DARPA’s TUNA Program Moves Forward | Airbus Lands $504M Support Contract with RAF | Indian Air Force Eye in the Sky to Be Inducted SoonJan 09, 2017 00:58 UTC
- Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James has dismissed an idea posed by the upcoming Trump administration to supplant the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter with greater procurements of the F/A-18 Super Hornet. President-elect Donald Trump called the two fighters “comparable” in a tweet following a pow wow with Lockheed Martin and Boeing in December as part of an early effort to get a better deal for government defense spending. However James called the jets not interchangeable and that both fighters had been developed to fulfill different requirements. She added that any attempt by the Trump team to implement such a plan would be met with resistance from the Air Force.
- DARPA has moved forward with their plan for future warfighters to communicate freely in contested environments by using an undersea optical fiber backbone in lieu of traditional tactical networks. Known as the Tactical Undersea Network Architecture (TUNA) program, it recently completed phase one testing successfully and during phase two, researchers will attempt to recreate a Link 16 network out at sea. The system will see buoys deployed from aircraft and ships, with each buoy linked to one another using thin fiber-optic cables that can survive rough ocean conditions for up to 30 days. Each buoy will temporarily restore radio frequency (RF) tactical data networks in its area of coverage.
- Budget details proposed by the Nigerian government have revealed that their acquisition of three JF-17 fighters from Pakistan cost $15 million. A total of $68.76 million has been earmarked for various “platform acquisitions … for counter air, counter surface, air ops for strategic effect and air support operations.” Out of the remaining funds, the Nigerian Air Force is building a fleet of 12 Mil Mi-35 air assault helicopters, and are interested in adding the EMB-314 Super Tucano to bolster close air support capabilities.
- The French government has placed an order with Thales for their Spy’Ranger mini-UAVs. Up to 70 of the mini-UAV reconnaissance systems will be delivered, with each system consisting of three mini-UAVs, a ground segment and the associated technical support. Spy’Ranger’s can be launched within minutes by a two-person team, are capable of transmitting high-resolution video in real time, and will replace frontline reconnaissance UAVs currently in service with the French army from 2018.
- Airbus landed a $504 million contract to support the British Royal Air Force’s (RAF) A400M Atlas transport aircraft fleet. The deal will see the company provide maintenance, upgrade and repair support of the planned 22-strong fleet of Airbus-built aircraft through 2026. Based at the RAF’s air transport hub at Brize Norton, work will be carried out in a soon-to-be-complete $76 million hanger, capable of housing three Atlas aircraft at one go. Until now, the maintenance of the RAF aircraft had been conducted under an industry-led initial support contract involving Airbus subcontracting scheduled maintenance work to the engineering arm of Flybe, the British regional airline.
- Foreign operators of the Sukhoi-made fighters may soon be able to purchase general-purpose muntions made in Indonesia, as Jakarta ponders green lighting an export initiative to boost domestic production. Based in Malang, manufacturer PT Sari Bahari has been approached by a number of countries for their weapons, including: P-100 and P-250 bombs, which are for practice and to carry live warheads, the P-500 live bomb, 70 and 80 mm warheads for both smoke bombs and real explosives, the Petir missile target drone and the Rocketpod 7 tube launcher. The firm previously exported hundreds of 70 mm smoke warheads to the Chilean Air Force.
- A laser weapon system capable of shooting down North Korean UAVs will be developed from next year, as Seoul looks to counter their neighbor’s wanton drones. Several small UAVs have been captured by South Korean forces along their border with the North, and Pyongyang is believed to be building larger drones with greater range and with the capability to be operated remotely by flight controllers. It is estimated that ten North Korean machines are capable of attacking with weapons.
- The Indian Air Force will induct their first indigenous airborne early warning aircraft later this month. Developed by Bengaluru’s Centre for Airborne Systems and integrated on Brazilian-made Embraer-145 aircraft, the system includes 240-degree coverage radars as well as multiple communication and data links that can alert and direct fighters against threats. Three such systems will eventually be released into service following successful certification. At present, New Delhi operates three Phalcon AWACS systems placed on top of IL-76 aircraft. Phalcons provide a 360-degree view over a 400-km range.
Tactical Undersea Network Architecture (TUNA):