The Navy places order for software upgrades | A F-35C is damaged during sea-trials | Japan purchases an Advanced Hawkeye
Raytheon is being contracted to repair the guidance sections on US HARM missiles. The order has a value of $7.5 million and provides for the repair of 134 HARM AGM-88B/C guidance sections and the procurement of 12 HARM AGM-88B/C control sections. The Air Force will receive 100 repaired guidance sections, and all control sections, whereas the Navy will take delivery of the remaining 34 guidance sections. The AGM-88 HARM (high-speed anti-radiation missile) is a supersonic air-to-surface tactical missile designed to seek and destroy enemy radar-equipped air defense systems. The AGM-88B missile was developed in the mid-1980s and incorporated an electronically reprogrammable memory that allowed changing the missile software in the field. The AGM-88C missile is the latest version and incorporates several new design features and is also reprogrammable in the field. Work will be performed at Raytheon’s facility in Tucson, Arizona and is expected to be completed in September 2019.
Northrop Grumman is being tapped to write the newest software for the USMC’s H-1 program. The company is being awarded with a contract modification that increases its previous ceiling to $89 million dollars. This covers necessary research and development for AH-1Z and UH-1Y System Configuration Sets (SCSs). SCS activities include the design, development and implementation of hardware and software upgrades that are essential to the helicopter’s combat readiness. SCS activities for example address key avionics and sensors obsolescence issues and allow for the integration of Target Sight System and advanced weaponry. Work will be performed at three facilities in California, Utah and Maryland. The contract is expected to be completed in April 2020.
The Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 125 currently embarked on the USS Abraham Lincoln now has to fly with one fighter less. One of the Squadron’s F-35C fighter jets was damaged during an aerial refueling exercise with an F/A-18F Super Hornet. During the exercise a piece of the refueling basket loosened and was ingested into the F-35C’s engine intake, resulting in the damage. The Navy treats this incident as a Class A mishap, which is considered to be the most serious type of incident. Replacement of the F135 engine will cost about $14 million.
Middle East & Africa
Jane’s reports that Russia is deploying one of its air-to-air refuelling aircraft to Humaymim airbase in Syria. The plane of the type Iluyshin Il-78 ‘Midas’ will likely be used to refuel six of Russia’s Su-30SM ‘Flanker H’ fighters currently stationed at the same airbase. The Il-78 is based on the Ilyushin Il-76MD transport aircraft and entered service in 1985. The Midas is fitted with wing-tip hose and drogue air refuelling pods. The receiving aircraft approaches the tanker and its probe makes contact with a hose reeled out and trailed from the tanker. Russia has been active in the Syrian Civil War since September 2015. Human Rights organisation frequently accuse Russia of deliberately targeting civilians and rescue workers.
The State Department is determined to approve a FMS to the Netherlands. The European-country is seeking to recapitalize four of its Patriot fire unit. If approved, $105 million deal would include new AN/MPQ-65 radar sets, radar digital processors, AN/MSQ-104 engagement control stations and several upgrades and related equipment. The Netherlands is one of 12 nations that have chosen the Patriot as a key component of their air and missile defense systems. The NATO member currently deploys the PAC-3 version.
Boeing is teaming up with Polish defense contractor PGZ in an attempt to win Poland’s Kruk attack helicopter competition. Boeing is currently bidding its AH-64E Apache, and wants PGZ to integrate unique Polish systems onto the platform. Boeing also wants to incorporate PGZ into its supply chain and help the company to strengthen its manufacturing capabilities. The Polish government plans to acquire a total of 32 helicopters to replace its ageing Mil Mi-24s from 2022 onwards. The Apache will likely competed against Airbus’ Tiger, Bell’s AH-1Z and TAI’s T129.
The Japanese government is ordering one E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft from Northrop Grumman. The aircraft’s cost of $165.3 million is being obligated through US Foreign Military Sales funds. The carrier-capable “mini-AWACS” aircraft, designed to give long-range warning of incoming aerial threats. The Advanced Hawkeye is equipped with an APY-9 radar, which can detect and track small and stealthy targets, in large numbers, and at great range. The aircraft’s ESM and IFF systems offer improved classification of radar contacts at longer ranges. The Japanese Air Self Defense Force currently flies 13 E-2Ds. Work will bet performed at multiple facilities located in the US, France, Canada, Italy and the UK. The Hawkeye is scheduled to ready for delivery by March 2020.
India is ordering one SpyLite mini-UAV. The drone is the product of a joint venture between India’s Cyient and Israel’s BlueBird Aero Systems. The electrically-powered SpyLite is designed for Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) missions. During flight trials the UAV demonstrated its quick operational readiness, ranging from autonomous launch to precision recovery by parachute. The company says that the SpyLite was the only candidate to have met the army’s need to perform real-time surveillance and target acquisition tasks during trials performed at high altitudes and during adverse weather conditions.
Watch: US Air Force F-22 Raptors leave Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany