* The US Navy has awarded a $49.4 million contract to Northrop Grumman for parts, material and labor required for the maintenance of the MQ-4C UAV in accordance with planned production. Work will be performed in Baltimore, Md., Bridgeport, W. VA., Salt Lake City, Utah, and other locations in the United States. Fiscal 2017 Navy procurement funds in the amount of $49.4 million have been allocated for the program. Contract completion is scheduled for December 2017.
* Sikorsky has been awarded a $55 million contract modification to a previously awarded contract for the long-lead support of low-rate production of four Lot II CH-53K King Stallion helicopters. An upgrade of the Sea Stallion heavy-lift helicopter, work on the King Stallion contract will be conducted at the Sikorsky plant in Stratford, Conn and is expected to be completed by March 2022. The helicopter is capable carrying up of 27,000 pounds of external sling load. It can carry artillery pieces and Humvee utility vehicles and it’s cabin is capable of carrying 463 pallets for cargo transportation.
* Lockheed Martin has successfully completed a sixth flight test of its modernized Tactical Missile System missile (TACMS). Conducted at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, the TACMS was launched from a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System and was “hot-conditioned”—the launcher was held in an environmental chamber before launch to simulate hot launch conditions— before flying about 149 miles to engage its target. The modernized TACMS features new guidance electronics and can engage a target without leaving behind unexploded ordnance.
Middle East & North Africa
* M-346 advanced jet trainers operated by the Israeli Air Force are scheduled for a set of upgrades that includes the integration of inert training bombs and external fuel tanks. Tel Aviv possesses 30 M-346 trainers—the last of which arrived in 2016—and the upgrades are expected to enable the air force to further streamline its training process. The air force’s flight test centre is currently collaborating with manufacturer Leonardo and will oversee the modifications, as well as opening the trainer’s full flight envelope, to match the service’s operational requirements.
* The Israel Air Force will receive an additional F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in 2020 with a special suite of test instrumentation that will work to enhance the fighter’s capabilities during air-to-air and air-to-ground missions. The new aircraft comes outside of any specific contract and is being manufactured according to specifications that took two years to prepare. Planned updates to Israel’s operational F-35I “Adir” fighters will be “directly connected” to the type’s scheduled maintenance program, “in order to not disrupt the aim of the shortest time on the ground between complex missions.”
* The US State Department has cleared the sale of a US Navy blanket order training program to Saudi Arabia. Valued at an estimated $250 million, the order includes, but is not limited to, English Language training, professional military education, technical training … engineering, technical and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistical and program support.” If approved by Congress, Kratos Defense & Security Solutions will act as the prime contractor, providing an assignment of about 88 contractor representatives to Saudi Arabia for three years to support personnel training.
* French firm Safran is expected to cut $1 billion off its current offer to purchase aircraft equipment maker Zodiac Aerospace. The proposed deal had originally been worth $9 billion, however, recent profit warnings at Zodiac has resulted in UK hedge fund TCI urging Safran to drop the bid. According to French media, this reduced offer would be two-thirds in cash and a third in Safran stock, and drops an earlier complex two-tier structure that was designed to woo family shareholders.
* Elta Systems has been brought in to help South Korean efforts to support the testing of an indigenous AESA radar for the KAI KF-X fighter. The state-run Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) stressed that the contract is just for support and not development work—which is being led by Hanwa Thales. The value of the contract is believed to be worth $35.5 million.
* Earlier live fire exercise of the Army’s TACMS: