Trumps launches Ford-class carrier | Mission tanker role for MQ-25 Stingray | KAI CEO offers to step down amid Surion scandal
- The US Army will commence fielding its new Sig Sauer XM17 modular handgun system (MHS) to troops in November, starting with 2,000 pistols going to the 101st Airborne Division. Under current Army plans, the semi-automatic weapons will be fielded to a new post each month from November until September 2018, except for March and April 2018. Eventually, the Army will distribute the weapon to all units over a 10-year period. So far, reviews by soldiers who tested the handgun earlier this year have praised the MHS, pointing out greater comfort when shooting and confidence with using the weapon in comparison to the Beretta M9 that it is scheduled to replace.
- US President Donald Trump turned out on Saturday to attend the commissioning of the Navy’s first Ford-class aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford. Hailing the vessel as a “100,000 ton message to the world,” adding that America’s enemies will “shake with fear” when they see the Ford cutting across the horizon. After the speech, he put the Ford into commission and asked God to “bless and guide this warship and all who shall sail in her.” He was followed by Susan Ford Bales, the ship’s sponsor and daughter of the 38th president, from whom the ship, and class, takes its name. $43 billion has been spent on producing three Ford-class carriers, the others being the USS Enterprise and USS John F. Kennedy.
- A new draft request for proposals released by the US Navy has revealed that the service’s plans for the MQ-25 Stingray will be primarily that of a mission tanker. The draft, published on July 19, made no mention on the unmanned platform’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, instead outlining the two key performance parameters (KPP) required for the aircraft’s airframes as having both carrier suitability and mission tanker capacity. As a result, the four competitors – Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Boeing and General Atomics – will only have to prove that their aircraft can take-off and land back on a carrier and do mission tanking.
- Angola is negotiating the purchase of six unsold Su-30K fighter aircraft originally destined for India. The aircraft could potentially be added to Angola’s 2013 order for 12 Su-30s that have yet to be delivered by Moscow. If an agreement is reached, Luanda will be able to increase its fleet to 18 while Moscow will be able to rid itself of the aircraft returned by India, which were built in fulfilment of the contract signed in 1996-1998. Since the fleet’s return to Russia, potential customers before Angola included Byelorussia, Sudan, and Vietnam. However, none of the aircraft ordered in 2013 have been delivered as the fighter’s undergo repair and upgrade work to the Su-30KN standard.
- Construction of the first (of three) Type 26 frigate has begun in earnest at a BAE Systems shipyard in Scotland. A ceremony last Thursday which launched the vessel’s production was attended by British Secretary of State for Defense Michael Fallon, who said the warship “will maintain our naval power with a truly global reach. Designed for a service life of at least 25 years, the Type 26 frigates will form the backbone of the future Royal Navy surface fleet into the 2060s.” Due to be named the Glasgow, the ship will be 492 long, 68 feet in the beam and have a speed of more than 26 knots. Its operational range will be more than 7,000 nautical miles.
- Australia and the US are expected to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in March for the delivery of MQ-4C Triton UAVs. As many as seven Tritons could be purchased by Canberra with the expectation that they will go towards augmenting its P-8A Poseidon aircraft fleet in conducting maritime patrol and surveillance missions. Later in 2018, Germany is expected to sign a letter of offer and acceptance for four Tritons, which will replace its existing EuroHawk fleet.
- Ha Sung-yong, the CEO of Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), has offered to step down after Korean prosecutors raided his company’s offices to gather evidence as part of the Surion utility helicopter scandal. Allegations levelled at the firm include that charge that the company inflated expenses for the development of the Surion military helicopter and pocketed illicit gains—to the tune of $21 million—in the process. Ha, who last year said he would resign if KAI’s T-50 was not selected for the USAF’s T-X trainer program, offered to resign again during a board of directors meeting, and a successor will be chosen at an extraordinary shareholders’ meeting, to be arranged for as soon as possible.
- Rosoboronexport has announced that China purchased four additional Mi-171E transport helicopters during the MAKS 2017 airshow last week. Four Klimov VK-2500 engines will also be supplied as part of the sale and deliveries for both engines and rotorcraft will take place in 2018. in 2012, China ordered 52 Mi-171E helicopters in a deal worth $1.3 billion. Rosoboronexport said that demand for the Mi-171E is growing with the helicopter already operational in China and South-east Asia.
- Firing demonstration of the US Navy’s electromagnetic railgun:
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