Jordan air base to get multi-million USAF facelift | Nexter wins again in French Scorpion program | Croatia to choose between Gripen and Israeli F-16sNov 28, 2017 05:00 UTC
- Huntington Ingalls Industries launched last Wednesday, its eighth National Security Cutter vessel, Midgett, for the US Coast Guard. A Legend-class cutter, the vessel was launch at Pascagoula, Miss., ahead of its christening on December 9. It is named after John Allen Midgett, who was awarded the Silver Cup by the UK Board of Trade in 1918. Midgett received the award for rescuing 42 British sailors aboard the British tanker Mirlo after it was torpedoed by a German U-boat off the coast of North Carolina. The Legend-class is the largest and most technologically advanced class of cutter and are being procured to replace the service’s legacy Hamilton-class cutters, which have been in service since the 1960s.
Middle East & Africa
- Turkey will receive its first delivery of the S-400 Triumf air defense system in 2019, Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli told parliament’s Planning and Budget Committee. He added that Ankara’s agreement with Russia includedan order for one S-400 system with a second one remaining optional. Turkey is also gearing up to work with the Franco-Italian Eurosam consortium on developing its own missile defense system, which is likely to be a more advanced version of the consortium’s SAMP-T system. A deal with Eurosam is expected to be finalized by the end of 2017 at the latest.
- $143 million has been made available by US Congress for upgrade work at Muwaffaq Salti Air Base in Jordan. The base, which has been used by US, Belgian, and Dutch air force fighter-bombers due to its proximity to the border with Syria and Iraq, and has been an important strategic asset in the air campaign against the Islamic State. US Air Force documents reveal that the base has been overwhelmed by the pace of operations, with limited ramp space to launch combat sorties, has “zero dedicated space to support cargo and personnel recovery operations” and is operating at “four to five times what the space was originally intended to support.” But since the USAF’s initial budget request, there has been a drop in combat activity in Iraq and Syria as IS territory evaporates amid offensives from both Syria’s government and allies on one side and Iraqi security forces on the other. That said, however, the inclusion of the Jordan project in the $700 billion National Defense Authorization Act highlights the Pentagon’s long-term needs in the region.
- In its competition to select a replacement fighter for its ageing fleet of MiG-21 fighter aircraft, Croatia has identified both the Saab Jas-39 Gripen and second-hand F-16s from Israel as the front runners for selection, Croatian media reports. Two other offers of F-16s from United States and Greece have already been considered and rejected onthe grounds that they were too expensive and required modernization respectively. In addition to being the most cost effective, Croatia is looking to become a strategic defense partner with Israel, which may give the F-16 package the edge, while Saab have already dropped its Gripen package by some 300 million euro ($358 million) in order to become a more competitive bid. A decision is expected on November 30.
- Russia has successfully conducted an interceptor test with its A-135 anti-ballistic missile (ABM) system. Conducted at the Sary-Shagan range in Kazakhstan, the modernized interceptor missile successfully hit a simulated target. Development of the A-135 began in 1971 and the first launch took place in 1979. Development of a successor system—the A-235—began in 2014, with Moscow expecting to have the test of a new interceptor missile within the next two to three years, however, it was not disclosed what type of interceptor was used during the recent test. The A-135 is tasked primarily with protecting Moscow from nuclear attacks. It includes the Don-2N radio-radar station, located in Sofrino, near Moscow and can detect warheads in flight, at a distance of up to 3,700 km.
- French government-owned weapons manufacturer Nexter has won out against a unit of Swedish-owned Volvo—Renault Trucks Defense (RTD)—in a tender to design and produce a light multirole reconnaissance vehicle, dubbed “Light VBMR,” for the French Army. The winning firm was informed unofficially last week ahead of the eventual official announcement by the Armed Forces Ministry. The vehicle is being procured as part of the French Army’s Scorpion program, where Nexter are already involved as joint prime contractor for the Jaguar combat reconnaissance vehicle and Griffon multirole troop carrier. Despite having earlier highlighted the strategic importance of winning the competition, an RTD exec said that losing the Light VBMR deal “is a pity, but not catastrophic.” The Light VBMR will complement the Griffon VBMR, with a first delivery of the latter next year in a planned total 1,722 units. The two vehicles will replace some 3,000 aging VAB troop carriers.
- A Leonardo Helicopters AW-101 search and rescue (SAR) helicopter recently delivered to Norway overturned during a ground run on 24 October. No injuries were sustained to the two crew onboard at the time of the accident, but the helicopter itself was spotted on its side, sans its main rotor blades. The AW101 was scheduled to enter service in Norway in 2018 so the incident is a setback to Oslo’s replacement of its ageing SAR fleet.
- The Philippines has commissioned into service its first of five TC-90 aircraft. Donated by Japan to help Manilla conduct maritime patrol missions over the archipelago, Naval Vessel (NV) 390 underwent an activation and blessing ceremony in Sangley Point, Cavite City on November 21. The aircraft along with a second unit arrived in the Philippines back in March while the three remaining King Airs are expected to arrive in the country in the first quarter of 2018.
- Russia tests its upgraded ABM interceptor.