MQ-4C Triton/ BAMS maritime UAV: Northrop Grumman's MQ-4C Triton has been cleared for low-rate initial production, the first piece of the production and deployment phase of the UAV. 68 Tritons are expected to be fielded, with the first to be deployed in 2017. The Triton will operate as a forward-deployed, land-based, autonomously operated system that provides persistent ISR within a range of 2,000 nautical miles using a multi-sensor mission payload including maritime radar, Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR), Electronic Support Measures (ESM), Automatic Identification System (AIS), and basic communications relay. More »
USA: Naval Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAV): Contracts worth $43 million each have been doled out to Lockheed Martin and Boeing in order “to conduct risk reduction activities in support of the MQ-25 unmanned carrier aviation air system.” Both companies are expected to complete their work on the UAV by October 2017. Now known as the Stingray program, the UAV integrates the first operational, carrier-based, catapult-launched drone and will provide long-endurance ISR and organic refueling capabilities for the carrier air wing.
Rapid Fire | Wednesday, September 28, 2016, 00:55 UTC ()
The F-35could be getting new engines by the mid-2020s, with the potential for either an upgraded version of the Pratt & Whitney F135 design currently in use or a new engine from a competitor. Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, head of the Joint Program Office, made the announcement at last week’s Air Force Association conference. The USAF is currently in the early stages of funding their Adaptive Engine Transition Program (AETP) competition, with both P&W and General Electric Aviation securing contracts worth $1.01 billion to research if its possible to “demonstrate 25 percent improved fuel efficiency, 10 percent increased thrust, and significantly improved thermal management.”
E-8C JSTARS aircraft grounded due to maintenance concerns are back flying again. Issues surrounding a radar mishap had resulted in four E-8Cs undergoing a USAF launched independent investigation following their delivery from depot maintenance at Northrop Grumman’s facility in Lake Charles, Louisiana. One aircraft experienced water damage to the Northrop APY-7 radar after the glassfibre canoe did not properly drain water.
If you missed/managed to avoid what was a rather strange first US presidential debate, candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton sparred on national security, ISIS, supporting Gulf and Asian allies (should they pay more?), cyber warfare, and aging military hardware. Choice highlights include Trump asserting that Clinton’s website is handing out tips to ISIS, that our troops are utilizing “B-52s old enough that your father or grandfather could be flying them,” and suggesting that China should go into North Korea.
Middle East &North Africa
US officials have hinted that Gulf allies may arm Syrian anti-government militants with more shoulder-fired weapons following the collapse of the latest ceasefire and reports of bunker busting bombs being used by Russian warplanes on civilian and aid targets. Until now, Washington has so far prevented significant numbers of man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) being supplied to the militants, instead favoring training and sending infantry weapons. The supply of MANPADS could help negate Russian and Syrian air power in cities such as Aleppo, as seen by their use by the Mujahideen against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.
Kenya and Jordan are to cooperate on counter-terrorism training with the Gulf state to help train Kenyan Air Force pilots. The announcement was made during King Abdallah II Ibn Hussein’s one-day visit to the Kenyan capital Nairobi, which focused largely on security and CT issues. Alongside the meetings, King Abdullah and Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, both dressed in military fatigues, watched joint military exercises, with the president tweeting “Our cooperation is underpinned by our common interests. Together we must fight against emerging security threats.”
Hypersonic weapons being researched by Russia’s Tactical Missiles Corp. should be capable of hitting targets by the early 2020s. The group is collaborating with scientists from the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Advanced Research Foundation under the Military-Industrial Commission and hope to produce a missile capable of reaching Mach 5 (3,800 mph). Moscow’s hypersonic development lags behind that of the US, who are currently looking to develop and demonstrate critical technologies to enable an effective and affordable air-launched hypersonic cruise missile.
The UK government is to prosecute ejection seat maker Martin Baker in relation to the death of a Red Arrows display team pilot in 2011. The pilot, Flt Lt Sean Cunningham, died after the MK10 ejector seat parachute failed to deploy. While the company has failed to comment on the legal action, it represents a second setback for the company following safety issues with the US-16E ejection seat it is supplying for the entire F-35 program. It was suggested during the summer that the USAF consider an alternative ejection seat supplier for the next-generation fighter.
Following a series of protests, head shavings, and eggings, South Korean and US military officials are to announce an alternative site for the controversial deployment of the THAAD anti-missile system this week. Originally destined for the southeastern county of Seongju, three alternative sites neighboring Seongju include a golf course owned by chaebol (conglomerate) Lotte Group in Chojeon-myeon, Mt. Yeomsok in Geumsu-myeon and Mt. Kkachi in Suryun-myeon. The decision to allow THAAD on the Korean peninsula comes amid North Korea’s steaming ahead with ballistic missile and nuclear tests over the last year.
Pakistan Air Force jets landing and taking off from highways near Lahore:
| It's back to the drawing board for KAI's KUH-1 Surion as the Korean-made utility helicopter failed a number of extreme climate tests in the USA. If successful, the testing would have given the Surion an international standard and boosted export chances. Several parts will now be redesigned to rectify the defects found during the testing, which puts the helicopter through very challenging humid and freezing temperatures. More »
| Well folks, it's finally a done deal! France and India's defense ministers inked contracts for 36 Dassault Rafale fighters on Friday, with pictures of French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and his Indian counterpart, Manohar Parrikar, surfacing on Parrikar's Twitter account stating "Rafale will significantly improve India's strike & defence capabilities." Due to be delivered over the next six years, the Rafales are estimated to be worth $8.7 billion, haggled down from an original figure of $13.47 billion. More »
| While the UK doesn't look set to acquire Gripen fighters anytime soon, Saab are keen that their GlobalEye AEW&C platform would be an ideal replacement for the RAF's current fleet of six Boeing E-3 Sentrys. The company believes that products such as its EyrieEye ER system - or a larger package like the Bombardier Global 6000-based GlobalEye - are still in the running in the UK market, even though London looks set to keep the E-3s operational until 2035. Until then, recent GlobalEye purchaser UAE may provide some operational reviews before the UK decides to go the full monty on GlobalEye.
| The US State Department has cleared the sale of four KC-46A aerial refueling tankers to Japan in what is estimated to be a $1.9 billion deal. All aircraft will come equipped with Northrop Grumman’s AN/AAQ-24(V) Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) system. Tokyo first announced its intention to purchase the new tankers last October, with the recent approval from the Pentagon moving it closer to becoming the aircraft's first foreign customer for manufacturer Boeing.
| Saudi Arabia's Al Raha Group has successfully been awarded a USAF contract to provide support to the Saudi Arabian F-15 fleet. Valued at $355.9 million, Al Raha will provide comprehensive material management of unclassified spares, support equipment, and support services required to support base stand-ups and continued F-15 and F-15SA Royal Saudi Air Force flying operations. Work will be carried out both in Georgia, USA and in Saudi Arabia. More »