Britain's A330 Voyager FSTA: Airbus has selected Spanish defense electronics firm Indra to develop a tactical and integrated procedures simulation trainer for pilots of the former's new A330 MRTT aerial refueling tanker. Indra's Integrated Procedures Trainer (IPT) will be connected to the Partial Training system (PTT) used by boom operators to learn how to handle the refueling tube for supplying fuel to the aircraft, and will allow pilots to familiarize themselves with the systems of the A330 MRTT tanker and practice situations impossible to reproduce using a real plane, such as engine failure, aircraft stall and emergency landings. Previous work with Airbus has seen Indra develop simulators for Airbus' commercial A320 and A330 aircraft and Airbus helicopters' H135, H225, H175, H145 and AS350.
Brazilian aerospace giant Embraer has announced the firm order for six of its A-29 Super Tucano aircraft. The unnamed customer will start to receive the light attack, surveillance, and advanced trainer planes from 2018, however, no further details of the sale were given. Marketed as a durable, versatile and powerful turboprop aircraft capable of carrying out a wide range of missions, Super Tucanos have clocked over 320,000 flight hours and nearly 40,000 combat hours in during its ten years in service.In August, the aircraft faced off against three other competitors in a demonstration held for the US Air Force's Light Attack Experiment (OA-X), with military officials from Canada, Australia, UAE, Paraguay, among others, in attendance. The USAF is hoping to combat test the aircraft in the Middle East, although no fixed date has been set.
Rapid Fire | Thursday, October 19, 2017, 05:00 UTC ()
Harris Corp. has received a series of contracts from the US Department of Defense (DoD) for wares totalling nearly $900 million. The first, announced last Friday, is the $133 million order for Lot 14 ALQ-214(V)4/5 integrated defensive electronic counter-measures jammers that will protect US Navy and Australian F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet aircraft. Harris said the equipment will be used on F/A-18C/D/E/F variants with deliveries expected to be completed by May of 2020. The second deal is a five-year, $765 million ceiling, single-award IDIQ contract to provide tactical radios and ancillary devices to the Navy and Marine Corps. It replaces a $300 million IDIQ contract that expired in August and includes the Harris AN/PRC-117G, AN/PRC-152A and the new AN/PRC-160 wideband HF/VHF radio, as well as peripheral attachments to support handheld, manpack, vehicular and base station mission needs.
Middle East & Africa
Kuwait has been cleared by the US State Department to proceed with the purchase of M1A1 Abrams tanks. The proposed deal, which still can be blocked by US Congress, covers the supply of 218 tank hulls with 120mm guns and AGT-1500 engines from current US stocks. At an estimated cost of $29 million, the Kuwaiti purchase supports the gulf state’s M1A2 tank recapitalization program and includes transportation and other logistics support for the tanks.
Boeing has been awarded a $240.2 million US Department of Defense (DoD) contract for the provision of an airborne warning and control system (AWACS) to the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF). The fixed-price-incentive firm contract calls for the provision of AWACS mission computing, navigation and communication upgrades and enhanced target acquisition systems to rapidly distinguish between friend or foe. Work will take place at Oklahoma City, Okla., with a scheduled completion date of February 2019. The sale comes under the first phase of of the RSAF’s AWACS recapitalisation program.
The Commander of Bahrain’s Royal Guard, Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad El Khalifa, confirmed ongoing negotiations with Russia over the purchase of the S-400 air defense system, joining Saudi Arabia and Turkey as the latest governments in the region to look at the system. The three deals, which are at various stages of negotiation and payment, mark Russia’s brisk entry into the Arab Gulf market which has traditionally been loyal to buying big ticket items from the US and other Western suppliers. If the sale goes ahead, Bahrain will have a multi-layered land-based air defence system capable of engaging targets at up to 400 km, which will cut into Iranian territory, albeit at high-altitude.
Airbus has selected Spanish defense electronics firm Indra to develop a tactical and integrated procedures simulation trainer for pilots of the former’s new A330 MRTT aerial refueling tanker. Indra’s Integrated Procedures Trainer (IPT) will be connected to the Partial Training system (PTT) used by boom operators to learn how to handle the refueling tube for supplying fuel to the aircraft, and will allow pilots to familiarize themselves with the systems of the A330 MRTT tanker and practice situations impossible to reproduce using a real plane, such as engine failure, aircraft stall and emergency landings. Previous work with Airbus has seen Indra develop simulators for Airbus’ commercial A320 and A330 aircraft and Airbus helicopters’ H135, H225, H175, H145 and AS350.
Serbia’s Defense Ministry is looking to Belarus as the supplier for new fighter jets and an S-300 air defense system. A deal is expected to be signed in November during a state visit to Minsk by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic where he will meet with his Belarusian counterpart, Alexander Lukashenko. While the ministry did not disclose how much the procurements would cost, Belgrade is seeking seven additional MiG-29 fighters to add to the six second-hand models recently handed over for free from Russia. The six Russian hand-me-downs are still in need of upgrading, with the bill to be fitted by Serbian taxpayers.
The Royal Greek Air Force’s F-16 fleet has been approved for a potential upgrade program by the US State Department’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA). Costed at an estimated $2.404 billion, 123 jets will be modified to the Block V configuration by Lockheed Martin, however, only 26 jets will have their Advanced Self-Protection Integrated Suite (ASPIS) upgraded from I to II standard. The potential sale was announced the same day Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsirpas met with US President Donald Trump at the White House.
Indonesia’s Air Force chief of staff announced his service’s desire to acquire a further eleven sets of the Skyshield air defense system. Manufactured by Oerlikon—now a unit of Rheinmettal Defense—four Skyshield systems are currently defending air bases in Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Makassar, and Pontianak, and feature a 35 mm multirole cannon that can fire 1,000 rounds per minute and precision-guided shells that can down enemy aircraft. In 2016, Jakarta announced plans to forward deploy the Skyshield to the Natuna Islands in the South China Sea, where the Air Force has requested additional air defense systems for an expanded air wing at the nearby Ranai air base. The plan to expand the Ranai base has been considered since 2015, as a portion of China’s “nine dash line” claim passes through Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone extending from the Natunas, creating unease among defense officials that Beijing may in the future lay claim to oil and gas deposits in the region.
Greek PM Alexis Tsipras rides in a soon-to-be-upgraded HAF F-16D:
| The US Navy has declared the network-enabled AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) C-1 fully operational, with all US Super Hornet squadrons now fitted with the air-to-ground weapon, giving them the ability to attack stationary land and moving maritime targets. Since receiving initial operational capability (IOC) in 2016, the program team has participated in a series of four fleet-wide exercises—RIMPAC 2016, Valiant Shield 2016 SINKEX, Northern Edge 2017, and Talisman Sabre 2017— that demonstrated the capabilities of the weapon in increasingly complex scenarios. This latest JSOW variant includes GPS/INS guidance, terminal IR seeker and a Link 16 weapon data link. More »
| Following the withdrawal of Arleigh Burke-class destroyers USS John S. McCain and Fitzgerald from service, the US Navy has issued the unscheduled deployment of the guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey to the 5th and 6th Fleet areas. This will allow the USS O’Kane—originally scheduled for deployment with the 5th and 6th Fleet around Europe and the Middle East—to instead be deployed to the 7th Fleet operating in the west Pacific, where it will take over ballistic missile defense (BMD) duties left by the untimely departure of both the McCain and Fitzgerald, which suffered catastrophic damage in unrelated collisions this summer. The McCain and Fitzgerald collisions have spotlighted issues in the Navy's 7th Fleet, based out of Japan, as the incidents bring to the fore leadership failures and diminishing training standards, based on Congressional testimony alluding to naval crews being overworked and spread thin. Two top officers on the McCain—which collided with a much lager cargo vessel near Singapore in August—have since lost their posts "due to a loss of confidence," and have been reassigned.
| The US Navy has awarded Initial Operational Capability (IOC) to the service's latest airborne mine detection system, the AN/DVS-1 Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis (COBRA). The system can be integrated on the MQ-8 Fire Scout unmanned air system and can detect and localize minefields and obstacles when flown over a beach zone area, keeping sailors and marines out of harms way on a potential landing zone. Part of the littoral combat ship’s (LCS) suite of mine countermeasures (MCM) systems, COBRA's next test will involve at-sea trails onboard a LCS vessel equipped with a full MCM package, where it will fly various missions over beaches, while demonstrating system suitability for operating from the LCS.
| Following the crash of the first S-97 Raider prototype in August, manufacturer Sikorsky has traced the cause of the crash to a software issue and has corrected the problem in a simulator. Speaking on the incident, vice-president of Sikorsky Chris Van Buiten said the crash was caused by "a very sophisticated fly-by-wire flight control issue," adding that he did not see any requirement for hardware changes, and praised how all the systems behaved in the hard landing, including the fuselage, landing gear, seats and fuel systems. A second prototype, which had not been completely built at the time of the August crash, is expected to fly early next year. The helicopter is a development as part of the US Army's Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program.
| A Boeing and US Air Force (USAF) test team has successfully completed the first mid-air refueling involving two KC-46A aerial tankers. The demonstration took place during a recent four-hour flight, during which the two aircraft transferred 38,100 pounds of fuel to each other at 1,200 gallons of fuel per minute. Manufacturer Boeing hailed the demonstration as a "milestone" that opens the door to additional certification and specification compliance testing. More than a dozen KC-46s will be delivered to the USAF next year and will begin replacing the service's ageing fleet of KC-135s. So far, KC-46 test aircraft have had more than 1,300 contacts during refueling flights with a number of aircraft, including the F-16, F/A-18, AV-8B, C-17, A-10 and KC-10.
| Last Thursday, a modified Royal Norwegian Air Force F-35A Joint Strike Fighter touched down at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska for the next phase of testing for the type's drag chute. The aircraft was flown by the RNAF's test pilot, Major “Taz” Amdal, who will now will help certify the Norwegian drag-chute and demonstrate that the entire fleet of F-35As are capable of landing at a runway condition reading (RCR) of 7. The RCR scale is based on how wet and dry each runway is. A RCR 23 is considered a dry runway while an RCR 5 is compared to landing on ice. Amdal's F-35 is the first to touch down at Eielson AFB ahead of the base hosting two squadrons of USAF F-35As from 2020.