NG to Help in Development of SHiELD | Dubai Testing Ways of Tracking Drones to Avoid Flight Disruptions | UK MoD Selects Bidders for Challenger 2 LEPNov 04, 2016 00:58 UTC
- After much wrangling, Lockheed Martin and the Pentagon have concluded negotiations on the ninth lot of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program with a unilateral agreement that will see 57 jets produced for $6.1 billion. At $107 million per plane, this is the lowest price per plane thus far. The deal will give profit margin certainty to Lockheed and its partners who have been producing the jet under a placeholder agreement known as an “undefinitized contract action,” something the company would have preferred to not have to deal with. Lockheed said that the latest lot is “not a mutually agreed upon contract, it was a unilateral contract action, which obligates us to perform under standard terms and conditions, and previously agreed-to items.” Lot ten negotiations, for 94 aircraft, are still underway.
- Northrop Grumman will help to develop a directed energy laser system for self-protection of next-gen jets for the USAF. The Air Force Research Laboratory contract has tasked the company to develop and produce the beam control piece of an airborne laser weapon demonstration array that the laboratory is developing as part of the Self-Protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHiELD) program. Testing is to begin in 2019. The laser would reside in a pod that could be attached to fighter-sized aircraft, with the system tested on aircraft flying at supersonic speed.
Middle East & North Africa
- Following a number of high-profile drone incidents, Dubai is testing out ways to detect and track drones in order to prevent them from disrupting flights at its airport. Trials are currently underway to create a tracking system to detect the real-time location of any nearby drone and the radio frequency on which it is being operated. Other measures suggested by aviation associations representing airlines, pilots and airports across Europe have called for mandatory registration and training of drone users following a number of near-misses.
- Consortiums led by BAE Systems and Rheinmetall have been selected by the the UK MoD for the assessment phase of the Challenger 2 life extension project (LEP). Both groups were selected as the preferred bidders by the government, aimed at modernizing up to 227 of the aging Challenger 2 tanks currently in service with the British Army. Two $23 million contracts for the assessment phase are expected before the end of the year for a 24-month assessment program ahead of selection of a winning proposal in 2019. The winners stand to earn $802 million from the project.
- An F-16 with the 416th Flight Test Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base, USA, is carrying out risk-mitigation testing of the Joint Strike Missile (JSM), a fifth-generation, long-range, precision-guided, stand-off missile system designed by Kongsberg Defence Systems and being developed for the Norwegian armed forces. While the weapon will be eventually integrated on Norwegian F-35s, testing on the F-16 will allow for easier integration on the next-generation stealth fighter. The JSM is designed to be carried in the F-35A’s internal weapons bay and is the only powered, anti-surface warfare missile to do so according to Norwegian officials.
- The German high court will soon rule on Germany’s decision to lease a Heron TP UAV from IAI, following legal action mounted by rival bidder General Atomics Aeronautical Systems. Berlin decided earlier this year to lease the Israeli-made drone based on previous experience with the Heron I but met opposition from GA based on the fact that the decision was made without a competition. German sources have called the legal action “a very rude intervention in Germany’s sovereignty.”
- A Chinese company is to receive three Russian helicopters following an announcement at the Airshow China 2016. Jiangsu Baoli Aviation Equipment Co. is set to receive Mi-171A and Ka-32 helicopters as well as an Ansat light helicopter in a medevac configuration. Delivery is slated for next year.
- India is expected to announce its new blacklisting policy for foreign defense companies guilty of corruption next month. While the exact details are yet to be known, companies will not be given a blanket ban and will be allowed to participate in future competitions following the payment of an economic penalty. It remains to be seen whether the six foreign companies currently blacklisted under the current graft regime will be allowed back into the fold.
ANSAT Light multi-role helicopter: