DECember 2023 news

Defense Aviation and Aerospace Industry


Russia ramps up production of fifth-generation Su-57 multi-role fighter jets

The Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aviation Plant, named after Yuri Gagarin (KnAAZ), has completed its 2023 production schedule, delivering the final batch of fifth-generation Sukhoi Su-57 Felon multi-role aircraft to the Russian Ministry of Defense, as announced on 27 December 2023 by the United Aircraft Corporation.

South Korea Army signs contract for new Light Attack Helicopters

On Decemeber 2023, South Korea, through its Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), has finalized a significant contract with Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI). The deal, worth 1.4 trillion won (approximately $1.08 billion), is aimed at enhancing the aerial combat power of the National Army by introducing new Light Attack Helicopters (LAHs).

US Air Force begins climatic testing of T-7 Red Hawk jet trainer

The US Air Force has announced the commencement of climatic chamber testing for its new advanced supersonic training aircraft, the T-7 Red Hawk, at the McKinley Climatic Laboratory at Eglin AFB in Florida. This critical phase validates the aircraft's ability to operate under extreme environmental conditions, ranging from -25 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit (-31.7 to 43.4 degrees Celsius).

Slovenia receives first Leonardo C-27J Spartan Next Generation transport aircraft

On December 20, 2023, Leonardo delivered the first of two C-27J Next Generation aircraft to the Slovenian Ministry of Defence as part of the Italy-Slovenia Government-to-Government (G2G) Agreement signed on November 17, 2021. The C-27J Spartan aircraft is equipped with advanced avionics, including five multifunction color screens, a tactical radar system, communication systems, a satellite system, ballistic protection, and winglets to enhance aerodynamic performance.

United States welcomes new F-15EX Eagle II jets in Florida

The United States Air Force has enhanced its aerial capabilities with the arrival of two F-15EX Eagle II jets, designated EX3 and EX4, at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. These new aircraft, which arrived on December 20, 2023, represent the latest additions to the USAF fleet.

Russian Ministry of Defense receives additional serial Il-76MD-90A

The branch of PJSC "Il" - "Aviastar" of the United Aircraft Corporation has handed over to the Russian Ministry of Defense the next serial military transport aircraft Il-76MD-90A.

Mi-171A2 cleared to operate in mountainous environment

The Russian Helicopters holding company under the auspices of Rostec has obtained official approval from the Federal Air Transport Agency for the operational deployment of the Mi-171A2 helicopters in a mountainous environment. So, these versatile aircraft are now sanctioned for operation not only from conventional airfields but also from high-altitude runways situated at elevations of up to 5,000 meters above sea level.

Spain to acquire 16 Airbus C295s for maritime duties

On December 20, 2023, Airbus announced that the Spanish Ministry of Defence had agreed with the manufacturer for the acquisition of 16 C295 aircraft. The contract, valued at 1.695 billion euros, includes configurations for Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) and Maritime Surveillance Aircraft (MSA).

Silent Arrow awarded US Air Force AFWERX contract to develop CLS-300 long-range cargo drone

Silent Arrow on December 18 announced it has been selected by AFWERX for an SBIR contract focused on the Silent Arrow CLS-300 (“Contested Logistics System, 300 Nautical Miles”) to address one of the most pressing challenges in the Department of the Air Force (DAF). It will result in a scaled-up Silent Arrow with a propulsion system to carry 1,000 pounds of payload over 300 nautical miles in contested environments.

Philippines looking to acquire Saab JAS 39 Gripen fighters

The Swedish group Saab is reportedly in a strong position to potentially secure a deal with the Philippines for its Jas Gripen fighter jets, as the Southeast Asian country seeks to enhance its military capabilities. This information was relayed by Ekot following an interview with the Philippine Defense Minister.

Canada orders fleet of General Atomics MQ-9B SkyGuardian RPAS

The Government of Canada has entered into an agreement to procure a fleet of MQ-9B SkyGuardian Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI). This contract encompasses the acquisition of Certified Ground Control Stations and associated support equipment from GA-ASI, with the initial delivery anticipated in 2028.

RTX Raytheon to prototype Advanced Electronic Warfare for US Navy’s F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet

The U.S. Navy awarded Raytheon, an RTX business, an $80 million contract in a down-select to prototype Advanced Electronic Warfare, or ADVEW, for the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet. This prototype will be considered as a replacement for the existing AN/ALQ-214 integrated defensive electronic countermeasure and AN/ALR-67(V)3 radar warning receiver with a consolidated solution that will deliver superior electronic warfare capabilities to the backbone of the Navy's carrier air wing.

USAF testing first reverse flow air refueling from C-5M Super Galaxy to KC-10 Extender tanker

On December 12, 2023, a demonstration took place involving a Lockheed C-5M Super Galaxy and a McDonnell Douglas KC-10 Extender engaging in reverse flow air refueling training over Northern California and Oregon. This operation was part of a Proof of Concept (PoC) initiative aimed at ensuring readiness in emergency scenarios to prevent the loss of a tanker aircraft. This development was reported by David Cenciotti in The Avionist.

Successful airdrop of new US S-MET ground transport drone

The US Army's airborne soldiers at Fort Liberty, North Carolina, recently conducted low-velocity airdrop tests of a new remote-controlled equipment transport system, the Small Multipurpose Equipment Transport (S-MET). Orchestrated by the Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate, the operation notably included a Simulated Airdrop Impact Test to ensure that the system could withstand the impact forces upon landing after the drops.

RAAF and USAF collaborate in air-to-air refueling trials from Edwards AFB

Over almost a month-long period, a RAAF KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport from 33 Squadron provided refuelling support to a RAAF Air Force Research and Development Unit (ARDU) and a USAF co-led air-to-air refuelling clearance trial of the USAF Boeing RC-135 and A-10C Warthog (Thunderbolt II)

Philippine Air Force nearing reception of three C-130J Super Hercules

On December 11, 2023, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) achieved a major milestone by releasing the second payment for the acquisition of three C-130J-30 Super Hercules aircraft. The project, initially planned for five aircraft, was reduced to three units, as part of the modernization of the PAF.

Is Russia secretly helping North Korea's Early Warning Aircraft project?

On December 14, 2023, according to satellite imagery analysis reported by Decker Eveleth from the Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS), a North Korean IL-76 aircraft is currently undergoing modifications at Pyongyang International Airport. These modifications suggest the potential conversion of this aircraft into an Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) or Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) platform.

Ukraine to receive two Mi-171E helicopters from Argentina

On December 15, 2023, the Argentine Air Force announced its intention to donate two Mi-171E helicopters to the Ukrainian state. These helicopters, acquired in 2011, have been out of service since 2021, as the Air Force was unable to complete the major inspections necessary for their operation following economic sanctions against Russia.

Israel's F-35I Lightning II defeats Houthi cruise missile attack

On November 01, 2023, an Israeli F-35I Lightning II fighter, also known as "Adir", made history by successfully shooting down a cruise missile fired by the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen. This was the first-ever air-to-air interception of a cruise missile by an F-35.

Successful launch of US Army's Altius 700 drone from Black Hawk helicopter

The Uncrewed Aircraft Systems Project Management Office of the U.S. Army, in collaboration with the U.S. Special Operations Command, recently achieved a successful flight demonstration involving the inaugural launch of the Tube-Integrated Unmanned System (Altius) 700 on December 3, 2023, at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

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