Bell completes first build of V-280 Valor | State Dept. finally clears F-16Vs for Bahrain | France makes Belgium an offer it can’t refuse
- Raytheon has been awarded a $38 million cost-plus-incentive-fee, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract by the US Air Force to conduct work for the System Improvement Program 3- Engineering Manufacturing, Development. Under the terms of the deal, the firm will develop an incremental software solution for the AIM-120D “to improve its performance against rapidly advancing threats.” Work will be carried out in Tuscon, Arizona with a completion date of January 5, 2021.
- Bell Helicopters has completed the first build of its V-280 Valor fixed-wing tiltrotor aircraft for the US Army. Assembled at Bell’s facility in Amarillo, Texas, the Valor is a co-development with Lockheed Martin for the Department of Defense’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program, and will face off against a Boeing-Sikorsky offering in the Army’s Joint Multi-Role (JMR) Technology Demonstrator (TD) phase later this year. Bell expect to conduct the Valor’s maiden flight later this fall.
- Documents seen by Canadian media from Canada’s Department of National Defence has shown that last year, Ottawa tried and failed to obtain second-hand drones from allied nations. The effort aimed to hurry the pace of acquisition for armed UAVs and took place while military officials were still in the midst of developing policy, and involved the Canadian Forces asking companies about the availability of new and used drones and how fast they could be delivered. Canadian military attaches were also asked to see whether allied nations were willing to part with any of their unmanned aircraft. Unfortunately for Trudeau and Co., no allied nations had excess capacity to sell. The Canadian Forces hope to have new drones by 2021 and have the fleet fully operational by 2023, with $822 million earmarked for the program.
Middle East & Africa
- Bahrain has been cleared by the US State Department to move forward with the purchase of 16 F-16V fighter aircraft from Lockheed Martin. Estimated to be valued at $2.785 billion, the sale includes weapons, radars and other systems, as well as spares, training and support. Washington also cleared a F-16 upgrade package for Bahrain, which will modernize 20 Bahraini F-16 Block 40 aircraft to the F-16V configuration at an estimated cost of $1.082 billion. The purchases had been initially put on hold during the Obama presidency in the wake of alleged human rights abuses against protestors.
- Airbus has completed the maiden flight of a H125M twin-engine light attack helicopter equipped with the HForce modular weapon system. HForce is designed to carry all kind of guided and ballistic armaments such as missiles and laser guided rockets, guns, machine guns and rockets, and the company now plans to conduct firing trials of guns, cannons and unguided rockets in Hungary, as well as tests on the laser-guided rockets in Sweden. Serbia has been revealed as HForce’s first customer, with four of nine H125Ms ordered by Belgrade expected to come equipped with the system. Deliveries to Serbia are expected between 2018 and 2019.
- Airbus has also announced the maiden flight of the first A330 MRTT Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft for France. To be known in France as Phénix, nine aircraft have been ordered by DGA—France’s procurement agency—with options for another three. Deliveries are due to start in 2018. The aircraft was converted from a standard A330 and is equipped with the Airbus Aerial Refuelling Boom System (ARBS) and underwing hose-and-drogue refuelling pods, and can carry 272 passengers or be configured for medical evacuation. 51 one units have so far been ordered by 8 nations.
- The French government pulled out of a Belgian tender, due on September 7, for the replacement of its F-16 fighter aircraft. Instead, Paris is offering the Dassault Rafale as part of a military partnership that goes beyond the supply of weapons. In addition to the 36 jets required by Brussels, the French deal offers enhanced military cooperation between the two NATO countries, more training, and industrial and technical cooperation between companies on both sides. When asked about the new offer, manufacturer Dassault Aviation had no immediate comment, while the Belgian defence ministry said it would not comment until the process was finalised. Both Lockheed Martin and the Eurofighter consortium have submitted tenders to the original procurement program.
- The US Department of Defense (DoD) has awarded MD Helicopters a $1.39 billion contract to provide 150 MD 530F Cayuse Warrior light utility helicopters to the government of Afghanistan. The deal includes maintenance, support services and pilot training. Production sites and funding under the foreign military sales program (FMS) will be determined by each order as it is requested, with a scheduled delivery date of August 31, 2022. It is hoped that the Cayuse Warrior, along with the Embraer Super Tucano light attack aircraft can fill the gap left by Afghanistan’s ageing Soviet-era aircraft, however the new aircraft thus far have been in small numbers and with mixed results. With the Cayuse Warrior, one pilot complained that when fully loaded it had a maximum altitude of only 8,000 ft., making it incapable of crossing many of the mountain ranges in Afghanistan. It is unarmored and there have been reports of mechanical unreliability, the .50 machine guns repeatedly jamming in action, and the lack of gunsights requiring the weapons to be aimed by tracers.
- The Sosna tracked air defense system :
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