April 20, 2017
Six U.S. Air Force F-35A fighters have been deployed to RAF Lakenheath for NATO wargames - the first time that the U.S. has deployed the fighter to Europe since it officialy became operational. An additional two F-35As are expected to join them, after repairing a fuel valve glitch that delayed their deployment.
British officials have expressed concerns over plans to have RAF F-35 fighters serviced at a NATO depot in Turkey. Uncertainty over Turkey's political future has led some officials to call for an alternative overhaul site. Turkey was designated by the U.S. Joint Program Office to provide "deep maintenance" for the F-35's F135 engines for European based aircraft. Other deep maintenance sites are to be set up in Australia and the United States.
Norway has begun tests of the braking parachute that is currently being developed to support European F-35s. The tests are being carried out at U.S. facilities in California.
A retired U.S. Marine Corps Major who helped design the training syllabus for F-35 pilots has suggested that the F-35 failed to impress during earlier training engagements with legacy F-15, F-16 and F/A-18 fighters largely because the pilots were unaccustomed to the features of the new airplane. He added that "If you try to fight it like a fighter it isn’t, you’re going to have terrible results."
The U.S. Air Force remains indecisive regarding whether to retire its F-15C fleet in the mid-2020s, or pay for the expensive structural refurbishment that would be needed to keep the aircraft flying.
The U.S. Air Force has authorized a Service Life Extension Program for the F-16 that will keep the newest F-16 airframes - purchased in the 1990s - flying into the 2040s.
Media sources claim that Russia has begun flight testing an integrated avionics suite aboard its PAK-FA stealth fighter - a key step towards making the aircraft operational.
Russia has reportedly begun development of a long range interceptor to replace its aging MiG-31 fleet. The MiG-31 Foxhound is a derivative of the MiG-25 Foxbat - a high speed interceptor that lacks the agility of such fighters as the Su-27.
Japanese fighters were scrambled at a record pace in 2016, with 1,168 scramble orders issued in response to Chinese activity in the air space surrounding Japan. In 2015, there were only 873 such intercept orders made.
Chinese J-11 (Su-27) fighters have been deployed to a man-made island in the South China Sea for the first time in nearly a year.
India is expected to help fund the maintenance and eventual replacement of Bangladesh's small fleet of MiG-29 fighters.
Rolls-Royce is reportedly working with India's DRDO to help develop new jet engine technologies for possible application to future Indian fighter programs.
Iran has released a video of its purported Qaher F-313 stealth fighter undergoing taxi tests. The Qaher F-313 was first unveiled as a fiberglass mockup in 2013 - in a form that was clearly unflyable, with an cockpit canopy that couldn't close over the ejection seat. The latest video depicts a slightly larger aircraft taxiing under its own power, but no take-offs occuring.