Category Archives: Intelligence

First Japanese E-2D “radar plane” in production

The first of four Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye Airborne Early Warning & Control aircraft for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) has entered production at the new production plant in St. Augustine, Florida, the company has confirmed.

Bringing together what was previously spread out over several buildings, the 121,390 square metres (370,000 square foot) assembly hall can currently produce eight aircraft a year, to be increased to a maximum of 12 Hawkeyes in 365 days if needed.

13 E-2Cs in service

The Delta Hawkeyes are equipped with APY-9 Radars, and will join 13 JASDF E-2Cs already flying with 1st Hiko Keikai Kanshitai (squadron) out of Misawa Airbase, although Tokyo is considering locating the new E-2Ds at a different location.

US Navy Advanced Hawkeye

Apart from the Japanese military, the US Navy ordered 51 E-2Ds, with 22 of them delivered so far. The first operational cruise of the Delta occurred last year, with VAW-125 “Tigertails” squadron on board the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71). The Japanese Advanced Hawkeyes will be land-based only, with the first planned to arrive in 2018.

© 2016 editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: A Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye (Image © NAVAIR / Northrop Grumman)

Not Orions, but ageing TC-90s will patrol Philippine islands

The Philippines have taken a step away from leasing some of the 100 Lockheed-designed by Kawasaki produced P-3 Orions from the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF). In stead Manilla will lease five Beechcraft King Air TC-90s from the JMSDF.

Although the announcement was made by Philippine president Benigno Aquino on Wednesday, no details have been released on the time frame of when the aircraft will start operations.

The JMSDF operates 34 TC-90s as trainers, mostly for P-3 crews, while it retains an additional five LC-90 transport versions and one UC-90 for photoreconnaissance. The Philippines are in desperate need for a capable aircraft for patrolling the island and seas of the much spread-out nation, while big China is increasingly military active close by in the Spratly Islands archipelago.

Just yesterday it was confirmed that the first of two ex-US Marines Hercules aircraft will arrive in the Philippines within a few days.

© 2016 editor Marcel Burger
All images: The Beechcraft King Air TC-90 in action in Japan (Images © JMSDF)

A Beechcraft TC-90 of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force (Image © JMSDF)
A Beechcraft TC-90 of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force (Image © JMSDF)

Modernized New Zealand Orions to be updated, again

The six Lockheed P-3K2 Orion maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft of the Royal New Zealand Air Force are to be updated, again. About a year after the final aircraft of the No 5 Squadron returned to its home “pimped” and well, Auckland is now opting for newer sensors.

According to a New Zealand defence source the detection and reconnaissance systems for targets underneath the surface (read: submarines) is way too old. If everything goes according to plan, Boeing is going to change that, for tens of millions of dollars.

A decade ago the then Labour government decided to modernize the planes, but not some of its main systems. The current centre-right leadership now has to decide about the Orion’s capabilities.

The upgrade is expected in the new defence plans to be announced in April this year. Read more about the Orions here.

© 2016 editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: A Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion (Image © New Zealand Defence Force)

Swedish-Canadian aircraft “to make stealth obsolete”

Behold of the newest invention from Sweden. It doesn’t come in flat cardboard box, but in a fancy composite materials finishing on the back of a Canadian designed business jet. The Saab/Bombardier GlobalEye 6000 is about to make stealth technology, like of the Lockheed Martin F-35 and the Irkut T-50, obsolete.

Or at least that is what Micael Johansson, head of Saab’s business area Electronic Defence Systems, is telling these days. The GlobalEye will automatically detect and track air and surface targets over a huge area, both on land, at sea and in the air.

‘Stealthy’ aircraft

Ground surveillance of moving vehicles can be conducted through long-range, wide-area ground moving target indication (GMTI) radar modes. The GlobalEye system can track very low-observable air and sea targets, including ‘stealthy’ aircraft, cruise missiles or submarine periscopes, even in heavy clutter and jamming environments.


“GlobalEye is a game changer that delivers a unique swing-role capability for simultaneous air, maritime and ground surveillance in a single solution, with the ability to change role dynamically, while airborne during any mission,” says Johansson.

Saab Erieye

The new radar system is marketed on the back of a Bombardier Global 6000 business jet. It is the successor of the Saab Erieye, of which 22 have been delivered on different aircraft to various countries: Brazil (5 R-99 (Embraer E145/Saab Erieye)), Greece (4 EMB-145H (Embraer E145/Saab Erieye), Pakistan (4 Saab Erieye 2000 (Saab 2000), United Arab Emirates (2 Saab 2000 Erieye, plus 2 Bombardier Global 6000/Erieye ordered), Saudi Arabia (2 Saab 2000 Erieye (Saab 2000), Sweden (2 Saab S 100D (Saab 340/Saab Erieye)), Thailand (2 S 100B (Saab 340/Saab Erieye), Mexico (1 E-99 (Embraer E145/Saab Erieye).

United Arab Emirates AEW&C

The United Arab Emirates will be the first to field a version of the new radar mounted onto the Global 6000, of an order placed in November 2015. Although there is some criticism in Swedish parliament against selling the AEW&C system to countries at war (the UAE fights in Yemen), the deal is considered to go through.

© 2016 editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: Computer rendering of the new Swedish-Canadian Saab/Bombardier GlobalEye 6000 (Image © Saab AB)

Italian worries about Libya, AMX jets to Sicily

The Italian government’s worries about the deteriorating political and military situation in Libya, a sort of neighbour just across the Mediterranean, has become that strong, that the Rome’s Ministry of Defence has ordered a quartet of AMX light combat jets and a Predator on forward operational deployment to Sicily.

The Italian Air Force aircraft landed at Trapani Airbase, which will be their home for the time being, local media report. For now the AMXs are tasked with reconnaissance only, although arming them with ground-attack weapons could be easily carried out. The Aeronautica Militare jets flew in from their homebase Istrana, and are part of the 51 Wing (51 Stormo).


In 2011 the Italian Air Force was actively involved in NATO-led bombing operations against the military of the regime led by the then Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi, who was subsequently killed by a Libyan rebel on the ground at close range after two months of NATO airstrikes in a rare cooperation with local rebel forces / Mujaheddin.

Egyptian F-16s

Since then Libya has not been stable at all, with the so-called Islamic State forces that control large parts of Syria and Iraq trying to get a third stronghold in the North African country as well. Several nations – including the US and France – are already monitoring the situation. US forces have executed pin-point airstrikes, including in November 2015 by a pair of McDonnell Douglas/Boeing F-15s, while Egyptian Air Force F-16s have carried out attacks against ISIS in Libya in February last year.

The length of the AMX deployment to Trapani is not known, but that the dispatch to Sicily is an illustration of raised concerns about how things are going in Libya is certain.

© 2016 editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: An Italian Air Force AMX light fighter / attack aircraft landing at Nellis AFB in 2009, for Red Flag (Image © Michael R. Holzwort / US Air Force)