Shanahan confirmed as Dep. Defense Sec. | USS North Dakota tests Tomahawk with Block III Payload Tubes | India gears up for LUH
- Leidos has received a $64 million task order for the integration and demonstration of three Airborne Reconnaissance Low-Enhanced (ARL-E) ground surveillance and intelligence aircraft. Work and testing will take place at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., and will take part in demonstration flights prior to delivery to the US Army. The aircraft are the upgraded version of the ARL, which replaces the ARL’s de Havilland Canada Dash 7 airframe with a twin-engine Bombardier Dash-8 turboprop aircraft, and is equipped with dual-optical high definition sensors, laser rangefinders and target designators, a long-range surface search radar, and radio wave direction finders which can give precise coordinates of enemy communication signals.
- Two Tomahawk vertically-launched cruise missiles have been successfully test-fired from the Virginia-class submarine USS North Dakota. The test aimed to verify the capabilities of the recently installed Block III Payload Tubes, designed to replace the original Virginia-classes 12 vertical launch missile tubes. Integration of the tubes are part of upgrades to the class’s missile launch systems—which includes the Virginia Payload Module launch system—and will triple the capacity for Tomahawks and allow greater flexibility for installing other vertical launch weapons systems. Improved Tomahawk Block IV missiles are expected to be deployed from 2019 and will be in the US Navy inventory beyond 2040.
- Former Boeing vice president Patrick Shanahan has been confirmed by the US Senate as deputy secretary of defense. The Senate voted 92-7 in favor of the appointment, despite concerns by some in the political arena—Senate Armed Services Committee chairman John McCain, R-Ariz found his answers during his confirmation hearing on arming Ukraine as “unsatisfactory,” while other senators were opposed to a defense contractor getting a post in Trump’s Pentagon. Shanahan will replace Robert Work as deputy defense secretary, who has held the post since 2016.
Middle East & North Africa
- Three Turkish defense firms will be asked to submit proposals to Turkey’s Altay tank program, which could reach beyond $10 billion. BMC, Otokar and FNSS—all private companies—will bid to secure a contract for the serial production of an initial batch of 250 Altay tanks, with Turkey planning to produce a total of 1,000 units. Ankara’s decision to include three bidders in the program comes after Otokar produced and successfully completed qualification tests of an Altay prototype, including mobility and endurance testing on rough terrain and climatic conditions, firing tests with various scenarios, and survivability testing. However, last month, the Turkish procurement agency deemed Otokar’s serial production sole-source offer as too expensive, instead opening up the competition to include other bidders.
- The delivery schedule for Su-30SM fighters to Belarus has been delayed due to “technical changes in the aircraft’s equipment set.” Originally scheduled to begin next year, Belarus will instead have to wait until 2019 for deliveries to start at a rate of four per year for a total of 12 models. Already this year, the Belarusian Armed Forces has received six Mil Mi-8MTV-5 helicopters, the fourth battery of Tor-M2 air defense missile systems, a Protivnik-G radar, two Torn-8P radio control and radio monitoring stations and various kinds of modern sniper rifles and special weapons from Russia.
- Rheinmetall has signed a framework agreement with the German military for the delivery of DM11 120mm tank ammunition. The first delivery is valued at an initial $43 million deal and calls for a potential order for 5,000 rounds of 120mm training ammunition, and multi-year orders could see a total contract value reach into the hundreds of millions of euros. DM11 120mm ammunition would be used on the German military Leopard 2 main battle tanks and can be retrofitted with any 120mm smoothbore gun with modern fire control. It has been in use by Berlin since 2014 and has been exported to other countries using the Leopard 2 tank.
- In an effort to help the Philippines tackle a jihadist insurgency, the US is to transfer two Cessna 208B Caravans equipped for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions. The archipelago nation has seen a recent flare in violence on the muslim majority southern island of Mindanao, where its obsolescent Rockwell OV-10B Bronco aircraft and Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) FA-50 fighters have been conducting raids against enemy forces. The aircraft were ordered in a $14 million May 2016 contract awarded by the US Department of Defence to L-3 Communications, which called for the modification of Cessna 208Bs to the ISR mission. Chad, Cameroon, Niger, and the Philippines—countries all dealing with insurgencies—had been earmarked for the aircraft.
- The Indian government is to kick start a multi-billion program to acquire 110 light utility helicopters (LUH) for the Indian Navy. New Delhi plans to send out an expression of interest to domestic companies, including Bharat Forge, Reliance, Larsen & Toubro, Mahindra Aerospace and Tata Advanced Systems, who in turn will act as a strategic partner with a selected overseas original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to produce the aircraft. 30 helicopters will be bought off-the-shelf from the foreign manufacturer, while the rest will be produced domestically with the local partner. Airbus, Russian Helicopters, Sikorsky, and Bell Helicopters are all expected to take part in the LUH program.
- US ISR aircraft for the Philippines:
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