The Royal Air Force on Thursday 29 September started one if its largest operations in recent history, deploying Eurofighter Typhoons to the Far East. Meanwhile, the Red Arrows embark on a world tour that takes the team and its twelve Hawk trainer jets to 15 different countries.
The operation is named Eastern Venture and marks the first time Typhoons deploy to countries such as Japan and South Korea. There, the jets take part in military exercises alongside the Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) and Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF).
Four Typhoons will fly to Japan with the support of Voyager tanker aircraft and a C-17 cargo aircraft. In Japan, the jets will operate from Misawa airbase in exercise Guardian North 16, that also sees Japanese F-2 and F-15 fighter aircraft participating.
Next, the Typhoons will head to South Korea, undoubtedly as a show of force to neighbouring North Korea. Osan Air Base will host the aircraft, as well as ROKAF F-15s and F-16s. US Air Force F-16s and A-10s are permanently based at Osan.
Meanwhile, the Red Arrows will visit India, China, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates amongst other countries, taking part in airshows and flying the UK flag.
Lockheed Martin announced that it will offer the T-50A in the United States Air Force’s Advanced Pilot Training (APT) competition, on Thursday 11 February. The T-50A was developed jointly by Lockheed Martin and Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) to replace the T-38 and train the next generation of pilots to fly 5th Generation aircraft, such as the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lightning II.
Lockheed Martin also announced that it has selected the company’s Greenville Operations facility in Greenville, South Carolina, as the preferred Final Assembly and Checkout (FACO) site for the T-50A.
“The T-50A is production ready now. It is the only offering that meets all of the APT requirements and can deliver those capabilities on schedule,” said Rob Weiss, executive vice president and general manager, Lockheed Martin Advanced Development Programs (Skunk Works). “We carefully studied a clean-sheet option for the APT competition and determined that it posed excessive risk to the APT cost and schedule requirements.”
The KAI T-50 has been ordered by several other air forces. The first Iraqi air force aircraft is now involved in test flights, and the first deliveries are scheduled for this year. Also Thailand ordered the T-50, as well as South Korea, Indonesia and the Philippines.
The naval variant of South Korea’s multi-purpose Surion helicopter has been succesfully tested, manufacturer Korea Aeropsace Industries (KAI) reported on Tuesday 29 December. The new variant is destined to serve with South Korean marine forces.
KAI claims development of the naval variant of the Korean Utility Helicopter was successful, having been in development and testing since 2013. An initial version of the Surion helicopter already flies for police forces in South Korea. The naval version adds two fuel tanks, emergency floats and a folding system for the rotor blades.
Medevac and fire fighting version of the Surion are also on the table. Deliveries of those should start in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
KAI aims at selling 400 Surion helicopters locally and 600 abroad over the next 20 years. The company specifically mentions the Czech Republic, Iran and Thailand as potential customers.
The South Korean KF-X program is in trouble because of a US ‘no’ over technology transfer concering several key elements of the design. The US move is a surprise for the Koreans after their ‘yes’ to the purchase of forty Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II aircraf last year. Seoul has started a probe into the proceeding.
South Korea is willing to spend close to 15 billion USD on the indigenous KF-X fighter jet, a program that should result in a fighter aircraft that should serve alongside the F-35s ordered and F-15Ks already in service. A total of 120 aircraft is said to be on the cards for the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF).
With Washington’s refusal to hand over key technologies, it seems the program suffers a severe setback at an early stage. The goal was to have the KF-X ready to fly in 2025.
Thailand has signed a contract with Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) for the purchase of four T-50 Golden Eagle jet trainers, as announced on Thursday 17 September. The order is worth 110 million USD.
The aircraft should be delivered from 2017 onwards. The T-50 is already in service in South Korea and Indonesia, while Iraq and the Philippines have also ordered the type. The Thai deal marks a significant success for KAI in the very competitive trainer market. In Thailand, the T-50 is set to replace the Aero Vodochody L-39 Albatros trainer.