The Brazilian Air Force is fielding the first helicopter in Latin America equipped with a refueling probe, to receive the necessary stuff in mid-air. The first Airbus Helicopters / Helibras H-36 Caracal with the probe will be fully operational in January 2016.
Brazil hopes that the air-to-air refueling option gives the chopper even better capabilities to perform long-range Search and Rescue options across the vast Brazilian territory stretching far into the Atlantic Ocean and into the Amazon River base.
19 Caracals in Brazilian service
Although not all of the 50 helicopters ordered by the Brazilian Armed Fores are receiving the probe, many or even all of the Força Aérea Brasileira (FAB) will. Designed by Aérospatiale / Eurocopter / Airbus Helicopters (H225, formerly EC725), the choppers are being assembled by Helibras in Itajubá. Of the total number ordered, currently 19 are in service: 5 in the FAB, 5 in the Brazilian Army, 7 in the Brazilian Navy and 2 as presidential flight.
Força Aérea Brasileira H-36
The FAB H-36s will not only receive a probe, but also new warnings systems for radar, laser and missile approach, as well as special electronic counter measures, encrypted communication systems and an infrared camera, the FAB writes in a statement.
Deliveries of the first Embraer KC-390 tactical transport and tanker aircraft to the Brazilian Air Force are delayed until the first half of 2018, Embraer reported on 30 July in its quarterly results. The KC-390 first flew on 3 February, staying airborne for 85 minutes. However, test flights have since been halted to allow for the installation of test equipment for certification trials.
According to Embraer, the flight test campaign of the KC-390 is expected to start again in Q3 2015 and is expected to last between 18 and 24 months and 2,000 flight hours. The company now expects to receive certification of the KC-390 jet in the second half of 2017, with first deliveries of the aircraft the following year.
Previously, the Embraer was aiming at 2016 for first deliveries. Brazil has 28 aircraft on order. Other countries showing interest are Argentina, Chile, the Czech Republic, Portugal and Colombia.
Prosecutors in Brazil are looking into possible irregularities in the deal for 36 Saab Gripen fighter aircraft for the Brazilian Air force. Reports about an investigation into the 5.4 billion USD deal emerged last week.
A price difference of 900 million USD between a 2009 proposal and the final price that was agreed last year, has sparked the interest of prosecutors. The Brazilian Air Force has already remarked that the difference is caused by changing exchange rates and additional terms in the contract, such as flight simulators.
Saab has denied anything is wrong with the deal, that is a major export success for the Swedish company and its first export agreement for the new Gripen E/F aircraft. Saab states the price increase is the result of changes wished for by the Brazilians, such as custom avionics. For example: the Força Aérea Brasileira wishes for one big multifunction LCD display in the cockpit in stead of three.
The SAAB JAS 39C/D Gripen multirole fighters will become (even) better planes, thanks to a firmware upgrade very much alike a newer Android or iOS on your smartphone. “The new version will partly have new, awesome functions and fixes shortcomings on earlier versions,” says Robert Novén, test engineer at the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) T&E division in Linköping, Sweden.
FMV T&E – FMV stands for Försvarets materielverk – has “pimped” one Gripen with the MS20 upgrade. The aircraft is – although unconfirmed – likely a D-version, making it possible for test engineers like Novén to ride in the back seat to verify and evaluate the new firmware. Forty of those test flights are now planned to take place, with another JAS 39C and another 39D modified with the new bits and bytes.
The other updates of MS20 might be less sexy, but still great. They will renew or improve the Gripen’s Ground Collission Avoidance System, its self-protection suite, Link 16, digital Combat Air Support, reconnaissance functions and support for navigation in civilian airspace.
Although Sweden has ordered 60 Gripens of the new E-standard for 2.6 to 3 billion USD, with deliveries commencing in 2018, many of the current 90 operational JAS 39C/D Gripen of the Swedish Air Force (Flygvapnet) are likely to stay in service for many years to come. Moreover, the Gripen C and D are flown by the air forces of the Czech Republic, Hungary, South Africa and Thailand. Slovakia is expected to start leasing JAS 39C/Ds within the next two years.
The A-Darter, the planned air-to-air missile for the future Brazilian Air Force SAAB JAS 39E/F fighter jet has been successfully test-fired by a South African Air Force JAS 39D Gripen at the Overberg range on 9 February 2015, the Força Aérea Brasileira (FAB) confirmed on 12 February 2015.
Brazil and South Africa are now co-operating on the A-Darter, with support from Swedish SAAB. The test was part of the continuing development of the weapon, ahead of the introduction into service of a dozen JAS 39C/Ds Brazil will lease from Sweden from 2016 forward. The C/Ds will be gradually replaced by the new E/Fs from 2019, with those aircraft been mainly assembled and partly produced by Brazil’s own Embraer aircraft company.
The recent launch of the A-Darter was aimed at testing the manoeuvrability of the missile, with the rocket launched towards a remotely-controlled aircraft. The heat-guided weapon is designed to perform while sustaining up to 100Gs, with targets within a 12 miles radius. The A-Darter’s sensor-eye is said to see the difference between the target aircraft’s infrared signature and flares the bogey might launch to fool the missile. South Africa’s Denel Dynamics is the leading company of the project.