USAF wraps up OA-X experiment | Hanwha chases European K9 howitzer sales | India orders Dhruv helicopters for army and navySep 07, 2017 05:00 UTC
- General Dynamics Land Systems has won two US Department of Defense (DoD) contracts for the upgrade of M1A2 series of main battle tanks for the US Army. The first contract, valued at $311 million, calls for the firm to upgrade seven Abrams tanks from the M1A2 System Enhancement Package 3 into a SEPv4 variant. Upgrades included in the SEPv4 package include an improved Commander and Gunner’s Primary Sights, thermal systems, and other enhancements to the tank’s armor and mobility. The second deal, estimated to be worth $270 million, will see production of 45 Abrams SEPv3 tanksto the US Army, with production starting this fall.
- The US Air Force (USAF) has wrapped up its light attack aircraft experiment at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. The light attack demo, which started in late July and ran until August 30, included the A-29 Super Tucano offered by Sierra Nevada Corp. and Embraer, the AT-802L Longsword from L3 Technologies and Air Tractor and the Scorpion jet and AT-6 Wolverine turboprop, both made by Textron. USAF Secretary Heather Wilson said that the service will now complete reports on the cost and performance of each aircraft, with a decision on whether or not to conduct a combat experiment expected by the end of the year. Although the USAF still hasn’t chosen exactly where a combat demonstration would be held, Wilson noted that the Afghan Air Force has flown combat sorties with its Super Tucanos over the past 18 months — so far, without any losses.
Middle East & Africa
- French MQ-9 Reapers UAVs in Mali will soon be armed. Six Reapers, scheduled for delivery in 2019, will come armed with Hellfire missiles while the six remaining unarmed UAVs will be armed by 2020. France currently has five unarmed Reaper reconnaissance drones positioned in Niger’s capital Niamey to support its 4,000-strong Barkhane counter-terrorism operation in Africa, and one in France. The armed drones are expected to offer a quick-response to Islamist militants operating in the Sahara region.
- Poland has signed a deal to purchase 53,000 Grot 5.56mm assault rifles from the state-owned FB Lucznik plant. The rifle deal, worth $140 million, with deliveries expected to be completed in 2022, will be supplied to both professional troops and the country’s Territorial Defence Force, a new force under development which comprises volunteers. Warsaw also aims to to gradually increase the country’s defense spending from 2 percent of its gross domestic product per NATO standards to 2.5 percent by 2030.
- Building upon its sale of K9 self-propelled howitzers to Estonia, Hanwha Corporation is looking to find additional sales of the artillery with Central and Eastern European allies. The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania have all been offered the howitzer, however, talks are all at early stages according to the company. Following Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine in 2014, numerous Eastern European countries have unveiled plans to purchase howitzers for their respective armed forces. Estonia’s K9 acquisition is in cooperation with Finland, with whom it already cooperated in 2009 on an air surveillance radar procurement.
- Orbital ATK has received a $69.4 million contract for the Afghanistan air force’s AC-208 armed intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft. Work on the pseudo foreign military sale—which is not signed by the receiving nation but serves to document the eventual delivery of the systems under the contract—will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas, with a scheduled completion date for Nov. 30, 2018. The aircraft has a fully integrated digital mission system, AAR-47/ALE-47 Defensive Countermeasures System, radio data links, as well as ballistic panels for the cockpit and passenger areas for protection against ground small arms fire. It can be armed with laser-guided Hellfire missiles and carries it’s own laser designator targeting pod.
- Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) has received a combined Indian navy and army contract for the delivery of 41 Dhruv advanced light helicopters (ALH). The agreement, worth $976 million, will see the bulk of the helicopters delivered to the army while a solitary model will be sent to the navy over a 60 month period. It follows a March order for 32 Dhruvs, half of which are for the navy and the other half for India’s coast guard.
- US President Donald Trump has pledged to increase weapons sales to Japan and South Korea, following North Korea’s latest round of nuclear testing. Taking to his usual medium of Twitter, Trump said “I am allowing Japan & South Korea to buy a substantially increased amount of highly sophisticated military equipment from the United States,” and followed and earlier call with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, during which Trump “provided his conceptual approval for the purchase of many billions of dollars’ worth of military weapons and equipment from the United States by South Korea,” according to a White House readout. That readout also stated that Washington would look to remove limits on payloads of weapons sold to South Korea.
- An Iranian UAV base: