* Raytheon has been contracted to deliver Small Diameter Bombs (SDB) to the USAF. While the exact value of the contract modification was undisclosed, the company received $62 million at the time of the award. The contract calls for the delivery of low-rate initial production for 312 SDB II Lot 3 munitions for the branch, and also includes 413 SBD Lot 3 single weapon containers, 20 weapon conversions for guided test vehicles, 20 production reliability incentive demonstration effort captive vehicles and training and maintenance services. SBDs are being integrated on a number of USAF and US Navy aircraft, and provide warfighters with the ability to engage their targets when faced with poor weather and other adverse conditions.
* A once available report, questioning the logic in the Canadian procurement of an interim fighter to replace its fleet of of CF-18s, was pulled from the Department of National Defence website once Ottawa decided to procure F/A-18 Super Hornets as an interim fighter. The report had recommended against buying a “bridging” fighter aircraft, citing “disproportionately high costs during the bridging period.” In response, the government stated that “the aggregate of the information contained in the report speaks to the capability of the Canadian Armed Forces and is sensitive in nature,” hence its pulling.
* While no contract details have been announced, US President Donald Trump has claimed that the Lot 10 production for 90 F-35s will be $600 million cheaper, thanks to his pressure. The comments come after weeks of hand wrangling with lead contractor Lockheed Martin over pricing. Trump had criticized the fifth-gen fighter during his election campaign, but during his recent comments called the F-35 a “great plane” that’s “now in good shape.” Despite the detente, Trump added that Boeing will still be asked to compete for orders against the F-35 saying “they [Boeing] will be competing during the process for the rest of the planes because there are thousands of more airplanes coming.”
* The latest variant of the Predator B UAV, SkyGuardian, has been launched. Developed by General Atomics with collaboration from the German Military Aviation Authority, SkyGuardian meets international standards for flying in civilian airspace and is fully compliant with NATO’s UAV System Airworthiness Requirements (defined in STANAG 4671) and Britain’s DEFSTAN 00-970 standards. Once operational, the UAV will be used to protect ground forces as well as participate in non-military missions like border-surveillance, maritime patrol, and relief over-watch in cases of natural disasters. It can also carry a variety of sensor and communications payloads and can transmit high-resolution video to manned aircraft and ground forces.
Middle East & North Africa
* Efforts are being made by the US DoD and Iraqi diplomats to allow Iraqi F-16 pilots effected by President Trump’s controversial travel ban enter the USA. The executive order on immigration, which suspended travel for citizens from several Muslim majority countries, including Iraq, to the US for a period of 90 days, prevents the pilots from continuing their training in the US with the US Air Force. It is hoped that an exemption would be granted to the pilots under the reasoning that Iraq is a significant ally in defeating the Islamic State.
* A light-weight version of the Indo-Russian designed BrahMos cruise missile is to be developed for Russia’s 5th-gen T-50 PAK FA fighter aircraft. Already available in naval, submarine, and land variants, Indian and Russian developers will now collaborate on designing smaller variants of the short-range ramjet supersonic cruise missile with the specification that it will “fit the size of a torpedo tube and be almost 1.5 times smaller by its weight.” Other potential warfighters that could have the new munition integrated include the MiG-35, recently selected to operate as Russia’s newest multi-purpose fighter.
* India has reversed a policy to give big-ticket orders only to state-owned companies announcing that its first homemade 155mm/52-caliber towed artillery gun, the Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS), will be built jointly by private sector companies. Next year will see New Delhi award private industry a $350 million award for the production of 114 guns, with production expected to start two years from the order’s placement. Developed by the state-owned Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) in partnership with two private sector firms — Kalyani Group and Tata Power SED- the Indian Army has a requirement for more than 1,500 towed guns, with a potential value of up to $4.5 billion.
* Claims made by Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte-that US troops were building arms depots in five Philippine bases in defiance of a security deal has been rejected by the US ambassador to the South-Asian nation. Duterte claimed on Sunday that the US had stockpiled weapons, including tanks, in three locations in the Philippines, which could provoke China and put his country in harm’s way. In response to the claims, Ambassador Sung Kim said that his country could not build anything on Philippine bases against the consent of the Philippine government, and its facilities are “not related to weapons.” Instead, any planned facility building was for the purpose of storing equipment for disaster response.
The fifth test of David’s Sling: