German MoD favor the Eurofighter, Luftwaffe the F-35 | Bulgaria orders MiG overhaul as replacement effort stalls | Second JF-17B begins flight tests
- A report released Monday by the Department of Defense (DoD) Inspector General into the US Navy’s Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program has found that the service did not effectively develop and manage electronic warfare capabilities for upgrades to the AN/SLQ-32 Electronic Warfare Suite. The mismanagement resulted in the waste of almost $2 million and lengthened the acquisition process by about two years with inadequate results. Managed by the Program Executive Office Integrated Warfare Systems under Naval Sea Systems Command, the Inspector General found that Navy officials waived a step of the development process—details of which were redacted from the report—in order to stay on schedule instead of correcting problems before entering initial operational test and evaluation. This skipping resulted in additional costs of $1.8 million to conduct a second phase of initial operational test and evaluation on Block 2, delaying the acquisition schedule by almost two years. Program Executive Office Integrated Warfare Systems said it will continue to work with the commander for operational test and evaluation force to close the remaining deficiencies, according to the declassified report.
- L-3 Communications has been tapped to provide support services for the US Air Force’s (USAF) T-1A Jayhawk advanced trainer aircraft. The work order calls for contractor operated and maintained base supply of the Air Education and Training Command fleet of 178 T-1A trainer aircraft, with work to take place at the following USAF bases: Randolph Air Force Base, Texas; Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas; Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma; Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi; and Pensacola Naval Air Station, Florida. Scheduled completion is slated for December 31, 2022. Total value of the contract is $79.3 million, with a total of $1.5 being obligated at the time of the award.
- The US Army has awarded Northrop Grumman a $750 million contract for life cycle services on the service’s Special Electronic Mission Aircraft fleet. 75 fixed-wing airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance planes will be covered under the agreement, including RC-12X Guardrail, the Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance Surveillance System and Airborne Reconnaissance Low variants. The period of performance is one year, with eight one-year options, and work to be carried out includes program management, systems engineering and modification, supply chain management, and aircraft modifications and elective upgrades. King Aerospace, Inc. and M1 Support Service will also participate in work under the contract.
Middle East & Africa
- Diesel Engineering Inc will provide engines and transmission kits for Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Achzarit heavy armored personnel carriers (APC). Valued at $10.4 million, the US Navy contract includes one option, which if exercised, would potentially raise the overall total of the contract to more than $10.5 million. It also involves foreign military financing to the state of Israel. Work on the contract will occur in Detroit, Mich., and Prague, Czech Republic, and is expected to be completed by December 2019. Coming in two variants, the Achzarit Mk-2’s Detroit Diesel 8V92TA turbocharged diesel engine, offers 850-horsepower—up from the 650-horsepower found on the Achzarit Mk-1 engine—and is coupled with an upgraded Allison XTG-411-5 transmission. The new power pack can be installed without making any changes to the engine compartment or vehicle, and provides an output power of approximately 720bhp.
- Bulgaria announced Monday that is has asked Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG to overhaul and maintain its 15 ageing MiG-29 fighter jets. The four-year deal is set to cost $49 million, and is integral to keeping the Soviet-era aircraft operational while Sofia decides a course of action over its MiG-29 replacement program. Sofia had initially set its sights on purchasing eight JAS-39 Gripen fighters from Saab, but the government that came into power earlier this year dismissed the previous interim government’s decision to select the Swedish fighter, instead favoring a new competition that will see the Gripen face off against second-hand F-16s from both the US and Portugal, and second-hand Eurofighter Typhoons from Italy. Defense Minister Krasimir Karakachanov has also indicated that Boeing may be asked for information about secondhand F-16s.
- The German Defense Ministry has come out in favor of the Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft as the replacement for its fleet of 85 Panavia Tornado jets. However, the decision contradicts an announcement by the Luftwaffe last month that hailed Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter as the best option to meet the service’s requirements of stealth and long-distance operational capabilities. News of the ministry’s preference came to light in a letter sent to a Greens lawmaker who had inquired about the deliberations, with the ministry listing the F-35, alongside Boeing’s F-15 and F-18 fighters as secondary options. Built by the Eurofighter consortium consisting of Britain’s BAE Systems, France’s Airbus, and Italy’s Leonardo, a Typhoon purchase by Berlin may come as a precursor to eventual Franco-German cooperation on a new European fighter effort, intentions on which were announced earlier this year. A decision on the Tornado’s replacement needs to be approved by parliament within the next two years and a contract signed by 2020 or 2021to ensure deliveries by 2025. However, no final decision is likely to be made before a new government is formed, which has remained undecided since elections in September left no party with a majority or workable coalition.
- India has put forward a new $1.87 billion procurement plan for 24 off the shelf naval helicopters, following a collapse in talks with Lockheed Martin over 16 Sikorsky S-70B naval helicopters, and an urgent capability require for such rotorcraft by the Indian Navy. Negotiations with Lockheed were terminated following the expiry of the price bid in March, and subsequently the tender was withdrawn in April, an MoD official said. An Indian Navy official added that the service asked the MoD in July to consider procuring the helicopters from the US under the Foreign Military Sales program, however, the request was turned down because Indian procurement procedures do not allow for single-supplier preference but instead prefer global competitions through which weapons or platforms are selected based on lowest price. New Delhi is also planning a major $7 billion procurement for 123 naval multi-role helicopters in the 9- to 12.5-ton categories, that will be manufactured by a domestic private company with technology transfer from an overseas helicopter original equipment manufacturer. The winning helicopter model will then be manufactured by a private Indian company—to be decided by a separate competition—in an Indian facility, despite the fact that no private Indian company has ever built a helicopter platform, having only supplied subsystems.
- The second prototype of the JF-17 Thunder’s twin-seat variant—the JF-17B—is currently undergoing flight tests in China. A total of three JF-17B prototypes are in production after requests by potential third-party customers for a twin-seat variant that could be used for training and evaluation purposes. Two prototypes will go to the Pakistan Air Force (PAF). In addition to a tandem seat, the JF-17B incorporates several design changes to its single-seat counterpart, including a modified vertical stabilizer, dorsal spine (potentially for fuel to compensate for the space lost from the additional seat), enlarged nose and three-axis fly-by-wire (FBW) flight control system.
- A look at earlier JF-17B flight tests :
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