* The Pentagon’s joint program office (JPO) is expecting a slimmed down Gen-3 helmet by November for rollout in 2017. The announcement makes the Rockwell Collins design’s introduction sooner than initially expected. Earlier versions of the helmet were revised due to a potential for causing neck injury. Problems with the F-35’s ejector system had resulted in potential injuries for lightweight pilots, however fixes have been made including a switch on the Martin Baker US16E (MK16) ejection seat that delays the parachute’s opening “by milliseconds” when occupied by a lightweight pilot, plus a head support panel sewn between the parachute risers. However, a weight reduction for the third-generation helmet from 2.3kg (5.1lb) to 2.1kg (4.6lb) has also been required.
* Negotiations between Venezuela and Russia over a deal for 12 Su-30 have come to conclusion. Moscow has sent an offer for the sale, and an answer is expected shortly according to Anatoly Punchuk, deputy head of the Russian Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro had announced his intention to purchase the aircraft last November. The fighters will fill a multitude of roles, including anti-drug trafficking missions, particularly against those coming from neighboring Colombia.
Middle East North Africa
*A $7.5 billion deal between Qatar and France has concluded, with Qatar to purchase 24 Rafale fighters alongside MBDA missiles, and training for 36 pilots and some 100 mechanics.The deal had been initially estimated to be $6.9 billion, but extra cruise missile orders pushed up the price. The contracts were signed by French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and his Qatari counterpart, Sheikh Khalid Al-Attiah, on the opening day of the Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference. Despite this, the UK’s defence minister stated that a deal with Qatar to sell them Eurofighter Typhoon warplanes was “definitely still on the table” when speaking in Doha on Tuesday.
* Russian military action in Syria seems to have been a good advertisement for the Su-34, as a number of Middle East countries have expressed interest in acquiring the fighter. The news was broken by Rosoboronexport official Sergey Goreslavsk on Tuesday at the Defexpo India-2016. As well as countries from the Middle East, potential negotiations have started with a number of countries from Latin America and Africa, although he refused to name any of the buyers. While Goreslavsk is keeping mum on who is interested, the next few weeks may bring out some of the usual suspects of regular buyers of Russian weaponry.
* A weakening Rand, and a 10% defense budget cut may see the South African Air Force retire some of its current Gripen or Hawk jet aircraft. The defense cut coupled with the decrease in currency value has come as a double blow; affecting replacement parts for military jets as they are paid in either dollars, or in the case of the British built Hawks, in pound sterling. SAAF efforts to cut down on costs have seen five Hawk jets scrapped for parts, three of which were grounded after accidents. Furthermore, of the 24 Hawks initially acquired, there are only seven qualified pilots, while of the 26 Gripens in use (half of which are in storage), there are only five qualified pilots to operate the aircraft.
* This week, it’s been all about India! Thales and BEL-Thales Systems Limited (BTSL), the joint venture between Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and Thales, have signed a partnership agreement for the joint development of the PHAROS fire control radar. The deal was finalized at this year’s Defexpo India. PHAROS is a tracking radar for gun and missile control which provides defense against small, fast moving and highly maneuverable air and surface targets.
* Vladimir Drozhzhov, deputy director of Russia’s Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC) has told reporters flocking to Defexpo that they are awaiting a response from India on their potential purchase of the S-400 air-defense system. The contract could potentially cost $6 billion, according to local media sources, after New Delhi initially approved the purchase at the end of 2015.
* Saab and India’s Tata Power SED have joined forces to manufacture the Land Electronic Defense System (LEDS). The agreement marks the first time that the system will be produced in India, but more significantly, the first time it has been produced outside of South Africa. Before now, the system was produced by Saab’s South African subsidiary, Saab Grintek Defence, but now will have the Indian LEDS 50 units initially manufactured at Tata Power SED’s eleven-acre manufacturing facility in Bangalore.
* Russian Army training in the Arctic: