KC-46A Aerial Refueling Hits a Snag | New Competition for Mike Boat Replacement | IAI and UVision Pitch LM’s to US Army
- The otherwise fast pace of the KC-46A’s aerial refueling demonstration phase has started to run into difficulty. Testing on refueling of Boeing’s C-17 heavy cargo lifter has resulted in higher than expected boom axial loads, caused by two large aircraft flying in line. This bow-wave effect has subsequently caused the system to indicate that the loads were too high to begin passing fuel. Subsequent delays caused by the issues have resulted in scheduled trials of the A-10 attack aircraft being pushed back, and any further issues may impact a low-production rate decision due to be made at the end of May.
- Raytheon and DRS Technologies have been contracted by the US Army to develop the 3rd Generation Forward Looking Infrared (3GEN FLIR), worth $154.4 million. The next generation sensor will enable US ground forces to see through the fog of war, able to detect, identify and determine potential enemy targets. Combining a mid-wave and a long-wave band, the technology allows forces to see through fog, dust, snow, or at night and also allows them to see better in a clear environment. It is expected that once developed, the system will be installed on M1 Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles as well as going on the Long Range Advanced Scout Surveillance System (LRAS3).
- A competition is about to be announced in the next few weeks for a new fleet of US Army watercraft for combat and combat service support. The new Manoeuvre Support Vessels (MSV) will replace that of the Vietnam-era “Mike Boat.” The first major watercraft procurement in 15 years, the winners of the contract will produce up to 37 MSVs and will earn roughly $450 million.
Middle East North Africa
- Two Israeli companies will offer their loitering munitions systems to the US Army’s Lethal Miniature Aerial Munition System (LMAMS) tender. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and UVision have recently developed Loitering Munitions (LM) systems, including the Green Dragon and Hero-30 respectively. The 4.5 kg Green Dragon is powered by electric motors operating four rotors, and carries an interchangeable day/night payload. It is armed with two hand grenade-size explosives. The smaller Hero-30 is a 3kg expendable munition carried in a canister that is also used as its pneumatic launcher, and is equipped with a day/night sensor and has an endurance of 30m.
- Russia’s Defense Ministry has signed contracts that will lead to procurement of more than 30 Su-30M aircraft. The contract, signed between the government and the aircraft’s manufacturer Irkut Corporation, will see supplies of more of the multi-role fighter produced and delivered before the end of 2018. Developed by the Sukhoi Design Bureau, the Su-30 has been in service with both the Russian air force and navy since 2012.
- Australia’s Defence Science Technology Office (DSTO) has developed a new fatigue monitoring algorithm that will allow their F/A-18 A/B Hornet fighters greater operational flexibility. Called MSMP3, the DSTO claims that it will replace a system that “over-predicted the damage due to small load cycles resulting in unnecessary conservatism.” The RAAF operates 71 Hornet fighters, and they have undergone numerous upgrades since their purchase in the 1980s. Fleet replacement is due to start in 2022 with a similar number of the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter.
- Taiwan is to undergo a life-extension program (LEP) of its two Sea Dragon-class submarines. News of the upgrade of the Dutch-built submarines is expected to have a positive on effect on Taipei’s plans to build eight attack submarines under its Indigenous Defense Submarine (IDS) program. In operation since 1987, the LEP should keep the Sea Dragons operating for an additional 15 years. After a two year design phase, work is expected to be completed on by 2020.
- Elbit Systems has signed a number of joint venture agreements with Indian companies in order to offer its UAV systems to the country’s market. Adani Aero Defence and Alpha Design Technologies are to co-operate with the Israeli UAV giant to offer their Hermes 450 and Hermes 900 UAVs to the Indian armed forces. The agreement will see local manufacture at a production facility in India for the airframes and payloads, and meets the terms of the government’s “Make in India” policy that encourages foreign investment and partnership with Indian industry.
- Chinese JC-8F reconnaissance fighter in mid-air refueling:
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