Did the F-35i Adir make a secret combat debut? | India to finally call winner on MANPAD competition | Kratos’ F-35 “wingman” given US export licenseMar 20, 2018 05:00 UTC
- Kratos Defense’s Mako High Performance Jet Tactical Unmanned Aerial System has been given clearance by the US State Department, allowing for the export of the UAS to certain European and Asian Pacific partners. In a statement announcing the approval, the firm hailed the Mako as providing fighter-like performance and is designed to function as a wingman to manned aircraft as a force multiplier in contested airspace, or be deployed independently or in groups of UAS. It added that it already works with most of the recently State Department approved nations on other programs, contracts, systems and products across the corporation, including certain existing Kratos High Performance Unmanned Aerial Target Drone customers. As Flight Global reports, with a price listed between $2 million and $3 million, the Mako has been floated as a possible low-cost wingman to the eye-gougingly expensive F-35, which at its lowest comes in at a cool $95 million. Those currently participating in the next-generation fighter’s acquisition include Australia, Canada, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Turkey, the UK, Israel, Singapore, Japan and South Korea.
- Northrop Grumman will deliver services in support of littoral combat ship (LCS) mission modules for the US Navy. Valued at $46.7 million, the contract modification was announced by the Pentagon last Wednesday, March 15, and tasks Northrop with providing engineering, technical and sustainment services for the Navy’s littoral combat ship mission modules—which are designed for naval operations against asymmetric threats and anti-access obstacles in littorals near the coastline. Work will take place Bethpage, New York, San Diego, California, and several other US locations with contract completion scheduled for March 2019.
Middle East & Africa
- A Canadian government source has told Reuters that it will send peace-keeping troops, helicopters, and medical teams to the ongoing UN mission in Mali later this year with possible deployment of up to a year. The announcement is expected to be made official by Ottawa this week and follows a 2016 pledge by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to send up to 600 troops to aid the Mali mission which seeks to counter a growing Islamist insurgency in the country. However, the growing casualties being suffered by the mission—up to 80 UN-affiliated personnel deployed to Mali have been killed since 2013—has caused enthusiasm to wane for a major deployment. In November, the government said it would hold off on announcing deployment of troops to Mali as it reviewed strategy for participating in UN peace-keeping missions, adding that soldiers would be split into “smart-pledge” initiatives concerned with training other peace-keeping troops.
- Rumors have surfaced that Israel’s F-35i “Adir” fighter has made its combat debut during recent border clashes that resulted in air-strikes against Syrian air defense. While the fighter’s use has not been officially confirmed, all operations concerning the new fighter have been deemed classified by Israeli Air Force commander Maj Gen Amikam Norkin. The IAF’s “Golden Eagle” squadron currently operates nine F-35is, and is due to receive another six examples through 2018.
- British shipbuilder BAE Systems has unveiled its design for a competition for an export variant of it Type 31 frigate, the Type 31(e). Based on the Khareef class of corvettes built by BAE and delivered to the government of Oman, the vessel was announced at last week’s Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference in Qatar, coinciding with the release of the pre-qualification questionnaire for the program’s competitive design phase by the UK Ministry of Defence. BAE’s bid is a joint effort with Liverpool shipbuilder Cammell Laird. Speaking on the export possibilities for the vessel, BAE official Kevin Joyce said the firm had “already got interest from two South American customers on the Type 31e.” “The purpose of this program was to serve our Royal Navy and international customers. The Type 31e will be designed to be operable in international waters, including the Gulf”, Joyce added. The first of five Type 31e warships is expected to be delivered in 2023 with the MoD capping the total cost of the five units at £1.25 billion ($1.74) billion.
- South Korea’s first F-35A Joint Strike Fighter will roll off the assembly line later this month at Lockheed Martin’s Forth Worth facility. The milestone will be marked by a low-key, no-media ceremony on March 28, with only Lt. Gen. Lee Sung-yong, the deputy chief of staff for the South Korean air force, attending. The subdued mood stems from the recent calm in the region as talks with North Korea make headway, and a desire to keep the head down amid corruption allegations in connection with the contract with Lockheed under the previous administration of the ousted Park Geun-hye.
- The Indian Army will soon select a winner to supply new man-portable air-defense system (MANPADS) to the service, only seven years—yes, the same amount of time Brad Pitt spent in Tibet—after the original request for proposals was released. After all that time, only three suppliers have made the cut to enter price negotiations: MBDA of France; Rosoboronexport of Russia; and Saab of Sweden, with the winner to be chosen by the lowest bidder to supply 5,000 missiles, 258 single launchers and 258 multi-launchers to replace stocks of the 9K38 Igla system currently in army’s inventory. First announced in 2010, the program has been plagued by continued trials and retrials as not enough companies had originally met its requirements.
- Taiwan has not given up on its dream of operating the F-35B with Minster of National Defense Yen Teh-fa telling a meeting of the Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee that the stealth fighter’s short takeoff and vertical-landing capabilities definitely meet the needs of the air force. Yen added that the government has yet to approach the US over such a purchase and he is not sure how many aircraft are needed to successfully scare off China. While the Taiwanese government have been expressing their interest in the F-35 for almost a year, Washington has kept tight lipped on any potential sale of such high-tech weaponry to the island for fear of irritating China, who sees Taiwan as a wayward province and tries to promote the diplomatic isolation of the island.
- India deploys its heavy-lift C-17 Globemaster III to Arunachal Pradesh’s Tuting Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) near the Chinese border.: