USAF U-2 flies through China no-fly zone
China has accused the United States of flying a USAF U-2 ISR aircraft within a no-fly zone declared by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) for live fire exercises on August 25, with its defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian calling it a “purely provocative act”.
Wu did not disclose where the alleged overflight took place, although he revealed that the affected no-fly zone was enforced by the PLA’s Northern Theater Command. The Command had earlier proscribed areas in both the Yellow and Bohai Seas for military exercises between the 22nd and the 26th of August.
The USAF’s U-2 aircraft are assigned to the 5th Reconnaissance Squadron of the 9th Reconnaissance Wing. The Wing is based at Beale Air Force Base in California, although 5th RS is based at Osan air base in South Korea as a ‘Geographically Separated Unit’, primarily tasked with monitoring North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile activity.
Malaysia seeks new airborne maritime patrol capabilities
Malaysia has invited interested parties to bid for a tender to supply two Maritime Patrol Aircraft and three Medium-Altitude, Long-Endurance Unmanned Aerial Systems (MALE UAS) to meet the country’s maritime surveillance capability.
The tender, announced on August 25 in Malaysia’s main newspapers and government tender portal, will close on 26th November. Potential manned aircraft in the running include Leonardo’s ATR 72MP, Airbus’ C-295, PTDI’s CN-235, Boeing’s P-8A Poseidon, and Kawasaki Heavy Industries’ P-1.
The UAS requirement is likely to attract interest from General Atomics with its MQ-9 Sea Guardian, Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC) of China with its Wing Loong family of systems, Leonardo with the Falco, and Turkish Aerospace Industries’ Anka series.
Malaysia, who is one of six southeast Asian countries claiming all or part of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, faces a variety of maritime challenges ranging from piracy to smuggling in its waters. Under its Capability 55 plan, the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) has an eventual requirement for four maritime patrol aircraft and six UAS.
Singapore’s Australian Chinook footprint to be increased
Defence has confirmed that Singapore will be increasing its Boeing CH-47 Chinook training footprint in Australia, by increasing the number of helicopters stationed at the Army Aviation Training Centre in Oakey, Queensland to 10.
The helicopters will be drawn from the fleet of 16 CH-47Fs currently on order by Singapore. Under the Oakey Agreement signed between Australia and Singapore in 1996, the land-scarce southeast Asian country is allowed to base up to 16 helicopters at Oakey for training and to support Singaporean military exercises in Australia.
The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) currently has five older CH-47D Chinooks at Oakey, with the detachment of ten AS332M Super Puma medium lift helicopters previously at Oakey having ceased operations in 2019.
Both Australia and Singapore declined to comment on whether the RSAF – which is replacing the Super Pumas with the Airbus H225M Caracal – will also station the Caracal in Australia.
Under the Australia-Singapore Military Training Initiative, Singapore will increase the number of soldiers allowed to train in Queensland from 7,000 to 14,000 annually. It will also start training at the Greenvale Training Area near Townsville, in addition to the Shoalwater Bay Training Area where it has been training at since the 1990s.