* An accelerated F-35 production schedule could stress suppliers, with the program office planning a three-fold increase in the number of Joint Strike Fighters produced each year over the next three years. The pressure on the production line’s supply base is also likely to be compounded by the requirement for incremental upgrades to in-service F-35s, along with a continued issues with the Automated Logistics Informations System (ALIS). Recently updated, the ALIS system saw problems earlier this year which built on persistent schedule delays in 2014. Lockheed Martin was awarded a $430.9 million contract at the end of August to further develop the system.
* BAE Systems has decided to protest the awarding of an Army contract to a Northrop Grumman-led team for the development of a Common Infrared Countermeasures (CIRCM) design. BAE Systems has lodged the protest with the GAO, citing apparent irregularities in the award decision. The $35.3 million engineering and manufacturing development contract includes options for low-rate initial production and effectively hands Northrop Grumman primacy in future supply contracts to the Army, with the program potentially worth over $3 billion over the long-term. The next-generation CIRCM system intends to develop a next-generation laser-based antimissile defense system for aircraft, such as the AH-64 Apache gunship.
* Raytheon and the Navy have demonstrated the use of electronic warfare payloads fitted to the Miniature Air Launched Decoy – Jammer (MALD-J), with the system tested through a dozen different mission profiles. Known as Cerberus, the open architecture system was tested during Exercise Northern Edge in June. The tests showed how the payloads could be swapped into the MALD-J vehicle rapidly, using adapted motor sport technology.
* Brazil’s contract with Saab for Gripen NG fighters has come into effect, according to a press release by the Swedish company on Thursday. Signed in October 2014, Saab has now booked the $4.7 billion order into the company’s balance sheets. Brazil renegotiated financing for the deal with Sweden’s Export Credit Corporation in June, with a deal struck in late July. Brazil’s offset arrangements have now also been fulfilled, with the renegotiated financing covering an order for 36 Gripens. Brazilian prosecutors opened a probe into the selection of Saab as the winner of the country’s FX-2 fighter competition in April, reportedly concerned over apparent discrepancies over pricing. No word has subsequently emerged as to the status of this investigation.
* Reports detailing a supposed agreement between Airbus Defence & Space and the British Ministry of Defence appear to have been over-zealous, with both parties now denying the report from Defense News on Wednesday. The deal – to procure several high-altitude ‘psuedo-satellite’ UAVs – has been denied by both Airbus and the MoD, with a contract for the Zephyr 8 UAVs possibly emerging after the UK’s Strategic Defence & Security Review due later this year.
* The Royal Air Force appears to have taken delivery of its fourth A400M aircraft, with 70 Squadron’s Twitter account posting a photograph of the new transporter at RAF Brize Norton. A third aircraft was delivered in July, with a total of 22 on order from Airbus. The Ministry of Defence’s Defence Infrastructure Organisation began work in August to expand the Brize Norton airbase to accommodate the growing fleet.
* Two Congressman are pushing for the government to rethink arms sales to Bahrain, citing the Gulf state’s poor human rights record, problematic relationship with civil liberties and hard-handed repression of dissent. The US government announced in June that it was reopening security assistance to Bahrain, with Reps. Jim McGovern and Ron Wyden now arguing for arms sales to be permitted only after the Bahraini government implements 26 reforms highlighted by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry stood-up to investigate the government’s crack-down on protesters in 2011.
Asia & Pacific
* Pakistan and Russia are reportedly in talks over the supply of Su-35 fighters and Mi-35M helicopters, according to both Pakistani and Russian press reports Thursday. The sale of Mil Mi-35M helicopters was also reported in August, with it unclear whether current negotiations are a continuation of this previous contract or a new one entirely. The two countries signed a bilateral military cooperation agreement last November, with the fourth-generation Sukhoi Su-35 also eyeing potential export customers in China and Indonesia.
* Israel Aerospace Industries has reportedly been contracted to supply India with an additional two Airborne Early Warning (AEW) aircraft to supplement the three already in service with the Indian Air Force. IAI’s subsidiary Elta Systems will reportedly install the company’s Phalcon radar system on two Ilyushin Il-76 transport aircraft, in a similar fashion to the three already in operation. The Il-76 aircraft have been purchased from Uzbekistan by IAI, with the Phalcon systems on the two new models thought to be upgraded versions of those installed on the IAF’s three converted A-50EI Phalcon aircraft.
* Japan is planning to double its number of intelligence satellites from 2023 onward. The move is likely intended to bolster the country’s strategic assets in response to tense regional geopolitics and support an increasingly active use of the nation’s military forces, following a reinterpretation of the country’s pacifist constitution in July. The Defense Ministry hopes to launch the first of four new satellites in 2023, with four optical and radar satellites currently in operation.
* The Royal Australian Navy’s second Canberra-class Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD), the Adelaide, has completed sea trials off the country’s south east coast. The trials began in August and are the final series of tests ahead of an anticipated entry into service in 2016. The first ship in class, the Canberra, was commissioned last November, with the two ships jointly constructed by BAE Systems and Navantia following a $2.8 billion contract awarded in October 2007.
* US firm Navistar Defense has been contracted to supply the Afghan National Security Forces with nearly 2,300 mine resistant, ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles, based on the company’s 7000-MV platform, according to a company press release. The US Army Contracting Command handed the company a $369 million contract for the vehicles, which will bring the total number of Navistar vehicles sent to the Afghan government to nearly 9,000. The company has also exported the 7000-MV platform to Iraq. The new MRAPs will reportedly serve in a variety of roles, including ammunition, fuel and troop transport.
* The Russian A-50 AWACS aircraft in action: