* The Defense Department has blocked approval of a move to advance the JSTARS recapitalization program into its demonstration phase, known as Milestone A. The program, intended to field a replacement for the Air Force’s fleet of E-8 Joint Surveillance Targeting and Attack Radar System aircraft, kicked off in August, with the Air Force handing out three contracts to fund pre-engineering and manufacturing development work. The hold-up could be down to the Air Force’s funding strategy for the program, or potentially a changing requirement set.
* Lockheed Martin’s Space Fence system has passed an Air Force Critical Design Review, according to a company press release. Passing the CDR now means that the full-scale Space Fence System radar and facilities can be constructed on Kwajalein Atoll, part of the Marshall Islands. Designed to serve as a second-generation space surveillance radar system, the Space Fence will allow the Air Force to track satellites and space debris.
* The Pentagon has released a report detailing a decline in defense spending over the next decade. Forecast figures predict a cut of $454 billion over the FY2013-2021 period, a result of the sequestration which went into effect in March 2013. As lawmakers work to establish a budget agreement for FY2016, officials have warned that personnel may be forced to work without pay.
* L-3 Communications is settling with the government in an over-billing dispute. Centered on charging for independent contractor personnel on an L-3 contract with the Air Force over the 2006 to 2011 period, the contractor is alleged to have knowingly exaggerated labor hours for time these independent contractors spent at pre-deployment bases in the US before travelling overseas. The $4.63 million settlement was announced by the Justice Department, with the case stemming from whistleblower and former contractor Robert Martin.
Middle East North Africa
* Jordan will receive four intelligence, surveillance & reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft through a $9.8 million contract awarded to L-3 Communications, along with training and support. Thought to be the four remaining MC-12W aircraft currently operated by the US Air Force, the contract will run until next September while the aircraft are likely to be used by Jordan in operations against ISIS.
* General Dynamics is to reconfigure 150 Moroccan M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks to the situational awareness configuration, following a $358 million Foreign Military Sales contract announced on Monday evening. The Moroccan government has been upgrading its fleet of M1A1s in recent years, requesting a list of upgrades in June 2012 valued at over a billion dollars. The Situational Awareness package includes improved display systems and sensors to provide a clearer picture of the battlespace.
* British sniper rifles have appeared in the hands of Syrian Army special forces, with a Russian news crew capturing its use on video. Armament Research Services confirmed the identity of the rifle – the Accuracy International Arctic Warfare – on Tuesday, with the rifle also previously spotted in service with Russian special forces. The rifle spotted in the YouTube video appears to be a modern version of rifle in service with the British Army, incorporating an “updated chassis”, manufactured by the Portsmouth-based company.
* Algeria has received the second of two upgraded amphibious support ships, with Spanish shipyard Navantia undertaking the work through a contract awarded in July 2012. The first vessel was delivered in November 2014, with the contract thought to value approximately $84.3 million.
Asia & Pacific
* Following Cabinet Committee of Security approval earlier this month, India’s Defence Ministry has signed a $3.1 billion contract with Boeing for Apache and Chinook helicopters. The 22 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters and 15 CH-47F Chinook transport helicopters are slated for delivery between 2018 and 2019, with Boeing agreeing to a 30% offset clause in a contract split into a Direct Commercial Sale (DCS) for the airframes and a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) contract for weapons, training and sensors. The deal’s signature comes two days before the expiration of a price agreed in 2013, with Boeing granting an extension to this price in July.
* A Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) has refuelled a Lockheed Martin F-35A for the first time, the country’s Defence Ministry announced on Tuesday. The refuelling marks an important step for the RAAF’s five KC-30As as they heads towards Full Operating Capability, with an additional pair ordered from Airbus Defence & Space in July. A RAAF E-7A Wedgetail also refuelled from the aircraft for the first time earlier this year.
* Flight simulation at the F-35 Academic Training Center: