It’s Official – Raytheon Glides into T-X Program | Two F-16s Fly Together as Manned and Unmanned | Tunisia’s New 125Mi Barrier Wall to Get Surveillance
- Raytheon has officially entered a bid in the T-X program, offering an American made version of the Italian Finmeccanica-Alenia Aermacchi M-346-based T-100. The company will take the position of head contractor vacated by General Dynamics in March, and will partner with Honeywell and CAE. The offering will use a foundational aircraft platform from Finmeccanica, simulation equipment, training systems and courseware designed by CAE, and Honeywell’s twin F124 turbofan engines to power the aircraft. The strength of the bid lies in its affordable cost to the USAF, as well as the fact that it is already in operational use, thus limiting the risk factor of the clean sheet designs offered by other competitors.
- The KC-46 is halfway through its six aerial contact tests as part of the program‘s “Milestone C” demonstrations. The tanker has now successfully demonstrated all three of its major fuel systems after being successfully topped up by another KC-10 aircraft. The February 16 test follows the refueling of a F-16 and F/A-18 over the last number of weeks, and keeps the program right on track for a low-rate initial production decision in May. The three remaining tests will involve probe-and-drogue testing with a US Navy AV-8B Harrier II jump jet, followed by boom refueling of a Fairchild Republic A-10 and Boeing C-17.
- The USAF has flown two F-16 jets together, however the second was and flown by algorithms. While the unmanned aircraft did have a pilot on board as a precaution, both jets were able to keep in formation without input from the passenger pilot. The purpose of the flight was to see whether an unmanned aircraft was capable of being teamed with a piloted fighter. The tests mark the emerging shift in Air Force thinking toward future warfare scenarios and investing in cutting edge technology as air and space power move closer together. The Air Force has requested $2.5 billion for investment in Science & Technology programs for 2017.
Middle East North Africa
- Tunisia has completed a 200-kilometer barrier wall and water filled trench along its border with Libya. Stretching from the coastal town of Ras Jedir to Dhiba in the southwest, the new barrier is set to prevent cross border smuggling of weapons and Islamist militants. With over 3,000 Tunisian nationals fighting with groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq, Syria, and lately in Libya, Tunis is anxious to prevent them from returning to the country that sparked the 2011 Arab Spring. Talks are currently ongoing with Germany over the provision of high-tech electronic surveillance equipment to help detect breaches in the wall, with contractors from Germany and the US due to begin work shortly.
- The Romanian Ministry of Defense has announced plans to purchase 12 more second-hand F-16 fighters in 2017. The procurement will the follow the delivery of F-16s from Portugal in September, which cost the government $695 million and included training and upgrades of systems from Lockheed Martin. The ministry has requested information from NATO allies (including the US and five European members) of available supplies with plans to purchase the fleet by auction.
- An enemy of my enemy is my future business partner. Turkey and Ukraine have pledged “strategic” defense industry cooperation in efforts to bolster a growing anti-Russian bloc in the region. A visit to Kiev by Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu saw a number of agreements on how both countries can help with their various procurement and defense technology needs, as relationships between them and Moscow continue to sour. The establishment of joint working groups will aim for cooperative development of on-weapons systems production, with a focus on turbojet aircraft engines, radars, military communications technologies and navigation systems.
- Russia is developing its own internet for use by its defense industry, uniting more than 1,000 companies in its network. The system will allow for a safe and secure line of communication for the sharing of top secret information, enabling companies to use all the possibilities of modern telecom technologies. The added security of the network will allow for easier sharing over everyday tools such as email, audio and video-conferencing, and cloud storage of sensitive information that otherwise may be at risk over more tradition services. Plans have been made to have the system installed in 250 companies in 2016.
- BAE Systems and India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) are considering establishing a joint venture to co-produce variants of the Hawk trainer, upgrade the Jaguar aircraft, and establish an operations base in India focusing on logistics and producing spare parts. Both aircraft are already produced under license by HAL and further cooperation could lead to a more hands on development in improving maneuver performance with laser designation, precision smart weapons, and state-of-the-art synthetic training to create a more advanced trainer aircraft.
- GoPro footage of the Tejas fighter at last month’s Bahrain Air Show:
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