* On Thursdaythe House Armed Services Committee voted to keep the A-10 operational for another year, with the 2016 defense policy bill including an amendment to prohibit the Air Force from retiring the plane. The amendment – proposed by Rep. McSally – passed while a “middle ground” amendment proposed by Rep. Moulton failed. That amendment would have allowed the Air Force to retain a hundred of the aircraft while retiring up to 164.
* On Thursday, Raytheon was awarded a $559.2 million undefinitized contract action by the Missile Defense Agency for multiple fixed-price incentive firm, firm-fixed-price and cost reimbursable contract line items. The first of these is an order for 44 Standard Missile-3 Block IB missiles.
* The Navy meanwhile awarded United Technologies a low-rate initial production contract valued at $157 million for variants of the F-135 engine, the propulsion system of the F-35. The initial production of 90 engines is split between the F-135-PW-100 and -PW-600 variants, with Thursday’s LRIP contract consisting of 76 of the former and 14 of the latter, with 35 of the systems earmarked for foreign partners and Foreign Military Sales.
* The French defense procurement agency announced Thursday that a Rafale fighter successfully test-fired a Meteor missile for the first time earlier this week [French]. The beyond-visual-range missile has been developed by European missile house MBDA, with France becoming the fourth customer for the weapon in 2011. Tuesday’s test involved personnel from the French DGA, Rafale manufacturer Dassault and MBDA, with the Rafale’s Meteor capability forming an important part of the fighter’s F3R upgrade program.
* In the latest headache for the Swiss Air Force, the planned mothballing of F-5 fighters – following the discovery of structural cracks earlier this month – is delayed [German] because there are not enough hangars available to store the aircraft.
* Saab is anticipating a finalized contract for new Swedish submarines within months, while also negotiating mid-life upgrades to the Swedish Navy’s Gotland-class. Sweden agreed in March to procure two new A26 subs, with the pre-upgrade Gotland-class already a very capable design
* Dassault’s already strained Rafale production lines are to be put under even greater pressure following the announcement Thursday of a $7 billion contract with Qatar for 24 of the fighters. The UAE also restarted talks with the French earlier this month, following the jet’s recent successful export to Egypt and India.
* The majority of India’s fleet of Arjun main battle tanks are reportedly inoperable owing to problems integrating several foreign-manufactured systems. The Indian Army has identified 18 major problems with the vehicles, with 78 more minor issues also contributing to the low level of availability. The Mark II version of the Arjun – currently under development by the Defense Research and Development Organization – has also seen setbacks in recent months.
* South Korea is establishing a civilian defense procurement academy, looking to create an air-gap between industry and the military. Modeled after the Defense Acquisition University in the US, this attempt to minimize corruption in the defense-industrial base comes amidst a significant government anti-corruption drive. Three South Korean defense firms – Doosan DST, Lig Nex1 and Poongsan – were recently identified as having no anti-corruption measures in place in the Transparency International Anti-Corruption Index.
* South African firm Denel is reportedly exploring the possibility of restarting the Rooivalk helicopter production line. The company is looking into the feasibility of finding potential foreign partners, integrating technology improvements and subsequently restarting the production line, with a clearer idea of the Rooivalk’s future expected within 18 months.
* The Rooivalk helicopter – uglier than an Apache?