* US Congress has voted to slash the funding for the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System (JLENS) program by $30 million. This leaves just $10.5 million in funding for development of the project. Last Wednesday’s 2016 defense spending bill cited “test schedule delay” as reason for the cut in finance. The announcement runs contrary to recent vocal support made by retired admirals and general for continuing the program despite recent snafus involving the breaking free of a radar blimp from its mooring and floating more than 100 miles.
Middle East North Africa
* A memorandum of understanding has been signed between Antonov Aviation and Taqnia Aeronautics. The agreement will see the Ukrainian firm sell thirty An-178 aircraft to the Royal Saudi Air Force. Saudi Arabia is the first nation to make a purchase of the short-range military aircraft who said it was chosen for its overall and low maintenance costs in comparison to competitors. But not all are happy. Russian news sources have said the An-178 is likely to be named “Bandera” in honor of famous Nazi collaborator, Stepan Bandera.
*After some delay, Qatar has finally made their down-payment on their order of 24 Rafale fighters. The $7 billion deal had undergone a number of delays after initially being agreed upon in May. It had been feared that the deal would have stalled in the new year, but with only four shopping days left until Christmas, any issues over the deal seem to have been ironed out.
* The backlog in US approval of foreign arms sales has had UAE and Saudi Arabia turning toward China for supply. Urgent operational requirements by the UAE and Saudi military has seen them both purchase and operate Chinese made Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) for their ongoing campaign in Yemen. Recent pictures of UAVs at Saudi military airports seem to look like Chinese CH-4 UAVs. Predator XPs ordered from the US have not been received by either military.
* Estonia has taken delivery of their first batch of Mistral M3 missiles from MBDA missile systems. The sale, worth $25.8 million, is the first foreign export of the next generation missile after testing by the French Army. The Mistral air-defense system is used in thirty countries world wide so this is the first of many.
* PIT-RADWAR has received an order for 79 Poprad self-propelled surface-to-air missile systems from Poland. The $273 million contract will also include the upgrade of two previously delivered systems. The short-range anti-aircraft system uses the Polish-made Grom MANPADS. Poland’s new government, led by the right-wing Law & Justice Party, has sought to increase military spending as part of NATO directives, but also holds a desire to increase production of armaments domestically.
* The first of Sweden’s NHIndustries’ NH-90 Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) variant helicopter has been delivered. The Swedish Air Force hopes to have nine out of a total eighteen NH-90s ordered to have ASW capabilities. The delivery coincides with the the Swedish procurement agency, FMW, signing an agreement with NHI to convert four existing NH-90 Search and Rescue variants to have ASW capabilities.
* India’s Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) has given the go-ahead for the purchase of five S-400 air-defense systems after a meeting chaired by India’s Defence Minister. The deal is said to cost New Delhi about $6 billion. After China, India is only the second foreign nation to purchase the next generation missile defense system since Russia’s recently relaxed transfer restrictions on the export of new technology. It was also decided to request a modernization of 24 aging Pechora S-125M air-defense systems in an upgrade set to cost $180 million.
* Turkey joins the club of countries to develop an armed indigenous UAV when the Bayrakter TB2 successfully fired a UMTAS missile: