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  • International Fighter and other Combat Aircraft Sales

    UAE signs up for F-35 in 11th hour of Trump administration: report

    By Greg Waldron

    21 January 2021

    Hours before the swearing in of US President Joe Biden, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has reportedly signed a deal for 50 Lockheed Martin F-35As and 18 General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-9B Reaper unmanned air vehicles (UAVs).

    Reuters, citing unnamed sources, said that Abu Dhabi signed off the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) package deal in the dying hours of Trump administration. It adds that deliveries could start as soon as 2027.

    Source: Lockheed Martin

    Lockheed Martin F-35As

    The UAE has long been interested in the F-35, and in November 2020 the US Department of State cleared a $23.4 billion defence package. It comprised 50 F-35As for $10.4 billion, 18 MQ-9Bs for $2.97 billion, and $10 billion in air-to-air and air-to-ground munitions.

    The incoming Biden administration, however, may not approve of selling the advanced fighter to a tribal monarchy – the first non-democracy cleared to receive the type. The new administration could raise questions about the UAE’s human rights record. It may also have concerns about maintaining Israel’s defence edge in the Middle East, although Israel has given the UAE F-35 deal its tacit approval.

    Cirium fleets data indicates that the two pillars of the UAE combat fleet are 78 Lockheed F-16E/Fs and 59 Dassault Mirage 2000s. In addition, it operates 12 BAE Systems Hawk 100 trainers with a secondary ground-attack role.

    In recent years, the UAE has also looked at the Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, or additional F-16s.

  • #2
    25 JANUARY 2021

    Greece signs for Rafale combat aircraft

    by Gareth Jennings

    Greece and France have finalised a deal for 18 Dassault Rafale combat aircraft for the Hellenic Air Force (HAF), valued at an estimated EUR1.92 billion (USD2.35 billion).

    The HAF is to receive 18 Rafale fighters from France, comprising 12 surplus and six new-build airframes under a deal signed on 25 January. (Dassault)

    Theodoros Lagios, Director General of Armament and Investments of the Greek Ministry of Defence (MoD), and Éric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, signed the contract in Athens on 25 January, cementing the deal that was approved by the Greek parliament in December 2020. A further contract for logistical support was also signed.

    “Greece is a leading European partner, a major member of NATO and a special partner of France, with which Dassault Aviation has stood … by [through earlier combat aircraft sales] for more than 45 years,” Trappier was quoted as saying.

    The 18 Rafales will comprise 12 surplus French Air and Space Force aircraft (10 single seaters and two twin seaters) and six new-build aircraft to be built in France. To meet the urgent need of the Greek authorities, the deliveries of aircraft will begin in the summer of 2021 and will be spread over two years. The additional logistic support contract will support the HAF’s Rafale air activity over four-and-a-half years.

    As previously reported by Janes, another EUR400 million will be used to purchase MBDA Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missiles (BVRAAMs) and to upgrade missiles already in the HAF inventory, namely Mica air-to-air missiles, Scalp cruise missiles, and Exocet anti-ship missiles, for carriage by the Rafales.


    • #3
      29 JANUARY 2021

      Boeing unveils Indian F-15EX and industry plans

      by Jon Grevatt

      Boeing has confirmed that the US government has sanctioned its bid to promote its F-15EX Advanced Eagle combat aircraft to the Indian Air Force (IAF). This bid will be supported by a new industry initiative – announced by Boeing on 28 January – that will seek to develop in India an aerospace hub for Boeing military and commercial aircraft.

      Boeing has confirmed plans to position its F-15EX combat aircraft (pictured) for the Indian Air Force and to develop within the country a new aerospace ‘repair, development and sustainment’ hub. (Boeing)

      A spokesperson for Boeing told Janes on 28 January that the US government “recently approved our licence to market the F-15EX to India”. Earlier, Ankur Kanaglekar, director for India Fighters Lead at Boeing Defense, Space & Security, was reported by Reuters as saying that discussions about the F-15EX had taken place between the governments of India and the United States.

      Kanaglekar said that the F-15EX marketing licence “allows us to talk to the Indian Air Force directly about the capability of the fighter”. He added that Boeing had “started [discussions] in a small way” and that talks were expected to continue at the Aero India show in Bangalore, which commences on 3 February.

      At a pre-show press conference in New Delhi, the corporation also unveiled plans to launch in India an aerospace project dubbed the Boeing India Repair Development and Sustainment (BIRDS) hub initiative. Boeing said that the BIRDS initiative “envisions a competitive MRO [maintenance, repair and overhaul] ecosystem for engineering, maintenance, skilling, repair and sustainment services of defence and commercial aircraft in India”. It added that the project is part of its “commitment to supporting and strengthening indigenous aerospace and defence capabilities in the country”.


      • #4
        Finland requests final offers for HX fighter deal

        By Craig Hoyle30 January 2021

        Finland has asked all five bidders involved in its HX fighter contest to submit best and final offers by 30 April, ahead of a type selection decision at “the end of 2021”.

        “The request for best and final offer and the expected binding offers from the tenderers is the final phase of tendering in the HX fighter programme,” the Finnish Defence Forces Logistics Command says.

        Source: Jason Wells/Shutterstock
        Helsinki is seeking replacements for its current F/A-18C/D fighters

        Models in contention for the deal are the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin F-35A, and Saab Gripen E/F.

        “With the request for best and final offer, each tenderer is requested to compile the information provided in the previous tenders and negotiations into a final and binding package,” it adds.

        The Finnish parliament has already approved €9.4 billion ($11.4 billion) in funding to acquire replacements for the nation’s current F/A-18C/Ds.

        “The HX options of each tenderer differ as to the costs of introduction into service, construction needs and integration into the defence system,” the logistics command says. “This is why each tenderer will be given a tenderer-specific price limit, and, in addition, a similar option will be included for each tenderer for later purchases and contractual changes. Therefore, the price ceiling set for each tenderer is about €9 billion.”

        Helsinki says it is using four criteria to judge the candidates: military capability; security of supply; industrial participation; and costs. “Security and defence policy implications will be assessed separately outside of the actual tendering process,” it adds.

        Bids which pass an assessment process following the submission deadline will undergo a final capability assessment, “taking into account the packages offered and the capability values verified on the basis of testing events”. There will also be a “long-term war game to determine the operational efficiency of each candidate’s HX system”.

        A type selection will be forwarded for government approval before year-end, with the new model due to enter service from 2025.


        • #5
          Nothing like the F-15s IAF Su30s slaughtered relentlessly for 3 days at COPE India in 2004 ...



          • #6
            Originally posted by magnify View Post
            Nothing like the F-15s IAF Su30s slaughtered relentlessly for 3 days at COPE India in 2004 ...

            Always thought the Indian boasting about this “exercise” was absolutely hilarious and shows how small minded they really are.

            Their Phalcon AWACS supported SU-30’s which outnumbered the USAF aircraft 3 to 1 proved more than a match for the non-AESA, Non-AMRAAM, non-E-3 supported aircraft...

            Well, golly gosh... What a massive surprise...

            I note with heavy irony, the IAF has very little interest in pitting it’s SU-30’s against AESA and AMRAAM equipped F-15’s, fully supported by E-3’s and in equal numbers, for some “strange” reason...


            • #7
              They needed to share! 😆

              They did demonstrate a professional air force that could do well against a lower capability with competence, can't really blame them for capitalizing on it for the neighbor;s sake. Su30s are a decent fighter. Like USAF says, a big eye-opener what can happen. F-35A covers the gap all by itself, decentralized away from that vulnerability. Important to digest that and produce a better system and they have, and it's not even the top-cover fighter.

              Always thought USAF A2A tactics, as much as they're known, are lazy and unimaginative. Puzzled me for years why they gave so little consideration to using smarter tactics. It was the text book move, they got easy results with it. I've heard podcasts by really experienced A2A instructors and topgun aggressors, and they do seem to push tactics and predictive comprehension of the next three moves, implied in the current move you see, etc. They say it becomes a piece of cake to see a maneuver mistake and kill with that knowledge. But most of that seems to focus on short range ACM. Not allowed to talk about more. But even that proficiency took thousands of hours flying ACM almost every day. With the quality and number of full-mission simulators and affordable PC-level version of same pilots and sqns should be able to get better at ad-hoc tactic adaptation faster, and train with AWACs shot down, network jammed, GPS-denied, failed nav system, etc., see what happens in a fight. With VLO and enough speed, altitude and range performance a flight can just leave if those things happen, and go look for a protected tanker which is also a network relay. Better than pushing on to get slaughtered, and lose the aircraft and pilots. In COPE India 2004 that wasn't an option to a shotdown AWAC. But in combat that would be an option most of the time.

              IIRC RAAF classics at the last Pitch Black got 73 kills for 0 losses against newer types, but had the home field advantages and system integration to do that. But that's the point, test it against some of the best, see how it works. But even the old classics could flog Chinese fighters coming into range. Pretty damned good, not sure what data and integration the other fighters had though. But we need to take that capability all the way into China and defeat them at that radius.

              On a positive note the Indians are committing to Western / NATO data integration in a big way with Rafale and F-15EX, which will be a big plus for ADF and deterrence. I'd love to see India get the F-35A before 2030, they need it, and we need them to get it to work much closer with them and Japan in the 2030s.


              • #8
                That exercise though, the USAF were simulating others’ tactics, not their own. Hence the no-AMRAAM, no-AESA, no E-3. So the utility of that exercise in assessing USAF capability is absolutely pointless. It showed that the IAF, given exactly the circumstances they wanted, could “dominate” when they held a technological and numerical advantage of 3 to 1...

                Whoop, de do...

                As seen in relatively recent events, they are not particularly keen on going up against others on a relatively even technological basis (ie: PAF Block 52, F-16’s). Now who can blame them? But touting such a lopsided exercise is absolutely futile, when real world events are showing their capability for what it really is. Average verging on poor...

                If they had to go up against AESA and AMRAAM equipped F-15’s, with E-3 support and using USAF tactics, I don’t know if even a 3-1 numerical advantage would suffice for them...


                • #9
                  Agree with the F-35A for the Indians (AND possibly the F-35B and/or C for the navy), the Japanese are well advanced with F-35.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Bug2 View Post
                    Agree with the F-35A for the Indians (AND possibly the F-35B and/or C for the navy), the Japanese are well advanced with F-35.
                    Indian Navy, yes but I think IAF would be better off focussing on Rafale and looking forward to a genuine 5th Gen replacement for SU-30 and I’m not sure they could afford to buy F-35 in the numbers needed to do that (~300 or so) nor would that be politically acceptable in India I’d suggest...

                    Not sure if it would be politically possible, but potentially linking up with Japan on their nascent 5th Gen project may be viable, possibly with some Israeli tech added in...


                    • #11
                      It would be interesting to see the IAF take part in a Pitch Black in a couple of years, as the host Australia would set the mission parameters and the IAF could try their 3 to 1 or 4 to 1 odds against RAAF F-35s, backed up by Wedgetails.

                      That might not deliver the results the IAF would like though. OTOH they will end up facing 5th gen fighters on the Chinese border so they should start learning what they can do and how to respond.
                      It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
                      It is by the juice of sapho that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, the stains become a warning.
                      It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.


                      • #12
                        I'd get F-35A before F-35B. They can get by without F-35B for 10 to 15 years, but they'll get mobbed with only Rafale. They need F-35A data, network and integration options, much more useful than Rafale. Not saying they're crap, just not the sure-thing they need.


                        • #13
                          Most certainly F-35A is the priority, they just NEED to break the psycholgical barrier of paying for, and buying, US Fighters.............and living with the phallacy of TEJAS is NOT helping any, irrespective of the numbers needed...............


                          • #14
                            UAE confident that F-35 sale will go through after Biden review: Ambassador

                            Reuters, Dubai Tuesday 02 February 2021

                            The United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to Washington said he was confident the sale of F-35 jets to his country would go through after a review by President Joe Biden’s administration of some pending arms sales to US allies. The UAE had during Donald Trump’s last day in office signed agreements to buy up to 50 F-35 jets, 18 armed drones and other defense equipment in a deal worth $23 billion. “We did everything by the book and they will discover that once the review is complete and it will proceed,” Ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba told a virtual Washington Institute forum on Monday, describing the review as “pro forma”.

                            Last month, a US State Department official said Biden’s administration was temporarily pausing the implementation of some pending arms sales to US allies to review them. “Everything is still proceeding while undergoing a review at the same time. I am confident it will end up in the right place,” Otaiba said. “If you are going to have less of a presence and less involvement in the Middle East you can’t at the same time take tools away from your partners who are expected to do more,” he said.
                            Than what? Defend themselves? They're not Allies, they're customers. It's the US that has been providing them cover and support, not the other way around. Biden should can this deal, it never should have been offered. And they have good enough jets and weapons to fight and win against Iran already.


                            • #15
                              I really have no idea WHY the UAE has ordered so many top-line 4th Gen Fighters, and now wants F-35' in the Hell are they piloting the planes they currently have never mind the ones still to be delivered? I'd have thought it hugely unlikely to be from National pilot sources, they just plain don't have the Training resources to provide the aircrew they need? Do they a massive contract pilot force? OR are they just being used as a Warehouse just-in-case? All a big puzzle to me..........


                              • #16
                                Historically Pakistan has been a major source of pilots IIRC. They use a lot of foreign nationals.


                                • #17
                                  The Pakistani's tended to be in Saudi Arabia when I had dealings in the Middle East, as was their National Guard, usually Officers from the Ruling Tribe and Foot Soldiers from Pakistan, but you may be right?


                                  • #18
                                    Think they might defect?


                                    • #19
                                      There is always a possibility, but a lot of the Gulf States are NOT Pakistani-friendly, view them as "heathens" lacking in culture and education, a bit sad when you consider half of the Gulf is supported by Pakistani labor, technicians and scientists.


                                      • #20
                                        Racism is not, despite what many western universities Humanities departments will tell you, an exclusively white or western problem.
                                        It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
                                        It is by the juice of sapho that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, the stains become a warning.
                                        It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.


                                        • magnify
                                          magnify commented
                                          Editing a comment
                                          It is in Western Universities. 😉

                                      • #21
                                        Martin-Baker Mk18 seat offered for Indian F-21 bid

                                        By Atul Chandra

                                        4 February 2021

                                        Lockheed Martin will offer the Martin-Baker Mk18 ejection seat as a candidate for the F-21, in an effort to deliver a more competitive proposal for an Indian air force requirement for 114 fighters.

                                        If confirmed, the IN18E seat would replace the Collins Aerospace ACES II from the original F-16 – Lockheed has rebranded the fighter as the ‘F-21’ for the Indian bid.

                                        Source: Lockheed Martin
                                        Lockheed has rebranded the F-16 as the ‘F-21’ in India’s competition for for 114 fighters

                                        The IN18E seat features new technology to meet the latest aircrew physiological requirements. Specifically, it enables safe ejection for pilots wearing helmet-mounted displays.

                                        With over 1,000 seats in service on eight aircraft types, the UK company is also in discussions with India’s Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) for IN16G seats for the Hindustan Aeronautics Tejas Mk-2.

                                        Martin-Baker also proposes its Mk16 or Mk18 seats for the AMCA (Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft) and TEDBF (Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter), which are being developed by the ADA.

                                        The company will deliver 93 IN16G seats (to equip 73 single seaters and 10 twin-seaters) for the Tejas Mk-1A programme. It is awaiting a formal contract, though it has been in discussions to ensure that deliveries begin within a year of contract signature, says Steve Roberts, head of business development at Martin-Baker.

                                        Martin-Baker is in the process of completing an order for 51 IN16G seats for Tejas Mk-1 fighters, with 38 seats delivered and the remaining 13 to be delivered by the end of 2021.

                                        It has also set up a facility in Chakan, near Pune, with the Indian firm Right Choice Aviation, to provide depot support for BAE Systems Hawk ejection seats with the Indian navy. This facility was opened in February 2020 and awaits the first contract for ejection seat depot maintenance.


                                        • #22
                                          And the Winner is…?

                                          By David Oliver

                                          February 17, 2021

                                          The aircraft selected to replace the Finnish Air Force F/A-18C/D will have to operate in the country’s harsh Arctic climate.

                                          Decisions by Canada, Finland and Switzerland over which new fighter they will select to replace their existing F/A-18s are eagerly anticipated in 2021.

                                          The current worldwide COVID-19 pandemic will inevitably impact national defence budgets but some of the largest procurement programmes have so far been ring-fenced. These include billion dollar contracts for new multirole fighter aircraft for Canada, Finland and Switzerland to replace their respective McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) F/A-18 Hornet fleets.

                                          Canadian Confusion

                                          In July 2010, Canada’s Conservative government announced that it intended to procure 65 Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft to replace the Royal Canadian Air Force’s (RCAF) existing 80 CF-18A/B Hornets for $7 billion with deliveries planned for 2020. With this announcement, Canada became an F-35 component supplier but after years of technical problems, and missed deadlines, and a new government, Canada became the first nation to cancel their order and purchase of 18 F/A-18E Super Hornets as an interim solution instead.

                                          The Canadian government then cancelled the $5.23 billion Super Hornet purchase in 2017, in apparent retaliation for Boeing’s trade-violation complaint that led the US Commerce Department to investigate sales of Bombardier C-Series passenger jets to Delta Air Lines.

                                          In December 2017 Canada launched a new competition for 88 new fighter aircraft worth an estimated $15 billion under its Future Fighter Capability Project (FFCP) programme. In the meantime, the government announced that it was spending an estimated $3 billion to extend the lives of the CF-188 fleet and buy 18 former Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) F/A-18A/B aircraft that will fly with the RCAF until the last of the new fighters arrives in 2032.

                                          Canada is coming to the end of its protracted programme to replace the RCAF’s ageing fleet of CF-18A/B Hornet fighters.

                                          Initially five government-backed teams announced their intention to enter the FFCP programme but in November 2018 Dassault Aviation informed the Canadian government that it was withdrawing the Rafale from the FFCP competition. Having reviewed the draft Request for Proposal (RfP) and the Canadian requirements for intelligence data sharing and interoperability, particularly with US forces, Dassault stated that they would be difficult to meet. In September 2019 the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Airbus notified Canada of their decision for the Eurofighter Typhoon not to participate in the competition to replace the CF-18. The announcement cited requirements to integrate the aircraft into the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and technology transfers as barriers to a successful bid.

                                          The three remaining teams vying to win the FFCP contract comprise Saab, partnered with Diehl Defence, MBDA UK and Rafael, offering the JAS 39E/F Gripen, Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney proposing the F-35A, and Boeing, with Peraton Canada, CAE, L3 Technologies, GE Canada and Raytheon Canada offering the Block III F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. All the bidders are supported by their respective governments.

                                          The Lockheed Martin team have highlighted the fact that Canadian federal government was the first nation to sign on to the US JSF partnership and to date more than 110 Canadian companies have contributed to the development and the production of the F-35 resulting in some $2 billion in contracts. However, under the current rules of the JSF partnership agreement with Canada, Lockheed Martin cannot offer traditional industrial and technological benefits to Canadian industry as an incentive to select the F-35A.

                                          Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the deadline for bids was extended to 31 July 2020. In September 2020 Saab and the Consortium for Research and Innovation in Aerospace in Quebec (CRIAQ) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). This collaboration has been formed to support Saab’s future Industrial and Technological Benefit (ITB) commitments, if the Gripen fighter is selected for Canada’s Future Fighter Capability Project (FFCP).

                                          An initial evaluation is to be completed by spring 2021 with a contract award expected sometime in 2022 to allow deliveries to begin in 2025.

                                          Finland’s Decision

                                          In 2021, the Finnish Defence Force will select a new fighter to replace its fleet of F/A-18C/D Hornet fleet aircraft as part of its HX programme launched in October 2015. Boeing’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler, Dassault’s Rafale, Eurofighter’s Typhoon, Lockheed Martin’s F-35A Lightning II and Saab’s Gripen JAS 39E/F Gripen are competing for the 64 aircraft contract. On 31 January 2019, Saab submitted a revised offer in response to the revised Request for Quotation (RfQ) for the Finnish HX programme which has a cost limit of $12 billion. In addition to 52 Gripen E and 12 Gripen F fighter aircraft, Saab offered to include two GlobalEye AEW&C aircraft.

                                          The HX Fighter Programme is critical for Finland’s defence capability and determines the Air Force’s entire combat capability into the 2060s. Finland needs fighters to safeguard the integrity of its airspace and provide support for the the Army and the Navy. New fighters may also be used for engagement of stand-off targets and complement reconnaissance, surveillance and C2 in the Defence Forces.

                                          The HX Challenge was carried out at Pirkkala Air Base in central Finland in January 2020 with tests performed under Finnish winter conditions, in order to verify data previously supplied by the fighter manufacturers. During the two weeks of testing, the fighter candidates also participated in simulated exercises to display their capability in operating in battle scenarios as part of Finland’s defence systems.

                                          A Finish Air Force Hornet with the two-seat Saab Gripen NF and a Gripen E that took part in the HX Challenge trials.

                                          A total of 40 mission were flown over two weeks to test aircraft performance, sensors at range, as well as their resolution and ability to maintain tracking while targets used manoeuvring or employed countermeasures. They also determined the workload and speed associated with preparing the weapon system to attack a ground target, and in the case of a long-range attack with standoff weapons, if the aircraft can be provided with more specific target data by a datalink. The flights were also used to measure the each of the fighter’s capability to identify and locate electronic signals and produce situational awareness of the target area.

                                          Two Eurofighter aircraft, a two-seat Typhoon TMk3 and a single-seat FGR Mk4 from the Royal Air Force’s (RAF) No. 41 Test and Evaluation Squadron, were the first to take part in the trials. They were followed by a French Air Force two-seat Rafale B F3R from EC 2/4 La Fayette and a Joint-DGA and Dassault Rafale B testbed. From Saab the two-seat Gripen NF demonstrator and a Gripen E trials aircraft equipped with Iris-T, Meteor air-to-air missiles, and the Electronic Attack Jammer Pod flew the trials, while a GlobalEye took part in a separate trials in the south of Finland. Lockheed Martin’s two USAF F-35As from the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke AFB in Arizona and two Super Hornets, a US Navy F/A-18E, an F/A-18F and an EA-18G Growler completed the contending trials aircraft.

                                          The only USAF F-35A Lightning II that completed the HX Challenge trials escorted by Finnish Air Force F/A-18C.

                                          However, Finnish Ministry of Defence Programme director Lauri Puranen noted one of the F-35As could not complete the missions due to a technical problem although the other teams complete them all.

                                          In September 2020 BAE Systems and Leonardo were awarded a contract to develop the Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA), the European Common Radar System Mark 2 (ECRS Mk2) radar and MBDA’s SPEAR medium-to-long-range strike weapon for RAF Typhoons, both of which will be included in its HX offer.

                                          In October the US State Department approved the sale of the F-35A JSF and F/A-18EF Super Hornet to Finland, paving the way for the nation to purchase American jets should either Boeing or Lockheed Martin win the competition. The approved sales of both types would include air-to-air missiles and air-to-ground precision guided munitions and related equipment.

                                          Lockheed Martin offer drew attention to the fact that neighbouring Norway’s F-35As have been successfully operating in the country’s harsh North Atlantic and Arctic climate. Norway declared Initial Operating Capability (IOC) for its F-35A fleet in October 2019 after which the aircraft launched their first NATO peacetime mission safeguarding Icelandic airspace out of the Keflavik Air Base.

                                          Boeing had stressed the fact that there would be 60 percent commonality of production and ground support between the Hornet and the Super Hornet with co-production offered to Patria which assembled the F/A-18C aircraft in Finland. The US manufacturer also drew attention to the potential reduction conversion training for air and ground crews between new and old F/A-18s.

                                          The competing manufacturers responded to a revised RfQ with a Best And Final Offer (BAFO) by the end of January 2021. A decision is planned for later this year with the winning type set to achieve IOC in 2027, and FOC in 2030.

                                          Two Dassault Rafale B aircraft, seen here at Turku Air Base in Finland, took part in the HX Challenge trials.

                                          Swiss Temptations

                                          With the backing of a national referendum, held in September 2019 Switzerland is proceeding with the procurement of 40 new fighter aircraft to replace its fleets of F/A-18C/D Hornet and Northrop F-5E aircraft between 2025 and 2030 as part of its Air2030 programme worth $7.2 billion.

                                          The approval followed in-country evaluation of the Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Boeing F-18E/F Super Hornet, and Lockheed Martin F-35A Lighting II combat aircraft at Payerne Air Base at the end of 2019.

                                          Rafale, Eurofighter, Super Hornet, and Lighting II are competing to win a contract to replace Swiss Air Force’s F/A-18C/Ds.

                                          Seven years ago the Swiss electorate rejected a $3.27 billion order for 22 Saab JAS 39 Gripens. Although the Swiss defence procurement agency Armasuisse had invited Saab to submit a proposal for the JAS 39E Gripen E to be chosen as the Swiss Air Force’s next fighter jet in January 2019, the aircraft was not evaluated during flight trials, as the Swiss stipulation was that the selected type had to be operationally ready at the time of testing. The Swiss decision not to flight-test the Gripen removed it from the competition.

                                          In November 2020 Airbus and the Federal Republic of Germany submitted their official offer to the Armasuisse for the sale of Eurofighter aircraft to Switzerland. The offer has been prepared in cooperation with the other Eurofighter nations as well as the industrial partners Leonardo and BAE Systems.

                                          With the acquisition of the Eurofighter, the German government is offering Switzerland the opportunity to deepen its existing military partnership, particularly with regard to the joint training of the two air forces. With the Eurofighter, Switzerland will gain full autonomy in the use, maintenance and application of the data from its aircraft. Its offer was boosted by neighbouring Germany’s contract for 38 Tranche-4 Eurofighters for the Luftwaffe.

                                          The US government and Lockheed Martin submitted a proposal to the Swiss government offering up to 40 F-35A aircraft and a sustainment and training programme. If successful, Lockheed said, Swiss industry would have the opportunity to compete for direct production of F-35 components as well as sustainment projects to support the Swiss Air Force and Swiss autonomy, as well as cybersecurity projects related to the F-35. The option would permit the assembly of four aircraft in Switzerland to help the Swiss Air Force and industry partners learn how to maintain the aircraft.

                                          As with the Canadian and Finnish competitions, Boeing is relying on the Swiss Air Force’s experience of operating its fleet of F/A-18 Hornets over the past 25 years which were also assembled in Switzerland, to influence its choice to select the latest Block III Super Hornet, 30 of which have been selected for Germany’s Luftwaffe.

                                          Although Dassault has won recent export orders for the Rafale including contracts from India, Qatar, Egypt and Greece, the French fighter is considered by some as an outsider for the winning the Air2030 bid. All four manufacturers are also offering Switzerland extensive offset agreements, allowing Swiss companies significant work on the project.

                                          In May 2020, Switzerland took the decision to extend the deadline for responses from industry from August to November due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The announcement of the extended deadline came four months after Switzerland’s Armasuisse defence procurement agency issued a second RfP for its Air2030 requirement built on data already gathered from tests and evaluations of the candidate fighter aircraft in 2019.

                                          Delivery of the first new combat aircraft is scheduled for 2025, with the procurement of 30–40 aircraft, depending on the type, to be completed by 2030.

                                          With almost $35 billion’s worth of contract at stake, it is all to play for by the rival manufacturers which, for some, will determine the production life of their aircraft while for others it will confirm which will become the dominant multirole fighter of the 21st century.


                                          • #23
                                            Seriously, the more we see of the F-35 and its capabilities, the only reason to buy Rafael, Rhino or Eurofighter is to save money. If you are serious about your air combat capability its not really a contest.

                                            As for Gripen, you might as well buy the latest model F-16s and get a better aircraft right out of the box.
                                            It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
                                            It is by the juice of sapho that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, the stains become a warning.
                                            It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.


                                            • #24
                                              Originally posted by unicorn11 View Post
                                              Seriously, the more we see of the F-35 and its capabilities, the only reason to buy Rafael, Rhino or Eurofighter is to save money. If you are serious about your air combat capability its not really a contest.

                                              As for Gripen, you might as well buy the latest model F-16s and get a better aircraft right out of the box.
                                              Neither Rafale, Gripen E or Eurofighter are cheaper than the F-35A, and the Rhino is about on par...

                                              If we are talking pure capability and price, F-35 wins hands down.


                                              • #25
                                                Then it really comes down to politics.
                                                It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
                                                It is by the juice of sapho that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, the stains become a warning.
                                                It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.


                                                • #26
                                                  Closer operational ties key to Finnish fighter bid, Sweden says

                                                  By Craig Hoyle

                                                  17 February 2021

                                                  Saab’s proposed Gripen E/F and GlobalEye package for Finland will help Helsinki transform its air-defence capabilities and drive even closer defence links with its Nordic neighbour, Swedish officials have said.

                                                  “The defence cooperation between Sweden and Finland is now more ambitious and more extensive than ever… including [at the] political, strategic, operational and tactical level,” says Swedish defence minister Peter Hultqvist. “The interoperability between our armed forces is improving day by day. It is clear that we act together, [and] the current acquisition of new fighter aircraft under the HX programme creates far-reaching opportunities for further cooperation and integration.”

                                                  Source: Saab
                                                  Helsinki is being offered a mixed package of Gripen fighters and GlobalEye surveillance aircraft

                                                  Speaking during a media presentation on 16 February, Hultqvist said a selection of the Saab package will strengthen what he describes as “a historical new normal in our relationship”.

                                                  “Geographic and military strategic realities underscore the need for continued and deeper cooperation,” he says. “Enabling joint actions in case of crisis when there is a threat of war, or a war, is an important goal. Air defence is a vital part of this.”

                                                  Hultqvist also points to Stockholm’s recently approved defence bill for the 2021-2025 period, which includes a proposed 40% increase in overall spending. Identified requirements include acquiring replacements for the Swedish air force’s current two Saab 340 airborne early warning and control system aircraft, and he identifies this need as offering a direct link to the Finnish contest.

                                                  “If Finland decides to procure Gripen and GlobalEye, it opens up for a harmonised acquisition and common further development between our countries,” he says. “We haven’t made any formal decision to procure GlobalEye, but that is how it should be interpreted,” Hultqvist adds, noting: “[it] is a Swedish product, very well developed and world-class.”

                                                  Brigadier General Anders Persson, deputy commander of the Swedish air force, points to existing operational synergies with the service’s Finnish counterpart.

                                                  “The Gripen is designed for our common environment, our common enemy and with our people in focus,” he says. “We have the same threat situation, we have chosen the same tactics, with dispersed basing and conscript [support] services. Working that together could be the force multiplier that is needed to be able to meet an enemy who has more aircraft than we have – we need to be smarter, together.”

                                                  Persson says that by operating the same fighter type, the nations would also benefit from pooled spares, common logistics and harmonised training.

                                                  “More or less we will be together as one air force; a common customer when we meet Saab in discussions for our future development,” he says. “And we will together be the biggest [Gripen] customer, instead of being one of the smaller customers with a bigger manufacturer.”

                                                  Magnus Skogberg, Saab’s Gripen campaign director for Finland, says agreements have already been reached with nine companies in the country, and that 20 will be involved in direct industrial participation across more than 50 projects.

                                                  To include Insta and Patria, such work would involve parts production and potentially local assembly of aircraft and engines. This would support the development of in-country MRO knowledge, and “strengthen the Finnish defence industrial base”, he adds.

                                                  “When we work with industry in another country we are not talking about support, repair and overhaul only,” says Saab chief executive Micael Johansson. “We are talking about knowledge transfer, technology transfer and working together upgrading the system. There are no black boxes – we will be completely open with the information that we transfer.”

                                                  Finland has requested that bidders for its €9.4 billion ($11.4 billion) HX requirement submit best and final offers by 30 April, ahead of a selection decision late this year. Helsinki is also assessing the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon and Lockheed Martin F-35A as potential replacements for its current F/A-18C/Ds.

                                                  The new type should be introduced to service from 2025.

                                                  Sweden has ordered 60 Gripen Es, and also plans to continue operations with around 40 of its current C/D-model examples until 2035.


                                                  • ADMk2
                                                    ADMk2 commented
                                                    Editing a comment
                                                    Yeah but if Finland buys the Gripen E, it will be hardly advancing it’s capabilities compared to it’s existing Hornet C/D fleet... Put an AESA radar on that legacy Hornet and update it’s EWSP, and you have a better and vastly cheaper fighter already in-service...

                                                • #27
                                                  Swedish defense leaders push Saab’s Gripen offer for Finland

                                                  By: Sebastian Sprenger   6 hours ago
                                                  A Swedish Gripen jet lands at Rovaniemi airport during joint exercises between the Finnish and Swedish air forces over the Arctic Circle on March 25, 2019. (Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP via Getty Images)

                                                  COLOGNE, Germany — Top Swedish defense officials have thrown their weight behind Saab’s bid for the multibillion-dollar HX fighter competition in Finland, arguing the Gripen aircraft would enable unprecedented cooperation between the two countries in thwarting a hypothetical attack by Russia.

                                                  The Finnish race is one of two big-ticket aircraft competitions in Europe — Switzerland being the other — where major vendors from both sides of the Atlantic are jockeying for position. Finland has requested final offers by the end of April from Airbus for the Eurofighter; Dassault for the Rafale; Boeing for the Super Hornet; Lockheed Martin for the F-35; and Saab for the Gripen E/F.

                                                  Helsinki has budgeted roughly $12 billion for the program.

                                                  Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist said the aircraft competition comes during a “deteriorating security situation” around the Baltic Sea, which he blamed on Russian military flexing. He framed greater defense cooperation among the Scandinavian countries as a prerequisite for standing up to Moscow’s “aggressive moves.”

                                                  “Air defense is a vital part of this,” Hultqvist said during an online press conference on Feb. 16.

                                                  Brig. Gen. Anders Persson, the Swedish deputy chief of the Air Force, zeroed in on Sweden and Finland as potential points of incursion for Russian forces. Adversarial airplanes could enter their airspace in large numbers, benefitting from the countries’ long northeast orientation, he said.

                                                  In such a case, the more exposed Finnish air fleet could fall back west on bases in neighboring Sweden, a feat that would be more easily accomplished if both countries had the Gripen, Persson argued.

                                                  “We’ll be like one air force with two commanders,” he said.

                                                  Saab CEO Micael Johansson dangled the prospect of enhanced industrial cooperation with Finnish companies, especially because the customer would get a role in developing new features on the Gripen.

                                                  “This aircraft has an architecture that makes it upgradeable in a very short time,” he said.

                                                  Johansson also praised the capabilities of another aircraft: the GlobalEye early-warning and spy plane, which Saab is offering to Finland for the country’s military modernization program. The aircraft’s sensors would essentially nullify stealth features of attacking aircraft, he claimed.

                                                  Warplane makers have been pulling out all the stops, often with help from their respective governments, to advertise their aircraft in the Finnish and Swiss competitions. Saab’s Gripen offer was eliminated from the Swiss race in 2019 because the “E” version of the plane wasn’t fully ready for the Swiss government’s flight demonstration regime at the time.

                                                  However, Saab is still banking on international expansion led by a sale of the Gripen to Brazil, Johansson said.

                                                  Norway, the westernmost neighbor on the Scandinavian peninsula, is upgrading its Air Force with F-35s.


                                                  • #28
                                                    UK details Eurofighter pitch for Finland, with ‘no financial surprises’

                                                    By Craig Hoyle

                                                    1 April 2021

                                                    The UK-led Typhoon proposal being prepared for Finland’s HX contest pledges to add the nation to the Eurofighter industry consortium, while offering in-country final assembly, engine production and sovereign control over mission data.

                                                    Speaking during a 31 March media briefing outlining the campaign’s key points, UK minister for defence procurement Jeremy Quin said the four-nation Eurofighter group discussed Helsinki’s potential inclusion during a meeting earlier in the month.

                                                    Source: BAE Systems
                                                    The UK is heading the Eurofighter consortium’s Typhoon offer to Helsinki

                                                    “My counterparts from Germany, Italy and Spain would like you on board as well,” Quin says. “We discussed the prospect that Finland could soon join us, and how to ensure Finland is part of decision making within the partnership.

                                                    “We agree that they [Finnish companies] add a clear value-enhancing path to build capability and grow our technological edge,” he adds.

                                                    Andrea Thompson, BAE Systems’ managing director Europe and international, says the Eurofighter proposal includes more than 70 work packages, which would be established with over 100 Finnish companies. Final assembly will also be offered when the UK delivers its response to Helsinki’s request for best and final offers, which are due to be submitted on 30 April.

                                                    Alex Zino, Rolls-Royce’s director business development and future programmes and chairman of the Eurojet engine consortium, says the latter will transfer to Finnish industry the majority of production work on the EJ200 turbofans for the nation’s aircraft. Also including in-service support services, such an arrangement would result in 1.5 million hours of work over a 40-year period, “and help to ensure security of supply”, he adds.

                                                    “As part of our offer, Finnish defence personnel and strategic industry partners will be given the sovereign capability and skills as well as operational knowledge on the engine in order to lead on all activities, where Eurojet will become a supplier to Finland,” Zino says.

                                                    Finland is the first potential Eurofighter customer outside of the core nations to be offered such work, he notes.

                                                    Also linked to the proposal, Helsinki was last November offered involvement in the Leonardo UK-led ECRS 2 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar programme in the event of a Typhoon selection. The UK Ministry of Defence last September placed an initial £317 million ($437 million) contract to complete development work, perform testing and produce the updated sensor for part of the RAF’s fleet.

                                                    “Finland gets what the Royal Air Force gets,” chief of the air staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston says with reference to the AESA product, which will also gain electronic warfare functionality. “Finland will have complete sovereign control of Eurofighter’s mission data, its management and manipulation,” he adds.

                                                    Wigston also points to the Typhoon’s proven operational pedigree, mature support arrangements and clear future development path. “If Finland selects Eurofighter, it will receive a highly reliable, highly capable, combat-proven aircraft, with no nasty financial surprises just around the corner,” he says.

                                                    Other candidates for the HX requirement are the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler, Dassault Rafale, Lockheed Martin F-35A, and Saab Gripen E/F and GlobalEye surveillance aircraft.

                                                    Helsinki is looking for a new platform to replace its F/A-18C/Ds from 2025, with a selection decision expected later this year.


                                                    • ADMk2
                                                      ADMk2 commented
                                                      Editing a comment
                                                      What Finland will get, is an export controlled version of that radar, just like the MEA countries signing up for Typhoon are getting.
                                                      These Euro-countries like to talk up being ‘free’ from US controlled strings with fighter purchases, what they don’t like admitting is that they put the same controls on their own products, just with poorer support, less reliability of supply and and infinitely less capable weapons suite and inventory on which to draw in times of war...

                                                      Do these countries not wonder why even France still integrates Paveway II / III bombs on it’s Rafales when it has the “wondrous” AASM and all it’s varied capabilities?

                                                      Because they have a literal handful of them, while the US literally has hundreds of thousands of LGB’s in stock, maybe millions, that’s why...

                                                  • #29
                                                    Saab includes 64 Gripens and GlobalEye pair in best and final offer for Finnish HX contest

                                                    By Dominic Perry

                                                    30 April 2021

                                                    Saab is offering 64 Gripen E fighters, a pair of GlobalEye surveillance jets, and an extensive weapons package to Finland as its best and final offer for the nation’s HX Boeing F-18 replacement contest.

                                                    Detailing the proposal on a media webcast on 30 April, Saab chief executive Micael Johansson said he was “extremely proud” to submit his company’s offer to the Finnish defence forces.

                                                    Source: Jamie Hunter
                                                    Saab has offered 64 Gripen E to Finland

                                                    In addition to the hardware, Johansson says Finland’s aerospace and defence industries will benefit hugely from participation in Gripen production and sustainment.

                                                    This includes in-country final assembly of an undisclosed number of the fighters and their GE Aviation F414G engines, plus aerostructures manufacturing and sustainment activities. In addition, Saab intends to create a Finnish “systems centre” to enable rapid capability updates to both platforms.

                                                    “It would be fantastic to have two production capabilities on both sides of the Baltic Sea,” says Johansson, which would better allow Saab to address continued sales interest in the Gripen E.

                                                    Saab is staying coy on the final number of aircraft to be built in Finland, but notes that to have all 64 locally assembled would “have an impact on delivery schedules” and would have required two Finnish production lines which “would not have been economically feasible”, says Saab’s HX campaign director Magnus Skoberg.

                                                    While it would be “most cost-effective” to produce all the jets at its Linkoping site in Sweden, Skoberg says this would not create the required capabilities to allow the aircraft to be supported locally.

                                                    “You need to remember this is not at all purely a question on economy of scale or industrial needs – we don’t necessarily need another production line to build fighters for our customers or the world market; there is a strong need to establish [such a] capability in Finland for security of supply.”

                                                    Source: Jamie Hunter
                                                    An undisclosed number of fighters will be assembled locally

                                                    He points out that the Gripen’s design means that unlike other platforms, final assembly is “not just to connect the ready-made Lego pieces together”, but a deeper process that will involve significant “knowledge transfer”.

                                                    In all, Saab has committed to 118 projects in Finland – 46 directly related to the Gripen and 72 broader initiatives regarding advanced materials or manufacturing, for example. A further 22 projects are included in the offering, says Skoberg. This means that the company “has quite a decent margin” above the 30% offset value stipulated in the tender.

                                                    Gripen E deliveries would begin in 2025 and run until 2030; initial operating capability is targeted by 2027. The GlobalEyes, which are based on the Bombardier Global 6000 business jet, would arrive in 2026 and 2027.

                                                    Saab opted to include the two airborne early warning and control jets in its offer based on the military scenarios Finland is likely to face, says Skoberg. “The capabilities it is providing give us an extra edge to our offering,” he says.

                                                    “The Gripen’s efficiency in terms of cost and sustainability are the enabler for us to also include GlobalEye into this equation.”

                                                    Although Bombardier will at some point switch production from the Global 6000 to the new Global 6500, Skoberg says he has received assurances from the Canadian airframer that this crossover will not take place until after the aircraft are required for Finland.

                                                    Source: Saab
                                                    MBDA Meteor missile forms part of weapons package

                                                    Weapons are worth in excess of 20% of the overall €9 billion ($10.9 billion) contract value, including MBDA’s Meteor and Spear missiles, the IRIS-T from Diehl Defence and Taurus Systems’ KEPD 350. However, Skoberg says additional undisclosed munitions have also been proposed.

                                                    Electronic warfare (EW) capability is built into the Gripen E, he adds, including the integration of the company’s new jammer pod and Lightweight Air-launched Decoy Missile, the latter using the same triple launcher as the Spear missile.

                                                    An “extensive” spares and support package – including engines and structural parts - is included within the offer.

                                                    While the bid is focused solely on the single-seat Gripen E, Saab has left the option open for Finland to add twin-seat F models if required.

                                                    Sweden is taking both Gripen E and GlobalEye and Saab believes the interoperability with its neighbour will be an additional selling point.

                                                    Helsinki is expected to select its preferred candidate later this year. Other contenders include the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon and Lockheed Martin F-35A.


                                                    • unicorn11
                                                      unicorn11 commented
                                                      Editing a comment
                                                      So Finland has a choice of early 4th generation point defence fighter, mid 4th generation strike fighter and associated EW platform, two late 4th generation platforms at the latter point in their evolution, or a 5th generation stealth fighter with unrivalled sensor fusion capabilities at the beginning of its evolution.

                                                      Gee, I wonder what they should pick (as opposed to what they will pick)

                                                    • magnify
                                                      magnify commented
                                                      Editing a comment
                                                      There are probably enough F-35s in Europe now to backstop Sweden, and USAF will base and operate from Norway, so the Swedes will be happier to keep pushing on with 4th gen as a light strike capability to deter attack. Given the geography and weapons involved they will conclude that's enough to make Russia avoid a real fight across the Baltic, or on land.

                                                      But I think the Fins will surely go for F-35s.

                                                    • ADMk2
                                                      ADMk2 commented
                                                      Editing a comment
                                                      They went American last time, when they overlooked Gripen…

                                                  • #30
                                                    This is the page of the Finnish Defence blogger "Corporal Frisk", always worth a perusal every now and again, it's English language so no probs understanding...........the head article at the moment is on the F-35 and his interview with Scott Davis, Head of LM for Finland............

                                                    Corporal Frisk – Finnish blogger in reserve, defence and national security.


                                                    • #31
                                                      The issue is that every new customer is demanding to be let into the program and be part of the manufacturing chain, without contributing to the program in the manner of the original partners.

                                                      Basically they want all of the benefits without having taken any of the development risk.
                                                      It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
                                                      It is by the juice of sapho that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, the stains become a warning.
                                                      It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.


                                                      • #32
                                                        Finnish officials begin sifting through final HX fighter offers

                                                        By: Sebastian Sprenger   9 hours ago

                                                        Finnish F-18 Hornet planes are pictured at Rovaniemi airport during a joint exercise between the Finnish and the Swedish air forces over the Arctic Circle on March 25, 2019. (Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP via Getty Images)

                                                        COLOGNE, Germany — Finnish officials have received final offers from five vendors for the multibillion-dollar HX fighter jet competition, kicking off an evaluation phase slated to run throughout 2021.

                                                        With a tender ceiling of €9 billion (U.S. $11 billion), the competition is one of the biggest air-armament acquisitions in Europe. It aims to find a replacement for the Nordic country’s fleet of F-18 Hornets.

                                                        The usual suspects of Western suppliers responded by the April 30 deadline: Saab with its Gripen; Dassault with the Rafale; Lockheed Martin with its F-35; Boeing’s F-18 Super Hornet’ and the Eurofighter, made by a consortium of Airbus, BAE Systems and Leonardo.

                                                        Four vendors released statements by deadline day, each praising their wares (Dassault tends to keep quiet about such things). They promised industrial-participation packages of varying degrees that would boost job growth in Finland.

                                                        Sweden’s entry of the Gripen fighter is notable from a regional and political perspective. The country’s top officials have publicly assisted Saab in making the case for extending the Sweden-Finland alliance into a de facto, singular air force of Gripens that commanders could interchangeably use across both nations to ward off an invasion.

                                                        Saab also has thrown into its offer two GlobalEye early warning aircraft in addition to its proposed fleet of 64 Gripens, company officials said during an online briefing last week.

                                                        Anna Wieslander, a Stockholm-based defense analyst with the Atlantic Council, said Sweden’s political promise of linking neighboring air forces through a common aircraft is likely to be taken seriously by the Finnish.

                                                        “If you look at the way the operational defense cooperation has evolved since 2015, it’s interesting to see where that could lead,” Wieslander said. The two countries’ territories effectively amount to “one operational space” in the eyes of defense planners, she added.

                                                        Saab is somewhat under the gun to produce a major sale in Europe after the company lost out on a similar program in Switzerland, where a contract of more than $6 billion is up for grabs.

                                                        Meanwhile, Boeing said it is offering “meaningful, long-term opportunities” to the Finnish industry under a Super Hornet contract. “Boeing and the U.S. Navy have submitted a best and final offer to Finland in support of the HX fighter campaign, including options for the next-generation, multi-role F/A-18 Block III Super Hornet and the electronic warfare EA-18G Growler,” a spokesman said.

                                                        Lockheed Martin touted the advanced capabilities of its F-35, dangling the prospect of offering high-tech job opportunities in Finland that “no other competitor can offer,” Bridget Lauderdale, F-35 program vice president and general manager, said in a statement.

                                                        The company also said it is offering the most affordable jet — a fifth-generation fighter at the cost of a fourth-generation aircraft, as the company put it — a claim that Finnish government analysts can be expected to check with a fine-tooth comb.

                                                        BAE Systems, speaking on behalf the other Eurofighter vendors, played up its offering’s European connection in a statement last week. If Finland were to pick the aircraft, the government “can have influence over the future program and product, ensuring the aircraft is tailored to exact Finnish requirements,” the company said.

                                                        “With almost 500 aircraft in service across Europe alone, Eurofighter Typhoon will remain the backbone of Europe’s combat air capability for decades to come,” the statement added.

                                                        The Finnish Defence Ministry expects the fighter procurement to take 10-15 years to complete. “The final decision on the new fighters will be made by the end of 2021,” according to a ministry website dedicated to the HX program.


                                                        • #33
                                                          Egypt orders 30 additional Rafale fighters

                                                          By Greg Waldron

                                                          4 May 2021

                                                          Cairo has ordered 30 additional Dassault Rafale fighters, in a follow up to a previous acquisition of 24 examples.

                                                          The 30 new Rafales will be funded through a loan with a tenure of 10 years, discloses Egypt’s defence ministry.

                                                          Source: Anthony Pecchi/Dassault
                                                          A French air force Rafale

                                                          The ministry lauds the type’s capabilities, noting that it can conduct “long-range tasks” and carry advanced weapons.

                                                          In 2020, the Egyptian air force received the final examples from the original 2015 order for 24 jets.

                                                          Cirium fleets data shows that Egypt operates 304 combat jets including Dassault Mirage 5s and Mirage 2000s, Lockheed Martin F-16s, RAC MiG-29s and Sukhoi Su-35s, as well as the Rafales.

                                                          The fresh Egyptian order comes after a decent 2020 for Dassault, when it delivered 13 Rafales to export customers India and Qatar, following 26 deliveries in 2019.

                                                          Cirium fleets data suggests there are 212 Rafales in service globally. The French air force and navy operate 143 examples.

                                                          International operators include India and Qatar, while Greece has orders for 18 examples that include 12 secondhand jets.

                                                          The Rafale is also a contender for several international competitions, including Finland’s HX contest for 64 new fighters.

                                                          In the Asia-Pacific region, it has the possibility for follow-on sales in India through an air force requirement for 110 new fighters, as well as a separate navy requirement for 57 carrier-capable jets.

                                                          In December 2020, French media reported that Indonesia was considering the acquisition of 48 Rafales, while in February 2021 the Indonesian air force chief of staff suggested the nation would obtain 36 Rafales by 2024.


                                                          • ADMk2
                                                            ADMk2 commented
                                                            Editing a comment
                                                            36x Rafales by 2024? Lol. They build 13 aircraft a year… Do the maths! Lol

                                                          • unicorn11
                                                            unicorn11 commented
                                                            Editing a comment
                                                            The French might transfer some of their earlier aircraft to sweeten the deal.

                                                        • #34
                                                          14 MAY 2021

                                                          Leonardo pitches M-346FA as Polish ‘Fitter' replacement

                                                          by Gareth Jennings

                                                          Leonardo is pitching its M-346FA as a potential replacement for Poland’s ageing fleet of Sukhoi Su-22 ‘Fitter’ aircraft, the company announced on 14 May.

                                                          The M-346FA could be a capable yet cost effective replacement for Poland’s ageing fleet of Warsaw Pact-era Su-22s. (Janes/Patrick Allen)

                                                          Declaring its intention to bid its M-346FA light attack aircraft as a replacement for the Polish air force (Inspektorat Sił Powietrznych: ISP) fleet of nearly 30 Warsaw Pact-era Su-22M4 aircraft that have been in service since 1985, Leonardo noted the synergies that the ISP could reap given that it already operates the baseline M-346 Master trainer version.

                                                          “The M-346FA is a new, high-performance light combat aircraft that could replace the Su-22. The aircraft provides enormous operational benefits, and has many similarities to the training version M-346 used by the Polish air force,” the company said on its official Leonardo in Poland Twitter account.

                                                          As noted by Janes World Air Forces, Poland operates 27 Su‐22M4s, of which 12 are earmarked for service life extension along with all six Su‐22UM3K trainers that are in service. However, the combat capabilities of these aircraft are very low, and the entire Su‐22 fleet is due to be phased out of service by 2024–26.

                                                          Besides the Su-22, the ISP currently operates 48 Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Block 50+ Fighting Falcon and 21 MiG-29 ‘Fulcrum’ fighters. Both the Su-22 and MiG-29 are slated to be replaced by 32 Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters (JSFs) under Poland’s Harpia programme. While no separate Su-22 replacement programme currently exists, Leonardo no doubt sees an opportunity for its low-cost M-346A as a supplement to the more capable but much more expensive F-35A.


                                                          • #35
                                                            F-15QA bound for Qatar declares emergency upon landing, leaves runway in Illinois; USAF pilots eject safely

                                                            Kent Miller

                                                            9 hours ago

                                                            Emergency crews are on the scene where two pilots ejected from a F-15QA fighter aircraft on a runway at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport at about 7:30 a.m.Tuesday in Mascoutah, Ill. (Laurie Skrivan/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)

                                                            An F-15QA Eagle multirole fighter jet destined for Qatar declared an emergency upon landing and then left the runway at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport in Illinois Tuesday morning, an Air Force official told Air Force Times.

                                                            Both U.S. Air Force active-duty pilots on board “ejected safely and sustained only minor injuries,” according to U.S. Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek. The airport is just northeast of Scott Air Force Base.

                                                            The Eagle had recently been accepted by the U.S. Air Force from the Boeing Co., Stefanek said in a statement. “The aircraft was slated to be transferred to the Qatari Air Force through the Foreign Military Sales program. The incident is currently under investigation.”

                                                            The mishap occurred at about 7:30 a.m., a Boeing official told KMOV4, the CBS TV affiliate in St. Louis. “The two pilots were taken for treatment, where both were expected to be okay,” the station reported.

                                                            The State Department approved the sale of F-15QA planes to Qatar in November 2016. At the time, the Qatari deal, coupled with the approval of a sale of Super Hornets to Kuwait, was considered a coup for Boeing, which manufactures both planes and was banking on foreign sales to extend the life of its fighter jet lines into the 2020s. The Eagle is manufactured at Boeing’s St. Louis plant.

                                                            The $12 billion deal with Qatar, inked in 2017, included 36 aircraft, their associated weapons systems, U.S.-based training, maintenance support equipment, and logistics support, among other items. The first aircraft are being delivered this year.

                                                            “The [Qatari air force] will send pilots and weapon system operators to the U.S., where the aircrews will learn how to independently operate the F-15QA ahead of receiving their new aircraft,” Boeing said then of the pre-delivery training contract, according to a report in November 2020. “Training will include in-person instruction, simulation events and flying operations and will be held near Boeing’s F-15 production facility in the U.S. through mid-2021.”

                                                            Boeing will establish and run an aircrew and maintenance training center at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, which will be operated through 2024, reported.

                                                            The U.S. Air Force’s new F-15EX aircraft is based on the QA. Boeing has delivered the first of 144 Eagle IIs to the Air Force, and the first squadron is expected to become operational in 2023.of those fighters is scheduled to come online in 2023.

                                                            Defense News reporters Valerie Insinna and Aaron Mehta contributed to this report.


                                                            • #36
                                                              $14 Billion Contract Marks Start of New Push to Build US F-16 Fighters for Partner Nations

                                                              A U.S. Air Force F-16 is shown during a mission at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, Feb. 14, 2019. (John Raven/U.S. Air Force)

                                                              19 May 2021

                                                     | By Oriana Pawlyk

                                                              The U.S. Air Force has awarded a $14 billion contract to Lockheed Martin to build new F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jets for five countries through 2026.

                                                              The service on Monday announced a contract for the production of 128 Block 70/72 jets, the latest and most advanced version of the venerable fourth-generation fighter, on behalf of Bahrain, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Taiwan and Morocco.

                                                              Lockheed moved its production line from Texas to its Greenville, South Carolina, plant in 2019 to centralize its manufacturing of F-16s. The aircraft has been updated since the last jet was delivered to the Air Force in 2005, and the service "has seen an uptick of our partner nations requesting detailed information and requests for U.S. Government sales," Col. Anthony Walker, senior materiel leader for the service's international division, said in a release.

                                                              "This new production line is very significant," added Col. Brian Pearson, integrated product team lead for F-16 foreign military sales within the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center's Fighters and Advanced Aircraft Directorate.

                                                              "There are 25 nations operating F-16s today, and they have a lot of expertise with the airframe," Pearson said in the release. "The line helps us meet the global demand that a number of nations have for [F-16] aircraft and gives us the additional capability to provide the aircraft to countries interested in purchasing it for the first time."

                                                              The new block configurations are expected to come off the production line next year, the release states.

                                                              The service will simultaneously work to upgrade more than 400 aging F-16s for four partner nations to the new "F-16V" configuration, which includes the APG-83 Active Electronically Scanned Array, or AESA, radars.

                                                              The F-16V made its maiden flight with the Northrop Grumman Corp.-made radars in October 2015. The advanced AESA on the F-16V, known as the Viper, helps achieve better performance during air-to-ground missions, according to Northrop. Raytheon also manufactures the radars.

                                                              The Air Force has ambitious goals to build up a network of coalition partners who fly similar aircraft.

                                                              While touting the service's light attack effort in 2018, then-Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said partners around the world cannot always afford state-of-the-art aircraft like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter but want to build on interoperability as part of a joint effort.

                                                              "F-16s are operational across the globe and are a key capability fortifying the security of our international partners," Brig. Gen. Dale White, the program executive officer for Fighters and Advanced Aircraft, said in the release.

                                                              The Air Force is in the process of determining the right mix of fourth-, fifth- and future-generation aircraft, with plans to eventually downsize from seven types of fighter jets or attack aircraft.

                                                              "My intent is to get down to about four," Chief of Staff Gen. Charles "CQ" Brown said during a panel last week.

                                                              Brown called the initiative "four plus one," including the F-35, F-16 and A-10 Warthog, as well as the F-15EX Eagle II, which entered the service's inventory last month, and the Next Generation Air Dominance program, which defies the traditional categorization of a single platform, featuring a network potentially including an advanced fighter aircraft alongside sensors, weapons or drones.

                                                              Noticeably absent from his list were the F-22 Raptor stealth fighter and F-15E Strike Eagle.

                                                              -- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.


                                                              • #37
                                                                Biden arms sales policies face new questions, but similarities to Trump and Obama remain

                                                                By Garrett Reim

                                                                20 May 2021

                                                                Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. That is more or less the conclusion of analysts watching the first few months of US President Joe Biden’s arms export decisions and policy statements.

                                                                Source: US Air Force
                                                                Crew chiefs maintain F-35As during Red Flag exercise at Nellis AFB, Nevada

                                                                Several precedents established during the term of former president Donald Trump are likely to stand. And, export policies that stretch back to president Barack Obama will also likely continue.

                                                                To be sure, Biden has indicated he plans to depart from previous policies in a few areas. The administration is likely to be warier of selling offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia, a country which is entangled in a brutal civil war in neighbouring Yemen. And, he is more likely to lean on allies and arms control agreements to make decisions, say analysts.

                                                                How much weight Biden explicitly places on the economic considerations for arms exports is not as clear. The production run of several older aircraft types have been extended in the past via Foreign Military Sales (FMS) deals. As US modernisation programmes crowd out the Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) appetite for some older models, will international sales keep those aircraft in production for years to come?

                                                                Last, the administration is also likely to face tricky new issues selling digitally-connected aircraft and weapons, say analysts. New aerospace products, including everything from bombs, in-flight refuelling tankers and stealth aircraft, are increasingly valued based on their network effect – their utility as part of a larger ecosystem of connected platforms. Who can be trusted to join this military-of-things network is a difficult question to answer.

                                                                POLICY PRECEDENTS

                                                                In the short term, the Trump administration’s two biggest decisions – the approval of expanded sales of large, armed unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) and the Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighter – look likely to go forward.

                                                                That is good news for the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which received approval in late January from the Trump administration for a $23 billion arms sales package that included 50 Lockheed Martin F-35As and 18 examples of the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-9B UAV. The deal also included air-to-air and air-to-surface munitions.

                                                                Source: US Air Force
                                                                MQ-9 Reaper flies a training mission over the Nevada Test and Training Range

                                                                The Biden administration acknowledged in April that it would likely allow the sale of the F-35A and MQ-9B to the UAE, marking the first time that an authoritarian state was granted permission to buy either of the aircraft.

                                                                The sale of large UAVs, such as the MQ-9B, had prior to the Trump administration been subject to a strong presumption of denial from the US Department of State under the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), an export control agreement voluntarily enforced by 35 member states. That limited the sale of the aircraft to only close US allies, such as NATO members France and the UK.

                                                                However, in July 2020, the Trump administration changed US policy regarding the MTCR, removing a strong presumption of denial for UAVs with a maximum speed below 430kt (800km/h). That cleared the way for the Department of State to approve the sale of four MQ-9Bs to Taiwan last November and then the 18 examples for the UAE.

                                                                A sales boom to manufacturer General Atomics, which had long complained that rival Israeli and Chinese manufacturers where seizing market share due to the restrictions, the new MTCR policy does not look likely to be reversed in total by the Biden administration, says Bill Hartung, director of the arms and security programme at the Center for International Policy.

                                                                “However, they want to have talks among allies about some restrictions on drone exports, that would be separate from the MTCR,” he says. “That may be, but that would be a lengthy process. I think for the moment, it’s going to be the Trump policy and deals Trump’s already made will probably stand.”

                                                                While new policies toward the MTCR may mark a precedent, it is not clear whether the F-35 sale to the UAE is the start of expanded sales of the type.

                                                                “That’s a very controversial deal. If they’re willing to do that, it does open the question of, who else might they be willing to offer such technology to?” says Hartung. “But, I think it may be case by case.”

                                                                Qatar has requested the F-35 and Saudi Arabia may consider the aircraft if it became an option, he adds. Whether either of those two autocracies would be granted permission to obtain the combat aircraft remains to be seen. In the meanwhile, the F-35A is being evaluated in competitions in Finland and Switzerland.

                                                                DEFENSIVE WEAPONS

                                                                Despite some policy similarities with the Trump administration, it does not appear that all former deals will proceed during Biden’s presidency.

                                                                In January, Raytheon dropped the anticipated sale of an offensive weapon system to an unnamed Middle Eastern country, possibly Paveway precision-guided bombs to Saudi Arabia, due to concerns that the incoming administration would not grant it a direct commercial sales export license. Biden and Democratic lawmakers have been critical of Riyadh’s airstrikes in neighbouring Yemen, which is in the midst of a civil war, as the attacks allegedly have caused civilian casualties.

                                                                Source: Raytheon
                                                                Raytheon-made Paveway bomb

                                                                The Biden administration is likely to emphasise the sale of defensive weapons, say analysts. In light of that new policy, defence manufacturers are adjusting their sales pitch.

                                                                “If you think about Patriot and some of the other defensive systems, we have no issues with getting licenses. But offensive weapons [are] a little bit more difficult,” said Greg Hayes, Raytheon’s chief executive, in the company’s 2020 fourth quarter earnings call in January. The Patriot system is designed to shoot down incoming tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, UAVs and aircraft.

                                                                Raytheon has not given up on the sale of offensive weapons, however.

                                                                “As we go forward, what we’re going to do is we’ll work with the [DoD],” says Hayes. “We’ll try and do these through [FMS] as opposed through direct foreign sales to make sure we’ve got alignment with [the DoD] and the administration before we book any of these.”

                                                                What’s more, Raytheon does not see a slowdown in sales. When asked by a stock analyst in the January earnings call if the cancellation of the offensive munitions sale was a sign of declining future weapons sales to Middle Eastern countries, Hayes did not mince his words.

                                                                “No, no, no,” he said. “Look, peace is not going to break out in the Middle East anytime soon.”

                                                                EXTENDED LIFE

                                                                Under the Trump administration, production of Cold War-era aircraft continued to be extended as manufacturers found ways to modernise and sell old products with new computing and networking capabilities.

                                                                One example of that trend is the Boeing F-15, which was first delivered to the US Air Force (USAF) for testing in 1972, and now looks poised to have more than a 60-year production run. Under Trump, Boeing received a $6.2 billion contract in 2017 to manufacture 36 examples of the F-15QA for Qatar.

                                                                Source: Boeing
                                                                Boeing F-15EX on first flight

                                                                That jet comes with fly-by-wire flight controls, a digital cockpit, an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, an electronic warfare (EW) suite and what Boeing calls “the world’s fastest mission computer”. Those improvements were enough to convince the USAF in 2020 to buy its own version, the F-15EX Eagle II, to replace some of its ageing F-15C/D fighters.

                                                                Those new capabilities have longtime F-15 operators such as Japan looking to upgrade. The Department of State approved an FMS package for Japan in 2019 valued at up to $4.5 billion to upgrade 98 F-15Js, originally manufactured under license by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. As of April, Tokyo and Washington were still trying to iron out costs and scheduling disagreements for upgrading the fighters to the new “Japan Super Interceptor” standard.

                                                                For an Indian air force requirement for 110 fighters, Boeing is pitching the F-15EX, as well as its F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. Lockheed is offering its F-16V, renamed the F-21 for the same programme. The Indian navy is also looking for 57 aircraft carrier-based fighters, with the Super Hornet being offered for that contest.

                                                                More generally, the USAF is looking to see if offering new “commoditised” aircraft, including the MQ-9 and F-16, will speed up sales by reducing back-and-forth negotiations. For example, in August 2020, Lockheed was granted permission by the service to sell a base model version of the F-16 Block 70/72. That aircraft would come with a standardised price and set of features, including avionics, mission systems, an AESA radar, EW suite, automatic ground collision avoidance system and engine, and other common components.

                                                                In the coming years, if US DoD spending begins to sag on particular aircraft there might be an incentive for the Biden administration to push FMS business to maintain American jobs. That appeared to be the case when budget sequestration in 2013 crimped Pentagon spending and the Obama administration was incentivised to approve the sale of the F-15SA to Saudi Arabia, says Greg Sanders, deputy director of the Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

                                                                “One way of trying to balance that pressure had been to look for export markets, where appropriate, to allow US industry to have some of the economies of scale or other benefits, that they might lose out by reduced demand from DoD,” he says.

                                                                The US Army has sought to backfill production of the Boeing CH-47 Chinook in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with FMS orders, as it starts to spend money on other priorities, including development of Future Vertical Lift rotorcraft. In 2020, the service said it could keep production running at a rate of 18 helicopters annually until at least 2025 with a partial reliance on export sales.

                                                                Source: Boeing
                                                                Boeing has enjoyed steady export success with its CH-47 Chinook

                                                                In April, the UK reportedly agreed to a $2 billion purchase of 14 Chinooks to replace its Royal Air Force’s oldest in-service examples. Also in April, Australia agreed to buy four F-model examples of the tandem-rotor helicopter.

                                                                GREATER INTEROPERABILITY

                                                                One area in which the Biden administration may set precedent is on the sale of networked weapons and aircraft. As part of the Pentagon’s Joint All-Domain Command and Control initiative, US manufacturers are trying to develop aircraft and weapons that are highly networked and have open-systems architectures which allow for the plug-in-play of upgrades.

                                                                Connectivity may actually bring more countries into the FMS ecosystem, say analysts. “If you have countries that are buying a fair number of high-end systems, it makes sense to have systems that work together,” says Sanders.

                                                                Countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE might be less inclined to consider buying aircraft and weapons from China or Russia, as it would undermine their fleets’ effectiveness, he notes. That might make European aerospace manufacturers, which have interoperability with US systems via NATO standards, the alternative arms dealers of choice. Nonetheless, states like Egypt and India, which have historically purchased mixed fleets of aircraft as a means of diplomatically balancing competing foreign interests, may still be resistant to the network sales pitch.

                                                                Networking aircraft and weapons with platforms controlled by other nations would also come with risks, however, including cyber security concerns.

                                                                A preview of this problem is seen in the USA’s decision to refuse delivery of the F-35 to Turkey. Ankara bought and received the Russian-built Almaz-Antey S-400 air-defemce missile battery in 2019, despite protests from Washington that it is technically incompatible with the F-35. Another concern was the possibility that Russia could use a cyber-backdoor in Turkish S-400s to observe vulnerabilities in F-35s flying nearby. Ultimately, the nation’s decision to buy the S-400 caused Washington to eject the country from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programme.

                                                                That sort of incompatibility problem is likely to surface again in future FMS agreements. The Biden administration will have to carefully judge the political alignment and trustworthiness of arms recipients.

                                                                “The more things are networked the larger the attack surface is for cyber operations,” Sanders says. Buyers will have to also weigh risks, he says. “Defense technology security, I think is going to continue to be a high point of emphasis for any high-technology buyers.”


                                                                • #38
                                                                  Why Europe’s current fighter rivals are still flying high

                                                                  By Craig Hoyle

                                                                  20 May 2021

                                                                  Even as they begin the journey towards developing so-called sixth-generation platforms, the companies behind Europe’s existing trio of fighters are enjoying a surge in demand for their current offerings.

                                                                  If partnership models forged since late last decade remain intact, there will be two future European combat aircraft programmes, each involving three nations.

                                                                  Source: A Almansa/Dassault
                                                                  Dassault, Airbus and Indra are working together on New Generation Fighter

                                                                  France, Germany and Spain are poised to enter the demonstrator phase of their Future Combat Air System (FCAS) activity, which should deliver a New Generation Fighter (NGF) for use by 2040. Meanwhile, the UK is leading the Tempest effort, with Italy and Sweden as partners, aiming for service introduction from 2035. Concept and assessment-phase work is scheduled to start later this year.

                                                                  Opinion is very much divided regarding the duplication involved in these seemingly largely parallel projects, which appear to have similar constructs and desired outcomes. In addition to delivering a new fighter, each aims to develop supporting unmanned assets and new-generation air-launched weapons, operating within a so-called combat cloud environment.

                                                                  Exponents are firmly of the view that in order for a new-generation European combat aircraft to be effective, and competitive on the export stage, only a single project can be pursued.

                                                                  Speaking during the Royal Aeronautical Society’s online Air Power conference last December, Italian air force chief of staff Lieutenant General Alberto Rossi pointed to the non-recurring cost penalty associated with nations having diverged to develop both the Eurofighter and Dassault Rafale.

                                                                  “If we won’t be able to merge in a single programme, which would be the best option for everybody from an operational perspective, then we should make those two systems as interoperable, integrated, standardised and capable to connect to each other,” he said.

                                                                  Speaking earlier this year, Dassault chief executive Eric Trappier voiced concern over the consequences of including Spanish firms within the FCAS effort, diluting what had originally been envisioned as a 50:50 split between the French company and Airbus Defence & Space. Once implemented, changes made solely to satisfy national workshare requirements mean “it becomes difficult for Dassault to play the role of the prime contractor [on the NGF]”, he said.

                                                                  At the same time, German unions complained about the lack of high-value work for the nation’s industry, and that a planned lone demonstrator for the design will be French-built.

                                                                  MTU Aero Engines and Safran recently came to an agreement to include ITP Aero as part of their propulsion partnership for the NGF, with what Safran chief executive Olivier Andries described as “no compromises at all”.

                                                                  Having secured a recent funding boost from the UK government, the Tempest programme is advancing well and has received strong backing from Italy and Sweden, at both a government and industrial level.

                                                                  INTERNATIONAL PARTNERSHIPS

                                                                  The UK’s new Defence and Security Industrial Strategy document underscores the importance of sustaining a domiciled combat air capability, while also embracing international partnerships over traditional exports. On Tempest, London is also “exploring important co-operative opportunities with Japan”, it notes.

                                                                  Source: BAE Systems
                                                                  The UK’s Tempest project also involves Italy and Sweden

                                                                  Ultimately, the defence industry champions and governments of each nation involved in the current two efforts are determined to retain the skills and jobs associated with fighter manufacturing: all six have final assembly lines, and such security of supply seems likely to remain a prerequisite.

                                                                  As such, a single, unified project seems unlikely to be capable of sustaining current activity levels at Airbus, BAE Systems, Dassault, Leonardo and Saab.

                                                                  Asked during MBDA’s annual results briefing in late March whether the guided weapons specialist would prefer to be supporting a single effort, chief executive Eric Beranger told FlightGlobal: “Yes, it would be easier. There are two programmes. Some people like it and some people don’t like it. We are supporting our customers on both sides – we are simply doing our job.”

                                                                  Caution regarding a future merger is also urged by some due to the complexity of the four-nation Eurofighter construct, industrial inefficiency of the NH Industries NH90 transport helicopter project and complicated joint requirements which caused problems on Airbus’s A400M airlifter. The difficulty and consequences of building in compromises to suit all players are also evident when viewing Lockheed Martin’s long-term struggle to control costs and support systems for the F-35.

                                                                  Arguably, competition is also a good thing.

                                                                  In late April, all three current types were formally pitched to Finland, as Helsinki received best and final offers for its HX requirement. The Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon or Saab Gripen E could be victorious later this year, if they can overcome competition from the F-35A and Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet/EA-18G Growler.

                                                                  Four of these contenders – excluding the Gripen – also are pursuing an opportunity with the Swiss air force, with a selection decision expected by mid-year.

                                                                  Combined, the requirements are likely to total around 100 new combat aircraft, representing a valuable income stream and supporting production continuity prior to the arrival of sixth-generation models.

                                                                  Also of note in the Finnish and Swiss contests are the nations’ central requirements to be able to independently support their aircraft in a time of crisis. To do so, both have requested the option to perform final assembly of part of their new fleet in-country, and to establish their own maintenance capabilities.

                                                                  Additionally, direct and indirect offset programmes will help Helsinki and Bern to develop their domestic defence industrial capabilities. Such requirements appear to be at odds with the so-called “best athlete” models touted for both FCAS and Tempest, where partners will only participate if they can demonstrate top-level capability.

                                                                  So, which bidder will benefit most from the pending selection decisions in the two European nations?

                                                                  Source: Brazilian air force
                                                                  Brazil has launched in-country evaluation work with its first Gripen E

                                                                  Arguably, Saab is the most in need of a victory, given that its most recent international success with the Gripen – a Brazilian deal for 36 E/F models – was signed in October 2014. The Latin American nation followed Sweden in ordering the type, with Stockholm to field 60 single-seat examples.

                                                                  EXPORT SUCCESSES

                                                                  The four-nation Eurofighter consortium’s last export deal was signed with Qatar in December 2017, with the 24-aircraft buy following hot on the heels of Kuwait’s April 2016 deal for 28 Typhoons. Closer to home, Germany last November approved a follow-on Project Quadriga buy of 38 Eurofighters to replace its Tranche 1 production examples.

                                                                  Dassault, meanwhile, has had a spectacular 2021 to date, thanks to a pair of export successes.

                                                                  In January, Greece confirmed an acquisition of 18 Rafales, including a dozen to be drawn from the French air force’s inventory and transferred during the course of this year. Paris also ordered 12 replacement aircraft, with these to be delivered in the F3R operating standard during 2025.

                                                                  Then, in April Egypt announced a follow-on order for another 30 examples, in a step which will boost its fleet size to 54: second only to the French air force.

                                                                  Cirium fleets data shows that the three contenders are evenly matched in terms of their current order backlogs: with the Rafale (101) narrowly leading the Gripen (96) and Typhoon (90).

                                                                  But in terms of current active fleets, Eurofighter leads the way, at 514 aircraft, trailed by the Rafale (208) and Gripen (161).

                                                                  Developed for partners Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK, the Typhoon’s international success began with Austria, which acquired 15 Tranche 1 examples via a 2007 agreement. In September the same year, Saudi Arabia signed a 72-aircraft deal with the UK. Oman also took 12, via a contract finalised in December 2012.

                                                                  Beyond its current production deals for Germany, Kuwait and Qatar – all of which include the provision of active electronically scanned array radars – the Eurofighter consortium could yet secure a repeat order from Spain, which is looking at taking a new batch, and potentially yet more for Berlin.

                                                                  Talks are also continuing over a long-term enhancement programme which will add further new technologies to the type. These could include some elements being pursued for the FCAS and Tempest projects.

                                                                  Source: Crown Copyright
                                                                  Qatar operates Dassault’s Rafale and ordered the Eurofighter Typhoon in 2017

                                                                  Having long failed to attract an export buyer for the Rafale following its domestic introduction in 2001, Paris at last brokered a first sale in February 2015, when Egypt signed for 24. After barely pausing for breath, it added Qatar just three months later, with Doha to take 36.

                                                                  India, which had picked the type for its ill-fated 126-unit medium multi-role combat aircraft need, signed for a more modest 36 in September 2016. Deliveries started late last year.

                                                                  Recent sales successes will safeguard production for the rest of this decade, and further examples for the French military are scheduled to be added between 2027 and 2030, as part of a planned fifth production tranche.

                                                                  The C/D version of Saab’s Gripen is today in use with the air forces of the Czech Republic, Hungary, South Africa, Sweden and Thailand. Despite having delivered its last example of the model in 2015, Saab continues to offer it for export customers.

                                                                  But greater prospects exist with the new-generation Gripen E, the first examples of which have been transferred to the Brazilian and Swedish air forces for evaluation, ahead of service entry later this decade.

                                                                  Brazil, which ordered its locally-designated F-39E/Fs following the December 2013 outcome of its F-X2 contest, is widely expected to acquire further batches. As part of the deal, Saab is conducting a major technology transfer activity with in-country partner Embraer, including the establishment of manufacturing and final assembly capabilities.

                                                                  Unusually, Saab is the only bidder in the Finnish contest to have disclosed the contents of its final offer: 64 Gripen Es, plus two Bombardier Global 6000-derived GlobalEye surveillance aircraft.

                                                                  Whatever the outcome of the contests in Finland and Switzerland, along with further opportunities in nations like Canada and India, it is clear that continued solid investment in the Gripen, Rafale and Typhoon means Europe will benefit from the introduction of enhanced capabilities – even if their more ambitious sixth-generation plans fail to take off as planned.


                                                                  • magnify
                                                                    magnify commented
                                                                    Editing a comment
                                                                    But greater prospects exist with the new-generation Gripen E ...
                                                                    FFS, how's this a new "generation"? It's an updated variant of an old generation ... which rightly, no one wanted for the money and performance it offered.

                                                                • #39
                                                                  Nigeria inducts JF-17s as it awaits Super Tucanos

                                                                  By Greg Waldron

                                                                  21 May 2021

                                                                  The Nigerian air force has inducted three Chengdu/Pakistan Aeronautical Corporation JF-17 fighters.

                                                                  The three aircraft were inducted during a ceremony at the nation’s Makurdi air base, where the fighters will be based, says a post on the air force’s Facebook page.

                                                                  Pakistan, Myanmar, and Nigeria operate the JF-17
                                                                  Source: Nigerian Air Force

                                                                  One of Nigeria's JF-17s
                                                                  Source: Nigerian Air Force

                                                                  The Pakistan Air Force is helping Nigeria stand up its JF-17 capability
                                                                  Source: Nigerian Air Force

                                                                  Nigeria's JF-17s will be based at Makurdi air base
                                                                  Source: Nigerian Air Force

                                                                  News of the Nigerian JF-17 buy emerged in 2018
                                                                  Source: Nigerian Air Force

                                                                  Dignitaries at the JF-17 induction
                                                                  Source: Nigerian Air Force

                                                                  The induction was part of the air force’s 57th anniversary celebrations.

                                                                  The Nigerian air force is in the process of a significant modernisation. Air force chief Olaydao Amao said 23 new aircraft have been inducted in recent years, including 10 Super Mushshak trainers, five Mil Mi-35M attack helicopters, two Mi-171E utility helicopters, and two Bell 412s.

                                                                  The addition of the JF-17s takes this number to 26.

                                                                  Amao adds that the new assets have an import role in battling an insurgency in the country’s northeast.

                                                                  In addition, the Nigerian air force is awaiting 12 Embraer/Sierra Nevada A-29 Super Tucano ground-attack aircraft, as well as eight unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) being acquired from China.

                                                                  The Super Tucanos are due for delivery in the middle of the year.

                                                                  In a November 2020 Facebook post, the air force said the new UAV fleet will comprise two AVIC Wing Loong IIs, four China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation CH-4s, and two CH-3s.

                                                                  News of the Nigerian JF-17 acquisition was first confirmed in January 2018, when they appeared on a 2018 budget document. This made Nigeria the first customer for the type outside of Pakistan to be named. Myanmar also operates the type.

                                                                  There have also been recent media reports that Chinese defence exporter CATIC is pitching the JF-17 to Argentina.


                                                                  • #40
                                                                    25 MAY 2021

                                                                    Indonesia's plan to procure Rafale fighters hampered by funding roadblock

                                                                    by Ridzwan Rahmat

                                                                    A Dassault Rafale multirole fighter, seen here on the flight deck of aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle while it was berthed at RSS Singapura - Changi Naval Base. (Janes/Ridzwan Rahmat)

                                                                    The Indonesian Ministry of Defense (MOD) has made further progress in its effort to procure 36 Rafale multirole fighter aircraft from Dassault Aviation but a formal contract may be delayed by a lack of clarity over funding sources.

                                                                    In February, a delegation of senior Indonesian MOD officials led by Major General Dadang Hedrayudha, director general of the ministry's defence potential department, completed the latest round of negotiations with Dassault Aviation's vice-president for business development Jean Claude Piccirillo, and vice-president for offset Michael Paskoff.

                                                                    The negotiations, which largely covered offset and financing arrangements, went well, Maj Gen Dadang said in February. The MOD has since raised a request for the programme to be funded with foreign-sourced loans, ministry officials disclosed in March.

                                                                    However, a schedule of national projects that have been approved for foreign funding was obtained by Janes on 21 May. It confirms that Rafale programme has not been included. The schedule is published annually by the Indonesian Ministry of National Development Planning (Kementerian Perencanaan Pembangunan Nasional: BAPPENAS), and it spells out national programmes for which foreign loans can be obtained for the year.

                                                                    As such, given the lack of endorsement from the BAPPENAS, the bid to procure 36 Rafale fighters has not been gazetted by the Indonesian Ministry of Finance (MOF) as a defence procurement programme for the 2021 financial year.


                                                                    • ADMk2
                                                                      ADMk2 commented
                                                                      Editing a comment
                                                                      Gee, who’d a thought? Does France need Palm Oil? Lol

                                                                    • unicorn11
                                                                      unicorn11 commented
                                                                      Editing a comment
                                                                      Quelle surprise!

                                                                    • magnify
                                                                      magnify commented
                                                                      Editing a comment
                                                                      Maybe they'd go for 48 slightly used Classic Hornets?

                                                                  • #41
                                                                    Croatia to drop €1 billion on used Rafale fighter jets

                                                                    By: Jaroslaw Adamowski   15 hours ago

                                                                    A Rafale fighter performs its flying display at the International Paris Air Show on June 17, 2019, at Le Bourget airport near Paris. (ERIC PIERMONT/AFP/Getty Images)

                                                                    WARSAW, Poland — Croatia’s government has made a decision to buy 12 second-hand Rafale F3-R fighter jets from France for the country’s Air Force, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said.

                                                                    “The purchase of the multirole fighter aircraft will strengthen Croatia’s position as a member of NATO and a partner within the European Union. For the first time, we will reach 2 percent of the GDP allocated to strengthening our defense capabilities,” Plenković said, as quoted in a statement released by his government.

                                                                    The deal is to be worth some €999 million (U.S. $1.2 billion) and, in addition to the aircraft, it will cover weapon systems, spare parts, logistics and training. Following the cabinet’s decision, Zagreb will proceed to negotiate the contract’s details with Paris.

                                                                    Under the plan, France is to deliver the first six twin-engine aircraft in 2024, and the remaining six Rafales will be supplied the following year. The delivered aircraft will include 10 single-seater and two twin-seater fighter jets.

                                                                    Other offers considered by Zagreb included the purchase of F-16 Block 70 aircraft from the United States, Swedish JAS-39 Gripen C/D fighter jets, and F-16C/D Block 30 aircraft from Israel. Through the acquisition, Croatia’s Air Force is aiming to replace its outdated Soviet-designed Mikoyan MiG-21 fighters.

                                                                    In 2018, Croatia’s Defence Ministry announced it intended to purchase used Israeli F-16s, but in early 2019 the government scrapped the decision and re-launched the tender. Croatian officials told local media the U.S. government accused its Israeli counterpart of unfair competition in the tender.


                                                                    • ADMk2
                                                                      ADMk2 commented
                                                                      Editing a comment
                                                                      France is going to have to place some orders for F4 variants rather quickly at the rate it is selling off it’s existing fighters…

                                                                      Or it knows that the earlier blocks ain’t that much chop… The later variants should be good though…

                                                                      I’ve thought for a long time, that a Meteor and Scalp NG equipped, modern standard Rafale fleet for Taiwan to replace it’s legacy M2K fleet, would be a most excellent FU to China…

                                                                    • magnify
                                                                      magnify commented
                                                                      Editing a comment
                                                                      No need, F-16V and weapons is every bit as good ... actually better, obtained much faster and cheaper.

                                                                    • ADMk2
                                                                      ADMk2 commented
                                                                      Editing a comment
                                                                      There is a political angle at work too, with the support of multiple nations behind Taiwan, hence the original purchase of the M2K…

                                                                  • #42
                                                                    Brazilian air force to nearly double Saab Gripen order, cut KC-390 order in half: reports

                                                                    By Garrett Reim

                                                                    4 June 2021

                                                                    In a major shakeup of its aircraft buying plans, the Brazilian air force plans to nearly double its order of Saab Gripen fighters and cut its number of Embraer KC-390 Millennium transports roughly in half.

                                                                    The service explained its plans in two interviews with Brazilian media on 1 and 2 June.

                                                                    Source: Saab
                                                                    Brasilia plans to field a much larger fleet of Saab F-39s

                                                                    In total, the Brazilian air force aims to buy between 60 and 70 examples of the Gripen E/F, a fighter that it renamed the F-39E/F. That’s up from an initial order of 36 aircraft.

                                                                    “We bought the first batch, but our expectation is that it will be somewhere around 60 or 70 aircraft,” said commander of the Brazilian Air Force, Lieutenant Brigadier Carlos de Almeida Baptista Jr., in an interview with Valor Economico, a financial newspaper in Brazil on 2 June. “Soon, it will be time to start talking about a second batch. With a country the size of Brazil, you can’t talk about just 36 fighter planes.”

                                                                    Plans to increase its order of F-39E/F fighters come as the country is also cutting back on its order of Embraer KC-390 transports. Brazil had originally ordered 28 examples of the aircraft, but after negotiations with Embraer expects to receive between 13 and 16 units over the course of the programme, it says in an interview with Brazilian publication Aero Magazine. The service had earlier said that Embraer would only produce two aircraft per year going forward.

                                                                    The negative impact of the coronavirus on the Brazilian economy, and thus government tax revenues, forced the service to make a hard choice, Baptista said.

                                                                    In 2021 the Bazilian air force only has “50% of the resources to pay the financing of the KC-390 and the Gripen”, he says. Faced with a choice between a larger fighter fleet and its domestically-developed KC-390, the service chose future purchases of the F-39E/F.

                                                                    Changes to the Brazilian air force’s buying plans could be a mixed bag for Embraer, which is involved in the domestic production of the F-39E/F fighter. The 36-aircraft acquisition deal includes in-country production of 15 examples of the fighter, in partnership with Embraer, with the rest of the fleet to be built by Saab in Sweden. It also includes a technology transfer agreement to train more than 350 Brazilian engineers and technicians in Sweden on the fighter’s manufacturing.

                                                                    It is not clear what share of the larger 60- to 70-aircraft order would be built in Brazil. Embraer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

                                                                    The KC-390 programme has struggled over the past 12 months. In April 2020, Embraer’s joint venture agreement with Boeing to sell the aircraft worldwide collapsed. At the time, the US company was reeling from the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic and the grounding of the 737 Max airliner.

                                                                    Embraer has maintained that it will be able to handle the transport’s global sales without Boeing and has numerous international sales campaigns ongoing. The company also says its production capacity for the KC-390 has not diminished.

                                                                    In addition to the now-smaller aircraft order from Brasilia, Embraer has five aircraft on order from the Portuguese air force and two aircraft from the Hungarian air force. It is also trying to convert 33 letters of intent into firm orders from the Argentinian air force, Chilean air force, Colombian air force, Czech air force and aviation services firm SkyTech, according to Cirium fleets analyser.


                                                                    • #43
                                                                      Saab to deliver six Gripen Es in 2021, as contest decisions near

                                                                      By Craig Hoyle

                                                                      10 June 2021

                                                                      Saab will deliver a combined six Gripen E fighters to Brazil and Sweden this year, as the manufacturer also pursues additional export opportunities for the new-generation type.

                                                                      Four serial production aircraft will be transferred to the Brazilian air force during 2021, along with two to Sweden’s Defence Materiel Administration, says Jonas Hjelm, head of Saab’s aeronautics business area.

                                                                      Source: Brazilian air force
                                                                      Brazil’s air force will receive another four F-39Es this year

                                                                      “We are following the timelines that we set out together with our customers,” he says, adding that this demonstrates “we have a mature and developed product.”

                                                                      Saab has so far delivered lone examples of the GE Aviation F414-powered fighter to support evaluation activities by the Brazilian and Swedish air forces, which between them have orders for 96 examples.

                                                                      Speaking during the company’s online annual Gripen seminar on 8 June, Hjelm said that it also is in the middle of a process to secure military type certification for the E model. “This is a very important point for us to deliver on the complete weapon system,” he adds.

                                                                      Responding to recent reports suggesting that Brazil is to increase its commitment to the locally designated F-39E/F, Hjelm notes that the nation has long stated its intention to acquire more than its first 36-unit batch.

                                                                      “They haven’t outlined in official communication or any negotiations when that can happen,” he says. “We need to deliver on our first contract, that the Brazilian air force gets operational aircraft, then it is more likely that we will start discussions on batch 2, or more aircraft for the future.”

                                                                      Hjelm also detailed Saab’s proposal to meet a Colombian air force requirement for 15 new fighters. The company is offering the Gripen E/F, “combined with an extensive technology transfer package”, he says.

                                                                      “It will be a broad industrial participation and collaboration, and both Saab Brazil and our partner companies Embraer and AEL will be a vital part,” he says. Bogota is seeking a new type to replace its aged Cessna A-37s and Israel Aircraft Industries-produced Kfir fleets.

                                                                      Saab earlier this year marked the 10,000th test flight in the history of its Gripen programme. Test pilot Jussi Halmetoja says recent work on the E-model has included starting a second firing campaign with the Diehl Defence IRIS-T short-range air-to-air missile.

                                                                      Source: Saab
                                                                      Recent tests have included IRIS-T missile firings from Saab-operated Gripen E

                                                                      “We are looking forward to making the first [MBDA] Meteor firing in the next few months, hopefully,” he adds.

                                                                      Saab is awaiting the outcome of Finland’s HX contest later this year, and has also responded to requests linked to planned fighter acquisitions in Canada and India – for 88 and more than 100 aircraft, respectively. It also is in “constant communication” with the Philippines about Manila’s acquisition plans, but “there are no negotiations”, he says.

                                                                      Meanwhile, commenting on Croatia’s recent decision to acquire 12 ex-French air force Dassault Rafales, Hjelm says: “It’s difficult to compete with used aircraft”.

                                                                      Separately, Saab is exploring future upgrade options for the C/D-model Gripen operated by Sweden and international customers the Czech Republic, Hungary, South Africa and Thailand.

                                                                      “We are in discussions on how we will upgrade the aircraft to remain relevant over time,” Hjelm says, noting that he expects the Swedish air force to continue operating some of its current examples “long after 2030”.

                                                                      Saab continues to pitch new-build Gripen C/Ds to potential customers, offering deliveries within a potentially 18-24-month period. Hjelm says the company has not yet identified a date for when it might stop promoting fresh production of the in-service model. “Obviously everything good has an end, but we are not there yet,” he notes.


                                                                      • #44
                                                                        07 JULY 2021

                                                                        Finland offered partner status in Eurofighter

                                                                        by Charles Forrester

                                                                        Finland is being offered partner status in the Eurofighter programme as part of the consortium's bid for Finland's HX fighter procurement, BAE Systems representatives revealed on 6 July.

                                                                        “Some of the capability that we're transferring [to Finland] is going into the FDF [Finnish Defence Forces] but also to make that possible the combined Eurofighter partner nations have offered Finland participation in the programme. In order to enable that access, and to be that first tier – the same as the UK, Germany, Spain, and Italy – the partnership has been offered to Finland,” John Rossall, HX Director, BAE Systems, said.

                                                                        As part of their industrial participation offering for the HX programme, BAE Systems has said that final assembly and check-out (FACO) of the aircraft is being offered as a “fully exercisable option” in their bid, should Finland choose to take advantage of the proposal.

                                                                        The Eurofighter consortium is offering partner status to Finland as part of the bid for the country's HX fighter procurement programme. (BAE Systems)

                                                                        The FACO offering builds on the wider maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) package being offered to Finland, as work and component manufacture is localised to ensure security of supply.

                                                                        “This is the most comprehensive maintenance, repair, and overhaul package we've ever developed for any customer,” Ross Dickson, HX Industrialisation Lead for BAE Systems, said. “For the next 30 years, the touch point for MRO is not going to be the UK, Germany, Italy or Spain, the first touch point is going to be Finnish industry.


                                                                        • #45
                                                                          Yes Brazil and Finland, you can have partner status in our increasingly obsolescent aircraft product.

                                                                          I'm sure you're sincerely hoping that you never have to fight someone who bought an actual 4.5 gen or god forbid, 5th generation aircraft.
                                                                          It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
                                                                          It is by the juice of sapho that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, the stains become a warning.
                                                                          It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.


                                                                          • ADMk2
                                                                            ADMk2 commented
                                                                            Editing a comment
                                                                            Yep, please buy the aircraft that even it’s design countries, don’t want to buy any more of, moving as they are towards Tempest and FCAS…

                                                                        • #46

                                                                          Dassault Aviation delivers its first Rafale to Greece

                                                                          (Saint-Cloud, France, July 21, 2021) – Eric TRAPPIER, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, hosted today at the Dassault Aviation Flight Test Center in Istres, the Ceremony of the delivery of the first Rafale for the Hellenic Air Force (HAF), in the presence of Mr. Nikolaos PANAGIOTOPOULOS, Greek Minister of National Defense.

                                                                          This first delivery comes successfully only after six months following the signature of the Contract for the acquisition of 18 Rafale, This first aircraft, as well as the next five to come from the French Space and Air Force, will train the HAF Pilots and Technicians in France before deploying to TANAGRA Air Force Base.

                                                                          A first group of HAF pilots, already trained for several months by the French Space and Air Force, and 50 HAF technicians will joined the Dassault Aviation Conversion Training Center (CTC) in Mérignac, France to continue their training.

                                                                          The Rafale will provide the HAF with a latest-generation multirole fighter, enabling the Hellenic Republic to ensure its geostrategic stance in full sovereignty. The delivery of the first Rafale is a clear demonstration of France’s determination to meet the government of the Hellenic Republic expectations and to participate actively to the sovereignty of the country.

                                                                          It illustrates also Dassault Aviation’s outstanding quality of the cooperation with the Hellenic Air Force, through more than 45 years of uninterrupted and strong partnership.

                                                                          “Following the Mirage F1 in 1974, the Mirage 2000 in 1985 and the Mirage 2000-5 in 2000, the Rafale is now proudly flying with the Hellenic Air Force colors. The Rafale is a Strategic Game Changer for the HAF. It will play an active role by securing Greece’s leadership as a major regional power. I would like to reaffirm our total commitment to the success of the Rafale in Greece,” said Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation.

                                                                          Photo courtesy Dassaul Aviation


                                                                          • ADMk2
                                                                            ADMk2 commented
                                                                            Editing a comment
                                                                            Nice addition, but Hellenic airforce F-35’s would be a far bigger issue for Greece’s neighbours…

                                                                        • #47
                                                                          26 AUGUST 2021

                                                                          Boeing rolls out first F-15QA for Qatar

                                                                          by Gareth Jennings

                                                                          Boeing presented the first F-15QA Advanced Eagle combat aircraft during a ceremony at the company's St Louis production facility in Missouri on 25 August.

                                                                          A screenshot from a Boeing video of the roll-out of the first F-15QA for Qatar, with the aircraft seen fitted with a range of weapons and systems. (Boeing)

                                                                          The event saw Boeing and US Air Force (USAF) leaders, as well as dignitaries and service personnel from Qatar, roll-out the first aircraft for the Qatari Emiri Air Force (QEAF) at the same time as announcing the type's official name, Ababil (a flock of birds that have particular significance in the Quran).

                                                                          The F-15QA revealed to the crowd, serial QA500, was fitted with a range of weapons that will equip the type in QEAF service, including the Raytheon AIM-9X Sidewinder short-range air-to-air-missile, the Raytheon AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM), the Boeing AGM-84A Harpoon anti-shipping missile, and the Boeing GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) precision-guided bomb. It was also fitted with both AN/AAQ-28(V) Litening and AN/AAQ-33Sniper advanced targeting pods, as well as an integrated AN/AAS-42 Tiger Eyes infrared search and track (IRST) system. The first 15 pilots to be trained on the type were also presented to the audience.

                                                                          The first set of F-15QA jets will be ferried to Qatar later this year following the completion of pre-delivery pilot training, Boeing said. The company has been providing maintenance and logistics support for the QEAF during pre-delivery pilot training, which began earlier this year. In addition, Boeing will establish and operate an aircrew and maintenance training centre for the QEAF at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar through to 2024 while also providing in-country spares and logistics support once the aircraft are delivered.


                                                                          • #48

                                                                            Boeing Unveils F-15 Qatar Advanced Jets

                                                                            St. Louis, Aug. 25, 2021 – Boeing [NYSE: BA], in collaboration with the U.S. Air Force and Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF), celebrated the naming and rollout of Qatar’s advanced F-15, the F-15QA.

                                                                            “The rollout of the F-15QA is momentous, not just in terms of capability but also in terms of the enhanced partnership it represents. The relationship the United States shares with Qatar is critical to the stability and security of the central command area of responsibility, and we are grateful for our coalition partner’s continued focus on building interoperability and combined readiness,” said Lt. Gen. Greg Guillot, commander of 9th Air Force. “It is a privilege and honor to stand with our Qatari counterparts this day and every day.”

                                                                            The first set of F-15QA jets will ferry to Qatar later this year following the completion of pre-delivery pilot training.

                                                                            “The Qatar F-15QA program further enhanced next-generation technologies in the advanced F-15 such as the fly-by-wire flight controls, an all-glass digital cockpit and contemporary sensors, radar and electronic warfare capabilities,” said Prat Kumar, vice president of the F-15 program. “Driven by digital engineering and advanced manufacturing, these aircraft represent a transformational leap for the F-15. The F-15QA will enhance the superiority of the QEAF with more speed, range and payload than any fighter in the world.”

                                                                            Boeing has been providing maintenance and logistics support for the QEAF during pre-delivery pilot training, which began earlier this year. In addition, Boeing will establish and operate an aircrew and maintenance training center for the QEAF at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar through 2024 while also providing in-country spares and logistics support once aircraft are delivered.

                                                                            “Boeing is proud to provide a holistic solution to our valued Qatari customer through tailored training and sustainment,” said Torbjorn “Turbo” Sjogren, vice president of International Government & Defence for Boeing. “We look forward to our continued partnership with Qatar and further supporting their mission readiness needs.”

                                                                            Photo courtesy Boeing


                                                                            • #49
                                                                              08 SEPTEMBER 2021

                                                                              Update: Boeing completes Super Hornet deliveries for Kuwait

                                                                              by Gareth Jennings

                                                                              Boeing has completed delivery of 28 F/A-18E/F Super Hornet combat aircraft for Kuwait, transferring them to the US Navy (USN) ahead of their eventual handover to the customer.

                                                                              A screenshot from a Boeing video showing the final Super Hornet for Kuwait departing St Louis on its delivery flight to the US Navy. (Boeing)

                                                                              The manufacturer announced the event on 2 September, posting a video of single-seat aircraft 822 departing its St Louis production facility in Missouri.

                                                                              With Kuwait's 22 single-seat F/A-18Es and six twin-seat F/A-18Fs being contracted in a government-to-government deal, they have all been handed over to the USN ahead of their expected transfer to the Kuwait Air Force (KAF) in the coming months (a precise timeline has not been disclosed). As previously reported by Janes, this delivery milestone was delayed slightly due to the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic.

                                                                              The USD2.7 billion deal for Kuwait (including radar warning receivers and weapons) involves Super Hornets built largely to the USN's latest Block 3 standard (with some legacy Block 2 elements reportedly retained). The Block 3 includes upgrades to the Raytheon AN/APG-79 active electronically scanned array radar; an Elbit Systems large area display ‘glass' cockpit and next-generation avionics; an infrared search and track; Integrated Defensive Electronic Countermeasures; and new General Electric F-414-400 enhanced engines. Further to the capability enhancements, the Block 3 airframe is extended from 6,000 to 9,000 hours. The previously included ‘shoulder-mounted' conformal fuel tanks were axed by the USN earlier in 2021.

                                                                              In November 2016 the US State Department approved the sale of up to 40 Super Hornets (32 F/A-18Es and eight F/A-18Fs) for Kuwait, valued at USD10.1 billion (including related equipment and support).


                                                                              • #50
                                                                                DSEI NEWS: Lockheed Martin in Talks With Potential European F-35 Customers (Updated)


                                                                                By Stew Magnuson

                                                                                U.K. F-35Bs
                                                                                U.K. Ministry of Defence

                                                                                LONDON — F-35 manufacturer Lockheed Martin is in preliminary talks with multiple potential new customers for the joint strike fighter, a senior company executive said Sept. 15 during a briefing on the aircraft at the DSEI trade show.

                                                                                “We’ve got great interest here in Europe, [and] not only the competition ongoing with Finland. ... We have interest in three or four other countries that are talking to us right now,” Gary North, vice president of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, said during a meeting with reporters.

                                                                                When National Defense pressed him for a more exact number after the briefing, North said he couldn’t provide details other than it was “multiple” countries and that they were in Europe.

                                                                                His comments came as Lockheed had good news to share about the oft-criticized program.

                                                                                New statistics revealed that the cost to fly the aircraft will be coming down in the next five years. Critics frequently point to the F-35’s high cost per flight hour and lack of availability.

                                                                                Lockheed Martin's portion of the total U.S. fleet cost-per-hour to fly the plane has come down 44 percent over the past five calendar years and the company has committed to reducing it a further 30 percent over the course of a three-year contract from fiscal year 2021 to 2023, North said.

                                                                                A sustainment contract issued by the F-35 Joint Program Office Sept. 14 said the company has committed to bring the cost down to $30,000 per flight hour by the end of the contract in 2023.

                                                                                A slide North showed at the briefing stated that such costs would go down a total of 40 percent over the next five years.

                                                                                Thirty-nine percent of the operations and sustainment cost per flight hour are from Lockheed Martin, 47 percent from the three U.S. services that fly the F-35 — the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps — and 14 percent from engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney, according to JPO statistics North displayed on a chart.

                                                                                “We believe over the next five years as these contracts go from multi-year contracts, to hopefully longer lead [performance-based logistics] contracts, that we will be able to drive costs down,” North said.

                                                                                “We are all— across the enterprise — absolutely committed to bringing the cost down and the availability up across the lifecycle of the program,” North said. He attributed the recent reductions to the maturity of the aircraft, advanced technologies and the speed of the supply chain.

                                                                                Meanwhile, the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force currently has 21 F-35s with three more expected by October for a program of record that stands at 138 aircraft.

                                                                                North was asked about the deep skepticism among the British aviation press that the 138 number would hold up.

                                                                                “The program of record is the program of record,“ North said. ”We are well aware of the challenges and the discussions of sustainability and maintainability — from all governments. We’re working very hard to ensure that all governments and all our customers understand our commitment to maintain the program of record."