On Nov 19/09, the US DSCA announced [PDF] a formal request from the Iraqi government to buy up to 27 light and medium utility helicopters, in a deal whose possible value is set at $1.2 billion. DSCA requests do not constitute a contract, however, and so the final contract could be less.
It could also be delayed, for reasons that go beyond the standard 30-day Congressional blocking period. A drop in global oil prices from their recent $100+/bbl highs has affected Iraq’s budgets, and delayed a number of existing military purchases. This combination of budget issues, and a rigid agreement concerning the end of America’s combat presence in Iraq, has left the Iraqi government in a position where it is unlikely to be able to properly enforce the military mandates it will assume. American and Iraqi personnel have been assessing what is possible by 2011-2012, and what might be done. Prioritization of requests will be especially tight in this environment.
The RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have provided invaluable intelligence to US troops in the field in Iraq and Afghanistan over the years.
In its first year of use in Afghanistan, the RQ-4 provided [pdf] more than 17,000 high-resolution images, flying more than 60 missions and over 1,200 combat hours. In Iraq, the system flew only 5% of the US Air Force’s high altitude reconnaissance sorties, but accounted for more than 55% of the time-sensitive targeting imagery generated to support strike missions.
To maintain a fresh supply of Global Hawks, the Air Force is ordering 2 Block 30 RQ-4s and 3 next-generation Block 40 RQ-4s from Northrop Grumman for $302.9 million.
Invasion of Inchon during the Korean War (click to view larger)
Pushed to the edge of the Korean peninsula by a massive and sustained invasion by the North Korean army, South Korean, US, and UN troops dug in at a perimeter around the city of Pusan. It was the summer of 1950 and things looked desperate for the allied forces.
Then, US General Douglas MacArthur launched a bold counteroffensive – an amphibious landing at the port of Inchon near the 38th parallel. The landing was successful; MacArthur retook South Korea’s capital city of Seoul. The South Korean and allied forces broke through at Pusan and the North Korean army beat a hasty retreat. The tide of the Korean war had turned.
Playing an important role in the Inchon invasion was the US Navy’s Assault Craft Unit One, formed in 1947 to operate, maintain, and provide assault craft for US amphibious landings in the Pacific theater. The ACU-1 continues to operate today from Naval Base Coronado in southern California. To fulfill its role as the only assault craft unit in the Pacific Fleet, ACU-1 needs to maintain its craft in top condition. To do this, the Navy recently awarded $30.5 million in contracts to maintain the engines on the ACU-1’s small boats and craft…
QinetiQ North America subsidiary Automatika recently announced a GBP 12 million (about $20 million) urgent operational contract from the UK’s Ministry of Defence to supply almost 100 of its small Automatika Dragon Runner robots, associated spares and technical services, for use in Afghanistan.
Dragon Runners are small, backpack-carried 10-20 kg/ 22-45 pound robots whose basic chassis is less than a foot square, allowing them to operate in environments ranging from sewers and drainpipes to caves and courtyards. They are smaller than the USA’s MTRS robots, and more comparable to smaller models like the BomBot and Marcbot. The variant selected by the UK MoD is equipped with a manipulator arm to assist with the disarming of improvised explosive devices, but Dragon Runner can be configured for a variety of other reconnaissance and surveillance operations, such as perimeter security, checkpoint security and the inspection of suspect vehicles.