Canada to shun Boeing, goes for Aussie Super Hornets | MQ-8C will enter IOC testing next spring | Su-57 prototype flies with new engine
- It has been reported that Canada has scrapped an earlier plan to buy F/A-8 Super Hornets from manufacturer Boeing, and instead will sign next week a deal to buy second-hand models from the Australian government. A previous plan would have seen Canada obtain 18 new Super Hornet fighter jets as part of its interim solution to its CF-18 fleet replacement program, however, Ottawa’s anger at a decision by Boeing to launch a trade challenge against Canadian planemaker Bombardier—which the US giant accuses of dumping airliners on the American market—caused the deal to be cancelled and has likely put future Boeing military sales to Canada in serious doubt. When asked about the second-hand deal, the offices of Public Works Minister Carla Qualtrough and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan—who share responsibility for Canada’s military procurement—both declined to comment. Boeing, and the Australian mission in Ottawa were also unavailable for comment, however, the Australian Department of Defense did confirm that Canada lodged a formal expression of interest for “a number” of Australia’s F/A-18 Classic Hornets on Sept. 29. Official requirements for a new CF-18 replacement program are expected in early 2019.
- The US Navy expects to enter the initial operational test and evaluation phase of the MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter this spring, with sea-based testing onboard a littoral combat ship to follow later that summer. Derived from the four-bladed, single-engined Bell 407, the rotorcraft will replace the smaller MQ-8B based on the Sikorsky S-333, and offers a greater payload, range and endurance than its predecessor. While waiting for the MQ-8C to come online, the Navy continues to fix issues experienced with the B variant such as a capability for the advanced precision kill weapon system (APKWS), and is also working on an interim fix for its MQ-8B radar.
- After a two week investigation, the US Air Force has lifted an operational pause on T-6A Texan II flights out of Vance Air Base, with students and instructors returning to the air on December 5. Aviation, medical, functional and industry experts all took part in the investigation but found no specific root cause for the physiological events experienced by a number of T-6A pilots during flights out of the base. The service said it will continue to gather technical and human performance data and the Vance team will temporarily apply local procedures to mitigate risk to flight operations and aircrew.
- Raytheon’s next-generation military-code GPS receiver integrated onboard a B-2 Spirit bomber has been successfully tested by the USAF. Conducted out of Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., the first ever M-code test onboard the B-2 is being regarded as an important milestone for the US Government-led GPS Modernization effort to enhance security, positioning, navigation and timing capabilities for US military and civilian applications. Military GPS User Equipment M-code receivers will give military aircraft, ships and ground vehicles access to the modernized GPS network. The firm said the test confirmed the viability of a risk-reduction prototype of Raytheon’s Miniaturized GPS Airborne Receiver.
Middle East & Africa
- Azerbaijan has inked contracts with Pakistan, finalizing a deal to purchase 10 Super Mushshak trainers from Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC). The signing took place during a trilateral meeting of foreign ministers from Pakistan, Turkey and Azerbaijan, and hosted in the Azeri capital Baku. During the meeting, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif called for greater joint defense production between the three countries, something his counterparts were amenable to. Azerbaijan and Pakistan, being the smaller defence industry players of the three countries, will likely look to limit their hard currency outflows and increase support for their respective defence suppliers by linking to the supply channels supporting the Turkish Armed Forces. This could potentially be had by Islamabad and Baku partnering with Ankara in the latter’s development programs. Pakistan is also looking to sell its JF-17 Thunder multi-role fighter to Azerbaijan, and manufacturer PAC is configuring Turkish firm Aselsan’s ASELPOD targeting pod to the JF-17. This, along with potentially other Turkish subsystems and air-to-surface weapons, could make their way to Azerbaijan should Baku select the JF-17.
- The Swiss subsidiary of Saab Defense—Saab Bofors Dynamics Switzerland (SBDS)—will produce and supply 155mm training artillery ammunition for an unnamed customer. Valued at $14.4 million, deliveries will take place over the next two years and follows another contract executed for the client in 2015 and 2016. SBDS is involved in the design, development and production of mortar rounds, warheads and other energetic products, and regards itself as a specialist in total munitions life cycle management and provides servicing of different ammunition types, mainly for large-caliber products.
- Russia’s newest fighter jet—the fifth-generation Su-57—has flown for the first time while being powered by the new NPO Saturn “Product 30” engine. Lasting 17 minutes, the flight was carried out by the second Su-57 aircraft prototype—T-50-2—from the Gromov flight test centre at Zhukovsky AB. The new engine is slated to become the production standard for the Su-57, after the nine flight test prototypes of the Su-57 fighter were powered by NPO Saturn Product 117 engine—itself based on the AL-41F-1S afterburning turbofans developed for the Su-35. Moscow said the Product 30 will provide more thrust and fuel efficiency, with reduced weight and maintenance requirements.
- The last S-70B-2 Seahawk operated by the Royal Australian Navy has flown its last flight as the service completes its transition to the Sikorsky MH-60R. 24 models of the new anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare helicopter have been delivered since 2014 and are operated by the 725 Sqn from Nowra, New South Wales. The last Seahawk was flown to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, where it will be preserved. The departing model was used during operations in the Middle East from the 1990-1991 Gulf War onwards.
- The Su-57 flies with new engine:
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