Boeing to integrate IRST on Super Hornets | SkyGuardian breaks UAV endurance record | Saab hopes for Gripen sale to CroatiaMay 30, 2017 05:00 UTC
- F/A-18 Super Hornets operated by the US Navy will have the Infrared Search and Track System (IRST) integrated onboard by Boeing. The $89 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract calls for the initial design and development, procurement of prototyping hardware, technical risk reduction efforts, integrated product support, and technical reviews of IRST Block II with the F/A-18E/F aircraft to support the system through the preliminary design review. Work is expected to continue through to April 2020. The IRST is designed to locate the heat emitted by aircraft engines without the use of active radar, which is easily detected by enemy planes and ships. It also helps countering stealth technology.
- The Canadian government is continuing to pay into the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, with the latest instalment of $30 million quietly paid in April. Having already paid $373 million into the program since 1997, the fees keeps Ottawa at the table as one of nine partners in the fighter jet project for the next year, allowing to compete for billions of dollars worth of contracts associated with the building and maintaining F-35, as well as benefitting from a discount on units for its air force. Canadian PM, Justin Trudeau, had vowed to take Canada out of the F-35 program while on the election campaign trail last year. However, since taking office, the Liberal government has paid the annual fee twice while pursuing an interim procurement of Super Hornets in order to fill the capability gap left by the ditched F-35.
- General Atomics’ new MQ-9B SkyGuardian UAV has set a new flight endurance record by topping 48 hours in the air. The new variant of the Predator B broke the record during a flight at Yuma Proving Grounds, Ariz., while carrying 6,065 pounds of internal fuel. It flew between 25,000 and 35,000 feet for the duration of the mission and landed 48.2 hours later. The previous endurance record was held by Predator XP, which flew 46.1 hours in February 2015.
Middle East & North Africa
- Elbit Systems has been contracted to deliver its J-Music DIRCM (Direct Infrared Countermeasures) system to an international organization. The $25 million deal will be carried out over a three-year period. The Multi Spectral Infrared Countermeasures (MUSIC) systems is a family of directed infrared counter-measures solutions to protect aircraft against heat-seeking ground-to-air missiles. The system is meant for protection of large aircraft and includes the PAWS IR missile warning systems.
- Saab hopes that its JAS-39 Gripen fighter stands a good chance in an upcoming Croatian fighter replacement competition, adding that the Balkan nation is closer to modernizing its fighter jet force than might have been previously expected and would look to take offers soon. Zagreb has already inspected the Gripen and is now in the process of researching information on other fighters as a possible replacement for its fleet of MiG-21s. Saab has been focusing on increasing Gripen sale and lease agreements in central and eastern Europe, with the Czech Republic and Slovakia recently signing a “Joint Sky” agreement to co-operate on maintaining a joint Gripen fleet, while a Bulgarian interim government selected the Gripen as the best option for a new fighter fleet. However, Bulgaria’s new Prime Minister, Boiko Borissov, recently indicated that its MiG-29s could keep flying for another eleven years so a quick sale to Sofia may not be on the cards just yet.
- The Indonesian government has officially deployed its first batch of five BTR-4M armored personnel carriers from Ukraine’s Kharkiv-based Morozov Machine Building Design Bureau after testing by the army in January. Ordered in 2014 with delivery coming in 2016, the contract provides the option for further supplies of 50 vehicles comes within the framework of increased capacity of Ukraine’s military industrial complex after supplying the APCs to Ukraine’s armed forces. Both countries are also looking at expanding bilateral defense cooperation with talks ongoing to form joint ventures for the production of guided air-to-air missiles, Ukrainian radar systems and Ukrainian military cargo planes.
- MD Helicopters has received a $76.7 million contract for logistical and contractor support for MD 530F Cayuse Warrior helicopters operated by the Afghan Air Force. US Army Fiscal 2017 funds of $37.6 million have been allocated to the program, with work to be carried out in Mesa, Ariz., and Afghanistan. The program is expected to be finished by May 31, 2018. 27 Cayuse Warriors were delivered to Kabul last year to assist in a variety of missions including escorts, over-watch, and close air support.
- The Philippines may look to Russian defense wares to arm its fleet of KAI FA-50PH fighters and AW-109 attack helicopters. Manilla has been contemplating a Russian defense deal for a number of sought items, including sniper rifles, but is also looking at acquiring precision guided munitions for its air wing. Last week, Islamist militants affiliated with the Islamic State stormed the town of Marawi, resulting in President Rodrigo Deuterte declaring martial law across the country’s southernmost island of Mindana.