* The Air Force released a solicitation of questions and responses from industry for its Advanced Pilot Training Family of Systems program. More commonly referred to as the T-X, the program has garnered much attention from the likes of Northrop Grumman, Boeing and Saab, as well as General Dynamics and Alenia Aermacchi. The Air Force recently lowered the requirements for the new trainer aircraft, following the original notice in June 2012.
* In more Air Force news, reports have indicated that a draft RFP is to be released next month, seeking to pursue a US-designed rocket engine. Currently reliant on Russian RD-180 for its Atlas 5 rockets, maintaining a sovereign capability in these engines is of a high political priority for the Air Force, particularly given that reports last year highlighted certain companies were making a quick buck marking up imports of these engines.
* A major review has been launched by the Pentagon to assess the current state of play of missile defense systems, capabilities and programs, seeking to update a previous review from 2011. The Patriot is likely to come under scrutiny, as well as the THAAD system. In related news, Raytheon was awarded a $212.6 million contract modification today, for Patriot engineering services for the 2015 calendar year.
* The USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) will be fitted with a different radar than the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), with the new Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar being brought into the US carrier fleet one ship ahead of original plans. The new Enterprise (CVN-80) was originally to have been the first to sport the EASR; thus the name. The Navy has stated this change will result in a $180 million savings for the program, which had anticipated a later upgrade to the new JFK.
* Argentina is in talks with the Chinese regarding the potential sale of 24 JF-17 fighter aircraft. The Argentines are also discussing bids from the Spanish (with the Mirage F-1) and Israel (with the Kfir Block 60). This is the latest twist in Argentina’s search for new aircraft.
* Sweden is to get two new subs. The new A26s have seen drama down-under. Swedes were likely looking forward to some post Cold War decades where they didn’t have to throw billions of Krona into the sea just to see out meddlesome Russian submarines. The deal is set to amount to $948 million.
* The Dutch are seeking to develop two counter-IED research and development labs, aiming to have these deployable to theater within five days when complete. The cost is estimated at approximately $10.6 million.
* Malaysia is set to receive a comparable financial package as Egypt for Rafales. This is to reportedly include a ten-year loan from the French government as the main facilitating factor for the procurement.
* Airbus will join with South Korean firm Huneed Technologies to produce an early-warning system for the Surion helicopter. The cooperative deal signed today will see Huneed produce components for the Airbus Missile Launch Detection System.