Category Archives: Intelligence

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 Airheadsfly.com 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.

Surveillance

“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 Airheadsfly.com 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).

Gaddafi

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 Airheadsfly.com 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)

India: “Only half the combat fleet operational”

On paper the Indian Air Force has roughly 700 fighter and strike jets, but in reality slightly only about half are operational raising concern about how effective the military of the 2nd largest population in the world is being protected.

The average aircraft availability measured over the entire year is about 50 to 55 percent, Defence officials have admitted towards the parliamentary committee on defence matters. About 20 percent of those jets are simply grounded because of the lack of spare parts, but Indian Air Force sources say that concerns mostly the older Soviet-era jets like the approx. 120 MiG-21 Bisons, 80 MiG-27 Bahadurs and 130 to 135 SEPECAT Shamshers (Jaguars).

An Indian Air Force Sukhoi Su-30 (Image © Marcel Burger)
An Indian Air Force Sukhoi Su-30 (Image © Marcel Burger)

Indian MiG-29, Mirage 2000 and Sukhoi Su-30MKI

What the status is on the 60 to 65 MiG-29 Baaz’s and the 56 Mirage 2000 Vajras and the almost 230 Sukhoi Su-30MKI is not fully known – but the Airheadsfly.com article on the IAF MiG-29 is still one of the best read pieces on our web. In 2014 the Sukhoi Su-30MKI fleet had huge problems and despite the issue has been addressed somewhat the India’s Auditor General still called the matter “unresolved” in August 2015.

Ilyushing/Beriev A-50 AWACS

The government watchdog authority also slashed the reputation of the Air Force’s three Ilyushin/Beriev A-50 AWACS aircraft. Lack of trained aircrew, lack of bases to operate from, lack of funds and resources for the aircraft maintenance have seriously hampered the effectiveness of the airborne radar and intelligence gathering platforms.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): An Indian Air Force MiG-21 (Image © Indian Air Force)

P-3 Orion set new Spanish record

A Lockheed P-3 Orion of the Spanish Air Force set a new Spanish record on 22 December 2015. Of being airborne 16 hours in a row, beating the old achievement of 1991 of 13 hours and 50 minutes non-stop in the air.

The aircraft and crew of 221 Squadron (221 Esc.) took of from Morón Airbase near Seville at 10:00 local time for its patrol duty over the Mediterranean in support of the ongoing NATO maritime operations there.

Operation Active Endeavour

Launched after the September 11, 2011, attacks in New York and Washington this Operation Active Endeavour is there to “monitor shipping to help deter, defend, disrupt and protect against terrorist activity”. Greece, Italy, Spain and Turkey contribute directly to the operation, while other NATO and partner nations sometimes offer support and/or vessels/aircraft.

After this operational flight during daytime the Orion continued into a night training mission while still airborne, but kept sharing gathered data to the NATO mission as well. It landed again at Morón.

Maritime patrol aircraft

Although the long lasting mission is a novelty for the Spanish Air Force, the P-3 is actually designed to stay airborne for up to 16 hours, according to data provided by manufacturer Lockheed Martin. As a maritime patrol aircraft its combat radius is normally 1,346 nautical miles (2,490 km) and it can remain on station at low-level (1,500 feet) for three hours if on a submarine hunt. A total of 757 Orions were built between 1961 and 1990, of which 107 by Kawasaki in Japan. Many still serving the world’s air arms.

Royal Norwegian Air Force Orions

Spain has two P-3A and four P-3Bs which are being upgraded to the new P-3M standard. A fifth P-3B is used for its spare parts. All P-3Bs are ex-Royal Norwegian Air Force Orions, purchased in 1989. The Norwegians have kept four P-3Cs and two P-3N on strength, all at Andøya Air Station in the north.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): A Spanish Air Force Lockheed P-3 Orion (Image © Ejército del Aire)