The US Air Force is ordering a large batch of Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles (JASSMs) from Lockheed Martin. The firm-fixed-price, fixed-price-incentive-fee contract is valued at $390.8 million and covers the delivery of 360 JASSMs, three FMS separation text vehicles and one FMS set consisting of a flight test vehicle, tooling and test equipment. The 2,000 lbs. AGM-158 JASSM is a stealthy, inexpensive cruise missile costing about $1 million per unit. The JASSM is currently integrated on a variety of platforms ranging from B-1B Lancer bombers to F-16 Block 50 fighter jets. Work will be performed at Lockheed’s facility in Orlando, Florida and is expected to be completed by October 31, 2021.
General Dynamics is being contracted to upgrade more Strykers for the US Army. The awarded contract modification is priced at $366.9 million and covers the conversion of several Stryker flat-bottom vehicles to the Double V-hull configuration. The V-hull configuration was the Army’s answer to vehicle’s poor performance during IED attacks. The new design channels blast force away from the vehicle and its occupants thus drastically enhancing soldier protection. The Army plans to acquire 742 Stryker DVH vehicles, as retrofits and as new production vehicles. That’s the full extent of the current plan, which was a major step beyond the program’s initial plan of 450 Stryker DVHs. Work will be performed at GD’s factory in Sterling Heights, Michigan, and is scheduled for completion by April 30, 2021.
Boeing is currently in talks with Brazil’s Embraer to set up a KC-390 assembly line in the United States. This round of talks follows a July agreement between the two companies that resulted in Boeing gaining a 80% stake in the Brazilian company’s commercial business. Boeing and Embraer established agreements in 2012 and 2014 that allow the US firm to have a hand in global marketing and logistics support of the KC-390, but a defense related joint venture would allow for a more intensive collaboration. The KC-390 is designed to be a jet-powered rival to compete with Lockheed Martin’s C-130J. The multi-mission aircraft is capable of in-air refueling operations, cargo transport and SOF deployment.
Middle East & Africa
The government of the United Arab Emirates is ordering more attack helicopters for its armed forces. Boeing will provide the Middle-Eastern country with a total of 17 Apache AH-64E aircraft. The $242.1 million contract modification covers the remanufacture of eight, and the production of nine newly build Apaches by Boeing. The AH-64E Guardian Block III is the platform’s next big-leap forward. The upgraded attack helicopter incorporates 26 key new-technology insertions which keep his 1980s airframe at the leading edge of technology. Work will be performed at Boeing’s factory in Mesa, Arizona. Production of the aircraft is estimated to be completed by February 28, 2023.
Iraq is requesting the purchase of five additional Bell 407GX helicopters to support ongoing counter-insurgency operations. The FMS contract has a value of $82.5 million and is currently pending approval by Congress. The possible deal covers the delivery of all helicopters armed with M240 7.62mm Machine Guns. In addition the order also includes options for five M3P .50 caliber machine guns, five M260 rocket launchers in APKWS configuration and five GAU-19 .50 caliber machine guns. The helicopters would be equipped with MX-15Di EO/IR sensors and RF-7850A secure communications radios. Self-Defense measures include the AN/ALE-47 airborne countermeasure dispensing system and AAR-60 MILDS detectors. Installed systems include the Pathfinder MMS, the ARES WMS and MCAS. The DSCA notes that “the addition of five Bell 407GX helicopters will help compensate for the combat loss of seven IA407 helicopters in recent years and increase the Iraqi Security Forces’ combat effectiveness against ISIS and other terrorist elements in Iraq.”
Jane’s reports that Swedish defense contractor Saab and Raytheon are currently co-developing a new round for the Carl-Gustaf reloadable weapon system. The new round would be the first guided one for the 84 mm recoilless weapon and is designated as Guided Carl-Gustaf Munition (GCGM). The Carl-Gustaf, which the Army calls the M3 Multi-Role Anti-Armor Anti-Personnel Weapon System (MAAWS), entered service in 1991 and has been a staple infantry support weapon in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The MAAWS has similarities to the AT4 shoulder-fired, anti-tank system. But the MAAWS is unique in that the system itself is not disposable, which means it can be used more than once. Jane’s notes that “the GCGM development is effectively an evolutionary progression of the earlier Saab Ultra Light Munition concept, which, under the teaming agreement with Raytheon, has been matured and defined in terms of capability and performance requirements.”
Northrop Grumman confirms that the Italian Air Force successfully completed operational testing of the company’s Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM). The missiles are integrated on Italy’s Tornado fighter jets. A series of flight tests ended with two direct hits on critical air defense targets, this milestone allows for the transition of the AARGMs into operational squadrons. Italy and the US signed a MoU in 2005 to cooperatively develop the AGM-88E AARGM missile. The AARGM is a medium range, supersonic, air-launched tactical missile whose primary job is to attack and kill enemy radars. Italy currently plans to buy a total of 250 AARGMs.
Japan’s ATD-X (X-2) program is taking a new turn. The Japanese Ministry of Defense is determined to develop a new fighter jet, that will eventually replace its fleet of F-2s. Proposals from three American and British companies failed to meet Japan’s costs and capability requirements, hence the decision to indigenously develop a new fighter jet. The companies made offers to upgrade their existing models, Lockheed for the F-22, Boeing for the F-15 and BAE for the Typhoon. Development of the new aircraft could cost trillions of yen and could be a major financial burden on Japan’s defense budget. To mitigate the overall cost the ministry has an eye on a joint development with foreign companies. The government is looking towards British or German-French partners as they are also looking into developing next-generation jets. Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force currently operates 92 F-2s which will begin to reach the end of their service life in the 2030s.
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