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Secret buyer for six Super Tucanos | T-X trainer selection delayed until spring | Seoul to develop its own Iron Dome

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Americas * Brazilian aerospace giant Embraer has announced the firm order for six of its A-29 Super Tucano aircraft. The unnamed customer will start to receive the light attack, surveillance, and advanced trainer planes from 2018, however, no further details of the sale were given. Marketed as a durable, versatile and powerful turboprop aircraft capable of carrying out a wide range of missions, Super Tucanos have clocked over 320,000 flight hours and nearly 40,000 combat hours in during its ten years in service. In August, the aircraft faced off against three other competitors in a demonstration held for the US Air Force’s Light Attack Experiment (OA-X), with military officials from Canada, Australia, UAE, Paraguay, among others, in attendance. The USAF is hoping to combat test the aircraft in the Middle East, although no fixed date has been set. * The US Navy has declared the network-enabled AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) C-1 fully operational, with all US Super Hornet squadrons now fitted with the air-to-ground weapon, giving them the ability to attack stationary land and moving maritime targets. Since receiving initial operational capability (IOC) in 2016, the program team has participated in a series of four fleet-wide exercises—RIMPAC 2016, Valiant […]
Americas

* Brazilian aerospace giant Embraer has announced the firm order for six of its A-29 Super Tucano aircraft. The unnamed customer will start to receive the light attack, surveillance, and advanced trainer planes from 2018, however, no further details of the sale were given. Marketed as a durable, versatile and powerful turboprop aircraft capable of carrying out a wide range of missions, Super Tucanos have clocked over 320,000 flight hours and nearly 40,000 combat hours in during its ten years in service. In August, the aircraft faced off against three other competitors in a demonstration held for the US Air Force’s Light Attack Experiment (OA-X), with military officials from Canada, Australia, UAE, Paraguay, among others, in attendance. The USAF is hoping to combat test the aircraft in the Middle East, although no fixed date has been set.

* The US Navy has declared the network-enabled AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) C-1 fully operational, with all US Super Hornet squadrons now fitted with the air-to-ground weapon, giving them the ability to attack stationary land and moving maritime targets. Since receiving initial operational capability (IOC) in 2016, the program team has participated in a series of four fleet-wide exercises—RIMPAC 2016, Valiant Shield 2016 SINKEX, Northern Edge 2017, and Talisman Sabre 2017— that demonstrated the capabilities of the weapon in increasingly complex scenarios. This latest JSOW variant includes GPS/INS guidance, terminal IR seeker and a Link 16 weapon data link.

* New US Air Force Under Secretary Matt Donovan used his first interview at the Pentagon to say that a decision on the T-X trainer competition is likely to be made in March 2018, rather than the initial service plan to announce a competition winner by the end of 2017. “Source selection is never based on the calendar, it’s based on events that they finished the source selection, and they do expect that to be somewhere in the spring,” Donovan told Defense News, but did not offer any reason as to why a decision on the $2 billion program was pushed back. In August, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson acknowledged that the service would likely not be able to award a contract for T-X as long as a continuing resolution was still in place. The current CR expires on December 8.

Middle East & Africa

* Clashes broke out between Iraqi military forces and Kurdish Peshmerga troops as the central government moved to control facilities in the oil rich Kurdish-controlled city of Kirkuk. Baghdad-backed troops, which included militias supported by Iran, entered the city at the weekend in response to the Kurdish region’s independence vote on Sept. 25, which included a Kirkuk which has been controlled by Kurdish troops since taking it from the Islamic State in 2014. The US-led task force coordinating operations in the region urged for all sides to avoid escalations, but went so far as to downplay the movement of Iraqi military vehicles into Kirkuk as “coordinated movements, not attacks,” and called the predawn gunfire “a misunderstanding and not deliberate.” However, sterner words came from US Sen. John McCain, who warned of “severe consequences” if US-supplied military equipment that was intended to fight the Islamic State is misused by the Iraqi military in clashes between Iraqi forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga in northern Iraq. This could include a halting of Washington’s massive train-and-equip program for Iraqi forces, which has seen $4.8 billion in funding approved in 2016 and 2017.

* The Turkish Navy has conducted the maiden test-firing of its domestically developed Atmaca anti-ship missile (AShM). Comparable to the Exocet, C-802 and Harpoon anti-ship missiles, the Atmaca weighs 800 kg with a 200-kg warhead and can travel at subsonic speed to a range of up to 200 km. While powered by the Microturbo TRI 40 miniature turbojet engine, Ankara hopes to replace this with the domestic Kale 3500 engine, making the missile fully sourced from Turkish industry. It will be deployed onboard the Turkish Navy’s MILGEM Ada-class corvettes and G-Class frigates.

Europe

* Ukraine’s state-owned defense firm Ukroboronprom has unveiled its locally-made version of the M4 assault rifle— the WAC-47—as part of the military’s efforts to reach technical and operational alignment with NATO. In conjunction with the standard 5.56×45 mm NATO rounds, the WAC-47 can also be adapted to fire 7.62×39 mm rounds, which will allow the Ukrainian forces to utilize the plentiful supply of existing 7.62×39 mm ammunition stocks. The rifle will also come in 10.5”, 11.5”, 14.5” and 24” barrel sizes, allowing Kiev to use the platform in a variety of mission roles, from close-quarter combat to sniper or designated marksmanship. Following the completion of testing, the rifle will be manufacturered under license from the US for the Ukrainian armed forces with the potential for export to neighboring countries in Eastern and Central Europe such as Bulgaria and Romania.

Asia Pacific

* South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) told lawmakers on Monday that the Agency for Defense Development (ADD) is developing an indigenous missile interceptor system similar to the Iron Dome. Seoul had initially looked into purchasing the Israeli-made system to counter North Korean long-range artillery threats—Pyongyang has some 14,100 artillery pieces including 5,500 multiple rocket launchers according to Seoul—but found that the Iron Dome was not designed to defend against the long-range artillery barrage that North Korea is expected to launch. “The Iron Dome is a defense system suitable to defend sporadic rocket strikes from irregular warfare forces such as the Hamas group. It is not designed to handle North Korea’s attacks using long-range artillery,” the JCS report said. Cost effectiveness and the mountainous terrain of the Korean peninsula were also given as reasons to go the indigenous route. The new system would be deployed as a countermeasure against the North conducting multiple strikes on South Korea’s key state and military facilities.

* After delays that have lasted over a year, India’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) has sent a formal letter of request to the US Defense Department saying it is ready to move ahead with the government-to-government sale of two ISTAR aircraft. Valued at $1 billion, the sale will see Raytheon install the intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) system onboard a Gulfstream platform and will come equipped with active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar that can scan more than a 30,000-kilometer area in a minute, and analyze data and identify the target in 10 to 15 minutes. A committee comprising of scientists from the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO), officials from the Air Force, and MoD officials will form to finalize the mission software and critical equipment for the ISTAR aircraft. Initial delays in ordering the aircraft are believed to be over internal wrangling between the IAF and the DRDO over which of the two should be the technical evaluator on the program.

Today’s Video

* Ukraine’s multi-calibre WAC-47:

https://youtu.be/oiC12cOc7e8?t=92

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