Canadian Contractors May See F-35 Work Shift to Other Partner Nations | Ammo Destined for Mali Missing from Air France Flight | Taranis UCAV May Get 4th Trial
- Boeing plans to test its new Chinook rotor blades this October. If successful, the heavy-lift helicopter will gain an extra 2,000lb for its maximum take-off weight. Using honeycomb composite rotor blades, good news from Boeing could see it form part of the CH-47 Block II upgrades the Army is pursuing, and be open to funding previously denied by the Department of Defense (DoD).
- The ongoing debacle over Canada’s exit from the F-35 program may see Lockheed Martin shift contracts associated with the fighter away from Canadian contractors. Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s election promise to not order the next generation fighter, and government plans to purchase F/A-18 Super Hornets as an interim solution, has resulted in Ottawa not placing any orders for the fighter despite being an original partner nation in the project. With the F-35 supply chain contracts tied to the number of aircraft purchased by partner nations, Canadian companies may see work shifted to other partner nations who have seemingly been pestering Lockheed to do so. To date, Canadian firms account for about $1 billion of the project’s development and production work.
Middle East North Africa
- Two US senators are looking to limit sales of munitions to Saudi Arabia in protest of the Gulf kingdom’s conduct during its military intervention in Yemen. Senators Chris Murphy and Rand Paul, both members of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced an amendment to the annual defense policy bill that would bar US sales of air-to-ground munitions until Saudi Arabia promises to take precautions to limit civilian casualties and combat terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda alongside Houthi rebels. In November, the State Department cleared a $1.29 billion sale of 10,000 advance air-to-ground munitions to Saudi Arabia.
- Ammunition destined for use by German forces serving in Mali has gone missing. The crate, containing 880 pieces of ammunition, went missing on a commercial Air France flight transporting troops and weapons from Berlin to Bamoko via Paris on May 28. Berlin police have been notified of the incident. Germany is taking part in the UN mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and also has 200 soldiers in the country as part of a European mission to train Malian troops.
- BAE Systems is confident that ongoing talks with the UK government could lead to the launch of a fourth flight trial for the Taranis unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) demonstrator. The first three flight trials took place in Australia between August 2013 and late 2015. Work on the Taranis program was feeding into the Anglo-French Future Combat Air Systems (FCAS) which involves efforts from BAE Systems, Dassault, Rolls-Royce, Safran, Leonardo, and Thales.
- Ongoing bilateral talks between Germany and France to develop a joint next generation artillery are being conducted alongside discussions for a planned replacement of their Leopard and Leclerc heavy tanks. French weapons systems manufacturer Nexter has teamed up with German counter-part Krauss-Maffei Wegmann to form a joint venture, which has been named KNDS, or KMW and Nexter Defense Systems. It’s believed that any new artillery or tank programs will most likely be launched between 2025 and 2030.
- As many as five South East Asian nations are in talks to purchase the BrahMos supersonic anti-ship missile. News of the interest was reported by Reuters after seeing an undated note from the Indian government to BrahMos Aerospace ordering the manufacturer to accelerate talks to sell the missile to Vietnam, Indonesia, South Africa, Chile, and Brazil. The note also mentions 11 other countries in which to carry out further talks including Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines.
- Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF) plans to purchase two refurbished C-130Ks from UK firm Marshall Aerospace has raised some controversy over costs and previous history with the company. The former RAF aircraft were apparently sold to Marshall as scrap metal for $2.5 million each. A deal to modernize and resell the aircraft to the SLAF, however, is coming at a combined price tag of $35 million. According to an expert within the service, buying the plane in its original condition and having a refurbishing company bring the aircraft back to flying status would cost only an extra $6 to 7 million each.
- GoPro footage of Kazakhstan Air Force EC-145 2-ship flying demo:
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