The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has begun research into a miniature air-to-air missile that would be carried on the next generation of advanced fighter jets. Referred to as the Small Advanced Capabilities Missile (SACM), the missile will be smaller and cheaper than the current air-to-air missiles such as the AIM-9X and AIM-120D. The SACM is one of a number of new munition concepts being explored by the AFLR alongside a general purpose bomb known as GBU-X, and a powered air-to-ground missile (AGM-X). Last month, Raytheon was awarded a $14 million contract to begin developmental work on the munitions.
Senator John McCain has vowed to block the US Air Force’s Long Range Strike-Bomber (LRS-B) program as it uses a cost-plus contract for procurement. As chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, McCain has been a staunch critic of the cost-plus system citing it as “an evil that has grown and grown and grown over the years, and I will not stand for it on any weapon system.” Further more, he criticized the Air Force for keeping the names of the suppliers, even the engine manufacturer, under wraps. He called the secrecy surrounding the program “stupid.”
Operational prototypes of hypersonic missiles could potentially be introduced by 2020 according to the head of US AFRL. Maj. Gen. Thomas Masiello claimed that by the 2030s, the technology could expand beyond delivering warheads at speeds faster than sound, to also include hypersonic intelligence and reconnaissance flights. Hypersonic muntions are also being researched by both China and Russia, and could be successful in filling key capability gaps.
Middle East North Africa
Jordan has requested a repair and return of its F-16 engines alongside sustainment and support. The $115.1 million contract was approved by the US State Department with prime contractor of the work being Pratt & Whitney. The request by the Jordanian government was to amend its F-16 engine program for repair and return of its F100-PW-220E engine modules. The Jordanian F-16s have been engaged in military intervention in both Iraq and Syria against Islamic State positions since 2014.
Turkey has taken possession of the first Koral land-based mobile electronic warfare (EW) system. The Turkish Air Force received the system last week with Defense Industry Undersecretary Ismail Demir attending the ceremony. Each system consists of four Koral Electronic Support Systems (ED) and one Electronic Attack System (ET). Its primary task is to detect, analyze, and defeat threat radar systems, and was developed by Aselsan specifically for Turkey under the Land Based Stand-off Jammer System project, which was contracted in July 2009.
The Estonian military is aiming to spend $902 million on acquisitions of new weapons and equipment by 2020, with procurements including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), long-range anti-tank missile systems, and personal weapons and munitions. The majority of the planned procurements will begin in 2017, with a portion of the funds going toward acquiring the Javelin anti-tank systems and arming them with long-range missiles following neighbor Lithuania’s purchase of the system late last year
Taiwan has announced plans to to build three 2,500-ton air defense catamarans based on the smaller Tuo Chiang-class corvette. The warships will also be equipped with three types of indigenous anti-air missiles. For medium to altitude threats, a version of the Sky Bow III missile defense interceptor adapted for surface ships will act as the ships primary weapon. Lower altitude threats will be dealt with via the Sky Sword II, alongside a Sea Oyrx missile system to guard against incoming threats.
Australia is to replace its fleet of Tiger helicopters by the mid-2020s which could include a mix of manned and unmanned rotorcraft. The troubled history of the Tiger and the essential upgrades required to retain combat effectiveness was highlighted in the government’s recently released 2016 defense whitepaper. Canberra plans to acquire systems equipped with effective armed reconnaissance abilities, and capable of integration with joint forces. Other plans include obtaining “light helicopters” that can be easily transported aboard the Boeing C-17 strategic transport for use supporting Special Forces operations.
Latest updates[?]: Jordan has requested a repair and return of its F-16 engines alongside sustainment and support. The $115.1 million contract was approved by the US State Department with prime contractor of the work being Pratt & Whitney. The request by the Jordanian government was to amend its F-16 engine program for repair and return of its F100-PW-220E engine modules. The Jordanian F-16s have been engaged in military intervention in both Iraq and Syria against Islamic State positions since 2014.
The Royal Jordanian Air force’s fighter fleet currently consists of F-16 A/B, Mirage F1, and F-5 E/F Tiger II fighters. In recent years, the Jordanians have sought to strengthen their air force with surplus F-16s from European countries. “Jordan Buys 20 F-16 MLU from Holland, Belgium” covered an earlier purchase set, and deliveries have begun. Now, another purchase may be on the way.
DID subscriber David Vandenberghe has looked at Parliamentary documents, and also at a Jan 15/09 De Standaard article. Current estimates peg maintenance savings at EUR 3 million per aircraft, and a certain portion of that could be expected to come out of Belgian firm SABCA’s maintenance contract. According to Forecast International, De Standaard has reported that officials from Jordan and Belgium are finalizing a deal for 8-9 more F-16s, at the bargain price of EUR 7 million (about $9.25 million). A Parliamentary Defence Committee document dated Jan 14/09 [PDF] states a set transaction price of EUR 32 million, however, which seems more reasonable.
Under Belgium’s 2000-2015 Modernization plan, the Belgian Defense Forces plan to keep just 60 F-16s in the fleet, to create a total of 48 operational aircraft (46 for NATO duties and 2 for domestic air defense). At present, 68 upgraded F-16 MLU aircraft are reported to remain. with foreign sales, wear, operational losses, and storage accounting for the rest of the 160 F-16A/B aircraft that were bought in 1979.
February 29/16: Jordan has requested a repair and return of its F-16 engines alongside sustainment and support. The $115.1 million contract was approved by the US State Department with prime contractor of the work being Pratt & Whitney. The request by the Jordanian government was to amend its F-16 engine program for repair and return of its F100-PW-220E engine modules. The Jordanian F-16s have been engaged in military intervention in both Iraq and Syria against Islamic State positions since 2014.
After sensationally backing out of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, the Canadian government will not exclude the jet from the renewed CF-18 replacement competition. Canadian minister of national defence Harjit Sajjan said at the annual Conference of Defence Associations (CDA) that once the government determines its needs, and capabilities are specified, potential contractors will be allowed to bid, including Lockheed Martin with its F-35. The announcement marks the first time that Sajjan has explicitly said that the F-35 could still be in the running, after weeks of hinting at the possibility.
Textron AirLand may be on the brink of pulling out of the USAF’s T-X trainer competition their Scorpion design. The plane falls outside the air force’s stringent requirements, and unless a change in parameters occur, a clean sheet design would provide too costly for the company. The T-X trainers require fly-by-wire technology, high-powered engines and advanced handling qualities, each of which “generally corresponds to high cost.” The news comes as Raytheon has announced its inclusion in the T-100 bid, offered jointly with Honeywell, Finmeccanica and CAE.
Despite a successful start to the KC-46 Milestone C demonstrations, Boeing is still under pressure to keep to its tight window to have 46 of the tankers operational by August 2017. The original schedule is at present eight months behind after a number of setbacks, and leaves little room for error until the delivery deadline. While funding of the program and technical difficulties are not a contributing factor, it’s feared that the Air Mobility Command (AMC) won’t have sufficient time for the 767-2C-based tankers to declare initial operational capability on schedule.
Middle East North Africa
Delivery of Mistral warships to Egypt is expected for September this year as 180 Egyptian naval officers prepare to go to France at the end of March for training. It’s believed that tactical training is being provided by specialists from manufacturer DCNS, shipbuilders STX France, and DCI Navfco, as well as training and support consultants to an advance group already there. Each vessel can carry 16 helicopters, four amphibious landing craft, 70 armored vehicles, and 450 soldiers; with the helicopters on board to be navalized Ka-52K attack helicopters from Russia. The sale sees Egypt’s arms sales from France increasingly grow, with negotiations ongoing between them and DCNS for four Gowind corvettes.
Final assembly has begun on the first two of Poland’s ordered M-346 trainers from Finmeccanica. A total of eight have been ordered, with deliveries to begin in 2016 for the contract including logistic support; a training program for pilots and engineers, and a state of the art Ground Based Training Systems. Orders of the M-346 of late amount to 59 with Italy, Israel, and Singapore all awaiting awaiting deliveries.
French arms exports have reached their highest yearly output of over $15 billion in 2015. The figure was pushed upward with the planned $7.1 billion sale of 24 Rafale fighters to Qatar, where French President Francois Hollande will sign an agreement in May in Doha. The Qatari deal marks the third large export of the fighter in recent times after sales to Egypt and India. Total exports mark a large increase over 2014, which saw $9.15 billion in sales with the French procurement agency DGA hiring extra staff to help streamline its procurement process.
The European Parliament has voted to implement an EU-wide arms export embargo on Saudi Arabia. While not binding to member states, the resolution calls for a ban on all weapons sales to the country, amid growing concerns of war crimes committed during its ongoing war in Yemen which included the bombing of multiple hospitals run by the charity Médecins Sans Frontières. UK firms in particular may come under increased pressure with sales to Saudi Arabia which have amounted to $3.9 billion since the conflict in Yemen started.
Australia’s recently released defence whitepaper has called for an additional $21.4 billion over the next ten years. This adjusted figure will push Australian defence spending to $42.4 billion annually in 2020-21, or two percent of gross domestic. The paper focuses on maintained acquisition of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft, including adding an additional seven P-8A Poseidon aircraft to have a total fleet of 15, and five Gulfstream G550 aircraft from the early 2020s that will be modified for electronic warfare missions. Canberra also plans to continue with the purchase of seven Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton unmanned air vehicles.
Latest updates[?]: After sensationally backing out of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, the Canadian government will not exclude the jet from the renewed CF-18 replacement competition. Canadian minister of national defence Harjit Sajjan said at the annual Conference of Defence Associations (CDA) that once the government determines its needs, and capabilities are specified, potential contractors will be allowed to bid, including Lockheed Martin with its F-35. The announcement marks the first time that Sajjan has explicitly said that the F-35 could still be in the running, after weeks of hinting at the possibility.
Liberal versus Conservative politics are dominating the coverage of Canadian self examination of their defense procurement process. Conservatives came to power criticizing a broken and opaque process run by the Liberals, and now the Liberals are enjoying throwing similar barbs at the majority party. But in the fray, several interesting analyses have surfaced that the defense establishment is taking seriously.
The Harper government insists that a defense procurement overhaul conducted last year has yet to toll, and that patience is needed to prove that things have improved. By far, the largest effect is exerted by the major fighter and ship programs, which evolve in year and decade timescales.
As to the actual content of the report, much blame is placed at the cutting of procurement staff levels, which have been halved over the past 20 years. Also unpopular among the procurement officials are rafts of the new reporting requirements – reportedly up by about 50 percent – that are part of the Harper governments reforms.
Separately, the objectives of major defense procurement projects have also been called into question. Because the F-35 has greatest advantage in the objective of overpowering a state with top anti-air resources, Canadian officials are now questioning whether this is something relevant to Canada, especially in the face of a lopsided price disadvantage versus other fighters. Reportedly, the only other fighter contending still against the F-35 is Boeing’s Super Hornet. This analysis, a product of the 2012 decision to delay what was to be a $45 billion purchase of F-35s, did not draw a conclusive recommendation, although it did note that the likelihood of requiring a mission profile uniquely suited to the F-35 was low.
The F-35 program has been controversial in Canada, even more so than in other countries, complete with alleged plots to conduct secret initial procurement of four fighters to be delivered in 2015, with a commitment for 9 more two years later. Internal pressures led the Harper administration to develop a more explicit offset seeking program, called the Value Proposition Guide, as in show-us-what-industrial-value-we-can-bank domestically.
February 26/16: After sensationally backing out of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, the Canadian government will not exclude the jet from the renewed CF-18 replacement competition. Canadian minister of national defence Harjit Sajjan said at the annual Conference of Defence Associations (CDA) that once the government determines its needs, and capabilities are specified, potential contractors will be allowed to bid, including Lockheed Martin with its F-35. The announcement marks the first time that Sajjan has explicitly said that the F-35 could still be in the running, after weeks of hinting at the possibility.
February 23/16: Major defense purchases through Canada’s problem-plagued procurement process is to be guided by a cabinet-level committee. The committee will have direct access to support from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and is tasked with seeing that billion dollar sales, which include all aircraft purchases, will not be held up in federal bureaucracy. While details of the committee have not been disclosed, it will include high ranking members of the Liberal government including Procurement Minister Judy Foote, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, Navdeep Bains, minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, and Scott Brison, the president of the Treasury Board.
Northrop Grumman has announced that their E-2D Hawkeye aircraft is to carry out its first aerial refueling by the end of 2016. The air-to-air refueling modification is currently being integrated at the company’s newly-renovated St. Augustine, Florida facility. The new capability will be integrated into new-build aircraft, and retrofitted on delivered E-2Ds to increase the time the type can operate on station. The US Navy has so far acquired 22 of the aircraft, and it is believed that the first 31 delivered will then be retrofitted with the capability. All new-builds after that are expected to have the system prior to their roll out.
Commander of the United States Pacific Command, Adm. Harry Harris, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the new Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) should be deployed as quickly as possible. The AGM-158C is scheduled to be put on B-1B bombers starting in September 2018, and on Navy F/A-18E/F fighters fighters the following year. The missile is part of $8.1 billion in funding allotted to improve US naval and underwater combat technologies for fiscal year 2017. Harris’s comments come as both the Chinese and Russians continue improvements to their own ballistic missile and nuclear submarine capabilities, and growing tensions in the Pacific region.
Middle East North Africa
Saudi Arabia is to start flight testing of its new military transport aircraft next year. The AN-132 has been jointly developed with Ukraine as a modernized version of the Ukrainian AN-32, with modern engines and electronics that would make it more fuel-efficient and able to take off and land in various environments. The deal will see 80 of the planes produced, partially in the Ukraine, but will also see the the transfer of technology and manufacture in the Gulf kingdom. The Saudi organization involved in the development, King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) will own 50% of the intellectual property of the new aircraft.
C-17 transport aircraft used by the UAE military are to be fitted with infrared countermeasure systems in a program that could cost up to $225 million. The provision of AN/AAQ-24(V)N Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) equipment, and logistics support was approved by the US State Department as a Foreign Military Sale. Eight C-17s will receive a LAIRCM system which includes three Guardian Laser Transmitter Assemblies (GLTA), six Ultra-Violet Missile Warning System (UVMWS) Sensors AN/AAR-54, and one LAIRCM System Processor Replacement (LSPR).
Iraq is to receive a $350 million five-year sustainment package for its KA-350 fleet after the sale was approved by the US Congress. The six King Air aircraft were purchased from manufacturer Beechcraft in 2007 with five possessing intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities. The latest package will include provision of operational and intermediate depot level maintenance, spare parts, component repair, publication updates, maintenance training, and logistics. The majority of the aircraft have been used in supporting Iraqi military operations against Al-Qaeda affiliates and Islamic State militants in the country.
Romania has placed an order for two Lockheed Martin TPS-77 radars which will incorporate Lockheed’s new Digital Array Row Transceivers (DART)technology. The addition of the DART to the sensors will allow for greater energy efficiency and performance. The Lockheed radars also include Gallium Nitride (GaN) technology, which enables high-power amplifiers to consume less power, increase reliability, lower life-cycle costs and extend the radar’s lifespan. GaN has been included in Lockheed radars for over six years. Delivery will be received in the second quarter of 2017.
Following a 2015 filled with delays, fines and threats of lawsuits, Airbus aims to double deliveries of their A400M transport aircraft in 2016. Having only completed 11 deliveries last year, the company’s chief executive Tom Enders has vowed a target of “20-plus” deliveries in 2016. Stable revenues in Airbus’ defense and space division has helped the company, which is trying to realign their delivery and upgrade schedule to make up for delays. But upgrades regarding the aircraft’s military capabilities remain a challenge.
Lockheed Martin’s executive vice-president of aeronautics Orlando Carvalho recently discussed key Asia-Pacific fighter production programs. These included the ongoing development of the Nagoya-based final assembly and checkout line (FACO) which will produce 38 of Japan’s 42 F-35 fighters. The plant follows closely that of the F-35 production facility opened in Cameri, Italy. Further business included the joint development of South Korea’s KF-X program which had met a number of speed bumps last year, and the potential of an F-16 production plant to be opened in India. While Carvalho indicated the company has interest in building such a plant, talks are still very much at a government-to-government level and could still be a long way off.
Raytheon has officially entered a bid in the T-X program, offering an American made version of the Italian Finmeccanica-Alenia Aermacchi M-346-based T-100. The company will take the position of head contractor vacated by General Dynamics in March, and will partner with Honeywell and CAE. The offering will use a foundational aircraft platform from Finmeccanica, simulation equipment, training systems and courseware designed by CAE, and Honeywell’s twin F124 turbofan engines to power the aircraft. The strength of the bid lies in its affordable cost to the USAF, as well as the fact that it is already in operational use, thus limiting the risk factor of the clean sheet designs offered by other competitors.
The KC-46 is halfway through its six aerial contact tests as part of the program‘s “Milestone C” demonstrations. The tanker has now successfully demonstrated all three of its major fuel systems after being successfully topped up by another KC-10 aircraft. The February 16 test follows the refueling of a F-16 and F/A-18 over the last number of weeks, and keeps the program right on track for a low-rate initial production decision in May. The three remaining tests will involve probe-and-drogue testing with a US Navy AV-8B Harrier II jump jet, followed by boom refueling of a Fairchild Republic A-10 and Boeing C-17.
The USAF has flown two F-16 jets together, however the second was and flown by algorithms. While the unmanned aircraft did have a pilot on board as a precaution, both jets were able to keep in formation without input from the passenger pilot. The purpose of the flight was to see whether an unmanned aircraft was capable of being teamed with a piloted fighter. The tests mark the emerging shift in Air Force thinking toward future warfare scenarios and investing in cutting edge technology as air and space power move closer together. The Air Force has requested $2.5 billion for investment in Science & Technology programs for 2017.
Middle East North Africa
Tunisia has completed a 200-kilometer barrier wall and water filled trench along its border with Libya. Stretching from the coastal town of Ras Jedir to Dhiba in the southwest, the new barrier is set to prevent cross border smuggling of weapons and Islamist militants. With over 3,000 Tunisian nationals fighting with groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq, Syria, and lately in Libya, Tunis is anxious to prevent them from returning to the country that sparked the 2011 Arab Spring. Talks are currently ongoing with Germany over the provision of high-tech electronic surveillance equipment to help detect breaches in the wall, with contractors from Germany and the US due to begin work shortly.
The Romanian Ministry of Defense has announced plans to purchase 12 more second-hand F-16 fighters in 2017. The procurement will the follow the delivery of F-16s from Portugal in September, which cost the government $695 million and included training and upgrades of systems from Lockheed Martin. The ministry has requested information from NATO allies (including the US and five European members) of available supplies with plans to purchase the fleet by auction.
An enemy of my enemy is my future business partner. Turkey and Ukraine have pledged “strategic” defense industry cooperation in efforts to bolster a growing anti-Russian bloc in the region. A visit to Kiev by Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu saw a number of agreements on how both countries can help with their various procurement and defense technology needs, as relationships between them and Moscow continue to sour. The establishment of joint working groups will aim for cooperative development of on-weapons systems production, with a focus on turbojet aircraft engines, radars, military communications technologies and navigation systems.
Russia is developing its own internet for use by its defense industry, uniting more than 1,000 companies in its network. The system will allow for a safe and secure line of communication for the sharing of top secret information, enabling companies to use all the possibilities of modern telecom technologies. The added security of the network will allow for easier sharing over everyday tools such as email, audio and video-conferencing, and cloud storage of sensitive information that otherwise may be at risk over more tradition services. Plans have been made to have the system installed in 250 companies in 2016.
BAE Systems and India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) are considering establishing a joint venture to co-produce variants of the Hawk trainer, upgrade the Jaguar aircraft, and establish an operations base in India focusing on logistics and producing spare parts. Both aircraft are already produced under license by HAL and further cooperation could lead to a more hands on development in improving maneuver performance with laser designation, precision smart weapons, and state-of-the-art synthetic training to create a more advanced trainer aircraft.
GoPro footage of the Tejas fighter at last month’s Bahrain Air Show:
Major defense purchases through Canada’s problem-plagued procurement process is to be guided by a cabinet-level committee. The committee will have direct access to support from Prime Minister Justin Tredeau, and is tasked with seeing that billion dollar sales, which include all aircraft purchases, will not be held up in federal bureaucracy. While details of the committee have not been disclosed, it will include high ranking members of the Liberal government including Procurement Minister Judy Foote, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, Navdeep Bains, minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, and Scott Brison, the president of the Treasury Board.
Honeywell is developing and testing a virtual reality vehicle windshield for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The windshield aims to give greater situational awareness for future ground vehicles as part of DARPA’s Ground X-Vehicle Technologies program. Using Honeywell’s “near-to-eye” and display technologies developed through military and commercial avionics flight decks, such as for the Boeing 777 commercial airliner, the wrap-around windshield aims to provides contextual awareness through lower-resolution images combined with a binocular eye display, that provides more precise images to vehicle operators and crews.
The USAF has pushed back the awarding of its contract for the Joint Surveillance Targeting and Attack Radar System (JSTARS) program by as much as six months. It had been reported in January that sole-source contracts were soon to be awarded to both Raytheon and Northrop Grumman for the further development of their competing active electronically scanned array radars. The revision of the acquisition strategy has been said to reduce overall program risk by giving more time in the early stages of JSTARS development.
Middle East North Africa
Oman’s ordered Eurofighter Typhoon’s move one step closer to delivery according to Eurofighter partner BAE Systems. Final assembly has begun at BAE’s Warton site in Lancashire, UK with 12 to be delivered to the Royal Oman Air Force in 2017. The sale will also include eight Hawk 166 advanced jet trainers. Exports of the joint European Typhoon have been on the increase, with Italian partner Alenia Aermacchi and the Italian government leading the charge for the sale of 28 of the fighters to Kuwait.
The Israeli Air Force may look to domestic companies to develop indigenous targeting and reconnaissance systems for their F-35I Adir fighters. Potential possibilities include Rafael’s Litening or Reccelite designs, which could be redesigned from their external pod varieties to be carried internally. The choice for choosing a local provider for the system stems from the IAFs unique operational requirements and their desire to utilize local, combat-proven systems. If either of Rafael’s systems are chosen, they will be integrated on all 33 F-35Is procured through the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister has come out in favour of supplying MANPAD surface-to-air missiles to allied Syrian rebel forces fighting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. The equipment would help rebel forces counter against government and Russian air strikes. In an interview with German news magazine Der Spiegel, Adel al-Jubeir said the weapons would “allow the moderate opposition to be able to neutralize the helicopters and aircraft that are dropping chemicals and have been carpet-bombing them, just like surface-to-air missiles in Afghanistan were able to change the balance of power there.”
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute report on global arms sales indicates a 14% increase in the years 2011-2015 with the flow of weaponry primarily going towards Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The report, published Monday, cites the US and Russia as the main exporters, with the biggest importers being India, Saudi Arabia, China, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Despite decreasing oil prices, the Saudi-led coalition supporting the government in Yemen against Iranian backed Houthi rebels has been singled out as one of the main reasons for strong sales which are expected to continue.
BAE Systems UK is to cooperate with India’s Mahindra Group to produce 145 light howitzer guns for the Indian Army. The arrangement follows the 2015 proposal by BAE’s US subsidiary to sell 145 M777A2 LW155 howitzers at a cost of $700 million, and are dependent on BAE commitments to set up assembly, integration and test (AIT) facilities in India. Mahindra Group won out against other domestic defense companies including India’s state-owned Ordnance Factory Board and private sector companies Larsen & Toubro, Tata Power (Strategic Engineering Division), Punj Lloyd and the Kalyani Group.
Aerial display highlights from the Singapore Air Show 2016:
The USAF has earmarked $491 million over five years for the upgrade of B-52H radars. The modernization plan will replace the outdated Northrop Grumman AN/APQ-166 mechanically scanned array radar with further funds to be made available post-2021. The USAF strategy for the program has yet to be released, but it is likely that the plan will be to modify existing radar technologies and components to suit the B-52H, instead of developing something new, to increase reliability and durability of the radar.
The US State Department has approved a $200 million Foreign Military Sale to Saudi Arabia. The sale will see the provision of support services by the United States Military Training Mission to Saudi Arabia (USMTM), which will be responsible for identifying, planning, and executing U.S. Security Cooperation training and advisory support for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Ministry of Defense. The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) did not elaborate on what exact training or services would be provided, although the deal would require the permanent or temporary assignment of as many as 202 case-funded US government or contractor personnel to Saudi Arabia.
Middle East North Africa
An unknown Saudi Arabian order of 22 Hawk Advanced Jet trainers from BAE Systems has been revealed in the company’s 2015 report. This would double the amount to be procured by the kingdom’s air force, following the $3 billion deal for 22 of the same trainers in 2012. While little other information is given in the report, the deal does include associated ground equipment, and training aids for the Royal Saudi Air Force aimed at further enhancing their training capabilities. The news comes as BAE announced a sale increase of 7.6% for 2015, for a total of over $25.5 billion.
A $3 billion Saudi Arabian aid package to allow the Lebanese Army to buy French weapons has been suspended. Saudi officials cited the lack of condemnation by Beirut over attacks on Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran for the cancelling the deal. The remainder of a further $1 billion package to help the Lebanese internal security service battle terrorism was also cancelled. The incident comes as one of a series highlighting the growing tensions between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shi’a Iran, with Lebanese Hezbollah a key ally of Tehran. Equipment to be procured included combat and transport vehicles, attack helicopters, three small corvette warships, surveillance and communication equipment as well as the provision of training maintenance.
A modernization of Poland’s Leopard 24A tanks will involve collaboration between Germany’s Rheinmetall Landsysteme GmbH and Poland’s state-run defense company Bumar-Labedy SA. The $144 million contract will see Rheinmetall build a prototype upgraded tank, dubbed the Leopard 2PL, and modernize a trial batch of about a dozen units. As with all ongoing Polish defense deals, the next phase will see work domesticated after a knowledge and technology transfer to Bumar-Labedy, who will take care of the modernization of the remaining tanks. At present, the Polish Army operates 128 Leopolds after a 2002 purchase from the German Bundeswehr.
Deutz AG is to provide new engines for armored personnel carriers (APC) for the Ukranian Army. The German manufacturer signed a deal with Ukroboronprom, Ukraine’s leading defense group. The engines will replace the older Russian made ones found in the Armed Force’s BTR-4 vehicles as Kiev looks to cut procurement costs and bring equipment in line with NATO standards. The new procurement deal is believed to save Ukroboronprom $25 million, with savings to go toward developing and producing new weapons and equipment.
Speculation surrounding Indonesia’s fighter modernization have been put to rest. Jakarta looks set to sign a contract for around a dozen Su-35s to replace its aging Northrop F-5 fighters, and supplement a fleet of 16 Sukhoi Su-27 and Su-30 fighters that form the backbone of its air force. Russian officials from the plane’s manufacturer United Aircraft Corporation refused to comment on the sale at last week’s Singapore Air Show, but it’s been reported that some of the components for the Su-35 could be made indigenously by Indonesian firms. Contracts for the deal could be ready and signed within a month’s time.
Airbus has delivered the last of three C-295 aircraft ordered by the Philippines Air Force. Future sales to Manilla and other C-295 customers such as Vietnam and Indonesia could come in the future, alongside the smaller CN-235, for use in maritime patrol duties monitoring Chinese activity around disputed islands in the South China Sea. Sales of the C-295 have been growing steadily with operators found in most continents. The first sale of 2016 was recently announced by the company, with one C-295 to be delivered to the Mali Air Force in the second half of this year.
Actor Hugh Jackman flying a USAF F-16 at Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base. Callsign Wolverine? :
Raytheon and the US Navy have successfully commenced operational testing of the new Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW C-1) at China Lake. The AGM-154 Block III upgrade incorporates a new Link-16 weapon data link and a moving maritime target capability. This was the eighth successful test for the air-to-surface missile after seven deployments in the developmental and integration test phases. The latest test has been described by Raytheon as “a challenging battlefield scenario [which] included a well-defended target that used tactical countermeasures.” Once the free flight operational testing is complete, the JSOW C-1 will be released for full use by the Navy.
After last March’s dropping out by General Dynamics from the T-100 trainer program, it looks as if Raytheon may take the role as lead contractor in the project. The company will then join Alenia and CAE in their bid for the USAF’s T-X program, offering a design based on Alenia’s existing M-346. The eventual winners of the T-X competition will provide the Air Force with 350 new aircraft to replace the aging T-38 fleet used for advanced jet training. Their bid, however, is facing plenty of stiff competition; with a pair of clean-sheet designs being put forth by a Boeing/Saab team and a Northrop Grumman-led coalition that includes BAE Systems and L-3, the Lockheed Martin-Korea Aerospace Industries T-50A, and a design from Textron AirLand, which may be loosely based on its Scorpion jet.
Middle East North Africa
The ongoing proxy war in Syria, and increased tensions with Russia, has led analysts to believe that Turkey is amending its short term shopping lists. The priority has shifted to increasing and updating its stocks of defensive gear and technologies such as stand-off jammers, aerial early warning and control aircraft, medium and long-range air defense systems, intelligence-based systems designed for better border security (such as the Gokturk 3 and Gokturk 4 satellites), and 3D radar modernization to name but a few. The installation of the S-400 air defense system has also resulted in Turkey halting its bombings of Islamic State positions in Syria, however it continues assaulting Kurdish positions there as well, along with Kurdish PPK positions in northern Iraq and within Turkey itself.
General Atomics has received a contract to provide four unarmed MQ-9 Reaper UAVs and two Block 30 ground control stations to Spain. While Madrid may seek to arm the UAVs in future, it requires authorization from the US government before it can do so. However, this may not be too much of an issue, as both the UK and Italy have already been granted permission to arm their fleets with precision guided missiles such as the AGM-114 Hellfire. While the initial foreign sales notice posted by the US in October cites the cost of the hardware at $80 million, the total cost of procurement, training and logistical support could see that cost more in the region of $243 million.
After much anticipation, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) is to purchase two Airbus Defence & Space Zephyr 8 high-altitude pseudo-satellites from Airbus. Delivery of the solar-powered, long-endurance surveillance unmanned air vehicles is to be by 2017 at a cost of $15.5 million. While the DoD’s exact intentions for the aircraft’s deployment and mission remains unclear, they will now be utilized in a surveillance role and acting as a communications relay link for ground operations.
Speaking at the Singapore Air Show, Boeing VP for Global Sales Jeff Kohler, outlined potential sales of military hardware, with Indonesia set to be the latest country to buy the CH-47 Chinook. While numbers have not been released, earlier reports put the acquisition at eight. Meanwhile, Japan looks set to order more F-15s to bolster and upgrade its fleet to face upcoming regional challenges while suffering cash flow problems. Boeing is also to provide two more of its early warning aircraft systems to South Korea after reports that the four previously delivered are being used constantly. Finally, the Indian Navy may add eight additional P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to those currently on order.
Russian officials have confirmed that they are to sign a major weapons contract with Iran later this year. A sale of an undisclosed number of Su-30SM multi-role fighters could also be joined by Yak-130 advanced jet trainers, Mil Mi-8 light attack helicopters, Mil Mi-17 transport helicopters, in addition to K-300P Bastion-P mobile coastal defense missile systems, frigates, and diesel-electric submarines. In total, weapons sales to Tehran could amount to over $8 billion. The shopping spree follows the relaxation of embargoes on the Theocratic state, following the scaling back of its nuclear research. Relations with western powers may also soften further following the upcoming elections to the country’s Assembly of Experts. A win by moderate reformers could lead to further improvements to its once pariah international image.
Honeywell Aerospace is to become the largest non-Japanese participant in Japan’s P-1 program. The US company has been selected by Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) to outfit the new maritime aircraft with its electrical and mechanical systems, such as the 131-9J Auxiliary Power Unit (APU), alongside works on the Cabin Pressure Control System, Engine Starter Bleed System Valve, Exterior and Interior Lighting, Personal Oxygen Unit, Ram Air Turbine, Bleed Air System, and Sonobuoy Dispenser. The announcement comes as the demand for maritime surveillance and patrol aircraft is increasing steadily, especially in the Asia Pacific region. All countries in the region are undergoing upgrades to the latest systems in order to protect shipping lanes and boost their presence, as disputes over territory in the South China Sea continue to grow.
Super Hornet catapult shot on the USS Harry Truman. Just click and drag your mouse along the screen for a full 360-degree view:
The joint Boeing/Lockheed Martin protest filed against the Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) contract awarded to Northrop Grumman has been rejected by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO). The complaint, claiming that the competition was “fundamentally flawed“, was filed last November and resulted in a three month delay in engineering and development work by Northrop. The GAO found no basis to sustain or uphold the protest, which analysts estimate to be worth over $80 billion over the course of the contract. With 100 hundred bombers to be manufactured for the USAF, Boeing can still bring the challenge to federal court as they look to make up for lost production contracts and potential job losses ahead.
The US Navy has completed the first of two operational tests on Northrop Grumman’s MQ-4C. While data on the tests is still being analyzed, a favorable review could see a low rate procurement contract awarded in the second quarter of this year, a year ahead of the next operational test event. Initial plans for the UAV involve providing broad area surveillance over 5 orbits encircling the globe, then cueing the manned P-8A Poseidon to inspect closer or deploy weapons. Initial predictions of fleet loss of four per 100,000 hours led the Navy to order 70 to maintain an operational fleet of 20. This has, however, has come under scrutiny from the Department of Defense and could lead to the Navy reviewing and altering their attrition requirement.
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Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) has introduced a new series of loitering munitions at the Singapore Air Show. One of these is the Rotem L, a small grenade-carrying quadrotor which explodes on contact and is designed for use in urban operations. Alternatively, it can be fitted with a surveillance payload. The Harpy NG (New Generation) is designed to counter the newer types of air defense radar threats that have evolved since the introduction into service of its earlier incarnations. Improvements include a new Anti-Radiation (AR) Seeker fitted into the chassis of the Harop UAV, increasing its range and endurance. The final addition is the all-electric, cannister launched Green Dragon for operation by land forces. Designed to be a cheaper, more easily operated munition, it contains a 3kg warhead, a communications range of up to 21nm (40km) and a built-in “abort and go around” capability to prevent unnecessary collateral damage or mistaken targeting.
The French procurement agency DGA is to recruit 160 staffers this year in an effort to improve organization and service surrounding foreign arms sales. By 2020 this number will increase to 500. With $18 billion in arms exports last year, the DGA hopes to continue this trend and to forge a “real partnership” in projects and programs according to their spokesperson. The need for this comes as customers are increasingly looking for deeper understanding in the specifications of the technology, such as India wanting to make Dassault’s Rafale fighters domestically, and Australia’s latest tender for an attack submarine which has French firm DCNS competing for the contract.
Improvements in human rights have seen five years of EU imposed trade sanctions lifted on Belarus, however, its arms embargo will be maintained for at least another year. The move comes following peaceful presidential elections in the country, and the release of political prisoners in the country often dubbed Europe’s last dictatorship. As the EU looks to improve relations with countries neighboring an increasingly aggressive Russia, Belarus’ authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko may be seeking to improve his image abroad, as well as rely less on Russia for trade and ultimately, arms and defense.
Following a custom $1.27 billion two-aircraft deal to provide an early warning and control (AEW&C) system to the UAE, Saab has officially launched the new early warning aircraft to the wider market. The GlobalEye combines the Erieye ER active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar with Bombardier’s Global 6000 business jet. The Erieye had been previously offered on the Embraer 145, Saab 2000 and Saab 340, but its incorporation on the Global 6000 will allow it much greater altitude and endurance capabilities, flying at 11,000 ft for 11 hours. The business jet will likely be armed with Saab’s RBS-15 anti-ship missile and a lightweight torpedo; possibly a EuroTorp weapon. Saab’s announcement comes as they look to provide maritime, land, and air surveillance capabilities to countries increasingly involved in anti-terrorism, anti-piracy, or territorial monitoring operations.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has started final assembly of their first domestically produced F-35A. Assembly has entered its final stages at the Komaki Minami plant, and it is expected they will have begun work on two of the fighters by the end of fiscal 2017. By 2020, this production will have increased to 16, and a total number to be manufactured in Japan is 38 out a fleet of 42. MHI will also be responsible for testing the jets stealth against radar. The experience gained by Mitsubishi in the development and manufacturing of the F-35 will help toward the development of Japan’s own next-generation stealth fighter, currently under development as part of the X-2 program.
Despite last year’s rather public hullabaloo over Indonesia’s $120 million procurement of three Agusta Westland AW101 helicopters, Daniele Romiti, chief executive of Finmeccania Helicopters, maintains Jakarta is still interested. After a presidential order axed the acquisition of the VVIP helicopters, talks have apparently been ongoing over a renewed deal. This includes plans for a search and rescue variant, with a similar configuration to the Italian air force’s new HH-101 Caesar model. The news comes as quite a surprise, and if the deal goes through, would mark quite the turnaround from November. But with cost the main reason for the initial protests, a fresh round of media and political anger could be just around the corner.
Footage from the 2016 Singapore Air Show including South Korea’s Black Eagles: