Bell-Boeing: $58.8M to Integrate VARS for MV-22 | Saudis Blocked from Buying Cluster-Bombs from US | UK Looking at Boeing for $2.9B in AH-64E Apaches
- The Bell-Boeing Joint Project Office has been awarded a $58.8 million US Navy contract in order to develop and integrate the V-22 aerial refueling system (VARS) for the MV-22. Once installed, VARS will operate by using a portable refueling station that will roll up the Osprey’s back ramp and into its back cabin. Crews will use it to aerially refuel F-35s, F/A18 Hornets and other aircraft – including V-22s and CH-53 helicopters – by extending a hose and drogue out the open back ramp. NAVIR will supervise the contract execution, and the whole project is to be completed by June 2019.
- Aurora Flight Sciences tested the new capabilities of the Autonomous Aerial Cargo/Utility System (AACUS) last week, and if proven workable, could see the entire USMC rotary-wing fleet converted into autonomous flying machines starting from 2018. With the May 26 test seeing the system mounted on a Bell 206 helicopter, it’s believed that the AACUS will now be tested on a UH-1H roughly this time next year. The AACUS is an autonomy applique kit that enables operations of full-scale rotary-wing aircraft in and out of austere landing zones, tactically, with little human assistance.
Middle East North Africa
- Sales of cluster munitions to Saudi Arabia have been blocked by the Obama administration after reports of their use by the kingdom in the ongoing conflict in Yemen. An Amnesty International report revealed last week that British-made BL-755 munitions, sold to both Saudi Arabia and coalition partner UAE in the 1980s and 1990s, were discovered in a village in northern Yemen, spurring claims that war crimes were being conducted against civilians. Neither the US nor Saudi Arabia have signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions treaty, which bans the use of the munitions.
- General Dynamics European Land Systems and Airbus recently demonstrated the loading of the former’s Piranha 5 8×8 Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) into an Airbus A400M cargo lifter. Testing was carried out in San Pablo, Spain and no special requirement was needed in order to load and tie-down the armored vehicle inside the transport’s cargo hold. Spain is one of the key partner nations involved in the A400M program, and the Piranha 5 has been selected for the integration of Spanish technologies and subsystems under an R&D contract for the future Wheeled Combat Vehicle (VCR in Spanish) project.
- Russia has carried out its second successful test of a new anti-satellite missile dubbed Nudol. The weapon was launched from the Plesetsk test launch facility on May 25, and follows the first successful test which occurred on November 18 last year. It remains unknown if the missile was fired against a satellite or fired in a suborbital trajectory without hitting a target.
- It’s been reported that the British government is set to buy 50 AH-64E Apaches off-the-shelf from Boeing in a deal expected to be worth $2.9 billion. The announcement confirming the sale is expected to be made at the Royal International Air Tattoo or Farnborough air show in July. This will disappoint Leonardo-Finmeccanica who hoped to instead land the contract producing the helicopters at its Agusta-Westland plant in Yeovil, Somerset.
- South Korea is to pursue the development of their own submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) to be fitted on their next generation Chang Bogo-III submarine. This class of boat is planned to be equipped with vertical launch systems, with 10 indigenous Hyunmoo cruise missiles each. The cold launch technology for launching missiles underwater will be based on the S-400 air defense missile, gained from Russia as repayment for loans given to Moscow in 1991.
- This week’s Singapore Shangri-la Dialogue may see sideline discussions between France and India over the closing of a multi-billion sale of 36 Rafale fighters. The defense ministers from both nations will be in attendance, and it’s expected that issues like consensus on actions to be taken in case of a material breach, stringent liability clause, and guarantees by France are likely to be discussed.
- V-22 Aerial Refueling Proof of Concept:
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