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Monthly Defense News Recap – August 2023

U.S. Commits to Training Ukrainian Pilots on the F-16

Several months after greenlighting the transfer of third-party F-16s and training from Europe, the U.S. will now directly provide F-16 flight training to Ukrainian pilots. The Biden administration also said that it will closely work with its European allies to ensure Kyiv receives its F-16s as soon as its pilots are ready.

The U.S. training program, which will take place at Morris Air National Guard Base in Tucson, Arizona, will run in parallel to the pilot and maintenance training currently programs underway in Europe.

Thus far, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Norway have pledged to send F-16s from their respective fleets to Ukraine. Denmark has committed to send 19 of its F-16s to Ukraine, while the Norwegian Prime Minister Gahr Støre reportedly said his country will likely supply up to 10 F-16s to Kyiv. Overall, it appears that the U.S. and its Western European allies are aiming to equip Ukraine with at least several F-16 squadrons.

New fighter aircraft have been among Ukraine’s earliest and most pressing requests from the West. Up to this point, the U.S. had been reluctant to provide – or even permit the third-party transfer – of such arms to Ukraine, out of apparent concern of escalating the war with Russia. However, as the war continued, the U.S. and the West have gradually released increasingly sophisticated arms, such as new main battle tanks (MBT), infantry fighting vehicles (IFV), and guided artillery systems. In January 2023, Quwa had concluded that the U.S. was poised to transfer fighter aircraft to Ukraine and, as importantly, it would serve as a key turning point in re-shaping the Ukrainian military along Western lines…

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Indonesia Commits to Buying Boeing F-15EX Fighters

On August 21, Indonesia’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) and aerospace giant Boeing signed a Memorandum-of-Understanding (MoU) committing to a deal for 24 F-15EX fighters for the Indonesian Air Force (Tentara Nasional Indonesia Angkatan Udara or TNI-AU).

If finalized, this order would be the second key component of the TNI-AU’s fighter modernization efforts – in 2022, Jakarta ordered 42 Rafales from France’s Dassault. Currently, 24 of the aircraft are in Dassault’s production backlog, with Indonesian pilots also undergoing training in France for the platform.

Boeing noted that the Indonesian F-15EX deal was still subject to U.S. government approval; however, it is unlikely the MoU would have been signed without early positive signals. In fact, the U.S. State Department had greenlighted a proposal to sell up to 36 F-15EXs to Indonesia in a USD $13.9 billion package.

The intriguing aspect of the TNI-AU’s modernization effort is its pursuit of similarly capable and configured aircraft from different vendors – France, the U.S., and South Korea (via a joint-project surrounding the KF-21). Granted, the F-15EX would be the largest of the three, so it can occupy its own niche as a long-range, heavy payload strike fighter. However, the Rafale and KF-21 are comparable in size and, in all likelihood, in their respective range, payload, and, ultimately, roles in the TNI-AU…

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Shahpar III Points to Expanding Pakistan Army Drone Use

During the International Defence Industry Fair (IDEF) exhibition in Türkiye in July, Pakistan’s state-owned defence conglomerate Global Industrial & Defence Solutions (GIDS) officially revealed its Shahpar-III drone, an enlarged and more capable development of the Shahpar-II.

According to GIDS, the Shahpar-III is a medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with a maximum take-off-weight (MTOW) of 1,650 kg, a beyond line-of-sight (BLoS) range of 3,000 km, an internal payload capacity of 165 kg, and an overall payload of 530 kg across six hardpoints…

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