USAF seeks AAM capability for Reaper | Saudi’s sign memorandum for potential Typhoon re-order | Vote to see if Swiss will roll with new fighter orderMar 12, 2018 05:00 UTC
- As the MQ-1 Predator officially leaves active duty with the US Air Force, the service announced its intentions to equip its replacement—the MQ-9 Reaper—with an air-to-air missile capability. The first steps in the effort has seen the Reaper’s manufacturer General Atomics tasked with developing the Reaper Air-to-Air Missile (RAAM) Aviation Simulation (AVSIM), however, no additional details on requested capabilities have been given. To date, the Reaper has been employed for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and strike missions only, and the inclusion of air-to-air combat in its mission set would represent a significant expansion of its capabilities.
- In an exclusive interview with Aviation Week, Boeing Phantom Works’ MQ-25 Stingray team has spilled some beans on the firm’s effort for the US Navy’s unmanned aerial tanker and its plans to win the contract. Dubbed the T-1 by the firm, the aircraft had been rolled out as early as 2014 but had been kept out of view until December 2017’s teaser reveal on Twitter. The mission tanker contract for which Boeing, Lockheed Martin and General Atomics are all competing for is a fixed-priced award for the development and construction of the first four aircraft. The Navy hopes to purchase up to 72 operational models for carrier deployment and achieve initial operational capability, expected by 2026.
- Airbus received Thursday, March 8, a long-awaited $273 million US Army contract to deliver 35 additional UH-72A Lakota helicopters to the service. Work on the sole sourced contract will take place in Columbus, Mississippi, with an estimated completion date of March 8, 2021. According to Flight Global, the helicopters will be used as training aircraft, and will be split between the initial entry rotary wing mission at Fort Rucker, Alabama, which will receive 17 aircraft, and the observer and controller mission at the Army’s combat training centres, which will receive 18 aircraft. Approximately 412 Lakotas have been delivered to the Army since 2005 and the additional order will keep the Columbus production line open for the foreseeable future.
Middle East & Africa
- The three-day visit of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman to the UK has seen the kingdom’s heir sign a memorandum of intent for the purchase of 48 Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets. While the accord stops short of committing to an order, manufacturer BAE Systems sees the sale as a “positive step towards agreeing a contract for our valued partner.” Before offsets are included, the sale could be worth as much as £8 billion. The visit, which included meetings with the British cabinet and the Queen, was marred by protests by human rights and anti-war campaigners critical of the kingdom’s ongoing war in Yemen, backed by British weaponry.
- Rafael’s SPICE 1000 precision-guided bomb has been declared operational on Israeli Air Force F-16C/D fighter aircraft. The munition had been integrated in recent months by the 190th and 110th Fighter Squadrons, which operate F-16C/Ds out of Ramat David Air Force Base in northern Israel, and initial operational capability (IOC) was declared following a series of successful tests. The IAF’s F-16I and F-15 squadrons are next in line to receive the weapon.
- The head of Dassault Aviation, Eric Trappier, has said the French government must seek authorization from the US government before selling MBDA Scalp cruise missiles with American components to Egypt. “This is very sensitive,” Trappier said at a March 8 media conference on 2017 financial results. “This is a government-to-government contract. If there are authorizations, then it is up to the government for the component and the government for the aircraft.” A US State Department official said that “as a matter of policy, we do not comment on private diplomatic exchanges, and we are restricted under federal law from commenting on issues related to specific commercial defense export licensing cases.” The inclusion of Scalp missiles have been requested by Cairo as part of an exercised option for 12 additional Rafale fighter jets, adding to 24 ordered in 2015. The package includes the delivery of weapons from Safran and MBDA.
- Swiss citizens will vote for a second time on whether to buy a new fighter for the country by 2020, however, they will not get to decide on what type of warplane gets chosen. A statement by the Federal Council said the vote follows precedent as two previous projects to buy new jets—F/A-18s in 1993 and Gripen fighters in 2014—had also been subject to a nationwide vote. The 22-plane Gripen contract was rejected by 53.4 percent of voters. In November, the Federal Council said it wanted to spend CHF8 billion ($8.4 billion) on new fighter jets and missile defences for the Swiss army. It tasked the defence ministry with looking at potential aircraft and has asked it to begin talks with Airbus, Boeing, Dassault, Lockheed Martin and Saab.
- Orbital ATK has landed a $86.4 million contract to supply the Afghan Air Force with armed intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft. The agreement covers the delivery of an AC-208 Eliminator aircraft with delivery to be completed by June 2019 after work at Forth Worth, Texas. More than $42.3 million will be obligated to Orbital ATK from fiscal 2017 Afghan security forces funds and the sale involves pseudo foreign military sales. Orbital ATK advertises the AC-208 Eliminator as a mini-gunship equipped with 70mm (2.75in) guided rockets and Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire missiles. The aircraft also comes with sensors, target designators, data links and self-protection systems.
- A look at the recent launch of Russia’s new Kinzhal hypersonic missile.: