USAF Moves from F-22 to New F-X Program | A-10 Warthog Replacements Considered | F-16 Sale to Pakistan Likely to ProceedMar 14, 2016 00:20 UTC
- Despite some interest from the Pentagon, the USAF has reiterated that it is not interested in restarting production of the F-22, instead preferring to move quickly on a new F-X program. Cost has been cited as a factor, with estimations that resuming F-22 production would be $17 billion, or $267 million for 75 more aircraft. The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is already working with industry leaders on clean sheet aircraft and engine designs. Boeing, Northrop, and Lockheed have already started releasing artist’s impressions of conceptual “sixth-generation” fighter jets, but none are based on previous aircraft.
- The USAF is to look at a variety of options to replace the A-10 Warthog for its Close Air Support (CAS) requirements. A study will investigate whether a new clean-sheet design is required, or if existing aircraft such as the AT-6 or A-29 would be best for continued low-intensity “permissive conflict” like counter-terrorism and regional stability operations. An alternative option could involve a derivative of the T-X Advance Trainer, however with the T-X program not due until 2024, it would miss the A-10’s retirement in 2022.
Middle East North Africa
- ITC Defense Corp is to develop and field a Vehicle Management System for Kuwait to help track their military vehicles. The $7.7 million Foreign Military Sale will see ITC establish a “centralized tracking and secure transmission of GPS data,” develop and test customized vehicle management and tracking software, manage the installation of the GPS units, “integrate communications,” in addition to conducting training and providing support through February 2018. The sale of such systems comes after a number of incidents involving US military hardware surfacing in the wrong hands in the region. One such incident involved footage of a convoy of US vehicles and tanks waving Hezbollah flags as they rolled through the Iraqi desert. The video led to assumptions that US hardware was being utilized by Iranian backed forces.
- Cost saving measures may see the possibility of joint development and procurement of submarines between Norway and Germany. While Norway’s planned replacement of its Ula-class also has South Korea, Italy, Sweden, France, and Spain in the running as a new supplier, close military links and a history of cooperation in naval construction with Germany may make them the ideal partner. Berlin plans to purchase a number of submarines in the 2020s, and a single design for both nations would cut costs significantly.
- The sale of 36 AIM-120C-7 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAMs) to Indonesia has been cleared by the US State Department. The $95 million Foreign Military Sale will also include one Missile Guidance System, control section support equipment, spare parts, services, logistics, technical contractor engineering and technical support, loading adaptors, technical publications, familiarization training, test equipment, and other related elements.
- China has made an advance payment on its $3 billion purchase of six battalions of the S-400 air defense systems from Russia. According to the head of manufacturer Rostec, Sergei Chemezov, deliveries of the systems could begin in the first quarter of 2017. Despite the payment, Chemezov did highlight that a number of formal procedures still have to be completed between Beijing and Moscow, which should be concluded by the end of the year. China is the first foreign export customer of the S-400 which is currently being rolled out throughout the Russian Armed Forces.
- Pakistan’s efforts to purchase six F-16 fighter jets has survived attempts of being blocked in the US Senate. Efforts led by Senator Rand Paul to cancel the sale lost out 71-24 in a vote on the $700 million deal. Paul’s opposition to military sales to Pakistan stems from what he sees as Islamabad’s “duplicitous” intentions when it comes to counter-terrorism and intelligence sharing, their human rights record, and as he has described the US-Pakistani relationship as “at best, a frenemy.” While US financing for the deal remains on hold, the sale is seen as “as critical to Pakistan’s efforts to deny terrorists a safe haven within its borders.”
- Spanish shipbuilder Navantia has been selected by the Royal Australian Navy to construct two auxiliary oiler and replenishment (AOR) vessels, beating South Korean giant Daewoo. The $907 is being allocated for the contract, and will replace two aging supply ships, the Auxiliary Oiler and Replenishment (AOR) vessel HMAS Success, and the logistics support ship, HMAS Sirius. Further details and conditions of the contracts remain unknown, as the deal has not been officially confirmed yet, but was leaked in the wake of anger from Federal opposition, labor unions, and independent South Australian Sen. Nick Xenophon, that the ships would not be built locally.
- A look at Turkish artillery in action: