* Raytheon has received a $83 million contract modification for the procurement of full-rate production of 180 AIM-9X Block II air-to-air missiles. The US Navy award will see the firm will supply missiles to the Navy, USAF, Romania, Poland, Indonesia, Romania and Belgium. Also included in the modification is the procurement of 19 captive air-training missiles for the Air Force and Navy, along with 50 missiles containers for the US military and foreign governments. The USMC will receive three special training missiles for its Harrier jump jet program, and a wide spectrum of spare parts and support systems will be delivered to the Navy, Air Force, and Poland. Work will primarily be completed at Raytheon’s facilities in Tuscon, Ariz., and Andover, Mass., and is scheduled for completion in March 2020.
* The US Missile Defense Agency has released a requirement for the procurement of a laser-armed UAV capable of intercepting and downing intercontinental ballistic missiles. Stipulations made by the MDA Advanced Technology Directorate has said it needs a high-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle with sufficient payload capacity to carry a high-energy laser. It would be designed to intercept ICBMs during their boost phase. It has not ruled out a manned platform as well. Other specifications listed include a flight altitude of at least 63,000 feet, the endurance to stay on station for at least 36 hours after a transit of 1,900 miles, and a cruising speed of up to Mach .46 while patrolling its station.
Middle Easy & North Africa
* Houthi rebels launched an attack on a UAE vessel carrying medical supplies off the coast of Yemen. The vessel, which was leaving the Yemeni port of al-Mokha when the attack occurred, suffered no damage but one crew member was treated for injuries. Al-Mokha was captured by the Saudi-led coalition from the Houthis earlier this year after heavy fighting. It lies close to the Bab al-Mandab shipping lane through which much of the world’s oil passes.
*Saab’s latest Gripen E variant has successfully completed its maiden flight. The forty minute flight saw the fighter cover functions such as basic avionics and retracting and extending the landing gear, and is the first model of three pre-production planes authorized by the Swedish government. 60 models currently on order with the Swedish military while Brazil has ordered 36 Gripen E and Gripen F two-seater aircraft, and Saab expects to export the aircraft to other countries.
* Embraer has commenced a 40-day international sales tour with its KC-390 tanker/transport plane, first stopping in Sweden before debuting the aircraft at the upcoming Paris air show. The company will first perform some demonstration flights for the Swedish military, as the company looks to sell the aircraft to Stockholm as a potential future replacement for its Lockheed Martin C-130H tactical transports. After Paris, the aircraft will stop off at a number of undisclosed European locations before making its way to New Zealand, where the aircraft is being looked at as a potential transport and maritime patrol platform, before returning to Brazil via stops in southeast Asia and north Africa.
* Bell Helicopters is considering a plan to manufacture AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters in Romania within the next 4-5 years. News of the deal comes almost twenty years after a previous attempt to assemble the AH-1 in the country fell through. The announcement follows Bells’ signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Romanian company IAR-Ghimbav Brasov Group last November that would see the local firm cover possible maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) of the AH-1Z should it be procured by Bucharest. While Romania has yet to launch a formal tender for their replacement, Bell is just one of several manufacturers, including Airbus, who are positioning themselves for an anticipated requirement.
* China has demanded that it be allowed to conduct on-site inspections of the US THAAD battery deployed to South Korea. An anonymous source said that Beijing is making the demand via various channels and the purpose of the inspection is to determine if the AN/TPY-2 radar used on the system can spy on Chinese activities. The radar can utilize a “forward-based mode” capable of detecting targets 1,800 km away as well as a “terminal mode” that can track missiles from 600 to 800 km away, and while Washington maintains that the THAAD located in South Korea is set to the terminal mode, China is looking to verify this for itself.
* The Malaysian Royal Air Force has released a video showing the test-firing of a GBU-12 laser-guided bomb from a modified Su-30MSM fighter aircraft. The platform was tested in November 2016 at the Air Force’s weapons testing range. Made by Lockheed Martin, the 500-pound GBU has already been integrated on Kuala Lumpur’s eight Boeing F/A-18D Hornet aircraft, and have been used operationally against Filipino insurgents who invaded the north Borneo province of Sabah in 2013.
* RMAF SU-30MSM drops GBU-12: