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UK MoD Set to Order Its First Batch of F-35 Lightning II Combat Aircraft

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon today announced that the Ministry of Defence (MOD) has reached agreement in principle on an order for the first production batch of four Lightning II stealth combat aircraft – which will operate from both the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers and RAF land bases.

A formal contract is expected to be placed within weeks for the F-35B aircraft, which form part of the MOD’s investment in Lightning II over the next five years to procure an initial 14 of these multi-role fifth generation aircraft, together with the necessary support arrangements and infrastructure.

Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, said:

“Today’s announcement is a major step forward. The Lightning II will equip the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force with a highly advanced multi-role stealth combat aircraft, operating from both our new Queen Elizabeth class carriers and land bases.

“These aircraft will form part of the first UK-based squadron of F-35s, which will take up station at RAF Marham in 2018. This programme is also bringing substantial industrial benefits to the UK, providing thousands of skilled jobs in the UK aerospace industry.”

Bernard Gray, the MOD’s Chief of Defence Materiel, said:

“I am delighted that this agreement prepares the way for the first batch of operational combat aircraft. It ensures the MOD remains on target for achieving both operational capability from land bases and the start of flying trials aboard the carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth in 2018.”

Air Commodore Mark Hopkins, Senior Responsible Owner (SRO) for Lightning II, said:

“Lightning II will be a genuinely transformational aircraft when it enters service with the RAF and the Royal Navy. With highly advanced sensors, systems and weapons, this fifth generation stealth aircraft will offer a quantum leap in terms of capability and, alongside Typhoon, will offer the UK flexible and adept Air Power for the foreseeable future.

“As the first batch order for aircraft to form part of our first operational squadron, this marks a very significant milestone in this programme.”

It is anticipated that the contract will be finalised in the coming weeks, which will allow deliveries of the aircraft, within the contract, manufactured by Lockheed Martin, to commence from mid-2016.

The aircraft provide an important step on the path to rebuilding the UK’s carrier strike capability. They feature short take off and vertical landing (STOVL) and the latest stealth and intelligence surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) technology.

Background Information

  • The UK has already taken delivery of three F-35B jets to date, which are based at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, US, and an order was placed for a fourth UK aircraft in September 2013 which will be delivered early in 2016. These are for test and evaluation. The UK’s first operational Squadron will transition to RAF Marham in Norfolk in 2018, which will become their Main Operating Base.
  • The agreement is part of a larger contract award which will be let by the Joint Strike Fighter Program Office (JPO), based in Washington DC, with Lockheed Martin, and will procure a total of 43 aircraft for the Programme across six nations.
  • Significant UK sub-contractors to the programme include BAE Systems, Cobham, GE Aviation, Honeywell, Martin Baker, MBDA, Qinetiq, Rolls-Royce, Selex Galileo, Ultra Electronics & EDM Limited.

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New Batch of Su-34 Front-Line Bombers Transferred to the Russian Air Force

By on Thursday, June 12th, 2014

Today the Sukhoi Company has transferred to the Russian Air Force the first batch of serial Su-34 front-line bombers under the 2014 State Defense Order. The aircraft took off the airfield of the Novosibirsk aircraft plant and headed to the place of their deployment.

The new bombers were delivered according to the 2012 State Contract for a large batch of Su-34s. The 5-year State Contract for Su-34s signed in 2008 was fulfilled last December.

The large government contracts for Su-34s were signed with the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation in 2008 and 2012. Those are the largest orders for combat aircraft under the State Armaments Program for the years 2011-2020.

Their fulfillment guarantees a stable work load of the Sukhoi Company and its partner-companies in the long run. The Su-34 aircraft currently in service with the Air Force demonstrate high performance.

The features of the new generation frontline bomber include, in particular, an increased up to 4000 km flight range, a maximum speed of up to 1900 km/h, 8 tons payload. The Su-34 has a new weapon system and an air refueling system.

Sukhoi is a United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) subsidiary.

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PAF inducts first batch of F-16 fighter jets from Jordan

By on Sunday, April 27th, 2014

Pakistan received on Sunday its first batch of F-16 fighter jets delivered from Jordan, DawnNews reported.

Sources said that the Pakistan had signed a contract with Jordan for the supply of 13 fighter jets out of which five were delivered at the Mushaf Mir Airbase in Sargodha and inducted in the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) fleet.

The inclusion of the 13 jets would take the strength of the PAF F-16s to 76.

Media reports indicated the PAF had agreed to purchase an entire squadron from Jordan, consisting of 12 A models and one B model. According to one news report, the jets “were in good condition since they had attained Mid-Life Update (MLU) and they would be providing service for another 20 years with almost 3,000 hours on average available to them for flying.”

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Afghanistan Will Receive A New Batch of Mi-17 Helicopters

By on Friday, February 14th, 2014

Russia began to deliver Mi-17V-5, the military transport helicopters, to Afghanistan. A total 30 helicopters of this type must be transferred to Afghanistan under this contract between “Rosoboronexport” and the US government.

To date, three vehicles have been already supplied to the Afghan side. According to ITAR-TASS, the remaining helicopters will be delivered during the year in several batches.

Russian helicopters are used in Afghanistan to counter terrorism, drug trafficking, and to carry out special operations. Currently, 36 Mi-17V-5 Russian helicopters in all have been delivered to Afghanistan via the US Army.

The main contract for the supply of 21 vehicles was signed by “Rosoboronexport” and the US government on May 26, 2011, and executed by the middle of 2012. In the same year, an additional agreement was concluded under the option of the main contract. Based on this agreement, Russia had completed the delivery of 12 Mi-17V-5 in 2013.

Last year, “Rosoboronexport” and the US government negotiated and signed a new major agreement for delivering an additional batch of 30 helicopters in 2014.
According to the agreements between the two countries, 63 Mi-17V-5 helicopters will be entered Afghan army service. It is referred to a number of contracts concluded at different times. Reportedly, the deal will exceed 1 billion dollars.

Mi-17V-5 is a modern modification of Mi-8/17 helicopters developed by the Design Bureau of the Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant with the participation of the Kazan Helicopter Plant. The helicopter was designed taking into account the experience of combat use of his predecessors in various armed conflicts, including the Afghanistan war. So far, more than 80 countries operate over 2,400 helicopters of Mi-8/17 family.

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Iraq takes delivery of final batch of US tanks

By on Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Iraq’s military took delivery of nine American M1A1 Abrams tanks, the last in an order of 140 that it has received over the past two years, the US embassy in Baghdad said in a statement on Wednesday.

The tanks, which were displayed at a demonstration exercise at a military training complex southeast of the capital, are part of Baghdad’s efforts to build up its military, which US and Iraqi officials admit cannot secure the country’s borders, airspace, or maritime waters.

“The Iraqi Army officially took possession of nine M1A1 tanks at Besmaya Combat Training Centre, Iraq, on August 27,” the statement said.

The 140 tanks cost a total of $860 million, $804 million of which was paid by Iraq with the remainder of the cost borne by the US, according to Commander Gary Ross, a spokesman for the Office of Security Cooperation-Iraq, part of the US embassy.

Iraq received the first batch of tanks, which it ordered in March 2009, in August 2010.

The tanks’ capabilities and their operators’ training was put on display at the Besmaya complex on Wednesday, the statement said.

“This exercise clearly illustrates the growing capabilities of the Iraqi Army,” said OSC-I commander Lieutenant General Robert Caslen.

Iraqi Army chief of staff Lieutenant General Babaker Zebari has persistently said that the country’s military will not be able to fully defend it until 2020, though US and Iraqi officials insist the armed forces and police are capable of maintaining internal security.

Baghdad has made $12 billion worth of military acquisitions from the US, whose forces pulled out of Iraq in December, notably including the purchase of 36 F-16 warplanes.

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