Reuters reports SM-3 Block IIA intercept miss | Poland secures Patriot discount, tweets minister | Boeing lands multi-billion GMD contract from MDAFeb 02, 2018 05:00 UTC
- Lockheed Martin announced on January 30, the successful controlled test of its upgraded short-range Miniature Hit-to-Kill (MHTK) missile. Conducted on January 26 at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, the firm said the test was the “first ever for MHTK’s updated electronics, and the second for the interceptor’s next-generation airframe.” The test also proved the commonality between the missile’s active and semi-active seeker configurations, and the missile’s increased agility is capable of defeating “rocket, artillery, and mortar (RAM) targets with greater accuracy, reliability and range compared to current systems.” With one missile measuring less than two and a half feet in length and weighing around five pounds, multiple rounds can be held in a single tube of the US Army’s Multi-Mission Launcher (MML) air defence launcher platform.
- The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has awarded a $6.56 billion undefinized contract modification to Boeing for development and sustainment of an enlarged ground-based midcourse anti-ballistic missile defense system. Included in the agreement is the accelerated “delivery of a new missile field with 20 additional silos and two additional silos in a previously constructed missile field at Fort Greely, Alaska, and procurement and deployment of 20 additional Ground Based Interceptors (GBIs).” Under the agreement, the scope of work includes technical capabilities to expand and improve a state-of-the-art, missile defense system to ensure defensive capabilities remain both relevant and current, to include but not limited to: boost vehicle (BV) development; integration of redesigned kill vehicle (RKV) with BV; providing GBI assets for labs and test events; development, integration, testing and deployment of ground systems software builds to address emerging threats; acquisition and emplacement of launch support equipment; expanded systems testing through all ground and flight testing; cyber security support; and, performance based logistics. Work will take place across multiple locations including Huntsville, Alabama; Fort Greely, Alaska; Vandenberg Air Force Base, California; Schriever Air ForceBase, Colorado; Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado; Cheyenne Mountain Air Station, Colorado; Colorado Springs, Colorado; and Tucson, Arizona. The modification will run through December 2023, and Boeing will be joined by Orbital ATK, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon as the industry team involved in the project.
- Reuters reports that a SM-3 Block IIA missile launch from an Aegis Ashore site in Hawaii has failed to shoot down an incoming dummy missile launched from an aircraft. A US military official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the reason for Wednesday’s failure remained unclear and that an analysis into the cause is underway. Developed by Raytheon, with participation from Japan, a previous intercept test of the SM-3 last June also failed, but there was a successful test in early 2017. The Missile Defense Agency did not comment on the outcome of the test, but confirmed that one had taken place.
Middle East-North Africa
- NH Industries is expecting firm orders from Qatar for both the TTH troop transport and NFH maritime variants of the NH90 helicopter, Flight Global reports. Back in 2014, Qatar signed a tentative agreement for 22 examples of the helicopter, however, despite finalizing multi-billion purchases for fighter aircraft, Doha has shied away from inking the NH90 deal. But with Qatar’s biennial Dimdex defence exhibition coming up in March, the firm is confident that the order will come to fruition. “We are still working with the Qatari customer to close the contract,” says NHI president Vincent Dubrule, “it is still very active.”
- Mariusz Blaszczak, Poland’s new Defense Minister, took to Twitter on Wednesday to announce that Warsaw had secured a reduced price tag on its Patriot air-defense system procurement. Assuring his followers that the reduced price “does not limit the assumed combat capabilities of the system,” Blaszczak added that the government was on “track to sign a contract by the end of the first quarter of 2018.” While he didn’t have enough characters to confirm how much of a reduction Poland was given, an earlier notification to US Congress by the State Department’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said the first phase of the acquisition could cost the country $10.5 billion for four systems—roughly 37 billion zloty—which came as a shock for Polish ministers who had earmarked only 7 billion zloty on its entire program. Known as the Wisla program, Poland looks to acquire a unique configuration of the Patriot system as part of an integrated air and missile defense (AMD) network. This will include the still-in-development command and control system—known as the Integrated Battle Command System (IBCS)—16 missile launchers, four sector radars (that will be replaced with a new radar further down the line), and 208 PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) missiles. The government is also seeking a generous offsets package tosee components produced by its own industrial base, and discussions with Lockheed, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman are expected to continue in the coming months ahead of finalizing the agreement, which could see the price of the system decrease further.
- The British Army is considering what options it has ahead of replacing its ageing fleet of Aérospatiale Gazelle AH1 helicopters. Used by the Army Air Corps in the reconnaissance and battlefield liaison role, 22 examples are still in the Army’s inventory, and the service initially intended to keep the helicopters flying until 2025. However, due to the shortage of spares parts and the requirement of a highly trained crew to operate a single pilot aircraft in often adverse weather conditions, the retirement date of the Gazelles may be brought forward, Air Cdre Al Smith told the Defence IQ International Military Helicopter conference in London. Smith added that due to advances in technology, a like-for-like acquisition is unlikely with a smaller number of platforms required. “Looking at the number of Gazelles, we think we can deliver a customer product with significantly fewer than we have today,” he said.
- Japan has welcomed its first F-35A into operation with the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, during a ceremony on Friday, January 26, after the fighter touched down at Misawa in Japan’s Aomori Prefecture. Nine more examples are expected tobe delivered over the course of the fiscal year, with a total of 42 F-35As on order—38 of which will be assembled at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ final assembly and checkout (FACO) facility in Nagoya, Japan. The first F-35A rolled out of the FACO facility in June 2017, and has also been selected to be the facility for the F-35’s North Asia-Pacific regional heavy airframe maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade. Japan’s industry is also involved in the manufacture of parts for the JASDF’s F-35s, however, issues with the Japanese-made parts has resulted in them not being used thus far. Examples include IHI Corporation being unable to get quality approval for an engine parts prototype due to delayed supplies of materials from a US-based supplier, while Mitsubishi Electric has experienced other issues with its subcontractors.
- Russian Su-27 buzzes US Navy EP-3 over the Black Sea: