Bell Gets Navy Contract for 25 New Helos | P&W Could Save Money B-21 Program | China’s Y-20 Heavy Transport May Soon Enter Service
- The US Navy has awarded Bell Helicopters a $461 million contract to supply the force with 12 Lot 13 UH-1Y and 16 Lot 13 AH-1Z helicopters. The contract includes the provision of 16 auxiliary fuel kits. Completion of the sale is expected by February 2019 as part of the Navy’s H-1 upgrade program. Bell Helicopters has also signed a teaming agreement with BAE Systems Australia to offer the AH-1Z as a potential replacment for the Australian Army’s Tiger fleet.
- Pratt & Whitney’s involvement in the new B-21 bomber program may provide cost saving effects for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The engine manufacturer already provides the F135 engine core for the troubled F-35, and the company’s involvement with the B-21 may have enough “benefits” to warrant price reductions according to Lt Gen Christopher Bogdan. The general did not confirm, however, that the F135 engine core is common with the B-21 powerplant. P&W failed to comment on the general’s comments.
- The US Army is looking for a light reconnaissance helicopter to fill the vacant role made by the retirement of Bell’s OH-58D Kiowa Warrior. As a result, it looks likely that they will move quickly on the Future Vertical Lift-Light (FVL-Light) program because it may be more achievable in the near term in terms of cost and timing. While funding is going ahead for a medium FVL program to succeed the Sikorsky UH-60 and Boeing AH-64, nothing has been put in place to replace the Kiowa. If a competition for a light reconnaissance helicopter is to go ahead, Sikorsky says it will offer a version of its experimental S-97 Raider for the role.
Middle East North Africa
- Egypt’s parliament has agreed to $3.7 billion in French loans which will be used to finance armament procurements from France. The money will go toward a variety of equipment and hardware, and will be spread across the Navy, Army, and Air Force. The modernization of Egypt’s armed forces is seen as an integral part of securing the often porous borders in North Africa, and fighting several Islamic militant groups with links to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in the Sinai Peninsula.
- Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $73 million modification to an existing foreign military sales contract to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The modification allows for the exercising of a PATRIOT option, adding 64 1-pack Missile Segment Enhancement missiles, and reducing 64 Cost Reduction Initiative missiles (CRI). Completion is expected by June 30 2019. Last July, the US State Department approved a massive $5.4 billion foreign military sale for six hundred PAC-3 CRI missiles to the Gulf kingdom as it ramped up its military intervention in Yemen.
- Portugal’s Tekever has launched a new variant of its AR3 Net Ray fixed-wing unmanned air vehicle (UAV). The UAV comes with a 33% increased payload capacity to enable the carriage of a 25nm (46km)-maritime radar. The upgrades are expected to increase the Net Ray’s maritime capabilities, and have been deployed with the Portuguese Navy undergoing NATO operations in Africa. Alongside these operations, the AR3 will be at the center of a new wildlife protection system that will be used to monitor endangered species and to support anti-poaching efforts.
- Despite some protestations from US lawmakers over Pakistan’s planned procurement of eight F-16 fighters, officials in Islamabad have announced their intentions to seek ten additional fighters for their fleet. While no further details on the time frame of the order were given, if approved, the order would bring the total number of F-16C/D Block-52 fleet to 36 aircraft. US Congressional opposition to the sale stems from plans to partly subsidize the sale through the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program. According to some, Pakistan has not done enough to counter Islamic extremists operating in neighboring Afghanistan, who often use Pakistan as a base for operations.
- China’s new Xian Y-20 heavy transport aircraft could be entering service in the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) in the near future. With the plane’s first flight in 2013, China is the world’s fourth country, after the US, Russia and Ukraine, to have developed a 200-ton military cargo jet. Its latest prototype has flown in February 2016, and with no apparent issues in development, it is likely that the Y-20 will achieve Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) by the end of this year. Full scale production of the aircraft, however, will not occur for a number of years.
- The M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System:
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