Qatar exercises option for 12 more Rafales | Navy says “bye bye bye” as C-130T “Fat Albert” heads to junkyard | USAF wants more AESA radars for F-15sApr 03, 2018 05:00 UTC
- The US Navy’s Blue Angels are looking to replace their team’s famous “Fat Albert”. “Fat Albert” is responsible for the logistical support of the Blue Angels fighter demonstration squadron. The existing role is performed by a Lockheed Martin C-130T, however, after a crash in July 2017 the US Marine Corps grounded all C-130Ts and now has to look for alternatives. One likely replacement for “Fat Albert” could be one of the RAF’s C-130Js. The C-130 Hercules remains one of the longest-running aerospace manufacturing programs of all time. Since 1956, over 40 models and variants have served as the tactical airlift backbone for over 50 nations. The C-130J looks similar, but the number of changes almost makes it a new aircraft.
- Boeing has been awarded a modification to a previously awarded contract for the US Air Force’s F-15 Fighter Modernization Program (RMP) radar upgrades. The contract is valued at over $187 million. It provides for work on 29 Group A and Group B kits, spares, fuel tanks and other equipment and services. The F-15A reached initial operational capability for the US Air Force in September 1975, and approximately 670 F-15s remain in the USAF’s inventory. Current F-15 flying locations include bases in the continental United States, Alaska, England, Hawaii, Japan and the Middle East. The RMP development and testing began in January 2011. The RMP replaces the F-15 legacy APG-70 mechanically scanned radar with an AESA system designated APG-82(V) and is designed to retain functionality of the legacy radar system while providing expanded mission employment capabilities including longer air-to-air target selection and enhanced task capabilities and enhanced air-to-ground and air-to-air combat identification capabilities. Work will be performed in St. Louis, Missouri, and is scheduled for completion in April 2022.
- Raytheon Self Protect Systems has been awarded a contract for the provision of an AN/ALR-69A digital Radar Warning Receiver system. This contract includes the fabrication, integration, testing and delivery of the unit and is valued at $460 million. Raytheon, a Massachusetts-based company, submitted the only bid for the contract. The AN/ALR?69A system cleared testing last April in an Air Force Predator drone’s payload pod. The system dramatically enhances aircrew survivability, providing “sensors forward” situational awareness at a substantially lower cost than competing systems. It features capabilities such as: suppression of enemy air defenses, easy cross-platform integration, enhanced spectral and spatial coverage for high-sensitivity detection in dense signal environments, and most recently single-ship geolocation. The system is currently being tested on the F-16. Work will be performed in Goleta, California and Forest, Mississippi. Work is expected to be completed by March 2025
Middle East & Africa
- Qatar will buy additional Rafale fighter jets as part of an existing contract. Qatar initially purchased 24 Rafale jets in May 2015 for a total of $7.8 billion. The exercise of the option to purchase 12 additional fighter jets increases the total of the order to 36 aircraft. The deal includes the provision of missiles, pilot training and some 100 mechanics. The Rafale is a 9.5 – 10.5 tonne aircraft powered by 2 SNECMA M88 jet engines, each generating up to 16,500 pounds thrust with afterburner. Canards are used to improve maneuverability, especially for snap-shots in short-range dogfights, and radar shaping lowers the aircraft’s profile relative to 4th generation competitors like the Mirage 2000 or F-16. A combination of Scan and Track optronics allows the Rafale to supplement its radar-guided missiles with passively-targeted, no-warning attacks on enemy aircraft from beyond visual range. At present, this capability is only duplicated by Russian aircraft. Qatar so far bought 24 Eurofighter Typhoon, 6 Hawk trainers and F-15QA fighter aircraft.
- Jane’s reports that the Austrian manufacturer Schiebel will provide the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) with a heavy fuel version of its S-100 Camcopter rotor-winged unmanned aerial system. The initial contract between Schiebel and the Australian government was signed in December 2016 and provides for supply of the UAS and three years of follow-on contractor logistics support. The acquisition of the S-100 Camcopter is part of Australia’s Navy Minor Project 1942 program, which seeks to equip the RAN with a shipborne vertical-take-off and landing UAS capability. The system has been deployed on the HMAS Albatross for initial evaluation purposes. The JP-5 heavy fuel-powered S-100 UAVs demonstrated their ability to operate at ranges of up to 60 n miles, and at altitudes above 10,000 ft, while delivering imagery from an attached Wescam MX-10s payload. For military customers, the product is designed to perform surveillance missions in maritime environments and enhances situational awareness for naval commanders by offering real-time reconnaissance information from a range of over 120 miles.
- Boeing has been awarded a contract for the provision of one C-17 aircraft in support of the Indian government. The contract is valued at $262 million. India almost lost out on the deal in November 2017 due to New Delhi’s agonisingly long procurement process. In 2015, the Indian Air Force (IAF) approved the purchase of three C-17s to add to its current fleet of 10. Currently the C-17 production line and sales cycle is heavily depended on foreign orders from export customers like the UAE, India and others. Work will be performed in San Antonio, Texas and is scheduled for completion by August 2019.
- Modifying Super Hornets to fight alongside the F-35C.