US Army commences Stinger training to boost European SHORAD capabilities | F-35B to commence deployment on USS Wasp | Poland wants more M-346 AJTsJan 18, 2018 05:00 UTC
- Northrop Grumman were awarded Friday, a $172 million one-year US Air Force contract for the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN). Under the terms of the agreement, Northrop will provide BACN payload operation and support for payload equipment and services, with work to take place at San Diego, California and overseas locations. The BACN allows ground troops to reach needed support over mountainous terrain with imagery, video, voice and data, and it can also act as a high-altitude relay, including airdrop and airstrike operations. It is designed to work with the RQ-4 Global Hawk UAV—designated EQ-4B—and the BD700 manned aircraft platform—flown by the USAF as the E-11A. Last September, Grumman received $265 million for support of four BACN E-11A aircraft.
- Gulfstream picked up a $118.2 million USAF contract modification last Thursday, to support two different twin-engine, turbofan aircraft used for transporting high-ranking government and Defense Department officials. The agreement comes with a with a five-year option period in support of the C-37 and C-20 aircraft, which aims to provide uninterrupted contractor support and logistics for the aircraft. Work on the contract will occur in the United States, as well as in Germany and Italy, and will support the USAF, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard.
Middle East-North Africa
- A “communications malfunction” has been reported by Defense News as the reason why Israel called off a test of its Arrow-3 advanced missile defense system. The cancellation follows an earlier such test that was called off in December, however, the Defense Ministry insisted that the cancelled trial “has no impact” on already operational Arrow-2 and Arrow-3 missile defense systems. Moshe Patel, head of Israel’s missile defense arm, said that had an Iranian missile been launched at Israel, the Arrow-3 system—which has been operational since January 2017—would have still been used to intercept it.
- Poland has invited Italian aerospace giant Leonardo to participate in negotiations for a further delivery of M-346 Master advanced jet trainers, Jane’s has reported. Eight Masters were originally ordered by Warsaw under a 2014 contract, and it is expected the next batch will have a firm order for 4 trainers—to be delivered by 2020—with options for a further four by 2022. Deliveries of the first batch of Masters commenced in November 2016, after a lengthy preparatory phase which saw Polish pilots trained at Lecce-Galatina airbase, where the Italian Air Force’s flight school is based, as well as delays caused by problems with the aircraft’sEmbedded Tactical Training System.
- Ukraine’s Radionics has successfully tested its modernized variant of the Soviet S-125 surface-to-air missile system. Designated by NATO as SA-3 Goa, the upgraded 5V27D-M2 interceptor features an active seeker and the operational range has been increased to 45km, with an altitude of 25km. The test saw the interceptor launched from a modernized anti-aircraft missile system and footage was released on the state design bureau’s Facebook page.
- As part of efforts to beef up its short-range air defence (SHORAD) and multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) capabilities in the European theater, the US Army is to train soldiers of the 7th Army Training Command, based at nearby Grafenwoehr in Germany, on how to operate the FIM-92 Stinger Man-Portable Air-Defense System (MANPADS). This will be the first such training effort in about fifteen years, and preparations for the training has already seen about 50 Observer Coach/Trainers (OC/Ts) undergo their own training on the Stinger at the nearby Hohenfels Training Area on 10 January. The Army’s goal is to train and field 62 two-man Stinger teams into the operational force as soon as possible, and aim to align one SHORAD battalion with each division.
- Following years of grounding, Iran’s Sukhoi Su-24 fighter-bomber has returned to service. The aircraft had been stored at an overhaul facility located at Shahid Doran Airbase in Shiraz, and Iranian authorities said experts and technicians had invested over 35,000 manpower hours in returning the aircraft to the air on January 14. The aircraft has passed all necessary tests and has been cleared to return to active duty. Tehran purchased over 20 Su-24s in the early 1990s, however, most have been grounded due to technical issues, and it wasn’t until 2014 when several Su-24s were first overhauled.
- The first on-ship deployment of the F-35B is drawing ever closer, as the amphibious assault ship, USS Wasp, arrived at its new home port at the 7th Fleet base at Sasebo, Japan on January 14. The Wasp left Norfolk, Virginia in August, and included a two month stint of providing humanitarian relief efforts following two hurricanes in the Caribbean, before replacing the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard as the flagship of Task Force 76 in the East. Preparations are now underway for the Wasp’s first scheduled patrol later in the year with the Okinawa-based 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and the F-35Bs of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, which relocated to Iwakuni, Japan, in early 2017. The squadron is the first operational Marine Corps F-35B unit and currently has 16 aircraft at Iwakuni.
- Final flight of the British Army Lynx: