* The USAF’s new long-range strike bomber has officially been named the B-21 Raider. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James made the announcement on Monday in what is a tribute to the legacy of WW2’s Doolittle Raiders rather than a reference to the Indiana Jones movie “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” The Doolittle Raiders are known for their surprise attack against Japan during on April 18, 1942, which forced the Japanese to recall combat forces for home defense, and boosted morale among Americans and US allies abroad.
* Today, the US Senate will vote on a joint resolution seeking to block a $1.15 billion sale of military equipment to Saudi Arabia over concerns about the conflict in Yemen. Sponsors of the bipartisan bill, which includes Republican Senators Rand Paul and Mike Lee and Democratic Senators Chris Murphy and Al Franken, believe that even if it does not pass, a positive vote or a strong vote would send a strong message about continued US support for Saudi Arabia. Both Congress and the White House have already approved the sale, which includes a number of Abrams tanks.
Middle East & North Africa
* Egypt is to receive eight Sentinel AN/MPQ-64F1 radars following the foreign military sale approval by the US State Department. The package, including training and other associative equipment, is estimated to cost $70 million. Once delivered, the Sentinels will work toward improving existing Egyptian air-defense capabilities following a series of aviation disasters over the last year.
* France has delivered its second Mistral class helicopter carrier to Egypt. The Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) vessel was handed over during a change of flag ceremony attended by the chiefs of staff of the Egyptian and French Navies on Friday in France. Dubbed the Anwar El Sadat, the ship, with its Egyptian crew, will now take part in an exercise with the French Navy before sailing to its homeport of Alexandria.
* Israeli defense firms look set to take a hit after the recently concluded US military aid package will see the gradual phasing out of an existing clause allowing Israel to spend 26.3 percent of the (awarded) funds on its own defense sector, which competes actively with US firms such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and Raytheon. The 10-year, $38 billion agreement, will take effect in Fiscal Year 2019 and means Israeli defense companies will miss out on up to $10 billion that might otherwise have been spent on home-made drones, missiles, tanks, and other equipment in favor of US weaponry. A US-only weaponry clause such as this comes at a time when exporting nations have found themselves racing to offer the best offsets in order to secure foreign orders.
* Paramount Group has unveiled its latest fleet of infantry combat vehicles (ICV) in what they call their Mbombe line. The models on offer – the Mbombe 4, Mbombe 6, and Mbombe 8 share over 80 percent of common components which allows for the potential to be able to provide customers with a complete family of 4 x 4, 6 x 6 and 8 x 8 ICVs with reduced through-life costs, easier training and logistics. Key features of the Mbombe 8 include: a gross weight of 30 tons; a nine-ton payload, including its weapon systems; a six-cylinder turbo-charged diesel engine; a six speed automatic transmission; a maximum speed of about 60 miles per hour, and a range of about 497 miles.
* MBDA UK has secured a $40 million deal to build a laser-directed energy weapon demonstrator for the UK MoD. The company had won a competition being run by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory to build the demonstrator several months ago, but the announcement was held up after rival bidder Thales UK lodged a protest against the decision. MBDA will lead a consortium, known as DragonFire, along with Qinetiq, Leonardo, GKN, BAE Systems, Marshall Aerospace and Defence, and Arke, to deliver a prototype for trials by 2019.
* Tuesday saw North Korean strongman Kim Jong-un oversee a ground test of a new rocket engine to launch satellites. The test, as reported by North Korean state media, is the latest in what has been a growing number of missile-related tests over the last 12 months. Amid widespread international condemnations, the hermit kingdom has been testing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles at an unprecedented rate this year under Kim’s direction, including the launch of a satellite in February that was widely seen as a test of long-range ballistic missile technology.
Launch party of Klimov’s new TV7-117ST turboprop engine that will be the power plant for the Il-112V light tactical transport aircraft: