German arms sales under fire after Turkish offensive into Syria | Saab warns Brazil over Boeing-Embraer talks | The Warthog to return to Afghan skies
- Brazilian daily Folha De San Paulo reports that CEO of Saab, Hakan Buskhe will warn Brazil’s Defense Minister Raul Jungmann on January 25, that the Swedish firm may cancel its $4.9 billion contract to supply 36 JAS-39 Gripen fighters to the Brazilian Air Force (BAF) if there is a partnership between Boeing and Embraer. News of a potential tie-up between Boeing and Embraer—the “golden share” owned by the Brazilian government—surfaced in December 2017, and the Brazilian airframer is considered by Boeing as a strategic part of its positioning against European giant Airbus, which purchased Canadian company Bombardier’s regional aircraft line last October. Saab’s opposition to the deal comes from promises made during the Gripen negotiations for the mandatory provision of technology transfer to the BAF and national companies such as Embraer, as well as the joint building of a portion of the ordered aircraft. The Swedish objection comes as it is worried that its technological secrets will be at risk if such a move occurs as Embraer is participating in the development of the Gripen F, however, this may result in only increasing Brazilian negotiating power in any such deal with Boeing—although any interruption of the contract already being delivered with Saab is highly unlikely.
- A new US Air Force team led by Brig. Gen. Bobbi Jo Doorenbos is being set up to investigate and record instances of oxygen deprivation and other physiological incidents found in pilots. The Unexplained Physiologic Events (UPE) Integration Team was announced in a USAF statement on Monday, and Doorenbos said the service is “providing more resources to understand UPEs, standardize response actions to such events and assess options for more robust aircrew training to recognize and respond to these events,” adding that the “ultimate goal is to prevent UPEs.” In 2017, a number of high profile incidents caused flights to be grounded due to UPEs. Last June, F-35 flights at Yuma Air Station, Arizona, were temporarily suspended after five pilots suffered incidents, while US Navy T-45C Goshawk flights were suspended in October, after a hypoxia-related crash caused the deaths of two pilots.
- Boeing seems unlikely to enter a bid in Canada’s CF-18 successor competition, having already missed a one-day information session for potential bidders on 22 January hosted by the Future Fighter Capability acquisition program. The firm was originally a shoe-in to supply its F/A-18E/F Super Hornets as a temporary solution to the ageing CF-18s, after the Liberal Party government of Justin Trudeau vowed to ditch the F-35 during its 2015 election campaign. However, Boeing’s filing of a trade dispute in May 2017 against Canadian airframer Bombardier has subsequently spiralled and put Boeing at odds with the ruling Liberal government. Instead, the Royal Canadian Air Force plans to buy retired F/A-18s from the Royal Australian Air Force as an interim CF-18 replacement while its new successor competition is launched.
Middle East-North Africa
- The Royal Bahrain Naval Forces welcomed Monday, its first upgraded Al Manama naval ship during a ceremony at Mina Salman, the port in Manama, Bahrain. Undertaken by Italian defense giant Leonardo, six vessels were tapped for modernization in 2015 at a cost of $61.4 million. Upgrades installed include a newly minted weapons control system, along with training services and logistics, and the final vessel is set for delivery in 2020. First commissioned in 1987, the Al Manamas are capable of conducting anti-surface and electronic warfare operations, in addition to maritime patrol and surveillance missions.
- Germany has come under pressure to cancel a contract with Turkey to upgrade its German-built Leopard II tanks, following the commencement of an offensive by Turkey into northern Syria against the Kurdish YPG. Dubbed Operation Olive Branch, the offensive into Syria comes as Ankara seeks to establish a buffer zone along its southwestern border with Syria by clearing the area of US-backed Kurdish militants under claims that they contain elements of the PKK—a Turkish-based Kurdish group designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US, and EU. Now, under fire from both opposition lawmakers and even members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives for failing to speak up earlier, and for moving toward approving Ankara’s request to have German arms maker Rheinmetall upgrade its German-built tanks, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel called his Turkish counterpart on Monday to discuss the issue, citing concerns about the humanitarian consequences of an escalation in Syria. A German defense ministry spokesman on Monday confirmed that Turkey had purchased over 750 tanks from Germany in the 1980s, 1990s and late 2000s, but said he had no direct knowledge aside from photographs circulating in the media that the tanks were being used in Syria.
- Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has delivered its second Gulfstream G550 conformal airborne early warning (CAEW) aircraft to the Italian Air Force, fulfilling a $750 million deal signed in 2012 that also includes ground support equipment and a logistics support package. Developed by IAI’s Elta Systems subsidiary, the CAEW adaptation of the G550 also features electronic support measures and electronic intelligence (ELINT) capabilities, while a dedicated ELINT variant of the G550 is also in Israeli service. The CAEW platform has been in use with the Israeli Air Force for the last 12 years and is also in use by Singapore.
- The Australian government announced Wednesday, the award of a AUS$100 million (USD$80.38 million) contract to supply 155 millimetre Lightweight Towed Howitzer ammunition to the Army. NIOA of Queensland, the country’s largest privately-owned supplier of small arms to the commercial, law enforcement and military markets, will act as supplier in the contract, and the firm is also looking at additional opportunities for domestic manufacture of other types of 155mm ammunition. In May 2017, NIOA was selected by German defense giant Rheinmetall as its key supplier of ammunition and armament services for its Land 400 Phase 2 offer to the Commonwealth of Australia.
- After a six-year absence, the A-10 Warthog is making a return to Afghanistan. 12 of the ground-attack aircraft are expected to operate from Kandahar air base as the US military continues to intensify its air activities against militants fighting the Washington-backed government in Kabul, and the Warthogs will work providing close air support in a campaign targeting Taliban revenue sources including drug-producing facilities and in counter-terrorism operations. News of the deployment comes following a Taliban attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul at the weekend, resulting in the deaths of at least 22 people.
- The 62d Fighter Squadron presents its first F-35 B-Course Graduates, class 17-BBL:
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