Kongsberg ensures that CROWS remains operational | ‘Charles de Gaulle’ returns to duty | Puma AE will stalk in Eastern-Europe
Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace is set to further support the US Army’s CROWS. The awarded firm-fixed-price contract has a value of $498.3 million and provides for the continued production, sustainment and recurring engineering services needed to keep the M153 CROWS operational. The Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station, or CROWS, is a multi-vehicle externally mounted remote weapon system that allows the Gunner to remain inside the armor protected vehicle while firing a variety of crew served weapons. It allows on-the-move target acquisition and first-burst target engagement. Capable of target engagement under day and night conditions, the CROWS sensor suite includes a daytime video camera, thermal camera and laser rangefinder. It can mount weapons such as the M2 HB .50-cal Machine Gun, Mk19 40-mm Automatic Grenade Machine Gun, M240B 7.62-mm MG and M249 5.56-mm Squad Automatic Weapon. Work is estimated to be completed by September 2022.
General Atomics is being contracted to upgrade several MQ-9 Ground Control Stations (GCSs). The cost-plus-fixed-fee contract is valued at $92.2 million and provides for MD-1A Block 15 GCS to MD-1A Block 30 GCS retrofits. The upgraded ground station include intuitive interfaces that are designed to make potentially hazardous situations easier to identify and to improve the decision-making process generally. A GCS serves two purposes, it controls the UAV and serves as key component of the data collection and dissemination process. The GCS receives the information collected by a UAV, processes that information, and reroutes it via a datalink to the appropriate end user. Work will be performed at GA’s facility in Poway, California and is scheduled for completion by May 29, 2020.
Middle East & Africa
The armed forces of Afghanistan, Nigeria and Lebanon are set to receive unguided rockets as part of a US FMS. General Dynamics – OTS, will be responsible to procure an unspecified number of Hydra rockets at a cost of $44.3 million. Hydra-70 is a family of unguided rockets offering a variety of warhead configurations. These versatile and relatively inexpensive rockets can be fired from a variety of aircraft, from attack helicopters to jet fighters to light helicopters, and are arguably the world’s most widely used helicopter-launched weapon system. This contract modification also includes FMS to Australia and the Philippines. Work will be perfumed at GD’s facility in Williston, Vermont, with an estimated completion date of March 2021.
The government of Iraq will soon see a boost to its inventory of trucks, thanks to a US FMS. Navistar Defense will procure 4×4 and 6×6 trucks under this $31.4 million firm-fixed-price contract. Navistar has been supporting the Iraqi Ministry of Defense since 2008 and has delivered over 7,000 trucks and buses to Iraq through foreign military sales contracts. The order will likely include several militarized six-wheel flatbed trucks that come with a reinforced suspension and turbo-charged diesel engine. And four-wheeled MRAPs built to withstand ballistic arms fire, mine blasts, IEDs, and other asymmetric threats. Most of the work will be performed at Navistar’s Lisle, Illinois factory. The contract will run through September 27, 2020.
The Swiss army plans to decommission one of its major weapons systems as part of its FY2018 budget plan. The army will reduce its fleet of F-5 Tiger fighter jets by half. Some of the jets have been donated to museums and the others will be sold to international buyers. The Swiss Air Force signed an initial procurement contract for 72 Tiger fighter aircraft , 66 of the type F-5E (single seater) and 6 of the type F-5F (double seater) in 1976. In 1981, after the platform proved itself to be ideally suited for the Swiss ‘militia system’ a decision was made to procure another 38 additional aircraft. The 26 Tiger jets that will remain in service will take on some air-support tasks currently performed by F/A-18s. Switzerland is currently in the process of modernizing its air-defense systems and plans to acquire several new fighter jets.
French aircraft-carrier Charles de Gaulle will soon commence sea-trials following its mid-life upgrade and refit. The French Navy’s sole nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, entered a dry dock in early 2017, after 15 years of operational deployments. The overhaul program is led by French shipbuilder Naval Group and costs about $1.5 billion. Beyond standard maintenance operations, including refueling its nuclear reactor, the project modernized the ship’s combat system to maintain and increase interoperability with allied navies and allow the ship’s transition to the “All Rafale” air wing. The midlife work extends the carrier’s operational life for at least 20 more years.
Aerovironment is being tapped to support and deliver a RQ-20B Puma AE II system to the Estonian armed forces. The firm-fixed-price contract has a value of $8.8 million and includes the UAS and relevant support. The Puma AE is capable of conducting intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and target acquisition (ISRT), battle damage assessment, maritime patrol, search and rescue and drug interdiction missions over water or land. The Puma is Aerovironment’s largest mini-UAV, but it’s still man-portable and hand-launched. The Puma AE’s most significant innovation is that it can land on both land and water, surviving near-vertical “deep stall” final approaches. Work will be performed at the company’s facility in Monrovia, California and will be completed by end of March, 2019.
The Republic of Korea wants to purchase six P-8A Patrol Aircraft from the United States. The possible FMS is valued at $2.1 billion. The potential deal would also include several joint tactical radio systems, GPS, missile warning sensors, radar, electronic support measures and counter measure dispensing systems. The Poseidon is designed to perform a variety of tasks and provides a Navy with an anti-submarine, anti-ship and anti-smuggling platform that can sweep the area, launch sensors or weapons as needed, and remain aloft for many hours. The plane is equipped with a combination of sonobuoys, radars, day/night surveillance equipment, and ESM gear. Its 11 hardpoints can be armed with Mk 54 lightweight torpedoes, depth charges, and some free-fall bombs. Prime contractor will be Boeing. Other contractors include – among others – Raytheon, WESCAM, Rockwell Collins, Lockheed Martin and DRS. The DSCA notes, that the “proposed sale will support US foreign policy and national security objectives by enhancing Korea’s naval capabilities to provide national defense and significantly contribute to coalition operations”.
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