Iran’s Fighters Are Really, Really Old
Two incidents in late August 2018 involving Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force F-5F Tiger II fighter jets underscored the ongoing crisis in Iran’s air force. On Aug. 21, Iran unveiled what it described as a new, fourth-generation fighter jet. Iranian president Hassan Rouhani even sat in the plane’s cockpit... Read more
A Tsunami Devastated Japan’s Souped-Up F-16s
In the 1980s, Japan phased in its first domestic jet fighter to enter operational service — the Mitsubishi F-1. Tokyo wanted to follow up with a more capable fourth-generation F-2 “support fighter.” It was an ambitious effort. And one that a tsunami nearly destroyed. The Reagan-era Pentagon was worried... Read more
New Spy Drone Flies Non-Stop for a Month
Airbus’s Zephyr solar-powered drone flew for 25 days straight during a test-flight over Yuma, Arizona beginning on July 11, 2018. The flight represented a record for aircraft endurance, breaking the previous 14-day record also set by a Zephyr back in 2015. The long flight has big implications for military... Read more
Britain’s New Spy Planes Are Practically Spacecraft
A version of this story originally appeared on Aug. 22, 2016. In July 2018, Airbus Defense & Space announced that its Zephyr S drone had flown for 25 days straight during testing over Arizona. The record flight came two years after the British military ordered three copies of the... Read more
Croatia’s Entire Frontline Air Force Almost Got Stranded in Ukraine
This story first appeared on April 30, 2014. In early 2014, just a single pair of ancient MiG-21 fighters defended the skies over the former Yugoslav republic of Croatia. The rest of the fleet was stranded in Ukraine, a country that seemed to be teetering on the brink of... Read more
The U.S. Air Force Almost Sent ‘Starter’ Attack Planes to Europe
This story first appeared on Feb. 23, 2014. In September 2009, the U.S. Air Forces in Europe asked to host the first squadron of light attack planes that, at the time, were planned for purchase by a more ambitious and less cash-strapped Pentagon. The Light Attack/Armed Reconnaissance warplanes—LAAR for... Read more
NSA Spies Helped Save Drones From a Fiery Death Over Vietnam
This story originally appeared on Feb. 24, 2015. The Air Force unleashed its first major drone program during the Vietnam War. In short order, the North Vietnamese compromised the aerial spies’ codes and began blowing them out of the sky. An angry general, a group of NSA spies and... Read more
The U.S. Air Force’s Close Air Support Fly-Off Is a Farce
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is finally going up against the battle-proven A-10 close-air-support attack plane for the long-promised fly-off. The unpublicized tests began on July 5, 2018 and will conclude on July 12, according to a copy of the testing schedule reviewed by the Center for Defense Information... Read more
Israel Has an Air-Launched Ballistic Missile
Two Israeli companies together have tested a new, supersonic air-launched ballistic missile with a conventional warhead that could allow fighters to strike heavily-defended targets at long range. But the new Rampage ALBM isn’t without its drawbacks. The weapon is bulky. Its warhead is probably small compared to other missile... Read more
China’s Flawed Naval Fighter
China is developing a new carrier-based fighter aircraft to succeed the Shenyang J-15 Flying Shark . The J-15—which is an unlicensed Chinese development based on a T-10K-3 prototype of the Russian Su-33 Flanker-D—has proven to be a disappointment in service with the People’s Liberation Army Navy. The navalized Chinese Flanker derivative... Read more
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