Oscar Austin to be dry-docked for modding by BAE | Block 5 kits ordered for USAF Reapers ahead of Predator retirement | Boeing tweet Stringray teaser
- The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has awarded Boeing’s MQ-25 Stingray demonstrator a US aircraft registration, the firm has told Flight Global. The unmanned carrier-based mission tanker prototype, dubbed T1, was unveiled by Boeing on Twitter onDecember 16, and received the registration number, N234MQ, from the FAA on December 26. However, several details usually included, such as the model of the turbofan engine that powers the aircraft, were omitted from the registration. The deadline for bids to the MQ-25 Stingray program were due on January 3, with General Atomics and Lockheed Martin joining Boeing in the competition. While Boeing have been dripping information on their prototype, Lockheed Martin has released only a fragment of its MQ-25 concept aircraft, showing only part of the underside of a wing and a refueling pod.
- General Atomics received Wednesday, a $14.1 million USAF contract to supply MQ-9 Reaper Block 5 kits to the service, that will include extended-range kits, beyond-line-of-sight kits and Barrett Asymmetrical Digital Datalink Computer Routers. Work will be performed in Poway, California, with an expected completion date of February 21, 2021. The upgrade comes as the USAF starts to phase out the older MQ-1 Predator drone from service, and the kits will go towards upgrading earlier versions of the Reaper to the most modern Block 5 configuration—which gives the UAVs increased electrical power, secure communications, auto land, increased gross takeoff weight, weapons growth, and streamlined payload integration capabilities.
- The US Naval Sea Systems Command awarded Raytheon Friday, a $27.2 million contract for the procurement of the Navy’s Standard Missile-2 (SM-2) between fiscal years 2018 and 2022. Under the agreement, the firm will also provide Standard Missile-6 (SM-6) depot and intermediate level maintenance, all-up round re-certifications and special maintenance tasks. 100 percent of the base award will go towards the US Navy, but will also include options to provide SM-2 repair and maintenance services to the navies of Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, South Korea, Spain and Taiwan. If all options are exercised, the value of the contract could reach $227.7 million. Work will take place across Arizona, Arkansas and Alabama, and is expected to be completed by December 2018.
- BAE Systems announced January 3, the receipt of a 12-month work order for the extensive modernization of the US Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79). The agreement includes options that if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of the deal to $117.1 million. During the dry-docking, the vessel will receive an upgrade to its Aegis Combat System as well as alterations and miscellaneous repairs that will affect nearly every onboard space. Work will commence this February and wrap up in February 2019. The Oscar Austin is the second guided missile destroyer to undergo the extensive repair and upgrade work. BAE Systems’ shipyard in Jacksonville, Florida, is currently working on the first destroyer to undergo the DMP modernization, the USS Roosevelt (DDG 80). The company’s San Diego shipyard recently was awarded the first West Coast destroyer DMP contract for work on board the USS Howard (DDG 83).
Middle East-North Africa
- A Royal Saudi Air Force fighter jet, said to be a British-made Tornado GR4, has gone down during operations in Yemen. Saudi state media stated that the jet crashed due to a technical fault and that the Saudi-led coalition conducted a special operation to evacuate the two pilots who survived the crash from hostile territory. Rather predictably, the opposing Houthi Movement, who the Saudis and their allies are battling in Yemen, said the aircraft was in fact shot down by its forces in Saada province. The Saudi-led coalition has been conducting regular surveillance operations and airstrikes on Yemeni territories controlled by the Houthi rebels as part of its war on Yemen that began in 2015, and has also enforced an air and sea blockade on Yemeni ports to prevent weapons from reaching the Houthis from Iran, allowing only occasional humanitarian access. It is believed that Houthi missile stockpiles include short-range tactical ballistic missiles, including the Soviet Scud-B and C, North Korean Hwasong 5 and 6, the Soviet Tochka, rockets, as well as the Soviet SA-2 SAM missile—that has been re-worked as an anti-ground missile, dubbed the Qaher-1.
- Patria of Finland has received a contract from the Finnish Defense Forces to lead the overhaul of its Hamina Class fast attack craft as part of its Naval Capability Development Program. The value of the contract, without options and excluding VAT, comes to approximately $203 million, and includes delivery of several “sensors, weapon and communication systems,” in addition to “ship technical modifications and overhauls.” Patria, owned 50.1% by the Finnish government and 49.9% by Norway’s Kongsberg, also signed subcontracts related to combat management system (CMS), torpedo and sensor systems with Saab AB and ship technical work with Oy Western Shipyard. The contracts will ensure continued naval defense capabilities as Finland decommissions the Rauma Class fast attack craft and commissions the new Squadron 2020 corvettes over the next decade. Previously mentioned on the Rapid Fire, the vessels will also be upgunned, with Saab’s Tp 4 lightweight torpedo, as well as a Bofors 57 mm main cannon, four Saab RBS-15 Mk3 anti-ship missiles (AShM) and eight Denel Dynamics Umkhonto IR surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems.
- Japan’s Mainichi newspaper reports that the XASM-3 supersonic anti-ship missile has completed development and testing, and is now ready for mass production. In development since 2003 and costing the taxpayer some $345.1 million, the missile is scheduled to enter production in Fiscal Year 2019 and will be carried by the Japan Air Self-Defense Force F-2 fighters. The missile boasts and operational range of between 150-200 km, and will replace that JASDF’s ASM-1 and ASM-2 missiles.
- Boeing’s teaser video of the MQ-25 Stingray, originally posted on Twitter. A breakdown of the video can be found here:
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