Brigadier General Alireza Barkhor, the deputy commander of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force, has stated that a two-seat derivative of the country’s homemade Saeqeh (Thunderbolt) fighter will be unveiled in a matter of months. He was hopeful that the aircraft could be ready in time to take part in the April 18 flypast over Tehran as part of National Army Day.
Lockheed Martin has brought its T-50 Golden Eagle simulator to Dubai to continue its promotion of the supersonic advanced trainer system in the region and particularly in the UAE. The T-50 was developed in Korea by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) working in close partnership with Lockheed Martin and is now in service with the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) in the form of the T-50 advanced trainer and TA-50 lead-in fighter/weapons trainer versions. The fully combat-capable FA-50 is due to be delivered before the end of the year to begin the replacement of the ROKAF’s Northrop F-5s.
Late last week, Romanian defense minister Mircea Dusa signed the contract for a €600 million ($817 million) deal to acquire 12 Lockheed Martin F-16AM/BM fighters from Portugal. An initial installment was paid at the same time. The acquisition of F-16s will finally allow Romania to operate NATO-compatible aircraft, and also brings to an end a long-running saga to provide a replacement for the dwindling LanceR fleet of upgraded MiG-21s.
Brazil’s Força Aérea Brasileira (FAB) plans to retire its fleet of Mirage 2000 fighters at the end of this year. The announcement has brought new focus on Brazil’s longstanding but deferred FX-2 new fighter requirement. In testimony to the Brazilian Senate on August 13, FAB Commander Lt. Gen. Juniti Saito defended the need for new fighters to maintain an adequate air defense, as well as for the benefits any purchase would bring to Brazil’s own aerospace sector.
Having selected the Gripen E/F to fulfill its F-5 replacement requirement, the Swiss air force is calmly confident that the acquisition makes it through the political process unscathed. Lt. Gen. Markus Gygax, the air force chief of staff, spoke to AIN last month about his service’s plans for the machine.
In a ceremony at the Gavião Peixoto plant on June 19, Embraer marked three milestones as part of its activities to support the Brazilian air force. The most notable was the first flight of the first A-1 AMX upgraded to A-1M configuration. The A-1M is a refurbished aircraft upgraded with a number of new systems, including Mectron SCP-01 Scipio multimode radar, onboard oxygen generating system and an Elbit avionicssuite that includes a new glass cockpit and the Dash helmet-mounted display. Embraer is modernizing 43 aircraft to the A-1M standard in a program scheduled for completion in 2017.
The Republic of Korea Air Force brought an era to an end when on June 16 it conducted the last flights of its McDonnell F-4D Phantom IIs. These veterans had served for 41 years, and were the last of the early model Phantoms in service anywhere in the world.
Taiwan’s Aero Industrial Development Corp. (AIDC) is bidding to achieve Tier 1 supplier status with the major aerospace OEMs. It is building the Taiwan Advanced Composites Center (TACC), a 538,000-sq-ft facility that will contain large new autoclaves, ply cutters and computer-controlled milling machines. AIDC already produces smaller composite parts, such as the co-cured frames for the cockpit of Sikorsky’s S-92 helicopter.
Flying the Korean Aerospace International (KAI)/Lockheed Martin T-50 Golden Eagle supersonic jet trainer here at Dubai is Lt. Col. Choong Hwan Lee of the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF). Lee is an experienced fighter pilot with more than 2,000 hours in LM’s signature product, the F-16 Fighting Falcon. He has a long line of experience in the Northrop F-5 and KAI’s previous trainer design, the KT-1.
Western powers increasingly characterize Iran as a potential cause for instability in the Middle East. The U.S. and its allies charge Tehran with funding and supporting the insurgency in Iraq, maintaining a well-developed ballistic missile program and seeking its own nuclear arsenal.