Raytheon’s AIM-120 Gets a Boost from the F3R Program | NG & BAE Back Out of USAF T-X Competition | Iran Confirms Test of New Missile, Denies BreachFeb 02, 2017 00:58 UTC
- A new signal processor for the AIM-120 air-to-air missile is being developed by Raytheon. Carried out under the Form Fit Function Refresh program (F3R), the work is aimed at ensuring the continuation of AMRAAM production well into the 2020s. While little else is currently known about the signal processor’s development work, the missile is capable of tracking targets in electronic warfare environments. Already carried on F-16, F-15, F/A-18, F-22, Typhoon, Gripen, Tornado and Harrier fighters, the AIM-120 is also cleared for use on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, making it the munition that has flown on more aircraft worldwide than any other air-to-air missile.
- The USAF has announced the completion of a series of upgrades on 446 Air Force and 10 Navy T-38C advanced trainer aircraft. Work carried out during the modernization saw the installation of a video data transfer system (VDTS) and speed break indicator switch (SBIS), giving pilots and the heads-up display a visual indicator of the speed brake position. The completion of the $50 million VDTS/SBIS program wrapped up its work in December 2016. Talons are expected to be in service until 2034, when they will be replaced by the next-gen T-X trainer.
- Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems have decided not to enter a bid in the upcoming $16 billion T-X trainer competition for the USAF. The official announcement comes days after Northrop CEO Wes Bush told analysts that the company was reassessing their bid and business case for the tender. A joint statement by Northrop and BAE stated that submitting a bid for the T-X Trainer contract “would not be in the best interest of the companies and their shareholders.” The only remaining interested parties are a clean-sheet design by Boeing/Saab and Lockheed Martin/Korea Aerospace Industries’ T-50A.
Middle East & North Africa
- Sales of F-16V fighters to Bahrain are likely to continue under US President Trump, according to Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker. Estimated to be valued at $2.8 billion, the sale of 19 of the fighters had been put on hold under Barack Obama until the Gulf kingdom had addressed some human rights concerns against their non-violent opposition. Corker added that “I’m hoping the Bahrain deal is going to roll out without the restrictions,” indicating that the original conditions imposed by the Obama administration may be lifted. Like many nations in the Arab world, Bahrain faced a wave of protests during the 2011 “Arab Spring,” which was met with a brutal crackdown by the ruling King Hamad.
- Turkey’s plan to upgrade of a batch of 200 German- and US-made battle tanks has received five bids from local industry, including surprise bids from military electronics specialist Aselsan and missile maker Roketsan. The $500 million modernization plan to upgrade 40 M60A3, 40 Leopard II A4 and 120 M60T tanks will also see bids from armored vehicles manufacturers BMC, Otokar and FNSS. While the competition is structured to be a local battle, industry sources suggest that due to the advanced technology that will be involved in the program, most business in the contract may involve foreign suppliers. Bidding is expected to be finished by the end of the year.
- Poland has received a proposal from the Lockheed Martin-led team behind the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS), as part of the drive to upgrade air defense capabilities under the Wisla program. MEADS, Israel’s David’s Sling, and a French consortium were initially considered alongside Raytheon’s Patriot system, though all but the Patriot were dismissed by Warsaw due to the fact that they were still in development. However, since the procurement process has dragged on, MEADS is much closer to the fielding stage and was therefore asked to submit a proposal on request from the Polish government, triggering a head-to-head between Raytheon and Lockheed Martin. The proposal includes a potential order for 16 systems and a plan to include a work-share agreement with Polish industry.
- Alongside long-term big-ticket procurement plans for new fighters, maritime-surveillance aircraft and submarine fleets, the Norwegian government is focusing efforts on stockpiling munitions, fuel and spare parts ahead of any potential conflict in the region. The hoarding comes as Oslo is concerned about potential shortages to the support equipment vital to the country’s missions both at home and abroad and will make funding available for these supplies, which also includes development of the Joint Strike Missile. Renewed investment in military procurements and upgrades by Scandinavian and Baltic governments comes amid growing tensions and uncertainty about potential conflicts that may stem from any aggression that may come from neighboring Russia.
- The Iranian government has confirmed that they have tested a new missile, but denied claims that the move was in breach of a UN Security Council resolution to curb nuclear development. In response to the test, the new US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, condemned the move stating that the “United States is not naïve. We are not going to stand by. You will see us call them out as we said we would and you are also going to see us act accordingly.” While Tehran has conducted missile testing since the 2015 nuclear accords, it is the first during the Trump administration. Trump said in his election campaign that he would stop Iran’s missile program.
MEADS capability notes: