* The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has almost tripled its production orders for Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptors from the system’s manufacturer, Lockheed Martin. Valued at $553.1 million, the contract modification has increased the total value of the contract from $273.4 million to $826.6 million, and calls for the production and delivery of Lot 9 and Lot 10 interceptors, one-shot devices, and provide associated production support efforts under fixed-price-incentive-firm target contract line item numbers. Through “synergy” lot buying, the award also includes an option for the following fiscal year, which the office states will “achieve savings in material costs in multiple fiscal years,” resulting in higher Interceptor quantity purchases at a lower average unit price. Work will take place at several locations throughout the USA, with the performance period running from March 31, 2017 through December 24, 2020.
* Oskosh Defense will produce 258 joint light tactical vehicles (JLTV) and 1,727 kits under a $100.1 million US Army contract. Work will take place at the firm’s base in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, with an estimated completion time for May 31, 2019. Funding will be appropriated from fiscal 2017 and 2018 US Army other procurement funds, coupled with funds from the US Marine Corps (USMC) and the Office of Chief Army Reserves.
* Up to 786 M1A1 configured Abrams vehicles are set to be upgraded to the newly configured M1A2 System Enhancement Package Version 3 (SEPv3), under a $2.6 billion US Army fixed-price-incentive contract awarded to General Dynamics Land Systems unit. The deal also entitles the company to upgrade M1A1 vehicles to M1A12S and M1A2-K vehicles. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of December 21, 2020. The SEPv3 package includes upgrades in the areas of survivability, maintainability, full efficiency and network capability.
Middle East-North Africa
* Boeing is to carry out repair and support services for the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) following the award of a US Air Force contract last Thursday. The $480.4 million fixed-price-incentive-firm contract comes as a 100 percent foreign military sale (FMS) to the Gulf kingdom, and includes a 24-month base period, with five 12-month option periods and one six-month option period to continue repair services and support between Boeing and the Royal Saudi Air Force. The deal includes the logistical in-Kingdom repair and return of parts for F-15C/D/S/SA fleets and repair of aerospace ground equipment, hush house/open air test cell equipment for the RSAF F-15 program. Work will take place up until June 25, 2025 at various locations across the US and in Saudi Arabia.
* Noway’s Defense Material Agency, Forsvarsmateriell, has placed a $217 million order with South Korea’s Hanwha Land Systems for the delivery of 24 155mm K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzer systems and designated ammunition resupply vehicles. Valued at $215 million, the agreement also includes an option for an additional two dozen systems, and an accompanying agreement signed at the same time will provide for logistic support, during the useful life of the materiel, together with a contract for the establishment of a Center of Excellence at Bjerkvik Technical Workshop. A pre-series of the artillery system will be delivered for initial trials in 2019, followed by main deliveries in 2020, with the system’s being operational by 2021. The K9 Thunder has experienced a lot of Baltic love in recent months, with both Finland and Estonia expecting deliveries of the system in 2017 and 2021 respectively, and Poland choosing the K9 chassis for its AHS Krab howitzer program.
* Russia’s TASS news agency reports that testing of the Pantsyr-ME naval air defense system will commence in 2018. Speaking on the program, Almaz Central Marine Design Bureau CEO Alexander Shlyakhtenko said land-based testing will take first prior to sea trials onboard a Project 1241 Molniya missile corvette. Sea testing will take place in the Black Sea over the next “year or two,”according to TASS. The Pantsyr-ME—based on the land-based Pantyr-S air defense system—can be outfitted with missiles from either the land-based variant and also with the Germes-K missile, which can be guided by a drone. The system will replace the existing Kashtan Close In Weapons System (CIWS), first introduced in the late 1980s.
* The world’s largest amphibious aircraft—the AG600—has made its maiden flight in a successful sortie out of Zhuhai airport in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong. Flying off the coast on the South China Sea, the Xinhua news agency said the aircraft was the “protector spirit of the sea, islands and reefs,” and follows eight years of development by the state-owned Aviation Industry Corp of China (AVIC). Designed to carry out marine rescues and battle forest fires, the AG600 is powered by four turboprop engines, can carry 50 people during maritime search-and-rescue missions, and can scoop up 12 metric tons of water within 20 seconds for fire fighting trips. So far, Beijing has ordered eighteen models of the aircraft.
* Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) has received a request for proposals (RFP) for 83 Tejas Mk-1A light combat aircraft (LCA)for the Indian Air Force (IAF). The RFP comes following the November 2016 clearance for funds for the program by India’s Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), with production orders expected to be placed in late 2018. The Mk-1A variant offers a significantly modified version of the initial Tejas Mk-1 LCA, and will come equipped with the Israeli Elta 2052 AESA radar, podded Electronic Warfare (EW) suite and Cobham in-flight refuelling probe. Also in the mix are the addition of new air-to-air missiles and precision munitions, in addition to the R-73 and Rafael Derby BVRAAM, already integrated on Tejas Mk-1.
* Maiden flight of the AG600 amphibious aircraft: