February 2024 news

Defense Aviation and Aerospace Industry


Aerial refueling tested with US Navy F/A-18F and German Air Force Airbus A400M

On January 10, 2024, a U.S. Navy Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 F/A-18F performed an air-to-air refueling test with a German A400M Atlas aimed at expanding the flight envelope for the European transport and tanker aircraft.

Russia deploys advanced Su-57 fighters in combat operations against Ukraine

The Russian Air Force recently deployed its most advanced Su-57 fighter jet for combat operations, specifically targeting Ukrainian forces in Eastern Ukraine.

US Marine Corps XQ-58A Valkyrie tactical UAV completes second flight

On February 23, 2024, the Marine Corps’ XQ-58A Valkyrie, an advanced, cost-effective tactical unmanned aerial vehicle, successfully executed its second test flight at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. This drone serves as a pivotal experimental platform for the Marine Corps, facilitating the exploration of cutting-edge technologies and innovative operational concepts that bolster the capabilities of the Marine Air Ground Task Force.

CROWN project delivers a step towards a European Multifunction AESA system

An active electronically scanned array (AESA) is a sophisticated antenna system known as a phased array. It utilises computer control to adjust the direction of its radio wave beam without physically repositioning the antenna and is commonly used in aerial platforms. Launched in July 2021, with funding from the European Commission under the Preparatory Action for Defence Research (PADR), the project European active electronically scanned array with Combined Radar, Electronic Warfare and Communications functions for military applications (CROWN) focuses on the innovative concept of a multifunctional radio frequency (RF) system, which aims at substantially enhancing future defence capabilities, with a specific focus on AESA for manned and unmanned aerial platforms.

Singapore Air Force to purchase eight F-35A jets by 2030

As reported by The Straits Times on February 28, 2024, the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) announced its plan to acquire eight Lockheed Martin F-35A jets, as part of its ongoing efforts to update its aircraft fleet. This new purchase will add to the previously announced acquisition of 12 F-35Bs, as stated by Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen during the Ministry of Defence's (Mindef) budget debate on February 28. These aircraft are slated for delivery around the year 2030.

Thales to supply Reality H flight simulators to Airbus Helicopters to train German army H145M pilots

Thales will deliver 8 Reality H Full Flight Simulators to Airbus Helicopters for training German Bundeswehr and NATO pilots on the Airbus multi-role H145M helicopters as part of the LKH (Leichter Kampfhubschrauber) programme.

China broadcasts first flight of Skyhawk Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

The first flight of China's unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), named 'Skyhawk', was shared by CCTV on February 27, 2024, noting that the footage dates back to 2017. This event marks a milestone after nearly four years of dedicated research and development by the Third Academy of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.

Sikorsky initiates hybrid-electric VTOL demonstrator project

On February 27, 2024, Sikorsky, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin, unveiled its intention to develop a hybrid-electric vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) demonstrator with a tilt-wing configuration. This project is part of a broader initiative to create a new generation of VTOL aircraft, which will include traditional helicopters and winged configurations with varying levels of electrification and an advanced autonomy system for optionally piloted flight.

French Rafale F4.1 fighter jet executes first operational flight

On February 23, 2024, the French Air and Space Force (AAE) revealed that the Rafale F4.1 fighter jet had completed its inaugural operational sortie in support of the 30th Fighter Wing's training exercises, affirming its readiness under the new standard. The aircraft's debut mission under the F4.1 standard occurred on Friday, February 16, 2024, at Air Base 118 in Mont-de-Marsan.

Azerbaijan Air Force to receive squadron of JF-17 Thunder combat aircraft from Pakistan

On February 23, 2024, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced that Azerbaijan had finalized a significant order of JF-17 Thunder combat aircraft from Pakistan, valued at an estimated $1.6 billion. 

Collins Elbit Vision Systems delivers 3,000th F-35 Gen III Helmet Mounted Display System

Collins Elbit Vision Systems (CEVS), a collaborative effort between Collins Aerospace and Elbit Systems of America (Elbit America), marked a significant achievement on February 26 by delivering the 3,000th F-35 Gen III Helmet Mounted Display System (HMDS) to the Joint Strike Fighter program. Collins Aerospace, an RTX business entity, contributes to this venture.

Belgian and Luxembourg air forces receive final Airbus A400M Atlas

The last Airbus A400M Atlas was handed over to the Belgian and Luxembourg air forces at Melsbroek Air Base (east of Brussels) on February 20, 2024, concluding an order for eight units managed through OCCAR.

Slovenian Armed Forces enhance training capabilities with QinetiQ's Air Combat Module

QinetiQ GmbH has recently introduced an innovative Air Combat Training solution for the Slovenian Armed Forces, showcasing its prowess in delivering cutting-edge Threat Representation services worldwide, Christian Bertram reports.

Hungary's Air Force to receive 4 additional Saab Gripen C fighter jets

On February 23, 2024, Hungary announced an agreement with Saab and the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) to purchase an additional four Gripen C fighter jets, increasing its fleet to a total of 18 Gripen C/D aircraft. This marks an extension of the initial agreement signed in December 2001 for 14 aircraft.

China showcases Z-10ME attack helicopter at Singapore Air Show 2024

As reported by Shepard on February 20, 2024, the Chinese company Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) showcased the Z-10ME attack helicopter at the Singapore Air Show 2024. This model is an export-improved version of the original Z-10 and is characterized as a 6-ton all-weather, multi-purpose medium attack helicopter. It introduces several enhancements aimed at increasing performance and combat capabilities.

Ukrainian air defense manages to intercept nearly 10 Russian aircraft in 10 days

Since February 17, 2024, the Air Force Command of the Ukrainian Armed Forces has reported the downing of several Russian aircraft, including five Su-34s, one Su-35, one Su-35S, and one A-50, bringing the total to nearly ten Russian planes in ten days. This period of conflict has highlighted a shift in the dynamics of air power within the region, particularly around the battle for Avdiivka.

Six Ukrainian future F-16 pilots complete basic training with RAF instructors

The Royal Air Force published on X (ex-Twitter) that six Ukrainian pilots completed training on Tutor aircraft with RAF instructors and are currently training on F-16 fighter jets in the UK: "Six skilled Ukrainian combat pilots have completed a training programme with RAF instructors in the UK & are now training on F-16 Fighting Falcon jets”. The RAF added that the training of the Ukrainian military is “part of the UK contribution to the Air Capability Coalition to bolster Ukraine’s air capabilities.”

Norway upgrades fleet with delivery of first C-130J-30 Super Hercules block 8.1

On February 21, 2024, Lockheed Martin announced the delivery of the first C-130J-30 Super Hercules tactical airlift aircraft with the Block 8.1 upgrade to the Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF). This delivery marks the beginning of a new era for Norway's tactical airlift capabilities, enhancing interoperability within the Nordic region and across Europe. Already operating a fleet of C-130J-30s acquired between 2008 and 2012, the RNoAF will see four modernized aircraft. The upgrade work is being carried out at Lockheed Martin's Greenville, South Carolina facility.

Germany and South Korea sign MOU for IRIS-T missile integration onto FA-50 and KF21 combat aircraft

On February 19, 2024, Diehl Defence, the global leading provider of air-launched guided missile systems, and Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), the manufacturer and authority of the FA-50 and KF-21 series combat aircraft, announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed at intensifying their integration and marketing efforts. The primary goal of this collaboration is to highlight the potential of the IRIS-T, an advanced missile, on the FA-50/T-50 and KF-21 Block II aircraft.

Russian Air Force to receive four new Tupolev Tu-160M strategic bombers

On February 21, 2024, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the Kazan Aviation Plant to oversee the presentation of four new Tu-160M strategic bombers, set to join the Russian Aerospace Forces. These aircraft, referred to as the "White Swan" within Russia and as the Blackjack by NATO, are recognized as one of the largest and heaviest supersonic military aircraft with a variable-sweep wing configuration ever constructed.

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