Israel: F-35i fighter jets: Rumors have surfaced that Israel's F-35i "Adir" fighter has made its combat debut during recent border clashes that resulted in air-strikes against Syrian air defense. While the fighter's use has not been officially confirmed, all operations concerning the new fighter have been deemed classified by Israeli Air Force commander Maj Gen Amikam Norkin. The IAF's "Golden Eagle" squadron currently operates nine F-35is, and is due to receive another six units through 2018.
Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) / Small Surface Combatant (SSC): Northrop Grumman will deliver services in support of littoral combat ship (LCS) mission modules for the US Navy. Valued at $46.7 million, the contract modification was announced by the Pentagon last Wednesday, March 15, and tasks Northrop Grumman to provide engineering, technical and sustainment services for the Navy's littoral combat ship mission modules—which are designed for naval operations against asymmetric threats and anti-access obstacles in littorals near the coastline. Work will take place Bethpage, New York, San Diego, California, and several other US locations with contract completion scheduled for March 2019.
Rapid Fire | Tuesday, March 20, 2018, 05:00 UTC ()
Kratos Defense’s Mako High Performance Jet Tactical Unmanned Aerial System has been given clearance by the US State Department, allowing for the export of the UAS to certain European and Asian Pacific partners. In a statement announcing the approval, the firm hailed the Mako as providing fighter-like performance and is designed to function as a wingman to manned aircraft as a force multiplier in contested airspace, or be deployed independently or in groups of UAS. It added that it already works with most of the recently State Department approved nations on other programs, contracts, systems and products across the corporation, including certain existing Kratos High Performance Unmanned Aerial Target Drone customers. As Flight Global reports, with a price listed between $2 million and $3 million, the Mako has been floated as a possible low-cost wingman to the eye-gougingly expensive F-35, which at its lowest comes in at a cool $95 million. Those currently participating in the next-generation fighter’s acquisition include Australia, Canada, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Turkey, the UK, Israel, Singapore, Japan and South Korea.
Northrop Grumman will deliver services in support of littoral combat ship (LCS) mission modules for the US Navy. Valued at $46.7 million, the contract modification was announced by the Pentagon last Wednesday, March 15, and tasks Northrop with providing engineering, technical and sustainment services for the Navy’s littoral combat ship mission modules—which are designed for naval operations against asymmetric threats and anti-access obstacles in littorals near the coastline. Work will take place Bethpage, New York, San Diego, California, and several other US locations with contract completion scheduled for March 2019.
Middle East & Africa
A Canadian government source has told Reuters that it will send peace-keeping troops, helicopters, and medical teams to the ongoing UN mission in Mali later this year with possible deployment of up to a year. The announcement is expected to be made official by Ottawa this week and follows a 2016 pledge by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to send up to 600 troops to aid the Mali mission which seeks to counter a growing Islamist insurgency in the country. However, the growing casualties being suffered by the mission—up to 80 UN-affiliated personnel deployed to Mali have been killed since 2013—has caused enthusiasm to wane for a major deployment. In November, the government said it would hold off on announcing deployment of troops to Mali as it reviewed strategy for participating in UN peace-keeping missions, adding that soldiers would be split into “smart-pledge” initiatives concerned with training other peace-keeping troops.
Rumors have surfaced that Israel’s F-35i “Adir” fighter has made its combat debut during recent border clashes that resulted in air-strikes against Syrian air defense. While the fighter’s use has not been officially confirmed, all operations concerning the new fighter have been deemed classified by Israeli Air Force commander Maj Gen Amikam Norkin. The IAF’s “Golden Eagle” squadron currently operates nine F-35is, and is due to receive another six examples through 2018.
British shipbuilder BAE Systems has unveiled its design for a competition for an export variant of it Type 31 frigate, the Type 31(e). Based on the Khareef class of corvettes built by BAE and delivered to the government of Oman, the vessel was announced at last week’s Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference in Qatar, coinciding with the release of the pre-qualification questionnaire for the program’s competitive design phase by the UK Ministry of Defence. BAE’s bid is a joint effort with Liverpool shipbuilder Cammell Laird. Speaking on the export possibilities for the vessel, BAE official Kevin Joyce said the firm had “already got interest from two South American customers on the Type 31e.” “The purpose of this program was to serve our Royal Navy and international customers. The Type 31e will be designed to be operable in international waters, including the Gulf”, Joyce added. The first of five Type 31e warships is expected to be delivered in 2023 with the MoD capping the total cost of the five units at £1.25 billion ($1.74) billion.
South Korea’s first F-35A Joint Strike Fighter will roll off the assembly line later this month at Lockheed Martin’s Forth Worth facility. The milestone will be marked by a low-key, no-media ceremony on March 28, with only Lt. Gen. Lee Sung-yong, the deputy chief of staff for the South Korean air force, attending. The subdued mood stems from the recent calm in the region as talks with North Korea make headway, and a desire to keep the head down amid corruption allegations in connection with the contract with Lockheed under the previous administration of the ousted Park Geun-hye.
The Indian Army will soon select a winner to supply new man-portable air-defense system (MANPADS) to the service, only seven years—yes, the same amount of time Brad Pitt spent in Tibet—after the original request for proposals was released. After all that time, only three suppliers have made the cut to enter price negotiations: MBDA of France; Rosoboronexport of Russia; and Saab of Sweden, with the winner to be chosen by the lowest bidder to supply 5,000 missiles, 258 single launchers and 258 multi-launchers to replace stocks of the 9K38 Igla system currently in army’s inventory. First announced in 2010, the program has been plagued by continued trials and retrials as not enough companies had originally met its requirements.
Taiwan has not given up on its dream of operating the F-35B with Minster of National Defense Yen Teh-fa telling a meeting of the Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee that the stealth fighter’s short takeoff and vertical-landing capabilities definitely meet the needs of the air force. Yen added that the government has yet to approach the US over such a purchase and he is not sure how many aircraft are needed to successfully scare off China. While the Taiwanese government have been expressing their interest in the F-35 for almost a year, Washington has kept tight lipped on any potential sale of such high-tech weaponry to the island for fear of irritating China, who sees Taiwan as a wayward province and tries to promote the diplomatic isolation of the island.
India deploys its heavy-lift C-17 Globemaster III to Arunachal Pradesh’s Tuting Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) near the Chinese border.:
| Making F-35A fighter aircraft at home is costing the Japanese taxpayer an extra $33 million per airframe than those imported from Lockheed Martin's Forth Worth facility. A report by Jane's quoted a spokesperson from the Japanese Ministry of Defence’s (MoD’s) Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA) as saying the unit price of the F-35s “depends greatly on the foreign exchange rate of each fiscal year [and] the difference in procurement methods between importing completed F-35s from the US and assembling F-35s in the Japanese FACO facility”. The ministry added that in fiscal year 2012 when Japan first ordered the F-35 through the import of completed aircraft the exchange rate was JPY81 per USD1, and that this resulted in the unit cost of imported F-35s reaching JPY9.6 billion (or USD90.1 million at constant 2018). Japan has initially ordered 42 F-35As, with the first four delivered from the US while the remaining 38 assembled at a Mitsubishi-run final assembly and check out (FACO) facility in Nagoya.
| A request for proposals to re-engine the US Air Force's B-52 strategic bomber is expected for the first quarter of 2019, documents released by the service last week state. According to the document, the contract for re-engining the USAF's 76 Boeing B-52H bombers would likely be granted some four to six months after final proposals are submitted, with the service looking to acquire at least 608 new, commercially available turbofan engines to replace the eight Pratt & Whitney TF33s each bomber carries. First produced 60 years ago, the TF33 engine was deemed unsustainable after 2030 due to to age, parts obsolescence and a shrinking supplier base. Pratt & Whitney, Rolls-Royce and GE Aviation are possible bidders for the engine replacement program. More »
| AeroVironment has landed a $9.09 million foreign military sales contract to provide an undisclosed number of its RQ-20B Puma surveillance systems and support to the government of Egypt. Work will be performed in Monrovia, California, with an estimated completion date of September 16, 2020. The RQ-20B Puma AE II M3/M4 is a man portable system capable of both ground and water landings. It is equipped with an electro-optical (EO) and infrared (IR) camera and illuminator and can deliver 3.5+ hours of flight endurance while versatile smart battery options support diverse mission requirements. Other operators of the system include the US military and Belgian Army.
| The Sikorsky-Boeing team developing the SB-1 Defiant are rigorously testing the coaxial helicopter demonstrator before its maiden flight, officials from both companies have told Defense News. Defiant is likely to fly in the latter part of this summer, Randy Rotte, Boeing’s director of global sales and marketing for cargo helicopters and Future Vertical Lift said, caveating that the team is "really focused on providing information to the Army throughout the whole flight test program to inform them as they go forward, as they are doing their analysis of alternatives, as they are doing their technical readiness assessment, as they are preparing for their program of record.” The Army is assessing two flight demonstrators—the other being the Bell V-280 Valor which first flew in December—as part of an effort to inform requirements for its Future Vertical Lift family of helicopters that are expected to reach an initial capability in the 2030s.
| Qatar has signed a deal at its biennial defense expo, DIMDEX, with the NHI consortium—which includes Airbus’ and Leonardo’s helicopter divisions and Dutch aircraft manufacturer Fokker, which respectively hold 62.5 percent, 32 percent and 5.5 percent of the consortium—for the purchase of 28 NH90 and 16 H125 helicopters. A statement by Airbus from Doha said that 16 of the NH90s are in the tactical transport (TTH) configuration while the remaining 12 NH90s are in naval (NFH) configuration. The H125s will be received by the Qatar Armed Forces Air Academy for training purposes. Work will be split between Airbus—who will assemble the NH90 TTH aircraft from its facility in Marignane, France—and Leonardo—who will be responsible for final assembly and delivery of the 12 NH90 NFH helicopters in Italy. The deal is estimated to be worth at least $3.7 billion.
| Boeing has found itself in consideration to supply aircraft to the Indian Air Force, after the firm abruptly asked for its twin-engine F/A-18 Super Hornet to be considered. The IAF had previously only been considering Lockheed Martin's F-16 and Saab's JAS-39 Gripen, both single-engine fighters, for the competition, however, it has transpired that last month the government asked the air force to open up the competition to twin-engine aircraft and to evaluate Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet, a defense ministry source said. Now, the defense ministry plans to within weeks issue a new request for information (RFI) for a fighter to be built in India. The competition will be open to both single and twin-engine jets, the official said, but both Lockheed and Saab said they had not been informed about the new requirements. Both firms had previously offered to build its single-engine fighter in India in collaboration with local companies as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s drive to build a domestic industrial base and defense industry under his 'Make in India' initiative. What will happen next? Who knows.