September's top stories: Anti-IS airstrikes in Syria, South Korea buys F-35 jets

The US and its Arab allies launched air strikes against Islamic State in Syria, South Korea purchases 40 F-35 fighters for $7bn and US Air Force receives first A-29 Super Tucano light air support aircraft from SNC-Embraer team. Airforce-technology.com wraps up the key headlines from September.


IS militants

US and Arab allies launch first airstrikes against IS militants in Syria

The US and its Arab allies have launched their first air strikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also called Islamic State (IS) terrorists, in Syria.

Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Admiral John Kirby said the strikes are being made under authorisation granted by the US President Barack Obama and are carried out through a mix of US fighter and bomber aircraft, as well as Tomahawk land attack missiles.

"Given that these operations are ongoing, we are not in a position to provide additional details at this time," Kirby said.

USAF receives first A-29 Super Tucano light air support aircraft

A-29

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) and Embraer Defense & Security have handed over the first A-29 Super Tucano light air support aircraft to the US Air Force (USAF) at the team's facility in Jacksonville, Florida, US.

Around 20 A-29 Super Tucanos were ordered by the USAF along with ground training devices, pilot and maintenance training and logistic support under a $427.5m light air support (LAS) contract from the team in February 2013.

The LAS programme aims to help the Afghanistan Air Force (AAF) as it assumes increased responsibility for security and stability in Afghanistan with the redeployment of Nato forces.

RAF Tornado jets ready to strike IS targets in Iraq

The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) Tornado GR4 fighters are set to launch air strikes against Islamic State (IS) targets after carrying out armed reconnaissance operations over the IS-held territory of Iraq.

Conducted as part of Operation Shader, the operation was RAF's first sortie since joining the US-led coalition created to fight IS militants in northern Iraq and Syria.

Currently deployed to RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, the Tornado GR4 aircraft have been flying intelligence gathering missions over Iraq for the past several weeks.

South Korea to buy 40 F-35 fighters for $7bn

F-35

South Korea has agreed to sign a letter of offer and acceptance (LOA) with the US Government to purchase F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighters.

In March, the South Korean Defense Acquisition Program Administration (Dapa) selected F-35 aircraft for the Republic of Korea Air Force's (ROKAF) F-X III fighter project, over the Boeing F-15 Silent Eagle and the Eurofighter Typhoon.

South Korea will buy 40 F-35A conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) variant jets from Lockheed Martin at an estimated cost of KRW7.34tn ($7bn).

Canada enters into space partnership with Australia, UK, and US

The Canadian Department of National Defence has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Australia, the UK and the US to conduct joint space operations.

Called Combined Space Operations Initiative, the project enables the sharing of space-related information and resources, and formalises an existing partnership between the countries armed forces.

In particular, the initiative is expected to enable Canada and its allies to more effectively cooperate on activities, such as identifying and understanding space objects, ensuring uninterrupted satellite operations, and avoiding satellite collisions.

Israel shoots down Syrian Su-24 fighter over Golan Heights

Patriot

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) has shot down a Syrian Su-24 supersonic fighter over the Golan Heights, after it entered the Israeli airspace.

IAF said that the Syrian warplane infiltrated approximately 800m into Israeli territory and was shot down by the Aerial Defense Division soldiers using the Patriot air defence system.

"The fragments fell in Syria, while the aircrew most likely used the ejection system and was evacuated for medical treatment."

US and Canada intercept eight Russian jets near Alaska

US and Canadian fighter jets have reportedly intercepted eight Russian aircraft and refuelling tankers off the coast of Alaska and Canada in two incidents over the past week.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) spokesman captain Jeff Davis was quoted by CNN as saying two Alaskan-based F-22 fighters intercepted two Russian IL-78 refuelling tankers, two Mig-31 fighter jets and two Bear long-range bombers, on 17 September.

On 18 September, two more Russian Bear long-range bombers were intercepted by two Canadian CF-18 fighters approximately 40nm off the Canadian coastline in the Beaufort Sea, Davis said.

Russia refutes claims of Kosmos-2495 explosion over US

The Russian Aerospace Defense Forces has denied US media reports alleging that a Russian military satellite exploded in the national airspace.

A US Strategic Command spokesman told RIA Novosti: "US Strategic Command's Joint Functional Component Command for Space [JFCC Space] through the Joint Space Operations Center [JSpOC] assesses with high confidence that Kosmos-2495 reentered the atmosphere and was removed from the US satellite catalog as a decayed object on September 3."

In response, Russia Aerospace Defense Forces spokesman colonel Alexei Zolotukhin said all Russian spacecraft function in normal regime and are under have steady control of ground control services.

Nato members agree to strengthen cooperation in munitions sector

munition

A letter of intent (LOI) has been signed by six Nato member countries at the recently concluded Nato Wales Summit, to help develop innovative methods for increasing the availability of munitions to the alliance.

Signed by the Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, Norway, Portugal and Spain, the agreement will focus on multinational approaches toward air-to-ground precision-guided munitions (PGMs).

Led by Denmark, the project is also expected to establish an overall framework for strengthening international cooperation within the munitions sector.

China's new Rainbow NO.4 UAV completes maiden flight

China's domestically developed Rainbow NO.4 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has successfully completed its maiden test flight and simulation target practice at an undisclosed location.

Manufactured by the China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), Rainbow NO.4 is a reconnaissance and strike drone, and represents a major step forward for China's unmanned technology.

CASC Rainbow No.4 Project head Li Pingkun was quoted by ChinaNews.com as saying: "The test flight was very successful today."