Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has been awarded an additional contract by the Indian government to supply air and defense missile systems for four ships of the Indian navy. Valued at an estimated $630 million, the agreement will include local state-owned firm Bharat Electronics Ltd, who will serve as the main contractor on the project under New Delhi's "Make in India" initiative. The deal follows a $2 billion one signed with IAI last month to supply India's army and navy with missile defense systems. The Barak-8 system is a joint development effort between IAI, India'sDefence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO), Israel's Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure, Elta Systems, and Rafael, while Bharat produce the system's missiles.
MQ-9 Reaper UAV: The USAF has awarded a $400 million contract to General Atomics for the production and delivery of 36 MQ-9 Reaper UAVs. The contract comes from acquisition funds already appropriated sole-source acquisition funds from Fiscal 2016. Work will take place at Poway, California, and is expected to be complete by Aug. 31, 2020. The Reaper, the larger and more heavily successor to the MQ-1 Predator, the UAV boasts a cruise speed of 230 mph, a flight ceiling up to 50,000 feet, and a range of 1150 miles, and can carry a payload of up to 3750 lbs. Munitions integrated include the Hellfire laser-guided missiles, GBU-12 Paveway bombs, and GPS-guided GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions.
A U-2S Dragon Lady participated in the Northern Edge military exercises based out of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in order to test new technologies on this later version of the 5th generation upgraded version of the venerable aircraft. The high-altitude intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance plane participated alongside some 6000 personnel and 200 aircraft from every service branch, in an exercise that aims to improve interoperability and cohesion between the various branches. For the U-2S’s participation in the exercise, 130 personnel from the 9th RW were deployed to JBE.
Boeing is planning future upgrades for the F/A-18 Super Hornet that will keep the fighters flying into the 2040s. If approved, the plan will see continued development of the aircraft after the current Block 3 enhancement planned for the E/F variant of the Super Hornet enters production in 2020. Speaking on the plan, Larry Burt, director of Global Sales & Marketing for the Global Strike division, said that there “could well be lots of new capabilities added after Block 3. The Block 3 is built around a new processor that is a hundred times more powerful that today’s. This processor resides outside of the aircraft’s Operational Flight Program [computer], and so is not tied to its five-year software development cycle. It is truly open architecture that allows for plug and play of weapons, sensors, and systems.”
Middle East & North Africa
The Turkish government has approved a deal with local firm Tusas Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) for the design, development and serial production of 12 Hurkus-C armed trainer aircraft. Ankara’s procurement office, the Undersecretariat for Defence Industries (SSM), said the program will maximize the use of locally developed software and hardware, including in the design and integration stages. So far, the aircraft has test-fired the L-UMTAS, a laser-guided, long-range, anti-tank missile designed by state-owned missile manufacturer Roketsan, and can fire several types of locally developed ammunition including CIRIT, TEBER, HGK and LGK. TAI expects the armed Hurkus to be widely used in Turkey’s increasing counterinsurgency fight against pro-Kurdish and Islamic militants both inside Turkey and across its Syrian and Iraqi borders.
Saudi Arabia’s Military Industries Company has entered an strategic partnership with Raytheon after a memorandum of understanding was signed at the weekend. The ceremony took place in Riyadh and was witnessed by both the Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and a visiting Donald Trump. Under the terms of the deal, Raytheon will establish a wholly owned subsidiary in the country, Raytheon Arabia, that will implement programs to create indigenous defense, aerospace and security capabilities. Among subsidiary functions will be in-country program management and development of supply and sourcing capabilities. Raytheon said it is expected that Raytheon Arabia activities will positively impact the economies of both countries and lead to job creation in both. They would also continue worldwide growth in the areas of air defense systems, smart munitions, C4I systems and defense system cybersecurity.
The French Navy has fired an Aster 30 surface-to-air missile as part of a training exercise aimed at preparing crew and vessel in engagements against airborne threats. The May 18 exercise was conducted onboard the Forbin, a Horizon-class air defense frigate, while the vessel was at sea, and marks the third time that a missile was launched from the ship since its entry into service. Paris have also armed the Aster 30 on the Forbin’s sister ship, Chevalier Paul, and will be fitted on the two forthcoming multi-mission frigates to be adapted to the air defense mission. Five intermediate frigates will also be fitted with the system following a new work order issued last month.
Italy’s Fincantieri is looking to acquire a majority stake in French shipbuilder STX France. Fincantieri is looking to purchase a 66.66% stake in STX at a cost estimated to be worth $89 million, and plans to pay for the acquisition out of its current finances. The two companies sign the share purchase agreement late last week and Fincantieri is negotiating with the French government for the finalization of the shareholders’ agreement.
Rolls Royce will supply its MT30 gas engines to power the upcoming Daegu-class frigates for the South Korean Navy. The order covers the delivery of engines for the second third and fourth vessel of the eight frigate program, and marks the first application for MT30 outside the UK and US markets. Work for Seoul’s Daegu-class program has been split among a number of Korean shipbuilders with Daewoo responsible for the deliver of the second frigate, while Hyundai is building ships three and four.
The AVIC Harbin Z-19E attack helicopter has conducted its maiden flight. An export version of the Z-19, testing on the E variant included hovering, ground-effect manouevring, and low passes. Designed for anti-tank and ground attack missions, the manufacturer stated that the helicopter is “able to be deployed for battlefield support and a variety of other missions in a complicated battlefield environment during both day and night.”
Houthi forces fire missile at Saudi F-15 in Yemen:
| Raytheon has received a $26.8 million contract for the engineering and support of the MK-31 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM). The US Navy contract was awarded as part of a joint cooperative development and production program between the United States and Germany under a memorandum of understanding. The program is meant to test reliability, along with maintenance, logistics, and software issues, and work is expected to be completed by September 2018. The RAM is designed for point-defense against anti-ship missiles and can be deployed on ships of any size. . It uses passive radio frequency and infrared guidance systems to track and destroy targets. More »
| BAE Systems has rolled out the lead example of its Eurofighter Typhoons destined for delivery to Oman later this year. Muscat's Typhoon order, signed in December 2012, is for nine single-seat aircraft and three two-seat examples to support training activities. A ceremony to mark the occasion was hosted at the firm's final assembly in Lancashire, UK, with the Typhoon joined by Oman's first new-generation Hawk advanced jet trainer, of which eight Mk 166 examples are on order by the Gulf sultanate.
| The CEO of French aviation firm Dassault, Eric Trappier, has told French media that the firm expects to sell an additional 18 Rafale fighters next year. In an interview with French regional newspaper Sud-Ouest on Sunday, Trappier hinted that the purchaser may by Malaysia, in a deal that could potentially be worth $2 billion. India has also been earmarked as a potential repeat customer after a high profile deal for 36 Rafales was concluded last year. "India's needs are enormous," said Trappier. "Hence, for its navy, 57 aircraft are considered," he added. Malaysia, however, may be the more likely candidate for a deal to be finalized in the near term as it looks to replace its ageing combat aircraft.
| The Pentagon's inspector general has opened an investigation as to whether the USAF has imposed unnecessary additional secrecy on its B-21 bomber program. Last year, the Air Force rebuffed requests, including from Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, to reveal basic information such as the value of the development contract awarded to lead contractor Northrop Grumman or the amount of the fee set aside to encourage meeting program goals, citing their potential value to adversaries. Now, the DoD's watchdog office will review and submit a report to Congress within the next six months aiming to ascertain whether there is the right mix of balanced program classification and transparency. More »
| Embraer has announced that it will enter its A-29 Super Tucano into the US Air Force's upcoming OA-X experiment. The Brazilian manufacturer will team with Sierra Nevada Corporation for the July demonstration, which aims to test low-cost options for acquiring light attack aircraft for the service. Manufactured in Florida and in use by a dozen air forces worldwide, the A-29 is a durable, versatile and powerful turboprop aircraft capable of carrying out a wide range of fighter and ISR missions. The USAF-certified A-29 is combat-proven, having seen combat in Afghanistan and in theaters around the globe.
| The Indian Air Force has successfully test-fired a Darby radar-guided air-to-air missile from one of its LCA Tejas fighters. Conducted on May 12, New Delhi's announcement stated that “the missile launch was performed in Lock ON after Launch mode for a BVR target in the look down mode and the target was destroyed,” and that aircraft avionics, fire-control radar, launchers and Missile Weapon Delivery System all performed as required. The test is one of several steps needed to clear beyond visual range (BVR) capabilities for the LCA. More »