Illegal North Korean fuel transfers snapped by Japanese P-3s | KC-46 tanker still on schedule, maintains USAF | Romania finalizes HIMARS/GMLRS sale
- Following a report released in January expressing concerns about the KC-46 Pegasus tanker aircraft, the US Air Force is working with the Pentagon’s operational test and evaluation office to dissuade these issues while maintaining the aircraft will keep to its milestones and schedules. One issue raised was that the aircraft did not meet the office’s standards for electromagnetic pulse testing—which took place in July at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, and Edwards Air Force Base, California—however, this was because not all of the systems were online during the previous round of tests. The test showed that the tanker’s flight-critical and boom-refueling systems could withstand a 6-decibel electromagnetic pulse, but certain systems were uninstalled or deactivated before testing, according to the report. “The systems that were uninstalled or deactivated were not flight critical or required for aerial refueling operations,” the command said. There are no plans as of yet for additional EPTs.
- Ammo-manufacturer Olin Corp. received Tuesday, February 27, a $51.1 million contract modification for several types of small arms ammunition. Under the terms of the agreement, the Illinois-based Winchester Division of Oilin will produce 5.56mm, 7.62mm, and .50 caliber ammunition cartridges for the US Army. Work will be performed in Oxford, Mississippi, with an estimated completion date of August 30, 2019.
- Charles Stark Draper Laboratory has been awarded a $132.9 million contract modification for the Trident (D5) MK 6 guidance system. The agreement, awarded by US Navy, will see the production with failure verification, test, repair and recertification of inertial measurement units, electronic assemblies, and electronic modules. Work will take place in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Clearwater, Florida, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Pittsfield, Massachusetts, with a scheduled completion time for January 30, 2021.
Middle East & Africa
- An investigation into the crash of a Tiger helicopter operated by the German military in Mali has ruled out an external attack or weather factors as the fatal accident’s cause. Military officials briefed a German parliamentary defense committee on Wednesday on the latest finding about the crash that killed both crew members during a peacekeeping mission in the West African nation’s desert north last July. In a letter to lawmakers, seen by Reuters, State Secretary Markus Gruebel said the investigation had also found no evidence of malfunction in the aircraft’s rotors or engine. Instead, the investigation has focused on “striking aberrations in the longitudinal control system” of the helicopter, which “significantly limited” the motion of its elevator axis, causing its autopilot to shut off, but had not determined how they occurred. The aberration was not found in other German Tigers. Manufacturer Airbus said the investigation was ongoing and it was too early to draw conclusions about potential root causes.
- Italian aerospace firm Leonardo announced the delivery of the final M-346 advanced jet trainer ordered by the Italian Air Force with the handover taking place at a ceremony at Leonardo’s plant in Venegono Superiore (Varese). A total of eighteen aircraft are now in operation with the service with Galatina’s 61st Air Wing (Lecce), where Italian fighter pilots are trained together with personnel from other countries including the United States, Spain, France, Austria, the Netherlands, Poland, Singapore, Argentina, Greece and Kuwait. Training on the M-346 is preparatory for pilots before they fly more advanced aircraft such as the Eurofighter Typhoon and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
- Romania inked this week final contracts with the United States for the purchase of both the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) and Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (GMLRS). The February 26 signing was overseen by Romanian Secretary of State Mircea Dusa and the country’s defense chief, Gen. Nicolae Ciuca, and comes six months after the US State Department cleared a package calling for 54 Lockheed Martin-made HIMARS launchers for a total of three systems and 81 unitary GMLRS—making Bucharest the first foreign operators of the system. The program is estimated to cost $1.5 billion.
- The Japanese government has released photographs of ship-to-ship cargo transfers of goods to North Korean vessels that are in breach of UN Security Council (UNSC) sanctions. So far, Tokyo has confirmed four cases of at-sea handoffs involving North Korea. On Tuesday, the Foreign and Defense ministries released photos taken by its P-3C maritime patrol aircraft of a North Korean tanker pulled up alongside a Maldives-registered vessel on Saturday night, possibly transferring fuel. The transfer took place approximately 250km east of Shanghai. The release of the photographs came with pleas from the government for the US and South Korea to help assist in keeping an eye on North Korea’s maritime smuggling and hold the hermit state to international sanctions.
- Promo video of China’s J-16:
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