USAF Forays into 3D Printed Parts | Turkish F-16s to Get Harris AIDEWS Pod System | Malaysia to be First Recipient of MD530
- The USAF is to use a 3-D printed part for the E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft. The part, a plastic end cap for seat armrests, is non-essential to keeping the battle management platforms flying, but is seen as an important first step toward using 3-D printing to repair and maintain aircraft in a cost and time effective manner. Other parts being developed are replacement air duct brackets used inside the E-3’s wings, with savings of over $0.5 million per annum. The increase in the development of 3-D printing by the air force follows the $6 million contract awarded earlier in January to Aerojet to define the standards that will be used to qualify components made using 3-D printing for use in liquid-fueled rocket engine applications. The award is part of a larger drive by the military to end its reliance on Russian-built RD-180 rocket engines used on the Atlas 5 rocket.
- Initial plans to have the US Navy’s latest unmanned jet weaponized seems less likely, as plans seem to have shifted towards a tanker role. The long deferred Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) program was recently provided enthusiastically with $350 million by Congress. However, this was given on the understanding that the jet would be developed for full integration into carrier air wing operations – including strike operations – and possess the range, payload, and survivability attributes as necessary to complement such integration. No mention had been made about the need for unmanned aerial tanking capability. Instead the jet could be developed under the little known Carrier-Based Aerial-Refueling System (CBARS) aimed at producing an unmanned carrier-based aerial tanker, able to refuel other planes low on gas without risking a pilot. Strike capabilities would feature in a future variant of the aircraft.
Middle East North Africa
- Harris Corp. will upgrade Turkish F-16s with self-protection pods, bolstering their electronic warfare capability. The Turkish Air Force will receive 21 of AN/ALQ-211 Advanced Integrated Defensive Electronic Warfare Suite (AIDEWS) pod systems from Harris which will include maintenance support equipment, spares, and engineering support. The addition will greatly increase the fleet capabilities as they conduct operations within their own territory and along their borders with Syria and Iraq as tensions over Russian aircraft encroaching on Turkish airspace continue. Ankara will eventually replace their F-16s with Lockheed Martin’s F-35A, with plans to acquire 100 of the Joint Strike Fighter.
- Meteor Aerospace, one of Israel’s newest companies, has given a glimpse of its Impact UAV. The development has been kept rather quiet until now, but details released include the ability to carry a 330lb payload along with a 100hp fuel-injection engine and a flight endurance of over 24 hours. Meteor, founded in 2013, has currently received orders for the Impact and other systems for $150 million, with another $100 million in potential add ons. Development is also under way for both a larger and smaller UAV system as Meteor looks to muscle its way into Israel’s extremely competitive UAV market.
- Following increased defense cooperation among Nordic and Baltic militaries, 2016 is to see a boost in logistical demands as Denmark takes the chair of the Nordic Defense Cooperation (NORDEFCO) organization. 2015 already saw Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland agree to pool resources in joint development programs and acquisitions said to be worth up to $40 billion, as well as mounting pressure for Sweden to join NATO. These common defense policies will now extend to include Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, with the planned establishment of a Nordic-Baltic Battalion Task Force (BTF) leading to increased joint international operations and more expansive multi-branch training and exercises between their armed forces.The maturation of these defense and procurement alliances have been spurred over security concerns posed by Russia.
- Malaysia is to be the first recipient of MD Helicopter’s new MD530 G-model variant with an order made for six of the armed scout helicopters. Full delivery will be completed by March of 2017, following an initial unit being delivered by this winter. Included in the deal is an electro-optical/infrared sensor, and an unspecified weapons package that could include guided and unguided rockets alongside .50cal machine guns. MD530 sales have had a strong start to 2016, recently receiving a follow on contract for twelve F-models to the Afghan Air Force after a previous twelve were delivered in 2015. The ones serving in Afghanistan are currently armed with FN Herstel gun pods and 2.75-inch rockets.
- BAE Systems has signed a contract with Bangkok Dock to license and produce another 90-meter offshore patrol vessel (OPV) for the Royal Thai Navy (RTN). Based on BAE’s 80-meter River-class vessels used by the British Royal Navy, the new addition will mark the second of such a type to be produced and operated by the RTN in a deal estimated at between $60-80 million. Thailand plans to have four OPVs in operation, and it is believed that BAE will be helping to provide the two remaining, with orders expected within the next decade. Armed with a 76mm main gun and 30mm secondaries and potential for fitting a surface-to-surface missile, the OPVs will be charged with management of economic exclusive zones and the provision of effective disaster relief along Thailand’s coastal waters.
- USMC V-22 Ospreys:
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