OA-X goes into the next round | TOPGUN gets a new training facility | IAI and Boeing fight over tanker contract
- The US Army is procuring protective netting kits in support of its MRAP vehicles. Navistar Defense will provide an unspecified amount of rocket propelled grenade netting kits as part of the awarded firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract. The three-year contract with no option periods is valued at $29.58 million. The PG Net provides a lightweight solution used as an add-on protection on top of existing armor. It can be used to protect the entire vehicle or apply on specific locations where other types of armor are less effective. The mesh structure is not designed to stop the incoming RPG but to disable it by trapping it in-flight and thus preventing it from detonation. Navistar’s netting kit is similar to the Q-Net offered by QinetiQ. Work will be performed in Illinois and is scheduled for completion by August 4th, 2021.
- Raytheon is set to provide the US Air Force with technical support for its inventory of AMRAAM missiles. The contract modification has a value of $13.1 million and provides for technical services and analysis support. Over the years Raytheon’s family of AIM-120s has become world market leader for medium range air-to-air missiles. The AMRAAM’s advanced active guidance section provides aircrew with a high degree of combat flexibility and lethality. Its mature seeker design allows it to quickly find targets in challenging combat environments. Coupled with modern radars the missile’s guidance approach allows a fighter to launch and control many missiles at once, avoiding a dangerous fixation on one target. Work will be performed at the company’s location in Tucson, Arizona and expected to be completed by September 30th, 2020.
- The Navy is investing in a new Air Wing Training Facility. Straub Construction is being contracted to construct this new facility at Naval Air Station, Fallon at a cost of $16.8 million. The facility will be constructed using structural steel framing and a mix of reinforced concrete, including seismic upgrades. After its scheduled completion by August 2020, the facility will support a number of desk-style aircraft simulators where soldiers will train on platforms such as the Aegis combat system, the F-35 and E-2D. The facility will house F-35 Mission Rehearsal Trainers which are small scale simulators that use the same technology as ‘full-scale’ simulators but do not provide a full 360°-degree home display. NAS Fallon is home to TOPGUN and the virtual aegis combat system environment will train surface warfare officers to track and target air threats as part of the Navy’s general NIFC-CA capability.
- The Air Force’s OA-X trainer competition seems to gain traction again after a series of delays and mishaps. The Air Force plans to request proposals from a limited number of companies including Textron and Sierra Nevada Corp. The announcement follows the trainer experiment that was kicked off last year as means to study the feasibility of using an off-the-shelf platform as a low-cost solution for light attack and close-air support missions. Textron is competing with its AT-6 Wolverine and Sierra Nevada with its A-29 Super Tucano, jointly produced with Brazilian manufacturer Embraer. Earlier this year the second phase of the fighter experiment was cut short when a Super Tucano participating in the effort crashed near Holloman Air Force Base. One pilot died, and another was seriously injured. A formal solicitation is expected to be released in December, and a production contract will be awarded in the fourth quarter of FY 2019.
Middle East & Africa
- Reports suggest that the Iranian Air Force successfully overhauled yet another aircraft. IRGC military technicians spent about 25,000 man/hours of work on the French-made Mirage F1 fighter jet. The F1 performed its first flight in 1966. The F1 is built from aluminum alloy, with substantial use of honeycomb sandwich construction, and some use of steel and titanium. It is powered by a single SNECMA Atar 09K50 afterburning turbojet. The F1C was designed to be easy to maintain and quick to turn around between sorties. Iran acquired the F-1 after 24 Iraqi Air Force officers defected in 1991. After the airframes languished for years, the Iranian government commissioned a refurbishment and upgrade program named Project HABIBI in 2007. The Mirage now joins one overhauled American-made F-14 and F-5 jet, as well as 10 Russian-made Su-22s.
- Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Boeing are currently competing in being the lead vendor in one of Israel’s biggest defense procurement programs. The Israel Air Force is looking to modernize its fleet of tanker aircraft as means to maintain its air-superiority. IAI proposed to buy buying used Boeing 767 aircraft on the open market and converting them for airborne refueling of combat planes, however Boeing is reluctant to grant IAI permits to convert its planes to tanker configuration. Boeing has a clear interest in ousting IAI from the procurement program as it wants to push sales of its newly developed KC-46, which comes with a price-tag of $250-300 million. The Israel Air Force’s current tankers are used Boeing 707s converted by IAI in the early 1980s.
- The Bulgarian Ministry of Defense is issuing a tender for the general overhaul of two Mi-17 transport and four Mi-24V combat helicopters. The Mi-17 is a medium weight, single rotor helicopter. The aircraft construction primarily incorporates the airframe of a Mi-8 with the power train of the Mi-24, which provides an increase in performance and gross weight over the basic Mi-8. The aircraft is configured with 5-bladed main rotor system 70 feet diameter and uses wheeled landing gear. The multirole helicopter that can be armed with rockets, missiles and guns. The Mi-24V is equipped with a YakB four-barreled, 12.7mm, built-in, flexibly mounted machine gun, which has a firing rate of 4,000-4,500 rounds a minute and its four underwing pylons can accommodate up to 12 anti-tank missiles. The planned procurement has a total value of $22 million of which $6.6 million are earmarked for the Mi-17s and $15.3 million for Mi-24Vs.
- Jane’s reports that the China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics (CAAA) can now offer an improved version of its Cai Hong 804C VTOL UAV. The particularity of this hybrid drone is the installation of 4 rotors on the tail beams attached to the wings, allowing it to take off and land vertically without the need for a track, or an ejection system. The updated vehicle features a redesigned composite airframe that boosts an increased wingspan, a maximum take-off weight of 60 lb. and a payload capacity of 8 lb. The UAV is equipped with an EO/IR ball turret that can detect and identify a tank-sized object at a maximum distance of 1.2 miles and 0.9 miles respectively. The UAV is equipped with an L-band datalink that enables it to transmit and receive data within a 62 miles line-of-sight distance, supporting a data transfer rate of up to 25.6 kbps for telemetry and 4 Mbps for imagery.
- Watch: The opening of Aviadarts 2018
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