China Exports to South America Continue | Israel Awaits Multi-Billion US Military Aid Package | 2015 Dassault Exports Increase 12-fold Over 2014
- The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program will test the new Generation III Helmet-Mounted Display System this month, as it aims to counter problems with the jet’s ongoing ejection seat issues. Since August, a ban has been placed on lightweight pilots from flying the aircraft, as the current helmet may cause neck injury during low-speed ejections. The later version of the helmet is 8 ounces lighter than its predecessor, and is one of several options being worked on to counter potential injuries. The other options involve modifications to the ejector seat, and are scheduled to enter the production line this November.
- The US Navy has announced plans to “descope” the stealth requirement from the development carrier-based aerial system (CBARS). This will allow the tanker to be capable of firing missiles and dropping munitions. Dubbed the MQ-25 Stingray, the descoping marks yet another alteration to the program which had initially started out as the Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) program before a drastic U-turn took it away from ISR activities to that of refueling role. However, according to Vice Adm Joseph Mulloy, deputy chief of naval operations for integration of capabilities and resources, the addition of greater weapons capabilities will not see the Stingray spying, with destroying targets and refueling remaining its main mission.
- China’s defense exports to South America continue with the delivery of six new Hongdu K-8W trainers to Venezuela. Nine of the aircraft were purchased in 2013 with the final three expected to be delivered shortly. 18 K-8Ws were purchased in 2010, however three have been lost due to accidents. Beijing has also renewed ongoing military aid to Bolivia in a deal that will see $7.7 million made available over the next five years to go toward communications equipment, military transport, and technical assistance. China has made available over $8 million in Chinese military donations over the last nine years, which has mainly gone on transport vehicles, munitions, and patrol boats.
Middle East North Africa
- Israel hopes to have finalized details regarding a ten year US military aid package very soon, according to Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon. The package is believed to range between $40-50 billion, and if the higher end is granted, will allow for Israel to increase purchases of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. Iran, seemingly emboldened by the recent lifting of sanctions from last year’s nuclear deal also seems to be of concern for Israel. The recent launching by Tehran of two Iranian versions of the 2,000-kilometer-range North Korean No Dong, were inscribed with the Hebrew message “Israel must be wiped off the face of the Earth.”
- Dassault has experienced a 12-fold increase in defense exports in 2015. The defense wing of the company experienced an order intake for the year end (2015) at $9.2 billion compared to only $770 million in 2014. The staggering jump has been attributed to a year that involved the sale of 48 Rafale fighters to Egypt and Qatar, and further by the well publicized ongoing negotiations with India for a further 38 of the aircraft. Adding to the exceptionally good year was upgrade of the Indian Mirage 2000 fighter.
- Mali’s armed forces are now operating ACMAT’s Bastion armored personnel carriers (APC) after receiving training from Italian experts as part of an EU training mission there. 62 of the French manufactured APCs were purchased by the US in September last year, to be distributed among the armed forces of Cameroon, Ethiopia, Somalia, Tunisia, and Uganda which makes it possible that the APCs sent to Mali may have been donated by the US as well. The vehicles have been sent to help modernize the various armed forces in dealing with regional threats such as growing Islamic insurgencies throughout the continent.
- India’s Law Ministry has come out against the country’s Rafale deal, citing several issues in regard to the contract with French manufacturer Dassault and France. While the Defense Ministry has come out in support of the deal, refusing to answer any questions submitted by the media in relation to the issues, it seems that even a preliminary contract has yet to solidified. Costs and pricing still remain an issue, as well as a series of legal issues which are apparently weighted heavily in France’s favor. French liability has been described as “watered down,” with huge payouts not promising actual delivery. Furthermore, the French government continue in their refusal of a bank guarantee, instead offering a “comfort letter” from Prime Minister Manuel Valls.
- The Australian government has announced that it is to invest $4 million to further develop the Pegasus Aircraft Buoyancy System. Designed by Australian company One Atmosphere, the flotation gear aims to provide additional buoyancy to rotary wing aircraft that have crashed or ditched at sea, and potentially provide extra time for the aircrew to escape safely. While the system is to be initially tested on the ADF’s Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter, it could potentially be rolled out onto the Tiger’s replacement when the fleet is retired in 2025.
- ACMAT’s Bastion APC:
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