Aerojet Rocketdyne Bids $2B for United Launch Alliance | Russia Increases SU-30SM Orders from Irkut | Netherlands to Add 14 CH-47F Helis to Fleet
- Aerojet Rocketdyne submitted a bid on Wednesday to buy United Launch Alliance. The Boeing/Lockheed Martin joint venture is competing with SpaceX for US Air Force launch contracts, following the latter’s certification in May. The $2 billion bid comes amid concern from ULA’s two patrons over the use of the firm’s Russian-manufactured RD-180 rockets for military and intelligence satellite launches, with Congress ordering a stop to their use from 2019. The Air Force released an RFP in July for a replacement engine, with Aerojet Rocketdyne previously offering its AR-1 engine to ULA as a replacement for the RD-180s; however, ULA opted for a Blue Origin design in September 2014.
- Russia is buying an additional eight SU-30SM fighters to the 60 on order from manufacturer Irkut, with these ordered in 2011 and currently undergoing delivery. In addition to the new contract for eight SU-30SMs, a larger order for up to 75 of the aircraft is also thought in the works. The Russian Navy reported last month that it intends to procure over 50 of the aircraft. The decision to procure more of the aircraft could stem from a reduced forecast acquisition of the advanced PAK-FA/T-50 fighter, with planned figures revised down in recent months.
- Flightglobal reports that the Netherlands plans to procure 14 CH-47F Chinook helicopters, upgrade its six existing F model aircraft, and retire ten older D models. The new F models will not be in the CH-47F (NL) configuration as per previous orders, owing to budgetary constraints, but will instead be modified US Army CH-47F designs, acquired through the Foreign Military Sales program and scheduled for delivery in 2019. The $1 billion project will eventually see the Dutch operate 20 upgraded CH-47F helicopters, which will boast new VHF radios, self-protection equipment and fast-rope insertion/extraction systems, among other upgrades.
- Turkey’s Roketsan is moving into the Polish defense market, signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Polish firm WZL1 to market Roketsan products to the Polish Armed Forces. These products are the Cirit laser-guided rocket and UMTAS/Misrak-U anti-tank missile systems, with the former having previously been exported to the UAE through a $196 million deal in February 2013. The UMTAS is currently awaiting a production order from the Turkish government, after a successful test-firing of the missile in early July.
- Germany will replace its troubled G36 assault rifles, following months of ambiguity from the country’s Defence Ministry. The Heckler & Koch rifles will be replaced from 2019, with the country’s Defence Ministry officially announcing the decision this week. Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen acknowledged in April the need to replace the rifle, criticized by users for poor reliability despite assurances to the contrary from the manufacturer.
- Norway and Poland are engaged in talks over a possible joint procurement of submarines, according to Norwegian press reports. As Norway debates how best to go about replacing its fleet of Ula-class subs, the Poles are reportedly seeking out European partners for a joint acquisition. The Polish Navy requires three new boats to enter service in the mid-2020s, with the Netherlands eyed as another possible partner. The Norwegian Ministry of Defence decided in December 2014 that the Ula-class subs would have their lives extended to 35 years – out to 2020 – with the replacement program currently in a project definition phase.
- The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence is procuring high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) unmanned aerial vehicles from Airbus Defence & Space. The Zephyr 8 UAVs will operate at altitudes of around 70,000ft for up to three months, with the MoD signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the company ahead of an anticipated full contract award in coming months. Deliveries are expected in 2017 or 2018, with the original Zephyr design originally developed by UK firm QinetiQ before its acquisition by Airbus D&S in 2013.
- France will receive four new support ships from domestic shipyards Piriou and DCNS, following a contract awarded to a joint venture known as KERSHIP. The four ships will all be delivered by 2019, replacing five Chamois-class support vessels. The four vessels will likely be based on the B2M design, with the contract also covering maintenance support.
- Airbus is walking away from from Japan’s air refuelling tanker competition, with the company deciding against bidding its A330 MRTT against Boeing’s behind-schedule KC-46A. The European firm has cited an apparent preference in the Japanese Defence Ministry for the US design, with the US’ government-to-government Foreign Military Sales program making it cheaper than the Airbus offering, which would take place through a direct commercial sale. The A330 MRTT won South Korea’s $1.07 billion tanker competition in July, beating Boeing in the process.
- South Korea is reportedly planning to procure a dozen former US Navy S-3 Viking anti-submarine aircraft. The twelve Vikings will likely require new mission equipment and communications upgrades, with the acquisition a response to increased North Korean underwater activity in recent weeks. The South also operates sixteen P-3 Orions and ASW helicopters, with the Viking procurement a low-cost/high speed option to fulfil the South’s urgent operational requirement for a short-range, fixed-wing ASW platform.
- China has unveiled an export version of the Harbin Aircraft Industrial Corp. Z-19 light attack helicopter, with the new model designated the Z-19E. The helicopter has been presented before the opening of the International Helicopter Exposition in Tianjin, with photographs released by the People’s Daily. The twin-seat helicopter is currently in service with PLA aviation units in light attack and scouting roles, after being publicly revealed in 2012.
- Marines coordinating with AH-1 Cobras for air support:
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