Tag: Jets

NATO fighter-jets enjoy 1st quiet week in 6 months

Belgian Air Component F-16AM Fighting Falcons

NATO fighter-jets guarding the Baltic skies enjoyed the first quiet week in nearly six months, with no scrambles last week, the Lithuanian Defense Ministry said.

According to the press release, NATO jets did not have to intercept any Russian warplanes in the international airspace above the Baltic Sea on Oct. 9-15.

The last calm week was reported in early May. The past summer was rather intense for the NATO air-policing mission, with weeks involving a dozen or a few dozen scrambles.

The NATO air-policing mission in the Baltic states is conducted from Lithuania and Estonia.


Canada takes first official step to buying used fighter jets from Australia

Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18 Hornets.

Canada has taken the first official step to purchasing used fighter jets from Australia as it’s dispute with Boeing continues unresolved.

The Canadian government has now submitted a formal expression of interest to Australia to acquire the aircraft, Public Services and Procurement Canada confirmed.

Canada began discussions in late August with the Australian government to assess the potential purchase of used F/A-18 fighter aircraft from that country.

“On Sept. 29, 2017, Canada submitted an expression of interest, formally marking Canada’s interest in the Australian equipment,” Public Services and Procurement Canada announced in a new statement. “Canada expects to receive a response by the end of this year that will provide details regarding the availability and cost of the aircraft and associated parts that Canada is considering.”

The Australian jets are being considered as interim fighters. They would supplement Canada’s existing CF-18 fleet until a new aircraft could be acquired.

The move to try to acquire fighter jets from Australia coincides with the U.S. government’s decision, based on a Boeing complaint, to hit Bombardier with almost 300 per cent duties on its CSeries civilian passenger jet.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to bring up the Boeing complaint and duties with U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday.

The Liberal government had wanted to buy 18 Super Hornet fighter jets but that plan was derailed when the jet’s manufacturer, Boeing, filed the trade complaint in April against Bombardier of Quebec over its civilian passenger jets.

Boeing complained to the U.S. government that Bombardier was receiving subsidies, which in turn allowed it to sell its C-Series civilian passenger aircraft at below-market prices.

The U.S. ruled in favour of the American aerospace giant and as a result, Bombardier will face duties of almost 300 per cent.

That move by Boeing, however, scuttled the Super Hornet deal and prompted Canada to look elsewhere for jets.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan recently said that Canada has looked at surplus fighter jets from Kuwait but those are not available at this time. He acknowledged Canada is now focused on the Australian jets.

“We are going to be moving ahead with filling that capability gap,” Sajjan noted. “We are pursuing other options.”
The Liberals have said they will eventually buy 88 new jets to replace the CF-18s.

Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18s.

Trudeau has said Boeing can forget about selling fighter jets to Canada as long as it tries to undercut thousands of Canadian jobs with its ongoing trade complaint against a Quebec aerospace firm.

“We won’t do business with a company that is busy trying to sue us and put our aerospace workers out of business,” Trudeau said.

Boeing’s complaint has also drawn the ire of the government in the United Kingdom.
Parts of the C-Series are built in Northern Ireland.

The U.K.’s prime minister, Theresa May, has raised the issue with Trump. She has also warned that Boeing’s actions are jeopardizing future defence contracts with the U.K.

Marc Allen, Boeing’s president of international business, has said the company wanted to ensure a level playing field in the aerospace industry. He said Boeing believes that global trade only works if everyone plays by the same rules. That wasn’t the case for Bombardier, he added.

Boeing on Tuesday launched an advertising campaign to raise awareness of the company’s presence and annual impact on the nation’s economy.

Boeing’s critics point out it receives billions of dollars of subsidies from the U.S. government. Boeing is trying to undercut Bombardier, a potential competitor, Canadian government and industry officials say.


NATO fighter-jets scrambled once from Lithuania last week over 2 Russian warplanes

An F-15C of the 493d Fighter Squadron (493 FS), nicknamed “The Grim Reapers”, scrambles to intercept at RAF Lakenheath. The Squadron is presently on Baltic Air Policing duties in Siauliai, Lithuania and represents a key element in NATO’S Enhanced Forward Presence in the region.

VILNIUS, Oct 9 (LETA–BNS) – NATO fighter aircraft conducting the NATO air-policing mission in the Baltic states were scrambled once from Lithuania last week to intercept military aircraft of the Russian Federation in the international airspace over the Baltic Sea.

On Oct. 2, NATO fighter-jets were scrambled to intercept an IL-20 and an IL-76 flying from mainland Russia to the Kaliningrad region, the Lithuanian Defense Ministry said.

Ilyushin Il-20 surveillance aircraft “coot”

The aircraft had pre-filed flight plans, had their onboard transponders on and maintained radio communication with the regional flight control center.

The NATO air-policing mission is conducted from Lithuania and Estonia.


NATO Allies scheduled to train Air Policing procedures in Baltic region

A Belgian F-16 fighter aircraft intercepts a Lithuanian C-27 transport aircraft simulating a loss of communications with civilian Air Traffic Control – this will be one of the scenarios conducted during exercise Ramstein Alloy 6 conducted on September 26 and 27 in the Baltic skies. Photo by intercepted courtesy Belgian Air Force

TALLINN, Estonia – Allied aircraft are scheduled to conduct the routine live-fly exercise Ramstein Alloy 6 on September 26 and 27 in the Baltic skies.

On both days, military fighter and support aircraft from Belgium, Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, the United States and a NATO AWACS will take off from air bases Ämari, Estonia, Siauliai, Lithuania and home bases in Poland and Germany to practice standard routines and procedures. The drills include several scenarios that provide realistic training for NATO Air Policing activities over the Baltic States.

In simulated missions, Allied fast jets will have to locate and intercept a slow moving aircraft or an aircraft that lost radio communications with civilian Air traffic Control agencies. Other missions include air-to-air refuelling by German and United States tanker aircraft.

Luftwaffe Airbus A310 MRRT refuelling Panavia Tornado IDS

The two-day event is overseen by NATO’s Combined Air Operations Centre at Uedem, Germany, while mission control will be provided by an AWACS, the Baltic Control and Reporting Centre at Karmelava, Lithuania, the Control and Reporting Point at Ämari, Estonia, and elements of the NATO DARS* presently deployed at Lielvarde, Latvia.

Planned aerial training is mostly conducted in altitudes above 20,000 feet or 6,000 m, not visible from the ground, and is subject to changes due to unforeseen developments.

The Ramstein Alloy exercise series builds on experience from its predecessor series that started in 2008. Regularly scheduled three times a year, it is a routine training event aimed at further honing skills of highly capable and flexible aircrews and controllers in the field of NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission.

Story by Allied Air Command Public Affairs Office


Russian planes return to bases after Zapad-2017 exercise

MiG-29SMT (МиГ-29СМТ) returning to base

MOSCOW, September 20. /TASS/.

Planes and helicopters of Russia’s Aerospace Force and the Western Military District are returning to their bases after the Zapad-2017 strategic exercise, the Defense Ministry said.

“The crews of tactical and army aircraft of the Aerospace Force and the Western Military District, which participated in the joint strategic exercise Zapad-2017, have begun to return to their permanent locations,” the Defense Ministry said.

The Sukhoi-35S, MiG-31BM, MiG-29SMT, Sukhoi-30SM, Sukhoi-24M, Sukhoi-34 and Sukhoi-25 planes and helicopters Mi-28N, Mi-35, Mi-8 and Ka-52, which were involved in different episodes of the drills, some of them in Belarus, will be back to base within two days.

“The aircrews coped with all of their tasks despite bad weather, including tactical airborne assault, support for ground troops, interception of air targets and strikes against targets on the ground,” the Defense Ministry said.

The joint Russian-Belarussian strategic exercise Zapad-2017 was held in the territory of both countries on September 14-20. Taking part in them were about 12,700 officers and men, (including about 10,200 in Belarus), about 70 planes and helicopters, up to 680 ground vehicles, including 250 tanks, up to 200 artillery pieces, multiple rocket launchers and mortars, and ten ships.




Lithuanian airspace must be respected – defense minister

Lithuanian Defense Minister Raimundas Karoblis

Lithuanian airspace must be respected, Defense Minister Raimundas Karoblis said on Monday after two Russian military aircraft last week entered the country’s territory over its territorial waters.

“Our rights must be respected and our airspace cannot be entered without permission,” he told BNS.

According to the minister, last Saturday’s flight of the Il-76 transport aircraft over the Baltic Sea could be related to the Zapad military exercise underway in Russia and Belarus as equipment or troops could have been aboard the planes.

“Certain mistakes are possible, given the number of troops moving and the high intensity. It can’t be ruled out that it was a mistake, but it can’t be ruled out either that our vigilance was tested this way,” he said.

According to Lithuanian officials, the incident occurred as six Russian IL-76 military aircraft flew from mainland Russia to its Baltic Sea exclave of Kaliningrad. Two of the planes deviated from their flight plans, entered Lithuania’s airspace over its territorial waters at 22:50 p.m. and 23:10 p.m. and stayed there for up to 2 minutes before heading on to Kaliningrad.

The defense ministry said that Lithuanian airspace had been violated above the Curonian Spit.

According to Karoblis, NATO fighter-jets were not scrambled to escort the six IL-76 aircraft as the Russian planes flew according to pre-filed plans, maintained contact with air traffic controllers and had their onboard transponders on. US fighter-jets patrolling Baltic airspace from Siauliai did not have enough time to react to the border violation.

The United States in late August deployed seven fighter-jets to the Siauliai air base, three more than normally used for the air policing mission. Four Belgian fighter-jests are also currently deployed in Estonia.

By Saulius Jakucionis.



Sweden’s “biggest drill in decades” coincides with Russia’s Zapad 2017

Saab JAS 39 Gripens

The Swedish Armed Forces kicked off Aurora 17 today, the international exercise has been dubbed as Sweden’s “biggest drill in decades”.

While Sweden itself is not a member of NATO, over 20,000 troops from the country and other NATO members, including the US, are set to participate in the three-week exercise. Naval, air and land services will be taking part in the drill.

The exercise coincides with the start of the major Russian drill Zapad 2017 this week. The week-long exercise will include Russian and Belarusian military forces and will take place in Russia’s Kaliningrad district and across Belarus.

A CB-90 Fast-Attack Patrol class in the foreground with a Visby-class Corvette in the background

Taking place along the borders of NATO member states, Zapad has caused greater concern for the West given Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. Sweden’s defense minister Peter Hultqvist told Financial Times the drill reflected Sweden’s new military strategy which is a consequence of Russian actions, adding that Sweden plans more drills in the future.

Concurrently with Aurora 17, Sweden is hosting a total of 16 countries for the 2017 edition of the German Navy-sponsored exercise Northern Coasts 2017.

The international exercise is taking place between September 8 and 21 off Gotland and in the Southern Baltic Sea.

A Swedish combat team from an armored regiment arrives on the island of Gotland. (Photo: Soren Andersson)

A general goal of the drill is to develop skills in maritime surveillance, anti-surface, anti-air, anti-submarine and mine counter-measures. At a tactical stage, a fictitious but realistic scenario will see participants respond to a multinational crisis in maritime areas.


Israel army to hold massive drill simulating war with Hezbollah

IDF Merkava IV Main Battle Tanks

Israeli military exercise starting today will be the largest drill in nearly two decade

Israel’s Defense Forces will begin a massive exercise simulating conflict with Hezbollah in the country’s north today, military sources said, in what would be the largest drill in nearly two decades.

The drill will last 10 days and simulate “scenarios we’ll be facing in the next confrontation with Hezbollah,” a defence source said Monday.

Military sources said tens of thousands of soldiers, including reserves, would take part.

Aircraft, boats and submarines would be deployed, and the army’s canine unit would also participate, they said.

Israeli Air Firce F-15Is

The army would set up two field hospitals and test unmanned trucks and helicopters to evacuate casualties.

Israel and the United States last month accused a UN peacekeeping mission of turning a blind eye to Hezbollah smuggling arms and amassing forces on Lebanon’s southern border with Israel in preparation for war.

Preparations for the drill, however, have been ongoing for more than a year and a half, the sources said.

The last time the Israeli army held a drill of this volume was in 1998, when it simulated a war with the Syrian army for a week.

Hezbollah has been involved in the Syrian civil war, where it has sent thousands of fighters to back government troops. But it says it is ready for war to defend Lebanon’s southern border from Israel.

The last major confrontation between Israel and Hezbollah was in 2006. It ended with heavy losses on both sides. The UN-backed ceasefire agreement, which ended the war, expanded the mission of UN peacekeeping troops in Lebanon.

UN Security Council resolution 1701 increased the number of UNIFIL troops from 2,000 to more than 10,000. The resolution also called for a buffer zone free of “any armed personnel” south of Lebanon’s Litani River, about 20km from the Israeli border.

The Security Council renewed the mandate of UN troops in Lebanon last week.


Royal Navy considers two carriers essential for F-35 trials

The Royal Navy’s aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales is scheduled to leave its dry dock next summer and begin sea trials in mid-2019. Source: Tim Ripley

Two Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers are needed to keep the UK flight trials of the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II combat aircraft on schedule to allow the Royal Navy (RN) to declare its full carrier strike capability, according to the senior officer of the second in the class.

Speaking ahead of the formal naming ceremony for the future HMS Prince of Wales on 8 September, Captain Ian Groom said the new carrier needed to be delivered to the navy during 2019 to allow the flight trails to continue while Queen Elizabeth is undertaking a scheduled period of certification inspections in dry dock.

“There is a further set of fixed-wing flying trials needed and HMS Prince of Wales has to carry them out,” he told Jane’s on 31 August. “HMS Queen Elizabeth’s re-certification period in 2019 means we need HMS Prince of Wales then.”

The F-35 Lightning making its first flypast over its future home at RAF Marham. Picture: Ian Burt

Senior naval sources told Jane’s they expected the entry into service of Prince of Wales to be more straightforward than for its sister ship. It does not require many of the first-of-class trials that are extending Queen Elizabeth’s entry into service. So after Prince of Wales is handed over, it will only require a short period of acceptance trials and then its crew will begin work-up training to allow it to reach an initial operating capability in 2020.

Martin Douglass, engineering director of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance (ACA) industrial consortium, which is building the two new 65,000-tonne carriers for the RN, told Jane’s on 31 August that they are currently “on track” to float Prince of Wales out of its dry dock next summer and begin sea trials in mid-2019.

He said the ACA was already applying lessons from the first-of-class build process and sea trials to the second carrier. This includes making improvements to the process of preparing its heat-resistant flight deck coverings and installing an improved F-35 landing light systems earlier in the build process, he said.


Finland to conduct an evaluation visit in Russia

Sukhoi Su-35S aircraft based at Besovets air base in Karelia

Finland will conduct a confidence and security building evaluation visit in accordance with the Vienna Document 2011 in Russia from 29 to 31 August 2017. The evaluation visit will comply with the bilateral agreement between Finland and Russia concerning an additional annual evaluation.

The purpose of the evaluation visit is to establish that information gathered in an assessment conducted at Besovets earlier in the year, still adheres to the framework of the agreement. The object of the visit is to assess the 159th Fighter Aviation Regiment stationed at Besovets air base.

The Finnish three-person evaluation team is being led by Colonel Martti J. Kari.

Petrozavodsk Airport (Russian: Аэропорт Петрозаводск, Karelian: Petroskoin lendoazema; (IATA: PES, ICAO: ULPB); ex: Besovets, Petrozavodsk-2) is a joint civil-military airport in Russia located 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) northwest of Petrozavodsk in Besovets, Shuya Rural Settlement (municipality). It services small airliners. It is a minor airfield with 12 parking stands and a small amount of tarmac space.

The delivery ceremony marking the arrival of the first Sukhoi Su-35S aircraft to Besovets air base in December 2016

The airfield has seen military use as an interceptor base. During the 1960s or 1970s Sukhoi Su-15 aircraft were based at Besovets. During the 1970s it was home to the 991st Fighter Aviation Regiment (991 IAP), which flew Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25 ‘Foxbat’ aircraft.

In 1992-93, the 159th Fighter Aviation Regiment (159 IAP) transferred in from Poland, having left the 4th Air Army. and is now part of the 54th Air Defence Corps, 6th Air and Air Defence Forces Army. It now flies the Sukhoi Su-35S and Su-27SM aircraft as part of the Russian Federation’s aircraft modernisation programme. The fleet at Besovets is due for completion in 2017.