Friday, October 9, 2015

Fighter Jet Times - October 9, 2015

October 9, 2015

Russia has begun testing its KAB-250 - a small, precision guided bomb - aboard its Su-34 strike jet.  The KAB-250 is seen as being the Russian counterpart to the U.S. Small Diameter Bomb, which was developed for incorporation into stealth jets that require weapons that could be carried internally.

The Indian Air Force has reportedly set a goal of acquiring over 100 multirole fighters in the same size and class as the 36 Rafale jets currently planned.  The new aircraft are needed to update India's aging fighter fleet.  However, insistance on Indian-produced content has led previous deals - such as the MMRCA contract that could have delivered up to 126 Rafale fighters - to fall through.

Questions continue to linger surrounding the viability of the deal that India signed with Russia in 2010, for the local production of of Russia's next-generation PAK-FA stealth fighter.  Such basic questions as the per-unit cost of the new aircraft and many of its mission capabilities have still not been sorted out, raising questions about the merits of the deal.

Northrop has completed the center-fuselage section for the first F-35 expected to be delivered from Japan's final assembly line.  The first four F-35s destined for delivery to Japan are expected to roll-out from Lockheed Martin's Fort Worth plant, but beginning with the fifth example, deliveries will begin from the final assembly line at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI).

Speculation continues to surround the degree to which Japan's new E-2D AWACs aircraft may or may not be able to detect low-observable aircraft.  The new E-2D model features a UHF-band radar that is expected to offer some measure of detection against small radar cross-sections, by virtue of its relatively long radar wavelength.  Conventional stealth coatings and shaping techniques are expected to be less effective at longer radar wavelengths.

Norway has reaffirmed its plans to acquire 52 F-35 fighters, citing increased Russian activity in the arctic as justification for the  purchase.

Lockheed Martin is exploring the possibility of eventually installing a fiber-optic laser aboard the F-35, once the technology becomes available.  Fiber optic lasers offer a lower weight alternative for generating high power laser beams - with the potential to eventually offer a practical, airborne weapon in the next decade.

Tests of the F-35 ejection seat have revealed that the seat could prove fatal to lighter-weight pilots if not modified.  As currently configured, the ejection seat is expected to be unsafe for pilots under 135 lb (61 kg).  A redesign is being evaluated.

The Pentagon has revelaed that two U.S. F-16s were diverted on their way to an ISIL target at Raqqa, in Syria to avoid approaching Russian fighters in the same area.

Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has stated that Iraq would "welcome" the introduction of Russian air strikes against ISIL targets in Iraq - potentially increasing the likelihood for a conflict between Russian and U.S. military aircraft operating in the same area.  Putin's popularity in Shiite regions of Iraq has skyrocketed following Russian air strikes in Syria, which have been aimed at bolstering the minority, Shiite-aligned government of Assad.

At least four Russian cruise missiles, launched from warships in the Caspian Sea and intended for targets in Syria, have crash landed in Iran.

There are unconfirmed reports that China has also been offered a role in bolstering the Russian-led air campaign in Syria, against opponents of the Assad government.

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