May’s top news stories

4 June 2018 (Last Updated June 18th, 2018 11:00)

The Israeli Air Force’s F-35I Adir conducted the first operational missions, Germany requested $1.40bn sale of C-130J-30 and KC-130J jets from the US and the UK confirmed the launch of first Defence Space Strategy. Airforce-Technology.com wraps up key stories from May.

May’s top news stories
DARPA’s Gremlins programme is working to recover small unmanned aircraft system by a host aircraft. Credit: Dynetics

Israeli Air Force’s F-35I Adir conduct first operational missions

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) confirmed that its F-35 Lightning II combat aircraft variant, known as Adir (F-35I), was used to conduct operational missions in the Middle East for the first time.

The country has conducted the first operational F-35 strike in the world and used the aircraft to attack two targets in the Middle East.

IAF commander major general Amikam Norkin said: “We performed the F-35’s first ever operational strike. The IAF is a pioneer and a world leader in operating air power.”


Germany requests $1.40bn sale of C-130J-30 and KC-130J jets from US

The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified Congress of a possible foreign military sale (FMS) of C-130J-30 and KC-130J aircraft to Germany.

With an estimated cost of $1.40bn, the proposed sale has been requested by the Government of Germany with an aim to improve the airlift, air refuelling and airdrop capabilities of the German Air Force.

The missions will be carried out as part of a French-German allied squadron based in Evreux, France.


UK confirms launch of first Defence Space Strategy

UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson confirmed the launch of the nation’s first Defence Space Strategy.

With UK military systems becoming increasingly dependent on space technology, the Royal Air Force (RAF) Air Command has assumed responsibility for command and control of military space operations in order to defend the interests of the country in space.

RAF chief of air staff Sir Stephen Hiller said: “I am determined to ensure that the RAF’s leadership of military space operations transforms our ability to address the growing threats and hazards.”


Lockheed wins $1.4bn sustainment contract for F-35 aircraft fleet

Lockheed Martin-led industry team was awarded a $1.4bn sustainment contract to support operations for the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter fleet across the globe.

Awarded by the F-35 Joint Program Office, the annual contract will support sustainment activities for the jets that are currently in the fleet and build enterprise capacity to support the future fleet of more than 3,000 F-35 aircraft.

The sustainment support activities include air system maintenance, pilot and maintainer training, depot activation, sustaining engineering, supply chain logistics, as well as automatic logistics information system (ALIS) support, data analytics and predictive health management.


Bahrain requests $911.4m sale of AH-1Z helicopters from US

The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified Congress of a possible foreign military sale (FMS) of AH-1Z attack helicopters to Bahrain.

With an estimated cost of $911.4m, the proposed sale has been requested by the Government of Bahrain and has been approved by the US State Department.

The possible deal will cover the sale of 12 AH-1Z attack helicopters, 26 T-700 GE 401C engines, 14 AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and 56 Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System II (APKWS-II) WGU-59Bs.


UK and France sign agreement for exchange of test pilots

UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson and French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly signed a technical agreement for the exchange of test pilots between the two countries.

The agreement was signed during the first Defence Ministerial Council held since the announcement of a permanent and regular forum for the discussion of defence cooperation between the UK and France in January 2018.

Under the agreement, French pilots would receive training at the UK Empire Test Pilots’ School (ETPS) based at MoD Boscombe Down air station.


UK’s First F-35B fighter jets to arrive early next month

UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson confirmed that the first next-generation F-35B Lightning II fighter jets will begin arriving at the Royal Air Force (RAF) Marham air station early next month.

The RAF Marham in Norfolk, East Anglia, will serve as the home for the first tranche of the four F-35B Lightning II fighters that will arrive in the UK from the US.

To be flown by the British RAF’s newly reformed Dambusters 617 Squadron, the F-35Bs are expected to fly across the Atlantic Ocean with several air-to-air refuelling serials.


DARPA enters final phase of Gremlin programme

DARPA is one step closer to demonstrating the airborne launch and recovery of multiple unmanned aerial systems (UASs) as it enters the final phase of its Gremlin programme.

The programme’s goal is to develop technology that can recover multiple low-cost, reusable UASs, known as gremlins, from the air.

A flight test at Yuma Proving Ground showed a successful, safe separation and captive flight tests of the hard dock and recovery system.


Boeing’s KC-46 tanker concludes all FAA STC flight tests

Boeing’s KC-46 tanker programme successfully completed all required Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) flight tests.

The flight tests have been conducted following a successful refuelling/communications flight with a C-17 Globemaster III military transport aircraft.

Being one of two required FAA airworthiness certifications, the STC involves evaluation of the military systems installed on the Boeing 767-2C aircraft to make it a tanker.


Telespazio and Piaggio conduct satellite-controlled flight of MALE drone

Telespazio and Piaggio Aerospace successfully completed the first satellite-controlled flight of a European-built Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE)-class drone.

European spaceflight services company Telespazio is a joint venture (JV) between Leonardo, holding 67% shares, and Thales with 33% stake in the firm.

Telespazio and Piaggio carried out the flight campaign with a remotely piloted P.1HH HammerHead aircraft serving as the test bed.