* Modernizing the US’s nuclear arsenal, including delivery systems, would remain affordable despite a thirty-year price tag of around $1 trillion, according to the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. The cost of the improvements would peak in 2027 according to the forecast analysis, at $26 billion, before falling to current levels of $17 billion by 2039; never exceeding 5% of the projected DoD budget. Obama proposed a ten-year nuclear modernization plan back in 2010, with another think tank recently recommending that the US should invest in more small nuclear bombs.
* The Air Force announced a significant investment Wednesday, handing Lockheed Martin a $480 million IDIQ contract to research follow-on options for the C-130J fleet. This capability enhancement contract is set to run to 2030.
* The Air Force also announced a $100 million IDIQ contract Wednesday, awarded to Rolls-Royce American Technologies Inc. for Phase III of the Versatile Affordable Advanced Turbine Engines (VAATE) program. The company was selected to proceed with Phase II of the program in October 2009, with GE Aviation awarded an additional $325 million in funds in January 2015 to work on an adaptive cycle engine under Phase II. Rolls-Royce American Technologies beat out thirty-three other competitors for this latest contract, which is scheduled for completion in 2023.
* A US-UK team have successfully tested the F-35B’s short take-off capabilities from a replica carrier ski-jump, the British Ministry of Defence announced Wednesday. The testing is currently in its first iteration, with these tests designed to reduce risk before the JSF is launched from the deck of an actual carrier. The new Elizabeth-class carriers under construction for the Royal Navy will feature a ski-jump, in contract to the new Gerald Ford-class carriers which will feature electromagnetic catapults.
* On a more depressing note for the UK’s Ministry of Defence, a report entitled Defence Acquisition for the Twenty-First Century authored by a number of high-ranking British officials and analysts has criticized the MoD’s spending priorities, calling them out of line with the country’s defense budget constraints and evolving strategic objectives.
* French and Saudi officials met in Paris on Wednesday, signing ten contracts worth $12 billion. Among broader bilateral talks between French Prime Minister Francois Hollande and a delegation of Saudi officials, including the defense minister Prince Mohamed bin Salman, the topics under discussion included joint work on twenty projects. The Saudis recently funded the transfer of French-manufactured arms to Lebanon, including Milan anti-tank missiles, following the signing of an agreement in November 2014.
* Included in these deals are twenty-three Airbus H145 helicopters in a deal thought to be worth $500 million. Airbus is set to deliver two of the helicopters to the German Army by the end of the year, with other possible deals including patrol vessels for the Gulf state, build by DCNS.
* The French defense procurement agency DGA is reportedly set to receive a heavily modified Fokker 100 airframe intended for use as a systems testbed for the Rafale fighter. The majority of these new systems will transition from flight tests on the Fokker to a Dassault Mirage 2000 before onto the Rafale, with initial flight tests scheduled for early next year.
* Belarus has been supplied with Chinese Multiple Launch Rocket Systems, developed jointly between the two countries following a 2013 agreement. Under this development, the system has been designated as the Polonez system, equipped with Chinese A200 rockets.
* Egypt will induct two Ambassador-class fast missile vessels into its Navy within coming weeks, after these were delivered last week. The US-mentored program covers four fast attack boats, with two already in service since May 2014. The $1.1 billion program dates from 2005 and was not hindered by international criticism of Egypt’s human rights record, with Lockheed Martin and VT Halter Marine winning subcontracts back in 2005 for design work on the vessels, with the latter constructing the four vessels following a production contract in 2008.
* The Indian Kilo-class INS Sindhukirti has been cleared for full power trials, following the beginning of sea trials in late May. The hugely-delayed refit program to extend the service life of the sub has been partially blamed on seemingly deliberate Russian errors, general mismanagement and poor project management. Reports from last month indicate that the newly refitted sub has been equipped with Russian cruise missiles.
* China’s new Y-20 cargo aircraft is reportedly set to undergo high-altitude testing above the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau. The transporter has previously undergone cold weather testing, with China showing off a prototype of the new aircraft at the Zhuhai Airshow last November.
* A F-35 refuels from a Stratotanker…