February’s top news stories

5 March 2019 (Last Updated March 7th, 2019 10:57)

Germany reportedly removed Lockheed Martin’s F-35 stealth aircraft as an option to replace its ageing Tornado fighter jets, and Boeing Australia unveiled a model of its newest unmanned platform, designed to fly independently or alongside military aircraft. Airforce-Technology.com wraps up key headlines from February 2019.

February’s top news stories
With F-35 out of the reckoning, Germany is expected to choose either Eurofighter or Boeing’s F/A-18 fighter jet. Credit: USAF / Master sergeant Donald R Allen.

Germany drops F-35 from tender to replace Tornado fighter jets

Germany reportedly removed Lockheed Martin’s F-35 stealth aircraft as an option to replace its ageing Tornado fighter jets.

Citing unidentified German Defence Ministry sources, Reuters reported that the elimination of the F-35 means the Eurofighter and Boeing’s F/A-18 fighter jet will now compete for the deal.

Aircraft that are due to be procured will be required to carry US nuclear weapons in order to fulfil Germany’s obligations to Nato.


Boeing Australia showcases unmanned system to support combat jets

Boeing Australia unveiled a model of its newest unmanned platform, designed to fly independently or alongside military aircraft.

Known as Boeing Airpower Teaming System, the system has been designed for global defence customers. It is Boeing’s largest investment in a new unmanned aircraft programme outside the US.

Introduced at the Australian International Airshow at Avalon Airport, the new model is intended to complement and extend airborne missions through smart teaming with existing military aircraft.


USAF awards launch services contracts to ULA and SpaceX

The US Air Force (USAF) awarded contracts to United Launch Alliance (ULA) and SpaceX to provide launch services for certain national security missions.

The Contracting Division, Launch Systems Enterprise Directorate, Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, California, is the contracting activity for both contracts, which have an aggregate value of more than $739m.

Under a $441.76m firm-fixed-price contract, ULA will provide launch services to deliver the SILENTBARKER, SBIRS GEO-5, and SBIRS GEO-6 missions to their intended orbits.


Trump signs Space Policy Directive 4 to create US space force

US President Donald Trump signed Space Policy Directive 4 to facilitate the creation of a space force as a sixth branch of the country’s military.

The new branch will be included within the department of the USAF, comparable to the establishment of the US Marine Corps under the remit of the US Navy.

During his speech at the White House signing ceremony, Trump said: “We are investing in new space capabilities to project military power and safeguard our nation’s interests, especially when it comes to safety and defence.”


Lockheed Martin-led team unveils Falcon air defence weapon system

A Lockheed Martin-led team unveiled an air defence weapon system known as Falcon as the short and medium-range air defence solution to counter current and emerging threats.

Other partners in the Falcon project include German arms manufacturer Diehl Defence and Sweden’s Saab.

Falcon brings together Diehl’s 40km range Infra-red imaging system tail / thrust vector-controlled (IRIS-T) SLM interceptor and vertical launcher, as well as Saab’s 360° AESA Giraffe 4A radar, integrating them through Lockheed Martin’s SkyKeeper command and control battle manager.


Canada receives two F/A-18 Hornet fighter aircraft from Australia

The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) received the first two F/A-18 AB Hornet fighter aircraft at Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake in Alberta from Australia.

Last year, the Australian Government agreed to sell up to 25 aircraft to Canada along with spares and support equipment.

The first two Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) F/A-18 AB Hornet fighter aircraft arrived in Canada from Nellis, Nevada, US, where they participated in Exercise Red Flag 2019.


India’s LCA Tejas aircraft gets final operational clearance

Indian military aviation regulator Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC) awarded the final operational clearance (FOC) for the country’s first light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas MK I.

Authorities handed over the FOC certificate and the release-to-service document (RSD) to Chief of Air Staff air marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa at ongoing Aero India in the city of Bengaluru.

The FOC award paves the way for the induction of Tejas MK I, a weaponised version of LCA, into the Indian Air Force.


UK announces plans to develop swarm squadrons of drones

UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson announced plans to develop swarm squadrons of network-enabled drones that can ‘confuse’ the enemy and ‘overwhelm’ their air defences.

The project will be supported by the government’s Transformation Fund, which assists in the development of military technology.

The drones are expected to be ready for deployment by the end of this year.


Dassault and Airbus to begin JCS for Future Combat Air System

A consortium of Dassault Aviation and Airbus was awarded a contract to undertake a joint concept study (JCS) to support the development of a next-generation combat jet.

The contract represents the first-ever award by Germany and France under the future combat air system (FCAS) programme.

The decision by the countries to embark on the FCAS programme is set to begin the replacement of their current fleet of combat aircraft, namely Dassault’s Rafale and Germany’s Eurofighters, by 2024.


India launches air strikes against militants in Pakistan

India conducted air strikes against a terrorist training camp in Balakot in Pakistan’s north-western Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in a raid.

The offensive is seen as retaliation for the killing of 40 Indian paramilitary forces in Pulwama district in the Indian side of Kashmir in a suicide bombing claimed by Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).

A convoy of 78 vehicles carrying 2,500 Indian troops was targeted by terrorists with an explosives-laden car.