* With Canada’s Liberal party securing victory in the country’s national elections, the potential procurement of Canadian F-35 Joint Strike Fighters are likely to be dropped, with leader Justin Trudeau announcing in September that he would scrap the controversy-ridden program. He has promised an “open and transparent competition” to find a replacement for the Canadian fleet of CF-18 Hornets, with work guarantees for Canadian industry built into any future contract. The savings from buying a less expensive fighter are to be funnelled to the Royal Canadian Navy to shore up expensive shipbuilding plans, with Lockheed Martin standing to lose $6 billion from the decision. However, the decision to back out from the F-35 program – which Canada signed up to in 2002 – could see work for Canadian firms in the F-35 supply base disappear completely.
* Raytheon and the Air Force have tested an upgraded version of the High-speed Anti Radiation Missile (AGM-88 HARM), with the new missile design successfully evading countermeasures. The HARM Control Section Modification uses a GPS recevier and digital flight computer to improve the missile’s accuracy and counter-countermeasure capabilities. This test follows a similar trial of an anti-radiation missile in August, when Orbital ATK and the Navy carried out a successful live-fire of the Block 1 AGM-88E AARGM against a moving target.
* Bolivia is reportedly buying French air surveillance radar, following an apparent intrusion into the country’s airspace by an unknown aircraft. The deal, thought to value approximately $229 million, will see the country receive 16 radar systems from France. These are thought to form a national aerospace control system, with previous reports indicating that the acquisition program included 16 fixed and an additional 4 mobile radar systems.
Middle East North Africa
* The US State Department has approved the sale of up to four Littoral Combat Ship-based Multi Mission Surface Combatant Ships to Saudi Arabia, with these based on the Lockheed Martin Freedom-class LCS, as opposed to the Austal Independence-class. If lawmakers agree to the sale, a Foreign Military Sales contract can be drafted, with this likely to be signed early next year. The deal – potentially worth $11.25 billion – forms part of the Kingdom’s Eastern Fleet Modernization program.
* The Gulf state also requested a significant quantity of US-manufactured weaponry to complement the new MMSC ships. This includes over five hundred RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles, 128 RIM-116C Block II Rolling Airframe Missiles to equip five new MK-15 Mod 3 SeaRAM air defense systems and 48 Block II GM-85 Harpoon missiles, along with eight launchers and five control systems. The request also covers eight MK-41 Vertical Launch Systems (capable of launching Raytheon’s family of Standard Missile munitions), .50 cal machine guns and five Oto Melara MK-75 Gun Systems, as well as sonar and communications systems.
* Egypt is acquiring an E-2C Hawkeye early warning and control aircraft, with the Navy’s Naval Air Systems Command planning to award a contract to Northrop Grumman to refurbish and supply an ex-US Navy Hawkeye to the country through a Foreign Military Sales contract. Egypt purchased an initial batch of five E-2Cs in the 1980s, followed by another aircraft, with a request for two more in October 2007 failing to see another sale. The presolicitation announcement detailing the plan to award a contract for the additional Hawkeye also lays out plans for upgrade work to an E-2C delivered to Egypt in December 2010.
* South Korea’s president has fired the country’s senior presidential secretary for foreign affairs Ju Chul-ki following failure to secure the transfer of four key technologies from the US required for the country’s KF-X indigenous fighter program. The blockage of the technologies in April – subsequently confirmed by the South Korean government in September – has also led to a criminal investigation into a senior security official in the country, as US SecDef Carter publicly reiterated the refusal to transfer the critical technologies last week.
* China has reportedly tested its Yuan Meng ‘near-space’ airship’. The High Altitude Airship was purportedly flown to an altitude of 20km at a test site in Inner Mongolia. The airship remained airborne for 48 hours, during which time it is thought to have tested various sensors, broadband communications, data relay systems and “space situational awareness systems”. China has been developing several unmanned High Altitude Airship programs, emphasising the civilian utility of such systems; much of the development work has been conducted by joint civil-military organisations.
* Lockheed Martin wants to resurrect the S-3B Viking anti-submarine warfare aircraft for the South Korean Navy. The company submitted a proposal detailing how a dozen former US-Navy S-3Bs could be refurbished – including a new, digital metalic anomaly detector and other ASW equipment – from stockpiles still maintained in long-term storage in Arizona. Lockheed Martin has floated the idea of reinvigorating S-3Bs before, pointing to the aircraft’s long endurance, sizeable payload and durability, as well as the 10-12,000 flight hours remaining on the S-3Bs currently in storage.
* South Korean firm KAL-ASD has revealed an unmanned version of the MD500 attack helicopter, developed with help from Boeing as per offset obligations stemming from the US firm’s August 2013 contract to supply 36 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters. Boeing is separately developing an unmanned version of the Little Bird attack helicopter, the H-6U, with the two models sharing considerable technological overlap. Flight testing of the South Korean KUS-VH prototype will take place over the next two years as the company looks to offer the system to South Korea as it plans to phase out around 200 manned MD500 helicopters in coming years.
* A Russian aircraft circling below a MQ-9 Reaper over Syria: