Former 7th Fleet flagship is being modernized | $1.8 billion – rounds incoming | France joins 21st century space race
Rosemount Aerospace is being tapped to provide the Navy with angle of attack (AoA) transmitters for its F/A-18E/F and EA-18G aircraft. The company will procure a total of 360 transmitters at a cost of $7.1 million. The AoA transmitter is is mounted on the fuselage with the sensing probe extending through the aircraft fuselage. The probe provides an AoA indication by sensing the direction of local airflow. Navy planes usually have to perform takeoff and landing operations from a very short aircraft carrier runways; during those operations the transmitter measures the AoA directly and help the pilot fly close to the stalling point with greater precision. Work will be performed in Burnsville, Minnesota and is expected to be completed in September 2019.
General Dynamics is being contracted for work on the USS Bonhomme Richard. The awarded firm-fixed-price contract has a value of $218.7 million and provides for a combination of maintenance, modernization, and repair work on the Wasp-class vessel during its docking phased maintenance availability. From 2012 to earlier this year the USS Bonhomme Richard was stationed in Sasebo, Japan and served there as the flagship of the Amphibious Force 7th Fleet’s expeditionary strike group. The Landing Helicopter Dock amphibious assault ship is designed to deploy helicopters, landing craft, supplies and personnel. The Richard is capable of embarking Harrier and F-35B fighter jets. Its one of eight Wasp-class vessels. Work will be performed in San Diego, California and is scheduled for completion by May 2020.
ATK Launch Systems is being contracted to keep the US land-based Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) in shape. The contract has a value of $86.4 million and provides for component testing, evaluation, engineering support and disposal for all stages of Minuteman and Peacekeeper systems. ICBMs have been part of the US primary strategic deterrence capability for the past 50 years, as part of a nuclear-armed triad that also includes submarine-launched ballistic missiles and long range heavy bombers. The Minuteman III entered service in 1970 and is currently the only operational ICBM. The Peacekeeper, also known as MX was introduced in the 1980’s as a first-strike weapon capable of carrying up to 10 nuclear warheads to destroy Soviet missile silos. Work will be performed in Utah.
Alliant Techsystems Operations and General Dynamics are set to compete for each order of a $1.8 billion contract. The companies will provide the US military with 20mm, 25mm, 30x113mm, and 30x173mm medium caliber ammunitions. 20mm rounds are the standard load of many US aircraft like the F/A-18 which is equipped with a M61A1 six-barrel Gatling gun. 25mm ammunition fired by the Bushmaster cannon which can be found on Navy ships and the Bradley. The AH-64 Apache fires 30×113 mm rounds from its M230 Chain gun, while 30x173mm rounds are fired from the GAU-8 Avenger minigun installed on the A-10 Thunderbolt II. Work locations and funding will be allocated with each order. The contract is set to run through September 2023.
Middle East & Africa
The Kingdom of Jordan is strengthening its bilateral relationship with the Philippines. The two countries recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Defense Cooperation between the Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army and the Department of National Defense of the Philippines. Under this MOU, Jordan will transfer two of its $18 million AH-1F Cobra attack helicopters to the Philippines as means to support the country’s ongoing counter-terror efforts. The helicopters will be turned over to the Philippine government in July 2019 after the training of Filipino pilots.
France is joining the 21st space race amid growing fears of a future conflict. French Defense Minister Florence Parly plans to invest a total of $4.2 billion to renew and upgrade French military satellites and to protect its highly sensitive networks from prying eyes. “We will install surveillance cameras on our satellites so we will know who is approaching us,” Parly said during an interview with a French TV station. Last Friday Parly openly accused Russia of eavesdropping on secure military communications and said the Russian satellite has “big ears” and is “well-known but a bit indiscreet” and added “France is and will be a space power.” On June 28, the French parliament adopted a bill on military planning for 2019-2025, envisaging the increase of defense spending up to 2% of the country’s GDP. The French investment plan comes weeks after US President Donald Trump announced a plan to create a “Space Force”, a new branch of the US military by 2020.
The Taiwanese government plans to significantly boost its F-16 budget. The Ministry of National Defense will need about $4.6 billion to maintain parity between the upgraded F-16s and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force’s tactical fighters. A large chunk of the budget will be spend on a variety of air-to-air missiles and automated ground collision avoidance systems. The ROCAF has a total of 115 F-16s, of which 24 are out of service for upgrades at any point and 16 are in the USA for training at Luke AFB. By 2023 Taiwan will have an updated fleet of F-16Vs. The latest variant of the fighter jet integrates advanced capabilities as part of an upgrade package to better interoperate with fifth-generation fighters, including the F-35 and the F-22. The Viper can be deployed in suppression of enemy air defense missions, air-to-ground and air-to-air combat, and deep interdiction and maritime interdiction missions.
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