* The US Army has successfully completed the fourth test launch of the Juno Patriot Target Vehicle. The unarmed target missile was launched on Friday morning from an old military depot in western New Mexico with its destination 215 miles away at the White Sands Missile Range. Designed by Orbital ATK, Juno is developed to provide a realistic threat target in accordance with the stringent performance requirements of the US Army’s Patriot missile defense system. Prior to the test, staff at the missile range had been preparing along with local authorities for a flood of inquiries from residents across the south west as contrails caused by the launch can last in the sky for up to 45 minutes.
* The USS America has been the first west coast Navy vessel to receive upgrades to support F-35 operations. The modifications saw key areas of the flight deck have a thermal spray applied to key landing areas which will allow the ship to fully support the new fighter. The thermal coatings will allow the USS America to handle the new F-35’s thrust; reducing heat sent to decks below, allowing for longer time between deck maintenance. It is expected that other members of the America-class ships will undergo the application, to allow for facilitating the jets as part of the US Navy’s plans to increase air capabilities of fleets.
Middle East North Africa
* Kuwait’s purchase of 28 Eurofighter jets from Finmeccanica is set to experience further delays, as contracts may not be signed until 2016. The CEO of Finmeccanica expressed concerns last week, saying that he did not expect a sale to be agreed upon before December 25. The $9 billion purchase has been delayed repeatedly since a memorandum of agreement was signed in September. Reasons for the delay have apparently arisen due to disagreements over pilot training and the dispatching of specialized personnel. On December 1, the Kuwaiti government requested parliament to release a supplementary budget of $20.4 billion to fund military weapon purchases over the next ten years.
* State trials for Russia’s latest short-range Sosna missile defense system are to begin in early 2016 with plans to have delivered the complex by the middle of next year. Testing of the system had been initially planned for this summer, but was postponed. Sosna will be able to protect against all types of aerial threats, including cruise missiles and guided aircraft missiles within an operational range of 10 km, an increase of 5 km on the range of the Strela-10 system currently in use.
* Norway is to order six more F-35 fighters after the government approved a new defense budget worth $5.6 billion. The approval sees an increase of 9% in defense spending. The move comes as a reiteration of Norway’s commitment to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, and will see the number of jets authorized for purchase increase to 28. Delivery of the jets is expected to take place in 2020.
* Ghana is set to increase it’s fleet of Embraer Super Tucanos in 2016. The order of four more of the aircraft will see a previous contract increase to nine in total. The acquisition is also to include logisitical support and training for pilots as well as maintenance training for mechanics. The announcement comes as the Ghanaian government has been improving the capabilities of its air force to support troops participating in UN peace keeping missions in the region.
* Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to sign a deal to assemble 200 Ka-226 helicopters on his visit to Russia later this month. Negotiations have been ongoing for some time, but it is hoped that the visit will see contracts signed as part of a wider $1 billion defense deal between Russia and India.The Initial helicopters will be supplied by Russian made kits, but it is hoped that this will be indigenized once a suitable Indian manufacturer has been selected. Talks have also taken place with France, who produces the engines for the Ka-226, and it is believed that a technology transfer has been agreed with them. Last month, France and India finalized negotiations on having Rafale fighters assembled in India as part of Modi’s “Make In India” initiative.
* Bangladesh has taken delivery of five Mi-171 helicopters from Rostec subsidiary Russian Helicopters. Ordered by the Department of Defense in 2013, the choppers will take part in a variety of missions including border protection, cargo delivery, and UN humanitarian missions. Equipped with the latest technologies, Mi-171 were selected for their abilities to operate in high altitudes and extreme weather conditions.
* French Air Force Rafale footage during the recent Trilateral exercises with the The Royal Air Force and US Airforce: