China’s Hypersonic Vehicle Reportedly Passed Third Test in Row | Northrop Joins GD-Gulfstream Team for JSTARS Competition | AF Wants Cheap High-Speed UAV Demo
- A US Senate committee approved a bill funding dozens of new aircraft, including Super Hornets, Growlers, F-35s and Reaper UAVs, passing an appropriations spending bill last week. The Navy listed Super Hornets, Growler EW aircraft and F-35s in a list of unfunded priorities sent to Congress back in March, with the Senate’s bill echoing a similar House bill earlier last week. The bill will now move to the full Senate, with this an attempt to sidestep sequestration funding caps.
- Northrop Grumman has partnered with General Dynamics, Gulfstream and L-3 to compete for work on the Air Force’s Joint STARS (JSTARS) recap program. In March the Air Force opened up the competition to European firms, with other US competitors including a Raytheon/Lockheed Martin team, with the JSTARS replacement program pushed back in February to a revised deadline of 2023. The newly-announced team will most likely base their replacement platform on the Gulfstream G550 business jet.
- The Navy awarded a $737 million contract on Friday for one Advanced Arresting Gear and Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System shipset in support of CVN-79 (the future USS John F. Kennedy). Testing of the EMALS system aboard CVN-78 (Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford) has been underway for several weeks, with dead-load testing taking place last week. Manufacturer Huntington Ingalls was awarded a $3.35 billion fixed-price contract earlier in June for the construction of CVN-79. The Ford-class of carriers has recently been criticized for being overly expensive, with a Congressional cost-cap of $11.5 billion.
- The Navy also christened its tenth Littoral Combat Ship on Saturday at the Austal USA shipyard in Alabama. The USS Gabrielle Giffords is scheduled for delivery in 2017, flanked on either side by the Lockheed Martin-manufactured Little Rock (LCS-9) and Sioux City (LCS-11). The keel of LCS-12 was also recently laid by Austal, the sixth Independence-class vessel.
- Raytheon was awarded its first production order for the Small Diameter Bomb II, with a $30.9 million Air Force contract announced on Friday. The contract covers low rate initial production of 144 bombs, as well as auxiliary equipment. This is the first of three LRIP contracts to be awarded before the SDB II moves into full rate production, with the weapon passing Milestone C last month. The total US procurement buy is expected to be at least 17,000 units.
- The Air Force is intending to soon release a $7.5 million demonstration program for low-cost high-speed unmanned aerial vehicles, intended to operate in areas with little or no forward operating footprint.
- On Friday, France successfully test-fired [French] an ASMP-A nuclear-capable cruise missile, launching the supersonic ramjet-powered missile from a Rafale fighter. The new missile is an upgrade to the ASMP (Air-Sol Moyenne Portee – medium range air to surface) missile, with the new model boasting a longer range. All Rafales in the F3 configuration are capable of carrying the missile, with this representing all jets delivered from 2008.
- Spain’s defense ministry has authorized Airbus to restart flight tests of its previously grounded A400M fleet, following a crash in early May. International operators of the transport aircraft have retained their grounding orders, with the company’s Seville facility recently becoming clogged with the grounded aircraft.
- Poland’s defense ministry has reportedly begun the process of arranging upgrades for the country’s fleet of Leopard 2A4 main battle tanks, with a contract expected within months. Two Polish firms have been invited to tender for the program, which was originally planned for 2013. In that year Poland ordered 105 2A5-model Leopards, without investing in bringing their existing 2A4 model tanks up to spec. As such, the Poles are now playing catch-up to equalize their fleet’s capabilities.
- The Saab/Diehl RBS15 Mk3 anti-ship missile has been successfully launched from a German corvette, completing an operational test in order to secure qualification. The missile is sub-sonic, with customers including Poland, France, Sweden and Finland.
- China’s Ministry of National Defense has reportedly confirmed that the country carried out a test of a hypersonic glide vehicle, the WU-14. The Mach-10 delivery system was successfully tested for a third time in December last year, following earlier tests in August and January.
- Friday’s launch of an ASMP-A from a French Air Force Rafale…
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