August 25, 2016
The F-35 program recently completed 25 weapons tests in a single month - compared to only three in November of 2014. During this period, some 30 weapons were fired or released, including Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs), Small Diameter Bombs (SDBs), the AIM-120 air-to-air missile, and the AIM-9X air-to-air missile.
Despite the recent surge in F-35 weapons integration tests, the Pentagon's Director of Operational Testing, Michael Gilmore has warned that the F-35 was "on a path toward failing to deliver."
A study commissioned by Canada's new government reports that Canada could withdraw from the F-35 program by paying a little over $300 million in termination fees, and providing 90 days notice. To date, Canada's recently elected Liberal party has deferred production orders for the F-35, but has not formally withdrawn from the program. Liberal party politicians campaigned on a promise to withraw from the program.
U.S. F-22 Raptors were called in to escort Syrian Su-24 strike jets away from positions in eastern Syria where U.S. special forces were reportedly on the ground, providing assistance to local Syrian-Kurdish armed forces that have been fighting against ISIS. The Syrian strike aircraft reportedly aborted additional air strikes in the area, and returned to base.
Following the U.S. Air Force declaration of Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for the F-35A stealth fighter, the U.S. Air Force has designated Japan for the first overseas deployment of operational F-35A aircraft. The deployment is scheduled to take place in January 2017.
Japan has announced plans to upgrade its F-15J fighters to increase the number of air-to-air missiles that the fighter is capable of carrying from eight to sixteen. The move is seen as being a response to increased Chinese air activity near disputed islands in the East China Sea.
South Korea dispatched four F-15K fighters this past week to escort Chinese bombers that had entered South Korea's air defense zone near Jeju Island.
The Indian government has sought a waiver from France for a contract clause that would have required the Indian government to make an advance payment of some 134 million euros for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighters.