Leidos wins contract for Saturn Arch support | Turkey establishes new production site for Altay | Bulgaria to enter into F-16 talks with the US
The US Army awarded American defense company Leidos with a $9.7 million contract modification to support Saturn Arch Aerial Intelligence System. The Saturn Arch program started nine years ago in 2010 under the direction of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in order to implement intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities to a special aircraft fitted with new sensor technology to identify and assist in removing Improvised-Explosive Devices (IEDs) from the battlefield in Afghanistan. The support provided by Saturn Arch personnel has grown over the years. No the mission is to make the battlefield as safe as possible, providing a clear picture of the battlespace. Back in August the Army awarded Leidos with a contract modification for sustained operations and support services at a cost of $60 million. The current modification includes supporting the Saturn Arch Aerial Intelligence System for day and night image collection and exploitation of IED “hot spot” areas. Work will be performed in Bridgewater, Virginia and is scheduled to be finished by September 16, 2019.
The Naval Sea Systems Command contracted Lockheed Martin with an undisclosed amount to build a littoral combat ship (LCS) in fiscal year 2019. The company will manage design, planning and testing operations as part of the fixed-price-incentive modification that exercises an option of a previously awarded contract. LCS are designed to operate near shore. In 2004 the US Department of Defense along with the US Navy selected two separate defense contracting teams led by Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics to each carry out system design and options for the construction of two first- generation LC-ships. The Lockheed Martin Freedom-class design is a high-speed, semi-planing monohull. Under the current contract modification Lockheed Martin will perform and oversee all necessary design, planning, construction and test and trials activities in support of delivery of this ship to the Navy. Work is scheduled to be completed by February, 2026.
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. won a $68.9 million contract to conduct the Mission Data (MD) programming and reprogramming mission for the F-35 Digital Channelized Receiver/Technique Generator and Tuner Insertion Program (DTIP), and other non-DTIP configurations. Under this deal, Lockheed will design, develop, document, integrate and test upgrades to the US Reprogramming Laboratory in order to execute the mission. Efforts benefit the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps operational aircraft as well as all training aircraft wishing the continental US with MD products. The Reprogramming Laboratory was established at Eglin Air Force Base to to compile information in order for the F-35 to be able to operate in combat. This information is known as the Mission Data Files. Work is expected to be completed in May 2021.
Middle East & Africa
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the establishment of a BMC production and technology base in the northwestern province of Sakarya. The $180 million facility is set to become the country’s biggest defense investment in recent years. Once all phases are completed, it is supposed to employ 10.000 people. BMC is one of Turkey’s commercial and defense vehicle producers. Qatar owns a significant stake in the company. The new site will produce Altay main battle tanks (MBTs), military and commercial vehicles, and engines of various platforms. Altay is Turkey’s third generation main battle tank, developed under the Altay National Tank project in 2005. Turkey intends to build 250 Altay MBTs and ultimately produce 1,000 new tanks in four separate lots of 250 units. The Altay tank uses an advanced computerized Volkan-III modular fire-control system and is equipped with a 120mm L/55 smoothbore gun.
Bulgaria’s parliament approved a government plan to enter into talks with the US on a potential deal for eight F-16 fighter jets in order to replace its Russian MiG-29s. 130 lawmakers voted in favor of the plan. The update will bring the country’s Air Force in line with NATO standards. 84 voted were against entering into discussions with the US and preferred the other two options on the table: Sweden’s Saab Gripen jets and Italy’s second-hand Eurofighters. Lockheed Martin’s F-16V Block 70 is the newest F-16 production configuration and includes the Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar. The question of which warplanes to buy has been vexing successive governments in Bulgaria for more than a decade.
The British Royal Air Force (RAF) holds its annual Cobra Warrior exercise in September at Coningsby Air Base in Lincolnshire and it features a premiere: Israeli Air Force aircrew and fighter jets are to take part in a joint exercise with the Royal Air Force in Britain for the first time. The exercise is the culmination of the advanced Qualified Weapons Instructor course, and usually also includes crew and aircraft from other allied air forces who fly together with the British teams in complex combat scenarios. Last year, German and Italian aircraft joined the RAF. Recent British-Israeli defense cooperation has included the training of British personnel on the use of Israeli weapons systems acquired by Britain: the Watchkeeper WK450 drone, the Exactor ground-based missile, and the Litening targeting pod carried by RAF Typhoon and Tornado aircraft.
The Royal Thai Army (RTA) is seeking cabinet approval to acquire more VT-4 main battle tanks (MBTs) made by the China North Industries Corporation (Norinco). If the government approves the proposal, the RTA will own 52 VT-4s. The VT-4 main battle tank, previously known as the MBT-3000, is armed with a 125 millimeter smoothbore cannon to engage armored personnel carriers, main battle tanks, infantry forces, military installations, light vehicles and low-flying helicopters. A remotely operated 12.7mm anti-aircraft machine gun and a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun comprise the secondary armament. At the end of 2017, Thailand became the first VT-4 export partner, with a 28 tank delivery.
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