April’s top news stories

8 May 2019 (Last Updated May 8th, 2019 15:12)

Boeing was awarded a $14.31bn flexible acquisition and sustainment contract for the US Air Force’s bomber aircraft, and an F-35 advanced stealth fighter jet belonging to Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force crashed into the Pacific Ocean after losing contact. Airforce-Technology.com wraps up key headlines from April 2019.

April’s top news stories
Top view of B-1B in-flight with white clouds scattered underneath. Credit: US Air Force / Bennie J Davis III.

Boeing wins $14.31bn contract to increase lethality of US bombers

Boeing was awarded a $14.31bn flexible acquisition and sustainment contract for the US Air Force’s (USAF) bomber aircraft, the B-1 Lancer and B-52 Stratofortress strategic bombers.

The indefinite-delivery indefinite-quantity contract from US Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) requires the company to perform the modification, modernisation, engineering, sustainment and test of the weapons systems.

The US DoD announced: “This B-1/B-52 Flexible Acquisition and Sustainment contract provides for the upcoming modernisation and sustainment efforts to increase lethality, enhance survivability, improve supportability, and increase responsiveness.”


Japan’s first F-35 fighter jet crashes into Pacific Sea

An F-35 advanced stealth fighter jet belonging to Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) crashed into the Pacific Ocean after losing contact.

The aircraft was performing training manoeuvres along with three other jets when its pilot signalled the need to halt practice just before the aircraft lost contact with the radar, Defence Minister Takeshi Iwaya told reporters.

According to JASDF, the F-35 fighter was flying about 135km east of the Misawa Air Base in Aomori Prefecture when it disappeared from radar.


UK’s DASA unveils £2m competition to foster counter-UAS technology

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) launched a competition to seek robust and cost-effective next-generation solutions to tackle the future threats posed by drones.

The £2m competition is run by the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA), the MoD’s innovation wing, and is the latest stage in Defence Science and Technology Lab’s ongoing research programme into countering unmanned aerial systems (UAS).

Companies in the defence industry are invited to submit proposals to neutralise the risks posed by hostile drones to the defence and security of the UK both at home and abroad.


Pakistan Air Force receives AEW&C radar equipment from Saab

The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) reportedly received radar equipment from Swedish firm Saab at Base Nur Khan in Chaklala, Rawalpindi.

The three sets of radar equipment were delivered on 9 April, Quwa reported, citing information from Pakistan’s import and export database.

According to IHS Jane’s, the equipment delivered by Saab could be three Erieye airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) radar systems for potential installation onto three Saab 2000 aircraft.


USAF resumes flight operations of B-1B Lancers after stand-down

The USAF resumed flight operations of the first B-1B Lancers after a four-week safety stand-down.

The B-1B aircraft have been cleared to return to flight following the completion of inspections and maintenance on each aircraft.

On 28 March, Air Force Global Strike Command commander general Timothy Ray issued a precautionary safety stand-down after issues were identified with the rigging of the aircraft’s drogue chute during a routine inspection.


BAE Systems unveils software-defined radio assembly for space missions

BAE Systems launched a general software-defined radio (SDR) assembly to offer flexibility, on-orbit reprogramming and signals processing for commercial and US Department of Defense space applications.

The SDR system combines BAE Systems’ RAD5545 Single Board Computer (SBC) with advanced field programmable gate array-based transceivers.

The technology will enable customers to reprogramme missions. The firm will develop and manufacture the SDR assembly at its US facilities in Manassas, Virginia, and Merrimack, New Hampshire.


RoKAF deploys domestically built precision approach radar

The Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) reportedly deployed a domestically developed radar system known as the Precision Approach Radar (PAR).

The radar is designed to enable safe landing of aircraft in high-risk operational scenarios, including adverse weather conditions, Yonhap News Agency reported citing a statement from Seoul’s state arms procurement agency Defense Acquisition Program Administration.

PAR was installed at the 1st Fighter Wing in Gwangju air base in March.


Raytheon and USAF to modernise legacy space debris tracking system

A Raytheon-led consortium is partnering with the AFLCMC to modernise and simplify the legacy space debris tracking and monitoring system Space Defense Operations Center (SPADOC).

The SPADOC is a 1990s-era system that reached the end of its planned service life.

The USAF intends to replace SPADOC with modern systems in a bid to simplify operations and enable greater space situational awareness and collision avoidance capabilities, including space debris tracking.


Australia approves Project AIR 6000 Phase 3 to enhance capabilities

The Australian Government approved the third phase of Project AIR 6000 to boost the country’s air combat capability.

Under Project Air 6000 Phase 3, Australia will spend A$110m ($78.21m) on new weapons and countermeasures for the Lockheed Martin-built F-35A Joint Strike Fighters (JSF) and Boeing-made F/A-18F Super Hornets.

Australia Defence Minister Christopher Pyne noted that the investment will ensure the availability of necessary weapons and decoys as the country transitions from the ageing FA-18A/B Classic Hornet fighter to the F-35A and Super Hornet.


Lockheed Martin unveils new F-16V Block 70 production line in US

Lockheed Martin opened a F-16V Block 70 production line in Greenville, South Carolina, US, to begin manufacturing the aircraft later this year.

The company has shifted F-16 tooling and equipment previously in Fort Worth, Texas, US, to a newly-refurbished hangar in Greenville, which will be used to assemble the aircraft at the new site.

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics executive vice-president Michele Evans said: “This is an exciting time as we celebrate another important milestone for the F-16, the world’s most successful, combat-proven fourth-generation fighter.

“The future is bright, and it begins right here in Greenville, South Carolina, the new home of F-16 production.”