China has conducted fixed-wing operations on an aircraft carrier for the first time. The initial trial was conducted by a pair of Shenyang J-15s, numbers “552” and “553,” on the Liaoning, (side number 16), the country’s ex-Russian vessel. The aircraft were unpainted apart from serial numbers and large photo-calibration marks. They are believed to be the second and third J-15 prototypes, and are powered by the Russian-made AL31F engine rather than the Chinese WS10H that has been installed in some other J-15 prototypes.
China’s recently flown second stealth fighter is powered by a pair of Russian-supplied Klimov RD-93 turbofans, AIN has learned. A large model of the design, which has been dubbed the J-31 in unofficial reports, was on display at Airshow China in Zhuhai last week.
A short-notice, low-profile visit to the UAE by British Prime Minister David Cameron this week boosted the prospects of an order for the Eurofighter Typhoon. But government and military sources in London and Paris told AIN that the Emiratis are in no hurry to make a decision, and that the Dassault Rafale remains in contention. Dassault declined to comment on the latest development.
Dassault and Thales announced delivery of the first production Rafale to carry the Thales RBE2 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar. The companies noted that the aircraft, production number C137 for the French Air Force, is the first AESA-equipped European combat aircraft to enter service. The development was completed on time and budget, they added.
The South African Air Force (SAAF) received the final four of 26 Gripen fighters this month, as well as its ninth and tenth upgraded Rooivalk attack helicopters.
The first Sukhoi Su-30SM two-seat multirole fighter performed its maiden flight on September 21, followed four days later by the second Su-30SM. Sukhoi test pilot Sergei Kostin and navigator Pavel Malovechko served as the crew on both occasions. Flight durations were two hours and one hour 40 minutes, respectively, and both flights were uneventful. Both missions originated from the aerodrome of the Irkutsk Aviation Plant (IAZ) in Western Siberia. IAZ is the main manufacturing site for Irkut.
The third prototype of Russia’s new T-50 stealth fighter now has an AESA radar. Sukhoi reported this month that the program has logged more than 120 test flights, which suggests that only some 20 flights have been made in the past nine months. However, Russian air force commander Gen.
Sweden and Switzerland have reached agreement on sharing the cost to develop and introduce the next-generation version of the Saab Gripen fighter. The Swedish defense ministry said there are good opportunities for synergies, including training, maintenance and future upgrades.
London is on high alert as Olympic airspace changes and a slot allocation extension to 40 airports (rather than the usual four) kicked in this past weekend, and visitors start to arrive ahead of the summer games opening ceremony on July 27. Slot coordinator Airport Coordination Ltd (ACL), based at London Heathrow Airport, reported that approximately 5,000 bookings have been registered for slots at the 40 airports, though it expects this number to reach 7,000 or 8,000.
AIN’s team of editors and reporters provided full coverage of the Farnborough International airshow this week. All the stories can be found online.