* Gen. Carlton Everhart, head of the mobility command of the USAF has said that the number of KC-46 tankers the service is set to procure by 2028 are not enough. 179 units of Boeing’s latest tanker will be delivered; however between 2028 and 2035, no KC-46s are scheduled for delivery, leaving a capability gap. To remedy the issue, Everhart suggested that the flying branch embark on a study this year for a new KC-Z aerial refueling tanker that will enter service in 2035, as well as looking into the possibility of developing a “KC-Y” tanker to fill the procurement gap.
* Development is underway at the Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey, for a new multi-purpose grenade for the US Army. The Enhanced Tactical Multi-Purpose (ET-MP) hand grenade is being developed by the Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center and will provide US Army and USMC with a grenade that offers both fragmentation and blast overpressure through a flip of a switch. Fuze timing of the new grenade will be completely electronic and detonation time can be narrowed down to milliseconds. Until armed, the weapon is completely safe.
* Lockheed Martin has installed and tested its Legion Pod on a US F-15C aircraft. The disclosure revealed that a fighter from the Jacksonville Air National Guard Base in Florida has been equipped with the new pod for testing. According to Paul Lemmo, vice president of Fire Control at LM, one flight successfully saw the IRST21 infrared sensor installed at the tip of the pod “successfully track multiple airborne targets in representative scenarios.”
Middle East & North Africa
* Saudi Arabia’s Al Raha Group has successfully been awarded a USAF contract to provide support to the Saudi Arabian F-15 fleet. Valued at $355.9 million, Al Raha will provide comprehensive material management of unclassified spares, support equipment, and support services required to support base stand-ups and continued F-15 and F-15SA Royal Saudi Air Force flying operations. Work will be carried out both in Georgia, USA and in Saudi Arabia.
* US officials have blamed Russia for air strikes on aid convoys outside the Syrian city of Aleppo earlier this week, a claim Moscow denies. The incident happened just hours after a tentative week long ceasefire had ended, and resulted in the destruction of 18 of 31 aid trucks, with about 20 civilians killed including a senior official of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.
* A deal has been signed between Latvia and Lithuania to synchronize military procurements for the two countries’ armed forces. Under the agreement, the envisioned joint procurements include deals to acquire fire-distribution centers for Lithuania’s and Latvia’s air defense, anti-tank missiles, and short-range anti-aircraft missiles. The agreement marks the latest development in the ongoing drama on NATO’s eastern region, as former-Soviet Baltic nations rush to enhance their military cooperation and boost merge defense capacities against Russia.
* Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense has dismissed claims that it has abandoned its Yun Feng ballistic missile program. Media reports had said Taipei had dropped the missile’s development in order to offer a goodwill gesture to China. The project, which was initiated in the mid-1990s, had been suspended in 2008 with media now reporting that the new administration of President Tsai Ing-wen had dropped it for good. Spokesperson Maj. Gen. Chen Chung-chi said the report was “mere speculation.”
* Iran’s establishment marked the 36th anniversary of its 1980 invasion of Iraq with a huge military parade and a warning to the US to not meddle in the affairs of the Gulf. A televised parade in Tehran yesterday saw the military display long-range missiles, tanks, and the Russian-supplied S-300 surface-to-air missile defense system, while at the port of Bandar Abbas on the Gulf, the navy showed off 500 vessels, as well as submarines and helicopters. The muscle-flexing comes in a year when US officials claim that there have been more than 30 close encounters between US and Iranian vessels in the Gulf so far, over twice as many as in the same period of 2015.
South Korea’s new AH-64Es: