August's top stories: Paramount AHRLAC test, Israel and Hamas truce

Paramount conducted the maiden flight test of the first AHRLAC prototype, Israel and Hamas agree to an indefinite ceasefire in Gaza and the UK deploys Tornado fighters to search for the missing Nigerian girls. Airforce-technology.com wraps up the key headlines from August.


AHRLAC

Paramount conducts AHRLAC's maiden test flight

Paramount Group has conducted the maiden flight test of its first advanced high-performance reconnaissance light aircraft (AHRLAC) prototype at Wonderboom airport in Pretoria, South Africa.

Piloted by test pilot Johannes Joubert, the experimental demonstrator (XDM) prototype flew for nearly 35 minutes at a speed of around 120k at an altitude of 9,000ft, as reported by Defence Web.

The flight test was conducted to evaluate the aircraft's performance and flight characteristics, and used a Cessna Caravan as a chase plane.

Israel and Hamas begin indefinite ceasefire in Gaza Strip

Israel and Hamas have agreed to an indefinite ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, ending seven weeks of intense fighting in the region.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said: "We have responded to the Egyptian proposal for a complete and comprehensive cease-fire, which starts at 19:00 Cairo time.

"There will be a complete stop in fighting."

Pro-Russian rebels shoot down three Ukrainian aircraft amid heavy fighting

Su-25

Pro-Russian rebels have shot down another Ukrainian Air Force's Su-25 Frogfoot fighter aircraft in the Luhansk region.

Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council spokesman Andriy Lysenko was quoted by 112.ua as saying: "Today a Su-25 attack aircraft has been shot down while on a combat mission.

"The fate of the pilot is unknown yet but hope remains that he will be alright."

The anti-government forces also struck two Ukrainian Mi-24 helicopters with portable air defence systems amidst heavy fighting in the city, as reported by CNN.

UK to deploy Tornado fighters to search kidnapped Nigerian girls

The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) is reportedly deploying three GR4 Tornado fighters to Nigeria, to assist the local government in the search of schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram militants in April.

Equipped with advanced surveillance equipment, the Tornado jets are scheduled to conduct reconnaissance missions over the region where the group is believed to be operating, as reported by The Times.

However, the mission is dependent on the UK securing permission from a nearby African country to use its runway.

USAF grounds 82 F-16D aircraft

F-16D

The US Air Force (USAF) has temporarily grounded 82 of its F-16D Fighting Falcon aircraft following the discovery of longeron cracks between the aircraft's front and rear pilot seats.

The USAF has ordered an inspection of all two-seat F-16Ds after it found initial structural cracks on the planes during routine post-mission flight inspections.

A total of 157 F-16Ds were inspected by air force officials as part of an immediate action time compliance technical order (TCTO) to help ensure the structural integrity of the aircraft and pilot safety.

The officials discovered cracks on 82 aircraft, while the remaining 75 fighters were found to be normal and have been returned to flight status.

Philippines Defence Ministry rejects long-range patrol aircraft proposals

The Philippines Department of National Defence (DND) has rejected all of the bids submitted by the global aircraft manufacturers for the supply of two long-range patrol aircraft to the national air force.

All seven proposals were declared 'ineligible' by the Special Bids and Awards Committee 1 (SBAC-1) following 12 hours of the bidding session and a series of executive meetings in Camp Aguinaldo, according to media reports.

Israel-based Elta Systems and Elbit Systems cleared the initial documentary requirements but failed to address the technical specifications set out by the DND.

South Korea likely to acquire Iron Dome system from Israel

Iron Dome

The South Korean Government is reportedly interested in the acquisition of an Iron Dome anti-missile defence system from Israel in an effort to bolster protection against rockets launched from North Korea.

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems CEO Yedidia Yaari was quoted by Israel's Army Radio as saying that Iron Dome's performance in the ongoing Gaza war had fuelled foreign interest in its procurement, including from South Korea.

Yaari said: "It is very worried not only about rockets, but other things as well; you can certainly include them in the club of interested countries."

US confirms 16 Russian nuclear bomber incursions in past ten days

The Russian Air Force's nuclear-capable bombers reportedly conducted at least 16 incursions into and around north-western US air defence identification zones in the last ten days.

North American Aerospace Defense Command and the US Northern Command spokeswoman major Beth Smith was reported by The Washington Free Beacon as saying that the Russian aircraft involved in incursions included a mix of Tu-95 Bear H heavy bombers, Tu-142 Bear F maritime reconnaissance aircraft, and an IL-20 intelligence collection aircraft.

The incursions primarily took place along the Alaskan air defence identification zone, while one of the flights was also found to be entering into Canada's air defence zone, Smith added.

Japan plans to launch space debris monitoring force by 2019

Debris

Japan is planning to develop a military space division by 2019 to prevent satellites from colliding with dangerous debris orbiting the earth.

An unnamed source told Kyodo News that the Japanese defence ministry would launch the new division with assigned units from the country's Air Self-Defence Force (ASDF).

The unit's observatory operations are expected to be run using radar and telescope facilities located in Okayama Prefecture in the Chugoku region.

The country hopes to strengthen bilateral cooperation with the US in space by sharing information obtained through the space force division.

Amnesty urges US to stop fuel shipments to Israel

F-16

Amnesty International has urged the US to immediately stop fuel shipments to Israel, as the latter intends to use it in fighter jets and military vehicles.

The organisation has been calling for a temporary halt on the supply of weapons to Israel to stop the 'war crimes' committed by the country in Gaza.

According to Amnesty, a US fuel tanker is currently sailing near Azores and will arrive in Israel on 12 August.