Textron to join Embraer for Light Attack Experiment | Investigation into USAF secrecy over B-21 | Russia to swap fighters for rubber with Malaysia?May 17, 2017 05:00 UTC
- The USAF has invited Textron Aviation to enter both the AT-6 turboprop and Scorpion twin-jet to face off against Embraer’s A-29 Super Tucano in the service’s demonstration of close air support capability. August’s demonstration, now known as the Light Attack Experiment, will include a broad set of counter-land missions typical of an extended military campaign and builds on previous close air support experiments organized by the US Navy and Special Operations Command. The AT-6 Wolverine is adapted from the Beechcraft T-6 Texan II with a higher-thrust engine, data links and weapons stations, while the clean-sheet Scorpion was initially designed in 2012 to offer the Air National Guard a low-cost tactical combat jet for roles such as air sovereignty patrols and mission in low-threat war zones.
- Orbital ATK has been contracted by the US Army to produce and deliver large-caliber training ammunition. The $53 million agreement will cover both 120mm and 105mm rounds. The 120mm training ammunition, used by Abrams tanks, includes the M865 kinetic energy and the M1002 multi-purpose tank training rounds, while 105mm M724A2 rounds will be produced for crew training on the Stryker Mobile Gun System vehicles. So far, the ammunition manufacturer has sold almost 5 million rounds of large caliber munitions to the Army, Marin Corp, and US international allies and partners.
- The Pentagon’s inspector general has opened an investigation as to whether the USAF has imposed unnecessary additional secrecy on its B-21 bomber program. Last year, the Air Force rebuffed requests, including from Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, to reveal basic information such as the value of the development contract awarded to lead contractor Northrop Grumman or the amount of the fee set aside to encourage meeting program goals, citing their potential value to adversaries. Now, the DoD’s watchdog office will review and submit a report to Congress within the next six months aiming to ascertain whether there is the right mix of balanced program classification and transparency.
Middle East & North Africa
- BAE Systems has rolled out the lead example of its Eurofighter Typhoons destined for delivery to Oman later this year. Muscat’s Typhoon order, signed in December 2012, is for nine single-seat aircraft and three two-seat examples to support training activities. A ceremony to mark the occasion was hosted at the firm’s final assembly in Lancashire, UK, with the Typhoon joined by Oman’s first new-generation Hawk advanced jet trainer, of which eight Mk 166 examples are on order by the Gulf sultanate.
- Isreal’s Elbit Systems has unveiled the newest variant of its SPEAR MK2 mortar system designed for lightweight combat vehicles. The 120mm mortar system has seen improvements made to its coverage area as well as a new high recoil deduction capability. The system can be rapidly deployed and features both autonomous and manual activation and uses an integrated command and control system enabling full mission autonomy and providing battlefield management and situational awareness capabilities, fire missions’ prioritization and monitoring of personnel assignments.
- The CEO of French aviation firm Dassault, Eric Trappier, has told French media that the firm expects to sell an additional 18 Rafale fighters next year. In an interview with French regional newspaper Sud-Ouest on Sunday, Trappier hinted that the purchaser may by Malaysia, in a deal that could potentially be worth $2 billion. India has also been earmarked as a potential repeat customer after a high profile deal for 36 Rafales was concluded last year. “India’s needs are enormous,” said Trappier. “Hence, for its navy, 57 aircraft are considered,” he added. Malaysia, however, may be the more likely candidate for a deal to be finalized in the near term as it looks to replace its ageing combat aircraft.
- Russia is keen to swap rubber products for fighter jets with Indonesia, according to Oke Nurwan, the Foreign Ministry’s foreign trade director general. While a decision on the offer has yet to be made, Moscow is willing to deliver Sukhoi jet fighters in exchange for Indonesian crumb rubber in a deal valued at $600 million. While response from local rubber producers has been positive, specific legislation still needs to be created by a yet-to-be decided ministry in order to facilitate the necessary groundwork for such an agreement to move forward.
- A recent North Korean ballistic missile test has been detected by the newly-deployed THAAD system in South Korea, marking the first time the controversial air defense system has been put in use. The announcement was made by South Korea’s defense minister, Han Min-koo, who added that that Pyongyang is also at a more mature stage of development than previously thought, adding that the ICBM used in the test was of an “enhanced caliber compared to Musudan missiles that have continually failed” in previous rounds of testing.
- Elbit’s Spear mortar system: