The Indian Naval air arm is set to double its fleet of 217 aircraft in the next decade. The fleet–a mix of 14 models–“has emerged as a mini air force,” said assistant chief of naval staff (Air) Rear Admiral D.M. Sudan.
Boeing Defense presented the first F-15SA destined for Saudi Arabia in a ceremony at its St. Louis headquarters on April 30. The latest F-15 variant is the centerpiece of the largest foreign military sale in U.S. history, worth $29.4 billion. It also figured prominently in recent U.S. negotiations to improve the military capabilities of Israel, the UAE and Saudi Arabia simultaneously.
Russia has approached India again with an offer for MiG-35 fighters. The move comes as negotiations drag on to finalize a contract for the Dassault Rafale, which was declared the winner of the medium multirole combat aircraft (MMRCA) competition in January last year.
The Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) has chosen the Raytheon Advanced Combat Radar (RACR) for its pending upgrade of 134 F-16C/Ds, for delivery beginning in late 2016. The Koreans are the first to choose between the RACR and the rival Scaleable Agile Beam Radar (SABR) from Northrop Grumman, which previously supplied all radars for F-16s. At least another 500 F-16s belonging to Singapore, Taiwan and the U.S. Air Force could be upgraded with advanced electronically scanned array (AESA) radars such as the RACR and the SABR.
Major fighter manufacturers displayed their wares this week at the 2013 Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (LIMA) exhibition in Malaysia in anticipation of that country’s pending requirement for new fighters. Five aircraft considered contenders for the program–the Eurofighter Typhoon, Saab JAS-39 Gripen, Dassault Rafale, Boeing F/A-18F and Sukhoi Su-30MKM–participated in the aerial display.
Faced with growing costs in the Lockheed Martin F-35 program, Denmark is reviewing its options for a new fighter and has invited Boeing (F/A-18 Super Hornet), Eurofighter (Typhoon) and Saab (Gripen E) to submit information for alternatives. A decision is due in 2015. Dassault (Rafale) may have been approached, but at the time of writing appeared unlikely to respond. The company has a history of not bidding on programs that it calculates have little chance of success.
Operational testing and evaluation of the F-35A has begun, with the delivery of four aircraft to Nellis AFB. They were accepted by the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center in a ceremony on March 19. Eight more F-35As will join them by 2019. The Air Force has now received 24 F-35A conventional takeoff and landing aircraft. Another 34 F-35s have been delivered to the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Navy.
The U.S. military cleared the F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (Stovl) variant of the Joint Strike Fighter to resume flight operations last week, ending a grounding of more than three weeks that was ordered after a fuel line failed in a test aircraft at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.
Defense contractors flocked to Bangalore for the Aero India show this week, even as the Indian government confirmed that the years of plenty might be over. Defense minister A.K. Anthony confirmed that his spending would be cut in the fiscal year that starts in April, although not on “operational preparedness.”
Russia’s defense industry is looking this week’s Aero India show as a platform from which to bounce back from recent defeats in international tender contests.