Raytheon won $151.5 million for AIM-9X Block II and II+ sustainment. The contract provides for integrated logistics support and repairs. The AIM-9X Sidewinder missile is an infrared air-to-air short-range missile. It entered service in November 2003. The Block II variant, which completed its first test firing in November 2008, has a redesigned fuse and a digital ignition safety device to enhance ground handling and in-flight safety. Raytheon was awarded a $434 million contract in December for 766 AIM-9X Block II and Block II Plus missiles for the US Navy and Air Force, as well as Israel, Norway, Qatar, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, Australia and the Netherlands. The AIM-9X air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles are for the US Navy and Air Force and governments under Foreign Military Sales. Work will take place within the US as well as Germany. Scheduled completion date is in May 2022.
The US Air Force awarded Boeing a $41 million contract modification to contractor-furnished, high-fidelity simulation equipment for F-15C and F-15E Mission Training Center Services to offer simulation capability to train pilots and weapons system operators. This modification includes four additional pilot/weapon systems officer crew stations devices and their associated equipment to support aircrew training requirements. Boeing’s F-15 Strike Eagle is a twin-engine, all-weather tactical fighter aircraft. It has more than 100 aerial combat victories. F-15C and F-15E are two variants of the F-15 Strike Eagle jet. Boeing will perform work at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, and is expected to be finished by February 15, 2021.
The US Navy created a new experimental squadron that will include the Zumwalt Class destroyers and Unmanned Surface Vehicles. At a ceremony on Wednesday, commander of Naval Surface Forces and Naval Surface Force Pacific announced the formation of Surface Development Squadron One to encourage innovation, experimentation, and combat readiness. The squadron will integrate the drone vessels and support fleet experimentation to accelerate delivery of new warfighting concepts and capabilities to the fleet. The USS Zumwalt, which formally was designated as Zumwalt Squadron One, initially will reside in the squadron with two Sea Hunter unmanned surface vessels next year.
Middle East & Africa
Qatari Emiri Air Force (QEAF) Mirage 2000s flew together with a B-52H Stratofortress and a US F-35A Lightning II in formation over Southwest Asia. The flight was conducted to continue building military-to-military relationships with the QEAF. The B-52H is part of the Bomber Task Force deployed to the US Central Command area of responsibility to defend US forces and interests in the region. The Mirage 2000 is a multirole combat fighter from Dassault Aviation. In 1994, Qatar became the second export customer for the Mirage 2000-5 when it ordered twelve aircraft. In March 2011, Mirage 2000s were deployed to an airbase on Crete as part of Qatar’s commitment to assist in the NATO-enforced no-fly-zone over Libya.
In order of coping with expanding air vehicle inventory, the French Air Force is introducing a new UAV pilot training. The French Air Force is planning to have 24 MQ-9 Reaper MALE UAVs operational by 2030, generating a requirement for 80 to 100 crews. To cope with this expansion the service will establish a new course into its flying schools. Students will fly the Cirrus light aircraft and the Grob 120 basic trainer before moving on UAV Operational Conversion Squadron and the 1/33 Belfort to acquire the particular tactical know-how required to operate the Reapers. The MQ-9 Reapers are remotely piloted vehicles and the first hunter-killer UAVs designed for long-endurance, high-altitude surveillance. Up until now the 1/33 Belfort UAV Squadron flew five GA-ASI MQ-9 Reapers. The first two Reapers to enter French service are designated Block 1 and use US equipment.
South Korea and Japan alongside Australia participated in a US-led exercise on Thursday. It was their first combined exercise in the Western Pacific. The exercise also marked the first time that South Korea and Japan took part in joint drills since their military ties soured in December over a military radar row. The radar row centered on Japan’s allegations that a South Korean destroyer locked targeting radar on a Japanese surveillance plane. South Korea has rejected this claim, saying the ship was on a normal rescue mission. The so called Pacific Vanguard exercise took place in an effort by the US to help counter China’s military supremacy in the region. The drill included live-fire exercises, defensive counter-air operations, anti-submarine warfare and replenishment at sea,
Taiwan held its largest maritime military drill in five years as part of the annual Han Kuang exercises. The joint air-sea drill tested combat-readiness of its forces in the face of persistent military threats from the mainland. A total of 22 fighter jets joined the drills, including Mirages, Indigenous Defense Fighters and F-16s. The drills included simulations of a mainland Chinese attack on the naval port of Suao, and included responses from a warfare center in Suao that notified the area. The Tsoying, a 9,525-ton Keelung-class destroyer, left Suao port, as did a Kang Ding-class frigate, three Cheng Kung-class frigates, a Chi Yang class frigate and two Ching Chiang-class patrol ships.
Watch: US B-52H and F- 35As with Qatari Mirages Fly in Formation Over Southwest Asia