* Northrop Grumman has received a $332 million modification to an existing contract for work at the Joint National Center Research and Development for the Missile Defense Agency and the Department of Defense. Under the terms of the agreement, work to be carried out includes the integration of Ballistic Missile Defense System (BDMS) and testing programs for the program, as well as the provision of logistical services, wargame and readiness exercises, and the development of doctrine, as well as information technology support for the Chief Information Officer for the BDMS. The additional DoD funding will increase the funding maximum from $3.85 billion to $4.18 billion, and may extend task orders until May 2018.
* The USMC has received its first low rate initial production (LRIP) AN/TPS-80 Ground/Air Task-Oriented Radar (G/ATOR) system. Developed and produced by Northrop Grumman, five additional systems will be delivered under the terms of the October 2014 contract. G/ATOR will replace five legacy systems operated by the Marines, providing significant improvements in performance when compared with the legacy radar families in each of its modes. The systems take advantage of Northrop’s expertise in C4ISR, and includes software loads that optimize the multi-mission capabilities of the radar to perform each mission.
Middle East & North Africa
* The Trump administration has said that it will move ahead with a plan to further arm Kurdish militias fighting the Islamic State in Syria. The move has once again angered Turkey, who see Kurdish groups like the People’s Protection Units (YPG)—who make up part of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces—as an extension of the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), an outlawed terrorist organization in Turkey. However, policymakers in both the Obama and Trump cabinets see the Kurdish forces in Syria as the only reliable partners on the ground capable of defeating IS. It is now likely that YPG elements could receive mortars, heavy machine guns and armored tactical vehicles as part of the administration’s help with an offensive to reclaim the the city of Raqqa, the jihadist’s de facto capital.
* Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) and BAE Systems have announced that they will ink the TFX design and development agreement that was signed by both companies in January at this year’s International Defence Industry Fair (IDEF) 2017. Valued at almost $130 million, the deal will see BAE assisting TAI with the design and development of the TFX next-generation multi-role fighter. It has also been reported that Pakistan may be interested in participating in the project, with Turkish industry and Pakistan’s Ministry of Defence Production speaking on what future collaboration would look like. However, the Pakistan Air Force has yet to comment on whether it would be interested in participating in producing and procuring such an aircraft.
* The Swedish government has indicated that it would be interested in procuring a jet trainer designed by Boeing and Saab, if the offering is selected by Washington as the winner of the US Air Force’s T-X trainer competition. However, Stockholm would not be interested in procuring any of the other T-X trainer offerings if they were to win, instead opting for a cheaper turboprop training aircraft. Sweden currently has an inventory of 50 Saab 105 trainers, which were introduced in the late 1960s, and plans are underway to retire the ageing fleet by 2026.
* Germany is moving forward with a plan to take 104 used Leopard 2 battle tanks out of storage and have manufacturer Krauss-Maffei Wegmann conduct upgrades from the A4 configuration to the newest A7V standard. The $832.7 million project will see improvements made in the areas of information technology, armaments and armor. Under the agreement, KMW will also provide 32 tank chassis frames that can later be turned into additional vehicles of the Leopard 2 series, such as variants capable of launching bridges across rivers and other chokepoints. Work on the tanks is expected to commence in 2019 and last through to 2023. Berlin’s moves to upgrade its tank fleet comes on the expectation that future conflicts will rely heavily on ground warfare with armored vehicles.
* Following on from their selection of the F-16 as their next fighter, the Romanian government has contracted Lockheed Martin to deliver comprehensive simulator systems based on the fighter jet. The SciosTrain simulator system will combine full combat tactics and mission training scenarios, while providing for networking to allow Romanian Air Force pilots to train together virtually. Delivery of the simulators is expected to be completed by 2019.
* Almost a year on from the infamous misfiring and sinking of a Taiwanese fishing boat by the Republic of China Navy, Taiwanese military officials have said that they are still looking for the whereabouts of the Hsiung Feng III anti-ship missile that caused the deadly incident. Officials reports on the incident, which killed the fishing vessel’s captain, claimed that the missile’s warhead did not explode on impact and that it instead sunk in the water. However, an anonymous source told the press that the missile could have detonated and therefore exploded into pieces. The search continues.
* Airbus conducts automatic air-to-air refueling contact: