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Daily Rapid Fire

Return of the Raptor | PAK-FA, now the Su-57 | Dhanush howitzer fails field trials

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Americas * The US Air Force has taken a F-22 Raptor out of storage at Edwards Air Force Base and is expected to be returned to flying status by the end of the year. The aircraft in question, serial number 91-4006, is an engineering, manufacturing and development model aircraft with a Block 10 avionics configuration. […]

* The US Air Force has taken a F-22 Raptor out of storage at Edwards Air Force Base and is expected to be returned to flying status by the end of the year. The aircraft in question, serial number 91-4006, is an engineering, manufacturing and development model aircraft with a Block 10 avionics configuration. In preparation for its first flight, the Raptor is currently undergoing a $25 million upgrade to a Block 20 avionics standard. A total of eight test and 187 operational aircraft were produced by Lockheed Martin for the USAF before the program was mothballed in 2012.

* Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $8 billion US defense contract for the provision of global logistics support services for special operations forces. Slated to run for ten years, the agreement will extend the defense giant’s current support contract which is due to expire in September 2018. The contract will support the Army’s Green Berets, Rangers as well as Navy SEALs, and covers work such as logistics at warehouses and depots as well as maintenance,modifications and repairs on equipment like airplanes and vehicles.

* Rolls Royce Marine North America has won a $27.3 million US Navy contract to provide parts and engineering services on power plants for DDG 1000 Zumwalt destroyers. The agreement includes item orders, mounting equipment and other services for DDG 1000 gas-turbine generators, which provide the destroyer’s main source of electric power. Work will be conducted in Indianapolis, Ind., and Walpole, Mass., and is scheduled for completion by September 2022. The power plants are designed for future weapons systems like electromagnetic railguns and lasers, which would require huge amounts of electricity to operate.

Middle East & Africa

* Israeli intelligence has released information indicating how Hamas is using newly constructed residential buildings in Gaza to disguise the expansion of underground tunnels and command centers, prompting a possible future round of military action in the blockaded Palestinian territory. The briefing described two homes carefully mapped out by military intelligence that the IDF’s Southern Commander Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir insisted proved “beyond a shadow of doubt that Hamas is operating within and underneath the cover of civilians, in preparation for the next war.” The briefing, which is being described as “highly unusual”, is believed to be part of the groundwork for bolstering Israel’s case should it need to destroy the structures built in heavily populated residential neighborhoods. The last round of Israeli military action in Gaza took place during August 2014’s Operation Protective Edge and resulted in the deaths of over 1,500 civilians.


* Sukhoi’s T-50 PAK-FA has been designated the Su-57, according to Russia Air Force chief Col. Gen. Viktor Bondarev. The fifth-generation stealth fighter made its maiden flight in 2010 and since then has received a number of upgrades to avionics, stealth and armaments. Six aircraft are expected to be delivered to the Russian Air Force next year, with 55 expected to be in operation by 2020. The aircraft will then go into mass production.

Asia Pacific

* The US State Department has cleared the $24.9 million sale of Harpoon anti-ship missiles to the government of Thailand. The foreign military sale includes delivery of five RGM-84L Harpoon Block II Surface Launched Missiles and one RTM-84L Harpoon Block II Exercise Missile, as well as the supply of missile containers, spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, personnel training and training equipment and contractor support. Boeing will act as lead contractor and the missiles will be used on Bangkok’s DW3000 Class Frigate.

* It’s been announced that a prototype of India’s Dhanush 155mm/45-caliber artillery gun has failed a number of field trails, prompting a possible postponement in the gun’s induction to the field. The guns are being developed by the state-owned Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and are based on original drawings of the Swedish 155mm/39-caliber Bofors howitzers, which India procured in the mid-1980s. Three consecutive firings over three months found that on one of the six prototypes produced, the shell of the gun hit the muzzle brake on firing, which could be caused by overexploitation of the munitions, overcharging of the munitions, or even faulty ammunition. The program has tasked the OFB with producing 114 Dhanush guns at a cost of $2 billion. The first batch of 18 guns are slotted to be inducted this year, another 36 guns in 2018 and 60 guns in 2019, completing the initial order.

* A US government audit into misused spending in Afghanistan has found that a contractor billed Washington for luxury cars and six-figure salaries to employees’ significant others who did little work. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) quarterly report found that UK-based contractor New Century Consulting charged for high-end vehicles like Alfa Romeos and Bentleys used by senior executives as well as paying large sums to employees’ significant others to work as executive assistants with little evidence they provided any work. In response, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, penned a letter to Secretary of Defense James Mattis suggesting that “whoever approved of this spending should be fired.”

Today’s Video

* USAF A-10s in Estonia:

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