* AAI Corporation has secured a contract for a maximum of $475 million for the provision of mid-endurance unmanned aircraft systems intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance services at multiple locations worldwide. An indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity award, the work includes a 54-month period of performance, with four 12-month ordering periods followed by one six-month ordering period. Estimated completion date is July 2022.
* The DoD has announced the successful demonstration of Perdix mini-UAVs, released by three F/A-18 Super Hornets. 103 of the mirco-drones were released during the exercise and were capable of performing advanced swarm behaviors such as collective decision-making, adaptive formation flying, and self-healing. According to the DoD, the October 2016 demonstration represents one of the first examples of the Pentagon using teams of small, inexpensive, autonomous systems to perform missions once achieved only by large, expensive ones.
* A one hundred billion dollar plan for the US Navy to procure 12 new Columbia-class nuclear submarines has moved forward. Outgoing Pentagon acquisition undersecretary Frank Kendall gave his blessing to the program, announcing the Milestone B approval, which will move work on the new subs into the Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase. With less than ten days left of the Obama administration, it is expected that President-elect Donald Trump will continue the effort after his inauguration on January 20. Costing $127 billion and expected to stretch into the 2030s, the program will see Ohio-class nuclear submarines replaced in what was originally referred to as the Ohio Class Replacement (ORP).
Middle East & North Africa
* Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) will collaborate with Sierra Nevada Corp. to offer a trainer to the USAF’s T-X competition. Dubbed the SNC-TAI Freedom Trainer, the aircraft is a lightweight twin-engine trainer with an all composite airframe and a fully digital fly-by-wire (FBW) flight control system. The trainer also utilizes a significant amount of existing off-the-shelf subsystems, aimed at keeping procurement and running costs low. Speaking on the collaborator’s offering, Sierra’s president Fatih Ozmen said “In this day of tight budgets and looming operations and sustainment bow waves, it only makes sense for the Air Force to spend less up-front so they can save more over the life cycle, which is why this training system makes so much sense.”
* Production of a Laser Directed Energy Weapon demonstrator has been ordered by the UK government, with MBDA and industry partners from the UK Dragonfire consortium winning a $36 million contract to carry out the work. It is hoped that the weapon will be demonstrated by 2019, eventually entering service by the mid-2020s. London also signed a $303 million Integrated Support and Training contract with Leonardo Helicopters in a five year deal for the provision of support work of Royal Navy AW159 Wildcat ASW helicopters.
* General Atomics will provide MQ-9 Reaper UAVs to the Spanish government, following a $53 million contract award by the USAF. The order is an adjustment to an existing basic ordering agreement between the United States and Spain. In 2015, Madrid selected the Reaper over the Heron TP to perform homeland security, counter-insurgency, and counter-terrorism operations. The procurement is expected to cost some $181 million over five years.
* The Russian branch in charge of land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, the Strategic Missile Troops, plan to switch to an all digital communication network by 2020. Speaking on the plan, Defense Ministry sources said that the last four years have seen the equipping of missile launch centers and command points across the country with new digital telecommunication equipment. “If the current pace of modernization is maintained, by 2020 the Russian Strategic Missile Forces will be 100-percent equipped with digital data transmission technologies,” the statement said.
* Discussions are underway between the governments of India and Vietnam over the potential sale of India’s indigenous Akash air defense missile system. Hanoi is keen for negotiations to include a possible technology transfer, while New Delhi is leaning toward promoting an initial off-the-shelf purchase of the system prior to any discussions over technology transfer and joint production. Vietnam represents a growing market for Indian training and gear, with India already set to provide training to Vietnamese Su-30MKI fighter pilots, and they have already trained sailors on operating Kilo-class submarines.
The release of Perdix mini-UAVs from F/A-18 Super Hornets: