Boeing Grabs $130.1M Contract Mod for SDBI | A-10 Retirement Pushed Back Due to Demand | UAE May Ink $10B Rafale Fighter Deal
- Boeing has been awarded an Air Force contract modification covering Foreign Military Sales production of GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs. The $130.1 million modification covers deliveries of the weapons to foreign partners, with the contract modification running to 2019. Israel and Italy operate the munition outside of the United States. First initial production of the SDBI began in 2005, after a controversial decision to award Boeing a production order.
- The Air Force is considering pushing back the retirement schedule for the A-10, following a spike in demand from US forces operating in the Middle East. The venerable Close Air Support platform has been on the service’s chopping block for years, with recent efforts to retire the aircraft early blocked by lawmakers in September. The Air Force also recently released a RFI to identify sources for a new A-10 re-winging program, with the Thunderbolt Lifecycle Program Support effort intended to extend a portion of the Air Force’s A-10 fleet out to 2028.
Middle East North Africa
- The United Arab Emirates is reportedly close to signing an agreement for Rafale fighters, with the sixty-aircraft deal slated to value approximately $10 billion. Similar talks between the UAE and manufacturer Dassault collapsed in November 2011, but were revived in April 2015.
- United Arab Emirates is also reportedly discussing technology export controls to assist the Gulf state’s emerging space program, with a joint committee now established to build dialogue between the two countries. The UAE wants to import space technologies and expertise through offset agreements with US contractors, with the country looking to place systems on Mars by 2021, through its ambitious Mission to Mars program.
- France is looking to buy four C-130J transport aircraft through the US’ Foreign Military Sales program, with the State Department approving the sale. Previous reports indicate that the sale could be intended to plug a gap in Airbus A400M delivery schedules to the French Air Force, with French officials meeting with Lockheed Martin in June. The French defense budget for FY16 includes the provision of $1.7 billion for four C-130s, with the FMS request running to $650 million, including communications and self-protection systems and support services.
- Meanwhile, the US Air Force awarded Lockheed Martin a $968.7 million contract action modification for the production of 17 C-130J variants, including six C-130J-30, one HC-130J, nine MC-130J and one KC-130J aircraft. The Air Force and Lockheed Martin reached an agreement in October to fund a five-year deal for C-130Js, covering 83 aircraft for the Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.
- The United Kingdom has requested 500 AGM-114R Hellfire II Semi-Active Laser missiles from US stocks, with the State Department approving the sale. The potential deal – estimated to value $80 million – also covers logistics support and spares. The UK already operates the Hellfire I, with Italy and France also recently requesting Hellfire missiles, for use with Reaper UAVs and Tiger attack helicopters respectively.
- Russia is reportedly planning to begin trialling its new armed Arctic transport helicopter, the Mil Mi-8AMTSh-VA. The Russian Defense Ministry could purchase a hundred of the aircraft, with the Russians also beginning construction of Arctic support ships in October. The new helicopter is scheduled to be handed over to the Russian military in late November, with the new design boasting an ability to start in temperatures approaching -50 degrees Celsius, as well as fly using an inertial navigation system (something also set to equip upgraded MiG-31 interceptors).
- Kongsberg has completed testing of its Joint Strike Missile in the US, with the missile designed to fit stealthily inside Norway’s future F-35A Joint Strike Fighters. This first flight test involved dropping the weapon [Norwegian] from an F-16 at 22,000ft, with further flight testing planned over the next two years. The JSM is being co-developed by Kongsberg and Raytheon.
- Finland has requested guided rocket pods to equip its Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (GMLRS), with the potential deal worth an estimated $150 million. The Lockheed Martin-manufactured M31A1 Unitary and A31A1 Alternative Warhead Missiles will equip the country’s GMLRS, converted from standard MLRSs in May 2011 through a $45.3 million contract with Lockheed Martin.
- The Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS):
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