March 2024 news

Defense Aviation and Aerospace Industry


Algeria acquires advanced WJ-700 Falcon drones from China

According to the Twitter account ORCA Military in a post dated March 13, 2024, Algeria enhanced its military capabilities by acquiring four advanced WJ-700 Falcon drones from the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp (CASIC). These High-Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) drones, currently in the final stages of testing, are designed for both reconnaissance and precision strike operations, capable of engaging targets up to 100 kilometers away. This strategic move occurs amidst ongoing regional tensions, particularly with neighboring Morocco.

Saab to study concept of Swedish future manned and unmanned fighter

Saab has received an order from the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) regarding conceptual studies for future fighter systems. The contract period is 2024-2025. This includes conceptual studies of manned and unmanned solutions in a system of system perspective, technology development and demonstrations. Saab will collaborate closely with FMV, the Swedish Armed Forces, The Swedish Defence Research Agency, GKN Aerospace and other industry partners.

Babcock completes basic training of future Ukrainian F-16 pilots

Babcock International Group is providing vital support to the next generation of Ukrainian Air Force pilots as they prepare to fly F-16 fighter jets. The first ten trainee pilots have successfully completed the Elementary Flying Training (EFT) phase of the Ukrainian Pilot Force development and training programme.

Taiwan to get four MQ-9B SkyGuardian drones from US

On March 11, 2024, US DoD announced that Taiwan is set to significantly enhance its air defense capabilities with the acquisition of four MQ-9B drones, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) provided by the United States. The first units of this advanced equipment are expected to arrive in 2026, marking a crucial step in Taiwan's efforts to improve its surveillance and defensive capabilities amidst rising regional tensions.

Boeing to supply US Navy with 10 additional F/A-18F and 5 F/A-18E fighters

The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Missouri, is awarded a not-to-exceed $1,137,300,000, firm-fixed-price, undefinitized modification to a previously awarded contract. This modification procures 10 F/A-18F Lot 46 aircraft, as well as two F/A-18F and 5 F/A-18E Lot 47 aircraft.

US Marine Corps picks up first of 22 ex-Swiss Air Force F-5 Tiger fighter jets for OPFOR role

Switzerland has handed over its first decommissioned Northrop F-5 Tiger fighter jet to the US military. The transfer marks the initial step towards fulfilling a contract signed in 2020 involving 22 aircraft, Ashish Dangwal reports in EurAsian Times.

Indian Air Force to receive first HAL LCA Mark1A fighters by March 31

The acquisition is part of a significant agreement valued at Rs 48,000 crore between the Defence Ministry and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the purchase of 83 Tejas Mark 1A jets for the Air Force, as reported by Manjeet Negi in India Today. Efforts are underway to potentially include a trainer variant of the aircraft alongside the fighter version in the delivery, according to sources.

India signs two major contracts to modernize Dornier 228 multirole aircraft fleet

In March 2024, the Indian Ministry of Defence decided to strengthen its aerial fleet by signing two major contracts with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), thereby enhancing the capabilities of both the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Indian Navy. The first agreement, valued at $81.47 million (approximately Rs 6.67 billion), involves the supply of an additional six Dornier Do-228 aircraft to the IAF. The second contract, amounting to Rs 2,890 crores, is for the Mid-Life Upgrade (MLU) of 25 Dornier aircraft owned by the Indian Navy. These initiatives highlight India's commitment to modernizing its forces and achieving self-reliance in defense production.

Italian Air Force and Navy F-35s to be armed with AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles

The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency on March 15 announced that the State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Italy of AIM-9X Sidewinder Missiles and related equipment for an estimated cost of $90.6 million.

India strengthens air capabilities with 34 Advanced Light Helicopters Dhruv deal

On March 15, 2024, the Indian Ministry of Defence signed a contract with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the acquisition of 34 Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) Dhruv, for a total amount of 80.73 billion rupees ($975.06 million). These helicopters are intended to be distributed between the Indian Army, which will receive 25 units, and the Indian Coast Guard, which will receive 9. The contract marks a significant step in India's effort to strengthen its defense capabilities and promote the independence of its military equipment production under the 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat' initiative.

Bell Textron to supply Nigeria with 12 Bell AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters

Bell Textron has secured a $455 million contract to supply 12 AH-1Z attack helicopters to the Nigerian Government, according to Harry McNeil in Airforce Technology. This agreement is a key development in Nigeria’s efforts to modernize its military capabilities. Analysis by GlobalData on Nigeria’s defence market highlights the critical need for these attack helicopters within the Nigerian Air Force to enhance its combat capabilities, crucial for bolstering the nation’s counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations.

F-35 program achieves Milestone C and Full Rate Production

On March 12, 2024, the Milestone Decision Authority, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, Dr. William A. LaPlante, approved the Milestone C / Full Rate Production (MSC/FRP) of the F-35 Lightning II aircraft with the signing of an Acquisition Decision Memorandum (ADM) after a meeting with the Defense Acquisition Board (DAB).

US Air Force to reduce fleet by 250 aircraft in 2025

Chris Goron from Air & Space Forces Magazine reports a significant shift in the U.S. Air Force's strategy as it enters fiscal 2025, with plans to streamline its aircraft fleet. This initiative, detailed in the service's budget request from March 11, indicates a reduction of 250 aircraft, bringing the total inventory down to 4,903 — marking a historic low. Secretary of the Air Force, Frank Kendall, emphasized the balance of maintaining current force capabilities against an acceptable risk level during a briefing with reporters.

US Department of Defense aims to deploy 1 000 AI-controlled fighter jets to support human aviators

Christopher McFadden, in an Interesting Engineering article, reports the U.S. Department of Defense's announcement to invest in creating an artificial intelligence-controlled aircraft fleet under the Collaborative Combat Aircraft (CCA) program. This initiative is part of a broader $6 billion plan to integrate over 1,000 new drones into the United States Air Force (USAF), designed to function alongside manned aircraft for defense, escort, strike, and reconnaissance roles.

First batch of TB2 Drones delivered to Maldives sparks regional tensions

Following India's withdrawal request of its forces from its territory, the Maldives has announced the acquisition of the Bayraktar TB2 drone from Turkey to monitor its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The Maldivian government plans to deploy the Bayraktar TB2 drone, developed by the Turkish company Baykar Technology, to surveil its 900,000 square kilometer EEZ, enhancing its maritime surveillance capabilities.

Greek Air Force joins two EDA European Defence Agency projects in air domain

Greece has officially joined the C-27J Spartan Cooperation program under the European Defence Agency (EDA), starting in March. This membership will contribute to enhancing the tactical airlifting capabilities of the C-27J military transport aircraft among the participating EU member states. For the first time, the Hellenic Air Force will contribute an aircraft to the European Spartan Exercise 2024. Additionally, Greece has become the 19th member of the EDA's initiative for Multilateral Air Transport Training and Exercises.

India sanctions development of 5th-Gen locally made Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft

On March 7, 2024, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, authorized the development of the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA), a fifth-generation stealth fighter aircraft. The project, estimated at 15,000 crores of rupees, includes the design and development of five prototypes over five years, in collaboration with the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), and private sector partners.

KAI to develop single-seater FA-50 light combat aircraft with new investment plan

Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. (KAI) has unveiled plans to develop an autonomous aerial vehicle (AAV) and a single-seat version of its FA-50 light combat jet, aiming to diversify its offerings and increase its market share. The announcement came after the board of directors approved a total investment of 90.9 billion won (approximately $68.8 million) in these projects.

Lockheed's F-16 Block 70 jets soar towards Bahrain in historic first

On March 6, 2024, Lockheed Martin announced the departure of the first set of three F-16 Block 70 jets from Greenville, South Carolina, to Bahrain. This event underscores Bahrain's role as the first Gulf Cooperation Council member to operate the F-16 and now the first to incorporate the F-16 Block 70 variant into its fleet.

Poland receives First Saab 340 early airborne surveillance aircraft

On March 6, 2024, the Polish Air Force welcomed the first of two Saab 340 Early Airborne Warning (AEW) aircraft, marking a strategic procurement from Sweden's Saab completed in July 2023 for EUR 52 million. This investment encompasses not only the aircraft but also essential ground support equipment, logistic support within Poland, and comprehensive service agreements spanning from 2023 to 2025.

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