China steals Sea Dragon data | Iraq says ‘Njet’ to Abrams tanks | Will the Super Tucano fly in Europe?
- Raytheon is being tapped for the procurement of missiles in support of the Navy. The $44 million cost-only modification provides for the full-rate production and spates for the Standard Missile-6. The Raytheon-manufactured Standard Missile-6 is both an offensive and defensive long-range weapon system that is designed as an anti-air and surface warfare weapon, in addition to being capable of targeting incoming sea-based ballistic missiles. The SM-6 is based on technology derived from the SM-2 Block IV, and the AIM-120. Active guidance in the missile’s own radar improves anti-jam resistance and is especially helpful during saturation attacks against ships without active array radars. The missile comes with a “over-the-horizon” targeting mode, where it’s cued by other ships or even aircraft, then uses its own seeker for the final approach. The US Navy typically arms both naval cruisers and destroyers as the Standard Missile-6 can integrate with the AEGIS missile defense system. Work will be performed at multiple locations, including Wolverhampton, United Kingdom and Warrington, Pennsylvania, and is expected to be completed by March 2020.
- Chinese hackers have reportedly stolen 614 gigabytes of highly sensitive data regarding the Navy’s Sea Dragon program. The intrusion has further provided the Chinese military with information on the service’s electronic warfare and threat library, cryptographic radio systems used on submarines, specific sensor data, and detailed information on the Sea Dragon program, a previously undisclosed and fast-paced initiative to field a supersonic anti-ship missile onto American nuclear submarines. No specifics about the Sea Dragon have been given, however considering the recent Block V upgrades of the Virginia-class fast attack submarines, it seems likely that the missiles will be launched from the Virginia Payload Module, which carries four large missile bays. Analysts have pointed to Raytheon’s SM-6 and Lockheed’s LRASM as development platforms for the Sea Dragon. For example, the same cells currently used for Tomahawk cruise missiles could be configured to house an altered SM-6-booster combination capable of launching the missile submerged without destroying the launch cell. What’s exactly behind the Sea Dragon program remains to be seen, however if such supersonic missiles were developed and implemented, the variety and flexibility of firepower that America’s submarine force would possess would greatly increase. This development in return could hamper China’s geo-political aspiration in the South-China Sea and the Pacific.
Middle East & Africa
- The Iraqi Ministry of Defense will replace its fleet of M1A1 Abrams tanks with Russian made T-90Ss. A spokesperson announced that 39 T-90S tanks had been handed over to the 35th Brigade of the 9th Armored Division and added that the units’ officers and crews had been retrained with Russian assistance. Iraq had bought the Abrams tanks as well as equipment and services required to keep them in the field as part of a US foreign military sale in 2008. The Iraqi M1A1-SA tanks are a modification set designed by the US Army, in response to their experiences in Iraq. The T-90S is the latest development in the T-series of Russian tanks and represents an increase in firepower, mobility and protection. The T-90S armament includes one 125mm 2A46M smoothbore gun, stabilized in two axes and fitted with a thermal sleeve. The tank is manufactured by Uralvagonzavod in Nizhnyi Tagil, Russia.
- Ethiopia will be the next country to have a C-130 aircraft in its inventory. The transport plane was handed over on behalf of the United States Government US Ambassador Michael Raynor. The C-130 Hercules remains one of the longest-running aerospace manufacturing programs of all time. Since 1956, over 40 models and variants have served as the tactical airlift backbone for over 50 nations. The C-130 Hercules primarily performs the tactical portion of the airlift mission. The aircraft is capable of operating from rough, dirt strips and is the prime transport for airdropping troops and equipment into hostile areas. The C-130 will further enhance Ethiopia’s capacity to play a vital role in regional peacekeeping missions, enabling Ethiopia to move humanitarian supplies where they are needed in a timely manner and protect the lives of civilians in conflict areas.
- The French Air Force has taken delivery of a second C-130J Super Hercules transport plane. The C-130J is a modernized version of the combat proven C-130 airframe. Its improvements are clustered around 2 key characteristics: performance, and operational costs. The overall system generates 29% more thrust, while increasing fuel efficiency by 15% and offering improved reliability and maintenance. Compared to the 1960s-era C-130E maximum speed is up 21%, climb-to-altitude time is down 50%, cruising altitude is 40% higher, and range is about 40% longer. The C-130J only requires 2-3 crew members for most missions instead of 4, and avionics have been changed to incorporate more advanced capabilities into the night-vision-system compatible “glass cockpit” and heads-up display. The French Air Force has now two C-130Js to carry freight and passengers to foreign theaters. An additional two C-130Js are due for delivery next year, bringing to the French forces a long sought-after capability for aerial refueling of helicopters.
- Embraer is looking to introduce its EMB-314/A-29 Super Tucano light attack turboprop to the European market. Simon Johns, one of Embraer’s vice president said that the Super Tucano could provide European air arms with a lower-cost alternative to jets and helicopters for many of their missions. One potential customer could be Ukraine that currently lacks funding for a new multirole combat aircraft. The A-29 has five hardpoints for carrying weapons and is capable of carrying a maximum external load of 1,500kg. The Super Tucano is armed with two wing-mounted 12.7mm machine guns with a rate of fire of 1,100 rounds a minute and is capable of carrying general-purpose bombs and guided air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles. The company is offering enhancements to the baseline aircraft, including the integration of anti-tank munitions as well as laser guided rockets. Pursuant to being equipped to perform these missions, the Super Tucano now has a radar warning receiver and missile approach warning system in development for an increased threat environment in the European theatre.
- The Philippine Air Force (PAF) is looking to acquire about 12 more FA-50 training and light fighter jets from South Korea. South Korea’s T-50 Golden Eagle family offers the global marketplace a set of high-end supersonic trainer and lightweight fighter aircraft. The FA-50 is slightly more expensive variant that’s fully fitted for the lightweight fighter and light attack roles, with a secondary role as a lead-in fighter trainer (LIFT) if necessary. Development of the FA-50 combat aircraft began in October 1997. Six prototypes were built during the development phase that concluded in January 2006. With a length of 43 feet and a wingspan of 30 feet, the 2-seat T-50 is about 4 feet shorter than the F-16; overall, it’s only about 80% of the F-16’s size. The aircraft can be equipped with a lightweight 3-barreled M61 20mm gun, GPS-guided bombs, a targeting and surveillance pod and several types of missiles. The arrival of the planes is part of the PAF’s purchase of 12 fighter jets worth $365 million from South Korea.
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