* The Bell-Boeing Joint Project Office has been awarded a $267.2 million US Navy contract modification for additional logistics support for MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft. Under the deal, both the USMC MV-22 and the USAF Special Operations Command CV-22 variant will be covered. The contract runs until November 2018.
Middle East & North Africa
* 17 more F-35As will be making their way to Israel, bringing the total ordered by the government to 50. Speaking on the new order, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the decision by the cabinet on November 27 was unanimous. The additional fighter order comes just two weeks before the first two F-35As destined for Israel fly from the US.
* The Indonesian state-owned firm PT Dirgantara Indonesia, will help in maintenance work for Saudi Arabian military aircraft. While the type of aircraft has remained classified, the company will work on both helicopters and airplanes. PTDI has previously conducted maintenance work on Colombian and Panamanian aircraft.
* Antonov has announced the successful assembly of their first An-132 prototype aircraft ahead of testing in December. The Ukrainian light multi-mission transport plane, a successor to the An-32, was built with zero technology and subsystems input from Russia, following the souring in relations over Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. Saudi Arabia will be the plane’s first export customer, with plans to purchase six An-132s, four of which would be configured for search-and-rescue operations and two for electronic warfare (EW) operations.
* The first flight of the Gripen E will have to wait until 2017 as manufacturer Saab self-imposes a delay of at least six months. It was initially expected that the latest Gripen model would fly before the end of the year, however Saab has chosen to fully qualify its distributed integrated modular avionics (DIMA) design to commercial standards prior to the first flight. Deliveries of orders to the Swedish and Brazilian air forces, slated for 2019, are not expected.
* India is positioning itself to supply Afghanistan with long-term spares and support for grounded Russian-made helicopters and aircraft operated by the Afghan Armed Forces. A team from the Indian Air Force, sent to Afghanistan to assess requirements, will now report back what kind of parts can be sourced from India’s inventory and others that need to be procured from Russia. The news comes shortly after it was reported that US DoD officials had asked Congress to cease buying Russian MI117 helicopters for Afghan forces and instead to buy American helicopters.
* Reports that Iran is eyeing a procurement of Su-30 fighters has been denied by Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan. Several agencies had originally quoted the minister saying “the purchase of this fighter is on the agenda of the Defense Ministry” when asked about the Sukhoi aircraft, but some later said the ministry had called the reports “incorrect.” Whether the intentions are real or not, any deal between Tehran and Moscow for such fighters would be subject to UN Security Council approval, potentially further straining relations with Israel, Saudi Arabia and the US.
* A directional, high-powered electromagnetic pulse (EMP) generator has been developed by South Korea’s Agency for Defense Development (ADD), which will allow it to shoot down North Korean UAVs. The ADD presented its progress on the weapon during a conference hosted by the Korea Institute of Military Science and Technology. North Korean UAVs have emerged as new threats over the recent years. Most recently, South Korean forces detected but failed to down wanton North Korean UAVs that crossed the military demarcation line (MDL) five times in August.
Delayed gratification. With its first flight delayed, a look at the Gripen E’s unveiling this summer: