Boeing to Pay $18M Settlement to US Gov | Saudis Ink Deal for 320 PAC-3 Interceptors | Ecuador Terminates HAL Contract
- A $121.4 million order for 19 MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAVs back in June has now been revealed as the first order for the Improved Gray Eagle configuration, first introduced in July 2013. The new model uses a heavier airframe and a new engine to increase fuel capacity, range, internal payload weight and take-off weight. The Army is also now looking to introduce more weapon options and other improvements for the Gray Eagle.
- Boeing has agreed to pay $18 million to settle False Claim Act allegations that the company’s workers charged the US government for breaks while carrying out maintenance work on US Air Force C-17 Globemasters. The allegations were uncovered by a former Boeing whistleblower, who will receive $3 million of the settlement, along with legal fees from Boeing. The overcharging allegedly took place at the company’s Long Beach Depot Center in California, with Boeing knowingly charging the government for hours spent by workers on lunch and other breaks; Boeing has not conceded liability for this claim.
- Sikorsky is planning to increase tempo in testing of the company’s S-97 Raider, following the aircraft’s first flight in May. 110 to 120 hours of flight testing is expected, with the Raider’s technology forming a key aspect of the Sikorsky-Boeing SB-1 Defiant, a finalist for the Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator and Future Vertical Lift (JVR-FVL) programs.
- Competition from the Bell-Lockheed Martin V-280 Valor has led to contractual changes between the two developers to ensure that there isn’t spillover between the two designs when Lockheed Martin finalizes its acquisition of Sikorsky. Reports now indicate that this deal could be finalized by early November, following the green light from the US government in September, along with the Japanese and South Korean governments. The $9 billion takeover still requires some regulatory head nods before finalization, with the European Union and China expected to respond next week.
- The Royal Air Force has ceased providing Search and Rescue (SAR) services for the United Kingdom mainland, with the Royal Navy scheduled to follow suit next year, with the responsibility then falling to a civilian government agency and private contractors through a GBP1.6 billion contract awarded in March 2013. The RAF’s H3 Sea King helicopters used to conduct SAR operations are being retired as the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and private company Bristow Helicopters Ltd are phased-in to replace them. The latter will eventually become wholly responsible for the mainland UK’s SAR coverage.
Middle East North Africa
- Saudi Arabia has signed a deal with the US for 320 PAC-3 interceptor missiles, with this following a DSCA request in July for 600. The new missiles will modernize the Saudis’ Patriot air and missile defense systems, with the request valued at $5.4 billion. The Saudi government is also reported to be pushing ahead with plans to acquire the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, along with the remaining 280 PAC-3 missiles. This news comes on the heels of reports earlier this week that the Kingdom is mulling a possible acquisition of Israeli short-range air and missile defense systems; these would complement the medium and long-range capabilities of the Patriot and THAAD systems.
- The country has also requested nine UH-60M Blackhawk helicopters, along with auxiliary equipment, spares, and logistical support in a potential deal valued at $495 million. The Kingdom has already ordered a number of UH-60Ms, previously requesting 72 helicopters along with other US equipment. Other regional states have also ordered the Sikorsky helicopter, including Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.
- Shia militias are reportedly modifying tanks supplied to the Iraqi government by the US, adding Russian machine guns along with Iranian ammunition to an M1A1 Abrams main battle tank. Although possibly an isolated case, the modification could be a violation of the Foreign Military Sales contract the country signed with the US; both the gun alteration and the possibility that the tank was delivered to Shia militias for use against ISIS. Worries over the tanks ending up in militia hands were first seriously raised in January when a video emerged of a M1A1 in a convoy of Hezbollah vehicles, along with several other US-supplied armored vehicles.
- After delivering seven Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopters to Ecuador, state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd has now seen its contract with the country terminated after Quito unilaterally withdrew on Wednesday. Four of the seven helicopters – delivered through a contract signed in July 2008 – have crashed, with the remaining three now grounded [Spanish]. HAL saw Boeing back out of a deal with the company in July, citing shoddy manufacturing quality. The company has also seen crash statistics for its licensed-manufactured aircraft (including the Su-30MKI and Hawk AJT) grow alarmingly in recent months.
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