Upgrades and Support Abound for AF & Navy | Germany Considers Israeli UAVs | Russia May Help Serbia Increase Defensive Ties
- The US Air Force is to switch out the machine gun on the HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter. Ballistic testing is currently being conducted on the GAU-21 which is set to replace that of the GAU-18. The newer .50 caliber weapon has an increased barrel life of 10,000 rounds (up from 3,000), a cyclic rate of fire of 1,100 per minute (up from 550 rounds) and reduced recoil due to the use of a soft mount. The Pave Hawk helicopter is primarily used for search and rescue operations.
- Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $28 million concurrency modification contract to correct a fuel tank overpressure issue for the F-35A fighter. The award will see them provide services for air vehicle retrofit modifications associated with the F-35A fuel tank overpressure engineering change. Work will be carried out for the Air Force, and the governments of Australia, Italy, the Netherlands, and Norway. The modification in design is not expected to effect the IOC of the aircraft.
- The US Navy is to have Northrop Grumman provide software sustainment services for their MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopters in a contract worth $8.02 million. Northrop has been continuously advancing the capabilities of the MQ-8B since its introduction in 2006. By next year, they plan to have mine-detection sensor capabilities in coastal waters to be used in the protection of LCS class vessels.
Middle East North Africa
- The US Navy has provided logistical support to the French aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle during a recent port visit to Bahrain. The Navy Supply Systems Command Fleet Logistics Center (NAVSUP FLC) helped with resupplying the warship which has been conducting operations in the Gulf region since December 7. Three other ships accompanying the Charles De Gaulle were also resupplied. According to the French Navy, 80% of resupplied parts were for aircraft and critical to current operational needs. Since entering the region, the carrier has been conducting almost daily operations against Islamic State targets alongside the US and other coalition partners.
- After the expensive foray into indigenous UAV development that was Germany’s mothballed Euro Hawk program, Berlin may look to buy unmanned aerial vehicles from Israel. The German Bundeswehr seems to be interested in purchasing the Heron TP UAV for use not only in a reconnaissance role, but also to carry out air strikes. Picked ahead of the US Predator drones, the Heron will be used as a temporary measure as Germany, Italy and France are jointly working on the development of a new UAV system that aims to be operational by 2025.
- Following their recent desire to purchase Russian warplanes, Serbia may additionally seek to acquire the S-300 missile defense system. While the system has been cited as too costly for Belgrade, Russia may assist them with the purchase in order to increase defensive ties and secure another market for its exports as Serbia’s economic situation continues to improve. Citing the intention of neighbouring Croatia to purchase ballistic missiles that would put much of Serbia in range, Russia may come to the aid of its Balkan ally in helping secure the system as they look to counter installations of missile defense systems by NATO in eastern Europe.
- The announcements from Moscow keep coming as the Defense Ministry plans to introduce three powerful “Voronezh”-series early warning radar systems in 2016. This will add to the four currently in use, and is part of a plan which will see Russia’s early warning radar network modernized by 2020. The new radar systems have been praised as being cheaper, more energy efficient, and they will possess a wider range of detection than their predecessors.
- MD Helicopters are to manufacture and deliver twelve more MD 530F Cayuse Warrior Scout Attack helicopters to the Afghan Air Force. The addition will add to the twelve already in use by the air force. The previous 2015 order saw the aircraft delivered and operational within nine months, and have already seen successful operational duty. Five training variants are also in use and have been upgraded to the Cayuse configuration. The order adds to the gradual increase in participation by the Afghan Armed Forces in running and conducting their own security operations under the eye of the US.
- Drills of Russian troops attached to a S-300 convoy fend off a mock attack during training excercises:
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