USAF Tests Inert B61-12 Nuke | KAI Wins $378M to Supply Parts for Embraer’s E2 & KC-390 | Seoul in Talks with Supplier Nations to Beef Up Defense ProjectsApr 18, 2017 00:58 UTC
- The USAF has tested an upgraded inert B61-12 nuclear bomb over the Nellis Test and Training Range Complex in Nevada. Testing of the munition was conducted in order to demonstrate the capability of an F-16 to employ the weapon and the functioning of the bomb’s non-nuclear components, such as the arming and fire control system, radar altimeter, rocket motors, and weapons control computer, the Air Force said. Capable of being carried on B-2A, B-21, F-15E, F-16C/D, F-16 MLU, F-35 and PA-200 aircraft, the recent test is part of the B61 life-extension program run by the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, together with the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration, and the upgraded variant is scheduled to replace four versions of the B61 currently in the US nuclear stockpile.
- Meanwhile, the US Army has conducted tests on two new dune buggy-like platforms designed to travel through various types of terrain and provide operators with aircraft detection and tracking capabilities. Called Hunter and Killer, the 8 wheel vehicles were tested between April 3 and April 13 during the 2017 Maneuver Fires Integrated Experiment (MFIX). While still in early development stages (they were merely slides on a PowerPoint presentation last September), the vehicles have been created with several mission functions in mind such as tracking aircraft activity throughout the battle space, call precision fires in an automated fashion, and allow operators to communicate with friendly planes for support. The vehicles can also support Navy operations by contacting nearby ships in order to attack a target.
- Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) has won a $378 million contract to supply parts for Embraer’s E2 and KC-390 programs. Under the agreement, which is scheduled to last until 2033, KAI will supply wing bottom panels for the E-190 E2 and E-195 E2 regional jets, and panels for both top and bottom of the KC-390 tactical airlifter. Separately, the firm announced that it has completed delivery of all 20 KT-1P basic trainer aircraft ordered by the Peruvian air force.
- New Offshore Patrol Vessels being developed for the US Coast Guard are to receive hybrid electric drive systems from Leonardo DRS Technologies. A US subsidiary of the Italian defense giant Leonardo, the company will deliver nine such systems at a cost of $10.7 million to Eastern Shipbuilding, the shipyard tasked with constructing the vessels. The auxiliary power system, when coupled to the main propulsion gearbox, allows the vessels to operate quietly and efficiently during loitering operations.
- Beechcraft has been awarded a $60.5 million USAF contract to support the Joint Primary Aircraft Training System (JPATS)—the program associated with the procurement of T-6 Texan II trainer aircraft to train Air Force and Navy pilots. Services to be provided under the deal include program management, engineering, sustainment, deficiency reporting, and maintenance. Also provided are diminishing manufacturing sources, technical manual updates, data management and mechanical structural integrity efforts. The contract will run until April 2021.
- The UK MoD is looking to industry to design and develop new unmanned platforms for the resupply of troops in combat, with the goal of providing their military with more safety. Funding for the vehicles design will come out of the ministry’s Innovation Initiative, a $1.24 billion effort to develop modernized battlefield solutions for the British armed forces. Speaking on the announcement, Parliament Undersecretary for the MoD, Harriet Baldwin, said “our investment in innovative solutions demonstrates how the government’s [$223 billion] equipment plan, supported by a rising defense budget, will ensure that the U.K. maintains a military advantage in an increasingly dangerous world.”
- As part of efforts to better equip them to tackle North Korea, the South Korean government is in talks with a number of supplier nations to lease several spy satellites and expects to sign a contract next year. The procurement is part of a wider policy aimed at boosting the country’s military surveillance and strike capabilities between 2018 and 2022 under the revised mid-term national defense blueprint. Under the plan Seoul intends to spend $210 billion on various defense projects that will establish a “three-axis system” intended to help outgun Pyongyang’s superior manpower—NK boasts some 1.1 million troops to SK’s 625k—if open conflict between the two were to commence again. This axis will include the Kill Chain pre-emptive strike system, the Korean Air and Missile Defense (KAMD) and the Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation (KMPR) strategy.
- Upon his arrival in South Korea, US VP Mike Pence has warned North Korea of Washington’s resolve, as the hermit kingdom conducted another unsuccessful ballistic missile launch. Pyongyang also marked the occasion with a military parade, which showcased their new Pukkuksong submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM), however, it has been known for NK to “show off” new concepts before even testing them. In response to the launch Pence warned: “Just in the past two weeks, the world witnessed the strength and resolve of our new president in actions taken in Syria and Afghanistan,” adding that North Korea “would do well not to test his resolve or the strength of the armed forces of the United States in this region.” Pence’s visit to Seoul is one of a four-nation Asia tour intended to show America’s allies, and remind adversaries, that the Trump administration is not turning its back on the increasingly volatile region.
- Reverse engineered: Iran’s Fakour-90 air-to-air missile, based on the AIM-54 Phoenix missile sold to Tehran (along with the F-14) in the late 1970s: