Lockheed lands $7bn Raptor sustainment contract | Boeing receives first contracts for Qatar’s F-15QA, Japan’s KC-46 | More F-35s heading to north east Asia?Dec 27, 2017 05:00 UTC
- Lockheed Martin landed a $7 billion contract to provide F-22 Raptor sustainment services. The agreement has a five-year base ordering period calling for comprehensive F-22 air vehicle sustainment—to be completed by December 31 2027—with work to be carried out at five operational US Air Force (USAF) and joint service bases and five US military installation support bases across the USA, as well as some undisclosed overseas locations. The deal follows last week’s $6.7 billion award to United Technologies for sustainment activities on the Raptor’s Pratt and Whitney F-119 engine.
- The BRU-56 ejector—originally designed to carry nuclear weapons onboard the B-1B Lancer bomber—is getting an upgrade that will allow the supersonic aircraft to carry more smart munitions. At present, the ejector comes with a 30-inch lug spacing that currently allows the Lancer to carry only 15 GBU-38s but can take in 24 GBU-31s. Alongside the spacing issue, the ejector rack had been experiencing a failure rate that the service deemed required fixing. A solicitation issued by the USAF calls for a “modification and upgrade to the BRU-56 ejector rack on the Multi-Purpose Rotary Launcher (MPRL), to include 14-inch lug spacing capability, would contribute to increased safety, quicker sortie generation rates, lower maintenance time, increased reliability, and lower maintenance personnel requirements.” Don’t expect the fix to come quickly though. It’s going to take roughly three years time to design, develop and manufacture the upgrade.
Middle East-North Africa
- The UAE has expressed an interest in purchasing India’s indigenous Astra Beyond Visual Range Air to Air Missile (BVRAAM) to arm its fleet of Mirage 2000-9 fight aircraft. India has already integrated the missile on its fleet of Su-30MKI aircraft and work will now take place on integrating the Astra on Indian Air Force Mirage 2000 fighters. The prospective sale is one of several defense deals New Delhi is chasing in the region, with meetings ongoing to manufacture arms and equipment in a joint venture with Saudi Arabia, and Jordan, who are also looking an Indian-developed defense equipment.
- Boeing was awarded last Friday, a $6.1 billion USAF contract as part of Qatar’s F-15 program. The deal provides for the foreign military sales (FMS) requirement to procure 36 new F-15QA aircraft for the Qatar Emiri Air Force as is part of a sole-source acquisition. Work will be performed in St. Louis, Missouri, with deliveries of the aircraft to the Gulf state scheduled to be completed by December 30, 2022. The announcement covers half of Qatar’s order for 72 F-15QAs, and follows a $1.1 billion award last month for F-15QA support services, as well as an $8 billion agreement with the UK for 24 Eurofighter Typhhon jets. The contracts comes as Qatar finds itself under blockade by Saudi Arabia and its neighboring allies, who accuse Doha for supporting and financing terrorism, stemming from its support for the Muslim Brotherhood.
- On December 21, Airbus announced that its A400M tactical airlifter conducted the successful refueling of six Spanish Air Force F/A-18 Super Hornet fighters during a single flight. The mission was undertaken on December 13 as part of an air-to-air refuelling (AAR) human factors certification flight, and involved a complex series of AAR scenarios such as changes of area, receivers with unknown priorities, and unexpected increases in numbers of receivers. The six fighters that participated in the flight came from the Spanish Air Force Test Centre (CLAEX) and the 12th Operational Wing based at Torrejón, and simulated a fleet of eight. A total of 11.4 tonnes of fuel was dispensed using both the underwing pods and the centre hose refuelling unit, and certification authorities on board confirmed good results and the flight validated the A400M two-crew cockpit concept for tanker missions.
- Malaysia has narrowed down to four, the number of competing platforms it is looking at to fulfil its Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) requirements. The selection was revealed during a presentation at a maritime security conference in Singapore, where the Royal Malaysian Air Force’s (RMAF) Head of Staff for Air Region 1 Headquarters, Brigadier General Yazid Bin Arshad showed a title slide with images of four MPA aircraft, and identified by IHS Jane’s as the Airbus CN295, the Leonardo ATR 72MP, the Boeing P-8 Poseidon, and the CN-235—the last of which could possibly be supplied by the neighboring Indonesian, firm PT Dirgantara Indonesia. “Those are the four shortlisted, however the door is not closed yet,” General Yazid said, adding that while the competition was still open to aircraft that fill the RMAF’s requirements, a special team had already been formed to evaluate the four options. Funding for the acquisition has been earmarked in the government’s 2018 budget, and the aircraft will replace Kuala Lumpur’s 23-year old Beechcraft 200 aircraft.
- Amid fresh UN-imposed sanctions on North Korea, and further bellicose threats made by Pyongyang, Japanese and South Korean media have reported that their respective governments are considering additional F-35 Joint Strike Fighter orders. South Korea’s Joongang Ilbo newspaper, citing several government sources, reported that Seoul’s Defence Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) has established a process for procuring 20 additional F-35A fighters, adding to the 40 already ordered in 2014. Meanwhile, Tokyo may order the Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing (STVL) variant of the next-generation fighters—the F-35B—which would allow the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) to operate the aircraft from shorter runways as well as on board its Izumo-class helicopter destroyers, which could be retrofitted with ski-jumps and upgraded aviation fuel storage facilities to allow the aircraft operate off its deck. However, such a plan by Tokyo is likely to face controversy due to the offensive capabilities the platforms would add to Japan’s arsenal, prevented under its pacifist constitution.
- Work is to begin on producing Japan’s first KC-46 tanker aircraft, following the $289 million USAF firm-fixed-price contract awarded to Boeing to deliver one unit to Tokyo. The contract provides for non-recurring engineering, integrated logistics support and one KC-46A aircraft and is a 100 percent foreign military sale (FMS) to the Japanese government. Work will take place in Seattle, Washington with delivery to the JASDF to take place by February 28, 2021. Once delivered, the KC-46 will add a significant boost to Japan’s aerial refueling capabilities, adding to the current fleet of four KC-767J tankers.
- A400M refuels six Spanish F/A-18s in single flight: