Colombian Kfir fleet is only at 50% availability and the AF looks for replacements

According to Infodefensa, the Colombian Air Force’s Air Combat Command has issued on July 5th a report on the current status of the IAI Kfir COA fleet, comprised now of 3 twin seaters and 19 single seater aircraft, which are supported by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Lahav Division. Among specifics in which of the aircraft are in service or not, the main concern is related to depot maintenance or budget cuts in which the Air Force is under that causes delays on pending field level maintenance, since they acknowledge that IAI is in full compliance of their 128-00-A-COFAC-CAF-2018. Having demonstrated its new systems and capabilities in a fair transition to the 4th generation, colombian Kfirs fall short on providing a fully-fledged deterrence against, although in desperate need of an upgrade, Venezuelan Su-30MK2. The Venezuelan Sukhois, probably with russian assistance, are being brought back to service. A few days ago, the F-Air Colombia expo took place where aviation and defense related industries have gathered and to that effect, Airbus, Lockheed Martin and Saab have presented their proposals for Eurofighter Typhoon Tranche III, F-16V Block 70 and JAS-39NG respectively.

Venezuelan Su-30MK2s intercepted a U.S. Navy EP-3 Aries II reconnaissance aircraft

On July 19th, a Su-30MK2 “Flanker-G” from the Aviacion Militar de la Republica Bolivariana de Venezuela (AMBV) intercepted a U.S. Navy EP-3E Aries II reconnaissance aircraft over the Caribbean Sea. According to the U.S. South Command’s statement this Sunday, the intercept took place over “approved international airspace” and in an “unprofessional manner” but the Venezuelan government claims that the ELINT/SIGINT aircraft was trespassing the FIR Maiquetia, Venezuelan controlled airspace. Some might remember the Hainan Islands incident when in April 2001, also a U.S. Navy EP-3 Aries II ELINT/SIGINT aircraft was crashed by a Chinese J-8 who intercepted it while gathering intelligence over disputed airspace. In this case, EP-3E Aries II callsign “SWORD15” was performing an ELINT mission with no clear detail if related to counter drug smuggling or to assess Venezuelan response times and electronic ORBAT of their military aircraft and air defense systems.

According to Venezuelan armed forces, SWORD15 was detected at 09:52 AM local Venezuela time, cruising at their regular route as has been going on for months, specifically since the Venezuelan civil conflict escalated. 33 minutes later, AMBV Su-30MK2 took off from Tte Luis del Valle Garcia AFB, 200 km east of Caracas.

KAI and argentine aerospace manufacturers push for a piece of the LMF pie

Much has been published recently regarding the probable argentine purchase of korean Lead In Fighter Trainers, KAI FA-50. South Korean state media, Maeli, quoting statements by both Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) and South Korean government sources that push for this deal to come through. Patience is running out. Supposedly, requests of a counteroffer by the Leonardo consortium and their M-346 FA aircraft have not come through or have been considered inadequate. 8 FA-50 aircraft with 2 of them free of charge, including a Flight Simulator, spares, technical support and training for under 400 million dollars.

Ecuador is selling off its HAL Dhruv helicopters

Four years after the decommissioning of the remaining three HAL Dhruv helicopters, the Ecuadorian government is looking to sell them back to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) its manufacturer, as authorized by article 127 of Ecuador state assets bills. Seven HAL Dhruvs were bought in 2008 for 45 million dollars. Four of them crashed causing three deaths and suspicions arise upon the assassination of General Jorge Gabela, who was investigating alleged corruption on this deal. An investigation upon both situations is still ongoing and both experts and opposition have expressed their concern upon selling them before resolving any pending matters. The Defense Ministry contracted a private firm to assess the current inventory which includes helicopters 602, 606 and 607 with nine Turbomeca TM 333 engines, parts and other spares.

Argentina receives its first upgraded T-6C+ Texan II trainer

The Argentine Air Force has received its first T-6C Texan II upgraded to C+ standard, the E-303 aircraft is one of the first 8 out of a current total of 12 requested aircraft. 4 others are soon to be delivered by Textron to the AAF. This upgrade allows the aircraft to make use of wet/dry hardpoints with fuel drop tanks, bombs, gun pods and rockets. Also specific to the AAF is the replacement of the original Cobham radio set. The remaining 7 original Texan II’s are to be upgraded in Argentina, the 4 other pending aircraft will be delivered as C+ standard.

The time has come for INVAP to develop an AEW&C aircraft?

An Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft is a long overdue necessity for the Argentine Air Force. Policy trends towards an increasing interest both in air policing and indigenous developments. As of now, the AAF only has one ELINT/SIGINT platform, the Learjet 35 VR-24 with a Thales Vigile 200 suite as the only Electronic Warfare or long-range information gathering platform, but completely unsuitable for control, surveillance or even search and rescue operations support. Since 2006, an important effort has been in place to establish a national integrated surveillance system or SINVICA. As a product of that, Investigacion Aplicada or INVAP, one of the most capable state enterprises in Argentina has developed a set of primary and secondary AESA radars.

Guatemala halts purchase of IA-63 Pampa jet aircraft

Recent statements have put a halt on Guatemalan Air Force purchase of FAdeA’s IA-63 Pampa III jet trainers. The agreement, signed by both argentine and guatemalan presidents on July 3rd, 2019, has been contested by the guatemalan national controllership. The fact is that both governments made use of an update of an existing agreement to provide the legal framework in order to perform the operation. This would directly counter legislation on bids and purchases for the guatemalan state. With particular interest in next month’s general election ballotage, this did not go unattended.

Portugal approves purchase of 5 KC-390 transports

Today, the Portuguese Council of Ministers has approved the purchase of 5 EMBRAER KC-390 Aircraft including logistical support, spares and training as well as a flight simulator and self-protective electronic warfare suites. According to Portuguese media, the agreement for these C-130 replacements is for 827 million Euros. At a fly away cost of approximately 167 million Euros each. Portugal has been an industrial partner of the KC-390 project and now becomes the first export customer. The statement specifies the intended duties for the aircraft as air transportation, Search and Rescue, MEDEVAC with focus on supporting the Portuguese islands as the ability to perform aerial refueling and firefighting when needed.

Colombia issued an RFP for 15 Eurofighter Typhoon multirole aircraft.

Ivan Gonzalez, Sales Director for Combat Aircraft in Airbus Defence & Space, has confirmed that the Government of Colombia has issued a Request for Proposal of 15 brand new Typhoon Tranche 3 multirole fighters as published by Defensa.com. Such a conversation is not new since other requests have been made since 2015.  

These aircraft have been offered with “no restrictions” and current operational status including CAESAR active electronically scanned array fire control. This agreement would be financed directly by the Spanish government, paying exactly what is paid by the Spanish Ejercito del Aire for each aircraft to the builder consortium.  

Logistics, Support and training would be also included as well as technology and know-how transference directly to the Corporacion de la Industria Aeronautica de Colombia (CIAC).