Saab offers naval Gripen, tech transfer, to India | BMC to manufacture Altay tank engine | Sikorsky-Rheinmetall team to enter German heavy-lift comp
- A new comprehensive weapon system designed for the Sikorsky S-70M and S-70i Black Hawk helicopters has received military standards qualifications, Lockheed Martin announced Monday, February 5. In development since 2011, the system is capable of being integrated into existing avionics and provides Black Hawk pilots with the ability to traverse rapidly between forward firing guns, rocket pods and laser-designated air-to-ground missile launchers onto static or moving targets with high accuracy. Between 2015 and 2017, it successfully underwent live fire tests at the US Army’s Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona, before then being verified and validated by Sikorsky’s independent Qualification Assurance Board.
- Second-hand F-18 Hornet fighters being purchased by Canada from Australia will require upgrades to their ejection seats and external lighting, the Edmonton Journal reports. The aircraft will also undergo “preventive aircraft structure modifications to address known fatigue issues” similar to ones already implemented on CF-18s currently in operation with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). Negotiations between both governments over the sale are still ongoing, so it remains to be seen how much the sale and modifications will cost. Meanwhile, Boeing has until the end of the week if it is to enter Canada’s restarted CF-18 replacement program. If the firm fails to express an interest in taking part in competition by Friday, February 9, it will be excluded from the bidding process. While relationships between Boeing and Ottawa have been frosty since an ugly trade dispute involving Canadian airframer Bombardier last year, billions of dollars of defense procurement orders are at stake at a time when Canada is ramping up military spending over the next decade. Although government officials say the competition will be open, they have privately made it clear that Boeing needs to drop the Bombardier challenge and talk of an appeal to stand a better chance of winning the jet contract, say sources familiar with the matter. Boeing says it supports some 17,000 jobs in Canada.
- The US Army and foreign Patriot system operators will receive additional PAC-3 MSE missiles and associated equipment and support under a $523.8 million contract modification awarded Tuesday, February 6, by the Pentagon to Lockheed Martin. Foreign recipients include Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Romania. Work will take place at several Lockheed facilities across the US, with an estimated completion date of January 31, 2021. On the same day, Raytheon’s Andover, Massachusetts, facility was awarded a $17.5 million in support of the Patriot Field Surveillance program. The order—which covers domestic orders as well as foreign military sales to Israel, Qatar, Kuwait, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, Luxembourg, and Saudi Arabia—will include missile assessments, testing, recertification, and repair activities. The contract is estimated to run until January 31, 2020.
Middle East & North Africa
- Turkish-Qatari armored vehicles manufacturer BMC has been selected over four others by the Turkish Undersecretariat for Defence Industries (SSM) to produce an indigenous engine for Turkey’s Altay tank program. Ethem Sancak, BMC’s boss, told a conference that SSM had tasked the firm with developing a locally made engine between 400 and 1,500 horsepower, adding that they will try to develop an engine up to 5,000 horsepower, something for which work has already commenced. An earlier attempt by rival bidder Tumosan to build a powerpack for the Altay under a $100 million contract fell thorough after a technical support deal agreed with Austrian AVL List GmbH was canceled as part of Austria’s arms embargo on Turkey. BMC is also bidding for a serial-production contract for the Altay, expected in the coming months, where it faces off against FNSS, and the Altay’s developer Otokar.
- Two postings were made on the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) website Monday, February 5, with the US State Department clearing the sale of various naval missiles to the government of Finland. The first, estimated to cost $112.7 million, will see Raytheon deliver 68 RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSM) and one ESSM inert operational missile. The second, valued at $622 million, tasks Boeing with providing 100 RGM-84Q-4 Harpoon Block II Plus (+) Extended Range (ER) Grade B Surface-Launched Missiles, 12 RGM-84L-4 Harpoon Block II Grade B Surface-Launched Missiles, 12 RGM-84Q-4 Harpoon Block II+ ER Grade B Surface-Launched Upgrade Kits, four RTM-84L-4 Harpoon Block II Grade B Exercise Surface-Launched Missiles, and four RTM-84Q-4 Harpoon Block II+ ER Grade B Exercise Surface-Launched Missiles. Both sales include containers, spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, technical assistance, engineering and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistical support. Finland plans to use the Harpoon missiles on its Hamina-class ships, multirole corvettes and coastal batteries, while the Sea Sparrows are expected to be used on Finland’s new Squadron 2020 corvettes.
- Lockheed Martin subsidiary Sikorsky has signed a strategic teaming agreement with German defense giant Rheinmetall, to offer Sikorsky’s CH-53K King Stallion helicopter to Germany’s upcoming heavy-lift competition. A Lockheed Martin press release stated that further German teammates will be announced in the coming weeks and “will leverage and build upon the deep knowledge and expertise of the German defense industry.” The statement added that the King Stallion “provides the German Armed Forces with a proven heavy lift helicopter that can be entered into service seamlessly without need for upgrades for the next several decades.” Facing the Sikorsky-Rheinmetall team will be Boeing’s CH-47 Chinook, whose MG-47 variant is the only model thus far capable of Germany’s fleet-wide aerial refueling capability requirement.
- Saab has responded to an Indian Navy request for proposals for carrier-borne fighter aircraft, offering a marine-variant of the Gripen NG. As a sweetener to the offer, the Swedish firm is also open to a technology transfer with New Delhi—a key requirement in any major Indian defense procurement under its ‘Make in India’ initiative—adding that the Sea Gripen will have all the capabilities of the Gripen E/F as well as a “small logistic footprint”. Other potential purchasers in the Asia-Pacific region being chased by Saab at this year’s Singapore airshow including Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, however, Saab has caveated by saying it will have to wait and see if military budgets “match [their] ambitions”.
- Flight display at day one of the Singapore Airshow 2018:
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