Seoul mulls more Apaches for sorties across the DMZ | Japanese-assembled F-35s costs more than US imports | USAF gears up for B-52 re-engine planMar 19, 2018 05:00 UTC
- A request for proposals to re-engine the US Air Force’s B-52 strategic bomber is expected for the first quarter of 2019, documents released by the service last week state. According to the document, the contract for re-engining the USAF’s 76 Boeing B-52H bombers would likely be granted some four to six months after final proposals are submitted, with the service looking to acquire at least 608 new, commercially available turbofan engines to replace the eight Pratt & Whitney TF33s each bomber carries. First produced 60 years ago, the TF33 engine was deemed unsustainable after 2030 due to to age, parts obsolescence and a shrinking supplier base. Pratt & Whitney, Rolls-Royce and GE Aviation are possible bidders for the engine replacement program.
- Raytheon received Friday, March 16, a $511 million contract for the US Air Force’s AN/FPS-108 Cobra Dane radar. Actions to be undertaken includes operation, maintenance, and sustainment of the radar, with work to be primarily performed at Eareckson Air Station, Shemya, Alaska. Contract completion is scheduled for March 2025. Located on the volcanic Aleutian Islands, the radar faces Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula and Kura Test Range.
- The US Army has tasked Lockheed Martin with producing training simulators and live-fire ranges in a $3.5 billion award announced by the Pentagon last Thursday. Under the terms of the agreement, Lockheed will provide the Army with training aids, devices, simulators and simulations, maintenance, sustainment, operations and support of instrumentation systems and live-fire ranges. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date set for April 30, 2025.
Middle East & Africa
- Qatar will receive Patriot air defense system support from Raytheon, after the award of a foreign military sales contract by the US Army. The award was announced by a Pentagon statement on Thursday, March 15, with the work order tasking the firm with proving staffing and training for Qatar depot operations for the Qatar Emiri Air Force Patriot Missile System. Work will take place in Doha, Qatar at a cost of $150.4 million.
- AeroVironment has landed a $9.09 million foreign military sales contract to provide an undisclosed number of its RQ-20B Puma surveillance systems and support to the government of Egypt. Work will be performed in Monrovia, California, with an estimated completion date of September 16, 2020. The RQ-20B Puma AE II M3/M4 is a man portable system capable of both ground and water landings. It is equipped with an electro-optical (EO) and infrared (IR) camera and illuminator and can deliver 3.5+ hours of flight endurance while versatile smart battery options support diverse mission requirements. Other operators of the system include the US military and Belgian Army.
- Partly due to his support for the F-35, the head of Germany’s air force, Lieutenant General Karl Mullner, will step down from his position by the end of May. Mullner’s leaving comes just two days after Germany’s defence secretary, Ursula von der Leyen, was sworn in for another term after months of political hand-wrangling to form a new coalition government. The Luftwaffe head had been an outspoken supporter of procuring the F-35 as part of a plan to replace the service’s fleet of Panavia Tornados, which caused a clash with the Defense Ministry, who supports a solution involving the Eurofighter Typhoon and possible industrial cooperation with France on a new fighter concept.
- The South Korean government is considering additional AH-64E Apache Guardian buys as part of shifting warfare strategies that would see the heavy attack helicopters used for cross-border attack if conflict was to erupt on the Korean peninsula. According to Defense News, as many as 40 extra units could be bought under the plan, with the funding being made up by cancelling plans to acquire some 300 more K2 Black Panther main battle tanks. Under previous plans, South Korean counter-offensives would only occur once US augmentation troops had been deployed on the peninsula, however, this new focus would enable South Korean forces to more rapidly advance into North Korea on the outbreak of conflict, with the aim of taking its capital Pyongyang two to three weeks later. In 2013, 36 Apache Guardians were purchased as part of a $1.6 billion foreign military sale with two battalions now operational.
- Making F-35A fighter aircraft at home is costing the Japanese taxpayer an extra $33 million per airframe than those imported from Lockheed Martin’s Forth Worth facility. A report by Jane’s quoted a spokesperson from the Japanese Ministry of Defence’s (MoD’s) Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA) as saying the unit price of the F-35s “depends greatly on the foreign exchange rate of each fiscal year [and] the difference in procurement methods between importing completed F-35s from the US and assembling F-35s in the Japanese FACO facility”. The ministry added that in fiscal year 2012 when Japan first ordered the F-35 through the import of completed aircraft the exchange rate was JPY81 per USD1, and that this resulted in the unit cost of imported F-35s reaching JPY9.6 billion (or USD90.1 million at constant 2018). Japan has initially ordered 42 F-35As, with the first four delivered from the US while the remaining 38 are being assembled at a Mitsubishi-run final assembly and check out (FACO) facility in Nagoya. The government is also considering additional F-35A purchases as well as possibly acquiring a number of F-35Bs capable of operating from Japanese helicopter carriers and short runways at its southern airbases.
- Coming to a DMZ near you. South Korean AH-64E takes down UAV with Stinger missile: