* The US Navy has awarded Raytheon a $14.7 million contract for maintenance and support of the AN/AQS-20 sonar mine detection system. Under the agreement, the company will work to improve the system’s performance and sustainability with work to include hardware and software upgrades, technology development, engineering and spare parts. Options available in the contract could bring the total value of the program to $77.1 million. The AN/AQS-20 towed mine hunting and identification array is deployed on the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS).
* Lockheed Martin has joined Boeing in pulling out of the US Navy’s Over-the-Horizon Weapon System (OTH-WS) competition for its fleet of littoral combat ships and frigates. The aerospace and missile manufacturer had initially intended to offer its Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) and comes just a month after Boeing withdrew its RGM-84 Harpoon. Both firms had expressed frustration with the Navy’s lack of consideration to the networked capability of the weapons. This leaves just the Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile (NSM) in the competition.
* General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems has received a $40.8 million modification to an existing contract for production of the MK 82/MK 200 Missile Fire Control System director controller equipment. The Navy contract calls for the delivery of fully functional systems with testing and engineering support and covers systems scheduled to be delivered as part of the Aegis Weapon System for the Republic of Korea and Japan under the Foreign Military Sales Program. The work is not expected to affect current ship deployment or operational use and is expected to be completed by December 2021.
Middle East & North Africa
* The Libyan Coast Guard has received four refurbished Bigliani-class fast patrol boats from Italy as part of efforts to boost the government’s ability to curb people smuggling operations based out of the country. Six more vessels are expected in the coming weeks and follows the training of approximately 90 coast guard personnel by the EU. However, Libyan officials have requested additional support, adding that the quantity and quality of equipment already provided has not been sufficient.
* A recent report by Amnesty International that cites a 2016 US government audit has found that the US army had failed to monitor over $1 billion worth of arms and other military equipment transfers to Kuwait and Iraq. The now declassified DoD document found that the service “did not have accurate, up-to-date records on the quantity and location” of a vast amount of equipment on hand in Kuwait and Iraq, with the report adding that its own research “consistently documented” lax controls and record-keeping within the Iraqi chain of command which resulted in arms and equipment winding up in the hands of groups like the Islamic State. The arms, which included small and heavy weapons, machine guns, mortar rounds and assault rifles, had been transferred under the Iraq Train and Equip Fund (ITEF), a $1.06 billion assistance program aimed at providing Iraqi security forces, including Iraqi Kurdish forces and tribal militias, with military assistance and equipment.
*Russia’s government has announced schedules for the delivery of several upcoming defense platforms. Speaking to the parliament’s upper house, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that the Sukhoi PAK-FA stealth fighter will enter service with the Russian Air Force in 2019, while the S-500 air defense system will be deployed the following year. Moscow is also planning to commence serial production of the Tupolev Tu-160M2 strategic bomber in 2021.
* Nexter and the Danish government have agreed to a $45 million sale of 15 Caesar 155mm truck-mounted artillery with options for six more units. The sale is the first of the French land weapons company’s eight-wheel drive version, mounted on a Tatra truck chassis, and the sale to a fellow NATO ally is being considered a significant achievement. The French Army has deployed the six-wheel version of the Caesar to Iraq, where an artillery unit is assisting Iraqi security forces as part of the US-led Operation Inherent Resolve.
* The Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) has completed the development of an air-cooled active electronically-scanned array (AESA) radar that it will now propose as a possible solution to the Pakistan Air Force’s (PAF) JF-17 Block-III’s AESA fighter requirement. Design and development of the radar was conducted by AVIC’s 607 Institute, officially known as the China Leihua Electronic Technology Research Institute (LETRI), and have already developed the SD-10 beyond visual-range active radar-homing air-to-air missile for the PAF. The institute’s announcement on the Chinese micro-blogging site WeChat, stated that the AESA radar will help offset the internal space and power limitations of many in-service fighters, providing these aircraft with an AESA radar that is easier to integrate than liquid-cooled systems, such as the competing KLJ-7A offered by the Nanjing Research Institute of Electronics Technology (NRIET).
* Boeing to develop and produce DARPA’s next spaceplane: