France close in on additional Rafale sale to Qatar | KAI consider dropping T-50 cost for USAF trainer comp | MBDA deliver MMP missile to French Army
- The US Air Force (USAF) will not have funding to re-engine its fleet of B-52 aircraft until 2020, Gen. Robin Rand, head of USAF Global Strike Command, told reporters at the Association of Old Crows conference in Washington. But the multi-year, multi-billion project to supply and integrate new engines to the service’s 76 1952-vintage B-52H bombers has already got industry interested, with Boeing and Rolls Royce already openly campaigning for the contract. However, some analysts are skeptical that the re-engine effort will ever happen, saying that while the “re-engining would save money from the O&M account (fuel and parts)” it “would cost money from the procurement account.”
- Yates Electrospace Corp has been granted a contract by the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory to develop and test 10 unmanned gliders that are able to deliver 700 pounds of life-saving supplies and cargo to any Marine unit. The company’s Silent Arrow platform—an autonomous cargo aircraft—will have its electric powertrain removed to meet the service’s requirement and will undergo a 12 month flight test with the USMC. Other requirements include being able to be deployed from fixed-wing and rotary wing military aircraft such as the C-130, MV-22 and CH-53 from altitudes as high as 25,000 ft. It will then glide to within 150 feet of its target point.
- General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems will conduct the demilitarization and disposal of US Army Rockets as part of a Department of Defense (DoD) contract modification awarded Thursday. Valued at $10.6 million, the agreement covers the disposal and destruction of 14,970 all-up rounds, or equivalent Multiple Rocket Launch System M26 rockets and components by March 31, 2019. Work will be performed in Carthage, Missouri
Middle East & Africa
- France is close to finalizing a deal with Qatar to supply additional fighter aircraft and armored vehicles, a source to the presidential office said. One deal is to exercise and option to purchase 12 additional Rafale fighter jets, adding to the 24 already on order with manufacturer Dassault Aviation. Additional deals being discussed include an order of 300 VBCI armored vehicles from French firm Nexter, and a non-military deal to manage the Doha metro for 20 years. The deals could be concluded by the end of the week.
- The French Armed Forces Ministry has received the first batch of a fifth-generation weapon designed to replace its ageing Milan anti-tank system. So far, lead contractor MBDA has delivered 20 firing posts and 50 missiles of its MMP missile system. MBDA won out against Lockheed Martin and Raytheon’s Javelin joint venture and Rafael’s Spike system to replace some 400,000 Milan anti-tank missiles in service amid fierce international competition. The current order from Paris is for MBDA to deliver 1,750 missiles and 400 firing posts by 2025. It will be deployed to ground troops, cavalry units and special forces from next year, and will arm the Jaguar combat and reconnaissance vehicle from 2020.
- Russian media reports that the Russian government has paused its development of a rail-based intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), affectionately known as “the death train”. While the rail-based system has already completed several successful tests, funding to complete development has dried up after being used for other ICBM projects. However, the Kremlin doesn’t seemed to be too perturbed, with the former head of armaments of the Russian Armed Forces A.P. Sitnova stating recent upgrades to its nuclear capabilities—specifically its submarines and carriers equipped with the new Bulava missile—gave Moscow ample nuclear missile power to deal with any aggressor.
- Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) is considering an adjustment to the cost of its T-50A advanced jet trainer in order to win the US Air Force (USAF) T-X trainer competition. The announcement was made by the firm’s new CEO Kim Jo-won, who added that transforming company management and cutting labor costs were among some of the cost saving measures being sought to help cover the discount. KAI’s announcement came after program partner Lockheed Martin requested KAI cut costs to make the bid more competitive against a rival bid from Boeing-Saab.
- The Indian Air Force has successfully carried out its first air-to-air refeuling of its Embraer EMB-145-based airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft. The ‘probe and drogue’ refuelling was carried out by an Ilyushin Il-78 tanker, with only ten minutes of refueling necessary to keep the platform flying for an additional four hours. Ordered in 2008, New Delhi has received the first two of three new EMB-145 aircraft and have been fitted with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)-designed Netra AEW&C systems, which the IAF claims provide 240-degree coverage as well as surveillance ranges between 250 and 375 km.
- Indian Air Force’s EMB-145-based AEW&C platform has successfully carried out its first mid-air refueling with help from a Il-78 tanker:
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