Lockheed Martin has received a $109 million US Navy contract to deliver modification kits for a Block 3F software upgrade for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The upgrade includes the provision of 567 modification kits as well as labor costs for contractors performing the installation and maintenance for aircraft operated by the USAF, US Navy, USMC, as well as international partners. Earlier this month, the software was successfully tested during a test-launch of an inert GBU-12 Paveway II bomb against a moving target.
Middle East & North Africa
Israel is looking to add the life-saving Automatic Ground-Collision Avoidance System (Auto-GCAS) to its fleet of F-16s. Once integrated, the system will offer a solution to the problem of accidents caused by distracted or incapacitated pilots flying into the ground in an otherwise fully functioning aircraft. However, current negotiations surrounding the potential procurement are first centered around obtaining the hardware and software modifications necessary to facilitate the installation of Auto-GCAS onboard the fighters. Israel’s push to install the technology is part of a broader effort to increase safety across its air force fleet following a number of recent crashes, most recently, last October’s crash of an F-16I which was lost while attempting to land with an asymmetric weapons load.
In Syria, Israeli jets targeted an arms dump used by the Lebanese militia group, Hezbollah. The move was condemned by both the Syrian government and Russia, and is being seen as a wider sign of the heightened tensions surrounding a six year-long Syrian Civil War that has already caught up regional and international powers. The strike, which caused no injuries, is said to have been targeting weapons sent from Iran via commercial and military cargo planes, and destined to resupply groups such as Hezbollah. While Israel has limited its involvement in the war in Syria, officials have consistently referred to two red lines that have prompted a military response in the past—any supply of advanced weaponry to Hezbollah, and the establishment of “launch sites” for attacks on Israel from the Golan Heights region.
Bulgaria’s interim government has selected Saab’s JAS-39 Gripen as the replacement for their aging fleet of MiG-29 fighters. The Swedish jet won out against an offering of second-hand F-16s from Portugal and an Italian offer for the Eurofighter Typhoon. Further discussions with Saab on contract details are scheduled to take place once the new government takes office next month, but it is expected that at least eight aircraft will be procured at a cost of $850 million. This new government will oversee a large military modernisation effort, with plans already approved to purchase new warships as well as a new collection of armored vehicles.
Saab’s backlog shows that a third order has been placed for the GlobalEye airborne early warning aircraft. While the customer was not revealed, the company has already received a $1.27 billion order from the UAE for two examples, which places the Saab Erieye airborne early warning radar, a ground surveillance radar and other intelligence-gathering sensors aboard an adapted Bombardier Global 6000 business jet. The firm received a second order worth $236 million in January from another unnamed buyer. Speaking on the uptake in interest, Saab CEO Håkan Buskhe added that the company forsees “an increase in leads, and an increase in offers that we are sending out to different customers.”
Ukraine and Poland are to collaborate on helicopter production that ranges from undertaking modernization efforts, to designing and serial producing their own models for their armed forces. Announcing the new plan, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Stepan Kubiv said that his country could not undertake such efforts on its own and needed help from Polish industry as well as potentially other Western companies. The statement follows comments made in late 2016 by Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz, who said Warsaw and Kiev are discussing plans to launch a joint production effort of helicopters that could be used by the militaries of Central and Eastern European allies.
Lockheed Martin has been awarded a contract to upgrade the Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensor (M-TADS/PNVS) system for Japan’s fleet of AH-64DJP Apaches. Under the deal, 14 laser designation kits will be delivered to Tokyo by 2020, as well as providing Performance Based Logistics (PBL) support. Known as the “eyes of the Apache,” the new systems will provide pilots with long-range, precision engagement and pilotage capabilities for safe flight during day, night and adverse weather missions. Having already delivered some 1,350 M-TADS/PNVS systems and spares to the US Army and international customers, Japan is the first customer to receive such upgrades.
Taiwan’s Institute of Science and Technology has signed a contract, on behalf of the Taiwanese government, with the Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation for the production of 66 advanced jet trainers. The effort comes as part of Taipei’s move to militarize the island following a recent spate of island building by China in the South China Sea. The defense ministry is to allocate $2.8 billion until 2020 to develop the advanced trainers, and begin testing the jets until 2026, when 66 units are planned for deployment. The jets will then replace older F-5 and AT-3 aircraft, which are scheduled to be decommissioned in 2020 and 2021, respectively.
Latest updates[?]: Ukraine and Poland are to collaborate on helicopter production that ranges from undertaking modernization efforts, to designing and serial producing their own models for their armed forces. Announcing the new plan, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Stepan Kubiv said that his country could not undertake such efforts on its own and needed help from Polish industry as well as potentially other Western companies. The statement follows comments made in late 2016 by Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz, who said Warsaw and Kiev are discussing plans to launch a joint production effort of helicopters that could be used by the militaries of Central and Eastern European allies.
Recent Russian aggression in the Ukraine has sharpened Poland’s awareness of its status as NATO’s new linchpin state, and an ambitious 10-year military Technical Modernization Program (TMP) is underway. The country’s open, rolling terrain from East to West is very friendly to cavalry warfare, which makes good attack helicopters a necessity. Poland’s current fleet of 29 late Soviet-era Mi-24D/Vs has served them well, but they need more and better machines. Unsurprisingly, the planned Kruk (“Raven”) attack helicopter replacement competition was one of the TMP projects targeted for acceleration in the wake of recent events.
Contracts and Key Events
April 27/17: Ukraine and Poland are to collaborate on helicopter production that ranges from undertaking modernization efforts, to designing and serial producing their own models for their armed forces. Announcing the new plan, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Stepan Kubiv said that his country could not undertake such efforts on its own and needed help from Polish industry as well as potentially other Western companies. The statement follows comments made in late 2016 by Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz, who said Warsaw and Kiev are discussing plans to launch a joint production effort of helicopters that could be used by the militaries of Central and Eastern European allies.
March 7/17: Leonardo and Polish Armaments Group have signed a cooperation agreement on helicopter production for the Polish armed forces. The deal will facilitate further industrial collaboration on production, servicing and maintenance for various military rotorcraft. Leonardo is currently offering the AW139, AW101 and W-3PL models to Warsaw as part of several helicopter requirements by the defense ministry and if selected, PGZ will assist with producing components and other supporting systems in Poland.
February 22/17: Poland’s Defense Ministry has begun negotiations with three bidders for various helicopter mission requirements. Eight are being sought to fill an urgent need for special forces missions, while eight more are required to fill a 2019 naval requirement for anti-submarine warfare and maritime search and rescue operations. The urgent nature of the acquisitions will allow Warsaw to bypass certain lengthy procurement procedures and they are believed to be talking to Airbus Helicopters, Leonardo Helicopters and Sikorsky. Despite the apparent urgency, however, the government is still insisting on offset requirements, which must be an “integral part of the contract.”
February 14/17: Poland will purchase 16 new helicopters this year, half destined for the Navy and the rest to the country’s special forces. Two will be Sikorsky Black Hawks, with the remainder to be chosen from offers from Lockheed Martin, Leonardo and Airbus Helicopters. Delivery of the Black Hawks is expected for next month after being produced by Lockheed Martin’s Polish subsidiary PZL Mielec. The 16 aircraft will go toward the replacement of Poland’s Soviet-designed Mil Mi-8, Mi-14 and Mi-17 helicopters.
January 20/17: Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz has said that his government is considering a 2017 splurge on new military hardware. Macierewicz name-dropped Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky subsidiary, Leonardo, and somewhat surprisingly Airbus, as potential suppliers of 14 helicopters to the Polish army. While both Sikorsky and Leonardo have plants located in Poland, relations between Airbus and the ruling Law & Justice Party soured last year following the cancellation of a $3.2 billion deal to provide 50 H225M Caracals. The ministry has also proposed a plan to buy between 50-100 F-16s as well as three new submarines with contracts to be signed by either the end of the year or in early 2018.
November 8/16: Egypt and Russia have been dragged into the ongoing war of words surrounding Poland’s dropped Caracel helicopter deal with Airbus and France. Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz accused Egypt of reselling French-built Mistral amphibious assault ships initially intended for Russia to the Russian Navy for the princely sum of €1. Yes, one Euro. The comments, made during a parliamentary session, outraged France, who abandoned the Russian sale under pressure from NATO allies. However Macierewicz’s remarks pale in comparison to his deputy who dismissively said that the Poles had taught the French “to eat with a fork a couple of centuries ago” after France revoked Poland’s invitation to the Euronaval 2016 defense expo in Paris.
November 1/16: Polish prosecutors are to investigate the recently scrapped Caracel military helicopter deal with Airbus to see if the move circumvented Polish law or was linked to corruption. Speaking to local media, prosecutor Michal Dziekanski said “this will be a complicated, comprehensive investigation, encompassing a very large set of evidence.” Tomasz Siemoniak, the defense minister responsible for originally brokering the deal during the previous administration, called the Airbus tender “fair and transparent” and said it was canceled by his rivals for political reasons.
FY 2015 – 2016
October 27/16: Airbus will seek compensation from Poland following the government’s shooting down of the previous administration’s 50-unit order for H225M multirole helicopters. Following four years of work on the tender, the company’s chief financial officer Harald Wilhelm said the group “had spent years trusting that it was in a fair competition” and that it would now “seek remedies” from Warsaw. Wilhelm added that the deal “would have committed us to build a competitive aerospace industry in Poland.”
October 20/16: Negotiations are underway between Poland and Ukraine to launch a joint production effort of helicopters that could be used by the militaries of Central and Eastern European allies. But while Poland is currently in the midst of two increasingly complicated helicopter tenders, Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz said any joint effort would most likely be on a new model “based on the industrial potential of both countries. We know that the Ukrainians make excellent engines, produced by Motor Sich.” Based in southeastern Ukraine, Motor Sich has supplied engines for a variety of Ukrainian and Russian aircraft including the Antonov An-8 and An-10, the Yakovlev Yak-40 and Yak-42, and the Mil Mi-8MT, Mi-14 and Mi-171.
October 12/16: Airbus struck back at the Polish government yesterday following the dropping of a multi-billion Caracel helicopter deal. In an open letter to the Prime Minister, the Aerospace giant accused the government of shifting the goalposts as Airbus competed with US and Italian rivals, and attempting to contravene European Union regulations. Speaking in a separate email, Airbus Group Chief Executive Tom Enders said “never have we been treated by any government customer the way this government has treated us.” Industry sources estimate Airbus’ cost of running the helicopter sales campaign at several tens of millions of euros.
October 11/16: France has reacted angrily to Poland dropping a multi-billion helicopter deal with Airbus, warning that it would review defense cooperation with its NATO ally and cancelling a presidential visit to Warsaw. Winning support as a populist, right-wing, eurosceptics, the ruling Law & Justice party (PiS) said they would rather see the deal awarded to a company that could build the helicopters locally. Polish media reports that Warsaw has already begun negotiations with Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky, manufacturer of locally-produced Black Hawk helicopters that could be purchased by the Polish army as soon as this year.
October 8/15: Poland has progressed its competition to replace the country’s fleet of Mil Mi-24 attack helicopters, with talks scheduled to soon begin with the four bidders. The ‘Kruk’ (‘Raven’) competition has attracted bids from Airbus with the EC665 Tiger; Bell Helicopters with the AH-1Z Cobra; Boeing with the AH-64 Apache and Turkish Aerospace Industries with the T129 ATAK. Despite the Polish Defence Ministry announcing in April that a winner is due for selection by the end of the year, these talks are scheduled to last one week per company, concluding by the end of November and a contract is now expected in the latter half of 2017.
April 22/15: In addition to the Patriot announcement, Poland has selected the Airbus H225M to fulfill its tri-service helicopter requirement. 50 of the Airbus helicopters will replace the current 40-strong fleet of Mil Mi-17s; a figure revised down from the original requirement for 70 units. The H225M beat out AgustaWestland’s AW149 and Sikorsky’s S-70i Black Hawk and S-70B Seahawk, with the winning helicopter set to undergo checks this May and June to verify its capabilities against Poland’s requirement set. The Eastern European state is also looking to upgrade its attack helicopter fleet. Combined with the Patriot program, the helicopter procurement will account for approximately a quarter of Poland’s eight-year defense modernization budget.
Aug 5/14: The Polish defence ministry has said that it is considering bids from 10 manufacturers under the Kruk competition. They wouldn’t name names, saying only that it involved “foreign and domestic companies offering both ready-made helicopters and components for assembly.”
The difference between ready-made and assembly kits is a bidder’s choice, and the kits option is often used to comply with local industrial offset rules. The harder question is how to get to 10 manufacturers, given the limited number of attack helicopter options out there.
Obvious leaders include Airbus (EC665 Tiger HAD), AW/TAI (T129 ATAK), Bell Helicopter (AH-1Z) and Boeing (AH-64E). South Africa’s Denel offers the Rooivalk, which hasn’t been exported but has competed elsewhere. Sikorsky is working very hard to win Poland’s utility helicopter competition with the S-70i, which is the focus of that company’s 2nd largest helicopter plant. Their Battlehawk add-on kit could offer Poland a single-type force that’s able to perform both utility and attack roles. That’s 6 possible competitors; beyond this list, one must either stretch the boundaries of the term “attack helicopter” to incorporate armed scouts, or entertain far less likely options. Russian Helicopters’ Ka-52 and Mi-28 are absolute non-starters, but there are rumors that Poland’s MRO and upgrade shop WZL-2 S.A. has bid, and that Israel’s IAI and RAFAEL also responded. Sources: Polskie Radio, “10 bidders to modernize Poland’s combat helicopter fleet”.
July 8/14: Kruk program launched, deadline to respond to the RFI is Aug 1/14. The program was originally supposed to launch a tender in 2018, with deliveries beginning in 2020, but the tender has now been moved up to 2015. Quantities may also be changing: the program’s original goal was 32 helicopters, but current reports indicate that Poland may increase that to 40.
In the mean time, Phase 1 involves setting technical and operational requirements, following market research. Hence the RFI. Next comes a more detailed feasibility study and staffing requirements based on the responses, followed by the formal RFP in 2015. Sources: Polish MON, “Rusza program smiglowcow uderzeniowych” | Emirates 24/7 News, “Poland launches tender for assault helicopters” | Flightglobal, “Poland launches attack helicopter acquisition” | IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, “Poland starts ‘Kruk’ attack helicopter acquisition programme”.
Lockheed Martin has posted weaker-than-expected sales and lower profitability in three of four divisions, making it the first cut Lockheed has made to earnings per share estimates in seven years. Stock fell more than 2 percent as the company slashed their forecast by 10 cents to $12.15 to $12.45 per share, from $12.25 to $12.55. According to the firm, higher development costs for a United Arab Emirates’ missile defense system were partly to blame for the charges. In response, Lockheed is pursuing international expansion with a goal of growing the international customer base to 30 percent of total sales.
BAE Systems has developed a new 3-Dimensional Advanced Warning System (3DAWS) to help protect military aircraft from threats. Designed to protect aircraft in a multi-threat environment using layered countermeasure defense, the 3DAWS maximizes the effectiveness of current flare and directable infrared counter-measures, and also provides tracking capabilities for future soft- and hard-kill counter-measures. The system uses a passively-cued, semi-active radio frequency tracker as an adjunct to the company’s Common Missile Warning System or any future passive threat detection system. Furthermore, the system is modular and built to open architecture standard allowing for easy integration with US Army aircraft.
Middle East & North Africa
Kuwait has moved ahead with a planned purchase of 30 H225M helicopters from Airbus. The helicopters had been selected by Kuwait back in August but the deal had remained unfinished by the end of 2016. Now, it’s expected that the $1.8 billion contract will be ratified “over the next few weeks,” according to the company’s CEO, Guillaume Faury. News of the deal comes as Airbus gears up to release their first-quarter results today, where details on the company’s backlog, as well as the financial impact of the continued grounding of the civil H225 in Norway and the UK, are expected to be released. Heavy restrictions were put in place on operating the aircraft last April following the aftermath of a fatal crash of a H225 on Norway’s west coast.
Two US F-35As have landed in Estonia for the first time, in what is being described as a show of NATO solidarity and reinforcement of US commitments to protecting NATO members along Russia’s borders. The visit of the Joint Strike Fighters, which flew from UK and spent several hours in Estonia, is part of broader US jet pilot training program across Europe as the NATO alliance seeks to deter Moscow from any possible incursion in the Baltics. Training with the fifth-generation fighters is expected to last several weeks and the F-35 pilots will undergo exercises with other NATO aircraft as well as showcase the fighter’s capabilities to allies that are also acquiring F-35 fleets.
The French government has placed orders for two types of newly-designed armored vehicle platforms as part of the SCORPION program. Thales, Nexter, and Renault Trucks Defense will deliver over 300 models of the Griffon, a 6×6 multi-role personnel carrier, and the 6×6 Jaguar, which is armed with a 40mm gun and anti-tank missiles. The exact order by the French procurement agency, DGA, for 319 Griffons and 19 Jaguars, comes just after 27 months of vehicle development. Paris is likely to use the Griffon to replace the VAB Hot personnel carriers currently used by the French Army, while the Jaguar will replace the army’s wheeled light tanks.
DCNS has been contracted to build five intermediate-sized frigates for the French Navy. The vessels are to be based on the company’s BELH@RRA digital frigate, with the French design featuring additional self-defence and special forces projection capabilities a new generation radar from Thales, the Sea Fire four flat antenna radar, and Aster 30 missiles supplied by MBDA. Unveiled during the Euronaval 2016 expo, DCNS expects to have the French vessels in active service by 2025.
South Korea is looking to add two additional EL/M-2080 Green Pine early warning radars to the two currently operated by their armed forces. Capable of detecting ballistic missile threats within a range of 800 kms, the extra radars are being sought amid the recent round of rising tensions between Seoul—with their ally in Washington—and an increasingly belligerent North Korea. Deliveries of the Israeli-made radars are expected to be made by the end of the year. Meanwhile, the South Korean government has confirmed that parts of the US THAAD air defense system have been moved onto the site of its deployment in the south of the country and that the deployment is expected to be ready for full operation by the end of this year.
With tensions in the South China Sea higher than ever, Beijing has launched their first indigenously built aircraft carrier for the first time, although the vessel will not be ready to enter service until 2020. Little is known about the secretive carrier project, but Chinese officials have said the new carrier’s design draws on experiences from the country’s first carrier, the Liaoning, bought second-hand from Ukraine in 1998 and refitted in China. It’s expected that the new vessel will be able to carry China’s Shenyang J-15 fighter jets, and it features Soviet-designed ski-jump bows intended to give pilots and aircraft enough lift to take off from shorter decks. Once in service, the carrier will participate in military and humanitarian missions, while the Liaoning will serve primarily as a training vessel.
Boeing and Saab have conducted the maiden flight of their second production-ready T-X aircraft. The jointly developed advanced trainer is said to have handled “exactly like the first aircraft and the simulator, meeting all expectations” over the course of the one hour flight, according to Matt Giese, Boeing test pilot for air force programs. “The front and back cockpits work together seamlessly and the handling is superior. It’s the perfect aircraft for training future generations of combat pilots.” Boeing and Saab’s offering to the USAF’s T-38 trainer replacement program faces competition from a Lockheed Martin/Korea Aerospace Industries T-50A and a proposed modified M-346 called the T-100 from Leonardo.
Lockheed Martin has won a $1.6 billion contract to continue manufacturing the AN/TP-Q-53 counterfire radar for the US Army. The Q-53 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar will eventually replace older systems like the Q-36 and Q-37, and is capable of detecting incoming indirect fire like rockets and mortars, allowing response time for troops to reach cover, but they can also detect the location of the launch site. This allows counter battery fire to triangulate and respond with fire of their own. Lockheed Martin remains the only supplier of such systems to the Army.
Electric Boat Corporation has been selected by the US Navy to produce 17 ballistic missile tubes for submarines constructed under the Ohio Replacement Program. Valued at $95.6 million, delivery is expected to be completed by December 2023. These upcoming Columbia-class submarines are being produced under the Common Missile Compartment program—joint effort with the UK to use the Trident ballistic missile as primary underwater nuclear deterrent—and will eventually enter service after 2031. Once in service, the vessels will serve as the primary undersea nuclear force for the United States for at least 50 years.
Middle East & North Africa
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is to meet Russia’s Vladimir Putin in Sochi on May 3, where it is expected that the two leaders will discuss contracts for Ankara’s purchase of the S-400 air defense system. On announcing the upcoming meeting, Turkey’s Defense Minister Fikri Isik said more information on the contract and implementation of some projects will be provided later, adding that the deal is still a long way off from having anything signed. Turkey’s quest to purchase a new air defense missile system turned unexpectedly back toward Russia late last year, as both governments experienced growing relations following the downing of a Russian fighter encroaching on Turkish airspace in November 2015.
Nigeria inducted two new Mi-35Ms into their Air Force during a ceremony to mark’s the service’s founding anniversary in Makurdi on April 24. The helicopters are the first two of twelve Mi-35s ordered by Abuja to bolster the close air support (CAS) capabilities of the armed forces in order to help them tackle an insurgency by the militant jihadists of Boko Haram. In addition to the helicopters, this effort also includes a planned procurement of A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft.
An official from Almaz-Antey has announced that state trials of the S-350 Vityaz air defense missile system will be completed by the end of the year. The medium-range SAM system is currently undergoing preliminary firing tests and has already had its radar and control systems validated. Moscow plans to have 30 units operational by 2020, and will use the latest S-350 variant to replace older versions of the S-300, and complement other systems including the newer S-300 variants, Morfey, Buk, Tor, Pantsir-S1, S-400 and S-500.
The Australian military has received six new M88A2 Hercules armored recovery vehicles from the US to support their fleet of Abrams main battle tanks. Australia’s Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group reported that the vehicles have already been painted with Australian camouflage and deployed and supporting units based in Darwin and Townsville, and operator and maintenance training at Puckapunyal and Bandiana in Victoria. The value of the vehicles is worth about $44 million.
Singapore is to upgrade their fleet of AH-64D Apache helicopters. The Ministry of Defense announced that it the program aims to equip the country’s existing Apache rotorcraft with enhanced Helicopter Integrated Electronic Warfare Systems and updated satellite communication solutions in a drive to enhance their mission capabilities. While the government added that the upgrade program is expected to be complete within the next few years, they did not disclose an official date. Approximately 20 Ah-64D helicopters have been operated by Singapore’s 120 Squadron since 2006.
Overview of DARPA’s Service Academies Swarm Challenge:
Latest updates[?]: The Admiral Kuznetsov, Russia's only aircraft carrier, will have the Kalibr missile system installed during upcoming refit work. The new platform will replace the P-700 Granit anti-ship missile currently equipped onboard, utilizing a unique vertical launch system that is unified to launch both the Onyx and Zircon supersonic missiles. Other additions involved in the $715 million modernization include an upgraded electronic warfare, communication and aviation network. The vessel had previously spent 2016 in the Mediterranean Sea where aircraft onboard conducted some 420 air operations against militias fighting the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Adm. Kuznetsov, 1996
Russia’s “heavy aircraft-carrying cruisers” have received a lot of unfavorable attention from India’s snake-bit deal to refurbish the Admiral Gorshkov; in fairness, however, the Russians haven’t had much more luck with their own ship. Launched in 1985, it was not commissioned until 1995 – and since then, it has endured extremely long dockings and seen only limited deployment. When it’s operational, the The 55,000t Admiral Kuznetsov is a big step up from the smaller Kiev Class’ combination of Yak-38 Forger V/STOL (Vertical/Short Take Off and Landing) jets and naval helicopters, flying navalized SU-25 close air support fighters, multi-role SU-33s, or MiG-29K jets.
Natural resource exports have eased Russia’s budget woes, and the country wants to maintain carrier capabilities as it tries to rebuild its damaged defense industrial base. The current plan intends to begin designing a new carrier class in 2012 – and to dock the Kuznetov once again, in order to make major design changes and fix some long-standing issues.
April 24/17: Raytheon has been awarded external link a $78.7 million US Navy contract to provide support and sustainment services for AIM-9X Sidewinder Block II tactical missiles. Under the agreement, the company will provide for the repair of AIM-9X Block II tactical missiles, captive air training missiles and special air training missiles, along with integrated product support, such as training, in-service software support, depot management, and obsolescence/diminishing manufacturing sources and material shortages monitoring. Customers provided for include the Navy and USAF, as well as the governments of Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Israel, Japan, Korea, Kuwait, Oman, Malaysia, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, and Turkey, under the Foreign Military Sales program. Completion is expected by May, 2019.
A former Royal Saudi Air Force pilot and son to Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has been declared the Gulf kingdom’s new ambassador to the US. Having previously conducted air strikes against militants of the Islamic State in Iraq, and against Houthi rebels in Yemen, former F-15 pilot Prince Khaled bin Salman has already been serving as a special advisor at the Saudi Embassy in Washington since late last year after a back injury ended his flying career. It is expected that his appointment will aim to continue boosting bilateral ties with Washington, which have already been improving since Donald Trump assumed office in January. Riyadh is also likely to seek further US support for its campaign in Yemen, which is increasingly being viewed as a proxy conflict between Saudi Arabia and regional rival Iran.
Middle East & North Africa
Israel has received three additional F-35i “Adir” Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, bringing to total five now operated by their air force. The fifth-generation jets arrived on Sunday after traveling from the US, and arrive less than 5 months since the first two landed in December. Tel Aviv intends to use the new aircraft to phase out the aging fleets of F-15s and F-16s, and to secure their capability edge over regional rivals known to be big spenders.
The Admiral Kuznetsov, Russia’s only aircraft carrier, will have the Kalibr missile system installed during upcoming refit work. The new platform will replace the P-700 Granit anti-ship missile currently equipped onboard, utilizing a unique vertical launch system that is unified to launch both the Onyx and Zircon supersonic missiles. Other additions involved in the $715 million modernization include an upgraded electronic warfare, communication and aviation network. The vessel had previously spent 2016 in the Mediterranean Sea where aircraft onboard conducted some 420 air operations against militias fighting the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Field trials of Russia’s new battle tank, the T-14 Armata, are on schedule for a formal order to be placed for the Army in September. First produced by Uralvagonzavod in 2015, the next-generation tank boasts a 125mm smooth bore cannon and is capable of speeds estimated at 58 miles per hour with an operational range of about 310 miles. Dubbed a “supertank” by some Western intelligence agencies, a recent report warned of its capabilities on the battlefield, citing that “for the first time, a fully automated, digitised, unmanned turret has been incorporated into a main battle tank. And for the first time a tank crew is embedded within an armoured capsule in the hull front.” More discerning analysis, however, have called the project an attempt to “leapfrog the enemy on the cheap, by boasting about the autoloader and remote controlled machine guns.”
Airbus will deliver two additional C295 military airlifters to the government of Kazakhstan in a contract that will include deliveries for spares and a support package. Once delivered, Astana will have a fleet of eight C295s. The multirole aircraft can perform armed and ground intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations using a multi-mission radar, and can also be modified to carry weapons.
India has conducted the first successful test-fire of the the land attack variant of the BrahMos cruise missile. The April 21 test saw the missile launched from the INS Teg, a Talwar-class guided missile frigate, against an unspecified land target. An Indian Navy source said the new variant “provides Indian warships with the capability to precisely neutralize selected targets deep inland, far away from the coast, from stand-off ranges at sea,” and giving the Talwar-class fleet a capability to threaten inland targets. New Delhi is also looking to export the BrahMos to a host of international buyers including Vietnam, the United Arab Emirates, Chile, and South Africa. The government may be limited, however, due to the Missile Technology Control Regime’s (MTCR) ban on prohibiting the sale of missiles with a range greater than 300 kilometers, and while the variant tested on Friday has a range of 290 kilometers, India has ambitions of longer-range variants with ranges of up to potentially 800 kilometers.
India has also announced an agreement with the South Korean government to collaborate on building warships. The Memorandum of Understanding, signed on Friday by both India’s secretary of defence production, Ashok Kumar Gupta, and South Korean Minister of Defense Acquisition Program Administration Chang Myoung-jin, will see state-owned Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL) cooperate with a shipyard yet to be chosen by Seoul. Both firms will “identify and develop indigenous sources/vendors for the supply of majority of the material and equipment” for warship building, according to the Indian Defense Ministry. Additional bilateral defense deals agreed upon during the engagement were for a $5.5 billion project that will see Kangnam Corporation of South Korea help India’s state-owned Goa Shipyard Limited build 12 mine countermeasures vessels, and a $650 million agreement between Indian firm Larsen & Toubro and South Korea’s Hanwha Techwin for the manufacture and production of K9 Vajra-T howitzers for the Indian Army.
An F-35C loaded with the latest F3 software configuration has successfully hit a moving target with a GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bomb in what was the munition’s first developmental release from the fighter variant. The successful test was made capable by the inclusion of Lead Point Compute logic in the software which enhances the effectiveness against moving targets, with the objective of reducing pilot workload. This works by delaying the release point of the weapon to ensure the weapon has the available kinematics to guide to and reach the target at its future location. The GBU-12 has now been tested on every variant of the F-35.
Canada is to receive a C-17 Globemaster III sustainment package after the US State Department approved the potential foreign military sale. Valued at a possible $195 million, the deal will support five C-17s operated by Canada including tasks such as in-country field services, maintenance and technical support, spares and additional equipment. Boeing will act as lead contractor with support to be provided by Lockheed Martin.
Middle East & North Africa
The UAE is in discussions with the Russian government over the potential sale of “several dozen” Su-35 fighters. The announcement was made by Russian trade minister Denis Manturov as Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces held bilateral talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow last Thursday. Until now, the Gulf Emirate has only purchased French, UK, and US jets. But, flush with petrodollars, it has become the third-largest importer of arms and has been dubbed “little Sparta” by US Defense Secretary General James Mattis due to their participation in the ongoing Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, and their establishment of naval bases off the east coast of Africa.
Romania looks set to be the latest site of NATO’s European missile defense shield after General Nicolae-Ionel Ciuca, chief of the General Staff, announced Bucharest’s intentions to purchase the Patriot system. Already in talks with manufacturer Raytheon, the missiles would be part of an integrated air defense system comprising six newly acquired F-16 fighter jets as Romania brings their forces up to NATO standards and retires outdated communist-era MiGs. News of the potential deal shortly follows Poland’s decision to purchase the Patriot system, much to Russia’s chagrin. Russian President Vladimir Putin described the purchases as a “great danger” saying Moscow will be forced to respond by enhancing their own missile strike capability.
MBDA has been awarded a number of missile contracts by the UK government totalling $698 million. The contracts include three separate missile deliveries, including the Common Anti-air Modular Missile (CAMM), the Meteor, and the Sea Viper (Aster). The Meteor air-to-air missiles will be integrated on the F-35B Joint Strike Fighters that will be based onboard the Royal Navy’s two Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers and includes work that aims to help “de-risk the integration effort and includes the mixture of test assets, productionisation and engineering work needed to support Meteor’s compatibility and use from F-35.” Meanwhile, the Sea Viper system will be integrated on the Navy’s Type 45 Destroyers, while the CAMM will provide the anti-air defence capability on the new Type 26 Frigates.
Boeing has pulled out of Belgium’s F-16 replacement competition citing unfair treatment in the selection process. Initially hoping to sell the F/A-18 Super Hornet, the company pulled out of the race on Wednesday declaring that they did not “see an opportunity to compete on a truly level playing field with the extremely capable and cost-effective F/A-18 Super Hornet,” adding that it will now have time to devote to existing customers such as the recent $2.1 billion deal to provide P-8 Poseidon aircraft to the US Navy. Brussels will now have to decide between Lockheed Martin’s F-35, the Eurofighter Typhoon, Saab’s Gripen, and Dassault’s Rafale.
As US VP Mike Pence continues his tour of several Asia ally nations, Indonesia has announced $10 billion dollars in trade and investment agreements with Washington, including the sale of Lockheed Martin’s Sniper Advanced Targeting Pods. While a White House statement stated the pods are meant for Jakarta’s fleet of F-16A/B fighters, they are more likely to be fitted on the upgraded F-16s that the TNI AU acquired under the Obama administration. Lockheed will supply the pods from their Missiles and Fire Control facility in Orlando, Florida, and work closely with the Indonesian Air Force to train pilots and maintenance crew.
Taiwan has announced intentions to begin talks over the potential purchase of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Lawmakers of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee were told by Minister of National Defense Feng Shih-kuan that Taipei will approach Washington in July over the fighters, once the Trump administration has appointed officials for handling affairs with Taiwan. The military are looking to buy the F-35 for its short-takeoff and vertical landing capabilities, which would allow Taiwan to continue operating air capabilities if their airbases were destroyed in a conflict with China.
Testing of South Korea’s Haesong ship-to-ground missile:
The USAF has awarded Lockheed Martin a $100 million contract to support efforts related to the AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM). Work to be carried out by Lockheed includes life cycle support for all the missile’s variants, including the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile and the Extended Range variant, as well as the provision of system upgrades, integration, production, sustainment, and logistical support. The contract is expected to run until April 2020. Alongside the USAF, foreign operators of the JASSM include Finland, Poland, and the Royal Australian Air Force.
VSE Aviation has announced that its subsidiary, Prime Turbines LLC, will undertake servicing the engines used by UH-1H Huey helicopters operated by the US Department of State for counter-narcotics operations. With a ceiling value of $16.6 million, the indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract calls for the repair, overhaul and modification of the T53-L-703 engines used on the 85 Huey’s in the Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs aviation. The aircraft provide support for the eradication and interdiction of illicit drugs, the training of contractor and host national personnel, embassy support, movement of personnel and equipment, reconnaissance, personnel recovery, medical evacuation and other purposes.
Middle East & North Africa
Egypt has received its second new Type 209 submarine S41 from German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, marking the halfway point for scheduled deliveries of the vessels to Cairo. The first two submarines were initially ordered in 2011 and were followed by orders for two more in 2014, and will be used to support national security missions. Equipped with missiles and torpedoes, and capable of operating at a range of 11,000 nautical miles at a maximum speed of 21 knots, 69 individual Type 209 submarines (in five variants) have been exported by ThyssenKrupp to 13 individual operators.
Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces are to receive nearly $300 million worth of equipment after the US State Department cleared the sale to the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). The equipment, which includes 4400 rifles, 113 Humvees, and 36 howitzers, will go toward supporting two infantry brigades and two support artillery battalions for Iraqi Kurds in order to continue pushing against the militants of the Islamic State. AM General, Oshkosh Defense, Navistar Defense, Harris Radio, and Colt Corporation have all been listed as contractors in the deal. The Peshmerga, autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan’s military forces, alongside Kurdish forces from neighboring countries, have been fighting against ISIS since August 2014, following the launching of an offensive by the jihadists after the Fall of Mosul in June 2014.
Washington is also seeking additional ways of supporting Saudi Arabia in an effort to break the ongoing stalemate currently experienced by the Riyadh-led coalition in Yemen. Additional military support is expected in order to break the deadlock and bring the opposing Houthi rebels—who have found a friend and military support in Saudi’s regional rival, Iran—to the negotiating table and a potential ceasefire. Since the war started in March 2015, as many as 10,000 civilians have been killed and some 3 million Yemenis have been displaced, with chronic food shortages leading the country toward famine.
BAE Systems will build a sixth Astute-class nuclear-powered submarine for the British Royal Navy following the award of a $1.77 billion MoD contract. Dubbed the Agamemnon, the sub will be about 318 feet long, have a submerged speed of 30 knots and an endurance of 90 days. It can carry Tomahawk missiles as well as torpedoes. The first three Astute class submarines HMS Astute, HMS Ambush and HMS Artful are currently in service with the Royal Navy with a further four in various stages of construction at the company’s site in Barrow, Cumbria.
Saab has been contracted by the Polish Navy to conduct maintenance and logistics support for the service’s RBS15 MK3 surface-to-surface missile system. First bought by Warsaw in 2006, the RBS15 system has been used by Poland as a naval defense platform and has been typically integrated on the country’s three Orkan-class fast attack craft. Produced jointly by Saab and Germany’s Diehl Defense, the system features a prelaunch programmable active radar seeker, which enables a fire-and-forget capability in all weather conditions.
The Taiwanese Navy has issued a request for tender to produce the island’s first indigenous landing platform dock. Funding worth $207 million has been allocated for the project up to 2021, and calls for a length of 502 feet and a weight of 10,000 tons. The tender also requires that the vessel be fitted with a 76mm gun and Phalanx close-in weapon system, as well as the indigenous TC-2N missile system for air defense, a top speed of 21 knots, and a range of up to 7,000 miles. It’s expected that Taipei will build two such vessels by 2021 and use them to support amphibious operations and transport tasks, and act as hospital ships and vessels for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions in peacetime.
The US Navy has selected Raytheon to perform engineering and technical services for several Standard Missile variants used by the service. Valued at $113 million, work to be carried out under the agreement calls for the procurement for other government agencies and foreign military sales to undisclosed customers, as well as engineering work for the Standard Missile 2, 3 and 6. Other tasks to be carried out by Raytheon include research and development efforts, component improvement, shipboard integration and evaluation services. Scheduled to be completed by April 2022, the contract contains options that if exercised, could bring the cumulative value of the contract to $466 million.
General Atomics has announced that they will supply a Lithium-ion Fault Tolerant (LiFT) battery system to power the US military’s Semi-Autonomous Hydrographic Reconnaissance Vehicle (SAHRV), a platform developed for maritime intelligence gathering operations. The battery is built to support both manned and unmanned platforms, and designed to prevent uncontrolled cascading cell failure, which according to the company, makes the system safer to use, and can keep equipped vehicles functional to complete their missions. The company added that the battery has been successfully fielded for underwater applications.
Middle East & North Africa
A Saudi Arabian military helicopter that crashed in Yemen on Tuesday was caused by friendly fire. The Black Hawk was conducting combat operations when the incident happened, resulted in the deaths of 12 officers onboard, and it is one of the largest death tolls in a single incident involving Saudi forces since a Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen’s war in 2015. While the Saudi news agency SPA quoted a statement from the Saudi-led coalition as saying the Black Hawk came down in Marib province, east of the Houthi-controlled capital Sanaa, Yemeni defense ministry’s 26 September news website quoted an officer in Yemen’s military high command as saying the helicopter was shot down 5 km (3 miles) from its landing spot because of “a technical fault that caused a misreading of the air defense system, which resulted in the destruction of the plane before it landed.”
Having barely won a referendum aimed at giving the Turkish presidency extensive new powers, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan looks to use his new authority to get more involved with weapons programs and procurement. Once a position that was aimed at being non-partisan, largely ceremonial, and without constitutional powers, Erdogan will now be head of state, head of government and head of the ruling AK party, and have powers to appoint vice presidents, Cabinet ministers, state bureaucrats and senior judges. A long-time advocate of Turkey’s local industry, experts now believe he will now take a more active role in defense procurements, and will “give pace to efforts to further nationalize defense systems, present and future.” Having been in power since 2002, under Erdogan, Turkey has launched scores of indigenous programs including helicopters, armored vehicles, naval platforms, drones, a new-generation battle tank and a fighter jet.
After taking damage during a landing mishap last year, Israel Aerospace Industries’ (IAI) hybrid Panther UAV is to have its vertical take-off and landing design’s fuselage and wing updated to boost performance. Developed in partnership with South Korea’s Hankuk Carbon—who have supplied composite materials and other subsystems—the Front Engine Panther was damaged during its first flight demonstration during a hard landing last December, and an investigation into the matter has resulted in a decision to change the airframe and wings. A follow on to the all-electric Panther UAV, the FE Panther uses electric batteries to power three motors during take-off and landing, and a gasoline engine during the cruise phase of flight. IAI says that this hybrid propulsion system increases endurance and payload capacity over its predecessor.
Russia has commenced weapon testing trials on the T-50/PAK-FA fifth-generation stealth fighter cannons, with plans to have the trials completed later this year. Designed to have similar capabilities to the Eurofighter Typhoon and Lockheed Martin’s fifth-generation F-22 Raptor, Moscow, with the T-50, hopes to break the US-held monopoly on fifth-generation fighters, as Washington finalizes development on its second, the long-delayed F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Five T-50s are expected to be operational by the end of 2017.
Norway has begun testing the brake parachute it will deploy on their fleet of F-35As. The testing will assess how the fighter handles with the parachute fitted, as well as braking on both dry and wet runways. Follow up testing will continue in Alaska in 2018, where testing will look to evaluate the parachute’s performance on icy runways. Sharing the cost with fellow F-35 program partner the Netherlands, modifications to the Norwegian F-35 fleet include strengthening the fuselage and adapting the aircraft to house the parachute between the two tailfins. The modifications have been included to make the fighter more prepared for the more adverse weather conditions found in Scandinavia such as low temperatures, strong winds, poor visibility and slippery runways. Oslo is scheduled to receive its first F-35s this November.
Development of South Korea’s Haeseong II ship-to-ground missile has been completed with serial production of canister and vertical launch versions expected to begin in 2018. Based on the earlier SSM-700K Haeseong anti-ship missile and the culmination of a seven-year development program led by the Agency for Defense Development, the new missile will give an added ground attack capability to South Korean warships that have usually relied on anti-ship or anti-aircraft guided missiles, and will form a part of Seoul’s Kill Chain pre-emptive strike system designed to tackle a North Korean military provocation. The vertical launch variant will be operational on a number of vessel types, including the upcoming Incheon-class frigates, by 2019.
Baykar Makina’s Mini V.3 UAV, recently inducted into the Turkish armed forces:
A US Navy ban on T-45 flightshas been lifted, although lower altitude restrictions have been put in place. The trainers were barred from flying late last month after instructor pilots reported incidents of physiological problems by pilots while in the cockpit. The pilot trainer will now fly below 10,000 feet to avoid the use of the aircraft’s On Board Oxygen Generator System as authorities continue to investigate the causes of physiological episodes experienced in the cockpit by aircrew. Air crew will also wear a modified mask that circumvents the OBOGS system.
EDO Corp. Defense Systems, a subsidiary of Harris Corp., has been awarded a $29 million US Navy contract to deliver BRU-55A/A bomb ejector racks to the service. The contract calls for the delivery of 300 aircraft bomb ejector racks. BRU-55A/A racks are integrated with aircraft, enabling planes to carry a variety of munitions for combat missions including Joint Direct Attack Munitions, the Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser and the Joint Standoff Weapon. Delivery is expected to be complete by April 2020.
The Southwest Research Institute has developed a mobile treatment system that destroys chemical warfare agents without producing hazardous waste. The system comes in two configurations—wet and dry—with the wet pollution system developed by a Canadian company that has a stand-alone plasma torch treatment device with a liquid scrubber system. The dry system, used in arid or remote conditions, uses a Dedicated EGR engine thermal destruction device developed by Southwest Research Institute for the Agnostic Compact Demilitarization of Chemical Agents program of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). When chemicals are destroyed, exhaust gases pass through a fluidized bed where the combusted byproducts are captured.
Middle East & North Africa
Aselsan, Turkey’s largest defense manufacturer, has announced that they will play an “active part” in the modernization of some 10,000 Mi-series helicopters across the globe. A specialist in defense electronics, the firm added that they have a particular interest in upgrading the helicopters of Gulf and Central Asian, or Turkic, countries. As part of a demonstration to showcase their abilities, Aselsan has already upgraded a Mi-17 helicopter for an undisclosed user which included adding its own products to upgrade multi-function displays, keyboard display units, inertial navigation systems, mission computers, digital moving map systems, internal communications systems, and very/ultra-high-frequency and high-frequency radios. The company said that after the demo upgrade on the Mi-17 they expect to start work on other platforms in the inventory of the “country concerned.”
It’s been reported that Russia’s Zircon hypersonic anti-ship missile has reached speeds of Mach 8 during recent tests. Designed to be launched from the 3S14 Agat vertical launch system, the missile’s firing range is about 400 kilometers, while the maximum speed of the missile is indicated in about 4-6 Mach. The missile will be installed at the heave nuclear-powered cruisers Peter the Great and Admiral Nakhimov. Moscow plans for the missile to enter production next year.
Iran has presented, for the first time, an indigenously-built stealth fighter jet. Previously reported as a hoax in Western media due to several aesthetic irregularities, the Qaher F-313 was unveiled during a ceremony attended by high-ranking government officials which included an address from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. It must also be noted that no flight display was given although the aircraft has under gone taxi tests. The ceremony also saw the unveiling of the Kowsar, a jet trainer that is capable of conducting short-range aerial support missions armed with various weapons.
A delegation from Vietnam’s Defense Ministry has visited the Kazan Helicopter plant in Russia, amid expressions of interest in procuring a number of civilian and military model helicopters for the South-east Asian nation. Models being sought include the Mi-17V-5, Mi-38 and Ansat helicopters, and the visit to the plant was in order to discuss terms of delivery. Vietnam has been in talks with several nations, including India and the US, over acquisitions of new defense platforms and training, as it looks to beef up capabilities to deter against neighboring China.
South Korea will decide next month if their M-SAM air-defense system will be declared operational. According to sources, testing and evaluations of the low-tier missile system have been completed and it now awaits a final process next month to determine its suitability for intended combat missions. Seoul had initially intended to have the system deployed in the early 2020s, but ongoing tensions with North Korea caused the government to push the deployment between 2018 and 2019. Employing hit-to-kill technology, the system will intercept incoming hostile ballistic missiles at altitudes of around 20 kilometers.