Latest updates[?]: Two F-5Es had a mid-air collision off Taiwan’s Pingtung County at around 15:06 local time on March 22. The crash on Monday was the third such incident in the past half-year, at a time when the island’s armed forces are having to intercept Chinese aircraft on an almost daily basis. One of the pilots was found unconscious in the sea but could not be resuscitated and was pronounced dead at the hospital. Rescuers were still searching for the remaining pilot.
Top Gun, redux
In the 1980s movie Top Gun, the revolutionary “MiG-28s” operated by the enemy air force were actually painted F-5E Tiger IIs, derived from a family of fighters whose design concept dates back to the mid 1950s. The F-5 family of aircraft were produced in large numbers, as they were an extremely popular export item. Many are still operated by countries around the world, and the US Air Force used them for many years as “aggressor” aircraft in Dissimilar Air Combat Training (DACT). They remain excellent for simulating similarly small, low profile adversaries like the MiG-21s and MiG-19s that gave American pilots such trouble over Vietnam. Or the IAF MiG-21s that caused trouble in the 2004 – 2005 COPE India exercises, for that matter.
“F-5Ns” are still routinely flown by American Navy and Marines adversary squadrons in training exercises, where they simulate small, low-cross-section (and hence hard to spot) enemies. Keeping them in service requires maintenance contracts – and some timely help from the Swiss also came in handy. This article covers a multi-year maintenance & support contract from 2008 – 2014, as a representative time period.
The US Air Force has decided to add an active duty component to the 168th Air Refueling Squadron at Eielson Air Force Base. The move will add four additional KC-135s and up to 220 additional active duty personnel. This will make the squadron a total force unit as it increases the total KC-135 aircraft to 12. The personnel will be reassigned from within the Air Force.
F-35A, AF-1, has successfully carried out the in-flight release of the Joint Strike Missile (JSM) over at Edwards Air Force Base last month. Forsvarsmateriell, the Norwegian Defense Material Agency, was responsible for conducting successful test drops of the JSM missile from the F-35A in the desert at Edwards Air Force Base in California in February. Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace (KDA) is developing the JSM. The testing took place as part of the programme to integrate the JSM into the F-35, under the JPO (Joint Program Office) which is responsible for the F-35 cooperation programme, and is carried out in close cooperation with US authorities.
Middle East & Africa
According to Israel Defense, Israeli company Mobius Protection Systems, which specializes in the design, development and manufacturing of life-saving, energy-absorbing systems for military vehicles, announced that earlier this year it received another order from the IDF to supply its seats for the new Ofek armored personnel carrier.
The Israeli heavy APC is based on the chassis of the Merkava Mk.2 and Merkava Mk. 3 main battle tanks.
USS Dwight D. Eisenhower arrived in Souda, Crete on March 20 and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will board the ship on March 23. The vessel approached pier K14 with the help of four tug boats at about 11 a.m. According to press reports, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is expected to visit the US aircraft carrier on Tuesday.
The US Department of Defense announced an $11.4 million contract to Foster-Miller for MK 2 Man Transportable Robotic System series systems and Talon systems to Australia.The services under this contract cover the production of systems, depot level repair parts, initial spares kits, consumables, repair parts and approved accessories. The MTRS provides a stand-off capability to locate, identify and clear landmines, unexploded ordnance and improvised explosive devices. It can also be equipped with chemical or biological weapons sensors as a scanning device. It is controlled by a remote handheld device and can be integrated with several platforms, allowing commanders to coordinate a larger search for threats.
The Republic of Korea has decided to buy a batch of US-made AGM-114R multi-purpose Hellfire II missiles. The US military’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency issued a press release on March 19, 2021, that announced that the State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Republic of Korea of AGM-114R Hellfire missiles and related equipment for an estimated cost of $36 million. The potential sales, announced on the website of the DSCA, involve hundred eighty-eight AGM-114R Hellfire missiles. Also included are AGM-114R spare parts; US Government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistics support services; repair and return; storage; and other related elements of logistical and program support.
Watch: Know Your Aircraft: The Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker
Latest updates[?]: The Republic of Korea has decided to buy a batch of US-made AGM-114R multi-purpose Hellfire II missiles. The US military’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency issued a press release on March 19, 2021, that announced that the State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Republic of Korea of AGM-114R Hellfire missiles and related equipment for an estimated cost of $36 million. The potential sales, announced on the website of the DSCA, involve hundred eighty-eight AGM-114R Hellfire missiles. Also included are AGM-114R spare parts; US Government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistics support services; repair and return; storage; and other related elements of logistical and program support.
Latest updates: New 2011-2014 contract; Long-lead buy for AGM-114Rs under previous contract.
Hellfire II cutaway
Hellfire I/II missiles are the USA’s preferred aerial anti-armor missile, and are widely deployed with America’s allies. All use semi-active laser guidance as their base mode. They equip its helicopter fleets (AH-64, AH-1, OH-58D, MH-60S/R), AH-64 and S-70 helicopters flown by its allies, and even Australia and France’s Eurocopter Tiger attack helicopters. Range is officially listed as 9,000 meters, or about 5.6 miles.
While Hellfires lack the fast-jet launch capabilities – and correspondingly extended maximum range – of the UK’s MBDA Brimstone missiles, Lockheed Martin’s missile has carved out unique niches as tripod-launched coastal defense assets in Norway and Sweden, and as the guided missile integrated into American UAVs like the MQ-1 Predator family. This article covers the current set of contracts, which began in 2008:
Northrop Grumman won an $11.4 million contract modification for the exercise of Options Two, Three and Four of the Minuteman III Launch Control Center Block Upgrade production program. The LGM-30G Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, is an element of the nation’s strategic deterrent forces under the control of the Air Force Global Strike Command. Work will take place in Utah. Estimated completion date is July 17, 2023.
The US Marine Corps is now able to download data from an airborne RQ-4 unmanned aerial vehicle after verifying the capability during a field exercise held at Bouge, North Carolina last month. The 2nd Intelligence Battalion of the II Marine Expeditionary Force overcame a hardware failure to obtain the information in a communications denied or degraded environment.
Middle East & Africa
Textron Aviation Defense LLC won a $12.5 million for the Iraq Air Force Peace Dragon Program. This modification adds the six months to Option Year Three of the multi-year basic contract. Work will take place in Wichita, Kansas and is expected to be completed March 31, 2021. The modification involves Foreign Military Sales to Iraq.
The Italian Navy is replacing its Teseo or OTOMAT Mk2/A anti-ship missile with a new design designated as Teseo Mk2/E. This new missile is also capable of attacking land targets and the Italian Navy will Mk2/A version onboard FREMM and Horizon class frigates with the Mk2/E. The new multi-purpose Offshore Patrol Vessels being build will be armed with this missile.
The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced on March 16 that the State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Norway of Javelin FGM-148 Missiles and related equipment for an estimated cost of $36 million. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on March 16. The Government of Norway has requested to buy 120 Javelin FGM-148 missiles, and 2 Javelin FGM-148 Missiles Fly to Buy. Also included are 24 Javelin Block 1 Command Launch Units (CLUs) retrofit kits; spare parts; publications and technical documentation; personnel training; US Government and contractor engineering, technical and logistics support services; and other related elements of logistical and program support. The estimated total cost is $36 million.
Taiwan is preparing to induct the F-16V into service with a ceremony later this month. The event will invite President Tsai Ing-wen as guest-of-honor. The ceremony will be held at Chiayi air base and so far, the base has more than 22 F-16Vs.
Watch: Here Comes the F-16V (Thanks to F-35 & F-22 DNA)
Sikorsky Aircraft won a $9.8 million order, which provides for modifications and updates to the CH-53K 2F243-1 Containerized Flight Training Device. Additionally, this order provides flight test data analysis required to update and validate the CH-53K flight model with available flight test data; produces materials focused on pilot and aircrew conversion courseware and maintainer conversion courseware; and trains the schoolhouse instructors at the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training Marine Unit, New River, North Carolina; and Marine Heavy Helicopter Training Squadron 302, in order to support initial operational capability. Work will take place in North Carolina, Virginia, Florida, Connecticut and New York. Estimated completion will be in September 2022.
According to a strategy the services released on March 16, the Navy and the Marine Corps plan to build a digital infrastructure to integrate drone capabilities. In addition to drone-specific infrastructure plans, the 40-page Unmanned Campaign Plan includes plans to incentivize rapid development and testing of unmanned systems and advance manned-unmanned teaming effects across naval and joint operations.
Middle East & Africa
Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and the Israel Missile Defense Organization in the Israeli Ministry of Defense have successfully completed the third series of tests of the Iron Dome system over the last few months, demonstrating a significant upgrade of the system’s technological capabilities. During the tests, the Iron Dome operated successfully in a range of complex scenarios and intercepted and destroyed targets that simulated existing and emerging threats, including the simultaneous interception of multiple UAVs, as well as a salvo of rockets and missiles.
The US State Department approved two Foreign Military Sales to the Netherlands. The first deal is for CH-47 Pilot Training and Logistics Support and related equipment for an estimated cost of $125 million. The Government of the Netherlands has requested support for the Royal Netherlands Air Force CH-47 training program, to include fuel; base operating support; facilities; publications and technical documentation; pilot training; personnel training and training equipment; weapon system and software support; US Government and contractor technical, engineering, and logistics personnel services; and other related elements of logistical and program support. The second FMS is for AH-64 Pilot Training and Logistics Support and related equipment for an estimated cost of $190 million. The Government of the Netherlands has requested support for the Royal Netherlands Air Force AH-64 training program, to include fuel; base operating support; facilities; publications and technical documentation; pilot training; AH-64D to AH-64E conversion training support; personnel training and training equipment; weapon system and software support; US Government and contractor technical, engineering, and logistics personnel services; and other related elements of logistical and program support.
The US State Department approved a Foreign Military Sale to North Macedonia for Stryker Vehicles and related equipment for an estimated cost of $210 million. The Government of North Macedonia has requested the possible sale of fifty-four (54) Stryker Vehicles, to include M1126 Infantry Carrier Vehicles (ICV), M1130 Command Vehicles (CV), and M1129 Mortar Carrier Vehicles (MCV). Also included are Also included are M2A1 .50 cal machine guns; M6 Smoke Grenade launchers and associated spares; Harris radios; Common Remote Operated Weapons Station (CROWS); Defense Advanced GPS Receiver; AN/VAS-5 Driver’s Vision Enhancer; spare parts and components; special tools and test equipment; publications and technical manuals; training; field service representatives; US Government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistical support services, and other related elements of program and logistical support.
The government has advised the parliamentary standing committee on data know-how that it has the leading edge know-how, commonplace working procedures and processes to sort out any cyber-attack that will come India’s manner. Appearing earlier than the Shashi Tharoor-led House panel on Tuesday, IT secretary Ajay Prakash Sawhney advised the committee that India has sturdy cyber safety mechanisms in place and that it’s properly ready to counter and quell any assaults.
Watch: Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion is The Most Powerful Helicopter America
Northrop Grumman Systems won an $82 million contract, which provides for sustainment, engineering, logistics, test, mission control, and operator training systems support for MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). This effort also includes procurement of field service representatives and technical support to ensure that the MQ-4C Triton UAS aircraft are mission-capable for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions supporting Triton’s early operational capability and initial operating capability. Work will take place in Maryland and California and Florida. Estimated completion will be in March 2022.
General Electric won a $23.8 million contract modification, which exercises an option to procure eight complete CT7-8A6 spare engines and various engine components in support of the VH-92A Presidential Helicopter program for the Navy. Designed under the VH-92A Presidential Helicopter Replacement Program, the VH-92A is based on the FAA-certified S-92 helicopter integrated with an advanced mission communication system and executive interior. The helicopter features a crashworthy fuselage, integrating twin turbo-shaft power-plant and a fully-articulated composite main rotor. The retractable try-cycle landing gear includes three twin-wheel units.
Middle East & Africa
The chairman of the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) says the aerospace company will be switching to Ukraine for the supply of engines for its T-929 attack helicopter. The engines will supply 2,500 horsepower and the 11-ton rotocraft will make its first flight in 2023.
The Ukrainian Navy has taken delivery of prototype Neptune anti-ship missiles on March 15. The Neptune’s unit includes six USPU-360 launchers with 24 R-360 cruise missiles. The R-360 missile weighs 870 kg; the weight of its warhead is 150 kg; its launch range is up to 280 km and speed is about 900 km/h. It is able to get at a height of from 3 m to 10 m above the surface. Ukraine’s Neptune cruise missile can be located at a distance of up to 25 km from the coastline, and its deployment lasts up to 15 minutes.
Six Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) F-15C and D fighters arrived in Souda Air Base, Greece on March 13 for joint exercise with the Hellenic Air Force. Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Greece Dr. Saad Alammar was there to greet the airmen. Some of the exercises will include complex air operations, such as achieving Air Superiority and how to protect/attack land and sea targets. This cooperation proves the continuous and deepening relations between the two countries, which is demonstrated by the recent placement of the Saudi Defense Attaché in Athens for the first time.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is arriving in Tokyo for their first foreign trip on March 15 and Kyodo News reports that Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi will speak to Austin on the high cost of modifying the F-15J to carry long-range cruise missile. The report says the cost had soared to three times the amount Japan had budgeted. Kishi felt that he had to intervene to get an agreement with the Americans.
Watch: RK-360MC “Neptune” Anti-Ship Missile will be delivered to the Ukrainian army
Lockheed Martin Space won a $558.8 million contract modification for Trident II (D5) missile production and deployed systems support. The UGM-133A Trident II, or Trident D5 is a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), built by Lockheed Martin Space in Sunnyvale, California, and deployed with the American and British navies. Work is expected to be completed September 30, 2026. Fiscal 2021 weapons procurement (Navy) funds in the amount of $477,091,291; United Kingdom funds in the amount of $73,747,000; and fiscal 2020 weapons procurement (Navy) in the amount of $8,003,070 are being obligated on this award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.
Bell Boeing Joint Project Office won a $25.7 million order, which provides flight test support for the V-22 aircraft in support of the Navy, Air Force, and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers. The V-22 Osprey is a joint-service, medium-lift, multimission tilt-rotor aircraft developed by Boeing and Bell Helicopters. Boeing is responsible for the fuselage, landing gear, avionics, electrical and hydraulic systems, performance and flying qualities. Work under the new contract will take place in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Texas and Florida. Estimated completion date is in March 2026.
Middle East & Africa
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), international arms exports in the years 2015-2020 remained at the same level as in the years between 2011 and 2016. While the US, France and Germany increased its exports, these were offset by fewer exports from Russia and China. There was a strong growth in exports to the Middle East. The Middle East was the fastest growing market for arms, importing 25% more in 2016-20 compared to the previous five year period. The biggest increases came from Saudi Arabia (61%), Egypt (136%) and Qatar (361%).
The German Air Force has delivered a replacement Heron unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) from Israel to Afghanistan in order to replace one that was forced to make a controlled landing on March 5. Germany leases two Heron drones from Israel for its mission in Afghanistan.
According to The Telegraph, Britain is set to announce that it is increasing the number of nuclear warheads it can stockpile. The final details of this will be revealed on March the 16th in the Integrated Review. The review was previously described by Boris Johnson as the largest review of its kind since the Cold War and will be published later this month. It is expected next week to signal a potential increase of the number of Trident nuclear warheads for the first time since the end of the cold war.The UK’s stockpile of nuclear weapons peaked at about 500 in the late 70s, but had been gradually decreasing ever since as the perceived threat from the Soviet Union and now Russia had been assumed to be decreasing.
Israel and South Korea are to co-operate in the field of unmanned airborne intelligence, surveillance, targeting and reconnaissance (ISTAR). A memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed on March 15. The MOU between Elbit Systems and Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) is geared at developing future unmanned airborne ISTAR capabilities for the Republic of Korea (RoK) Armed Forces and potential international customers.
Watch: Elbit Systems / Shore Protection Missile System (SPMS)
Raytheon demonstrated to the US Army that it can fire the Stinger missile from a Javelin Lightweight Command Launch Unit. The missile successfully took down an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) during the demonstration at Eglin Air Force Base. The LWCLU’s primary mission is as the launcher for the Javelin missile, however its superior optics also allow for stand-alone Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance missions.
A category 2 deficiency for the KC-46A aerial refueling tanker is prevent pilots from taking off in the tanker until the On-Board Inert Gas Generation System (OBIGGS) countdown timer reaches zero. OBIGGS will fill the fuel tanks with nitrogen to prevent the tanks from exploding if there is residual fuel inside. Maj. Tim McBride, an instructor pilot with the 931st Air Refueling Wing, told Defense News that the system take on average 1.5 hours to be ready. But occasionally, the countdown timer will reset and that increased the waiting time. To fix the issue, the service has decided to amend the flight manual so that the flight crew can now take off even if the OBIGGS is still counting down. This will be implemented next month.
Middle East & Africa
President of Turkish Defense Industries, ?smail Demir, revealed that Baykar will be building a new unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) dubbed Bayraktar TB3 for the Turkish Navy’s TCG Anadolu amphibious assault ship. Haluk Bayraktar, CEO of Baykar, says the development program will take one year. Between 30 and 50 folding-winged Bayraktar TB3 UCAVs will operate from Anadolu. Turkey was suppose to field the F-35B on that ship but lost the option after the United States drop Turkey from the F-35 program.
The United States’ State Department approved a possible Foreign Military Sale (FMS) to Germany of Boeing P-8A Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) and associated support, and related equipment, for an estimated cost of $1.77 billion. Germany has requested to buy five (5) P-8A Patrol Aircraft; nine (9) Multifunctional Distribution System Joint Tactical Radio Systems 5 (MIDS JTRS 5); and twelve (12) LN-251 with Embedded Global Positioning Systems (GPS)/Inertial Navigations Systems (EGls). Germany currently operates the Lockheed P-3C Orion, but that aircraft is reaching end-of-life and will retire in 2024. The European country plans to replace it with the P-8A Poseidon.
A 12-day, five-nation NATO anti-submarine exercise in the Mediterranean Sea, Dynamic Manta 2021, successfully concluded last week, the US Navy said on Friday. Maritime forces of the United States, France, Turkey, Italy and Greece participated in anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare drills near the Catania, Italy, home base of the annual exercise. Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, Spain, Turkey and the United States also added support vessels.
French Navy frigate Prairial arrived at Cam Ranh, Vietnam on March 9 so that engineers can go on board the warship to fix its Alouette III helicopter. Repairs were completed on March 12. During this time, the crew aboard the ship were able to go on shore leave after two months at sea. The frigate’s visit to Vietnam forms part of a military cooperation framework between Vietnam and France, according to the French Embassy in Hanoi.
US Air Force “Orange Flag” and “Black Flag” exercises this week tested mission planning with cross-domain data gathering, the Air Force said. The exercises involved the Air Force Test Center’s 412nd Test Wing, headquartered at Edwards Air Force Base, California, and the 53rd Wing of Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, in achieving what the Air Force terms All-Domain Command and Control.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin approved a request to extend the deployment of National Guard members in the Capitol through late May, the Department of Defense announced. Per a statement from Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, about 2,300 National Guard personnel will continue to support the mission, a reduction of about half of the current support force in the Capitol. On Monday a national security task force released a report, which said the US Capitol Police were “inadequately trained” to deal with the violent mob attack of Jan. 6.
Middle East & Africa
The special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction (SIGAR) warned that the withdrawal of US contractors in May will have an enormous impact on the combat capabilities of the Afghan military. John Sopko says the Afghans rely on the Americans to carry out 100 percent of the maintenance work on the C-130 and Black Hawk helicopters. Without those contractors, those aircraft could only fly for a few months after their departure. He added that the departures “will negatively impact Afghan security forces, threaten the Afghan state and imperil own national security interests if Afghanistan should further destabilize.”
Denmark’s first F-35, L-001, has flown this week. The jet will be delivered to the Royal Danish Air Force in April and will be flown to Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, later this year for pilot and maintainer training. Lockheed Martin says the Danish Air Force will bring its F-35s back home in 2023 and be based at Royal Danish Air Force’s Fighter Wing Skrydstrup.
Japanese media revealed that eight Japanese companies are participating in the development of the F-X fighter. The main contractor will be Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. IHI Corporation will develop the engine, Subaru and Kawasaki Heavy Industries will build the airframe, Mitsubishi Electric will take the electronic warfare system portion while Toshiba, Fujitsu and NEC will design the avionics and radar.
The Philippine Navy chief told Philippine News Agency (PNA) that his service will be acquiring only one battery of the Indian-made BrahMos supersonic anti-ship missile. One battery consists of three systems, Vice Adm. Giovanni Carlo Bacordo was quoted as saying. Each system has its own launcher with 2 to three missiles each. He added that the purchase is still awaiting approval from by the Commander-in-Chief.
Back in November 2005, The Hindu newspaper reported that India’s government had given the go-ahead for exporting missiles, and that India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) was looking to market several of its products internationally. The missile systems in question included several products from the decades-long Integrated Guided Missile Program (IGMP) set of development programs, and one new success that used a very different approach. DRDO has led the long, turbulent development histories of the Trishul (“trident”) short-range surface-air missile (SAM), the Akash (“sky”) medium-range SAM, and the Nag (“cobra”) vehicle-mounted anti-armor missile. In contrast, the Indo-Russian PJ-10 BrahMos medium-range supersonic cruise missile was developed very quickly, and performed as advertised.
As of August 2010, India has not made an export sale, or even formally decided which countries would be eligible to receive these missiles. The programs themselves have also seen changes and developments, with Trishul canceled, Akash finally ordered, BrahMos expanded, and ongoing IGMP work in other areas.