March 17, 2017
A recently released internal report detailing the participation of U.S. Marine Corps F-35B fighters in Red Flag 16-3 has provided a more nuanced view of the performance of the stealth fighter. While the report noted that "the F-35 was far more survivable then the participating legacy aircraft," it also related that the availability of the airplane was lower than would have been expected: with only 23-percent of the F-35Bs offering full mission capability at any given time.
The U.S. has begun testing the integration of the British made AIM-132 ASRAAM (advanced short range air-to-air missile) and Paveway IV precision-guided bombs with the F-35B. Both are weapons in service with the Royal Air Force, and which would eventually be deployed aboard British F-35s.
In response to China's growing military capabilities, including the ability to saturation bomb Taiwanese air bases with surface-to-surface ballistic missiles, Taiwan's armed forces have reportedly expressed an interest in procuring a STOVL fighter, such as the F-35B.
Japan has deployed its largest warship, the Izumo "helicopter destroyer" to the South China Sea to join military maneuvers in the area. The Izumo carries a compliment of up to 14 helicopters, although it would also be capable of deploying the F-35B if Japan chooses to buy the STOVL version of the fighter.
Officials have indicated that the Indian government is not interested in pursuing a follow-on order for the highly expensive Rafale fighter jet.
India's willingness to dedicate additional resources towards an Indian version of Russia's PAK-FA stealth fighter continues to hinge on Russia's willingness to share key technologies and to license a local assembly line for the fighter.
Delays in developing a dedicated, next generation engine for Russia's PAK-FA stealth fighter continue to highlight Russian technology gaps. All prototypes of the PAK-FA flown to date have utilized derivatives of the AL-31F engine that first powered the Soviet Union's Su-27 fighter in the 1980s.
Reports from China's state-owned media have reaffirmed that China's J-20 stealth fighter has entered operational service.
Chinese officials have reported that China is nearing flight test of a new, indigenous engine for its J-20 stealth fighter, after having mastered single crystal turbine blade and powdered nickel rotor technology. All editions of the J-20 flown to date have been powered by Russian-supplied engines.
Boeing has landed a five year contract to support South Korea's F-15K fighters.
Rolls Royce has unveiled plans to establish a facility in Bangalore India for the assembly of jet engines, including military jet engines, as part of a bid to maintain and expand its presence on the subcontinent.
Israeli warplanes were fired upon by Syrian surface-to-air missiles following an operation inside of Syria. Israeli sources report that one of the Syrian missiles was intercepted by an Israeli anti-ballistic missile system.