* Orbital ATK has been awarded a $121.3 million contract by the US Navy to provide conversion services of old stocks of US government-provided AGM-88B high-speed anti-radiation missiles. The conversion will see the munitions turned into 145 full-rate production Lot 5 advanced anti-radiation guided missile all-up-rounds, and 12 captive air training missiles, including related supplies and services necessary for manufacture, sparing, and fleet deployment of the missiles, for the Navy and the government of Italy. Completion is expected by September 2018.
* Recent software glitches found in the APG-81 radar for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter have not caused any problems for F-35Bs operated by the USMC. The comments were made by Deputy Commandant of the Marine Corps for Aviation Lt. Gen. Jon Davis as he appeared in front of the US Senate Armed Services seapower committee. Davis said that the glitches, which caused the fighter’s radars to reset mid-flight, only occurred on code found in the 3I software update which the Marine Corps never uploaded onto their jets, instead keeping with the older 2B version.
* The DoD has issued a notice to modify the V-22 so that a 18-inch gimbaled multispectral sensor can be lowered from the tilt-rotor’s cargo hold well. The new sensors will increase the ability of the US military to target enemies from afar, giving the aircraft similar situational awareness and precision targeting capabilities to the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-9 Predator UAV. Up to four competing sensor solutions will be tested at the Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1) tactical demonstration next year.
Middle East North Africa
* Support for increased funding to go toward Israeli procurement of missile defense programs by nearly $200 million above the level requested has been expressed by the US House Armed Services Committee. The bump in funding would see Tamir interceptors for Iron Dome increase from the $42 million requested in the president’s budget to $62 million. The committee would also increase funding for procurement and co-production of David’s Sling from $37.21 million to $150 million, and the Arrow 3 Upper Tier Missile Defense System from $55.8 million to $120 million.
* Ukraine and Romania have discussed an initiative which would set up a joint military brigade between the two countries. Discussions have also included Bulgaria, and follow an earlier initiative by the Ukraine, Poland, and Lithuania to set up a joint military brigade, dubbed the Litpolukrbrig. The increase in cooperation between the US and pro-NATO former Communist nations in eastern Europe has recently seen F-22 Raptor aircraft sent to Romania by the US, and discussions of sending the anti-tank Javelin system to Ukrainian forces.
* Australia has been cleared by the US State Department to purchase up to 450 AIM-120D air-to-air missiles. The $1.22 billion sale will see Australia become the first customer of the AIM-120D, where the munition will be used on their fleets of F/A-18, E/A-18G, and F-35 aircraft. Included in the sale will be up to 34 AIM-120D Air Vehicles Instrumented (AAVI), up to 6 Instrumented Test Vehicles (ITVs) and up to 10 spare AIM-120 Guidance Sections (GSs).
* Taiwan’s Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC) has named its XT-5 advanced jet trainer concept the blue magpie. The bird, which dwells in the mountains of Taiwan and is extremely defensive of its nest, was deemed an appropriate name for the jet by the AIDC. Increased indigenous development of military hardware and technology has become a hallmark of the new Taiwanese administration with plans to also develop its own new fighter jet to replace its Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF) jet.
* An Indian defense company is to begin developing precision-guided and laser bombs for the country’s defense forces. OIS Advanced Technology (OIS-AT) will partner with Sagem of France to manufacture the munitions, a first for any Indian company. At present, the Indian armed forces import such munitions from Israel, France, Russia, and the US. Sagem’s collaboration will see them share their high-precision, AASM Hammer Guidance and Range Extension kit for aerial munitions, which will see the Indian government spend up to $2 billion on domestically produced precision guided munitions over the next ten years.
* First flight of Aurora Flight Science’s LightningStrike, Vertical Take-off and Landing Experimental Plane (VTOL X-plane):