Bell’s Vigilant Headed for USMC | Bill Blocking Sale of Armored Vehicles to SA Fails | Dassault’s India Fighter Deal Expected Be Signed Today
- A fix has been found for a recently discovered issue on a number of F-35 fighters involving tubing insulation crumbling between the wing tank and fuselage tank. The USAF revealed last week that an unnamed supplier used the wrong coating for the insulation which deteriorated when it met fuel. A total of 15 USAF and Norwegian warplanes along with 42 models on the production line were affected by the issue with manufacturer Lockheed Martin fixed to cover engineering and modifications for all affected aircraft.
- Bell Helicopter has unveiled its V-247 Vigilant, an unmanned tilt-rotor aircraft aimed at filling a USMC need for larger armed systems, as outlined in their 2016 Marine Aviation flight plan. Dubbed the Marine Air Ground Task Force – Unmanned Expeditionary Capabilities, also known as MUX, the service’s UAV concept envisions a multi-sensor, electronic warfare, C4 and strike platform that would complement the Bell Boeing MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor and Lockheed Martin F-35B. While final details of exact requirements for MUX remain to be published, Bell believes that Vigilant will satisfy the USMC’s needs as outlined in the plan, and could make the aircraft ready for production as early as 2023.
Middle East & North Africa
- A bill that would have blocked the sale of Abram tanks and other armored vehicles to Saudi Arabia has failed a US Senate vote, 71-27. The $1.1 billion sale has received much negative publicity amid growing concern of the Saudi’s use of Western-supplied weaponry to commit human rights abuses throughout its ongoing campaign in Yemen. Supporters of the deal claim that the Gulf kingdom is still an important US ally in a volatile region and deserving of backing.
- Engineers working on Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI)’s Ofek-11 reconnaissance satellite have managed to fix some of the operational issues found shortly after its launch. As a result, Ofek was able to transmit back its first set of pictures to the ground control station. While officials have called the developments encouraging, engineers are currently trying to solve the remaining problems that the satellite is experiencing.
- Saab has stated that an anonymous client has submitted a purchase order for RBS 70 NG short-range air defense systems. Delivery of the man-portable systems is expected to take place between 2018 and 2020 at a cost of $44 million. The company’s latest variant has garnered much interest from several international clients, with Lithuania and Latvia to integrate and test the weapon for their short-range air defense needs.
- Self-propelled howitzers (SPH) intended for Norway will instead go to Sweden. 24 Archer (6×6) SPHs will instead be delivered to the Swedish armed forces next year, bringing Stockholm’s total inventory to 48. Both Norway and Sweden agreed to co-develop the Archer back in 2007, but Oslo backed out of the agreement in 2013. Plans for the extra howitzers will see half of the former Norwegian allocation placed in reserve while foreign buyers are sought for the remaining 12.
- The US State Department has cleared the sale of four KC-46A aerial refueling tankers to Japan in what is estimated to be a $1.9 billion deal. All aircraft will come equipped with Northrop Grumman’s AN/AAQ-24(V) Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) system. Tokyo first announced its intention to purchase the new tankers last October, with the recent approval from the Pentagon moving it closer to becoming the aircraft’s first foreign customer for manufacturer Boeing.
- It may have taken a long while to get to this stage, but the Indian government is expected to sign a deal for 36 Dassault Rafale fighters today after the Cabinet Committee on Security, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, cleared the inter-governmental agreement (IGA) with France. New Delhi had initially intended to buy 126 Rafale before several years worth of talks with Dassault broke down and Modi and Hollande stepped in last year to agree on the smaller purchase. Friday’s signing will see French defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian finalize the deal with his Indian counterpart, Manohar Parrikar, believed to be worth between $8.5 and $9 billion.
Sweden’s Archer (6×6) Howitzer:
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