China’s first aircraft carrier prepares for sea trials | Poland to exercise option for more M-346 trainers | USAF orders Cessnas for allied COIN operations
- United Technologies has won a contract for services in support of the F135 propulsion system on F-35 Lightning II fighter jets. The deal was awarded by the US Navy and is valued at more than $239.6 million. Pratt & Whitney Military Engines, a subsidiary of United Technologies will support F-35 programs within the US Air Force Navy, Marine Corps, non-U.S. Department of Defense participants and foreign military sales customers. The F135 propulsion system is the engine manufactured exclusively for the F-35 Lightning II. The work is expected to be complete in January 2021. Most recently the F-35 program hit a major milestone as two squadrons accomplished day and night qualifications with 140 “traps”, each denoting a successful landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft-carrier deck. The milestone clears the F-35C to begin operational testing on the carrier later this year, which will determine if the US Navy can obtain their initial operational capability target for the aircraft in fiscal year 2019.
- The US Air Force plans to acquire 22 more Cessna AC-208s to provide to allied governments to use for lightly armed surveillance missions and is open to receive bids from companies interested in modifying aircraft to carry weapons and sensors. The USAF plans to equip the planes with BAE manufactured Hydra APKWS II rockets. In addition the planes will be outfitted with an L-3 Wescam MX-15 electro-optical and infrared sensor with a laser designator. The AC-208 Combat Caravan is a light attack combat aircraft manufactured by the US-based aerospace and defense company Alliant Techsystems (ATK). The plane is a counter insurgency (COIN) aircraft converted from a cargo / ISR plane. It was developed under the Combat Caravan program of the US as part of the government’s effort to rebuild the Iraqi Air Force. AC-208s ordered by Iraqi, Lebanese and Afghan militaries received modifications by Orbital ATK, but AC-208s planned to be delivered to several other countries – including Chad, Cameroon, Niger and the Philippines – are modified by L-3 Communications.
Middle East & Africa
- The first amphibious assault ship (LHD) for the Turkish Navy is expected to start sea trials in February 2019. The ship with the designation TCG Anadolu is Turkey’s first indigenously built multipurpose amphibious assault ship, which can be configured as a light aircraft carrier. Currently 90% of its 114 building blocks built by Sedef Shipbuilding Inc. in Istanbul, have been completed. The ship is 232 meters in length, 32 meters in width and 55 meters in height and will increase the operational capability of the Turkish Navy. Turkey will be 10th state to have such a ship. Construction began in 2016 with an overall project cost estimated be over $1.2 billion. The project is partnered with Navantia which offered Sedef its BPE/Juan Carlos I Class design. The Juan Carlos/BPE ships can carry almost 1,000 troops, and transport 150 vehicles including main battle tanks. A ski jump at the front of the deck can be used to launch fighter jets like the V/STOL AV-8 Harrier II, or the future F-35B Lightning II STOVL. The vessel will enable Turkey to sustain long-endurance, long-distance military combat or humanitarian relief operations, while acting as a command center and flagship for the Turkish Navy.
- Harris Corp., Clifton, New Jersey has been awarded a contract modification to a previously firm-fixed-price-contract to exercise an option to procure 14 full-rate production lot 15 Integrated Defensive Electronic Countermeasures AN/ALQ-214 A(V)4/5 onboard jammer systems in support of the Advanced Tactical Aircraft Protection Systems Program Office for the government of Kuwait. The contract is valued at $24.5 million and is expected to be completed in May 2021. A similar deal, valued at $161 million, was struck between Harris Corp. and the Australian government in February 2018. The Naval Air Systems Command is contracting the activity. Work will be performed in Clifton, New Jersey as well as in San Jose, San Diego, Rancho Cordova and Mountain View, California.
- Poland plans to order four more M-346 trainers which will boost the size of its advanced jet trainer feet to 12 aircraft. This option signed with Leonardo is worth more than $143 million. The order should be delivered by 2020 and includes a support package. According to Leonardo its total order for this plane type is at 72 units, procured by Israel, Italy, Poland and Singapore. Leonardo is also taking part in the USAF T-X completion via its DRS subsidiary. The M-346 project began in 1993, as a collaboration with Russia. The aircraft’s design for vortex lift aerodynamics, and thrust/weight ratio of nearly 1 : 1, allow it to remain fully controllable even at angles of attack over 35 degrees. This is useful for simulating the capabilities of advanced 4+ generation fighters like the F/A-18 Super Hornet, Eurofighter, and Rafale.
- Norway’s procurement of the F-35 joint strike fighter and new high-end submarines is on track, and the government is working to induct both new systems. Additionally, Norway will move along with the planned procurement of the P-8 anti-submarine aircraft. The planned acquisitions constitute a major modernization of Norway’s military equipment. The four German made diesel-electric submarines of the Type 212A built by Thyssen Krupp Marine Systems subsidiaries HDW and Nordseewerke are set to be ready to go by the mid-2020s. In April 2006, a German U-212A set a world record for non-nuclear subs with a two-week-long dive from Eckernfoerde in Germany to Rota in Spain. Norway further intends to buy 52 F-35A conventional takeoff and landing jets to replace its current inventory of 56 F-16 Fighting Falcons, which it will phase out as early as 2021. The five P-8 aircraft are scheduled for delivery in the 2022-2023 time frame.
- On March 27 China announced that its first domestically made aircraft carrier prepares for sea trial. This news comes one day after two senators pressed president Donald Trump in a letter to allow the sale of either F-35B short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant or of F-16V Fighting Falcon aircraft to Taiwan to fend of Chinese aggression. The United States sold Taiwan 150 F-16s in 1993. Taiwan currently has 144 F-16 fighters. Of these, 15 are in the United States for training and an additional 24 will be offline on a rolling basis in an ongoing upgrade program that runs through 2023. Taiwan has flagged continued interest in the Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jet, possibly as part of an upcoming new round of arms purchases from the United States. Taiwan sees the F-35B and its STOVL capabilities as a way to offset the threat of a first strike by China, allowing the island to retain the ability to generate air power in the event of its runways being disabled.
- Chinese Air Force holds drills in the Western Pacific:
Categories: Daily Rapid Fire