Boeing won a $40 million contract modification for KC-46 engineering, manufacturing, and development. This provides for qualification test of the components and full life qualification of the actuator, as well as for conducting lab test, ground test and flight test verifications. The KC-46A Aerial Refuelling Aircraft has a maximum fuel capacity of 212,000lb. The aircraft is fitted with a flush-mounted air-to-air refuelling receptacle capable of accepting fuel at 1,200gal/min. The tanker is capable of carrying 18 cargo pallets, as well as transporting 58 passengers normally and up to 114 passengers during contingency operations. The tanker aircraft also provides urgent aeromedical evacuation by transporting 54 medical patients. The maximum takeoff weight of the tanker aircraft will be 415,000lb (188,241kg). Work will take place in Seattle, and is expected to be completed December 31, 2023
L3Harris Technologies won a $10.5 million contract modification, which exercises Lot 20 option items to procure digital map computers (DMCs) and digital video map computers (DVMCs); 50 DMCs and 77 DVMCs in support of sparing for the Naval Supply Systems Command; 24 DVMCs for the Navy in support of the F/A-18E/F aircraft; 16 DMCs for the government of the Czech Republic; and three DMCs for the government of Bahrain. Additionally, this modification procures 24 extension housings for the DVMC buy for the Navy in support of the F/A-18E/F aircraft program. The Super Hornet is a maritime strike attack aircraft. The first full-rate production aircraft was delivered in September 2001. The aircraft is fitted with new mission computers, fibre-optic network, Raytheon AN/ASQ-228 ATFLIR targeting pod, Boeing joint helmet-mounted cueing system and Raytheon AIM-9X next generation Sidewinder air-to-air missile. Work will take place in Florida. Estimated completion will be in December 2022.
Middle East & Africa
Turkish firm Roketsan is reportedly in the final stages of testing its first domestically manufactured maritime missile, Atmaca. In development since 2009, ATMACA completed tests in November 2018. A deal for its mass production was signed between the SSB and its manufacturer Roketsan in 2018. The launch control system of the missile was developed by Turkish defense electronics firm ASELSAN, while the fire control system was developed by the Turkish Naval Research Center Command (ArMerKom). The ATMACA can be fired from fixed or moving targets such as ships. It has a range of up to 250km, hovers low above water and can reach its target both on a linear and a vertical plane. With this feature, the missile can reach a higher altitude when it gets closer to the target and land on a target ship from directly above, according to information provided by Roketsan.
The guided-missile destroyer USS Ross completed training exercises in the Baltic Sea with a ship of Poland’s navy, the US Sixth Fleet announced. The USS Ross, based at Rota, Spain, and the frigate ORP Gen. Kazmierz Pulaski conducted a series of maneuvers, air and surface tactics and data link exercises. The Arleigh Burke Class destroyer had conducted similar exercises with ships of NATO partners during this summer, including training with the Lithuanian and Latvian navies. Three weeks before the exercises with the Polish ship, the USS Ross joined British and Norwegian counterparts for maritime exercises led by the British Navy above the Arctic Circle in the Barents Sea.
The US State Department approved the potential Foreign Military Sales of rolling airframe missile (RAM) Block 2 tactical missiles to Japan. The US State Department has approved the potential foreign military sale (FMS) of rolling airframe missile (RAM) Block 2 tactical missiles to Japan. Under the estimated $55.311 million sale, Japan has requested for up to 51 Rolling Airframe Missiles (RAM) Block 2 Tactical Missiles, RIM-116C, and related equipment. Japan has also sought for RAM Guided Missile Round Pack Tri-Pack shipping and storage containers, as well as operator manuals and technical documentation.
The Japan Air Self-Defense Force declared that the PAC2 air defense interceptors stationed at Chinen and Onna Sub Bases are now upgraded to the PAC3 version. The change was carried out in August. Both bases are assigned under the 5th Air Defence Missile Group that protects the Okinawa islands. In December 2017, American Company Lockheed Martin has won a $944 million contract to deliver Patriot Advanced Capability-3 and PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement missiles to the United States and allies including Japan, according to a statement released by the company. The upgraded PAC-3 MSE expands the lethal battlespace with a dual-pulse solid rocket motor, providing increased performance in altitude and range. PAC-3 MSE is a high-velocity interceptor that defends against incoming threats, including tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and aircraft. The missile uses Hit-to-Kill technology, which engages threats through kinetic energy via body-to-body contact.
Watch: China Tension (Sept 29,2020): US Deployed MQ-9 Reaper Drone to South China Sea
Latest updates[?]: The US State Department approved the potential Foreign Military Sales of rolling airframe missile (RAM) Block 2 tactical missiles to Japan. The US State Department has approved the potential foreign military sale (FMS) of rolling airframe missile (RAM) Block 2 tactical missiles to Japan. Under the estimated $55.311 million sale, Japan has requested for up to 51 Rolling Airframe Missiles (RAM) Block 2 Tactical Missiles, RIM-116C, and related equipment. Japan has also sought for RAM Guided Missile Round Pack Tri-Pack shipping and storage containers, as well as operator manuals and technical documentation.
Mk-44 firing RAM
The Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) 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 RIM-116 was later called RAM (Rolling Airframe Missile), because it spins during flight. To save costs, Designation Systems notes that the RAM was designed to use several existing components, including the rocket motor of the MIM-72 Chaparral, the warhead of the AIM-9 Sidewinder, and the Infrared seeker of the FIM-92 Stinger. Cueing is provided by the ship’s radar, or by its ESM signal tracing suite.
RAM is currently installed, or planned for installation, on 78 U.S. Navy and 30 German Navy ships, including American LSD, LHD, LPD and CVN ship types. This number will grow as vessels of the LPD-17 San Antonio Class and Littoral Combat Ships enter the US Navy, and the LCS will sport an upgraded SeaRAM system that will include its own integrated radar and IR sensors. Abroad, the South Korean Navy has adopted RAM for its KDX-II and KDX-III destroyers, and its LPX Dokdo Class amphibious assault ships; other navies using or buying RAM include Egypt, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Turkey, and the UAE/Dubai.
International Enterprise Inc. won a $26.2 million deal to provide test, teardown and evaluation and repair of the components of the Integrated Helmet and Display Sight System of the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter. The Apache is a twin-engined army attack helicopter. It entered service with the US Army in 1984 and has been exported to Egypt, Greece, Israel, the Netherlands, Japan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the UK. he Apache was first used in combat in 1989 in the US military action in Panama. It was used in Operation Desert Storm and has supported low intensity and peacekeeping operations worldwide, including in Turkey, Bosnia and Kosovo. Estimated completion is September 30, 2023.
Lockheed Martin won a $63.9 million order, which provides for the L12 Diminishing Manufacturing Sources redesign effort in support of the F-35 aircraft for Air Force, Navy and non-Department of Defense (DoD) customers. Specifically, this order provides non-recurring engineering in support of redesigned end products for the Tactical Navigation System Inertial Electronics Unit/Inertial Measurements Unit, Electronic Warfare/Counter Measures Aperture Electronics Module (EW/CM AEM), Aircraft Exterior Lighting, EW/CM Electronic Warfare Controllers and EW/CM Counter Measure Controller. Work will take place in Texas. Estimated completion will be in January 2027.
Middle East & Africa
Vectrus Systems won a $38.7 million modification for installation support operations and other support services. Vectrus provides electronic, communication, and defense systems. The Company offers composite aerospace structures, defense surveillance, mobile radar, networked communication, acoustic systems, and composite tanks. Work will take place in Doha, Qatar, with an estimated completion date of March 29, 2021. The Qatar Base Operations Support Services program provides a full-spectrum of life support services for US Army installations located in Qatar. QBOSS falls primarily into the Vectrus Facility and Logistics Services offering.
The US Missile Defense Agency awarded Raytheon a $212.8 million contract under a Foreign Military case to the UAE. The contractor will provide one Prime Power Unit and five years of sustainment services for two Terminal High Altitude Area Defense Army/Navy Transportable Radar Surveillance and Control-Series 2 (AN/TPY-2) Radars for this contract. The work will take place in Massachusetts, and some support services will be provided in-country. The contract is October 1, 2020, through Sept. 30, 2025. UAE FMS funds in the amount of $212.8 will be used to pay for the contract.
The Swiss government has been given the green light to spend up to $6.46 billion for the purchase of new fighters in a referendum. A slim majority of 50.1% voted to approve the purchase, the government will decide next year which fighter will be the winner. The Eurofighter, Rafale, Super Hornet and F-35A have been shortlisted. The aircraft would replace Switzerland’s aging fleet of 30 F/A-18 Hornets, which will go out of service in 2030.
Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ships Kaga and Ikazuchi have commenced exercise JIMEX with the Indian Navy on September 26 in the Arabian Sea. The exercise lasts three days. INS Chennai, Tarkash and Deepak are representing the Indian Navy. It is the first military exercise between the two strategic partners after they signed a landmark agreement on September 9 that allows their militaries to access each other”s bases for logistics support. The JIMEX series of exercises commenced in January 2012 with a special focus on maritime security cooperation. The last edition was conducted in October 2018 off the Visakhapatnam coast.
Watch: Why The V-22 Osprey Is One Of The Most Iconic Aircraft Ever Made
Physical Optics won an $84.9 million deal, which procures Advanced Data Transfer System components for installations on the UH-1Y, AH-1Z, MH-60R, MH-60S, H-53K platforms for the Navy, Air Force and Foreign Military Sales customers. The UH-1Y utility helicopter provides command & control and assault support under day/night and adverse weather conditions. The AH-1Z attack helicopter provides rotary wing close air support, anti-armor, armed escort, armed/visual reconnaissance and fire support coordination capabilities under day/night and adverse weather conditions. Work will take place in California. Estimated completion date is in September 2025.
IAP Worldwide Services won a $17.9 million contract modification, which increases the contract value and provides additional funding for operational and depot spare parts and inventory replenishment in support of the E-6B Take Charge and Move Out and Airborne Command Post aircraft. The Boeing E-6 Mercury is a command post and communications relay aircraft manufactured by Boeing for the US Navy. The aircraft relays communications for ballistic missile submarine forces and provides airborne command and control for strategic forces. Work will take place in Oklahoma, Maryland, Nebraska and California. Estimated completion is in November 2020.
Middle East & Africa
The Israeli Navy tested a sea-to-sea missile for use in protecting Mediterranean Sea natural gas platforms, the Israel Defense Force announced. According to the service, the missile successfully struck and sank a decommissioned target vessel meant to simulate an enemy vessel. The missiles will be integrated into the Israeli Navy’s newest Sa’ar-5 and Sa’ar-6 class ships, made in the United States by Huntington Ingalls Industries. “The introduction of the system will serve as a significant addition to the force build up efforts of the Israeli Navy, and ensure its continued naval superiority,” a Ministry of Defense statement said.
The US State Department has approved a potential $401.3 million deal with the UK for C-17 aircraft logistics support. The request includes “aircraft component spare and repair parts; accessories; publications and technical documentation; software and software support; US Government and contractor engineering, technical and logistical support services; and other related elements of logistical and program support” for its C-17s. Boeing will be the prime contractor.
The Netherlands was cleared by the DoS to purchase 34 Patriot Advanced Capability?3 (PAC-3) missiles, with an estimated price tag of $241 million. The Government of the Netherlands had requested to buy 34 PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) missiles. Also included are 8 kitted 2-pack PAC-3 MSE Missile Round Trainers (MRT), 6 kitted 2-pack PAC-3 MSE Empty Round Trainers (ERT), 4 PAC-3 MSE Skid Kits, 1 Lot of Classified PAC-3 MSE Concurrent Spare Parts (CSPs), 1 Lot of Unclassified PAC-3 MSE CSPs, and PAC-3 MSE repair and return processing support services, and other related elements of logistics and program support. Patriot is a long-range, all-altitude, all-weather air defense system designed to counter tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and advanced aircraft.
Boeing won a $2 billion contract for the Small Diameter Bomb Increment I weapon program. This contract provides for a guaranteed minimum Lot 15 award and a five-year ordering period for Small Diameter Bomb Increment I, focused lethality munition, containers and carriages for the Department of Defense and Foreign Military Sales partner nations. The Small Diameter Bomb is a precise and accurate weapon that allows the combat aircraft to deliver decisive air power. Work will take place in Missouri and estimated completion will be by September 2027. This contract involves Foreign Military Sales to Australia, Belgium, Israel, Japan, Korea, Netherlands and Norway.
Watch: U.S 6th GENERATION FIGHTER IS DEVELOPED IN A YEAR & HAS ALREADY FLOWN! IT HAS “BROKEN RECORDS” TOO !
Oshkosh Defense won an $11.1 million contract modification to retrofit mufflers, forward facing cameras, rear-door transparent armor and muffler robustness into the baseline configuration of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle family of vehicles. The joint light tactical vehicle (JLTV) is a light utility/combat multi-role vehicle. There are two different types of the JLTV, a four-seat and the two-seat design meant to provide the occupants with significantly more protection against mine-resistance and ambush protection. Additionally, the JLTV is approximately two-thirds lighter than the previously used Humvee, offering greater speed over terrain, and better fuel efficiency. Work will take place in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Estimated completion date is September 23, 2021.
Raytheon won a $17 million modification for dual band radar spares in support of DDG 1000. The Zumwalt-class (DDG 1000) is the largest and most technologically advanced surface combatant in the world. Zumwalt is the lead ship of a class of next-generation multi-mission destroyers designed to strengthen naval power from the sea. Work will take place in Massachusetts. Estimated completion will be by July 2024. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, DC, is the contracting activity.
Middle East & Africa
General Dynamics won a $7.9 million contract modification for logistical staff augmentation support throughout the Central Command area of responsibility. US Army Contracting Command, Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois, is the contracting activity. work will take place in Bagram, Afghanistan; and Kuwait City, Kuwait. Estimated completion date is September 25, 2021.
The US Army Tapped Raytheon with a $9.8 million contract modification to procure Excalibur Ib projectiles. The M982 Excalibur (previously XM982) is a 155 mm extended range guided artillery shell developed during a collaborative effort between the US Army Research Laboratory (ARL) and the United States Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC). Work will take place in Sweden, Arizona, the UK, Iowa, Ohio, Alabama, California, Oklahoma and New Mexico. Estimated completion date is December 31, 2022.
Croatia’s Defense Minister Mario Banozic told the press that a delegation will be dispatched to France, Sweden and United States to validate the bids for the fighter competition that the country is running. The country received bids from four countries but the press report did not state Banozic as saying that the delegation will visit Israel. Two bids are for new jets and two for used fighter jets. Norway had announced that it would bid but it withdrew as it could not fulfill the set criteria. Greece and Italy were not able to respond within the set deadline.
A small team of about 10 officials from South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) and Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) are in Jakarta for negotiations with local officials over the South East Asian country’s participation in the KF-X fighter program. Indonesia had indicated that it wants to reduce its share in the program from the promised 20 percent to 15 percent.
Boeing won a $75.1 million contract modification, which exercises options to provide aircraft inspections, modifications and repairs as well as inner wing panel (IWP) modifications and repairs for the F/A-18 E/F and EA-18G series aircraft. These efforts restore the aircraft and IWP to meet service life projections in accordance with new design specifications. The US Navy F/A-18 E and F Super Hornets are twin-engine, carrier-capable multirole fighter aircraft. Super Hornet is about 25% larger than its predecessor the F/A-18C/D, but contains 42% fewer structural parts. The single-seat F/A-18/E and the two-seat F/A-18/F fly greater ranges with heavier payloads, have more powerful engines and provide greater survivability. Work will take place in Florida, Missouri and California. Estimated completion will be in September 2021.
Boeing won a $21.9 million contract modification, which exercises an option for test and evaluation support for Next Generation Jammer integration on the EA-18G aircraft. The Next Generation Jammer is a program to develop an airborne electronic warfare system, as a replacement for the AN/ALQ-99 found on the EA-18G military aircraft. It will reach Initial Operating Capability in 2021. The EA-18G Growler is an airborne electronic attack (AEA) aircraft, capable of operating either from an aircraft carrier or from land-bases. The Growler was developed as a replacement for the US Navy EA-6B Prowler aircraft that entered service in 1971 and retired in March 2019. Work will take place in Missouri and estimated completion will be in September, 2021.
Middle East & Africa
Lockheed Martin has awarded Israeli defense company Elbit Systems – Cyclone a contract to supply additional complex composite structural assemblies for forward equipment bay assemblies on all F-35 variants. The deal is in an amount that is not material to Elbit Systems and will be performed over a period of four-years. The contract calls for Elbit Systems to supply assemblies for the F-35’s Forward Equipment Bay – made from composite materials and the associated structures – for all F-35 aircraft variants. Elbit Systems will deliver more than 1,400 components to Lockheed Martin during the contract period.
Germany is establishing a new multinational unit to operate the Airbus A400M transport aircraft, with Hungary committed as its first partner. The Bundeswehr announced that the Multinational Air Transport Unit (MNAU) was being established at Wunstorf Air Base in northern Germany, home to the Luftwaffe’s A400M force. This new international unit will relocate to Lechfeld Air Base in the far south of the country with 10 of the Luftwaffe’s 53 contracted A400Ms, as well as additional A400Ms that might be provided by partner nations.
Russia’s Western Military District reports that a Su-30SM had crashed in the Tver region on September 22 during a training flight. Both pilots were able to eject safely. Later in the day, a post on Telegram said the jet has hit by cannon rounds fired from a Su-35 during dogfight training. The rounds were not remove from the Su-35 and as the pilot pulled the trigger to record the kill, the cannon fired and hit the Su-30SM.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen visited the airbase on Penghu island today and the IDF detachment there displayed the Wan Chien cruise missile for all to see. The Wan Chien is an indigenous land attack missile similar to the AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon. It is carried by the IDF. The significance of the indigenous Wan Chien missile within the ROCAF armory in particular is its ability to be launched from F-CK-1C/Ds operating above the Taiwan Strait and hit targets on the Chinese mainland.
Watch: USAF’S U-2 ‘DRAGON LADY’ HAS SUCCESSFULLY GATHERED INFORMATION ON CHINESE MILITARY DURING DRILL !
Latest updates[?]: Germany is establishing a new multinational unit to operate the Airbus A400M transport aircraft, with Hungary committed as its first partner. The Bundeswehr announced that the Multinational Air Transport Unit (MNAU) was being established at Wunstorf Air Base in northern Germany, home to the Luftwaffe’s A400M force. This new international unit will relocate to Lechfeld Air Base in the far south of the country with 10 of the Luftwaffe’s 53 contracted A400Ms, as well as additional A400Ms that might be provided by partner nations.
A400M rollout, Seville
Airbus’ A400M is a EUR 20+ billion program that aims to repeat Airbus’ civilian successes in the full size military transport market. A series of smart design decisions were made around capacity (35-37 tonnes/ 38-40 US tons, large enough for survivable armored vehicles), extensive use of modern materials, multi-role capability as a refueling tanker, and a multinational industrial program; all of which leave the aircraft well positioned to take overall market share from Lockheed Martin’s C-130 Hercules. If the USA’s C-17 is allowed to go out of production, the A400M would also have a strong position in the strategic transport market, with only Russian AN-70, IL-76 and AN-124 aircraft as competition.
Airbus’ biggest program issue, by far, has been funding for a project that is more than EUR 7 billion over budget. The next biggest issue is timing, as a combination of A400M delays and Lockheed’s strong push for its C-130J Super Hercules narrow the field for future exports. This DID Spotlight article covers the latest developments, as the A400M Atlas moves into the delivery phase. Will Airbus’ 3rd big issue become its own customers?
BAE Systems announced a contract Monday worth up to $111 million to supply the US Navy with Archerfish mine neutralizers. Archerfish is used by the US Navy’s MH-60S Helicopter squadrons as part of their Airborne Mine Neutralization System capability, and reduces the need to put diving personnel in the water for clearance missions, according to the company. Archerfish is a remotely-controlled underwater vehicle equipped with an explosive warhead to destroy sea mines. The Navy established a requirement for rapid neutralization of bottom and moored sea mines to support operations in littoral zones, confined straits, choke points and the amphibious objective area.
HSC-22 received their first MQ-8C Firescout on September 15 aboard Naval Station Norfolk, the US Navy said. It is now the first East Coast squadron to operate the MH-60S, MQ-8B and MQ-8C. The Firescout is the US Navy’s latest combat drone to hit the skies and provide aerial surveillance, reconnaissance, situational awareness, aerial fire support, and precision targeting support to ground, air, and sea units. The MQ-8C Fire Scout’s main purpose is to provide radar surveillance with its multi-spectrum targeting system. The multi-spectrum targeting system is a camera that is capable of reading light, heat, and electrical signatures to find anything that might be of interest.
Middle East & Africa
Lockheed Martin won a $12.8 million contract modification, which exercises options to procure consumable parts and material in support of the C/KC-130J aircraft for the Marine Corps, Marine Corps Reserves, Coast Guard and the government of Kuwait. The KC-130J is a multi-role tanker aircraft designed and developed by Lockheed Martin to replace the KC-130F/R/T aircraft. The KC-130J is in operation with the US Navy, the US Marine Corps (USMC), the Italian Air Force, the Kuwait Air Force and the Royal Saudi Air Force. Work will take place in Georgia, California, Kuwait, Japan, North Carolina, Texas, New York and South Carolina. Estimated completion will be by December 2023.
The British government classifies its new fleet support ships as “warships”. Previously the Government had argued that the new Fleet Solid Support Ships were not warships and as such, were eligible for international tendering rather than being restricted to British shipyards. The $1.9 billion competition to build up to three Fleet Solid Support Ships was suspended last year and an update was due this autumn. The definition of warship used by the Government had been previously challenged by people from all sides of the political spectrum. Until today, ministers repeatedly insisted the vessels would not be “warships” – meaning they could be built abroad. For national security reasons, Royal Navy warships can only be built in the UK. But because the supply ships will be part of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, the Government previously claimed they were not warships.
A woman MiG-21 fighter pilot with the Indian Air Force has been selected to transition to fly the Dassault Rafale fighter. The Indian Air Force pilot will reportedly begin active duties flying Rafale jets soon. She will be the first woman in the Rafale squadron. The woman pilot, who had earlier operated MiG-21 fighter jets, has been placed under the ‘full fighter training course’ and will join ‘active duties’ soon in the 17 Squadron. As per the report, the training regimen for both men and women pilots are identical. Every pilot, irrespective of gender, has to mandatorily undergo conversion training while switching from one fighter jet to another. Currently, there are 10 women fighter jet pilots in the Indian Air Force.
The Political Work Department of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) released a propaganda video on September 19 and in the video, the H-6K bomber from the 28th Air Regiment was shown launching a missile strike on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. The Chinese propaganda video borrows heavily from Hollywood and depicts an airstrike on an island some observers say resembles the US base in Guam. The presentation suggests that it was produced as a warning to any country of base within the strike range of the bombers.
Latest updates[?]: HSC-22 received their first MQ-8C Firescout on September 15 aboard Naval Station Norfolk, the US Navy said. It is now the first East Coast squadron to operate the MH-60S, MQ-8B and MQ-8C. The Firescout is the US Navy’s latest combat drone to hit the skies and provide aerial surveillance, reconnaissance, situational awareness, aerial fire support, and precision targeting support to ground, air, and sea units. The MQ-8C Fire Scout’s main purpose is to provide radar surveillance with its multi-spectrum targeting system. The multi-spectrum targeting system is a camera that is capable of reading light, heat, and electrical signatures to find anything that might be of interest.
MQ-8B Fire Scout
A helicopter UAV is very handy for naval ships, and for armies who can’t always depend on runways. The USA’s RQ/MQ-8 Fire Scout Unmanned Aerial Vehicle has blazed a trail of firsts in this area, but its history is best described as “colorful.” The program was begun by the US Navy, canceled, adopted by the US Army, revived by the Navy, then canceled by the Army. Leaving it back in the hands of the US Navy. Though the Army is thinking about joining again, and the base platform is changing.
The question is, can the MQ-8 leverage its size, first-mover contract opportunity, and “good enough” performance into a secure future with the US Navy – and beyond? DID describes these new VTUAV platforms, clarifies the program’s structure and colorful history, lists all related contracts and events, and offers related research materials.
Latest updates[?]: A woman MiG-21 fighter pilot with the Indian Air Force has been selected to transition to fly the Dassault Rafale fighter. The Indian Air Force pilot will reportedly begin active duties flying Rafale jets soon. She will be the first woman in the Rafale squadron. The woman pilot, who had earlier operated MiG-21 fighter jets, has been placed under the ‘full fighter training course’ and will join ‘active duties’ soon in the 17 Squadron. As per the report, the training regimen for both men and women pilots are identical. Every pilot, irrespective of gender, has to mandatorily undergo conversion training while switching from one fighter jet to another. Currently, there are 10 women fighter jet pilots in the Indian Air Force.
(click for cutaway view)
Will Dassault’s fighter become a fashionably late fighter platform that builds on its parent company’s past successes – or just “the late Rafale”? It all began as a 1985 break-away from the multinational consortium that went on to create EADS’ Eurofighter. The French needed a lighter aircraft that was suitable for carrier use, and were reportedly unwilling to cede design authority over the project. As is so often true of French defense procurement policy, the choice came down to paying additional costs for full independence and exact needs, or losing key industrial capabilities by partnering or buying abroad. France has generally opted for expensive but independent defense choices, and the Rafale was no exception.
Those costs, and associated delays triggered by the end of the Cold War and reduced funding, proved to be very costly indeed. Unlike previous French fighters, which relied on exports to lower their costs and keep production lines humming, the Rafale has yet to secure a single export contract – in part because initial versions were hampered by impaired capabilities in key roles. The Rafale may, at last, be ready to be what its vendors say: a true omnirole aircraft, ready for prime time on the global export stage. The question is whether it’s too late. Rivals like EADS’ Eurofighter, Russia’s Su-27/30 family, and the American “teen series” of F-15/16/18 variants are all well established. Meanwhile, Saab’s versatile and cheaper JAS-39 Gripen remains a stubborn foe in key export competitions, and the multinational F-35 juggernaut is bearing down on it.