Thursday, 31 May 2018

Huntington Ingalls Industries Completes Initial Sea Trials of Indiana (SSN 789)

Indiana (SSN 789) - YouTube

Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding completed the initial sea trials on the newest Virginia-class submarine, Indiana (SSN 789) May 25, 2018.

The initial round of sea trials, known as alpha trials, provides an opportunity to test all systems and components. It includes submerging for the first time and high-speed maneuvers while on the surface and submerged.

“Sea trials is a significant milestone and the first major test of submarine’s capabilities at sea,” said Dave Bolcar, Newport News’ vice president of submarine construction. “We are pleased with how Indiana performed and look forward to continuing our testing program before we deliver the boat to the U.S. Navy later this year.”

Construction of Indiana began in 2012. The boat—the 16th Virginia-class submarine built as part of the teaming partnership with General Dynamics Electric Boat—was christened in April 2017.


Related article:

Virginia class attack submarine: Details

Italian Prototype Competitor for U.S. Navy’s FFG(X) Frigate Program Makes Landfall in Norfolk

TS Alpino, a Fincantieri-built frigate sailing under the Italian flag, made landfall in Norfolk. The ITS Alpino, a FREMM-class frigate, is a model of the ship the U.S. Navy is considering for the FFG(X) future frigate program. FREMM frigates are the only ships in the competition that have been proven in combat, having helped to destroy a Syrian chemical weapons facility in April.

“The ITS Alpino demonstrates the proven versatility and capability of the FREMM class frigate,” said Vice Admiral Richard Hunt (Ret.), Fincantieri Marinette Marine’s Chief Strategy Officer. “It is lethal, survivable, designed for sailors and in service now. It provides a superior platform for the U.S. Navy FFG(X) competition and can provide great combat capability for our Navy in the near term and beyond. It will contribute to the defense of America and our allies.”

He continued, “ITS Alpino’s visit to the United States provides a great opportunity to introduce this ship to Navy leadership and warfighters. The design has demonstrated its flexibility with several variations used in the Italian and French Navies and has the ability to grow to serve the U.S. Navy’s future needs. It is a highly capable, proven warship which has been consistently built on schedule and at an affordable cost. FREMM class ships are built with industry best practices in design and construction, delivering superior performance quickly and affordably with a strong focus on providing a high operational availability.”

“The U.S. Navy urgently needs a highly capable warship that can both operate forward confidently in independent operations and significantly contribute to larger Strike Group operations when needed. FREMM provides the necessary foundation to quickly develop the U.S. Navy’s next frigate.”

Reporters and other members of the Norfolk community interested in touring the ship should contact Justin Platt for more information. He can be reached at

“The (SIC) ITS Alpino’s cutting-edge technology provides the capabilities needed for FFG(X) to be highly lethal while still being dependable and comfortable for the sailors who operate it,” said Mr. Charles Goddard, formerly the US Navy’s PEO Ships and currently Fincantieri Marine Group’s Senior Vice President. “The FREMM’s design will enable it to grow over its service life with the U.S. Navy with limited upgrade costs. This ship is a technical marvel.”

Among many other capabilities, the ITS Alpino has 16 Vertical Launch System (VLS) cells that can be readily upgraded to 32, can host two helicopters, and can combat undersea, surface, and airborne threats.

When a version of the ship is built for the U.S. Navy, it will create thousands of high-tech American manufacturing jobs, and Fincantieri Marine Group already employs more than 2,000 people in the United States.

The ITS Alpino traveled to Norfolk from Italy. Following its stay in Norfolk, it will visit Baltimore, New York City, and Boston. The trip is designed to both improve upon cooperation between the U.S. and Italian navies and underscore the potential benefits of frigates modelled off the ITS Alpino for the U.S. Navy.


Lockheed Martin Secures Navy Deal to Upgrade F-35 Jets

Aviation Photography Digest

Lockheed Martin (LMT) Secures Navy Deal to Upgrade F-35 Jets

May 30, 2018, 05:47:00 PM EDT By Zacks Equity Research,

Lockheed Martin Corp. 's LMT Aeronautics business segment has secured a modification contract to upgrade F-35 Lightning II aircraft. Work related to the deal is scheduled to be over by June 2021.

Valued at $20 million, the contract was awarded by the Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland. Per the deal, the company will deliver additional radar upgrades for the Block 3F software integrated in the F-35 jets.

Notably, the project includes 58% of the work for the U.S. Air Force and 42% for Marine Corps. Fiscal 2016 aircraft procurement (Air Force and Marine Corps) will be utilized to complete the task at Fort Worth, TX.

F-35 Attributes

Lockheed Martin's F-35 Lightning II is a single-seat, single-engine 5th Generation fighter aircraft, which comes with an advanced stealth feature combined with enhanced fighter speed and agility, fully-fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment. Currently, three variants of F-35 are set to replace five fighter jets for the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps as well as a variety of fighter jets for at least 10 other countries.

With Lockheed Martin being the primary partner, the F-35 program has been supported by an international team of leading aerospace majors. Notably, Northrop Grumman NOC rendered its expertise in carrier aircraft and low-observable stealth technology to this program, BAE Systems' BAESY short takeoff and vertical landing experience, and air systems sustainment supported the jet's combat capabilities. Also, Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies UTX , provided F-35s with the F135 propulsion system - the world's most powerful fighter engine.

Recent Developments

The F-35 program is Lockheed Martin's largest program, which generated 24% of its total net sales in first quarter of 2018. As of May 14, 2018, the company delivered more than 290 F-35 jets to the United States and its allies.

However, critics have condemned this program as the costliest military program for the U.S. government. It was only after President Trump's intervention, in February 2017, that Lockheed Martin ultimately announced its decision to cut down F-35's cost significantly.

Now, the company's current cost-saving initiative to lower sustainment costs for F-35 project is expected to result in cost savings of $1 billion over a five-year period. In sync with this, per a recent report by Lockheed Martin, it targets to reduce the cost of an F-35A to $80 million by 2020, with production enhancements.

Also, additional improvements implemented in these planes like the software upgrades, which were a part of this latest contract, will allow the company to further reduce the cost of this program. Moreover, with the U.S. government's current inventory objective of 2,456 F-35 aircraft coupled with its reduced price we may expect to witness a continued ramp up in the production of these jets, in coming days. No doubt, Lockheed Martin enjoys a solid growth prospect for F-35 program, which in turn, will surely boost its profit margin.



Underpinning the F-35’s unrivaled capabilities is more than 8 million lines of software code – more than four times the amount of the world’s first 5th generation fighter, the F-22 Raptor. From flight controls to fusing together the F-35’s sensor data to form a clear and comprehensive picture of the battlespace, software is essential.

F-35 software enables:
  • Flight controls
  • Radar functionality
  • Communications, navigation and identification
  • Electronic attack
  • Sensor fusion
  • Weapons deployment

A Block Development Approach

From the program’s outset, the software team has focused on developing six key software releases known as Blocks:

  • Block 1A/1B – Block 1 comprises 78 percent of the more than 8.3 million source lines of code required for the F-35’s full warfighting capability. Block 1A was the ready for training configuration while Block 1B provided initial multi-level security.
  • Block 2A – Block 2A is currently released to the F-35 fleet. It provides enhanced training including functionality for off-board fusion, initial data links, electronic attack and mission debrief. With Block 2A, nearly 86 percent of the required code for full warfighting capability is flying.
  • Block 2B – Block 2B provides initial warfighting capabilities, including but not limited to expanded data links, multi-ship fusion and initial live weapons. The U.S. Marines declared IOC in July 2015 with Block 2B. With Block 2B, more than 87 percent of the required code for full warfighting capability is flying.
  • Block 3i – Block 3i provides the same tactical capabilities as Block 2B. The principal difference between 2B and 3i is the implementation of new hardware, specifically the updated Integrated Core Processor. The Air Force declared IOC with Block 3i in August 2016. With Block 3i, 89 percent of code required for full warfighting capability is flying.
  • Block 3F – Block 3F provides 100 percent of the software required for full warfighting capability, including but not limited to data link imagery, full weapons and embedded training

Related articles:

F-35 Lightning II: Details

South Korea to deploy K-SAAM on second Dokdo class

KBS News

Ridzwan Rahmat, Singapore - Jane's Navy International

30 May 2018

Key Points

  • South Korea will deploy the K-SAAM on its second Dokdo-class helicopter carrier
  • Deployment heralds wider adoption of the locally developed close-in defence system across South Korea’s naval vessels

The Republic of Korea Navy’s (RoKN’s) second Dokdo-class helicopter carrier will deploy an indigenously developed weapon referred to in the country as Korean Surface-to-Air Anti-Missile (SAAM, or K-SAAM) an industry representative close to the matter has confirmed with Jane’s .

The vessel, which will be known in service as ROKS Marado with pennant number 6112 once commissioned, has also been equipped with a locally developed vertical launching system (K-VLS) at the extreme rear of its superstructure to deploy these weapons.

The K-SAAM is a 3.07 m long ship-based anti-air projectile that employs inertial mid-course guidance and a dual microwave and imaging infrared seeker for terminal guidance. A programme to develop the weapon, which has also been referred to as ‘Haegung’ or ‘Sea Bow’ in South Korea, began in 2011, and first test firings of the system started in 2013. Besides being meant for deployment against aerial targets, the K-SAAM also has limited anti-ship and anti-surface capabilities.

Officials from the weapon’s manufacturer, LIG Nex1, who spoke to Jane’s at the Seoul International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition (ADEX) in 2015, said the weapon will enter service with the RoKN in 2018 and that it will eventually replace the Raytheon RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) on South Korean warships.

The inclusion of this weapon system is one of several differences between Marado and its first-of-class sister ship, RoKS Dokdo (6111), which was commissioned in 2007. Images from Marado ’s launch ceremony on 14 May reveal that South Korea has also selected a mix of local and Israeli sensors for the follow-on ship.

These include the ELM-2248 (MF-STAR) multifunction surveillance radar from Israeli defence company ELTA Systems in place of the SMART-L multibeam radar from Thales found on Dokdo , and the SPS-550K three-dimensional air and surface surveillance radar from local company LIG Nex1, in place of the Thales MW08 surveillance radar found on the earlier ship.


KM-SAM or M-SAM: Details
Dokdo Class (LPH): Details

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

USAF issues RFP to re-wing 112 A-10 aircraft


Gareth Jennings, London - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

29 May 2018

The US Air Force (USAF) has issued a request for proposals (RFP) to re-wing about 100 of its Fairchild-Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II close air support (CAS) aircraft.

Released on 25 May, the RFP for the A-10 Thunderbolt Advanced Wing Continuation Kitting (ATTACK) programme calls for the re-winging of 112 aircraft over five annual ordering periods, with the option for two more years after that.

This ATTACK effort adds to the 173 aircraft that were upgraded under the previous Wing Replacement Program (WRP) that ran from 2007 through to 2018, with Boeing as prime contractor. Despite the USAF’s announcement midway through the WRP that it was to prematurely retire the A-10, it was deemed cheaper to continue with contracts awarded under the A-10 Thunderbolt Lifecycle Program Support (TLPS) than to cancel them.

Speaking earlier in 2018, Air Combat Command (ACC) chief General James Holmes said the USAF now aims to maintain a fleet of 285 aircraft (the sum of the WRP and ATTACK programmes) out into the 2030s. There are approximately 350 A-10s in the inventories of the active USAF, Air Force Reserve, and Air National Guard, although a number have already been sent for mothballing at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona.

As a legacy platform, the A-10 is supported equally by Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman. Responses to the ATTACK RFP are due by 23 August, with a contract expected in fiscal year 2019 (FY 2019). The approved budget for FY 2018 contains USD103 million for the project, while USD79 million has been requested for FY 2019. To date, no funding for FY 2020 and beyond has yet been identified.

The issuance of the ATTACK RFP is the surest indication of the USAF’s intention to reverse its decision to retire the A-10 so as to free up resources for the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).


Related articles:

Turkey set to finalise national jet plans with Rolls Royce

TF-X - Internet images

Turkey and engine manufacturer Rolls Royce will finalise negotiations on an engine design program for the country’s first homemade jet fighter by July 31, the TF-X, Burak Ege Bekdil wrote for Defense News on Tuesday.

The Turkish and UK governments’ defence procurement agencies signed the letter of intent to finalise negotiations on May 15, during Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s state visit to the UK.

The ambitious project aims to replace the Turkish Air Force’s current fleet of F-16s with the indigenously made TF-X fighter jets, alongside F-35 fighter jets that Turkey is expected to buy from the United States.

Erdoğan’s May visit to the UK, where he met the Queen as well as Prime Minister Theresa May, was looked on coldly by the British public. But for a UK government anxious to hang on to trade opportunities with the prospect of Brexit looming, the lucrative deals promised by Turkey meant business as usual and the continuation of what one Turkish minister called a special relationship between the countries.

A foothold in the “juicy” project to build the fighters, over 200 of which are planned for the mid-2020s and which may also be exported, is a boon for the UK’s defence industry as it would help the UK “maintain an irreplaceable combat aircraft design capability”, according to Aerospace magazine’s chief editor Tim Robinson.

The UK has already been involved in the TF-X program since January 2017, when Turkey announced that it had agreed a £100 million design deal with British defence firm BAE.

The deal with Rolls Royce will see the jet’s engine developed and co-produced in Turkey using foreign technology.

Turkey and Rolls Royce will look to resolve issues including “export licenses, restrictions, technology transfers and know-how, local work share, intellectual property rights, and development costs” before the July deadline, Defense News quoted a Turkish procurement official as saying.


New intelligence: Russia 'Special mission' Submarine BS-64 seen with cradle on back for payload

H I Sutton

New intelligence: #Russia 'Special mission' #Submarine BS-64 seen with cradle on back for payload. In this case most likely DSRV submersible. … #GUGI for seabed warfare. Possibly relates to ICEBERG project. Source: H I Sutton

According to Sputnik:

The BS-64 was until recently a missile submarine, but has now been redesigned into a scientific one, capable of operating with mini-submarines used for oceanographic research.

Alleged photographs of the Russian BS-64 nuclear-powered submarine equipped with payload cradle were published on the Russian social network VK. While the veracity of the images couldn't be independently verified, the photos were deleted several hours after their publication on social media. According to the maritime news oriented outlet Covert Shores, the payload cradle looks similar to the one designed for the Project 18270 Bester deep sea rescue vehicle, a Russian development registered in 2016 and allegedly used as a part of the Iceberg arctic seabed research project.

Bester is a deep sea rescue vehicle which can be used for various purposes, including rescuing submarines crews trapped underwater. The cradle itself is used to ensure safe passage from the Bester to BS-64, even while submerged.

The BS-64 nuclear-powered submarine was decommissioned in 1999 and after years of repairs it was redesign to hold scientific equipment and serve as a mothership for midget submarines, such as the Paltus or Losharik, which are used for deep oceanographic research.

Project 09852 Belgorod: Details

Turkey can’t confirm possible Russian fighter jet deal

Russian internet images

Turkey’s defence ministry wouldn’t confirm or deny plans to buy Russian Su-57 stealth fighter jets should a similar agreement with the United States fall through, Russian website Sputnik reported.

Reports in the Turkish press that Ankara would turn to Russia should the U.S. Congress block a deal on F-35 fighter planes were based on the opinions of experts and did not reflect Turkey’s official position, Sputnik said, citing an unidentified official at Turkey’s defence ministry.

“Such publications do not reflect the official government's position yet," the source said.

Turkey is considering the purchase of Russian Su-57 fighter jets should Washington decide to halt the delivery of the F-35s, Yeni Şafak daily reported on Sunday. Some U.S. legislators are calling for the delivery to be suspended because of Turkey’s internment of a U.S. pastor on terrorism charges and plans by Ankara to purchase Russian S-400 anti-missile systems.

A bill was proposed to the U.S. Congress on May 8 calling for a report on U.S.-Turkish relations and demanding the suspension of U.S. weapons sales -- including the F-35 fighter jets -- to Turkey until the report’s publication.

The bill referred to “strained relations” between the pair of NATO allies, blaming Turkey for “provocative actions” and its deal to purchase S-400 missile defence systems from Russia.

An F-35 jet bound for Turkey was tested in the United States earlier this month.

Israel is calling on Washington to deliver the planes without the latest software enhancements to ensure that Israel maintains a military edge in the region, Haaretz reported at the weekend.


India to design and develop long-range dual-band infrared imaging search and track system (IRST) for Su-30MKI

Indian Air Force

India to Locally Build Infrared Tracking System for Su-30MKI 

Over the last eight months, India’s defense ministry has approved procurement of equipment valued at approx $6.5 billion of which $4.8 billion will be Made-in-India.

New Delhi (Sputnik) — India has decided to design and develop a long-range dual-band infrared imaging search and track system (IRST) which will strengthen the capabilities of the Su-30MKI in detecting ultra-stealthy aircraft like the F-22 and Chengdu J-20 possessed by its adversaries. Only last year, China operationalized the J-20 fighter jets which are made up of radar-absorbing materials that are supposed to make it hard to detect at long ranges. 

"The Defense Acquisition Council (DAC) accorded approval for undertaking design and development of the Long Range Dual Band Infrared Imaging Search and Track System (IRST) for SU-30 MKI aircraft under the ‘Make II' sub-category and subsequently, for procurement of at least 100 IRSTs under ‘Buy (Indian-IDDM)' category.  The system will be able to operate in day and night conditions and will substantially enhance the capabilities of the aircraft," a statement issued by Indian defense ministry reads. 

Source: Raksha Mantri

The Indian defense ministry wants at least 40% domestically-produced content in the system which will be manufactured in any Indian facility. The system will be integrated into India's frontline aircraft without making any structural changes.

Last year, the Indian Air Force (IAF) while specifying its technical requirements, had put up 30 questions before the prospective vendors.

"Will be equipment be single dome configuration? Will the equipment have stowing capability? Can the equipment be matched with aircraft mission computer software? What are the ICD requirements of the equipment to ensure full exploitation of capabilities of the equipment?" the IAF had asked.

The IRST system is a crucial part of the advanced fifth-generation aircraft as it plays a critical role in detecting heat sinking missiles and locate and destroy enemy targets in radar denied environment.

In all, the Defense Acquisition Council (DAC), chaired by Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, on Monday accorded approval for the procurement of equipment for the defense forces valued at over one billion dollars. The DAC also approved procurement of thermal imaging (TI) night sights for the rocket launcher used by the Indian Army and the IAF from local vendors. The TI sight for 84mm rocket launcher will be used by troops in operations to facilitate accurate and continuous engagement of moving and static enemy targets and destruction of field fortifications (bunkers) during hours of complete darkness. 

"The sight will enable our troops to detect and recognize enemy tanks and soldiers' movement during the night and engage them with greater efficiency. Furthermore, the effect of camouflage and concealment will be drastically reduced as rocket launcher detachments will be able to ascertain the location of the enemy taking cover behind foliage and thin-walled constructions with greater ease," the defense ministry statement read.


Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Kazakhstan have signed a contract with Russia for four Mi-35 helicopters

Mi-35M - Airguardian YouTube

Kazakhstan strikes deal with Russia for Mi-35 helicopters

Baku, Azerbaijan, May 29

Russia and Kazakhstan have signed a contract for supply of four Mi-35 transport and combat helicopters, the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation of Russia told RIA Novosti May 29.

"A new contract for supply of four Mi-35 helicopters to Kazakhstan has been signed," the FSMTC stated.

Earlier in late 2017, the Ministry of Defense of Kazakhstan told reporters about the plans to purchase from Russia two Su-30SM fighters and four Mi-35M helicopters. Subsequently, a contract for the Su-30SM fighters was signed on the sidelines of the KADEX 2018 arms exhibition.


Mi-35M Attack Helicopters: Details

Russian Defense Ministry denied reports on alleged interception of an Israeli F-16 fighter jet by a Russian Su-34 aircraft

Russian internet images

Moscow Denies Reports on Interception of Israeli F-16 by Russian Su-34

The Russian Defense Ministry has denied reports on an alleged interception of an Israeli F-16 fighter jet by a Russian Su-34 aircraft, stating that the country's aircraft do not conduct missions in Lebanese airspace.

"The information spread by one of the Israeli news outlets about an alleged ‘interception' of two Israeli F-16s by a Russian Su-34 in Lebanese airspace is amateur nonsense," the Russian Defense Ministry stated.

The ministry specified that "the Su-34 multirole bombers, which belong to the Russian air group in Syria, are not used for flights to intercept aerial targets and do not perform tasks in the airspace of Lebanon."

The comment follows reports earlier in the day in Israeli, Lebanese and Russian media outlets, claiming that the two Israeli Air Force jets had been challenged by a Sukhoi Su-34 bomber over Tripoli and forced away.

The presence of the Israeli aircraft in Lebanese airspace was reportedly connected with reconnaissance missions. At the same time, the media explained the actions of the Russian bomber as being a part of drills, reportedly taking place off the coast of Lebanon and Syria. The media claimed that the Russian bomber was forced to land due to bad weather conditions.

Military Coordination Between the Countries

Russia and Israel established a mechanism to prevent conflicts and potentially disastrous mistakes in 2015 after Russia started its military operation in Syria at the request of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The mechanism includes work groups led by deputy chiefs of both militaries.

However, as Israeli Air Force Commander Amikam Norkin revealed last week, the existing system is limited: Israel doesn't inform the Russian side about its planned airstrikes in Syria, the same goes for the Russians.

The greater part of Russia's forces were withdrawn from Syria last year by order of Russian President Vladimir Putin, which followed the declared defeat of the Daesh* terrorist group in the country. Since then, the Russian military presence in the country has been limited to military advisers, units of special forces of the Russian Defense Ministry, military police, as well as servicemen of the center for reconciliation.

Israel has intensified its airstrikes against what it claims to be Iranian military units in Syria in recent weeks.

Reacting to claims of an Iranian military presence in Syria, Tehran has denied any extensive military presence on the ground, specifying that its contingent is limited to military advisers in the country and is there to assist in the fight against terrorism. Similar to the Russian military offensive on the ground, the Iranian mission has the approval of Syria's internationally-recognized government.

*Daesh — a terrorist group, banned in many countries, including Russia

Boeing awarded $416 million contract for three Lot 9 full-rate production P-8A

The Boeing Co., Seattle, Washington, is being awarded a $416,438,385 modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-14-C-0067) for the manufacture and delivery of three Lot 9 full-rate production P-8A multi-mission maritime aircraft for the Navy.  Work will be performed in Seattle, Washington (82.5 percent); Baltimore, Maryland (2.7 percent); Greenlawn, New York (2.4percent); Cambridge, United Kingdom (1.6 percent); North Amityville, New York (0.9 percent); Rockford, Illinois (0.7 percent); Rancho Santa Margarita, California (0.6 percent); Dickinson, North Dakota (0.6 percent); and various other locations within the U.S. (8 percent); and is expected to be completed in October 2020.  Fiscal 2018 aircraft procurement (Navy), funds in the amount of $416,438,385 will be obligated at time of award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.  The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity.

HMS Queen Elizabeth’s crew finally meet the F-35B

British internet images

Members of the flying control and flight deck control teams aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08), flagship of the Royal Navy’s new class of aircraft carriers, visited Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland this week for their first live peek at the F-35B Lightning II, ahead of the jet’s first trials aboard the ship this fall.

On Tuesday, about 20 members of the HMS Queen Elizabeth team witnessed F-35B test aircraft BF-02 and BF-04 taxi, perform two vertical landings apiece, and conduct a couple short takeoffs. The ground reverberated as each aircraft approached the tarmac for its vertical landings led by the F-35 Pax River Integrated Test Force team, hovering for several seconds prior to descending.

The next day, the Ship’s team took over and, acting as landing signal officers, taxied an F-35B for the first time. Persistent rain limited the team’s activities on Thursday prior to their Friday departure back to the United Kingdom.

In terms of getting his personnel familiar with the F-35B, prior to this fall’s ship trials off the U.S. eastern seaboard, the trip was a success, said Royal Navy Cmdr. James Blackmore, Commander Air aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth.

“It’s the first time they’ve ever seen the jet or been up and close to it as it’s performing its flight maneuvers, so they got to feel the environment of what it’s like, the sort of noise, the heat, the sound and the pressure of the aircraft, so that when it comes to deck for the first time, it’s not a surprise,” Blackmore said.

As HMS Queen Elizabeth’s “air boss”, Blackmore is in charge of all aviation activity onboard a ship “that’s been designed specifically for the F-35,” he said.

At roughly 65,000 tons, HMS Queen Elizabeth is much smaller than U.S. Navy carriers, but its flight deck and hangar are about the same size, Blackmore said. He noted the “key difference” between the two nation’s aircraft carriers is the Queen Elizabeth class’s flight deck, which is designed exclusively to handle helicopters and the F-35B, the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant of the fifth-generation fighter.

“From the keel up, it’s all been about F-35 from day one,” he added.

For the U.K., the F-35B represents a much anticipated return to carrier aviation, one that holds particular significance for Blackmore, who piloted the last Harrier flight off the HMS Ark Royal, the U.K.’s last aircraft carrier, in November 2010. Equally fitting, the Ark Royal’s Captain at that time, Commodore Jerry Kyd, is now the Captain of HMS Queen Elizabeth.

“I was fortunate enough to fly the last ever Harrier launched from a U.K. aircraft carrier in 2010, so if you like, I almost closed down what we used to do,” Blackmore said. “The fact that eight years later, I’m now here opening that back up with the team is really good.”

Blackmore called the F-35B “a step change for the U.K. in how we’re going to conduct business.”

“The fact that’s it’s F-35 is pivotal, because you’re in the fifth-generation game now with aircraft, which brings stealth, sensor fusion, advanced weapons and the ability to project aviation and power ashore at your choosing,” he said

Royal Navy’s HMS Queen Elizabeth begins preparations for rotary wing trials
Cost of UK's aircraft carrier and jet programme will put other defence projects at risk
The £3.1bn aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is leaking
Britain moves to restore carrier strike capability with warship commissioning

Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier: Details

Monday, 28 May 2018

Israel Wants US to Keep F-35 'Upgrade Capabilities' Secret From Turkey

F-35I - ZiVSO YouTube

Israel Wants US to Keep F-35 'Upgrade Capabilities' Secret From Turkey – Reports 

Israel and the United States are holding talks on the supply of F-35 stealth fighter jets to Turkey amid uncertainties over the fate of the deliveries in the US, Haaretz reported.

According to a top Israeli defense official, the Jewish state seeks to remain the only country in the region with F-35 jets to maintain its military’s qualitative edge. The discussions between Israel and the United States have also reportedly touched upon the jet’s performance-enhancing software; unnamed sources confirmed to Haaretz that the matter is “part of the negotiations,” while Israel has denied having talks over the F-35 deal, under which Turkey is expected to obtain 100 stealth fighter jets.

The Israeli Air Force is set to receive software that will upgrade the plane's capabilities in July, and Tel Aviv is concerned that Turkey will also obtain it and is allegedly discussing the possibility of delivering jets to Ankara without the software.

The deal has drawn criticism from within the US Congress, with several lawmakers calling to halt the planned sales of more than 100 fighter jets.

"Our concern is that Turkey is going through a very dramatic transition as a country. Turkey has gone a long way from being a NATO ally and an important partner in working against terrorism, to the situation today, where it is holding an American citizen as a bargaining chip. This is not the behavior of an ally," Senator James Lankford told Haaretz, alluding to Andrew Brunson, a pastor, held in custody in Turkey since last year.

According to Lankford, this incident has shown that Turkey is becoming less reliable as an ally to the United States, and suggested withholding the technology from them.

"My concern is — they're a NATO ally, they have been a good partner for years, but if we don't know what the country is going to be like in a few years, we should withhold this resource from them," Lankford elaborated.

The senator went on to say that the US had "no hesitation with Israel. When we give them the F-35 or other military equipment, we know how they will use it. We know what they will and won't do. I'm not sure we can say the same about Turkey."

He also told the media outlet that recent disagreements between Turkey and the US on foreign policy issues should prompt the latter to “take a pause” and reconsider the F-35 deal, as well as other forms of military cooperation. The Israeli Embassy in Washington has yet to comment on the issue.

"No one here has any doubt that Israel prefers to stay the only country in the region that has these attack capabilities. The Israelis know how to make that clear, in their own ways, Lankford concluded.

Last week, the Israeli Air Force claimed that Israel had become the first country in the world to have carried out an attack using the F-35 stealth fighter jet.

Earlier this month, US Congressman David Cicilline proposed a bill in the House of Representatives to ban the sale of the jets to Turkey, citing its “thuggish, reprehensible behavior.”

The Turkish Yeni Safak media outlet reported on the potential delivery of Russian Su-57 fighter jets if Washington decides to suspend the supplies of F-35s in response to the purchase of Russian S-400 anti-missile systems. However, a source in the secretariat of the Turkish defense industry has told Sputnik that the reports were based on experts’ opinions and did not reflect the official position of Ankara.

The reports come a month after Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Wess Mitchell said Turley’s purchase of the S-400s from Russia could negatively affect the delivery of the F-35s to Ankara.


Related articles:

F-35 Lightning II: Details
Sukhoi Su-57: Details