* A contractual row between the US Department of Defense (DoD) and Lockheed Martin has resulted in the Pentagon ceasing to accept deliveries of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. While it is not clear when exactly the suspension of deliveries began, it follows a previous halting for 30 days in 2017 after corrosion where panels were fastened to the airframe were discovered on 200 aircraft. Sources close to the issue speaking to Reuters claim the recent halting was due to arguments over who would foot the bill to cover the sending of Lockheed technicians to travel around the world to remedy last year’s issue on jets based overseas. Two unnamed foreign military sales customers have also stopped accepting aircraft.
* The first range test of Lockheed Martin’s AGM-158C Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) from an F/A-18 Super Hornet will take place later this year. Speaking to Military.com, Lockheed’s vice president of strike systems, Alan Jackson said captive-carry testing is currently underway following a successful jettison release test last year. The munition has already been tested and dropped from the B-1B bomber and will be operationally fielded on the platform this September following two more flights this summer. Based on the AGM-158B JASSM-ER, the LRASM hosts the sae capabilities but can also detect, identify and attack moving, maritime targets. In addition to the Super Hornet, Lancer, and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the LRASM can also be deck-launched from a vertical launch system on a Navy destroyer.
* Jane’s reports that the US Air Force intends to commence integration of the next-generation Long-Range Stand-Off (LRSO) cruise missile on the B-52H bomber from next year, despite the fact no contractor has been selected to develop the missile. According to a pre-solicitation notification released by the Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) on April 10, the service intends to award the bomber’s manufacturer Boeing with $250 million for the integration and testing work from January 1, 2019 until December 31, 2023. As to the development of the missile itself, both Lockheed Martin and Raytheon are currently competing—which intends to replace the AGM-86 Air-Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM)—to develop the LRSO, with the former’s design expected to draw on its AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM). Raytheon have yet to reveal any information on its proposed solution. The program is currently in the technology maturation and risk reduction (TMRR) phase and is expected to be ready for fielding in about 2030.
Middle East & Africa
* Israel is considering joining the potential procurement of V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft with a larger heavy-lift package that aims to replace its fleet of aged CH-53 Yasur helicopters. Tel Aviv had initially put a pause on buying six Ospreys last year, three years after the US State Department cleared the potential sale. However, the freeze was short-lived with Israeli officials restarting talks over their purchase late last year. According to NAVAIR officials, any sale of V-22s would be part of a package with heavy-lift helicopters—Israel is considering both the Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion and the Boeing CH-47F Chinook—adding that European countries such as Italy, Norway, Spain and the UK have also been targeted as potential foreign buyers for the Osprey. The export push comes as the V-22 joint program office looks to fill vacant production capacity ahead of the release of a third multi-year production contract for V-22s this summer. According to Flight Global, the next five-year production plan calls for introducing CMV-22s with the US Navy, and delivering 17 V-22s ordered by Japan, along with additional shipments to the USMC and AFSOC.
* European missile consortium MBDA and Lockheed Martin have successfully completed qualification testing of the Common Anti-air Modular Missile (CAMM) from Lockheed’s Extensible Launching System (ExLS) 3-Cell Stand Alone Launcher. MBDA’s Common Anti-air Modular Missile (CAMM) is a highly compact missile that enables multiple weapons to be fitted in limited spaces. It is the most modern air defence missile of its class on the market and has recently completed a highly successful series of firings by the British Royal Navy. The ExLS allows CAMM to come in a quad-pack arrangement which allows to store and fire 4 missiles from a single cell and is specifically designed for use on smaller naval platforms that are unable to accommodate the larger 8-cell MK 41 Vertical Launching System (VLS). A MBDA press release said the qualification tests took place in the UK towards the end of 2017.
* German ministers have told its lawmakers that the air force’s Panavia Tornado fighters are unable to fight at night. According to local media, the problem is two part: Firstly, the current lights used by displays “are not suited for night-vision mode”, meaning pilots would be blinded by them should they use light enhancing goggle. Secondly, it has been reported that certification officials are unsure they can obtain documentation from the goggles producer that would be required for a fleet-wide approval. Germany’s Tornado fleet are not new to such issues. Earlier this year, it was reported that the fuel used by the German Tornado fleet appears to have been mixed with ‘too much bio-diesel’.
* Ahead of its stall at this week’s Defexpo 2018 in Chennai, India, MBDA’s one-year old joint venture with Indian engineering firm Larsen & Toubro (L&T)—L&T MBDA Missile Systems Limited (L&T MBDA)—has given updates on the various guided weapons systems being offered to the Indian military. The 5th Generation Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM 5) is being offered to the Armed Forces under the Buy (Indian – IDDM) procurement category, with a fully functional simulator to feature at Defexpo. Meanwhile, the joint venture is offering to the Indian Navy, for its Naval Surface Platforms—the Short Range Surface to Air Missile (SRSAM) and the Medium Range Anti-Ship Missile System—both of which are being offered under the Buy and Make (Indian) Category. The JV added that it was also preparing to participate in various ‘Make’ category projects. India’s ‘Make in India’ initiative aims to develop India’s industrial and manufacturing base through its defense procurements.
* Flying demo of Pakistan Army Mi-35: