The MQ-8B deployed on board USS Coronado (LCS-4) is the first to be equipped with the new AN/ZPY-4(V)1 radar. Previously, the unmanned helicopter was fitted with the RDR-1700 maritime surveillance radar under an urgent requirement. Compared to the previous radar, the AN/ZPY-4(V)1 will increase the search area of the LCS, improving the ability to simultaneously track up to 150 targets and increase detection accuracies out to 70 nautical miles.
Gabon is considering doubling the size of its transport fleet by revamping an early B model C-130. The 1976-built aircraft (TR-KKB) is currently at the Alverca facility of Portuguese maintenance and overhaul specialist OGMA, following its recovery from the African state after being grounded for eight years. OGMA has now sent a proposal to the government for upgrades which would see the installation of new avionics and a glass cockpit, as well as the replacement of several structural parts, including outer wing-caps and the 6m (19.7ft)-long sloping longerons at the rear of the aircraft.
Middle East North Africa
After several months of frosty relations, Turkey and Russia have resumed bilateral ties including coordination on the fight against terrorism. Tensions between Ankara and Moscow have been high since the former’s shooting down of a Russian fighter accused of invading Turkish airspace last November. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan expressed regret for the incident on Wednesday and the Kremlin announced that Vladimir Putin said he would order the government to start talks with Turkey on resuming “mutually advantageous” trade relations and to drop restrictive measures on Russian tourists visiting Turkey.
Germany’s Ministry of Defense has reached an agreement with Israel Air Industries (IAI) over the lease of five Heron TP unmanned aerial vehicles. The $666 million deal will see the drones become operational in 2018. A previous deal to lease drones to Germany was specifically intended for aerial intelligence-gathering missions; however, the Heron’s are capable of carrying payloads of up to one ton.
An investigation by Norwegian authorities into an Airbus helicopter crash in April has found that the incident was probably the result of metal fatigue in the aircraft’s gearbox. All 13 people on board were killed when the Super Puma’s main rotor blades separated from the aircraft as it was ferrying passengers from a Norwegian offshore oil platform operated by Statoil. Previous Super Puma incidents linked to gearbox problems include a 2009 crash off Peterhead, Scotland, in which the rotor also flew off and 16 people died.
BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman, and the Defence Electronics and Components Agency (DECA) are to team up to bid for a significant long-term deal to become the avionics sustainment hub for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in Europe. The UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed the involvement of BAE and Northrop Grumman, but declined to say anything about whether DECA, the British state-owned components repair operation, would have a role; however, due to US government insistence, some avionics repairs on the jet here are only undertaken by UK government employees.
The US Army has awarded a number of contracts to companies for the Afghanistan Intelligence Services supporting US Forces in Afghanistan. BAE Systems and Six3 Intelligence Solutions were given $31 million and $28.6 million deals respectively with work to be carried out in Afghanistan, and will last until January 9, 2017.
Four types of aircraft operated by the Indian Air Force are to receive the latest version of Rafael’s Litening targeting pod as part of a larger $500 million deal between India and Israel. The improved system has been equipped with upgraded infrared cameras and a charge-coupled device color camera to help identify targets on the ground, particularly in dense areas. Furthermore, the new pod doubles as a surveillance and reconnaissance system in addition to being a targeting pod.
VMA-211 is set to become the second operational F-35B squadron and the first unit to transition from the AV-8B Harrier on Jun. 30:
Lockheed Martin’s AN/TPQ-53 counter-battery radar has proven that it can be used to detect unmanned aerial vehicles alongside its usual task of detecting incoming artillery and rocket fire. The company announced the success following testing carried out by the US Army as part of its Maneuver and Fires Integration Experiment (MFIX) at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Conducted annually, the MFIX exercise brings together military, industry and academia to assess solutions to future warfighting needs in a live environment.
The USAF has released an infographic revealing that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter scored an 8:0 kill ratio against the F-15E during mock air combat. Using combat-coded F-35As from Hill Air Force Base, the simulations were part of the evaluation process needed in order to declare the jet to be initially operationally capable. The seven fighters used also demonstrated their ability to carry out basic close air support and limited SEAD/DEAD missions with crews attaining a 100% sortie generation rate with 88 of 88 planned sorties and a 94% hit rate with 15 of 16 GBU-12 bombs on target.
Sikorsky has achieved a key USMC requirement with the CH-53K King Stallion by successfully flying 100ft above the ground with a 12,250kg (27,000lb) payload. Due to replace the CH-53E Super Stallion, the new helicopter promises better range and triple the E model’s payload in hot weather conditions, as well as flight-by-wire flight controls designed to reduce pilot workload in degraded visual environments. While successful testing has the CH-53K currently on track, it hasn’t always been plain sailing with gearbox trouble delaying its first flight for a year.
Middle East North Africa
Monday’s rapprochement deal between Turkey and Israel is unlikely to trigger near-term resumption of defense trade or bilateral military cooperation. The agreement shows a normalization of relations after the 2010 Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla which left eight Turks and an American citizen of Turkish origin dead. However, a return to major defense cooperation between the two which saw a peak between 1998-2005 is unlikely amid Turkey’s rising Islamist policies and ongoing tension with Egypt, Jordan and many Arabian Gulf states.
Belgium has sent six F-16s to Jordan to aid in operations against Islamic State targets. This will be Belgium’s second rotation of F-16s to Jordan, the first lasting from October 2014 to June 2015. While the last time saw the jets target militants in Iraq, the second deployment will see operations expanded to targets in Syria. This is the first military action the country has taken since IS carried out terrorist attacks against Brussels’ airport and metro system.
Development of Russia’s S-350 air-defense system prototype is almost complete and is already undergoing trials, according to senior military commander Sergey Babakov. The system will replace the older S-300PS as the Armed Force’s middle-range air-defense capability. Capable of being activated in five minutes, Russia aims to have 30 in operation by 2020.
Testing of a Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) system operated by Taiwan is to be carried out at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico next month. This marks the first time Taiwan has fired the new system and reasoning behind having it in the US is to avoid China collecting information about it and due to airspace restrictions in Taiwan. Scheduled for early July, the tests will see two missiles being fired to intercept a target simulating a ballistic missile.
Japan has issued a Request For Information (RFI) for three alternatives to replace the F-2: a new fighter type, modifying an existing one, or importing. However, concepts devised by the Defense Ministry suggest Tokyo is leaning towards a new fighter as it wanted a large, twin-engine jet with long endurance, and internal carriage of six big air-to-air missiles. Unfortunately, no current fighter in service or development in the West satisfies those demands, leaving China’s Chengdu J-20 the closest to what Japan wants.
First flight test of the BrahMos missile on an Indian Su-30MKI:
The USAF has F-35 supply chain, impacting the workshare strategy that forms the backbone for the international fleet of the Lockheed Martin-designed fighter. Reasoning for inquiring about such a switch comes as the service looks to the ACES 5 as a potential risk mitigation step if additional things happen as we go through the testing of the Martin-Baker seat.
The US Navy is to conduct live-fire testing this September utlizing an F-35 to provide sensor data in order for an SM-6 anti-air missile to destroy its target. The demonstration comes as the service attempts to expand its Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air (NIFC-CA) architecture with more sensors and weapons in order to tweak the system from a primarily anti-air sole to a secondary anti-surface capability.
Contracts to secure up to 500 military and civilian vehicles for the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) are close to completion with Indian manufacturer Ashok Leyland. The MDF are currently looking to procure personnel carriers, light trucks, fuel tankers, field ambulances, water bowsers, buses, and other logistics vehicles to replace their Tata-made military fleet, which was also acquired from India in 2006. Although the deal is not without controversy, as the selection of Ashok Leyland, without going through a tender process, has led to calls for the country’s Anti-Corruption Bureau to probe how the Indian company landed the deal.
Following the British public’s decision to leave the European Union (EU) following its “Brexit” referendum, analysts and industry now have to wonder on the implications on the country’s defense and aerospace sector. With NATO, not the EU considered the bedrock of European defence and security IHS Janes proposes the UK vote will overall be fairly balanced and relatively limited for both the UK and the rest of the EU. Much, however, depends upon the way Europe reacts to the event. Furthermore, a potential second Independence referendum in Scotland, a population predominantly in favor of the EU, could have a profound effect on the UK’s military capabilities, not least over the question of the future of the nuclear submarine base at Faslane, Scotland.
While the lifting of the US arms embargo on Vietnam may have led some to believe there would be an immediate rush to purchase US hardware, Hanoi seems more interested in acquiring weaponry from Japan instead. Kawasaki Heavy Industries’s P-3C maritime patrol aircraft, a license built version of the Lockheed Martin P-3 Orion, is currently being swapped out for the newer indigenous P-1 and offers a cheaper alternative to getting them second-hand from Lockheed Martin. Another advantage Vietnam hopes to tap into is Japan’s expertise in operating the P-3. The JMSDF has deployed its P-3s to Danang, Vietnam for exercises, and the Vietnamese have experience working with Japanese crew.
India’s defense procurement agency has cleared a proposal to purchase 145 M777 Ultra Lightweight Howitzer artillery guns from BAE Systems. As part of the $750 million deal, some 120 of the 145 guns Su-30 MKI fighter in India’s Air Force fleet has carried the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile for the first time, marking a key milestone toward the eventual deployment of the capability. The 2,500kg missile was carried during a 45 minute sortie from the Hindustan Aeronautics airport in Bengaluru on the first of two Su-30s to be integrated with the munition for testing. With the capability of being launched from air, land and sea, the air variant contains larger fins to help with stability when separating from an aircraft.
A USMC plan to equip their AN/TWQ-1 Avenger low-altitude air defense units with a 30-kilowatt laser weapon is progressing well. The Office of Naval Research is spearheading the Ground-Based Air Defense (GBAD) Directed Energy On-The-Move concept demonstrator program – which is able to start phase 3 testing. Once the development program is completed around 2022, it will enter as a program of record for the Marines and likely reside alongside the Stinger missile system as a ground unit self-protection system – giving those units a much-needed upgrade after operating with the Stinger for decades.
Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $357 million contract for Advanced Electronic Guidance and Instrumentation System (AEGIS) in-service combat systems for several nations. The contract will see the company provide computer program maintenance, annual inspection and regular overhaul execution support, in-country support, and staging. Replacement of legacy cathode ray tube character readout devices for Japan, logistics depot support for Norway unique line replaceable unit, and AEGIS implementation studies for future Foreign Military Sales (FMS) AEGIS shipbuilding programs to fulfill AEGIS lifetime support requirements of the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force, Republic of Korea Navy, Spanish Armada, Royal Australian Navy, and Royal Norwegian Navy. Completion is expected for November 2019.
The US Office of Naval Research is to commence testing its swarming UAV concept at sea next month. Referred to as the Low-Cost UAV Swarming Technology (LOCUST), the system consists of thirty Coyote unmanned aircraft systems all launched rapidly and flown together. The swarming technology allows the drones to relate to each other spatially and fly their swarm formations with minimal human direction or intervention, which Mastroianni noted is key for practical and efficient unmanned technology that decreases the warfighter’s burden.
Middle East North Africa
Contracts have been signed between Qatar and Pakistan, confirming the former’s purchase of the PAC Super Mushshak basic trainer. The sale was concluded three months after Pakistan displayed the aircraft, along with the JF-17, at a demonstration at the Qatar Air Show. A Pakistan Air Force spokesperson commented that a number of other nations were also interested in Pakistani aircraft, however failed to mention anyone by name.
Airbus is in consultations with the German Ministry of Defense over a study into the replacement of the Panavia Tornado fighter-bomber. According to Alberto Gutierrez, Airbus Group’s head of Eurofighter and combat aircraft program, the company will not be able to offer a new fighter built from scratch and any proposal will involve having components recycled from the Eurofighter. The Tornado would not be replaced until the 2030s.
Work is being carried out on integrating the Russian Zagon-2 depth charge on the Mi-14 anti-submarine helicopter. The Zagon-2 antisubmarine corrected air bomb is designed to engage submarines on the sea surface, under periscope and deep down. At 1.5 meters long, the munition was originally designed to be carried by the Ka-28 but can also be dropped by the Il-38 and Tu-148 aircraft.
India has issued a Letter of Request (LoR) to the US government over the potential purchase of 22 General Atomics Guardians, a maritime patrol variant of the MQ-9 Predator B. A letter of acceptance from the US will follow later in the year which will trigger the commencement of price negotiations over the UAVs with a final contract to be signed sometime in 2017-18. It is unclear, however, whether the Indian Navy will acquire the non-weaponized Guardian variant – featuring intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities – the weaponized one, or both.
Leondardo Helicopters is in talks with the Japanese government over the potential sale of a further 12 AW101 helicopters for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. Tokyo already operates seven of an eventual 11-strong fleet of the heavy helicopters configured for minesweeping missions, designated as the MCH-101, plus two of an eventual three CH-101 utility transports. Giovanni Soccodato, Leonardo’s executive vice-president for strategies, markets, and business development, said the company was “close to finalizing” a new contract with the Japanese.
Latest updates[?]: Leondardo Helicopters is in talks with the Japanese government over the potential sale of a further 12 AW101 helicopters for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. Tokyo already operates seven of an eventual 11-strong fleet of the heavy helicopters configured for minesweeping missions, designated as the MCH-101, plus two of an eventual three CH-101 utility transports. Giovanni Soccodato, Leonardo’s executive vice-president for strategies, markets, and business development, said the company was “close to finalizing” a new contract with the Japanese.
MCH-101 AMCM concept
Japan is a trading and shipping power, so it isn’t unreasonable for them to be very concerned about mines. Helicopters are an important adjunct to Japan’s large fleet of 25+ minesweeping ships, and can even serve as a substitute in some situations. Japan’s fleet of 11 MCH-101 airborne mine counter-measures helicopters are closely derived from AgustaWestland’s 3-engined AW101 heavy maritime helicopter, and most are being built in Japan under license by Kawasaki. Mission equipment will include the AN/AQS-24A mine hunting side scan sonar, the AN/AES-1 airborne laser mine detection system, and the MK-104 acoustic minesweeping system.
ECH-101s have good range, and can operate from shore. As an alternative, they can be embarked aboard Japanese ships, especially the JMSDF’s 19,000 ton Hyuga Class “helicopter destroyers” (LPH anywhere else).
2010 – 2016
DDH-181 Hyuga & USN’s LHD-2, post-tsunami (click to view entire)
June 27/16: Leondardo Helicopters is in talks with the Japanese government over the potential sale of a further 12 AW101 helicopters for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. Tokyo already operates seven of an eventual 11-strong fleet of the heavy helicopters configured for minesweeping missions, designated as the MCH-101, plus two of an eventual three CH-101 utility transports. Giovanni Soccodato, Leonardo’s executive vice-president for strategies, markets, and business development, said the company was “close to finalizing” a new contract with the Japanese.
June 18/13: Northrop Grumman announces that they’ve has delivered the 1st of 4 AQS-24A airborne mine-hunting sonars to the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (q.v. July 11/12). The 1st ALMDS wide-area laser mine detection system is slated for delivery “later this summer.”
There’s always a follow-on period of training and tactics development, so it will be a little while before Japan can make full use of these new capabilities. NGC.
Nov 6/12: MEDAL. Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) announces that Japan has picked its Mine Warfare and Environmental Decision Aids Library (MEDAL) counter-mine software control system, for installation into the corresponding ground system for the JMSDF’s MCH-101 helicopters. MEDAL has played a similar role in the US Navy since the mid-1990s, and the USN’s compatible MEDAL system performs the same mission planning, evaluation, and command and control functions.
SAIC will be assisting with engineering and training services as MEDAL is integrated within NEC Corporation’s broader MCH-101 ground support system.
July 11/12: AQS-24. Northrop Grumman Corporation announces follow-on contracts by the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) to supply 3 more AQS-24A airborne mine hunting systems, plus ground-based support equipment. The AN/AQS-24 is a towed sonar with an accompanying laser line scanner for optical identification, and the sonar and laser both operate at the same time. It’s deployed from the rear ramp of helicopters like the US Navy’s MH-53s, and the JMSDF will use all 4 systems ordered to date on its new MCH-101 helicopters.
The award of the airborne electronics work marks the culmination of a technology transition that allows some local manufacturing in Japan, and will eventually enable the JMSDF to provide full logistics support for the AQS-24A systems. Additional follow-on efforts for more systems, electronics and support equipment are anticipated in 2013, and will continue until the JMSDF reaches its full operational inventory objective. NGC.
AQS-24 detection sonars
Feb 2/12: ALMDS. Japan becomes the AN/AES-1 ALMDS’ first export customer, buying 4 of the laser mine detection pods to equip its MCH-101 (AW101) medium-heavy naval helicopters. Northrop Grumman will work with Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd., and Fujitsu Ltd. on delivery and installation.
ALMDS uses a fan-shaped beam of laser light detection and ranging (LIDAR) to detect, classify and localize near-surface moored sea mines. The forward motion of the helicopter sweeps the light over the water in a “push broom” manner, and 4 cameras are arranged to cover the same swath illuminated by the laser fan beam. As images are received by the system, an automatic target recognition algorithm picks out potential mine-like objects and stores their images for later classification by fleet operators, using computer-aided post-mission analysis tools. The new system has had some trouble in American tests with false positives, but Japan has worked with Northrop Grumman for a long time, and seems willing to go ahead anyway. Northrop Grumman | Read more in “LCS & MH-60S Mine Counter-Measures Continue Development“.
ALMDS laser mine detection pods
Oct 24/11: AQS-24. Northrop Grumman announces that its AN/AQS-24 towed mine-hunting sonar has been “competitively selected” by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. Under the initial contract, Northrop Grumman’s Undersea Systems business unit will deliver 1 system to Kawasaki Heavy Industries, for integration into Japan’s new Airborne Mine Countermeasures MCH-101 helicopter.
The AQS-24 is currently deployed aboard the US Navy’s even larger MH-53E mine hunting helicopters.
1994 – 2009
From initial teaming through 1st delivery; 1st assembled in Japan MCH-101.
MCH-101 click for video
June 17/09: Local spares.AgustaWestland announces an agreement with Marubeni Aerospace Corporation of Tokyo, Japan to establish a local MCH-101/ CH-101 Spare Parts Depot. That will certainly cut turnaround time for spares.
The Spare Parts Depot has been privately funded and will operate initially for a period of 5 years.
March 26/07: Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) has delivered the JMSDF’s 1st licence-built MCH-101. It’s the first EH101/AW101 to be assembled outside AgustaWestland’s production facilities in Italy and the UK, and has 35% local content. Flight International.
March 2006: Japan takes delivery of its 1st MCH-101. It was assembled at AgustaWestland’s Yeovil, UK plan before undergoing conversion at Kawasaki Heavy Industries’ Gifu works. Source.
1st MCH-101 delivery
2003: The first of 14 MCH-101 (Airborne Mine Counter Measures, 11) and CH-101 (Antarctic Support, 3) helicopters was delivered to the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force. Subsequent releases indicate that it was a CH-101. Source.
1st AW101 delivery
2002: The ECH-101 partners enter into a general consultancy and distributorship agreement for the promotion and sales of the AW101. Source.
1994: Teaming agreement signed by AgustaWestland, Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Marubeni to compete for Japan’s mine warfare helicopter needs. Source.
The US Navy has announced the operational testing of an MQ-4C, which successfully transmitted full motion video to a P-8A via the Common Data Link (CDL). During the flight, the UAV had to use its electro-optical/infrared camera to build situational awareness of its environment before the P-8A arrived at the scene. The MQ-4C Triton’s ability to perform persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance within a range of 2,000 nautical miles will allow the P-8A aircraft to focus on their core missions.
Boeing has thrown in a sweetener for Canada if it were to select the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighters as the replacement for its CF-18 fleet by including civil aviation work opportunities for Canadian firms. Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government promised during last year’s election that it would launch an open CF-18 replacement competition, and pledged not to buy Lockheed Martin’s F-35 jets as the previous Conservative government had planned to do. In response to the F-35 slight, Lockheed Martin warned that they may shift work on the F-35 away from Canadian firms amid the uncertainty.
Delivery of the the final T-6B has been completed with the Navy now in possession of 148 of the trainer. The final model was delivered to the Training Air Wing 5 at Naval Air Station Whiting Field on June 21. Replacing the aging T-34 Turbomentor fleet, the T-6B has twice the performance power compared to T-34 and came equipped with a digital (glass) cockpit display, heads-up display, and ejection seat.
The Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) C-1 has been delivered to the US Navy for operational use after the munition cleared the Initial Operational Capability (IOC) stage earlier this month. This newest iteration of JSOW is integrated with a Link 16 network radio, enabling the weapon to engage moving targets at sea. The radio allows the launch aircraft or another designated controller to provide real-time target updates to the weapon, reassign it to another target, or to abort the mission.
Middle East North Africa
Israeli Air Force chief, Brig. Gen. Tal Kelman, says his service needs 75 Lockheed Martin F-35s. At present, 35 F-35A models have been ordered with new Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman committing to a further 17 of the Joint Strike Fighter. Kelman however is in favor of acquiring a further 25 F-35s with the possibility of adding a number of the fighter’s B variant to assist in other operational tasks despite it not being capable of carrying as many munitions.
Ukraine is looking to increase its defensive capabilities with plans to purchase radars and anti-drone weaponry from the US. This will add to Humvees, unarmed Raven UAVs and other equipment already supplied by the Pentagon. However, Kiev has yet to be supplied with more advanced technologies and lethal weaponry such as the anti-tank Javelin missile due to fears expressed by former secretary of defense Chuck Hagel that Ukraine’s military is not sophisticated enough to operate them. To counter this, Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, vice prime minister of Ukraine for European and Euro-Atlantic integration recently visited Washington to discuss increased military support and arms transfers which included a meeting with under secretary of state for arms control and international security Rose Gottemoeller.
North Korean hard man Kim Jong Un has claimed the hermit kingdom is capable of attacking US targets in the Pacific following its latest round of launches of its intermediate-range Musudan missile. The missile, which is fired from mobile launchers, has a design range of more than 3,000 km, meaning all of Japan and the US territory of Guam are potentially within reach. Meanwhile, Japanese authorities have begun examining the suspected nose cone of a rocket that washed up on a Japanese beach hoping to glean information on the reclusive North’s missile program.
A series of shipbuilding and force modernization programs has been announced by the Taiwanese Navy which will see $14.7 billion spent on indigenous development over the next 24 years. The purpose of the program is to wean Taiwan off expensive and politically troublesome US defense acquisitions which often sparks trouble with neighboring China. Big ticket items include a Taiwan Aegis destroyer and frigate, submarine, high-speed minelayer, landing platform dock (LPD), 11 additional stealthy Tuo Jiang-class missile corvette catamarans, and multi-purpose transport. Other programs include more AAV7s, a type of assault amphibious vehicle, for the Taiwanese Marine Corps, underwater swimmer delivery vehicles for special forces, and assorted weapons for special forces.
US AH-64 and South Korean AH-1S attack helicopters in joint exercise:
Raytheon has been awarded a $28 million contract to ensure that the firm’s AIM-120 AMRAAM can be integrated onto various Air Force and Navy aircraft. Platforms on which the munition will be integrated include the F-16 Block 30, F-35, F-15 Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System; F-16 Active Electronically Scanned Array; AMRAAM Real Time Integration Simulator; and multiple F/A-18 configurations. Work is expected to be completed by January 30, 2020.
The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) could see its first export order, with the UK currently in talks with the Pentagon over a potential Foreign Military Sale. If agreed, the vehicles would be acquired as part of the MoD’s Multi-Role Vehicle-Protected (MRV-P) program under its package one requirement, the smallest for carrying troops and other light duties. Package two involves larger troop carrying and battlefield ambulance vehicles with package 3 involving light protected recovery vehicles.
Middle East North Africa
Turkey is to install new indigenously developed air-defense systems around a southern province to counter rocket attacks launched by Islamic State militants operating in neighboring Syria. The systems being put in place include the counter-mortar radar known as Serhat and the Korkut self-propelled air-defense gun which is capable of firing 1,100 rounds per minute. In addition, two batteries of Aselsan’s High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) will be installed in the Kilis area to operate with scores of drones.
The Russian Ministry of Defense has announced a successful test-firing of the A-135 anti-ballistic missile interceptor by the Russian Aerospace Forces from the Sary-Shagan missile testing site in Kazakhstan. According to the ministry’s statement, the test was conducted to “to verify performance characteristics of ABMs operated by the Air Force.” Originally developed by the Soviet Union in the 1970s, Russia carries out periodic tests on the A-135 system in Kazakhstan, known for its vast empty spaces ideal for missile tests and space landings.
France has received delivery of its first A400M aircraft with tactical capabilities from Airbus. While the delivery is number nine of an eventual 50 A400s, aircraft MSN33 is the first with the ability to participate in missions such as airdrops and includes the addition of cockpit armor and defensive aids system equipment, plus clearance for the Atlas to transfer and receive fuel in-flight. It’s expected that two more such aircraft will be delivered by the end of the year, and three already in service will be upgraded with such features.
Eurofighter is to target fresh export sales of the Typhoon fighter as the consortium announced deliveries of 47 of the multi-role aircraft in the 12 months running up to May. A backlog of 106 deliveries now remain, with orders from Germany, Italy, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Spain and the UK. Targets for the fighter include campaigns with Indonesia and Malaysia, several European nations and a watchful eye is being kept on the ongoing situation in Canada.
Singapore has announced that it is to delay its decision on which helicopter will replace its Super Puma fleet. News of the postponement comes following the crash of an H225M in Norway, and while the helicopter was a civilian model, the military version is believed to be the front runner in the replacement program. According to anonymous sources talking to Reuters, a new tender for the $1 billion acquisition is not being considered.
Taiwan’s IDF fighter has been armed with CBU-100 cluster bombs after a photograph of a fighter was posted on the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science & Technology (NCSIST) webpage. The aircraft pictured was one of the two prototype aircraft that participated in the Hsiang Sheng upgrade program. As a non-member of the United Nations, Taiwan is not a signatory of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
Raytheon’s high powered microwave demonstrator capable of disabling the electronics on small UAVs is reported to have gained renewed interest from Department of Defense contractors. This follows the successful 2013 test of the system’s capabilities on an Army site. The system is the ground-based cousin to Raytheon’s computer-frying missile, the Counter-electronics High Power Microwave Advanced Missile Project (CHAMP) and also resembles the active denial system’s configuration, including its reflector and steering mirror, but with a different mission set.
Middle East North Africa
Turkey’s strongman President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that his country’s shipbuilding industry is capable of constructing its own indigenous aircraft carrier. Erdogan made the claims in a speech at a launching ceremony at the Istanbul Naval Shipyard. However any ambitious plans to start such a development won’t begin until the completion and delivery of TCG Anadolu, a planned amphibious assault ship being built by the Sedef–Navantia consortium.
The US State Department has cleared potential foreign military sale (FMS) for AC-208 sustainment, logistics, and spares support to the government of Iraq. Contained in the $181 million deal is a five-year sustainment package for its AC/RC-208 fleet that includes: operational, intermediate, and depot-level maintenance; spare parts; component repair; publication updates; maintenance training; and logistics. This will allow the Iraqi Air Force (IqAF) to continue to operate its fleet of eight C-208 light attack and Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft beyond the June 2016 end of its existing CLS contract.
Italy has landed its largest ever export deal after signing contracts with Qatar to provide seven naval vessels from Italy’s Fincantieri shipyard. The deal is estimated to be worth between $3.8 to $4.28 billion. According to Italian officials, the Gulf nation also signed a pre-contract agreement, or “Letter of Award” with European missile house MBDA to supply Exocet and Aster 30 missiles worth €1 billion to equip the vessels, with a contract to follow “within weeks.”
Aviastar-SP – a subsidiary of United Aircraft Corporation (UAC)- has been looking at various alternatives to replace the aging Russian-Ukrainian An-124 cargo plane. The company’s managing director, Andrey Kapustin, told RIA Novosti that the project is still in the conception stage. Production of the An-124 has been suspended amid the ongoing tensions between Russia and Ukraine following the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014 and accusations by Ukraine that Moscow is meddling in its conflict in the eastern Donbas region.
Airbus believes that it has found a solution to its A400M tactical transport incapability of refueling helicopters in flight. Tests conducted on the company’s H225 helicopter revealed that the rotorcraft’s proximity to its T-tail meant that the air-to-air refueling activity could not be safely completed using a standard, 24.4m (80ft)-long hose. The potential solution, still awaiting tests, involves using a stiffer hose that is more narrow in diameter which will result in a slower refueling time.
Japan’s military was on alert for a possible North Korean ballistic missile launch, a government source said on Tuesday, with media reporting its navy and anti-missile Patriot batteries have been told to shoot down any projectile heading for Japan. The alarm was raised when Pyongyang appeared to have moved an intermediate-range missile to its east coast, but there were no signs of an imminent launch according to South Korean sources. Tension in the region has been high since isolated North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test in January and followed that with a satellite launch and test launches of various missiles.
Polish F-16 fighters escorting Chinese President Xi Jinping on his state visit:
The US may have left Iraq in 2012, but that country is a long way from being able to police its own airspace. The country’s air defenses involve just 2 airspace surveillance radars and 3 air-traffic-control radars, plus some Saddam-era anti-aircraft guns. In addition shoddy maintenance jeopardizes a small air fleet, though Iraq’s only armed aircraft are Cessna AC-208Bs.
Their first serious defensive systems will be short-range Pantsir S1 systems from Russia, but now an official export request outlines the backbone of Iraq’s future air defense architecture. If it’s installed, it would give them “a baseline tactical radar and threat intercept capability” with missiles, and eventually with their F-16IQ fighters.
Sikorsky has announced that its VH-92A Marine One helicopter is on track to fly by Spring 2017. The company was selected to design a replacement for the aging fleet of current presidential helicopters in 2014 after a cancelled attempt by Lockheed Martin/AgustaWestland which saw ballooned costs and requirements running out of control. Up next for the VH-92A program is the subsystem critical design review of the helicopter at the end of next month, and that is expected to take place earlier than scheduled.
Members of the International Association of Machinist and Aerospace Workers District Lodge 776, who represent a significant portion of Lockheed Martin workers at the company’s Fort Worth plant, have voted in favor of strike action. At present, both the union and Lockheed are in negotiations to replace the current four-year contract which is due to expire on July 10. Union members are asking for an extended five year contract and a 38% pay increase.
Middle East North Africa
Four Israeli pilots are to travel to the US next month to undergo F-35 training at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. The training will be ground-based and the men will only fly the real aircraft back in Israel. It is expected that 12 pilots will have completed their training by the middle of 2017.
Pressure is mounting on the Pentagon to approve the sale of F/A-18 Super Hornets to Kuwait though US Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has warned that his service will have to pay more to buy the F/A-18 due to cost increases. According to Mabus, Boeing needs more orders so that it can keep producing the fighter at an economical rate as the 16 slated for Fiscal year 2017 are not enough to ensure optimum production. Kuwait has been waiting over a year for approval for 28 fighters in a deal estimated to cost $3 billion.
Turkish police reports believe that militants belonging to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) have access to up to 50 Man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS). Three reports from late May were seen by Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet and included warnings that the systems could be used to target Turkey’s Cobra helicopters. The news comes following the release of footage of a PKK militant successfully targeting and shooting down a Turkish helicopter.
The Norwegian government has published a whitepaper outlining their Long Term Plan for the Norwegian Armed Forces between the years 2017-2020. Included in the document is a plan to acquire new maritime patrol aircraft and a long-range air defense system to complement the current NASAMS 2 such as the AMRAAM-ER currently developed by Raytheon. $19.7 billion has been set aside for the purchases.
United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) has announced that its Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA is now ready for mass production. According to Russian newspaper Izvestia, the fifth generation fighter almost fully meets the requirements of the military’s combat capabilities. UAC is also currently preparing a proposal to be submitted to the Russian Ministry of Defense on starting serial production.
South Korea’s government has completed its own investigation into the botched attempt to upgrade the Korean Air Force F-16 with BAE Systems as contractor. According to the investigation, its Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) failed to heed warning from the Pentagon and broke US foreign military sales (FMS) by having selected the vendor and negotiated the price via competitive bidding. The incident has delayed the program by four-years and incurred a loss of $89 million.
A Japanese Air Self-Defense Force F-15J firing off its M61 Vulcan gatling cannon during a mock intercept mission: