* The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has begun research into a miniature air-to-air missile that would be carried on the next generation of advanced fighter jets. Referred to as the Small Advanced Capabilities Missile (SACM), the missile will be smaller and cheaper than the current air-to-air missiles such as the AIM-9X and AIM-120D. The SACM is one of a number of new munition concepts being explored by the AFLR alongside a general purpose bomb known as GBU-X, and a powered air-to-ground missile (AGM-X). Last month, Raytheon was awarded a $14 million contract to begin developmental work on the munitions.
* Senator John McCain has vowed to block the US Air Force’s Long Range Strike-Bomber (LRS-B) program as it uses a cost-plus contract for procurement. As chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, McCain has been a staunch critic of the cost-plus system citing it as “an evil that has grown and grown and grown over the years, and I will not stand for it on any weapon system.” Further more, he criticized the Air Force for keeping the names of the suppliers, even the engine manufacturer, under wraps. He called the secrecy surrounding the program “stupid.”
* Operational prototypes of hypersonic missiles could potentially be introduced by 2020 according to the head of US AFRL. Maj. Gen. Thomas Masiello claimed that by the 2030s, the technology could expand beyond delivering warheads at speeds faster than sound, to also include hypersonic intelligence and reconnaissance flights. Hypersonic muntions are also being researched by both China and Russia, and could be successful in filling key capability gaps.
Middle East North Africa
* Jordan has requested a repair and return of its F-16 engines alongside sustainment and support. The $115.1 million contract was approved by the US State Department with prime contractor of the work being Pratt & Whitney. The request by the Jordanian government was to amend its F-16 engine program for repair and return of its F100-PW-220E engine modules. The Jordanian F-16s have been engaged in military intervention in both Iraq and Syria against Islamic State positions since 2014.
* Turkey has taken possession of the first Koral land-based mobile electronic warfare (EW) system. The Turkish Air Force received the system last week with Defense Industry Undersecretary Ismail Demir attending the ceremony. Each system consists of four Koral Electronic Support Systems (ED) and one Electronic Attack System (ET). Its primary task is to detect, analyze, and defeat threat radar systems, and was developed by Aselsan specifically for Turkey under the Land Based Stand-off Jammer System project, which was contracted in July 2009.
* The Estonian military is aiming to spend $902 million on acquisitions of new weapons and equipment by 2020, with procurements including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), long-range anti-tank missile systems, and personal weapons and munitions. The majority of the planned procurements will begin in 2017, with a portion of the funds going toward acquiring the Javelin anti-tank systems and arming them with long-range missiles following neighbor Lithuania’s purchase of the system late last year
* Taiwan has announced plans to to build three 2,500-ton air defense catamarans based on the smaller Tuo Chiang-class corvette. The warships will also be equipped with three types of indigenous anti-air missiles. For medium to altitude threats, a version of the Sky Bow III missile defense interceptor adapted for surface ships will act as the ships primary weapon. Lower altitude threats will be dealt with via the Sky Sword II, alongside a Sea Oyrx missile system to guard against incoming threats.
* Australia is to replace its fleet of Tiger helicopters by the mid-2020s which could include a mix of manned and unmanned rotorcraft. The troubled history of the Tiger and the essential upgrades required to retain combat effectiveness was highlighted in the government’s recently released 2016 defense whitepaper. Canberra plans to acquire systems equipped with effective armed reconnaissance abilities, and capable of integration with joint forces. Other plans include obtaining “light helicopters” that can be easily transported aboard the Boeing C-17 strategic transport for use supporting Special Forces operations.
* A look at the F-35A forward deployment test: