APRIL 2023 news

Defense Aviation and Aerospace Industry


US Army National Guard Units to get 12 GA-ASI Gray Eagle 25M UAS

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) on April 26 announced that the Army National Guard (ARNG) has received a fiscal year 2023 Congressional funding for 12 new Gray Eagle 25M (GE-25M) Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS).

Czech Aero conducts successful first flight of serial L-39NG trainer jet aircraft

Czech aircraft manufacturer Aero on April 24 announced it had successfully flown the first series-produced L-39NG aircraft. It is a new historical milestone when, after 20 years since the last mass-produced aircraft was flown, the first serial production L-39NG aircraft flight met all expectations. During the flight, the pilots tested the functions of the trainer aircraft within the scope of the standard factory sortie program. The flight tested the behavior of the L-39NG within its normal operating envelope.

Northrop Grumman to further develop Active Electronically Scanned Array radars of USAF F-16s

The U.S. Department of Defense on April 27 announced that Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. has been awarded a $28,662,064 cost-plus-fixed-fee modification to contract FA8615-17-C-6047 for Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radars of U.S. Air Force F-16 aircraft. This modification is for continued radar development. The modification brings the total cumulative face value of the contract to $1,509,974,169.

Norwegian Navy to get 6 Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk multi-mission helicopters

The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency on April 26 announced that the State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Norway of MH-60R Multi-Mission Helicopters and related equipment for an estimated cost of $1 billion.

Arctic Gold 23-2 refines US Air Force 354th FW Agile Combat Employment operations with F-35

The 354th Fighter Wing conducted Arctic Gold 23-2, an exercise designed to practice the wing’s ability to sustain F-35 Lightning II operations from multiple, simulated, deployed locations from April 17 to 23. U.S. Airman 1st Class Ricardo Sandoval reports.

Romania to acquire Turkish Bayraktar TB2 Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles

According to a tweet published by Haluk Bayraktar on April 26, 2023, Romania has signed a contract to acquire Bayraktar TB2 Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAV).

Spain invests 500 million euros in Airbus SIRTAP UAS project

The Spanish Ministry of Defense has received approval from the Ministry of Finance to invest 500 million euros in the Airbus SIRTAP tactical drone program, Infodefense reports, relayed by mil.in.ua website. The money earmarked for investment will be divided into eight annual payments between 2023 and 2031. The Sirtap project is financed by Spain and Colombia. Both countries plan to replace the last generation of Israeli-made drones with the latest drones. Spain plans to buy 27 SIRTAPs, and Colombia 18.

Airbus Helicopters unveils first US-made military versions of the H125 Ares

Airbus Helicopters is introducing the first U.S.-built H125 military configurations, known as AH-125 and MH-125 Ares, to the Airbus range of military helicopters. These combat-capable aircraft will feature militarized options that meet the needs of military and para-public allies and partners around the world.

New Zealand Ministry of Defence looking for new naval helicopters

According to Phil Pennington on Radio New Zealand (RNZ) on April 24, the Ministry of Defence is looking for proposals on buying about $1 billion worth of naval helicopters, and drones. A tender for proposals for replacing RNZN’s Kaman SH-2G(NZ) Seasprite helicopters will go out shortly, deputy secretary of Defence Policy and Planning Richard Schmidt told RNZ: "The request for information will be seeking proposals for both naval helicopters and uncrewed aerial vehicles. "It is a market research tool to support the next steps and provides an opportunity for the industry to provide information on options. No decisions have been made."

US Marine Corps activates second F-35C squadron

3rd Marine Aircraft Wing reactivated Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 311, an F-35C Lightning II squadron, at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, on April 14, 2023. VMFA-311 is the U.S. Marine Corps’ second F-35C squadron. The F-35C is a land and/or carrier-based platform boasting long-range flight and high weapons payload capabilities. Formerly VMA-311, the F-14 Tomcats have made their mark on Marine Corps aviation for decades, and now will continue their legacy.

Russia to possibly relaunch Kh-50 cruise missile project from June

According to a tweet posted by Oriannalyla on April 13, Russia plans to start production of Kh-50 cruise missiles from June, Ukrainian Deputy Chief of the General Staff stated. Hence this may indicate the possibility of increased missile strikes against Ukraine this fall.

Leidos to develop autonomous unmanned aerial resupply system for US Marine Corps

Leidos was recently awarded a new prime contract to develop an uncrewed aircraft system (UAS) that can autonomously resupply forward-deployed ground forces. The firm-fixed-price, multiple-award contract has a period of performance of 18 months to build a single prototype for the U.S. Marine Corps.

Boeing to extend service life of up to 25 US Navy F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets

The U.S. Department of Defense on April 19 announced that Boeing is awarded a $313,434,366 modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-incentive-fee, cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract. This modification increases the ceiling to provide non-recurring engineering, system engineering program management, and additional aircraft inductions in support of extending the service life for up to 25 F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets from 6,000 flight hours to 10,000 flight hours and incorporating Block III avionics capabilities.

US spy stealth drone RQ-170 Sentinel reportedly made several flights near Russia

As reported by Laurent Lagneau in Opex360, among the secret documents illegally posted online by Jack Teixeira, a 21-year-old member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, US spy stealth drones RQ-170 Sentinel reportedly made several flights near Russia. No additional detail is provided.

PLA Chinese army uses WZ-8 supersonic drones to spy Taiwan and US bases

US secret documents illegally posted online by Jack Teixeira, a 21-year-old member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, reveal China used (or could use) WZ-8 supersonic spy drones that could fly 3 times the speed of sound, WaPo reports, echoed by Katherine Tangalakis-Lippert in Business Insider.

Raytheon's AMRAAM AIM-120D-3 air-to-air missile completes critical milestone for operational use

The U.S. Air Force has completed the Functional Configuration Audit, or FCA, of the latest variant of Raytheon Technologies' Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile. The AMRAAM AIM-120D-3 is on-track toward fielding by both the Air Force and Navy this year.

Turkish uncrewed fighter jet Bayraktar Kizilelma achieves 4th test flight

On April 15, a high-ranking official from the developing company announced that Türkiye's Bayraktar Kizilelma, an unmanned fighter jet, completed its fourth test, the System Identification Test. Selçuk Bayraktar, Baykar's chairperson and CTO, shared a video update on Twitter.

US clears upgrading of Turkish Air Force F-16 fighters

The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency on April 17 announced that the State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Türkiye of defense articles and services to support upgrading its current fleet of F-16C/D aircraft and related equipment for an estimated cost of $259 million.

US 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade arrives in Europe for NATO exercise Atlantic Resolve

Aircraft and equipment from the U.S. 4th Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, began arriving in the port of Thessaloniki, Greece, on April 12, 2023, as the brigade begins its nine-month rotation to support Atlantic Resolve. Sgt. Caitlin Wilkins, U.S. Army, reports.

Royal Air Force’s Tempest future combat aircraft boosted with new multi-million pound investment

On April 14, the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) awarded a contract extension worth £656 million to BAE Systems to progress the concepting and technology of the next-generation combat aircraft, known as Tempest in the UK.

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