A-10 Warthog: The Air Force has quashed Boeing's hopes of selling refurbished A-10s to international customers, following the floating of the idea in May. With the House protecting the A-10 from comprehensive retirement for another year, the Air Force is planning to mothball outgoing A-10s, thereby saving a reported $4.2 billion in sustainment over a five year period. More »
The US Department of Justice has opened a criminal investigation into alleged overcharging of the Navy through a contract handed to a Sikorsky business unit in 2006. The contract allegedly saw Sikorsky Support Services Inc subcontract another subsidiary – Derco Aerospace – for T-34 and T-44 aircraft spare parts, adding overheads and profit in the process, from 2006 to 2012 and violating the False Claims Act. The total damages the government could claim amounts to $148 million, with Lockheed Martin reportedly aware of the issue during due diligence investigations prior to buying Sikorsky for $9 billion earlier this month.
The Marine Corps is reportedly looking to evaluate various sniper rifles to replace the in-service M40A5 rifle. The options under consideration reportedly include the Mk21, currently fielded by SOCOM and the Army. The M40A5 has a problem with range, particularly when compared to other rifles in service with US forces and allies, such as the British L115A3.
The F-35B’s Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) – the system designed to monitor and relay critical aircraft system data – has received its final software upgrade ahead of the fighter achieving Initial Operating Capability. The system has also received critical hardware modifications. IOC for the Marine Corps’ first F-35Bs is expected later this year, with the Corps deciding in March to push on according to schedule, despite issues with the jet’s 2B software.
Argentina is reportedly negotiating with Israel Aerospace Industries regarding a procurement of Kfir Block 60 fighters. The Argentinians sent a delegation to Israel to finalize negotiations for the aircraft in March 2014, with the Argentine Air Force submitting a list of technical requirements which would be a prerequisite for any sale. The Kfir Block 60 is reportedly priced at around $20 million, considerably less than more modern fighters, with the aircraft’s operating cost also thought to be much lower. Argentina previously attempted to procure Saab Gripen E fighters, running into a brick wall when the British government announced that it would not allow British-manufactured Gripen components to ultimately end up in Argentine hands.
Middle East North Africa
Egypt may purchase a second and third FREMM frigate from France, to complement the first vessel transferred to the Egyptian Navy in late June. The Egyptian Navy is also set to receive four Gowind 2500 corvettes between 2017 and 2019, with the current negotiations also reportedly including a possible sale of four additional corvettes.
The German Army has officially received its Puma Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFV) from Rheinmetall and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, following the fleet’s approval [German] in May, along with a delivery of seven vehicles as a training contingent. The German BWB procurement agency placed an order for 405 of the vehicles in July 2009 to replace the Bundeswehr’s fleet of Marder IFVs, subsequently revising the number down to 350 in July 2012. The full force of Puma vehicles is expected to be completed by 2020, with batches currently being received and passed to units for training before returning to home bases.
Turkish Aerospace Industries is looking to export its T129 attack helicopter, with the company angling for a US export license in order to do so. TAI is hoping to find a customer in Poland, which requires around thirty attack helicopters under its Kruk competition. The country’s defense ministry announced in April that a winner will be announced by the end of the year.
Lockheed Martin has been contracted to provide an additional six years of logistics support to the British Ministry of Defence, under the company’s Joint Asset Management Engineering Solutions (JAMES) program. The program has been in operate since 2005 and is designed to track equipment throughout the supply chain and inventory, as well as monitor the status and condition of items. The $29 million contract builds on the JAMES system’s December 2010 full increment capability, which included inventory management and Maintenance, Repair, Modification & Overhaul (MRMO) as part of a JAMES upgrade. The UK MoD has been heavily criticized in recent years over supply chain inefficiencies.
India is looking at how the country could relax current ‘blacklisting’ policies for defense firms accused of wrongdoing. Currently, companies can be excluded from bidding or signing agreements with the Indian government if they are suspected of breaching Indian law, regardless of whether these accusations emerge as valid or not. The Defence Procurement Policy body is contemplating a move to a system similar to that of US and British government policies, which give these governments room to negotiate with firms accused of wrongdoing, without necessarily excluding them from ongoing or future contract negotiations. These arrangements include Deferred Prosecution Agreements, which can allow the government and the company to establish sanctions and other measures in return for non-prosecution.
| Boeing is committing to keep its F-18 production line open in response to new and forecast orders from both the US and international customers. The company was worried that insufficient orders for new Super Hornet and Growler aircraft would fail to materialize and keep the production line economically viable. Boeing considered slowing the production rate in March, to extend the time available for more orders to come through the door. Recent orders from the US Navy and Kuwait have bolstered the company's confidence in keeping the production line open. More »
| The F-35's GAU-22/A 25mm cannon has been tested on the ground at Edwards Air Force Base, with the General Dynamics-designed weapon having been developed for both internal and external gun systems of the Joint Strike Fighter. The cannon is mounted on an external pod for the F-35B and C variants, with the Air Force's F-35A variant positioning the weapon internally. The four-barrel system allows the fighter to let loose just 180 rounds per reload, allowing for three short passes at best. That last problem featured heavily in criticism of the Air Force for floating the idea - since backtracked - that the F-35A could serve as the main ground forces protection platform. The program has been busy testing other weapons in recent weeks, including the Marines testing live JDAM bombs in early July. The Pentagon has been mulling what to include in future F-35 weapon tranches, with options including the Small Diameter Bomb II and Joint Strike Missile, as well as several others. More »
| The Lebanese government has requested 1,500 TOW-2A guided missiles from the US, with the State Department approving the possible Foreign Military Sale, estimated to value $245 million. 1,000 of the missiles requested are the anti-armor variant and the remaining 500 bunker busting variants, with the order also including fifty launchers. The Lebanese government has recently received the first weapons purchased from France in November last year with Saudi financing the deal worth around $3 billion. Shipments of these weapons (including Milan anti-tank missiles) began in April. The country's government also received weapons from China earlier this month, with these thought to have been donated by the Chinese government. The US has sent approximately $1 billion in military aid to Lebanon over the last eight years, previously supplying older versions of the TOW-2 system. More »
| In a characteristic set-back, India's Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) will see its Final Operating Clearance delayed until next year. The schedule has slipped consistently for the indigenous fighter, with FOC previously pushed back to December this year. The Indian Defense Ministry has blamed the delays on late delivery of components from foreign manufacturers; however the program also came under severe criticism from the Indian government's principal oversight body in May, with the aircraft's performance in question after over three decades of development. The new FOC for the aircraft is now reported to be timetabled for March 2016. More »
| The Chief of Naval Operation Adm. Jonathan Greenert wants to buy ten Arleigh Burke-class destroyers (DDGS) to the tune of two a year, according to his Navigation Plan announced this week. This will bring the total number to be procured by 2020 to seventy-two. The Plan also calls for the procurement of the Navy's Small Surface Combatant frigates by 2019, as well as investment in deterrent and attack submarines. The latter would involve boosting the fleet of Virginia-class boats to twenty-two within five years, in addition to the maintenance of the Ohio-class ballistic missile boats, with a replacement eyed for 2031. More »
| Lockheed Martin and Alenia Aermacchi have both responded to a Request for Information for Taiwan's advanced jet trainer, according to Taiwanese media [Chinese]. The US company is expected to offer the T-50 Golden Eagle aircraft, in conjunction with South Korea's Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), whilst the Italian firm will likely push the M-346 AJT. Taiwan's defense ministry is expected to make a decision regarding the purchase of new trainers to replace the current fleet of F-5E/F and AT-3 aircraft next year, with the winning aircraft design likely to be assembled in Taiwan by Aerospace Industrial Development Corp. More »