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Boeing pulls Harpoon out of OTH cruise missile contract | 6th KC-46 begins testing | PAK-FAs to be armed anti-ship missile

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Americas * Boeing has pulled its Harpoon anti-ship missile out of a US Navy contract aimed at procuring an over-the-horizon (OTH) cruise missile for its Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) and frigates. Proposed upgrades to the current Harpoon Block II would have initially extended its range to 150 miles, along with providing a new, more powerful […]

* Boeing has pulled its Harpoon anti-ship missile out of a US Navy contract aimed at procuring an over-the-horizon (OTH) cruise missile for its Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) and frigates. Proposed upgrades to the current Harpoon Block II would have initially extended its range to 150 miles, along with providing a new, more powerful warhead. However, the company stated that changing service requirements “would have to take a lot of capability out of this existing system and really deliver a less-capable weapons system.” Boeing added that they would continue to deliver upgrades for the missile. This leaves the Raytheon/Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile (NSM) and Lockheed Martin Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) as the likely candidates in the OTH effort.

* However, Boeing has reached an important milestone in bringing its KC-46 tanker program closer to serial production, announcing that it now has a total of six units ready for its testing program. The newest, of the planes, which is the second to be produced under a low-rate production order, conducted its first test flight on April 26, and future testing will be largely focus on ensuring that the tanker can stand up to electromagnetic fields—radars and powerful radio towers are capable of scrambling aircraft electronic systems if they are not carefully shielded. Boeing intends to eventually produce as many as 179 KC-46 tankers for the USAF.

* Raytheon has claimed that its Patriot air defense systems have downed more than 100 ballistic missiles in worldwide combat operations since January 1, 2015. Of those 100 or so intercepts, more than 90 involved the low cost Raytheon-made Guidance Enhanced Missile (GEM) family of interceptors. First introduced as an improvement to earlier PAC-2 missiles, early GEMs added a new, faster proximity fused warhead, alongside upgraded seekers to improve performance, and has been subsequently improved into four variants over the last two two decades. The missile operates by flying at extremely high speeds to close in on the threat and then detonating a blast-fragmentation warhead at precisely the right moment.

Middle East & North Africa

* Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is looking to use its facilities to provide engine sustainment and support for Pratt & Whitney F135 engines used on Israeli F-35i Adir fighter jets. Yosi Melamed, general manager of IAI’s Bedek group subsidiary, believes its engine division is the right place to maintain and overhaul F135 engines, and while Israeli F-35s would be the first receive maintenance, the company suggests that this could be expanded to include overhaul work for other aircraft that utilize the US-made engine, but only once an agreement has been reached with Pratt & Whitney. IAI already manufactures wings for the F-35 as a subcontractor to Lockheed.


* Russian media has reported that the Sukhoi T-50/PAK-FA stealth fighter will be armed with the upgraded Kh-35UE anti-ship missile. An upgrade of the Kh-35, the integration of the tactical cruise missile will give the fighter an added anti-surface mission capability, and add to the aircraft’s weapons load which includes the Kh-38 air-to-surface missile and Kh-58UShK anti-radiation missile. Nikolai Vasilyev, chief designer of the Kh-35UE at the Korolev-based Tactical Missiles Corporation, said that the missile has already demonstrated itself effectively on the carrier-based variants of the MiG-29K and MiG-29KUBR fighter planes, and on the Ka-52 attack helicopter.

Asia Pacific

* India has conducted two successful tests of the BrahMos Block III land attack cruise missile in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Conducted on May 2 and 3, an MoD statement confirmed that both missiles were were in full operational land-to-land configuration and fired from Mobile Autonomous Launchers (MAL). This is the fifth consecutive time that the Block-III version of the munition has been successfully launched against a land-based target in “top-attack” mode. Developed in conjunction with Russia and based on the P-800 Oniks cruise missile, both governments are planning on the development of a BrahMos variant capable of operating in the 600 km-plus range.

* Rheinmetall Defense Australia has picked NOIA as its supplier of ammunition and armament services as part of its bid to win an armored vehicle competition launched by the Australian government. The firm is offering its Boxer CVR armed with a LANCE turret and Northrop Grumman’s C4ISR architecture as a solution to Canberra’s Land 400 Phase 2 program, and faces competition from BAE Systems, who have teamed with Patia to offer the AMV35 Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle (CRV)—a solution that combines Patria’s Armoured ModularVehicle (AMV) and BAE Systems Hägglunds’ E35 turret system. Rheinmetall is also starting a military vehicle center of excellence, creating a program for the design, building and support for its military vehicles in Australia and the Asian region.

* China’s Hongdu Aviation Industry Group (HAIG) has unveiled a B variant prototype of its L-15A Lead-In Fighter Trainer (LIFT) aircraft. The new model is said to be a more combat capable and better armed version of its predecessor and is being touted as potential competition for Korean Aerospace Industries’ (KAI) FA-50. Additions to the L-15B include two afterburning turbofans with Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC), an extended nose section housing a passive electronically scanned array (PESA) radar with a reported 75 km range, and an electronic systems structure, which is most likely to be a radar warning receiver (RWR), located atop the vertical stabiliser. The jet also has nine weapon hardpoints and attachments for a 3.5-tonne payload, with reports stating that the aircraft’s wingtip mounts are strong enough to carry heavy short-range air-to-air missiles.

Today’s Video

* Indian Army test firing of BrahMos Block III:

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