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November 19, 2021 | International, Aerospace

What the USAF’s ‘four-plus-one’ fighter fleet looks like - Skies Mag

The Next-Generation Air Dominance fighter, F-15EX, F-35, and F-16 are where the U.S. Air Force sees its fighter future.

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  • Russia plans to arm its most advanced fighter with new hypersonic air-to-air missiles meant to cripple the F-35 stealth fighter

    September 28, 2018 | International, Aerospace

    Russia plans to arm its most advanced fighter with new hypersonic air-to-air missiles meant to cripple the F-35 stealth fighter

    Ryan Pickrell Russia's most advanced fighter jet, the Sukhoi Su-57, will reportedly carry the hypersonic R-37M long-range air-to-air missile, a new weapon with the ability to strike targets hundreds of miles away. The Chinese are developing similar systems for their fighter jets. These weapons, assuming US rivals can take them from testing to deployment, could pose a threat to rear support aircraft such as early warning and aerial refueling aircraft, key force multipliers for American jets like the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter. Russia reportedly plans to arm its most advanced fighter jet with a powerful hypersonic air-to-air missile that can take aim at aircraft nearly two hundred miles away, making them a potential threat to critical US air assets. The Su-57 multipurpose fighter jet, a fifth-generation stealth fighter built for air superiority and complex attack operations that is still in development, will be armed with the new R-37M, an upgraded version of an older long-range air-to-air missile, Russia Today reported Thursday, citing defense officials. The Russian Ministry of Defense is reportedly close to completing testing for this weapon, the development of which began after the turn of the century. With a reported operational range of 186 to 248 miles and a top speed of Mach 6 (4,500 mph), the R-37M is designed to eliminate rear support aircraft, critical force multipliers such as early warning and aerial refueling aircraft. Russia asserts that the missile possesses an active-seeker homing system that allows it to target fighter jets during the terminal phase of flight. While Russia initially intended to see the weapon carried by the MiG-31 interceptors, these missiles are now expected to become the primary weapons of the fourth-generation Su-30s and Su-35s, as well as the next-generation Su-57s. The weapon's specifications were modified to meet these demands. The Russians are also apparently developing another very long-range air-to-air missile — the KS-172, a two-stage missile with a range said to be in excess of the R-37M's capabilities, although the latter is reportedly much closer to deployment. China, another US competitor, is also reportedly developing advanced long-range air-to-air missiles that could be carried by the reportedly fifth-generation J-20 stealth fighter. The China Dailyreported in January 2017 that photos of a J-11B from the Red Sword 2016 combat drills appeared to show a new beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile. "China has developed a new missile that can hit high-value targets such as early-warning planes and aerial refueling aircraft, which stay far from conflict zones," the state-run media outlet reported, citing Fu Qianshao, an equipment researcher with the People's Liberation Army Air Force. Slow, vulnerable rear-support aircraft improve the overall effectiveness of key front-line fighter units, such as America's F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, which just conducted its first combat mission. The best strategy to deal with this kind of advanced system is to "send a super-maneuverable fighter jet with very-long-range missiles to destroy those high-value targets, which are 'eyes' of enemy jets," Fu told the China Daily, calling the suspected development of this type of weapon a "major breakthrough." The missiles being developed by US rivals reportedly have a greater range than the American AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM), giving them a potential edge over US military aircraft. The Russian Su-57 is expected to enter service in 2019, although the Russian military is currently investing more heavily in fourth-generation fighters like the MiG-29SMT Fulcrum and Su-35S Flanker E, which meet the country's air combat needs for the time being. Russia canceled plans for the mass production of the Su-57 in July after a string of development problems. There is some evidence the aircraft may have been active in Syria earlier this year, but the plane remains unready for combat at this time. Military analyst Michael Kofman previously told Business Insider that the Su-57 is "a poor man's stealth aircraft," adding that it doesn't quite stack up to the F-35 or F-22.

  • The Marine Corps wants to protect its Hornets from GPS jammers

    July 11, 2018 | International, Aerospace, C4ISR

    The Marine Corps wants to protect its Hornets from GPS jammers

    By: Shawn Snow The Corps is looking to install antennas in its F/A-18 C/D Hornets to help the aircraft defeat GPS jammers. In a request for information posted in early June by Naval Air Systems Command, or NAVAIR, the Corps wants to install the anti-jam antennas known as the Air Navigation Warfare Program, or NAVWAR, in 120 of the legacy Hornets. The anti-jamming antenna “provides Global Positioning System (GPS) protection for Naval Air platforms by allowing for continued access to GPS through the use of Anti-Jam (AJ) Antenna Systems designed to counter GPS Electronic Warfare threats from intentional and unintentional interference,” Michael Land, a spokesman for NAVAIR, told Marine Corps Times in an emailed statement Tuesday. The development comes as U.S. aircraft have faced mounting electronic warfare attacks against aircraft in Syria. Army Gen. Tony Thomas, the commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, told audience members at a conference in April that adversaries were trying to bring down AC-130 gunships in Syria using electronic warfare, or EW. “Right now in Syria, we’re in the most aggressive EW environment on the planet, from our adversaries,” Thomas said. “They’re testing us every day, knocking our communications down, disabling our AC-130s, et cetera.” The Corps is amid an overhaul of its forces and equipment to prepare for a potential fight with near-peer adversaries like Russia and China. Both countries boast an impressive array of electronic warfare capabilities. Russia has been using the Syrian battlefield to hone its EW skills. The top Marine has oft repeated the threats posed to GPS systems from rising adversaries and says the Corps needs to be prepared to fight in GPS denied environments. The F/A-18 is the Corps’ bridging aircraft as it moves to the new high-tech F-35. As the Corps transitions the older legacy Hornets are undergoing a service life extension, meaning the aircraft are being updated to handle the modern battlefield. “Installation in F/A-18 A-D helps ensure continued mission capability as the service life of the aircraft is extended and facilitates supportability by using more common equipment,” Land said. The Navy and the Marine Corps already use the anti-jamming GPS antenna in a number of airframes, according to Land. “Typical installations replace a platform’s existing GPS antenna with a NAVWAR antenna and separate antenna electronics, while leaving a platform’s GPS receiver in place,” Land added. The Corps expects the F/A-18 to be in sunset by 2030. As the Corps moves to the F-35 and phases out its Hornets, the legacy fighters will consolidate on the West Coast by 2018 with the exception of VMFA (AW)‐242, which will remain aboard the Corps’ air station at Iwakuni, Japan until it transitions to the F-35 in 2028, according to the Corp’s 2018 aviation plan.

  • India, Australia cleared to buy $4.3B in US military gear

    May 3, 2021 | International, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR, Security

    India, Australia cleared to buy $4.3B in US military gear

    India wants more P-8s, and Australia wants more ground vehicles and Chinooks.

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