DoD Wants to Give Harriers Link 16 | Virginia Class Subs Beached on Pipes Concern | UK’s Type 26 Gets Foreign InterestAug 07, 2015 01:24 UTC
- The Defense Department wants to upgrade US AV-8B Harriers with the Link 16 datalink system. The proposed $71.5 million, six-year upgrade is currently in the DoD’s FY2016 budget request, but if designated for re-programming, Harriers could begin to receive the new equipment this year through a $7.5 million acquisition. With the AV-8B fleet scheduled for retirement in 2025, the tactical datalink system will enable the older aircraft to integrate with more modern platforms, including the F-35.
- The Navy has restricted the operation of three new Virginia-class submarines, concerned over steam pipes manufactured through a General Dynamics Electric Boat subcontract with Jacksonville-based Nuflo. The three subs – USS Minnesota (SSN 783), USS North Dakota (SSN 784) and USS John Warner (SSN 785) – the last of which was commissioned on 1 August, will all be investigated for quality assurance issues related to the pipes, with an official probe having begun in April.
- The French have reportedly offered Brazil the Siroco, a Foudre-class landing platform dock decommissioned earlier this year as part of a French Navy restructuring [French]. The Brazilian Navy sent a team to evaluate the ship in December 2014, with a subsequent study by the General Directorate of Naval Material recommending that the Brazilian Navy procure the vessel. Portugal previously expressed interest in the Siroco, but dropped plans to acquire the ship in late July citing interoperability concerns with the country’s air force.
Middle East North Africa
- Israel has opened up the possibility of procuring a different design other than the KC-46A to replace its fleet of Boeing 707 refuelling tankers. The pricey US design is now pitted against the IAI K-767 MMTT, which recently won an export contract to Brazil. Colombia also operates one aircraft. The Israeli design is now competing against the KC-46A owing to schedule slippages in the US Air Force-funded program, as well as its per-unit high cost.
- Moscow and Paris have reached an agreement over the Mistral LHDs currently sitting idle in St. Nazaire, with France cancelling the two contracts and returning Russia its sunk investment. The two ships are now property of the French state, which suspended their delivery in November last year in response to Russia’s support for separatists in Ukraine. Negotiations began in May, with the total amount to be paid by France reported to be less than the €1.2 billion value of the original June 2011 contract. The French government is now looking for possible buyers for the two ships, with several potential customers reportedly interested.
- Meanwhile, the first Kamov Ka-52K helicopters previously expected to operate from the two Mistrals are expected to be delivered in 2017 or 2018, according to Russian media on Thursday. Russia ordered the thirty-two Mistral-bound helicopters in August 2014, with the first Russian Navy receiving its first series-produced model in September 2014.
- The Royal Navy’s future frigate program, the Type 26 Global Combat Ship has received a boost with the announcement of a number of long-lead production contracts totalling $265 million. The subcontracts were placed with principal suppliers for the delivery of key system components. Prime contractor BAE Systems is executing a $1.3 billion, one-year demonstration contract awarded in February, with negotiations on the production and delivery schedule of the thirteen Type 26 ships planned still underway. Manufacture of the first ship is provisionally timetabled to begin in late 2016, with the first ships in class thought to be scheduled to enter Royal Navy service in the early 2020s. Other states have reportedly taken an interest in the Type 26, including Australia, Canada and Germany.
- Spain has decided to buy four unarmed MQ-9 Reaper UAVs, along with two ground stations. The fifth European country to purchase the Reaper, the Spanish defense ministry has allocated $186.9 million for the acquisition. The United Kingdom, France and Italy operate the Reaper, with the Netherlands requesting four in February.
- An Indian firm is partnering with AeroVironment to develop a new small UAV based on the US company’s Raven and Puma models. The development was outlined as a planned collaborative project in January and formally announced as part of the bilateral Defense Technology and Trade Initiative program. Dynamatic Technologies will partner with AeroVironment to produce a land and maritime-capable UAV, known as the Cheel, which operates from a Ground Control Station also compatible with other AeroVironment systems.
- The United Kingdom has offered Pakistan a three-year package of counter-IED support, renewing a similar package from 2012 to this year. The package includes C-IED equipment, as well as training and capacity-building measures. The Pakistani military has used the previous package of assistance to counter the use of IEDs in the country’s volatile western regions, particularly those bordering Afghanistan, with approximately 5,000 Pakistani personnel trained to deal with IED threats since the program’s inception. UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon first proposed the renewed package to Parliament in January.
- The Kamov Ka-52 at the Paris Air Show: