* Northrop Grumman has announced the first successful flight of the UH-60V Black Hawk helicopter. An upgrade from the UH-60L model, the latest configuration includes a digital cockpit provided by Northrop, and fitted with the Future Airborne Capability Environment standard, allowing integration of new avionics equipment in the future. The modernization program will be carried out on the US Army’s UH-60L helicopter fleet, and based on the AH-1Z and E-2D Advanced Hawkeye upgrades performed for the USMC and Navy.
Middle East & North Africa
* An Israeli Defense Ministry report has revealed that Israeli manufacturers have earned about $1.03 billion since 2010 from projects related to Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program. Last year saw a total of $258 million in contracts, mostly for fighter helmets, representing a 33% increase in procurement over previous years. Big winners in 2016 were Elbit Systems and its US partner Rockwell Collins, which are jointly manufacturing the state-of-the-art helmet for the F-35.
* German initiatives to deepen defensive ties with its neighbors continues as it moves forward with a plan set up a joint fleet of Lockheed Martin Corp C-130J transport planes with France and join a Netherlands-led fleet of Airbus A330 tanker planes. The plans join other collaborative agreements with Norway, Romania and the Czech Republic, and come at a time when NATO members face increasing pressure from the United States to spend more for their own military and reach NATO’s target of devoting 2 percent of gross domestic product to defense spending.
* Airbus will breath a sigh of relief after an investigation into an oil leak that grounded a A400M transporter which was carrying a German government minister on board does not point to a fundamental new problem with the plane. Initial reports suggested that the leak appeared to be linked to the hydraulic system used to adjust the turbine blades in one of the four powerful A400M engines. However, it is now suggested that the leak had been found between the propellers and the nacelle, or engine housing, which are part of the power system but not components of the engine itself. Last week’s breakdown was on a trip that was meant to showcase the aircraft’s capabilities as Airbus seeks to win back confidence in the troubled A400M project.
* A subsidiary of the state-run Ukrainian defense manufacturer Ukroboronprom -Artem- has recently test-fired new missiles from MI-8MSB helicopters. Built for the Ukrainian Air Force, the 80mm weapons are designed to integrate with attack helicopters to engage ground targets as well as air platforms, including enemy rotorcraft. Testers fired new missiles individually using starter kits to hit pre-determined targets. The kits have a ripple-fire capability, which can discharge all units in half a second.
* Engine-maker Rolls Royce has posted a record headline loss of $5.8 billion on Tuesday, as a drop in Sterling after Brexit and a fine to settle corruption charges ended a rather difficult year. The company had already undergone restructuring following a series of profit warnings. Rolls said that the company will now need to make further cuts after stating that its underlying profit halved to $1.01 billion last year, which actually beat analysts expectations.
* The South Korean military is considering its own test of a precision-guided cruise missile in response to Pyongyang’s latest ballistic missile test, a military official confirmed on Monday. It has been suggested that Seoul may offer the public a behind-the-scenes look at the Hyeonmu missile, in order to demonstrate how North Korea would be punished for any further provocation. Seoul is also considering moving up the scheduled live-fire drill involving a long-range air-to-surface high precision guided missile in another show of force against the North.
* India’s Ministry of Defense has announced their successful interception of an incoming ballistic missile in the exo-atmosphere as they develop a two-layered ballistic missile defense system. The target mimicked a hostile incoming ballistic missile and was launched from a ship in the Bay of Bengal, with the interceptor launched from Kalam Island. Additional details of the test remained undisclosed.
* Ukraine’s new 80mm air missiles: