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11 septembre 2013 3 11 /09 /septembre /2013 11:50
Suisse-Le Conseil national avalise l'achat de chasseurs Gripen

11/09 LesEchos.fr (Reuters)

 

Le Conseil national, soit la chambre basse de l'Assemblée fédérale suisse, a validé mercredi le projet d'achat de 22 chasseurs Gripen au groupe suédois Saab pour l'équivalent de 2,6 milliards dd'euros.

 

Le marché, qui sera débattu le 18 septembre par le Conseil des Etats, la chambre haute du parlement, peut encore capoter par le biais d'un référendum même si le législateur l'approuve.

 

Ce référendum peut s'organiser si 50.000 électeurs d'au moins de huit cantons le réclament dans un temps limité.

 

La Suisse a choisi le Gripen car cet avion de combat est moins cher que le Typhoon, conçu par le consortium Eurofighter (BAE, Finmeccanica et EADS ), et le Rafale de Dassault Aviation.

 

Les Gripen doivent remplacer des F-5 Tiger fort âgés, une décision que certains désapprouvent car elle nécessitera des coupes budgétaires ailleurs, comme l'éducation.

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11 septembre 2013 3 11 /09 /septembre /2013 07:50
BAE Offers BAe-146 Air Tanker Variant

Sept. 10, 2013 defense-aerospace.com

(Source: BAE Systems; issued Sept. 10, 2013)

 

BAE Systems Proposes Air-To-Air Refuelling Variant of BAe 146/Avro RJ

 

Building on the success of the BAe 146/Avro RJ regional jetliner in a variety of military and special role applications, BAE Systems today unveiled its proposal for a cost-effective air-to-air refuelling (A2R) variant of the aircraft

 

Speaking at the Defence Services Equipment International (DSEI) exhibition in London, Mark Taylor, Business Director Engineering for BAE Systems Regional Aircraft stated: “We believe that the A2R version of the BAe 146/Avro RJ is a sound business proposition for military planners and air forces that need this capability but who are having to face the financial realities of defence budget cutbacks.

 

“Whether to provide A2R tactical tanker capability or, in particular, to provide realistic A2R training instead of using expensive existing assets, the acquisition of a fleet of these aircraft can be accomplished at a fraction of the cost of current refuelling aircraft, whilst delivering excellent performance.”

 

The design of the aircraft with its high wing and T-tail configuration is ideal for A2R operations. BAE Systems Regional Aircraft has already carried out proximity flight trials using a BAe 146-200, Avro RJ85 and Hawk jet trainer. This was successfully completed and confirmed that the aerodynamic environment behind the quad jet is benign and the aircraft therefore has considerable potential as an A2R aircraft for refuelling a range of aircraft types and sizes.

 

It is considered the BAe 146/Avro RJ might be particularly suitable as a tanker for tilt-rotor aircraft which can experience additional challenges when in the slipstream of some other tanker aircraft.

 

The business has carried out design concepts for a hose and drogue unit (HDU)-based system and these included the option for additional fuel tanks within the cabin.

 

The standard tankage on the BAe 146/Avro RJ gives up to approximately 7000 kg of fuel available for transfer – sufficient for A2R training at the lowest capital cost. Additional auxiliary fuel tanks in the cabin would provide up to about 18,000kg of fuel available for transfer, making the aircraft a useful tactical refuelling airtanker.

 

The wide airspeed range of the aircraft gives flexibility in refuelling the variety of fixed and rotary wing aircraft currently in service. In this role the aircraft can fly up to 300 knots indicated air speed/M.072 at 31,000 ft (BAe 146) or 35,000 ft (Avro RJ).

 

BAE Systems Regional Aircraft is well equipped to undertake mission system development and provide operational support. The business has most recently designed and delivered two converted BAe 146 C Mk.3 passenger/freighter transports to the RAF. It also is working with QinetiQ for the conversion of an Avro RJ70 for the Empire Test Pilots School, is responsible for the BAe 146 Atmospheric Research Aircraft which involves two/three major scientific role changes each year, and is working with a number of Airtanker (aerial firefighter) operators in North America on multiple aircraft conversions.

 

There is a plentiful supply of pre-owned BAe 146 and Avro RJs on the market at very low prices of between US$ 1 – 6 million depending on age, configuration and condition with a fleet average flight cycle time of around 30,000 cycles. In addition, there is a Life Extension Programme available for both aircraft types that can increase this to 60,000 cycles, giving the aircraft many years of useful service, especially at the lower utilisation levels typically flown by military and special role operators.

 

Lead times are short so service availability can be relatively quick and BAE Systems Regional Aircraft estimates that from go ahead it will take some 18 months to produce a basic specification centreline HDU equipped aircraft available for flight trials.

 

The standard fit on an Avro RJ85 would include auxiliary fuel tanks, a centreline HDU, lights, cameras and control systems on the flight deck and military communications.

 

Pricing for a completed aircraft will be very competitive. As an example, a late model RJ85 will be around US$ 5 million for a basic aircraft with perhaps £5-10 million of conversion costs depending on final specification. Optional fits on the aircraft could include a dual HDU installation, defensive aids (missile protection, flight deck armour and fuel tank inerting) and unpaved runway operations.

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11 septembre 2013 3 11 /09 /septembre /2013 07:35
photo zianzr

photo zianzr

11 September 2013 Pacific Sentinel

 

Modernization Program Relies on ARINC's Extensive Aircraft Upgrade and Logistics Experience
 
Annapolis, Maryland — ARINC Incorporated today announced that it is aggressively moving forward on completing its contract to modernize five C-130B transport aircraft for the Indonesian Air Force. The program, which began in the first quarter of 2011, is moving along as budgeted and scheduled.
 
Under the contract, ARINC is helping the Indonesian government modernize their C-130B fleet for humanitarian purposes. The program includes structural and electronic modifications to retrofit the legacy C-130B airframes with more recent capability and technology.
 
The ARINC team has reached a major milestone in the project with the completed export of over 1000 parts necessary for the modernization. The parts, which include five complete outer wing sets, five auxiliary power units and environmental control systems and an avionics modification, needed to be exported from the US to the modification facility in Bandung, Indonesia, which required ARINC's significant logistical skills and knowledge.
 
ARINC is performing the work half way around the world from its Aerospace Division based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, enabling the Indonesian Air Force to get the benefit of its extensive aerospace expertise without having to bear the cost and logistical issues associated with transporting the aircraft.
 
"ARINC Aerospace is uniquely qualified to perform this type of work," noted Michael Young, Vice President of ARINC Aerospace. "We have far-reaching experience on multiple platforms and a broad range of capabilities. We are pleased that the project is going so well and that we are growing closer to the goal of enhancing the capabilities of the Indonesian Air Force."
 
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11 septembre 2013 3 11 /09 /septembre /2013 07:20
F-35 training unit set to start training with upgraded software

Sept. 11, 2013 by Dave Majumdar – FG

 

Washington DC - Pilots at the Pentagon's first Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter training unit at Eglin AFB, Florida, are gearing up to start an updated training syllabus that incorporates more of the jet's advanced avionics.

 

While F-35 students and instructors at the base currently use the rudimentary Block 1B configuration in their aircraft, later this year, the 33rd Fighter Wing will transition to operating the more advanced Block 2A configuration.

 

"We are going to transition to a Block 2A syllabus here in the late fall and early into next spring as we get the jets upgraded," says US Air Force Col Stephen Jost, commander of the 33rd Operations Group. The upgraded aircraft also means that the base's F-35 simulators and academic course have to be updated to incorporate the new systems.

 

As such, the F-35 Block 2A transition course will include flying three additional sorties over the current syllabus, which includes six flights. Those additional sorties will focus on using the F-35's Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL), which will enable pilots at the base to conduct more realistic tactical training in the F-35 for both air-to-air and air-to-surface missions.

 

"That will become operational with the 2A software, and so that is one of the key enablers that allows us to expand our mission set," Jost says.

 

Jost says that the Block 2A software is also expected to allow the F-35 fleet at Eglin AFB to operate at night. Pilots at the joint USAF, US Navy and Marine Corps operated fighter wing are also hoping for the release of additional flight envelope clearances. "We are hoping to get some relief on the flight controls," Jost says.

 

The expanded flight envelope - which will be released as test pilots put the three versions of the F-35 through its paces - should allow operational pilots to fly at higher angles of attack and possibly greater g-forces. The flight envelope currently released for training is severely restricted.

 

Jost could not offer any specific information on exactly how much of the F-35's flight envelope will be cleared for the pilots at the wing to use because such releases are often varied and incremental in nature.

 

The updated Block 2A syllabus will start clearing the way for the USMC to declare the short take-off and vertical landing(STOVL) F-35B variant of the jet operational in July 2015 with a Block 2B configuration. The USAF will declare the F-35A operational a year later in 2016 with the Block 3i configuration - which is the same software as Block 2B, but hosted on an upgraded computer system.

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11 septembre 2013 3 11 /09 /septembre /2013 06:35
Chasseurs Su-35 pour la Chine: un contrat sera signé en 2014

MOSCOU, 7 septembre - RIA Novosti

 

La Russie et la Chine signeront un contrat sur la livraison de 24 chasseurs Sukhoi Su-35 à Pékin dès 2014, a annoncé samedi à Moscou le directeur général adjoint de l'Agence russe d'exportation d'armements (Rosoboronexport) Victor Komardine.

 

"Les négociations sont en cours, mais il est peu probable qu'un contrat soit signé avant la fin de l'année. Sa signature aura lieu en 2014. Les négociateurs chinois discutent des performances techniques de l'avion", a indiqué M.Komardine.

 

Selon M.Komardine, Pékin et Moscou mènent également des discussions sur les armements à installer à bord des Su-35 chinois. Mais cela doit faire l'objet d'un contrat spécial.

 

Le directeur général de Rosoboronexport Anatoli Issaïkine a annoncé en août dernier que la Chine se doterait de chasseurs Su-35 après un spectacle présenté par un groupe de voltige aérienne chinois au Salon aérospatial international MAKS-2013 dans la région de Moscou.

 

Le Sukhoi Su-35 est un chasseur polyvalent hautement manœuvrable de génération 4++. Sa vitesse maximale atteint 1.400 km/h près du sol et 2.400 km/h en altitude. L'appareil est capable de détecter des cibles volantes à plus de 400 km de distance.

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10 septembre 2013 2 10 /09 /septembre /2013 17:50
Royal Navy air squadron reformed to fly new jets

A Lightning II aircraft being prepared for take-off at Eglin Air Force Base – Picture UK MoD

 

9 September 2013 Ministry of Defence

 

A historic naval air squadron is to be resurrected as the first Royal Navy formation to fly the Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter aircraft.

 

809 Naval Air Squadron, whose motto is simply ‘Immortal’, is to be reformed to operate the fifth-generation stealth aircraft that will fly from the Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth Class carriers from 2018.

The Lightning II aircraft will be jointly operated by pilots from the Fleet Air Arm and the Royal Air Force.

Earlier this year, it was announced by the Chief of the Air Staff that the famous 617 ‘Dambusters’ Squadron would be the first RAF squadron to fly the jets.

The 809 Naval Air Squadron crest
The 809 Naval Air Squadron crest [Picture: Crown copyright]

Both Royal Navy and RAF pilots are already training on the Lightning II aircraft alongside the US Marine Corps at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

809 Naval Air Squadron, which dates back to the Second World War, has been selected by the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir George Zambellas, because of its history of striking at the enemy in operations across the globe.

In previous incarnations, aircraft from the squadron supported an attack on Hitler’s flagship, supported the invasions of North Africa, Italy and southern France during the Second World War and saw action in Suez in 1956.

It was last reformed to support operations in the Falkland Islands; the squadron also flew the Navy’s last Buccaneer, a low-level strike bomber flown in the 1960s and 1970s.

An 809 Naval Air Squadron Buccaneer
An 809 Naval Air Squadron Buccaneer landing on HMS Ark Royal in 1977 (library image) [Picture: Crown copyright]

Admiral Zambellas said:

I am delighted to announce that the name of the second Lightning II squadron, when it forms, will be 809 Naval Air Squadron.

This squadron number is chosen to link with and reflect the proud and distinguished history of embarked carrier strike, from the Second World War to the Falklands.

The early naming of 809 alongside the RAF’s 617 ‘Dambusters’ Squadron is a very visible demonstration of a joint ambition, spirit of collaboration and shared equity in the Joint Lightning Force.

When not at sea as part of the UK’s carrier strike force, the squadron will be based at RAF Marham in Norfolk.

The joint nature of the squadrons means naval personnel will serve with the Dambusters, and their Air Force counterparts will do likewise on 809 Naval Air Squadron.

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10 septembre 2013 2 10 /09 /septembre /2013 17:35
Industry: Final shipment of Su-30MK2 fighters delivered to Indonesia

10 September 2013 Pacific Sentinel

 

Rosoboronexport completes fulfillment of contract from 2011
 
An AN-124-100 "Ruslan" delivered the unassembled fighters together with 13 technicians who will assemble the aircraft, reports ITAR-TASS, citing the Indonesian newspaper "Jakarta Post". According to it, Major Mulyadi, a representative from the airbase, made the statement reporting the delivery of the planes.
 
Flight-testing of the Su-30MK2 will take place after assembly and before the Indonesian Air Force accepts delivery of the planes.
 
As a rule, aircraft assembly and testing take place over a week, the representative of the airbase noted.
 
Weapons will be purchased for the delivered planes under a separate contract.
 
The first two aircraft under the 2011 contract with the Indonesian Air Force were delivered back in February. A second pair of Su-30MK2 planes was delivered in May. After this delivery the contract will be considered completely fulfilled.
 
The fighters will form a part of the 11th Squadron of the Indonesian Air Force, which will have five single-seater Su-27SKM planes and 11 double-seater Su-30MK2 planes at its command.
 
Earlier it was reported that Rosoboronexport and the Indonesian Ministry of Defense signed a contract worth USD 470 million for the purchase of six Su-30MK2 multifunctional Russian fighters in December 2011. Between 2003 and 2010 Indonesia had already acquired five Su-27SK and five Su-30MK2 fighters.
 
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10 septembre 2013 2 10 /09 /septembre /2013 12:35
Deux avions supersoniques T-50i exportés par vol de convoyage vers l’Indonésie

Décollage de deux avions supersoniques d`entraînement T-50i à Sacheon

 

2013/09/10 yonhapnews.co.kr

 

SACHEON, 10 sept. (Yonhap) -- Deux avions supersoniques sud-coréens T-50i ont été exportés vers l’Indonésie par un vol de convoyage pour la première fois, a déclaré ce mardi Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI).

 

Les deux T-50i, produits par KAI, ont quitté la base aérienne de la région de Sacheon, située dans la province du Gyeongsang du Sud, ce matin à direction de l’Indonésie. Ces deux avions supersoniques voleront environ 1.600 kilomètres pendant deux heures vers leur première destination, Kaohsiung, à Taïwan, et après un ravitaillement, ils se rendront à Cebu, aux Philippines, où ils resteront un jour là-bas.

 

Le lendemain, les deux avions voleront d'abord vers Sepingan et arriveront à leur dernière destination, Iswahyudi, la principale base de l'armée de l'air indonésienne. Les avions voleront un total de 5.600 kilomètres pendant sept heures. C’est la première fois que la Corée du Sud exporte des avions par un vol de convoyage et non par un navire ou avion de fret.

 

Avec ces exportations de T-50i, la Corée du Sud est devenue le sixième pays exportateur d’avions supersoniques après les Etats-Unis, la Russie, le Royaume-Uni, la France et la Suède. «Avec ces exportations, KAI vise à atteindre 2.000 milliards de wons (1,841 milliard de dollars) de ventes et à devenir l’une des 15 premières sociétés aérospatiales», a fait savoir Ha Seong-yong, président de KAI.

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10 septembre 2013 2 10 /09 /septembre /2013 11:35
Saab Delivers Final Gripens to Thailand

Sept. 09, 2013 defense-aerospace.com

(Source: Saab Gripen blog; posted Sept. 6, 2013)

 

RTAF Received Their Last Three Ordered Gripen

 

Three SAAB Gripen C aircraft ordered by Thailand safely arrived 4 September at their home base Wing 7 in Surat Thani, Thailand. The aircraft were received by happy RTAF pilots and officers.

 

These were the last of twelve Gripen C/D aircraft Thailand agreed to purchase in a G2G integrated air defense agreement with Sweden signed early 2008. RTAF will inaugurate the operational “Gripen Integrated Air Defense System” on 11 September with a ceremony at Wing 7.

 

The ferry flight took off from Linköping, Sweden, 30 August, on a route that took them to Greece, Jordan, Qatar, Oman and India before Thailand. They spent a total of 16.5 flight hours before touch down at Wing 7.

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10 septembre 2013 2 10 /09 /septembre /2013 07:35
La Thaïlande réceptionne ses derniers Gripen

09.09.2013 Helen Chachaty - journal-aviation.com

 

La Royal Thaï Air Force a réceptionné ses trois derniers Gripen C le 4 septembre sur la base de Surat Thani, au sud de la Thaïlande. Les trois appareils font partie d’une seconde tranche d’avions commandée en 2010, la première ayant été passée en 2008.

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10 septembre 2013 2 10 /09 /septembre /2013 07:20
F-35 Weekly Update: 9th September 2013

09/09/2013 Defence IQ Press


 

Britain and Norway are investigating possible collaboration in the support and training for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The two sides said they are looking at cooperation opportunities in maintenance, sustainment and training of crew and technicians.

The collaboration announcement followed a Sept. 5 meeting in London between British defense procurement minister Philip Dunne and his Norwegian counterpart, Eirik-Owre Thorshaug. A spokesman for the Norwegian Ministry of Defence said exploratory discussions between officials were continuing today in London.

The talks come against a background of wider European efforts to collaborate on F-35 support, but the spokesman said that with similar delivery timelines and their geographical proximity it was natural the British and Norwegians would consider bilateral opportunities.

“This will be the first time in nearly 60 years that Norway and the UK will operate a similar type of fighter aircraft [the last time was the Vampire] and this naturally opens up new possibilities for co-operation,” said Thorshaug.

“The pooling and sharing of resources and maintenance capabilities is already at the heart of the support strategy for operating the F-35 [in Europe], and the UK and Norwegian MoD are looking to see where further national synergies may exist. In this context, both governments are encouraging UK and Norwegian industry to explore collaborative opportunities for cooperation in support and sustainment of our common F-35 fleet,” the two sides said in a statement. [Defense News]

 

Production delays on Lockheed Martin Corp.'s F-35 fighter aircraft have contributed to major cost increases and schedule delays for the $43 billion Navy program to build three aircraft carriers, and could eventually lead to pricey retrofits to the initial ship after it's delivered.

Newport News Shipbuilding is manufacturing three Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers, which will replace the current Nimitz-class carriers. The lead ship, CVN 78, is under construction and preparation work is under way for the second, CVN 79.

Among its features is the ability to launch about 90 aircraft, including the F-35, but aircraft development and testing delays have affected integration activities on the lead ship, according to a Thursday report from the Government Accountability Office.

For example, the Navy has been unable to complete planned testing of the F-35 with the ship's electromagnetic aircraft launch system, the advanced arresting gear system used when landing and the ship’s storage capabilities for the F- 35’s tires, wheels and lithium-ion batteries that provide startup and backup power.

F-35 initial capability was scheduled to occur prior to the shipbuilder’s delivery of the first ship to the Navy in 2016. But because of the F-35 delays, the Navy will not field the aircraft until at least 2017 — one year after the carrier delivery. As a result, the Navy has deferred F-35 integration activities, "which introduces risk of system incompatibilities and costly retrofits to the ship after it is delivered to the Navy," the GAO reported. [Washington Business Journal]

 

Northrop Grumman Corp. named Brian E. Chappel to lead the company’s F-35 Lightning II program, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter.

Northrop’s Aerospace Systems sector, based in Redondo Beach, is principal partner on the F-35 to prime contractor Lockheed Martin Corp.

Chappel will direct and oversee cost, schedule, technical matters, quality and customer satisfaction for production of the aircraft’s center fuselage, Northrop said in a statement. Northrop produces the center fuselage in Palmdale and performs engineering work in El Segundo.

Chappel most recently served as vice president of Business Management and chief financial officer for the company’s Advanced Development Programs business unit.

Chappel joined Northrop in 1993 after serving in the U.S. Air Force. His experience in Northrop includes business development, proposals, contracts, pricing and program business operations. [Daily Breeze]

 

The Pentagon's chief arms buyer on Wednesday said he did not expect the U.S. Navy to significantly change its plans to buy F-35 fighter jets built by Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N), despite mounting pressure on the U.S. military budget.

Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, told the Reuters Aerospace and Defense Summit that the $392 billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter was the U.S. military's highest priority conventional warfare program.

He said the Navy needed the added capabilities that the F-35 offered, noting that other countries were developing their own radar-evading fighter planes, advanced electronic warfare capabilities and other advanced weapons that threatened the U.S. military's ability to "control the air."

"I don't see any indication that the Navy is going to change its plans in any fundamental way," Kendall told the summit.

The Navy and other branches of the military have been mapping out their options if lawmakers fail to reverse mandatory budget cuts and they are forced to implement an additional 10 percent budget cut in fiscal 2015.

One possibility under discussion has been a two-year pause in orders for the F-35C carrier variant, a move that could increase the cost of the remaining aircraft to be bought by the Marine Corps and the Air Force, according to four sources familiar with the issue. [Reuters]

 

A worst-case scenario of cost risks in a Department of National Defence report on a possible acquisition of 65 Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighter jets estimates the airplanes could cost Canada up to $71-billion through acquisition, sustainment and operations over 36 years.

The costs, $25-billion more than the current National Defence estimate, are contained in a section of the department’s latest report to Parliament on the F-35 that outlines “cost risk and uncertainty” and is intended to provide a range of effects on the cost of buying and operating a fleet of stealth attack planes if factors such as inflation, the exchange rate between the Canadian and U.S. dollar, the cost of fuel and the rate of aircraft to be produced by Lockheed Martin fluctuates either higher or lower than the estimates that are behind the current National Defence figures. [Ottowa Citizen]

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9 septembre 2013 1 09 /09 /septembre /2013 11:35
Experts’ Comparative Analysis of Performance Between J-15 and U.S. F-18

September 9th, 2013 By Chinese Government - defencetalk.com

 

The J-15 belongs to the 4th generation of conventional shipboard aircraft, which also includes the U.S. navy’s F/A-18C/D “Hornet” and F/A-18E/F “Super Hornet”, the French “Rafale M”, and the Russian Mig-29K which is also used by the Indian navy.

 

According to Zheng Wenhao, military expert of Xinhua News Agency, the J-15 has the best supersonic performance among the fighters mentioned above, and is especially strong in air control and air-to-air intercept; its low-altitude and low-speed performances are slightly inferior to those of the “Hornet” family, but are better than those of the other models.

 

With its roots in the excellent genes of the “Flanker” family, the J-15′s flight performance is relatively comprehensive. A heavy shipboard aircraft with a bare weight of about 18 tons, the J-15 is able to carry more than 9 tons of fuel internally, giving a range of over 3,000 km without the need to carry an auxiliary fuel tank. According to Zheng Wenhao, this allows it up to 12 mount points, which can all be used for a range of precision guided weapons, thereby creating high combat flexibility.

 

The extensive attack radius, generous bomb load, and lengthy patrol duration give the J-15 powerful single aircraft combat effectiveness.

 

However, according to Andrei Pinkov, chief editor of the “Kanwa Information Center”, a comparison between the “Flying Shark” on the Aircraft Carrier Liaoning and the “Super Hornet” on the aircraft carriers of the U.S. Navy indicates that the F/A-18E/F of the U.S. navy is more mature, and has certain advantages over the J-15.

 

“The orientation of F/A-18E/F is a fighter attacker, so that its maneuvering is not so good as the J-15, which derives from an air control fighter. This means that the J-15 is more likely to shoot down F/A-18E/F in close combat,” says Pinkov. “However, the ‘Super Hornet’ is able to take off with the assistance of catapult, so that its real payload is likely to exceed that of J-15, which takes off by means of ski-jump. Thus the U.S. fighter has advantages in terms of attack and combat radius.”

 

The larger frame of the J-15 also reduces the number of aircraft on the aircraft carrier, and makes its radar cross-section bigger than the “Hornet”, offering the advantages of stealth and first sight to the enemy.

 

“The J-15 represents a major transition in China’s Navy”, says Zheng Wenhao. As China’s first shipboard fighter, its capabilities in takeoff, landing and rapid combat-readiness are a major step forward.

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9 septembre 2013 1 09 /09 /septembre /2013 06:50
Eurofighter Typhoon Achieves 200,000 Flying Hours – 378 Aircraft In Service

September 8, 2013. David Pugliese - Defence Watch

 

News release from Eurofighter:

 

Eurofighter Typhoon has now achieved more than 200,000 flying hours since the entry-into-service of its worldwide fleet. Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH confirmed the milestone today adding that, with 719 aircraft on contract, 571 aircraft ordered and 378 aircraft delivered, the programme has “never looked stronger”.

 

Alberto Gutierrez, Chief Executive Officer of Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH, said: “This impressive milestone underlines the outstanding track-record of the Eurofighter Typhoon. Today, our congratulations go to all the air forces who have achieved this target, to more than 100,000 employees in Europe who are involved in the development manufacturing and supply chain as well as to all the 400 companies who support us on a daily basis with their know-how and competences. This is indeed a proud day for all of them and a landmark day for Europe’s largest defence programme.”

 

The CEO added: “Every day our aircraft are protecting the skies in Europe, the Middle East and even in the Southern hemisphere. They are on Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Eurofighter Typhoon is combat proven since the Libya operations and is now gaining considerable momentum – indeed the programme has never looked stronger. It has become the backbone of the Air Forces in the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain and Austria. When the chips are down, air chiefs want an aircraft that is versatile, reliable, resilient and cost-effective. Eurofighter Typhoon fulfills all of these requirements and the operational experiences gained during these flying hours have proven it.”

 

The first 5,000 flying hours were achieved in November 2005. 10,000 hours came in August  2006 and 20,000 in May 2007. By August 2008, the Eurofighter Typhoon fleet had surpassed 50,000 hours and 100,000 flying hours was reached in January 2011.

 

The global Eurofighter fleet now comprises 20 operating units with locations in Europe, the South Atlantic and the Middle East. Specifically there are: 7 units in the UK (4 in Coningsby, 2 in Leuchars and 1 in Mount Pleasant, Falkland Islands); 5 in Italy (2 in Grosseto, 2 in Gioia del Colle, 1 in Trapani); 3 in Germany (Laage, Neuburg and Nörvenich), as well as 3 in Spain (2 in Morón, 1 in Albacete) and one each in Austria (Zeltweg) and in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – all of them have contributed to the 200,000 flying hour total.

 

Background information:

 

Eurofighter Typhoon is the most advanced new generation multi-role/swing-role combat aircraft currently available on the world market. Seven nations (Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Austria, Saudi Arabia and Oman) have already ordered the Eurofighter Typhoon. With 719 aircraft under contract and 571 on order, Eurofighter Typhoon is currently the largest military procurement programme in Europe. Its high technology strengthens the position of European aerospace industry in the international market. The programme secures more than 100,000 jobs in over 400 companies. Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH manages the programme on behalf of the Eurofighter Partner Companies Alenia Aermacchi/Finmeccanica, BAE Systems and Cassidian in Germany and Spain, which are the most important aviation and aerospace companies in Europe with a turnover of about 126 billion euro (2012).

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6 septembre 2013 5 06 /09 /septembre /2013 16:20
USAF B-2 Stealth Communications Systems Upgrade

06/09/2013 by Paul Fiddian - Armed Forces International's Lead Reporter

 

20 years overdue, the USAF B-2 Spirit communications upgrade programme is finally set to begin.

 

Right now, USAF Northrop B-2 Stealth Bombers receive presidential force instructions via ultra-high frequency communications systems, enabled by MILSTAR (Military Strategic Tactical and Relay) satellites. These satellites, though, are rapidly approaching their scheduled retirement date. Therefore, a programme named CVR Increment 1 is set to be introduced.

 

CVR (Common Very Low Frequency Receiver) will supply USAF B-2 pilots with "another, more reliable means to receive presidential force direction via emergency action messages", according to Gary Doolittle from the USAF's Global Strike Command.

 

Upgraded Stealth Communications

 

With this upgraded stealth communications system activated, the USAF's B-2s would receive signals without the need for the MILSTAR satellite fleet. Thus, the Air Force's Stealth capability would remain formidable while a MILSTAR replacement could be conceived, developed and pressed into service.

 

CVR Increment 1 took a significant step forward two months ago, when Engineering and Manufacturing Development Phase approval was granted. So, before too long, CVR Increment 1-based B-2 flight trials should be launched.

 

USAF officials make the point that, while CVR Increment 1 is B-2-optimised, the system could be adapted for other types of aircraft in US military service. These types could include the B-52 Stratofortress strategic heavy bomber, introduced in 1955 but set to remain with the USAF into the 2040s.

 

B-2 Communications Upgrade

 

USAF officials now expect that CVR Increment 1 communication systems will start to be operationally deployed on B-2s from 2017 onwards.

 

The B-2 Spirit ‘Stealth Bomber' and the B-52H Stratofortress are both part of the USAF's Global Strike Command. The USAF B-2 fleet has been extensively deployed on operations including Operation Odyssey - the 2011 sorties over Libya.

 

Introduced to the world in 1988, the B-2 Spirit is a dedicated low-observable strike platform. Its overall shape is intended to minimise its presence on enemy radar screens, allowing it to then deliver nuclear or conventional weapons after penetrating thick anti-aircraft defences.

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6 septembre 2013 5 06 /09 /septembre /2013 16:20
Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey Deploys Refueling Equipment in Flight Test

Sep 5, 2013 ASDNews Source : The Boeing Company

 

    Additional demonstrations of V-22's refueling capability planned

 

The Bell Boeing V-22 Program, a strategic alliance between Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. [NYSE: TXT] and Boeing [NYSE: BA], has successfully completed an initial test of the V-22 Osprey performing as an aerial refueling tanker. Adding this capability to the tiltrotor aircraft would further advance its versatility in combat, humanitarian and ship-based operations.

 

In the August demonstration over north Texas, a V-22 equipped with a prototype aerial refueling system safely deployed, held stable, and retracted the refueling drogue as an F/A-18C and an F/A-18D Hornet flew just behind and to the side of the aircraft.

 

“Adding aerial refueling tanker capability to the V-22 will enable operators to execute a wider variety of missions with greater flexibility and autonomy,” said Vince Tobin, Bell Boeing V-22 program director. “This will save time and money by maximizing the efficient use of aircraft and personnel.”

 

Future Bell Boeing tests will put aircraft in a fuel-receiving position directly behind the V-22, connect receiver aircraft with the refueling drogue and, ultimately, refuel a variety of aircraft in flight. The V-22 is a combat-proven tiltrotor that can fly horizontally at high speeds and high altitudes like an airplane, and take off and land vertically like a helicopter.

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6 septembre 2013 5 06 /09 /septembre /2013 11:50
Empennage, tuyères et cônes d’hélices modifiés pour l’AW609 – photo AgustaWestland

Empennage, tuyères et cônes d’hélices modifiés pour l’AW609 – photo AgustaWestland

5 septembre 2013 Aerobuzz.fr

 

L’hélicoptériste AgustaWestland a annoncé tester plusieurs améliorations aérodynamiques sur son convertible civil AW609. Empennage vertical, tuyères des moteurs, cônes d’hélice : l’ensemble des modifications devrait réduire la traînée de 10 % environ. Les concepteurs de l’AW609 comptent sur un allègement simultané. Au Texas et en Italie, les deux prototypes ont accumulé 800 heures de vol depuis le premier vol en 2003. La certification, régulièrement repoussée, est désormais attendue en 2017.

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6 septembre 2013 5 06 /09 /septembre /2013 07:25
A-1M subsonic attack aircraft - photo Brazilian air force

A-1M subsonic attack aircraft - photo Brazilian air force

Sept. 5, 2013 by  Dave Majumdar – FG

 

Washington DC - Embraer has delivered the first modernised A-1M subsonic attack aircraft to the Brazilian air force in Gavião Peixoto.

 

"The A-1 fighter jets are fundamental elements for the defence of Brazil, including its territorial coastal waters," says Gen Juniti Saito, the service's commander. "We have been very successful in using this aircraft on such highly complex operations as the Cruzex and Red Flag exercises. Its modernisation presents a big gain in capability," he adds.

 

The A-1M programme provides for the upgrade of 43 AMX jets, which were originally developed under a joint Italian-Brazilian venture. So far, 16 aircraft have been inducted into Embraer's facilities for refurbishment.

 

The modernisation package includes new navigation systems, weapons, oxygen generators, multimode radar and electronic countermeasures. The new hardware is coupled with structural refurbishment that will extend the type's life until 2025

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6 septembre 2013 5 06 /09 /septembre /2013 06:50
RAF Hawk T2 trainers photo UK MoD

RAF Hawk T2 trainers photo UK MoD

Sept. 5, 2013 by Craig Hoyle – FG

 

London - Early use of the Royal Air Force's BAE Systems Hawk T2 advanced jet trainer has dramatically boosted the quality of instruction being provided to UK students, programme officials say.

 

A first course of four ab initio pilots completed their training on the T2 with 4 Sqn at Valley in June 2013, before progressing to the RAF's 29 Sqn operational conversion unit (OCU) for the Eurofighter Typhoon at Coningsby in Lincolnshire.

 

"I think we've doubled the standard of the students," says Alasdair Shinner, station manager at the Anglesey base for Lockheed Martin/Babcock joint venture Ascent; the Ministry of Defence's training system partner for the Military Flying Training System (MFTS) programme. The T2 has the potential to deliver a "multi-role, combat-ready pilot" to the OCU, he adds, whereas the RAF's analogue cockpit Hawk T1s "weren't giving them relevant training for the aircraft that they were going to be flying".

 

Several additional courses are now under way, with these including RAF and Royal Navy students and 11 more UK qualified flying instructors (QFI). With only 50% of system capacity currently being used on a 28-aircraft fleet, potential options to increase the volume of training delivered include preparing additional RAF QFIs, increasing the number of instructors sourced from other air forces from a current one each from Australia, Canada and France, or approving Ascent-employed instructors to command some flights, officials say.

 

"Spare capacity is something that is being looked at, but there is no simple answer," says Gp Capt Simon Blake, from the RAF's 22 Group training organisation. "Lots of other air forces are coming here and seeing that we are filling the [training capability] gap," he notes.

 

Meanwhile, activities involving the RAF's Hawk T1-equipped 208 Sqn have been extended at Valley, with the service currently providing Phase IV lead-in fighter training for Royal Saudi Air Force pilots. Riyadh will take delivery of its first of 22 T2-equivalent Hawks from BAE in 2015, with Oman also having ordered eight of the new-generation type.

 

The remainder of the MFTS programme's fixed-wing equipment package should be determined by 2015, with a side-by-side-configuration type to deliver elementary training and a turboprop-powered basic trainer offering "jet-like performance" to be acquired as a replacement for the RAF's current Shorts Tucano T1s. Operations should commence from around 2018, says Ascent training director Simon Falla.

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5 septembre 2013 4 05 /09 /septembre /2013 17:35
C-17 Globemaster III  Indian Air Force – photo Rishika Baruah source Livefist

C-17 Globemaster III Indian Air Force – photo Rishika Baruah source Livefist

NEW DELHI, Sept. 5 (UPI)

 

The Indian Air Force officially inducted the first three Boeing C-17 Globemaster III transporters this week.

 

Boeing delivered the three -- the first of 10 C-17 aircraft on order -- during the past three months, a report by NDTV said.

 

Two more are expected by the end of the year and the last five will be delivered by the end of next year.

 

The aircraft is capable of lifting tanks to the border with China and Pakistan and made its debut with a test flight at the Hindon Air Base in Uttar Pradesh state.

 

"The C-17 Globe Master transport aircraft will change the way we deploy forces in the north and northeast," Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne said on Monday during the induction.

 

India's Defense Acquisition Council approved the purchase in October 2009 to replace the air force's aging Russian IL-76 transporters that it bought in the 1990s.

 

The air force has fewer than 20 of Ilyushins which have a 45-ton cargo capacity and needs a crew of six.

 

The force also has the Russian Antonov-32 in its inventory.

 

A report by India Today said the acquisition of the C-17 Aircraft, and the Boeing C-130J Super Hercules transporter, shows the air force is moving away from reliance on Russian-origin aircraft toward American ones.

 

India operates six C-130Js and plans to buy six more for operations on small and unpaved runways alongside routine transport missions.

 

The C-17 carries up to 80 tons and needs a crew of three. One person can operate the heavy-lift hydraulics for cargo handling.

 

The high-wing, 4-engine, T-tailed Globemaster -- powered by four Pratt & Whitney F117-PW-100 turbofan engines -- needs a 7,600-foot airfield to take off. But it can land in less than 3,000 feet on a small unpaved or paved airfield, day or night.

 

It also carries a payload of 160,000 pounds, flies 2,400 nautical miles and can refuel in flight.

 

Boeing recently said that the deal with India includes an Integrated Sustainment Program Performance-Based Logistics contract which, with other customers, has maintained a fleet availability of 85 percent.

 

The C-17 has been in operation since 1991 and has more than 2.6 million flight-hours, Boeing says on its website.

 

Boeing has delivered 256 C-17s, including 222 to the U.S. Air Force. The rest have gone to and Australia, Canada, India, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the 12-member Strategic Airlift Capability initiative of NATO and Partnership for Peace nations.

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5 septembre 2013 4 05 /09 /septembre /2013 17:20
Boeing starts assembly of USAF KC-46 tanker's second refuelling boom

The skin of the second KC-46A boom being loaded into a jig at Boeing's boom assembly centre in Seattle, US. Photo: courtesy of Boeing

 

5 September 2013 airforce-technology.com

 

The US Air Force's (USAF) KC-46A aerial refuelling tanker development programme has moved ahead with the start of assembly of the second refuelling boom at Boeing's facility in Seattle, US.

 

Once assembled, the refuelling boom is scheduled to be mounted on a test aircraft for further validation of its design.

 

Boeing is currently manufacturing five test booms, of which the first will be utilised for risk-reducing laboratory tests at a System Integration Lab (SIL), also called as SIL 0, in early 2014.

 

Boeing KC-46 vice-president and programme manager Maureen Dougherty said the KC-46 boom is based on the proven KC-10 tanker's boom, which has performed extremely well in 30 years of its operation.

 

"Our team is achieving significant milestones as we prepare for flight tests to begin, and we remain focused on delivering this capability on schedule,'' Dougherty said.

 

Manufactured at KC-46 Boom Assembly Center at Boeing Field in Seattle, the modernised fly-by-wire boom is expected to provide KC-46 tanker with advanced refuelling capabilities, enabling it to refuel any fixed-wing receiver aircraft anytime and on any mission.

 

Developed from Boeing's 767-200ER, KC-46A is a military aerial refuelling and strategic transport aircraft designed to replace the USAF's ageing KC-135 Stratotankers fleet, which has served as its primary refuelling aircraft for more than 50 years.

 

Boeing is currently under contract to deliver 18 KC-46 refuelling aircraft by 2017 to the USAF, which is planning to acquire a total of 179 tankers by 2027.

 

An initial test flight of the fully-equipped KC-46A tanker is planned for early 2015, while delivery will take place in 2016.

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5 septembre 2013 4 05 /09 /septembre /2013 16:50
Alenia installs helmet mounted display on M-346 aircraft

The new helmet mounted display will make M-346 trainer more representative of the operational aircraft. Photo Alenia Aermacchi.

 

5 September 2013 airforce-technology.com

 

Alenia Aermacchi has fitted its M-346 Master advanced trainer aircraft with a fully integrated helmet mounted display (HMD) system to make it even more representative of the operational aircraft.

 

Installed into the aircraft's avionics systems and ground-based mission simulators, the HMD is designed to help pilots develop competency in use of advanced weapons systems management in scenarios fully representative of combat aircraft, by serving as a true interface between the pilot and aircraft systems.

 

The easy-to-use and maintain system can particularly prove effective in scenarios where the trainee uses the embedded tactical training system (ETTS) for sensor and weapons systems training by enhancing the pilot's situational awareness both in air-to-air and air-to-ground missions.

 

Besides enabling reconfiguration of navigation and tactical symbology for replication of various operational aircraft systems, the system also displays targeting and tracking information on the helmet visor to help trainees perform tactical manoeuvres and weapon release to achieve mission objectives.

 

Fitted with a click-on night module, the M-346 HMD facilitates easy mechanical integration with most of the common night-vision goggle (NVGs) models, and is also expected to prove useful for the back seat crew training.

 

The system successfully completed flight testing in May 2010.

 

Powered by two Honeywell F124-GA-200 turbofan engines, the M-346 Master is an advanced and lead-in fifth-generation fighter aircraft designed to offer combat pilot training for frontline fighters with high angle-of-attack capability.

 

A derivative of the Russian Yak-130 combat trainer, the aircraft features a full authority quadruplex fly-by-wire control system to remain fully controllable at angles of attack of more than 35°, as well as an integrated digital avionics suite with an ability to simulate sensors and threats in flight.

 

The aircraft has been ordered by the air forces of Italy and Singapore, and more recently by Israel as part of a $1bn government-to-government deal with Italy.

Alenia installs helmet mounted display on M-346 aircraft
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5 septembre 2013 4 05 /09 /septembre /2013 11:50
L'A400M goûte à la terre et au gravier

04/09/2013 Par François Julian - air-cosmos.com

 

C'est un environnement auquel il sera régulièrement confronté : les pistes non goudronnées, faites de terre et de gravier. Airbus Military vient en effet d'annoncer que l'A400M a terminé une série d'essais sur piste sommaire en Espagne, plus précisément sur un terrain à Ablitas dans le nord de l'Espagne, près de Saragosse.

 

C'est l'avion de développement n°2 (MSN 2) qui a servi à ces essais. Vingt-cinq atterrissages ont été réalisés, qui ont permis de vérifier que les projections de graviers et de pierres n'endommageaient pas l'avion.

 

L'un des objectifs de ces essais était également de montrer que la masse de l'avion au décollage (qui peut atteindre les 141 tonnes) est suffisamment bien repartie pour ne pas endommager irrémédiablement ce genre de piste, souvent meuble.

 

Suite de l’article

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5 septembre 2013 4 05 /09 /septembre /2013 11:50
Czech gripen source Saab group

Czech gripen source Saab group

 September 4th, 2013 defencetalk.com

 

On the occasion of finalising talks between Czech and Swedish parties on prolongation of a lease agreement of SAAB 39 Gripen supersonic aircraft, Czech PM Jiri Rusnok visited 21st Tactical Air Force Base at Caslav to get more information on operation of these aircraft and conditions of their pilots who guard Czech air space daily for eight years.

 

A squadron of SAAB 39 Gripen (also known as JAS-39 Gripen) aircraft serves not only for the Czech Republic but also within NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence System. “I am glad that pilots are very satisfied with the equipment they use. I think that this aircraft seems to be optimal choice for our military at all, that is in tactical, combat and operational economic respects,” said Jiri Rusnok, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic at the Caslav Base.

 

PM Rusnok was accompanied by Minister of Defence Vlastimil Picek and Chief of the General Staff of ACR Lieutenant General Petr Pavel. They toured the whole base including infrastructure and support facilities where pilots of SAAB had passed their experience with service. In discussion, Minister Picek, General Pavel and commander of the 21TAFB Colonel Petr Hromek informed PM Rusnok about risky factors that would possibly occure in transition to another type of supersonics.

 

Talks with the Swedish party resulted in mutually advantageous draft agreement on prolongation of the lease of 14 Gripen aircraft for more than ten years. Minister of Defence Vlastimil Picek said that the decision over the prolongation would probably take the next government and added that the present one had created the best for really simple decision in future.

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5 septembre 2013 4 05 /09 /septembre /2013 11:40
MiG-35 Matches The F-35 In Delays

September 4, 2013: Strategy Page

 

Russia recently announced that it would not, as earlier revealed, order 37 of its new (and still in development) MiG-35D fighters. Because of development problems, this order will now be delayed until 2016. The original price was to be about $29 million per aircraft.

 

Described as the equivalent of the American F-35, the MiG-35D would be the low-end to the high end T-50 (the Russian F-22). The T-50 is no F-22 and the MiG-35D is no F-35. The MiG-35D is a considerably redesigned MiG-29. The 29 ton MiG-35D is armed with one 30mm autocannon and can carry over (by how much is not yet clear) five tons of bombs. The big selling point for the MiG-35D is its offensive and defensive electronics, as well as sensors for finding targets on land or sea. This stuff looks very impressive on paper but the Russians have long had problems getting performance to match promises. This is particularly the case with the advanced electronics of the MiG-35D, which are running into problems because the F-35 electronics set a very high bar.

 

The 27 ton American F-35 is armed with an internal 25mm cannon and four internal air-to-air missiles (or two missiles and two smart bombs), plus four external smart bombs and two missiles. All sensors are carried internally, and max weapon load is 6.8 tons. The aircraft is very stealthy when just carrying internal weapons.

 

The MiG-35D has little stealth capability. The MiG-35D first flew six years ago, and there are currently about ten prototypes being used for testing and development work. The MiG-35D is expected to enter service some time before the end of the decade. The MiG-35D will sell for less than half of what the F-35 goes for (currently over $120 million each).

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5 septembre 2013 4 05 /09 /septembre /2013 11:35
Shenyang J-31 stealth fighter (Falcon Hawk)

Shenyang J-31 stealth fighter (Falcon Hawk)

September 5, 2013: Strategy Page

 

For over a year now China has been testing a second stealth fighter design. This one is called the J-31 “Falcon Eagle” (from an inscription on the tail), and while it looks like the American F-22, it’s also smaller than China’s other stealth fighter (the J-20, which has been around longer). The J-31 was built by the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (which makes the J-11, the illegal Chinese copy of the Russian Su-27). The J-31 has some characteristics of the F-35 as well and appears to be something of an “F-35” to the earlier J-20s effort to match the American F-22. It’s also possible that the F-31 is a competing (with the J-20) design that is hustling to grab sales the J-20 thought it had all locked up. The J-31 flew for the first time last October and there are at least two prototypes and the designer has talked of the J-31 being able to operate off an aircraft carrier (like the U.S. F-35 and the J-15, a J-11 variant).  One advantage the J-31 has is two engines, compared to one for the F-35. This means the J-31 could carry more weapons, but this is less crucial with all the guided weapons available.

 

The J-31 is further evidence that China is determined to develop its own high tech military gear. While China is eager to develop advanced military technology locally, it recognizes that this takes time and more effort than nations new to this expect. Thus China is trying to avoid the mistakes Russia made in this area. That means having competing designs and developing necessary supporting industries is part of that. All this takes a lot of time and involves lots of little (and some major) failures. The Chinese are doing it right and are willing to wait until they get military tech that is truly world class.

 

 

Both Chinese Stealth Designs Move Forward

The other stealth fighter, the J-20, was made by CAC (Chengdu Aircraft Company), which also produced the JF-17 and J-10. The J-20 made its first flight in 2011 and many more since then. There are at least two original J-20 prototypes and late last year a new prototype appeared that had several modifications and is estimated to have a max weight of 36 tons. While the J-20 looks like the American F-22 when viewed head on, it's overall shape, weight, and engine power is closer to the American F-15C. In other words, it's about 20 meters (62 feet) long, with a wing span of 13.3 meters (42 feet). J-20 has about the same wing area as the F-15C, which is about 25 percent less than the F-22 (which is a few percent larger than the F-15 in terms of length and wingspan). Worse, for the J-20, is the fact that its engine power is about the same as the F-15C, while the F-22 has 65 percent more power. With the afterburner turned on, the J-20 has more power than the F-15C and nearly as much as the F-22. But because the afterburner consumes so much fuel, you can't use more than a few minutes at a time. The new J-20 model appears to be able to supercruise, joining the F-22, Eurofighter and the Gripen as aircraft that can supercruise (go faster than the speed of sound without using the afterburner).

 

The J-20 has some stealthiness when it's coming at you head on. But from any other aspect, the J-20 will light up the radar screen. For this reason the J-20 is seen as a developmental aircraft, not the prototype of a new model headed for mass production. As such, it is only the fifth stealth fighter to fly, the others being the U.S. F-22 and F-35, plus the Russian T-50. The older U.S. F-117 was actually a light bomber and the B-2 was obviously a heavy bomber. Based on recent Chinese warplane development projects (J-11 in particular), the J-20 has a long development road ahead of it and will likely change size and shape before it reaches the production design. The J-31 may be an insurance policy, in case the J-20 effort goes off the rails in a big way.

 

While the shape of the J-20 confers a degree of stealthiness (invisibility to radar), even more electronic invisibility comes from special materials covering the aircraft. It's not known how far along the Chinese are in creating, or stealing, these materials, or the needed engines. China would most likely use the J-20 singly, or in small groups, to seek out and attack American carriers. To make this possible F-22 class engines are needed and that is still in development. Over the last few years China has admitted it has been developing the WS-15 engine (since the 1990s), a more powerful beast well suited for the J-20. No date was given as to when the WS-15 would be available for use or whether it would have the same vectoring (ability to move the hot jet exhaust in different directions in order to make the fighter more maneuverable) the F-22 uses.

 

For the J-20 to be a superior fighter, it would need electronics (including radars and defense systems) on a par with the F-35 and F-22. So far, the Chinese have not caught up with stuff used by current American fighters. But the gap is being closed, faster than it was during the Cold War when the Russians were creating, or stealing, their way to military tech equivalence with the West. The Russians never made it but the Chinese believe they can succeed.

 

Work on the J-20 began in the late 1990s, and the Chinese knew that it could be 25 years or more before they had a competitive stealth fighter-bomber. The J-20 is being tested in central China. The twin engine J-20 appears to be about the same weight class as the 30 ton F-15C. The F-35A is a 31 ton, single engine fighter, while the twin-engine F-22 is slightly larger at 38 tons. The Russian T-50 weighed in at 37 tons.

 

China is also developing other support technologies, like the AESA radar, highly efficient cockpit, stealth, and software to tie everything together. Developing, or even copying, this tech is not easy. But the Chinese already know that, having decades of experience adapting stolen technology to their needs. Thus it appears that China is planning on having the J-20, in some form, ready for service by the end of the decade. The key factor is their ability to develop or steal the needed technology by then. The J-20 appears to be a fighter-bomber, as this kind of aircraft would be most useful dealing with the U.S. Navy and key targets in Taiwan or Japan. In any event, the J-20 is an attempt to develop some kind of 5th generation aircraft, complete with stealth.

 

 

The only other competitor in this area is Russia, where fifth generation fighter developments were halted when the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991. Actually, all development work on new fighters, by everyone, slowed down in the 1990s. But work on the F-22, F-35, Eurofighter, and Rafale continued, and those aircraft became, in roughly that order, the most advanced fighter aircraft available today. MiG resumed work on the I.42 in the 1990s, but had to stop after a few years because of a lack of money. Sukhoi has never stopped working on its T-50, funded by much higher sales of its Su-27/30 fighters. This fifth generation may come to be called the "last generation," after they are replaced by the second generation of pilotless combat aircraft (counting armed Predators and the like as the first).

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