* Following Northrop Grumman, L-3, General Dynamics and Gulfstream’s lead, a competing team of Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Bombardier are now positioning to compete for the Air Force’s JSTARS recap program. Raytheon and Lockheed Martin had previously announced their intention to partner for the competition, with Bombardier set to bring their long-range business jet to the team, to complement Raytheon’s sensor portfolio and Lockheed Martin’s system integration expertise. The Air Force has also opened up the competition to European firms.
* Following on from a $478.6 million contract in May awarded to ViaSat for Multifunctional Information Distribution System (MIDS) Joint Tactical Radio Systems (JTRS), the Navy handed Data Link Solutions LLC a contract for the same amount on Tuesday. The contract principally covers Navy and other US service requirements, as well as some Foreign Military Sales.
* Also on Tuesday, the Air Force awarded General Atomics a $21.1 million modification for Predator Mission Aircrew Training Systems (PMATS). Unsurprisingly this was a sole source acquisition, with an estimated completion date of 2018. The system is designed to replicate the interface and operation of MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, both of which are produced by General Atomics.
* As France plans on replacing its fleet of Alpha jet trainers, a Request for Proposals is now expected in September. The Dassault-manufactured advanced trainer the French Air Force intends to replace dates from the 1970s. Alenia Aermacchi has previously seen its M-345 trainer evaluated by the French defense procurement agency DGA, with other possible replacements including both turboprop and jet trainers.
* Airbus is developing a new heavy lift helicopter, referred to as the X6. A follow-up to the H225 Super Puma, which recently scored export success to Poland, the new concept model will undergo two years of concept definition, in collaboration with potential customers. The company also saw the first successful test flight of its H160 medium lift model a few days ago, with this also announced in Paris on Tuesday.
* The Czech Republic will be one of three customers for the L-39NG jet trainer, manufacturer Aero Vodochody Aerospace announced on Tuesday. The trainers will go to Czech company LOM PRAHA s.p. who train the country’s Air Force pilots, as well as to two other customers; – the Breitling and Draken International display teams.
* The cause of the Hungarian Air Force JAS-39C Gripen crash last week is being attributed to software issues, according to the country’s defense minister. This is pre-empting the outcome of the official investigation, with defense minister Csaba Hende citing initial details of that investigation.
* Russia is planning to bolster its nuclear forces by adding over forty ICBMs to its arsenal by the end of 2015. The response from NATO has been understandably frosty, meanwhile no details of precisely which missiles the Russian defense ministry intends to produce have been given.
* Qatar has signed a contract with Boeing for an additional four C-17 airlifters, to complement the four already in service with the Gulf state. Other C-17 customers within the GCC include Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.
* Saudi Arabia ordered four Airbus C295W transport aircraft at the Paris Air Show on Tuesday. The winglet-ed light transport aircraft found a launch customer in Mexico in March, with the C295Ws headed for the country’s Navy.
* Saudi Arabia may also be looking to purchase Russian tactical ballistic missile systems, according to Russian media. The Iskander has also reportedly received interest from Kazakhstan, with the Russian military planning to procure up to 120 of the road-mobile systems. Armed with a 480kg payload, the Iskander has an approximate range of 500km.
* Egypt is buying Sagem AASM Hammer air-to-ground missiles, following the sale of 24 Rafales in February. The first of these are scheduled for delivery by the end of 2016, with the French manufacturer also contracted to provide support services under the deal.
* Indian MIG-29s upgraded by Russia are being delivered to the Indian Air Force, with the new fighters now brought up to the UPG configuration. The first two of the improved jets are currently undergoing flight tests, with an additional pair preparing to start these. The upgrades were contracted for in March 2008, with the deal worth $952 million and covering five squadrons (69 aircraft) of IAF MIGs. The first six aircraft were upgraded in Russia, with the remainder undergoing work in India, using equipment kits supplied by RAC-MiG.
* In a possible death-knell to the indigenously developed, infamously unreliable Arjun main battle tank, the Indian Army is looking at replacing its fleet of T-72 tanks, releasing a Request for Information regarding a newly-designed modular armored vehicle, known as the Future Ready Combat Vehicle (FRCV). This not only highlights that the Arjun will be unable to meet the Army’s future demands, but indicates that the Indian Army is seeking to base its future combat vehicles on a more open architecture, allowing for rapid integration of future technologies. The new vehicle is slated to enter service by 2025-27; however this is highly likely to slip given the Indian defense ministry’s procurement track record.
* Outstanding Indian Air Force promo vid