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Daily Rapid Fire

South Korea drops bombs near border with North | Finland denies Trump’s F/A-18 sale |’Hero’ policemen carries unexploded bomb

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Americas * The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and US Navy have successfully conducted a scheduled test of a Standard Missile-6 guided missile (SM-6) off the coast of Hawaii. Launched from the deck of the USS John Paul Jones, the missile intercepted a medium-range ballistic missile target, and comes just one day after North Korea […]

* The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and US Navy have successfully conducted a scheduled test of a Standard Missile-6 guided missile (SM-6) off the coast of Hawaii. Launched from the deck of the USS John Paul Jones, the missile intercepted a medium-range ballistic missile target, and comes just one day after North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan. The MDA said the test gives the naval component of the missile defense system higher ability to intercept ballistic missiles in their terminal phase.

* AM General has won a $2.2 billion US Army contract for the production of High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV). Used as a standard utility and combat vehicle by the US military and allied nations, the contract calls for the production of 11,569 vehicles and includes spares parts packages. The deal covers exports to international customers, listing Afghanistan as the first nation due to receive the vehicles. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of Feb. 28, 2023.

Middle East & Africa

* Rival firms Elbit Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) are to come together to offer an upgrade package for ageing F-16A fighters. The pairing comes as the Israeli Air Force looks for potential buyers for its recently retired fleet of “Netz” fighters, and the upgrade package is likely to be a sweetener to governments looking to upgrade on a budget. While no details of the offered upgrades have been revealed, the IAF have previous experience from its “Barak 2020” initiative, which saw its F-16C/D models get an avionics and mission system enhancement, as well as structural strengthening. Modifications to the A variants will begin only when a customer has signed for the aircraft.


* Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto has rolled back on claims made by US President Donald Trump that Helsinki was buying the F/A-18 Super Hornet from Boeing. “One of the things that is happening is you’re purchasing large amounts of our great F-18 aircraft from Boeing and it’s one of the great planes, the great fighter jets,” Trump said during a White House press conference, while the visiting Niinisto looked on with a slightly confused expression. While it is true Finland is planning a $7-10 billion multi-role fighter procurement to replace its ageing fleet of 62 F/A-18 Hornet jets, a request for information (RFI) to European and US aerospace firms is expected to be sent in 2018, with a final decision due in the early 2020s. A government working group has listed possible candidates as Saab’s Jas-39 Gripen, Dassault Aviation’s Rafale, Boeing’s Super Hornet, Lockheed Martin’s F-35 and the Eurofighter consortium’s Typhoon.

* Romania has selected Leonardo’s Vixen 500E active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar for use in its new trainer technology demonstrator program. Recently supplied to the US Naval Test Pilot School and in use on the Saab Jas-39 Gripen, the National Institute for Aerospace Research “Elie Carafoli” (INCAS)—Romain’s leading aerospace research and development centre—will integrate the radar on the IAR-99 TD jet it is developing. The trainer is based on a Romanian Air Force IAR-99 Soim (prototype no. 7003) which will be modified by INCAS together with aircraft manufacturer Avioane Craiova. Leonardo has previously worked with INCAS, supplying its Seaspray 5000E AESA surveillance radar for INCAS’s special mission BN-2 Islander aircraft.

Asia Pacific

* Four South Korean F-15K fighter-bombers dropped heavy ordinance near its border with the North, a show of “overwhelming force” in response to Pyongyang’s recent ballistic missile tests. Seoul said that eight 2,000lb MK-84 multi-purpose bombs all hit their targets at a South Korean testing ground near the border. North Korea’s test of an intermediate-range ballistic missile on Tuesday flew over Japan’s northern Hokkaido island and was condemned by Tokyo as an “unprecedented, serious and grave threat” to the region. The test is believed to be the first launch from Sunan, home to Pyongyang’s international airport, prompting speculation that the Kim regime had fired a road-mobile missile from an airport runway.

* Japan is seeking powerful new radar from the US to boost the operational range of its planned procurement of a land-based version of the Aegis ballistic missile defense (BMD) system, due in 2023. So far, previous efforts by Tokyo to acquire the AN/SPY-6 AESA radar have not come to fruition, leaving them to rely on existing radar technology that has less range than a new generation of BMD interceptor missiles available. While the US Navy is seemingly behind Japan receiving the technology, there may be a reluctance from the MDA, which is responsible for developing BMD technology, to release such advanced technology before it is fully fielded by the US. Developed by Raytheon and integrated into the Aegis system by Lockheed Martin, SPY-6 radars will also form part of the Pentagon’s new Aegis-equipped Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, due to be operational in 2022. In order for Japan to receive the Spy-6 in time for the planned deployment of its Aegis Ashore system in 2023, it will need to be cleared long before that 2022 date, in order to give the manufacturers time to build the system.

* Finally, an Indian police officer has been hailed a hero after sprinting 1km while carrying a 10kg bomb in order to protect 400 schoolchildren. Abhishek Patel took it upon himself to carry the ordinance after learning that no bomb squad was immediately available to dispose of it after it was found near a school in the state of Madhya Pradesh. An investigation is under way to find the original source of the bomb, but it is believed that it may have come from a nearby army range. For his bravery, Officer Patel received a $775 reward for his bravery, as well as a guaranteed viral video.

Today’s Video

* South Korean drills near the North’s border:

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