Following the completion of ongoing demonstrations as part of the USAF's light attack aircraft experiment, potential aircraft may then face a combat demonstration in the Middle East. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told reporters last week that the aircraft—the A-29 Super Tucano from Sierra Nevada Corp. and Embraer, the AT-802L Longsword by L3 and Air Tractor, and the AT-6 Wolverine and Scorpion jet, both by Textron—could all face missions against militants from the Islamic State and other terrorist groups as part of the demonstration's next phase. The ongoing flights at Holloman AFB in New Mexico have already has several top Air Force officials view the trials, as well as representatives from about a dozen international partner militaries, including members from Canada, Australia, the United Arab Emirates and Paraguay.
In the wake of a German Tiger helicopter crash in Mali, its manufacturer Airbus has declared all variants of the attack helicopter as unsafe. The announcement was made in a company safety bulletin issued on Aug. 11, and stated that the firm cannot propose a protective measure as it “can neither identity the part, the failure of which would lead to the accident, nor the origin of the failure (design, manufacturing, maintenance).” Since the issuing of the bulletin, Australia has grounded its Tiger fleet, with only essential flights being flown. The German Defense Ministry said that its military authorities were working closely with UN officials, the manufacturer and other countries that operate the helicopters, however, fear that the investigation into the Mali crash could take months. More »
Rapid Fire | Thursday, August 17, 2017, 05:00 UTC ()
The US Department of Defense (DoD) has awarded Lockheed Martin a $24.1 million contract modification for F-35 Joint Strike Fighter logistics services for US and foreign military sales customers. Under the terms of the agreement, Lockheed Martin will provide material for depot stand-up and activation, canopy systems and avionics subsystems to the US Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and non-Pentagon participants and foreign military sales participants. Work will be carried out in Fort Worth, Texas, with a scheduled completion time for August 2019.
Argentina has stopped negotiations over the possible purchase of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Kfir fighters after earlier indications that Buenos Ares was close to agreeing to an order of between 12-14 aircraft. While the Kfir first entered operational service more than 40 years ago, IAI were offering the Argentine military upgraded Block 60 variants, which includes a GE Aviation J79 engine, Elta Systems’ EL/M-2032 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and an open architecture avionics suite that allows customers to install its own systems. However, pricing of the Kfirs has been a sticking point in the negotiations, and news that Argentina has stopped talk may indicate that they may instead move ahead with an offer to purchase six second-hand Super Étendard carrier-borne fighters from France.
An early operational capability MQ-4C Triton UAV is expected to be delivered to the US Navy next month, slightly later than its planned August delivery date. The news comes as Northrop commended taxi tests this week ahead of moving the aircraft to NAS Point Mugu, California, where it will conduct its first flight. The baseline Triton, also known as the integrated function capability 3 configuration, will come equipped with Northop’s multifunction active sensor (MFAS), a maritime patrol version of active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, and Northrop will deliver two baseline Triton aircraft, B5 and B6, to NAS Point Mugu. After Triton reaches early operational capability in fiscal year 2018, Northrop has its eye on initial operational capability in 2021. The company also plan to add a signals intelligence capability, which will bring it on par with the navy’s manned EP-3 reconnaissance fleet.
The US Marine Corps has put in a request for an additional M27 Infantry Automatic Rifles to replace the M4 carbine that infantry and other units currently use. 50,000 units have been added to the initial order of 11,000 already placed. The initial order was to replace most M249 Squad Automatic Weapons in Marine service, with the SAW held in reserve. In most respects, experts agree the M27 is a superior rifle to the M4, but it does come at an increased cost—M27s cost $3,000 apiece against the M4’s $1,000 per unit price tag.
Middle East & Africa
It’s been revealed that the Algerian military has received the Buk-M2E surface-to-air missile system, after images of a Buk-M2 transporter-erector-launcher on a MZKT 6922 6×6 wheeled vehicle surfaced last month. The images were taken at July’s Majd 2017 military exercise for the Algerian People’s National Army’s (ANP) El-Djeich magazine, and showed the system launching a 9M317-series missile. Russia has already sold the Buk-M2E—the export version of the Buk-M2 introduced in 2008—to Syria, Venezuela, and Azerbaijan.
Israel’s Meteor Aerospace has announced that they have commenced full-scale development of a new a medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) unmanned air vehicle. Known as the Impact 1300, the UAV will have a maximum take-off weight of 1,300kg (2,860lb) and is likely to have an operating ceiling of 30,000ft, with a possible endurance of more than 30h, depending on its configuration. The UAV has two spacious and easily accessible payload bays, it adds, with the forward one to carry electro-optical/infrared payloads and the rear for heavier equipment, such as a synthetic aperture radar/ground moving target indication capability. Flight testing is planned for 2019.
The British Royal Navy’s biggest and latest battleship, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, has berthed at its home port of Portsmouth for the first time. Greeting the new aircraft carrier was a crowd of ten thousand people, among them UK Prime Minister Teresa May, who hailed the vessel as “a clear signal that as Britain forges a new, positive, confident role on the world stage in the years ahead we are determined to remain a fully engaged global power, working closely with our friends and allies around the world.” The vessel and its crew had just returned from a round of sea trails and training with US naval personnel.
Despite the recent maiden flight of an Indian Air Force (IAF) Jaguar combat jet upgraded to the DAIRN III standard, New Delhi’s modernization program for the fleet has been criticized by some service officials as progressing too slowly and that there’s uncertainty regarding the mounting of proposed new engines. The refit is being undertaken by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) and includes new engines from US-based firm Honeywell, however, the firm has said it’s “still awaiting the go-ahead from the Indian Air Force for the new engines.” In addition to the engine delays, autopilot systems produced by France’s Thales are operating at a sub-optimal level because a vital component ? the Auto Pilot Electronic Unit, which maintains the flight path of the aircraft ? required repairs by Thales, which are expected to be completed in 7 to 26 months. In addition to these equipment delays, the IAF plan to run a further six flight tests before inducting the upgraded aircraft into service. India, the only country to still operate the Jaguar, hopes that once implemented, it will extend the aircraft’s life until 2050, with initial phase out to commence in 2035.
| Despite receiving clearance from the US State Department, Thai Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha has played down a deal to buy Harpoon anti-ship missiles, adding that the deal still needs to be finalized. Gen Prayut said that the procurement was possibly part of a previous purchase plan by its state procurement agency and will now need to be followed up by the Defense Ministry before approval. He added that he will seek more information from Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan. The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency cleared the $24.9 million sale on Aug. 10, for use on Thailand’s DW3000 Class frigate.
| BAE Systems has entered a bid to build Australia's next fleet of anti-submarine warfare frigates. Nine vessels will be built under the contract and the company is offering a variant of the Type 26 Global Combat Ship frigate being constructed for the British Royal Navy. The frigates for the country's SEA 5000 Future Frigate program are part of a company effort to partner with the government to develop a long-term ship building strategy.
| The US Air Force has taken a F-22 Raptorout of storage at Edwards Air Force Base and is expected to be returned to flying status by the end of the year. The aircraft in question, serial number 91-4006, is an engineering, manufacturing and development model aircraft with a Block 10 avionics configuration. In preparation for its first flight, the Raptor is currently undergoing a $25 million upgrade to a Block 20 avionics standard. A total of eight test and 187 operational aircraft were produced by Lockheed Martin for the USAF before the program was mothballed in 2012.
| Rolls Royce Marine North America has won a $27.3 million US Navy contract to provide parts and engineering services on power plants for DDG 1000 Zumwalt destroyers. The agreement includes item orders, mounting equipment and other services for DDG 1000 gas-turbine generators, which provide the destroyer's main source of electric power. Work will be conducted in Indianapolis, Ind., and Walpole, Mass., and is scheduled for completion by September 2022. The power plants are designed for future weapons systems like electromagnetic railguns and lasers, which would require huge amounts of electricity to operate.
| Sukhoi's T-50 PAK-FA has been designated the Su-57, according to Russia Air Force chief Col. Gen. Viktor Bondarev. The fifth-generation stealth fighter made its maiden flight in 2010 and since then has received a number of upgrades to avionics, stealth and armaments. Six aircraft are expected to be delivered to the Russian Air Force next year, with 55 expected to be in operation by 2020. The aircraft will then go into mass production.
| A team combining Boeing and General Dynamics Land Systems will enter a US Army short-range air defense (SHORAD) shoot-off next month. The team will build a short-range air defense system by placing a modernized Avenger air defense system on the back of a Stryker combat vehicle reconfigured to accommodate the system on a turret. The new Avenger is designed to shoot a multitude of different missiles, can be equipped with a 30mm gun and potentially even directed energy weapons down the road. A need for a new SHORAD capability surfaced last year, when the Army noticed a requirement for such platforms in the European theater and has been moving quickly to fill it by developing a system that will give maneuver forces the capability to defend against air threats from peer adversaries on the forward edge of the battlefield.