*Major defense purchases through Canada’s problem-plagued procurement process is to be guided by a cabinet-level committee. The committee will have direct access to support from Prime Minister Justin Tredeau, and is tasked with seeing that billion dollar sales, which include all aircraft purchases, will not be held up in federal bureaucracy. While details of the committee have not been disclosed, it will include high ranking members of the Liberal government including Procurement Minister Judy Foote, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, Navdeep Bains, minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, and Scott Brison, the president of the Treasury Board.
* Honeywell is developing and testing a virtual reality vehicle windshield for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The windshield aims to give greater situational awareness for future ground vehicles as part of DARPA’s Ground X-Vehicle Technologies program. Using Honeywell’s “near-to-eye” and display technologies developed through military and commercial avionics flight decks, such as for the Boeing 777 commercial airliner, the wrap-around windshield aims to provides contextual awareness through lower-resolution images combined with a binocular eye display, that provides more precise images to vehicle operators and crews.
* The USAF has pushed back the awarding of its contract for the Joint Surveillance Targeting and Attack Radar System (JSTARS) program by as much as six months. It had been reported in January that sole-source contracts were soon to be awarded to both Raytheon and Northrop Grumman for the further development of their competing active electronically scanned array radars. The revision of the acquisition strategy has been said to reduce overall program risk by giving more time in the early stages of JSTARS development.
Middle East North Africa
* Oman’s ordered Eurofighter Typhoon’s move one step closer to delivery according to Eurofighter partner BAE Systems. Final assembly has begun at BAE’s Warton site in Lancashire, UK with 12 to be delivered to the Royal Oman Air Force in 2017. The sale will also include eight Hawk 166 advanced jet trainers. Exports of the joint European Typhoon have been on the increase, with Italian partner Alenia Aermacchi and the Italian government leading the charge for the sale of 28 of the fighters to Kuwait.
* The Israeli Air Force may look to domestic companies to develop indigenous targeting and reconnaissance systems for their F-35I Adir fighters. Potential possibilities include Rafael’s Litening or Reccelite designs, which could be redesigned from their external pod varieties to be carried internally. The choice for choosing a local provider for the system stems from the IAFs unique operational requirements and their desire to utilize local, combat-proven systems. If either of Rafael’s systems are chosen, they will be integrated on all 33 F-35Is procured through the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.
* Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister has come out in favour of supplying MANPAD surface-to-air missiles to allied Syrian rebel forces fighting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. The equipment would help rebel forces counter against government and Russian air strikes. In an interview with German news magazine Der Spiegel, Adel al-Jubeir said the weapons would “allow the moderate opposition to be able to neutralize the helicopters and aircraft that are dropping chemicals and have been carpet-bombing them, just like surface-to-air missiles in Afghanistan were able to change the balance of power there.”
* The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute report on global arms sales indicates a 14% increase in the years 2011-2015 with the flow of weaponry primarily going towards Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The report, published Monday, cites the US and Russia as the main exporters, with the biggest importers being India, Saudi Arabia, China, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Despite decreasing oil prices, the Saudi-led coalition supporting the government in Yemen against Iranian backed Houthi rebels has been singled out as one of the main reasons for strong sales which are expected to continue.
* BAE Systems UK is to cooperate with India’s Mahindra Group to produce 145 light howitzer guns for the Indian Army. The arrangement follows the 2015 proposal by BAE’s US subsidiary to sell 145 M777A2 LW155 howitzers at a cost of $700 million, and are dependent on BAE commitments to set up assembly, integration and test (AIT) facilities in India. Mahindra Group won out against other domestic defense companies including India’s state-owned Ordnance Factory Board and private sector companies Larsen & Toubro, Tata Power (Strategic Engineering Division), Punj Lloyd and the Kalyani Group.
* Aerial display highlights from the Singapore Air Show 2016: