SpaceX to launch secret government payload in November | More MSVFs destined for Afghanistan | South Korea to form Global Hawk ISR unitOct 23, 2017 05:00 UTC
- Boeing has awarded Lockheed Martin two contracts to upgrade the latter’s IRST21 sensor system for use on the US Navy’s F/A-18E/F fleet. According to Lockheed, the Block II contracts provide up to $100 million “for developing advanced software, performing hardware upgrades and delivering prototypes,” with the aim to “enhance IRST21’s proven detection, tracking and ranging capabilities in radar-denied environments.” Compared to radar, IRST21 significantly enhances the resolution of multiple targets, giving pilots a “see first, strike first” capability that will allow them to accurately identify threat formations at longer ranges. The IRST21’s predecessor, the IRST, has accumulated more than 300,000 flight hours on the US Navy’s F-14 and on international F-15 platforms.
- Some time in November, but possibly November 15, will see SpaceX launch a classified government payload, according to regulatory filings. Under the codename “Zuma,” the spacecraft is being supplied by Northrop Grumman and will be launched into orbit by a Falcom 9 rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Landing Zone 1. While further information on the mission may never come to light, similarly classified launches of satellites built by Lockheed Martin for undisclosed customers were launched by United Launch Alliance in 2009 and 2014. It was later revealed in documents leaked by Edward Snowden that at least one of the Lockheed satellites, called Palladium At Night (PAN), was used to intercept data for intelligence and military operations over the Middle East.
Middle East & Africa
- Textron Systems Marine and Land Systems received Wednesday, a $332.9 US Army order for up to 255 Mobile Strike Force Vehicles (MSFV). Based out of New Orleans, La., the firm will allocate work locations and funding depending on each order, with a scheduled completion date scheduled for October 2024. Based on Textron’s Commando Select 4×4 armoured vehicles, the MSFV comes in three variants including an armored personnel carrier (APC) equipped with a Mk.19 Grenade Launcher, an automatic belt-fed weapon system that fires 40mm grenades, and a .50 caliber machine-gun turret. While the recipient of the vehicles was not mentioned in the contract, Textron sources speaking to Jane’s confirmed that the contract will support the Afghan National Army (ANA) Defense and Security Forces. Since the first vehicles were shipped to Afghanistan in 2011, 634 MSFVs spread across all three variants have been provided to the ANA.
- Saab has been tapped by MBDA to provide subsystems work on the European missile maker’s Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile. Under the $18.4 million deal, Saab will produce and deliver a radar proximity fuze system for the missile, which detects the target and calculates the best time to detonate the warhead to achieve maximum effect. Deliveries will take place from 2020 through to 2021. Last year, the Swedish Air Force became the first operator of the Meteor, testing it extensively on its Saab Jas-39 Gripen fighters, and MBDA plan to equip the missile on the Eurofighter Typhoon, F-35, and Dassault Rafale operated by several European and world air forces.
- As part of investigations into the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine, it has been reported that the Georgian government transferred a Buk missile to the Dutch Military Intelligence and Security Service earlier this year. The missile type is suspected to have been the one responsible for the aircraft’s downing, after being supplied by Moscow to ethnic Russian separatists fighting for secession from Ukraine. The Netherlands had previously tested the Buk’s explosive power during tests in Finland, and in conjunction to the investigation, the Dutch Defense Ministry also wants to see the extent to which the missile can pose a threat to the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Over 100 persons of interest have been identified by Dutch Chief Prosecutor Fred Westerbeke, including those who organised the arrival of the rocket and oversaw its transport from Russia to Ukraine and back.
- US rifle manufacturer Barrett will supply 40 M107A1 anti-materiel weapon and 42 Multi-Role Adaptive Design (MRAD) sniper rifle to New Zealand’s Defense Force. The weapons will be carried by infantry personnel and commandos. Estimated to cost in excess of $2.85 million, the sale also includes day optics, suppressors and ballistic computer auxiliary equipment to complement the weapon systems. They will be inducted into service by mid-2018.
- South Korean firms signed a number of cooperation agreements and ventures with foreign UAV manufacturers at this year’s ADEX event in Seoul. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Huneed Technologies Co. Ltd that will see them look to identify common areas of technology, manufacturing, and strategic interests, paving the way for Huneed to become a key in-country strategic supplier for GA-ASI in Korea. Another MoU was signed between GA-ASI and Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology gives opens the door for better understanding of the civil airspace environment of South Korea its regulatory structure. Meanwhile, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Hankuk Carbon formed a joint venture to offer UAsV, which Korea Aviation Technologies will manufacture, on both the military and civilian markets, specifically in South Korea.
- The Republic of Korea Air Force is planning to set up a new airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) unit in December, specifically tasked with analysing the data collected from its new RQ-4 Global Hawk assets. A total of four Global Hawks are on order, with the first batch of two scheduled to arrive next year followed by the final two in 2019. The new unit will work alongside Seoul’s existing ISR battalion which includes a fleet of four Boeing 737-700 Peace Eye airborne early warning & control (AEW&C) system aircraft.
- Syrian Democratic Forces perform celebratory donuts after evicting ISIS from Raqqa: