The Marines May. The IOC was announced despite reports that the latter tests uncovered significant reliability issues with the aircraft.
DARPA has contracted Boeing for more work on the XS-1 Experimental Spaceplane, awarding a $6.6 million contract modification to the company last week. The program is slated to award new production orders next year, with these being competed as part of the program’s Phase II competition. The three teams working on the XS-1 are expected to compete for these, with the teams comprising; Northrop Grumman, Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic, Masten Space Systems and XCOM Aerospace, and finally Boeing and Blue Origin. DARPA announced the program in 2013, awarding Phase I contracts in July 2014 to begin development work. The XS-1 intends to develop a reusable unmanned vehicle to deliver satellites into low earth orbit, as well as operate as a test vehicle for hyper-sonic development.
Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $66.4 million contract to further develop the Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) for the Army and Navy. The company submitted its bid for the program in April and successfully test fired two JAGMs in mid-July. The JAGM is intended to replace AGM-114 Hellfire, AGM-65 Maverick and BGM-71 TOW missiles currently in service.
Brazilian flagship firm Embraer has been hit heavily by a falling real and defense sector cuts, downsizing its 2015 revenue forecast by $300 million. The delivery of first KC-390 transport aircraft to the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) has been pushed back by eighteen months, to the first half of 2018. Certification is now scheduled for the latter half of 2017, with the tactical transport/tanker registering its first test flight in February.
Middle East North Africa
Iran is rumored to be buying 150 Chengdu J-10 fighters from China. Reports from 2007 alleged that China planned to sell 24 of the fighters to Iran, however the Chinese government subsequently denied these claims. Pakistan is also a possible regional customer for the J-10, with reports in November 2009 indicating that a deal had been signed for 36 of the jets. The J-10B model entered mass production last year, with China looking to develop an indigenous engine to power the fighter to get around Russian objections to the export of its AL31FN-S3 engines currently powering the J-10.
The US started sending F-16 Block 52 fighters to Egypt, with eight aircraft scheduled for delivery by the end of July. Following a thaw in relations between the two states in late March, twelve F-16s were cleared for delivery, along with Abrams tanks and Harpoon missiles. The final four aircraft are expected to be delivered in September/October. The US suspended defense exports to Egypt in October 2013, including the delivery of the the first four F-16s in July 2014. Egypt began looking to Russia for defense hardware in the interim, including a $3 billion contract signed in February 2014, which included MiG-29 Fulcrums, Mi-35 attack helicopters and air defense equipment. Egypt first requested F-16C/D Block 50/52 aircraft in October 2009.
Latvia is reportedly buying US-manufactured FIM-92 Stinger surface-to-air missiles. The Man-Portable Air Defense System (MANPADS) – of Soviet-era Afghanistan fame – have previously been sold to Turkey and Egypt.
The latest Russian military air crash took place on Sunday, when a Russian Air Force Mi-28N attack helicopter came down during an air show. This is the latest in a series of Russian air accidents, with high operational tempo placing maintenance pressure on aging fleets.
The Indian government has officially withdrawn the comatose MMRCA fighter competition, following an agreement in April to purchase 36 ready-to-fly Rafale fighters from France in a government-to-government deal which sidestepped negotiations with manufacturer Dassault. The competition intended to procure 126 Rafale fighters, following selection of the French bid in January 2012, with negotiations between Dassault and the Indian government stagnating and ultimately leading nowhere. To fulfill operation necessities, the Indian executive stepped in and directly negotiated a deal with the French President for the 36 jets.
South Korea will deploy it’s indigenous M-SAM air defense system from September onward, as the missile enters full-rate production. The country’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration recently test-fired the M-SAM, also known as the Cheongung air defense system, with these set to replace the US-manufactured MIM-23 Hawk system currently in service. Development of the new system began in 1998, with the M-SAM first unveiled in 2011.