KC-390 medium transport jet: Embraer has announced that their KC-390 tanker transport aircraft has completed its first dry refueling contact. The milestone test was conducted by a Brazilian Air Force F-5 Tiger which successfully plugged into both refueling hoses on one of the KC-390 prototypes during a sortie near Santa Cruz airbase, Rio de Janeiro, on Feb. 19. Embraer is currently assembling the first product model of the aircraft and believes the aircraft could be a good fit for air arms in the Middle East because of its multi-role capability. The company plans to bring the aircraft back to the Middle East next summer after it has been displayed at the Paris Airshow.
Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV): The Amphibious Combat Vehicle 1.1 by Science Applications International Corporation and BAE Systems for the USMC has been unveiled for the first time. Developed to replace an aging fleet of amphibious assault vehicles, the Marines will receive a total of 16 vehicles with deliveries to commence in March. The earlier stages of the ACV 1.1 production effort were stalled by a contract protest by General Dynamics after the company was defeated in the Marine Corps' bidding process.
Rapid Fire | Friday, February 24, 2017, 00:59 UTC ()
Boeing is taking some suppliers to court after they sold mislabeled chemicals that caused the maiden flight of the KC-46 tanker to be delayed by a month. Able Aerospace Adhesives and AlfaKleen Chemical Labs, both from California, are being sued in the sum of $10 million or more for the mix up, whose incorrect chemical damaged components in the jet’s refueling system, and time was lost by Boeing in order to to replace those damaged parts. The liquid provided was certified to meet MIL-PRF-680 Type III certification; it was, however, actually more acidic than required.
Huntington Ingalls Industries has marked a production milestone for the USS Frank E. Petersen during a keel authentication ceremony. The company was contracted by the Navy in March 2016 to produce the Arleigh Burke-class Flight IIA guided missile destroyer which is named after Frank Emmanuel Petersen Jr., who served as the USMC’s first African-American pilot and general officer. During the ceremony, Petersen’s window, Dr. Alicia Petersen said, “He wasn’t a man who wanted a lot of praise or recognition; however, if he could see this great ship being built for other young men and young women to see and look up to, he would be very proud.”
Middle East & North Africa
Turkey is moving closer to finalizing its purchase of the S-400 air-defense system from Russia. Negotiations between the two governments have been ongoing since last August and are in line with Ankara’s goals to import a system to cover their current missile defense needs while their own contractors work to produce a domestic platform. Turkey has had an eye on the S-400 as far back as 2013 and had intended to make a deal with China for the system before US-led pressure tried to reorient Turkey toward a NATO-compatible system. Frustration between Turkey and its Western allies and the ongoing warming in relations with Russia has, however, led Ankara back toward Russian defense purchases.
While probably best known for tech start-ups, Estonia’s Milrem is looking to take the Middle East and North Africa defense market by storm with their modular unmanned ground vehicle, THeMIS. Boasting three different configurations, the vehicle is capable of acting as a remote weapons station, a transport vehicle for soldier cargo, and a counter IED system. THeMIS uses technologies from Raytheon UK, Advanced Electronics Company and IGG Aselsan Systems, who have all been helping in the marketing effort, and has been on display at this week’s IDEX 2017 expo in the UAE.
Germany’s UN operations in Mali are looking at requesting a number of surveillance airships like the ones used by US forces in Afghanistan. Fitted with threat-detecting sensors, the tethered aerostats can be used to provide radar surveillance to detect threats such as drones or surface targets. Potential procurement options for Berlin include buying used aerostats built by Lockheed Martin for the US Army, purchasing new lighter-than-air surveillance aerostats built by Lockheed or other suppliers, or opting to lease the equipment. Germany’s move to beef up security in Mali comes following January’s Al-Qaeda-affiliated suicide bombing that killed 77 people at a military base housing government soldiers in the northern town of Gao.
The protest against Kenya’s purchase of 12 armed Air Tractor AT-802s from the US continues, after five US lawmakers wrote to Nairobi’s ambassador to Washington urging them to rethink the deal. Four Republicans and one Democrat signed the joint letter saying that they “have a reason to question the propriety of the acquisition.” They also said that the winning contractor, L-3 Technologies, “has no experience converting agricultural aircraft into intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft with precision-strike capability.” The issue came to light after contractor IOMAX, who developed the border patrol variant of the AT-802, protested against the award to L-3, claiming they had not been notified of any competition to supply such aircraft. It may have been the case that Kenya requested the AT-802L from Air Tractor and its systems-integration partner (and prime) L3 Technologies, confusing it with IOMAX’s AT-802-based Archangel Border Patrol Aircraft (BPA) which has been sold to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and regional allies.
Airbus has asked European governments to ease punitive penalties against the company in relation to delays in its delivery of the A400M transporter, after the company received a fresh hit of $1.3 billion. Partner governments have been growing weary with Airbus after recent problems in regards to the plane’s delivery, gearbox issues, and delays in supplying defensive aids, and the project has been hit further by bureaucratic arguments and the withholding of cash from governments. “We cannot go on like that. This is unacceptable and puts a huge burden on Airbus and we need to do something about it,” Chief Executive Tom Enders said.
China and Russia have completed contracts for the delivery of the of S-400 air defense system, Su-35 fighters, and anti-ship missiles. The announcement was made by Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu at the opening of the second national youth forum International Military-Political and Military-Economic Cooperation: Modern Trends at the MIGIMO University. Speaking on the matter, Shoigu said “Russian-Chinese military-technical cooperation has been developing positively.”
| Poland's Defense Ministry has begun negotiations with three bidders for various helicopter mission requirements. Eight are being sought to fill an urgent need for special forces missions, while eight more are required to fill a 2019 naval requirement for anti-submarine warfare and maritime search and rescue operations. The urgent nature of the acquisitions will allow Warsaw to bypass certain lengthy procurement procedures and they are believed to be talking to Airbus Helicopters, Leonardo Helicopters and Sikorsky. Despite the apparent urgency, however, the government is still insisting on offset requirements, which must be an “integral part of the contract.” More »
| China's state-run Xinhua news agency has warned South Korea's Lotte Group of grave consequences if the conglomerate allows the South Korean government to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system on part of a golf course it owns. The words of warning come shortly after Lotte reported that Chinese authorities halted work at a multi-billion-dollar real estate project following a fire inspection, indicating that Beijing was finding ways to retaliate at Seoul for going ahead with THAAD's deployment, and includes reports of discriminating against some of their companies and cancelling performances by K-Pop artists without explanation. Over the weekend, a meeting between both nation's foreign ministers saw China's Wang Yi say that China understands South Korea's need to protect their security but Seoul still needs to respect Beijing's concerns about the deployment of THAAD.
| The UAE will become the first Middle East operator of Raytheon's RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) Block 2 close-in weapon system. While the number of systems ordered remains unknown, the systems will be installed on the Emirate's Baynunah-class corvettes, of which six vessels will be manufactured. Improvements made on the system's predecessor include kinematic and sensor upgrades to expand the missile's engagement envelope in order to defeat more maneuverable and higher speed anti-ship cruise missiles. Furthermore, the Block 2 upgrade significantly expands the missile's effective engagement envelope by introducing a larger dual-thrust rocket motor and independent four-canard control actuator system to increase effective range by about 50% and deliver a three-fold improvement in maneuverability. More »
| Lockheed Martin's second T-50A jet trainer has made its maiden flight. The trainer, based on the T-50, has been designed to bridge the gap between 4th- and 5th-generation fighter jet technology, and is being entered into the USAF's T-X trainer competition to replace the service's fleet of aging Northrop Grumman T-38 Talon aircraft. Lockheed is also offering the T-50A Ground-Based Training System, a simulator designed to provide immersive instruction for pilots prior to taking flight. If selected, pilots will use the trainer to be able to fly F-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. More »
| US President Donald Trump took the opportunity to suggest a further F/A-18 Super Hornet order while attending a ceremony for Boeing's inaugural 787-10 Dreamliner in South Carolina. While Trump has made no clear indication or commitment to the numbers that would be ordered, he said “we are looking seriously at a big order. The problem is that [Boeing CEO] Dennis [Muilenberg] is a very tough negotiator, but I think we may get there.” Trump also had kind words for the aging, Boeing-made, Air Force One. “That plane, as beautiful as it looks is 30 years old. What can look so beautiful at 30? An aeroplane," he said.
| The state-owned manufacturer Russian Helicopters has said that they will commence deliveries of the KA-226T helicopter to the Indian military next year. 60 units will be delivered in Russia while a further 140 will be manufactured and assembled in India under an agreement signed last October. Russia expects sales of the advanced medium multirole Mi-171A2 to increase by at least 15% in 2017 with interest received from China, as well as from the Iranian oil and gas sector. More »