* Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $153.9 million contract modification to supply components for the out-of-production AN/SLQ-32(V) ship electronic warfare system as part of the Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program (SEWIP) Block 2 acquisition program. This follows a $147.5 million contract in September 2014 for SEWIP Block 2 low rate initial production and fielding, also awarded to Lockheed Martin. SEWIP Block 2 replaces the old SLQ-32 receivers and antennas with modern digital technologies and modifies the software, creating a single, unified interface to the combat system in place of multiple interfaces to individual components of the combat system.
* The Air Force and the National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA) have completed the first flight test of the B61-12 nuclear bomb in Nevada. The bomb was released from a F-15E, with this test the first of three scheduled for this year. Boeing was awarded a $178 million, three-year contract in 2012 to develop tail kits for the ageing design, which also included further development and production options. Designed as a tactical nuclear system, the bomb is planned for integration with the F-35A in its Block 4 configuration, as well as with aircraft such as the F-15, F-16 and B-2 Spirit.
* Airbus has announced delivery of the last of twenty NH90 Tactical Troop Transport helicopters for the Finnish Defense Forces, with these ordered in 2001. Finnish firm Patria has been responsible for the local assembly of nineteen the helicopters, with the helicopter developed by the NHIndustries consortium, consisting of Airbus, AgustaWestland and Fokker. Belgium’s fleet of NH90s recently achieved Initial Operating Capability, following an order in 2007.
* The Royal Air Force has completed the transition of its AgustaWestland AW101 Merlin tactical transport helicopters to the Royal Navy. The transition process was begun in October last year, with the decision to move the helicopters to the Royal Navy’s Commando Helicopter Force (CHF) taken as part of the UK’s Strategic Defence and Security Review in 2010, which also involved a major support program known as the Merlin Capability Sustainment Programme (MCSP).
* Italy has renewed its lease of a Lockheed Martin Gulfstream III signals intelligence (SIGINT) platform, with this building on a previous lease in 2012. The renewed lease is reportedly set to run to mid-2016.
* Japan is reportedly interested in joining the consortium of nations contributing to the SeaSparrow missile program, according to Reuters. The Raytheon and General Dynamics-developed air defense system is funded and developed by twelve NATO member states, with Japan currently a third party. The country procured an earlier version of the SeaSparrow missile system in 1979 through a US Foreign Military Sale contract.
* Five Indian shipyards have been shortlisted for the production of six new submarines under the Project-75I program. The tender for these is expected to reach over $11 billion and be issued by the end of 2015. The Indian shipyards will be able to partner with international firms to complete the ambitious project, with interest already reported from European firms, including Russia’s Rubin Design Bureau, Germany’s Thyssenkrupp Marine, Sweden’s Saab Kockums, Spain’s Navantia and French firm DCNS, which developed and built the Scorpene-class, alongside Navantia. The project will see the six new subs operate alongside the six Scorpene-class boats now beginning to enter service.
* India is also reportedly planning to test-fire a nuclear-capable missile from the INS Arihant submarine later this year. Based on the Russian Akula-class, the Arihant is India’s first indigenously-manufactured nuclear submarine. The planned test would make a major milestone in India’s pursuit of a nuclear triad capability.
* India began confirmation trials of its indigenous Dhanush howitzers, with these set to run into next year. The manufacturer – India’s Ordnance Factory Board – will reportedly supply two or three of the artillery guns to the Indian Army for use in the trials by the end of July. These confirmatory trials follow previous tests in April and the start of production earlier this month. The Indian government signed a contract for 114 of the howitzers in May.
* Italian shipyard Fincantieri has been awarded a contract by Bangladesh to supply four former Italian Navy corvettes to the Bangladesh Coast Guard. The four vessels will be overhauled Minerva-class corvettes, modified to operate in an Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) capacity. In 2010 Bangladesh purchased two ex-British Castle-class OPVs for the country’s navy, with state-owned DEW recently beginning construction of eight high-speed patrol boats.
* The indigenously-developed Akash surface-to-air missile has been formally inducted into the Indian Air Force, following its induction into the Army in May. The missile has been used by the IAF for several months for training purposes; however this ceremony will now likely lead to an increase in production for the missile, something that the IAF has been contemplating for a while. The missile reportedly consists of 92% indigenously-manufactured components, with the Indians also collaborating with the Israelis on other missile projects.
* The Merlin over Afghanistan: