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Daily Rapid Fire

US Army soldiers banned from using Chinese drones | UN Sanctions for North Korea | European MALE UAV to be twin-engined turboprop

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Americas * The US Navy has awarded Boeing a $11.1 million contract modification to conduct additional ground repair work on the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft operated by the service. Work will be carried out at Jacksonville, Fla., as well as other sites throughout the United States and locations in Japan, Australia and Italy, with […]

* The US Navy has awarded Boeing a $11.1 million contract modification to conduct additional ground repair work on the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft operated by the service. Work will be carried out at Jacksonville, Fla., as well as other sites throughout the United States and locations in Japan, Australia and Italy, with a scheduled completion of June 2018. The Navy currently operates a fleet of 50 Poseidons and expect future deliveries to bring the fleet to 109 as it replaces its older P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft.

* Chinese-made commercial drones and related software will no longer be used by US Army soldiers, as the service cites cyber vulnerabilities on units produced by the company DJI as justification for the ban. An Army memo published online stipulated that it required service members to “cease all use, uninstall all DJI applications, remove all batteries/storage media and secure equipment for follow-on direction.” DJI responded by saying it was “surprised and disappointed” by the move, adding that it would be contacting the Army to clarify what it means by “cyber vulnerabilities” and was willing to work with the Pentagon to address concerns.

* Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $161.4 million contract for the production of 150 launch assemblies for the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) surface-to-surface missile. Issued as part of the system’s Service Life Extension Program, which aims to replace ageing components, work will be take place at sites across the US with an estimated completion date of Feb. 3, 2020. ATACMS have been in service with the Army since the 1980s, deployed from the M270 MLRS and M142 HIMARS multiple launch rocket systems. It is expected to eventually be replaced by the Long Range Precision Fires missile system which would have longer range and improved guidance systems.


* Germany’s main opposition party, the Social Democrats (SPD), has come out against NATO’s target of spending 2 percent of national output on defense, slamming Chancellor Angela Merkel and her ruling CDU/CSU coalition of bending the knee to US President Donald Trump. The centre-left party, who are 15 percent behind the CDU/CSU in the polls ahead of next month’s general election, are instead advocating the creation of a strong European defense union and, ultimately, a European army—a stance that may resonate with a deeply pacifist German public that remains skeptical of military engagements. Political analysts say the SPD’s tougher stance on military projects could help lay the groundwork for a post-election coalition with the pro-environment Greens and the left-wing Die Linke.

* Europe’s next medium altitude long endurance (MALE) UAS will be based on a twin-engined turboprop design after a ten month study conducted by the manufacturing consortium consisting of Airbus, Dassault, and Leonardo. Billed as the eventual rival to the US-made, single-engined turboprop-powered, General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper, further trade-off studies will now be conducted in order to prepare for an upcoming system requirements review (SRR). The four nation program will develop the UAV for France, Germany, Italy and Spain, and is been seen as a flag bearer of a renewed interest in expanding wider European defense cooperation.

Asia Pacific

* In response to persistent ballistic missile tests, the UN has imposed fresh sanctions on North Korea that expects to cut $3 billion from its annual export revenue. Coal, seafood, and iron ore products are all covered in the US-drafted resolution, and gained the backing from both Russia and an increasingly frustrated China, Pyongyang’s usual protector from such diplomatic pressures. China’s UN Ambassador Liu Jieyi called on North Korea to “cease taking actions that might further escalate tensions,” while also calling for the dismantlement of the THAAD anti-missile defense system in South Korea. US President Donald Trump hailed the diplomatic victory on Twitter. “The United Nations Security Council just voted 15-0 to sanction North Korea. China and Russia voted with us. Very big financial impact!”, he said.

* The US State Department has cleared the possible foreign military sale to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States, of a SRP Operations and Maintenance follow-on sustainment package. Estimated to cost $400 million, the package includes the provision of contractor logistics support (sustainment); engineering services and technical updates to address equipment obsolescence; transportation and material costs associated with contractor repair and return services; spare and repair parts; support and test equipment; publications and technical documentation; personnel training and training equipment; US Government and contractor engineering; technical and logistics support services; and other related elements of logistical and program support. The sale is expected to improve Taiwan’s capability to provide early warning against current and future airborne threats.

* Australia has been cleared by the US State Department to purchase 1,952 ALE-70(V)/T-1687A Electronic Towed Decoy Countermeasures and associated support in a package estimated to be worth $108.7 million. The systems will go towards ensuring the survivability of Canberra’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter fleet, and work will be carried out primarily by BAE Systems. Australia has 72 F-35s on order with the US in a procurement deal worth $17 billion.

Today’s Video

* 2nd Lt. Charles E. Carlson, a USAF P-27 pilot lost in Europe during WW2, finally laid to rest:

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