T-6A flights halted due to physiological incidents | Opposition removed to Rafale sale to Egypt | USS Ralph Johnson delivered to US Navy
- General Electric Aviation (GEA) has been awarded a $143.4 million US Navy contract to provide 22 low-rate initial production Lot 1 and 2 T408-GE-400 turboshaft engines for the CH-53K King Stallion helicopter. In additional to the engines, the sale will also include associated engine and programmatic support, logistics support, peculiar support equipment, and spares. Work will take place in Lynn, Massachusetts, and is expected to be completed in July 2021.
- The US Navy has accepted delivery of the future USS Ralph Johnson (DG 114), an Arleigh Burke-class future guided-missile destroyer, following the successful completion of sea and in-port trials in September. Manufactured by shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries, the vessel’s namesake Pfc. Ralph H. Johnson, received the Medal of Honor for his actions during Operation Rock in the Vietnam War, 1968. Johnson jumped on top of a tossed grenade to spare his fellow Marines from the blast. The heroic action took Johnson’s life but saved the lives of his brothers in arms and undoubtedly prevented the enemy from penetrating his sector of the perimeter. The new vessel is the 64th Arleigh Burke class destroyer and the third of the DDG 51 Flight IIA restart ships to be delivered. It was built at Hungtinton’s Pascagoula shipyard, where future destroyers Paul Ignatius (DDG 117), Delbert D. Black (DDG 119), Frank E. Petersen, Jr. (DDG 121) and Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee (DDG 123) are currently in various stages of production. Huntington is also under contract for the future USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG 125)—which will be the first Flight III ship.
- T-6A Texan flights out of Vance Air Base have been halted following reports of a number of physiological incidents experienced by pilots. Four episodes involving four instructor pilots and one student pilot from the 71st Flying Training Wing have occurred since November 1. A statement from the base stated that in each case “the aircraft’s backup oxygen system operated as designed, and the pilot followed the correct procedures, landing the aircraft safely,” adding that an investigation into the incidents was underway. T-1 Jayhawk and T-38 Talon flights out of the base will continue as normal.
Middle East & Africa
- France’s Finance Ministry has dropped its opposition to the sale of 12 additional Dassault Rafale fighter aircraft to Egypt, La Tribune has reported. The ministry—often referred to as Bercy, the arrondissement in which it’s located—had initially been concerned that Cairo had already borrowed too much in order to pay for a growing modernization program, which has seen 24 Rafales, several naval vessels, and a satellite purchased from France, amounting in over $8 billion in sales to French arms companies between 2014 and 2016. However, an intervention from the French cabinet, citing an Egyptian economy that is projected to grow 6% annually this year and set to experience an increase in revenues from recently tapped gas desposits, has managed to change Bercy’s mind—at least to allow for negotiations over a possible sale of additional Rafales to continue.
- The British Royal Navy will formally accept the first Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier into its fleet on December 7, following the completion of contractors’ sea trials on the vessel. The announcement was made by new defence secretary, Gavin Williamson, during his first visit to the carrier on November 16. The commissioning will take place at the vessel’s home at Portsmouth, and will be inducted into service by Queen Elizabeth II herself.
- Northrop Grumman has carried out the first flight of the first E-2D Advanced Hawkeye (AHE) early warning and surveillance aircraft it is building for Japan. Tokyo ordered an initial Hawkeye in 2014, followed by an additional example in August 2016, and will be added to a 13-strong E-2C fleet the Japanese Air Self Defense Forces have been operating since 1983. Both E-2Ds will be delivered next year and in the words of the company “further strengthens its ability to meet Japan’s evolving security and intelligence needs.”
- China is expected to enter its DF-41 inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) into service from next year. Local media reports say that the solid-fueled road-mobile platform recently underwent its eight test in November in China’s western desert region. Capable of attacking anywhere in the world from a mainland site, it boasts a range of 12,000km, has a top speed of mach 10, and can carry 10 multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MRIV) warheads.
- Harris Corporation will deliver bomb rack units (BRUs) to Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) for use on the next-generation KF-X experimental fighter. The company will provide both its BRU-47—a single store carrier designed for use on the Boeing F-15E and F-22 Raptor—and BRU-57—a smart-weapon-enabled, twin store carrier that doubles the payload capacity of aircraft without the need to modify any hardware, which allows for a wide array of payload configurations. Further details on the contract were not disclosed. Seoul plans to produce a total of 120 next-gen fighters, as well as help produce a number of aircraft for program partner Indonesia.
- Roll out of Tu-160M2:
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