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Taiwan Rolls Out New Trainer

Taiwan unveiled its new, domestically developed jet trainer in a ceremony in September 2019. The T-5 Brave Eagle, derived from the indigenous Ching-Kuo fighter jet, is designed for lead-in fighter and advanced training missions. Development of the aircraft began in 2017. First flight is scheduled for later this year, with deliveries to follow in 2021. The air force plans to buy 66 T-5s to replace its current trainers by 2026.

The Brave Eagle is powered by two Honeywell F124-200TW non-afterburning engines. The fuselage is widened to accommodate the engines and additional fuel. Composite structures make up about 10 percent of the jet's weight. The flight-control system includes hardware from BAE Systems and domestically developed software. A glass cockpit is fitted, and a ground-based training system is in the works. The trainer is not armed.

Spy Sats Keep Eye On Geosynchronous Orbit

The U.S. Air Force is building a constellation of satellites to monitor and identify satellites in geosynchronous orbit. The Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSSAP) currently consists of two pairs of satellites, with a third pair due to be launched later this year. The precise capabilities of the spacecraft are classified, but they are believed to carry optical cameras. Information collected is used to improve the accuracy of orbital predictions and enhance awareness of the geosynchronous orbital environment.

The GSSAP satellites are stationed at an altitude of about 22,300 miles, slightly lower than most geosynchronous spacecraft. This allows them to slowly travel around the orbit and more easily visit multiple satellites while conserving fuel. The craft are designed to be able to maneuver closely to an object of interest. The first pair of satellites was launched in 2014 and the second in 2016.

New OPV Has 3 Configurations

The Italian navy is building a new class of offshore patrol vessels able to perform a variety of combat and maritime security missions. The Paolo Thaon di Revel class has three configurations: light, optimized for patrol missions; light plus, with additional air defense capabilities; and full, with a combat suite capable of air defense, surface and anti-submarine warfare. The lighter vessels will be able to be upgraded to the full configuration. Work is underway on the first four ships of seven ordered, with the first due for delivery in 2021. As many as 16 vessels may be purchased.

The Paolo Thaon di Revel class features a piercing bow enabling a top speed of more than 31 knots. A flight deck and hangar are located aft for helicopter operations. Two modular spaces are located at the center and stern, which can be modified for logistics, medical and other missions. The main armament includes a 127-mm and a 76-mm cannon. The heavier configurations feature two eight-cell vertical launch systems, while the full configuration adds an anti-ship missile launcher and Black Shark torpedoes.


U.S. Navy Drone To Refuel Aircraft
Other new additions to the database include the American MQ-25 Stingray aerial refueling drone and Turkish Karayel uncrewed air system, the Russian DT-30 all-terrain tracked vehicle, the Chinese Yu-8 rocket-assisted torpedo, the Norwegian Marjata-class intelligence-collection vessel and the Russian Vasily Bykov-class corvettes.

Aviation updates this month include South Korea's KF-X fighter jet, still in development, and the venerable Mirage III. A number of drone records are now current, including the South Korean Night Intruder, South African RPV-2 Seeker, German KZO and the Indian Lakshya.

The self-propelled howitzer category has seen several updates, including the Serbian NORA B-52, the Chinese 152-mm Type 83 and 155-mm PLZ-05, the Russian 130-mm Bereg, 152-mm Akatsiya and 152-mm Giatsint and the Singapore Advanced Mobile Gun System.

Long-Delayed Polish OPV Now In Service
Naval records have not been neglected, with new information available on the Polish Slazak-class patrol ship and General Kazimirez Pulaski-class frigates and India's Talwar- and Teg-class frigates. The Norwegian Eger-class intelligence ship has also been updated. The French F21 and Indian Varunastra heavyweight torpedo records are now current.

Several air defense records have been updated, including the Chinese PGZ-07 self-propelled anti-aircraft gun and PL-9 surface-to-air missile vehicle, the Polish Poprad missile system and the French 40-mm Rapidfire air defense gun.

Strategic missile records have been made current, including the Iranian Sejil medium-range ballistic missile, Indian Shaurya short-range ballistic missile and the Russian SS-18, SS-19 and SS-25 intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Brazil Deals With Internal, External Threats
Brazil has been facing growing gang violence in its cities, while also dealing with the spillover from the crisis in neighboring Venezuela. It has several military modernization programs underway, including the acquisition of new ships and the Swedish Gripen E fighter jet.

Other order of battle updates for this month include Austria, Sudan and Tajikistan. The Barisan National Revolutionary Front terrorist group in Thailand has also been brought up to date.

Aging Sealift Fleet Hinders Major Conflict Plans
The U.S. military is boosting its focus on potential peer conflicts. Part of this requires being prepared to move equipment from the U.S. to battlefields overseas. The Navy's sealift fleet is aging and faces personnel and other issues. Weapons Analyst Brody Ladd looks at the problem in "Getting Gear to the Fight."

On Jan. 8, Iran shot down a Ukrainian airliner shortly after it departed from the Tehran airport. Reuben Johnson reviews the factors that led to the tragedy, including an all-powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in "The Downing Of Flight PS752."

Iranian Brig. Gen. Qassem Soleimani was killed in a U.S. airstrike on Jan. 3, ending the powerful officer's longstanding role in pursuing Iranian interests around the Middle East. Andy Oppenheimer provides an overview of the general's part in the spread of deadly improvised explosive devices in Iraq in "Mastermind of Destruction."

Finally, Nations Editor Kevin Ivey considers the various international missions battling Islamist insurgents in Mali in "Long Slog in Mali."