Friday, 30 December 2016

Indonesian Army receives another 16 Leopard 2 RI

Indonesia receives a further 16 Leopard 2 RI main battle tanks
Ridzwan Rahmat, Singapore - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly
30 December 2016

The Indonesian Army (Tentara Nasional Indonesia - Angkatan Darat: TNI-AD) has taken delivery of another 16 Leopard 2 RI (Republic of Indonesia) main battle tanks (MBTs).

The vehicles, which are part of a contract for 61 MBTs of the type with Rheinmetall Defence, were unloaded at the Port of Tanjong Priok's vehicle-handling terminal on 28 December, said its operator, PT Indonesia Kendaraan Terminal.

According to an IHS Jane's report from September 2016, Indonesia had by then taken delivery of 24 Leopard 2 RI MBTs. Unloading of this latest tranche in December brings the number of tanks delivered to 40.

The TNI-AD is expected to receive its final tranche of Leopard 2 RI MBTs by March 2017.

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Indonesian Leopard 2RI: Details

Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) get $1.8 billion order from (ROK) Marine Corps and Army for Surion utility helicopter

Korea Aerospace Industries secures Surion deals with marines and army
Jon Grevatt, Bangkok - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly
29 December 2016

Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) said on 28 December that it has secured orders to supply its Surion twin-engine utility helicopter to the Republic of Korea (ROK) Marine Corps and Army.

The company said in a statement that the two deals, signed with the Defense Acquisition Programme Administration (DAPA), are collectively worth KRW2.19 trillion (USD1.8 billion) and feature the supply of 100 Surion helicopters.

The contract with the ROK Marine Corps is valued at KRW633 billion and covers 30 amphibious versions of the Surion that will be produced and delivered by 2023, while the deal with the ROK Army is worth KRW1.56 trillion and features the supply of 70 Surions by 2022.

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Thursday, 29 December 2016

India needs 200 medium-weight fighters in the next 5 to 10 years

IAF Chief Says 36 Rafale Warplanes Not Enough

Dec. 28--Outgoing air force chief Arup Raha on Wednesday said the 36 Rafale warplanes ordered from France for $8.7 billion were not enough and India needed to buy at least 200 such fighter jets to sharpen its military edge.
Air Chief Marshal Raha, who retires on December 31, also said the IAF's Russian-origin Ilyushin-78 tanker fleet was plagued by maintenance problems and more midair refuellers were a "strategic requirement" to extend the range of fighter planes.
He said the IAF would require the 200 medium-weight fighters in the next five to 10 years, stressing the need for setting up a new production line in the country. "The Rafale is an excellent aircraft and it will prove its worth in any campaign. We have signed only 36...we require more aircraft in the medium-weight category," Raha said, in his last media briefing as IAF chief.
India and France signed the Rafale deal on September 23, 2016, ending long-drawn-out negotiations that began after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the deal during a Paris visit in April 2015. The planes, equipped with latest weapons and tailored for Indian needs, will be delivered to the IAF between September 2019 and April 2022.
The IAF has admitted it doesn't have enough fighters to respond to a joint threat from China and Pakistan. It has 33 fighter squadrons, against the sanctioned 42.
Calling midair refuellers a significant "force enhancer," Raha said the Il-78 fleet had served the IAF well but it's availability for missions was poor due to maintenance problems. India floated a global tender for six midair refuellers in 2007 but it has been scrapped twice in the final stages.
"Sadly, there have been some problem areas in the acquisition. A new tender will be out soon," he said.
Raha said the terrorist attack on the Pathankot air base and the An-32 crash in which 29 people were killed were "the worst memories of my career."
On the VVIP chopper scam, Raha said former air chief SP Tyagi, an accused in the case, was a member of the IAF family but there would be no sympathy for him if the charges were proved. He also said many agencies were involved in the acquisition and "you can't pin the blame on one service."
Copyright 2016 - Hindustan Times, New Delhi
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Wednesday, 28 December 2016

F-35 production ramped up at Texas plant

F-35 production is being ramped up at Lockheed Martin's Texas plant

By Max B. Baker | Fort Worth Star-Telegram | Published: December 27, 2016

FORT WORTH, Texas (Tribune News Service) — Despite criticism and threats from President-elect Donald Trump that the F-35 jet fighter program is “out of control,” Lockheed Martin will shift the majority of its assembly line workers to a new work schedule as it prepares to ramp up toward full production of the stealth fighter.

The majority of the nearly 2,600 machinists who now work eight hours Monday through Friday will transition to a work schedule Jan. 2 where they get every other Friday off, said Ken Ross, a spokesman for Lockheed.

Under such a schedule, called a 9/80, employees work nine days and earn 80 hours over two weeks by working nine-hour days the first four days of the first week and eight hours on Friday. The second week, they work four nine-hour days and get Friday off.

The transition to this schedule aligns with the overall production ramp (up) for the F-35 Lightning II, Ken Ross, Lockheed spokesman

About 11,000 of the Fort Worth plant’s 14,000 employees already work the 9/80 schedule, and the company uses this shift arrangement at its other facilities. Lockheed has been working on a transition plan for three months, a company spokesman said.

Switching to the new work schedule was a major bargaining chip in the contract approved by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 776 in July. The company said it was needed to staff the plant for full production of the F-35 at its plant west of downtown Fort Worth.

At the time, there wasn’t a set timetable for making the switch, although the company said it wanted to make the change in the first quarter of 2017. At the time, union president Paul Black was not convinced it would happen so soon. Black, and other union officials, could not be reached by the Star-Telegram for comment.

“The transition to this schedule aligns with the overall production ramp (up) for the F-35 Lightning II,” Ross said. “To further support the production ramp (up), Lockheed Martin will begin increasing staffing in late 2017. Over the next two years, we expect to hire an additional 1,000 mechanics and assemblers.”

About 8,800 employees at Lockheed already work on the F-35. Lockheed officials said it had already built 184 combat-capable jets and planned to deliver about 50 this year. Current plans call for production to increase to about 160 a year by 2019.

Lockheed’s west Fort Worth complex has been undergoing a $1.2 billion upgrade to prepare for increased production of the fighter jet, being built for the U.S. military and several foreign nations.

In recent weeks, Trump has been engaging in a personal dogfight against the F-35. In a Dec. 12 tweet he said the F-35 program and its costs were out of control. Ten days later, after meeting with Lockheed’s CEO Marillyn Hewson, he attacked again, mentioning the “tremendous cost and cost overruns” of the F-35.

Trump said he asked Boeing to price-out a comparable F-18 Super Hornet. At $379 billion, the F-35 is the Pentagon’s most expensive military contract.

Hewson originally pointed to the company’s efforts to reduce the price of the F-35 to to $85 million “in the 2019 or the 2020 timeframe.” After Trump’s tweet about the F-18, Hewson issued a second statement assuring the incoming president that the company will lower the cost of the F-35.

Analysts said it is unlikely that the Trump administration could instigate a new bidding process for the F-35, which is in its 15th year of development.

This story contains material from the Star-Telegram archives.
©2016 the Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Visit the Fort Worth Star-Telegram at
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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F-35 Lightning: Details

Monday, 26 December 2016

Iran wants Boeing plane for half price


Dec 25, 10:55 AM EST

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran's official IRNA news agency is reporting the deputy transport minister as saying that his county will only pay half of the announced price for 80 new Boeing planes, given the reductions in its purchasing options.

According to the Sunday report, Asghar Fakhrieh Kashan says that despite an initial $16.8 billion deal with Boeing to purchase 80 passenger planes, "Regarding the style of our order and its options, the purchase contract for 80 Boeing aircraft is worth about 50 percent of the amount." He did not elaborate.

Boeing has made no immediate comment.

Iran announced earlier this month that it had finalized the deal, which was made possible by last year's landmark nuclear agreement. It is the largest single contract with an U.S. company since the 1979 revolution and takeover of the U.S. Embassy.

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Sunday, 18 December 2016

Last two high-speed Raptor patrol boats delivered to Russian Navy

Russia to commission new Raptor patrol boats

The Russian Navy has received the last of eight Raptor high-speed patrol boats from a St. Petersburg manufacturer.

By Richard Tomkins   |   Nov. 18, 2015 at 12:38 PM

MOSCOW, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- The Russian Navy is commissioning into service the last two of eight high-speed Raptor patrol boats built by the Pella factory in St. Petersburg.

The Russian Ministry of Defense says the Raptor boats are for short-range missions up to 100 nautical miles from their stationing points.

The boats are nearly 58 feet long and have a speed of as much as 50 knots. Raptors can carry 20 troops and are armed with a 14.5 mm multi-purpose remotely controlled combat module and two 7.62 mm machine guns.

The boats are for transportation and rapid landing tasks, patrol and protection of ships.
The Ministry of Defense said the boats will enter service at the end of this month following the conclusion of testing.

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Project 03160 Raptor: Details

Dogfight brewing over Japan's next-generation fighter jet

December 14, 2016 2:00 pm JST

Decisions loom on defending skies a decade or more into future

RYOSUKE HANAFUSA, Nikkei staff writer
TOKYO -- The Japan Air Self-Defense Force needs to upgrade its fleet of fighters, but it is not clear which plane Japan will choose as the successor to the aging F-2. The decision is made harder by the entangled agendas of the Japanese and U.S. companies with skin in the game.
For a while, Lockheed Martin saw nothing but blue skies for its international collaborative project with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. But Boeing is looking for ways to get back in the running -- and there are those who have not given up on the dream of a purely Japanese fighter.
Given the added uncertainties of U.S. decisions under a Trump administration, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force finds itself traveling a chaotic path toward next year, when it has to begin the selection process in earnest.
The Ministry of Defense issued a request for information as part of the process of selecting a successor to the F-2, receiving responses from 89 domestic and foreign companies -- a roster that appears to include the U.S. firms Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Honeywell, and Raytheon; the U.K.'s Rolls-Royce; and Japanese companies Mitsubishi Heavy and IHI.
Japan has a fleet of some 90 F-2 fighters, but they are aging. The Defense Ministry intends to settle on a procurement policy by around fiscal 2018 and begin actual procurement starting in the latter half of the 2020s or the early 2030s. With a wary eye on China, it wants fighters with stealthy design and high maneuverability.
Lockheed Martin has a leg up, having snagged an order in 2011 for 42 F-35 jets as successors to the F-4. The F-35 with its stealthy design was a shoo-in at the time, but technology is advancing and that is no longer the case.
Boeing, having lost out to Lockheed Martin back then, is bringing its F-15 to this round of the competition.
In addition to F-4 and F-2, Japan also has a fleet of some 200 F-15s. Developed by McDonnell Douglas, which is now part of Boeing, the F-15 is a global best-seller.
Boeing is proposing that Japan upgrade the F-15 with advanced electronics and radar technology so it can fly the plane until 2040, and in the meantime collaborate with Boeing so Japan's eventual successor to the F-2 can be equipped with the kind of future technologies that even the U.S. military has not yet introduced.
James Armington, vice president for East Asia-Pacific business development in Boeing's defense unit, noted that the company has a deep relationship with Japan's aerospace industry for civilian planes such as the 787 and 777, and that the saAlthough Lockheed's F-35 is the state of the art now, it has just begun being deployed and the U.S. has already begun thinking about developing a next-generation fighter. That gives Boeing further reason to promote the idea that Japan upgrade the F-15 for now.
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has tweeted complaints about the high cost of the F-35, and Japan's defense industry is also dissatisfied with the fighter.
The F-2 was co-developed by Japan and the U.S., and the F-15 is manufactured in Japan under license, so in both cases Mitsubishi Heavy plays a main role, and many Japanese parts makers are involved. In contrast, the U.S. wants to protect the stealthy technologies of the F-35, so Mitsubishi Heavy will not gain much in the way of technology by just assembling and maintaining the planes in Japan.
Meanwhile, the quest continues to develop a next-generation stealth fighter in Japan. Some 220 Japanese companies including Mitsubishi Heavy, IHI, and Fuji Heavy Industries are participating in this project, which saw the maiden flight of the X-2 advanced technology demonstrator this past spring.
For Japan to forge ahead with development of a next-generation stealth fighter will cost tens of  billions of dollars -- but it is seen as a way to strengthen fundamental technologies and serve as a bargaining chip.
Mitsubishi Heavy delivered the last F-2 in 2011, so if Japan opts to upgrade the aircraft to keep it flying longer, Japan's young aerospace engineers will miss the opportunity to gain experience and keep Japan's knowledge of fighter development fresh.
Then there is the wild card of unmanned planes, which could make maintaining a large fleet of expensive fighter jets less crucial to national defense.
Japan has serious decisions to make now regarding its procurement policies to protect the skies a decade in the future.
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Friday, 16 December 2016

Italy first country to operate the F-35 outside of the U.S.

Italy has become the first country to operate the F-35 outside of the U.S.

Dec 15 2016

Actually, the Italian (not the Israeli) Air Force has been the first service to take delivery of the first operational F-35s outside the United States.

On Dec. 12, whilst several Israeli and international media outlets focused on the delivery of the first F-35I “Adir” to Nevatim airbase (delayed by some 6 hours because of fog) highlighting how Israel had just become “the first country after the US” to get the new plane, far from the spotlight, the 13° Gruppo (Squadron) of the 32° Stormo (Wing) of the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force, ItAF) received its first two F-35A Lightning II, becoming the very first country to take delivery of the 5th generation stealth jet outside of the U.S.
Noteworthy, the delivery flight was carried out by two Italian military pilots (the Israeli planes were flown by Lockheed Martin pilots) who flew their two JSFs (Joint Strike Fighters) to Amendola, where the aircraft landed in the early afternoon on Monday.
Indeed, whereas the arrival of the first Israeli or Dutch F-35s got a significant media coverage (with constant updates, live streaming on social media, etc.), the Italian Air Force has kept a very “low profile” about its achievements with the F-35 so far.

However, Italy has made some significant work on the Lightning II: on Dec. 3, 2015, the ItAF welcomed the first F-35 at the Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) facility at Cameri, in northwestern Italy. That aircraft was also the first assembled and delivered outside the U.S.

Then, on Feb. 5, 2016 the first Italian Air Force F-35, successfully completed the type’s very first transatlantic crossing landing at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. To prepare for the 7-hour transoceanic flight the Italian Air Force conducted tanker trials in the U.S. (in July 2015) with its KC-767A, that became the first tanker not operated by the U.S. Air Force to undergo refueling certification trials with an F-35.

Three Italian F-35s are currently deployed at Luke’s multinational F-35 pilot training centre.
And, as explained mentioned, on Dec. 12, the first two aircraft (reportedly AL-5 and AL-6) arrived at their operational base in southeastern Italy.

The F-35 is for sure the most famous (and controversial) defense program in Italy.

For the moment, Rome’s plan is to procure 90 F-35 to replace the ItAF’s ageing AMX and Tornado and the Italian Navy’s AV-8B+ Harrier jump jets.

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Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Germany receives first tactical A400M transport

Germany receives first tactical A400M transport from Airbus

By Ryan Maass   |   Dec. 12, 2016 at 3:26 PM
WASHINGTON, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- The German Air Force has received its first upgraded A400M Atlas military transport aircraft from Airbus Defense and Space.

The new plane is the sixth A400M to serve in the branch, and the first to feature new capabilities allowing it to fly into areas with known military threats. Germany intends to replace its legacy fleet of C-130 airlifters with the updated planes.

"The A400M program has made enormous progress this year in implementing these critical capabilities on the aircraft," Airbus A400M program manager Kurt Rossner said in a press release. "In addition to having twice the payload-range of the legacy transports like the C-160 and C-130 that it is replacing, it can now also operate from any runway that those older aircraft could use."

According to Airbus, the tactical upgrades include improvements in airdrops, paratrooping, and self-defense. The planes can also fly as low as 150 feet above the ground, and operate as a tanker for other aircraft.

"There is no other aircraft in the market with the A400M´s combination of tactical and strategic capabilities and it is going to transform Germany's air mobility force," Rossner added.

The company markets the A400M as the world's most versatile airlifter, capable of carrying payloads weighing up to 37 tons. Alternately, the plane can carry up to 116 troops.

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