August's top stories: JASDF’s first F-35A Lightning II conducts maiden flight, Swiss Air Force's F/A-18C fighter jet goes missing

The Japan Air Self Defense Force’s first F-35A Lightning II fighter has successfully completed its maiden flight, Swiss defence authorities have launched search operations for the Swiss Air Force's F/A-18C fighter jet, which went missing near Susten in central Switzerland. Airforce-technology.com wraps up the key headlines from July 2016.


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.

Japan is to purchase 42 F-35A conventional take off and landing (CTOL) through the US government’s foreign military sales programme.

Swiss Air Force's F/A-18C fighter jet goes missing

Swiss defence authorities have launched search operations for the Swiss Air Force's F/A-18C fighter jet, which went missing near Susten in central Switzerland.

The single-seat aircraft was carrying out a training exercise along with another jet when it disappeared on Monday.

The missing pilot reportedly responded to a radio call after the aircraft took off from the Meiringen military airport.

German Air Force supports Nato's efforts in Baltic skies

The German Air Force deployed its mobile tactical air command system to Latvia in an effort to monitor the Baltic skies.

The move is in line with Nato's assurance measures on its Eastern Border under operation Persistent Presence.

The deployable control and reporting centre (DCRC) will be used to identify and track flights over the Baltics.

US and Bulgarian air forces team up to conduct joint air policing mission

The US and Bulgarian air forces teamed up to conduct joint air policing of Bulgarian airspace, according to Nato.

Expected to begin this September, the joint air policing mission forms part of Nato's improved air policing measures for eastern allies.

Nato has launched the new measures for the first time, in response to a request by the Bulgarian authorities.

F-35 Lightning II completes month-long weapons firing tests

Lockheed Martin announced that the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter has recently completed a series of weapons tests at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

Conducted by the F-35 Integrated Test Force (ITF), the month-long weapons firing test included 12 weapons delivery accuracy (WDA) and 13 weapon separation tests.

These tests were performed using the F-35’s newest block 3F software to demonstrate accuracy of the fighter jet.

IAF deploys Sukhoi-30 MKI in Arunachal Pradesh near China border

The Indian Air Force (IAF) deployed Sukhoi-30 MKI air dominance fighter aircraft after activating the upgraded advanced landing ground (ALG) at Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh, India, near China border.

The deployment is part of India's efforts to increase its capabilities along its border with China. The Indian government recently cleared the deployment of a special version of the BrahMos cruise missile in Arunachal Pradesh.

The new runway surface and other infrastructure at Pasighat include facilities such as aprons for ground manoeuvring, air traffic control tower, perimeter road and a security wall.

Lockheed Martin wins $10bn contract to support C-130J production programme

The US Department of Defense awarded a $10.02bn indefinite-delivery / indefinite-quantity contract to Lockheed Martin for the US Air Force’s (USAF) C-130J Super Hercules military transport aircraft.

Under the contract, which also involves foreign military sales, Lockheed Martin will support the C-130J production programme.

Awarded as the result of a sole-source acquisition, the contract amount is a not-to-exceed cumulative ceiling that will cover all future delivery orders within the scope of this deal.

Russia launches first airstrike from Iran against ISIS

Russia carried out an airstrike against ISIS-controlled eastern Syria using Su-34 bombers, the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation has revealed.

The Russian bombers took off from Hamedan airbase in Iran with full fragmentation bomb charge to launch an airstrike against ISIS facilities in Syria's Deir ez-Zor province.

As a result of the strike, more than 150 militants including foreign mercenaries were killed.

MBDA wins £184m MoD contract to supply ASRAAMs for F-35B Lightning II

MBDA secured a £184m contract from the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) to supply advanced short-range air-to-air missiles (ASRAAMs) for the F-35B Lightning II joint strike fighter (JSF) aircraft.

Under the contract, MBDA will manufacture an additional stockpile of an updated version of the ASRAAM, which is currently in service with Royal Air Force (RAF) Typhoon and Tornado aircraft.

The RAF and Royal Navy F-35 combat jets will be outfitted with an updated version of the weapon by 2022.

USAF's F-35A Lightning II achieves initial operational capability

The US Air Force's (USAF) F-35A Lightning II fighter aircraft reached initial operational capability (IOC), USAF Air Combat Command (ACC) commander general Hawk Carlisle has declared.

The F-35A was recently added to ACC’s existing fleet of deployable and fifth-generation aircraft to provide air superiority, interdiction, suppression of enemy air defences and close air support.

Carlisle said: “The F-35A will be the most dominant aircraft in our inventory because it can go where our legacy aircraft cannot and provide the capabilities our commanders need on the modern battlefield.”