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Daily Rapid Fire

Bruised KC-390 prototype returns to sky | Lockheed and MBDA Germany form joint venture for MEADS | Will a ban on palm oil foil Malaysian fighter deal?

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Americas * Flight Global has reported that Embraer’s first KC-390 prototype has returned to flight testing after an accident during a stall test last October put the transport/refueler out of action for several months. A company statement at the time of the crash said that the twinjet “experienced an event beyond the planned limit” while […]
Americas

* Flight Global has reported that Embraer’s first KC-390 prototype has returned to flight testing after an accident during a stall test last October put the transport/refueler out of action for several months. A company statement at the time of the crash said that the twinjet “experienced an event beyond the planned limit” while conducting a simulated icing test, which took the aircraft beyond its airspeed and load factor operating limitations. Damage sustained resulted in the plane’s external fairings and access hatches being replaced, with the unexpected additional costs for flight testing the new aircraft resulting in Embraer missing its 2017 profit targets.

* An issue with the Block I versions of Canada’s new CH-148 Cyclone naval helicopters has resulted in them unable to land on warships with its sonar attached safely. Information provided by the Royal Canadian Air Force said the service determined that the Cyclone’s sonar might strike the ship mounted assisted recovery system on a warship during high sea state condition as it cannot be fully retracted into the fuselage after deployment. The issue has already been resolved for the Block IIs already delivered and the affected Bock Is have already been sent back to manufacturer Sikorsky for modifications.

Middle East & Africa

* The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has received the US State Department’s blessing for the procurement of Sidewinder air-to-air missiles. A statement released by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) listed the package to include 300 AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder Block II missiles, 40 AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder Captive Air Training Missiles (CATMs), 30 AIM-9X-2 Block II Tactical guidance units, 15 AIM-9X-2 CATM guidance units, containers, spares, support equipment and missile support, US Government and contractor technical assistance and other related logistics support, and other associated support equipment and services. The total value is expected to be $270.4 million. Raytheon will act as the lead contractor.

* The State Department cleared a $197 million sale of equipment to upgrade the Qatar Emiri Air Force’s air operations center. According to a DSCA statement, “This sale includes: one (1) Multifunctional Information Distribution System (MIDS) Low Volume Terminal (LVT), Global Positioning System (GPS) Selective Availability Anti-Spoofing Module (SAASM) chips, Simple Key Loaders (SKL), High Assurance Internet Protocol Encryptors (HAIPE), Ground Support System (GSS) components for Link-16 as well as the necessary infrastructure construction, integration, installation, and sustainment services, cybersecurity services, technical and support facilities, COMSEC support, secure communications equipment, encryption devices, software development, spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, publications and technical documentation, security certification and accreditation, personnel training and training equipment, US Government and contractor engineering, technical and logistics support services; and other related elements of logistical and program support.” Raytheon will act as lead contractor with any offsets requested to be negotiated between them and the Emirate.

Europe

* Finland has announced that it is developing a remotely-detonated mine that could be used as a solution to defending its long borders. Speaking to reporters, Defence Minister Jussi Niinisto said the development of this so-called bounding mine had been in the works for some time as its defense forces looked for a solution to replace land mines banned by at the 1999 Ottawa Convention. Niinisto described it as “a remotely tripped explosive, which bounds in the air and fires steel or tungsten bullets downwards,” adding that the main targets would be soldiers and vehicles. Finland shares a 1,340km (833 miles) border and a difficult history with Russia, and following Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, it has stepped up military spending. Helsinki hopes that the “horror” of what such a weapon could do would act as a deterrent in the region, and international interest has already been received.

* The Malaysian government has said that the potential for France to supply new fighter aircraft could be in doubt if the European Union goes ahead with passing legislation that would curb the use of palm oil in motor fuels. Dassault Aviation’s Rafale is being considered alongside a BAE-led bid with the Eurofighter Typhoon to provide 18 planes what will replace Malaysia’s ageing MiG-29 fighters. But Malaysia stands to lose as much a $500 million in annual revenue if the bloc decides to implement the curbs and French government sources have said France would not back a total ban. “If it is sustainable palm oil then it could be used in biofuels,” a French official said. “The idea is to support a constructive and non-discriminatory approach of palm oil.” Dassault Chief Executive Eric Trappier said palm oil curbs could “impact relations between several countries” but said talks with Malaysia had been going on “for a long time”.

* Lockheed Martin announced the formation of a new joint venture with MBDA’s German outfit that will proceed with negotiations to develop a new air and missile defense system to replace the German military’s existing Patriot batteries. In 2015, the Medium Extended Air Defence System (MEADS) was chosen ahead of the Patriot as the selected platform of Germany’s TLSV program, however, discussions between the companies and the government were complicated by new procurement guidelines aimed at increasing the transparency of the process and reducing the risk of technical delays and cost overruns endemic on new projects. Furthermore, while initial procurement plans had costed the project at about $4 billion dollars, sources close to the project expect an adjustment that is likely to add several billion dollars to initial costings. MEADS is the product of a $4 billion development program shared by the US, Germany and Italy that incorporates Lockheed Martin’s hit-to-kill PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) missile in a system including 360-degree surveillance and fire control sensors, netted-distributed tactical operations centers, and lightweight launchers. So far, only Germany has chosen to field the system.

Asia-Pacific

* Indonesia has approved the purchase of two A400M transport aircraft from Airbus with plans to use them in the civilian role. The cargo-lifters will be put to work by the Indonesian Trading Company (PPI) moving goods around the eastern part of the country, with training and maintenance assistance provided by the Indonesian Air Force. PPI is responsible for the purchase and distribution of goods such as food and fuel and the eastern part of the country lacks roads and are highly dependent on aircraft to bring in the supplies. According to reports last January, it was reported that Indonesia could procure up to five A400s and approximately $2 billion had been set aside for the program.

Today’s Video

* The Leopard 2 at IDEX 2017:

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