* United Technologies Corp. will perform sustainment services on Pratt and Whitney F-119 engines used on Lockheed Martin’s F-22 Raptor. The $6.7 billion agreement falls under the terms of an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract between the firm and the US Air Force (USAF), with work to be carried out at UTC’s East Hartford Connecticut office, as well as at multiple USAF bases across the USA. Contract completion is expected by December 2025.
* Raytheon won Thursday, a $22.5 million US Navy modified contract for support services on the Rolling Airframe Missile Mark-31 Guided Missile Weapon System. The agreement covers design agent and engineering support services for the Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) upgraded MK-31 Guided Missile Weapon System Improvement program—a joint effort conducted by both Washington and Germany. Work will take place mostly in Tucson, Arizona, with some work taking place in Louisville, Kentucky. The contract is expected to be completed by September 2019.
Middle East & Africa
* The Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) continues to receive US military support, with US Gen. Joseph Votel announcing new arms packages for Beirut under the Pentagon’s “Building Partner Capacity” program. Three procurements are being financed through the BPC scheme, totalling $120 million, and aim to build the LAF’s capability to conduct border security and counterterrorism operations. The first program will see six new MD 530G light attack helicopters and associated equipment and training, valued at more $94 million. The second program, costing $11 million, will boost C4ISR capabilities with six ScanEagle UAVs, while the third will provide the LAF additional capabilities to employ joint fire support and close air support through the delivery of communications equipment, electronics equipment, night vision devices, and training, valued at more than $16 million.
* Gen. Volker Wieker, the German Armed Forces highest in command, signed a document Thursday, kicking off the military’s $6.72 billion heavy-lift helicopter competition. Between 45 and 60 new helicopters will be acquired under the program, and will see Lockheed Martin’s massive CH-53K helicopter face off against fellow American rival Boeing’s smaller twin-rotor CH-47. The defence ministry expects to issue a request for information in the second half of 2018 after completing a fleet capability study, with a contract award seen in mid-2020. If all goes to plan, initial deliveries would begin in 2023, replacing Germany’s existing fleet of CH-53G aircraft.
* Anonymous US military officials have claimed that the Pentagon still believes that it can sell American-made fighter jets to Germany despite the fact that the German Defense Ministry has thrown its weight behind the Eurofighter Typhoon. The ministry made the announcement last week, in part to distance itself from comments made by Air Force Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Karl Muellner last month, who at the time had said he preferred the Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, given the next-generation warplane’s ability to fulfil the military’s stealth and long-distance strike requirements. The ministry is looking first at the European option, and secondarily at three US fighter jets. But it made clear that no decisions would be made until after a comprehensive assessment of all options. Washington must respond by March 31 to the Berlin’s formal request for information about the F-35 and Boeing’s F-15 and the F/A-18E/F. Information on the Typhoon has also been sought from the Eurofighter consortium.
* Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has been left with a shock, after the US government costed the upgrade program requested for the Hellenic Air Force’s (HAF) F-16 fighter jets higher than Tsipras has previously announced. Tsipras, who has governed austerity-stricken Greece since 2015, originally costed the plan at $1.1 billion, for 85 F-16s to be upgraded to the Block 70 standard. However, negotiations finalizing the sale have upped this cost significantly to $1.5 billion, with Athens having only until January 31, 2018, to conclude the deal before the letter of offer and acceptance sent by the US expires. While this deadline is not binding, both sides are eager to conclude the deal within this time frame. According to reports, payments in 2018 will be covered by the air force budget, but there will be difficulties in 2019 when Greece will have to purchase the parts and equipment needed to complete the upgrade.
* The Indonesian Air Force has released a wish list of additional aircraft it needs as part of its plan to improve the strength of the service. Three additional squadrons of combat aircraft are being sought, adding to the F-16s, Su-27s, and Su-30s it currently operates. Also requested have been four airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) systems, four tankers, new radar, helicopters for anti-terror missions, as well as multi-purpose amphibious aircraft.
* Myanmar has commissioned into service ten new aircraft as part of celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the Myanmar Air Force. The December 15 ceremony was overseen by the Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, Kyu Kyu Hla, wife of the Senior General, the Commander-in-Chief (Navy) Admiral Tin Aung San, Commander-in-Chief (Air) General Khin Aung Myint, former commanders-in-chief (Navy and Air). Among the inductees were six new Yak-130 advanced trainers—used for both pilot training and light attack operations—as well as two Fokker-70s and two ATR 42-320s, medium-range jetliners and twin-turboprop aircrafts respectively. The Yak-130s were delivered in two batches of three in 2016 and 2017, and more deliveries are expected in 2018.
* Released footage of a F/A-18F encountering an unidentified flying object (UFO) in November 2004