Boeing receives $2.8 billion order for the Pegasus | JASSM-XR development program is well-underway | US State Department releases $1.2 billion military aid package
The US Air Force is ordering 18 additional KC-46A tanker aircraft from Boeing. The contract has a value of $2.8 billion and includes spares and support equipment for the Lot 4 aircraft. The KC-46A is a wide-body, multi-mission aircraft capable of transporting fuel, cargo, passengers and patients. The airframe is based on the KC-767 but comes with modifications like a cargo door, an advanced flight deck display and militarised modification ranging from an air refuelling operator station to threat detection and avoidance systems. Work will be performed at Boeing’s facility in Seattle, Washington and is expected to be completed by January 2022.
Lockheed Martin is being tapped to advance its development of the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile Extreme Range (JASSM-XR). The cost-plus-fixed-fee contract is priced at $51 million and includes all all-up round level systems engineering and programmatic activities to align and phase the work necessary to design, develop, integrate, test, and verify component and subsystem design changes to the JASSM-XR baseline electronics, hardware, firmware, and operational flight software. Few details about the JASSM-XR are known to this date, however the missile will likely be a 5,000 pound-class weapon that can fly out to 1,000 nautical miles to deliver a lethal payload up to 2,000 pounds precisely on target. Work will be performed at Lockheed’s location in Orlando, Florida and is scheduled for completion by end of August, 2023.
L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace is set to support the Navy’s fleet of T-45 Goshawk trainers. The $202.9 million contract modification provides for a mix of maintenance, logistics and engineering support operations needed to keep the trainer aircraft flying. The Goshawk is used to train US Navy and Marine Corps pilots for conversion into the F/A-18A-D Hornet, the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet family, the AV-8B Harrier II Plus, and the EA-6B Prowler. And also serves as a lead-in fighter trainer (LIFT) aircraft to future platforms like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter variants. Work will be performed at multiple Naval Air Stations. They include NAS Kingsville, Texas; NAS Meridian, Mississippi; NAS Pensacola, Florida and NAS Patuxent River, Maryland. The contract will run through September 2019.
The new US Air Force’s combat rescue workhorse will soon make its first test flight. The HH-60W, or Pave Hawk II will soon replace the ageing HH-60G Pave Hawks. The Whiskey boasts longer range, and a specially-developed tactical mission kit that will give pilots and para-rescue crew information from an array of sensors. The HH-60W can be deployed in casualty evacuation, medical evacuation, non-combatant evacuation missions, civil search-and-rescue, humanitarian aid, disaster relief, and insertion or extraction of combat forces. The first two HH-60Ws are currently undergoing several months of instrumentation checks at Sikorsky’s West Palm Beach, Florida facility. The Pave Hawk II program calls for the delivery of 112 helicopters at a cost of $7.9 billion. The Air Force expects to fly its first helicopter by March 2020, and says that deliveries will likely run through 2029.
Middle East & Africa
The US government is releasing a $1.2 billion military aid package to Egypt. The money includes $1 billion for the current 2018 budget year and $195 million appropriated for 2017 that would have had to have been returned to the Treasury had it not been spent by end of September. The funds were initially withheld by formed Secretary Rex Tillerson due to Egypt’s poor human rights record. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, however is determined to continue with the obligations and expenditures of Foreign Military Funds as means to strengthen the US security cooperation with Egypt. Egypt has a variety of US-weapons in its inventory. They include F-16s, Apache helicopters, E-2C Hawkeye aircraft and the AGM-84 Harpoon. Egypt long has been a key US ally in the Middle East, receiving nearly $80 billion in military and economic assistance over the past 30 years.
UK defense company Meggitt is deepening its involvement in the South Korean KF-X fighter program. The company will supply Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) with engine vibration monitoring units (EVMUs) to be installed on KF-X prototypes. Meggitt already delivers fire detection and bleed air leak detection systems, produces wheels and brakes, and designs the jets sensors and displays. The South Korean Air Force plans to replace its ageing F-4D/E Phantom II and F-5E/F Tiger II aircraft once the production starts in the mid-2020s.
The State Department is determined to approve a possible FMS to Japan. The Japanese government is requesting the purchase of up to nine additional E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft. The potential deal has a value of up to $3.1 billion. The purchase would also include information and communication terminals, APY-9 radars and a variety of other systems. The carrier-capable “mini-AWACS” aircraft, is designed to give long-range warning of incoming aerial threats. If the sale is approved Japan’s fleet of E-2Ds would increase to 23. Principal contractor will be Northrop Grumman.
A team of six Indian Air Force personnel is currently on a training mission in France. The team consists of a fighter pilot, an engineer and four technicians who are being trained on the Rafale jet, first of which will be introduced to the IAF in September 2019. The French-made jets were bought under a $8.8 billion emergency purchase to counter-weight a drop in IAF capabilities and fleet strength. Delivery of all 36 fighter aircraft is expected to be completed by end of 2022.
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