* The Pentagon has released information on a recent USAF mission which involved two B-2 stealth bombers dropping inert B61-7 and B61-11 nuclear bombs at the Tonopah Test Range in Nevada recently. A statement from the National Nuclear Security Administration said the tests were carried out to obtain reliability, accuracy, and performance data under operationally representative conditions.
Middle East & North Africa
* In order to counter rocket attacks coming from Syria, Turkey is in the final stages of developing a new Counter Rocket, Artillery, and Mortar (C-RAM) system that will be able to intercept incoming threats. The system is based on the Korkut self-propelled anti-aircraft guns being developed by Turkish firm Aselsan and is capable of firing 1,100 rounds per minute. Also being developed by Ankara is an early warning, counter-mortar radar, and surface-to-air missile systems with plans for them to be combined with C-RAM in order to augment its weapons shield system.
* Qatar Airlines have denied that their recent $18.6 billion jetliner deal with Boeing is tied to a potential sale of 36 F-15s to Qatar. Speaking at a press conference in Washington DC, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker told reporters that the company “has this independent policy ordering airplanes. So nothing is attached to anything.” Last week, Reuters reported that this deal for commercial aircraft was put on hold since July by the Qatari government to put pressure on Washington to approve the fighter purchase.
* The US State Department has cleared the sale of Cessna AC-208 aircraft to the government of Iraq and missile warning systems for Egyptian military helicopters. Baghdad is to receive two Cessna aircraft that come fixed with a dual rail LAU-131 Hellfire missile launcher capability on each wing in a deal estimated to be worth $65.3 million. Egypt meanwhile will receive $81 million worth of warning systems for the AH-64E Apache, UH-60 Blackhawk and CH-47 Chinook helicopters, as well as related equipment, training and support.
* Efforts to market the Eurofighter Typhoon to Belgium will be lead by BAE Systems, as Brussels shops for its aging F-16 fleet’s replacement. As part of the bid, BAE has spoken to more than 100 Belgian companies in the defense, aerospace, and space sectors. Other fighters included in the mix are Lockheed Martin’s F-35, Boeing’s F/A-18, Dassault’s Rafale, and Saab’s Gripen.
* Raytheon has been contracted to update the Netherlands’ Patriot missile system. Work to be undertaken as part of the upgrade includes the installation of the Modern Man Station user interface — the latest operator-machine interface upgrade to Patriot command and control shelters. The upgrade will make it easier to operate Patriot and provide enhanced situational awareness.
* An Australian KC-30A aerial tanker is to be kitted out with a VVIP interior, an intention in the works since 2014. This “budget” version of Air Force One is set to replace the current leased fleet of aircraft, which include two Boeing Business Jet 737s as well as three smaller planes. While the modification will now give Australian prime ministers an office in the air, it will also remain capable of acting as an air-to-air refueler.
* India has made a Request For Information (RFI) to fighter manufacturers for a single-engine fighter to be assembled domestically. The selected aircraft is expected to replace the large number of MiG-21s in service, adding to the 36 Dassault Rafales recently purchased by New Delhi. Likely front runners in the competition are the Saab Gripen and LM’s updated F-16 Block 70.