LCS Coronado uses UAV to launch OTH missile | KAI FA-50 offered to Botswana | Northrop announce upgrades for Global Hawk
- In a littoral combat ship (LCS) first, the US Navy successfully used a UAV to provide over-the-horizon targeting information and damage assessment for a missile that was launched from an LCS vessel. The ship in question, the Independence-class LCS USS Coronado, was participating in exercises off the coast of Guam when it fired a RGM-84D Harpoon Block 1C missile that successfully struck a surface target at significant distance beyond the ship’s visual range. During the exercise, a Northrop Grumman MQ-8B Fire Scout drone and a Lockheed Martin MH-60S Seahawk helicopter, both part of Coronado’s rotary-wing air detachment, provided targeting support for the Harpoon missile. The aircraft used radar, electro-optical systems and other sensors to locate the target, pass targeting information back to the ship via data link to refine the firing solution, monitor and assess the missile, and then carry out damage assessment on the target.
- Northrop Grumman said it will upgrade its RQ-4 Global Hawk UAV to meet the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) requirement for a high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) UAV, equipped with a high-energy laser that could destroy an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in the boost phase. While the MDA’s HALE program requires a minimum altitude of 63,000ft and a payload capacity between 5,000-12,500lb (2,270-5,670kg), the RQ-4 currently can reach 60,000ft and can carry a 3,000lb payload, according to US Air Force specifications. Northrop officials acknowledge the 3,000lb limit but have also said the current configuration could reach a maximum payload of 4,000lb. The company is also looking to reduce the weight of the aircraft by removing some heavy equipment that has remained on the platform since its development in the late 1990s, rather than looking to redesign it.
Middle East & Africa
- Israel’s Defense Ministry has signed contracts for a follow-on order of 17 Lockheed Martin F-35i Adir fighters. This will be the third tranche of F-35 orders made by Israel, who expect delivery of the latest batch by December 2024. In the first deal, Israel paid $125 million per plane for 19 F-35s in total. In the second deal, the price went down to $112 million per plane for 14 jets. Israel expects the price to drop below $90 million per plane when it approaches the US again for planes for a third flight squadron.
- It’s been reported that the UAE is in discussions with the Japanese government for the sale of an unknown number of Kawasaki Heavy Industries C-2 transport planes. Specifications and details on the aircraft have already been provided to Abu Dhabi, and all that remains is the finishing of a bilateral treaty regarding the transfer of defense equipment and technology, a necessary step for Tokyo to sell defense platforms due to its pacifist constitution. At present, Japan prohibits exports of defense equipment and technology to countries engaged in conflict, a potential issue for the UAE who are currently involved in the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen. However, sources inside the Japanese Defense Ministry feel the deal may squeeze through as the UAE are “not the one who is leading the intervention.”
- Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) is looking to sell its FA-50 Golden Eagle to the Botswana Defence Force. Billing it as a cheaper alternative to Saab’s JAS-39 Gripen, which is also being looked at Botswana, KAI claims that the FA-50 has a cheaper acquisition and maintenance cos than its competitor— the Gripen’s life-cycle cost is “three times” that of the FA-50. The Korean firm is also offering a comprehensive support package which includes an “instructional systems development” (ISD) for the FA-50 as well as its trainer variant the T-50 and the Pilatus PC-7 turboprop-powered basic trainer. Last year, it was reported that Botswana was in talks with Sweden for eight to twelve JAS-39C/D Gripen fighters, believed to cost in the region of $1.7 billion.
- Airbus has signed an agreement with Romanian firm IAR Brasov for the latter to act as main contractor for any Romanian military orders for Airbus Helicopters’ H215M multirole aircraft. The deal extends a previous arrangement, signed in April, by ten years and was announced during French President Emmanuel Macron’s official visit to Bucharest and in presence of Romanian President Klaus Iohannis. IAR Brasov, a company whose majority of shares are held by the Romanian government, has already built over 360 helicopters under license.
- Malaysia has launched the first its littoral combat ships (LCS) ordered from France in a near $2 billion deal signed in 2011. Based on the Gowind 2500 corvette, the Maharaja Lela is the first of six vessels on order and is expected to enter service in 2019, with all vessels ordered to be operational by 2023. Malaysia is in the midst of a naval modernization plan that aims to reduce the number of ship types in service from 15 to five under its aptly—albeit unoriginally—named 15-to-5 plan. The five classes of ships are planned to consist of 12 LCS vessels, 18 Kedah-class offshore patrol vessels, 18 Chinese-designed littoral mission ships, three multi-role support ships of an as-yet undetermined design and four submarines. At present, this plan has Kuala Lumpor’s naval inventory at six Kedah-class offshore patrol vessels, which are based on the German Blohm+Voss MEKO 100 design, along with two French Scorpene diesel-electric submarines.
- A letter of understanding (LoU) has been signed between the Kalashnikov Concern and Pakistan Ordinance Factories (POF) that will see both firms collaborate on the marketing and sale of small arms to the Pakistan civilian market. The document includes the desire to establish “brand-zones … in Pakistan for the implementation of [Kalashnikov] civilian small arms,” and the deal is being viewed as the Russian firm’s gateway into the Pakistani market. Earlier this year, the POF signed a similar LoU with Italian firearms maker, Beretta. That deal called on both parties to jointly promote the sale of Beretta pistols, shotgun and apparel in Pakistan.
- The USAF’s light attack experiment:
Categories: Daily Rapid Fire