Airbus prepares for London showdown with A400M program members | Iraq receives first six T-50IQs | BAE unveil CV90 Mk IV ahead of Czech competition
- General Atomics has been awarded a USAF contract for software development on the MQ-9 Reaper UAV. Valued at $49.3 million, the agreement provides for software development, in addition to sustaining the current MQ-9 Reaper force operated by the Air Force Special Operations Command and Air Combat Command units. Work to take place at Poway, California, and is expected to be complete by January 31, 2020. Fiscal 2017 and 2018 research and development funds in the amount of $9,864,489 are being obligated at the time of the award.
- Lockheed Martin has been granted a $150 million US Navy contract to develop, manufacture and deliver two test units for the Surface Navy Laser Weapon System. Due in fiscal 2020, one unit will go to guided-missile destroyer, USS Arleigh Burke, while the other will be used for land-based testing. Work will be performed in Bothell, Washington, Moorestown, New Jersey, and half a dozen other locations across the US, and includes options that would bring the overall value of the deal to more than $942.8 million. First deployed on the now-decommissioned amphibious transport ship, USS Ponce, the Surface Navy Laser Weapon System onboard will be installed on the USS Portland later this year.
Middle East-North Africa
- Pictures have surfaced of six FA-50 aircraft—the fighter attack variant of the T-50 Golden Eagle advanced trainer—recently delivered to the Iraq Air Force. Designated the T-50IQ, Baghdad looks to add a further 18 units to make up two squadrons over the coming years, as part of a 2013 order with Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI). The aircraft can be armed with air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles, machine guns and precision-guided bombs.
- Israel could opt to acquire an additional squadron of F-15I fighters over a third F-35I Adir squadron in a procurement decision this May, according to a report in Haaretz. Although an older aircraft, Boeing’s F-15 is cheaper, offers a longer flight range and the ability to carry larger bombs than the F-35—which sacrifices its stealth advantage if additional bombs are carried outside of its belly. However, as the F-15 is currently being upgraded by Boeing, the cost of newer models could increase, although whether this will match the F-35’s current price—whose per unit price dipped below $100 million per plane last year—remains to be seen. But the argument within the within the air force apparently isn’t over whether a third F-35 squadron is needed, but over how soon it is needed. Proponents of the F-15 prefer to postpone buying the third F-35 squadron until near the end of the next decade. Either way, funding for the purchase will come from the new 10-year US military aid package that will come into effect next year.
- The British Royal Air Force (RAF) plans to retire 16 two-seat Eurofighter Typhoons, as the service looks to trim $1.13 billion in operating costs. Following their retirement, the aircraft will then be cannibalized for spare parts under the Reduce to Produce (RTP) project, which aims to generate over $70 million worth of parts from each airframe “back into the supply chain”, according to RAF Air Command at High Wycombe, in Buckinghamshire, UK, in response to a Freedom of Information (FOI) Act request submitted by Jane’s. News of the cost-saving measures comes less than a week after chief of the general staff, General Sir Nicholas Carter, told the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) that an increase in defense spending was required to fill a $28 billion funding shortfall to stave off cuts to key capabilities and personnel numbers.
- Airbus will meet with several NATO members in London on February 5, to discuss a potential write down on fines imposed on the firm over the A400M Atlas military transport program. During the meeting, originally scheduled for November, Airbus will try to convince officials from Belgium, France, Germany Luxemborg, Spain, Turkey and the UK, as well as Europe’s procurement agency OCCAR, that a cap on financial penalties is required, otherwise the whole program could be at risk. A series of technical problems in manufacturing, specifically with the cracking of the engine’s gearbox, has seen program costs skyrocket and deliveries fall years behind schedule. In 2010, the seven nations gave Airbus a $4.3 billion bailout, and the firm took a $1.5 billion writedown last year, warning of “significant risks ahead.”
- BAE Systems unveiled on January 24, the latest version in its CV90 Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV)—the CV90 Mk IV. Taking place at International Armoured Vehicles Conference in London, the fifth generation of the vehicle features an increased drive train capabilities and active damping technology to improve battlefield speeds and handling, as well as the latest NATO-standard Electronic Architecture to meet customer demands for sensor integration and the implementation of autonomous systems. The vehicle is expected to be offered to the Czech Republic as part of a competition to replace the Czech Army´s legacy fleet of BMP-II IFVs. BAE have already boosted relationships with Czech firms ahead of the competition—In December, the firm announced an agreement with Czech sheet metal fabrication firm Laser Centrum to support work on the Mjölner (Hammer of Thor) self-propelled mortar system, which is being integrated onto the Swedish Army’s fleet of CV90s, while optical specialist Meopta reached an agreement with CV90 subcontractor Saab, to cover potential local production of key components for the CV90’s fire control system.
- Taiwan is preparing to test the naval variant of its indigenous Tien Kung (Sky Bow) III air defense missile system from a LST-542-class tank landing ship later this year. The test follows earlier land-based testing of the naval variant interceptor in 2016, and will eventually be equipped on three Air Defense Catamaran corvettes, ordered in March 2016. The system will eventually be integrated with the US-built Mk 41 Vertical Launch System, however, since the VLS will not be available until 2019, the upcoming test will be conducted on a local launch system.
- The CV90 Mk IV Infantry Fighting Vehicle:
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