* Following Textron’s withdrawal last week, Lockheed Martin has acquired Sikorsky from United Technologies Corp. in a deal valued at $9 billion. The move has been interpreted as an attempt by Lockheed Martin to diversify its source of revenue, specifically to cover intermittent income from the F-35 program. UTC made the decision to cast-off the Black Hawk manufacturer in June, with plans to axe the company dating back to at least March.
* Lockheed Martin has launched the ninth Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), the Freedom-class USS Little Rock (LCS 9). Austal christened LCS 8 (the USS Montgomery) in November 2014, with LCS 9 the fifth of eight LCS timetabled for construction by Lockheed Martin. The ship will now undergo testing and equipment fitting before being delivered to the Navy later this year.
* A subsidiary of Volvo has been awarded two contracts totaling $642 million to supply 1,500 military logistics trucks to the Canadian Armed Forces, including 300 trailer and 150 protection systems. The 8×8 Kerax vehicles, manufactured by Pennsylvania-based Mack Defense, will also come with five years of in-service support.
* Work has begun on Italy’s eighth FREMM frigate in the Italian Mediterranean shipyard of Sestri Levante. The vessel is due for delivery in 2019 and will be constructed in a general purpose configuration, rather than an anti-submarine warfare configuration. Two FREMM frigates are already in service with the Italian Navy, with France also a principal operator of the type. The design has also seen export success to Egypt.
* Western sanctions are hitting Russia’s arms manufacturers, with Vladimir Putin’s ambitious $350 billion military modernization plan also placing the industry under significant strain, according to the country’s Deputy Defense Minister Yury Borisov. The program’s schedule has slipped significantly, with estimates placing the plan at only one third complete at its halfway point at the end of 2014. Some Russian companies have actively fought sanctions, with missile manufacturer Almaz Antey openly appealing EU sanctions in May.
* Rafale manufacturer Dassault is increasing the production rate of the fighter in anticipation of more export orders. The French jet has become an export success in recent months, following orders from Egypt, India and Qatar. The production line has recently come under strain because of the mounting orders, with the delivery rate from Dassault’s assembly line in Merignac, south-west France, set to double from the current rate of eleven per year by 2018, according to the company’s CEO.
* India is reportedly seeking to procure additional Russian helicopters. The $1.1 billion deal will see forty-eight new Mil Mi-17V5 transports delivered to India, along with maintenance facilities, with the country’s Air Force already operating 139 of the model. India bought eighty of of the helicopters in December 2008 in a deal worth over $1.2 billion. The US Army also purchased thirty of the Russian helicopters in 2013 for use in the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan.
* Lockheed Martin and Alenia Aermacchi have both responded to a Request for Information for Taiwan’s advanced jet trainer, according to Taiwanese media [Chinese]. The US company is expected to offer the T-50 Golden Eagle aircraft, in conjunction with South Korea’s Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), whilst the Italian firm will likely push the M-346 AJT. Taiwan’s defense ministry is expected to make a decision regarding the purchase of new trainers to replace the current fleet of F-5E/F and AT-3 aircraft next year, with the winning aircraft design likely to be assembled in Taiwan by Aerospace Industrial Development Corp.
* Australia’s Defense Minister has renewed a push to improve six flagging programs on a ‘Projects of Concern’ list, with the combined total spend to date on these reaching approximately $9.4 billion. The ailing programs include the Collins-class upgrade, the Royal Australian Navy’s new Air Warfare Destroyer and the procurement of new Multi Role Helicopters.
* The Ukrainian Bozor-B armored vehicle: