Pentagon Unhappy with Law Sidelining ULA’s Russian Parts | Report: China Seeking STOVL | France Offering Poles Subs with Cruise Missiles
- US arms sales experts are expected to travel to the Gulf following the President’s GCC summit on Wednesday and Thursday, which will include discussions on integrated defense systems. President Obama is expected to push for arms sales, particularly capable anti-ballistic missile capable defense systems, most likely to assure GCC member states of the US’s commitment to their security despite the recent framework agreement with Iran.
- DefSec Carter and DNI Clapper have urged Congress to allow United Launch Alliance, a Lockheed Martin/Boeing joint venture, to use Russian RD-180 engines for “assured access to space.” If the current law were to change from the current 2015 defense authorization law banning the use of Russian engines in US launches, ULA would be capable of competing for 18 out of 34 competitive launches between 2015 and 2022, versus the current 5 as the law stands, with the Air Force pushing for more launches by the private sector.
- It has emerged that a F/A-18F Super Hornet crashed on Tuesday , shortly after takeoff from the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71). The two aviators were recovered and are without serious injury, with the Super Hornet in question assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 211. The carrier is in the Persian Gulf, with VFA 211 conducting operations against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Another Super Hornet was involved in a crash in January 2014, with that incident determined by the Navy to have been avoidable.
- Meanwhile, Raytheon announced that it has successfully flight-tested the APG-79(V) X AESA radar system, intended to extend the service lives of F/A-18C/D aircraft by 15 to 20 years. This latest test builds on a previous successful test in January, with new features such as Synthetic Aperture Mapping (SAR) announced with the company’s press release.
- The Air Force has test fired two AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles from a F-22 Raptor fighter. This test-firing is a step towards the F-22’s Increment 3.2B upgrade program, with Lockheed Martin awarded a contract last October to modify 220 F-22 Configurable Rail Launchers to accommodate the AIM-9X. Full operational fielding of the AIM-9X by the F-22 is not expected until 2017.
- France has reportedly offered Poland cruise missiles and submarines. The French have offered the Poles the MBDA Missile de Croisière Naval if they buy three Scorpene submarines. Poland is undertaking a substantial defense modernization program, with three submarines scheduled for delivery by 2023 under the country’s Orka program, which is reportedly already fully-funded. The evaluation of a tender for new submarines is expected to take place in Q4 this year.
- In conjunction to reports from earlier this week which stated that the Russian Defense Ministry is planning to procure new BMP-3 IFVs, new reports have stated that these will be augmented by 250 BMD-4M and BTR-MDM Rakushka armored personnel carriers. The first batch of these vehicles is thought to have been delivered already, with paratroop units set to receive a total of 62 BMD-4M and 22 BTR Rakushkas by the end of the year. The Russian President’s Office announced Wednesday that the country’s land forces would conduct training exercises with Chinese, Indian, Mongolian and Belorussian counterparts later this year.
- Denmark’s Terma has signed an memorandum of understanding with Turkish firm Aselsan to integrate radar and electronic warfare systems on fighter aircraft, including the transfer of ownership and intellectual property rights of Terma’s F-16 Modular Reconnaissance Pod from Terma to Aselsan. The latter opened a $157 million radar and EW manufacturing plant in March, with Terma opening an EW competence center in 2010.
- Dutch pilots are heading to Italy to train on the Italian Air Force’s fleet of Alenia Aermacchi T-346 trainers, following a cooperative agreement signed between the two countries’ air force chiefs. The Italian firm is still in the running for the Air Force’s T-X program, despite the company’s US prime contractor General Dynamics withdrawing itself from the competition in March.
- China has reportedly begun work on a Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing (STOVL) capability for the PLA Navy (PLAN). The equipping of the Liaoning carrier would free J-15 fighters tasked with air defense for strike missions. China has previously attempted to acquire STOVL-capable aircraft, with these previous projects dropped owing to cost and technical limitations. The J-15, a copy of the Russian Su-33, achieved its first carrier landing in 2012. Building on previous media coverage, these latest reports state that work on the future aircraft’s engine have begun, with AVIC Chengdu Engine Group and China Aviation Engine Establishment reportedly signing an agreement to cooperatively develop the engine, with this thought to have taken place in March. Northwestern Polytechnical University (NPU) in Xian is also thought to have developed a STOVL swivel nozzle last year.
- India is reportedly looking to acquire two Boeing 777-300 (extended range) aircraft as equivalents to Air Force One and Two. The aircraft will be bought from commercial airline Air India and fitted with self-protection technologies such as missile countermeasures by manufacturer Boeing, with the Defence Acquisition Council the contracting authority.
- The T346 at Farnborough…
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