enabling engineers to observe andchart the outflow of gases from the propulsion system.
The testing demonstrates functional operation of all systemsrequired for vertical flight, and measures the installed forces andmoments on the aircraft during STOVL operations. The hover-pit testsare the final series of ground tests before airborne STOVL testingbegins.
"We've demonstrated critical performance such as inlet pressurerecovery, pitching moment, rolling and yawing moment, effective vectorangles of the exhaust, and control-input response time," said DougPearson, vice president of the F-35 Integrated Test Force. "Each ofthese measurements correlates extremely well with our computer models.The outstanding STOVL performance gives us plenty of confidence tobegin in-flight transitions to STOVL-mode flight and ultimately ourfirst vertical landing at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md.,this summer."
The F-35B is the first aircraft to combine stealth with shorttakeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) capability and supersonic speed. TheF-35 is a supersonic, multi-role, 5th generation stealth fighter. Threevariants derived from a common design, developed together and using thesame sustainment infrastructure worldwide, will replace at least 13types of aircraft for 11 nations initially, making the Lightning II themost cost-effective fighter program in history.
Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global securitycompany that employs about 146,000 people worldwide and is principallyengaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integrationand sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.The corporation reported 2008 sales of $42.7 billion.

First JSF Fighter Jet Will Cost EUR 110 Million

The first test Joint Strike Fighter(JSF) jet will cost almost just under EUR 110m which is within budget,says junior defence minister Jack de Vries in a letter to parliament onMonday, reports the Trouw.
The letter comes two days before MPs are to decide whether or not to approve the purchase of two JSF aircraft.
Selecting a replacement for the defence department’s current fleet of fighter jets is a long-running and controversial issue within the government.
Until now the actual price of the JSF has been unclear, reports theTrouw. Clarity on price is a prerequisite for two of the threecoalition parties, Labour and the orthodox ChritenUnie, to vote in favour of the acquisition, the paper says.

The JSF is made by US manufacturer Lockheed Martin. Saab is a contender for the contract.
MPs will decide on Wednesday whether to buy the first of the twotest JSFs which will be used for a series of extensive trials. Thesecond will not be ordered until next year, says the Trouw.

Israeli Negotiations for F-35 Bogging Down Over Costs, Technology Concerns

NEWTOWN, Conn: Negotiations between the Israeli Defense Ministry and Lockheed Martin for the purchase of advanced, new-generation F-35Joint Strike Fighter stealth aircraft continue to bog down over thefinal hurdles of unit cost and integration of Israeli-specific avionicsand armaments.
While the Israeli defense establishment complains of soaring F-35unit costs - a completely rational concern considering the potentialdefense budget cuts looming on the horizon - the real issue seems to bethe installation of Israeli-made systems onto the aircraft.

Israel's five-year defense plan ('Teffen 2012') places emphasis on acquiringadvanced precision strike fighters, with the focus being on the F-35.Under the Israeli defense plan, funding for a squadron of 25 F-35s willbegin prior to first delivery, which, based upon Pentagon andCongressional approval in September 2008, should be in 2014. This firstsquadron would then come into service two years later.Israel isplanning to purchase a further 50 aircraft in order to outfit twoadditional squadrons at a later date. Originally the Israelis hadplanned on purchasing 100 F-35s, but funding shortfalls forced them todownsize their immediate plans.
Yet despite Israel's F-35 designs, its defense establishment is now considering whether the Israeli Air Force(IAF) can maintain its military-technological regional edge withoutgoing forward with the JSF purchase. Upgrades to existing Israeli F-15and F-16aircraft, or purchasing advanced types of both platforms (including theBoeing F-15 Eagle), are both seen as an alternative option.
This may be a smoke screen intended to extract concessions from theU.S. for permitting the implementation of Israeli systems onto theF-35s. The Israelis remain interested in wrapping upnegotiations for the F-35 this year, and the IAF remains highly desirous of the aircraft.
While cost is no doubt a very real concern - the estimated price tagfor the 75 F-35s is placed at $15.2 billion - much of the Israelifunding comes in the form of U.S. Foreign Military Financing (FMF) credits, which will total $11.425 billion from 2009 through 2012 alone.
Also, the other U.S. advanced stealth alternative, the F-22 Raptor,is not available on the export market per Congressional law. Even inthe unlikely event that this law was revoked by the Obamaadministration, production on the aircraft is set to end in 2011, thuscausing its unit price-tag - already estimated at $146 million in 2008dollars - to escalate even higher and making its cost even moreprohibitive than the JSF.
What aircraft option the Israeli Defense Ministry ultimately pursuesmay depend on the time frame by which Israeli intelligence estimatesthe Iranians could be capable of producing nuclear armaments.

French Rafale Fighter Jet Out Of Race for Biggest IAF Deal

The French Rafale fighter has been knocked out of the race for the'mother of all defence deals', the Rs 42,000 crore (approx. 9 billioneuros—Ed) project to acquire 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) for IAF, leaving five jets in the fray now.Defence ministry (MoD) sources on Thursday said Rafale had “fallenshort” on “several counts” listed in the GSQRs (general staff qualitative requirements) drawn up by IAF. "It did not pass muster in the technical evaluation of the bids submitted by the six contenders," said a source.
The move is sure to rile France, which like other countries in thecontention for what will be the largest global defence contract hadmounted a high-voltage campaign for the $10.4 billion MMRCA contract."We have no confirmation from the Indian MoD... We are extremelysurprised since there was no technical lacuna in our bid," said aFrench official.
Incidentally, India and France arealso yet to settle their bitter differences for the upgrade of the 51Mirage-2000s in IAF's combat fleet despite being locked in negotiationsfor over two years now. Sources said French fighter manufacturerDassault Aviation wants well over Rs 12,000 crore for the project, butIndia is not prepared to pay a penny over Rs 10,000 crore.
As for the MMRCA battle, India will now invite only American F/A-18 Super Hornet (Boeing) and F-16 Falcon (Lockheed Martin), Russian MiG-35 (United Aircraft Corporation), Swedish Gripen (Saab) and Eurofighter Typhoon (consortium of British, German, Spanish and Italian companies) to take part in the field trials which are likely to begin from July-August.
"IAF HQ is drawing up the modalities for the field trials to beginin around three months," said the source. There will be at least twosets of trials conducted in summer and winter, with the five jets beingflown in the snow-capped peaks of Leh, the scorching Rajasthan deserts(probably Jaisalmer) and the humid conditions of south India (probablyBangalore).

The race, of course, is actually quite a marathon. The commercialbids will only be opened, examined and compared after a shortlist ismade of two to three top contenders following the extensive fieldtrials and staff evaluation.
With the final negotiations to begin thereafter, the entire processis expected to take a minimum of two years before the contract isactually inked. IAF hopes to induct the first lot of the new fighters —18 jets will be bought off-the-shelf, while the rest will bemanufactured in India under transfer of technology — by 2012-2013.

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s Functionality In Hot Weather

The Daily Star on Sunday claims that Joint Strike Fighters (JSF) are unable to fly properly in hot weather because designers of the F-35 Lightning II JSF want it to be 'stealthy' so it won't show up on enemy radar.
The knowledge gained from Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) programmeon the three JSF purchased by the MOD will be fundamental for us tofully understand the aircraft in areas such as operational andtechnical capability. We will make a decision about the furtherpurchaseof the JSF when the evaluation of the IOT&E has been completed.
Two of the JSF IOT&E aircraft will be delivered in 2011 and one in 2012.
Due to past experience we were aware of the potential issues associated with thermal management on a fifth-generation stealth platform. Therefore, in 2000 prior to the contract award, a realistic but demanding requirement for the aircraft to operate in hot conditions, and within a range of realistic operational scenarios, was set.

While meeting this requirement is a demanding task for Team JSF,design work to date together with the experience from flight tests hasindicated that the thermal management system is working to predictionsand is meeting the requirement with margin to spare.
Consequently thermal management is not currently considered to be a programme risk.
Defence Secretary John Hutton said:
"The Joint Strike Fighter will form an essential part of our Future Combat Air Capability. By purchasing three aircraft for testing, we will secure access to the development of the programme.Working alongside their US colleagues, our pilots will gain anunrivalled understanding of this awesome aircraft and its capabilities.This is a vitalprogramme for UK Defence both for the military and for industry, with over 100 UK companies involved in the programme."

Russia, Brazil To Cooperate On 5th Generation Fighter Program

MOSCOW: Russia continues to look for partners to help implement itsfifth-generation fighter program, also known as PAK FA - Prospective(promising) Aircraft System of the Frontline Aviation.
Apart from India, which has agreed to cooperate with Russia's SukhoiCivil Aircraft Company (SCAC), now working on the fifth-generationfighter program,Brazil could also join in. Alexander Fomin, DeputyDirector of Russia's Federal Service for Military-TechnicalCooperation, said Moscow and Brasilia were negotiating technology exchanges and the possibility of assembling PAK FA fighters in Brazil under a Russian license.
The new warplane is to replace the Russian Air Force's fourth-generation fighters in the next decade.
The Soviet Union launched fifth-generation fighter programs in the 1980s. By the mid-1990s, the Mikoyan Design Bureaudeveloped the Project 1.44/1.42 warplane, also known as theMikoyan-Gurevich MiG MFI. MiG is now using this designation for anadvanced MiG-29 Fulcrum fighter. Despite the non-production status ofthe 1.44/1.42 program, NATO assigned the reporting name Flatpack to it.

The Sukhoi Aviation Corporation came up with the S-37/Su-47 Berkut-- Golden Eagle/Firkin experimental supersonic forward swept-wing jetfighter. The S-37/Su-47 aircraft is an advanced technology demonstratorprototype not intended to be mass-produced.
Due to the lack of allocations, the Project 1.44/1.42 aircraft was not streamlined and never entered production.
By the late 1990s, it became obvious that existing fifth-generationfighter projects were becoming obsolete, that their production versionswould be inferior to the brand-new Lockheed Martin/Boeing F-22 Raptorair-superiority fighter, and that the Air Force would receive suchwarplanes a decade too late.
In the early 2000s, the Russian government decided to develop anentirely new fifth-generation fighter. Sukhoi, Mikoyan and Yakovlevdesign bureaus boasting a reputation for their hard-hitting fighters offered several warplane versions.
The Sukhoi Aviation Corporation received project manager status andwas placed in charge of the new T-50 fifth-generation fighter program.
Various maiden flight and supply deadlines were discussed from thevery beginning. The T-50 was scheduled to perform its first flight in2008-2010. In late 2008, Colonel General Alexander Zelin, Commander ofthe Russian Air Force, said the plane would take off for the first timein August 2009.
In the summer of 2008, the officials involved said the T-50 designhad been approved and prototype aircraft blueprints sent to theKomsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Production Association (KNAAPO) in Russia'sFar East where production will apparently be sited. KNAAPO is currentlybuilding three prototype T-50 fighters for subsequent tests, due tolast five to six years, while mass production will not get underwaybefore 2015.
Although T-50 specifications remain undisclosed, prototypes and thefirst production aircraft will be fitted with 117S (AL-41F1A) turbofanengines, a major upgrade of the AL-31F engine from Russian aircraft engine manufacturer NPO Saturn.
Consequently, the T-50 will be a heavy fighter with a take-offweight of more than 30 metric tons and will have the same dimensions asthe well-known Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker. The Tikhomirov InstrumentEngineering Research Institute which had invented the Irbis radar forthe Su-35BM Flanker-E 4.5generation air-superiority/strike fighter iscurrently working on the T-50 radar.
It appears that the new fighter's radar and fire-control system will be developed on the basis of the Su-35BM's systems.
A search for foreign partners in the development and production ofthe fifth-generation aircraft has been caused by the desire to share avery high financial burden involved in it. The United States has optedfor this road in the F-35 aircraft program.
Apart from investing in the fifth-generation fighter program, Brazilcould provide Russia with state-of-the-art aviation technology.Notably, Brazilian aerospace conglomerate Embraer manufactures EMB-312Tucano turboprop basic trainers and EMB-314 Super Tucano turbopropaircraft designed for light attack, counter-insurgency (COIN) and pilot-training missions.
Many analysts think both planes are especially adapted forlow-intensity conflicts and are just as popular as fighters. Quirepossibly, Russia will manufacture such planes using Braziliantechnology.

How Many F-22s Does the Air Force Need?

While we're excited by Defense Secretary Gates's decision to halt production of the F-22 at 187 planes, there is a lot ofdisbelief and confusion surrounding this decision. The confusionstarted as soon as the decision was announced, when Tony Capaccio atBloomberg News asked Gates about it:
Q: The F-22 decision is going to get scrutinized, now that your budget has emerged from the shadows, so to speak. Can you give a sense of whether this was a close call or a no-brainer? And once--and why--why couldn't you have bought more? Why wouldn't--why wouldn't it fill the role that the Joint Strike Fighter will be filling, that you outlined?

GATES: For me, it was not a close call. And the basic conclusion was that, first ofall, we have fulfilled the program. I mean, it's not like we're killingthe F-22. We will have 187 of them. That has--the 183 of that has beenthe program of record, as I recall, since 2005. So we are completingthe F-22 program. And the military advice that I got was that there isno military requirement for numbers of F-22s beyond the 187.
Q: But the Air Force advice. They've been badgering you with all sorts of analysis that they'd need 60 more.
GATES: That was their advice as well.
Q: It was their advice as well...
Q: ... that you didn't need more than 187?
Q: Really? OK.
Air Force magazine has been working on figuring out whether this is really what the Air Force wants, given that Air Force National GuardChief General Craig McKinley said as recently as February 26 that theyneed more than 183--and yes, 187 is technically more than 183, but notmeaningfully so. Gates has been somewhat cagey, but has conceded thatsome services were clearly not happy with his decisions. But Air Forcemagazine found that even Gates's spokesman, Geoff Morrell, is unclearon the hopes of the Air Force versus the dreams of DoD:
Q: The Air Force has been saying for some time that183 is not enough. Gen. Schwartz said in his confirmation hearings that381 was too high but 183 was too few. Adm. Mullen said last fall thathe thought the Air Force's number was 60 more.
A: Mullen said the Air Force should get 60 more?
Q: Mullen said that it was his understanding that the Air Force wanted 'about 60' more F-22s.
A: Well, that was some time ago. And as I say, this process has been underway for some months.
Q: So, to put a fine point on it, the Air Force never recommended buying more than the 187 aircraft?
A: That is correct.
The fact that the Air Force won’t come out and openly disagree withGates may be an indicator that there is real reform happening far ashow business is done at DoD. And if so, Gates' procurement strategy notonly reflects an emphasis on prioritizing current military threats, butalso a method for effectively targeting the usual "guerilla warfare”employed by the services and the Hill to protect pet projects.
But one thing that there's absolutely no confusion about is thatCongress is prepared to fight back on these cuts. Needless to say,we're rooting for the public's best national security interests over Congress's parochial concerns.

Brazil may produce Russian fighter jets under license

MOSCOW: Russia may allow Brazil to produce its fifth-generation fighters under a license in the future, a senior Russian government official said in an interview with RIA Novosti.
"We are discussing with the well-known Brazilian company Embraer the transfer of technology and the constructionof facilities for the future licensed production of the aircraft,including the fifth-generation fighter," said Alexander Fomin, deputydirector of the Federal Service on Military-Technical Cooperation.
Russia's advanced multirole fighter is being developed by the Sukhoiaircraft maker, part of Russia's United Aircraft Corporation (UAC),along with India's Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), under apreliminary intergovernmental agreement signed in October 2007.
The first prototype is scheduled to make its maiden flight before the end of 2009.
Last November, Russia and Brazil signed a series of agreements on military technology cooperation which emphasize the protection of intellectual property rights and technology secrets.
The agreements will facilitate the transfer of technology and the licensed production of the Russian aircraft in Brazil if Moscow decides to sign a contract with the South American country.
Meanwhile, Russia's Su-35 jet fighter is participating in an ongoingtender for the delivery of over 100 fighters to the Brazilian Air Force.
"We are actively participating in the Brazilian tender, which hasbeen reopened. It involves over 100 fighter planes. Russia has made abid in the tender with its Su-35 multirole fighter. The tender hasstiff requirements, involving not only the sale, but also thetransfer of technology. It is a key condition of the deal and Russia is ready to satisfy it," Fomin said.
Brazil wants a multirole fighter to protect its national airspace aswell as to keep track of smugglers in the Amazon basin and guard thecountry's offshore oil rigs. However, it also wants the multi-billiondollar contract to reenergize the domestic defense industry through home-grown production and as much technology transfer as can be afforded.
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