* Northrop Grumman received Wednesday, April 26, a $7.2 million contract from the US Navy. The agreement tasks the firm with machine learning algorithms (MLAs) for the Reactive Electronic Attack Measures (REAM) program. According to the Pentagon statement, the REAM program is a future naval capabilitiesenabling capability with the objective of transitioning MLAs to the EA-18G airborne electronic attack suite to achieve capabilities against agile, adaptive, and unknown hostile radars or radar modes. Work will take place at Bethpage, New York, wrapping up in December 2019.
* Two US Navy contracts awarded to Lockheed Martin this week, covers addition software sustainment and additional long-lead parts for the F-35. The first, a contract modification announced by the Pentagon Tuesday, provides additional funding resources worth $10.8 million to enable Lockheed Martin to support sustainment efforts on flight test software tailored for the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter, and covers aircraft being procured by the Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy and non-Department of Defense (DoD) participants. Work will take place across several sites in the US, as well as in the UK, with a completion date set for April 2018. The second contract, which awarded $38.4 million on Wednesday, covers additional low-rate initial production of long lead materials, parts, components, and effort for economic order quantity increases for the Navy (Lot) 12; and the government of Italy (Lots 13 and 14). Work will take place in the US, UK, and Japan, wrapping up in December 2019.
Middle East & Africa
* Canada and El Slavador are to combine helicopter assets once both nations take over from Germany’s current deployment to the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission Mali (MINUSMA). While Germany currently has four NH90 helicopters for transport roles and four Tiger utility helicopters for protecting ground troops, Canada plans to bring just two CH-47 Chinooks for transport missions and four armed CH-146 Griffon helicopters. As the Griffon isn’t well suited for full-scale ground attack like the Tiger, it will be resigned to providing escort to the Chinook. The role of protecting troops therefore will fall to El Salvador, who is also due to deploy six MD500 helicopters—or two helicopter units of three rotorcraft. One of the units has been operating out of Timbuktu in the country’s north since 2015. Another trio will deploy in July and is expected to work alongside Canada at the UN mission’s base in Gao, in northeast Mali. The UN would also like Canada to allow the Griffons to do double-duty as light transport helicopters, with El Salvador providing the escort.
* Greek media reports that the country’s Governmental Council for Foreign Affairs and Defense decided on Monday, April 23, to weaponize its fleet of C-27J Spartan aircraft. While Athens operates eight vanilla versions of the Leonardo-manufactured transporter, other specialized variants in use by various militaries have been developed for maritime patrol, search and rescue, C3 ISR (command, control, communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance), fire support and electronic warfare and ground-attack missions. No details were given on what the Syriza-led government plansto arm its own Spartans with. Despite news of the armament sub-program, the government did not make any final decisions on its F-16 modernization program—for which $1.1 billion has been earmarked—or on the planned lease of two FREMM frigates from France this summer.
* Boeing has used its appearance at this year’s ILA Airshow in Berlin to offer its EA-18G Growler in conjunction with the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet as a solution to Germany’s Tornado replacement program. Speaking to Jane’s on the floor of the trade show, Boeing director for global sales for strike, surveillance, and mobility, Bryan Crutchfield said that the Growler—which is the specialized electronic warfare variant of the Super Hornet—”is the only platform now available that can replace the Electronic Combat Reconnaissance (ECR)-variant Tornados that are due to be retired in about 2030, at the same time as the service’s wider Interdiction Strike (IDS) fleet.” While the German government stated that its preferred choice is to procure additional Eurofighter Typhoons, the Super Hornet is on the list of preferred alternatives along with Boeing’s F-15 Advanced Eagle and Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). Whoever is chosen, the winning manufacturer will provide replacements for the Luftwaffe’s fleet of 90 Tornado IDS and ECR aircraft from about 2025 to enable a smooth transition into the retirement of the Tornado in about 2030.
* Airbus and Dassault signed an initial agreement for cooperation on Europe’s Future Air Combat System (FCAS) Wednesday, as both firms await further details from the French and German governments on exact program requirements. “It’s a really important moment to stabilize the European defense industry and work together in a structured manner,” Airbus Defense and Space CEO Dirk Hoke told reporters at the Berlin air show. Adding to Hoke’s comments, Dassault CEO Eric Trappier said the program ensures that Europe retains sovereignty over its future weapons systems, warning what buying off the shelf American weapons does nothing to contribute to strategic autonomy. The Franco-German program aims to develop a next-generation fighter system that will include a fighter jet, unmanned aerial vehicles, connectivity and secure communications.
* In preparation for a ramp up in domestic missile production, Taiwan’s National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology—the island’s weapons research institute—is seeking to import at least 600 ring laser gyroscopes (RLG) from the United States. The technology is believed to be used in Taipei’s Hsiung Feng IIE cruise missile and Yun Feng ballistic missile. RLGs and their imbedded GPS capability are used to improve the accuracy of RLG Inertial Navigation Systems (INS)s on military aircraft and missiles. News that the RLGs will be exported to Taiwan indicates that a previous US reluctance to export such weapons key components and materials for fear of upsetting China may be loosening.
* Airbus’ 5th generation fighter concept: