US Approves Sale of Surface-to-Air Missiles to Qatar | LM Awarded $73.8M FMS Contract for Japan’s F-35A | Maiden Flight of X-2 Stealth Pleases Mitsu Heavy Industries
- The USMC has borrowed a number of MQ-8C Fire Scouts from the US Navy to test how they could be operated from the amphibious assault ships. It is believed that they may want a Group 4 or 5 unmanned aerial system (UAS), which are larger and have longer range and endurance, and that are capable of conducting ISR and fires missions. At present the RQ-21 Blackjack is operated from the corps ships, but that system, a smaller Group 3 system, is launched from a small catapult and recovered by hooking onto a tether, all of which limit the payloads that can be put on the aircraft.
- An exercise off the coast of Rio de Janeiro has seen the Brazilian Navy fire an anti-ship missile from its newly acquired S-70B naval helicopters for the first time. Brazil has acquired six of the Seahawk helicopters over the last number of years to replace their older SH-3A/B Sea King fleet. During the exercise, the helicopter fired an AGM-119 Penguin missile causing significant damage to its target, an MM40 Exocet missile which was later sunk.
Middle East North Africa
- The US State Department has approved the sale of $250 million worth of surface-to-air missiles to the government of Qatar. Included in the sale are 252 RIM-116C Rolling Airframe Tactical Missiles, and two RIM 116C-2 Rolling Airframe Telemetry Missiles as well as support equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel training, US Government and contractor engineering, technical and logistics support services, live fire test event support, and other related integration elements. Approval for the naval missile comes as Qatar awaits State Department approval for the purchase of 36 F-15E Strike Eagle fighters.
- A Norwegian F-16 was utilized to carry vital medical equipment from a hospital in Trondheim to a dying patient 280 miles away. The dying patient urgently needed a special lung and heart procedure called extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, but the hospital in the town of Bodø in central Norway had neither the equipment nor the skills to carry it out. With a drive between the two cities a ten hour journey by car, the F-16, which usually covers the distance in 35 minutes, managed to shave off some time to reach its destination in under 25 (perhaps due to the special nature of the trip).
- Finland is considering investing in a number of armed combat UAVs to compliment their jet fighter procurement planned to replace their fleet of Super Hornets. A call for proposals has been made by the country’s Defense Forces Logistics Command for the plan to coincide with the Hornet’s decommissioning in 2025. At present, UAVs have only been used for reconnaissance and surveillance purposes, with Helsinki using the Swiss build Ranger, and Israel’s Orbiter UAVS.
- Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $73.8 million contract for long lead materials, parts, components, and effort to maintain the planned production schedule for six low-rate initial production Lot 12 F-35A Lightning II aircraft as part of Japan’s procurement of the aircraft under the Foreign Military Sales program. Work is expected to be completed by December 2020. The first four of Japan’s planned 42 planes are in various stages of production at Lockheed Martin’s F-35 facility in Forth Worth, Texas while the remaining 38 Japanese aircraft will be assembled and delivered in Japan from Mitsubishi’s Nagoya factory.
- The chief drone designer at China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics has claimed that sales of its Cai Hong (CH) series of unmanned aerial vehicles have been exported to more than ten foreign nations, and are being used by 20 different military branches. Its first foreign purchaser was a South Asian nation which procured several of its small, unarmed reconnaissance CH-1s, that have a proven record in locating and monitoring targets. The newest and largest capacity combat drone in the series, the CH-5, is currently waiting on government approval for export.
- Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has announced the successful maiden flight of its X-2 stealth demonstrator. The test flight now makes Japan the world’s fourth nation to test-fly a stealth aircraft. After performing a number of basic maneuvers, the X-2 left Nagoya Airport and landed at the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s Gifu Air Base. In development since 2009, the X-2 program has seen MHI cooperate with 220 domestic companies alongside Japan’s Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA) to develop the necessary technologies.
- Maiden flight of the ATD X-2:
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