* Northrop Grumman has been awarded a $93 million military contract for the Tactically Exploited Reconnaissance Node (Tern) Phase III program. The DARPA program will see the development of a UAV capable of being launched by US Navy destroyers and frigates. The Tern UAV will possess the ability to lift off vertically in a tail-down configuration allowing it to operate from ships without aircraft carrier type runways. The contract will focus on the design, fabrication, and testing of a prototype Tern Demonstration System.
Middle East North Africa
* Russia is to commence delivery of the S-300PMU-2 air defense system to Iran from January 2016. The first regiment of the system is expected to be completed by February, with a second expected to come in either August or September 2016. The sale follows an April 2015 decree by Russian President Vladamir Putin which lifted an export ban to Iran following progressive international negotiations over Iran’s nuclear energy program. An $800 million defense system contract signed in 2007 was suspended by Moscow in 2010 over the international sanctions imposed on Tehran, causing them to sue Russia for $4 billion. The delivery of the system will now see the case dropped.
* After two decades, General Atomics will cease production of the RQ-1 Predator UAV after the final two were delivered to the Italian Air Force. While not officially confirmed, it is believed that the Italians operate nine RQ-1s for intelligence gathering. Furthermore, they have procured six of the RQ-1’s successor, the MQ-9 Reaper which have recently been approved by the US government to carry weapons. The aircraft are primarily utilized by the Italians over the Mediterranean Sea and in support of NATO operations.
* Japan announced its highest ever defense budget with spending for the fiscal year 2016/2017 set at $41.4 billion. The cabinet’s approval sees an increase of 1.5% from this year’s spending which ends in April 2016. Driven by attempts to counter an increasingly assertive China, Tokyo plans to step up procurement of military hardware including six Lockheed Martin F-35A Lighting II Joint Strike Fighters, four Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, 17 Mitsubishi SH-60K helicopters, the start of a multi-year procurement of three Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk surveillance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and a Boeing KC-46A Pegasus refueling tanker. The new equipment will mostly be used in the monitoring of the Japanese controlled Senkaku Islands which is contested by China, Japan and Taiwan.
* South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) is set to sign a development contract with Korea Aerospace Industries for the continued production of the indigenous KF-X fighter. The news follows the granting by the US government for the transfer of 21 technologies used in Lockheed Martin’s F-35 which had been the subject of much wrangling over the last number of weeks. Washington had denied the transfer of four key technologies back in April citing security concerns. The contract will see the production of six prototypes by 2025 with an expected 120 jets produced by 2032.
* Indian manufacturer Reliance Defense Limited is to partner with Russia’s Almaz-Antey in the development of air defense missile and radar systems for the Indian military. Both companies will cooperate on the entire range of the Russian produced systems required by New Delhi including the TOR-1M missile program, radars and automated control systems under the “Make in India” initiative. Also discussed was the joint implementation of modernization, repair and deep overhauls of currently existing Almaz-Antey systems in use by India.
* Elbit Systems is to supply a $50 million intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) package to an unnamed Asia-Pacific country. The contract will be carried out over a three year period and includes work on existing Elbit systems in use by the purchaser. Upgrades are to be carried out to long-range electro-optical (EO) cameras and sensors currently in use and supplementing them with ELTA Systems Ltd.’s, subsidiary and division of IAI, advanced SAR/GMTI Reconnaissance systems. This will allow the customer to perform advanced functions such as mission planning, battlefield management, terrain analysis and simulation modeling, both before and during intelligence-gathering operations.
* Vietnam has unveiled a new indigenous high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) UAV. Named, the HS-6L, it is believed that development of the UAV had been aided by Belarus as the unveiling coincided with a visit by the chairman of the Presidium of the Belarus Academy of Science, Professor Vladimir G. Gusakov. Flight testing will be conducted during the summer of 2016 and will eventually engage in both civilian and military operations over the South China Sea.
* Promo for the Royal Thai Air Force Air Tactical Operations Competition 2016: