November's top stories: RAF departs Kandahar Airbase, S-400 Triumf export

UK Royal Air Force personnel left Kandahar Airbase in Afghanistan, Russia signed a contract for the first-ever export of its S-400 Triumf air defence system to China, and Libyan Air Force conducted airstrikes on Mitiga International Airport in Tripoli. Airforce-technology.com wraps up the key headlines from November.


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UK Royal Air Force personnel depart from Kandahar Airbase

UK Royal Air Force (RAF) personnel left Kandahar Airbase in Afghanistan, ending British military operations in the region.

The departure of the RAF's 904 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW) signalled the withdrawal of final British soldiers from southern Afghanistan.

Kandahar Airfield has been used by RAF for combat operations since 2001.

Russia and China signs $3bn S-400 Triumf export contract

S-400

The Russian Government signed a contract for the first-ever export of its S-400 Triumf air defence and missile system.

Signed recently between Russia state-arms-exporter Rosoboronexport and the Chinese Defence Ministry, the $3bn contract covered the supply of at least six S-400 battalions, as reported by Vedomosti.

The S-400 sale was discussed by the two countries for several years.

The Russian Defence Ministry announced in 2011 that exports would start only after 2016, when requirements of the Russian Armed Forces are met.

Libya Air Force conducts airstrikes on Tripoli's last functioning airport

The Libyan Air Force conducted airstrikes on Mitiga International Airport, located in an eastern suburb of the capital city of Tripoli.

The strikes targeted the runway of the city's last functioning airport without damaging it, but caused some destruction to nearby civilian homes.

All internal and international flights were temporarily diverted to the Misrata airport, but later resumed at Maitiga, which is currently held by a terrorist group named Libya Dawn.

Syrian airstrikes kill at least 36 civilians in al-Raqqa city

Raqqa museum

At least 63 people, including 36 civilians, were killed in Syrian Government airstrikes on the Islamic State (IS) held north-eastern city of al-Raqqa.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), the regime warplanes carried out at least ten airstrikes on al-Hani mosque, al-Sena's, the public market near the Museum Square, and residential areas on 25 November.

Most victims were women and children, and the number was expected to rise as dozens of people were seriously injured.

 

Pentagon awards $4.7bn F-35 LRIP-8 contract to Lockheed

Lockheed Martin received a $4.7bn contract from the US Department of Defense (DoD) for the eighth low-rate initial production (LRIP-8) batch of F-35 Lightning II aircraft.

Under the contract, the company supplied a total of 43 F-35 fighters. This includes 19 F-35A conventional take-off and landing fighters for US Air Force, six F-35B short take-off and vertical landing jets for US Marine Corps and four F-35 carrier version fighters for the US Navy.

The contract also covered the first two F-35As for Israel, an initial four F-35As for Japan, two F-35As for Norway, two F-35As for Italy, four F-35B jets for the UK and manufacturing-support equipment and ancillary mission tools, including pilot flight equipment.

Eurofighter and NETMA sign €1bn Typhoon Captor E-Scan radar contract

E-Scan radar

Eurofighter signed a €1bn contract with the Nato Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency (NETMA) to develop the Captor E-Scan radar for the Typhoon multi-role fighter, during a ceremony in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Signed on behalf of the UK, Germany, Spain and Italy, the contract will see the integration of the Captor E-Scan on-board the aircraft to help further improve Typhoon's combat effectiveness.

Eurofighter CEO Alberto Gutierrez said: "The signing of this contract is a massive boost to all of us and is a pivotal moment.

South Korea sued by BAE over cancellation of F-16 upgrade contract

BAE Systems filed a lawsuit against the South Korean Government in response to its cancellation of a contract to upgrade the Republic of Korea Air Force's ageing fleet of F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft.

Filed in the Maryland District Court, the lawsuit alleged that the South Korean Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) pressurised the company to pay $43m in punitive costs.

In April, the company committed to hand over $43.25m to DAPA if it failed to take certain actions during the bid phase of the upgrade programme, which it now says were completed long ago, as reported by Flightglobal.

China flight tests J-31 stealth fighter during Zhuhai airshow

F-35

China conducted the first demonstration flight of its new indigenously manufactured fourth-generation fighter aircraft at the ongoing China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition (Airshow China) in Zhuhai.

The J-31 is the second aircraft to be domestically built by Shenyang Aircraft after J-20 and has design features and equipment similar to those of the US F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter, as reported by The Washington Free Beacon.

Reports emerged that China allegedly stole secrets from the fifth-generation F-35 through cyber attacks against a subcontractor for Lockheed Martin.

UK and France award FCAS feasibility phase study contracts

Taranis

The UK and French governments awarded a series of contracts for the feasibility phase of the Anglo-French future combat air system (FCAS) programme.

Valued at a combined £120m, the contracts were awarded to six firms, which were BAE Systems, Dassault Aviation, Thales France, Selex, Rolls-Royce and Safran.

Under the contract, the industry partners will explore concepts and options for the potential collaborative purchase of an unmanned combat air system (UCAS) over the next two years.

UK Ministry of Defence Materiel chief Bernard Gray said: "The development of unmanned combat air systems is of vital importance to the UK and France, which have the most capable and experienced armed forces in Europe and well-established defence industrial bases.

Canada begins airstrikes against Islamic State in Iraq

The Royal Canadian Air Force (RACF) carried out first airstrikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants in Iraq.

Canadian Defence Minister Rob Nicholson said in a statement: "Coordinated with our coalition partners, two CF-18s attacked ISIL targets with GBU12 500 lb laser-guided bombs in the vicinity of Fallujah, Iraq.

"The approximately four-hour mission included air-to-air refuelling from Canada's Polaris aircraft.