* The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is one more weapons delivery accuracy (WDA) test away from having its initial operating capability (IOC) declared for its Block 3F software. The news comes after a surge by the F-35 Developmental Test team in early August, which saw multiple test events accomplished over the course of a number of days. Speaking on the surge, Torrey Given, a weapons integration engineer with the 461st Flight Test Squadron at Edwards Air Base, said that the testing allowed the development team to “accomplish some complex air-to-air demonstrations with the (Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile) in order to show the full capability of the aircraft.” Upon achieving its IOC, the aircraft will then move to operational test organizations so they can be combat proven.
* Israel’s RADA Electronic Industries has been contracted by the US military to deliver its Multi-Mission Hemispheric Radar systems. Valued at $8 million, the company stated that the radars will be used by a “key US military force” for air surveillance with “an emphasis on counter-UAS with the most advanced on-the-move capabilities,” adding that dozens of the system will be delivered this year for immediate fielding. More than 300 Multi-Mission Hemispheric Radar systems have been delivered to various defense customers. It is an S-band, software-defined, pulse-Doppler, active electronically scanned array systems with beam forming capabilities and advanced signal processing.
* Lockheed Martin Space Systems has won a $21.9 million US Navy contract modification for support of the Trident II D5 submarine launched ballistic missile. Work will be split between Sunnyvale, Calif., Cape Canaveral, Fla. and other locations across the US with a completion date expected by Sept. 30 2017. The Trident II D5 is the submarine-launched ballistic missile deployed by both the US and British Royal Navy, and is the sole nuclear weapon system deployed by the UK.
Middle East & Africa
* The Hermes 900 UAV is likely to have its full operational capability (FOC) declared by the Israeli Air Force before the end of the month. Developed by Elbit Systems, it is expected that the number of Hermes 900s in use with the air force will be increased once FOC is awarded. The MALE UAV was first used in combat during Israel’s 2014 Protective Edge operation in the Palestinian Gaza Strip, accumulating hundreds of flight hours throughout the campaign, flying in excess of 100 times with what the service described as an extremely high success rate. Switzerland and Brazil have also expressed interest in purchasing the UAV.
* Norwegian firm Nammo A/S has come to a landmark agreement with the Finnish Defense Forces (FDF) to supply its newly developed artillery shells. Helsinki is the first international customer for Nammo’s 155 mm insensitive munitions, high explosive, extended range ammo (IM-HE-ER)—which has been under development since 2002 and partly funded by the state-owned Norwegian Defense Material Agency (NDMA)—which covers almost twice the distance of Nammo’s previous precision-strike artillery ammunition offerings. The ammo purchase forms part of a long-term project by Finland to reinforce the Army’s artillery capability and fire-power, which has already seen the February purchase of second-hand K9 Thunder 155 mm/52 caliber self-propelled artillery systems from South Korea. Training with the K9s will commence in 2019 following a modernization with Finnish sub-systems that include battle management, global positioning, communications and camouflage bolt-ons.
* After 72 years, a lost World War 2-era heavy cruiser has been discovered 18,000 feet (5.5km) beneath the surface. The USS Indianapolis was sunk by a Japanese submarine torpedo on 30 July 1945 somewhere in the Philippine sea between Guam and Leyte, resulting in the deaths of 880 seamen—the largest loss of life at sea in the history of the US Navy. Notoriety of the the ship’s sinking intensified after news of the vessel’s final mission, completed just days before the Japanese attack—it carried parts for the atomic bomb dropped over Hiroshima as well as enriched uranium fuel for its nuclear reaction. Those supplies were delivered to an American base on Tinian island, in the final year of the war which launched the world’s first nuclear bombing. A spokesman for the survivors, 22 of whom are still alive, said each of them had “longed for the day when their ship would be found”.
* Ten US Navy personnel remain missing after the guided missile destroyer USS John S McCain collided with a Liberian-flagged oil tanker off the coast of Singapore. The collision was first reported at 05:24 local time on Monday, east of the Strait of Singapore, as the US warship was planning to perform a routine port stop in Singapore. Authorities stated that the McCain sustained damage to her port side, while the tanker sustained damage to a tank near the front of the ship 7m (23ft) above the waterline, with no injuries to her crew. A US-led rescue operation with support from the Malaysian and Singaporean navies and coast guards is ongoing.
* The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has fielded its first six Pilatus PC-21 basic trainers at its East Sale air base in Victoria. The Swiss-built turboprops are the first of an eventual 49 PC-21s that will be operated by the RAAF, replacing a 30-year old fleet of PC-9/As in the training of Australian pilots from 2019. A new basic training school will be equipped with 42 of the aircraft, along with seven simulators and related training equipment, four will be assigned to the RAAF’s 4 Sqn to support operational training needs, with the final three will be operated from its Pearce air base in Western Australia for research and development.
* Interview with USS Indianapolis survivors: