Sikorsky Completes PDR for Presidential Transport Helo | FMS: Reapers, Hellfires & Strykers – Oh My! | RAAF Takes Delivery on Eighth and Final C-17
- Sikorsky has completed a Preliminary Design Review (PDR) for its new Presidential transport helicopter, the VH-92A. The company was awarded a $1.2 billion engineering & manufacturing development contract in May 2014 for development of the helicopter, with options covering 21 operational and 2 test helicopters. The Presidential Helicopter Recapitalization Program (or VXX) saw Sikorsky become the only bidder after other competitors dropped out. The VH-92A is scheduled for fielding in 2020, with the PDR allowing Sikorsky to move into a Critical Design Review (CDR) stage.
- NASA’s test-launch of the Super Strypi rail-launched space delivery vehicle ended in failure after the rocket went off-course about a minute into its first flight (see video below). The planned launch was delayed from an initial schedule of October 2013, following issues with the propulsion system’s three-stage motor. The design forms a key feature of the Defense Department’s Operationally Responsive Space-4 (ORS-4) mission, intended to provide the Air Force with a low-cost option for placing small satellites in orbit.
- The United Arab Emirates has requested thousands of Joint Direct Attack Munition kits (JDAMs) and bombs from the US, along with sustainment and support services in a deal estimated to value $380 million. The request – approved by the State Department and now referred to Congress – includes 3,250 GBU-31V1s with associated MK-84/BLU-117 bombs, 750 GBU-31V3s with BLU-109 bombs and 1,000 GBU-12s with MK-82/BLU-111 bombs, as well as fuzes and other equipment. The UAE is engaged in combat operations as part of the Operation Inherent Resolve coalition against ISIS.
- Kuwait has requested Sniper Advanced Targeting Pods from the US, with the Lockheed Martin-manufactured pods also recently seeing export success to Jordan in June. The request covers 14 Sniper pods for installation on Kuwait’s F/A-18 Hornet aircraft, with the potential deal estimated at $115 million.
- The United Kingdom is considering extending the in-service lives of its Tranche I Eurofighters to fill gaps in current timetables between the phasing-out of the older aircraft and the introduction of the F-35. The Ministry of Defence has also now signed for a further six F-35B Joint Strike Fighters to supplement four already signed for in November 2014. The Royal Air Force is concerned that a slump in fighter numbers in 2019 will leave the UK with the lowest number of fighter since the RAF’s inception nearly a century ago. The 53 Tranche I aircraft are scheduled to leave service by 2018, along with Panavia Tornado GR4 fighter-bombers.
- The State Department has approved a Foreign Military Sale contract to weaponize the Italian Air Force’s fleet of MQ-9 Reaper UAVs. The DSCA request included AGM-114R2 Hellfire II missiles, JDAM guided bombs and launchers, with the possible deal estimated to value $129.6 million. General Atomics will be the prime contractor for the potential sale, the US government having relaxed export restrictions in February, with the weaponization of the Italian Reapers representing the second international customer to operate armed MQ-9s. The Royal Air Force is the sole weaponized operator outside of the US.
- France has also requested 200 AGM-114R2 Hellfire II missiles from the US, with the State Department also approving the request. The potential deal – now referred to Congress – is estimated to value $30 million, and the missiles are set to equip French forces operating in sub-Saharan Africa. The French Army’s Tiger attack helicopters will deploy the new missiles, with France also now developing a replacement missile for its Hellfires, known as the FAST-M.
- Lithuania has requested 84 Stryker Infantry Combat Vehicles from the US, with the State Department approving the potential Foreign Military Sale. The request also includes 30mm cannons – recently approved as an upgrade for some US Strykers stationed in Europe – and Remote Weapons Stations, as well as machine guns, communications systems and auxiliary equipment. The potential deal is estimated to value $599 million, with 30 US government or contractor personnel required to travel to Lithuania to help implement the introduction and sustainment of the Strykers.
- Australia’s eighth and final C-17 Globemaster strategic transport aircraft has entered service with the Royal Australian Air Force, after flying to RAAF Base Amberley. The RAAF received its seventh C-17 in July, with these two aircraft ordered in April through a $713 million contract to supplement the six already in service. April’s contract also covered improvement works to RAAF Amberley’s facilities, including a C-17 maintenance hangar.
- The Super Strypi launch vehicle’s maiden flight:
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