Houthis claim downing of US Reaper drone | New Super Lynx variant has maiden flight | Chinese J-20 officially inducted to PLAAF
- Raytheon received a $450 million US Air Force contract for engineering changes and development of the Small Diameter Bomb II. Under the terms of the deal, the firm will conduct design, development, integration, test and production engineering for changes to the SDB. The munition is currently being integrated for use on the F-35 and F/A-18E/F by the USAF and Navy, and Raytheon is expected to have it prepared for integration with the F-15E by the end of the year. Work will be performed in Tucson, Ariz., with an expected completion time set for Aug. 31, 2024.
- Kuwait had been scouted as a potential source of F/A-18s for Canada’s CF-18 successor program, but the Gulf state could not supply their surplus aircraft fast enough. The revelation was made by Canada’s Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan on Sept. 28, and the ministry will now pursue talks with Australia over their surplus stock. However, it remains to be seen whether any of Australia’s F/A-18s have enough service life left in them to serve alongside Canada’s CF-18s until replacements for both begin to arrive in the mid-2020s. The procurement has been made difficult due to the government’s backing of Montreal-based Bombardier in a dispute with the Super Hornet’s manufacturer Boeing, which has resulted in the purchasing of fighters from the source untenable for now. On Sunday, the British government appealed for all parties involved to negotiate a solution to the trade dispute, which has put more than 4,200 jobs at a Bombardier plant in Northern Ireland at risk.
- An upgraded Super Lynx Mk21B naval helicopter built for the Brazilian Navy has made its maiden flight. The Leonardo helicopter took flight at the company’s facility in Yeovil, England on Thursday. Two new generation CTS800-4N engines power the new model, giving major performance improvements, especially in hot environments. A new glass cockpit along with an advanced avionic suite have also been installed. The suite includes a tactical processor, a satellite-based navigation system, and civil navigation aids such as a traffic collision avoidance system. Additional enhancements include radar warning receiver and electronic surveillance measures that are integrated with counter-measures dispensers and a new powered rescue hoist.
Middle East & Africa
- Houthi rebels in Yemen have claimed that they successfully downed a MQ-9 Reaper UAV operated by the USAF. The UAVs have been used in the country both tracking and targeting jihadist groups operating isolated regions, as well as Houthi forces currently battling a Saudi-led intervention backed by Washington. According to reports, the drone was downed around 11 am local time in a crowded area on the outskirts of the capital, Sanna, before its charred remains was carried out by the Houthis aboard a Toyota pickup truck. The Bahrain-based US Fifth Fleet did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
- Romanian National Defence Minister Mihai Fifor has announced that Bucharest will buy additional F-16 fighter aircraft from the US, not Portugal. Speaking after his maiden visit to Washington and a meeting with Secretary of Defense James Mattis—talks he deemed “successful”—Fifor added that the ministry had already sent documents to see the fleet’s cost and that negotiations have already commenced on a deal to acquire 36 warplanes. The ministry also expects to conduct pilot training within the country. In 2013, Romania agreed to purchase 12 F-16s from Portugal, with the last three recently delivered to the Romania Air Force.
- Boeing is to visit German military and government officials in mid- November to give briefings on the capabilities of its F-15 and F/A-18E/F fighters. The Defense Ministry is also preparing a formal request for information (ROI) on pricing and availability on the two fighter jets as well as on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. It is also seeking information from Airbus on the Eurofighter consortium’s Typhoon. Fresh from parliamentary elections which saw Angela Merkel’s ruling CDU party retain its place as the biggest party—albeit it with reduced seats—a decision on replacing Germany’s ageing Tornado fleet is expected in mid-2018. The replacement program is likely to see the purchase of an existing fighter to begin operation in the mid-2020s with the retirement of the Tornados, while simultaneously working with France on a new European jet to replace its Eurofighters at a later point.
- L-3 has completed the successful delivery of the third and final RC-135V/W Rivet Joint (RJ) signals intelligence aircraft to the British Royal Air Force (RAF). The company says it will also perform future baseline upgrades and periodic depot maintenance for the British fleet. The aircraft will form the back of the UK’s Airseeker capability, providing new and collaborative intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) resources in support of global security missions. When combined with the aircraft operated by the US, a pool of 20 aircraft is available. The foreign military sale was valued at approximately $1 billion.
- China has officially inducted the fourth-generation Chengdu J-20 fighter into service. Chinese Ministry of Defense, Senior Col. Wu Qian, told a press briefing on Sept. 28 of the commission, adding that flight tests on the aircraft are still being scheduled. The J-20 made its maiden flight in 2011 and was first shown to the public at the 11th Airshow China in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province, in November last year. While the official role of the fighter remains unknown, it is most likely meant as a long-range fighter. All of the J-20’s weapons are stored internally to preserve its radar-evading shape, and has three internal bays: one large bay for up to six PL-12 beyond visual range air-to-air missiles, roughly the same as the American AIM-120 missile, and two smaller bays with one short range air-to-air missile each.
- BAE’s futuristic adaptable UAV:
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