- The US DoD has awarded Lockheed Martin a $1.377 billion contract for the low-rate initial production of 130 Lot 12 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, including the provision of parts, maintenance, and other services for the program. In addition the Lot 12 F-35 production for the USAF, Navy, USMC and other non-Department of Defense and foreign customers, the contract provides for initial production of 110 Lot 13 and Lot 14 F-35 Lighting II fighter planes for non-U.S. Department of Defense participants and foreign sales customers. The proportion of funding to the various branches is: $315.5 million for the USAF; $128 million for the USMC; and $43.5 million for the Navy. The final quarter of the contract, approximately $364.6 million, will be directed toward military sales customers. Contracted work is expected to be completed by December 2018.
- Lockheed also won a $332.1 million foreign military sales contract to provide the Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensor System (M-TADS/PNVS) on Apache helicopters operated by international partners. The UK, Egypt, India, Korea, Indonesia, Taiwan, Netherlands, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Poland are all recipients of the contract, which includes the provision of maintenance and upgrades, including subcomponent production and technical services. Work sites have yet to be decided, but will be determined as each order goes through, and completion of the contract is scheduled for April 2018. This contract follows a recent order for the delivery of 14 M-TADS to the Japanese Self Defense Forces by 2020.
- The US Army has awarded GE Engineering a contract for up to 2,500 T700 turboshaft engines. Estimated to be valued in excess of $1 billion, the engines and its variants have been used on a plethora of US military helicopters including the Blackhawk, Seahawk, Jayhawk, Pave Hawk, AH-64 Apache, UH-1Y Huey and 214ST Super Transport helicopters. The series has also been used by more than 50 international operators. Speaking on the award, Harry Nahatis, vice president and general manager of GE Aviation praised the company’s consistent investment in upgrading the engine with its commercial and military technologies, beating the performance expectations of customers across a range of operating environments around the globe.
Middle East & North Africa
- Havelsan has announced that it will showcase its simulator system developed for the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) T-129 ATAK attack helicopter at this month’s International Defence Industry Fair (IDEF) in Istanbul. Developed to match with real-world conditions as closely as possible, the system employs the use of satellite images, 3D models, environmental challenges and technical malfunctions, and comprises of two simulator systems which allows trainee pilots to separately learn how to use the T-129’s flight and avionics systems, followed by its weapon systems. This dual system is believed to acclimate pilots to the T-129 as well as prepare them for potential challenges.
- Romania’s Defense Minister Gabriel Les has rolled back slightly on his government’s announcement that Bucharest was interested in acquiring the Patriot system, saying that it is just one of a several possible solutions that is being looked at by officials. Responding to criticisms that the system may be too old, Les argued that the purchase of Patriot was more about air defense rather than for solely countering anti-ballistic missile threats. “The system is not for antiballistic defence, it’s about an air defence system against all possible aircraft. Just as the defence against cruise missiles is another thing. When we will have a solution in this direction, we will come up and announce it publicly, because after all, this is our intention, to be extremely transparent,” he added.
- The Uganda Wildlife Authority has budgeted $3.1 million for the procurement of one helicopter, a fixed wing aircraft and up to five unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in order to boost its surveillance capabilities across its national parks. Speaking at a parliamentary portfolio committee, the Authorities executive director, Andrew Seguya, said the procurement was necessary to end the reliance by the organization on Ugandan military assets when responding to poaching emergencies and routine game ranger deployments. Once purchased, the UAVs will be used for surveillance while the light fixed wing aircraft, with a seating capacity of between 8 and 12 people, would be used for conducting wildlife surveillance operations and aerial censuses.
- US officials have stated that the THAAD air defense system deployed to South Korea has reached initial operating capability (IOC), adding that it should be noted that full operating capability is still months away. South Korea also established a “restricted operating zone control measure” over the THAAD site on April 30, to control air space. The deployment—ordered to dissuade and defend against potential North Korean ballistic missiles—has gained fresh criticisms from China, who fear THAAD’s radar will penetrate into Chinese territory, as well as receiving some controversy at home. Locals living near the site fear that it will now be a target for Pyongyang, while the favorite to win South Korea’s presidential election on May 9, has called for deployment to be delayed until after the next administration is in place and can review the decision.
- The twin-seat variant of the JF-17 has conducted its maiden flight. Co-developed by Pakistan and China for use by the Pakistan Air Force, the JF-17B also utilises a dorsal fin containing an additional fuel tank, giving the twin-seater a fuel load comparable to the single-seat variant. Images of the fighter also show the addition of a vertical stabiliser, a larger size, and that it rises at a shallower angle from its predecessor. Flight testing of the low-cost fighter had initially been scheduled for late 2016, but Chinese sources have not given any reason for the delay.
- The JF-17B: