US Army Orders 35 Add’l Battlehawks | UAE to be First to Get Hammerhead UAV | Taiwan Confirms Plans to Develop Indigenous Jet Trainer
- John McCain’s threats against the next-generation B-21 strategic bomber have received stern warnings from the Pentagon. While McCain has rallied for implementing fixed-price contracts for development programs, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James has said that a new competition for the bomber would bring about $300 million in penalties. If McCain succeeds in cutting off funds for the B-21, the Air Force may be forced to start from scratch with a new competition which could take between 20-30 months. This would be required for Northrop and the losing Boeing/Lockheed Martin team to work on the “fixed-price” development contract McCain so desires.
- The US Army has ordered 35 UH-60M helicopters from Lockheed Martin’s subsidiary Sikorsky. Completion of the $387.2 million contract is expected for the end of December 2016, with work being carried out in Stratford, Connecticut. The award adds to a number of modification contracts for extra helicopters as the Army looks to increase its late-model helicopters for missions like armed reconnaissance and troop transport, medical evacuations, and search and rescue.
Middle East North Africa
- The first export customer of Piaggio Aero’s P.1HH Hammerhead UAV will be the UAE. Contracts signed on March 8 will see eight of the UAVs produced and delivered at a cost of $347 million, and includes the provision of EO/IR (Electro-Optical Infra-Red) cameras, radar, and communications systems. Development of the Hammerhead has been conducted in conjunction with fellow Italian firm Finmeccanica which has provided the mission control system, sensors, data link, and ground control station (GCS).
- Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and the Israeli Air Force (IAF) are currently working on improving the Heron TP UAV’s endurance. Now capable of operating for 36 hours, ongoing work for additional sensor capability requires greater endurance capabilities. Upgrades to the Heron TP are part of the IAF’s plan to triple its “White Eagle” squadron of medium-altitude long-endurance UAVs as they transfer more missions from manned intelligence platforms to unmanned systems.
- A new anti-aircraft competition for the Polish Navy has received three bids according to the Polish Ministry of Defense. Companies announced were Germany’s Rheinmetall, Britain’s BAE Systems, and Poland’s leading defense group, PGZ. The next stage will see them take part in the technical dialogue of the program, which aims to replace the outdated Soviet-designed S-60MB anti-aircraft guns. But Poland’s rapid military modernization programs and reforms have started to come under fire as five key generals handed in their resignation last week. While their reasons remain unknown, it is believed to have been sparked by the government’s attempts to stamp out all traces of the Communist era.
- Britain’s Ministry of Defense has confirmed that it is to invest £642 million (US $908 million) in preparation for the production of its new fleet of Trident missile-armed nuclear submarines. The funding had initially been set out in the government’s 2015 strategic defense and security review (SDSR), and will be spent on upgrading production facilities at BAE Systems’ Barrow-in-Furness nuclear submarine yard, essential long lead items for the submarines, and the nuclear propulsion program being led by Rolls-Royce. In total, the Successor submarine program is estimated to cost around $44 billion, with a contingency fund of $13 billion set aside for any emergencies that arise.
- Taiwan’s Defense Minister Kao Kuang-chi has confirmed plans for the government to develop and procure its own indigenous jet trainer. The new aircraft will replace the aging Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation’s (AIDC) AT-3 currently in service. At present, the program is in the RFI stage, but $2.1 billion has been set aside for the trainers development. An increase in defense procurement, and desire to develop indigenous technology, has been on the increase in several Asian and East Asian countries who are responding to ongoing Chinese moderization efforts.
- The Philippine Air Force will receive two more second hand C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft at a cost of $34.1 million. Delivery of the first is expected next week, while the second will follow in September. This brings the total number of C-130 aircraft in their fleet to five. The deal was announced by the outgoing Philippine Air Force (PAF) chief Lt. Gen. Jeffrey F. Hidalgo as part of attempts to modernize the air force’s capability for humanitarian and disaster response, and territorial defense from Chinese expansion.
- Boeing employee and voice of the cockpit warning system on the F/A-18, Leslie Shook, talks on her role as “Bitchin’ Betty” upon her retirement:
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