The Air Force awarded Boeing a $21.6 million contract modification for GBU-57 Massive Ordnance Penetrator, also known as a „bunker buster“ bomb. The bunker buster is a precision-guided, 30,000 pound bomb employed only by the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber. Once released from the bat-winged bomber, the MOP is guided to targets by GPS and a pair of stubby fins. It was designed to attack deeply buried bunkers and tunnels and carries 5,300 pounds of explosives. GBU-57 was first tested in 2009. The modification provides for sustainment work. Boeing will perform work in Missouri and expects completion by July 18, 2023.
According to Jane’s, the Navy is continuing to evolve the MQ-8C vertical take-off and landing unmanned aerial vehicle. The MQ-8C is the Bell 407-based variant of the Fire Scout. It is designed to be deployed from ground and naval platforms to perform missions including intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, cargo resupply, and communications relay. It provides naval forces with extended over-the-horizon intelligence-gathering capability. The MQ-8C variant has an increased flight time and extended payload capacity as well as a larger airframe than previous variants. The US Navy selected Northrop Grumman as the prime contractor to develop and produce up to eight next-generation MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned air systems in April 2012. It also awarded a $71 million contract to Northrop Grumman in March 2013 to build a further six MQ-8C helicopters. Modifications currently under development include the introduction of a Link 16 datalink to enhance the UAV’s ability to network the Lockheed Martin MH-60 Naval helicopter. This will enable the crew to receive data being collected by the Fire Scout directly instead of relaying it via the Littoral Combat Ship.
Middle East & Africa
According to reports, Philippines’ president Duterte announced that Jordan will donate a third attack helicopter to the Philippines. The Jordanian government earlier donated two Bell AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters that are supposed to strengthen counterterrorism measures in the Philippines. The choppers will be delivered in July this year. The AH-1 Cobra is a two-blade, single-engine attack helicopter. Jordan obtained 24 AH-1Fs in the late 1980s, and in 2001 obtained nine additional ex-US Army Cobras. In 2010, Jordan transferred 16 AH-1F helicopters to Pakistan, under a US-sponsored support program that provided Islamabad with 40 AH-1 refurbished helicopters.
The Russian Armed Forces will soon start to receive the S-350 and S-500 air defense systems. The development of the S-500 has reached its final stage. The S-500 is a long-range anti-ballistic missile system with a planned range of 500-600 kilometers. The system will carry various missiles. These missiles will have various ranges and will be used against different targets. The S-350 Vityaz air defense system just recently passed the government’s certification tests and the manufacturing of the first serial set has begun. It is meant for hitting aerodynamic and ballistic targets. One system is armed with twelve air defense missiles. The S-500, the S-350 feature high mobility and are able to deploy to and function in unprepared positions.
The Philippine Navy inspected the country’s first two anti-submarine choppers in the UK. According to reports, the test and pre-delivery inspection of the AW-159 Wildcat was going smoothly. In 2016, the country contracted AugustaWestland with a $114 million contract to manufacture the helicopters at the manufacturer’s Yeovil, UK site. The deal also includes training and support. The Wildcat is in service with the UK’s Royal Navy and Army Air Corps. The AW159 Wildcat features a ferry range of 963 kilometers and has an endurance of one-and-a-half hours, or four-and-a-half hours when provided with auxiliary fuel. It has a range of 777 kilometers and is capable of travelling at speeds of 291 kilometers per hour. The two AW159s will join Manilla’s modest naval rotorcraft fleet, which consists of five AgustaWestland AW109Es.
China’s Marine Lizard amphibious combat unmanned surface vessel completed successful factory acceptance tests on April 8 at Wuchang Shipbuilding Industry Group’s Shuangliu shipyard. The amphibious drone ship is the world’s first armed amphibious drone boat which military analysts said could be used in land assault operations and is capable of forming a combat triad with aerial drones and other drone ships. Wuchang Shipbuilding’s Module Company division also handed over the first pre-production hull for the Marine Lizard to Qingdao Wujiang Technology Company for systems integration and further development. The Marine Lizard USV is under joint development by Wuchang Shipbuilding Industry Group and Qingdao Wujiang Technology Company. In ship form, the 12-meter-long Marine Lizard is a trimaran propelled by a diesel-powered hydrojet and can reach a maximum speed of 50 knots while maintaining stealth. When approaching land, the amphibious drone ship can release four continuous track units hidden under its belly, and travel at 20 kilometers an hour on land,
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