MQ-8 Fire Scout helo UAVs: The Fire Scout MQ-8C's IOC deadline has been pushed back a year, owing principally to the limited availability of Littoral Combat Ships for testing. The first MQ-8C system was delivered to the Navy in December. More »
ADM-160 MALD MALD-J (Miniature Air-Launched Decoy-Jamming): The Air Force has completed operational testing of Raytheon's MALD-J, with this step allowing the system to move closer to full-rate production. The decoy-jammer was successfully tested with the Marines in December last year, when its in-flight targeting datalink was tested in Yuma, bringing the total number of successful tests to 42. More »
BAE Systems and the the US have settled a three-year dispute over the repair costs of an aging C-130, with the Air Force having been billed $12 million for substantial repairs to the plane, significantly above the original $4.2 million contract ceiling. Despite this ceiling being raised to $14.7 million, the contractor sued the Government for $6.4 million in order to balance the books. The negotiated settlement amount has not been disclosed.
GOP lawmakers are working to ensure that the annual defense bill makes a strong case for keeping the A-10, working to find the $500 million required to keep the Warthog fleet flying.
Italy will receive two additional FREMM frigates post-2020, to bring the total fleet number to ten in a $820 million deal signed between the Italian government and manufacturer Orizzonte Sistemi Navali. Egypt recently purchased one of the frigates, with Morocco also an export customer for the Franco-Italian project.
In other European naval news, the German Navy christened its second F125-class frigate Thursday, with this marking the halfway point in the four-ship program. The new ship has been christened “Nordrhein-Westfalen”, with the first F125 – the”Baden-Wurttemberg” – christened in December 2013.
Switzerland is retiring a third of its F-5 fighter fleet because of structural cracks found in 10 of the 36 aircraft operated by the air force. Six more will be repaired and returned to service, for an approximate bill of $1 million.
Pakistan successfully test-fired a nuclear-capable ballistic missile on Wednesday, with India following suit and also testing a missile on Thursday. The Indian Agni-III missile is the more capable of the two, with a reported range of 3,000 km to the Pakistani Ghauri missile’s 1,300 km. The Agni-III was previously tested in 2010, following three prior tests.
India’s aircraft carrier – the INS Vikaramaditya – will be equipped with new air defense systems, according to reports Thursday. The ship is currently vulnerable to air attack without either a Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) or a missile-based interceptor system. Both of these gaps will be filled by cannibalizing other Indian Navy ships and fitting the systems to the carrier while it undergoes refit at Karwar. The CIWS is likely to be the AK-630 system, a Russian system license-built in India, while the missile system will be the Israeli Barak-1 point defense system, both taken from donor Godavari-class ships.
Dassault may divert its Rafale production line from supplying the French to meet the urgent demand created by the Indian order for 36 aircraft, according to Indian media. The Dassault line is currently busy satisfying orders from France and Egypt, with Malaysia also a potential customer. Currently the company is capable of manufacturing a dozen jets a year. This will have to expand to meet the deadline requirement for the firm’s outstanding order-book.
Meanwhile, a RAND report has shown that building naval ships in Australia is up to 40% more expensive than procuring from overseas. This will likely form an important consideration for defense planners, particularly regarding the future ASW frigate program ahead of the Australian Government’s Defence Whitepaper, due for release later this year.
| The MQ-4C Triton could see flight tests this week, depending on the weather at Naval Air Station Patuxent River. The flights will test the maritime UAV's radar and other systems, forming part of the 2,000 test hours the Navy plans to log over the next three years. The first deployment of the system has been slated for FY2016, with the Navy planning on adding a 'due-regard' radar as part of a capability upgrade that should be operational by 2020.
| The future Flight III Arleigh-Burke Class destroyers are making good progress, with an order scheduled for 2019. The Navy recently told Congress that the program would take the shape of a ten-ship multi-year procurement contract. More »
| The Navy's EA-18G Growlers could use their electronic warfare capabilities to locate insurgents for targeting through the triangulation of intercepted signals, with three aircraft working as a team. However, before this can happen, the aircraft need new, faster data links in order to corroborate intercepts and locate the source of the tracked signals. A USN study recently argued that the Navy needs more of the aircraft to meet future operational demand. A Pentagon Electronic Warfare Committee was also stood up in March, highlighting the continued relevance of these non-stealthy workhorses despite uncertainty over the aircraft's future production line. More »
| Brazilian prosecutors will investigate the country's $5.4 billion Gripen deal. The probe is reportedly focused on a $900 million disparity between Saab's 2009 bid price and the final contract value. Saab beat out competitors Boeing and Dassault in the FX-2 competition, which should see the initial batch of 36 fighters delivered in 2018. More »
| Russian state defense export agency Rosoboronexport has stated that the French and Russian governments have two more contractually-stipulated months in the $1.5 billion Mistral contract to work out an agreement before Russia makes a decision based on the "terms and conditions set forth in the contract."