* Boeing has acquiesced to a $536 million charge stemming from problems with the KC-46A tanker in development for the US Air Force. This the second such charge the company has taken on the program. The money will be diverted to fund the development and certification of the aircraft’s fuel system, as well as initial production. With the Air Force’ costs capped at $4.9 billion, Boeing is responsible for the program’s development costs under a fixed-price contract signed in 2011. In July 2014 the company saw a similar charge of $272 million to cover unexpected delays in development of the K-46A’s wiring harness.
* The Navy exercised an option to buy two additional mark VI patrol boats, in a $17.78 million contract modification announced on Friday. The Mark VI patrol boats are the Navy’s next-generation of littoral patrol vessels, with the Navy reportedly looking to acquire forty-eight of the high-tech vessels. In total, ten of the boats have been ordered, with the first of these delivered in August 2014. A prototype was delivered in August 2013 and subsequently deployed to Bahrain (see below video), where it underwent testing.
* Brazil is seemingly progressing with modernization of its Sao Paulo aircraft carrier, with the carrier undergoing dry dock work at the country’s Arsenal da Marinha do Rio de Janeiro. The aging, formerly-French carrier has seen its aircraft launch and recovery systems upgraded in recent years, with Brazil possibly looking to add the naval Gripen-M fighter to its naval aviation fleet.
* In related news, Brazil’s Defense Minister announced on 15 July that the country will soon sign a final, refinanced $5.4 billion contract with Saab for 36 Gripens, approximately a year after the two sides struck an initial agreement on the sale.
* Russia has unveiled the naval version of its Ka-52 attack helicopter, alongside new models of the Kh-35 anti-ship missile. The Russian Defense Ministry ordered thirty-two of the ‘K’ version of the Ka-52 in August 2014, with these intended for use on the Mistral-class LHDs currently sitting in St Nazaire. One of the new missiles on display is a developmental helicopter-launched version known as the Kh-35V.
* Russia is also reportedly planning to upgrade its naval anti-submarine warfare aircraft within the next five years. The fifty Ka-27 helicopters and twenty Tu-142 fixed-wing aircraft currently operated by the Russia Navy will reportedly receive new weapons and sensors. Upgrades to the Ka-27 helicopters have already begun in batches, according to Russian media reports.
Middle East North Africa
* The United Kingdom is reportedly diverting Paveway IV guided bombs away from the Royal Air Force to the Saudis, swapping the RAF’s position on the Raytheon production line in Harlow, Essex. Saudi Arabia became the first Paveway IV export customer in March 2014, after previously using earlier variants of the weapon, and has been putting them to use against Houthi rebels in neighboring Yemen. Both the Saudi and the RAF use the Paveway IV weapon on the Eurofighter Typhoon and Tornado GR4 aircraft.
* Ground-based integration testing to couple the Eurofighter with MBDA’s Storm Shadow deep strike missile has taken place successfully in Italy and the United Kingdom. The missile was first successfully launched from a test aircraft in August 2014, with release from a Eurofighter following in December.
* The Japanese Defense Ministry has selected Fuji Heavy Industries and Textron Bell Helicopter Inc. to develop a helicopter for the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Forces under the country’s UH-X program. Intended to replace the JGSDF’s fleet of aging Huey transport helicopters, the $3.02 billion contract will see the two firms customize a commercial design to fit military requirements. The UH-X program will see 150 new helicopters inducted from 2021, with the Defense Ministry also hoping to generate export interest. The program attracted bids from a number of Japanese and European helicopter manufacturers, after a previous winning bid from Kawasaki Heavy Industries was cancelled in 2012 following a corruption investigation.
* Details have emerged regarding the technical specifications of India’s second indigenous aircraft carrier. The Indian Navy has reportedly sent requests to four shipyards to begin a design dialogue. These include Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, DCNS and Rosoboronexport. The new design will differ significantly from the first indigenous carrier, INS Vikrant, currently under construction at Cochin; instead of a ski-jump used to launch aircraft, the new carrier will use a catapult system. The US has offered to sell the Northrop Grumman EMALS/AAG system to India under the Defense Trade and Technology Initiative, with the two sides recently establishing terms of reference for such a potential sale, as well as a joint working group.
* Following the announcement last week of a $2.6 billion procurement program to supply the Indian Army with new air defense weapons, the Army has reportedly shortlisted two firms competing to upgrade some of the Cold War-era guns which the larger procurement program intends to replace. The four year-old tender to upgrade the ZU-23-2B guns is worth approximately $100 million and recently saw three firms eliminated from the technical evaluation stage, leaving state-owned Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) and privately-held Punj Lloyd as the two contenders.
* China’s Dalian shipyard has reportedly been selected to construct the country’s first domestically-produced aircraft carrier. Reports from March unveiled plans for the second carrier’s construction, citing senior PLAN sources. The new carrier will reportedly feature more advanced technology than the Liaoning, which saw key components manufactured by the Dalian shipyard. The shipyard has also been the principal yard for repair, maintenance and overhaul of the Liaoning carrier.
* The US Navy’s next-generation Coastal Command Patrol Boat, the Safe Boats International Mark VI: