November's top stories: South Korea picks F-35A, RAF's Puma MK2 flights

This month South Korea selected Lockheed Martin's F-35A Lightning II joint strike fighter (JSF) aircraft while the Italian Air Force and Alenia will develop the MC-27J Praetorian. Airforce-technology.com wraps up the key headlines from November 2013.


Air force

South Korea selects F-35A aircraft for F-X fighter contract

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South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) has selected Lockheed Martin's F-35A Lightning II joint strike fighter (JSF) aircraft for the national air force's multi-billion dollar F-X Fighter programme.

Following a lengthy-bid process, the JSF decided to procure 40 F-35As, a conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) variant of the stealth aircraft against the originally planned 60 jets, for four years starting from 2018, Yonhap News Agency reports.

The remaining 20 aircraft are expected to be acquired at a later date depending on operational requirement and security situations, for deployment between 2023 and 2024.

Royal Air Force starts upgraded Puma MK2 training flights

The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) 33 and 230 Squadrons personnel have started training on the newly upgraded Puma Mk2 helicopter from RAF Benson in Oxfordshire, UK.

Around seven of the RAF's fleet of 24 Puma Mk2s, which are being upgraded by Eurocopter under the £260m life extension programme (LEP) contract, have been delivered to date to RAF Benson.

Awarded in September 2009, the contract covers integration of two Turbomeca Makila engines, new gearboxes and tail rotors, new engine controls, digital autopilot, a flight management system, an improved defensive aids suite and ballistic protection for helicopter crew and passengers.

German Air Force to equip Tornado fleet with Saab self-protection systems

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Saab has been awarded three contracts for the supply of self-protection equipment for installation onboard the German Air Force's (Luftwaffe) Tornado combat aircraft fleet.

Valued at a combined SEK100m ($15m), the contracts cover certification and limited production of the BOZ-101 EC podded self-protection system, including the MAW-300 missile approach warning system, and the development and qualification of a new cockpit control unit for the pod.

The equipment is scheduled to be installed on both of the Luftwaffe's Tornado interdictor/strike (IDS) and electronic combat/reconnaissance (ECR) variants, which are anticipated to remain in service for several years to come.

Riveer to install Birdbath CRWS at Andersen AFB next month

Riveer Environmental is preparing to install its Birdbath clear water rinse system (CWRS) at Andersen Air Force Base (AFB) in Guam, US, to support aircraft maintenance in December 2013.

The system is scheduled to be installed at the Guam Strike Clear Water Rinse Facility, which is being constructed by the US Department of Defense's (DoD) contractors and members of the 36th Civil Engineer Squadron, since May of this year.

Birdbath is an automatic CWRS designed to prevent corrosion that can be caused by residue build-up on aircraft operating over or near salt water, while recovering and recycling the used water to make it reusable for future rinses.

Italian Air Force, Alenia to develop MC-27J Praetorian

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Alenia Aermacchi will provide development, testing, certification, industrialisation and logistic support for the Italian Air Force's Praetorian fleet.

The Finmeccanica Company and the Italian Air Force signed the agreement at the ongoing Dubai Airshow 2013.

The Praetorian, which is a specialised version of the MC-27J, is expected to support the Italian Special Forces and Comando Operativo Forze Speciali (COFS) in their missions.

USAF receives initial Guardian Angel air-droppable rescue vehicles

The US Air Force's (USAF) 88th Test and Evaluations Squadron (TES) has taken delivery of the initial set of the Guardian Angel Air-Deployable Rescue Vehicles (GAARV) for operational testing.

Scheduled to commence in March 2014, the testing will validate the vehicle's suitability and effectiveness for the Guardian Angel (GA) weapon system, which is a non-aircraft, equipment-based weapon system organised into nine specific capabilities, such as prepare, mission plan, insert, movement, actions on objective, medically treat, extract, reintegrate and adapt.

Designed to help combat search-and-rescue (SAR) teams retrieve isolated individuals, the GAARV multi-purpose utility vehicle is also expected to expand their ability to quickly reach further into the battlefield to offer a more mobile rescue capability.

UK MoD receives first RC-135 Rivet Joint SIGINT aircraft

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The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has taken delivery of the first RC-135 Rivet Joint signals intelligence (SIGINT) aircraft acquired from the US under the Airseeker project, at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire, UK.

Delivered after successful completion of flight trials at a facility in Greenville, Texas, US earlier this year, the aircraft is scheduled to enter operational service with the Royal Air Force's (RAF) No. 51 Squadron in 2014.

Three RC-135 Rivet Joint aircraft along with the associated ground systems were purchased by the MoD under a $1bn deal in March 2010, to help address the capability gap generated by the retirement of the RAF's Nimrod R1 fleet, the following year.

DiSTI to develop F-16 virtual maintenance trainer for undisclosed customer

DiSTI has been awarded a contract for the development of a virtual maintenance trainer for an undisclosed international air force's F-16C Block 52 Fighting Falcon aircraft.

The trainer developed under the contract will be designed to improve training initiatives of the fighter aircraft, while effectively reducing the overall training costs.

Using the latest technologies, the virtual maintenance trainer is expected to boost traditional training for F-16 crew members, eventually ensuring that the aircraft always remains combat ready, which is critical for mission success.

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