March's top stories: Indian C-130J Super Hercules crash, USAF's space funding

An Indian Air Force's newly acquired C-130J Super Hercules military transport aircraft crashed and the US Air Force Under Secretary Eric Fanning presented the 2015 air force space programme budget. Airforce-technology wraps-up the key headlines from March 2014.


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Indian Air Force's C-130J Super Hercules crashes, killing five

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An Indian Air Force's (IAF) newly acquired C-130J Super Hercules military transport aircraft has crashed near Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, killing at least five onboard personnel.

An unnamed IAF spokesperson said the aircraft took-off from Agra for a routine flying training mission and went down 72 miles west of Gwalior air base.

"A court of inquiry has been ordered to investigate into the cause of the accident," the spokesperson added.

South Korea chooses F-35A fighter for F-X Fighter programme

The South Korean Defence Acquisition Programme Agency (DAPA) officially announced its selection of Lockheed Martin's F-35A Lightning II joint strike fighter (JSF) aircraft for the country's multi-billion dollar F-X Fighter acquisition programme.

Announced after a comprehensive evaluation process, the decision makes the Republic of Korea (ROK) the third foreign military sales (FMS) country to procure the F-35A fifth-generation aircraft to meet its demanding security requirements.

The F-35A conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) version of the aircraft was chosen by Israel and Japan in 2010 and 2011, respectively.

Camera hitch led to RAF Voyager's sudden grounding, says MAA report

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An interim report by the UK Military Aviation Authority (MAA) confirmed the obstruction of the digital single-lens reflex (SLR) camera as a vital factor responsible for the incident that led to the grounding of the Royal Air Force's (RAF) Voyager transport aircraft fleet last month.

The Voyager ZZ333 plummeted 4,400ft in 27 seconds, registering a maximum rate-of-descent of 15,000ft/min, leaving some of the passengers with minor injuries, during a non-stop flight between RAF Brize Norton, UK, and Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, on 09 February.

A total of nine crew members and 189 passengers were onboard the plane, which was subsequently diverted to Incirlik air base in Turkey, without further incident.

Czech Republic to sign new Gripen lease agreement next month

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The Czech Republic Government approved an agreement for the country's lease of 14 JAS 39 Gripen C/D multi-role combat aircraft.

Scheduled to be signed by the Swedish Defence and Security Export Agency (FXM) and the Czech Defence Ministry nexth month, following internal processes, the agreement will enable the country to continue to fly Gripen, at least until 2026.

FXM director general Ulf Hammarstrom said the agreement has been a long, tough process and often involved very intensive negotiations.

Pakistan requests US for C-130 fleet upgrade

The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified Congress of a potential foreign military sale (FMS) of a C-130 fleet upgrade programme and associated equipment to Pakistan.

Under the estimated $100m sale, Pakistan has requested a possible sale of C-130B/E avionics upgrades, engine management and mechanical upgrades, cargo delivery system installation, and the replacement of outer wing sets on six military transport aircraft.

The package also includes spare and repair parts, support equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, US Government and contractor technical and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics support.

Nato to deploy AWACS aircraft to monitor Ukrainian crisis

Nato is planning to fly the E-3 airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft over Poland and Romania in a bid to monitor the escalating crisis in neighbouring Ukraine.

An unnamed Nato spokesman was quoted by Reuters as saying that all AWACS reconnaissance flights will take place solely over the alliance's territory in the coming days.

"This decision is an appropriate and responsible action in line with Nato's decision to intensify our ongoing assessment of the implications of this crisis for Alliance security," the spokesman said.

USAF rolls out 2015 space budget request

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The US Air Force (USAF) Undersecretary Eric Fanning presented the 2015 air force space programme budget in a media briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, DC, US.

The air force is planning to acquire three launch services and to launch ten missions in 2015, in addition to continuing the evaluation and certification of potential new entrants.

Specifically, the 2015 president's budget removes funding for seventh and eighth advanced extremely high frequency (AEHF), but funds the evolution of AEHF tactical and strategic capabilities, and weather satellite follow-on to the defense meteorological satellite program (DMSP).

Russia deploys upgraded MiG-29 fighter batch at Armenia Airbase

The Russian Ministry of Defence deployed a new batch of upgraded MiG-29 Fulcrum fourth-generation fighter jets at its airbase at the Erebuni airport in Yerevan, Armenia.

Southern Military District spokesman colonel Igor Gorbul was quoted by RIA Novosti as saying that 'a batch of fourth-generation MiG-29 multirole fighter jets has been put in service with the Russian airbase at Eerebuni after an extensive overhaul'.

Gorbul, however, did not specify the number of aircraft.