UK, France, and Italy sign agreement with Eurosam | DSCA clears F-35 for Belgium, ahead of final decision | Chinese S-400 components damaged by storm
- Surplus AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters previously used by the US Marine Corps (USMC) are being offered for sale by the US government, either through a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) or Direct Commercial Sale (DCS). For interested parties, an industry day will be held on January 24 by the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) at the Southern Maryland Higher Education Center in California. Prior to any sale, the helicopters will be fitted with a new ‘glass’ cockpit and pilot/maintainer training will be provided to prospective customers. Countries that still operate the Super Cobra include Bahrain, Iran, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Pakistan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Turkey.
- The Bell-Boeing Joint Program Office (JPO) has been tapped by the US Navy to provide upgrades onboard V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft. The order, totalling almost $35 million, calls for the provision of software and hardware upgrades for 28 flight training devices necessary to integrate aircraft software version B 6-01/C 4.01 into 23 Marine Corps MV-22 training devices and software version 20.4.01/10.6.01 into nine Air Force CV-22 training devices. Most of the work will take place in Virginia, Oklahoma and Texas, with the rest spread through locations in Pennsylvania, Missouri, Florida, New Mexico, New Jersey and the United Kingdom. Contract completion is scheduled for April 2022.
- A Lockheed Martin F-35 support center for customer nations the UK, Australia, and Canada will be established in Florida, following the award of a $7.47 million US Navy contract last Wednesday. The move will see the F-35 Australia, Canada, United Kingdom Reprogramming Laboratory (ACURL), which handles packing, shipping, installation, integration and testing of the fifth-generation aircraft for the three nations, moved from Forth Worth, Texas, to the Partner Support Complex at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. Move completion will be finished by March 2019 and the contract also provides for initial spare parts for the nations at Eglin Air Force Base and in Fort Worth.
Middle East-North Africa
- A joint Qatari-UK operational squadron will be formed to help police the skies during the Gulf state’s hosting of World Cup 2022. The announcement was made by Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Dr Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah during his speech at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London last week, with the agreement made last month as part of the UK’s support and training package within Qatar’s Eurofighter procurement program. Qatar’s World Cup bid and preparations have been shrouded in criticism, which have been made worse by its neighbors enforcing a blockade and cutting off ties which included earlier offers of providing hotels and training facilities—Iran is now believed to be in talks to fill this void—while some allege that governing body FIFA, received bribes from the Qataris to help bring the competition to a state with little soccer culture.
- Belgium has been cleared by the US State Department for the potential foreign military sale (FMS) of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft. Valued at $.5.53 billion, the package includes 34 units of the conventional takeoff F-35A, as well as 38 Pratt & Whitney F-135 engines and other associated equipment for the radar-evading high-tech fighter. The clearance comes as Brussels is in the midst of selecting a new aircraft to replace its 59 F-16A/B fighters—with the F-35 facing up against the Dassault Rafale and the Eurofighter Typhoon—and if the F-35 is selected (as many think is likely), Belgium will become the fourth FMS customer for the F-35 (outside of the original development partners) following South Korea in 2014. Other governments who have been expressed an interested in the F-35 include Finland, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
- The French, Italian and UK governments have signed a new five-year agreement with Eurosam, replacing a 2012 New In Service Support contract. Under the terms of the deal, the missile consortium will provide in-service support for French and Italian land and naval systems—which includes include the Principal Anti Air Missile System (PAAMS), Semi Active Air to Air Missile and the Surface to Air Missile Platform—as well as all Aster missiles from France, Italy and the UK. All nations are part of the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OJAC), an European intergovernmental organisation which facilitates and manages collaborative armament programs, while Eurosam is a consortium made up by the Italian and French wings of the multi-national MBDA and the Thales Group. The value of the agreement was not disclosed.
- Jane’s reports that the Indonesian Air Force (IAF) has commenced a study into the procurement of two new tanker aircraft for its aerial refueling mission. Issues that will be scrutinised in the study include suitability for Indonesian operational requirements, compatibility of refuelling methods with the IAF’s fleet of aircraft, interoperability with existing and future assets, and life-cycle costs. Two options being considered by Jakarta include the choice of the USAF—the Boeing KC-46A—and the Airbus A330 multirole tanker-transport MRTT—which has seen orders from the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), Royal Air Force (RAF), UAE Air Force, Royal Saudi Air Force and Republic of Singapore Air Force. However, a formal program to purchase the tankers will not take place until the first half of the 2020s. At present, Indonesia operates a sole 1960s-era KC-130B, after its sister aircraft crashed in 2015.
- Following the damage a storm caused to two T-50 advanced trainer jets making their way from South Korea to Thailand, bad weather has struck defense deliveries yet again. This time the turbulent weather effected the delivery of components for China’s first S-400 Triumf air defense missile system, with the transporting vessel having to return back to the Russian port of Ust Luga near St. Petersburg in order for a full assessment to be carried out to ascertain the exact damage. A press release issued by the Russian Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation said that undamaged items will be redelivered and that any damage received will not affect the overall delivery schedule of the S-400 to China.
- Russian Su-30M2s and Su-34s doing touch-and-go on road during recent exercises in the Southern Military District:
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