Russia Plans 16 ICBM Tests in 2016 | Azerbaijan Wants in on JF-17s | Visit from French MoD to Finalize India’s Rafale DealJan 12, 2016 00:20 UTC
- The USAF will not be lifting weight restrictions on F-35 pilots until at least 2018. The push back comes as ejector seat manufacturer Martin-Baker needs more time to conduct additional testing on the ejector seat safety features in the fighters. The program has been experiencing problems with this specific aspect of the plane’s development since the summer of 2015, but this has just been one of many issues to have dogged the program amid increased delays and spiraling costs. The Pentagon hopes to make the aircraft’s European debut at the Farnborough Air Show in the UK this summer after engine issues forced it to be omitted from last year’s show. No doubt foreign partners in the program will be following with interest.
- It’s a dirty job but someone has to do it. Seaward Marine Services has been awarded a $53.3 million contract to carry out waterborne hull cleaning and associated work on the underwater portion of ships and crafts for the US Navy. Work is to be carried to support the Director of Ocean Engineering, Supervisor of Salvage and Diving and will take place in seas and oceans across the world. Options, if carried out, could reach $257.9 million.
Middle East North Africa
- A delegation from Israel’s defense ministry has visited a Lockheed Martin production facility in Forth Worth, Texas as the frames of their first F-35I’s enter their advanced production phase. Israeli procurement of the F-35 fighter, dubbed the AS-1, differs slightly from the standard model of F-35A to be exported to other nations involved in the program. Unique features include the integration of Israel’s own electronic warfare systems into the aircraft’s built-in electronic suite, as well as the ability to use indigenously produced guided and air-to-air missiles. Israel has ordered thirty-three F-35I fighters at a cost of $3.6 billion.
- UK arms exports to Saudi Arabia have come under more scrutiny after the sale of missiles to the kingdom have been deemed in breech of international law. The accusation comes as human rights groups, the UN and EU parliament have all expressed concerns that UK manufactured missiles have been used by Saudi-led coalition forces to kill civilians in Yemen. The Conservative Party government’s relationship with Saudi Arabia had been put increasingly under the spotlight lately, as human rights issues both within the Gulf kingdom and its war in Yemen are being met with increased international outcry. Since David Cameron came to office in 2011, UK arms licensed to Saudi Arabia are valued at $8.7 billion.
- Russia will ramp up its testing of ICBMs in 2016 according to its MoD. Strategic Missile Troops will be kept busy with sixteen intercontinental ballistic missile test launches alongside flight test procedures for advanced weapons, and control of the technical readiness of missile systems that have already entered service. Strategic Missile Troops also plan to conduct more than one hundred command and staff, tactical and special exercises. Unannounced inspections of the forty Russian missile regiments will continue throughout 2016 to test combat readiness of troops.
- South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) have selected Korean Air Lines Co. to mass produce their first reconnaissance UAV. Korean Air designed and developed a UAV back in 2014, and the $333 million deal will see more of the UAVs produced over the next four years. They will then be deployed to operate along the country’s northern border and DMZ shared with North Korea.
- Following hot on the heels of Sri Lanka and Nigeria, Azerbaijan looks to be the next in line for an order of JF-17s from Pakistan. Following his recent trip to the country, Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain said that a deal regarding the sale of defense products to Azerbaijan was just one of several areas in which both were looking to increase cooperation. The potential for increased Azerbaijani-Pakistani trade comes as Chinese officials signed a number of documents with the Caucasus nation in December. Beijing, Pakistan’s partner in the development in the JF-17 program, is looking to develop a “Silk Way” economic belt stretching along developing countries that encompass the historical trade route.
- India’s long awaited purchase of thirty-six Rafale fighters is set to be finalized as French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is scheduled to visit New Delhi next week. It’s believed that the visit is specifically for the purpose of officially concluding the high-profile deal ahead of President Francois Hollande’s visit to the country. Hollande will visit as a guest to celebrate India’s Republic Day on January 26. France and manufacturer Dassault will no doubt be happy to see the deal secured, which has been ongoing for some time, and the cause of much haggling over price offsets and a deal to produce parts for the aircraft within India.
- The US flying a B-52 bomber near North Korea as the mind games continue: