* In news that will surprise few, United Technologies Corp. has formally announced that the company will divest the Sikorsky Aircraft company, exiting the helicopter sector in the process. The manufacturer of the Black Hawk helicopter was put on the chopping block in March, when the UTC board of directors announced that it was looking for “strategic alternatives.” A decision on Sikorsky’s precise fate is expected within months, with a spin-off – rather than an outright sale – the most likely outcome.
* Colt Defense, manufacturer of the M4 carbine, has filed for bankruptcy according to company press release late on Sunday. The company lost out to FN Herstal in 2013 for a lucrative US Army contract for the M4, following a 2012 contract which saw Remington break Colt’s hold on US M4 production. The company has seen financial problems for some time, with the company also filing for bankruptcy in 1994.
* Joint US-Israel missile programs may benefit from additional funding under a Defense Appropriations Bill, following a vote in the House. The programs covered by the increase in funds include the Iron Dome, Arrow, Arrow 3 and David’s Sling systems. The last of these will receive the most significant boost, with an additional $286.5 million allocation.
* On Monday the Air Force awarded a $145.4 million contract modification for services in support of the Battlefield Airborne Communication Node Joint Urgent Operational Need (BACN JUON). Contractor Northrop Grumman also benefited from a $35.7 million modification to the KC-10 tanker Contractor Logistics Support program.
* In a third and final contract awarded to Northrop Grumman on Monday, the firm was handed a $39.1 million contract to improve the current air-to-air radar subsystem design of the Navy’s MQ-4C Triton UAV and to demonstrate that the radar technology is feasible and risk-mitigated. The Navy has previously stated that it intends to fit a “due regard” radar to the Triton, as part of capability upgrade scheduled for introduction by 2020.
* France has received the second of eight Franco-Italian FREMM (Frégate Européenne Multi-Mission) vessels, ordered through the multinational OCCAR joint procurement agency. The Provenance will join the first vessel, the Aquitaine, which test-fired [French] a Missile de Croisière Naval cruise missile last month. A total of twenty-one FREMM vessels are to be produced by Italian and French manufacturers, with Morocco and Egypt export customers, contracting for a vessel each.
* Russia and India are negotiating a possible upgrade program for the latter’s SU-30MKIs, with the Flanker fleet possessing a high crash rate, with the IAF initiating a fleet safety audit at the end of May. The upgrades would reportedly include onboard communications, data transfer systems, and radar equipment. Russia and India most recently signed a $4 billion deal in December 2012, which included 42 SU-30MKIs.
* In other news, Russia will reportedly receive the first of the jointly-developed T-50/PAK-FA fifth-generation fighter by 2017. The the Indian-Russian project has seen delays in recent years, as well as infighting between the two partners, including refusals to talk to one another. Previous reports indicated that the Russians may opt to procure more fourth-generation SU-3X fighters in lieu of fewer of the more advanced T-50s.
* The first flight of Italy’s F-35 fleet, which is also the first Joint Strike Fighter flight outside of the US, is scheduled for October. The first of ninety Italian F-35s came off the production line in March. The flight will involve a transit to Italy from the US via the UK and Iceland.
* The jointly-developed Chengdu/Pakistan Aeronautical Complex JF-17 has secured its first export customer. The buyer is an undisclosed Asian nation, with the aircraft set for delivery starting in 2017. Myanmar showed signs of interest in the JF-17 back in June 2014, with eleven states looking into procuring the aircraft, according to Pakistani and Chinese officials.
* Malaysian shipyard Boustead has cut steel on the first of the country’s Second-Generation Patrol Vessel – Littoral Combat Ships. Based on the DCNS Gowind 2500 design, the first of six SGPV-LCS are expected to be completed in 2019, following a $2.8 billion contract in January 2012.
* A JF-17 at the Paris Air Show…