Nuke Modernization to Continue | US Clears Sale of Pegasus to Israel | India Planning $500M Buy with Rafael
- All nuclear modernization programs are to be kept on track in Fiscal Year 2017, with the Pentagon to spend roughly $3.2 billion on programs to modernize and recapitalize the service’s nuclear submarines, bombers, Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM), and nuclear equipped cruise missiles. A small portion of this will also be kept for the development of nuclear capabilities of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), who are in charge of the development of nuclear warheads, have also requested $12.9 billion in funding. Those in favor of maintaining US nuclear deterrence capabilities will be happy with the news, however, the Arms Control Association has called the continuation of the nuclear spending trajectory as “divorced from reality.”
- The US Army’s fiscal budget for 2017 will see $148 billion made available, $23 billion of that going toward overseas contingency operations. As the force looks to increase its presence in Europe along with bolstering vehicle spending, cuts are being made to some modernization efforts and aviation procurement. The plan also sees continued reductions in active soldier, Nation Guard, and Army Reserve personnel, with this to continue in 2018. There will also be a greater troop presence in the US European Command as the 34,000 troops stationed there will be kept to aid European allies as part of a forward troop deterrence to Russia.
Middle East North Africa
- An Israeli news source has reported that the US government has cleared the sale for two of Boeing’s newest KC-46A Pegasus aerial refueling tankers to Israel via the security assistance package. The Pentagon had originally put a pause on selling new aircraft to Israel, initially offering them older models. However, Israel has been insisting on the latest multi-mission tanker with the deal only approved upon the completion of the nuclear deal with Iran. The tanker sale could have become a point of contention for Tehran as its specs allow for a range of 7,350 miles with in-flight refueling. With an average price tag of $188 million each, the addition of Israeli system modifications will see each aircraft cost a quarter of a billion dollars.
- The Emir of Qatar will witness a display of the PAF JF-17 fighters as Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visits the country this week. A contingent from the Pakistan Air Force are in Doha preparing for the display, as Sharif, along with a high-level delegation, visits to commence a series of diplomatic talks. Areas where both Qatar and Pakistan may improve bilateral relations include energy cooperation, trade and investment, employment opportunities for the Pakistani workforce in Qatar, and in various defense related fields. While a number of Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) are expected to be signed, an order for the JF-17 may be a bit premature as Qatar awaits the long delayed deal of Rafale fighters from Dassault.
- As NATO Ministerial meetings kicked off yesterday, the UK is sending five extra ships to the Baltic as part of a wider NATO build-up against Russia. The news comes as NATO members are moving to implement a deterrence strategy involving an increased forward presence of multi-national forces in countries that are deemed potentially vulnerable to future Russian aggression. While an agreement with Russia prevents NATO from deploying its troops along Russia’s borders, it is getting around this by having troops train in eastern Europe on a rotational basis, which in effect is almost the same thing. The US has also pledged $3.4 billion to the European Reassurance Initiative with half of that going to be spent on pre-positioning of tanks, artillery, and other equipment on a 24/7 rotational basis.
- Saab has announced a 15% growth in sales for 2015 alongside a record order backlog. Production requests from Brazil for 36 Gripen fighters and from the UAE for new-generation airborne early warning (AEW) systems resulted in $3.2 billion being added to the Swedish manufacturers coffers. The UAE deal to provide two Bombardier Global 6000s equipped for AEW, ground, and maritime surveillance capabilities was deemed especially important, as the company hopes it will lead to more sales of their AEW systems to other countries. However, all this good news may be soured, as Brazilian prosecutors plan to reopen the corruption case involving Brazil’s acquisition of the Gripen fighters amid new evidence.
- A deal to buy Su-35S Super Flankers will be signed by Indonesia’s defense minister next month when he visits Moscow. General Ryamizard Ryacudu said they would buy ten of the aircraft after it was initially reported that Jakarta would look to buy 16 to replace their fleet of fleet of Northrop F-5Es. His visit to Russia will also include discussions over pilot training and knowledge transfers as well as talks on increasing cooperation in defense, drug trafficking and counter terrorism.
- India looks set to agree to a large defense systems deal with Rafael Advanced Defense Systems worth $500 million. New Delhi is expected to give approval to the deal with Israel within the month, which will include Rafael’s next generation Litening 5 targeting pods and Spice 250 precision-guided bombs. The Litening 5 can detect targets from long range, and support intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance activities. Unlike its predecessors, the light-weight Spice 250 munitions is supplied as a complete system, enabling fighters to carry an increased payload rather than as a kit to be attached to “dumb” munitions. The equipment will most likely to be used on India’s Su-30 fighters.
- The Yak-130 firing two R-73 air-to-air missiles:
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