* The US’ top shipbuilders are growing impatient with the Navy over the Ohio-class Replacement Program (SSBN-X), with General Dynamics Electric Boat and Huntington Ingalls Industries both calling for the service to comment on a proposed workshare between the two yards. The two yards submitted a proposal for a working arrangement in March, which will see Electric Boat complete the majority of work for the twelve new subs; however the Navy has yet to finalize its procurement strategy for the program, despite advanced procurement scheduled to start in 2017 after a DoD review of the Navy’s acquisition strategy in mid-2016.
* The Army’s Stryker vehicles will benefit from a $411 million upgrade program for the vehicles’ main armament, with the 2016 NDAA bill including $314 million for modification work to the fleet to up-gun their 12.7mm cannons to 30mm guns. The remaining $97 million is earmarked for R&D, with the House and Senate Armed Service Committees criticizing the Army for an increasingly unacceptable per-vehicle cost to upgrade the Stryker fleet. A response to fears that the Strykers would be out-gunned by would-be Russian adversaries in Europe, the Army was given a provisional thumbs-up for the upgrade work in April, with the Hill stipulating that the upgrades will be limited to the Army’s European-deployed Strykers rather than form a fleet-wide upgrade program.
* Poland’s Armament Inspectorate has reportedly received three offers to upgrade the country’s Leopard 2A4 main battle tanks. Turkey’s Aselsan and Germany’s Rheinmetall and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann are the three bidders, with a selection slated for later this month. The country has bought two batches of Leopard 2A4s from Germany, with the Polish Army also operating around a hundred more modern 2A5 variants. In total 142 MBTs will be modernized, with a prototype scheduled for production next year. The new design will be known as the Leopard 2PL, with the winning bidder set to collaborate with the Polish Armaments Group to complete the modernization program.
* Bidders for the Czech Republic’s acquisition program intended to replace the country’s fleet of Mil Mi-24 helicopters have detailed their respective designs for the competition. With two bidders confirmed – Bell Helicopter with the UH-1Y and AgustaWestland with the AW139M – the remaining two are thought to consist of Airbus with the AS532 ALe or H225M Caracal and Sikorsky with the UH-60M or S-70i. The Czech defense ministry plans to procure a dozen new helicopters to fulfill its requirements, with reports from August indicating that there may be follow-up orders for a larger fleet.
* With David Cameron announcing last week that the UK would replace the ten MQ-9 Reaper UAVs currently in service with the Royal Air Force, the Scavenger program is now likely to be folded into the newly-announced Protector acquisition. The former had been earmarked by Parliament to replace the MQ-9s by the end of the decade with a new, armed Medium Altitude Long Endurance UAV, with the acquisition program slated to begin in 2016. The Ministry of Defence is planning to acquire over twenty of the new aircraft, with the “counter-terrorism” package announced by Cameron also including more resources allocated to Special Forces, something he has looked to do before.
* Poland has launched a tender for sniper rifles, chambered for .338 Lapua Magnum rounds, the same round used by the UK’s L115A3 sniper system. The 150 rifles are to be fitted with day sights along with thermal and night sights. Intended to be used in an anti-materiel role, the rifles should be capable of penetrating light armored vehicles.
* Ghana has received four Harbin Z-9 helicopters from China, completing a contract signed in November 2014 and confirmed in February this year. Ghana announced the helicopter purchase along with the intention to buy Super Tucano counterinsurgency aircraft, which the country eventually ordered in June.
* Australia has signed a A$1.3 billion ($910 million) contract with Thales Australia for 1,100 Hawkei protected vehicles and 1,000 trailers as part of the country’s LAND 121 Phase 4 procurement program. Full rate production is scheduled for 2018 as the company’s Bushmaster production in Bendigo, Victoria slows. LAND 121, also known as Project Overlander, is a multi-billion dollar acquisition program to modernize the Australian Defence Force’s vehicle fleet as part of the country’s Defence Capability Plan. The 4×4 Hawkei was downselected in 2011 and will replace most of the Australian Defence Force’s unprotected Land Rover fleet.
* Northrop Grumman has completed the center fuselage for the Japanese Self Defense Forces’ first Joint Strike Fighter, forming the skeleton for the country’s first F-35A. The company manufactured the fuselage in California before shipping it to Japan for Final Check Out and Assembly. In total Japan has ordered 42 F-35As, with an initial order for six aircraft this year coming with a price tag of $827.4 million. The country selected the F-35 in December 2011, beating the Eurofighter Typhoon and an upgraded Super Hornet bid.
* The UH-1Y on offer to the Czach Republic in action: