* Raytheon has secured a number of contracts as part of upgrades within the USAF. A $458.9 million DoD contract will see the company modernize various cryptographic equipment for the flying branch, including existing VINSON and Advanced Narrowband Digital Voice Terminal capabilities used by the National Security Agency, as well as involving undisclosed foreign military sales. Another deal will see Raytheon develop and produce new mission computers for the F-16 fighter aircraft under the F-16 Modular Mission Computer Upgrade program. The new computers will offer two times the processing power and 40 times the current memory of existing F-16 mission computers.
* The former president of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, has lashed out against allegations that he interfered with a government tender to procure new fighters. Lula’s lawyers said he had no role in the selection of the Saab Gripen fighter jets in December 2013, and obtained no illicit gains related to the deal. In response to the case, Saab reiterated that they had rigorous policies controlling their business relationships, and highlighted that the company and their representatives were not facing any charges.
* Recent testing on board the USS John Paul Jones by the US Missile Defense Agency have successfully demonstrated the ability of the Aegis baseline 9.C1 to tackle against a “complex medium-range ballistic missile target. A salvo of two SM-6 Dual I interceptors was fired during the December 14 exercise, using their explosive warheads to defeat the target. Program officials will continue evaluating system performance based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the test.
Middle East & North Africa
* Lebanese pilots and maintenance crew of the A-29 Super Tucano will travel to the US to receive training from the 81st Fighter Squadron at Moody Air Force Base, commencing February 2017. Six new aircraft alongside 80 personnel will travel from Lebanon; of which Twenty-two are maintainers with twelve pilots, while the rest are civilians and contractors required to support the training program. The 81st Fighter Squadron has already provided such training to A-29 operators from the Afghan Air Force.
* MBDA Missile Systems have completed firing trials for their Enforcer lightweight precision weapon system for the German Army. A disposable, shoulder-launched guided weapon system, the weapon was fired at ranges between 3,280 and 6,560 feet, with the homing head effectively guiding the missile to the center of the intended targets. The company has additional guided firings slated for 2017, with qualification for the missile due in the coming years.
* Former top executives at Leonardo-Finmeccanica will face a re-trial in front of Milan’s appeals court, following their jailing for corruption in a 2010 helicopter deal with the Indian government. In April, former Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi and Bruno Spagnolini, former head of the group’s helicopter unit AgustaWestland, received sentences to four and a half, and four years respectively for their part in the graft. Last week India’s federal police arrested the former head of the air force S.P. Tyagi, 71, who was at the center of allegations of impropriety in the order of 12 helicopters meant to fly senior Indian politicians.
* Following the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Baku in Azerbaijan, the Azerbaijani government has signed a deal to procure the Iron Dome missile defense system. The sale was announced by Defense Minister Javer Jamalov, although details regarding price and expected delivery of the system have yet to be revealed. Baku has already agreed to $5 billion worth of long-term contracts over the years to buy weapons and security equipment from Israel, signalling a growing of bilateral defense ties.
* Contracts have been signed between JSC Sukhoi Civil Aircraft, Super Jet International and the Royal Thai Air Force for delivery of another Sukhoi Business Jet (SBJ), the third to join the fleet of the Royal Air Force of Thailand in 2018. While the previous SBJs are only capable of carrying 60 passengers in a three-class configuration, the latest one can accommodate up to 73 passengers.
A Chinese Navy ship, steals US Navy underwater drone: