Belgium aims to have 34 new fighter jets in 2030, according to a long term defense strategy made public on Tuesday 22 December. The statement doesn’t mention the type, however the Lockheed Martin F-35 should be considered the most likely candidate. A decision is still some time away.
The number of 34 new jets is lower than anticipated, although Airheadsfly.com already predicted the number would be lower than the larger numbers that were rumoured earlier . These numbers went up to 55 aircraft.
The latest Belgian defense strategy also mentions an inquiry into the deployment of a tanker aircraft, again with no type mentioned. The Belgian could very well join the European tanker effort that is aimed at buying at least four Airbus A330 MRTT aircraft.
The strategy remarkably doesn’t mention the seven Airbus A400Ms on order, the first of which is due in 2018. Doubts were raised in Belgium about the necessity of this airlifters.
Finland is about the issue a request for propopsal (RfP) to five aircraft manufacturers for a replacement for its ageing F-18 Hornets, sources in the Nordic country state on Wednesday 2 December. The five companies are Dassault, Saab, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and Boeing.
Lockheed Martin will likely be asked about the F-35 Lightning II, while Boeing is to pitch the F/A-18 Super Hornet, which is in deperate need of sales to keep production going. BAE Systems is to inform Helsinki about the Eurofighter Typhoon.
The replacement of roughly 60 Hornets is said to cost anywhere between 7 and 11 billion USD, Finnish sources say. A decision likely is still a few years away.
Finland accepted its very first F-18 Hornet in 1995 and the last one only five years later. Most aircraft were assembled by Patria Finavitec Oy. Among other tasks, the Finnish Air Forces uses the fighter jets to fend off Russian aircraft snooping around over the Baltic Sea.
Kuwait is likely to sign an order for 28 Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets in the next few weeks, press agency Reuters reports on Wednesday 6 May. The order is worth 3 billion USD and would make Kuwait the second export customer for the advanced Hornet after Australia.
A Kuwaiti order is good news for Boeing, which has been lobbying to keep Super Hornet production in St. Louis going. Currently, F/A-18G Growlers are being produced for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). Together with US Navy aircraft still on order, it will keep Boeing busy until 2017. If Kuwait indeed decides to order 28 Super Hornets, it means production will continue until well into 2019.
Kuwait already uses 39 older F/A-18C/D Hornets. Those aircraft were quickly supplied in the earlie nineties to strengthen the Kuwait Air Force after the conclusion of Desert Storm, which forced occupying Iraqi forces out of Kuwait.
Six Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornets are all set to return home after contributing to air strikes against Islamic State (IS) and Daesh targets in Iraq, the RAAF stated on 28 March. Older model F/A-18A Hornets from Number 75 Squadron from Tindal air base in the Australian Northern Territory, have replaced the Super Hornets.
The F/A-18F Super Hornets from RAAF Number 1 Squadron – normally based at Amberley airbase near Brisbane – started operations in the area seven months ago. Since September, crews flew 900 hours in over 400 sorties. Operations took place from Al Minhad in the United Arab Emirates. See here for a photo essay.
Over the last two weeks, the outgoing Super Hornet pilots and Hornet crews flew sorties together, in order to familiarize the Hornet crews. RAAF Air Task Group Commander Air Commodore Glen Braz said the new strike team had completed a comprehensive transition and was now flying combat air operations. “During the transition, having two outstanding fighter squadrons fly together in combat is a historic milestone for the RAAF.”
For security reasons, the RAAF won’t disclose when exactly the Super Hornets return home to Amberley. The Australians operate 24 F/A-18F Super Hornets, and have 12 EA-18G Growler electronic warfare variants on order. A picture of the fuselage of the first Australian Growler was released just today.
Earlier this year, the RAAF gave a sneak preview of its future plans, which state the RAAF should be become one of the world’s most advanced air forces. More on that is here.
The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) is working on ways to become one of the most advanced air forces in the world by seeking maximum network integration with Australian army and navy forces. The plan is called ‘Jericho’ and is to be implemented in the next ten years. The Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II will no doubt feature prominently in Plan Jericho.
The exciting and ambitious plan was unveiled in Melbourne by Air Force Chief Air Marshal Geoff Brown, who stated that Australia ‘cannot be complacent by thinking that simply having the next generation of aircraft technology will create an advanced air force.’ Instead, full potential will be reached by operating all assets in a fully networked environment.
Modern military aircraft are indeed capable of collecting vast amounts of data, and the value of this data increases exponentially when shared with other aircraft, ground or sea forces.
Pilots from Down Under are currently learning to fly the F-35A at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona. The sensors of the F-35 will be a key asset of Plan Jericho. Australia has 72 of the highly advanced 5th generation fighter aircraft on order, making it the largest customer after the US.
Currently, the RAAF flies a mix of older F/A-18A/B Hornets and F/A-18F Super Hornets, with electronic warfare EA-18G Growlers on the way. Also important in the plan will be current Boeing E-7A Wedgetail AWACS aircraft, plus future Boeing P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol planes.