- The Royal Canadian Air Force is looking to modernize its fleet of search and rescue helicopters. Canada’s Air Force currently has 14 Cormorant helicopters in its inventory and recently started to introduce Cyclone maritime helicopters into its service. The Cormorant, a variant of the EH-101, is built by the Italian defense contractor Leonardo. The Cyclone is the military variant of Sikorsky’s S-92. Canada has had a very rocky procurement history regarding its SAR helicopter fleet. It has been a textbook example of what not to do. While Canada’s 50-year old Sea King fleet aged and deteriorated to potentially dangerous levels, political pettiness and lack of concern turned a straightforward off-the-shelf buy into a 25+ year-long odyssey of cancellations, lawsuits, rebids, and more. The Air Force is now working on a project to modernize its search and rescue fleet, but it has yet to decide whether to buy new aircraft or upgrade the Cormorants. Depending on its decision, the cost of the project would range from $391 million to $1.2 billion.
- The US Army is awarding a contract to TCOM Limited Partnership. The $9.9 million deal provides for services in support of aerostat survivability, engineering and technical, logistics, and flight operations. An aerostat is a lighter-than-air craft that relies on a ground tether for movement and sometimes for electrical power as well, as opposed to blimps which are self-powered, free-flying craft. The Tethered Aerostat Radar System, or TARS, is a low-level, airborne ground surveillance system that’s used for active surveillance and early-warning base defense. The US Army is using tethered aerostats with multi-mission sensors to provide long endurance intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR) and communications in support of coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Work will be performed in Afghanistan and is scheduled for completion by February 2019.
Middle East & Africa
- Jane’s reports that Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has released details of its EPIK technology development. The Electro-Optical Precision Integration Kit (EPIK) produced by the Israeli defense manufacturer is essentially a capability enhancement designed to furnish unguided surface-to-surface rocket system effectors with autonomous stand-off precision guidance and increased range. The kit leverages the electro-optical sensor and scene-matching/signal processing technologies developed for Rafael’s Spice family of air-to-surface munitions. The EPIK add-on architecture includes an uncooled infrared sensor, a laser sensor to enable engagement of moving targets, as well as an onboard inertial navigation system and a global positioning system only used for back-up. EPIK closely resembles the products designed for US’s Advanced Precision-Kill Weapon System program. Both systems are an upgrade to the family of unguided missiles, such as the 70mm Hydra. Laser guided 70mm rockets open up a large market for counterinsurgency weapons.
- Armenia is set to receive the Russian made Tor-M2 short-range air defense system. Tor-M2 is a Russia-made fully-automated surface-to-air missile (SAM) system manufactured by Almaz-Antey. The Tor-M2 is characterized by its high maneuverability, mobility, quick response, automation of combat operations and the efficiency of engaging a broad range of targets. The system can simultaneously engage up to 48 processed targets and ten tracked targets. It has the capability to exchange radar data with another vehicle. The system can destroy moving enemy targets within the range of 12 km and at altitudes from 10 to 1,000 m. The deal is valued at close to $200 million and will give the small nation the capability to intercept aircraft, cruise missiles, precision-guided munitions, unmanned aerial vehicles and other ballistic targets.
- The Swiss-Swedish joint venture UMS Skeldar has acquired the German engine manufacturer Hirth. The group is now looking to enter the market of naval, rotary-wing drones. The two companies have previously partnered on the V-200 drone, which runs on a heavy-fuel engine. Heavy fuel is the standard fuel for many military applications. It is considered more reliable and less dangerous to store and handle than gasoline, making it well suited for the use on ships. The V-200 aircraft is designed for operation from ships. Equipped with an automatic take-off and launch feature, its missions include surveillance, target acquisition and electronic warfare. Several countries are currently procuring or planning to procure heavy-fuel UAV’s for long-endurance naval operations. Earlier this year the Royal Australian Navy announced that it will buy several Austrian-made Schiebel S-100 Camcopters’. Naval UAV systems are 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.
- The Swedish defense contractor Saab announced on its website that it will deliver its Sea Giraffe AMB naval radar system to the Philippines. The system will be provided to the Philippines by the US Navy in a Foreign Military Sales deal. The Sea Giraffe AMB, designated as AN/SPS-77 in the US Navy inventory, is set to be installed on two Philippine Navy frigates. The Sea Giraffe AMB offers 3D, multi-role, medium-range air and surface surveillance. At 650 pounds, the radar is suitable for small patrol boats, giving them the ability to detect unmanned aerial vehicles for the first time. With no forced cooling requirements, and a minimal number of line-replaceable units (LRUs), it requires little power or upkeep. All maintenance, including LRU repair, can be performed by low-level trained engineers.
- The South Korean Navy announced that the mission of its new Dokdo-class amphibious assault ship will shift from countering North Korea towards blue-water operations. The 14.500-ton Marado was launched on May 14th and boosts recently developed navigation radar and medium-range surface-to-air missiles. In addition, the 199-meter-long, 31-meter-wide LPH is to be equipped with a fixed-panel 3-D surveillance radar built by Elta Systems, a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries, in place of the Thales SMART 3-D radar. Marado’s flight deck has been adapted to accommodate two V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft. The well deck has a capacity for two landing craft. Below the deck hanger, 15 helicopters, including two V-22s, can fit while the flight deck can simultaneously accommodate up to five helicopters of all types. The Marado is expected to be fully operational in 2020 after sea trials.
- Haaretz reports that Israel is the first country to use its F-35 in a combat mission.