Saturday, 28 March 2020

Gripen E/F shifts focus from flight to sensor tests

Gripen E/F shifts focus from flight to sensor tests | Jane's 360

Gareth Jennings, London - Jane's Defence Weekly

26 March 2020

Seen at its rollout in 2017, the Gripen E is now moving into testing of its tactical mission systems ahead of delivery to the Swedish and Brazilian air forces. Source: Jane’s/Gareth Jennings
Saab has shifted the focus of its Gripen E/F testing away from basic flight trials towards the aircraft's tactical and sensor suites as the programme ramps up ahead of the first upcoming deliveries to Sweden and Brazil.

Speaking at Saab's annual Gripen Seminar on 26 March, the company's head of the programme, Eddy de la Motte, said that, with flight-characteristic tests having proceeded to plan, the focus is now on validating the aircraft's mission systems.

"We have six aircraft currently in flight testing and we passed 300 hours a couple of weeks ago. Flight testing is proceeding to plan and now the tactical suite and sensor systems are the testing focus - the radar, the infrared search and track [IRST], the electronic warfare [EW], and other mission systems," de la Motte said.

The Gripen E/F is fitted with the Selex ES-05 Raven active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and the Selex ES 60 Skyward G-IRST. The internal EW suite comprises a very low-band antenna; an EW central unit; a quadrant receiver and transmitter on each wingtip; a receiver and power supply unit on each wingtip; and a forward and aft transmitter on the vertical stabiliser. Externally, the aircraft will be provisioned to carry a podded EW system to afford the Gripen E/F (or any other modern combat aircraft) an electronic attack (EA) capability analogous to the Boeing EA-18G Growler aircraft. The Arexis EA Jammer Pod provides forward and aft coverage to support the ingress, strike, and egress of a package of strike aircraft. It utilises a VHF/UHF surveillance and acquisition radar in the L and S bands that incorporates gallium nitride (GaN) AESA technology.

As de la Motte noted, the early results so far received have shown the systems to be performing "much better than expected".

Saab starts manufacturing Gripen F aircraft for Brazil

Exclusive: Japan favors home-grown design for next-generation fighter after rejecting foreign plans: sources - Reuters

Exclusive: Japan favors home-grown design for next-generation fighter after rejecting foreign plans: sources - Reuters

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan wants to develop a stealth fighter domestically, rejecting designs from Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co in the United States and Britain’s BAE Systems PLC, three sources with knowledge of the program told Reuters.

That would put Japan’s leading defense contractor, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, in the lead for a military contract worth more than $40 billion. The company has not submitted a design for the next-generation fighter, but developed Japan’s stealth fighter technology demonstrator, the X-2, in 2016.

“Japan’s stealth designs have performed well in tests so far,” said one of the sources, who has knowledge of discussion about the new proposed plane, referred to as the F-3 or F-X.

A spokesman for Mitsubishi Heavy said the company would work with the government on whatever policy it decided to follow.

“We understand the Japanese government will lead the development program,” a Mitsubishi Heavy spokesman said.

Japan’s Air Self Defense Force flies about 200 Boeing F-15 jets and is replacing squadrons of decades-old F-4 fighters with Lockheed Martin F-35s. The F-3 will succeed the F-2, a derivative of the F-16 Fighting Falcon jointly developed by Mitsubishi Heavy and Lockheed Martin more than two decades ago.

Proposals from Lockheed, Boeing and BAE “were judged not to have met our needs,” said an official at the Japanese defense ministry’s Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA). “No decision has yet been reached on the airframe,” he added.

After settling on the airframe - the aircraft itself without the systems that make it fly - Japan’s government will select suppliers for the engine, flight systems, sensors and other components that will give the proposed jet its advanced capabilities, the sources said.

All three spoke on condition of anonymity because the were not authorized to speak to the media.

For many of the systems, Tokyo will need help from foreign companies to reduce development costs and time, ensuring it can deploy the fighter in the next decade to counter Chinese expansion in East Asia.

U.S companies, including Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrop Grumman, are still potential partners, the sources said.

“Lockheed Martin is encouraged by the ongoing dialogue between the U.S. Government and Government of Japan regarding Japan’s F-2 replacement plans, and is looking forward to detailed discussions with Japanese industry,” Lockheed Martin said in an email. It had proposed an aircraft combining elements of its F-22 and F-35 stealth jets.

“Boeing is committed to partnering with Japan to support development of a Japan-led, next-generation future fighter,” said a spokesman from Boeing, which had offered Japan a design based on its F-18 Super Hornet jet.

Northrop Grumman is “engaged in frequent dialogue with Japan’s Ministry of Defense and Japanese industry in support of the F-X program,” a company spokesman said. Northrop Grumman did not submit an airframe proposal.

The United States, which has about 50,000 troops in Japan, including as an aircraft carrier strike group, remains the cornerstone of Tokyo’s defense policy. U.S. President Donald Trump wants Japan to pay more for that protection and reduce its trade surplus with the United States.

Japan is seeking deeper security ties elsewhere, including with Britain, which is courting Japan as a possible partner on its proposed next-generation jet, the Tempest. If built, it would deploy in the 2030s.

The leading defense contractor in that project, BAE, which offered Japan a design based on the Eurofighter Typhoon jet, could stand to benefit.

BAE and other companies involved in Tempest proposal “continue to support the UK in its discussions with Japan to consider more deeply how the two nations can collaborate on their combined combat air requirements,” a BAE spokesman said.

Japan wants to decide on the international partners for the F-3 by the end of the year, the ATLA official said.

Reporting by Tim Kelly; Editing by Gerry Doyle

Japan keeps partnership options open on F-X fighter programme
Japan prepares F-X partnership framework
Japan Ministry Proposed ‘Launch’ Of Future Fighter Development
Japan still pushing ahead with research and development into advanced fighter jet technology 
Japan considering collaborating with the UK on the Tempest future fighter aircraft
Japan F-2 fighter replacement program in doubt at concerns to the program’s cost

Friday, 27 March 2020

Saab starts manufacturing Gripen F aircraft for Brazil

Gripen D - baclightning1 @flickr

Saab starts manufacturing Gripen F aircraft for Brazil

Swedish company Saab has started manufacturing the first two-seater fighter aircraft Gripen F for the Brazilian Air Force.

Saab has started manufacturing the first two-seater fighter aircraft Gripen F for the Brazilian Air Force.

The work programme began with the Swedish company performing the first metal cut for the fighter aircraft.

Brazilian Air Force Monitoring and Control Group (GAC-Saab) head colonel Renato Leite said: “This milestone is important for the Gripen project because it demonstrates that the development phase is proceeding properly.

“This signals the beginning of the production of the two-seater aircraft, Gripen F, which is much anticipated by the Brazilian Air Force.”

The Gripen F shares same design configuration and features as of Gripen E, but it comes with an additional seat, displays and controls for the second crew member.

The two-seater aircraft can operate on training mode with one crew member and another where both the crew members will share the workload.

The manufacturing programme also involves Brazilian partner companies Embraer, AEL Sistemas, Akaer and Atech.

Overall, around 400 engineers are associated with the development of Gripen F while manufacturing works will be carried out in Sweden as well as in Brazil at the Embraer plant in Gavião Peixoto.

Saab Aeronautics head Jonas Hjelm said: “Very effective teamwork among many dedicated people, both in Sweden and in Brazil, paved the way for this milestone on this new version of Gripen.

“These kind of milestones are special moments due to their rarity and that feels great.”

The Swedish firm has been contracted to deliver eight Gripen F fighters to Brazil starting from 2023. Saab will also supply 28 Gripen E fighters with deliveries slated to begin from next year.

Germany reportedly moving toward a split buy of Super Hornets, Growlers and Eurofighter Typhoons to replace Tornado jets

Eurofighter Typhoon @flickr

Germany reportedly moving toward a split buy of Super Hornets, Growlers and Eurofighter Typhoons to replace Tornado jets

Neither of those planes are currently certified to meet the NATO requirement to drop B61 nuclear bombs.

By: Valerie Insinna

WASHINGTON — The German air force will reportedly buy up to 90 Eurofighters, 30 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and 15 EA-18G Growlers to replace the remainder of its Panavia Tornado fighter jet fleet, but the split procurement doesn’t offer an easy answer for Germany’s requirement to field a nuclear-capable jet, a U.K. defense think tank said.

Germany plans to use the Super Hornet, made by U.S. aerospace company Boeing, to fill a NATO requirement to field fighter aircraft capable of dropping the B61 nuclear gravity bomb, according to German business publication Handelsblatt, which first reported the split buy. It will also buy Growlers to replace the Tornados that carry out an electronic attack role.

However, only the legacy F/A-18 Hornet — not the Super Hornet — was ever certified to carry the B61, wrote Justin Bronk, a research fellow with the Royal United Services Institute, a U.K. based thinktank that covers defense issues. That means that the Super Hornet will have to go through the certification process, said Bronk, who called the split buy “the worst of all previously mooted outcomes.”

Boeing spokesman Justin Gibbons said that while the Super Hornet is not yet certified to carry the B61, the company has the U.S. government’s support for future integration.

“The F/A-18 Super Hornet is capable of being certified to meet B61 requirements for Germany under its timeline. Boeing has a proven track record of successfully integrating weapons systems that meet the needs of both U.S. and international customers,” he said. Gibbons declined to comment on the timing of Germany’s deadline for competitive reasons.

Germany has agonized over replacing the Tornado for years, and both political and industrial factors have helped sway the government’s stance on its next tranche of fighters. In 2017, Lt. Gen. Karl Muellner, then the country’s air force chief, expressed a preference for Lockheed Martin’s F-35, but he was later fired reportedly for his outspoken support for the U.S. jet and Germany officially knocked the F-35 out of the competition last year.

This left the race down to either the Eurofighter Typhoon, which is made by a consortium led by Germany’s Airbus, Italy’s Leonardo and the U.K.’s BAE Systems, or Boeing’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. The Typhoon received strong political support, with Airbus making the case that another batch of Eurofighters for Germany could help the European defense industry bridge the gap between the Typhoon and the sixth-generation Future Combat Air System.

Historically, Germany has kept a portion of its Tornado fleet configured to use U.S. nuclear bombs as part of a NATO nuclear-sharing agreement. In the case of a major war with Russia, German pilots would be able to load their jets with nuclear weapons, take off and drop them on behalf of NATO.

In late 2019, reports indicated that the pendulum was swinging toward a German buy of Super Hornets based on information from the U.S. government stating it would take three to five years longer to certify the Eurofighter for nuclear missions.

Bronk noted that while the Eurofighter offers greater power, lift and agility compared to the Super Hornet, it could be more politically difficult and time-consuming to certify the Typhoon as the Eurofighter consortium would have to hand over some technical details over the to the U.S. government and U.S. defense contractors to integrate it with the B61.

However, “neither Eurofighter nor Super Hornet are a credible delivery system for the B61 against Russian targets due to the vulnerability of both platforms to modern Russian air defenses,” he wrote.

The F-35 is not yet capable of carrying the B61, but integrating the joint strike fighter with the bomb is planned as part of the jet’s ongoing Block 4 modernization phase. However, Bronk said buying the F-35 represented the best chance to fielding an nuclear capable jet on a fast timeline.

“If the DCA [dual capable aircraft] role is considered to require actual operational credibility from Germany, then the only feasible choice is the F-35A. Of all the potential aircraft on offer, the F-35A is the only one which represents an operationally credible B61 Mod 12 delivery solution. It will also be operated by all other European DCA members, offering shared training and maintenance burdens,” he said.

Union warns Germany against Super Hornet selection
Boeing’s F-18 jet may have a leg up in Germany over Eurofighter
Germany's Snub Of Lockheed’s F-35 Unleashes Dramatic Geopolitical Consequences

Eurofighter Typhoon: Details
F/A-18E/F & Block III Super Hornet: Details

Analysis: US Army FARA-CP selection ‘bookends’ the performance range of offerings

Bell 360 Invictus -

Analysis: US Army FARA-CP selection ‘bookends’ the performance range of offerings | Jane's 360

Pat Host, Washington, DC - Jane's Defence Weekly

26 March 2020

Key Points

  • The US Army’s two FARA-CP choices were a high-performance aircraft and an affordable platform
  • The Sikorsky Raider X and the Bell 360 Invictus will face off for an eventual downselect

The US Army’s selection of the Sikorsky Raider X and the Bell 360 Invictus to move forward in its Future Armed Reconnaissance Aircraft-Competitive Prototype (FARA-CP) procurement bookends the performance range of the five competitors, according to an expert.

Mike Hirschberg, Vertical Flight Society (VFS) executive director, told Jane’s on 25 March that the Raider X was probably the highest-performance of the five designs while 360 Invictus was designed to be as low cost as possible while meeting the US Army’s performance requirements.


FARA will fill a critical capability gap currently being filled by AH-64E Apache attack helicopters teamed with Shadow unmanned aircraft following the retirement of the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters.

The service has tried and failed three times to fill the gap with an aircraft.

The Army had selected five teams to provide FARA designs last spring: AVX Aircraft Co. partnered with L-3 Communications Integrated Systems, Bell, Boeing, Karem Aircraft and Sikorsky.

The Army laid out a handful of mandatory requirements that the vendors had to meet and also a list of desired requirements for initial designs, Col. Craig Alia, the Future Vertical Lift Cross Functional Team chief of staff, told reporters last year.

The service also looked at the vendors’ execution plans and evaluated timing as well as funding profile requirements.

“The ones that were selected were clearly meeting the mandatory requirements and were in the acceptable risk level of the execution plan and the desired requirements," Dan Bailey, who is the FARA competitive prototype program manager, added. The prototype program falls under the purview of the Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation and Missile Center’s Aviation Development Directorate.

Lockheed unveiled its design — Raider X — at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference in October 2019. The company’s design uses its Raider X2 coaxial technology with a focus on how it will perform “at the X.”

“One thing that always comes out is the importance of this aircraft at the X,” Tim Malia, Sikorsky’s director of future vertical lift light, told Defense News in an interview last fall. “The ‘X’ is defined by the Army as the terminal area where they actually have to go do the work, do the reconnaissance, do the attack mission. The operation at the X is really critical for this program and for this platform.”

That’s where Raider X comes in. It’s a slightly larger version of the Raider coaxial helicopter that Lockheed has been flying for several years at its West Palm Beach, Florida, flight test center.

“Through our mature S-97 RAIDER technology demonstrator, we continue to optimize our FARA solution, which will provide the Army with an integrated weapon system that combines speed, range, maneuverability, survivability and operational flexibility," Andy Adams, Sikorsky’s vice president of future vertical lift, said in a March 25 statement. This approach is driving down risk and will result in an aircraft solution that is capable of executing the Army’s joint all-domain operations."

Bell revealed its design — the Bell 360 Invictus — which is based on 525 technology. But its design features several key differences, including its size in order to adhere to the Army requirement of 40-foot in diameter rotor blades.

The design includes a single main rotor helicopter in a four-blade configuration, a low-drag tandem cockpit fuselage and transportability in a C-17.

“Bell is proud to continue work on the Bell 360 Invictus as part of the Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft Competitive Prototype competition,” Keith Flail, Bell’s vice president of advanced vertical lift systems, told Defense News on March 25.

“We have made significant investment and begun manufacturing in order to preserve the Army’s schedule for FARA CP and we are thrilled to continue our work on the Invictus,” he said. “Bell’s approach from the beginning has been tailored to deliver the advanced performance required without excessive complexity in order to get critical capability in the hands of the warfighter quickly and affordably.” Source:

Bell 360 Invictus: Details
S-97 Raider: Details

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Toowoomba and Guépratte Exercise in Gulf of Aden

F 714 FS Guepratte -

Toowoomba and Guépratte Exercise in Gulf of Aden – Celebrating 25 Years

March 23, 2020 – HMAS Toowoomba exercised with French Ship Guépratte in vicinity of the Gulf of Aden recently as part of the Australian warship’s support to Combined Task Force 150.

The CTF 150 mission is to stabilise the region, and disrupt weapon and narcotic smugglers supporting terrorism.

During the exercise, Toowoomba and Guépratte conducted ship handling training including Officer of the Watch manoeuvres and Replenishment At Sea (RAS) approaches.

For Lieutenant Kate Millward, Officer of the Watch during the ship handling serials, the in-company time was a final test before being awarded her Anzac Class Frigate Bridge Warfare Certificate on completion of the serial.

“Our PASSEX was another great opportunity to practise core skills of ship handling and warfare in company with a Coalition partner.”

“There are always new things to learn about the way other nations conduct their business at sea and I’m looking forward to taking our lessons learnt into our next patrol,” Lieutenant Millward said.

Later in the afternoon, the two ships conducted a medium calibre gunnery firing to practice command and control as well as flex their gunnery skills and operations teams.

Both ships proved to be accurate and efficient with the ‘Killer Tomato’ target coming off second best.

Toowoomba proved that her award of the Otranto Shield in 2019 for the Fleet Unit that achieved the highest standard in gunnery was justly deserved.

Newly qualified Fire Control Officer (FCO), Able Seaman Electronics Technician Ben Turner enjoyed the opportunity to conduct the firing as the on watch FCO.

“After conducting two patrols on watch, it was great to get to fire the gun and get rounds down range. It’s also great to see the combat system and gun remain pin point accurate,” Able Seaman Turner said.

Following the cordial and professional interaction, both ships detached to the strains of Midnight Oil being played from the French ship, whose Captain confessed a passion for it.

“It was a wonderful afternoon spent in-company with a modern foreign warship off the coast of an unfortunately war-torn country,” Commanding Officer Toowoomba, Commander Mitchell Livingstone, said.

“Concluding the interaction with a gunnery serial really brought home the reality of why our parallel missions are so important to the region,” he added.

HMAS Toowoomba is currently deployed on Operation MANITOU in the Middle East.

La Fayette: Details
Anzac Class Frigate: Details

The crews of the new ships of the Black Sea Fleet "Grayvoron" and "Cyclone" were formed

SeaWaves Magazine

The crews of the new ships of the Black Sea Fleet "Grayvoron" and "Cyclone" were formed

Translated by google

Andrey Arkadiev 10:43 03/23/2020

Both small missile ships are still under construction, but crews are already manned by sailors.

The crews of the small rocket ships "Gayvoron" and Cyclone "are manned by servicemen of the Black Sea Fleet.

The sailors left for retraining at the training center of the Navy in St. Petersburg. There they will undergo general ship training and internship at enterprises, study ship equipment and weapons.

After training, military personnel will be sent to a shipyard to develop new ships and prepare them for admission to the Navy.

"Gayvoron" - a small missile ship project 21 631 code "Buyan-M". Built at the Zelenodolsk plant named after AM Gorky. As part of the Black Sea Fleet, the ships of this project: Vyshny Volochek, Orekhovo-Zuevo and Ingushetia are already fulfilling the tasks.

Cyclone is a small rocket ship of project 22800 cipher Karakurt. The ship will be the first in the Black Sea Fleet. The Baltic Fleet includes the Mytishchi and Sovetsk ships. 

Amur Lays Keels for Two Project 22800 for the Pacific Fleet
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Latest Karakurt-class missile corvette laid down for Russian Navy
Project 22800 small missile ship Burya has been floated out at the Pella Shipyard
Russian Navy Rejects Switch to Chinese Engine for Project 22800 Karakurt-class Corvettes
The fourth Karakurt project 22800 "Burya" will be launched in December
Project 22800 Karakurt faces diesel engine production problems