* The US Army plans to transform its Stryker combat vehicles into maneuverable Short Range Air Defense (SHORAD) systems. The 8×8 wheeled Stryker armoured vehicle is likely to be the backbone of several medium armoured brigades. The US Army aims to close a capability gap in SHORAD that needed to be filled for possible operations against near-peer threats such as Russia. One viable candidate for the provision of the system is Boeing with its Avenger launcher, which mounts 8 Stinger missiles on a Humvee jeep, along with an FN M3P .50 cal machine gun, and automated systems that include optical sights, infrared, a laser rangefinder, and an IFF (Identification Friend-Or-Foe) system. Modern units include “slew-to-cue,” which automatically slews the turret to place the sights on targets received from FAAD (Forward Area Air Defense) Command and Control systems. The Avenger launcher can be equipped with several types of missiles including the Longbow Hellfire, AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles. The Army expects to be fully under contract by August and expects the first prototypes to be ready by Spring 2019. A request for ordnance technology initiatives to the industry is scheduled to be published by March 30th.
Middle East & Africa
* Jane’s reports that Turkey has carried out a first test firing of its Gokdogan (Peregrine) and Bozdogan (Merlin) air-to-air missiles at a firing range close to the Black Sea town of Sinop. Both missile types are part of Turkey’s ambitious plan to develop a spectrum of short-, medium- and long-range missiles of its own design. The Gokdogan and Bozgodan missiles, developed by the Defense Industries Research and Development Institute (SAGE) and the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK), were unveiled during the 13th International Defense Industry Fair held in Istanbul in May 2017. They have been developed as direct replacement for Turkey’s arsenal of US-made the US-made AMRAAM and Sidewinder air-to-air missiles. Surface-to-air tests against live targets will take place in the last quarter of 2018.
* Israel Aerospace Industries and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems have been contracted by the Indian Ministry of Defense to supply additional Barak-1 short-range surface-to-air missiles. The contract is valued at $70.5 million and includes 131 Barak-1 shipborne, point defense missiles to be delivered to the Indian Navy. The Barak-1 is a supersonic, vertically-launched short range air defense system, with an operational range of about 6 miles. That pushes it past the standard ranges of shoulder-launched options with naval counterparts, like the MBDA Mistral/SIMBAD or Saab Boofors’ RBS-70, but short of other small vertical launch options like the RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow. Its closest western competitor on the international market is probably Raytheon’s horizontally-fired Amero-German RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile, and MBDA’s flexible Crotale VT-1/NG. Key attributes include a compact 8-cell vertical launching system that weighs just 1,700 kg, coupled with an equally compact 1,300 kg fire control system. This makes it easier to install in small ships, and to retrofit into older vessels.
* The British Royal Air Force (RAF) will be the first air force in the world to field the new BriteCloud countermeasure system produced by the Italian company Leonardo. The decoy will be deployed on the Tornado G4 fighter-bomber. BriteCloud is an electronic radar jamming system that can fit into a fighter’s chaff and flare dispenser without modifications and will provide enhanced protection from advanced guided missiles. The countermeasures update comprises an active, expendable decoy which is capable of luring an incoming radar-guided missile away from a host aircraft. The acceptance into service follows a series of tests carried out by the RAF in the United States in June 2017. These live firings saw dozens of BriteCloud decoys launched from Tornado GR4 aircraft by the RAF’s 41 Test and Evaluation Squadron against high-tech radar guidance systems. The RAF’s remaining two squadrons of Tornado GR4s are scheduled to be retired by April 2019, with the type’s capabilities to be assumed by the service’s Eurofighter Typhoons via the Project Centurion activity, and subsequently by the UK’s incoming fleet of Lockheed Martin F-35Bs.
* The US government is procuring 8 ScanEagle unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in support of the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Insitu Inc. has been awarded a contract valued at over $47 million. ScanEagle’s base Insight UAV platform was originally developed by Washington state’s Insitu, Inc. to track dolphins and tuna from fishing boats. Its characteristics make it equally suitable for naval operations and for battlefield surveillance. A partnership with Boeing took ScanEagle to the defense market. The ScanEagle is launched by catapult, and autonomously recovered using a folding “skyhook” and catch-line. These UAVs fill a niche between hand-launched mini-UAVs like Aerovironment’s RQ-11 Raven and runway-capable tactical UAVs like Textron’s RQ-7 Shadow. The drone can be modified to speciality variants, from sniper locator, to bio-warfare agent detection. The ScanEagle is currently in service in Canada, Malaysia, Colombia, Iraq, Tunisia, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Singapore. The deal also includes spares, other support equipment, 17 field services representatives plus site surveys and activation teams. The majority of work (95%) will be performed in Afghanistan with the remaining 5% being completed in Bingen, Washington. Work is scheduled for completion in March 2019.
* China will upgrade Pakistan’s fleet of JF-17 fighter jets with a KLJ-7A radar system that will likely improve the combat capability of the aircraft. The KLJ-7A radar can be mounted on light-or medium-weight fighter jets and tremendously extends the fighter jet’s detection range and is capable of tracking dozens of targets and engaging several of them simultaneously and boosts a good jamming-resistant capacity that keeps the plane away from enemy’s electronic interference. The FC-1/JF-17 is a lightweight multirole combat fighter platform was developed jointly by the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation (CAIC) and the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) to produce a low-cost, multirole aircraft taking advantage of the latest avionics and weapons packages. The plane is widely deployed by the Pakistan Air Force and some reportedly have been purchased by the Myanmar Air Force. The Nanjing Research Institute of Electronics Technology promotes its product series of new-generation radar capable of detecting stealth aircraft such as the US F-22 Raptor.
* South Korea’s Navy is reviewing a plan to build a 5,000-ton nuclear-powered submarine in an effort to boost its deterrence against North Korea’s sub-based nuclear attack capability. Reports suggest that the Navy plans to build a nuclear attack submarine modeled after the French 5,300-ton Barracuda-class sub, multiple Navy sources told Defense News. The SSN Barracuda Program was designed to meet the French Navy’s operational mission needs by providing replacements for its 6 current-generation nuclear attack submarines. Despite their relatively modest size, the Barracudas have sharp teeth. A set of 4 x 533mm launch tubes are be able to fire its stored armament of up to 20 heavy weapons, in whatever combination of new short range F21/Artemis heavyweight torpedoes, medium-range SM39 Exocet anti-ship missiles, A3SM (Mica) anti-aircraft missiles, and stealthy long range MdCN Scalp Naval cruise missiles. So far South Korea has built nine 1,200-ton KSS-I diesel-electric submarines and nine 1,800-ton KSS-II subs, both with technical assistance from German shipbuilding company Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft. The Asian nation is on track to build its own 3,000-ton attack submarine known as KSS-III. South Korea’s announcement comes at a time of heightened tensions with its northern neighbor. The North is currently entering the final stage of development for a 3,000-ton submarine that could carry three SLBMs, called Pukkuksong-1.
* South Korea shows off its new F-35 Lightning II: