Spare parts crisis hits F-35 program | Swedes go supersonic with Gripen E | India interested in Canadian Sea KingsOct 31, 2017 07:00 UTC
- Raytheon received Friday a US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) contract, with a ceiling of $1.5 billion, for Army Navy Transportable Radar Surveillance Model 2 (AN/TPY-2) and Sea-Based X-Band (SBX) radar support services.. The follow-on agreement includes AN/TPY-2 radar logistics support, AN/TPY-2 sustaining engineering, AN/TPY-2 transition and transfer, AN/TPY-2 depot transition, SBX logistics support, and SBX sustaining engineering. Work will take place at Raytheon’s Woburn, Massachusetts facility, and several stateside and overseas locations. The contract’s ordering period runs from November 1, 2017, through October 31, 2020, with four successive one year option periods provided in the contract.
- A spare parts shortage has stricken the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program and is severely limiting operational capabilities. A US Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released Thursday found that “from January through August 7, 2017, F-35 aircraft were unable to fly about 22 percent of the time due to parts shortages,” and the shortage is likely to plague the program for several years to come. Reasons for the delay include “incomplete plans and funding that did not account for the long lead time parts,” while other instances blamed delays in the establishment of repair capabilities. Lead contractor Lockheed Martin said that it is now looking into finding disciplined ways it can reduce the overall operations and sustainment costs of the F-35 and is working with program partners to build a more cost effective supply chain. The Pentagon currently sustains 250 F-35s, and plans to triple its fleet by the end of 2021 and field 3,200 aircraft globally over the programme’s lifecycle.
Middle East & Africa
- Elbit Systems is to split its Cyberbit operation and bring the intelligence gathering operations back under the parent company’s wing while leaving the commercial business under the Cyberbit brand. The decision was made as the the two sectors diverge operationally and Elbit fear that offering commercial products alongside technologies used for national security and spying could cause confusion. Adi Dar, Cyberbit’s CEO, told a Reuters Cyber Security Summit in Tel Aviv that the “mix between the two provides limitations that we believe that if we remove them it would be for the benefit of the two sides of the equation.” Founded in 2015, Cyberbit had initially seen the structure of offering a homeland security portfolio with phone tapping and monitoring systems, alongside civilian cyber protection for banks and utilities, as an advantage.
- Saab’s Gripen E smart fighter flew its first supersonic flight on October 18, the firm announced last Friday. During the flight, conducted over the Baltic Sea, the aircraft conducted maneuvers to demonstrate its aerodynamic design and powerful engine, and the data collected will go towards the ongoing flight trials for the fighter program. Saab said that the milestone had been preceded by over 20 flying hours since the jet’s first flight back on June 15, 2017.
- After a year’s delay, Slovakia received the first of two ordered C-27J Spartan military transporters. It landed at an airbase in Kuchyna, Záhorie region, on October 24 ahead of the official handover ceremony scheduled for tomorrow, October 31. Delivery of the second aircraft is expected for early next year. Manufactured by Italian aircraft-builder Leonardo, a Slovak government spokesperson said that the possibility of imposed penalties on the firm for the delayed delivery will only be announced once negotiations have been completed. The Spartans will fill Slovakia’s capability gap left by the phasing out of its Soviet-era An-24 transport planes—one of which crashed in 2006 resulting in 42 deaths, including a contingent of peacekeeping troops returning from duty in Kosovo.
- Two AgustaWestland AW139 helicopters will be delivered to the Queensland government in Australia, Leonardo has announced. Coming at a cost of approximately $15 million each, the rotorcraft are expected to replace two older models in 2018 under Queensland’s fleet modernization program, and will be tasked with providing additional medical services as well as conducting both sea and land search and rescue missions. Once delivered, Queensland will have total of five AW139s in its fleet, with Australia as a whole operating more than 120 of the helicopters.
- In response to a US House of Representatives vote extending sanctions against Iran’s ballistic missile program, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani vowed to continue production of missiles for its defense. “We have built, are building and will continue to build missiles, and this violates no international agreements,” Rouhani said in a speech to parliament Sunday that was broadcast on state television. The sanctions come as Washington looks to curb Tehran’s influence in the region in the wake of expanding influence in Iraq and Syria without without immediately moving to undermine an international nuclear agreement. Despite claims by the Trump Administration that Iran has violated terms of the 2015 agreement, the UN watchdog in Tehran has vouched for Iran’s compliance.
- It’s been reported that the Indian government has expressed interest in procuring retired Canadian CH-124 Sea King helicopters. 16 Sea Kings have so far been taken out of service as Ottawa replaces them with the CH-148 Cyclone and the matter of selling them on was discussed during Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s trip to India last spring. 24 Sea King’s will eventually be up for grabs when the final ones are retired by 2018 with the current resale value average just shy of $200k. India isn’t the only party interested, however, with five out governments and organisations also expressing informal interest in the helicopters for either search and rescue and transport duties.
- Supersonic Swede: Interview with Gripen E test pilot, Robin Nordlander: