First SEPv3 Abrams roll out | Final RFP for unmanned MQ-25 tanker released | Two upgunned Strykers to be tested in Europe in December
- Saab has received a US Army contract to supply the service with shoulder-fired AT4CS RS (Confined Space Reduced Sensitivity) anti-armor weapon systems. Valued at $13.4 million, deliveries of the system will take place during 2019. Saab’s AT4 family is a range of lightweight, man-portable, fully disposable weapons characterised by ease of use and handling. The AT4CS RS weighs less than 8 kg, has an effective range of 20 to 300 metres, and contains a unique shaped-charge warhead that delivers outstanding behind-armour effect inside the target. Other new variants include the AT4CS ER (Extended Range) and AT4CS HE (High Explosive), both of which provide multi-purpose, direct fire support with confined space capabilities.
- The first six initial production vehicles of the M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank System Enhancement Package Version 3 (SEPv3) has been rolled out for the first time after delivery to the US Army. Production for the M1A2 SEPv3 is being conducted at the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center (JSMC) in Lima, Ohio and at the Anniston Army Depot in Anniston, Alabama. Improvements added to the new tanks include a joint tactical radio system that integrates handheld, manpack, and small-form fit radios to maintain battle command and communications interoperability with future brigade combat teams. It also comes with an improved power generation and distribution equipment, as well as counter remote control improvised explosive device electronic warfare/Duke V3 equipment. An ammunition data link for programing the M829A4 advanced kinetic energy and advanced multi-purpose rounds has also been added, as well as a quiet auxiliary power unit to operate on-board systems during silent watch operations, and armor upgrades. Over time, the SEPv3s will replace the M1A2 SEPv2, which have been in production since 2005.
- Canada has officially submitted an expression of interest to Australia to acquire its legacy F/A-18 Hornets. The Liberal government had initially wanted to buy 18 Super Hornet fighter jets from manufacturer Boeing, however, that plan was scuppered after Boeing filed a trade complaint in April against the Quebec-based Bombardier over its civilian passenger jets. The move to try to acquire fighter jets from Australia also coincides with the US government’s decision to slap nearly 300 per cent duties on CSeries civilian passenger jets made by Bombardier, after Boeing complained that the Canadian firm was getting unfair support from both Canada and the UK, which the deem amounted to state subsidies. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to bring up the Boeing complaint and duties with US President Donald Trump during meetings this week.
- US Naval Air Systems Command has released the final request for proposals (RFP) to industry for the unmanned MQ-25 Stingray unmanned aerial tanker. Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and General Atomics were all issued the RFP to compete for the air segment of what will be the Navy’s first operational carrier-based unmanned aerial vehicle ahead of an anticipated contract award by September of next year. Basic requirements will have the Stingray deliver about 15,000 pounds of fuel 500 nautical miles from the carrier, with a mission of alleviating the strain on the existing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets that are burning through flight hours while serving as a refueling tanker for other aircraft attempting to land on an aircraft carrier.
Middle East & Africa
- The Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) has received delivery of the first two A-29 Super Tucano light attack and reconnaissance aircraft donated by the US. A total of six aircraft will be delivered, as part of a $462 million package that includes two spare engines, MX-15 electro-optical sensor systems, 2,000 Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) laser-guidance kits for 70 mm rockets, eight AN/AAR-60(V)2 missile launch detection systems, and eight ALE-47 countermeasures dispensing systems to protect against ground-based air-defence systems, navigations systems, and support equipment and services. The A-29s will also be able to launch AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, as well as GBU-12 and GBU-58 Paveway II laser-guided bombs, although these weapons were not included in the proposed package.
- While BAE Systems announced job losses at some of its UK operations, the firm also revealed that it will supply Qatar with six Hawk trainer aircraft as part of a sale outlined in a letter of intent (LOI) signed for 24 Eurofighter Typhoon in September. Currently being assembled for Oman and Saudi Arabia, the airframer said that Hawk production is secure until 2019, after nearly 1,400 jobs were cut from its military aerospace business amid a planned slowdown in production of Typhoon aircraft. However, BAE cautioned that it needs to receive a firm order from the Gulf state next year to avoid a break in production.
- Two upgunned Stryker infantry carrier vehicle variants will be deployed to Europe in December to undergo operational tests. One, the 30 mm-armed ‘Dragoon’, has been developed by General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) and features Orbital ATK’s 30 mm calibre XM813 Bushmaster dual feed automatic cannon fitted into Kongsberg’s Medium Calibre Remote Controlled Turret (MC-RCT) and integrated on GDLS’ Strykers. GDLS expect to have 83 Stryker Dragoons completed by May 2018. The second type comes with Raytheon’s Javelin anti-tank missiles on the Kongsberg Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station (CROWS II), and 87 javelin-equipped units are planned. The vehicles were approved in 2015 in order to fit an operational need statement from the 2nd Cavalry Regiment (known as the Dragoons) based at Vilseck in Germany.
- A New Zealand aircraft manufacturer has pleaded guilty to breaching UN sanctions imposed on North Korea. Pacific Aerospace Ltd pleaded guilty to indirectly exporting aircraft parts to East Asian hermit kingdom in breach of 2006 United Nations sanctions, delivering a ten-seater plane to its joint venture partner in China which was later sold to another Chinese firm before ending up in North Korea in December 2015. The aircraft was subsequently flown at North Korea’s Wonsan Air Festival in September 2016, attracting the attention of the UN Security Council and New Zealand Customs. Pacific Aerospace will be sentenced in January, with the maximum penalty is 12 months imprisonment for an individual and a fine of up to NZ$100,000 ($71,000) for a company.
- A-29 Super Tucanos in action:
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