* United Technologies Corporation (UTC) is reportedly in talks with potential buyers regarding its Sikorsky business, with Boeing, Airbus and Lockheed Martin all apparently angling for the sale. The maker of the Black Hawk helicopter, Sikorsky has been on the auction block for a while now, with a foreign buyer more likely as the Pentagon would likely not allow much more consolidation in the US helicopter market. Mexico recently requested three of the company’s UH-60M transport helicopters.
* As part of the Marine Corps’ F-35B trials currently taking place aboard USS Wasp, a F135 engine has been flown onto the ship to assess the aircraft’s ability to be repaired at sea. The engine uses a modular design to facilitate the swapping out of components, with this also making the entire engine transportable by a single MV-22 Osprey.
* General Atomics was awarded a production contract for eight additional MQ-9 Reaper Block 5 UAVs on Wednesday, with this $72.1 million contract following a similar $279.1 million order for 24 of the aircraft last month.
* Russia is reportedly seeking to develop a tracked version of its Pantsir anti-air system for use in the Arctic. The Defense Ministry has stated that it intends to possess a self-sufficient Arctic force by 2018, with the Kremlin becoming increasingly assertive in the region over recent months.
* Boeing has delivered the second of four upgraded AWACS aircraft to the French Air Force, with this resulting in the French fleet achieving Initial Operating Capability. The first of the four was delivered last July, with Boeing awarded the $323.9 million contract in January 2010.
* The French Navy has also successfully fired [French] the Missile de Croisière Naval aboard the lead FREMM frigate, the Aquitaine. Five FREMM frigates are scheduled to be delivered to the French Navy by 2019, with eight having been ordered to date. The French recently offered the Missile de Croisière Naval to Poland to equip its future fleet of submarines.
* One of the Mistral LHDs originally destined for Russia departed St. Nazaire on Wednesday for a third set of sea trials. The Sébastopol is one of two Mistrals at the heart of a diplomatic spat between Paris and Moscow, with negotiations having begun earlier this week.
* Israel has requested 14,500 JDAM tail kits in a potential sale worth $1.9 billion. Israel previously ordered 3,000 upgraded JDAM kits in November last year, with these upgrades for the ultra-tightly coupled (UTC) capability, with that delivery set for November 2016.
* Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi travelled to Russia on Wednesday, reportedly to seek additional arms to fight IS. Iraq has bought significant quantities of Russian hardware in recent years, with the US also sending significant quantities to the beleaguered state. Al-Abadi is due to meet Putin on Thursday.
* India’s publicly-owned Hindustan Shipyard Ltd is reportedly seeking to partner with South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries to construct warships for the Indian Navy. The warships potentially covered in the agreement include submarines and destroyers. HHI assembled South Korea’s Type-214 submarines and KDX-III AEGIS destroyers.
* India’s indigenous Astra missile reportedly missed out on a test scheduled for Monday owing to a technical problem with the SU-30MKI assigned to launch the missile. This news came alongside the crash of a Flanker on Tuesday, with this the third such crash involving the Russian-manufactured fighter in five years, raising concerns over reliability. The Beyond Visual Range air-to-air missile conducted a successful test last month, the latest in a series of live-firings.
* Singapore will equip the last of its Formidable-class frigates with French manufacturer Thales’ STIR 1.2 EO Mk2 radar and electro-optical tracking system. The system also equips the Royal Navy of Oman’s Al-Ofouq-class patrol vessels.
* A JDAM destroying an artillery position…