F-22 Raptor fighter: Lockheed Martin has been given a $40 million contract modification to strip and recoat F-22 coatings for the USAF's F-22 Raptor fleet. Work on the contract will be performed at various locations in California, Georgia, Utah, and Texas, and work is expected to be completed by the end of June 2019. At the time of the award, the company received $6.4 million. The fifth-generation tactical stealth fighter has been in service since 2005 and designed to perform air superiority missions.
Israel will declare their multi-tier defense network operational from next month following the deployment of the David's Sling interceptor system. Developed and manufactured jointly by Rafael and Raytheon, David's Sling will be responsible for shooting down rockets fired from 100 to 200 kilometers away, such as projectiles fired by the Iranian-backed Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah. The network will include the IDF's short-range Iron Dome and long-range Arrow missiles. More »
Lockheed Martin has ruled the T-50A out of the USAFs upcoming light attack aircraft experiment, instead focusing on offering the plane as part of the service’s T-X trainer competition. The company stated that the T-50A, a variant of Korea Aerospace Industries’ (KAI) T-50 Golden Eagle, already has a light-attack version, the FA-50, hinting that a solution may come not from the fixed-wing side of the company but rather from its rotary and mission systems business. Last week’s invitation by the Air Force details plans to choose up to four companies to bring non-developmental, low-cost, multi-role aircraft to Holloman Air base for a capability assessment. Over a period of four to six weeks, each plane’s “basic aerodynamic performance” will be tested as well as weapons, sensors, and communications capability. On the success of these demonstrations, the Air Force aims to prove whether there is a business case for creating an OA-X program of record.
Elbit will deliver 126 helmet display tracker systems associated with MH-60 Seahawk helicopters to the US Navy in a contract worth $49.8 million. The system is designed to integrate with the rotorcraft’s 20mm automatic gun subsystem, 2.75-inch unguided rockets and digitally-guided precision rockets, and enhances the situational awareness and targeting capabilities for Seahawk pilots and co-pilots. Work on the contract will be performed at Elbit’s facility in Fort Worth, Texas, and is expected to be completed by June 2021.
The US Navy’s MQ-25A Stingray unmanned aerial tanker is likely to have a wing-body-tail design after Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Work division found that a flying wing design is not the best aerodynamic shape for the service’s latest requirements. While the Navy had initially intended a surveillance and possible strike capability for the aircraft, the current requirements suggest a strong emphasis on a tanking role and less on ISR. As a result, competing firms Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, General Atomics and Boeing are likely to redesign their bids for the competition.
Middle East & North Africa
L-3 Fuzing and Ordnance System has won a $37 million US Army contract to provide various military fuses for the government of Saudi Arabia. The foreign military sales contract will see the kingdom receive more than 38,000 M734A1 multi-option fuses and more than 165,000 M783 detonating and delay fuses by May 31, 2019. Fuses are used as components in artillery munitions, grenades, sea mines, and other explosive devices.
Rheinmetall has been revealed as one of the defense manufacturers affected by defense export denials to Turkey by the German government. Speaking at the company’s end of year results, Chief Executive Armin Papperger reported that the “German government is currently denying clearance for some export contracts,” which could get in the way of current talks with Ankara over a contract to supply a defense system for its Leopard battle tanks, after the country lost 10 such vehicles in its war against the Islamic State. The latest tensions between the two governments have arisen from a row over campaign appearances in Germany by Turkish officials to drum up support for a referendum that could boost President Tayyip Erdogan’s powers.
An explosion at an army base warehouse storing tank ammunition in eastern Ukraine is being blamed on Russia or Russian-backed separatists. Defence Minister Stepan Poltorak told a press conference that a fire and explosions caused the detonation of ammunition in several sites at the base, possibly set off by a drone attack or a radio or timed device. Poltorak added that “I think that first of all it could be representatives who help the (separatist) groups that carry out combat missions,” hinting that a “friendly” country (Russia) may have been involved.
Dassault’s Rafale is being touted as the preferred selection by Malaysia for their latest fighter procurement program. A pitch in fovor of the fighter is expected to be made during French President Francois Hollande’s visit to the country next week, and could initially be worth as much as $2 billion for 19 aircraft. Hollande’s arrival will be marked by a ceremony which will see two French Rafales join a Royal Malaysian Air Force A400M in a flypast at Subang airbase in Kuala Lumpur. Also in the hunt include BAE with the Eurofighter Typhoon, Russia’s Sukhoi and Sweden’s Saab, which is selling its single engine Gripen.
The Indian government is considering whether it will pay for the maintenance and repair of grounded helicopters and transport planes belonging to the Afghan Air Force. Experts sent by New Delhi to access Kabul’s need estimate that it will cost close to $50 million for new parts and repairs to 11 grounded Soviet-made Mi-35 helicopters and seven transport aircraft. A final decision is expected within the next few months as soon as final costing is complete. As most of Afghanistan’s small air force dates from the Soviet era, sanctions against Russia means that Western donors that fund the military cannot pay to get grounded aircraft flying again. Here, India plays an important role in potentially supporting Afghanistan as it is not posed by such restrictions.
| Poland's Jenoptik Defense & Civil Systems has been contracted $11.38 million to work as a subcontractor in support of Poland's Leopard 2 main battle tank modernization program. Under the agreement, Jenoptik will provide 126 17-kilowatt auxiliary power units to Polish company ZM Bumar Labedy S.A., and an additional seven units to Rheinmetall Defense. Rheinmetall will receive ten electric turret and weapon stabilization systems that will be used to replace the hydraulic systems currently used to reduce heat generation inside the tank. Warsaw began the upgrade of their 126 Leopard 2 tanks in February 2016. Elsewhere, Polish and US tank operators recently began a series of tactical maneuvering exercises in preparation for an upcoming NATO training event, aimed at improving participants' ability to shoot, move, and communicate with one another on the battlefield. More »
| Lockheed Martin has won a $98 million US Navy contract to produce and deliver the service's Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program systems. The modification covers work for the program's Block 2 subsystems, which aim to expand upon the receiver and antenna groups necessary to support threat detection and improved system integration. Work will be completed by July 2019.
| Israel's Arrow anti-ballistic missile system has been combat tested for the first time. The system came into operation in order to intercept a Syrian surface-to-air missile that was targeting Israeli warplanes returning from a raid on Syrian sites. Despite claims from Damascus that one Israeli plane had been downed, IDF officials stated that no aircraft had been lost.
| Indian and Russian officials have signed two long-term support contracts for Sukhoi Su-30MKI combat aircraft flown by India. Companies signing the agreement include Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd., United Aircraft Corporation and United Engine Corporation, and covers upgraded schedule for delivery of spares from Russia for the jets, local manufacturing of parts, and a proposed logistics hub for the fighter in Bengaluru, India, by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. A second agreement will see the provision of lifecycle support and maintenance of major Russian equipment and platforms for Mi-17 helicopters, MiG-29K aircraft, INS Vikramaditya and T-90 tanks.
| Boeing and the US Army have signed a five-year $3.4 billion contract that will see the company provide Apache helicopters to both the US Army and the government of Saudi Arabia, marking the first multi-year agreement for the helicopter's “E” variant . Under the deal, Riyadh will receive 24 brand new Apache Guardians while the Army will receive 244 remanufactured aircraft, with work expected to be completed by June 30, 2022. Saudi Arabia's procurement of Apaches is part of an effort to build a 156-strong rotary-wing force and they have so far procured 36 helicopters in the last two years.
| The Israeli Air Force is considering a procurement of advanced F-15 jets from Boeing instead of purchasing additional F-35s. Tel Aviv will evaluate and consider this advanced version, capable of carrying more missiles and potentially in line with Boeing's suggested 2040 configuration, and could order as many as 20-25 aircraft to augment its F-35 fleet. At present, the IAF has plans for a 50-strong F-35I fleet.