- Leonardo and IMP Aerospace & Defence (IMP) are collaborating on a bid for the Canadian Air Force’s (RCAF) CH-149 Cormorant Search and Rescue (SAR) modernisation program. The joint venture, Team Cormoran, will look to modify Ottawa’s current inventory of AW101-519s, the VH-71 Kestrel model once slated to replace the US president’s helicopter, along with the RCAF’s current fleet of 14 Cormorants. Upgrades will include new avionics, advanced radars and sensors, vision enhancement and tracking systems. Final delivery of the modernization is expected for 2024 and is expected to keep the CH-149s flying until 2040. Contracts for the program are scheduled for later this year and is expected to cost between $500 million and $1.5 billion.
- The US Navy has received delivery of the air carrier USS Gerald R. Ford from Huntington Ingalls Industries after completing acceptance trials on May 26. It is the first aircraft carrier to join the fleet since USS George H. W. Bush in 2009, and features a larger flight deck, the ability to host more aircraft, additional weapons and aviation fuel storage, and the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System and Advanced Arresting Gear, giving the Navy increased sortie rates by one-third when compared to Nimitz-class vessels. The Ford will be commissioned later this summer and will be declared operational in 2020.
- BAE Systems and Helios Global Technologies have agreed to collaborate on developing a “custard style” liquid armor for ground troops. The new style is considered an improvement on the ballistic fabric vests like Kevlar and ceramic plate models that are meant to shatter on impact, as it actually hardens when struck. It is also part of a wider plan to develop a future advanced armored suit known as “Iron Man,” named after a well-known comic book character.
- The USAF’s unfunded wish list for FY 2018 focuses on procuring F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and KC-46 tanker aircraft, however priorities lie with advancing research and development. Of the $10.7 billion unfunded priorities list submitted by the service to Washington at the end of the month, $6.7 billion would be invested in advancing its readiness needs which would include an additional 14 F-35As, three KC-46As, 12 MC-130Js, and an additional HC-130 on top of previously arranged procurements. The list also includes $131.6 million for various modifications for fourth- and fifth-generation fighter jets
- South Africa’s Denel has announced that it is in discussions with various government departments, including the South African Air Force, on upgrading the Rooivalk combat helicopter and developing a next generation Rooivalk Mk 2 to be marketed for export. Plans for the next-gen Rooivalk were revealed at a demonstration event at the Denel Overberg Test Range (DOTR) in the Western Cape where two Mokopa precision guided missiles were fired as part of ongoing qualification testing. Potential customers in need of such combat helicopters include Poland, Nigeria, and Egypt.
- The Swedish military is currently conducting comparative testing of several types of handheld mine detectors as part of plans to upgrade current explosive ordinance disposal (EOD) systems. Wares from seven companies are currently being looked at at the Swedish EOD and Demining Centre (SWEDEC) where the products will be run through a number of comprehensive tests using diverse targets, soil types and environments. A Swedish Armed Forces statement said that the “test results can be used as a basis to help SWEDEC and the Swedish Armed Forces as well as others partners to find and choose the right product in this field. And the companies get a proper review on their products.”
- With security now at the heart of the UK’s parliamentary election race, oppositions leaders are calling for the publication of a long delayed report into terror funding in the UK which allegedly focuses on the role of Saudi Arabia—its biggest customer for defense systems. The calls have increased in the aftermath of last Saturday’s terrorist attack in central London—the third terrorist incident in the UK in the space of three months—where three men killed seven people and injured dozens of others before being shot to death by police. Speaking in Carlisle on Sunday evening, Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn said that the UK needs to “have some difficult conversations, starting with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states that have funded and fuelled extremist ideology. Labour had previously hinted that if elected, it would look at cancelling arms sales to Riyadh amid reports of ongoing war crimes in Yemen. Voters go to the polls on Thursday.
- India has successfully test-fired its Quick Reaction Surface-to-Air Missile (QR-SAM). Developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Bharat Electronics Limited, testing was conducted from a truck-mounted canister launcher at the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur—the location of last month’s test-firing of the Surface to air Python and Derby (SPYDER) Missile system. The QR-SAM system is equipped for quick reaction engagement of aerial threats in all-weather conditions and is capable of search-on-the-move.
- Test-fire of QR-SAM missile: