LM’s F-16V Enjoys Maiden Flight | Report Claims Carriers Must Adapt to Avoid Obsolescence | Egypt to Equip Mistrals with Katrans & Alligators
- A Standard Missile-3 Block IA interceptor, fired from an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, has successfully intercepted a short-range ballistic missile. The target missile was launched from the UK’s Hebrides Range, off the northwest coast of Scotland, with the test also seeing two anti-ship missiles fired simultaneously. The ballistic missile was intercepted in space by the SM-3 fired from USS Ross (DDG-71), with USS The Sullivans (DDG-68) downing the anti-ship missile using SM-2 missiles. The Sullivans saw a SM-2 Block IIIA explode soon after launch in July, with this test the first time a ballistic missile has been intercepted in the European theater.
- Lockheed Martin’s latest iteration of F-16 has made its maiden flight at the company’s Fort Worth facility in Texas as the company looks to market the ‘Viper’ configuration to international customers. The F-16V incorporates a number of upgrades to previous F-16 configurations, including the Northrop Grumman APG-83 AESA Scalable Agile Beam (SABR) radar, commercial-off-the-shelf based avionics, modernized mission and cockpit systems. Earlier this month the company pushed the F-16V to Indonesia as an alternative to the Su-35, sending a demonstrator to the country to market the new configuration. Taiwan is set to receive the SABR radar system through a $308.3 million contract with Lockheed Martin awarded last year, part of the country’s force modernization program.
- The company has, however, run out of advanced procurement funds to distribute to its C-130J and F-35 supply base and has been forced to fund this expenditure itself. Lockheed Martin is due $750 million in long-lead components and has requested a payment from the DoD to cover this expense. The company struck a verbal agreement with the Air Force for C-130Js last week, with the company preparing for the F-35’s Lots 9 and 10 low rate initial production contracts, with these slated for signing before the end of this year.
- A newly-published report by the Center for a New American Security – entitled ‘Retreat from Range: The Rise and Fall of Carrier Aviation’ – argues that the US’ investment in aircraft carriers, including the $13 billion per vessel Gerald Ford-class, are increasingly vulnerable to obsolescence if the Navy fails to adapt its strategy and force composition. The report stresses the need for mixed unmanned/manned air wings, as well as a change in carrier deployment, in order to counteract increasingly long-range missiles capable of hitting carrier groups from outside the maximum range of current aircraft deployed on carriers, such as the Boeing Super Hornet.
- Two MQ-1 Predator drones crashed within the space of three days, according to a press release on Wednesday. One came down in Iraq and the other in Turkey, with the latter taking place on Tuesday. These follow the loss of two other Predators in Iraq and Syria during combat operations, with these crashes taking place in May and March respectively.
- Finland has launched its HX fighter program, intended to find a replacement for the country’s fleet of 61 F/A-18C Hornets. The Finnish Defence Forces were cleared to begin the procurement program by the country’s Defense Minister Jussi Niinistö on Wednesday. The Eurofighter Typhoon, Boeing Super Hornet and Saab Gripen are thought to be among the potential candidates, with the Joint Strike Fighter also a possible option. The Finnish Ministry of Defence released a report in June (available here) detailing the need for both a new multi-role fighter and improved ground-based air defenses, with UAVs also something to be considered in the future. The report placed a provisional deadline for decisions on Requests for Information and Requests for Quotation by 2019, with a final selection decision in the early 2020s.
- A US Marine Corps F/A-18C Hornet from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 232 crashed in the east of England on Wednesday, killing the pilot. The aircraft had taken off from RAF Lakenheath and came down near the town of Redmere, Cambridgeshire. The aircraft was returning to the US from a deployment in Bahrain, using the RAF base as a stop-off point, when the accident happened. The aircraft was one of a group of six returning, with the remaining five diverting to a RAF base in Scotland.
- Belarus will replace its fleet of MiG-29 fighters with Su-30SMs from 2020, according to reports citing the country’s Air Force chief. The country already operates the Su-30K fighter, through a $300 million deal in 2006 for 18 of the aircraft. The 4+ generation Su-30SM is operated by the Russian military, with a number currently deployed to Syria. The Russian Defense Ministry ordered eight more of the fighters in September.
Middle East North Africa
- Jane’s is reporting that Egypt is planning to order Kamov Ka-52K Katran helicopters to equip it’s newly-acquired Mistral LHDs, in addition to the 50 Ka-52 Alligator helicopters it signed for in September. The navalized Ka-52K was supposed to equip the Mistrals had they been delivered to Russia, with Moscow reportedly planning to acquire 16 Ka-52K helicopters per vessel.
- USS Ross launches the Standard Missile-3 used in recent ballistic missile testing:
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