BAE Systems to upgrade APKWS | Last F-16s arrived in Iraq | New North Korean weapon too low for THAAD and too fast for Patriot?
The Navy awarded Lockheed Martin an $84.9 million modification for the AEGIS combat system. The deal provides for engineering, architecture, development, integration and test as well as Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air integration and test, and training, studies and computer program maintenance. Aegis is a centralized, automated command-and-control and weapons control system that was designed as a total weapon system, from detection to kill. Lockheed will perform work in Moorestown, New Jersey. The scheduled completion date is in December this year.
Pratt & Whitney won a $55.7 million contract modification for additional funding for F135 long lead items. The deal supports the production delivery schedule, and exercises an option for additional initial spare parts. It also provides program administrative labor for the global spares pool in support of the Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps, non-US DoD participants and Foreign Military Sales customers.The Pratt & Whitney F135 afterburning turbofan powers all three variants of the F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft. Ten years ago, Pratt & Whitney delivered its first production version of the engine for the F-35 fighter program. The company managed to reduce the cost of producing each engine by over half in the last ten years. It plans to continue cutting manufacturing costs in the years ahead through tight management of production processes and suppliers. Work under the current modification will take place within the US and the UK and is expected to be finished by April 2022.
BAE Systems won a $10.9 million delivery order to upgrade the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) guidance section. APKWS is an add-on kit that turns a standard unguided 2.75-inch 70 millimeter rocket into a precision laser-guided munition to give warfighters a low-cost surgical strike capability. Typically the kit fits on the Hydra 70 fin-stabilized unguided air-to-ground rocket. The APKWS rocket is qualified on the AH-1W and UH-1Y helicopters, and is expected to be similarly qualified for use on several other rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft. The system is available to allied forces through Foreign Military Sales. The order asks BAE Systems to combine separate guidance sections for the APKWS II intended for helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft into one hardware and software solution. The APKWS II uses semi-active laser-guidance for US military and allied military aircraft. BAE will perform work in New Hampshire and Texas and the scheduled completion date is in April 2021.
Middle East & Africa
The last of 36 F-16IQ Fighting Falcon aircraft arrived in Iraq on May 3. Having ordered its F-16IQs in two batches of 18 aircraft during 2011 and 2012, the Iraqi Air Force received its first one in late 2014. However, because of the critical security situation in the country at that time, Iraqi pilots and maintainers trained on their new aircraft alongside the Arizona Air National Guard’s 162nd Wing at Tucson, Arizona. The F-16IQ’s first reported combat mission came in April 2018, with a raid being flown against Islamic State targets in Syria. The Iraqi Ministry of Defense announced in early April this year that a new batch of F-16s would soon arrive at the Balad Air Base as part of the agreement between Iraq and the US.
Romania wants to purchase a new drone for expansion and modernization plans. The Navy seeks to purchase a completely new unmanned aerial system for the maritime and riverine domaine. The reason for this is growing tensions with Russia on the Black Sea. Romania wants to expend its presence in the Black Sea, the Mediterranean and elsewhere as needed by allies as well as maintain a submarine program beyond 2030. Additionally, plans are underway to buy four new multipurpose corvettes as the core of the Romanian Navy, and to modernize its Type 22 frigates defensenews reports.
According to local reports, the upgraded version of Russia’s Su-25 will get a sighting system with artificial intelligence elements that will be able to independently identify hostile targets, keep them in sight and guide missiles. The pilot would only have to select a target on the screen and the rest would be taken care of by AI. The new technology has reportedly been integrated into the unified troop command and control system, which allows mapping an optimal route towards the target and the trajectory of using weapons. The upgraded attack aircraft will also receive data on targets from external sources through the command and control system.
Bloomberg reports that the weapons launched by North Korea on Saturday traveled into the stratosphere and flew long enough to strike deep into South Korea. The test could mean that North Korea is looking to thwart US missile interceptors, according to Kim Ki-ho, a defense professor at Kyonggi University in Seoul and former army colonel. Specifically, the weapons appeared to be flying too low to be intercepted by the US THAAD system and too fast for the Patriot System. The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) is a transportable system that intercepts ballistic missiles inside or outside the atmosphere during their final, or terminal, phase of flight. It can intercept missiles flying at an altitude of 40 kilometers or more. Low-altitude missiles can be defended by the Patriot missile defense system. The Patriot is is a long-range, all-altitude, all-weather air defense system to counter tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and advanced aircraft. Neither the US nor South Korea have confirmed North Korea fired a ballistic missile, which would be in violation of international agreements and complicate their current detente with Pyongyang.
Watch: U.S. B-52s Take off for Bomber Task Force deployment from Barksdale Air Force Base