F-35 Acquisition Cost Estimates Drop by $12.1B | German Defense Budget Up 6.8% to $36.61B for 2017 | French Sending Paramilitary Forces to Burkina Faso
- The US Navy has begun its “light-off” testing of an AN/SPQ-9B horizon search radar upgraded with a Periscope Detection and Discrimination (PDD) capability. Testing took place March 13 on board the CG 47 Ticonderoga-class cruiser USS Lake Champlain. The upgraded PDD capability represents a noteworthy improvement in submarine detection, in support of the Navy’s overall anti-surface warfare efforts, and represents the culmination of almost a decade of Navy investment in developing a periscope detection mode for the AN/SPQ-9B Radar and the collaborative efforts of NAVSEA agencies, Office of Naval Research, the Naval Research Laboratory, and Naval Surface and Expeditionary Warfare Command.
- Software troubles on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program may cause a key milestone for initial operational capability (IOC) to be delayed by up to four months, although that is an improvement over the Joint Program Offices’s projection a year ago. The schedule delay is primarily due to software “stability” issues, seen in both Blocks 3i and 3F, with Block 3F capabilities estimated not be ready for IOT&E until 2018 at the earliest.
- Despite potential delays to the F-35 IOC, the Pentagon has dropped the estimated price of its acquisition of 2,457 fighters by $12.1 billion. The drop marks a 3% decrease on the expected costs declared a year ago. This could potentially dissuade the program’s nay-sayers who have often derided the program’s soaring costs, potentially persuading Denmark and Canada who are currently on the fence, to perhaps continue with their participation in the Joint Strike Fighter Program.
- The US Army has awarded over $65 million in orders for tank ordinance. General Dynamics Ordnance & Tactical Systems Inc. will provide 120mm M1002 new production cartridges, and 120mm M865 recapitalized cartridges, for 120mm tank training ammunition. The $35.7 million order will be completed by November 30, 2017. Meanwhile, Orbital Alliant Techsystems Operations LLC has been awarded $30.8 million to provide the same types of munitions for the same purposes, and will be completed by February 22, 2018.
- Rosoboronexport will be showcasing the 9K333 Verba man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS) at DEFEXPO India next week. The announcement was reported via Russian media outlets meaning that the system has been cleared for export by Russian authorities. Compared to its predecessors, the Verba has been noted for its increased combat capabilities, including the ability to detect and engage small targets such as cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles.
- Federal budgets for German defense spending in 2017 have shown a 6.8% rise on planned spending for the current year, reversing a trend of trimming its defense spending. The hike will give an additional $1.9 billion in funds, bringing total planned spending in 2017 to $36.61 billion. A portion of these funds will go toward additional weapons procurement and modernization. While it still remains unlikely that Germany will reach the recommended NATO target of having 2% of GDP going to defense spending, the additional money coming from Berlin points to the ongoing trend of European NATO powers upping their militarization game after consecutive years of defense budget shrinking.
- Burkina Faso is to say bienvenue to a French paramilitary police special forces battalion soon to be deployed in the country. The French government is sending the battalion to provide a rapid-response capability in the event of a terrorist attack within the West African sub-region. A spate of attacks by Islamic fundamentalist militants in several neighboring countries has prompted the move, increasing France’s ongoing military assistance across the continent. Two weeks ago a gun attack on a beach resort by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb in Ivory Coast left 18 people dead, following earlier attacks in both Burkina Faso and Mali.
- Jane’s has reported that the Philippines have decided on the purchase of two AW159 Lynx Wildcat naval helicopters for their navy. At $114 million, the helicopters will give the Philippine Navy a long sought after anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capability, carrying active dipping sonar (ADS), sonobuoys, and torpedoes, while for the anti-surface warfare role it can be armed with anti-ship missiles, rockets, and guns. Manilla had been searching for a helicopter to fill an ASW hole since 2014, with Augusta Westland beating off offers from Airbus, Bell, Sikorsky and NHIndustries.
- The Verba MANPAD:
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