SpaceX to launch X-37B spaceplane in August | Spain eyes F-35 for AF and Navy | China unveils export version of trainer
- Raytheon has bee awarded at $12.5 million modification to an existing contract for the Phalanx Close-in Weapons System (CIWS). Under the terms of the deal, the company will deliver Phalanx CIWS hardware kits to the US Navy that are intended to upgrade the Phalanx weapons system to the latest approved configuration. Work will be performed at El Segundo, Calif. And Louisville, Ky, and the program is expected to be completed by March 2019.
- Elbit Systems of America has been sub-contracted by Lockheed Martin to develop a cockpit display replacement unit for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter under a program, called Technology Refresh 3, Panoramic Cockpit Display Unit. While the cost of the contract was not given, a company statement said that the value of the award was not in a material amount. Details on contract length were also omitted. Elbit already provides power amplifiers, structures and sustainment work for the F-35 and, together with Rockwell Collins, it also provides the F-35 Helmet Mounted Display System, through their joint venture Rockwell Collins ESA Vision Systems.
- SpaceX will launch the USAF’s next X-37B miniature spaceplane mission in August—the company’s first for the service— after four previous X-37B missions have already been undertaken by United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas 5 rockets—a joint venture by Lockheed Martin and Boeing. Unlike most USAF launch contracts, which are awarded some two years before the flight, this recent award was only announced on Tuesday, two months before lift-off. SpaceX’s first publicly disclosed launch contract for the Air Force was awarded last year for a next-generation Global Positioning System satellite flight in 2018. A second GPS launch contract was awarded in March. The contracts are valued at $83million and $96.5 million, respectively.
Middle Easy & North Africa
- A diplomatic spat between Qatar and several Arab neighbors could have knock on effects for Doha’s planned purchase of 72 F-15QA muliti-role fighters from Boeing. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, the UAE, as well as he recognised government of Saudi-backed Yemen, all cancelled flights to and cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar on Monday, citing that it had been supporting and funding terrorist activities in the region and was in league with regional rival Iran—charges Qatar denies. However, US President Donald Trump has thrown his weight behind the move, tweeting on Tuesday that they [Saudi and Gulf allies] “said they would take a hard line on funding … extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!”, arguing that his visit to Saudi Arabia was “already paying off.” Qatar was finally cleared to move ahead with its $21.1 billion F-15 procurement last November, and although the deal has yet to be finalized, it was billed as extending Boeing’s struggling F-15 production line into the 2020s.
- French FREMM frigates have been integrated with MdCN naval cruise missiles from MBDA. This new deep strike capability was added to the vessels in February, with all six equipped with two A70 eight-cell vertical-launch silos for a total of 16 MdCN missiles. The MdCN is based on the Scalp EG (Storm Shadow in the UK) air-launched cruise missile now in service with Mirage 2000 and Rafale combat aircraft deployed by the French Air Force and Rafale Marine aircraft.
- The Spanish Air Force and Navy are looking into the procurement of F-35s in order to replace the services’ EF-18s and AV-8B Harrier aircraft. For the Navy, its Harrier jets will have to be phased out over the next decade—leaving the Armada’s sole aircraft carrier without a fixed-wing replacement—and is looking at acquiring 15 F-35Bs to fill its capability gap. But in order to make the procurement worthwhile financially, Madrid may also look at adding addition F-35A aircraft to its air Force fleet instead of addition Eurofighters.
- Officials from Russia and Indonesia have finalized contracts for the delivery of Su-35 fighters. Negotiations over the draft Su-35 contract had begun in March and it is expected that the deal will be signed by both parties later this year. While further details on the sale have yet to be revealed, earlier reports said that the planned contract envisages the sale of 10 Su-35 jets to Jakarta, which could be paid for in part by Indonesia’s natural rubber and palm oil reserves.
- China has unveiled its FTC-2000 pilot trainer/fighter aircraft ahead of testing in Sudan. The aircraft is developed by the Guizhou Aviation Industry Corporation under the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China, and operates as the main advanced trainer used by the PLA Air Force and the PLA Navy. Both the domestic and export variants are powered by the indigenously-built WP-13 turbojet engine, with the export version featuring various avionics systems, navigation guidance systems or external stores tailored for overseas client’s demand for multiple missions.
- Kim Jong-un oversees Korean People’s Army Air Force combat flight contest:
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