* Northrop Grumman has won the much-anticipated and delayed Long Range Strike – Bomber (LRS-B) contract, the most significant defense contract since the F-35 and a huge win for the company. The winning bid beat off competition from a Boeing/Lockheed Martin team, with the Air Force evaluating the classified bids since July 2014. The development contract awarded to Northrop Grumman includes options for the first 21 out of potential 80 aircraft. The program is slated to value more than $55 billion over its lifespan, which will supply the Air Force with a replacement for the B-52 and B-1B fleets.
* Raytheon has been denied a request that would have stopped the Air Force re-evaluate bids for the 3D Expeditionary Long-Range Radar (3DELRR) system. The program has seen several legal challenges by the three competitors – Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin – with Raytheon lodging an appeal in May against a federal judge’s decision to allow the Air Force to re-evaluate bids. The dispute centers on the Air Force’s decision to allow the recovery of internal research and development costs, with the service failing to notify Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin of this detail, allowing Raytheon to lower its bid price and win the competition.
* The Navy has handed Boeing a $897.5 million contract modification for the production of fifteen EA-18G Growler aircraft and electronic attack kits. The order is part of the program’s Lot 38 production, with the head of the Navy’s Chief of Naval Operations stating last November that the service requires more Growlers to fulfil its Electronic Attack requirements. The aircraft received additional funds as part of a list of unfunded priorities, with the Senate approving the funding increase in June.
* The service also awarded a $178.6 million contract modification for hundreds of thousands of sonobuoys. These include 6,000 passive athythermograph AN/SSQ-36s; 95,000 passive AN/SSQ-53s; 15,500 active AN/SSQ-62s; 10,000 Improved Extended Echo Ranging (IEER) AN/SSQ-101s; and 10,000 Multi-static Active Coherent (MAC) AN/SSQ-125s. The contractor – ERAPSCO – is a Sparton Corp. and Ultra Electronics joint venture.
* Turkey has reportedly progressed its air defense acquisition program, with the country’s Undersecretariat for Defense Industries stating that delays in contract signing since it selected the Chinese bid in September 2013 have been because of negotiations over the system’s technical specifications, rather than political pressure from Turkey’s NATO allies. Reports in July indicated that Ankara could renegotiate a deal with T-LORAMIDS competition winner China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corp., with the country also thought to have conducted parallel negotiations with runner-up Eurosam and a third-placing Lockheed Martin/Raytheon team. A final decision on whether to sign a contract for the Chinese HQ-9 system is expected after the country’s November elections.
* Sweden is offering Croatia the Saab JAS-39 Gripen fighter as a replacement for the country’s MiG-21s. The Swedish Defence and Security Export Agency has offered the fighter to Croatia, with the potential procurement likely covering between eight and twelve new aircraft. Croatia’s Defence Ministry is also thought to be looking at the F-16 Fighting Falcon alongside another Western design, with the country announcing its intention to replace its Soviet-era MiGs in April.
* Serbia is reportedly looking to buy more Russian hardware in addition to the two Mi-17 helicopters it signed a preliminary agreement for in September. Neighbouring Croatia is awaiting delivery of 16 OH-58D Kiowa scout/attack helicopters from the US, with Serbia also looking to procure an unspecified ballistic missile defense system and mobility platforms for the Nora B52 howitzer.
* Turkey has ordered six indigenously-developed unmanned aircraft for use by the country’s police force. The Bayraktar mini UAVs – produced by local firms Baykar and Kale Kalip – are scheduled for delivery next year, with the contract also covering the delivery of four ground control stations.
* Russia’s aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, successfully shot down a target using a Kinzhal (SA-N-9 Gauntlet) surface-to-air missile during drills in the Barents Sea. The live-fire drills also tested the carrier’s communications systems and integration with naval aircraft. The carrier is preparing to enter operational use in Russia’s intervention in Syria according to some press sources; however this has been denied by Russian military officials.
* India is reportedly planning to lease a second nuclear sub from Russia, with a ten-year contract slated for signing in December. India is looking to bolster its submarine force, with the new Akula-class submarine likely scheduled for two or three years of customization before entering service.
* A Gripen NG demonstrator in action: