Thursday, 20 August 2009

Antonov 124-Back in business

During MAKS 2009 the following news was announced:

ZHUKOVSKY (Moscow Region), August 20 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Defense Ministry has decided to resume production of one of the world's largest cargo planes, the An-124 Ruslan (Condor), the country's Air Force chief said on Thursday.
Col. Gen. Alexander Zelin told reporters at the MAKS-2009 air show outside Moscow that the aircraft would be used both for commercial domestic flights and for carrying NATO troops to Iraq.
The An-124 was designed by the Antonov Design Bureau in 1982, and was produced in Kiev and Ulyanovsk until 1995. The plane has a maximum payload of 150 metric tons with a flight range of around 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles).
The cargo jet is the world's third largest after the An-225 and the Airbus A380F.
Russia and Ukraine reached a preliminary agreement to resume production of the An-124 in April 2008.

RIA Novosti

This is great news for India & China. Both countries desperately want to build up their strategic airlift capabilities. Officially its not for export but India and China can be expected to each order or at the minimum inquire about purchasing 4-8 transports. Till now the only military alternative (which is somewhat inferior in terms of capabilities) has been the C-5 Galaxy-a plane which has only been used by the United States Air Force and never even as a civilian airlifter.

There are C-5's stored at AMARC which "can" possibly be restored to flight condition and sold atleast to India, but this is very unlikely as the IAF wants an airlifter with a long future-something the stored C-5's cant provide. It is also very unlikely that the US government will sanction such a deal.

China has no other option, with programs just beginning,nearing completion or experiencing difficulties in the transport aircraft area it is proving it lacks the experience to design a large aircraft from scratch and produce it. China will unlikely to develop such a complex airframe and such powerful engines for atleast another decade by looking at current progress, therefore the AN-124 will both provide good service but also provide valuable experience in operating & repairing such type of aircraft and also provide a blueprint of sorts for a future domestic effort.

Nevertheless with the new lease of life and orders from cargo companies as well as the Russian Air Force itself the AN-124 has quite some time to receive more orders.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Economic Military Co-operation

A while back reports came out that Sweeden would purchase PC-21 trainers made by the Swiss firm Pilatus Aircraft Limited should the Swiss Air Force Decide to procure the JAS-39 Gripen as thier replacement for thier ageing F-5 Tigers. It might not be fair for competitors but ti gives both countires what they need-economic stimulation and arms.

Another case where such co-operation would be beneficial would be between Japan and the Repulic Of Korea(South Korea). Japan in the future will need a advanced trainer aircraft & basic trainer aircraft. South Korea allready has such items ready for export. South Korea needs new tactical/strategic airlift aircraft as well as newer maritime patrol aircraft in the distant future-Japan makes such aircraft. South Korea will also need to replace its fleet of MB-105's in the scout role and scout and light attack MD-500's. Japan can offer its OH-1 scout/light attack helicopter for this role.

So summing up the possible deals:

Japan buys T-50
Japan buys KT-1

Korea buys P-X (Probally wont happen as Korea has procured more P-3's)
Korea buys C-X
Korea buys OH-1

This kind of deal would be benefical for both countires as they can specialise in domestic production and export thier products creating jobs in thier respective countires and nto throw away alot of R&D money just for the aim of being self-sufficient for an item which is wanted in low quantities. Both countries have had sour"ish" experiences from work with the US & Lockheed Martin Producing thier T/F-50 and F-2 derived from F-16 technology, this may hinder attempts for co-operation.

Korea and Japan shouldnt see each other as great enemies. As the saying goes, "my enemies enemy is my friend" and both countires biggest threat in the forseeable future is China & North Korea-so why not unite?

Japan and Korea have both recently produced AEGIS destroyers and light/helicopter carriers (or helicopter destroyers as Japan prefers to call them) and both projects led to products of very simular capabilites. R&D money can be saved and both countires can gain experience from each other.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

C-17-Future Orders

The C-17 Globemaster III has proven to be a versatile transport aircraft, its sold quite a few-but who wants more?

Current Operators:

Australia-Royal Australian Air Force: 4 C-17ERs

No. 36 Squadron, RAAF Amberly Queensland
Future orders are unlikely as requirments are met and there are more important issues in the budget to attend to.

Canada-Canadian Forces Air Command: 4 C-17ERs.

429 Transport Squadron, CFB Trenton
Canadian Forces Air Command is happy with the amount of airlifers it has (including those on order), a future fleet made up fo 4 C-17's and 17 C-130J's is more than sufficient for Canadas short term future requirments.

Heavy Airlift Wing (Salis Program): 1 C-17 on loan from USAF and 2 C-17ERs on order.
Based at Pápa Air Base in Hungary. More aircraft may possibly be aquired depending on how intial operation capability fulfills the needs of partner countries.

Qatar-Qatar Emiri Air Force: 2 C-17ERs.
Most likely will be based at Doha International Airport along with other QAF assets.
Notes: One in air force livery other for Royal/Emiri Flight under Qatar Airways Livery.
The Qatari Air Force has said it would like to order two more and may excercise thier options.

United Arab Emirates-United Arab Emirates Air Force: 4 C-17ERs on order.
The United Arab Emirates may does not appear to want more than 4 C-17's.

United Kingdom-Royal Air Force: 6 C-17ERs
No. 99 Squadron, RAF Brize Norton
The RAF may have to increase its fleet of C-130J/C-130J-30's as well as C-17's should the A400M fail to materialize.

United States-United States Air Force: 185 total (71 C-17, 114 C-17ER) as of April 2009. Total on order is 205 (last C-17's will be delivered in FY 2010).

3rd Wing, 517th Airlift Squadron, 15th Airlift Wing, 535th Airlift Squadron, 60th Air Mobility Wing, 21st Airlift Squadron, 62d Airlift Wing, 4th Airlift Squadron, 7th Airlift Squadron, 8th Airlift Squadron, 10th Airlift Squadron, 97th Air Mobility Wing, 58th Airlift Squadron, 154th Wing, ANG, 204th Airlift Squadron, 172d Airlift Wing, ANG, 183rd Airlift Squadron, 176th Wing ANG, 249th Airlift Squadron, 305th Air Mobility Wing, 6th Airlift Squadron, 315th Airlift Wing, AFRC, 300th Airlift Squadron, 317th Airlift Squadron, 701st Airlift Squadron
Recent bills signed buy the Senate may mean more C-17's in the future.
Prospective Buyers:

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia-Royal Saudi Air Force:
The Saudis would love a capability to send troops as well as resources (such as humanitarian aid) across the Muslim world via their own aircraft-they currently lack such a capability to operate in long distances. Saudi Arabia also has a "tendancy" to buy aircraft when the firm prouducing is in dire need of orders so it wont have to shut the prouction line down therefore a Saudi order could materialise, alibet small in quantity.

Republic Of Korea (South Korea-Republic of Korea Air Force:
The Republic Of Korea Air Force reportedly plans to purchase 3-4 aircraft to support their future plans of expeditionary warfare.

Republic Of India-Indian Air Force:
Plans to acquire 10-no order in place as of August 8th 2009 until the Indian Ministry Of Defense sanctions the purchase. The Indian Order can be quite large and will be the C-17's savious from an early ending to production. The intial order of 10 would most definatley be folllowed buy more orders.

Countries in the A400M programme:

French Republic-Armée de l'Air:
Might buy C-17's either as a stop gap or for long term pending progress of the A400M. Another possibility is a mixed fleet of C-130J's and C-17's to replace Frances ageing Transall C-160's. As the C-17 isnt greatly suited to tactical transport not many order should be expected from France.

Federal Republic of Germany-Lufwaffe:
The Luftwaffe is on the same boat as France by putting all its eggs in one basket. Should the A400M project ultimately fail to deliver it will have to look at the possibility of a mixed fleet of C-130J's & C-17's. Ultimatley the Luftwaffe doesnt have a great need for strategic transport so C-17 procurment is a slim possibilty.

Kingdom Of Spain-Spanish Air Force / Turkey-Turkish Air Force
Simular cases as Germany & the France, however these two countires need tactical transport more than strategic therefore the C-17 may not be procured even if the A400M project fails.


Israel-Israeli Air Force:
The Israeli Air Force may aqquire a few C-17's to help it undertake long range strategic transport as well as special forces insertion over long distances. However C-130J's can also do the same task so an order here is unlikely also.

Singapore-Republic Of Singapore Air Force:
This tiny country may aqquire a few samples to assist in humanitarian missions around the world, however chances of such a procurment during the economic downturn is very unlikely.