Pentagon to sell Super Tucanos to Nigeria after Obama ban | Lockheed to join Northrop in Grey Wolf development | USAF pilots to test Taiwanese F-16Vs
- The US Air Force (USAF) has awarded General Atomics a $328.8 million contract for MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft support and services. Under the terms of the agreement, GA will be tasked with “core management, logistics support, configuration management, technical manual and software maintenance, contractor field service representative support, inventory control point management, flight operations support, depot repair, and depot field maintenance,” according to the notice published on December 22. Work will take place at Poway, Calif., and is expected to be completed by December 2018.
- BAE Systems was awarded Tuesday, three US Navy contracts totalling $101 million in support of two of the service’s Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and an Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship. The Arleigh Burkes—USS Howard and USS Oscar Austin—will receive maintenance, repair, and servicing work, with work on the USS Howard to occur in San Diego, Calif., while work on the USS Oscar Austin will be performed in Norfolk, Va. Work is scheduled to finish in May 2019 and February 2019 respectively. Meanwhile, USS Champion MCM-4 is scheduled for dry-docking at its homeport in San Diego, Calif., with the contract covering the planning and execution of depot-level maintenance, alterations, and modifications that will update and improve the ship’s military and technical capabilities. Work will be completed on the vessel by August 2018.
- Lockheed Martin announced Wednesday, the receipt of a $110 million US Air Force Research Laboratory contract as part of the Gray Wolf initiative—a program seeking the development of a new low-cost cruise missile—joining Northrop Grumman in the first phase of a four phase program. Under the agreement, Lockheed will develop and demonstrate a low-cost subsonic missile that uses open architectures and modular design to allow for rapid prototyping and spiral growth capabilities. The first phase will run until 2019, with demonstrations to first take place from an F-16, and will be designed for compatibility with F-35, F-15, F-18, B-1, B-2 and B-52 aircraft.
Middle East-North Africa
- Nigeria has received letters of offer and acceptance from the USAmbassador to proceed with the purchase of A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft. The sale had been previously put on hold by the Obama administration over human rights concerns following the bombing by the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) of a refugee camp in January. The Nigerian government have until February 20, 2018 to accept the $593 million package—which includes 12 Super Tucanos alongside weapons, support services and hundreds of rockets and bombs—and it is expected that Pentagon and NAF officials will meet in early January to discuss the early delivery of the aircraft once payment has been made. Once delivered, the aircraft will assist the Nigerian military in conducting surveillance, reconnaissance and counter insurgency operations against threats such as piracy in the Niger Delta as well as the ongoing insurgency by the jihadists of Boko Haram.
- Turkish and Russian sources confirmed Wednesday that Ankara’s purchase of the S-400 Triumf air defense system has been finalized. Sergei Chemezov, head of Russian state conglomerate Rostec, told Russian daily Kommersant that two systems comprising four batteries will be delivered from March 2020 at a cost of $2.5 billion. Financing the deal, Russian will supply Turkey with a loan that will cover 55 percent of the system’s cost, while Turkey will cover the rest upfront. The agreement to purchase the latest Russian surface-to-air missile defense batteries is Turkey’s most significant deal with a non-NATO military supplier, and comes amid strained relations between Ankara and several Western countries.
- Five applications have been submitted to the Polish Ministry of Defense as part of Warsaw’s Harpy program—its procurement effort for new fighter jets. Leonardo will lead the charge for the Eurofighter consortium on behalf of program partners BAE Systems and Airbus, offering the Typhoon combat jet, while fellow European firm Saab is submitting its JAS-39 Gripen for consideration. US entrants include Boeing—with its F/A-18 Super Hornet—and Lockheed Martin, who are expected to offer the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and possibly upgraded F-16s. Warsaw-based Fights On Logistics, a company that provided services in relation to Poland’s acquisition of 48 F-16C/D Block 52 Plus fighters, also applied to take part in the market analysis phase that precedes the planned tender. While technical details of the program have yet to be disclosed, the ministry aims to acquire the jets by 2025.
- USAF test pilots are in Taiwan as part of ground testing of Republic of China Air Force (RCAF) F-16V Viper fighter aircraft modernized by the Aerospace Industrial Development Corp (AIDC). Four models have currently been upgraded to the V standard from their original A/B configuration, with improvements to include new mission computers, navigation equipment, large color multifunction displays, Advanced Identification Friend or Foe (AIFF) transponders, updated electronic warfare suite, and the Link-16 tactical data link, as well as an AN/APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR). Flight testing is to take place in 2018. Also expected next year, are deliveries of AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, which have an improved seeker head capable of high off-boresight cueing via a helmet mounted display, and are more maneuverable and have more range than existing air-to-air missiles currently in Taipei’s arsenal.
- How the F-35 got its name:
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