June 23, 2016
Col. David Chace, the systems management office chief for the F-35 at the USAF's Air Combat Command (ACC) has reiterated that the F-35A remains on-track for Initial Operational Capability to be declared, as scheduled, between August and December of this year.
The first F-35 destined for Israel was rolled out this week at a ceremony held at Lockheed Martin's Fort Worth facility, and attended by Israel's Defense Minister and Air Force chief of staff. Israel has 33 F-35I aircraft on order, and Israel's Air Force chief has recommended the purchase of an additional 17 fighters. The first two are expected to arrive in Israel in December.
Russia's United Aircraft Corporation reports that the eighth PAK-FA fighter prototype is expected to make its first flight this month, as the manufacturer prepares for serial production of Russia's new stealth fighter, beginning this fall. The eighth prototype is reportedly the first to be fully equipped with the full suite of operational avionics systems.
Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) reports that it has begun wind tunnel tests for its proposed KF-X stealth fighter.
Delivery of India's proposed purchase of 36 Rafale fighters may be further delayed, as Egypt contemplates the purchase of an additional 12 Rafale fighters. Egypt already has an order in place for 24 Rafale fighters. A final Indian deal for the Rafale has evaded negotiators, as price and workshare discussions continue to drag out.
Turkish F-16 fighters struck reported PKK targets in northern Iraq and southeast Turkey this past week. The PKK is a Kurdish terrorist organization responsible for multiple bombings of civilian sites throughout Turkey. Historically, the PKK has been based in Syria, where it received support from the Syrian government, rather than in Iraq, which is also home to the local, Peshmerga Kurdish militia.
The U.S. has deployed four F/A-18G Growler electronic attack jets to the Philippines, as part of a training operation expected to take place in the shadow of Chinese claims to the adjascent South China Sea. The Phillipines claims mineral rights over portions of the South China Sea, where China has been building man-made islands to assert Chinese territorial claims across the region.