Aussies to Be First to Dump F-35 Program | Long Range Strike Bomber Decision Moved Back | LMCo & Textron Bid for Little Orphan Sikorsky
- A contract decision for the Long Range Strike Bomber is expected to be announced in August or September, according to Air Force Secretary Deborah James. This timeline has slipped from previous announcements in May that stated the contract would be awarded by June or July. Northrop Grumman announced in November 2013 that it is intending to compete for the $50 – $80 million program, up against against a Lockheed Martin/Boeing team, which announced their partnership in October 2013 following a prior teaming in 2008 and then a subsequent split in 2010 after then-DefSec Robert Gates put the program on ice. Chairman of the House Committee on Strategic Forces, Congressman Mike Rogers, also said on Wednesday that he wants to see procurement of the LRS-B sped up.
- Lockheed Martin and Textron have emerged as the lead bidders for the recently-jettisoned Sikorsky, according to Reuters. The two companies are vying for the sale, said to be worth approximately $8 billion, while owner United Technologies Corporation (UTC) is still mulling a spin-off of Sikorsky to share-holders. Boeing and Airbus are said to have stepped away from the possible sale, despite previous media speculation that a foreign buyer might be more likely.
Middle East North Africa
- In response to recent reports in the Iraqi press, the US Embassy in Baghdad has stated that the country’s F-16IQ Block 52 fighters due for delivery will not be based in Jordan, as claimed by an Iraqi MP earlier this week. Embassy officials stated that the claims were “completely false”, with the F-16s set to operate out of Balad Air Force base, the location of recent intense fighting. The delivery of three Iraqi Air Force F-16s to the base was hampered by security concerns, with the aircraft instead delivered to Arizona for training.
- Sikorsky was awarded a $11.3 million modification to a FMS contract on Thursday to supply an additional UH-60M helicopter to Jordan. The country requested a VIP helicopter in May, with an order awarded to Sikorsky in July 2012 as part of a $2.8 billion FMS sale of up to 916 UH-60Ms to multiple countries.
- Australia has reportedly dropped plans to procure the F-35B, owing to concerns over the costs required to complete modifications to the Australian Navy’s two Canberra-class Landing Helicopter Docks (LHDs) which would have deployed the aircraft. The Australian government is expected to officially present this decision in a white paper scheduled for August. Australia’s commitment to the Joint Strike Fighter program has been historically unclear, with the purchase of F/A-18F Block II Super Hornets in May 2007 as an interim measure relieving the urgency to commit to the F-35.
- In a counter-lawsuit, South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Agency (DAPA) has filed charges against BAE Systems and Raytheon over the companies’ alleged failure to complete a $1.7 billion KF-16 upgrade program. BAE originally filed a lawsuit in November 2014 to prevent the company from receiving a $43 million penalty over the canceled upgrade program; DAPA also demanded $18 million from Raytheon.
- Indonesia is planning to replace its fleet of C-130 transport aircraft and is eyeing the C-17 or A400M as possible replacements. An ageing Indonesian Air Force C-130 Hercules recently crashed, killing over one hundred. With the Boeing C-17 production line closing, the company has five unsold C-17s remaining.
- Boeing has accepted a further extension of its quotation price for 15 CH-47F Chinook and 22 AH-64E Apache helicopters for India, after the price expired at the end of June. The Indian government cleared the procurement of the transport and attack helicopters in May, with the delay stemming from the Indian Finance Ministry’s slow processing of the file, after being it being given the thumbs-up by the Defence Ministry. This is the tenth such extension since 2013, with India selecting the US helicopters over a Russian bid (consisting of Mi-28N Night Hunter and Mi-26 Halo helicopters) in 2012.
- India appears to be adding an additional four P-8I maritime patrol aircraft“> to its existing order for eight of the aircraft. Cost negotiations have reportedly been concluded, with the file headed for further Finance Ministry and Cabinet Committee on Security approval, after being stamped by the Defence Ministry’s finance arm. The final aircraft of the original order is expected to be inducted by October to join the seven currently stationed in the country’s South-East.
- China has established a military national security think tank, which will be based at the National Defense University of the People’s Liberation Army.
- Norwegian fighters intercepting Russian aircraft as part of Air Policing Operations:
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