Raytheon to Support AIM-9X Blk II in $78.7M Contract | Israel Receives Three Add’l F-35i | India Conducts Successful Test Fire of BrahMos Cruise Missile
- April 24/17: Raytheon has been awarded external link a $78.7 million US Navy contract to provide support and sustainment services for AIM-9X Sidewinder Block II tactical missiles. Under the agreement, the company will provide for the repair of AIM-9X Block II tactical missiles, captive air training missiles and special air training missiles, along with integrated product support, such as training, in-service software support, depot management, and obsolescence/diminishing manufacturing sources and material shortages monitoring. Customers provided for include the Navy and USAF, as well as the governments of Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Israel, Japan, Korea, Kuwait, Oman, Malaysia, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, and Turkey, under the Foreign Military Sales program. Completion is expected by May, 2019.
- A former Royal Saudi Air Force pilot and son to Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has been declared the Gulf kingdom’s new ambassador to the US. Having previously conducted air strikes against militants of the Islamic State in Iraq, and against Houthi rebels in Yemen, former F-15 pilot Prince Khaled bin Salman has already been serving as a special advisor at the Saudi Embassy in Washington since late last year after a back injury ended his flying career. It is expected that his appointment will aim to continue boosting bilateral ties with Washington, which have already been improving since Donald Trump assumed office in January. Riyadh is also likely to seek further US support for its campaign in Yemen, which is increasingly being viewed as a proxy conflict between Saudi Arabia and regional rival Iran.
Middle East & North Africa
- Israel has received three additional F-35i “Adir” Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, bringing to total five now operated by their air force. The fifth-generation jets arrived on Sunday after traveling from the US, and arrive less than 5 months since the first two landed in December. Tel Aviv intends to use the new aircraft to phase out the aging fleets of F-15s and F-16s, and to secure their capability edge over regional rivals known to be big spenders.
- The Admiral Kuznetsov, Russia’s only aircraft carrier, will have the Kalibr missile system installed during upcoming refit work. The new platform will replace the P-700 Granit anti-ship missile currently equipped onboard, utilizing a unique vertical launch system that is unified to launch both the Onyx and Zircon supersonic missiles. Other additions involved in the $715 million modernization include an upgraded electronic warfare, communication and aviation network. The vessel had previously spent 2016 in the Mediterranean Sea where aircraft onboard conducted some 420 air operations against militias fighting the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
- Field trials of Russia’s new battle tank, the T-14 Armata, are on schedule for a formal order to be placed for the Army in September. First produced by Uralvagonzavod in 2015, the next-generation tank boasts a 125mm smooth bore cannon and is capable of speeds estimated at 58 miles per hour with an operational range of about 310 miles. Dubbed a “supertank” by some Western intelligence agencies, a recent report warned of its capabilities on the battlefield, citing that “for the first time, a fully automated, digitised, unmanned turret has been incorporated into a main battle tank. And for the first time a tank crew is embedded within an armoured capsule in the hull front.” More discerning analysis, however, have called the project an attempt to “leapfrog the enemy on the cheap, by boasting about the autoloader and remote controlled machine guns.”
- Airbus will deliver two additional C295 military airlifters to the government of Kazakhstan in a contract that will include deliveries for spares and a support package. Once delivered, Astana will have a fleet of eight C295s. The multirole aircraft can perform armed and ground intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations using a multi-mission radar, and can also be modified to carry weapons.
- India has conducted the first successful test-fire of the the land attack variant of the BrahMos cruise missile. The April 21 test saw the missile launched from the INS Teg, a Talwar-class guided missile frigate, against an unspecified land target. An Indian Navy source said the new variant “provides Indian warships with the capability to precisely neutralize selected targets deep inland, far away from the coast, from stand-off ranges at sea,” and giving the Talwar-class fleet a capability to threaten inland targets. New Delhi is also looking to export the BrahMos to a host of international buyers including Vietnam, the United Arab Emirates, Chile, and South Africa. The government may be limited, however, due to the Missile Technology Control Regime’s (MTCR) ban on prohibiting the sale of missiles with a range greater than 300 kilometers, and while the variant tested on Friday has a range of 290 kilometers, India has ambitions of longer-range variants with ranges of up to potentially 800 kilometers.
- India has also announced an agreement with the South Korean government to collaborate on building warships. The Memorandum of Understanding, signed on Friday by both India’s secretary of defence production, Ashok Kumar Gupta, and South Korean Minister of Defense Acquisition Program Administration Chang Myoung-jin, will see state-owned Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL) cooperate with a shipyard yet to be chosen by Seoul. Both firms will “identify and develop indigenous sources/vendors for the supply of majority of the material and equipment” for warship building, according to the Indian Defense Ministry. Additional bilateral defense deals agreed upon during the engagement were for a $5.5 billion project that will see Kangnam Corporation of South Korea help India’s state-owned Goa Shipyard Limited build 12 mine countermeasures vessels, and a $650 million agreement between Indian firm Larsen & Toubro and South Korea’s Hanwha Techwin for the manufacture and production of K9 Vajra-T howitzers for the Indian Army.
- BrahMos launched from the INS Teg:
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