LM Plans F-35 Production for Turkey Despite Coup Attempt | Germany Leases Israeli Drones for Mali Ops | Dassault Racks Up $662M in New Defense Orders
- In just six months, Saab has spent almost all of its investment funding for the upcoming USAF T-X trainer program. Partnered with Boeing, little is known about the aircraft’s design except that it is based on a clean sheet design. The team face off against a Lockheed Martin/KAI proposal based on the latter’s T-50, a Raytheon/Leonardo offer of the M-346-derived T-100 and a new platform being developed by Northrop in association with BAE Systems. Formal requirements for the program will be released by the USAF either by year’s end or early 2017.
- Two new close air support aircraft to complement and eventually replace the A-10 are being sought by the USAF. Beechcraft’s AT-6 and Embraer’s A-29 Super Tucano are being looked at for an off the shelf procurement while an initial order of 20 light attack OA-X aircraft could deliver as early as next year. For the OA-X, the service is looking for a medium-altitude aircraft with some level of precision strike capability, such as the BAE Systems Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System laser-guided rocket.
- Boeing has announced the latest in an ongoing saga of cost overruns with the company taking a $393 million hit on the KC-46 tanker program. Well published issues such as the fault with the aircraft’s refueling boom have resulted in delays to the aircraft reaching an important program milestone prior to initial production. The charges are to be formally announced on July 27 and brings the total value of penalties to almost $1.9 billion. Don’t worry Boeing, the next round of drinks are on us.
Middle East North Africa
- Never mind the coup, it’s the F-35! Despite the recent attempt at political overthrow by certain cadres of Turkey’s military, Lockheed Martin is forging ahead with its planned production of the first two F-35As for Turkey. Assembly of the aircraft is expected to commence within the next six to twelve months and delivery scheduled for 2018. But could further political instability in an already volatile region put the deal into doubt, only time will tell.
- Germany is to lease three Heron 1 UAVs for upcoming operations in Mali. Operated by Airbus, with military missions flown solely by military personnel, the Israeli-built surveillance drones will see operations commence in November and last until February 2018. The deal is worth $100 million.
- Dassault’s six-month financial review has revealed new defense orders worth $662 million. Of that, almost $500 million has come from the French military’s contract for the Mirage 2000D upgrade with the remainder from international business. The company also announced the delivery of six Rafale fighters and a production backlog of 76 aircraft.
- Lockheed Martin and Swiss firm Pilatus have successfully completed the initial production test flight of the first PC-21 aircraft destined for the Australian Defence Force under the AIR 5428 Pilot Training System program. The first of the ordered aircraft is expected to be delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in June 2017 upon the completion of testing. 49 of the turbo-prop trainers were ordered back in September 2015 as part of the RAAF’s new pilot training program.
- Bye-bye Viraat. India’s second aircraft carrier, INS Viraat, left harbor on its last voyage on Saturday under escort from Indian Navy Sea King Helicopters. The “Grand Old Lady” is en route to Kochi for essential repairs and dry docking. Due for decommissioning later this year, Viraat holds the esteemed honor of being the Guinness World record for the oldest serving warship after spending 29 years sailing under the flag of India and 27 years in the British Royal Navy.
- F-35s at Red Flag for the first time:
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