GA requests relaxing of UAV export controls | DSCA clears HIMARS for Romania | B-1B Lancer drops LRASM
- Raytheon has been granted a $103 million contract to supply its AGM-176 Griffin precision guided missile and associated support to the US Air Force. Work will be conducted in Tuscon, Ariz., and is expected to be finished by Dec. 31, 2018. Originally designed for MC-130 special operations gunships, the light attack missile comes in eitheraft-launch or forward firing variants for aircraft and can also be deployed from ground and naval units.
- The US Navy and Lockheed Martin have completed the first tactical configuration of a Long Range Anti-ship Missile (LRASM) from a B-1B Lancer bomber based out of Edwards Air Base. The free-flight launch was conducted over the Point Mugu Sea Range in California. A Lockheed statement announcing the success stated that the missile “navigated through all planned waypoints, transitioned to mid-course guidance and flew toward the moving maritime target using inputs from the onboard multimodal sensor. The missile then descended to low altitude for final approach to target area, positively identified and impacted the target.” The LRASM is slated to start entering operational service with the B-1B by next year and the F/A-18 Super Hornet by 2019.
- Upgrades planned for the RIM-116C Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) Block 2B will include improved seeker and missile-to-missile link (MML) capability. Known as the RAM Block 2B Raid Engineering Change Proposal (ECP), the enhancements will increase the missile’s ability to deal with complex multi-missile raids—in effect allowing missiles to talk to each other. Raytheon’s Block 2B upgrades have aimed to increase the use of kinematic and sensor upgrades, designed to expand the missile’s engagement envelope, so as to defeat more manoeuvrable and higher-speed anti-ship cruise missiles.
- General Atomics has called on the US government to clarify and relax export controls of UAVs to non-NATO customers as the firm announced that it is chasing a sale for its Predator C Avenger UAV. The Avenger, which so far has only been supplied to the US military, is classified by the international missile technology control regime (MTCR) agreement as a Category 1 and is rarely licensed for export. As the Trump administration considers setting new MTCR export policies, GA-ASI chief executive Linden Blue urged the White House to make short-term changes, such as relaxing State Department-imposed policies on UAV exports. Blue added that while US industry had once been the leading exporters in UAVs, the export control regime had given competing suppliers, namely non-MTCR adherents China and Israel, an edge in the global market.
Middle East & Africa
- L3 Vertex Aerospace is to conduct maintenance and logistics on Kuwaiti-operated KC-130J Hercules tanker aircraft, following the award of a $8.9 million US Navy contract. The agreement covers equipment and logistical support for three KC-130J tankers until August 2022 and work will be conducted at Abdullah Al-Mubarak Air Base, Kuwait. As well as its usual mission to provide mid-air refueling of military aircraft, the aircraft is capable of strike actions using the Harvest Hawk weapons pod—a system that gives the KC-130J the ability to launch laser-guided Hellfire and Griffin missiles.
- The Lebanese Army has commenced military operations against Islamist militants along its shared border with Syria. Operations conducted at the weekend saw the military assault an Islamic State enclave on the northeastern border, as the Lebanese Shi’ite group Hezbollah aiding the Syrian government announced an assault on the militants from the Syrian side of the frontier. During the move, the Lebanese Army also took over positions formally held by the once Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al Nusra Front, finding arms caches that included surface-to-air missiles and US-made TOW anti-tank missiles.
- The US State Department has cleared the sale of mobile artillery rocket systems to the government of Romania. Estimated at a value of $1.25 billion, the foreign military sale includes the delivery of 54 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and associated equipment and support, with Lockheed Martin acting a lead contractor. Bucharest announced last month that it planned to buy HIMARS and 36 F-16 fighter jets by 2022, part of a larger plan to spend roughly $11.6 billion on military procurements in the years 2017 through 2026. It also plans to acquire Bell Helicopter combat helicopters and a Patriot air and missile defense system.
- Japan’s Ministry of Defense has requested $179 million in funding to go towards research on Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) radar technology for the better detection of stealth aircraft. The funding, if approved, will go towards developing and fielding a prototype radar and it is expected that the technology will be ready to roll out in 2024. Tokyo also plans to build a radar system to monitor space junk and other nations’ space-based weapons ahead of its first participation in space-related international war games backed by the US military.
- The multi-capable Griffin missile:
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