The JF-17 Thunder fighter, co-developed by China’s Avic and the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), is to receive improvements that will start being produced with the Block-2 version from next year.
Production of the Boeing F-15 Strike Eagle is currently due to end next year, after the last of 60 F-15K models for Korea and 24 F-15SG models for Singapore are completed.
Military aircraft requirements in the Middle East and Asia worth billions of dollars remain unresolved, and will be a major talking point at next week’s Dubai Air Show. Most of the major aerospace companies will have a presence at the show, although the venue is unlikely to provide confirmation of any major order.
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has gone to sea for the first time. An F-35B short-takeoff vertical landing (STOVL) version landed on the small U.S. aircraft carrier Wasp on October 3 at the start of a two-week trial during which 67 takeoffs and landings are scheduled. Some observers have raised concerns about the potential for damage to carrier decks from the aircraft’s F135 engine. It develops 39,400 pounds of thrust in the hover and 38,100 pounds of thrust in short takeoff.
Civilian and military leaders of the U.S. Air Force outlined priorities they plan to defend against potentially severe budget cuts, citing the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, remotely piloted aircraft and a future long-range bomber specifically, among other systems and capabilities.
Japan is apparently proceeding on schedule with the F-X fighter competition, despite the large economic impact of the recent earthquake and tsunami, and a recent government reshuffle. A Ministry of Defense spokeswoman told Bloomberg news agency that a decision is likely by year-end.
Boeing gained a $135 million contract to add the Lockheed Martin infrared search and track (IRST) system to the U.S. Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fleet by 2015. According to Lockheed Martin, the long-wave system can detect airborne threats with 40 times more accuracy than radar at maximum detection ranges, while offering a comparable scan volume.
Russia’s first stealth fighter, the Sukhoi T-50, made its public debut last week at the Moscow Air Show (MAKS 2011), where Russian air force commander General Alexander Zelin gave an update on this and other re-equipment programs. The two T-50 prototypes flew in formation, before one gave a restrained solo display.
Sukhoi’s T-50 fifth-generation fighter program has made significant strides since the first aircraft (T-50-1) flew at the Knaapo factory’s airfield back in January 2010. The most important recent milestone is the first flight of the second aircraft (T-50-2), which is now scheduled to join T-50-1 in flight trials.
The design institute at Chengdu flew a J-10B development aircraft fitted with the indigenous Shenyang Liming WS-10A Taihang engine at the end of July. All previous J-10s, apart from the first few prototypes, have flown with the Russian AL-31FN engine. The aircraft with the homegrown engine is coded “1035” and is presumably the fifth J-10B prototype, although that number may include a ground-test article.