* The House Armed Services Committee has issued a massive cut to the Army’s Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor system (JLENS) program to only $2.5 million. With the Army initially requesting a budget of $45 million for Fiscal Year 2017, the slashing could put a stop to the troubled program often referred to as “Runaway Blimp.” Political enthusiasm for JLENS has been waning significantly since the Raytheon-made tethered aerostat broke free from its mooring in Maryland, and floated into Pennsylvania, only to be shot down by state troopers. Rep. Jackie Speier stated “This isn’t the first time we’ve tried to kill this ‘zombie program’ — let’s hope it stays dead this time.”
Middle East North Africa
* Experts have recommended that Qatar install advanced short-range air defense (SHORAD) systems to counter the growing capabilities of terrorist groups to acquire and use off-the-shelf technology to launch low-altitude mortar and rocket attacks. The comments were made by retired Lt. Col. David Montgomery Leigh, of Britain’s Parachute Regiment, as Qatar undergoes a massive military modernization in the run up to the 2022 World Cup.
* Russia has placed an order for 24 Mi-28UB attack and two 26 transport helicopters. Contracts were signed between Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Berisov and Director General of Russian Helicopters Alexander Mikheyev. The Mi-28 are to be the first procured to come with dual controls and improved flight crew ergonomics. Improvements to the helicopter come as the Russian military aims to improve combat training speeds for crews alongside increasing the helicopter’s operability, safety and combat capabilities.
* The Italian Navy is to act as an official partner at the 2016 Seafuture & Maritime Technologies event next month. Now in its fifth year, the May 24-27 event will see officials from 11 navies around the world scout for bargains among various classes of vessel, which Italy is hoping to make some much needed money by selling. Italian defense companies will also be in attendance offering their services for refits and upgrades to give the vessels a technological makeover. Italy is looking to offload some of its older vessels as it plans to spend up to $6.1 billion on a naval package, which will see a new shipbuilding program covering seven near-multi-mission vessels, a support ship, a landing helicopter dock, and fast craft for special forces.
* Boeing’s AH-64 Apache attack helicopters are the most likely selection to be made by Poland in an acquisition that could cost up to $1.6 billion. The helicopters will go to the country’s Air Force as part of a widespread military modernization started by the previous government, known as the Kruk program. Under the previous administration, some $33.6 billion was to be spent on new hardware by 2022; however, Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz recently said the program was underfunded, with at least $61.1 billion needed to carry out the required reforms.
* South Korea’s Defense Ministry has claimed that its northern neighbor has continued with its ambitions to successfully launch a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) as North Korea gears up for a rare and much-hyped ruling party congress early next month. The missile appeared to have failed after flying for 18 miles. News of the testing has been met by the usual widespread international condemnation with UK Foreign Minister Philip Hammond saying the test showed North Korea’s “blatant disregard” for its international obligations, while the US described it a “clear violation” of UN Security Council resolutions.
* A defense shipbuilding expo is to be hosted by Taiwan this August, as its Navy continues to push for a domestic ship build program that will include up to eight conventional attack submarines. The Kaohsiung International Maritime and Defence Expo is currently awaiting RSPVs from foreign defense contractors invited to the event which include BAE, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and Rolls-Royce. The exhibition will feature a variety of commercial and military wares: amphibious task force equipment, combat systems, communications, construction, engineering, green port technology, machinery, platform equipment, propellers, radar, shafting, ship design, telemetry, and underwater operations.
* The F-14 Restoration Project: