* Naval Group of France and Italian partner Fincantieri have submitted a vessel based on their jointly-developed FREEM multi-missions frigate as part of its tender in the Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) program—Ottawa’s planned procurement of up to 15 warships to replace their Iroquois and Halifax-class vessels. The offer comes as Fincantieri initially opposed a requirement by the Canadian government that a large amount of technical data about the frigate be handed over to the prime contractor, Canadian firm Irving Shipbuilding, before a winner is chosen. However, in a joint statement released by Naval Group and Fincantieri, the firms included a carefully worded statement saying that a “transfer of technology” would go ahead “should the offer be accepted.” “Should the offer be accepted, the future frigates would be built in Canada at Irving Shipbuilding in a very short time, maximizing Canadian industrial participation and job creation locally through a dedicated and comprehensive transfer of technology, as well as integrating Canadian suppliers into the two companies’ global supply chains,” the two companies said in the statement.
* Norway’s Kongsberg has been selected by the US Army to deliver additional enhancements and upgrades on the service’s M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank. The $3.9 million award, which dates back to an earlier August 2012 contract between the firm and the US Department of Defense (DoD), calls for additional deliveries of the Protector Low Profile Common Remote Operated Weapon Station (CROWS) System, as well as spare parts for sustainment. The Protector RWS allows for greater protector of US military troops and commanders by allowing them to fire and engage enemy targets from inside the Abrams tank, as opposed to exposing themselves while operating small- to medium-caliber weapon systems mounted on the outside of the vehicle.
* The DoD announced Friday the $353.2 million award to United Technologies Corp (UTC) subsidiary, Pratt and Whitney Military Engines, for performance based logistics and sustainment support of the F-135 propulsion system for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. US Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, non-US Department of Defense (DoD) participants and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers are covered in the deal. Under the terms of the deal, P&W will provide maintenance of support equipment, common program activities, unique and common base recurring sustainment, repair of repairable, field service representatives, common replenishment spares, conventional take-off and landing/carrier variant F-135 unique maintenance services, and short take-off and landing F-135 unique services. Work will primarily take place at East Hartford, Connecticut (73 percent); but also Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (18 percent); Camari, Italy (3 percent); Eglin Air Force Base, Florida (2 percent); Edwards Air Force Base, California (1 percent); Hill Air Force Base, Utah (1 percent); Luke Air Force Base, Arizona (1 percent); and Beaufort Marine Corps Air Station, South Carolina (1 percent). Work will be completed by November 2018.
Middle East & Africa
* Saab has received a contract through Armscor, South Africa’s procurement agency, for weapons support services on Republic of South Africa Air Force JAS-39 Gripen C/D fighter aircraft. Valued at $24.6 million, the contract will run until February 2020 and includes airworthiness management, engineering support, maintenance, repair and overhaul, spares replenishment and updates of technical publications. No further details on the contract were disclosed.
* France has received its first A400M Atlas transporter fitted with pods that will allow for midair refueling of fighter jets. The aircraft was handed over to the French Air Force (FAF) on November 22, and the eleven Atlas units already delivered and in service with Paris will undergo a later retrofit to have the fuel pod added. Manufacturer Airbus is set to deliver a further three A400Ms to the FAF by 2019, and is also working to deliver two key capabilities sought by France, namely in-flight refueling of helicopters and the ability to drop paratroopers from doors on both sides of the aircraft’s fuselage. British firm Cobham has been tasked by Airbus to deliver a hose for helicopter refueling—with a test flight expected toward the end of 2018—while Airbus have built test parachute jumps out the fuselage doors, backed by detailed computer modeling on the aerodynamics, and continue to work on increasing weight and various pallets for cargo airdrops from the rear ramp.
* A drop in the Euro to US Dollar exchange rate may render the Netherlands unable to pay for their final three F-35A fighter aircraft. The revelation was made in a letter by State Secretary for Defense, Barbara Visser, to the lower house of the Dutch parliament, where Visser mentioned that there was “not enough projected budget” for the final three planes, but a final decision on the matter would be made in 2019. The Court of Audit had warned last year that fluctuating exchange rates may result in higher procurement costs.
* Reuters reports that the Norwegian Defense Ministry announced Friday, an agreement with Germany to develop a common missile system for their navies. The system will be based on Kongsberg’s Naval Strike Missile (NSM), which is already used on board Oslo’s fleet of Skjold-class corvettes and Fridtjof Nansen-class frigates. While the ministry did not give any further details on the program or its timeframe, the development will meet the joint long-term anti-surface warfare needs of the Germany Navy and the Royal Norwegian Navy (RNoN), with the aim of securing and creating high-tech jobs in both nations.
* Japan will conclude its Mitsubishi X-2 technology demonstrator aircraft program in March 2018. First flown in April 2016, the first two flights were conducted by manufacturer Mitsubishi before being handed over to the Future Fighter Program (FFP) at Japan’s Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA). Manger at the FFP, Hirofumi Doi, confirmed that 34 sorties have so far been conducted, and all issues regarding propulsion, the fuel system, and integration had been ironed out prior to the maiden flight. Doi did not confirm if the demonstrator aircraft will complete the 50 test flights originally scheduled, or what will happen to the aircraft once the program concludes. Tokyo will then assess the merits of its future fighter acquisition strategy. Options included developing a new fighter called the F-3 on its own, or developing a fighter with a foreign partner.
* Saab’s JAS-39 Gripen takes off from 800 metre road: