Vayu Aerospace and Defence
Turkish F-35As reallocated to USAF
According to French sources, production of the Rafale fighter continues for India and Qatar, all 13 aircraft to be built this year (half of 2019’s total) being destined for export. Of the 68 Rafales on order, 40 aircraft are under production. Deliveries for national operators will resume in 2022 as France begins receiving the 28 Rafales still outstanding from the 80 aircraft ordered. Dassault’s CEO Eric Trappier “is hopeful that it will now go slightly further as part of the government’s aerospace rescue efforts”. Mr Trappier emphasised that for Dassault’s “economic model” to work, “export contracts” are required alongside those from its home nation. Prospective customers have suffered “economic consequences” from the pandemic and the French Government “does have an additional incentive to purchase the Rafale as such orders serve as an economic stabliser for both the company and the wider supply chain.”
Meanwhile, the Royal Canadian Air Force fleet of F/A-18 A/B Hornets is to be upgraded, with Canada requesting Raytheonproduced munitions under the potential deal, including 50 AIM-9X Sidewinder Block II short-range air-to-air missiles and 20 AGM-154C Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) glide bombs, along with 20 Improved Tactical Air Launched Decoys (ITALDs). Already approved is the sale of 38 Raytheon AN/APG-79(V)4 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars and 46 wide-band radomes, as well as support equipment and logistics services. Canada has long operated the F/A-18A/B (designated the CF-188A/B Hornet) and in February 2019, the RCAF accepted the first two secondhand F/A-18A/B Hornets from the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) from a planned acquisition of 18, which will supplement Canada’s existing Hornet fleet as it progresses with its Future Fighter Capability Programme.
As a result of the standoff between the United States and Turkey, especially on the S-400 strategic air missiles matter, the first F-35As built for Turkey have been re-allocated for US forces. The US Naval Air Systems Command has options for 14 Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning IIs earlier meant for Turkey and now reallocated for the US Air Force plus another six F-35As, from Lot 14. Transfer of the Turkish F-35As to the USAF puts an end to all Turkish participation in the programme.