Raytheon Awarded $14M for Next Gen Air-Launched Tactical Missiles | KC-46 Successful in F-16 Mid-air Refuel | China’s Growing Hypersonic Glider CapabilitiesJan 26, 2016 00:20 UTC
- Raytheon has been awarded a $14 million DoD contract to carry out research on two concepts for next-generation, air-launched, tactical missiles. The Small Advanced Capability Missile (SACM) concept will support affordable, lethal, small size and weight ordnance with advanced air frame design, and is similar to the CUDA program currently under way by Lockheed Martin which will double the number air-to-air missiles carried by the company’s two stealth fighters using a shorter missile. Both companies are part of the Miniature Self-Defense Munition (MSDM) program which aims to give fighters a self-defense capability against incoming missiles by destroying it with a direct hit using the munition.
- An investigation into a “mishap” involving a Minuteman III ICBM causing $1.8 million worth of damage has been released. The heavily redacted report cited crew inexperience as the main factor, after they were sent to fix an error that arose during a routine diagnostic test, causing damage to the missile after failure to follow procedures. While investigators said they found four contributing factors to the cause of the incident, only two could be found in the report itself. The majority of the blame seems to rest with the crew leader in charge of the troubleshooting, who failed to first follow technical guidance, and then lacked the the adequate proficiency level to anticipate the consequences of his actions during the incident. The report follows the recent debates over the spending of billions of dollars on upgrading and maintaining these strategic missiles which are coming to be seen as an antiquated defense mechanism.
- The USAF and Boeing have reached an important milestone in the development of the KC-46 tanker after it successfully carried out a mid-air refueling of an F-16 jet. Prior to the refueling, both had checked a number of test points during the flight, with a successful demonstration necessary before Boeing can enter the plane into low rate production. The USAF has ordered 176 of the tankers to replace their KC-135 Stratotankers with the first eighteen of the tankers needed to be operational and ready to go by August 2017.
Middle East North Africa
- The UAE is looking to sell some of their fleet of Dassault Mirage 2000-9 fighters to Iraq as a precursor to their own acquisition of Dassault Rafale fighters. Awaiting final assurances from France and Iraq before any of the deals are finalized, the UAE has been trying to sell ten of its Mirage fleet to Iraq since 2011 but has met with opposition from France. If all goes according to plan, the money earned from the sale of the Mirage jets would go directly to Dassault to offset their purchase of Rafales. However, there are disagreements in regards to the planes’ eventual deployment. UAE ideally would see the fighters deployed to Iraqi Kurdistan to defend strategic interests such as oil and gas reserves, while Baghdad wants them under centralized government control.
- France and India will not conclude the highly talked about Rafale jet deal during Francois Hollande’s visit to New Delhi this week. President Hollande said in an interview with Indian media that modest progress will be made in the drawn-out negotiations of the deal and that “agreeing on the technicalities of this arrangement obviously takes time”. The $9 billion deal for thirty-six fighters was substantially less than what manufacturer Dassault had initially hoped to sell to India. The company, however, is currently hoping to woo India into a potential sale of up to fifty navalized variants of the Rafale for their latest aircraft carrier.
- The head of the United States Strategic Command, Adm. Cecil D. Haney has warned of China’s growing hypersonic glider capabilities. Speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Haney stated that China has conducted six tests of the codenamed DF-ZF glider with the latest occurring in November 2015 and clearly displaying their modernization and capability advancement. The glider is regarded by US intelligence agencies as a nuclear delivery system designed to defeat missile defenses, and could pose a real threat to US strategic deterrence.
- Delays in the approval of six Airbus MRTT tankers has given to a rise in tensions between Indian Air Force brass and the Defense Ministry. The former has grown frustrated with the ministry’s lack of decision regarding the acquisition which is said to be worth $2 billion. The IAF, citing the urgency to quickly induct any new tankers into the air force, want either the purchase to be confirmed or a new competition to be announced and quickly processed. With the manufacturer’s headquarters stationed in Toulouse, the visit of French President Hollande may be cause for the renewed sense of urgency. But with the Dassault’s sale of Rafale fighters going nowhere fast, the tanker procurement might not go as quickly as the air force wants.
- Japan and France are the front runners in providing Australia with its next submarine fleet. Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems had also been considered, however recent worries over technical concerns may have them out of the running for the $34.55 billion contract. Japan has offered a variant of its 4,000-ton Soryu boats made by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries, where as France’s state-controlled naval contractor DCNS has proposed a diesel-electric version of its 5,000-ton Barracuda nuclear-powered submarine. The final decision will be made within the next six months ahead of Australian elections, with a slowing economy to be the main issue among voters. All competitors have agreed to build the new fleet in South Australian shipyards.
- Meet the Thai pilot who can roll his F-16 with its landing gear down: