Flight operations of the F-35A Lightning II conducted by the 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., were suspended after one of the fighters caught fire on June 23 as it prepared to take off on a training mission. The U.S. military is investigating the incident.
General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon
The first of 36 Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Block 52 fighters for the Iraqi Air Force made its first flight from the company’s Fort Worth, Texas facility. Iraq confirmed the purchase of 18 F-16s in September 2011, and has apparently committed to the other 18 since then. The Iraqi and other orders have extended the F-16 production line through 2017. More than 4,540 F-16s have been delivered to date.
As part of enhanced collective measures agreed to by member countries in April, NATO has deployed more fighters to eastern Europe in response to the continuing crisis in Ukraine. France and Canada have dispatched aircraft this week, while a new NATO multinational team is taking over the enhanced air defense detachment in the Baltic republics.
According to media reports Egypt’s interim government, installed by the army in July 2013, is negotiating a $2 billion arms package with Russia. Some sources say the deal may have already been signed during the visit this week to Moscow by the head of the Egyptian army, Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. It is understood that the deal is being funded by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.
The war of words between the system integrators and radar houses that are chasing the F-16 upgrade market intensified here this week. With 3,500 Fighting Falcons still flying, at least one-third of which might be upgraded, the stakes are high. Here in Singapore, BAE Systems Inc. and Raytheon are hoping that the local Ministry of Defence will entertain their rival proposals for a contract that could be worth almost $2.5 billion, and consider them above the solution offered by Lockheed Martin (LM) and Northrop Grumman (NG).
Singapore’s intention to upgrade its fleet of about 60 Lockheed Martin F-16C/D fighters was indicated by a recent notification to Congress by the Pentagon. But no choice has yet been made between rival upgrade systems integrators BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin. According to the notification, the upgrade will cost Singapore an estimated $2.43 billion, although this total also includes three new weapons.
Lockheed Martin has brought its T-50 Golden Eagle simulator to Dubai to continue its promotion of the supersonic advanced trainer system in the region and particularly in the UAE. The T-50 was developed in Korea by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) working in close partnership with Lockheed Martin and is now in service with the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) in the form of the T-50 advanced trainer and TA-50 lead-in fighter/weapons trainer versions. The fully combat-capable FA-50 is due to be delivered before the end of the year to begin the replacement of the ROKAF’s Northrop F-5s.
Late last week, Romanian defense minister Mircea Dusa signed the contract for a €600 million ($817 million) deal to acquire 12 Lockheed Martin F-16AM/BM fighters from Portugal. An initial installment was paid at the same time. The acquisition of F-16s will finally allow Romania to operate NATO-compatible aircraft, and also brings to an end a long-running saga to provide a replacement for the dwindling LanceR fleet of upgraded MiG-21s.
Boeing and the U.S. Air Force completed the first flight of an unmanned QF-16 aerial target from Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., on September 19. Flown by two Air Force test pilots in a ground station, the modified Lockheed Martin F-16 reached an altitude of 40,000 feet and a speed of Mach 1.47.
The Netherlands confirmed its previous choice of the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II to replace the air force’s F-16s. But in a statement, the Dutch government noted that “based on current insights, the available financial room is sufficient for 37 aircraft.” A total of 85 had originally been planned.
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