ADEX 2021: Persistent threat from North Korea drives RoKAF modernisation

by Gareth Jennings

A RoKAF F-15K Slam Eagle flies alongside a Peace Eye AEW&C platform. Both platforms have featured in the service's modernisation efforts over years, geared at addressing the persistent threat from North Korea. (Boeing)

Despite an increased emphasis on participating in multinational operations over recent years, the focus for the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) remains in countering the persistent threat from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to the north.

As noted by Janes World Air Force (JWAF), the RoKAF is a full-spectrum air arm, fielding the latest capabilities in the domains of air defence, strike, air mobility, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR).

The service currently fields about 800 aircraft, of which about 450 are frontline combat assets comprising 36 of a contracted 40 Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters (JSFs), 59 Boeing F-15K Slam Eagles, 188 Lockheed Martin KF-16C/D Fighting Falcons, 150 Northrop F-5E/F Tiger IIs, 20 McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantom IIs, and 22 Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) T/FA-50s (also known as TA-50), as well as numerous fixed- and rotary-winged air mobility, surveillance, and special mission platforms.

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US Navy seeks new ‘Aggressor' training aircraft

by Gareth Jennings

Seen in USN colours as part of Boeing's pitch for the service's Undergraduate Jet Training System requirement, the T-7A Red Hawk is likely to be one of the candidate platforms put forward for the USN's recently released Tactical Surrogate Aircraft requirement. (Boeing)

The US Navy (USN) has issued a request for information (RFI) for a new Aggressor aircraft for ‘red air' combat training.

The Tactical Surrogate Aircraft (TSA) requirement released on 21 October would see a new aircraft type perform three primary pilot training missions, namely to augment flight time and training in front-line type model series aircraft, provide adversary air support, and to serve as a flight lead aircraft for fleet replacement squadrons.

“The aircraft needs to simulate and/or replicate current and future fighter aircraft systems by providing the training environment and relevant experience to build tactical skills, systems management skills, and decision-making skills required for weapon system employment actions. These actions will be influenced by environmental information, avionics outputs, sensor data, weapon-cueing, and manoeuvre elements,” the RFI said.

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Z-20 prototype seen carrying possible anti-tank guided missiles

by Andreas Rupprecht

Images have emerged on Chinese social media platforms showing what appear to be a new prototype or variant of the Harbin Aircraft Industry Group (HAIG) Z-20 multirole helicopter carrying anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) and other stores.

The images, which were released on 20 October via Weibo, show the rotorcraft carrying what appear to be eight KD-10 ATGMs and additional rocket pods mounted on stub wings that are similar in appearance to the US-made External Store Support System.

The helicopter was shown bearing what seemed to be a three-digit serial number, but the number was pixelated in all photographs. All known Z-20 prototypes bear three-digit serial numbers.

No information was provided as to when or where the images were taken.

Although images emerged in December 2020 of a Z-20 variant undergoing test flights while carrying KD-9/10 ATGMs and fitted with fuel tanks under the stub wings, the latest helicopter is speculated to be a modified prototype or a dedicated assault variant of the Z-20.

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Italy confirms P.180 EVO Plus acquisition, P.1HH cancelled

by Alessandra Giovanzanti

The Italian armed forces are procuring six new Piaggio Aerospace P.180 EVO Plus light utility aircraft, the Italian Air Force has confirmed to Janes on 20 October. (Piaggio)

The Italian Air Force (Aeronautica Militare Italiana – AMI) has confirmed to Janes that the country's armed forces are procuring six Piaggio Aerospace P.180 light utility aircraft to replace legacy units. Meanwhile, the P.1HH HammerHead programme has been officially cancelled.

Speaking to Janes on 20 October, a spokesperson of the press office of the AMI said that the new aircraft will be Piaggio EVO Plus models, and that these are yet to be assigned to a specific military service, be it the army, navy, air force, or Carabinieri.

However, he said that the six P.180s will replace legacy platforms and that “once the registration numbers to be retired are identified, a breakdown by service will be finalised and a decision will be made on the final configuration of the six P.180 aircraft”. Such information will likely be provided once a contract is formalised.

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