- The Missile Defense Agency is contracting L-3 Communications in support of its Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS). The awarded contract modification is valued at $73.2 million and allows the company to procure three used aircraft required to modernize the High-Altitude Observatory (HALO) systems used to collect electro-optic and infrared imagery during tests of the BMDS. The HALO-I system platform is usually a Gulfstream IIB aircraft equipped with multiple sensors viewing through optical windows, used for data collection in the visible through long wave IR (LWIR) spectral regions. Three sensor stations accommodate the Infrared Imaging System (IRIS) primary sensor and a mix of user-defined sensors in the remaining two stations known as Alpha and Beta. HALO-II is also a Gulfstream IIB aircraft with a cupola mounted to the top of the fuselage that allows for open port viewing with a multiband sensor system to collect radiometric and photo documentation data in the visible through LWIR spectral regions. This modification brings the contract ceiling to a maximum amount of $637.3 million. The work will be performed in Tulsa, Oklahoma, by L-3 Aeromet. The performance period is from July 2018 to approximately June 2021.
- Raytheon Missile Systems is set to provide a number of support services for the Navy’s RAM Mk-31 system. The $64.4 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract provides for design agent and engineering support services for the Mk-31 Guided Missile Weapon System Improvement Program. The MK-31 guided missile weapon system is co-developed and co-produced under a NATO cooperative program between the United States and German governments to provide a small, all-weather, low-cost self-defense system against aircraft and cruise missiles. The RAM weapon system consists of a 21-round missile launcher, below-deck electronics, and a guided missile round pack. This contract combines purchases for the Navy, Germany and Egypt. In addition, this contract also includes a number of options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value to $301.7 million. Work will be performed in Tucson, Arizona, and is expected to be completed September 2020.
- Raytheon is being tapped to conduct ordnance alteration efforts for LHA and LHD class vessels. The awarded cost-plus-fixed-fee order has a value of $7.5 million and allows for the acquisition of materials necessary to support Mk 57 Sea Sparrow and Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) systems. The RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) is used to protect ships from attacking missiles and aircraft and is designed to counter supersonic maneuvering anti-ship missiles. Compared to the RIM-7 Sea Sparrow, ESSM is effectively a new missile with a larger, more powerful rocket motor for increased range, a different aerodynamic layout for improved agility, and the latest missile guidance technology. LHA and LHD class ships are a key element of the Seapower 21 doctrine pillars of Sea Strike and Sea Basing. Those vessels will be the backbone of US amphibious assault capabilities. Work will be performed at the company’s location in Hauppauge, New York and Yorktown, Virginia and is expected to be complete by July 2019.
Middle East & Africa
- Turkish Aerospace expects a sales boost for its T-129 attack helicopter. The company is currently in the process of finalizing the necessary formalities with the Turkish and Italian defense ministries needed to export 30 T-129s to Pakistan. The company’s corporate marketing manager Gorkem Bilgi expects the delivery to commence within three months after all formalities are sorted. He further adds “Pakistan is a tough customer. We went to the Himalayas for high altitude tests, we went to desert for testing in hot conditions at 52C. They tested the helicopter for four years. It’s kind of a diploma – if you sell a helicopter to Pakistan, then all countries are interested.” The T-129 is derivative of Leonardo’s A-129 and is the first indigenously produced Turkish attack helicopter. The T129A EDH carries the nose-mounted 20mm cannon turret with 500 rounds, and 4 pylons for unguided rockets. The T129B version will add Roketsan’s MIZRAK (formerly UMTAS) missiles and CIRIT 70 mm Laser Guided Rockets, and Raytheon’s FIM-92 Stinger air-to-air missiles. Countries that are currently interested in the helicopter include Morocco, Thailand and Bangladesh.
- Israel reportedly launched its David’s Sling air defense system as a precaution against rockets fired within neighboring Syria. David’s Sling, also known as Sharvit Haksamim or the Magic Wand in Hebrew, is an Israeli system developed with the United States that is designed to defend against short-range and theater ballistic missiles, large-caliber rockets, and cruise missiles. The low-tier system complements Israel’s Arrow THAAD system. The interceptor is designed for all-weather, day and night “hit to kill” intercept, which is similar to Lockheed’s Patriot PAC-3 rather than the Raytheon PAC-2 family’s proximity fuse approach. The $1 million missile travels at Mach 7.5, reaches an altitude of 15km, and has a range of 40 to 300 km. Israel has been on high alert as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s Russian-backed army advances against southern rebels, bringing it close to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
- The UK is currently displaying its new Tempest fighter concept, which will eventually replace the Eurofighter Typhoon. UK Defense Minister Gavin Williamson said during a speech at the Farnborough airshow that he wants the Tempest to be flying alongside the existing fleet of Typhoons and the US-made F-35s by 2035. The government will likely spend $2.6 billion to develop the 6th generation fighter between now and 2025. The future fighter has one design feature that especially stands out – its cockpit. Instead of the usual gauges and dials BAE will introduce a virtual cockpit, which can be changed for pilot preference and upgraded easily to reflect new capabilities. The Tempest will be able to fly unmanned, and will have next-generation technology on board, such as directed energy weapons, designed to cope with modern threats. Another innovation will include swarming technology that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to hit its targets.
- Airbus Defense & Space is set to launch flight test in the first quarter of 2019 to prove the ability of its A400M tactical transport to refuel helicopters in flight. Previous tests have shown that the refueling maneuver brings the helicopter to close to the airlifter’s tail and causes stability issues for the rotorcraft. The company is currently in the process of testing an updated hose design, that will be housed within the same under-wing refueling pod but has a length of 120ft instead of the previous 90ft. Air-to-air refueling operations with fixed-wing aircraft are currently advancing as planned.
- India receive an amendment to its purchase of several Guardian UAVs from the US. Jane’s reports that the US has offered to sell India the weaponized version of the UAVs, that were originally authorized for sale as unarmed surveillance platforms. Based on the MQ-9 Reaper, the Guardian can be equipped with air-to-land missiles, anti-ship missiles and laser guided bombs and is capable of hunting and destroying targets across seas and over land borders. The Indian government seeks to substantially enhance India’s so-called stand-off weapon capabilities. The proposed deal has a value of $2-3 billion. If the purchase goes through, it would be first time that the US sold a large armed UAV to a country outside of NATO.
- Watch: RAAF P-8A fires ATM-84J Harpoon missile