Leonardo’s Lakota appeal licked, Army, Airbus, laughing | India un-triumf-ant in securing cheaper S-400 batteries | Orbital scores AARGM-ER development contract
- EFW—a subsidiary of Israeli defense electronics specialist, Elbit Systems—has received a $12.6 million Department of Defense (DoD) firm, fixed-price contract to provide Apache Aviator Integrated Helmets (AAIH) and associated spare parts for the US Army. Worn by pilots of AH-64 Apache helicopters, the helmet boasts a heads-up display that delivers targeting information and infrared imaging to the helmet display. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of January 31, 2022. In July 2017, it was announced that Gentex Corp. would upgrade the AAIH, with contract completion expected for June 2022.
- Orbital ATK announced on January 24, the receipt of a US Navy development contract for the Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile-Extended Range (AARGM-ER) upgrade. Based on the AGM-88E currently in full-rate production, the AARGM-ER will take the electronics and sensors from the AGM-88E and package it with an upgraded rocket motor and tail control system. Work on the AARGM-ER contract will be performed at Orbital ATK’s facilities in Northridge and Ridgecrest, California, and will result in a preliminary design prior to entry into the Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase. The value of the contract was not revealed.
- The US Army has awarded Leidos a $75.1 million contract in support of the Night Eagle airborne intelligence system. Under the terms of the agreement, the firm will continue deployed contingency operations for the platform, with work to take place at Reston, Virginia and Bagram, Afghanistan, running until April 25, 2020. Night Eagle is a contractor-owned/contractor-operated system, consisting of a Beechcraft King Air A-200T integrated with an L-3 Sonoma electro-optical/infra-red camera system. It gives commanders the day or night capability to gather measurement and signature intelligence, which collects information to describe and identify distinctive characteristics of a target within a given battle space. Since 2010, it has been deployed by the US Central Command (CENTCOM) as a quick reaction capability niche system in its area of operations.
- Happy days for the US Army, after a lawsuit brought forward by—and initially ruled in favor of—Italian aerospace and defense manufacturer Leonardo was thrown out on appeal, freeing up the service to continue a long-stalled procurement of 16 Airbus Lakota helicopters for its training fleet. In 2016, the serviced appealed a decision made by the US Court of Federal Claims, which ruled the service must stop its procurement of Lakotas, arguing that the judge misinterpreted government procurement terms and requirements and improperly supplemented the record with outside information irrelevant to making a decision. Leonardo, alongside Bell helicopters and other manufacturers had complained that the Army was circumventing procurement practices as it implemented its Aviation Restructure Initiative (ARI), which sought to replace retired OH-58 Kiowa Warrior helicopter and the Army’s single-engine TH-67 basic rotary wing training helicopter with Lakota’s already in its inventory. In the end, the Army were required to purchase additional Lakotas from Airbus, prompting rival firms to complain that fair practices were not adhered to. A relieved Airbus said that had Leonardo succeeded, “it would have been a massively expensive step backward from the Army’s cost-saving Aviation Restructure Initiative.”
Middle East-North Africa
- Turkey’s Anselsan announced that the firm started serial production of its ‘Intelligent Particulate Ammunition (ATOM)’—a 35-mm airburst round—and other subsystems for its Korkut self-propelled anti-air gun (SPAAG) system on January 15. Built for the Turkish Armed Forces, the Korkut is designed to counter incoming air-to-ground missiles and low-flying aircraft such as UAVs. The system uses twin-barrel 35-mm cannon design by Rheinmetall Air Defence and built under license in Turkey by the Mechanical and Chemical Industries Corporation (MKEK). Its guidance suite comprises of a 3D search radar and electro-optical (EO) pod mounted on a command-and-control (C2) vehicle, while its C2 suite, radar, EO and fire-control system are manufactured by Aselsan.
- The TASS news agency reports that Russia’s upgraded Tupolev Tu-160M2 strategic bomber commenced flight trials last week. Built at the Kazan Aircraft Enterprise, it is believed that the upgrades to the aircraft that flew are not as widespread as initially expected, with the aircraft keeping its original engines and airframe, an unconfirmed source said. In 2015, it was decided to resume serial production of the Tu-160 in its upgraded M2 configuration, with plans to build no more than fifty units from 2023. The full upgrade envisages fully replacing the bomber’s onboard avionics.
- The Indian Ministry of Defense (MoD) and Russian negotiators have reached further deadlocks in their discussions over the procurement of the S-400 Triumf air defense system. Reasons for the latest stall in the haggling include opposition to the system’s $5.5 billion price tag, the high cost of associated training and support services, and Moscow’s unwillingness to transfer technology on three types of missiles used in the system, an MoD official told Defense News. Another Indian official said New Delhi wouldn’t exceed $4.5 billion for five batteries and that they expected any deal would incorporate a “Make in India” economic policy in regard to the manufacturing of spares, the guided missiles and a life-time service support package. India and Russia signed an intergovernmental agreement on the sale of the S-400 systems during a bilateral summit in October 2016 in Goa, India, with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in attendance.
- Indonesia is in the market for new Western-made fighters, with some multiple of 16 (the usual size of an Indonesian fighter squadron) expected to be ordered. According to sources close to the military, potential candidates include the Eurofigher Typhoon, as well as the Dassult Rafale and Saab JAS-39 Gripen—the final two have company offices open in Jakarta. However, the favorite, according to the mentioned sources, is Lockheed Martin, as the air force already operates 23 newly refurbished F-16C/Ds and nine F-16A/Bs—both of which could be either upgraded to the latest V-standard configuration, or complimented with new F-16Vs powered by the Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 engine. The current engines used on the F-16C/D is the similar F100-PW-200 series, which would result in lower training and logistics costs, while missiles, bombs and targeting pods purchased for current F-16 fleet also would be compatible with the newer variant, again reducing procurement costs, the company has told Indonesian officials.
- The AGM-88E Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile:
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