B-21 Gets its Official Name Today | Qatar-Kuwait Fighter Deal Back on Agenda | Israeli Ofek-11 Recon Satellite Transmits Malfunction After Successful LaunchSep 19, 2016 00:58 UTC
- 13 USAF and 2 Norwegian F-35As have been grounded due to “peeling and crumbling” insulation on cooling lines inside their fuel tanks. The discoveries were made during routine maintenance checks on the aircraft in order to have the fighter’s status upgraded to initial operational capability. While Lockheed Martin works with several suppliers that are responsible for manufacturing the coolant lines, the issue has been traced back to the insulated coolant tubes manufactured by one particular unnamed provider that have only been installed in the wing fuel tanks of the 15 aircraft in question.
- Deborah Lee James will unveil the name of the new B-21 stealth bomber today. The USAF Secretary will make the announcement during her State of the Force address at the Air Force Association’s Annual Air, Space and Cyber conference. It’s believed that the winning name harks back to the aircraft’s roots and is inspired by World War II bombers.
Middle East & North Africa
- Following the completion of negotiations over the US-Israeli defense aid package last week, the long awaited multi-billion fighter sale to Qatar and Kuwait may be nearing completion. Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Bob Corker, was happy with the “consummation” of the aid deal and that the Gulf fighter sales are finally to be allowed to progress. Much speculation has surrounded the Gulf fighter deals’ delay, now in their third year, with many believing that it has been held up to maintain Israel’s legally mandated qualitative military edge.
- A recently released White House fact sheet on US military aid has revealed that Israel is to get ten F-15Ds under the excess defense articles program. Eight F-15s have been delivered so far, and are primarily used as a training aircraft but can also take part in air-to-air combat. Other excess articles given by the Obama administration to Israel include several Lockheed Martin C-130 cargo aircraft, AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and joint direct attack munitions.
- Israel sent its newest reconnaissance satellite, Ofek-11, into orbit on September 13, but it is already running into difficulties. Within hours of the launch, the satellite transmitted back home that it had developed some sort of malfunction. Since then, the satellite has continued to transmit back messages on the state of its health, with the Israeli media reporting that the spacecraft is not totally lost, and work continues to troubleshoot the on board issue.
- Angola, Mali, Nigeria and Sudan are to receive refurbished Russian Mi-8/17 and Mi-24/35 helicopters in 2017 according to Russian media sources. Yury Demchenko, the head of Rosoboronexport’s delegation to the Africa Aerospace & Defense (AAD) Expo stated that the sales were part of a trend for African governments to seek inexpensive equipment, particularly used equipment. While Africa accounts for a small percentage of Russian weapons sales, Rosboronexport’s export statistics point to a growth in African markets over the last several years, not only in sub-Saharan Africa, but in northern Africa as well.
- The Pakistani-Chinese JF-17 fighter will be making its way to Nigeria after a memorandum of understanding was signed at this year’s AAD. While the exact amount of the fighters has yet to be revealed, further details on the deal are expected to be announced in November during the IDEAS show in Karachi, Pakistan. Nigerian budget allocations released in January, however, earmarked $25 million for three JF-17s, with approximately half that amount made available for the acquisition of ten PAC Super Mushshak basic trainers.
- Britain’s armed forces have been slammed by the recently retired head of the country’s Joint Forces Command, General Sir Richard Barrons. Describing what he saw as “a withered force,” Barrons warned the the fighting branches have lost much of their ability to fight conventional wars. Taking aim at the ruling Conservative Party’s defense policies he pointing to a series of “profoundly difficult” strategic challenges that are being sidestepped as Whitehall (UK center of government) focuses on “skinning” budgets and delivering costly but increasingly redundant big-ticket military projects.
Launch of Israel’s Ofek-11 reconnaissance satellite: