GAO Rejects Boeing/LM Protest on LRS-B Contract | IAI Introduces Loitering Munitions at Singapore Air Show | Saab Launches GlobalEye to Wider Market
- The joint Boeing/Lockheed Martin protest filed against the Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) contract awarded to Northrop Grumman has been rejected by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO). The complaint, claiming that the competition was “fundamentally flawed“, was filed last November and resulted in a three month delay in engineering and development work by Northrop. The GAO found no basis to sustain or uphold the protest, which analysts estimate to be worth over $80 billion over the course of the contract. With 100 hundred bombers to be manufactured for the USAF, Boeing can still bring the challenge to federal court as they look to make up for lost production contracts and potential job losses ahead.
- The US Navy has completed the first of two operational tests on Northrop Grumman’s MQ-4C. While data on the tests is still being analyzed, a favorable review could see a low rate procurement contract awarded in the second quarter of this year, a year ahead of the next operational test event. Initial plans for the UAV involve providing broad area surveillance over 5 orbits encircling the globe, then cueing the manned P-8A Poseidon to inspect closer or deploy weapons. Initial predictions of fleet loss of four per 100,000 hours led the Navy to order 70 to maintain an operational fleet of 20. This has, however, has come under scrutiny from the Department of Defense and could lead to the Navy reviewing and altering their attrition requirement.
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- Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) has introduced a new series of loitering munitions at the Singapore Air Show. One of these is the Rotem L, a small grenade-carrying quadrotor which explodes on contact and is designed for use in urban operations. Alternatively, it can be fitted with a surveillance payload. The Harpy NG (New Generation) is designed to counter the newer types of air defense radar threats that have evolved since the introduction into service of its earlier incarnations. Improvements include a new Anti-Radiation (AR) Seeker fitted into the chassis of the Harop UAV, increasing its range and endurance. The final addition is the all-electric, cannister launched Green Dragon for operation by land forces. Designed to be a cheaper, more easily operated munition, it contains a 3kg warhead, a communications range of up to 21nm (40km) and a built-in “abort and go around” capability to prevent unnecessary collateral damage or mistaken targeting.
- The French procurement agency DGA is to recruit 160 staffers this year in an effort to improve organization and service surrounding foreign arms sales. By 2020 this number will increase to 500. With $18 billion in arms exports last year, the DGA hopes to continue this trend and to forge a “real partnership” in projects and programs according to their spokesperson. The need for this comes as customers are increasingly looking for deeper understanding in the specifications of the technology, such as India wanting to make Dassault’s Rafale fighters domestically, and Australia’s latest tender for an attack submarine which has French firm DCNS competing for the contract.
- Improvements in human rights have seen five years of EU imposed trade sanctions lifted on Belarus, however, its arms embargo will be maintained for at least another year. The move comes following peaceful presidential elections in the country, and the release of political prisoners in the country often dubbed Europe’s last dictatorship. As the EU looks to improve relations with countries neighboring an increasingly aggressive Russia, Belarus’ authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko may be seeking to improve his image abroad, as well as rely less on Russia for trade and ultimately, arms and defense.
- Following a custom $1.27 billion two-aircraft deal to provide an early warning and control (AEW&C) system to the UAE, Saab has officially launched the new early warning aircraft to the wider market. The GlobalEye combines the Erieye ER active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar with Bombardier’s Global 6000 business jet. The Erieye had been previously offered on the Embraer 145, Saab 2000 and Saab 340, but its incorporation on the Global 6000 will allow it much greater altitude and endurance capabilities, flying at 11,000 ft for 11 hours. The business jet will likely be armed with Saab’s RBS-15 anti-ship missile and a lightweight torpedo; possibly a EuroTorp weapon. Saab’s announcement comes as they look to provide maritime, land, and air surveillance capabilities to countries increasingly involved in anti-terrorism, anti-piracy, or territorial monitoring operations.
- Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has started final assembly of their first domestically produced F-35A. Assembly has entered its final stages at the Komaki Minami plant, and it is expected they will have begun work on two of the fighters by the end of fiscal 2017. By 2020, this production will have increased to 16, and a total number to be manufactured in Japan is 38 out a fleet of 42. MHI will also be responsible for testing the jets stealth against radar. The experience gained by Mitsubishi in the development and manufacturing of the F-35 will help toward the development of Japan’s own next-generation stealth fighter, currently under development as part of the X-2 program.
- Despite last year’s rather public hullabaloo over Indonesia’s $120 million procurement of three Agusta Westland AW101 helicopters, Daniele Romiti, chief executive of Finmeccania Helicopters, maintains Jakarta is still interested. After a presidential order axed the acquisition of the VVIP helicopters, talks have apparently been ongoing over a renewed deal. This includes plans for a search and rescue variant, with a similar configuration to the Italian air force’s new HH-101 Caesar model. The news comes as quite a surprise, and if the deal goes through, would mark quite the turnaround from November. But with cost the main reason for the initial protests, a fresh round of media and political anger could be just around the corner.
- Footage from the 2016 Singapore Air Show including South Korea’s Black Eagles:
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