- The US Navy has validated a software fix to the service’s Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) after it was found during testing that the next-generation catapult generates excessive vibration to the aircraft when external fuel tanks are attached. However, final testing involving launches with an instrumented aircraft have been postponed for an additional year, with the service citing competing testing priorities as the reason for the delay. EMALS is one of many new technologies planned for the Navy’s Ford-class aircraft carrier fleet and is already installed on the Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78). The Ford is expected to receive the software update in 2019, following the ship’s Post Shakedown Availability.
- Testers from the USAF’s 419th Flight Test Squadron have validated that the B-52 Stratofortress bomber is capable of dropping the PDU-5/B leaflet bomb. The squadron recently ran two successful sorties where a B-52 released eight PDU-5/B leaflet bombs over the Point Mugu Sea Test Range and eight more over the Precision Impact Range Area at Edwards Air Base. During the sorties, the bombs were released from the aircraft’s external Heavy Stores Adapter Beam and the 419th now plan to drop the bomb from the internal weapons bay on future flights. Developed from the CBU-100 “Rockeye” Cluster Bomb, the PDU-5B was developed to drop leaflets in combat zones, either as psychological warfare or to inform the public.
Middle East & North Africa
- Still hunting for its maiden Scorpion sale, Textron AirLand has announced that it is in talks with Saudi Arabia over a potential sale for the light attack aircraft. While still in the early stages of negotiation, the procurement is believed to be part of the the recent $110 billion batch of arms deals agreed between Washington and Riyadh, which includes an undisclosed number and type of “light close air support aircraft” amounting to $2 billion. Saudi Arabia’s apparent interest in the Scorpion may refer to a presumed requirement for an entry-tier fighter to re-assume the role left by the Royal Saudi Air Force’s (RSAF) retired Northrop F-5 Tiger II, and could prove a cheaper alternative to the JF-17 Thunder—which Saudi expressed an interest in last year.
- Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $8 million contract modification to provide logistical support of Israel’s F-35A “Adir” fighters. The foreign military sale includes maintenance, sustainment operations, supply chain management, work on the Automated Logistics Information system and training. Work will be conducted in Orlando, Fla., Greenville, NC and Fort Worth, Texas, with a scheduled completion date of Dec. 2017.
- Media in France has reported that French President Emmanuel Macron intends to donate 31 ex-French Air Force Jaguar fighters to India after initial reports stated that a sale was being negotiated. After delivery, the transferred aircraft will be used for cannibalization to maintain sufficient spares for aircraft already in the Indian Air Force (IAF) inventory. Currently, the IAF has a fleet of 130 Jaguars IM/IS single-seat attack aircraft and 30 Jaguar IB two-seat trainers. Approximately 60 of these Jaguars will be modified to DARIN III standard by the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and the rest will remain at DARIN II standard until they’re retired.
- After two years of talks and negotiations, Indonesia has confirmed that it will purchase 11 Su-35 fighter aircraft from Russia. The fighters will replace its F5 E/F Tiger II warplanes, which have been in service with the Indonesian Air Forces since 1980s, and deliveries could commence from as early as next year. Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu made the statement to media outlets following a recent cabinet meeting, adding that the government is also looking into purchasing Chinese UAVs that will have an attack capability as well as the ability to be customized to Jakarta’s specifications.
- Insitu has been contracted by the US DoD to deliver five ScanEagle UAS systems, along with their support equipment, operators, spare parts, site activation services and management for the operation of the UAS for the government of Afghanistan. The work will primarily be conducted in Afghanistan and Bingen, Wash. with a projected completion date of April 2018. The $19.6 million order is being covered under Afghan Security Forces funding. ScanEagles provide intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance data with high endurance of over 24 hours.
- The Philippines has taken delivery of two new Cessna 208B aircraft transferred from the US. Prior to their delivery, the aircraft were fitted with electro-optical sensors and other surveillance equipment in order to help Manilla detect ships in the South China Sea and the Sulu Sea, and they are also likely to be used against Islamist militants in Marawi City on the southern island of Mindanao. The donated package as a whole is estimated to be worth in the region of $30 million. Washington has also promised to donate two ScanEagle UAVs by September to help tactical units defeat the insurgency in Mindanao, and are preparing deliveries of 500-pound bombs and unspecified rockets have been bought from the US to replenish PAF stocks depleted from daily bombing in Marawi.
- The ScanEagle UAV: