Category Archives: Fighters

Austria to sue Airbus over Eurofighter deal

Austria is planning to sue Airbus and Eurofighter GmbH over the troubled contract for 15 Eurofighter jets in 2007, according to news reports from Austria. An investigation by the ministry of Defense in Vienna has shown that fraud was likely involved in the deal, which was worth 1.75 billion EUR. In a response, Airbus said it is ‘surprised’.

In 2003, Austria was about to purchase a total of 18 Eurofighters for 2 billion EUR, with offset orders worth 4 billion EUR also part of the deal. After a change of government, the Alpine country wanted to back out of the deal, but after much hassle a deal was finally closed in 2007 for 15 Eurofighters against a 250 million EUR price reduction.

An investigation has been running since 2012 and has now found out that fraud was likely involved. Payments worth many millions of euro’s were made to firms that only existed on paper. The Austrian government is now seeking compensation in a court case.

Airbus later on Thursday said the Austrian government never dicussed the findings with the company, and that it only learned about the allegations through the media. Airbus also states it ‘cannot see any foundation’ for the allegation of fraud, but nevertheless will ‘support the authorities in investigating concrete suspicions’.

© 2017 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: Austrian Eurofighter Typhoon on patrol on 24 January 2014 during the World Economic Summit in Swiss Davos (Image © Österreichs Bundesheer)

India and Saab: confidence in Tejas

Despite continued criticism on the jet’s performance, India still seems to have enough confidence in its indigenous Tejas fighter jet to open up a second production line. Meanwhile, Swedish Saab is offering its Airborne Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar to be installed in the Tejas.

The government in New Delhi has just cleared a 200 million USD investment to open up a second Tejas production line next to the existing one at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The news was announced on this week at the Aero India airshow in Bengaluru.

The Tejas jets produced, will solely be used the Indian Air Force, since the Indian Navy has rejected the naval variant and is now looking for 57 new fighter jets elsewhere. The Dassault Rafale and Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet are likely candidates.

Saab hopes to sell the Indians its Gripen fighter jets instead. Possibly to win Indian harts, the Swedes now also offer their Airborne Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar plus an additional  electronic warfare suite for use in the Tejas.

First Japanese pilot completes first F-35 solo

At Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, Lt. Col. Nakano las week became the first Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) pilot to fly solo on the Lockheed Martin F-35. Luke currently provides training to pilots from the US, Australia, Israel, Italy, Norway and Japan.  

“This is an historical event for JASDF and my career as a pilot,” said Nakano. “My first flight was perfect. The weather was fine, and the jet was great. I’ll never forget this day.” After completing his training at Luke, Nakano will be involved in standing up the first F-35 squadron in Japan. The country is looking to buy 42 F-35’s to replace ageing F-4 Phantoms and F-15J Eagles.

The first of three Japanese F-35s arrived at Luke for training last year. A fourth aircraft is expected to arrive in February. In total, Luke is scheduled to have six fighter squadrons and 144 F-35s. Pilots from South Korea, Turkey, Netherlands and Denmark will receive their future training at Luke also.

‘Dutch F-16 pilots not ready for all tasks’

The Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) is currently not able to fulfill all of its tasks, especially when it comes to operations with its  F-16 fighter jets. According to Tom Middendorp, commander of all Dutch armed forces, RNLAF pilots especially need additional training to sharpen their air-to-air skills.

Years and years of flying air support missions over Afghanistan and most recently, Iraq and Syria, have caused RNLAF pilots to loose certain skills that may be required again in light of increased Russian interest and involvement in Europe.

Dutch pilots need to become well trained again in all areas of air combat, including intercepts of other aircraft and actual air-to-air engagements, says Middendorp. The RNLAF earlier stated it needed time to perform maintenance on its tired F-16 fleet, plus additional training for its crews.

Extra training is currenty being undertaken in the US. In February, Airheadsfly.com will report on RNLAF participation in large scale military flying exercise Red Flag at Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas.

Dutch F-16s are currently also deployed to Lithuania as part of NATO’s Baltic Air Policing Mission. From Šiauliai airbase, Dutch pilots now get to intercept actual Russian aircraft operating near the Baltic states.

Not other operational RNLAF F-16 deployments are foreseen for the near future, giving more time for extra training. Also, the Dutch are slowly but surely preparing for the arrival in 2019 of the first F-35 Lightnings in the Netherlands.

Stealthty repairs on the Raptor

Lockheed Martin recently completed repairs on  the first F-22 Raptor at the company’s Inlet Coating Repair (ICR) Speedline facility. The repair is crucial in maintaining the Raptor’s stealthy characteristics.

Periodic maintenance is required to maintain the special exterior coatings that contribute to the F-22’s Very Low Observable (VLO) radar cross-section. The increase in F-22 deployments, including ongoing operational combat missions, has increased the demand for ICR, Lockheed Martin states in a press release.

The US Air Force contracted the company to establish the Speedline in Marietta, Georgia, in August 2016. The first F-22 arrived there in early November.  A second aircraft followed in early December and a third in late January.

Lockheed Martin is on contract to perform this work on a total of 12 aircraft and a follow-on contract is anticipated. Additionally, Lockheed Martin is providing modification support services, analytical condition inspections, radar cross section turntable support and antenna calibration.

Featured image: An F-22 in Marietta. (Image © Lockheed Martin / Andrew McMurtrie)