Price to Extend Life of B61 Atomic Bomb Put at $8.25B | CENTCOM Believes Iran Involved in USS Mason Attack | Estonia, Latvia & Lithuania Plan to Triple Defense Spending
- A Grumman F9F-8 Cougar on the flight deck of USS Lexington Museum has been painted pink for the month October. The new paint job is in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. However, the retired Navy fighter won’t stay pink forever, as a special procedure — applying liquid dishwashing soap to the latex paint — keeps the pretty paint job from becoming permanent.
- $8.25 billion has been given as the price of the life-extension program for the B61-12 atomic bomb by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). The new cost estimate was completed over the summer as the agency prepared to enter the production-engineering phase of the program. The baseline cost of the program is $7.605 billion, with an additional $648 million in “funds leveraged from other NNSA programs for technology and manufacturing readiness,” according to an agency statement – money that has common applications across multiple weapon systems.
Middle East & North Africa
- Claims have been made by the head of US Central Command (CENTCOM) that Iran may have been involved in a rocket attack on the USS Mason. Gen. Joseph Votel made the allegations saying “I do think that Iran is playing a role in some of this. They have a relationship with the Houthis, so I do suspect there is a role in that.” Recent missile launches on US vessels have come from territory held by Houthi militants in Yemen. A US-supported coalition led by Saudi Arabia is currently conducting a military campaign against the Houthis.
- Anti-corruption agents will investigate the recently scrapped military helicopter deal between Poland and Airbus. Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz made the announcement while also criticizing Airbus for misleading the public on the amount of jobs that would have been created by the deal to buy 50 multi-purpose H225M Caracel helicopters. While Macierewicz failed to mention which particular aspect of the deal would come under the scrutiny of the anti-corruption team, he accused some opposition lawmakers of acting against the state in favoring an international corporation.
- Norwegian F-35s grounded last month for repairs will be back in the air by November, sooner than expected. 15 F-35A Lightning II aircraft had been grounded in September due to peeling and crumbling insulation in avionics cooling lines inside the fuel tanks. The Norwegian Defense Ministry said the insulation is now being removed and extra filters installed to intercept any potential remains, although it has not yet been decided whether this fix should be regarded as temporary or permanent.
- An IHS Markit report has revealed a planned tripling in defense spending by the governments of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania amid fears of a Russian Crimea-style annexation of their territory. According to the report, it is expected that combined defense spending will reach $670 million by 2018 and $2.1 billion by 2020, more than double that when the countries entered NATO in 2004, and the fastest such growth in any region worldwide. After Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, Latvia and Lithuania agreed to raise military spending to reach NATO’s informal target of 2 percent of GDP by 2018, something that Estonia has already achieved.
- Rumors that talks are underway between Russia and Pakistan over the Su-35 fighter have been dismissed. Anatoly Punchuk, the deputy director of the Russian Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC), said no such negotiations are being held despite earlier reports that Islamabad is keen to switch to Russian fighters by buying the Su-35. Other Russian-made items wanted by Pakistan include tanks and air-defense systems.
- A ground-breaking defense deal between Japan and India is back in motion after Japan agreed to a clear price concession for 12 US-2 amphibious aircraft for the Indian Navy. A ten percent drop in unit pricing from $133 million to $113 million has finally allowed the deal to move forward after a two year delay. The deal, the first of its kind between the two countries, shows a growing cooperation between New Delhi and Tokyo as part of India’s Look East Policy meant to counter China’s influence in the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean regions.
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