* Canada’s recent exit of the F-35 fighter program may not be as cut and dried as promised on the campaign trail by the Liberal Party government. During a recent interview, defense minister Harjit Sajjan sidestepped answering questions on whether the Lockheed Martin F-35 jet would be excluded from a competition to replace the CF-18 fleet. The government hopes to replace the aging CF-18 flight before they become obsolete. Recent promises by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to back out of the F-35 development program and find a replacement that was more cost effective has resulted in a new selection process. However, it was unclear whether the F-35 could come under consideration again. Canada has yet to set the terms for the replacement competition, but Lockheed may just have a second chance in 2016.
* The Defense Information System Agency (DISA) has awarded a combined contract of $4.3 billion to provide telecommunications network solutions and services that support the transmission requirements of the Defense Information System Network enterprise-level infrastructure. Companies involved in the work include Artel, AT&T, BT Federal, Qwest Government Services, GTT Americas, CapRock Government Solutions, Level 3 Communications and Verizon Business Network Services. Work will continue until December 2025 and will be performed globally with a primary focus on regions outside of the continental United States.
* Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $1.17 billion advance acquisition contract for the F-35 fighter. The contract includes the advance procurement of long lead time materials, parts, components and effort to maintain the planned production schedule for F-35 low rate initial production lot 11 aircraft. It will see the production of 80 of the F-35A variant, seven of the F-35B variant and four F-35C aircraft that are destined for the US Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps as well as sales to foreign allies.
Middle East North Africa
* The Israel Missile Defense Organization (IMDO) of the Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DDR&D) and the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) have announced the successful completion of a series of tests of the David’s Sling Weapon System. David’s Sling is part of Israel’s multi-layered defense systems which include the Iron Dome, the Arrow-2 and currently under development Arrow-3. The series of tests were the final assessments of the weapons capabilities at countering multiple threats in real time environments and will be in operation by the Israeli Air Force in 2016. David’s Sling Interceptor missiles can target threats up to 160 miles away.
* Finland has begun to start the process of selecting a replacement fighter for its F-A 18 fleet. Helsinki will issue Requests for Information to manufacturers in March 2016 on several potential options. These include Eurofighter’s Typhoon, Dassault’s Rafale, Saab’s Gripen, Boeing’s F-18 and F-15, and Lockheed Martin’s F-35 and F-16. The winner will be selected by the time the F-A 18 fleet is decommissioned in 2021, and it is expected full implementation of the new fleet may take fifteen years. Surrounding neighbours Norway and Denmark are both modernizing their air forces with the new F-35 while Sweden uses its indigenous Gripen.
* France has ordered an additional seven Airbus Tiger attack helicopter after additions to an updated budget. The new acquisitions will bring the total number of Tigers in France’s service to 67. In 2015, France has spent $35 billion on defense, but plans to increase its budget by $41.6 billion between 2016-2018. The increase is said to save 18,500 jobs in the defense industry as Paris seeks to maintain and increase activity in security operations at home and abroad.
* Malaysia’s defense minister has said that his government is not interested in purchasing Pakistan’s JF-17 fighter as part of their air force modernization plans. The denial comes after a Malaysian diplomat was reported to have said that his country may look at procuring the JF-17 to help increase the amount of bilateral trade between the two nations. While Malaysia is looking to replace its fleet of F-5E/F and MiG-29 planes with a modern fighter, the Sino-Pakistan produced JF-17 had not been under consideration.
* US intelligence has reported that China has tested a D-41 Inter Continental Ballistic Missile from a train mounted mobile launcher. The canister ejection test was carried out on December 5 from a system that included a command carriage and launch carriages, and was disguised as a passenger train. It is believed that the missile-train also has MIRV [multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle] potential. The mobile missile system would help Beijing evade US missile interceptors stationed in Alaska.
* Israel’s David’s Sling defense system: