DoJ charge three men with supplying Hezbollah UAV parts | Seoul clears PAC-3 MSE buy for Northern missile threats | Saudis near to closing S-400 buy
- Orbital ATK received on Wednesday, February 14, a $79.4 million US Navy contract for development, testing and evaluation of the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division Ground Launch Drone Missile (GQM-163A). The agreement will see Orbital provide the Navy with developmental testing and evaluation of the supersonic sea skimming target, including tests for foreign military sales customers. Work will be carried out in Point Mugu and San Nicholas Island, Calif., Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii, and Wallops Island, Va., and is expected to be complete in February 2023.
- The US Navy will exercise an option with Raytheon Missile Systems for engineering and technical services on the Standard Missile-2 and Standard Missile-3. Valued at $12.1 million, the agreement tasks the firm to provide engineering and technical services in support of SM-2 and SM-6 production to ensure continuity in production, design integrity and total systems integration of the missile round and its components. It will support missiles used by the Navy, Australia, Japan, South Korea and the Royal Netherlands Navy. Work will primarily take place at Raytheon’s Tucson, Arizona operation, with some work to take place in Boston, Massachusetts. Contract completion is expected by December 2019.
- Last Friday, February 16, the US Department of Justice announced that federal authorities have charged three men for illegally exporting drone parts and other materials to the Lebanese political and militant group Hezbollah. Two of the men, Usama Darwich Hamade and Issam Darwich Hamade, are already in custody in South Africa while a third suspect, Samir Ahmed Berro, remains at large. The indictment said that the men conspired and attempted to export goods including inertial measurement units suitable for use in drones, a jet engine, piston engines and recording binoculars to Hezbollah in Lebanon from 2009 to 2013. Regarded by the US, EU, and Israel as a terrorist group, Hezbollah’s political movement makes up part of Lebanon’s coalition government. It’s militant wing, backed by Iran, has supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during his country’s ongoing civil war.
Middle East & Africa
- Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Russia, Raed bin Khaled Qrimli, told the TASS news agency that his country is close to finalizing a deal for the S-400 air defense system. “We are discussing technical issues, especially regarding technology transfer and know-how,” he was quoted as saying. Earlier, presidential aide to Vladimir Putin, Vladimir Kozhin told the Kommersant daily that documents on S-400 deliveries to Saudi Arabia had been signed, with all the parameters agreed. Kozhin added that both country’s were also discussing other contracts, including the delivery of Russian-made firearms and the feasibility of their production in Saudi Arabia.
- The Iraqi Air Force will receive 13 additional F-16 aircraft in 2019, bringing to 34 the number of fighters operated by the service. Quoted by the Arabic-language satellite TV channel Al-Hurra, Brig. Gen. Andrew Croft, deputy air commander of CJTF-OIR’s land component said that the new aircraft will increase Baghdad’s capabilities in eliminating terrorist organizations and will be strengthened by International training, scheduled to take place at Balad Air Base. In January, Sallyport Global was awarded a $400 million foreign military sale (FMS) contract to support Iraq’s F-16 mission at Balad, with work to include comprehensive life and logistics support, security, construction, and base operation support services up until January 2019.
- Details of a joint Franco-German effort to develop a next-generation fighter aircraft is expected for the later half of 2018, Airbus has told Reuters. Speaking during an interview at the Munich Security Conference last week, Dirk Hoke, chief executive of Airbus Defence and Space, said he expects both countries to work out how to best proceed with the program, including the possibility of bringing in an additional partner such as the UK. “We expect basic issues, such as how the project will be structured, to be discussed in the second quarter, so that the initial contours will be set in the second half of the year,” Hoke said. He added that Airbus supports bringing other countries into the program, which is envisioned as a family of systems rather than just a single new aircraft, noting that other countries could bring their expertise to bear on various aspects.
- Russian Navy pilots have practiced aerial refueling on the Su-35SM for the first time. The exercises took place at the Naval Air Force Combat Employment and Retraining Center in Yeysk, with pilots selected from units in the Baltic and the Black Sea fleets and also included Su-24M crews. Over 100 contacts with Il-78 tanker aircraft were made during the exercises with over more than 40 takeoffs and landings taking. First flying in September 2012, the Su-35SM is a two-seat derivative of the earlier Su-27UB capable of both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions.
- South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) has approved $53 million for the purchase of an undisclosed number of PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) interceptors, Defense News reports. “This procurement plan is aimed at acquiring more PAC-3 precision-guided missiles to respond to North Korea’s ballistic missile threat in a more effective way,” DAPA spokesman Kang Seok-hwan said. “The contract is expected to be made in the second half of the year for the delivery after 2020.” The PAC-3 MSE uses a two-pulse solid rocket motor that increases altitude and range to defend against evolving threats. It can intercept missiles at an altitude of 40 kilometers, two times higher than the normal PAC-3 interceptor, so a combination of both missiles could be used as part of a layered missile defense operation.
- Russia’s recent refueling exercises including the Su-35SM:
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