According to a statement, the US Army awarded FLIR Systems a $15.4 million contract to procure Black Hornet 3 palm-sized unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The army has placed several orders for the Black Hornet 3 totalling more than $85 million, FLIR Systems said. These include the first order, a $2.6 million contract awarded in 2018.
US Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. told the House Appropriations defense subcommittee on May 7 that his service now has more F-35As compared to the A-10, F-15C/D and F-15E fleet. With 283 jets delivered, the fleet of stealth fighters is second only to the F-16.
Middle East & Africa
Israel’s army said that it had hit 130 “military targets” in Gaza, killing 15 “Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives” in retaliatory strikes after Palestinian militant groups launched a flurry of rockets towards Israel. “We have struck 130 military targets belonging mostly to Hamas,” the Islamist group that controls the blockaded Gaza strip, Israeli army spokesman Jonathan Conricus told reporters.
Sweden has taken delivery of the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) interceptors in April, Lockheed Martin said. Sweden selected the PAC-3 MSE in August 2018. Building on the combat-proven PAC-3 Cost Reduction Initiative (CRI), the PAC-3 MSE expands the lethal battlespace with a two-pulse solid rocket motor, providing increased performance in altitude and range, according to Lockheed.
The Swedish Defense Materiel Administration (FMV) extended the Gripen future development support services contract with Saab. The order is valued at approximately $118 million and is valid from April 1 this year until December 31 next year. Serving as an extension of an existing contract, the latest contract supports the future development of the Swedish Air Force’s Gripen and other users of the aircraft.
Australia has handed over the second and final Guardian Class patrol boat built for the government of the Solomon Islands. The vessel, which has been named RSIPV Taro, was formally accepted by the High Commissioner for Solomon Islands, Robert Sisilo, in a ceremony held on May 7 at the facilities of shipbuilder Austal in Henderson, Western Australia. The move follows the handover of the first boat, RSIPV Gizo (05), in November 2019.
Watch: Jas 39 Gripen E – What Makes Gripen So Special
The $382 billion F-35 Joint Strike fighter program may well be the largest single global defense program in history. This major multinational program is intended to produce an “affordably stealthy” multi-role fighter that will have 3 variants: the F-35A conventional version for the US Air Force et. al.; the F-35B Short Take-Off, Vertical Landing for the US Marines, British Royal Navy, et. al.; and the F-35C conventional carrier-launched version for the US Navy. The aircraft is named after Lockheed’s famous WW2 P-38 Lightning, and the Mach 2, stacked-engine English Electric (now BAE)Lightning jet. Lightning II system development partners included The USA & Britain (Tier 1), Italy and the Netherlands (Tier 2), and Australia, Canada, Denmark, Norway and Turkey (Tier 3), with Singapore and Israel as “Security Cooperation Partners,” and Japan as the 1st export customer.
The big question for Lockheed Martin is whether, and when, many of these partner countries will begin placing purchase orders. This updated article has expanded to feature more detail regarding the F-35 program, including contracts, sub-contracts, and notable events and reports during 2012-2013.
The USA’s MIM-104 Phased Array Tracking Radar Intercept On Target (PATRIOT) anti-air missile system offers an advanced backbone for medium-range air defense, and short-range ballistic missile defense, to America and its allies. This article covers domestic and foreign purchase requests and contracts for Patriot systems. It also compiles information about the engineering service contracts that upgrade these systems, ensure that they continue to work, and integrate them with wider command and defense systems.
The Patriot missile franchise’s future appears assured. At present, 12 nations have chosen it as a key component of their air and missile defense systems: the USA, Germany, Greece, Japan, Israel, Kuwait, The Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan and the UAE. Poland, Qatar, and Turkey have all indicated varying levels of interest, and some existing customers are looking to upgrade their systems.
As a neutral country with a long history of providing for its own defense against all comers, Sweden also has a long tradition of building excellent high-performance fighters with a distinctive look. From the long-serving Saab-35 Draken (“Dragon,” 1955-2005) to the Mach 2, canard-winged Saab-37 Viggen (“Thunderbolt,” 1971-2005), Swedish fighters have stressed short-field launch from dispersed/improvised air fields, world-class performance, and leading-edge design. This record of consistent project success is nothing short of amazing, especially for a country whose population over this period has ranged from 7-9 million people.
This is DID’s FOCUS Article for background, news, and contract awards related to the JAS-39 Gripen (“Griffon”), a canard-winged successor to the Viggen and one of the world’s first 4+ generation fighters. Gripen remains the only lightweight 4+ generation fighter type in service, its performance and operational economics are both world-class, and it has become one of the most recognized fighter aircraft on the planet. Unfortunately for its builders, that recognition has come from its appearance in Saab and Volvo TV commercials, rather than from hoped-for levels of military export success. With its 4+ generation competitors clustered in the $60-120+ million range vs. the Gripen’s claimed $40-60 million, is there a light at the end of the tunnel for Sweden’s lightweight fighter? In 2013 a win in Brazil started to answer that question.
Sikorsky won a $22.5 million contract modification, which adds scope for the procurement of four VH-92A aircraft MT-1 cabin interiors and MT-1 spares in support for depot level stand up for the Presidential Helicopters Replacement Program. The new Marine One, also referred to as VH-92A, is the next-generation presidential transport helicopter being developed for the US Marine Corps (USMC). Sikorsky Aircraft, a Lockheed Martin company, is responsible for the production of the VH-92A helicopter. Work will take place in Washington, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Connecticut. Expected completion will be in July 2022.
Argentinian media reported that a Chinese team is in the country for sales discussion of the JF-17 to the local air force. The team from China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation (CATIC) is negotiating the sale of 12 fighters.
Middle East & Africa
The Pakistan Navy (PN) announced that keel-laying ceremonies were recently held for both the third Type 054A/P frigate and the third Milgem Class corvette on order for the service. The keel for the frigate, which is one of four vessels of the class being acquired from China, was laid in late April at the Hudong-Zhonghua shipyard in Shanghai: about three months after the same yard launched the second Type 054A/P frigate for the service. The keel laying ceremony for Pakistan Navy’s third Jinnah Class (MILGEM type) corvette was held on May 1st at Istanbul Naval Shipyard (INSY), Turkey. In July 2018, a contract was signed between Military Factory and Shipyard Management Corporation (ASFAT) of Turkey and the Pakistani National Defense Ministry Ammunition Production and Karachi Shipyard for the construction of four Milgem Class vessels.
The Royal Air Force is preparing to send its Eurofighters and Voyager aerial refueling tanker to South East Asia for Exercise Bersama Lima 2021 in October. The British government had earlier announced that the Carrier Strike Group will be participating in the same exercise as well. This marks the second time that a RAF contingent is joining a British aircraft carrier for the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) exercise, usually carried out off Peninsular Malaysia in the South China Sea. The first was back in 1988 when HMS Ark Royal came to the Far East for Exercise Lima Bersatu.
A press release issued last week by the Swedish Ministry of Defense revealed that Sweden and its neighbor Finland intend to jointly procure a new type of service rifle for their armies. The Firearm Blog website, which reported the news, said that Sweden currently uses the AK5, a Swedish version of the FN FNC that uses 5.56x56mm NATO ammunition, while Finland uses a variety of RK 62 and RK 95 (7.62x39mm) rifles. The question remains which rifle will be procured, and what caliber of ammunition will be used.
The sixth batch of three more Rafale fighter jets took off from France for India last week, the Indian embassy in France said. They will be part of the Indian Air Force’s second squadron of the Rafale jets. This boosts the Indian Air Force’s Rafale count to 21. The first Rafale squadron is based in Ambala air force station. A squadron comprises around 18 aircraft.
Latest updates[?]: Sikorsky won a $22.5 million contract modification, which adds scope for the procurement of four VH-92A aircraft MT-1 cabin interiors and MT-1 spares in support for depot level stand up for the Presidential Helicopters Replacement Program. The new Marine One, also referred to as VH-92A, is the next-generation presidential transport helicopter being developed for the US Marine Corps (USMC). Sikorsky Aircraft, a Lockheed Martin company, is responsible for the production of the VH-92A helicopter. Work will take place in Washington, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Connecticut. Expected completion will be in July 2022.
In January 2005, the U.S. Navy selected the US101 as the new “Marine One” baseline helicopter, for use by the President of the United States. The US101 is an American variant of AgustaWestland’s successful AW101 multi-mission medium helicopter; it beat out Sikorsky’s S-92 Superhawk, which is already in use as a government VIP transport in countries like South Korea.
That $1.7 billion victory was first endangered, and then destroyed, by ongoing changes from the White House staff. In 2008, the program’s ballooning costs and requirements got a temporary reprieve when US Navy agreed to proceed with the VH-71, despite a cost per aircraft equal or greater than the President’s Air Force One 747s. By June 2009, however, the VH-71 program had shot itself down.
Another round of competition is on the way, and back in 2009 the Pentagon said it was considering buying 2 different helicopters in the VXX follow-on program. Faced with an initial Analysis of Alternatives deemed too expensive, the OSD accepted the Navy’s revised approach in May 2012, setting things in motion for a new program of record.
Latest updates[?]: Argentinian media reported that a Chinese team is in the country for sales discussion of the JF-17 to the local air force. The team from China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation (CATIC) is negotiating the sale of 12 fighters.
FC-1/ JF-17, armed
The FC-1/ JF-17 Thunder is a joint Chinese-Pakistani project that aimed to reduce Pakistan’s dependence on western firms for advanced fighters, by fielding a low-cost multi-role lightweight fighter that can host modern electronics and precision-guided weapons. It isn’t a top-tier competitor, but it represents a clear step up from Pakistan’s Chinese MiG-19/21 derivatives and French Mirage III/V fighters. This positioning addresses a budget-conscious, “good enough” performance market segment that the West once dominated, but has nearly abandoned in recent decades.
Pakistan has fielded JF-17s in squadron strength, with more on order and a Block II R&D program nearing completion. India’s competing Tejas fighter is overcoming project delays by looking to foreign component sources, but Pakistan and China remain out front with their offering, even though they began their project much later than India did. Pakistan and China have even set up a joint JF-17 marketing agency to promote export sales, which hasn’t paid off as quickly as they had hoped, but it would be unwise to count them out just yet…
Latest updates[?]: The sixth batch of three more Rafale fighter jets took off from France for India last week, the Indian embassy in France said. They will be part of the Indian Air Force's second squadron of the Rafale jets. This boosts the Indian Air Force’s Rafale count to 21. The first Rafale squadron is based in Ambala air force station. A squadron comprises around 18 aircraft.
(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.
The Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile – Extended Range (AARGM-ER) carried out a captive carry flight on an F/A-18F on April 22 and the missile was able to communicate with the host aircraft for the first time. This flight is in support of the first live fire test of the AARGM-ER that is scheduled this spring. A series of aerial maneuvers done during the flight validated the compatibility of the missile with the F/A-18E/F.
The first two F-15EX fighter planes of the US Air Force are participating in an Alaska training exercise, the Air Force said. Two of the new-model aircraft have been built, and both are elements of the Northern Edge 21 exercise underway until May 14 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, the branch said in a press release. The planes are variants of the F-15C, and are equipped with improved maneuverability, acceleration, durability, computer power and armament, according to their manufacturer, Boeing.
Middle East & Africa
A news report from Nigeria says the country will take delivery of the first 6 M346FA jets from Italy before the third quarter of this year. The African nation is said to have bought 24 of the advanced jet trainers last year.
Relyant Global LLC won a $19.6 million deal for construction of a new airfield, security fencing and other facilities at Kainji Air Base. Bids were solicited via the internet with six received. Work will take place in Nigeria. Estimated completion date is August 1, 2023.
La Tribune reports that Egypt is preparing to buy a spy satellite and two MRTT tankers from France. La Tribune says Paris agreed to provide a $6.5 billion loan to Egypt and only $4.5 billion will go towards the purchase of 30 Rafale fighters that was recently announced.
Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land has signed a deal with the British Defense Ministry to upgrade Challenger 2 main battle tanks. The $1 billion contract has been agreed to supply the Army with 148 upgraded, fully-digitised tanks as part of a major overhaul of the armed forces. The Challenger 3 tanks will replace the existing Challenger 2 vehicles, which have been in use since 1998. Under the military restructure the overall number of tanks will be cut from 227.
China’s Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group (CAIG) has signed a deal with the provincial government of Sichuan to develop an industrial park in the region, dedicated to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). A statement by the Sichuan government said the new facility will be located in Zigong, in the center of the province, and will focus on both military and commercial UAVs. “We will develop a world-class manufacturing industry cluster,” said the statement.
The US Navy flies the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet fighters, and has begun operating the EA-18G Growler electronic warfare & strike aircraft. Many of these buys have been managed out of common multi-year procurement (MYP) contracts, which aim to reduce overall costs by offering longer-term production commitments, so contractors can negotiate better deals with their suppliers.
The MYP-II contract ran from 2005-2009, and was not renewed because the Pentagon intended to focus on the F-35 fighter program. When it became clear that the F-35 program was going to be late, and had serious program and budgetary issues, pressure built to abandon year-by-year contracting, and negotiate another multi-year deal for the current Super Hornet family. That deal is now final. This entry covers the program as a whole, with a focus on 2010-2015 Super Hornet family purchases. It has been updated to include all announced contracts and events connected with MYP-III, including engines and other separate “government-furnished equipment” that figures prominently in the final price.