- Rolls-Royce Corp. is being tapped for services in support of the AE 3007H engine. The firm-fixed price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract is valued at $420 million and provides for provides for maintenance, repair and overhaul of the engine. The AE 3007H (F137) engine is used to power Northrop Grumman’s RQ-4 Global Hawk UAS. In typical operations the Global Hawk has a cruise speed of 357 mph, a range of 8,700 mi, a service ceiling of 60,000 feet and may fly for up to 28 hours. The turbofan engine produces a net thrust of 7,050 lb. Work will be performed in Montreal, Canada; and at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, and is expected to be completed by June, 2024.
- The Navy is awarding Orbital Sciences Corp with a contract in support of its supersonic cruise missile simulation program. The $52,8 million contract modification provides for the production of 18 GQM-163A Coyote Supersonic Sea Skimming Target (SSST) base vehicles in support of the Navy and the governments of Japan and Israel. The rocket-boosted, ramjet-powered GQM-163A was developed to simulate supersonic cruise missiles like the SS-N-22 Sunburn, the Kh-31 and the Indo-Russian PJ-10 Brahmos. Rail-launched from Navy test and training ranges, the highly maneuverable Coyote achieves cruise speeds of over Mach 2.5, with a range of approximately 60 nautical miles at altitudes of less than 20 feet above the sea surface. Work will be performed at multiple locations, including Chandler, Arizona; Camden, Arkansas; Vergennes, Vermont; Lancaster, Pennsylvania and Hollister, California, and is expected to be completed in May 2022.
- The government of Canada is looking into acquiring an additional seven surplus F/A-18 A/B Hornets from Australia. The deal is subject to US export controls. If approved, it will bring to 25 the number of former RAAF Hornets sold to Ottawa. Should export approvals be received, negotiations would determine delivery timings. The original F/A-18A (single seat) and F/A-18B (dual seat) became operational in 1983 replacing Navy and Marine Corps F-4s and A-7s. It quickly became the battle group commander’s mainstay because of its capability, versatility and availability. Reliability and ease of maintenance were emphasized in its design, and F/A-18s have consistently flown three times more hours without failure than other Navy tactical aircraft, while requiring half the maintenance time. The first two “classic” Hornets will be delivered to Canada in 2019. The Royal Canadian Air Force requires airframes to fill a capability gap during a pending process to obtain 88 new combat aircraft to replace its 85 Boeing CF-18 A/B fighters.
Middle East & Africa
- The somewhat clandestine relationship between Israel and United Arab Emirates is strengthening. As i24News reports, the Israeli Air Force recently hosted a military delegation from the United Arab Emirates to review operations of the advanced US-made F-35 fighter jets. Israel is a Security Cooperation Partner in the F-35 JSF program, its introduction was a key part of the IAF’s recapitalization plans. Israel is the only country in the region that has the F-35 in its inventory, it is also the only nation to this date that has used the fighter jet in combat missions. Although not having formal diplomatic ties the two countries are cooperating in security matters as way to counteract the growing influence of Iran in the region. The extraordinary visit comes as the UAE seeks to purchase its own fleet of the advanced F-35 fighter jets, built by US defense giant Lockheed Martin, and amid reports of a burgeoning Israeli-Gulf alliance against Iran.
- Jane’s reports that the Israeli defense contractor Rafael Advanced Defense Systems is finalizing the development of its new SPARC trailer-mounted and remote-controlled launch system for the Spike non-line-of-sight (NLOS) multipurpose tactical missile. According to Rafael, the Spike NLOS is a multi-purpose, multi-platform electro-optical missile system with real-time wireless data link for ranges up to 25 km giving the gunner the ability to attack targets at stand-off range with no line of sight. The Spike NLOS can also be supplied with three different warheads especially suited to urban and high intensity conflicts, they include: a tandem high explosive anti-tank (HEAT) warhead, a penetrating blast fragmentation (PBF) warhead, and fragmentation warhead. The Spike NLOS Modular Launcher is an adaptable, palletized, stand-off launch system specifically configured for light rapid response/all-terrain-type vehicles – typically deployed as an air portable capability – by reconnaissance units and special forces.
- The United Kingdom is looking into several options to replace its Boeing E-3D Sentry AWACS airplanes. Parliament has ruled that the MoD must hold a fair and open competition before selecting any new surveillance aircraft. The intervention by the Defense Committee followed earlier media reports that the Ministry of Defense (MoD) had already decided to procure the Boeing E-737 Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft to replace the old AWACS planes. The plane is based on Boeing’s 707 family, and its ability to see and direct air operations within hundreds of miles provides vital strategic support. Deliveries to the UK began in March 1991 and were completed in May 1992. In 2005 the UK government approved the Sentry Whole Life Support Program (WLSP) at a cost of $1.2 billion. The RAF currently has six E-3Ds in its operational fleet, with the type having entered service in 1991. While other operators of the type have benefited from regular upgrades, the RAF’s fleet has fallen behind in terms of capabilities due to a lack of investment.
- Russia’s United Shipbuilding Corporation is reportedly developing a new aircraft launch system to be deployed on aircraft carriers. The company did yet not specify the characteristics of these systems or the timeframe of their development. Russia currently has one Soviet-era aircraft carrier that is equipped with a ski-jump ramp. An aircraft launch system aboard an aircraft carrier is needed to accelerate radar surveillance aircraft or planes whose thrust/weight ratio is insufficient for taking via a ski-jump ramp. Current steam catapult technology is very stressful for the aircraft involved, very maintenance intensive, and not really compatible with modern gas turbine propulsion systems. It is quite likely that the system to be developed will be an electromagnetic aircraft launch system. EMALS aims to leap beyond steam’s limitations, delivering significant efficiency savings, a more survivable system, and improved effectiveness. An electromagnetic catapult is a mechanism, which accelerates an aircraft by linear induction motors instead of steam shuttles. This principle is used on monorail railroads.
- Flightglobal reports that the Chinese government is planning to develop a new carrier-borne fighter as replacement of its J-15s. Reports suggest that the Chinese copy of the Sukhoi Su-33, has been involved in four crashes and suffers a range of mechanical problems. The J-15 is the heaviest carrier-borne fighter in current operation, with an empty weight of 38.500 lb., higher than the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet’s 32.187 lb. China has one operational carrier, the Liaoning.
- PLAAF general confirms new J-15 fighter replacement program