LM: Robust Modernizations Favored Over New Investments | Qatar Buys Rafales with Help of Japanese Financiers | Algeria First Foreign Customer to Order Night Hunters
- Delaying investment into a 6th generation fighter has been recommended by Lockheed Martin, who is instead favoring a “robust” modernization program to keep fifth-generation F-22s and F-35s capable against new counter-air threats. The comments were made by the company’s Skunk Works chief Rob Weiss, who claims such a modernization will achieve the air dominance that America desires for the next 30 to 40 years. Lockheed currently holds dominance in the fifth generation market, and looks to push block upgrades of existing aircraft as the USAF and Navy assess their fighter requirements over the oncoming decades. Meanwhile, competitors Boeing and Northrop Grumman would like to break back into the high-end combat jet market after losing the winner takes all Joint Strike Fighter competition.
- AH-64 Apache helicopters are likely to receive a turret upgrade next year, which could save the Army up to $500 million in operations and life-cycle costs. Lockheed Martin began developing a High Reliability Turret for the Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensor (M-TADS/PNVS) as part of a contract awarded in 2014, and currently expects to receive an engineering change proposal approval around the fourth quarter of 2017 that will allow them to start low-rate procurement. The new turrets will allow for increased slew rates as well as smaller, more affordable line-replaceable modules.
- The USAF and Honeywell are investigating a still-undetermined problem with the starter-generator on the MQ-9 Reaper Block 1 version’s Honeywell turboprop engine. Seventeen MQ-9 crashes have been avoided since last April, however, thanks to a backup electrical system that has been installed as a safeguard, which allows for the aircraft to fly for another ten hours. Since the UAV’s first flight, the USAF have lost dozens during missions, at a cost of $20-25 million per aircraft. This has intensified in 2015, as the steeping up of anti-terrorism operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Africa saw 10 MQ-9 and 10 MQ-1 crashes in that last year alone.
Middle East & North Africa
- Qatar’s purchase of Dassault Rafale fighters has been financed with the help of Japanese banks. The Gulf state recently paid a 15% down payment on its order, which in total amounts to $6.8 billion. The loan highlights a growing relationship with Japan through Japanese business interests in areas of construction and finance. Investments and projects involving Japanese companies include construction for the 2022 World Cup, and the building of a subway system in Doha, while Qatar supplies liquefied gas to Japan. The participation of Japanese money in the deal comes as tighter EU financial regulations to European banks bring lending under greater scrutiny, while a US loan to buy French technology may have upset Boeing, a competitor to Dassault in the fighter market.
- Algeria has become the first foreign customer of the Russian made Mi-28NE “Night Hunters.” Contracts between the two countries specify an order of forty of the attack helicopters that have been fitted with dual flight control capabilities. Unlike earlier models, the presence of a double piloting system allows control of the machine from both the cockpit and the cabin of the pilot-operator, allowing for greater flexibility, higher fire-power, and increased survivability.
- MBDA has announced the successful trial of firing two Mistral surface-to-air missiles from the SIMBAD-RC short range anti-air self-defense system. The system has been designed to provide a primary self defense capability on all warships, or to complement the main air defenses of first rank warships by firing two fire and forget missiles, and is capable of engaging a wide variety of threats from fighter jets to UAVs. Successful testing of the SIMBAD-RC’s capability comes before customer sales commence.
- The Indian defense forces have outlined blueprints to procure more than 5,000 UAVs over the next ten years. The $3 billion plan will be restricted to domestic companies that can “tie up with” foreign manufacturers, since domestic efforts to meet UAV needs have been stifled over the years by lack of technical experience, delays, and cost overruns. A wide spectrum of UAVs will be purchased with the Indian Army, Air Force, and Navy expected to buy tactical UAVs, high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) UAVs, vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) UAVs, and medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) UAVs.
- Australia is to announce its short list for the $15.2 billion Sea 5000 Future Frigate Program later this month. The tender aims to procure nine frigates to replace its eight Anzac frigates, with offers from French manufacturer DCNS, Spain’s Navantia, Italy’s Fincantieri, and BAE Systems. This comes as a number of countries look to modernize their navies, with New Zealand looking to buy two frigates, and Canada seeking to to acquire 15 frigates with a mix of multi-purpose and air-defense capabilities.
- One of the two Nodong road mobile medium range ballistic missiles launched by North Korea on March 18 fails after take off:
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