Category Archives: Fighters

Bulgaria selects AMRAAM

Bulgaria became the world’s 40th Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) user when the European nation recently signed an agreement to purchase the missile from the U.S. Air Force through a foreign military sales contract. This letter of offer and acceptance allows the U.S. government to begin contract negotiations with Raytheon Missiles & Defense, a Raytheon Technologies business, for production of an undisclosed quantity of missiles.

AMRAAM
Bulgaria selects AMRAAM missile to bolster its air-to-air defense capabilities

«AMRAAM delivers unprecedented air superiority to pilots, giving them a decisive advantage in the sky», said Paul Ferraro, vice president of Raytheon Missiles & Defense’s Air Power business. «The weapon will significantly improve Bulgaria’s ability to defend against advanced threats».

The AMRAAM is a dual-role missile, offering operational flexibility in air-to-air and surface-launch engagements. In the air-to-air role, the weapon’s advanced active guidance section and mature seeker design allow it to quickly find targets in the most challenging environments.

AMRAAM is the world’s most sophisticated, combat-proven air dominance missile. With more than 30 years of design, upgrades, testing and production, the AIM-120 missile continues to meet warfighter requirements in all weather and beyond visual range engagements. Its capabilities have been fully demonstrated in over 4,800 test shots and more than 10 air-to-air combat victories.

Greek Air Force

Greece announced on September 12, 2020 its intention to acquire 18 Rafales to equip its air force.

Rafale
Greece announced its intention to acquire 18 Rafales to equip its air force

This announcement illustrates the strength of the partnership that has linked the Greek Air Force and Dassault Aviation for more than 45 years, and demonstrates the enduring strategic relationship between Greece and France.

Greece ordered 40 Mirage F1 from Dassault Aviation in 1974, then 40 Mirage 2000 in 1985 and finally 15 Mirage 2000-5 in the year 2000; this latest contract also includes the modernization of 10 Mirage 2000 to the 2000-5 standard with a large contribution from Greek industry.

«I am delighted with this announcement, which reinforces the exceptional relationship we have had with Greece for nearly half a century, and I thank the Greek authorities for their confidence in us once again. Dassault Aviation is fully mobilized to meet the operational needs expressed by the Greek Air Force, and thus contribute to ensuring Greece’s sovereignty and the safety of the Greek people», said Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation.

KF-X project

According to Oh Seok-min from the Yonhap News Agency, South Korea began assembling a prototype of what would be the country’s first indigenously developed fighter jet Thursday, September 3, 2020, in a landmark step that means the ambitious project is materializing.

This undated photo provided by the Defense Acquisition Program Administration on September 3, 2020, shows a prototype of South Korea’s envisioned fighter jet being assembled at the Korea Aerospace Industries Co. (KAI) facility in Sacheon, South Gyeongsang Province

Under the KF-X project worth 8.8 trillion won (US$7.3 billion), South Korea has been working since late 2015 to develop a home-grown cutting-edge fighter aircraft to replace the Air Force’s aging fleet of F-4 and F-5 jets.

Following the design confirmation last year, Korea Aerospace Industries Co. (KAI) got down to the final assembly of a prototype jet at its assembly line in Sacheon, 440 kilometers/273 miles south of Seoul, according to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).

KAI is the country’s sole aircraft manufacturer and is in charge of the KF-X project.

The prototype is expected to be ready in the first half of 2021, and the agency is eyeing 2026 for the completion of development after ground and flight tests, according to DAPA.

Last month, the state-run Agency for Defense Development (ADD) produced a prototype of an advanced Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar system as a key part of the envisioned combat jet.

«Despite the global COVID-19 pandemic, the KF-X project has been under way as planned, and the prototype is expected to be available next year», DAPA official Jung Kwang-sun said.

The aircraft is designed to be able to fly at a maximum speed of Mach 1.81, with its flying range reaching 2,900 kilometers/1,802 miles. It bears outward similarities to the fifth-generation F-35A Lightning II, according to the KAI.

With a maximum payload of 7,700 kilograms/16,976 lbs., the fighter is capable of installing 10 pods for missiles and fuel barrels. It will be able to carry several types of air-to-air missiles, such as Germany’s IRIS-T and European developer MBDA’s active radar guided Meteor missiles, it added.

CRIIS on F-22

The 411th Flight Test Squadron in conjunction with the 412th Range Squadron achieved the first successful flight of the Common Range Integrated Instrumentation System (CRIIS) at Edwards Air Force Base, California, August 5. This event marked the first flight of the CRIIS at the Edwards Flight Test Range, and it was also the first flight on a fifth-generation fighter platform.

An F-22 Raptor assigned to the 411th Flight Test Squadron flies over Edwards Air Force Base, California, in 2018. The 411th FLTS successfully integrated the Common Range Integrated Instrumentation System (CRIIS) during a test flight August 5 (Photo courtesy of Christopher Higgins, Lockheed Martin)

«This successful CRIIS flight test ensures that the 412th Range Squadron will achieve Initial Operating Capability (IOC) for CRIIS and continue the legacy of providing leading edge Time-Space-Position Information (TSPI) capability for Edwards Flight Test Range customers that was started almost 30 years ago with the IOC of the nation’s first Advance Range Data System (ARDS) Global Position System», said Randall Heiling, 412th Range Squadron’s master architect.

CRIIS is a tri-service Test and Evaluation range system designed to replace the aging ARDS. The CRIIS system can downlink and relay aircraft TSPI, as well as other aircraft data to a test range ground station.

«CRIIS will enable F-22 Raptor flight testing for the foreseeable future», said Zachary Rumble, 775th Test Squadron, and F-22 Raptor Navigation Subject Matter Expert. «In initial testing, CRIIS appears to be more accurate than the legacy ARDS plate, with more room for growth».

Recent CRIIS flight testing has proven the ability of the system to record highly accurate TSPI on board the F-22 Raptor. A live stream test of CRIIS data from an F-22 Raptor to a mission control room is on track for later this summer.

«The CRIIS is truly a needed upgrade for the test enterprise», said Lieutenant Colonel David Schmitt, 411th FLTS and F-22 Raptor Combined Test Flight Director of Operations. «The ability to record and utilize TSPI in real-time is a foundational piece of what we do. It is a critical enabler, which unlocks many of the tools the experts use to verify the performance of everything from fire control radars, to datalinks, to new or upgraded munitions. This was the first flight at Edwards of what will hopefully be a long legacy of CRIIS performance across the test enterprise».

CRIIS is currently in the final stages of achieving IOC at Edwards, Eglin AFB, Naval Air Warfare Center (NAWC) Aircraft Division Patuxent River, Nellis Test and Training Range, NAWC Weapons Division (WD) China Lake, NAWCWD Point Mugu, and White Sands Test Center. CRIIS is being deployed on aircraft platforms such as the F-22 Raptor, F-35 Lightning II, F-15 Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon, and F/A-18 Super Hornet. The CRIIS is expected to set a new tri-service standard for test range TSPI instrumentation.

Blue Angels

The U.S. Navy delivered a C-130J aircraft to the Blue Angels Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron (NFDS) this month completing the squadron’s logistics transport aircraft transition from a legacy C-130T to a C-130J.

The new Blue Angels C-130J flies over Marshall Aerospace and Defense Group in Cambridge, England. The aircraft was delivered to the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Team, August 4

«This has been a great example of cooperation between allies and professionals. Coordination and work to deliver this Blue Angels C-130J highlight a unique program office partnership with UK MoD and Marshall Aerospace. The team has worked through challenges to deliver this high-visibility asset to our fleet, and provide a ‘new’ aircraft to support our Naval Flight Demonstration Squadron for years to come», said Major General Greg Masiello, program executive officer air ASW, assault and special mission programs. «We have all been able to witness the transformation of this particular C-130 Hercules transition into a valuable addition to our Blue Angels flying demonstration team. We are pleased to deliver this Super Hercules as the Blue Angels transition to Super Blues. Definitely a job well done by all involved».

The aircraft, purchased from the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence (UK MoD) in June 2019, underwent a year-long refresh, which turned a former UK MoD aircraft into the logistics and transport aircraft that will be used by the Blue Angels.

Tactical Airlift Program Office (PMA-207) and UK MoD co-managed the refurbishment with all efforts performed at Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group (ADG) in Cambridge, England.

«The UK MoD was proud to work alongside multiple stakeholders to help deliver this great aircraft to the United States Navy Blue Angels. It really was a team effort from both sides of the Atlantic», said Air Marshal Sir Julian Young, director general Air for Defence Equipment and Support. «This C-130J aircraft served the Royal Air Force well over the years, and I am delighted that following a refurb it will now go on to serve another military force. With its bright new livery, I’m sure the new Blue Angels C-130J aircraft will turn heads wherever it goes».

This is the sole C-130J in the Navy’s fleet and while it is almost identical to its sister aircraft, the KC-130J, currently flown by the Marine Corps, it required a collaborative effort between NAVAIR engineering and Lockheed Martin to identify configuration deltas and test requirements. These efforts were done to meet U.S. and FAA requirements and included a major rework inspection, hardware and software configuration changes, and ground and flight testing.

«The teams were united in the one task to meet the needs of the fleet», said Captain Steve Nassau, PMA-207 program manager. «The return of an organic-based logistics aircraft to the Blue Angels squadron will free up much needed assets currently being utilized to meet the NFDS mission needs.  Thank you to everyone within the entire NAVAIR enterprise and our allies across the ocean for executing this delivery with utmost expedience».

The aircraft, now bearing the distinctive Blue Angels Blue and Gold, will be sure to thrill air show attendees for years to come.

A valued partner

On July 30, the U.S government submitted the Request for Proposal (RFP) response for the Lockheed Martin built F-35 Lightning II to Canada in support of their Future Fighter Capability Project.

The U.S government submitted the Request for Proposal (RFP) response for the Lockheed Martin built F-35 Lightning II to Canada in support of their Future Fighter Capability Project

Canada has been a valued partner since the inception of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) competition. Canadian industry plays an integral role in the global F-35 Lightning II supply chain and has gained significant technical expertise over the past 15-plus year involvement in the F-35 Lightning II production.

«We are extremely proud of our longstanding partnership with Canada, which has played a key role in the F-35’s development», said Greg Ulmer, F-35 Lightning II Program executive vice president. «The 5th Generation F-35 Lightning II would transform the Royal Canadian Air Force fleet and deliver the capabilities necessary to safeguard Canadian skies. The F-35’s unique mix of stealth and sensor technology will enable the Royal Canadian Air Force to modernize their contribution to North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) operations, ensure Arctic sovereignty and meet increasingly sophisticated global threats».

The program will continue to bring manufacturing and production opportunities to Canada, with an estimated 150,000 jobs supported over the life of the program. The F-35 Lightning II program connects Canadian industry to a global supply chain supporting a growing fleet that will deliver more than 3,200 aircraft and delivers sustainment well past 2060.

To date, the F-35 Lightning II operates from 24 bases worldwide. More than 1,040 pilots and over 9,340 maintainers are trained. Nine nations operate the F-35 Lightning II from their home soil and six services have employed F-35s in combat operations.

Japan Super Interceptor

Boeing and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) recently signed a Direct Commercial Sale agreement to support upgrades to Japan’s F-15J fleet.

Artist’s rendering of upgraded JASDF F-15JSI (Boeing rendering)

The contract is part of a larger $4.5 billion modernization program, announced by the U.S. Government in October 2019. The upgrades will introduce state-of-the-art electronic warfare and weapons. An all-new advanced cockpit system, running on the world’s most advanced mission computer, will deliver pilots enhanced situational awareness.

Under the agreement, Boeing will provide MHI with retrofit drawings, ground support equipment and technical publications for the upgrade of the first two F-15J aircraft to the Japan Super Interceptor configuration.

Boeing has partnered with MHI in the defense arena since the 1950s. MHI produced under license the current Japan F-15J fleet of over 200 aircraft between 1980 and 2000, and will serve as prime contractor for the upgrade. Sojitz Corporation, a trading company that works with Boeing’s team in Japan, will support this effort.

«Through this agreement, Boeing is honored to further our long-standing tradition of support for Japan’s Ministry of Defense, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, and MHI», said Will Shaffer, Boeing Japan President. «These upgrades will deliver critical capability for national and collective self-defense, in which the F-15J plays a key role. At the same time, they will provide MHI and our partners in Japan’s aerospace defense industry with an opportunity to enhance their own extensive engineering capabilities».

This DCS contract lays the foundation of the modernization program. MHI will develop the detailed modification plan for the jets and prepare the facilities and workforce for the induction and upgrade of up to 98 aircraft beginning in 2022.

Five Indian Rafale

On July 27, 2020, five Indian Air Force Rafale operated by Indian Air Force pilots took off from Dassault Aviation Mérignac facility to ferry to Ambala Air Force Station for entering service in N°17 Squadron «Golden Arrows».

Five Indian Air Force Rafale to ferry to India from Dassault Aviation Mérignac facility on July 27, 2020

After a complete training of Indian pilots and technicians by Dassault Aviation, with the French Air Force participation, the Indian Air Force will fully perform this first ferry, including an air-to-air refueling, with the dedicated support of the French Air Force.

Together with His Excellency Shri Jawed Ashraf, Ambassador of the Republic of India in France, Eric Trappier, Dassault Aviation Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, congratulated the Indian Air Force team present in France since almost 3 years, for successful management of the program.

He also complimented the trainees who joined for more than a year on their outstanding ability to master the aircraft.

The whole attendance then saluted the departure of the Rafale.

«I am strongly impressed by the amazing efficiency and determination of the Indian Air Force and Indian Ministry of Defense, despite this unprecedented world health crisis, to master rapidly all aspects of the Rafale for comforting Indian sovereignty and contributing to the protection and security of Indian people, stated Eric Trappier. This new milestone illustrates once again the exemplary cooperation between Dassault Aviation and the Indian Air Force, started in 1953, and reasserts our total commitment to fulfill Indian Air Force requirements for the decades to come, and to be part of India’s ambitious vision for the future».

This first ferry testifies that the program is running smoothly and that deliveries are on time in spite of COVID-19 pandemic.

It initiates the induction of the Rafale in the Indian Air Force, in the frame of the contract of 36 aircraft, and paves the way to fulfill the present and future needs and requirements of the Government of India.

Maiden Flight

On the 13th July, the operational version of the M-346 Fighter Attack, equipped with an optimised variant of Leonardo’s Grifo radar, successfully completed its maiden flight. The M-346FA is the new light attack variant from the Company’s M-346 Light Fighter Family of Aircraft (LFFA). It offers multirole capabilities with a single platform, cost-effectively delivering both training and combat roles.

Leonardo’s M-346 Fighter Attack embarks on maiden flight equipped with Grifo radar

Lucio Valerio Cioffi, Managing Director of Leonardo Aircraft, said: «I am extremely pleased with the work we have done to achieve this important milestone and the pace at which we have reached it. With this latest achievement, the most advanced training aircraft available on the market will soon be joined by the more versatile M-346 Fighter Attack. The M-346FA offers all of the advanced training capabilities of the core M-346 while also integrating latest generation sensors and equipment, allowing it to operate as an effective light attack aircraft. We will now continue development as we prepare to deliver the first aircraft to its international launch customer in 2021».

The aircraft’s primary sensor is Leonardo’s mechanically-scanning, multi-mode Grifo-M-346 radar, a specially-optimised variant developed by Leonardo for the M-346FA. The Grifo-M-346 is a reliable, high performance solution delivering great accuracy. The M-346FA is also protected by a complete Defensive Aids Sub-System (DASS), while its high-end, network-centric communications suite which incorporates a Secure Communications system and Tactical Data Link ensures interoperability. The platform can also employ LINK-16 in order to interoperate with NATO forces.

The M-346FA can employ an extensive range of air-to-air and air-to-ground weaponry (including IR guided, radar and/or laser/GPS) and can be fitted with a gun pod, reconnaissance sensors and target designation pods and electronic warfare, all integrated with a Helmet Mounted Display (HMD) system for both pilots.

In the training domain, the M-346FA benefits from all the advanced features of the M-346 trainer, including the ability to integrate into live-virtual-constructive (LVC) environments. This involves linking the real training aircraft in the sky with simulators on the ground and incorporating virtual friendly and opposing forces, allowing trainee pilots to challenge a wide range of tactical scenarios.

The trainer version of the M-346 is currently in service with the air forces of Italy, Singapore, Israel and Poland.

Fighter Jet

The U.S. Air Force awarded Boeing a nearly $1.2 billion contract to build the first lot of eight F-15EX Strike Eagle advanced fighter jets to help the service meet its capacity requirements and add capability to its fighter fleet. The award also covers support and one-time, upfront engineering costs. Already under construction at the Boeing F-15 production facility in St. Louis, the first two jets deliver next year.

Boeing and U.S. Air Force Ink Historic Deal for F-15EX Strike Eagle Fighter Jet

The U.S. Air Force is also announcing the overall Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity contract with a ceiling value of nearly $23 billion for F-15EX Strike Eagle.

«The F-15EX Strike Eagle is the most advanced version of the F-15 ever built, due in large part to its digital backbone», said Lori Schneider, Boeing F-15EX Strike Eagle program manager. «Its unmatched range, price and best-in-class payload capacity make the F-15EX Strike Eagle an attractive choice for the U.S. Air Force».

The F-15EX Strike Eagle carries more weapons than any other fighter in its class, and can launch hypersonic weapons up to 22 feet/6.7 meters long and weighing up to 7,000 pounds/3,175 kg.

To further support the digital airframe and advance rapid technology insertion, the F-15 program serves as a pathfinder for the Department of Defense’s DevSecOps initiative, aimed at developing secure, flexible and agile software. Additionally, open mission systems architecture ensures its viability for decades.

«F-15EX Strike Eagle brings together benefits of digital engineering, open mission systems and agile software development to keep it affordable and upgradable for decades to come», said Prat Kumar, Boeing vice president and F-15 program manager. «This means we can rapidly test and field new capabilities on F-15EX Strike Eagle keeping our warfighters ahead of threats».

Pilots and mechanics currently operating the F-15 anticipate transitioning to the F-15EX Strike Eagle in a matter of days as opposed to years. Future plans call for as many as 144 aircraft.

«We listened to our customer every step of the way when developing this exciting jet», said Kumar. «What we will soon deliver is a modern and robust aircraft that supports our nation’s defense by incorporating the latest systems, sensors and weapons».