* Air Force E-3 Sentry AWACS aircraft have begun receiving new Interrogator Friend or Foe (IFF) systems, as part of the fleet’s Block 40/45 upgrade program. The $60 million upgrade will see the new IFF system rolled out across the Air Force’s fleet of 31 E-3s. The AN/UPX-40 systems include Mode 5 enhancements, with the Saudis also requesting Block 40/45 upgrades in August 2014, including 20 of the new IFF systems. France has also upgraded it’s E-3 fleet with Block 40/45 enhancements.
* The six Marine Corps’ F-35Bs which underwent testing on USS Wasp in May reportedly showed poor reliability performance, with the aircraft reportedly only achieving availability of around 50%. This is undoubtedly a factor Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Joe Dunford has considered as he finalizes the jet’s paperwork for achieving Initial Operating Capability. A decision on whether the F-35B is ready for limited combat operations is expected imminently, with the USMC deciding in March to push on to a timetabled IOC target of fourth quarter 2015, despite issues with the fighter’s 2B software.
* Confirming reports from June indicating that Brazil was looking to refinance its procurement of 36 Saab Gripen NG fighters, Sweden has reportedly agreed to reduce the commercial interest rate applied by the Swedish Export Credit Corporation from 2.54% to 2.19%. Brazil cut the amount of funding it planned to take from Sweden in June, with the original sales contract announced in October 2014. The revised agreement will now be transferred to Brazil’s Federal Senate to be signed-off. Meanwhile, Brazilian prosecutors announced in April 2015 that they were planning to investigate the $5.4 billion Gripen deal.
Middle East North Africa
* Saudi Arabia has requested the sale of numerous ammunition types for the country’s land forces, in a potential deal estimated to value $500 million. The long list of items has been cleared by the State Department, with the ammunition types varying from 7.62mm and .50 Cal rounds to M67 hand grenades, 2.75 inch rockets, M18A/M18A1 Claymore mines, M1A2 Bangalore Torpedoes and Guided Precision Aerial Delivery Systems, with the most numerous requested item being the M430A1 40mm High Explosive Dual Purpose round, with KSA requesting a million.
* Israel is expected to stand-up its first squadron of F-35A fighters in coming days, as the Israeli Air Force plans for the delivery of its first ‘Adir’ fighters in 2017. The Israeli defense ministry initially placed an order for 19 aircraft in 2010, with a second batch order following in February 2015, bringing the total number of Israel Joint Strike Fighters – designated the F-35I – on order to 33. The IAF will also stand-up a second squadron of F-35Is, with a third also being considered.
* Selex ES has been awarded a $30 million contract to supply the Royal Air Force with Radar Warning Receivers to fit its fleet of 24 AS330 Puma helicopters. The British Ministry of Defence is also reportedly set to sign a contract to upgrade the Sky Guardian RWRs on the Royal Air Force’s fleet of CH-47 Chinook helicopters, with the Sky Guardian also manufactured by Selex ES.
* BAE Systems is preparing to begin flight testing of the Eurofighter Typhoon‘s Phase 2 Enhancements package over coming weeks, with P2E including the integration of the Royal Air Force’s MBDA-manufactured Meteor BVR air-to-air missile and Storm Shadow cruise missile. Firing of the Meteor and Storm Shadow are expected to begin in August and September/October respectively, with P2E scheduled for roll-out from 2017.
* Boeing has ended its contract with state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, citing shoddy production quality of HAL-manufactured components for India’s P-8I Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft under construction by Boeing, as well as components for the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. The $4.7 million contract in question was signed in February 2010.
* Malaysia is reportedly buying British-manufactured Thales Starstreak Very Short Range Air Defense (VSHORAD) systems, along with Weststar GK-M1 vehicles, radar systems and auxiliary equipment. Thales UK and Weststar subsidiary Global Komited agreed in April 2014 to jointly market the point air defense system to Malaysia, with the Starstreak system also ordered by Thailand and Indonesia in November 2012 and January 2014 respectively.
* Boeing has revealed the first Australian EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft, with this the first of twelve Growlers ordered through a Foreign Military Sale contract in June 2014. The Australian government requested a F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler sustainment program in April 2015, estimated to value $1.5 billion. A second Growler is scheduled to complete testing in August, with the pair of aircraft then set for delivery to Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake for RAAF pilot training, before delivery to Australia in 2017.
* Boeing was also awarded a $20.5 million delivery order on Thursday for intermediate-level support service for the twelve Australian EA-18G Growlers, as well as for the provision of support equipment for the US Navy’s new squadron of Growlers, set for stand-up in 2017. $15.2 million of the contract total has been allocated for the US Navy and the remaining $5.3 million for the Royal Australian Air Force.
* Footage from a JPADS drop: