July 31, 2019

Color footage of No. 322 Dutch Squadron RAF (1944)

First Australian Trained F-35A Pilots Take Flight

The Air Force’s first pilots to complete a RAAF F-35A Joint Strike Fighter transition course in Australia have flown the aircraft for the first time.

Two pilots conducted their first training mission on the F-35A at RAAF Base Williamtown on 15 July after undertaking an intensive two month academic and simulator training program at the base’s Integrated Training Centre.

Squadron Leader (SQNLDR) William Grady, a former F-22 exchange pilot, said the transition course has been tailored to leverage previous fighter experience.

“The F-35A training is unique in that there is no two-seat variant to aid airborne instruction,” SQNLDR Grady said.

“As a result, we do comparatively more simulator training before flying for the first time.

“It has been an intensive few months, but I’m happy to say the training is first class,” he said.

Commanding Officer Number 3 Squadron (3SQN), Wing Commander (WGCDR) Darren Clare, said the 15 July flights marked an important milestone in the F-35A’s introduction to service.

“Being able to watch the launch of the first two Australian-trained pilots on their first flight was a proud moment,” WGCDR Clare said.

“Although we currently still send pilots to the US for training, this shows Australia is quickly becoming self-sufficient and it all contributes to our F-35A squadrons reaching combat readiness as planned.”

“The introduction of a Fifth-Generation aircraft and all of its new systems has been highly complex.

“It has only been since January that we started testing out how the F-35A integrated with the Australian logistics, base support and local training systems.

“So the credit for today’s milestone goes to all those who have worked tirelessly to ensure the F-35A has had a smooth introduction to service,” he said.

Australia’s fleet of 10 F-35A aircraft based at Luke Air Force Base and RAAF Base Williamtown have collectively achieved over 2900 hours across more than 1750 sorties since 2014.

The F-35A attainment of Initial Operating Capability is on schedule for December 2020.

Thales Buys Insolvent Hawkei Engine Manufacturer

Thales has bought bankrupt Hawkei engine manufacturer Steyr Motors, it has emerged.

The Austrian company went into receivership in February, threatening the supply of engines to the Hawkei progam and the jobs of 150 Thales workers in Bendigo.

The news saw some vehicles slated for Initial Operational Capability delayed, although Final Operational Capability is set to occur as scheduled. Army has procured engines for the vehicles scheduled under low rate initial production and has an order for the subsequent 1,000 engines.

According to Austrian news outlets, four bidders, some under tender groups, were in the race to buy Steyr, with Thales only entering the bidding process two weeks ago. Negotiations reportedly concluded late Wednesday night local time. The purchase price is unclear.

"It was one of my [most] costly procedures so far, since there were economic, technical and legal problems," liquidator Norbert Mooseder said.

“Thales is fully committed to delivering the world-class Hawkei to the ADF," a Thales spokesperson said to ADM.

“After a deep-dive analysis of the Steyr Motors situation, Thales has committed to support the company to ensure long term sustainability and assure engine supply.

“Thales has been working closely with Steyr Motors for several years and we know the quality of its products so this decision has been made with an excellent understanding of the context.

“Thales will continue to work closely with the Commonwealth to deliver Hawkei to the ADF.”

“Thales have kept us closely in the loop. They’ve leant forward very heavily to support Steyr Motors,” MAJGEN Bottrell told ADM earlier this year. “The advice we’ve had back through the administrator is that had Thales not done that, then Steyr Motors may not have continued to operate."

Thales is contracted to deliver 138 Hawkei vehicles for IOC. All are set to be delivered towards the end of the year.

Mahathir Mohamad's Agenda on Defense Industry in Turkey

Dr M: Turkey willing to go all-in to aid Malaysia's foray into defence industry

ISTANBUL,  — Turkey has pledged to offer Malaysia whatever it needs in order to develop a defence industry, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad revealed yesterday amid his official visit here.

Speaking at a hi-tea event with the Malaysian diaspora here, the prime minister however said that Putrajaya still needs to consider the jump into the field as it would cost money.

“Not many countries are willing to transfer technologies to us,” he told the audience.

“But Turkey has promised to give whatever we want when it comes to technology, manufacturing, and so on.

“Turkey is ready to collaborate,” he added.

A Malaysian engineer with a defence firm here had asked the prime minister if Putrajaya had discussed the purchase of Turkey’s planned fifth-generation multi-role fighter jet TF-X.

The Malaysian delegation had visited the jet’s manufacturer Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) on Thursday.

Dr Mahathir said Malaysia will never be sovereign as long as it needs to depend on foreign powers for its military supplies.

But while that may currently be difficult, Malaysian can kick start its efforts through a technological transfer with Turkey.

“That is why we are studying for a collaboration with Turkey, and finally we would be able to manufacture our own defence

“But it needs some time, because we need money,” he added.

On Thursday, the Malaysian delegates were given a tour of the sprawling TAI complex, before an air show featuring its T129 Atak attack and reconnaissance helicopter, Hurkus trainer combat aircraft, and the Anka medium-altitude long endurance unmanned aerial vehicle.

Erdogan and Mahathir tour facilities of Turkish unmanned aerial vehicles manufacturer Baykar (photo : Anadolu)

Other crafts on display included the TF multirole fighter jet, and Hurjet, a trainer and light attack aircraft.

The show will likely whet Putrajaya’s appetite, as Malaysia looks for more affordable choices for aerial defence following spending cuts.

This comes amid Turkish’s growing ambition to ramp up its defence industry and exports, with UAV production reportedly a key focus of its plan.

TAI’s majority shareholder is the Turkish Armed Forces Foundation, and was established under its Ministry of Industry and Technology in a bid to reduce foreign dependency in its defence industry.

Malaysian premier visits Turkish engine maker TUSAS

Malaysia's prime minister paid a visit to Turkish engine maker TUSAS on Thursday as part of his official visit to Turkey.

Mahathir Mohamad was accompanied by Turkey's Industry and Technology Minister Mustafa Varank during his visit.

The Malaysian prime minister got information about Turkish defense industry and toured the facilities of TUSAS, also known as Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI).

Mahathir also watched an airshow of unmanned air vehicles (Anka), helicopters (Atak) and planes (Hurkus) at TUSAS on the last leg of the visit.

Varank said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Mahathir will discuss issues related to the defense industry later in the day, and that there are many areas of cooperation between Turkey and Malaysia.

Mahathir arrived in Turkey at the invitation of Turkey's president and he will stay in the country until July 27.

Bilateral relations between Turkey and Malaysia will be discussed during the talks, which are expected to begin on Thursday, according to a statement released by Turkey’s Presidential Communications Directorate.

The statement underlined that defense industry relations would be high on the agenda of the meeting between Erdogan and Mahathir.

Regional and international issues of common concern and cooperation opportunities between the two countries will also be discussed during the meeting.

Mahathir is also expected to hold meetings with Turkish business representatives.

PHL Air Force Team Starts Training for 2 Donated Cobra Attack Helicopters

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) team has started their training in Jordan for the donated 2 AH-1S Cobra attack helicopters.

“A team from the Philippine Air Force has started their training in Jordan recently in preparation for the upcoming 2 Bell AH-1S Tzefas Cobra attack helicopters donated by Jordan (which in turn are former Israeli units donated to Jordan in 2014),” MaxDefense Philippines said in a social media post.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) released the Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) for the transfer of AH-1S Cobra Attack helicopters donated by the Kingdom of Jordan on June 3.

The SARO has an amount of PHP 158,204,428.00 “to cover the requirements for the transfer and acceptance of two (2) units AH-1S Cobra Attack Helicopters from the Kingdom of Jordan under the Revised AFP Modernization Program.”

Last year, President Rodrigo Duterte announced that the Kingdom of Jordan is donating 2 Cobra attack helicopters. The attack helicopters are expected to be transferred this year.

ST Engineering Land Systems Unveils Unmanned NGAFV Variant

A screen capture of the unmanned NGAFV performing manoeuvres and a teaming assault on a mock target during a company demonstration for Singapore's defence minister (photo : Sing Mindef)

The Land Systems division of Singapore defence prime ST Engineering has revealed an unmanned ground combat vehicle development based on its 29-tonne tracked Next-Generation Armoured Fighting Vehicle (NGAFV) platform.

The prototype vehicle was unveiled in a July video documenting Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen's visit to ST Engineering Land Systems' facility in western Singapore, which featured the unmanned NGAFV manoeuvring with an armed 4×4 unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) and quadrotor unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

Several visual distinctions between the baseline manned NGAFV- which was earlier commissioned into service on 11 June as the Hunter AFV following a 10-year development programme by the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA), ST Engineering, and the Singapore Army - and the unmanned platform can be clearly seen in the video, including a revised exhaust placement to the rear of the hull as opposed to the front, a GPS/GNSS antenna and positioning and orientation sensor package behind the turret, as well as a light detection and ranging (LIDAR) sensor on either side of the glacis plate.

India to Supply Refurbished ‘Kilo’-Class Submarine to Myanmar

India readies submarine for Myanmar

NEW DELHI: India is set to hand over Myanmar its first ever submarine, with a Kilo class boat likely to be sent across this year after being refitted indigenously.

The INS Sindhuvir will be used by the Myanmar Navy — which is looking at acquiring its own submarine fleet in the coming years — for training purposes.

The Kilo class submarine, bought from Russia in the 1980s, is currently being modernised by the Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL) in Vizag with sources saying that is likely be completed before the end of this year.

Sources have told ET that requisite permissions have been taken from Russia that is the original manufacturer of the submarine and that it will be fitted with indigenous systems to train the Myanmar Navy.

There have been a series of high level exchanges and meetings between the two nations in recent months, with the Myanmar Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services (CDS) Senior General Min Aung Hlaing currently on an official visit to India.

The Indian Defence Ministry has said that that talks with the Senior General were aimed to “enhance defence co-operation, review joint exercises and training provided to Myanmar Defence Services, strengthen maritime security by joint surveillance and capacity building…and developing new infrastructure”.

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Cooperation with Thailand, Ukraine Opens Production Line for BTR-3KSH

"Ukroboronprom" send to Thailand the first BTR-3Ksh vehicle for the licensed assembly in this country. This was announced by the General Director of the Concern Pavlo Bukin.

"We consider this export supply as a marker for deepening our cooperation with Thailand, a strategic partner of Ukraine in Southeast Asia, Ukraine has serious prospects in this direction and should use them in their national interests," said P. Bukin.

According to him, a few years ago a framework agreement was signed with the authorized agency of the Ministry of Defense of Thailand for the production of BTR-3E1, various modifications and machines on its base, as well as for the provision of service in the kingdom.

"The BTR-3Ksh command-and-staff vehicle on the basis of BTR-3 is a joint project of KBTZ, which is part of Ukroboronprom, other Concern companies and private companies, developed by the order of the Royal Thailand Army in cooperation with the Institute of Defense Technologies Insitute (DTI) of the Defense Ministry of Thailand," - the head of the Concern informed.
In his opinion, in the current conditions, expansion of export supplies is the only opportunity to provide innovative development of enterprises Ukroboronprom. "Cooperation with Thailand allowed Ukraine to expand the line of BTR-3 and launch mass production of an entirely new world-class combat vehicle," said the general director.

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Uzbekistan’s first Mi-35M

The first Mi-35M gunship ordered by Uzbekistan has flown. The country is reported to have ordered 12 examples.

Japan considering to buy MQ-8C

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India’s HTT-40 indigenous basic trainer will be ready for production in December

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Arrow 3 interceptor tested in Alaska for US

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Taiwan to conduct operational testing of HF-2E land attack cruise missile

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Patrouille de France Alpha Jet crashes

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Azerbaijani MiG-29 Fighter Crashes Into Caspian Sea, Pilot Missing

Azerbaijan suspends training flights after MiG-29 crash

A MiG-29 fighter belonging to the Azerbaijani Air Force on a routine training flight crashed into the Caspian sea on Wednesday, the defense ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

"On 24 July, at about 22:00, a MiG-29 plane of the Azerbaijani Air Force, which was conducting a training flight, suddenly disappeared from the radar. According to a preliminary version, the plane crashed and fell into the Caspian Sea,” the military announced.

Azerbaijan's Defence Ministry urgent measures were being implemented to find and rescue the pilot. A new commission to probe the incident has also been created by the ministry.

According to a World Military Aircraft Inventory report published in 2014, the country had at least 13 MiG-29s in operational use.

China activates Soar Dragon UAV to monitor USS Antietam’s transit through Taiwan Strait

The Pentagon dispatch the USS Antietam (CG-54) through the Taiwan Strait on Jul. 24. For the first time, China launched a Soar Dragon unmanned air vehicle (UAV) to monitor the warship.

Northrop Grumman selected as design agent for the AN/SPQ-9B

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U.S. agrees to allow Japan “early” access to military aircraft crash sites

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France plans to develop anti-satellite laser weapons

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Indonesia to Add Personnel for KFX/IFX Program

Indonesia is seeking a reduction of its share of expenses in the fighter jet development project with South Korea, as it is running about 300 billion won ($254 million) in arrears.

According to South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration on Monday, Indonesia had paid about 220 billion won of its share of 1.7 trillion won as of Monday. The first deposit was made in 2016. Since paying 132 billion won early this year, there have not been any additional payments from Indonesia, and it is running about 300 billion won in arrears as of July, DAPA said.

While admitting that they have been renegotiating the deal since early this year, the Korean government refused to elaborate on details of their talks.

“Aside from the financial problem, the development of the fighter jets is going smoothly. We do not see that Indonesia will withdraw from the project,” an official from Korea Aerospace Industries, which is participating in the project, told The Korea Herald.

Add 32 more personnel

According to the official, 32 more Indonesian personnel are set to arrive in Korea in August, adding to the current 80 working here.

The Critical Design Review meeting is also expected to take place in September, in which the two sides will review the development of the project. It would then lead to building an actual prototype of the fighter jets, the official said.

The KFX/IFX project is aimed at producing semi-stealth fighter aircraft of generation 4.5. From the program, the two countries will build 168 units, of which 120 will belong to Korea.

The warplanes are expected to be equipped with semi-conformal missile launchers, advanced avionics and air-refueling functions.

The KFX project is South Korea’s second domestic fighter jet development program, first proposed in 2001.

Singapore and Indonesian Navies Celebrate 25th Edition of Exercise Eagle Indopura

The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) and the Indonesian Navy (TNI AL) are conducting the 25th edition of Exercise Eagle Indopura from 18 to 25 July. The exercise is conducted in three phases – the harbour phase in Surabaya, Indonesia; the sea phase in the Java Sea, Karimata Strait and Singapore Strait enroute to Singapore; and culminating in the post-exercise shore phase in Singapore. The RSN deployed a Formidable-class Frigate RSS Steadfast, a Victory-class Missile Corvette RSS Vigour, and an Independence-class Littoral Mission Vessel RSS Justice for the exercise. The TNI AL participated with a Diponegoro-class Frigate KRI Sultan Iskandar Muda, a Fatahillah-class Missile Corvette KRI Fatahillah and a CN-235 Maritime Patrol Aircraft.

RSN Fleet Commander Rear-Admiral (RADM) Aaron Beng and TNI AL Second Fleet Commander RADM Mintoro Yulianto officiated at the opening ceremony of the exercise on 18 July in Surabaya. Speaking at the ceremony, RADM Beng highlighted the continued need for both navies to work together to protect the key maritime trade routes between Singapore and Indonesia. He said, "The RSN and TNI AL have a long and deep history of cooperation. I am certain that we will continue to grow and deepen these bilateral interactions in the years to come. This will enable both our navies to cooperate and tackle future challenges." A commemorative dinner organised by both navies was also held on the same day of the opening ceremony to mark the 25th edition of Exercise Eagle Indopura.

For the sea phase of the exercise, both navies executed a series of advanced anti-surface and anti-air naval warfare serials. They also conducted maritime security drills, where they collaborated to disrupt a simulated terrorist attack on commercial shipping transiting through the Singapore Strait. This was in response to alerts of the simulated terrorist threat via the RSN's Information Fusion Centre Real-time Information-sharing System (IRIS), a web-based system for information sharing and sense-making.

Held since 1974, Exercise Eagle Indopura is the Singapore Armed Forces' longest-running bilateral exercise with a foreign military. The RSN and TNI AL conduct regular professional exchanges, exercises and port calls, and also collaborate through the multilateral Malacca Straits Patrol and other activities including socio-civic programmes. These regular interactions have enhanced the close ties and mutual understanding between the personnel of both navies.

Romualdez: Philippines Eyeing Chinook Helicopters from US

The Philippines is keen on buying new helicopters from the United States, Philippine Ambassador to US Jose Manuel Romualdez said Tuesday.

According to the country's top envoy to US, Washington is offering helicopters aside from the Black Hawk helicopters which the Philippines agreed to buy in December 2018.

"The US is offering the Philippines to buy heavy-lift Chinook helicopters," Romualdez said in a roundtable interview.

“We are buying more equipment but on the high-ticket items. I think you know about the 16 Blackhawk helicopters. And then there are the heavy-lift Chinook helicopters which are being offered to the Philippines,” he said.

Romualdez said if the military purchase will proceed, it will help the Armed Forces of the Philippines in their operations.

“This is very important for our disaster relief and then also in the movement of our soldiers,” the Philippine envoy said.

Romualdez said the Philippine military prefers American-made equipment.

“Our soldiers would prefer obviously American-made, not because they have anything against Russian or Chinese-made, but because interoperability is very important," Romualdez said.

The Philippines agreed to buy 16 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from the Sikorsky Aircraft Corp for P12.67 billion ($240 million), shunning cheaper Russian equipment due to US sanctions on Russian military exports.

US President Donald Trump signed a law last year punishing Russia for its 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, its support for Syria's government and its suspected meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, an accusation the Kremlin has denied.

US allies buying weapons and equipment from Russia, the world's second-largest arms exporter, would also be penalized and could see the transfer of those arms disrupted.

Australian MRH 90 Helos Grounded

The ADF has reportedly grounded its entire fleet of 47 Airbus MRH 90 Taipan helicopters following a recent precautionary landing caused by a tail rotor vibration.

A report in Fairfax Media says a Navy MRH 90 was flying from the LHD HMAS Adelaide off the Queensland coast to Brisbane recently when it experienced the vibration, causing it to make a precautionary return to the ship.

“The aircraft captain aborted the mission and returned to HMAS Adelaide for a precautionary landing,” the report said, quoting a Defence spokesman. “No personnel were injured during the incident.”

The Navy operates six MRH 90s from the ADF’s larger pool, and regularly rotates aircraft back through the pool for periodical maintenance, most of which is conducted by Airbus at Brisbane Airport or a combined Airbus and Army team at Townsville. The aircraft are operated by Navy’s 808SQN at Nowra, and Army’s A and B SQNs of 5 Aviation Regiment (5Avn) at Townsville.

The grounding follows an ABC report last month which revealed Project AIR 9000 Phases 2, 4 and 6 which resulted in the acquisition of the MRH 90 in three batches to initially complement and ultimately replace Army’s S-70A-9 Black Hawk and Navy’s Sea King helicopters, remain on the Government Projects of Concern list.

The MRH 90 was originally scheduled to have been declared fully operational (FOC) in 2014, a milestone which, despite improvements in aircraft availability and sustainment in recent years, is still yet to be formally achieved. As a result, Army has been forced to retain about a dozen Black Hawks for the special operations support role some five years beyond their originally planned retirement.

The grounding will likely have a significant effect on the ADF’s ability to provide airborne assault and logistics support to the multi-national Exercise Talisman Saber currently underway off central Queensland.

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