DCSA Approves 5000 Hellfires for Iraqi’s Fight Against ISIS | Sukhoi Begins Working Toward Modernized Su-34 | Mutual Disdain for NK Brings SK and Japan CloserJan 11, 2016 00:20 UTC
- A dummy US Hellfire missile has been accidentally sent to Cuba, sparking concerns that its technology may be leaked to US adversaries. The missile had initially been on loan to Spain and was being used for NATO training exercises. It then seemed to go on a bit of a wander through Europe, first to Germany and then through France to Charles de Gaulle airport. Instead of being shipped to Florida, it was loaded onto an Air France flight to Havana. Despite a recent thaw in relations between Washington and its long time Caribbean adversary, demands to have the Hellfire returned have so far gone unanswered. An investigation is under way as to whether the re-routing was a deliberate act of espionage or just incompetence. Needless to say, someone is getting fired for that blunder.
- Amid a shortage of BQM-74s at the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD), Northrop Grumman has taught the Threat/Target Systems Department (TTSD) how to upgrade older idle BQM-34 aerial targets. Twenty of the obsolete remnants from the 1990s have been upgraded to modern standards while BQM-74 replacements are being manufactured. Normal practice would have seen the upgrade work completed by outside contractors, but the TTSD got all DIY with guidance from Northrop. Someone at the NAWCWD must have the proverb “Teach a man to fish” hanging in their office.
Middle East North Africa
- The Sultanate of Oman has submitted a request for the purchase of 400 TOW 2B missiles, related equipment, and support. The foreign military sale was approved by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) on Thursday. The $51 million sale includes 400 tube-launched optically tracked wire-guided (TOW) 2B Aero, Radio Frequency Missiles, and 7 TOW 2B Aero, RF Missile Fly-to-Buy Missiles aimed at advancing Oman’s efforts to develop an integrated ground defense capability.
- The Iraqi government’s fight against the Islamic State gets another boost as the DCSA approved an $800 million sale of 5,000 Hellfire missiles. The sale also includes ten Captive Air Training Missiles as well as related equipment and support. A spokesperson for the US-led coalition stated that the territory held by IS in Iraq has shrunk by 40% from its maximum expansion in 2015. Let’s hope these Hellfires get delivered to the right people this time.
- Problems surrounding the Airbus A400M acquisition by a group of European NATO members are set to continue as Turkey expects not to receive any deliveries this year. Ankara was expecting two of the heavy cargo planes to arrive during the year as part of an order for ten made in 2003. The initial schedule would have already seen Turkey take possession of six by 2016, but only three are now in operation. Delays to the schedule seem to have stemmed from the May 2015 A400M crash in Spain which saw four airmen killed. As a safety precaution, all deliveries of the aircraft to customers were stalled. The news comes as others in the program, such as France, have looked elsewhere to make up for the temporary shortfall.
- Sukhoi have announced that they are to begin development of a modernized version of the Su-34 fighter-bomber. The first of a multi-stage development process will be completed by mid-2016 and is scheduled to continue until 2020. The Su-34 has been in use by the Russian Air Force since March of 2014, with six currently conducting bombing operations in Syria. The news comes as Algeria has finally purchased twelve Su-34s to replace their antiquated Su-24 fleet. Negotiations had been ongoing for eight years as part of a wider $7.5 billion weapons procurement package signed in 2006.
- After extensive use in operations in Mali, France is to procure seven more NH90 military helicopters. The latest addition brings their total order to seventy-four. Two variants of the helicopter are to be used; the Tactical Transport Helicopter (TTH), for use by the French Army, and the navalized NATO Frigate Helicopter (NFH) for the French Navy. Forty-four TTH and twenty-seven NFH will be delivered and operational by 2019. At $31 million per chopper, the latest to be ordered will all see service across five partner nations in Africa’s Sahel region.
- Japan and South Korea finally agree on something; a mutual disdain for North Korean nuclear proliferation. According to US military officials and defense experts, the often fragile diplomatic relations between Seoul and Tokyo seem to be improving, as mutual worry may see potential military and technical cooperation between the two. Despite both being the closest US allies in the region, South Korea and Japan have an often tumultuous relationship. The main issues stem from the use of Korean comfort women in Japanese brothels during WW2, and disputes over ownership of the island of Dokdo (known as Takashima to the Japanese). These issues have been exacerbated as of late due to both Presidents nationalistic rhetoric, but Washington may help bring the two towards greater military cooperation to counter not just North Korea, but a rival China as well.
- Recently released North Korean state footage of a “successful” SLBM test apparently conducted in December. A November 21 test failed to break the surface of the water.: