* The forth and final test aircraft of Boeing’s KC-46A tanker program has made its maiden flight. While not kitted out for aerial refueling, the 767-2C aircraft will be used to conduct environmental control system testing for the program. The arrival of the latest tanker comes as Boeing scrambles to complete a “milestone C” review by the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). A favorable review will unleash additional funds needed for the program, including a seven tanker production order, which the manufacturer had already begun producing out of its own pocket.
* Northrop Grumman has been awarded an $83.4 million modification contract by the US Army to provide logistics support for the Hunter Unmanned Aircraft System. Work will continue until October 30, 2016. Based on the Hunter UAV by Israel’s IAI, the RQ-5 Hunter has been used by the US Army as a short wave system, and has been operated extensively on missions in Afghanistan. While retirement of the Hunter was scheduled for 2013, the Army has issued a number of logistic and support contracts to Northrop since then, giving the RQ-5 a license to keep hunting for the time being.
* Efforts to prevent Canada’s $11 billion deal to sell light armored vehicles to Saudi Arabia have gone one step further after the filing of a legal challenge in the Federal Court of Canada by former MP and law professor Daniel Turp. According to Turp, the sale violates Canadian law, which prevents the export of military goods to a nation that abuses human rights or is engaged in an active conflict. However, the case may be over before it begins, as Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion quietly issued export permits for the bulk of the shipments earlier this month, and the deal has received its blessing from Canada’s media darling, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Saudi Arabia, accused of committing war crimes during its ongoing campaign in Yemen with western made weaponry, has purchased 1,400 LAVs from General Dynamics Land Systems with a variety of weapon systems, ranging from 25mm cannons to 90mm guns over the last 20 years.
Middle East North Africa
* Israel’s eagerness to customize its orders of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters has already seen its first app created for the next generation jet. Utilizing the open-architecture software design found in the Lockheed Martin designed fighter, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has developed its own command, control, communications, and computing (C4) system which will be equipped on the aircraft in December. The software is an upgrade of an existing C4 system the Israeli air force flies on its F-15 and F-16 fighters.
* After some guessing and speculation, the UK’s Protector unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) platform will be the Certifiable Predator B (CPB) UAV. The MoD had announced its plans to go ahead with its 10-strong MQ-9 Reaper Block 1 fleet replacement back in October 2015, but only now has its successor been revealed. The $606 million purchase from manufacturer General Atomic Aeronautical Systems will be facilitated through the usual government to government Foreign Military Sales with the US. Compared to the MQ-9, the CPB has 40% more endurance and four extra external store stations.
* After numerous delays in its maiden flight which occurred last week amid much excitement from manufacturer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), the X-2 stealth demonstrator will have a year long test campaign involving around 50 flights. With the maiden flight described as “ordinary” by Hirofumi Doi, manager of Japan’s Future Fighter Program at the defence ministry’s Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA), future testing will help ATLA gather data on advanced fighter technologies such as stealth, thrust vectoring, data links, and other areas. Depending on this data, flight testing of the X-2 could easily be extended, leading the way for a potentially busy period for the demonstrator.
* Delivery of the S-300 air defense system to Iran is ahead of schedule after deliveries began earlier this month. The $900 million contract was initially signed back in 2007, but suspended when UN Security Council sanctions blocked the deal in 2010. A thawing in relations between the US and Iran over the latter’s dropping of its nuclear program has allowed Tehran to pursue additional military hardware, much to the chagrin of the US’s Gulf allies. Potential future arms contracts between Russia and Iran may involve weaponry that is not on the UN ban list, including air defense systems, small arms, and electronic warfare systems.
* France’s DCNS has been announced as the winner of the $38.7 billion Australian Future Submarine contract. The hotly contested tender for the 12 new subs also saw offers from Germany’s Thyssen-Krupp Marine Systems and the Government of Japan to carry out the build. The new design will be based on DCNS’s Shortfin Barracuda A1 submarine design, a conventionally-powered derivative of the nuclear-powered Suffren-class submarine now under construction for the French Navy. US made combat systems integrator and weapons systems will be installed by either Lockheed Martin or Raytheon in contracts expected to be announced shortly.
* Live fire testing of a Russian Iskander-M Tactical Missile Launcher Cruise Missile: