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African Pilot’s August edition
The August edition of African Pilot that features all the aviation businesses at Lanseria International Airport that took part in this feature is complete. The August edition has completed its circulation phase and, but you can always download the August edition or any previous edition from 2020 by clicking on the buttons below. Apart from the Lanseria feature, this bumper edition of 174 pages has more than 34 fully illustrated articles published. It has also become abundantly clear that African Pilot is the only South African aviation publication that has being interacting with its clients and readers on a regular basis throughout the COVID-19 lockdown period.
African Pilot has made significant changes to the August edition
Someone once said the only thing that is sure is that things will change. Over the past 19 years that African Pilot has been publishing its monthly aviation magazine, we have been fixated on the printed version. Now that the magazine is being published in the digital format, the font size has increased by 50%, whilst the number of pages has increased to 174 to accommodate the reader’s experience on digital platforms. The fact that readers will be positioned to access the August edition on any device means that the African Pilot will become far more user friendly. This will be the first of a series of enhancements that will culminate in an interactive publication with provision for picture galleries and short videos within the next month. The August 2020 edition will be the first magazine to adopt some of these changes, with others to follow from September onwards.
African Pilot’s September edition
The September edition of African Pilot will feature Avionics and Instrumentation, which is normal since I usually bring the newest developments of the exciting developments announced at AirVenture in Oshkosh each year. However, this year I will have attended several online webinars during the AirVenture week to find out as much as possible about what is to be launched to the aviation world.
The material deadline for the September edition is on Wednesday 19 August 2020.
For advertising opportunities please contact Adrian Munro at e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or Cell: 079 880 4359. All editorial material should be sent to me at: email@example.com.
About African Pilot
There is no doubt that African Pilot provides the finest overall media reach of all aviation publications in Africa where we are in a position to provide professional video and stills photography, website development, social media platforms, company newsletters as well as several other important media services to our customers. Naturally the monthly printed magazine has an incredibly long shelf life due to its excellent design and layout. Then of course the monthly magazine is also available as a digital edition where ALL advertisers have enjoy the direct routing to their websites at a touch on a smart phone or tablet as well as a click of the mouse on a computer screen.
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SOUTH AFRICAN AVIATION NEWS
Breaking NEWS another SACAA disaster
The Instrument Landing System (ILS) JS 03R/21L at OR Tambo International Airport will be switched off today (Monday 10 August) since it has reached its calibration expiry date, 25 days exemption and a further 180 days exemption today. ATNS applied for a further extension, but by 16h00 on Monday, the regulator had not signed. This means that International flights coming into OR Tambo International Airport had better pray for good weather with clear visibility. They can only perform visual approaches.
Ever since the deadly crash of the SACAAs Cessna Citation calibration jet in George in January this year the regulator has been sitting on its fingers whilst the various ground based instrument systems run out of the time period for which they are certified. The question has been asked of the regulator as to why this vital service was not conducted during the COVID-19 shut down period, by suitably qualified South African calibration companies? Of course, this had to go to tender and the dubious ‘tender’ was awarded to a BBEEE company that does not have a suitable aircraft, trained pilots or the necessary calibration equipment. The result was that this company, which has a long track record, including being grounded in the past by the SACAA, had to place the business outside of our country. The award went to a Ukrainian operator, that was to arrive on 8 August, go into the mandatory 10 days quarantine before starting the work at unfamiliar South African airports. Our president has said that work must be awarded to South African companies, but then by now we all know how much fraud this has cost our country. The time has come to expose the SACAA for the damage it is causing to the aviation industry and also advise ICAO about the regulator’s inability to perform its basic mandated functions.
Response from the SACAA
SACAA statement on the Calibration of Instrument Landing Systems at Airports in RSA
It has come to the South African Civil Aviation Authority’s (SACAA) attention that there are circulating reports that inaccurately suggest that aviation activities in South Africa are about to come to a screeching halt as a result of the airports instrument landing systems calibration status expiring at some airports. The SACAA states the following facts to provide clarity and answers to questions that may emanate around this matter.
In providing such clarity, it is prudent to preface this by explaining what an Instrument Landing System (ILS) is and the purpose thereof in relation to the flying of an aircraft. In a nutshell, an ILS is a ground-based navigational instrument system that provides guidance to an aircraft when approaching or landing on a runway when the pilot cannot see the runway due to bad weather.
Regulated safety protocols require that when an Instrument Landing System is not functioning, or its certification had expired, the affected airport must be downgraded to a lower instrument usage level. In addition, and as international protocol dictates, the status of the facilities at the affected airport are published via a notice to airmen (NOTAM) and this is aimed at assisting pilots to plan their flights safely, prior to departure. Most importantly, the ILS is just one of the few landing and take-off techniques that are used. This simply means that you can still land without an ILS. However, visibility on the runway must be determined first. An Instrument Landing System can be non-functional for several reasons, which may include the following:
• The ILS approval certificate is expired which demands that the system is switched-off to avoid pilots depending on it to provide information for landing and take-off purposes, especially during bad weather; and
• The ILS may be defective, in which case there may be a need to switch it off pending maintenance and calibration, even if the calibration certificate expiry date is not yet due. As such the airport management is expected to maintain and service the systems to ensure that they work at all times.
Would flying stop in the absence of an Instrument Landing System? No. An Instrument Landing System is mainly used by pilots when landing during inclement weather such as when there is reduced visibility due to fog, rain, snow, etc.
Assertions that suggests that all ILS’s at all South African airports are switched-off and not functioning, are misguided. Regulations prescribe that ILS certificates are valid for 150 days with an automatic tolerance of 30 days without the requirement for an extension application. Thereafter, an airport operator can apply for a 25 days extension in accordance with applicable civil aviation regulations. After the expiry of the 25 days extension, if the calibration of the ILS has not taken place, the operator can apply for an exemption, which can be granted for up to 180 days, provided that the system has a history of being stable during previous calibration intervals and that certain additional maintenance and monitoring measures are in place. This is a perfectly acceptable practice and is in line with global standards and practices.
OR Tambo International Airport has four (4) ILS’s, and, as of 10 August 2020, two of these were switched-off because the exemption period lapsed. This airport therefore will neither be downgraded or closed as reported. In addition, King Shaka International Airport has been downgraded to a lower instrument meteorological usage level as a result of two ILS’s being switched-off. Other airports affected are Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport and George Airport whose exemptions have also expired. These are the only ones that have been switched-off. The rest, even though they are also nearing expiry during the month of August and later on in the year, are still operational. In terms of bringing the expired ILS’s back to service, calibration will need to take place to perform the necessary adjustments to obtain the required performance accuracy.
Following the fatal accident involving the SACAA aircraft and crew late in January 2020, the SACAA appointed a service provider to calibrate the landing and navigation equipment in the country, through an open tender process as prescribed by the National Treasury Regulations. The service provider, which is a South African company, was appointed for this service and a Service Level Agreement was concluded on 17 April 2020. Due to the fact that the service provider was going to utilise an aircraft that is based in Europe, they experienced major delays in receiving a Foreign Operator’s Permit from the International Air Service Licensing Council, which was eventually granted on 19 June 2020. Due to further delays resultant from the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, the crew work permits and visas were eventually granted. The SACAA was duly informed on 31 July 2020.
According to the assurances given to the SACAA by the service provider the aircraft is expected to arrive in the country by the end of this week following an earlier promise that the aircraft will most possibly arrive on 09 August 2020. The explanation provided by the service provider was that they needed to ensure that Flight Inspection System had to undergo some maintenance as it has been operating during the delay period. As soon as the aircraft arrives the calibration programme will prioritise those airports which are negatively affected to date.
The SACAA wishes to reiterate that there has been constant communication with all affected stakeholders to ensure that aviation operations continued safely. Hence, to date, there has not been any interruption in flying activities despite the switching-off, in line with regulations, of the affected ILS at the indicated airports.
What an admission of a complete fiasco in terms of the SACAA’s mandate. All airline Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) have an operations manual which will state that ‘the captain will not plan a flight to an airport without an instrument approach aid. An instrument approach aid may either be a ground-based radio navigation beacon or a GNSS (this was only recently added). The use of GNSS in this regard requires acceptable RAIM prediction for the time of use.’
The only latitude one could probably provide to the regulator is that presently apart from freight and repatriation international flights there is no regular passenger airline traffic operating into or out of South Africa at this time. Secondly, due to this being winter in South Africa, the weather is pretty stable and traffic volumes are very low. However, there are three local airlines flying: CemAir, Airlink and FlySafair to regional airports including George, King Shaka (Durban) and KMI (Nelspruit) and these airlines depend on correctly calibrated ground systems, particularly the ILS.
Of course, the local operators can call ahead to check the weather at the arrival airports and if the weather is not conducive to operating a visual approach, then the flight can be delayed. But is this what the regulator is being paid to manage? Then let us look at the press release itself which was filled with grammatical and factual errors clearly indicating that the author(s) do not appear to understand airline or charter operations. Remember not all aircraft and crew can do the GNSS approach, the fact that a pilot only uses an ILS in bad weather is not correct.
When ICAO gets wind of this South Africa will be blacklisted, back to the ‘Banana Republic’ due to a serious lack of the required skills at the SACAA. To cap it all in its press release the regulator used an image of the Chandler Municipal Airport in Arizona, USA. Why not use a South African airport visual? Probably because whoever composed this press release had no idea about the picture lifted taken from Google Images. What an embarrassment to South African aviation and this is the same ‘authority’ that has the right to inspect your aviation business!
AERO South Africa news
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WORLDWIDE ACCIDENTS AND INCIDENTS
American A321 accident goes unnoticed until post-flight check
An American Airlines jet completed a domestic journey with a reportedly uneventful landing before a post-flight inspection revealed a missing slat rivet. The Airbus A321-200 (registered N198UW) performed a flight AA-1642 from Detroit (DTW) to Charlotte (CLT) in the US on 10 August 2020. The aircraft landed uneventfully 15 minutes behind its original schedule as there were no reported issues during the flight. However, a post-flight inspection revealed that the aircraft had dropped one of its slat rivets at some point during the journey. As of 11 August 2020, the A321 remains grounded at the airport.
Jet2 flight suffers engine failure after suspected bird strike
A Jet2 Boeing 757, carrying out a test flight in Manchester, United Kingdom, suffered an engine issue during the climbing phase. The loud bang and flames emitted by one of the engines are suspected to be due to a bird strike. The Boeing 575-200, registered G-LSAN, took off from Manchester International Airport (MAN) for a test flight on 10 August 2020. As it was climbing, a loud bang was heard and flames were seen coming from the right-hand Rolls-Royce RB211 by ground witnesses. The plane flew in large circles above the western part of Manchester to burn off fuel and avoid landing heavy. It landed back at its departing airport 26 minutes after take-off and was met by emergency services.
Thai Fokker F-27 performs emergency nose gear-up landing
After failing to deploy its landing gear, a Fokker F-27 Friendship 200 maritime patrol plane of the Royal Thai Navy performed a nose gear-up landing at Narathiwat Airport, Thailand. The aircraft, registration number 1202, attempted to land at Narathiwat Airport (NAW) but could not deploy its nosewheel. After following the appropriate checklist to no avail, the pilot decided to proceed with a nose gear-up landing, keeping the plane on its main wheel for as long as possible. The Thai Armed Forces praised the skill and mindfulness of the pilot that “kept everyone alive and preserved government property.”
Shenzhen A330 loses cabin pressure, drops 18,000 feet
A Shenzhen A330 lost cabin pressure mid-flight and had to drop over 5,000 meters (18,000 feet) in mere minutes before landing back at its place of departure. A Shenzhen Airlines Airbus A330-300 (registered B-302E) was en route for 25 minutes after leaving from Shenzhen (SHE) to Xian (XIY) on August 9, 2020, when the crew initiated an emergency descent due to the sudden loss of cabin pressure.
The aircraft was forced to drop from 9100 meters (30,000 feet) to 3,600 meters (12,000 feet) altitude in less than five minutes, where it levelled off. The Shenzhen A330 attempted to climb again before facing similar problems with cabin pressure when it reached 6,000 meters (20,000 feet). The flight crew decided to divert back to Shenzhen after a total of 100 minutes on air. The aircraft was replaced at the airport with another A330 and arrived safely at Xian after a 4.5-hour delay. As of 10 August 2020, Shenzhen’s Airbus aircraft that experienced technical difficulties remains grounded at the airport.
Two HK Express A321s collide in Hong Kong airport
On 12 August 2020, police received a call from the airport after the incident between two Airbus A321s on the west apron. One HK Express Airbus passenger plane (registration unknown) rammed into the back of a similar A321 (registered B-LEF). The incident has reportedly happened during towing and no passengers were involved. Both aircraft have suffered damage and no casualties were reported. Hong Kong Express suspended all operations in March 2019. The low-cost arm of Cathay Pacific has begun gradually resuming flight operations this month. However, planespotters.net data suggests that the majority of the airline’s 25 Airbus aircraft remain grounded.
WORLD AVIATION NEWS
Iran rejects UIA compensation for Ukraine’s PS752 downing
It has been reported that Iran is refusing to compensate Ukraine International Airlines for the jet that was downed in Tehran by the Revolutionary Guards on 8 January 2020. According to local media, the country’s official has suggested that the duty should fall on the European companies that had insured the aircraft. Iran’s position on compensating for the tragic fate of the downed Ukrainian aircraft that had cost 176 people their lives appears to have changed.
“The Ukrainian plane is insured by European companies in Ukraine and not by Iranian companies, therefore the compensation should be paid by those European companies,” the head of Iran’s Central Insurance Organization Gholamrez Soleimani said to Mizan online in a press conference on 10 August 2020.
Iran has maintained a strong position that the shooting-down executed by Revolutionary Guards was unintentional and due to human error. Hours before the fatal crash, the Iranian military had launched over 12 missile attacks on US bases, seeking revenge for the Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani’s death and was expecting retaliation. The missile defence was allegedly on high alert and the radar operator mistook the aircraft for an attack against Iranian defence. The Ukrainian jet was shot down, killing everyone inside as the aircraft disintegrated in collision with the ground.
Damages of the jet and cargo were estimated to be around $100 to $150 million, but Ukraine refused to comply with Iran’s story of a ‘human error,’ remaining adamant throughout negotiations with Iran about its position to demand re-compensation of highest value.
Ukraine determined to see Iran pay for PS752 downing
As talks started between Kyiv and Tehran, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he was determined to see Iran pay compensations for the downing of Ukrainian International Airlines Flight PS752. On 31 July, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi said that Iran had agreed to pay the compensation, but that the implementation of the payment was to take time due to technical and legal aspects.
Russian MiG-31 fighters intercept US Global Hawk over Chukchi Sea
Three MiG-31 fighters intercepted an RQ-4B Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle of the United States Air Force in the skies over the Chukchi Sea. “Russian airspace control monitoring the neutral waters of the Chukchi Sea detected an air target approaching the state border of the Russian Federation,” the Russian National Defence Management Center reported on 11 August 2020. “To intercept the target, three MiG-31 fighters from the air defence forces of the Eastern Military District were scrambled.”
The three interceptors approached the aerial target for identification and escorted it away from the Russian flight information region (FIR). When the UAV turned away, the MiG-31s safely returned to their home base. The interception was carried out “in accordance with international rules for the use of airspace,” states the Russian military.
The RQ-4B Global Hawk is a High-Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) drone that sports a multi-sensor mission payload (radar, electro-optical, infra-red, electronic support measures). The aircraft can fly up to 24 hours at altitudes of up to 56,500 feet with an operational range of 8,200 nautical miles and can monitor 1 million square miles of ocean in a single flight.
A squadron of twelve modernised Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-31BM supersonic interceptors was recently deployed on the Kamchatka Peninsula, at the easternmost point of Russia bordering the Pacific Ocean, to control the airspace in an increasingly contested region.
Russian MiG-31BM heavy interceptors to monitor Pacific Ocean
A squadron of modernized Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-31BM supersonic interceptors is being deployed on the Kamchatka Peninsula, at the easternmost point of Russia bordering the Pacific Ocean. It will be tasked with controlling the airspace in an increasingly contested region. Second only to the Mikoyan MiG-25 Foxbat in speed, the Mikoyan MiG-31 Foxhound entered service as a supersonic interceptor in 1981. The maximum take-off weight of 46 tons allows it to carry a substantial array of weapons that include the Vympel R-37M (or AA-13 Axehead for NATO), a hypersonic air-to-air missile with a range exceeding 300 kilometres (186 miles).
The latest iteration, called the MiG-31BM, features a modernised cockpit with new screens and a head-up display, a radar that improves the engagement distance to 280 kilometres (173 miles) for air and surface targets and a canopy that can sustain higher speeds. Now able to reach a top speed exceeding Mach 2.8, it will be capable of intercepting fighter jets, cruise and hypersonic missiles.
USAF successfully carried out the final captive-carry test of the hypersonic air-launched missile
The test took place off the Southern California coast on 8 August 2020, as announced by the press service of Edwards Air Force Base. Two Lockheed Martin AGM-183A prototypes were loaded on the wing hardpoints of the B-52 in order to collect telemetry and GPS data from the weapon, as well as to evaluate its operability with the bomber for further testing. “This is a major milestone for the program, the team and our Air Force,” said Heath Collins, Air Force Program Executive Officer for Weapons. “The ARRW is the first step in bringing game-changing hypersonic capabilities to our War fighters.” It was the last captive-carry test for the ARRW, according to the statement. The first test launch of the booster should be carried out before the end of 2020. The ARRW uses a boost-glide launch system: first, a rocket propels the weapon to hypersonic speed before the payload glides to its target.
The B-52 is currently being used to test both hypersonic platforms developed by the United States Air Force, namely the ARRW and the HAWC (Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept). The latter is a scramjet-powered missile that can reach a speed between Mach 6 and Mach 10. Two HAWC prototypes are developed competitively by Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. The maiden test flight of the ARRW took place in June 2019. With a first launch flight initially planned for 2019, the HAWC seems to be running behind schedule. In June 2020, it was reported that a HAWC prototype accidentally separated from its test B-52 bomber during testing at Edwards Air Force Base.
French Air Force receives first Beechcraft ISR spy plane
The French Air Force received the first of two light surveillance and reconnaissance planes it had ordered from the US manufacturer Beechcraft to carry out intelligence missions. The country plans to operate eight by 2030. The first ALSR aircraft, a militarised version of the King Air 350, was received on 5 August 2020. It is equipped with sensors to collect both intelligence of electromagnetic origin (SIGINT) and imagery intelligence (IMINT).
Powered by two Pratt & Whitney PT6A-60A turboprop engines, the aircraft is capable of flying up to 10,000 meters (32,000 feet) in altitude, at a top speed of 580 kilometres per hour (360 mph), with a range of 2,600 kilometres (1,600 miles). In a statement, the French Ministry of Armed Forces praised its small ‘logistical footprint’, allowing it to be easily deployed in a theatre of operations.
While only two firm orders were placed so far, France plans to eventually receive eight aircraft by 2030. In the framework of the support plan for the country’s aerospace industry announced amid the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, a third ALSR should soon be ordered with a delivery expected for 2023 instead of 2027 as it was initially planned.
One-minute late SAS plane forces 158 passengers into quarantine
The 158 passengers on flight SK4700 between Nice, France and Oslo, Norway, will have to isolate for ten days after losing a race against time. One minute before their arrival, Norwegian authorities marked France as a ‘red zone’. The flight SK4700 from Nice Cote d’Azur Airport (NCE) to Oslo Gardermoen Airport (OSL) was supposed to arrive at 0h10. But pilots did everything they could to avoid self-isolation and the Boeing 737, registration LN-RGG, managed to land nine minutes early. Passengers even applauded the flight crew when they were told they landed at midnight, according to local media.
Sadly, for them, their efforts were in fact vain, as the plane landed one minute too late. “The change to the red zone was from midnight included, so midnight exactly or one minute past midnight, hence these passengers must go into quarantine”, explained Elisabeth Johansen of the Norwegian Ministry of Health to Agence France Presse.
On 6 August 2020, Norway announced that France, Switzerland, Monaco and the Czech Republic would be put back into the ‘red zone’ after they crossed the threshold of 20 new cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 inhabitants over the last 14 days. Passengers coming from those countries are required to submit to ten days of quarantine.
Thousands attend Spirit of Aviation week
EAA saw more than 266,000 people connect for streaming and on-demand content during its five-day virtual Spirit of Aviation Week event. 15,000 people attended the event’s 51 forums and its online workshops hosted 10,000 participants. EAA launched Spirit of Aviation Week, which was held between 21 and 25 July, following the cancellation of its annual AirVenture fly-in in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Tremendous credit goes to more than 50 EAA staffers who combined to make this work, along with the hundreds of EAA members, aviation community members and business partners who quickly stepped forward to contribute their time and knowledge to make this happen in little more than three months,” said EAA CEO Jack Pelton. “While Spirit of Aviation Week certainly was not a replacement for the in-person experience that is AirVenture each year, it was very successful in bringing together the flying community in a way that had never before been attempted.”
800 exhibitors participated in Spirit of Aviation Week’s virtual expo and EAA’s Pilot Proficiency Center held 25 Tech Talk sessions attended by more than 8,200 people. An estimated 10,800 FAA WINGS credits were issued between the Center sessions and event forums. Nearly 1,100 pilots tackled the Oshkosh approach virtually via SimVenture.
SpaceX finally gets Starlink 9 on its way
On Friday, 7 August SpaceX launched its tenth Starlink mission, which included 57 Starlink satellites and two satellites from BlackSky, a Spaceflight customer. Falcon 9’s first stage previously supported Crew Dragon’s first demonstration mission to the International Space Station, launch of the RADARSAT Constellation Mission, and the fourth and seventh Starlink missions. Following stage separation, Falcon 9’s first stage landed on the ‘Of Course I Still Love You’ drone ship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. The BlackSky Global spacecraft deployed sequentially beginning 1 hour and 1 minute after lift-off and the Starlink satellites deployed approximately 1 hour and 33 minutes after lift-off.
All Starlink satellites on this flight are equipped with a deployable visor to block sunlight from hitting the brightest spots of the spacecraft, a measure SpaceX has taken as part of their work with leading astronomical groups to mitigate satellite reflectivity. They are accomplishing this by adding a deployable visor to the satellite to block sunlight from hitting the brightest parts of the spacecraft. All future Starlink satellites will have sun visors. In addition, information about satellites’ orbits are located on space-track.org to facilitate observation scheduling for astronomers.
WORLD DRONE NEWS
Sukhoi to begin delivery of S-70 attack drone in 2024
The first Sukhoi S-70 Okhotnik (‘Hunter’) attack drone should be delivered to the Russian military in 2024 after the Ministry of Defence demanded to speed up the experimental work on the upcoming unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV). With the testing of the aircraft’s armament initially planned for 2024, the UCAV was supposed to enter service the following year. The deadline has now been reduced by a year. “We received an assignment from the Defence Ministry to speed up the experimental design work and maximally adjust the schedule in order to begin the deliveries already from 2024,” United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) Head Yuri Slyusar said, as reported by TASS news agency.
Russia’s own unmanned wingman programme
Initially a MiG programme, the S-70 was given to Sukhoi in 2011. The Okhotnik UAV is powered by an AL-31 turbojet engine and is equipped with electro-optical targeting, radio and ‘other types of reconnaissance equipment,’ according to the Defence Ministry. The demonstrator made its maiden flight on 7 August 2019. At the time the aircraft flew for 20 minutes and reached an altitude of 600 meters (1,970 feet).
The Sukhoi S-70 Okhotnik is way larger than its Western counterparts. With 20 meters in wingspan and a length of 14 meters, its mass is supposedly around 20 tons (against 4.9 for the Dassault nEUROn and 6.3 for the Northrop Grumman X-47B). It is expected to fly at a speed of 1,000 km/h, for a range of 6,000 km. Its two internal bays should embark up to 2.8 tons of weapons. The S-70 is supposed to eventually operate in collaboration with the Su-57 fifth-generation fighter jet to extend the latter’s radar field. It should also be able to use its stealth abilities to designate long-range targets for its leader aircraft without being detected. In September 2019, the UCAV made its first sortie alongside the fighter jet.
Twice Weekly News from African Pilot
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Until next week Monday, please be ‘Serious about flying’.
Athol Franz (Editor)