The first Eurofighter Typhoon and Hawk advanced jet trainer aircraft for Oman were rolled out of in a ceremony in the UK on 15 May. An audience of more than 100 delegates witnessed the event at BAE Systems’ site in Warton, Lancashire. The event was followed by a fly-past of a Royal Air Force of Oman Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft.
Chris Boardman, Managing Director, BAE Systems Military Air & Information, said: “We are privileged and honoured to be able to celebrate the completion of the first Eurofighter Typhoon and Hawk aircraft in the presence of the Minister Responsible for Defence Affairs (Sultanate of Oman) and the Commander and representatives of the Royal Air Force of Oman. BAE Systems has a long and proud history of working in Oman, which has been built over more than half a century. Today’s event represents a further strengthening of that special relationship.“We believe that, in Eurofighter Typhoon and Hawk, Oman has added the most advanced combat jet and proven training aircraft available in the world to its military portfolio. We look forward to continuing to work in close partnership with Oman’s Ministry of Defence as deliveries of the first aircraft begin.”
The Sultanate of Oman announced its decision to purchase 12 Eurofighter Typhoon and eight Hawk aircraft in December 2012. Deliveries of the first aircraft are due to begin later this year.
Eurofighter Typhoon is the most advanced multi-role combat aircraft currently available on the world market and can be deployed in the full spectrum of air operations including air policing, peace support and high intensity conflict.
The Hawk is the lead-in fast jet trainer aircraft of choice for 18 international customers. A total of 1,020 Hawk aircraft have been sold or are on order around the globe.
The first F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) variant to be produced outside the US, was rolled out in a ceremony at the Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) facility in Cameri, Italy, on Friday. The aircraft is one of 30 F-35B variants purchased by Italy for use by both its navy and air force.
Cameri is one of three final assembly locations for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, the others being in Nagoya, Japan, and Forth Worth in the US. The latter so far was the only one to also produce the F-35B variant, which in the US is operated by the United States Marine Corps (USMC).
Italy has ordered the STOVL F-35 along with 60 conventional take off F-35A models. Seven of those have so far been delivered, with four in use in the US for pilot training. The remaining three are based at Amendola airbase in Italy, ffrom where they have already chalked up 100 flight hours.
The first Italian-made F-35B should perform its first flight in August and delivery is scheduled in November. After a series of confidence flights, an Italian pilot will fly their first F-35B jet to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, early in 2018 to conduct required Electromagnetic Environmental Effects certification. The next Italian F-35B aircraft is scheduled for delivery in November 2018
The Cameri FACO should also deliver two more F-35As to Italy this year; one in July and one later in 2017. The FACO is run by Leonardo Aircraft.
Boeing now has six aircraft in its KC-46 Pegasus tanker test program, expanding its ability to complete ground and flight-test activities as it moves toward first deliveries to the US Air Force. Deliveries however have been delayed over various development issues.
The newest KC-46 aerial refueling aircraft, the second low-rate initial production plane, completed its first flight April 29. Its test activities will help ensure the KC-46 can safely operate through electromagnetic fields produced by radars, radio towers and other systems.
“Adding another tanker will help us to become even more efficient and significantly improve our ability to complete test points going forward,” said Jeanette Croppi, Boeing KC-46A tanker test team director. “We are also re-configuring one of our 767-2C aircraft into a tanker, which means we soon will have four KC-46 tankers in test.”
“This first flight is another important step for the KC-46 program toward verifying the aircraft’s operational capabilities,” said Col. John Newberry, Air Force KC-46 System program manager. “Adding this aircraft brings key capabilities to the test fleet and helps move us closer to delivering operational aircraft to the warfighter.”
Boeing expects to build 179 tankers in its Everett factory. To date, the program’s test aircraft have completed 1,600 flight hours and more than 1,200 contacts during refueling flights with F-16, F/A-18, AV-8B, C-17, A-10 and KC-10 aircraft.
Various issues have plagued test flights though, causing delays and forcing Boeing to pay many millions of USD in penalties.
According to variopus sources on Wednesday 26 April, Bulgaria has selected the Saab Gripen to replace its small fleet of ageing MiG-29 fighter aircraft. The Swedish over topped that of Portugal for used F-16s, as well as an Italian offer for second hand Eurofighter Typhoons.
A special committee is to start negotiations with Sweden for a deal involving Saab Gripen C and D fighter jets, at a total estimated cost of 836 million USD. Off set orders are likely part of the deal.
Bulgaria now operates about a dozen MiG-29 aircraft, which were modernized over the last years to meet NATO standards. Also, the country recently ordered additional engines from Russia in an effort the extend the MiG-29’s service life.
Bulgaria has been on the market for a replacement fighter aircraft for a number of years. Neighbouring Romania has opted for second hand F-16s from Portugal to replace even older MiG-21s.
The US Air Force deployed two of its latest and newest fighter jets to the vicinity of Russia on Tuesday, as two latest generation F-35 Lightning IIs flew from the UK to Ämari airbase in Estonia. The visit resembles that of two F-22 Raptors to the same location in September 2015.
The F-35s in question left Lakenheath airbase in the UK on Tuesday morning and in the company of a KC-135 tanker over flew the Netherlands, Germany and Poland on their way to Estonia . The F-35s are part of a larger deployement of eight jets in total, which all arrived in Europe earlier in April for training exercises, according to the Pentagon.
Washington last week stated the visit to Europe was ‘long-planned’ and not aimed at anything other than training. Nevertheless, sending the latest piece of US flying military hardware to within 100 miles of the Russian border can be regarded as more than just training.
NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission provides air defense for the Baltics states of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia. In the past week alone, NATO aircraft intercepted four Russian Su-24 Fencers and a single AN-26 over Baltic waters.