P&W complete trials of upgraded F135 engine | Saab offers T-X production in US | US lobby demand assurances from ‘Make in India’
- The US Army has contracted Raytheon Missile Systems $127 million contract modification for additional Excalibur 155mm guided artillery rounds. Work will be performed at locations throughout the United States, England and other locations, with the production expected to wrap up by April 30, 2019. The M982 Excalibur is an extended-range GPS-guided shell used by 155mm artillery guns like the M109 Paladin self-propelled howitzer used by the US Army and similar weapons systems.
- Pratt & Whitney has successfully finished tests of an adaptive three-stream fan paired with a F135 core engine. The fan includes an adaptive bypass airflow that aims to improve fuel efficient and cooling capacity, and is part of a $1 billion program to develop a full-scale, 45,000lb-thrust-class prototype engine under the Adaptive Engine Transition Program (AETP) that could be used to re-engine the F-35 and power a future combat aircraft. At present, most military turbofan engines have only two airstreams, but including an additional, adaptive airstream will give the engine the option to increase its thrust on demand or lower its fuel consumption.
- The F-35 Joint Program Office has proposed that the US military keeps some F-35s in its fleet with Block 2B software, instead of sending them for an expensive upgrade to newer standards. The suggested cost saving measures comes as program manager Vice Adm Matt Winter notes that each of the aircraft requires 150-160 modifications to be on par with Block 3 standard. More than one hundred jets are now flying on Block 2B code. Winters added that the looming modification bills are threatening to suck resources from a looming production ramp-up with more than 900 aircraft projected for delivery over the next five years. Instead, those with the non-combat rated software will be kept for training purposes.
- Saab will open a manufacturing and production facility in the United States if its T-X aircraft produced with Boeing is selected as the US Air Force’s next jet trainer. The Swedish firm is pursuing three options stateside, including establishing a new manufacturing facility, working with an existing American sub-supplier to develop a dedicated production facility or acquiring that sub-supplier, or acquire an existing manufacturing facility. If the plan goes ahead, approximately 90% of the Boeing-Saab T-X will be produced in the US. However, if the design is not selected by the USAF, this production plan may change, with Boeing CEO Leanne Caret saying that the company would evaluate production on a customer by customer basis as it approaches procurement opportunities.
Middle East & Africa
- Raytheon has been awarded a $31.5 million US Army contract modification for domestic and foreign military sales of the BGM-71 TOW guided anti-tank missile. Both Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, in addition to the US military, will receive the missiles after production at facilities in Tucson and Farmington, Ariz., scheduled for completion by December 31, 2018. Originally wire-guided, the newest versions of the TOW are completely digital, have a range of several miles and are capable of destroying tanks and fortifications. They come in man-portable, vehicle mounted or air-launched versions.
- The Austrian Defense Ministry said that it is sticking to its legal complaint about Airbus over alleged fraud during a $2 billion fighter deal, after the European aerospace firm denied the claims and threatened its own legal action against the ministry. Speaking on Tuesday, Defence Minister Hans Peter Doskozil continued his commitment to getting to the bottom of the charges either inside or outside of court. “It does not matter to me in what way the damage to the tax payer will be repaid eventually, in a settlement outside of court or via a court decision,” Doskozil said. One of Austria’s main allegations is that Airbus deceived it about so-called offset deals intended to boost the local economy which were required to agree the purchase.
- A new electronic warfare suite for the JAS-39 Gripen E/F fighter has been launched by Saab. The Arexis electronic warfare (EW) suite comprises of a radar warning receiver (RWR), enabling the equipped fighter with situational awareness of enemy radar tracking activity. It also includes Digital Radio Frequency Memory (DRFM)-based Electronic Countermeasures (EC) systems for jamming against enemy radars, be it onboard enemy aircraft or air-to-air missiles (AAM). For dedicated EA roles, the Arexis can be packaged into a pod, which Saab states, “provides high output power” for dedicated EW/EA roles.
- As foreign firms scramble to offer production lines in India as part of lucrative multi-billion dollar fighter sales, US defense companies are seeking assurances from New Delhi that they won’t have to part with proprietary technology as part of any deal. The concerns were highlighted in an August letter from the US-India Business Council (USIBC) to India’s defense minister, seeking a guarantee that US firms would retain control over sensitive technology, even as joint venture junior partners. The lobby is also requesting that US firms shouldn’t be held liable for defects in products manufactured in collaboration with local partners under the Indian government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative. The scheme, aimed at building a domestic military industrial base in India, looks to cut its heavy reliance on defense imports, and is banking on technology transfers being included in big ticket deals. Without full tech transfer in previous arms deals, India’s mainly state-run defense factories have largely been left to assemble knock-down kits even for tanks and aircraft produced under license from the foreign maker.
- Boeing-Saab T-X: Afterburner Takeoff, On a Roll:
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