BAE’s Archerfish Takes on Sea Mines | Italy & France Spar Over Qatari Deal | Royal Navy Testing UAVs for Navigating Ice in AntarcticApr 18, 2016 00:55 UTC
- The US Navy has awarded BAE Systems a $22 million contract to produce Archerfish mine neutralizers. Flown on board the MH-60S, Archerfish is a remotely-controlled underwater vehicle equipped with an explosive warhead to destroy sea mines. Deliveries of the systems are expected to begin in September 2017. The contract also includes further options which, if exercised by the DoD, could bring the total value to over $55.3 million.
- A plan to launch mini-unmanned aerial vehicles out of the AC-130 gunships will commence later this year under the US Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). Under the plan, AC-130 crews will be trained to use the Tactical off-board sensing (TOBS) technology which will allow them to pick up targets in poor weather or other challenging conditions. The key technical challenge to overcome is to have a drone that can fit in the common launch tube that is only six inches in diameter and 48 inches long.
- Northrop Grumman’s AN/AAQ-28(V) Litening targeting and designation pod is to be integrated onto General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft system (UAS) by the USAF. A pre-solicitation notice was posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website awarding a sole-source contract to GA to carry out the integration work. Inclusion of the pods will give the MQ-9 precision strike and non-traditional intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities. At present, the pods are found on USAF Fairchild-Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II, Boeing’s B-52H Stratofortress and F-15E Strike Eagle, and Lockheed Martin’s F-16 Fighting Falcon.
Middle East North Africa
- The sale of a naval defense package to Qatar has caused a spat between Italian and French officials. Last month, Italy’s defense minister believed that a non-binding agreement for three corvettes was about to be signed, only to be postponed after French lobbying, asking for an opportunity to make a new, revised offer. Qatar has been on a defense splurge as of late in the run up to its hosting of the 2022 World Cup, which includes 24 Dassault Rafale fighters and missiles worth over $7 billion.
- Bulgaria’s government is scouring the open market for 10 RD-33 turbofan engines for its MiG-29 fleet. The engines can be used as long as they guarantee a six year service life, and can be delivered within the year. A NATO member since 2004, Bulgaria’s governments have promised to modernize their Soviet-era air force with modern, NATO friendly technology. While nothing concrete has been decided, Sofia will pick either Saab’s Gripen, the Eurofighter Typhoon or second-hand F-16s.
- The US State Department has approved the sale of Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) Unitary Rocket Pods and related support to the government of France. Estimated to be worth up to $90 million, the sale includes 21 GMLRS Unitary Rocket Pods as well as a GMLRS Quality Assurance Team (QAT), GMLRS publications, live fire data, software updates, and technical assistance.
- A 3D unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is being tested in tough Antarctic conditions aboard the Royal Navy’s ice patrol ship HMS Protector. Used alongside a quadcopter, both UAVs are helping the ship’s crew navigate through thick ice by beaming back high-quality pictures of the ship’s surrounding environment. The system is controlled from a laptop on board, cruises at nearly 60mph, and is all but noiseless thanks to its tiny engine. Each one costs no more than $10,000; cheaper than an hour’s flying time by a Fleet Air Arm helicopter.
- After months of wrangling, India will sign a final agreement for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighters within the next three weeks. France had initially wanted over $12 billion for the sale, but negotiations over the last number of months have resulted in a drop to $8.8 billion. The first lot of deliveries will not take place for another 18 months. India’s air force replacement of its older fighters is part of an effort to effectively check the capabilities of Pakistan and China.
- North Korea tried to launch a BM-25 Musudan road mobile intermediate-range ballistic missile to mark the birthday of the country’s founder, Kim Il Sung. It failed: