July's top stories: Israel-Gaza crisis, Australia’s first F-35 JSF

Israel continues offensive on Gaza, the UN Security Council calls for an immediate peace truce and Lockheed Martin has rolled out the first two F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter (JSF) aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). Airforce-technology.com wraps up key headlines from July.


F-15

UN Security Council calls for 'immediate' ceasefire as strikes resume in Gaza

Israel and Hamas renewed attacks on each other, despite the UN Security Council calling for an immediate end to violence.

Israel has said that it was responding to the 'incessant rocket fire' by Hamas throughout the ceasefire period and will resume aerial, naval and ground attacks in the Gaza Strip.

However, the country has said that its army will fire only as a response to Hamas' attacks.

Lockheed rolls out first two F-35 JSF aircraft for Australia

Lockheed Martin rolled out the first two F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter (JSF) aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), in Texas, US.

Australia will acquire 72 F-35A conventional take-off and landing aircraft at a cost of more than $12bn to replace RAAF's F/A-18A/B Hornet fleet.

Australian Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, who attended the event on behalf of Defence Minister David Johnston, said the F-35A aircraft will provide 'leading edge' air combat capabilities for the Australian Defence Force for several decades.

US to assist Israel with $225m additional funds for Iron Dome components

The US Department of Defense asked the Senate to approve $225m additional funds to accelerate the production of Iron Dome missile system components for Israel.

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel wrote in a letter to the Senate: "These funds would be in addition to the $176m requested in the president's financial year 2015 budget for Iron Dome and also in addition to the proposed FY 2015 Congressional increase of $175m to offset the costs of initiating Iron Dome production in the US."

The additional funding will be used to maintain adequate stockpiles for the missile system, which is claimed to have intercepted nearly one-fifth of rockets launched by Hamas militants in recent days.

US to sell 600 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles to Israel amid Gaza crisis

sidewinder missile

The US State Department approved the possible sale of AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles and associated equipment to Israel.

The Israeli Government has requested for 600 AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder Block II all-up-round missiles, 50 CATM-9X-2 captive air training missiles and four dummy air training missiles.

The package, worth $544m, also includes missile support and test equipment, spare and repair parts, personnel training and training equipment, and related logistics and support services.

Raytheon Missile Systems will serve as the prime contractor for the programme.

Poland shortlists Raytheon and Eurosam for air defence system contract

The Polish Ministry of National Defense shortlisted France-led consortium Eurosam and Raytheon to compete for a multi-billion dollar contract to build a medium-range air and missile defence (AMD) system.

The proposals submitted by the Israeli Government and the MEADS consortium led by Lockheed Martin were rejected, Agence France Presse reported citing an MND statement.

Raytheon is offering Patriot air defence system, while Eurosam, a consortium of Thales and MBDA, is competing with the Aster sol-air moyenne portée terrestre (SAMP/T) system for the contract.

UK's Rivet Joint aircraft completes first aerial refuelling sortie

Rivet RC-135w

The UK Royal Air Force's (RAF) RC-135V/W Rivet Joint signals intelligence aircraft has successfully completed its first in-flight refuelling mission.

In a recently released image by the US Air Force (USAF), the ZZ664 aircraft is seen receiving fuel from KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 100th Air Refueling Wing, based at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk, UK.

While the USAF claims it to be the aircraft's first aerial refuelling sortie, the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) has confirmed to IHS Jane's that the RAF RC-135W Rivet Joint crews are now fully qualified to conduct 'boom-and-receptacle' air-to-air refuelling (AAR) missions.

UK awards Typhoon E-Scan assessment phase contract to BAE

Typhoon

BAE Systems has received a contract to de-risk E-Scan active electronically scanned-array (AESA) radar development for integration into the UK Royal Air Force's (RAF) Typhoon combat aircraft fleet.

Awarded by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) at the ongoing Farnborough International Airshow, the £72m E-Scan extended assessment phase (EAP) contract requires the company to explore the UK's capability requirements for E-Scan radar.

The three-year contract requires BAE to undertake Typhoon flight test and ground test of a prototype UK E-Scan radar at the company's electronic warfare test facility at Warton, Lancashire, UK.

USAF test flights first RMP modified F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft

The US Air Force (USAF) has successfully completed the first flight of the F-15E Strike Eagle fighter aircraft upgraded with the new APG-82(V)1 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar system.

Around 47 F-15E fighter aircraft belonging to the 389th and 391st Fighter Squadrons are scheduled to be fitted with the radar by 2017.

The modification process is being undertaken by Boeing representatives as part of the radar modernisation programme (RMP).

The USAF F-15E Strike Eagle currently features the Raytheon-built APG-70 mechanically scanned array radar.

US to supply joint direct attack munition kits to Singapore

The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has notified Congress of a potential foreign military sale (FMS) of joint direct attack munition (JDAM) kits and associated equipment to Singapore.

Under the estimated $63m sale, Singapore has requested the supply of a total of 913 KMU-556B/B JDAM kits for use on Mk-84 2,000lb bombs, along with 100 FMU-152A/B fuses, and 300 DSU-40 precision laser guidance sets.

Boeing Defense, Space and Security has been named as prime contractor for the FMS programme.

Airbus completes P-3 Orion aircraft upgrades for Brazil

P-3 Orion

Airbus Defence and Space has completed the delivery of nine P-3 Orion anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft to Brazil, even as it obtained a contract from the country for the supply of three C295 search and rescue (SAR) aircraft.

The ninth P-3 aircraft has been shipped from Seville in Spain to the fleet's base in Salvador de Bahi´a, Brazil.

Airbus Defence and Space head of commercial for military aircraft Antonio Rodri´guez Barbera´n said: "This has been a large and complex programme and we are very proud of the work done in upgrading the Brazilian P-3 fleet. The FAB now has one of the most modern fleets in its class."