A prototype of the Sukhoi T-50 Russian fighter caught fire while landing at the Zhukovsky test base near Moscow on June 10. First reports about the mishap surfaced on local radio stations broadcasting road traffic incidents, when the fifth-generation warplane was seen trailing smoke on the approach. It was Bort number 55, the fifth and most recent T-50 prototype, which made its first flight on Oct. 27, 2013.
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.
Speaking to the foreign affairs and defense committee of Japan’s upper house, defense minister Itsunori Onodera has confirmed that the Mitsubishi ATD-X (advanced technology demonstrator - experimental) future fighter demonstrator is on course to fly later this year, albeit with a slight delay. Originally to have been unveiled to the media in May, the ATD-X is now a few months behind schedule, but should be revealed later in 2014 with a first flight to follow soon afterwards.
Selex ES announced it recently carried out successful end-to-end trials of its BriteCloud expendable decoy program, launched last November in conjunction with partner Saab, which is pitching BriteCloud as an electronic warfare option for the Gripen fighter. The announcement comes days after Saab revealed it had begun flight-tests with Selex ES’s Skyward G infrared search and track (IRST) system. The Finmeccanica group company is also supplying the ES-05 Raven AESA radar for the new-generation Gripen E.
RBR Maintenance has hired Kenneth “Bo” Slajar as a Hawker crew chief. Slajar’s aviation career started in 1985, leading to a 20-year career in the U.S. Navy working on F/A-18 fighters. While in the Navy he attended Navy leadership school, general airframes and corrosion control school, and aircraft firefighting school. He retired in 2005 as an Aviation Mechanic First Class–E6. In corporate aviation he has worked for various companies and gained experience on Citations, Gulfstreams, Learjets, Challengers, King Airs and Beechjets but he specializes in Hawkers.
The latest example of the stealthy Chengdu J-20 fighter has recently undergone high-speed taxi testing at the company airfield, suggesting that a first flight is imminent, possibly scheduled for this weekend. Thought to be the third flying example of the J-20, the new aircraft is being considered as a true developmental airframe for an operational fighter, and has introduced a number of significant improvements over the two technology demonstrators that preceded it. Many of the changes are measures taken to reduce the type’s radar cross section.
On February 17 the co-pilot of an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 767 hijacked the aircraft single-handedly and flew to Geneva airport to seek political asylum. Although both Italian and French aircraft were scrambled to escort the 767, the fighters of the Swiss Air Force remained firmly on the ground. A Swiss air force spokesman confirmed that no interceptors were on alert at the time, as the air force operates to office hours only, or by special notification. However, the air force was keen to point out that it could have generated interceptor sorties given more warning.
Extant Components Group, a U.S.-based specialist in legacy electronics manufacturing and obsolescence management, recently signed a significant new contract with an unnamed major aerospace OEM. The November 2013 agreement has prompted a wave of investment in new equipment at the Melbourne, Florida factory of its Symetrics subsidiary, which is providing continuing manufacturing repair, obsolescence management and technical support for a series of vehicle health management systems (VHMS) used in fighters, trainer and light attack aircraft.
A team from UTC Aerospace Systems (Chalet CD07) is here promoting the DB-110 dual-band airborne reconnaissance sensor, and talking of a multispectral upgrade to come. The podded sensor flies on the F-16s of nine air forces, on the new Saudi air force F-15s, and on Japan’s P-3s. It first entered service on the Tornado strike aircraft of the UK Royal Air Force, where it is named the Raptor system.