Latest updates[?]: An advance in aircraft simulators, allowing F-35 pilots to link with pilots of other aircraft, was announced on Wednesday by Lockheed Martin. For the first time, Lockheed, the F-35 Joint Program Office and the US Air Force successfully connected F-35, F-22, F-16 and E3 airborne warning planes in a simulated environment. Additional platforms, like the F-15, can also connect to the shared virtual environment. The success came during a Distributed Mission Training final acceptance test at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., the company said.
F-35B: off probation
The $382 billion F-35 Joint Strike fighter program may well be the largest single global defense program in history. This major multinational program is intended to produce an “affordably stealthy” multi-role fighter that will have 3 variants: the F-35A conventional version for the US Air Force et. al.; the F-35B Short Take-Off, Vertical Landing for the US Marines, British Royal Navy, et. al.; and the F-35C conventional carrier-launched version for the US Navy. The aircraft is named after Lockheed’s famous WW2 P-38 Lightning, and the Mach 2, stacked-engine English Electric (now BAE)Lightning jet. Lightning II system development partners included The USA & Britain (Tier 1), Italy and the Netherlands (Tier 2), and Australia, Canada, Denmark, Norway and Turkey (Tier 3), with Singapore and Israel as “Security Cooperation Partners,” and Japan as the 1st export customer.
The big question for Lockheed Martin is whether, and when, many of these partner countries will begin placing purchase orders. This updated article has expanded to feature more detail regarding the F-35 program, including contracts, sub-contracts, and notable events and reports during 2012-2013.
Latest updates[?]: Booz Allen Hamilton won a $9.1 million contract to provide technical security team support services in support of the Pakistan F-16 program. On June 28, 2006, the US DSCA notified Congress via a series of releases of its intention to provide Pakistan with a $5.1 billion Foreign Military Sales package to upgrade the F-16s that serve as the PAF’s top of the line fighters. Pakistan has used the F-16 fighter jets against India, the latest being in the aftermath of the Balakot airstrike inside Pakistan by India. The Pakistan Air Force received its first F-16, in the Block 15 F-16A/B configuration, in 1982. Work under the deal will take place in Pakistan and expected completion is on June 18, 2020.
PAF F-16A drops Mk.82s
On June 28/06, the US DSCA notified Congress via a series of releases of its intention to provide Pakistan with a $5.1 billion Foreign Military Sales package to upgrade the F-16s that serve as the PAF’s top of the line fighters. Some of these items had been put on hold following the October 2005 earthquake in Pakistan & Kashmir, but the request for 36 new F-16 Block 50/52s is now going ahead, along with new weapons, engine modifications, and upgrade kits for Pakistan’s older F-16 A/Bs. The buy went through, and was accompanied by the supply of 26 older F-16s from USAF surplus stocks. Then, a 2014 sale added 13 machines from from Jordan.
These items are detailed below, along with controversies the proposed sales have created, and some of the conditions attached to the sale by the US government….
Latest updates[?]: RWM Italia certified Nitro-Chef Chemical Plant, a subsidiary of the Polish Armaments Group, to produce the Mk 82 bomb. President of the company, Krzysztof Kozlowski, says production has started for delivery to the Polish Air Force. Two hundred bombs have been ordered. The two companies have signed the deal in November 2017. RWM Italia is part of the Rheinmetall Defense Group - a certified world leader in the production of aerial bombs. The Mk-82 aerial bomb is used to arm Polish F-16 multi-task aircraft. The RWM Italia-certified bomb produced in Poland fulfills the quality requirements set by RWM Italia and is fully interchangeable with the Italian-produced Mk-82 bomb. The Polish bomb will be used in modern aerial bomb configurations thanks to its compatibility with systems used by Raytheon and Boeing. Over the last three years, the Polish Air Force has ordered 1,300 bombs of this type.
Mark 82 bombs
(click for full sequence)
The “Focused Lethality Munition” is a variant of the 250 pound Small Diameter Bomb I that changes its casing and internal fill, in order to produce more devastating effects within a smaller area. A carbon-fiber bomb body disintegrates instead of fragmenting, which adds explosive force nearby, but largely removes sharpnel issues farther away. Inside, metal particles turn the bomb’s explosive material into short-range projectiles. The result is especially useful in urban areas, in situations where friendly elements are close to the impact zone, and in campaigns fought using contemporary American counter-insurgency doctrine.
Now the USA wants a bigger, but still confined, bang. Enter the Precision Lethality MK82 Quick Reaction Capability Program, designed to turn 500 pound bombs into similar but larger weapons.
Latest updates[?]: The US State Department approved a potential Foreign Military Sale to Taiwan for the continuation of a pilot training program and maintenance and logistics support for the F-16 aircraft. The deal is valued at $500 million. The latest sale follows an announcement last week that a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) contract has been awarded to Raytheon to refurbish radar for Taiwan's naval vessels for a total cost of nearly $50 million and a $9 million contract to develop and upgrade Taiwan’s Patriot missile defense system over the next five years. Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) has requested the possible sale for the continuation of the pilot training program and maintenance/logistics support for F-16 aircraft currently at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona.
F-16F “Desert Falcon”
The most advanced F-16s in the world aren’t American. That distinction belongs to the UAE, whose F-16 E/F Block 60s are a half-generation ahead of the F-16 C/D Block 50/52+ aircraft that form the backbone of the US Air Force, and of many other fleets around the world. The Block 60 has been described as a lower-budget alternative to the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter, and there’s a solid argument to be made that their performance figures and broad sensor array will even keep them ahead of pending F-16 modernizations in countries like Taiwan, South Korea, and Singapore.
The UAE invested in the “Desert Falcon’s” development, and the contract reportedly includes royalty fees if other countries buy it. Investment doesn’t end when the fighters are delivered, either. Money is still needed for ongoing training, fielding, and equipment needs – and the UAE has decided that they need more planes, too. This DID article showcases the F-16 Block 60/61, and offers a window into its associated costs and life cycle, including dedicated equipment purchases for this fighter fleet.
F-16C/D Block 52 aircraft serve as the backbone of Poland’s air force. In February 2012, the USA’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced [PDF] Poland’s official request for F-16 weapons, as well as a 5 year fleet support contract that includes associated equipment, parts, and training. They will be bought using the USA’s Foreign Military Sales process, and the requested items are expected to cost up to $447 million.
If a contract is negotiated after the 15-day FMS wait period for NATO members, the prime contractors are listed as Raytheon in Tucson, AZ and Waltham, MA; Boeing in St. Charles, MO; McAlester Army Ammunition Plant in McAlester, OK; and United Technologies Corporation in Hartford, CT. Poland’s specific request includes:
Federal Business Opportunities (FBO) has recently disclosed the following Requests for Proposals (RFP), modifications and notifications:
The US Air Force releases a Statement of Work, Questions and Answers and additional documents in relation to the purchase and installation of a Lawful Intercept (LI) capability for the Government of Iraq (GOI). LI will provide the GOI with enhanced communications intelligence to support a range of security operations.
On June 16/11, the US DSCA announced Germany’s official request for base services, to support the German Air Force Tactical Training Center at Holloman Air Force Base (AFB), NM. Base services include training services, fuel, munitions, base operating support, and other related operational and/or logistics requirements. Munitions used by the German Tornado fighters on base will include 720 MK-82 500 pound bombs, 135 MK-84 2,000 pound bombs, and 5 BQM-167 Skeeter target drones. The estimated cost is up to $300 million, but that will depend on the final government-to-government agreement. Since there’s no contractor involved, it’s likely to be pretty close.
As Rosvertol General Director Boris Slyusar announced the firm’s 2010 trading figures, he revealed that a fall 2010 deal had been signed with Azerbaijan for 24 Mi-35 attack helicopters. That would more than double the current fleet of 12-13 Mi-24s at Baku Kala air base, and make “Hind family” helicopters the backbone of Azerbailjan’s rotary-wing force. Newer Russian attack helicopters like the Mi-28 “Night Hunter” and Ka-52 “Alligator” get a lot of attention, but the Mi-24 “Hind/Krokodil” family of heavy helicopter gunships remains broadly popular around the world, with a secondary troop transport capability that’s unique in the market. News.Az.
Azerbaijan is located on the Caspian Sea, south of Russia, north of Iran, and east of Armenia. A highly-charged territorial dispute with Armenia remains a source of tension, as does protection of the country’s significant oil & natural gas infrastructure, and the possibility of meddling from its larger neighbors north and south. The country is busy building a defense industry of its own, and has pursued close cooperation and joint ventures with a number of foreign countries including Israel, Pakistan, Russia/Ukraine, and Turkey. Beyond its helicopter forces, recent cooperation discussions have involved 9mm Czech Skorpion EVO-III submarchine guns, Russian GAZ 2975 Tigr HMMWV class vehicles, and Pakistani designs for air-dropped bombs.
Singapore’s decision to buy the F-15SG Strike Eagle as a replacement for its A-4SU Super Skyhawks has already sparked one weapons purchase to outfit the new aircraft. The August 2005 DSCA request mostly involved air-air weapons, plus ancillary equipment and a handful of JDAM and JSOW precision weapons. Now the DSCA reports that Singapore has submitted a request for another handful of precision strike weapons, and a lot of training assistance “to support its F-15 aircraft”.
The proposed sale is worth up to $200 million, and the principal contractors will be F-15 primes Boeing Integrated Defense Solutions of St. Louis, MO and General Electric Aircraft Engines Division of Cincinnati, OH. Components of the request include:
On Aug 3/07, the US DSCA formally announced Israel’s request [PDF] for various US bombs and precision guidance kits. Requested items include 10,000 live MK-84 2,000-lb. bombs; 1,500 live MK-82 500-lb. bombs; 2,000 live BLU-109 2,000-lb. bombs with penetrator warheads; JDAM tail kits that add GPS/INS guidance to bombs (10,000); Paveway II laser-guidance kits for the 500-lb. MK-82 (2,500), the 1,000-lb. MK-83 (500), and the 2,000 pound MK-84 (1,000) bombs; 10,000 FMU-139 live fuze components; 10,000 FMU-152 live fuze components; and 50 GBU-28 Enhanced Paveway III 5,000-lb. ‘bunker buster’ laser/GPS guided live bombs. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $465 million.
Israel already has all of these munitions in its inventory, which was depleted during its 2006 war against Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran. It also produces many similar devices domestically, but can allocate American foreign assistance dollars to pay American firms and so Israel always finds itself balancing domestic capabilities and spending against American industry purchases. Amidst rumors of a planned attack by Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah in late 2007, rapid replenishment may also be a consideration. The principal contractors will be:
Boeing subsidiary McDonnell Douglas Corporation in St. Charles, MO (JDAM kits)
Alliant Techsystems Incorporated in Janesville, WI (ATK makes fuzes and explosives)
Alliant Techsystems Incorporated in Clearwater, FL