Sikorsky Marine One Helo Ready by Spring 2017 | Pressure Mounts to Approve Sale of Super Hornets to Kuwait | UAC Says T-50 PAK-FA Ready for Mass Production
- Sikorsky has announced that its VH-92A Marine One helicopter is on track to fly by Spring 2017. The company was selected to design a replacement for the aging fleet of current presidential helicopters in 2014 after a cancelled attempt by Lockheed Martin/AgustaWestland which saw ballooned costs and requirements running out of control. Up next for the VH-92A program is the subsystem critical design review of the helicopter at the end of next month, and that is expected to take place earlier than scheduled.
- Members of the International Association of Machinist and Aerospace Workers District Lodge 776, who represent a significant portion of Lockheed Martin workers at the company’s Fort Worth plant, have voted in favor of strike action. At present, both the union and Lockheed are in negotiations to replace the current four-year contract which is due to expire on July 10. Union members are asking for an extended five year contract and a 38% pay increase.
Middle East North Africa
- Four Israeli pilots are to travel to the US next month to undergo F-35 training at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. The training will be ground-based and the men will only fly the real aircraft back in Israel. It is expected that 12 pilots will have completed their training by the middle of 2017.
- Pressure is mounting on the Pentagon to approve the sale of F/A-18 Super Hornets to Kuwait though US Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has warned that his service will have to pay more to buy the F/A-18 due to cost increases. According to Mabus, Boeing needs more orders so that it can keep producing the fighter at an economical rate as the 16 slated for Fiscal year 2017 are not enough to ensure optimum production. Kuwait has been waiting over a year for approval for 28 fighters in a deal estimated to cost $3 billion.
- Turkish police reports believe that militants belonging to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) have access to up to 50 Man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS). Three reports from late May were seen by Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet and included warnings that the systems could be used to target Turkey’s Cobra helicopters. The news comes following the release of footage of a PKK militant successfully targeting and shooting down a Turkish helicopter.
- The Norwegian government has published a whitepaper outlining their Long Term Plan for the Norwegian Armed Forces between the years 2017-2020. Included in the document is a plan to acquire new maritime patrol aircraft and a long-range air defense system to complement the current NASAMS 2 such as the AMRAAM-ER currently developed by Raytheon. $19.7 billion has been set aside for the purchases.
- United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) has announced that its Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA is now ready for mass production. According to Russian newspaper Izvestia, the fifth generation fighter almost fully meets the requirements of the military’s combat capabilities. UAC is also currently preparing a proposal to be submitted to the Russian Ministry of Defense on starting serial production.
- South Korea’s government has completed its own investigation into the botched attempt to upgrade the Korean Air Force F-16 with BAE Systems as contractor. According to the investigation, its Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) failed to heed warning from the Pentagon and broke US foreign military sales (FMS) by having selected the vendor and negotiated the price via competitive bidding. The incident has delayed the program by four-years and incurred a loss of $89 million.
- A Japanese Air Self-Defense Force F-15J firing off its M61 Vulcan gatling cannon during a mock intercept mission:
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