* Legislation being considered by the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) could see the last of the USAF’s F-117A Nighthawk fleet sent to the scrap yard. Retired since 2007, a fleet of the pioneering stealth aircraft have been kept in special climate controlled storage hangers in the event they were ever needed again. Now, Congress is considering removing those mothballed aircraft and having them scrapped and gutted for hard-to-find parts.
* With its fourth test aircraft up and running, Boeing has reported a $243 million pre-tax charge for cost overruns on the USAF’s KC-46A Pegasus tanker program. It is believed that the company has incurred out of pocket expenses for the tanker totalling around $1.5 billion since being awarded the the $4.4 billion fixed-priced KC-X development contract in 2011. In total, $6.4 billion has been spent on the tanker, and Boeing is anxious for more funds to be released under the low-rate initial production (LRIP) contract expected later this year.
* The USAF awarded an $82.7 million contract to Space Explorations Tech. (SpaceX) to launch a GPS III satellite in May 2018. The move represents a shift away from the decade-long monopoly held by giants Boeing and Lockheed Martin on military space launches. Work to be carried out under the contract includes production of a Falcon 9 rocket, spacecraft integration, launch operations, and space flight certification.
Middle East North Africa
* UAE has seemingly donated a number of Armored Personnel Carriers (APC) and military pick-up trucks to the UN backed Libyan government based in the city of Torbuk. The amount of vehicles sent by the Gulf emirate is unknown, but a picture posted by the Libyan National Army (LNA) shows dozens of what appear to be new Panthera T-6 light APCs and Toyota Landcruiser pick-up trucks. Together with Egypt and Jordan, the UAE has allegedly defied the UN arms embargo on Libya to become one of the most consistent supporters of the LNA since 2012.
* Airbus has reported further delays to the development of the A400M with the latest issue involving the engine gearbox of the military transport plane. In a statement following the the first-quarter financial results by chief financial officer Harald Wilhelm, he warned of “serious challenges for production and customer deliveries” of the A400M this year. Negotiations on a new delivery schedule are being held through OCCAR, the European procurement agency.
* Polish company WB Electronics has announced that it has sold a number of its Warmate micro combat unmanned air vehicles to two undisclosed export customers. The system operates as a scaled-down expendable loitering munition, aimed at detecting and countering targets including light tanks and armored vehicles. The Warmate can be operated as an autonomous system transported by the army or special forces, and can also be installed on board military vehicles and controlled through the vehicle’s electronics.
* Defense experts in Seoul have reported that North Korea carried out two test-firings of their intermediate range missiles on Thursday with both failing. The seemingly hurried tests involved a Musudan missile with a range of more than 3,000 km, followed later by a similar intermediate range missile, both of which crashed soon after take-off. North Korean missile testing in the face of the UN ban have been escalating as of late in the run up to the ruling Workers’ Party congress to be held on May 6.
* Efforts by India to increase their domestic weaponry and equipment output has hit a stumbling block as domestic and private companies are divided over a new not-yet-implemented Ministry of Defense procurement policy. When brought into force, the policy would identify a select few private sector defense companies to be named Strategic Partners (SP), who could then be nominated to big ticket defense projects. Opposition to the policy mainly comes from over 6,000 small and medium companies who fear that the use of SPs would leave very little for them to be involved in.
* Iraqi army aviation helicopter strikes against ISIS targets west of Baiji (Salah Ad-Din province):