* Raytheon is to provide tube-launched, optically tracked, wireless-guided (TOW) missiles to the US Army, Bahrain, and Morocco. Completion of the $129 million foreign military sales contract is expected for August 2018. TOWs are integrated on several platforms as an anti-armor system by over 40 countries.
* Howitzers in the Paladin Integrated Management (PIM) program are being questioned over deficiencies with the weapon’s maximum rate of fire and problems with the automatic fire extinguisher that could potentially endanger the crew. The DoD’s inspector general raised the queries in a report released last week. 2012 and 2013 tests saw the howitzer fail the test for maximum rate of fire which led to a redesign of hardware, software and firing procedures but still failed a total of four out of eight attempts following the fixes “under non-stressful firing conditions.”
Middle East North Africa
* France and Kuwait have signed an agreement for the sale of 30 Airbus H225M helicopters. Estimated at $1.1 billion, the deal will see 24 used by the Kuwaiti Army for transport and search and rescue missions but are also fitted with machine guns to give ground troops support from the air. The remaining six will be sent for use by the Kuwaiti National Guard.
* A Heron I UAV has crashed in northern Israel. The Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) operated drone was on a test flight when it struck a building causing it to catch fire. Authorities responding to the incident said 25 people, including 13 children, suffered from smoke inhalation caused by the blaze.
* An apology of sorts has been made by Israel’s Ministry of Defense, following comments over the Iran nuclear deal, likening it to appeasement of the Nazis. The MoD called the comments “the incorrect portrayal in the media” and finished with “Friday’s statement was in no way intended to draw comparisons, historical or personal. We regret if it was interpreted otherwise.” But Israel’s MoD aren’t the only ones to hark back to 1938 when talking about Iran. Illinois’ very own Sen. Mark Kirk made the same analogy last April saying “that Neville Chamberlain got a lot of more out of Hitler than Wendy Sherman got out of Iran.”
* A move to sell a number of F-35Bs to Singapore has been put on hold by the city-state. In 2014, a letter of request was made to buy four aircraft with options for eight, with first delivery expected for 2022. A Singapore Ministry of Defense statement said that the country was currently satisfied with its fighter capabilities.
* An agreement between the Pentagon and Seoul will see the transfer of a crucial GPS component for the Taurus cruise missile, paving the way for its operation by RoKAF F-15K fighters. It’s expected that the Taurus will be delivered and in use by the end of the year. Dubbed as a “jamming proof” air-to-ground guided missile, the decision to allow Taurus exports to South Korea comes as North Korea flexes its muscles with ballistic missile tests.
* Vietnam has deployed new mobile rocket launcher systems to fortify its position on the Spratly Islands and to counter Chinese activity in the region. Beijing has been making its presence felt on the archipelago with satellite photographs showing new fortified hangers on its holdings. The area contested as $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes through the South China Sea annually with claims from Vietnam, China, and Taiwan over all of the Spratlys, while the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei claim some of the area.
Coming soon to South Korea: