Army Backs Block II Design for Chinooks | Saudis Intent on French Mistrals | Germany Opts to Spend Billions to Correct Eurofighter, NH90, Other Flubs
- The Army wants to restart production of the Boeing MH-47G Chinook special mission helicopter in a new Block II design. With eight Block I variants scheduled for delivery by the end of 2015, the specific upgrades incorporated into the Block II version have not been disclosed. The first MH-47G Block I was delivered in October 2014, with the pace of SOCOM operations driving the requirement for new build helicopters. The new Block II variants will reportedly replace some or all of SOCOM’s 61 Block I MH-47Gs.
- The Army is looking to use man-portable air defense missile systems to counter cruise missiles, issuing a sources sought Request for Information for FIM-92 Stinger-based defense systems on 4 August. The Stinger has previously been investigated for possible use in countering cruise missiles, with a Block II configuration dropped during development fifteen years ago.
- The Air Force has allocated $400,000 of additional funding for the development of millimeter wave (MMW) technology munitions, smart weapons designated as part of the GBU-X/Flexible Weapon program. L-3 has been awarded a contract to progress research into automatic target recognition, tracking and clustering. The company produces the SMART Seeker, a MMW seeker marketed as an affordable, all-weather targeting solution.
- Brazil’s Federal Senate has approved [Portugese] the renegotiated financing deal agreed with Sweden in late July, authorising a loan of $4.6 billion from Sweden’s Export Credit Corporation. The funds will facilitate the procurement of 36 Gripen E/F fighters from Saab, the winner of Brazil’s FX-2 competition, which beat out rival bids from Boeing and Dassault. Brazilian prosecutors opened a probe into the competition’s award in April, citing apparent discrepancies between Saab’s bid price and subsequent negotiations.
Middle East North Africa
- Saudi Arabia is reportedly [French] looking to purchase France’s pair of Mistral LHDs for Egypt, following an agreement between Russia and France last week which opened up the possibility of a foreign buyer for the two ships. China expressed interest in the two ships when negotiations between Paris and Moscow began in May. Egypt has been a major customer for French shipyard DCNS in recent years, including a FREMM frigate and Gowind corvettes.
- Bahrain has requested follow-on support for its fleet of 22 F-16 Fighting Falcon fighters, ordered from the US through two Foreign Military Sale contracts known as Peace Crown I and II in the late 1990s/early 2000s. The proposed $150 million program follows a similar logistics support contract requested in July 2005. A prime contractor for this latest proposed contract has not yet been selected.
- The German Defense Ministry is investing EUR6 billion ($6.5 billion) in fixing problems with in service equipment. The investment will be spread over seven or eight years and focus principally on high-value assets, including the Eurofighter jet and NH90 helicopter. The German military has been criticized considerably in recent weeks, with low aircraft availability hampering operational efficacy.
- The State Department has approved a possible sale of MK 7 AEGIS Weapon Systems, Undersea Warfare Systems and Cooperative Engagement Capability sensor netting systems, as well as support equipment and services. The proposed $1.5 billion sale would support Japan’s first two new destroyers based on modified Atago-class hulls, seeing delivery of equipment and services spread over a six or seven year period and Lockheed Martin operating as prime contractor. Japan is ultimately aiming to acquire eight Ballistic Missile Defense-capable destroyers, with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force already operating AEGIS systems on other platforms, including the Atago-class.
- Japan is reportedly considering offering three modified Beechcraft TC-90 King Air patrol aircraft to the Philippines for use in maritime patrols. Japan currently uses the King Airs to train pilots, while the Philippines is competing claims by other regional powers in the South China Sea, including China. In order for the Japanese government to donate the aircraft, financial legislation will have to be amended, potentially opening up a channel for further equipment transfer to other powers contesting territory in the region.
- India is seemingly close to finalizing a deal with BAE Systems for 20 additional Hawk Mk-132 trainer jets, with these negotiations reportedly at the Contract Negotiation state. The procurement of the Hawks was cleared by India’s government in 2010, with the country originally contracting for a fleet of 66 Hawks in 2004, with BAE Systems handed a $1.2 billion order. The 2004 contract included options for 40 more aircraft, with the majority of the Indian fleet assembled by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.
- The FIM-92 Stinger taking down practice drones:
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