Kratos to unveil Valkyrie & Mako UAVs in Paris | Qatar complete F-15 deal despite tensions | Open bids for Altay serial productionJun 16, 2017 05:00 UTC
- Kratos Defense & Security Solutions will unveil, for the first time, its XQ-222 Valkyrie and UTAP-22 Mako unmanned aerial systems at the Paris airshow. Both UAS aircraft are designed to act as the robotic wingman of fighter pilots, are highly maneuverable, stealthy, able to fly at near supersonic speeds, and can carry and deploy weapons or surveillance systems. The company said that the Mako is already operational and is scheduled to undergo further testing with manned aircraft starting from this month, while the Valkyrie’s first flight is slated for next Spring.
- Northrop Grumman has announced that it has successfully tested its new modular panel-based sensor array during flight testing in April. The system is a multi-function radar that features an open architecture system, allowing it to be easily reprogrammed with different software packages, and can include third-party systems based on mission requirements. The test also saw successful use of its ground moving target indicator and synthetic aperture radar modes, which give operators the ability to detect and track large numbers of ground vehicles over a wide area, and high resolution radar imagery to map the flight path of the plane and provide topographical and mapping information, respectively.
Middle Easy & North Africa
- Despite a spat with its Arab neighbors amid claims they were funding terrorism, Qatar has completed negotiations with Boeing to move ahead with a purchase of 36 F-15QA fighter aircraft. Qatari Defense Minister Khalid Al-Attiyah was in Washington to sign the $12 billion Foreign Military Sale agreement with his counterpart Jim Mattis, and could be extended to cover a total of 72 planes at a cost of approximately $21 billion. The move may confuse Washington’s allies in the region, after President Trump has initially sent a series of tweets that appeared to take credit for and praise the decision when Saudi Arabia and several Arab countries cut off ties with Qatar. “The nation of Qatar, unfortunately, has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level,” Trump said in a speech at the White House last week. “We ask Qatar, and other nations in the region to do more and do it faster.
- Turkey has decided to ditch its sole-source negotiations with manufacturer Otokar for the serial production of the Altay tank, instead favoring to start an open bid for the same contract. Four prototypes were built by Otokar for developmental tests— successfully completed earlier this year—and clauses within the developmental allowed the firm, without competition, to make an offer for the serial production contract. However, Turkish procurement officials familiar with the Altay program, said that Otokar’s best and final offer failed to qualify for a single-source serial production contract. New bids are expected to be solicited by the end of the year, with FNSS and BMC expected to join Otokar in the new competition.
- The US military has moved its High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) from Jordan near the US-Coalition training base at At Tarif in southern Syria, in an effort to deter pro-regime forces that have been operating in and near the zone while moving their own artillery into the area. While troops at At Tarif are primarily there to support the fight against ISIS, tensions and conflict have been rising with pro-regime forces in the area, with a F-15E downing an Iranian-made drone, and air strikes against pro-regime militia positions near the base. A truck-mounted system which can fire missiles as far as 300 kilometers, HIMARS has already been used from positions in northern Iraq, where it has joined conventional artillery in a push by the Syrian Democratic Forces against Islamic State militants.
- Saab is hoping to start negotiations to sell Gripen fighter to the Bulgarian government after this summer. While Sofia has yet to approach the firm over the acquisition, the plane was deemed by the previous caretaker government of Boiko Borissov as the best option out of three to replace its ageing Soviet-made MiG-29s, which continue to run up huge bills in overhaul and maintenance costs. Magnus Lewis-Olsson, Saab’s president for Market Area Europe, described the Gripen as the only modern fighter in the competition, adding that any expert would know that no other aircraft was more Nato-compatible than the Gripen. He added that Saab would be able to deliver four aircraft within 18 months from the signing of the contract.
- Work has started on a new long-range interceptor by MiG Corporation. The new aircraft is being designed to replace the MiG-31 and the company hopes that a new plane will be ready by the time the next prospective modernization of the MiG-31 is announced by the Russian government. MiG’s general director, Ilya Tarasenko, also confirmed that the company has reached the prototype stage of its UAV development program, adding that the company is working on “light UAVs, capable of performing reconnaissance missions, conducting electronic warfare, and striking at enemy targets.”
- Airbus is close to completing talks with the Indian government to deliver 56 C295W transport aircraft to the Indian Air Force. Partnering with local firm Tata Advanced Systems, the contract is expected to cost $1.8 billion with 16 aircraft supplied from abroad while the remainder will be assembled in India. The deal comes as New Delhi looks to replace its current transport fleet of Avro aircraft after an earlier plan to develop the Multi-role Transport Aircraft (MTA) under a joint venture between Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) was grounded after disagreements over design.
- Japanese PAC-3 drills: