Martin-Baker pleads guilty to negligence in RAF death | F-35 sustainment to get deep dive, says Roper | Anselan begins “Missile Hunter” production
- BAE System San Diego Ship Repair has been awarded a US Navy contract nearing $35 million to upgrade the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Cape St. George. The vessel will be homeported at San Diego, California, where it will receive depot-level maintenance, alterations and modifications to enhance its capabilities, with work expected to be completed by January 2019. Fiscal 2018 operations and maintenance (Navy) funds in the amount of $28,036,784; and fiscal 2018 other procurement (Navy) funds in the amount of $6,749,774 will be obligated at time of award and $28,036,784 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.
- The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has awarded PeopleTec Inc. of Huntsville, Alabama, a $33 million contract to provide engineering and support services to the agency’s ballistic missile defense programs. Under the agreement, international programs and the Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) will be covered—with the aim of defending regional interests, allies, and deployed forces against ballistic missile threats—with work to take place at Huntsville, Alabama, Fort Belvior, Virginia (where the HQ of the MDA is located), and in Tel Aviv, Israel. The contract will run until January 2023. Short- and intermediate BMDS platforms used by the US and allies include the Patriot, THAAD, Arrow-3 and Aegis systems.
- Will Roper, the current nominee to head the Air Force Acquisition Office, has warned of serious cost overruns if F-35 sustainment costs are not properly tackled. Roper, an Obama administration appointment who has headed the Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO) since its foundation in 2012, told lawmakers of the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing last Thursday, that he intends to embark on a F-35 deep dive that will focus on how emerging technologies can help decrease sustainment costs over the life of the program. “I am deeply concerned about the sustainment issues of the F-35. If I get confirmed, one of the first things I want to look at is the sustainment plan to make sure that there are not optimistic assumptions for this confluence of events that all happen together to get the price down,” Roper told the committee while acknowledging that sustainment and maintenance are not the “sexiest thing to talk about in the world of technology,” and are the “ugly sister” compared to technologies meant to greatly enhance the performance of a platform, like stealth or supersonic speed.
Middle East-North Africa
- Turkish defense electronics firm Anselsan has signed a contract with the Turkish government to begin the serial production of an indigenously designed and developed towed air-defense gun system that has been given “missile hunter” status by Ankara. Designed to perform low-altitude air-defense missions against air-to-ground missiles, cruise missiles, UAVs, and fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft, production of the platform’s air-defense fire-control center, modernized 35mm towed guns and air-defense systems, and 35mm airburst ammunition, will all be handled by Anselsan prior to delivery to the Turkish Army and Air Force. In other news, it was also announced that production of Anselsan’s KORKUT Self Propelled Air Defense Gun System has been going well since serial production began in 2016.
- The French Navy will lease helicopters from a private firm as high operational and maintenance costs has caused the service to ditch its Alouette III fleet prior to the delivery of its replacement—the Airbus H160, which is due to enter service in 2028. According to La Tribune, the cost of operating the Alouette III—average age, 40 years old—has tripled since 2010 and its availability rate is only 33.9 percent of 20 rotorcraft. Thanks to months of pleading by naval chief, Admiral Christophe Prazuck, the Alouette III will be swapped out with leased AS365 Dauphins, which will give the service more cost-effective, modern, and safer helicopters.
- Ejector seat manufacturer Martin-Baker has pleaded guilty to breaching UK health and safety law over the death of an RAF Red Arrows pilot. Flt Lt Sean Cunningham died during an incident at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire in November 2011, after his ejector seat initiated during the pre-flight checks of his Hawk T1 jet while on the ground and stationary. A 2014 inquest into the death found that while 19 checks were carried out on the jet, the ejector seat firing handle had been left in an unsafe position, meaning it could accidentally activate the seat, with coroner Stuart Fisher adding that while the firm had been aware since 1990 of issues with the over-tightening of crucial nuts and bolts in the mechanism of the seat that would cause the main parachute not to deploy properly, it had failed to pass on the warnings to the Ministry of Defence. The next hearing will be held on 12 February.
- An Indian Navy officer has confidently said that India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier will be ready for induction by 2020, defying the assessment of a report from India’s Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) that the future INS Vikrant won’t be ready for service until 2023. “That was CAG’s version, as far as Navy is concerned, we are confident (of the 2020 deadline),” Commodore J. Chaudhary, Principal Director Naval Design, was quoted saying by India’s Business Standard, adding that the vessel will be ready for harbor trials by the end of 2018, which will then be followed up by sea trials and aviation trails. The vessel will feature at as part of the Navy’s Republic Day celebrations on Friday, January 26.
- Following a series of rigorous operational testing and evaluation, the Taiwanese Army’s 601st Brigade is expected to enter its second AH-64E Apache unit into service later this year, an anonymous officer has told local media. Based on the island’s north-western Taoyuan district, the command’s 601st Brigade has been training personnel and upgrading its equipment since 2013, with the first Apache unit formally commissioned in June 2017 under the Second Apache Combat Squadron. 30 E-model Apaches were delivered to the 601st Brigade between November 2013 and October 2014, however, one was lost in a crash during a training flight in April 2014.
- USMC F-35B on sloped surfaces:
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