China’s “Guam killer” missile enters service with PLA | MBDA seeks partnerships to enter US missile market | DARPA cancels XV-24A programApr 30, 2018 05:00 UTC
- Aviation Week reports that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, has cancelled its XV-24A LightingStrike hybrid-electric, high-speed vertical-takeoff-and-landing (VTOL) X-plane. Developed by Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences, the firm received a $89 million contract for Phases 2 and 3 of the VTOL X-Plane program in March 2016, however, issues developing the 1-megawatt generator needed for the plane, as well as a lack of a service partner and commercial interest have caused DARPA to cancel the project. Prior to being ditched, the XV-24A was widely viewed as a trailblazer for aircraft electrification as it involved not only a hybrid-electric power train and distributed-electric propulsion layout, but an eVTOL configuration of the type being pursued for urban air mobility.
- As part of efforts to boost the competitiveness of its arms manufacturers internationally, the US government is planning to drop its administrative surcharge on foreign arms exports. As of June, the surcharge will drop from 3.5 to 3.2 percent, Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) director US Lieutenant General Charles Hooper said during an interview at last week’s ILA Berlin Air Show. Attached to the State Department, the DSCA is the agency who facilitates and clears all potential foreign military sales. “This rate reduction will immediately reduce the cost of new business for our international partners,” said Hooper. “We think this rate reduction will allow the US to become more competitive in the global defense market.”
- General Atomics has received a US Air Force (USAF) contract modification for spare engines used on the MQ-9 Reaper drones. According to the Pentagon statement released Thursday, April 26, the order calls for the production of an undefined number of spare engines and engine shipping containers at a cost of $36.6 million. Work will be performed in Poway, California, and is expected to be complete by May 31, 2020.
Middle East & Africa
- The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has approved the possible foreign military sale of 12 AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters to the kingdom of Bahrain. According to the agency’s press release, the fleet will be armed with 14 AGM-114 Hellfires, and 56 Advance Precision Kill Weapon System II. The estimated cost of the acquisition is set at $911.4 million. The Viper’s manufacturer Bell, alongside Textron and General Electric have been listed as principal contractors on the sale.
- European missile consortium MBDA—jointly owned by Airbus, BAE Systems, and Leonardo—is looking to tie-up with US defense firms in order to increase its chances of tapping the US arms market. Speaking to Reuters, Chief Executive Antoine Bouvier said that instead of implementing a takeover of an American defense firm, the group would instead pursue cooperation partnerships, noting that MBDA was already doing such work with Lockheed Martin on Germany’s multibillion-euro missile defense system called TLVS. Bouvier said that cooperation could expand outside Germany in the future, given what he called the “huge potential for export” of the TLVS system. “When the German customer confirms TLVS then we will have a number of opportunities outside Germany with Lockheed Martin,” he said, citing current Patriot operators outside Europe as possible buyers. MDBA has faced stiff challenges in selling its Brimstone missiles and other equipment in the US market, which constitutes about 40 percent of the world missile market, excluding Russia and China, he said.
- Flight testing of the modernized Tu-22M3M supersonic bomber will commence in August, the CEO of manufacturer Tupolev has said. Speaking to the Russian TASS news agency, Alexander Konyukhov said the twin-engine bomber will make its first flight from the Kazan aircraft plant. The Kazan plant will also be tasked with modernizing Moscow’s existing fleet to the M3M standard, however, the Defense Ministry will not upgrade the entirety of its Tu-22 fleet, Konyukhov added.
- Jane’s reports that the US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) has issued a request for information (RFI) for the upgrade of seven Royal Thai Navy (RTN) Dornier 228s. Posted on April 23, the modernization of the will be carried out under the US funded Building Partner Capacity program. Goodies to be included in the package range from a new radar with 160 n mile range; an EO/IR five-axis stabilised multi-payload system; a communications package including beyond line of sight (X-band) and datalink; plus new avionics systems. The twin-turboprop aircraft is a popular platform for military operators in the maritime patrol role, and the upgraded Thai aircraft will help boost the kingdom’s capability to patrol its coastal territories and waters. US interest in boosting Thai capabilities comes as rival China looks to boost their own power and control in the region.
- China has entered its Dong-Feng 26 (DF-26) intermediate-range ballistic missile into service with the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force. A statement by the Ministry of National Defense said the missile is capable of nuclear, conventional and anti-ship roles. Dubbed the “Guam-killer” by US military officials for its ability to potentially reach the island chain, is is thought to have a range of around 4,000 kilometers and is capable of delivering both nuclear and conventional payloads. Video footage carried in Chinese state media showed at least 22 integrated six-axle DF-26 transporter-erector-launchers along with their crews.
- An Indian Navy IL-38 makes an emergency landing at Zhukovsky airport, Russia: