* A Standard Missile-3 Block IB (SM-3) interceptor failed to shoot down an extended medium-range ballistic missile (EMRBM) on Saturday following a malfunction, with the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor system instead being used to take out the target. The SM-3 was used successfully earlier in October to shoot down a similar target off the north-west coast of Scotland, with this latest test part of a multiple-threat scenario test conducted in the western Pacific.
* In addition to the interception of the EMRBM, an SM-2 Block IIIA was also used to simultaneously defend against a target drone aircraft, with the THAAD system also taking down a Short Range Air Launch Target (SRALT). The $230 million interception tests also involved the Aegis BMD system, including AN/SPY-1 radar system, as well as transportable AN/TPY-2 missile defense radars.
* Lawmakers are closing in on consensus to $5 billion in cuts to defense equipment programs in order to satisfy demands from the White House, following the agreement of a two-year budget deal. The House and Senate Armed Services Committees have nearly finished identifying where $5 billion in cuts will come from, with FY2016 defense spending raised to $607 billion under the proposed deal. The proposed figure represents an increase of $80 billion in federal spending over the two-year period, in addition to $32 billion in OCO (Overseas Contingency Operations) spending.
* The Air Force could be planning to acquire ten commercial jets, according to a market survey planned for release. The potential acquisition is not thought to be linked specifically to any program, with the ten aircraft possibly incorporating requirements across a range of different programs. A preliminary delivery schedule for the purpose of the survey is 2018.
*The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence has reportedly abandoned plans to purchase up to nine P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft. The aircraft were deemed too expensive to include as part of the UK’s Strategic Defence & Security Review (SDSR), due for release by the end of the year, with the government still mulling a new capability to replace that of the MRA4 Nimrods scrapped in 2010. In September, a host of companies – including Airbus, Finmeccanica, Lockheed Martin, L-3, Northrop Grumman and Saab – called for an open competition to determine which company would manufacture the new fleet, with this proposal subsequently endorsed by Whitehall’s principle defense think tank, the Royal United Services Institute.
Middle East North Africa
* Israel has reportedly asked Washington DC for an additional squadron of F-15SE Silent Eagle fighter-bombers as a component of the package of military measures intended to firm up the US’ relationship with the country in response to the Iranian nuclear deal in July. The framework agreement struck in Vienna has also prompted other regional US allies to invest heavily in new hardware, particularly Saudi Arabia. Other items in the Israeli shopping list could include the KC-46A Pegasus tanker and V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft, the latter of which was cut from short-term Israeli procurement plans as a result of budgetary constraints last year, with both aircraft previously offered by the US in 2013.
* The US and Egypt are preparing to resume co-production of M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks, following a hiatus in deliveries as a result of the country’s 2013 coup. The production of Abrams at the Egyptian Tank Plant near Cairo will partially fulfil orders from a 2011 contract for 125 M1A1s, with the country already possessing over a thousand of the tanks. Under the terms of a new contract, General Dynamics Land Systems will deliver kits for the Egyptian plant to assemble, as well as weapon and propulsion systems. Relations between Washington and Cairo are becoming increasingly close, following President Obama’s decision in March to resume military aid to the country, including the tank kits, despite widespread allegations of human rights abuses. The Egyptian Air Force recently received the last four of twelve F-16s from the US.
* The South African Air Force will receive the first batch of A-Darter short-range air-to-air missiles in February 2016, following a six-month delay in development testing. The co-developed missile, a product of Brazil’s Mectron and South Africa’s Denel Dynamics, has reached a Production Baseline certification following the conclusion of a series of critical design reviews. The missile has been jointly funded by the Brazilian Air Force and the South African National Defense Force, with the project formally launched in April 2007.
* India’s defense ministry has barred Italian firm Oto Melara from competing in the country’s $400 million naval gun competition. The tender – for 110 30mm naval guns along with electro-optical fire control systems – was sent to several international contractors under India’s ‘Buy and Make’ procurement category, including BAE Systems, Elbit Systems and Samsung Techwin. The Indian government is investigating corruption allegations against the Italian company’s parent Finmeccanica, with this precluding Oto Melara from competing in global tender. The allegations stem from charges against AgustaWestland (also a Finmeccanica company) following a 2010 contract to supply the country with a dozen VIP helicopters, with these allegations still being reviewed by the government’s Central Bureau of Investigation.
* A cockpit view from the T-38 Talon: