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  1. The total deal (including helicopters) is expected to total some $60 billion, making it the largest single US arms sale in history. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/sep/13/us-arms-deal-saudi-arabia Significantly, the Israeli government has agreed not to oppose the sale in the US Congress. The US has reportedly agreed not to supply the Saudis with advanced stand-off weapons, and will also reportedly downgrade the performance of the aircraft's electronics. http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/report-u-s-downgrades-saudi-arms-deal-over-israeli-concerns-1.306886 There is a lot of politics surrounding this deal. Right now, the Israelis are more concerned with coming to a mutual concensus on dealing with Iran than they are with the possibility that Saudi Arabia might join in the next Arab-Israeli war. On the part of the Saudi government, they have had a long history of viewing these kind of arms sales as a political deal. If a war ever does come (as it did when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990), the Saudis fully expect that the same patrons whom they bought these weapons from (the US and UK) will come and fight for them. No one expected the Royal Saudi Air Force to drive Saddam out of Kuwait. And no one today expects the Royal Saudi Air Force to take care of business with Iran. According to a report by Israel's Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, Saudi Arabia does not have enough pilots and support personnel to absorb this latest arms purchase, on top of the 153 F-15C/D/S models that they already fly, and the 72 Typhoons that they are currently in the process deploying. "It is doubtful whether it is in the power of Saudi Arabia, where there is no military draft, to find enough people to man this expansion." As many of us know, Saudi Arabia already relies on foreign contractors to supply the necessary maintenance support to keep their air force flying. Add to that another 84 F-15s and they will probably have trouble finding pilots as well. http://www.worldtribune.com/worldtribune/WTARC/2010/me_gulf0812_08_24.asp
  2. Sikorsky has proposed the S-97 Raider to the US Army as a spin-off from the X2 demonstrator program: http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2010/10/20/348764/sikorsky-unveils-s-97-for-high-speed-scout-and-attack-helicopter-contest.html The S-97 would feature the same coaxial rotor and pusher-propeller technology, but would be scaled up so that it could carry troops and weapons.
  3. IAF IL-76 PHALCON Lands in India

    India also announced recently that they are initiating talks to purchase an additional three Phalcon AEW aircraft, in addition to the three covered under the current contract. http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2010/04/09/340359/india-requests-deal-for-three-more-aew-aircraft.html Six AWACS - probably enough to cover two fronts on a 24-7 basis. That's a serious upgrade in India's defensive capabilities.
  4. Reports have been circulating that the next Quadrennial Defense Review being released by the Obama Administration is expected to cut the total number of F-35s being procured, and will also eliminate two carrier battle groups. http://www.dodbuzz.com/2009/12/09/qdr-likely-kills-two-carriers-efv/ I knew something like this was coming - although I actually thought that the Obama Administration would want to get all of the bailout bills and health care reform approved by Congress before they told everyone where the money was coming from.
  5. Nesher not Made in Israel (?)

    A great find Gepard! That actually means a lot more to me than the reports from a journalist who doesn't have a shred of a connection inside the Israeli armed forces. So the French broke their own embargo . . . so French. The question is, did they do it before or after the Israelis obtained blueprints through Switzerland? And if the French supplied the airframe components, did they also supply the engine hardware? Or did Bet Shemesh (which later produced the J79)?
  6. Nesher not Made in Israel (?)

    The Nesher uses the Atar engine - a French design. There was no US hardware in those airframes. Why do you want to find some grand conspiracy? Why not accept that the Israelis received the blueprints and manufactured the airframe and engines themselves? The Israelis definitely produced the J79 from blueprints for the later Kfir program. The Atar engine was certainly no more sophisticated than the J79 of the day (I'd argue that it was less so). Yes, I know. That's ALWAYS been the story that was told. The Israelis paid for the Mirage 5 before the embargo in 1967. Other than Tom Cooper's article, however, it was always put forward that the French paid the money back to the Israelis, and resold the original Mirage 5 airframes to another buyer. The Israelis had to obtain the blueprints through clandestine means to receive the airplanes. But that's not what the video that you quoted says. It says that a pilot, supposedly from Argentina's Air Force, saw "made in France" labels on the airplane. There is no air force that I know where the pilots service their own fighters. The view from the cockpit is going to be limited to the electronics and other gear in the cockpit - not the internals of the wing or fuselage. If you want to make a case for the Nesher airframe being "made in France" then you have to find someone who would have had access to the bulkheads or other internal features - not a pilot. Other than a single airframe flown for flight test purposes, the J79 was never used in the Nesher. The Nesher used the Atar engine - for which the Israelis received the blueprints from Switzerland. As the Israelis discovered in their flight test program, incorporating the J-79 required several modifications to the fuselage to provide adequate cooling for the hotter J-79 afterburner duct and nozzle. The eventual result of that flight test effort was the Kfir program. The bottom line is that other than Tom Cooper's article, written by someone with extensive ties to the Arab and Iranian armed forces and zero connections in Israel, I have yet to see anyone try to claim that the Nesher components were manufactured in France. It's not that I don't believe that the French would break their own embargo, but I simply haven't seen this claim made by a credible source.
  7. Nesher not Made in Israel (?)

    While an interesting anecdote, it does not answer the question at hand. Argentina was black-listed by the US and UK after the Falklands War. As was already reported long ago, any of the electronics gear that had previously been supplied (through the Israelis) from Marconi Electronic Systems (UK) had to be replaced by equipment supplied by Thomson-CSF (later renamed Thales - France). The fact that you can find "made in France" hardware in today's cockpit is interesting - but it does not settle who made the airframe. In principal, it wouldn't surprise me that the French might announce an embargo and then secretly break it. What makes the Tom Cooper article so completely unbelievable is his insistence on US involvement. If the French wanted to break their own embargo, they would not have needed the US to help them deliver the parts, and the Israelis would not have needed the US to assemble them. The Israelis had been servicing the Mirage for nearly a decade. The US had zero experience supporting this airframe. Added to the fact is that this particular author - Tom Cooper - is best known for his books on the Arab and Iranian armed forces. You know, the same guys who brought us "Baghdad Bob"? These are Tom Cooper's sources. The fantasies that he has repeated from them in the past make his credibility more than suspect. What is a proven fact is that a Swiss engineer was caught red-handed, delivering Mirage blueprints to the Israelis - and served jail time for it. If someone wants to claim that the airframes were assembled from parts made in France and delivered to Israel (a possibility), they need to supply something other than suspect sources.
  8. Nesher not Made in Israel (?)

    How much more unbelievable can this get? As if the United States needed to ship French aircraft to Israel. Why? Because the Mirage was so superior to the A-4 Skyhawks and F-4 Phantoms that they were already supplying to Israel? It's amazing what some people will believe. The Israelis produced the Nesher to get out from under the endless cycles of arms embargos that they had experienced with Europe. Israel's political leaders wanted an Israeli arms alternative that could not be cut off at the whim of Paris, London or Washington. So according to Tom Cooper, Alfred Frauenknecht - the Swiss engineer who supplied the blueprints for the Mirage to the Israelis - served 4 1/2 years in prison for no reason. I'm sure it was all just a Mossad plot. According to this line of reasoning, the all-powerful Mossad was able to fake Israeli production of the Mirage 5, fake having stolen the blueprints and sent a Swiss engineer to jail for no reason, but was unable to actually produce the airplane in Israel. Yeah, right. Cooper needs to leave the conspiracy theories to the UFO crowd.
  9. RAAF Super Bug!

    I understand that Australia needed a stopgap measure to fill out their wings until the F-35 production ramps up. However, as Air Marshal Mark Binskin recently emphasized, this will be a one-time order. The Bug is not seen as being the long term solution to Australia's fighter-bomber needs. http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2009/...ys-no-more.html
  10. Strange aircraft sightings

    As many of us know, a total of 25 Kfir C1's were leased by the US Navy and USMC to serve as Aggressor aircraft between 1985 and 1989. The Navy aircraft wore air superiority gray and the USMC aircraft were flown in a multicolor camoflage. The aircraft were labeled as the F-21A in US service. Since the end of the Cold War, however, the US Navy and USAF have been gradually cutting back on the number of aircraft dedicated to Aggressor and Adversary squadrons, and private contractors have been asked to step in to fill some of the gaps in dissimilar air combat training being made available to US National Guard and NATO allied units. The aircraft that you saw were most likely flown by one such contractor: a company called ATAC (Airborne Tactical Advantage Company) which operates out of Newport News, Virginia. ATAC provides training and test platforms for the US Navy, US Air Force, and US Air National Guard. They reportedly fly six Kfir C7 and two Saab Draken fighters. Note that their aircraft are of the later, C7 vintage - not the C1 variety flown by the US Navy and USMC decades ago. http://www.atacusa.com/sections/operations.html ATAC is not the only company that has stepped in to provide air combat training opportunities that were once offered by the Navy and Air Force. Another private firm, ATSI (Advanced Training Systems International) offers similar training opportunities flying the A-4 Skyhawk. http://www.atsifightertraining.com/index.html
  11. F-22 Raptor Cut today?

    Yes, everyone is entitled to an opinion. The difference is that mine is informed by direct experience. To provide some sense for how long it takes to manufacture a weapons system as complex as the Raptor, consider that if the US Congress decides to continue production of the F-22 for another year - into 2012 - the long lead time items that would go into those airplanes would need to be purchased this year - within the next 9 months. In other words, Congress would have to force the Pentagon to release the balance of funding that was reserved late last year, to extend the F-22 production line by another 20 aircraft. To date, the Pentagon has released sufficient funds for only another 4 aircraft (bringing the total production run from 183 to 187), withholding the balance: http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2008/...-unsettled.html Shut down the production line and scrap the tooling for those long lead time items, and you can multiply that lead time by a factor of two or more. The same can be said for the unit cost. Once the production line is terminated for the F-22, it will be closed for good. With regard to China, the two major issues that the US military faces in contingency planning for that region of the world are: The availability and security of forward bases of operation (such as Kadena); and The overwhelming numerical superiority that China is evolving towards. If you want to understand what this means in practical terms, I would recommend reviewing slides 10 and 42-50 of the Rand study that was broadcast over the internet last year: http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/the-dewl...nd-air-pow.html
  12. F-22 Raptor Cut today?

    Once production is shut down - it is over. The tooling to produce the major fuselage components will be scrapped, and the cost of reconstructing all of the tooling - and then recertifying production processes - would ensure that no one ever thought of building it again. These are not automobiles. The technology that goes into the manufacturing processes behind these warplanes is of a different order than what people experience in everyday life. That is the reason that these weapons cost so much. As for whether or not Raptor production should continue, that really depends on whether or not you believe that the US will ever face an opponent that could contest the USAF and USN for air superiority. The Russians are planning to fly the prototype PAK-FA stealth fighter later this year - but it remains in doubt as to whether Russia can afford to build the airplane in any quantity. In terms of a likely scenario where the US could potentially be overwhelmed by an opponent with larger numbers of aircraft (and missiles), all of the talk keeps coming back to one subject: China, and the Taiwan Straits. Like Russia, China is also reportedly developing a stealth fighter (sometimes labeled as the J-XX). Unlike Russia, China has seen double-digit increases in its defense budget for every year in the past decade. Project that trend to 2020, keep in mind that the US can - at most - deploy only a third of its fighter force to any one theatre at a time, and ask yourself if you're feeling lucky.
  13. F-22 export possibilities

    The reality is that the F-22 has been targeted for termination by both Secretary of Defense Robert Gates: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/wa...0,6323828.story and by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/artic...8s3j-W8zeUUdpkg The USAF has very few friends in the Pentagon these days. With the US economy in a shambles, and a new President who has pledged to increase funding for social programs, deep cuts are inevitable. In the eyes of these Washington insiders, the F-22 was designed to fight a war against an enemy we no longer have. The possibility that the US might have to fight, or deter a far more capable opponent (in the form of a revitalized Russia or China's growing arsenal) doesn't concern them. They will not be in office when that happens. The only friends that the USAF has left are the Congressmen who have elements of the F-22 being produced in their home districts. If Congress had not earmarked funding for another 20 F-22's earlier this year, production would have halted at 183 fighters in 2009. Even now, with the Pentagon doling the funds out in small batches, the Air Force may only see 187 fighters - only 4 additional fighters out of the 20 approved by Congress. It's not looking good for the Raptor.
  14. F-22 export possibilities

    The F-22 line is on the verge of being shut down - permanently. Congress approved funding for one more year's production of the F-22 (20 fighters worth), but the Pentagon (which wants to kill the airplane) has been doling the funding out in small batches - driving the unit cost up even further and ensuring that the next President will approve their plans to terminate the program. http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2008/...-unsettled.html With so little time remaining, there really is not an opportunity to develop an export version of the F-22. As of right now, the F-22 production line will be shut down for good in 2009 - unless Congress intervenes to force the Pentagon's hand. Lockheed and the Pentagon are already haggling over the contract termination costs for shutting down the production line. Sorry guys, it looks like this one is over.
  15. Another interesting piece of journalism to come out of this Air Show: http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/the-dewl...-chinas-j1.html The author of this particular article (posted on Flight International's website) is a Russian-based journalist, with contacts within the Russian aerospace industry (which supplied technical support and engines for the J-10). It would appear that the Russians have now concluded (belatedly) that they have supplied China with the means to close much of the gap between their own, latest technology fighters and the 1960s classics that the Chinese were still building a little more than a decade ago.

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