Singapore firm Wigetworks has developed a new wing-in-ground (WiG) effect aircraft that features a unique wing design for improved performance in challenging weather conditions and high sea states. WiG vehicles take advantage of the increased lift of flying in ground effect, close to the ground. The AirFish 8 can also operate outside of ground effect, although it is laterally unstable due to the wing design, according to the manufacturer. The aircraft is intended for operations over the water, including potential coast guard or maritime security roles.
The aircraft features a reverse-delta wing, which offers improved stable flight at low altitudes. Powered by a compact V8 car engine, the AirFish 8 (at left) can achieve cruising speeds of 80 knots and has a range of 300 nm (555 km). Plans call for installing a second engine and variable-pitch propellers to improve maneuverability and reliability. In 2010, the AirFish 8 became the first WiG vehicle to be formally registered as a merchant vessel. Wigetworks has completed three prototype vehicles and is currently seeking a launch customer.
Turkish defense firm FNSS is designing an amphibious assault vehicle to equip the Turkish navy's new Anadolu-class landing helicopter dock (LHD). The ZAHA (Marine Assault Vehicle) has a crew of three and can carry up to 21 troops. In addition to the personnel carrier configuration, Turkey is acquiring command and recovery variants. The vehicle can operate in conditions up to Sea State 4 and is designed to self-right should it roll into the water on its side. The aluminum and ceramic armor features cathodic protection to prevent seawater damage.
The ZAHA (at right) is armed with a remotely operated turret fitted with a 12.7-mm machine gun and 40-mm automatic grenade launcher. A prototype was publicly displayed for the first time at the IDEF exhibition in Istanbul in May. A second prototype is being assembled with a third planned. Testing of mission systems is scheduled to begin by the end of 2019 with production anticipated to start in 2021. Turkey has ordered 27 vehicles so far, with another 27 possible should it purchase a second LHD.
The Philippine navy has acquired a pair of amphibious warships from Indonesia. The Tarlac-class ships, based on Indonesia's Makassar class, were ordered in 2014 and entered service in 2016 and 2017, respectively. The ships are equipped with a flight deck and helicopter hangar and can carry up to 30 vehicles, including M113 armored personnel carriers. The well deck can accommodate four amphibious assault vehicles or two utility landing craft. The ships are provided with a large medical facility and can carry up to 500 troops.
The Tarlac class (at left) is not currently armed. The ships are provisioned for a 76-mm main gun and two 25-mm cannons aft. Manila purchased eight Korean Amphibious Assault Vehicles (KAAVs), a variant of the U.S. AAV7, to equip the two ships. During the five-month siege of Marawi on Mindanao in the southern Philippines in 2017, the Tarlac delivered 30 military vehicles, including M113 APCs, and 253 tons of supplies to support Philippine forces.
Korean SPAAG Adds Missiles To Arsenal
Other new additions to the weapons database are the South Korean K30 Biho self-propelled anti-aircraft gun (SPAAG), which has been upgraded with Chiron surface-to-air missiles, and the Peruvian Griffon 2000TD-class hovercraft.
Several air defense vehicles have been updated, including the German Gepard with 35-mm cannons and LeFlaSys short-range air defense system; Turkish Korkut SPAAG; and Iranian Ra'ad surface-to-air missile system. The Australian Bushmaster armored vehicle has also been made current.
A number of radar systems have been brought up to date. These include the Swedish Giraffe ground and naval radars, French Ground Master family, the French Agave and Italian Grifo airborne radars and the Russian Gun Dish radar fitted to ZSU-23-4 anti-aircraft guns.
USAF Modernization Underway
The U.S. Air Force record has received a major overhaul and update. The Communist Party of the Philippines/New People's Army terrorist group has also been updated.
Shifting Sands In Libya
Khalifa Haftar, the head of the Libyan National Army, has been expanding his grip over much of Libya over the last year. An effort to retake Tripoli from the U.N.-backed government has stalled. There may be further reason to question Haftar's strength. Nations Editor Kevin Ivey dives into the complexities of the Libyan war in "The Fight For Power In Libya."
Since May, a year after the U.S. withdrew from its multinational nuclear agreement with Iran, Tehran has been stepping up its nuclear activities in violation of the accord. It has also engaged in more aggressive actions in the Persian Gulf. Andy Oppenheimer reviews the agreement and Iran's activities in "Persian Gulf Heats Up."
In May, President Vladimir Putin announced a major increase in the number of advanced Su-57 fighter jets to be purchased over the next decade. Along with a shift to the Su-35 for export, the move consolidates much of Russia's fighter production at a single factory. Reuben Johnson considers the problem in "Rebuilding The Russian Air Force."
Finally, the Paris Air Show in June was lacking in fighter jets. Meanwhile, new coalitions are forming in Europe to develop the next generation of combat aircraft. Reuben Johnson has the details in "The Missing Fighters Of Le Bourget."