- Lockheed Martin has been granted a $37.7 million contract for the continued development of a new wing design for the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile – Extended Range (JASSM-ER). The new wing design will provide greater range for the missile, which currently can strike targets more than 550 miles away. Speaking on the award, Jason Denney, program director for Lockheed’s Long Range Strike Systems said the company has “developed a novel design that provides additional standoff range to further increase pilot survivability in an Anti-Access-Area Denial threat environment.” This further increase in the range of the missile will be incorporated into production lot 17.
- A report on the investigation into the detachment of a boom on a KC-100 tanker aircraft on November 1, 2016, has blamed a sheared Dual Rotary Voltage Transducer (DRVT) rotary crank as one of the primary cause of the incident. The issues started during a routine training flight over Idaho when the tanker was about to refuel F-15s and a C-17. During the exercise, the boom immediately began to move erratically and well outside of its operational and structural limits after the operator lowered it. Unable to control the boom, the aircraft declared an emergency and proceed to land at Mountain Home Air Force Base. The boom detached while en route to the base.
- Additional long lead time construction materials have been ordered by the US Navy for the construction of the Ford-class CVN 80 Enterprise. Work will be carried out in Newport News, Va., and is expected to be completed by January 2024. Navy 2017 shipbuilding funds of $148.7 million will be obligated to the project. Long lead parts involve the lengthy planning, development and work of certain components and subsystems needed for the vessel. These include examples like shipboard nuclear power plants to the thousands of tons of steel needed to construct an aircraft carrier hull. The Enterprise is powered by A1B nuclear reactors and can generate two-and-a-half times the electrical power of its Nimitz-class predecessor, giving it the capacity to mount future weapons and electronics like laser weapons. It also has an electro-magnetic aircraft launch system rather than standard steam-powered catapults.
Middle East & North Africa
- The US Air Force has awarded Textron Aviation Defense a $8.8 million contract to refurbish 15 T-6A Texan II training aircraft for the Iraqi Air Force. Work on the foreign military sale will be conducted at Inman Ali Air Base in Iraq, with a completion date scheduled for the second quarter of 2018 in order to meet Iraq’s demand for F-16 pilots in 2019. The light turboprop training aircraft serves as the main training platform for Iraqi pilots operating its main fleet of F-16IQ Block 52 fighters.
- Saab’s JAS-39 Gripen has been pulled out of Belgium’s fighter competition, leaving Brussels with the choice of either the Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, or Lockheed Martin F-35. While Sweden’s FMV defence materiel administration had initially touted the Gripen as a cost-effective solution that can easily fill the operational requirements required by Belgium, the request included the requirement that the delivering nation also provides extensive operational support—something that would require a change in both Swedish foreign policy and political mandate. As a result, Sweden and the FMV choose not to submit an answer to the Belgian request.
- The British Royal Air Force (RAF) is to drive funds into Eurofighter Typhoon fleet enhancement from savings made through a new in-service support model. Known as the Typhoon total availability enterprise (Tytan), the 10-year arrangement between the RAF and industry partners BAE Systems and Leonardo is expected to reduce the Typhoon’s per-hour operating cost by 30-40%, generating savings of at least $712 million over the agreement’s lifetime. These funds will then be generated back into upgrading the aircraft. UK-specific initiatives already introduced via the Tytan contract include increasing the intervals between scheduled major maintenance activities, which will increase aircraft availability and reduce repair bills. Deep maintenance initially scheduled after every 400 flight hours has previously been extended to a 500h interval, and is expected to be stretched further to 750h.
- Slovakia has become the first recipient of the latest variant of Saab’s Carl-Gustaf M4 multi-role weapon. Deliveries of the 84mm man-portable reusable anti-tank weapon system took place last month and will go towards replacing the older M3 variants currently in use by Slovakia. Weighing less than 15.5 pounds, the new lightweight design offers soldiers significant mobility improvements, and is compatible with future battlefield technology developments, such as intelligent sighting systems and programmable ammunition.
- The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) has announced that its CH-5 UAV is available for serial production and export to overseas. The drone has been described as on-par in terms of endurance and payload to the US-made General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper, but at much cheaper cost. Current CH-series operators include Saudi Arabia, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), while another Chinese UAV vendor, the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group (CAIG), is believed to have sold its Wing Loong to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt. Potential markets to be targeted by CASC include Latin America, North Africa, Southeast Asia, Central Asia and potentially even Eastern Europe.
- China’s CH-5 completes flight trials: