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Seoul’s F-35 Plans Thump F-15 Silent Eagle

South Korea’s decision to sacrifice force structure in favor of buying into stealth with the F-35—a boon for Lockheed Martin’s premier fighter program—quashes Boeing’s hopes of selling it a semi-stealthy F-15.

Seoul plans to buy 40 F-35As to satisfy its F-X Phase 3 fighter requirement, initially set at 60 aircraft, its joint chiefs of staff announced last month. Another 20 fighters, not necessarily F-35s, may be ordered later, subject to security and fiscal circumstances. The choice was influenced by overwhelming support in the South Korean military for the F-35. The buy was cut by one-third to keep it within an 8.3 billion won ($7.2 billion) budget.

Though it is a long shot, Boeing is still pushing the Silent Eagle for the remaining requirement of 20 fighters. Dennis Muilenburg, president of Boeing Defense, Space and Security, said in October that the country might be open to a mixed buy, and news of Seoul’s F-35 decision has not changed that position.
“The Silent Eagle is still available,” Karen Fincutter, a Boeing spokeswoman, said last week, adding that the company had not yet been officially notified of South Korea’s decision. “It’s one of the upgrade options for the F-15.”
The other contender for South Korea’s fighter program, the Eurofighter consortium, led by EADS in South Korea, also seems to have a remote chance of filling the later 20-aircraft order with the Typhoon.
Lockheed Martin is expected to deliver the aircraft over four years beginning in 2018. If the F-35 is selected, the other 20 would immediately follow.
The air force effectively chose the F-35 about two weeks ago when, according to local media reports, it set a numerical requirement for radar cross-section. This followed the derailment of the original competition in August, when it was revealed that only Boeing could meet the budget. Instead of completing the competition in the usual way by giving the order to a particular company, the government decided to review its requirements, budget and process. 
Most of the South Korean air force leadership has always seen the F-35 as the desirable aircraft, according to government officials, though at the last minute the air force chief was willing to take F-15s so that new fighters could enter service without further delay.
F-X Phase 3 has been aimed at replacing old and increasingly ineffective F-4 Phantoms and F-5 Tigers. Under Phases 1 and 2 in the last decade, South Korea ordered 61 F-15s, including a replacement for one that crashed.
The selection in favor of high-end stealth is a major blow to Boeing’s hopes of selling semi-stealthy Silent Eagles to its longtime F-15 customer and thereby keeping the production line active. Boeing is now left with the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, modified with low-observable features, as its sole potential competitor to the F-35 for countries seeking near-term stealth fighter options.
“The F-35A will be used as a strategic weapon to gain a competitive edge and defeat the enemy in the early stage of war,” the Yonhap news agency quotes the joint chiefs of staff spokesman, Eom Hyo-sik, as saying. “The South Korean military will also use the aircraft to effectively deal with provocations.”
If the additional 20 F-35s are ordered, the requirements will be reconsidered, he adds, though industry officials expect no real competition.
In the same meeting last week, the joint chiefs endorsed the KF-X indigenous fighter program for the mid-term defense budget plan. That does not assure its survival, however. The fiscally and technically challenging KF-X faces stiff political opposition, and its 2014 funding is expected to cover only further design studies.
The military wants KF-X development to be wrapped up by 2020, with deployment starting in 2023, Yonhap says, citing unnamed officials. The three-year gap between the completion of development and beginning of deployment is not explained, but 2020 is not a realistic date by which the aircraft can be ready for service, anyway. The program schedule puts first flight seven years after the launch of full scale development, which cannot now happen until 2015. 

AMARG: Black Friday?

Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, also called AMARG is the largest aircraft storage and preservation facility in the world. Situated in Tucson, Arizona, stored a lot of old fighters retired.
Dream of many Air Force without money – like Brazil – the AMARG is the big opportunity of adding aircraft with few cash. Perhaps, Brazilian Air Force is looking for some F16C/D there to replace yours Mirage 2000s that will go to stop in december. 
The Brazil’s  program of acquisition of fighters have more of 16 years. The government, however, not made final decision on the acquisition, yet.

Elbit starts work on M-346 training centre

Elbit Systems is building a distributed simulation centre at the Israeli air force’s Hazerim air base to allow students to fly missions in the Alenia Aermacchi M-346, which will soon become the service’s advanced trainer. The new centre will allow the crews of four aircraft to train together.

According to Alon Afik, Elbit vice-president for training and simulation, the centre will feature an embedded simulation capability that will enable it to simulate different types of missions using emulated radar and electronic warfare systems that are not part of the trainer’s mission equipment.

“We will generate the outputs of sensors like radar and EW into the trainer aircraft cockpit screens,” Afik says. This will involve “injecting” different scenarios with the help of a datalink, which will also be incorporated with the production aircraft by Alenia Aermacchi.
The first M-346 will be delivered to the Israeli air force next year. The trainer will be dubbed “Lavi” – the name previously carried by the Israel Aerospace Industries fighter developed in the 1980s and scrapped because of heavy US opposition.
Currently, Israeli fighter pilots perform advanced training on two types of aircraft – the Douglas A/TA-4 Skyhawk and Lockheed Martin F-16A/B. With the delivery of the M-346, all pilots in the fighter course will use the new type.
Israel’s M-346s will be operated by the “Flying Dragon” squadron from Hazerim.

Heavy cargo flights taking off

The world’s largest cargo plane will carry two green-energy tram cars from Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, to Istanbul, making it the first air transport of high-quality, domestically built equipment of this scale to fly to Europe.
The AN-225, measuring 84 meters long with an 88.74-meter wingspan, arrived at the airport and waited on the parking apron for the loading of the two streetcars, each weighing about 20 metric tons, on Friday.

Compared to commercial planes, which have two engines, the AN-225 has six engines, allowing it to carry heavy loads, and can fly more than 15,000 km in a single flight. Transporting the streetcars from China to Turkey by air is much more time-efficient compared with traditional means on the sea or by rail, but loading the massive cars was a laborious task.

Twenty-one employees from the AN-225’s owner and Ukrainian aircraft manufacturer Antonov installed two giant tracks to guide the 40-meter-long tram cars into the plane and worked from 8 am to about 6 pm on Friday to complete the loading process.
Inside the aircraft, the parallel tracks were fixed to the floor, and various other tethers were attached to keep the streetcars in place during the flight. The occasion marks the seventh time the enormous cargo plane has landed at Shijiazhuang Zhengding International Airport since 2006. The airport is the only one in the country approved to land the AN-225 by the Civil Aviation Administration of China.
“We (the airport and Antonov) have established a good relationship through the flight,” said Qin Guoqiang, manager of international freight at the airport. “Now we plan to further our cooperation by inviting the plane to stay at our airport when it’s not transporting cargo.”
Qin said he is confident the plane will be useful for China as international exports — especially those of heavy equipment — continue to boom. The two tramcars were built in Tangshan, Hebei province, a city known for its manufacturing industry.
The electric-powered streetcars can be used for at least 30 years without discharging emissions, making the cars the first Chinese-built, energy-efficient tramcar to be exported by air to the European market.
“It shows that Hebei is transitioning from light industrial products, such as clothes, to high value-added products,” Qin said. “The closer cooperation between the airport and the cargo company will fuel this type of growth.”

VIDEO: Scorpion light strike aircraft completes pre-flight taxi trial

Click to see video
Textron has released video footage showing taxi testing with its Scorpion demonstrator, just days before the type’s expected first flight. Performed in Wichita, Kansas on 25 November, the event involved the twin turbofan-powered tactical strike concept, which has been in development since early 2012 by the Textron AirLand venture, also involving AirLand Enterprises.
Flight Global

Data from manufacturer

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2
  • Length: 43 ft 6 in (13.26 m)
  • Wingspan: 47 ft 4 in (14.43 m)
  • Height: 14 ft (4.3 m)
  • Empty weight: 11,800 lb (5,352 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 21,250 lb (9,639 kg)
  • Fuel capacity: 6,000 lb
  • Powerplant: 2 × Honeywell TF731 Turbofan, 4,000 lbf (18 kN) thrust each
  • Performance
  • Maximum speed: 450 kn (518 mph; 833 km/h)
  • Ferry range: 2,400 nmi (2,800 mi; 4,400 km)
  • Service ceiling: 45,000 ft (14,000 m)

Air zone ‘not aimed at civilian flights’

J10 – Chinese

China’s newly announced air defense identification zone does not target “normal” flights by international airliners, the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday, as Chinese fighter jets patrolled the zone.

Beijing rejected Japan’s demand that it scrap the zone, saying Tokyo should invalidate its own zone first. Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said China’s zone is not aimed at international airliners. “We hope that relevant countries’ airlines cooperate, so there is more order and safety for flights.”
Civilian flights have been operating safely and normally since China announced the zone, which covers its Diaoyu Islands, on Saturday, Qin said.

China requires aircraft to provide a flight plan and their identification and to maintain two-way radio contact to respond to identification queries from Chinese authorities. Qin said airlines from many countries and regions have reported their flight plans to the Chinese authorities.

Shen Jinke, spokesman for the PLA air force, said Chinese fighter jets carried out a regular patrol in the zone on Thursday. Such patrols are for defense purposes and in line with international practice, Shen said.
Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said at a news conference on Thursday that Tokyo, which asked Beijing to cancel its zone, set up its own air defense zone in 1969. More than 20 countries, including the United States and Japan, have established such zones.
“If they want China to cancel the zone, then we would ask that Japan first revoke its own zone. Japan consistently blames others and smears the name of other countries but never examines its own conduct,” Yang said.
Japan will unveil its updated long-term defense policy next month, which calls for stronger air and maritime surveillance capabilities, citing threats from China. Japan and South Korea said on Thursday that their military planes have flown through China’s air defense zone.
Mitsubishi F-2 of Japan
Two US B-52 bombers flew through the zone on Tuesday. China’s Defense Ministry said the military monitored the entire process and ascertained they were US aircraft. Gary Li, a Beijing-based senior analyst with consulting group IHS Aerospace, Defence and Maritime, told Reuters he does not believe People’s Liberation Army planes will patrol extensively in the defense zone.
“I think it will be more a case of China flying enough planes to make a point — it is quite a strain on any force to maintain some kind of 24-hour presence in the air,” he said. 
“It must be remembered that this is not a no-fly zone — China doesn’t have to operate extensive patrols to make its presence felt.”
Li said he believes that coastal air defense radar will be used for routine coverage of the new zone.
Planes — whether surveillance aircraft or fighter jets — will be used generally for more specific tasks, he said. Xing Hongbo, a military expert, said the methods to identify foreign aircraft also include technical detection.
“China has successfully identified those foreign aircraft, meaning that it has achieved early-warning through the zone,” he said.
Biden’s focus
In Washington on Wednesday, a senior US official said in a briefing on Vice-President Joseph Biden’s Asia trip that he will convey US concerns directly to Chinese leaders and seek clarity regarding China’s intentions.
Biden leaves on Sunday, heading to Japan, China and South Korea. Xing said: “There is no reason for the US to blame China for establishing such a zone, because Washington was the first … to set up such a zone. It also strengthened its air defense zone system after the Sept 11 terrorist attacks.
“It is Japan’s illegal ‘purchase’ of China’s Diaoyu Islands that fueled tensions in East Asia.” The US official, who did not give his name, said of Biden’s visit: “He’s going to have a very high-level and a very wide-ranging dialogue with the senior Chinese leadership that covers a wide range of shared interests along with areas of concern.
“He will pick up where President (Barack) Obama and President Xi (Jinping) left off after Sunnylands and the G20, with the kind of high-level personal engagement between the top leadership of our two countries that is an essential part of advancing the US-China relationship in the 21st century,” the official said.
He was referring to the informal summit between Xi and Obama at the Sunnylands private estate in California in early June. Reuters contributed to this story.

U.S. sends B-52s over China-claimed waters

F-18 Super Hornet jet fighter on the deck of the USS George Washington
An American carrier battle group and a flotilla of Japanese warships will arrive Wednesday near a vast stretch of ocean claimed by China in what is shaping up as a test of how Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the USA will stand up to the challenge.

The joint U.S.-Japan exercises in the sea are a direct challenge to China’s claim. On Tuesday, the U.S. military said two Air Force B-52 bombers flew over the sea without notifying Beijing despite China’s demand that it be told if anyone plans to fly military aircraft over its self-claimed “air defense zone.”

The aircraft took off from Guam on Monday, part of a regular exercise, said a U.S. defense official who spoke to AFP news service on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to divulge the information.
China has been laying claim to nearly 1 million square miles of ocean known as the East China Sea, insisting that the sea’s energy resources and fisheries belong to China. Much of the ocean territory it claims is hundreds of miles from its shore, including waters off the coasts of Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.
On Saturday China went further than ever, announcing it had designated much of the sea as an air defense zone it controls. The zone includes the Japan-held Senkaku Islands, a string of uninhabited islets that China calls the Diaoyus. The Chinese Defense Ministry said the zone was created to “guard against potential air threats.”
“China has been pushing and testing Abe since he took office and for the most part he has been passing,” said Brad Glosserman, executive director of the Pacific Forum Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank in Honolulu.
“This is a very dumb, very risky move by China,” he said. “If the People’s Liberation Army tries to interfere (with the U.S.-Japan exercise), there will be real problems.”
The challenge represents a test for Abe, a conservative party prime minister elected in 2012 who has vowed to shift Japan’s deferential military posture to a more muscular stance that recognizes its right to defend itself.
On Tuesday, Abe directly confronted China, stating he would not recognize the Chinese air zone over the East China Sea or any of its claims to the Senkakus.
“We will take steps against any attempt to change the status quo by use of force as we are determined to defend the country’s sea and airspace,” Abe said.
For the United States’ part, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the Chinese action represents a “destabilizing attempt to alter the status quo” and “will not in any way change how the United States conducts military operations in the region.”
To that end, the U.S. Navy arrived in force Tuesday off the coast of Japan for a complex exercise in which Japanese naval ships and U.S. fighter jets, warships and submarines will practice scenarios for a possible attack on Japan.
Sailing into the waters southeast of Okinawa on Tuesday to prepare for a long-planned exercise was the aircraft carrier USS George Washington, guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam, guided-missile destroyers USS Curtis Wilbur, USS Lassen, USS McCampbell, USS Mustin, maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft and a Navy submarine.
China issued a protest with Japan and the U.S. government over the exercises and opposition to China’s self-claimed right to an air defense zone over the sea. Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said Japan’s complaint about the zone is “absolutely groundless and unacceptable,” according to Japan’s Kyodo news service.
Yang said Japan has “no right to make irresponsible remarks” on the sea’s airspace, portions of which have been jointly administered by Japan and the United States for decades. Yujun also urged the United States to “not take sides.”
Earlier this year, Japan scrambled fighter jets when Chinese planes flew near the Senkaku islands, a rich fishing ground annexed by Japan in 1895 and purchased by the legislature in 2012. Chinese interceptor aircraft conducted the first flights into the zone after it went into force at 10 a.m. on Saturday.
The Chinese moves have inflamed Japan and worried other nations that say they may now need to inform China when their commercial flights are heading over the East China Sea. It also has U.S. allies concerned that China is becoming more aggressive against them since the installation a year ago of Xi Jinping as leader of the Communist regime.
But Hagel reaffirmed the U.S. military commitment to the 1952 U.S.-Japan Mutual Defense Treaty that commits Washington to intervene in defense of Japan if there is an attack on Japanese-administered territory. And Abe has backed up his belief that Japan must modify its stance held since World War II that Japan’s defense can be outsourced entirely to the United States.
Abe has been pressing for Japan to raise its readiness and play a bigger role in global security since he came to power in December 2012 and won a majority for his Liberal Democratic Party in the upper house of the Japan legislature in July.
Defense spending in Japan has seen its largest increase in 22 years, says Kyodo. The spending has zeroed in on boosting Japan’s capabilities to defend against amphibious assaults.
But Abe has yet to garner the votes to change Japan’s constitution so its defense forces can project the full military powers of a sovereign state. The constitution, written by the U.S. military after the defeat of Japan in WWII, restrains what Japan can do militarily.
The U.S. military retains bases in Japan, primarily in Okinawa, and exercises between the two militaries have grown in size and complexity in recent years.
Although precise locations have not been announced for the latest exercise, specific training events – which will include land-based patrol planes and other aircraft – are supposed to take place across large stretches of Japanese and international airspace, including parts of the East China Sea.
China’s Ministry of National Defense announced that any foreign aircraft entering its newly drafted “East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone” must file a flight plan with Chinese authorities, stay in two-way radio contact and follow other instructions.
Failure to do so will result in “defensive emergency measures” by China’s armed forces, according to the statement.
It is not clear why China chose to announce the new air restrictions now, said Narushige Michishita, Director of the Security and International Studies Program at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo. Whether Jinping approved of it or the military demanded it is unknown, Michishita said.
“It is a scary scenario,” Michishita said. “What happens next is up to China.”
USA Today

South Korea order would drive F-35 per-plane cost lower

South Korea’s plan to buy 40 Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jets will save the U.S. military about $2 billion by driving down the per-plane price of the new plane, and could create up to 10,000 U.S. jobs, according to sources familiar with the program.

Seoul’s decision will also help to offset any move by the U.S. Air Force and Navy to deal with mandatory budget cuts by postponing orders for up to 54 jets over the next five years, according to analysts. Seoul’s decision must still be approved by a committee chaired by its defense minister.

Loren Thompson, chief operating officer of the Virginia-based Lexington Institute, said the South Korean news would provide a significant boost to the F-35 program.
“The sale of F-35s to Japan and South Korea – America’s two leading industrial allies in northeast Asia means the F-35 is now becoming the gold standard for tactical aircraft across the western Pacific,” he said.
He said Singapore would likely follow suit with its own orders, followed by Malaysia and possibly New Zealand.
Top U.S. military officials have vowed to protect funding for the $392 billion F-35 program, one of their top priorities, but they acknowledge some U.S. orders may have to be postponed if Congress fails to reverse additional defense budget cuts.
In a worst-case scenario, the Air Force says it would postpone orders for 24 F-35s over the next five years, while the Navy has said it could defer as many as 30 jet orders.
Given ongoing uncertainty about the U.S. budget, military officials say no final decisions have been made, but they expect a slight drop in the planned ramp up in F-35 production, which had been slated to more than double to around 70 planes in a ninth production batch from 30 a year now.
The F-35 program, the Pentagon’s biggest arms program, has seen repeated delays and a 70 percent increase in costs over initial estimates. The fact foreign buyers are now placing orders for the new warplane underscores growing confidence in the program, U.S. officials say.
Lockheed is developing three models of the new fighter for the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, as well as eight countries that helped fund its development: Britain, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Turkey, Italy, the Netherlands and Norway.
After years of political wrangling, the Netherlands in September became the seventh foreign country to make a firm commitment to buy F-35s, joining Britain, Italy, Australia, Norway, Israel and Japan.
Britain is expected to announce additional orders next month, and Turkey is likely to become the eighth foreign buyer in January when it is expected to place firm orders for two of the 100 jets it plans to buy over time.
Japan and Israel are expected to order more jets next year, the sources said, while Singapore and Belgium are also considering joining the program.
U.S. government and industry officials also cite strong interest in the F-35 in the Gulf region, and say they have begun looking at when to release the jet to the region — probably about five years after Israel gets its first jets in 2016.
Once Seoul – as new buyer – formally notifies the Pentagon about its planned purchases, those jets will be added to the total number of expected purchases by the U.S. military and allies that is used by defense officials to estimate the cost of each airplane.
By 2019, the Pentagon projects the cost of each new F-35 fighter plane will be around $85 million, putting it on a par with the cost of current fighter planes, said Jim McAleese, a Virginia-based defense consultant.
The South Korean order could create 10,000 jobs at Lockheed and its suppliers as they build the components to make the 40 jets.
The sources said the projected savings and job counts were comparable to similar estimates released when Japan announced plans to buy 42 F-35 jets from the U.S. government in December 2011.

Small software maker wins $US24.8M judgment vs Lockheed Martin

Command Technology, a privately held firm that developed electronic maintenance manuals for Lockheed Martin’s F-16 fighter jet, has won a $US24.8 million judgment against the Pentagon’s biggest supplier for unfair competition.

Groton, Connecticut-based Command makes similar software for many other US weapons systems, but sued Lockheed after being shut out of the work on the 4500 F-16 fighter jets that have been sold to the US military and two dozen other countries.

A jury in the Circuit Court of Maryland for Montgomery County, where Lockheed is based, found after a week-long trial that Lockheed competed unfairly and injured Command, according to a verdict sheet filed late Monday with the court.
The jury also found Lockheed “torturously interfered” with Command’s economic relationships.
Unfair interference
Lockheed unfairly flunked the Connecticut firm’s software product during testing it conducted on behalf of the US Air Force, but then worked with another software maker, InfoTrust Group, to develop its own rival product, Command said in its complaint.
Given declines in weapons orders, Lockheed and other arms makers are intensely competing for work on upgrading and servicing existing weapons systems. The companies generate about two-thirds of their revenues on big arms programs from the maintenance, spare parts, upgrades and sustainment of weapons systems after they are fielded.
The judgment against Lockheed came just hours after the Pentagon approved work by Britain’s BAE Systems on upgrades for 134 F-16 fighters operated by South Korea, in a deal that could open the door to future orders from other countries.
Robert MacGill, a lawyer with Barnes & Thornburg who is representing Command, said the company was pleased the jury’s verdict.
Viewed as a threat
Command said in court papers that Lockheed tried to block its product from the lucrative F-16 market because the smaller company’s software threatened to dislodge Lockheed as the primary provider of maintenance and sustainment for the weapons it builds, and billions of dollars of associated sales.
Opening the maintenance system to outside vendors would have resulted in “dramatic savings” for taxpayers, Command said.
Lockheed said it was disappointed by the judgment and suggested it would appeal the ruling.
“We are disappointed in the jury’s decision and believe that it will not stand after post-trial review by the circuit court or on appeal,” said spokesman Gordon Johndroe.
The US Air Force declined to comment.
The case stems from a 2005 decision by the US Air Force to switch to digital maintenance manuals for the F-16 and other weapons, and the engines that power them.
Command argued that Lockheed and other “original equipment manufacturers” have tried to restrict the ability of military users to view the technical data associated with warplanes and other weapons systems.
That in turn allowed those companies to charge the US Air Force and other militaries for the data and the ability to view it electronically, Command said.
Command said it provided one part of Lockheed with proprietary information to allow it to test its C2Web platform, but the company used the data to develop competing products that were structured to preserve Lockheed’s profits.
For instance, Command said its product allowed mechanics who were servicing the planes to choose parts made by other vendors, while the Lockheed system forced users to choose parts made by the company.
It said Lockheed, BAE Systems and other suppliers “interfered with, impaired and delayed the deployment” of Command’s product by “falsifying testing procedures and records” and encouraging the Air Force to reject use of the C2Web platform.
Misleading claims
Lockheed falsely led other possible users to believe the C2Web system could not be used for the F-16 fighter, Command said.
Command has also sued InfoTrust Group Inc and other companies that work with Lockheed. InfoTrust, in turn, has sued Lockheed, according to Command’s law firm.
Command argued that Lockheed and other companies were positioning their products to be used on the $US392 billion F-35 fighter jet program, also run by Lockheed, shutting Command out of work on the estimated 3,000-plus jets to be built under that program.
Air Force Lieutenant General Chris Bogdan, who runs the F-35 program for the Pentagon, has tried to inject more competition into the maintenance of the F-35 program, given concerns about the high cost and slow progress of Lockheed’s work on the jet’s computer-based maintenance system.
In its lawsuit, Command said Lockheed was also trying to erode its existing business relationships with the militaries of Oman, Israel, Poland and the United Arab Emirates, by arguing that its software could not publish technical data on the F-16.