June's top stories: US approves $1.3bn sale of Gulfstream G550 aircraft, USAF grounds F-35A aircraft

The US approved a potential $1.3bn foreign military sale of Gulfstream G550 aircraft to Australia, USAF grounded F-35A aircraft over pilot oxygen supply issue. Airforce-technology.com wraps-up the key headlines from June 2017.


The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified Congress of a potential $1.3bn foreign military sale of Gulfstream G550 aircraft to Australia.

Under the deal, Australia seeks to receive five Gulfstream G550 aircraft modified to integrate airborne intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and electronic warfare (AISREW) mission systems. It will also have global positioning system (GPS) capability, secure communications, and an aircraft defensive system.

The sale covers spares, including whole life costs of airborne and ground segments, aircraft modification and integration, ground systems for data processing and crew training, and ground support equipment.


USAF grounds F-35A aircraft over pilot oxygen supply issue

The US Air Force (USAF) temporarily grounded the new F-35A Lightning II joint strike fighter at Luke Air Force Base (AFB), Arizona, after pilots experienced hypoxia-like symptoms.

Hypoxia is a condition in which the body suffers a deficiency in the amount of oxygen reaching the tissues.

On 9 June, the USAF’s 56th Fighter Wing suspended local flying operations for F-35A fighter jets after five hypoxia incidents were reported. 


Saab completes first flight of Gripen E multirole fighter aircraft

Saab successfully completed the first flight of Gripen E, which is an advanced version of the Gripen C/D multi-role aircraft.

The test validated the fighter aircraft’s functions, including the ability to retract and extend its land gear.

The Gripen E, which was piloted by a Saab test pilot, took off from the company’s airfield in Linköping, Sweden, on 15 June and flew over Östergötland for 40 minutes.


Tata Advanced Systems delivers crown, tailcone for India’s first CH-47 Chinook

India-based Tata Advanced Systems (TASL) delivered the first crown and tail cone assembly for the CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopter being built by Boeing for the Indian Air Force (IAF).

The delivery is part of a deal finalised between the Indian Ministry of Defence and Boeing in 2015 for the production, training and support of 15 CH-47F Chinook helicopters.

The components have been delivered to Boeing for final assembly of the 15 helicopters for the IAF.


USAF’s Block 5 MQ-9 Reaper conducts first combat mission in support of OIR

The US Air Force (USAF) flew the Block 5 variant of MQ-9 Reaper for the first time, in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.

The combat mission sortie was conducted at Creech Air Force Base (AFB) in Nevada, US, on 23 June.

The aircraft carried out the mission for more than 16 hours with a full payload of weapons, including GBU-38 joint direct attack munitions and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles.


Raytheon completes testing of USAF's Small Diameter Bomb II

Raytheon conducted high-speed wind tunnel testing of the US Air Force’s (USAF) Small Diameter Bomb II (SDB II).

Carried out in April and May, the testing used the scale models of the weapon and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

The company tested the lift, drag and side forces on the SDB II model at different angles of attack, with plans to evaluate the data gathered in the next few months.


USAF’s F-35A Lightning II conducts sorties with ALIS 2.0.2.4 upgrade

The US Air Force's (USAF) F-35A Lightning II joint strike fighter successfully carried out sorties with the new version of the autonomic logistics information system (ALIS).

The upgraded version, ALIS 2.0.2.4, performs behind-the-scenes monitoring, maintenance and prognostics to support the fighter aircraft.

Upon completion of the upgrade, the 34th AMU could fly 100% of the locally scheduled sorties.


Saudi Arabia requests $750m air force blanket order training programme from US

The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified Congress of a possible foreign military sale (FMS) to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for a blanket order training programme for the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) and other Saudi forces.

The proposed FMS was granted approval by the US State Department.

Under the estimated $750m deal, the Government of Saudi Arabia has requested the continuation of the air force blanket order training programme inside and outside of the country.


Finland intensifies aerial campaign over Baltic Sea and Gulf of Finland

The Finnish Air Force intensified its aerial campaign over the international waters of the Gulf of Finland and the Baltic Sea near the country’s airspace.

The military aircraft flight activities over the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Finland increased, according to a statement by the Finnish Air Force.

The Finnish Air Force's F/A-18 Hornet multi-role fighters have been placed on Quick-Reaction Alert (ORA) duty to identify and photograph the Russian military aircraft observed in the international airspace in the vicinity of Finland.


US activities in South China Sea being monitored

China's Ministry of National Defense (MND) confirmed that the US activities in the South China Sea are under surveillance.

The announcement comes in response to a media query regarding the deployment of a pair of B-1B Lancers from the US Air Force (USAF) to carry out a 10-hour flight through the South China Sea from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam.

Two B-1Bs from the USAF’s 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron were training alongside the US Navy's Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sterett (DDG 104) in the sea.