The JF-17 Thunder fighter, co-developed by China’s Avic and the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), is to receive improvements that will start being produced with the Block-2 version from next year.
Russia’s first stealth fighter, the Sukhoi T-50, made its public debut last week at the Moscow Air Show (MAKS 2011), where Russian air force commander General Alexander Zelin gave an update on this and other re-equipment programs. The two T-50 prototypes flew in formation, before one gave a restrained solo display.
The recent Aero India show was a magnet for many international aerospace companies that are chasing various Indian procurements. In the airlift category, Lockheed Martin delivered the first of six C-130Js that the Indian Air Force (IAF) will use especially for the transport of special forces. The manufacturer signed a joint venture with Tata to produce C-130J airframe parts, amid suggestions that the IAF might buy another six Hercules.
In the same week that the Chengdu JF-17 Thunder combat aircraft made its international debut at the Farnborough airshow, the product of this co-development between China and Pakistan was offered to Indonesia. The Pakistan Defence Minister signed a defense cooperation agreement with his Indonesian counterpart in Jakarta.
Russia’s defense industry is looking both to compete and cooperate with its western European counterparts as it bids to expand its international customer base.
Indian navy pilots and support crew have started training on the MiG-29K/KUB fighters with RAC MiG in Russia. The first of the aircraft ordered by India are due to enter service this autumn and the air crew have already flown serial-produced models.
India agreed to buy 80 Mil Mi-17V-5 helicopters worth $1.2 billion during a visit to Delhi by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev early this month. These will replace 35-year old Mi-8 choppers the Indian Air Force currently flies. The deal includes weapons options and an offset obligation worth $405 million. Accompanying Medvedev were Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdukov and United Aircraft Corp. chief Alexei Fedorov.
Perhaps the most eye-catching camouflages on display here at Farnborough are the digital pattern applied to the single-seat MiG-29AS and tiger stripes on the two-seat MiG-29UBS, both from the Slovak air force. The “S” in the aircraft’s designation denotes that they have undergone a modernization program, conducted in conjunction with the MiG Corporation.
Last year, Russian defense export agency Rosoboronexport (Hall 1 Stand B13) achieved a new post-Soviet-period record for export of military hardware totaling $6.2 billion. Its previous record of $5.3 billion was established in 2006, a significant rise over $3 billion worth of sales in 2000.
As startling as the absence of current airliners from the Boeing stable was the gaping void created by the lack of any of Russia’s fearsome fighters in the flying display. Many observers felt that the show was the poorer for the lack of the thrust-vectoring wonders of Mikoyan and Sukhoi.