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No mid-air refueling on AF1 a White House decision, says USAF | French and Italian industry to create “naval Airbus” | Britain enters Boeing-Bombarider row

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Americas * Orbital ATK has announced the award of a $359 million contract from the US Navy to continue full-rate production of AGM-88E advanced anti-radiation guided missiles (AARGM). The initial contract includes a $157 million award for Lot Six full-rate production, as well as an option for Lot Seven, and covers all-up round missiles and […]

* Orbital ATK has announced the award of a $359 million contract from the US Navy to continue full-rate production of AGM-88E advanced anti-radiation guided missiles (AARGM). The initial contract includes a $157 million award for Lot Six full-rate production, as well as an option for Lot Seven, and covers all-up round missiles and captive air training missiles for the US Navy, Italian Air Force and other allies through Foreign Military Sales orders. The missile is integrated into the weapons systems on the FA-18C/D Hornet, FA-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler aircraft, and is anticipated to achieve Initial Operational Capability on the Italian Air Force’s Tornado ECR aircraft in 2018.

* US lawmakers have questioned the US Air Force as to why the new Air Force One will not come with an aerial refueling capability. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford was quizzed on the omission in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee and responded that the decision to leave out the capability was made not by the service, but by the White House, and cited fiscal constraints on the program for the decision. Officials have argued that the capability, though useful, added unnecessary cost, mentioning that presidents have never used the capability in flight; not even former President George W. Bush, whose aircraft loitered in the air for eight hours after the Sept. 11 attacks. Despite this, Sen. Tom Cotton, the Arkansas Republican who quizzed Dunford at the hearing reiterated that lawmakers and military leaders will have to revisit the refueling decision in the future, prompting a potential redesign of the aircraft.

Middle East & Africa

* Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) has announced the commencement of a series of new programs: a heavyweight variant of the T129 ATAK; the HurJet advanced jet trainer; a 10-ton utility helicopter; and a lightweight geosynchronous equatorial orbit (GEO) communication satellite (SATCOM). Pictures of the Hurjet released on Wednesday shows a twin-engine aircraft with twin vertical stabilizers and armed light-fighter variant. The 10-ton helicopter will be analogous to the Lockheed Martin/Sikorsky S-70 Black Hawk and will expand TAI’s transport helicopter portfolio, while the T129 ATAK would likely be in analogous in size to the Bell Helicopter AH-1Z Viper. Finally, the GEO satellite will weigh one ton, will have 22 transponders, and is likely to be marketed as a commercial solution.


* An agreement has been reached between the French and Italian governments, brining to an end a dispute over the STX shipyard in Western France. The new agreement will see Fincantieri acquire 50 percent of STX, and France will lend 1 percentage point of its holding for 12 years, thus giving the Italian firm a controlling 51 percent stake. This will give Fincantieri the position of holding the voting rights and receive share dividends and for Italy to announce hitting its target of owning a majority stake in the French shipyard at Saint-Nazaire. The rest of the shares will see the French government hold 34 percent of STX, Naval Group 10 percent, STX staff 2 percent and STX local suppliers 3.66 percent. Fincantieri and Naval Group have also been authorized to hold talks for consolidation of the surface warship sector, aimed at achieving a “naval Airbus.”

* Six months ahead of its new decision date on MiG-29 fighter replacement, Slovakia has ruled out procuring Russian aircraft. Defense Minister Peter Gajdos told local media that “no one is counting that we will purchase MiGs,” adding that offers have already been received from the US to supply the F-16 and Sweden to deliver the JAS-39 Gripen. Slovakia aims to acquire new fighter jets before 2019, when the servicing deal for the MiG-29s is set to expire.

* The row between Canada and Boeing over unfair government subsidiaries to Canadian aerospace firm Bombardier has crossed the Atlantic, spurring rumors of a potential trade war with the UK. This week, both Defense Minister Sir Michael Fallon and Prime Minister Teresa May criticized Boeing for undermining its relationship with Britain and for putting at risk 4,200 jobs at a Bombardier facility in Northern Ireland. “What I would say in relation to Boeing is that of course we have a long-term partnership with Boeing in various aspects of government and this is not the sort of behaviour we expect form a long-term partner and it undermines that partnership,” May said on Thursday. Fallon’s comments, which referenced ongoing defense programs with Boeing, ruled out cancelling existing orders for nine P-8 maritime patrol aircraft and 50 Apache helicopters, but added the US firm was seeking other UK contracts. The opposition Labour Party said the case should be referred to the World Trade Organization.

* A massive explosion occurred at a Ukrainian military depot in the Vynnytsya region on Wednesday, the second such incident to happen this year. The explosion forced the authorities to evacuate 24,000 people from their homes. An investigation is currently underway to ascertain whether the incident was caused by an accident or sabotage, either of which would underscore poor security at the bases. Military officials called the depot explosions as the biggest blow to Ukraine’s combat capability since the start of its conflict with Russian-backed separatist in the eastern Donbass region.

Asia Pacific

* South Korean officials have announced the successful testing of its own Directional Infrared Counter Measures (DIRCM) system. Developed by Hanwha Systems, the testing took place in July at the Anheung test site of the state-run Agency for Defense Development (ADD). Seoul is likely to install the new system as part of planned upgrades to its C-130H transport fleet, giving protection to special forces being transported deep into enemy territory. Seoul also announced the creation of a new combat unit to carry out a so-called decapitation mission similar to the Navy SEALs’ operation to take out Osama Bin Laden in 2011. The unit will launch on December 1.

Today’s Video

* Russian Tu-22ME overshoots runway:

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