Boeing Strikes Back on AF1 Criticism | US State Dept Clears Sales of over $7B to Gulf Partner Nations | Bulgaria Looks to Italy, Portugal, US & Sweden to Replace MiG-29sDec 12, 2016 00:58 UTC
- Boeing has struck back at cost criticisms of the Air Force One replacement program. The company, replying to comments made by US president-elect Donald Trump that the program was too expensive and should be scrapped, said they could make the aircraft cheaper, as long as some USAF and Secret Service conversion requirements were dropped. Boeing has so far been awarded $170 million to study the capabilities of the aircraft. The Pentagon has estimated that it will cost taxpayers around $3.2 billion for the whole project.
- Engineers from Boeing have been working on USAF F-15Es, replacing old APG-70 radars with the state-of-the-art APG-82 AESA radar. The work has been underway since September on planes located at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. Dubbed as the RMP Eagle modernization program, more than 90 jets will receive the overhaul which is expected to be completed within the next seven to nine years.
Middle East & North Africa
- The US State Department has cleared a number of multi-billion dollar arms deals to several Gulf partner nations. Saudi Arabia is to receive 48 Boeing CH-47F heavy-lift helicopters, alongside associated engines, systems and parts, in a deal worth $3.51 billion. Another $3.5 billion sale will see the UAE receive Boeing AH-64E attack helicopters and associated services. Twenty-eight of those helicopters are remanufactured while nine are new. Meanwhile, Qatar will receive spare C-17 engines and parts in an $81 million deal, as well as the continuation of logistics support services and equipment in a $800 million foreign military sale. The clearances come despite increased concerns regarding a Saudi-led coalition intervening in the ongoing civil conflict in Yemen.
- Morocco has been cleared to purchase Raytheon-made TOW 2A Radio Frequency Missiles. Valued at $108 million, the sale includes 1,200 TOW 2A RF missiles and 14 TOW 2A fly-to-buy acceptance missiles. Morocco is regarded as a key US ally in maintaining stability in North Africa, following the increase in jihadist activity across the region.
- Second-hand Eurofighters from Italy are being sought by the Bulgarian government as part of a competition to replace older MiG-29 fighters. The government has earmarked $808.63 million for the procurement of fighter aircraft, and have asked Italy, Portugal, the US and Sweden to make offers to supply them. Alongside the Italian Eurofighters, Sofia will choose between new Gripen jets from Sweden’s SAAB and second-hand US F-16s from Portugal, equipped with US weaponry.
- Modernization plans for the Su-34 will see the addition of new weapons and electronic warfare systems. The Russian fighter-bomber has exhibited a broad range of weapon capabilities during combat operations in Syria, possessing a 30 mm cannon, air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles, and KAB-500S laser-guided bombs. Plans are already underway to integrate more anti-ship munitions such as the Kh-35 missile, and there are even plans to adapt the Su-34 to launch a new generation of so-called aeroballistic missiles.
- The Pentagon has contracted Madison Research Corp. in a $23 million firm-fixed-price FMS contract to supply 450 thermal batteries, 466 rocket motors, 150 safety and arming devices, and 248 warheads for Taiwan’s MIM-72A Chaparral air defense missile system. Work will be completed by December 10, 2017. The US-made Chaparral is a self-propelled SAM system based on the AIM-9 Sidewinder.
- Efforts to secure a deal to bring Su-35s to Indonesia are still ongoing. Jakarta has been in negotiations to purchase eight of the Super Flanker for some time, looking to secure a good price on the replacement of its F-5E/F Tiger IIs. Minister of Defense Ryamizard Ryacudu stated that he hoped that Indonesia’s status as a loyal Russian arms buyer, would see favorable treatment in price offers.
Turkish Defense Minister watches Hisar-O launch: