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ATD USS Portland completes sea trials | MANTIS to get Mali deployment with German Army | Indonesian government announces Su-35 purchase

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Americas * A Huntington Ingalls-built Amphibious Transport Dock vessel has completed sea trails in the Gulf of Mexico. The future USS Portland will be the US Navy’s 11th San Antonio-class when it is commissioned into service next spring. During the trails, conducted by the Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey and completed last Friday, the […]

* A Huntington Ingalls-built Amphibious Transport Dock vessel has completed sea trails in the Gulf of Mexico. The future USS Portland will be the US Navy’s 11th San Antonio-class when it is commissioned into service next spring. During the trails, conducted by the Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey and completed last Friday, the vessel underwent dockside checks and demonstrations of major systems while at sea. Included in the testing was the ship’s main propulsion engineering and ship control systems, combat and communications systems, damage control, food service and crew support. The crew also underwent a full power run, steering, boat handling and anchoring on the ship, before returning to to Huntington Ingalls’ shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi. The Navy will take possession of the ship this fall.

* The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded contracts to three companies to develop scalable, modular, and affordable approaches for the Mobile Force Protection program. Dynetics Inc., Saab Defense and Security USA, and SRC Inc were the firms selected for the Phase One contract, which aims to develop new technology to better protect US ground and maritime convoys from fixed-wing and rotary drones, and could see fielding with forces within the next three to four years. The MFP program is aiming for three phases punctuated by open-air demonstrations involving increasingly sophisticated threats and scenarios. The goal is for the technology demonstration system to show initial functionality at the end of Phase 1 and progressively improve, culminating in a full-capability demonstration on a moving vehicle or vessel by the end of Phase 3.

* General Atomics has flown its MQ-9B SkyGuardian Remotely Piloted Aircraft through unrestricted US airspace for the first time. The August 16 flight saw the aircraft fly for one hour and 45 minutes from Laguna Airfield at Yuma Proving Grounds, Ariz., through National Airspace, to the company’s Gray Butte Flight Operations facility near Palmdale, Calif. A GA statement hailed the SkyGuardian as the first “RPA system of its kind with a design-assurance level compliant with international type-certification standards, and can therefore be integrated more easily than legacy RPAs into civil airspace operations around the world.”

Middle East & Africa

* The German military is preparing to deploy the Modular, Automatic and Network capable Targeting and Interception System (MANTIS) counter-rocket, artillery and mortar defence (C-RAM) system to its ongoing peacekeeping mission in Mali, marking the first time the system has been deployed operationally. Jane’s reports that the system will be deployed in November, without its 35mm guns and in its “sense and warn” configuration. A Luftwaffe statement said that the MANTIS system will help defend its troops in Mali from an increase in the threat from rockets, artillery and mortars. MANTIS was originally developed by Rheinmetall Air Defence for protecting the forward-operating bases of the German Army in Afghanistan. Its sensor system comprises of radar, effectors and electro-optical sensors installed on the base perimeter, while a radar sensor in the control system recognises missiles fired onto a base from about 3km.


* Naval Group (formerly DCNS) of France is to pitch its Gowind corvette in response to a Bulgarian tender for two new warships. Valued at $471 million, the French vessels would come equipped with missiles from MBDA, and it is expected that French President Emmanuel Macron will promote the possible deal during a planned visit to the Bularian capital Sofia this week. In 2016, Bulgaria had planned to buy four Gowind corvettes at a cost of $827 million, paid for with debt financing arranged with a pool of banks led by French bank Societé Générale and payment guaranteed by the Coface export credit agency. However, the deal was cancelled due to budgetary constraints.

* MiG Corporation has announced that it is in talks to bring its MiG-35 multi-role fighter jet to Peru, Bangladesh, and Myanmar. CEO of the aerospace giant, Ilya Tarasenko, said that discussions on the export of the 4++ generation jet will be held with representatives from those countries at this year’s Army-2017 military technical forum, adding that he believes the talks will be successful. Flight tests for the MiG-35 started on January 26, and an international presentation of the plane was held on January 27 in Moscow.

Asia Pacific

* In a joint press conference led by its Defense and Trade Ministers, Indonesia has announced the $1.14 billion purchase of eleven Su-35 fighters from Russia. Under the terms of the agreement, Jakarta will transfer $570 million worth of commodities, such as coffee and palm oil, in addition to cash to pay for the aircraft. The deal is expected to be finalised soon between Indonesian state trading company PT Perusahaan Perdangangan Indonesia and Russian state conglomerate Rostec. Delivery is expected to take place in two batches commencing in 2019.

* Indonesia’s Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT) has announced that it plans to introduce a domestically produced UAV by 2022. The agency plans to join up with local companies, ITB, PT Dirgantara Indonesia and PT LEN Persero to develop the medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) UAV for use by the Indonesian Air Force and Ministry of Defense. ITB will act as research partner, PT Dirgantara Indonesia will supply the aircraft, while PT LEN Persero will develop the drone’s control system. It will have a range of 5,000km and can remain airborne for 24 hours. Jakarta plans to procure 33 aircraft in order to keep 11 UAV units operating throughout the country.

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