F-35 & F/A-18 Get a Holiday Buzz | LM to Provide M-TAG/PNVS to India Under $215.7B FMS Contract | France to Order New C-130JsDec 18, 2015 00:20 UTC
- It looks like a very merry Christmas for Lockheed Martin and Boeing, as they came out as the major winners in the announced $1.15 trillion spending bill announced on Wednesday. Funding will see eleven more F-35 Lightning IIs than requested by President Obama in February. The F-35 program will see $1.33 billion additional procurement money as production of the fighters will be ramped up. The F/A-18 production line will also be extended, with seven more EA-18G Growlers and five F/A-18E/F Super Hornets planned.
- Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $215.7 billion foreign military sale contract to provide Modernized Target Acquisition Designation/Pilot Night Vision Systems (M-TAG/PNVS) for Apache helicopters to India. Work is to be completed by December 31, 2021. The contract follows the September purchase of fifteen Chinook and twenty-two Apache choppers by India, in a deal worth $2.5 billion. The Apache will be India’s first pure attack helicopter in service. The Russian made Mi 35, which has been in operation for years and is soon to be retired, was an assault chopper designed to carry troops into heavily defended areas.
- The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) laboratories and the Anti-submarine Warfare Systems program office (PMA-264) rapidly developed a new sonobuoy launching system over the summer and fall which was delivered this November. The new system was developed as the existing system, the S-3, was being retired. A bit of brainstorming resulted in putting two SH-60B launchers on a pallet to roll on and off from a KC-130 tanker operated by the VX-30 Air Test and Evaluation Squadron.
- France is planning to purchase four brand new C-130Js after authorization was given from the French Defense Minister. The news comes as the option to purchase second-hand C-130s from the British RAF failed to get the green light. The deal is said to exceed the $357 million set aside for the acquisition, but the remaining funds will come from adjustments made to other portions of the budget. While it is unlikely that anything will be signed before early 2016, Paris is hoping to receive delivery of the aircraft as soon as possible. The order will fill France’s need for tactical transport and in flight fueling. Other European nations such as Germany and Sweden have been helping coalition air strikes in Syria by offering refueling and transport aircraft.
- South Korea has selected Lockheed Martin to carry out work on its KF-16 upgrade program. The move comes after the $1.58 billion contract had been initially awarded to BAE Systems but had been on hold over demands for a cost increase by BAE. The work will look to upgrade the radar, armament and other integrated electronic systems of 134 KF-16s currently in service in the SKAF. The new contract also incorporates the AN/APG-83 produced by Northrop Grumman.
- Taiwan’s $1.83 billion arms deal with the US may not have everything initially wanted on Taipei’s Christmas list after anti-submarine helicopters were not included in the State Department’s notification to Congress. Back in November, Taiwan had announced plans to purchase ten MH-60 R Seahawk helicopters as part of a replacement of its MD-500 fleet. Whether the addition has been omitted due to Chinese sensitivities over increased Taiwanese capabilities, or that the government is still looking at alternatives, we will have to wait and see.
- People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) have been seen practising with Kh-31 anti-radiation missiles. Pictures of the testing in northern China show the missile being loaded onto Su-30s during end of year drills. The Kh-31 air-to-surface missile was designed specifically to combat enemy radar, jammers and radio communications. It was the first supersonic anti-ship missile to be launched by tactical aircraft.
- Elbit Systems is to install the Commercial Multi-Spectral Infrared Countermeasures (C-MUSIC) systems to an unidentified Asia-Pacific nation. The two year contract is worth $26.5 million. The C-MUSIC system has been developed for fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, and gives advanced protection from heat-seeking shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles by using fiber-laser-directed infrared countermeasure technology. Whoever the mysterious buyer is, the purchase of the system may have been influenced by incidents such as the shooting down of a Malaysian Airlines plane on the Ukraine-Russia border in July 2014. Pro-Russian separatists fighting in east Ukraine shot down the plane using a Buk SA-11 surface-to-air missile.
- Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) has revealed the prototype that will be the basis for a bid for the USAF’s T-X next generation trainer competition. Built in conjunction with Lockheed Martin, the aircraft is based on the T-50 family with flight tests being planned for 2017. Besides Lockheed, other companies in the competition are Northrop Grumman, Alenia Aermacchi and the team of Boeing and Saab. The eventual winners of the T-X competition will work to replace the Northrop T38 Talon, which has been in service for 55 years.
- With Taiwan leaving out its order of MH-60R Seahawks, let’s take a look at what might have been: