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Daily Rapid Fire

Bulgaria Chooses Saab’s JAS-39 to Replace MiG-29 | Saab’s GlobalEye Sees Third Order, Customer Unknown | Taiwan Signs $2.8B Contract for 66 Advanced Jet Trainers

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Americas * Lockheed Martin has received a $109 million US Navy contract to deliver modification kits for a Block 3F software upgrade for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The upgrade includes the provision of 567 modification kits as well as labor costs for contractors performing the installation and maintenance for aircraft operated by the USAF, […]

* Lockheed Martin has received a $109 million US Navy contract to deliver modification kits for a Block 3F software upgrade for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The upgrade includes the provision of 567 modification kits as well as labor costs for contractors performing the installation and maintenance for aircraft operated by the USAF, US Navy, USMC, as well as international partners. Earlier this month, the software was successfully tested during a test-launch of an inert GBU-12 Paveway II bomb against a moving target.

Middle East & North Africa

* Israel is looking to add the life-saving Automatic Ground-Collision Avoidance System (Auto-GCAS) to its fleet of F-16s. Once integrated, the system will offer a solution to the problem of accidents caused by distracted or incapacitated pilots flying into the ground in an otherwise fully functioning aircraft. However, current negotiations surrounding the potential procurement are first centered around obtaining the hardware and software modifications necessary to facilitate the installation of Auto-GCAS onboard the fighters. Israel’s push to install the technology is part of a broader effort to increase safety across its air force fleet following a number of recent crashes, most recently, last October’s crash of an F-16I which was lost while attempting to land with an asymmetric weapons load.

* In Syria, Israeli jets targeted an arms dump used by the Lebanese militia group, Hezbollah. The move was condemned by both the Syrian government and Russia, and is being seen as a wider sign of the heightened tensions surrounding a six year-long Syrian Civil War that has already caught up regional and international powers. The strike, which caused no injuries, is said to have been targeting weapons sent from Iran via commercial and military cargo planes, and destined to resupply groups such as Hezbollah. While Israel has limited its involvement in the war in Syria, officials have consistently referred to two red lines that have prompted a military response in the past—any supply of advanced weaponry to Hezbollah, and the establishment of “launch sites” for attacks on Israel from the Golan Heights region.


* Bulgaria’s interim government has selected Saab’s JAS-39 Gripen as the replacement for their aging fleet of MiG-29 fighters. The Swedish jet won out against an offering of second-hand F-16s from Portugal and an Italian offer for the Eurofighter Typhoon. Further discussions with Saab on contract details are scheduled to take place once the new government takes office next month, but it is expected that at least eight aircraft will be procured at a cost of $850 million. This new government will oversee a large military modernisation effort, with plans already approved to purchase new warships as well as a new collection of armored vehicles.

* Saab’s backlog shows that a third order has been placed for the GlobalEye airborne early warning aircraft. While the customer was not revealed, the company has already received a $1.27 billion order from the UAE for two examples, which places the Saab Erieye airborne early warning radar, a ground surveillance radar and other intelligence-gathering sensors aboard an adapted Bombardier Global 6000 business jet. The firm received a second order worth $236 million in January from another unnamed buyer. Speaking on the uptake in interest, Saab CEO Håkan Buskhe added that the company forsees “an increase in leads, and an increase in offers that we are sending out to different customers.”

* Ukraine and Poland are to collaborate on helicopter production that ranges from undertaking modernization efforts, to designing and serial producing their own models for their armed forces. Announcing the new plan, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Stepan Kubiv said that his country could not undertake such efforts on its own and needed help from Polish industry as well as potentially other Western companies. The statement follows comments made in late 2016 by Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz, who said Warsaw and Kiev are discussing plans to launch a joint production effort of helicopters that could be used by the militaries of Central and Eastern European allies.

Asia Pacific

* Lockheed Martin has been awarded a contract to upgrade the Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensor (M-TADS/PNVS) system for Japan’s fleet of AH-64DJP Apaches. Under the deal, 14 laser designation kits will be delivered to Tokyo by 2020, as well as providing Performance Based Logistics (PBL) support. Known as the “eyes of the Apache,” the new systems will provide pilots with long-range, precision engagement and pilotage capabilities for safe flight during day, night and adverse weather missions. Having already delivered some 1,350 M-TADS/PNVS systems and spares to the US Army and international customers, Japan is the first customer to receive such upgrades.

* Taiwan’s Institute of Science and Technology has signed a contract, on behalf of the Taiwanese government, with the Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation for the production of 66 advanced jet trainers. The effort comes as part of Taipei’s move to militarize the island following a recent spate of island building by China in the South China Sea. The defense ministry is to allocate $2.8 billion until 2020 to develop the advanced trainers, and begin testing the jets until 2026, when 66 units are planned for deployment. The jets will then replace older F-5 and AT-3 aircraft, which are scheduled to be decommissioned in 2020 and 2021, respectively.

Today’s Video

* How Auto-GCAS works:

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