Is India serious about the F-35? | Airbus announces A400 hit amid better than expected profits | Pentagon orders initial production for King Stallions
- The Pentagon awarded Tuesday, February 13, a $126.5 million US Navy contract modification to Sikorsky for initial production of CH-53K King Stallion helicopters. Under the terms of the deal, the Lockheed Martin subsidiary will secure “long lead items in support of the low rate initial production of seven Lot III CH-53K aircraft.” Work will take place at Stratford, Connecticut, with work running until January 2019. The US Marine Corps is scheduled to receive 200 King Stallions, replacing the service’s older E variants for its heavy-lift mission. The first units are expected to become operational by 2019.
- Boeing received a $219 million order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement for non-recurring efforts associated with Engineering Change Proposal 6503 for the design, development, test and integration of the conformal fuel tank in support of the F/A-18 Super Hornet. Work will take place at several US locations with a scheduled completion date of July 2022. Meanwhile, Raytheon will provide additional hardware and software developments for sensor systems on board F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers. Valued at $8.8 million, work on the agreement will performed in El Segundo, California, and is expected to be completed in December 2021. While the contract modification did not specify what developments would be made, the firm’s AN/APG-79 Radar Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar is in use by Super Hornet Growler aircrews.
- Following seven years of absence, the Canadian government announced Wednesday that it will rejoin the NATO’s Airborne Warning and Control System (AWCS) program. Speaking on the return to the alliance’s AWCS fold, Defense Minister Harjit S. Sajjan hailed the E-3A Component as a “key NATO capability that we will support by contributing to its operations and support budget. We have committed to keeping Canada engaged in the world, and continuing to commit ourselves to NATO and its missions are important steps toward that goal.” NATO operates 16 E-3A aircraft from NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen, Germany, comprising 3,000 military and civilian personnel from 16 NATO member nations.
Middle East & Africa
- Two NH90 transport helicopters operated by the Belgian Air Force have touched down in Africa as part of the ongoing UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). The rotorcraft were transported to the Malian capital of Bamako before being reassembled and flown to Gao in the northeast of the country—where they will start operating from in March in the troop transport and medical evacuation role. Their deployment will last for four months, with a possible extension of two months, and replace the four NH90s currently being operated by the German Air Force.
- Airbus has announced a fresh hit of 1.3 billion euro ($1.6 billion) on its A400M military transport plane, bringing charges mounted on the troubled program over the 8 billion euro mark. The firm’s Chief Executive Tom Enders said in a results statement that the deal would “significantly reduce the remaining program risks,” which comes a week after reaching a provisional agreement with seven European NATO buyer nations over further delays in the troop transport’s deliveries. Airbus also posted an adjusted 2017 operating profit of 4.253 billion euros on revenues of 66.767 billion euros and predicted a 20 percent rise in the widely watched core profit item. Analysts were on average expecting adjusted 2017 operating profits of 3.996 billion euros and revenues of 67.343 billion, according to Reuters.
- Belgium has joined NATO’s Multi-Role Tanker Transport Fleet program during a signing ceremony at NATO HQ in the capital Brussels on Wednesday, February 14. Present at the event were Defense Ministers from the other members of the program—Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Norway—who also added their names to the agreement. The initiative started in 2016 with an order for two A330 MRTT from the governments of the Netherlands and Luxembourg and has grown steadily since. The multinational fleet order now stands at eight aircraft, with deliveries to take place between 2020 and 2024. Once delivered, the aircraft will operate from a Main Operating Base in Eindhoven, Netherlands, and a Forward Operating Base in Cologne, Germany.
- India’s Business Standard reports that the Indian Air Force has requested a classified briefing on the capabilities of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The service has given the magic number of 126 as the amount of the conventional takeoff A-variants of the next-generation fighter it wants, however, as New Delhi initially intended on ordering 126 Dassault Rafales before buying only 36, those initial numbers could well be overly optimistic. It is also unlikely that Washington would kneel to the technology and production transfer demands made by India for major procurements for such new technology. But who knows? By the time the purchase has navigated India’s long and arduous procurement process, we could be on sixth-generation fighters.
- Watch this! The USAF is buying 100 of these for its U-2 pilots:
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