February 4, 2016
The official report on F-35 deficiencies prepared by the Pentagon's chief weapons tester, and released last month to Congress, has been officially released to the public this past week. The report outlines a series of shortcomings in the readiness of the aircraft, and raises questions about proposals for a multiyear "block buy" of 450 aircraft that has been proposed to begin in 2018.
Attempting to balance between competing budget demands, the US Air Force has proposed cutting five F-35 fighters from its 2017 procurement plan.
While the U.S. Air Force is contemplating a reduction in its F-35 production plans, the U.S. Navy has proposed an increase in its annual purchase of F-35Cs beginning in 2017. As proposed, the acceleration in F-35C procurement would be accompanied by a drive to develop an unmanned mid-air refueling tanker to increase the carrier fleet's reach.
Russian media reports that progress has been made towards reaching an accommodation between Moscow and New Delhi, for development of an Indian version of the PAK-FA stealth fighter. Negotiations have been stalled over the airplane's price, and concern over the abilities that it brings to the table.
Jet engine technology continues to be a sore point in China's defense modernization efforts, as acknowledged recently by Chinese officials. The WS-10A Taihang, intended as a replacement for the Russian-produced AL-31F engine in Chinese J-10 and J-11 fighters, continues to suffer from reliability issues, and the Chinese air force remains largely reliant on Russian-supplied engines.
Russia has reportedly deployed its newest air-to-air fighter, the Su-35 to Syria for the first time.
Egypt has received a second batch of three Rafale fighters, out of a total of 24 on order.
A contract for 28 Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft, expected to be signed this past week by Kuwait, was delayed due to "procedural" reasons. The contract is expected to firm up an order agreed to under a memorandum of understanding signed last September.
Documents leaked by NSA contractor Edward Snowden have revealed that the United States and UK hacked into Israeli fighter and drone surveillance feeds as part of a secret surveillance program carried out over the past eight years. Utilizing British facilities located in Cyprus, the program also monitored Israeli ballistic missile tests.