Saturday, February 24, 2018

Stealth Saga #72

Iranian RQ-170 Copy:

The Iranian knock-offs of the RQ-170 have been involved in an air battle in Syria after a knock-off flew into Israel and then the Israelis retaliated.  An Israeli F-16 was shot down.

Shadow Star:

China's stealthy Shadow Star UCAV is expected to have a first flight in 2019.

Project Azm:

Pakistan is gearing up to attempt to manufacture a 5th gen fighter.  I'd bet there's heavy Chinese help and it looks a lot like the FC-31.


Due to budget issues, Indonesia's participation in the KFX fighter might get rescoped.

UTC will provide the environmental unit for the KFX.

Tornado Replacement:

The F-35 has been (supposedly) very aggressively banned from being considered as the Tornado replacement.  


Two Su-57s appear to have been deployed to Syria (video above).  Not as yet officially confirmed though.  Some are stating this was a very dangerous move.  The Israelis confirmed two are at the airbase in Syria.

Supposedly another two Su-57 have arrived in Syria following the first two.  No second source, just some twitter based pix.  There is a little more info.

The Russians have started weapon integration tests.

Russia will buy no more than 60 Su-57s by 2027.

The Russians have not yet signed the contract for the next 12 Su-57s.  This postpones their delivery to at least 2019.  Also, the Su-57 with the new engines has not flown since December.  The UAC is now saying they DO have a contract for delivery of 19 Su-57s starting in 2019.

The FGFA variant of the Su-57 remains in contract limbo.


China may be struggling to manufacture the J-20.  There may be issues at Chengdu in the manufacturing line.

China reiterated the J-20 is in combat service or, more properly, handed over to combat units.


Has the H-20 bomber been delayed?  Is that why China is mass producing the H-6K still?


As the B-21 bomber comes online, the B-2 will be retired.  The plans are now for the B-2 to be retired in 2032.  (B-1 by 2038, fwiw).  Are the USAF's new bomber plans a violation of the New START nuclear disarmament treaty?

This B-2 replica is how airmen practice arming the monster bomber.

Ten years ago, a B-2 crashed in Guam.


Despite the budget woes, the B-21 remains on schedule. Supposedly.  There are also rumors of multiple prototypes in the air.  No verification on the claim though.

Next Generation Air Dominance/Penetrating Counter Air:

The budget request for the NGAD/PCA 6th generation fighter has risen to half a billion.  There is something definitely afoot.  Demonstrators, perhaps?  There are rumors.

USAF is investing heavily next gen tech to replace the F-15 and F-22.  How the USAF does this is up in the air.

E-8C Joint Stars Replacement:

The JSTARS replacement might be on stealthy aircraft.


The US Air Force is fast tracking Rapid Raptor, a program to have four F-22s be deployable within 24 hours to anywhere in the world.

ADS-B transponders might be a security risk for the F-22.


An F-35 round-up.

The F-35 is getting automatic ground collision avoidance software.

The F-35A's gun still struggles with accuracy.

LRIP 11 negotiations have restarted after over a year hiatus.

All three F-35 variants went through cold-weather testing at Eielsen AFB.

The USAF's 62nd Fighter Wing had its first B Course graduates.

The USAF has named the next bases to get the F-35.

An F-35 in Japan was spotted about to takeoff without its radar reflectors.

The USMC has been testing the F-35B landing on sloped pads.

The Japanese based USMC F-35Bs have made their debut at the Singapore air show.

USMC's 13th MEU with the Essex ARG are deploying with F-35Bs.

The US Navy has ordered the development of a new anti radiation missile that will fit inside the F-35's missile bay.

The US Navy will upgrade its networks to get the most out of the F-35C.

Trump's proposed 2019 budget has 9 F-35Cs, 20 F-35Bs and 48 F-35As.

Belgium has been cleared to buy up to 35 F-35s.

Belgium could still reject the F-35.

The British have their first F-35B graduates that have not flown other fighters first.

India has requested a classified briefing on the F-35A and is expressing interest in procuring 126.

No, Israel wanting to buy more F-15s is not a condemnation of the F-35.

Israel is getting more spare parts through a contract signed by the US Navy for its F-35s.

Lockheed is delivering a special variant of the Block 3F software for Israel's F-35Is.

Italy took delivery of the first F-35B assembled outside the US.

An Italian F-35B arrived at NAS Patuxent River.

Japan has deployed the F-35 to Misawa AFB, apparently AX-6.

Japan and South Korea want the F-35B for their assault ships.  Stratfor takes a gander at the idea.

Japan's Izumo may have been designed from the start to be a jeep carrier.

Japan is considering replacing its F-15Js with F-35Bs.

Japan is looking at an additional buy of 20 to 25 F-35As.

Norway has completed its tests of the braking chute.  Watch here.

Lockheed won a $7.5 million contract mod for the F-35.

Lockheed has denied offering India the F-35.

Lockheed favors future incremental software improvements.


China will equal the West in military air power soon.

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