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PCU Gerald R. Ford to the Rescue | General Atomics to Enter the Sea Avenger in USN Drone Competition | F-35As Head for Europe for Training Deployment

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Americas * Just days into its first sea trials, the PCU Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) responded to an emergency on the USS Oak Hill, where a sailor onboard needed urgent medical attention. The mission involved a MH-60S from HSC-22 which took off from the ship and rendezvoused with Oak Hill on Apr. 11 to […]

* Just days into its first sea trials, the PCU Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) responded to an emergency on the USS Oak Hill, where a sailor onboard needed urgent medical attention. The mission involved a MH-60S from HSC-22 which took off from the ship and rendezvoused with Oak Hill on Apr. 11 to take the patient to Navy Medical Center Portsmouth. Following the successful transportation, Capt. Richard McCormack, Ford’s commanding officer, addressed the crew and expressed his pride in Ford sailors and the embarked squadron for their flexibility, mission readiness, and eagerness to help a Shipmate in need. The sailor is in a stable condition.

* The UK and Brazilian governments are in talks over the potential sale of the Royal Navy helicopter carrier, HMS Ocean, for the reported price of $100 million. Designed to support amphibious landing operations, the vessel was commissioned in 1998 but had been designated in 2015 for decommissioning in 2018 with no plans for a like-for-like replacement. Brazil’s interest in the vessel comes as their Navy decided to abandon the refit of the aircraft carrier Sao Paulo and decommission the vessel after a series of technical issues and accidents.

* General Atomics is “confidently” putting forward the Sea Avenger platform into the US Navy’s MQ-25A Stingray unmanned aerial tanker competition. Based on their successful Avenger (AKA Predator C), the company states the solution will fit the Navy’s needs, and that their previous work as prime contractor for the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System and Advanced Arresting Gear programs has given them precious insights into carrier operations, adding that the firm is the “industry lead” on armed UAVs. The Navy’s request for proposals for the MQ-25A is expected to be released this summer.

Middle East & North Africa

* VSE Corporation has received a number of delivery orders from the US Naval Sea Systems Command International Fleet Support Program Office including a number of NAVSEA Foreign Military Sales support contracts for the Egyptian Navy. The first contract involves the supply and installation of a SMART-S Radar system on an Egyptian Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate at a cost of $21.8 million, to be completed in 14 months. Another two include the provision of in-country follow-on technical support for Egyptian Osprey-class mine hunter coastal vessels, with support to include vessel modernization, technical, logistics, training, facilities, and administrative support. The combined cost of the two Osprey contracts is valued at $36.8 million.

* The US State Department has cleared the potential Foreign Military Sale of a pilot and maintenance training and contractor support package to the Iraqi government. Potentially valued at an estimated $1.06, the contract includes pilot and maintenance training, contractor logistical support (CLS) for trainer aircraft, and base support. This covers support for C-172, C-208, and T-6 aircraft for up to five years and includes contractor aircraft modification; repair and spare parts; publications; aircraft ferry; and miscellaneous parts, along with training base operation support, base life support, security, construction, and other related elements of program support. If approved by Congress, the Spartan College in Tulsa, Okla., would be the principal contractor for the proposed deal.


* Mali looks to have moved ahead with its purchase of the Mi-35M from Russia after pictures of the attack helicopter emerged online. Snapped during flight testing at the Rostvertol plant in Rostov-on-Don, the images clearly show the mark of the Mali Air Force on the rotorcraft’s belly. It had been reported last September that Mali, along with Angola, Sudan, and Nigeria, were all interested in purchasing the Mi-35M as Rosoboronexport continues to aggressively market it on the continent. Nigeria received delivery of their first two units in January, 2017.


* This weekend has seen a number of F-35A Joint Strike Fighters make their way to Europe to participate in a training deployment that will last several weeks. The jets and airmen will conduct training with other US and NATO aircraft based in Europe as part of the European Reassurance Initiative—started in 2014 by the Pentagon to increase US presence in Europe for security purposes. Officials say the deployment marks an important milestone for the F-35 program as it allows both the USAF to further demonstrate the capabilities of the fighter, as well as assisting in refining the requirements for basing the F-35A in Europe, scheduled to commence in the early 2020s.

Asia Pacific

* For the first time in combat history, the USAF have dropped a GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) bomb as part of an operation targeting an ISIS-K tunnel complex in Achin district, Nangarhar province, Afghanistan. Often known as the “Mother Of All Bombs,” last Thursday’s blast killed an estimated 92 militants in what some have described as a “baffling choice”. In response, former Afghan president Hamid Karzai (known to be against the use of US airpower during his tenure) accused his successor, President Ashraf Ghani of committing treason by allowing such a strike to take place. However, Afghan’s response to the strike has been mixed, with some residents near the blast praising Afghan and US troops for pushing back the Islamic State militants.

Today’s Video

* General Atomics’ Sea Avenger UAV:

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