* Raytheon’s Standard Missile-6 (SM-6) has moved from low-rate to full-rate production, following the Navy’s decision in January to expand the number of ships the missile is deployed on from 5 to over 35.
* The SOM-J stand-off cruise missile designed for the F-35 will soon begin Phase IIB risk reduction, the final stage before integration testing. Jointly developed by Turkish firm Rocketsan and Lockheed Martin, the missile will reportedly soon begin flight testing on Turkish F-16 Block 40 aircraft. The SOM-J is designed specifically to fit in the F-35’s petite weapons bay, with development work on the missile slated for completion in 2018.
* The Air Force handed Northrop Grumman a $99.1 million requirements-type contract for nuclear safety cross check and performance analysis, evaluation and verification. The company was the sole bidder for the contract, which will see the firm assessing both the software and hardware used to ensure Minuteman III safety. The company was previously awarded contracts for the ICBMs’ propulsion system and Environmental Control Systems.
* A contract was also awarded Thursday to RQ Construction LLC of Carlsbad, CA for the construction of a Special Forces Battalion operations facility at Joint Base Louis-McChord in Washington. The $45.1 million construction contract will run for two years.
* French newspaper Le Figaro has reported [French] that the French government may opt to scuttle the two Mistral-class LHDs originally built for Russia, with the French Navy having little desire [French] to integrate the ships into their own fleet. The French have held off delivering the two vessels, originally ordered in 2011, owing to Russia’s involvement in the Ukrainian conflict. Discussions between Russia’s Putin and France’s Hollande last month must have amounted to little, with the Russians previously pressing the French to make a decision on delivery by June.
* Italian shipyard Fincantieri and Finmeccanica business Selex ES have been awarded a $3.9 billion Italian shipbuilding contract. The OCCAR-administered programs cover the construction of both a new logistics ship and six offshore patrol vessels, with roughly two-thirds of the work share going to Fincantieri and the remainder to Finmeccanica. The two companies form the Raggruppamento Temporaneo di Impresa (RTI) consortium, with Selex ES the principal company in the relationship and Fincantieri the agent. The logistics ship is scheduled for delivery in 2019 and the OPVs between 2019 and 2025, with Fincantieri contracted for ten years of logistics support.
* The German Army has approved [German] the Puma Infantry Fighting Vehicle for service, with seven vehicles forming an initial training contingent. The Puma will replace the current in-service Marder IFV, with the Germans placing an order for 405 Pumas in July 2009.
* NATO is testing three autonomous underwater vehicles in the North Sea off the coast of Norway. The testing is being conducted in the frigid waters owing to the “operational relevance” of the region; – read the detection of Russian subs. NATO also tested autonomous sub-surface vehicles off the Italian coast last year. Conducted by NATO’s Centre for Maritime Research & Experimentation (CMRE), the tests are being run as part of the anti-submarine warfare exercise known as Exercise Dynamic Mongoose (seriously).
* Airbus Defence & Space has partnered with Cisco to merge complimentary technologies in the fields of defense, security and satellite communications. Under the agreement, Airbus will be able to embed Cisco technologies into its own systems and solutions, with the companies teaming on both the development of products and services and marketing.
* On Thursday South Korea unveiled a new attack submarine. The sixth 214-class sub, built by Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Co., is a 1,800-ton boat powered by Air Independent Propulsion. The South Koreans ordered the first batch of 214-class subs in 2000, with an additional order for six boats set for delivery by 2020. The South Korean Navy recently stood up an independent submarine command, becoming the sixth country in the world to possess such an independent structure.The command is based at Jinhae Naval Base, in South Gyeongsang, managing its fleet of 13 boats.
* Two Ka-31 anti-submarine helicopters have been returned to India following their overhaul in manufacturing nation Russia. The first pair of helicopters returned to the Indian Navy will be followed by another four, with the six Ka-31s part of the nine ordered in 2004. The nine were augmented in 2009 with an additional batch of five helicopters.
* Australia has begun construction of new facilities for its future fleet of F-35A Joint Strike Fighters. The current government has publicly stated it intends to procure up to 72 F-35As; however only two have actually been contracted for.
* Raytheon’s Standard Missile production line…