Navy sceptical of RAND aircraft carrier suggestions | THAAD handed over to USFK | Egypt to discuss Rafales, covettes, and human rights with FranceOct 24, 2017 05:00 UTC
- Boeing has suggested the inclusion of equipment upgrades on US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets slated for service life extension work from next year. Negotiations between the firm and Navy for the first service life modification (SLM) contract are currently underway, which will lay out the structural modifications the company will conduct to extend the life of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet from 6,000 to 9,000 flight hours. Additional modernization work suggested by Boeing that could be carried out during the life extension include an upgrade to the more advanced Block III configuration, addition of conformal fuel tanks, an advanced cockpit station and advanced networking, as well as application of a low observable coating to the aircraft to help reduce the aircraft’s signature. Despite these ideas, Boeing was unable to give a full costing for these additional upgrades with Boeing’s director of SLM, Mark Sears, saying that there would be an additional cost to develop the Block III retrofit kits as well as “a few million” dollars more per plane to make the relevant changes. The Super Hornet SLM effort is set to take about 10 years, with as many as 50 aircraft going through the process modifications per year starting in 2023.
- US President Donald Trump signed Friday an executive order that will allow the US Air Force to recall as many as 1,000 retired pilots back to active duty. Under current law, only 25 pilots can be recalled by the service. The October 20 order comes after the military said that the flying branch is lacking 1,500 pilots, however, the service said it does not plan to use the new flexibility given by the Commander in Chief. Speaking on the executive order, Ann Stefanek, the chief of Air Force media operations, said Sunday the added power provided by Trump is appreciated but the Air Force does not “currently intend to recall retired pilots.”
- A report from US think tank the Rand Corporation on alternative aircraft carrier designs for the US Navy has come with a word of warning from the Navy. Copies of the report were submitted by the sailing branch to Congress with a letter warning that none of the four designs proposed would meet current operational requirements and might require new concept of operations, but it added that it would further study those concepts as it examines the design of its fleet of the future. Two of the designs are based on the Ford-class and America-class carriers while the other two are fresh ideas that will require engineering development. Shortfalls found in the designs closer in size to the Ford-class included a reduction in the capabilities the Navy requires of its aircraft carriers for mission success, according to the Sept. 8 letter. The smaller of those two variants wouldn’t be cost-effective or feasible because of engineering challenges, the Navy said.
Middle East & Africa
- Turkey’s Undersecretary of Defense Industry (SSM) Ismail Demir has told Turkish state media that production has started on a series of lightweight “kamikaze drones” capable of being operated by one soldier. The two models include the tactical striking, fixed-wing Alpagu and the rotating-wing Kargu, both capable of operating within a 5 kilometre range and striking targets during either the day or night. An additional rotating-wing system—the Togan—is also in production and will be tasked with surveillance missions.
- Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sissi is expected to use his trip to Paris this week to raise the issue with his French counterpart over purchasing additional Rafale fighters, as well as two more DCNS Gowind 2500 corvettes. Cairo currently has 24 Rafale fighters and four Gowind 2500 corvettes on order under a 2015 multi-billion contract signed with the previous French government. However, that deal was financed with the help of loans underwritten by the French government and it remains unclear whether Paris would extend fresh loans for further purchases. French President Emmanuel Macron is also expected to raise human rights abuses with al-Sissi, after receiving criticism at home for remaining silent in the face of increasing violations of freedoms by Sisi’s government in the run up to the 2018 presidential elections.
- Russian Helicopters confirmed on October 19 that its first batch of Mi-28UB helicopters will be ready for delivery to the Russian Ministry of Defense from next month. The firm added that the first units of the combat training helicopter have already completed factory tests. Chief Executive Officer of Russian Helicopters, Andrey Boginsky said the “emergence of training and combat version offers almost unlimited possibilities in terms of improving the pilots training system for Mi-28N. I’d like to note that the opportunity of learning not on the simulator but on a real combat helicopter is a considerable advantage of our military pilots compared to their colleagues from other countries.”
- German and Israeli authorities have given conflicting comments on a submarine deal that has been shrouded in a corruption scandal. While a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed after a three month delay, Berlin reiterated that a deal has not been concluded and that it will wait for Israeli prosecutors to complete all investigations into the scandal involving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before delivering the three submarines manufactured by ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems. Israeli officials, however, are seeing the sale as a done deal, with Housing Minister Yoav Gallant welcoming “the German approval”. The 2016 deal has been under public scrutiny since it emerged that Netanyahu’s personal lawyer also represented the local agent of ThyssenKrupp, and several Israelis have been arrested in connection with the case since the summer.
- The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery recently deployed to South Korea has been officially handed over to US Forces Korea (USFK). An official ceremony was held on Oct. 19 to mark the transfer Delta Battery of the 11th Air Defense Artillery (ADA) Brigade in Fort Bliss, Texas, to the 35th ADA Brigade in South Korea. A joint security force comprising US and South Korean troops is also being formed to guard the Seongju base, troops to come from South Korea’s 201st Special Assault Brigade under the 2nd Operation Command and USFK’s special combined security force. THAADs deployment has proved a controversial decision, with locals living near the battery demanding the system’s removal.
- Turkey’s Alpagu kamikaze drone: