2016: The year's biggest Airforce Technology stories

Iraq requests $2bn worth of weapons for F-16, USAF unveils first rendering of B-21 long-range strike bomber, and France to work with the UK on £1.54bn future combat air system project. Airforce-technology.com wraps up the key headlines from 2016.


Iraq requests $2bn worth of weapons for F-16 from US

The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified Congress of a $1.95bn potential foreign military sale (FMS) of F-16 weapons and munitions to Iraq.

Iraq had previously requested 36 F-16 fighter jets and associated equipment and defence services.

The request includes 20 joint helmet mounting cueing systems, 24 AIM-9M Sidewinder missiles, 150 AGM-65D Maverick missiles, 14,120 500-pound general purpose bombs, 2,400 2,000-pound general purpose bombs, over 8,000 laser-guided bomb (LGB) tail kits and 8,500 FMU-152 fuses.

USAF unveils first rendering of B-21 long-range strike bomber

The US Air Force (USAF) revealed the first rendering of the long-range strike bomber (LRS-B), designated the B-21, at the Air Force Association's Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Florida, US.

USAF Secretary Deborah Lee James said: "This aircraft represents the future for our Airmen, and (their) voice is important to this process.

"The Airman who submits the selected name will help me announce it at the (Air Force Association) conference this fall."

The first rendering of the aircraft based on the initial design concept did not include the prototypes of the aircraft.

France and UK to work on £1.54bn future combat air system project

The defence ministries of France and the UK announced work on the £1.54bn future combat air system project (FCAS) and introduced a new unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV).

The development follows the successful completion of a £120m joint feasibility study undertaken by the countries in 2014.

The FCAS project, which is aimed at developing the most advanced vehicle of its kind in Europe, is expected to benefit companies such as BAE Systems, Dassault Aviation, Thales France, Selex, Rolls-Royce and Safran.

Pakistan and China jointly produce JF-17B dual seat combat fighter aircraft

Pakistan and China are jointly producing the JF-17B dual seat combat fighter aircraft to be inducted by the Pakistan Air Force (PAF).

Production of the multi-role combat aircraft was announced at an induction ceremony held at Chengdu Aerospace Corporation (CAC) Chengdu, China.

Developed jointly by the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) and the CAC, the aircraft can be used for aerial reconnaissance, ground attack and aircraft interception.

India and France sign €7.8bn deal for 36 Rafale fighter aircraft

France and India signed the long-awaited contract for the acquisition of 36 Rafale for the Indian Air Force (IAF).

The deal value has come down to €7.8bn from the initial €12bn, The Indian Express reported.

The Dassault Aviation-built multi-role jet fighter will be supplied as part of an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) signed by France and India in January this year.

L-3 Communications wins $1.9bn KDC-10 logistics support contract from USAF

L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace secured an indefinite-delivery / indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contract for the US Air Force's (USAF) KDC-10 aerial refuelling tankers.

Valued at around $1.9bn, the contract will see the company provide logistics integration and support for the aircraft.

The deal covers contractor operated and maintained base supply, aircraft maintenance to include depot and contractor field teams, and also modifications for service bulletins and time compliance technical orders, according to the US Department of Defense.

QinetiQ, Thales and Textron to bid for UK MoD's £1.2bn ASDOT programme

QinetiQ, Thales and Textron AirLand collaborated to submit a bid for the UK Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) upcoming air support to defence operational training (ASDOT) programme.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to this effect has been signed between the three companies.

Valued at around £1.2bn, the 15-year ASDOT contract will be awarded in September 2018 with a service delivery start in January 2020.

JASDF’s first F-35A Lightning II conducts maiden flight

The Japan Air Self Defense Force’s (JASDF) first F-35A Lightning II all-weather, stealth multirole fighter successfully completed its maiden flight.

Designated AX-1, the aircraft was piloted by Lockheed Martin’s F-35 test pilot Paul Hattendorf and flew for more than one hour.

BAE to upgrade UK Royal Air Force’s Eurofighter Typhoon fleet

BAE Systems announced that the initial phase of enhancements to the Royal Air Force’s (RAF) Eurofighter Typhoon fleet has entered the operational evaluation stage.

Phase I Enhancements Further Work (P1Eb FW), which forms a part of the UK's Project Centurion, ensures that the Typhoon fleet is ready to take on the role currently performed by Tornado aircraft.

The transition of capability from Tornado to Typhoon is expected to be completed by the end of 2018.

US approves $31.2bn sale of military aircraft to Qatar and Kuwait

The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified Congress of a potential foreign military sale of F-15QA aircraft to Qatar for $21.1bn and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet to Kuwait for $10.1bn.

Under the sale, the Government of Qatar seeks to receive 72 F-15QA multi-role fighter aircraft and associated weapons package, while Kuwait has requested for 32 F/A-18Es, with F414-GE-400 engines; in addition to eight F/A-18Fs with F414-GE-400 engines.

Qatar also requested for continental US-based lead-in-fighter-training for the F-15QA, associated ground support, training materials, mission-critical resources and maintenance support equipment