Lockheed counter concerns on F-35 stealth issues | Trump administration says no to heads up on future ballistic tests | Apache facility opens in India
- The US Navy has ordered long-lead parts for 19 Lot 10 P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, tapping manufacturer Boeing with a $282.2 million contract to carry out the work. Under the terms of the agreement, the parts will cover ten aircraft for the US Navy, as well as covering the foreign military sales of five aircraft to Norway and four to the UK. Work will take place primarily at Seattle, Washington, with other work to take place across the continental US and in Cambridge, UK. Work will be completed by March 2022.
- In a loss for transparency, Joe and Jane Public will no longer know about future flight tests of US ballistic missile defense systems and components in advance after the Pentagon decided to classify the information from this year. Info about the tests, their objectives, and timings had previously been included in each year’s budget request documents, however, this will no longer be the case and was not included in FY 2019 Missile Defense Agency RDT&E budget book released last month. Speaking to Inside Defense on the matter, Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves said that due “to the need to safeguard critical defense information, the DOD will not provide timing or test details in advance beyond the required safety notifications for any planned flight tests.”
- As Lockheed Martin ramps up production of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the company’s vice president in charge of the program has moved to counter concerns made over the time being took to rectify errors with the aircraft. Speaking to news outlets at a company media day, Jeff Babione acknowledged that low observability (LO), or stealth, capabilities in particular were posing a challenge to the company which has been made more tricky by an increase in production that was never seen with other stealth aircraft like the F-22 Raptor. “It’s not a human problem; that’s just the result of our ability. We’re approaching the limits of our ability to build some of these things from precise-enough technology,” Babione said. As part of efforts to cut down on deficiencies, Babione said the firm is first looking to make sure that the highest quality standards are applied to even the smallest supplier in the supply chain, but more importantly, Lockheed is also taking steps to make it easier for workers to build the aircraft, whether through increased training or improved practices, he said without elaborating.
Middle East & Africa
- Lockheed Martin received March 5, a $481.1 million US Navy contract that covers long-lead parts for four Multi-Mission Surface Combatant (MMSC) ships—a derivative of the US Navy’s Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). The agreement is part of a $6 billion foreign military sale (FMS) to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia for littoral combat ships that was cleared by the US State Department in October 2015, and the vessels are destined for the Royal Saudi Navy “Eastern Fleet” based in the Persian Gulf. Work on the contract will take place in Walpole, Massachusetts, Washington, District of Columbia, several other US destinations, as well as in Sweden and Canada. Contract completion time is scheduled for October 2024.
- Boeing’s CH-47 Chinook may have secured a scalp against rival Sikorsky’s CH-53K King Stallion after the Israeli army indicated it would prefer the Chinook to be selected for Israel’s new heavy-lift competition. According to Flight Global, while the helicopters will be operated by the air force, the helicopters are frequently used to transport ground troops thus giving the service’s opinion some weight in the matter. The winner will replace older versions of Sikorsky’s CH-53 Yasur helicopters from the the late 2020s.
- Romania has kicked off a competition to buy four new corvettes for its navy as part of efforts to beef up its presence in the Black Sea. Approximately $2 billion has been earmarked for the procurement and the first vessel is expected to be built within three years with the entire program to be completed within seven. The procurement is divided into three stages: qualification, dialogue and evaluation of the submitted offers. An offset agreement is also being sought to help modernize two Type 22 Broadsword-class frigates operated by the navy, and is part of efforts by Bucharest to return to the domestic defense industry as much of the 2 percent of the gross domestic product spent annually on the military as possible.
- The navy and air force of Pakistan have conducted joint live-fire exercises of anti-ship missiles. Conducted on March 5 under the watchful eye of Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi along with Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman, the Chinese-made C-802 missiles were fired from the multi-mission F-22P frigate PNS Saif and JF-17 fighter aircraft with all missiles hitting their targets. The firing was held on the final day of Exercise RIBAT-18, which focused on validating war fighting concepts under the evolving multi faceted threats.
- Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s techno-nationalism has scored a success as local manufacturer Tata Advanced Systems (TASL) inaugurated an assembly line in Hyderabad that will be the sole source of future Boeing AH-64 Apache fuselages. Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Telangana minister for Industries and IT, KT Rama Rao, inaugurated the 14,000-square metre facility, with Sitharaman congratulating both Tata and Boeing for “making this substantial investment in the defence space.” 350 of India’s 1.3 billion citizens will be employed at the facility. First deliveries of the fuselages will take place later this year and the joint venture will also produce secondary structures and vertical spar boxes for the attack helicopter. India has ordered 22 AH-64E Apache helicopters under a 2015 order with first deliveries expected to begin in 2019. Six additional Apaches were requested last month.
- Pakistan conducts anti-ship cruise missile live firing :
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