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Queries raised over military choppers that have yet to fly

President Kibaki’s helicopter takes off at Kiganjo, Nyeri. The President uses the French-manufactured Puma helicopters that are reconfigured for VIP usage. Chinese Z-9 helicopters delivered in January have allegedly not flown. (Photo: Sunday Nation)

March 27, 2010, Nairobi -- Did Kenya buy defective helicopters from China? That is the question being asked by military engineers after it became apparent that eight Chinese choppers delivered to Nairobi in January have not been flown.

The helicopters were bought from a company that has previously supplied planes to Kenya.

However, the ministry of Defence said the helicopters had not been grounded but did not explain why they have not taken to the air three months after they were delivered.

“We wish to state that so far we do not have any Z-9 helicopters which are grounded,” the DoD spokesman Bogita Ongeri said in response to enquiries about the aircraft. But engineers at DoD said the military utility helicopters had never been airborne since they were delivered in January.

Sources at DoD said several of the eight helicopters were meant to beef up the VIP fleet that is usually at the disposal of the President, Prime Minister and the Vice-President.

Currently, President Kibaki uses the French-manufactured Puma helicopters that are reconfigured for VIP usage.

As military utility helicopters, the Z-9 have a variety of roles including ground attack, air assault, cargo, reconnaissance and troop transport. They can carry 10 armed soldiers.

VIP fleet

Engineers note that while they expected the “new” helicopters to reinforce the VIP fleet, they were disappointed that they had not flown three months after arrival.

“For three months we have waited for them to take to the skies but to no avail,” our source, who cannot be named as he is not authorised to speak to the media, said.

The Harbin Z-9 is a Chinese military utility helicopter licence-built version of the French Eurocopter Dauphin.

The first Z-9 flew in 1981, and was built in China by the Harbin Aircraft Manufacturing Corp from components supplied by AĆ©rospatiale.

This is the same French firm that supplied the Puma helicopters still in service for the Kenya Air Force.

The latest armed version, the Z-9WA, was introduced in 2005 and has night attack capabilities with an under-nose low-light TV and infra-red observing and tracking unit.

Information on the purchase of the choppers is contained in the latest factsheet of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), which monitors worldwide purchase and transfer of military hardware.

Sunday Nation

IAF's AWACS to be flight tested in 2012: Official

February 2, 2010, Bangalore -- The indigenous Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) System, integrated onboard the Brazilian aircraft EMB145 as per Indian Air Force’s requirement, would be flight tested in 2012, a key official involved in the project has said.

The AEW&C system (also called AWACS - Airborne Warning and Control System) is being developed by the Bangalore-based Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS), a lab under the Defence Research and Development Organisation for the IAF.

Under a deal signed between India and Brazil in 2008, Embraer aircraft manufacturer would modify its EMB145 to carry Active Array Antenna Unit by India on the aircraft's fuselage.

Three modified EMB-145 aircraft would be developed under the agreement.

“AEW&C’s flying platform is the modified EMB145, which will take to skies later this year. It is scheduled to be delivered to us in Aug 2011,” CABS Director S Christopher said here.

Defence Minister A K Antony on Tuesday inaugurated the System Test and Integration Rig (STIR) complex at CABS for testing airborne systems.

Christopher said: “...our mission systems will be ready by this year. It will be tested in this rig in 2011, followed by flight testing in 2012.”

The indigenous AEW&C system would detect, identify and classify threats present in the surveillance area and act as a command and control centre to support air operations, he said.


Navy Activates 1st strategic Mobile Fleet

February 1, 2010 -- The Navy inaugurated Monday its first Aegis destroyer-led squadron Monday in an effort to develop its blue-water operational capability beyond coastal defense.

The inauguration ceremony of the 7th Mobile Fleet which will be made up of two squadrons took place at the Naval Operations Command in Busan, the Navy said in a news release.

Each squadron consists of a 7,600-ton KDX-II Sejong the Great-class Aegis destroyer and three 4,500-ton KDX-II destroyers.

The second KDX-III destroyer, Yi I, will be delivered to the Navy in August after sea trials.

The Navy plans to launch one more Aegis ship by 2012.

Six 5,600-ton mini-Aegis KDX-IIA destroyers, which will be built and operational between 2019 and 2026, will also join the squadrons.

The mobile fleet will be backed by 1,800-ton submarines, frigates, P3-C maritime patrol aircraft and Lynx anti-submarine helicopters, when it conducts operations to secure sea lanes and defend against a possible North Korean invasion, among others, the Navy said.

The squadrons will be based at the Busan operations command and a naval base in Jinhae, South Gyeongsang Province, it said.

A forward-deployed naval base to be built on the southern island of Jeju by 2014 will serve as the home port for the mobile fleet.

"The establishment of this mobile fleet heralds the ROK Navy's development into a blue-water force," Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jung Ok-keun said in his speech during the ceremony. "As a rapid deployment force ranking with naval powers in the world, the fleet will support national policies and interests by perfectly completing missions assigned."

The fleet is scheduled to participate in combined or multinational maritime exercises, including the annual Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC), which will be held in waters off Hawaii, from this year.

During RIMPAC, in particular, the Sejong the Great KDX-III destroyer will test-fire ship-to-air SM-2 Block IIIA/B Tactical Standard Missiles for the first time as part of Aegis combat system ship qualification trails (CSSQT) with allied nations, Navy officials said.

CSSQT is a series of at-sea exercises and tests to verify whether shipboard combat and weapon systems have been installed properly, and can be operated and maintained safely and effectively by the crew.


IAF Pokhran Blitz to Showcase Its Firepower

February 1, 2010, New Delhi -- IAF is all set to conduct a high-voltage firepower exercise to showcase its `shock and awe' capabilities to both domestic as well as international audiences.

Dubbed `Vayu-Shakti', the high-intensity blitzkrieg will culminate in a massive firepower demonstration at the Pokhran range in Thar desert on February 24, with the country's top leadership, military brass and foreign military observers in attendance.

The sheer scale can be gauged from the fact that IAF has kept around 70 top-notch fighters like Sukhoi-30MKIs, Mirage-2000s, Jaguars, MiG-29s, MiG-27s and MiG-21 `Bisons' from several airbases on standby for Vayu-Shakti.

Moreover, IAF will also be deploying Mi-35 attack and Mi-17 medium-lift helicopters, IL-76 heavy-lift and AN-32 medium-lift cargo aircraft for the exercise.

"Vayu-Shakti is being held after a gap of some years. It will be a `maha' (major) one to demonstrate India's aerial firepower and capabilities, both during day and night," said a top IAF officer.

Foreign observers and military attaches are often invited to military exercises in India but this time the number will be much larger. "Vayu-Shakti will send a message that, along with the growing economic power, we also have the requisite military muscle to defend our geo-strategic interests," said another officer.

Yes, IAF is still grappling with the sharp decline in the number of its fighter squadrons, down to just 32 from even the `sanctioned strength' of 39.5. But the force is confident that operational and procurement plans are in place to ensure its capability to operate in India's expanding strategic environment, spreading from the Persian Gulf right up to Malacca Strait.

The fourth largest air force in the world after US, Russia and China, IAF's eventual aim is to transform into an `expeditionary aerospace force', with the wherewithal to rapidly deploy and operate across the globe.

IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal P V Naik, has outlined a three-pronged strategy for his force. One, `to see first and see the farthest', with AWACS (airborne warning and control systems) and satellites.

Two, `to reach first and the farthest', with mid-air refuellers to enhance the radius of operations of its fighters. And three, `to hit hard and accurately', with advanced missiles and PGMs (precision guided munitions).

All this, of course, does not come cheap. India has inked defence deals worth over $50 billion since the 1999 Kargil conflict, and will spend another $30 billion over the next four-five years, as reported by TOI earlier.

IAF, on its part, hopes to induct all 230 Sukhoi-30MKIs so far contracted from Russia for around $8.5 billion by 2014-15, apart from upgrades of its 63 MiG-29s and 52 Mirage-2000s.

Then, even as India is close to tying up with Russia to build and induct around 250 Sukhoi T-50 advanced stealth fifth-generation fighter aircraft, the ongoing trials to select 126 multi-role combat aircraft under the mammoth $10.4 billion programme are at an advanced stage now.


Choppers EC-725/225 developed from Super Puma

January 28, 2010, Bandung -- Helicopters EC-725 and EC-225 which are the latest products of Eurocopter are developments of chopper S-332, better known as Super Puma.

"Helicopters EC-725 and EC-225 are the development of the NAS-332 or Super Puma. Its development must not change the chopper`s system and load capacity," Vice President of Airframe Eurocopter, Andreas Stoeckle said on the sidelines of the inauguration of the building of the Airframe of choppers EC-725 and EC-225 at the hangar of PTDI in Bandung Wednesday.

PTDI is supplying components of tailboom and fuselage for the latest Eurocopter choppers.

Production by PTDI was started with the production of tailbooms in January 2010,
followed by the production of the fuselage starting in May 2010.

It was scheduled that the first tailboom would have to be handed to Eurocopter in October 2010, and the fuseluge to be handed to PTDI in November 2011.

He said that in the second year or October 2011, PTDI is required to hand over 6 tailbooms, or one in every two months.

Then in the third year, October 2012 will see PTDI handing 10 tailbooms and the next stage, 12 tailbooms will be handed each year, or one unit each month in four years and so on.

The biggest number of developments reached 125 units, which will affect ways of building the helicopters. An airframe, Andreas said, is the main structure of an aircraft, both fixed wing planes and helicopters.

The construction and handing of 125 airframes, tailbooms and fuselages for choppers EC-725/ EC-225, the European international aircraft producer has made PTDI as the main supplier of world class airframes.

"This package is worth more than 50 percent in the manufacture of 4,000 basic parts and 500 sub-assembling work in building the main components," Andreas Stoeckle said.

In the meantime, president director of PTDI Budi Santoso has projected the national aerospace company to become supplier of the main parts and components for world aerospace companies.

He said EC-725 and EC-225 will replace Super Pumas, which hopefully could also be used in Indonesia.

"The last three Super Pumas built by PTDI, for completion in 2010 could also be handed to defense and security authorities which had ordered for the planes," the PTDI boss said.


Wedgetail Through Life Support Contract

January 19, 2009 -- Greg Combet, Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science, today announced the signing of a contract with the Boeing Company to provide five years of through life support services for the new Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) fleet of Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEWC) aircraft.

“This contract will create more than 100 industry jobs in the Newcastle area. It will also provide continued and new employment for more than 100 personnel at Amberley over the next 12 months, which will have positive flow-on effects for local businesses,” Mr Combet said.

“The five year performance based contract is valued at $800 million and provides a comprehensive support arrangement.

“The contract links contractor profits directly to contractor performance, thereby promoting greater efficiency and delivering real cost savings.

“The contract aims to reduce costs into the future, providing value for money for Defence and the Australian taxpayer.

“As outlined in the Rudd Government’s White Paper the Wedgetail aircraft will provide vastly improved situational awareness and an ability to control and coordinate aircraft in the military environment.

“The Boeing Company will be supported by Boeing Defence Australia on maintenance, engineering and training. Northrop Grumman Corporation will provide support for their Multi-Role Electronically Scanned radar.

“As part of the contract, the industry team will deliver services including logistics, training, spares management, aircraft deeper maintenance, engineering and supply chain management,” Minister Combet said.

The Wedgetail aircraft are being delivered progressively to RAAF Base Williamtown. This contract will allow for the necessary infrastructure to be developed for the support of the Wedgetail Aircraft when they are formally accepted by the Commonwealth.


Pindad delivers 33 armored personnel carriers

Anoa APS-2 6x6. (Photo: KOMPAS)

January 13, 2010, Bandung -- State-owned arms manufacturer PT Pindad here Wednesday delivered 33 armored personnel carriers of the APS-2 type (6x6) to the Defense Ministry.

According to a Defense Ministry press release, 24 of the delivered armored vehicles would be used by the army, and the other 13 would put at the disposal of the Indonesian contingent in the UN peace-keeping force in Lebanon.

The 38 APS-2s constituted the third batch of armored personnel carrier deliveries to the Defense Ministry which had placed an order for 150 units. In the first and second batches PT Pindad delivered a total of 60 units to the ministry in 2008.

The ministry had also asked PT Pindad in 2008 to make four armored reconnaissance vehicles.

The APS-2s made by PT Pindad each weigh 12 tons and their bodies were constructed with monocoque and covered in 8 to 10 mm bullet-proof plating.

Although the vehicles are relatively heavy, they can develop a cruising speed of 90 kilometers per hour, turn within a radius of 10 meters and take inclines of up to 31 degrees.

The vehicles are equipped with night vision instruments, a 6- ton winch and for communication purposes they have an intercom set plus VHF/FM (anti-jamming and hopping) and a GPS navigation system.

One APS-2 can carry 15 soldiers, has eight glass reconnaissance and eight firing holes besides two sets of smoke launching tubes.

In terms of firing power, every APS-2 is topped by a copula that can spin 360 degrees to aim AGL or SMB machine guns at targets. They are also equipped with 7.62 mm weapons (infantry) and AGL 40 mm guns (cavalry ).


Heron UAV To Support Australian Troops In Afghanista

January 13, 2009 -- The first Australian-leased Heron Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) has started initial operations supporting Australian, Afghan and International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) in Afghanistan.

Under Project Nankeen, the Defence Materiel Organisation has signed a contract with MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd (MDA) to provide Heron Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) services which will deliver high resolution intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability supporting ADF and ISAF operations in southern Afghanistan.

Heron uses leading edge technology to boost force protection by providing ground commanders with live situational awareness.

Heron’s long endurance characteristic enhances the ADF’s operational ISR capabilities in Afghanistan, currently provided by Air Force AP-3C Orions and Army’s Scan Eagle tactical UAV.

For the past five months, an Air Force-led ADF detachment has been preparing for the delivery of the Australian Heron UAV, by working with the Canadian Heron detachment in southern Afghanistan, drawing on the Canadians’ operational knowledge, experience and facilities.

The Australian Heron detachment has been drawn from many parts of Air Force and Army. It includes UAS pilots, payload operators, intelligence officers, imagery analysts, engineers, administrative and logistics personnel.

Personnel from the Heron detachment are continuing to hone their skills with ISAF personnel. The initial training program provided Australian personnel with the theatre qualifications to conduct operations and provide support for our troops on the ground.

The Initial Operating Capability has been achieved and development of the full capability is ongoing. The Heron is expected to be fully mission capable in the coming months.

Heron is a one tonne aircraft capable of medium altitude, long endurance flights. It was selected after a detailed examination of off-the-shelf, low risk ISR systems available to be quickly deployed to Afghanistan. The Heron contract is for an initial one year period of operations, with an option to extend.

Australian DoD

Russia to Float Out Last 2 Frigates for Indian Navy by Yearend

January 11, 2009, Kalinigrad -- A Russian shipyard will float out the last two of three frigates for India's Navy by the end of the year, a Yantar spokesman said on Monday.

The first of three Project 11356 frigates was taken out of dry dock at the end of November.

The warships will become modified Krivak III class (also known as Talwar class) guided missile frigates for the Indian Navy under a $1.6 billion contract signed in July 2006.

Indian President Pratibha Patil has named the new ships the Teg (Hindi for Saber), the Tarkash (Quiver), and the Trikand (Bow).

The new frigates will be armed with eight BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles.
They will be also equipped with a 100-mm gun, a Shtil surface-to-air missile system, two Kashtan air-defense gun/missile systems, two twin 533-mm torpedo launchers, and an anti-submarine warfare helicopter.

In an interview with RIA Novosti last year, Yantar director Igor Orlov said the shipyard was in talks with Russia's Vnesheconombank on "a $60 million loan to complete the construction of the three frigates for the Indian Navy."
Russia has previously built three Talwar-class frigates for India - INS Talwar (Sword), INS Trishul (Trident), and INS Tabar (Axe).

RIA Novosti

Nigeria seeks modern army to maintain influence

January 11, 2009 -- Nigerian Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, who has taken over ceremonial duties for an ailing president, called for the modernization of the country's military to maintain its influence in Africa.

Jonathan's comments come as pressure mounts from senior lawyers and opposition party officials for President Umaru Yar'Adua to transfer presidential powers to him.

"As a nation, if we must continue to maintain our position in the continent and globally, then we must look inwards. The government takes the armed forces very seriously," Jonathan said yesterday at a church service in Nigeria's capital Abuja to commemorate Armed Forces Day.

"We must ... wake up to the global challenge of fighting wars with modern weapons," he added.

Jonathan said the Nigerian Defence Academy, the country's main military school, must reposition itself to be one of the world's best "if we must produce and prepare armed forces that will continue to carry the banner of this country high."

The 52-year-old has been representing Yar'Adua at cabinet meetings and official functions but executive powers have not been transferred to him, leading to questions over the legality of decisions made by the government in Yar'Adua's absence.

The president left Nigeria seven weeks ago to receive treatment for a heart condition in hospital in Saudi Arabia. No pictures or videos of Yar'Adua have been made public nor has he spoken in an official capacity since his departure on Nov. 23.

Nigeria's ambassador to Saudi Arabia told Reuters last week the 58-year-old leader was "sound and fit", but it was unclear when he would be able to return home.

Critics say government assurances about Yar'Adua's health are no longer enough for Nigeria's 140 millions residents and more evidence is needed to show he is fit enough to govern.

The Nigerian Bar Association, a prominent human rights lawyer and two former lawmakers have filed separate lawsuits against the government which accuse the president of breaching the constitution by staying in power.

A federal court hearing is scheduled for Thursday in Abuja.

The House of Representatives is also expected to address Yar'Adua's prolonged absence when it returns from recess tomorrow.

The president spoke to Jonathan and head of parliament last week, a government minister and state governor said, but the content of conversations between them have not been disclosed.


PTDI to hand over aircraft to S Korea by end of 2010

CN-235 MPA. (Photo: ANTARA)

January 9, 2010, Bandung -- State aircraft manufacturer PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI) is scheduled to hand over one of four CN-235 MPA (Maritime Patrol Aircraft) ordered by South Korea, by the end of 2010.

"Four CN-235 MPA aircraft are currently under construction by PTDI to meet the South Korean order. One of the planes would be handed over to South Korea by the end of 2010," PT Dirgantara Indonesia`s chief spokesman Rokhendi said in Bandung Friday.

He said the four CN-235 MPA planes are ordered by South Korea under a contract signed in 2008 at a total cost of 94.5 million US dollars. The production of the four aircraft would be completed in 2012.

"The planes will however be handed over to the South Korean side in stages," Rokhendi said.

Rokhendi added that the MPA planes will join the South Korean maritime police.
South Korea has been using the PTDI-built CN-235 planes, including two are of the VVIP version.

The CN-235 MPA planes are the latest version for maritime patrol operations, and are equipped with radar to detect ships sailing below.

The military version of the CN-235 planes is also equipped with anti-submarine torpedoes and other special arms.

"The MVA version has become particularly popular to countries with vast territorial seas," Rokhendi said.

In addition, PTDI has also received an order for three CN-235 MPA planes from the Indonesian navy under a contract signed in December 2009.

"The first plane, the construction of which was started this year,will be handed over in 2011," Rokhendi said.

In the meantime, the first CN-235 MPA produced by PTDI had already been handed over to the Navy in 2008. The plane modified from the CN-235, is very suitable for marine patrol and for personnel transportation.

PTDI is also still building three Supar Puma helicopters ordered by the Indonesian Air Force. Super Pumas are only one tipe of the choppers built by PTDI.

"PTDI is currently producing Super Puma and N-Bell choppers, while NBO-105 choppers are no longer produced as the license with Messoshmit Bolkow Blohm (MBB) has expired," he added.


Pratt & Whitney F135 Engine Powers F-35 Historic First In Flight STOVL Conversion

F-35B Lightning II. (Photo:

January. 8, 2010, East Hartford, Conn. -- Pratt & Whitney’s F135 engine and Rolls-Royce LiftFan® successfully powered the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) fighter through the first in-flight engagement of its STOVL propulsion system. Pratt & Whitney is a United Technologies Corp. (NYSE:UTX) company.

“Pratt & Whitney is tremendously proud to celebrate this significant program milestone with our teammates from Lockheed Martin and the F-35 Joint Program Office, Rolls-Royce, and our sister company, Hamilton Sundstrand,” said Warren Boley, vice president of F135 Engine Programs. “After more than eight years of development and test and more than 12,850 hours of combined ground and flight testing, it is a testament to the hard work of thousands of people that the F135 propulsion system performed ‘as advertised,’ and validates the performance and capability of the Pratt & Whitney F135.”

During the flight, F-35 Lead STOVL Pilot Graham Tomlinson of BAE Systems engaged the shaft-driven LiftFan propulsion system at 5,000 feet and 210 knots, then slowed to 180 knots with the system still engaged, before accelerating to 210 knots and converting back to conventional-flight mode. The STOVL propulsion system was engaged for a total of 14 minutes during the flight. The successful test is the first in a series of planned STOVL-mode flights that will include short takeoffs, hovers and vertical landings.

“We look forward to continuing to support our customers as they transition flight test operations to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., and continue demonstrating the remarkable capability of the F-35 Lightning II,” Boley said.

The F135 System Development and Demonstration (SDD) program surpassed 12,850 hours of engine test time and has successfully completed 164 hours of flight time. Missions have included augmented takeoffs, supersonic flight, in-flight cycling of the weapons bay doors, air-to-air refueling, in-flight engine restarts, and cross-country flights to and from Eglin and Edwards Air Force Bases and Patuxent River Naval Air Station.

Pratt & Whitney has designed, developed and tested the F135 to deliver the most advanced fifth generation fighter engine for the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy, as well as eight international partner countries. The F135 is derived from proven technology of the only operational fifth generation fighter engine, the Pratt & Whitney F119. It has been further enhanced with technologies developed in several Air Force and Navy technology programs.

The F135 is the only engine powering the F-35 Lightning II flight test program. The F135 propulsion system has proven it can meet diverse aircraft requirements, and the ground and flight test experience demonstrates the maturity and the associated reliability of the F135 engine for armed forces around the world.

Pratt & Whitney is a world leader in the design, manufacture and service of aircraft engines, space propulsion systems and industrial gas turbines. United Technologies, based in Hartford, Conn., is a diversified company providing high technology products and services to the global aerospace and building industries.

This press release contains forward-looking statements concerning future business opportunities. Actual results may differ materially from those projected as a result of certain risks and uncertainties, including but not limited to changes in funding related to the F-35 aircraft and F135 engines, changes in government procurement priorities and practices or in the number of aircraft to be built; challenges in the design, development, production and support of technologies; as well as other risks and uncertainties, including but not limited to those detailed from time to time in United Technologies Corp.'s Securities and Exchange Commission filings. Dick

Japanese Review Bolsters Non-F-35 Order

F-35 Lightning II B-Variant . (Photo:

January 8, 2010 -- Japan is risking a rapid loss of fighter engineering skills, an official review of the industry warns, while urging the government to avoid fully importing combat aircraft.

Estimates of future engineering effort starkly illustrate an unspoken argument for Japan to buy and develop advanced versions of the Eurofighter Typhoon, Boeing F-15 or Boeing F/A-18E/F to fill its requirement for 50 fighters.

“An industrial base is difficult to rebuild once experienced engineers and mechanics leave the industry, so it is essential to keep it for future fighter development,” says the Commission on Reform of Fighter Production Technology Base.

About 70 percent of the engineering work force for the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries F-2 fighter has already been assigned to other business units, the report says. Only 60 engineers are now working on the F-16-based effort, Japan’s only fighter production program.

Moreover, F-2 production is due to end in September 2011. With it will go IHI’s production line for the General Electric F110 engine. The development of the IHI XF5-1 engine for the ATD-X stealth fighter technology demonstrator “will only delay the decline in propulsion capability,” the commission says.

“For the fighters operated by our country, it is desirable to keep a complete in-country industrial base required for maintenance, technical support and capability enhancement.”

But in a notable concession, it accepts that Japan cannot be wholly independent: “Many other countries rely on foreign sources for part of their [fighter] industrial base for budgetary and technological reasons. Japan is no exception.”

That seems to undermine the implicit threat behind the ATD-X program: that if the U.S. refuses to supply Japan with the F-22, then Japan will develop its own stealth fighter.

The Japanese fighter industrial base is composed of 1,100 companies.

The airframe engineering effort for military aircraft is now at a peak above 1.1 million worker hours, about a third of that work applied to ATD-X development, a third to maintenance and the rest to the already declining F-2 program and the C-X transport and XP-1 maritime patrol aircraft.

The end of the F-2 program will alone cut military airframe engineering by 40 percent, and by 2014 there will be negligible fighter airframe engineering under way in Japan, reports the panel. The story for engines is similar, although electronics engineering will be maintained at a higher level thanks to upgrade work.

The implication of these figures is that to maintain the industrial base, Japanese engineers need development work. The Lockheed Martin F-35, a leading contender for the F-X requirement, is unlikely to yield much — or at least not until improved versions can be considered many years from now. Production work on the F-35 would, however, be available to Japan, since Lockheed has a large parcel of work that has not been allocated to partner nations in the project.

But Eurofighter and Boeing have both stressed that Japan can take their current fighter designs and add features if it wants to do so.

Eurofighter has gone as far as saying that Japan could do anything it wanted with the Typhoon design.

A further possibility to relieve the fighter work drought in Japan would be an extra batch of F-2s, featuring improvements over the current version. Such an order may not be far from official thinking.

A former chief of aircraft development at the defense ministry’s Technical Research and Development Institute has written in Japan Military Review that if additional F-2s were ordered, the price must go down.

Despite deflation in Japan, it has cost more to build F-2s in recent years than it did in the 1990s to build F-15s, which are much larger.


Defense Minister: Bulgaria Frigate Won't Join Pirate Mission

Mladenov said that in theory the Drazki could be sent but currently the state budget would not allow it. (Photo: Sofia Photo Agency)

January 6, 2010, Sofia -- Bulgaria Defense Minister Nikolay Mladenov has stated that the “Drazki” (“Intrepid”) frigate will not be sent to the Gulf of Aden to participate in operations against Somali pirates due to a lack of money.

Mladenov said that in theory the Drazki could be sent but currently the state budget would not allow it. He added that Bulgaria's participation in military operations abroad is now at its limit.

"Basically it is a matter of a political decision, but I think that our participation in missions abroad currently is optimal.” Mladenov added. He continued that Bulgaria does have an officer who participates in the command of the EC “Atalanta” mission in the Gulf of Aden to tackle the Somali pirates.

On Monday Admiral Plamen Manushev, Chief of Staff of the Bulgarian Navy, said that the “Drazki” (i e “Intrepid”) could participate in operations against Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden. His statement came days after two UK-flagged ships – the St. James Park and the Asian Glory – were hijacked by Somali pirates with a total of 13 Bulgarian sailors on board.

India to Develop 25% of Fifth Generation Fighter

January 6, 2010, New Delhi -- Scrutinising the Sukhoi Corporation’s work on the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) — a project that India will soon sign up to co-develop — gives one an idea of Russia’s size, and its aerospace expertise. During daytime, in Moscow, the Sukhoi Design Bureau conceptualises FGFA components; by 10 pm the drawings are electronically transmitted over 5,000 kilometres to a manufacturing unit in Siberia. Here, at KnAAPO (Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Production Organisation) — seven time zones away — it is already 5 am next morning. Within a couple of hours, the drawings start being translated into aircraft production.

Having designed over 100 aircraft (including India’s Su-30MKI), built over 10,000 fighters, and with 50 world aviation records to its credit, Sukhoi understandably regards Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) — its partner-to-be in designing the FGFA — as very much the greenhorn.

But the newcomer wants its due. Bangalore-based HAL has negotiated firmly to get a 25 per cent share of design and development work in the FGFA programme. HAL’s work share will include critical software, including the mission computer (the Su-30MKI mission computer is entirely Indian); navigation systems; most of the cockpit displays; the counter measure dispensing (CMD) systems; and modifying Sukhoi’s single-seat prototype into the twin-seat fighter that the Indian Air Force (IAF) wants.

Cost of development $8-10 billion
India's requirement 250 fighters
Russia's requirement 250 fighters
Cost per aircraft $100 million
Indian name FGFA
Russian name PAK FA

India will also contribute its expertise in aircraft composites, developed while designing the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA). Russia has traditionally built metallic aircraft; just 10 per cent of the Su-30MKI fuselage is titanium and composites. The FGFA’s fuselage, in contrast, will be 25 per cent titanium and 20 per cent composites. Russia’s expertise in titanium structures will be complemented by India’s experience in composites.

With India’s work share almost finalised, the 2007 Russia-India Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) to build the FGFA will soon evolve into a commercial contract between Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) and HAL. Ashok Baweja, until recently the chairman of HAL, told Business Standard: “When HAL and UAC agree on terms, they will sign a General Contract. This will include setting up a JV to design the FGFA, and precise details about who will fund what.”

This contract will mark a significant shift in the aeronautical relationship between India and Russia. For decades, HAL has played a technologically subordinate role, assembling and building fighters that Russia had designed. Now, forced to accept HAL as a design partner, the Russians have negotiated hard to limit its role.

The reason: Russia is sceptical about India’s design ability in such a cutting edge project. In June 2008, Business Standard interviewed Vyacheslav Trubnikov, then Russia’s ambassador to India, and an expert on Russia’s defence industry. Contrasting the Su-30MKI with the Tejas LCA, Trubnikov pointed out snidely, “I know perfectly well the Russian ability. But I don’t know what contribution the Indian side might make. So, one must ask the question to the Indian designers, to HAL…what is their claim for building a fighter of the fifth generation type? Either avionics, or engine? What might be India’s contribution? To be absolutely frank, I don’t know.”

For long, the UAC argued that HAL could not expect a major role in the FGFA because Sukhoi had finished much of the work while New Delhi dithered about joining the project. UAC asserts that 5,000 Sukhoi engineers have worked for five years to design the FGFA. Such claims are hard to verify, but it is known that the Sukhoi Design Bureau has about 8,000 engineers, distributed between many different programmes.

With Sukhoi’s ploughing on alone, Minister of State for Defence Pallam Raju admitted to Business Standard: “The longer India waits to join the project, the lesser will be our contribution. But, we are not sitting idle. Through the defence ministry’s existing programmes [such as the Tejas LCA] we are building up our capabilities.”

Most Indian officials agree that India has not lost much. Even if the FGFA makes its much-anticipated first flight this year, it is still at a preliminary stage of development. Ashok Baweja assessed in early 2009, “The FGFA’s first flight is just the beginning of the programme. My understanding is that the Russians are going ahead (with the test) to validate the FGFA’s “proof of concept” (conceptual design). Whatever composite materials they have now, they’ll use. But, because the composites will change… the FGFA will keep evolving for a fairly long time.”

A top ministry official estimates, “It will take another 4-5 years to develop many of the FGFA’s systems. Then, the aircraft will undergo at least 2000 hours of certification flying and, possibly, some reconfiguration. The FGFA should not be expected in service before 2017. And the twin-seat version may take a couple of years longer.”

With just a 25 per cent share of design, South Block policymakers still believe that the FGFA project is a vital step towards India’s emergence as a military aeronautical power. “Developing 25 per cent of this fighter is far better than just transferring technology to build it in India, as we did with the Su-30MKI,” points out a defence ministry official.

Ashok Baweja puts the project in context. “India can only (develop the FGFA) by partnering with Russia. They have so much experience. It’s not just the design… you must also have materials… maraging steel, titanium, composite alloys, and the industrial base to convert these into high-tech components like gyros, sensors and optics. The FGFA will give us important experience for building fighters hereafter.”

Business Standard

Korea Sets Goal of $1.5 Bil. of Arms Sales This Year

T-50 Golden Eagle. (Photo: lockheedmartin)

January 5, 2009 -- The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) has set a goal of achieving $1.5 billion in defense exports this year, up 28 percent from last year's 1.17 billion, the largest amount ever.

``To this end, pan-government efforts to pioneer worldwide defense markets and come up with related measures will be implemented,'' a DAPA spokesman said.

Last year's exports marked a 13 percent increase from the previous year's $1.03 billion, he said.

Key export items included depot level maintenance for submarines, submarine combat systems, wheeled armored vehicles, spare parts for the KT-1 basic trainer and military communication systems, the spokesman said.

About 100 domestic defense companies contributed to expanding arms sales abroad last year, he added.

The spokesman said the T-50 Golden Eagle supersonic trainer jet was a key defense good for export next year.

The trainer jet, jointly built by Korea Aerospace Industries and Lockheed Martin of the U.S., is competing for a trainer acquisition deal in Singapore, which is expected to announce the final bidder by March.

The T-50 lost to Italy's Aermacchi M-346 in a contest last year in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The UAE has been negotiating with the Italian firm for final contract but still has an option to retract its decision and negotiate with South Korea over the T-50, according to informed sources.

Other potential consumers for the T-50 include the United States, Iraq, Israel and Poland.

The single-engine jet, featuring digital flight controls and a modern, ground-based training system, is designed to have the maneuverability, endurance and systems to prepare pilots to fly existing and next-generation fighters, such as the Eurofighter Typhoon, the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lightning II.

The jet has a top speed of Mach 1.4 and an operational range of 1,851 kilometers.

The Korea Times

HMS Monmouth Night Exercise in the Gulf

January 5, 2009 -- Currently on patrol in the Gulf, the Royal Navy warship HMS Monmouth has carried out a spectacular night-shoot with the use of night flares.

The shoot was carried out by the ship's force protection teams in order to practice their night-time skills.

Gunners Petty Officer Dave Copeland and Leading Seaman Jonny Hinchcliffe conducted the shoot with a team of aimers consisting of nine highly trained personnel.

Leading Seaman Hinchcliffe said:

"It is always good to conduct a night serial and I feel the members of the team gained a lot from the exercise.

"Conducting this shoot increased the confidence of the sailors to carry out their operational duties while on task at the Iraqi oil platforms."

An accurate rate of fire onto the night flare target was achieved with over 3,600 rounds of 7.62mm calibre ammunition.
Lieutenant Commander Paul Ottewell, Monmouth's Operations Officer, said:

"Live firing practice underpins our readiness to act decisively on the captain's orders to deter threats and, if necessary, to neutralise them.

"The night may, on the face of it, have been a spectacular sound-and-light show, but for those involved it has recharged that vital pillar of courage in the face of the enemy, namely confidence in one's skill-at-arms."

HMS Monmouth will remain on duty in the Gulf until later this year to help protect the Iraqi oil platforms. The security of the platforms, which generate a significant proportion of Iraq's national income, is highly important to stability in the region.

Commissioned by Lady Eaton in 1991, HMS Monmouth is a Type 23 Duke Class frigate with a length of 133 metres and displacing over 4,000 tonnes.

The ship has a complement of 174 officers and ratings and is equipped with the latest weapons, sensors and communications systems, including the vertical-launch Seawolf missile system for close air defence, a 4.5-inch (11.5cm) gun, anti-submarine torpedoes, Harpoon anti-ship missiles and a Merlin helicopter.


Acquisition of New Ab-initio Trainer Dancelled

January 5, 2009 -- The South African Air Force (SAAF) has cancelled its plan to purchase a new side-by-side seat ab-initio training aircraft.

Until mid-2009, all initial flying training for pupil pilots was conducted by the SAAF at the Central Flying School, AFB Langebaanweg, using the Pilatus PC-7 Mk II Astra trainer. The airframe is also used for more advanced instruction, such as instrument, formation and aerobatic training.

The Astra has seats in tandem, with the pupil sitting in front and the instructor seated behind.

A study was conducted in 2007 into the suitability of the SAAF using light aircraft for ab-initio pilot training. The study found that the use of a light aircraft would be much cheaper, with better interaction between instructor and student when seated side-by-side.

In an interview in late 2008, Lt. General Carlo Gagiano, Chief of the SAAF, said that the service would purchase a cheap training aircraft on which student pilots would fly an initial period of between 60 and 70 hours before progressing to the Astra.

As a result, a request for quotation was issued to a number of companies in July 2009 for the lease of a side-by-side trainer aircraft. It was envisaged that it would take two years to introduce the new aircraft into the SAAF.

In the mean time, Babcock Central Flying Academy of Grand Central Airport was awarded a contract for the supply of ab-initio training of pilots on the civilian Cessna C172 side-by-side trainer.

The initial contract is for the period August 2009 to December 2010, with the first group of 18 pupil pilots commencing their six month training course on 1 October 2009.

However, when the tenders for the new aircraft were submitted by local and international manufacturers, it was realised that all the alternatives were too expensive.

Colonel Rama Iyer, Senior Staff Officer of Basic Flying Training, says that due to budgetary constraints, the project to acquire the new aircraft has then been cancelled.

In June 2007 the SAAF told Parliament it intended to acquire about 12 aircraft at a cost of between R2- and R3 million each, making for a budget of between R24 and R36 million.

“Babcock still has over a year and a half left with their current two-year contract. We will continue outsourcing the ab-initio training function when the current contract expires,” Iyer confirmed.

While students used to fly approximately 180 hours on the Astra before gaining their wings, the student pilots will now fly their first 70 hours on the Cessna C172.

Students will have undergone basic and officers training, as well as survival and leadership courses, including attending the Military Academy, before arriving at Babcock.

Many pupil pilots at the Central Flying School felt that their instructors were too tough on them and this resulted in allegations of racism being levelled at the instructors. In turn, the instructors felt that politics and affirmative action was being placed ahead of flying ability and safety. Now, the students are taught by civilian flight instructors, according to established and recognised procedures.

However, the SAAF is keeping strict oversight of the course, with weekly progress reports being sent to Iyer and regular visits to the flight school.

“The student must have flown solo before reaching 20 hours flying time, or they will be removed from the course,” Iyer says.

While it was not the original intention to qualify the pupil pilots for a civilian licence, it was decided to award the students a Private Pilots Licence (PPL), as they would be flying in excess of the minimum requirements.

Once the students had completed their initial flying training at Babcock, they will continue their military training on the Astra at the Central Flying School before the successful candidates gain their coveted wings.


The Stolen F-5E engines are now in Uruguay

F-5E RMAF. (Foto:

KLS: The stolen F-5E engines are now in Uruguay, Malaysia's Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail said today.

He said the police had completed their investigation into the missing engines, which revealed that the engines were taken to MATRA 1 in KL respectively on 31 October and 1 November 2007.

He said they were sent to a premise in USJ, Subang Jaya, on 30 Dec 2007 and 1 Jan last year.

"The military realised the loss only on May 22, 2008 and, when they found out, they proceeded with the investigation and then on Aug 4, 2008, a police report was made"

He added On 4 May 2008, a container carrying the engines was shipped abroad and being traced to Argentina, and from Argentina, the engines were offloaded onto another ship to Uruguay.

Abdul Gani said Interpol was aware of the case, and added that he believed that the United States was also aware, based on the published reports.

He said the decision on whether to charge those involved in the incident would be made "in the very near future".

He also confirmed that only rank and file personnel and not senior military officers were involved in the theft of the two engines

He said that all efforts would be made by the government to recover as soon as possible the two missing engines, last traced to Uruguay.

"We are now engaging into mutual legal assistance procedures with certain countries in trying to get those engines back," he told reporters.

Abdul Gani has also taken questions from KLS:

KLS: Who is the final buyer?
Abdul Gani: At this moment of time, I cannot say it because the investigation for recovery is still on, I would not say that.

KLS: The final buyer is a country or organisation?
Abdul Gani: If I have to answer in positive or negeative, or in affirmative or non affirmative, I've already revealing it, isn't it? Is a very good question, but because the investigation is still on going, the recovery, I can't say it.

KLS: Many people are accusing Iran is the final buyer, so how do you think?
Abdul Gani: Don't you put this into people mouth. I've never heard any people saying that.


Combat Ready F/A-18D Hornets Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF)

F/A-18D Hornets RMAF. (Foto: flickr/Mohd Faizal Omar)

December 4, 2009, Petaling Jaya -- Claims that the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) F/A-18D Hornets are not combat-ready as they are not equipped with source codes are erroneous.

Defence analyst Dzirhan Mahadzir told The Malay Mail yesterday that not having the source codes does not mean that the aircraft pilot would not be able to engage the weapons.

Dzirhan was commenting on former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's posting on his blog in which he stated that RMAF's Hornets were only good for air display as they were not given the source codes.

"It is ridiculous to believe that our pilots would fly a plane that could not be used in combat. Besides, we have carried out many exercises locally and also overseas. Our Hornets did not have problems engaging the opposing fighters in mock combat exercises."

Source codes, Dzirhan said, are software codes which modify the systems of the aircraft to work with non-standard systems.

"Most aircraft manufacturers and countries do not give out the source codes, but they might be willing in certain cases to modify them to enable the aircraft to accept non-standard systems.

"It simply means we can re-programme or modify the system, which in most cases, are kept standard, including the Russian ones.

"In any event, even if we did have the codes, do we have the expertise to do anything with it?"

Dzirhan pointed out an example that since it was the Russians who conducted integration work on the RMAF Sukhoi Su-30MKM multi-role combat aircraft, this seemed to suggest that we did not get the software codes for the planes or even if we did, we don't have the expertise to do anything with it.

"As a general rule, the United States do not release its source codes to export customers and this is a known fact.

"Obviously, if we did not know this until the last minute, then somebody is not doing their homework before the purchase of the Hornets.

"Even so, why did we not back out of the deal if there were such an issue? In any event, the US does provide 'object codes' which allows the buyer to do limited re-programming on their systems to counter new or unexpected threats."


AFRICOM Beefs up Anti-piracy Forces

January 04, 2010, Kaiserslautern, Germany —- U.S. Africa Command has bolstered its anti-piracy forces with the recent addition of maritime patrol aircraft and more personnel in the Seychelles islands.

The Navy last month deployed three P-3 Orion aircraft from the Maine-based VP-26 Tridents, along with 112 sailors, to the Seychelles to patrol the waters off East Africa and the island nation for pirates. Patrol Squadron 26’s insignia, a skull over a compass and two bombs or torpedoes that form an X, resembles the Jolly Roger flag, which symbolizes piracy.

"They can cover a wide area of water and a wide area in general and they can stay up a long time," said Navy Capt. John Moore, the commodore of Combined Task Force 67 in Sigonella, Italy, which flies P-3s. "The P-3 is uniquely suited for counterpiracy missions."

P-3s operating out of the Seychelles’ Mahe regional airport can stay airborne for up to eight hours, he said.

Four vessels were seized off the Somalia coast last week as pirates continue to make millions of dollars in ransom money despite extra safety measures by merchant ships and an international armada.

The move to base P-3s in the Seychelles comes after the Navy tested the idea in August by operating an Orion out of the airport and the U.S. started flying Reaper drones from the island nation more than a month ago to combat piracy. U.S. Africa Command and Navy officials said there are no plans to arm the P-3s and Reapers.

Moore described the mission so far as a success, but he stopped short of saying whether P-3s will be deployed routinely to the Seychelles. Orions rotate in and out of the Horn of Africa area every six months.

The program to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities in the Horn of Africa was planned to last several months but may be lengthened as its effectiveness is determined, AFRICOM officials said in an e-mail.

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