* A House Representative is demanding answers from the Air Force Secretary regarding discrepancies over the Air Force’s projected cost for the Long Range Strike Bomber program, after it emerged last week that the estimated program cost rose from $33.1 billion to $58.4 billion over the 2016-2026 period. Rep. Speier has given Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James until the end of September to provide clarification on the swinging cost estimates, as well as criticizing the Air Force for lack of transparency.
* A supplier of systems equipping E-3 Sentry AWACS early warning aircraft has agreed to pay $2.8 million to settle a False Claim Act lawsuit centered on PoleZero’s subcontract to supply the Air Force with components for the E-3 fleet from 2004 to 2013. The contractor reportedly supplied radio frequency equipment to the Air Force which the company knew were below contractual standard.
* Lockheed Martin subsidiary Sandia Corp. has also agreed to settle with the government over the alleged illegal use of government funds for lobbying efforts. The $4.79 million settlement regards the use of federal funds to lobby for the extension of the company’s contract to run Sandia National Laboratories, a major nuclear weapons research establishment and follows a nine-month Energy Department report authored by the Department’s Inspector General.
* General Dynamics is reportedly set to build Spain’s next generation of infantry fighting vehicles, with GD’s Santa Bárbara Sistemas company winning a $99 million research and development contract for the new vehicle’s design. Intended to replace the Spanish Army’s fleet of M113 and BMR IFVs, the program has attracted design bids from several European and US companies, including the French VBCI, Italian Centauro Freccia, German Boxer, Finnish Patria AMV and Swedish SEP; however the Piranha Class 5 is reported to be the favourite to win the competition. The first prototypes of the class are anticipated to emerge by 2017, with Denmark also opting for the Piranha earlier this year.
* Poland will carry out upgrade work on the Bulgarian Air Force’s fleet of MiG-29 Fulcrum fighters, according to reports on Monday. The Bulgarian government has approved the intergovernmental arrangement, following a decision to postpone the replacement of the country’s MiG-29 fleet with more modern Western aircraft; most likely F-16s from Greece. This postponement is thought to be down to budgetary constraints, something not uncommon with Bulgarian defense projects, with the Polish Air Force upgrading their Fulcrums in 2011. The decision to contract Poland’s WZL plant for the upgrade works makes a lot of sense, given the political realities of current NATO-Russian relations taking the option of sending the jets back to the original manufacturer off the table.
* The UK’s Ministry of Defence has ordered additional Saab Giraffe Agile Multi-Beam radar systems for use on the Falkland Islands, supplementing existing systems already in use as part of the British Armys’ Land Environment Air Picture Provision (LEAPP) system. Delivery of the new Giraffes is scheduled to begin later this year, concluding in 2018. The LEAPP system was declared operational in late 2014, with a contract to supply a BMC4I capability for the system anticipated for next year. The first contingent of five Giraffe systems for the LEAPP system was ordered in April 2008 for $60 million, with this latest contract valued at $74 million.
* BAE Systems has begun a redevelopment project for the company’s Barrow-in-Furness shipyard, ahead of a planned major build program for the Royal Navy’s future Successor nuclear submarine fleet. The Ministry of Defence-funded redevelopment will take approximately eight years to complete, with construction of the first of four Successor boats scheduled for next year. The four Successor submarines will replace the current Vanguard-class and are due to enter service from 2028. The first part of the redevelopment is a $36.1 million logistics center, with other developments thought to include extension of the Devonshire Dock Hall building and new hull pressure units.
* Belgium’s four NH90 NFH naval helicopter fleet have achieved Initial Operating Capability, eight years after they were ordered in May 2007 through a mixed order for ten NH90 helicopters. Three of the country’s four helicopters have now entered service, with a fourth scheduled to join them in early 2016.
* China has reportedly conducted a fifth test of the WU-14 hypersonic glide vehicle, following a similar test in June. This test is thought to have demonstrated evasive manoeuvres, a key element of the mach 10 delivery system thought to be designed principally to penetrate capable ballistic missile defenses. The US, Russia and China are each developing their own hypersonic strike capabilities, with the vehicle’s speed and manoeuvrability making them theoretically much more potent than ballistic missiles for nuclear weapon delivery.
* Russia is handing Bangladesh a $1 billion loan to purchase seven Mil Mi-171 helicopters, following a contract signed in April 2015. The number of helicopters Russia will sell has risen from five, with deliveries reported to already be underway. Russia also recently began deliveries of 24 Mi-171 helicopters to Peru, delivering a second batch of nine helicopters to the South American country in June.
* The Chinese Wing Loong UAV dropping ordnance in a recent test involving eight different weapon types: