AeroVironment is being tapped to keep the US Southern Command’s Raven RQ-11Bs operational. The awarded single-award contract is priced at $13 million and covers a number of recurring requirements for spares, ancillary equipment and training. The Raven is backpackable, can be launched by hand and is quietly powered by an electric-engine. Its lithium-ion batteries can accelerate it to speeds of up to 60 mph for 60 to 90 minutes. The UAV includes a color electro-optical camera, or an infrared camera for night operations. The Raven system can be flown manually or autonomously through set way-points. Work will be performed in Southcom’s area of responsibility, this includes Central America, South America and the Caribbean nations. The contract will run through September 2023.
The Colombian Navy is adding two Airbus Dauphin helicopters to its fleet. The second-hand aircraft are expected to be delivered in December. The 4.5t class helicopter will be embarked on the Colombian Navy’s 20 de Julio-class offshore patrol vessels. Powered by two powerful Arriel 2C turboshaft engines, the AS365 N3 features a forward looking infrared (FLIR), radar, search lights, hailer, hoist, and stretchers. The helicopter’s specially designed cockpit and and a four-axis autopilot optimise the platform for SAR operations in high altitudes and extreme climatic conditions.
Middle East & Africa
Boeing is being contracted to support the training of future Qatar Emiri Air Force pilots. The company will provide Qatar with F-15QA aircrew and maintenance courseware at a cost of $30 million. This includes syllabi, a student tracking system and the overall program management needed to train the country’s future F-15QA pilots. Production of the new F-15s started in August and will run through to at least 2022. Qatar ordered a total of 36 fighter jets at a cost of $12 billion. Work will be performed at Boeing’s location in St. Louis, Missouri, and is expected to be completed Dec. 28, 2020.
The Lebanese Armed Forces will receive six light attack helicopters from MD Helicopters. This is the third delivery order issued against a 5-year $1.4 billion light scout attack helicopter IDIQ contract. The Lebanese MD-530Gs will be equipped with FN Herstal Weapons Management System and the DillonAero Mission Configurable Armament System (MCAS) and other systems and weapons found on the Cayuse Warriors which will be delivered to the Kenyan Air Force. The Lebanese Warriors, however will also have a ballistically tolerant crashworthy fuel system, a Wescam laser designator, and Thales’s Scorpion helmet-mounted cueing system. The light-attack helicopter will be able to engage enemy targets with BAE’s 70mm Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System (APKWS) rocket. The MD-530Gs will also feature the Harris Falcon III RF-7850A-MR multi-channel airborne networking radios with advanced encryption standards (AES). Deliveries are scheduled for completion by fall 2020.
Britain’s defense minister confirms that the government is looking into the purchase of a fleet of Wedgetail E-7 AWACS aircraft. In a recent interview, Gavin Williamson said that following an initial market analysis and a series of discussions, the Ministry of Defence can now conclude “that the potential procurement of the E-7 represents the best value for money option for the UK against need”. The UK is also currently in talks with Australia regarding a potential cooperation and collaboration on the Wedgetail program. Australia already operates a fleet of Wedgetails, and a small number of British Royal Air Force personnel have been training on the aircraft since mid-year. Williamson did not specify the timeframe, quantity and cost of the planned procurement, nevertheless it is likely that up to six E-7s will replace the ageing E-3Ds. The program will likely cost more than $2.6 billion, putting more pressure on an already exhausted British defense budget.
France delivers ground-based surveillance radars and short range anti-aircraft missile systems to Georgia. Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze said during a conference held on October 1st, that the country’s airspace would now be “more protected and effectively controlled”. Georgia signed two contracts for the delivery of the Mistral air-defense system and the Ground Master 400/200 series back in 2015. The purchases are totalling at $90 million. MBDA’s Mistral Atlas system is a twin-launcher for the Mistral air-defense system. It has been designed to provide greater mobility, flexibility, high fire-power and autonomy and can be installed on many high mobility vehicles or used in a pedestal version. The Ground Master 400 belongs to Thales’ fully digital 3D air-defense radar family. The system fits into a standard ISO 20 container and is especially good in tracking high maneuvering targets at low elevation. Georgia is part of NATO’s Partnership for Peace program and is one of the few members of the alliance that spends 2% of its GDP on defense.
Australia’s Defense Minister and the French Naval Group are seeking to calm the waters after media reports suggested the impending collapse of a major defense contract between the Australian government and the shipbuilder. The Commonwealth Government announced in the Defence White Paper 2016 that it would double the size of the current fleet of Collins submarines and procure 12 Future Submarines at a cost of more than $36 billion. Key requirements are, a similar range and endurance than the Collins-class, a superior stealth and sensor performance, an upgraded version of the AN/BYG-1 combat system and Mk 48 Mod 7 heavyweight torpedo. The first submarine is slatted to enter service in the early 2030s with construction of the last submarine in the 2050s with sustainment continuing until the 2080s. An ABC report suggested that the planned acquisition of 12 diesel-electric submarines may be cancelled if the strategic partnering agreement is not signed before next year’s election.
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