* Italy’s Leonardo-Finmeccanica has commenced a whistle-stop tour of Latin America with their C-27J Spartan tactical airlifter. Bolivia, Panama, and Argentina will be included on the tour following earlier displays of the the aircraft’s multimission capabilities in Mexico and Peru. According to the company, 82 units are already under contract with 14 operators.
* General Atomics’ extended-range Predator C Avenger has completed its first flight. Featuring leading edge de-ice provisions and wings extended by 3.2m to 23.2m (76ft), the Avenger Extended Range variant’s endurance has increased from 27h to 40h on its legacy Avenger and Predator B UAVS. The company is now working on a high-energy laser weapon for the platform and could begin integrating a package by next year.
Middle East & North Africa
* Elbit Systems has released a device capable of detecting and neutralizing enemy UAVS. Known as ReDrone, the system is designed to detect and disrupt nearby UAVs by blocking radio signals as well as being able to support information, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance missions. A supporting SupervisIR system can also be integrated to boost detection capabilities, enabling thermal imaging.
* Wooden tanks and humvees are being used by the Islamic State in an attempt to subvert the US-led air campaign in and around the city of Mosul. A handful of mockups were seized by Iraqi forces slowly making their way through the city and even included bearded mannequins to represent militants. However the Jihadists aren’t the only ones to have employed such tactics. Dummy tanks, both wooden and inflatable, were used by British and American forces prior to the Normandy invasion and more recently by Yugoslav forces in order to mislead NATO during the Kosovo War in the late 1990s.
* Airbus has successfully demonstrated that its A400M tanker can refuel another A400M. Two “buddy-buddy” flights were flown out of Seville, Spain with more than 50 contacts in level flight, and turns using the centerline hose and drum unit (HDU). The presence of the HDU, a third point of contact not found on any other tanker currently on the market, enables the refuelling of large receivers such as another A400M or C-130.
* Nordic defense firms including Saab, Kongsberg, and Patria are working toward greater industry consolidation that could lead to a much higher focus on major joint weapons systems and military equipment procurements. The move comes at a time of growing Nordic-Baltic military-industrial cooperation spurred by fears of potential Russian military aggression in the region. Against this backdrop, the Estonian government is investing greater resources in developing their own export-driven and tech-based defense sector, while Norway has signed a deal with the UK toward greater maritime surveillance cooperation and joint exercises in Northern Europe.
* Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has reversed his decision to cancel a $34.6 million assault rifle deal with the US. Duterte, known for his bombastic rhetoric and statements, which include calling President Obama “the son of a whore,” had put the deal on hold following fears by his administration that the deal would be held up by US lawmakers over alleged human rights abuses. The 27,000 SIG Sauer M4 assault rifles are destined for the Philippine National Police whose anti-drugs campaign has been the source of the criticisms.
* Critical shortages of ammunition and equipment have left the Indian government no choice but to trigger their Fast Track Purchase (FTP) process in order to access supplies from the international market. By doing so, the Defense Ministry bypasses the usual procurement process, allowing small teams of high-ranking defense officials to purchase the required ammunition and gear from abroad. Acquisitions worth $1 billion are expected to be made in Russia and Israel and include a variety of ammunition, limited quantities of assault rifles, thermal-imaging equipment, light machine guns and rocket launchers as well as Anti Tank Guided Missiles (ATGM) to be mounted on helicopters.
A400M refueling another A400M: