Reapers will get a Block 5 upgrade | Poseidons’ Trident continues to protect and deter | China flies the export version of its Z-19 attack helicopter
- General Atomics is being tapped to retrofit the MQ-9 system. The firm-fixed-price, fixed-price-incentive, and cost-plus-fixed-fee contract is valued at $206 million and provides for retrofitting 122 MQ-9 Block 5 aircraft. The MQ-9 Reaper UAV, once called “Predator B,” has been called the first fielded Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV). This UAV is far more of a fighter substitute or close-air support complement than other UAVs. The latest MQ-9 version is the Block 5, formerly known as Block 1+. Improvements focus on 3 areas: power capacity, payload capacity, and communications capacity. Power is improved via a new high-capacity starter generator, and an upgraded electrical system whose new backup generator can support all flight critical functions with a triple redundancy. Payload is improved using new trailing arm heavyweight landing gear, a weapons kit and communications upgrade. Work will be performed at Poway, California, and is expected to be complete by June 20, 2024.
- The Naval Air Systems Command is contracting Northrop Grumman Systems for services related to the MQ-4C platform. The firm target advance acquisition contract, valued at $45 million, provides for lead materials components, material, parts, and associated efforts required to maintain the MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system planned production schedule. The MQ-4C Triton, despite being designated a multi-mission aircraft, mostly performs ISR/reconnaissance missions in support of the P-8 Poseidon. In mythology, Triton was Poseidon’s son, and the messenger of the sea. Tritons work with the P-8 maritime surveillance aircraft on missions that include maritime surveillance, collection of enemy order of battle information, battle damage assessment, port surveillance, communication relay and other support functions. Work will be performed at various locations across the continental US, including San Diego, California; Baltimore, Maryland and Salt Lake City, Utah. Work is expected to be completed by January 2019.
- Lockheed Martin Space Systems will continue its support activities for the Trident II program. The awarded cost-plus-incentive-fee, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract modification worth $40.1 million provides for Trident II (D5) missile production and deployed system support. Nuclear tipped missiles were first deployed on board US submarines at the height of the Cold War in the 1960s, to deter a Soviet first strike. Over the years the missile system evolved. The old C4s were succeeded by larger Trident II D5in 1990. Since then the missiles have been the backbone of US and UK submarine forces. The current Trident II D5 Life-Extension program intends to extend the service life of the weapon system until 2042, to match the hull life of the Ohio-class submarine. Under the program, 108 additional missiles are being purchased, in order to meet long-term inventory requirements. Work will be performed at multiple locations including Sunnyvale, California and Rockford Illinois. Work is expected to be completed by September 2022.
Middle East & Africa
- Israel is looking into options to purchase additional Boeing F-15s. The proposed deal would also include upgrading the Israeli Air Force’s (IAF) existing I-model of the strike aircraft. The proposed deal is worth almost $4 billion provides for the purchase of F-15Is in an advanced configuration, giving the system an extended lifespan and a larger cockpit display. The IAF currently flies 25 F-15Is, aged between 18 and 20 years. Israel’s fleet of F-15A-D and F-15Is are currently undergoing a multi-role conversion upgrade. The customized F-15I Ra’am Strike Eagle is optimized for advanced ground attack and long-range interception. Both types of F-15 are heavily modified from the US versions, with Israeli avionics, self-protection systems, weapons, and sometimes radars as well. The Israeli military wants the upgraded F-15Is as supplement to its fleet of F-35s. While the F-35 will be the IAFs main first-strike platform, the F-15Is will do the ‘heavy-lifting’ in the later phases of a potential conflict.
- Jane’s reports that France has unveiled the Jaguar and Griffon armored fighting vehicle. The Jaguar is the product of joint program between the defense contractors Nexter, Renault Trucks and Thales. Both vehicles are part of France’s large-scale Scorpion defense program, devised in 2009, to find replacements to its fleet of ageing infantry vehicles. The program also includes upgrades to its Leclerc main battle tank and the VBMR Léger vehicle. The Jaguar EBCRs, will replace AMX10RC and Sagaie light tanks, as well as VABs in their HOT antitank configuration. They will perform combat and reconnaissance missions. Deliveries should reach 110 units by 2025. The Griffon VBMRs will replace Véhicules de l’avant blindé (VAB) 4×4 infantry carriers. Deliveries should reach 780 units by 2025. The Jaguar comes with a 500hp engine and a stabilized two-man turret with a CTA 40 mm main armament and 7.62 mm secondary armament in a remotely operated turret. The platform can be equipped with different pods and kits.
- China’s indigenous Z-19E armed helicopter has reportedly completed its firing flight tests. A spokesman of the manufacturing company Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) has said that, “the Z-19E has shown its maneuverability and operational capability in the just concluded firing flight test phase, which marks a major step for the export model into the market”. The flight tests included the platforms use of its airborne weapons such as the gun, air-to-air missile, air-to-ground missile in live weapon firing, and rocket projectile in precision attack. The Z-19E is the export variant of the Z-19 attack helicopter, in service with China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force. The platform is a Chinese light scout and observation helicopter. The Z-19 is essentially a tandem-seat version of the Z-9W, which in turn is a license-built version of the Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin. Its key missions are anti-tank and ground-attack operations. The Z-19E comes with a single rotor and is designed and manufactured by the AVIC Harbin Aircraft Industry Group Co. in northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province.
- Bell shows off its newly developed V-280 Valor tiltrotor aircraft!
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