US Army’s LRPF Program May Get Anti-Ship | Japan & China Battle for Influence in East Africa | Australia Hedging Their Bets on JSF Program
- The US Army’s Long-Range Precision Fires (LRPF) program could come with an anti-ship capability. While the requirement wasn’t initially included in the missile’s spec, service brass have called for ship-killing capability in general terms. Furthermore, the weapon’s range will still be under 500 kilometers to comply with the Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty. Contractor Raytheon has deemed the subtle requirement as entirely doable.
Middle East & North Africa
- Militants from the Islamic State have used booby-trapped UAVs to attack forces fighting the jihadists in Iraq. The drone, rigged with explosives, attacked north of the IS-held city of Mosul and left two Kurdish fighters dead and two French soldiers fighting for their lives. Media reports said the drone was shot down and it only exploded when the soldiers approached it. Few units have the equipment to dispose of such threats effectively.
- Plans are underway for Japan to increase their presence in East Africa by the expansion of their military base in Djibouti. Additional land will be leased to accommodate the expansion and there is also the possibility of Japanese C-130s joining a contingent of currently deployed P-3 surveillance aircraft. Earlier this year, Tokyo announced that $40 billion extra would be added to ongoing investments in African infrastructure, education, and healthcare projects. Meanwhile, China has pledged $60 billion in similar programs as the East Asian rivals battle for influence and resources on the continent.
- A number of USAF F-16s and KC-130s have been deployed to the Horn of Africa in anticipation of potential violence in South Sudan against American interests. The request was made by the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) based at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, the US counterterrorism hub in the region. In July, AFRICOM dispatched about 50 combat-equipped troops at the order of President Barack Obama to protect US diplomatic personnel amid widespread violence and civil unrest in South Sudan.
- Bulgaria’s Ministry of Defense has altered the criteria of their fighter acquisition program, lessening the importance of an aircraft’s lifespan to just 5% of the evaluation. The previous weightage of 25% was seen to favor Saab’s Gripen but this advantage has now shifted to second-hand F-16s. Bulgaria had wanted to buy used F-16s from Portugal but the plan was abandoned following the collapse of the government of Boykko Borissov in 2013.
- A recommendation has been made by Australia’s Senate committee on Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade that its defense department implement a “hedging strategy” against any delay with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program by 2019. While the committee stated that it had received evidence criticizing the F-35 and calls for participation to be scrapped, its members judged the F-35 as “the only aircraft able to meet Australia’s strategic needs for the foreseeable future.” The Australian Strategic Policy Institute told the committee the most sensible hedge would be procuring additional F/A-18F Super Hornets.
- Lockheed Martin has offered to collaborate with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) on jointly developing a new fighter for Japan. LM President Marillyn Hewson made the disclosure saying the company will participate in a second round of Request For Information by Japan’s Ministry of Defense next year. Set to be the replacement for Tokyo’s current fleet of F-2s, other potential collaborators who have responded to the initial RFI include Boeing.
- Basler Turbo Conversions of the USA have offered their BT-64 gunship to the Philippines as a replacement for their Rockwell OV-10 Broncos. A twin-turboprop conversion of the Douglas DC-3 Dakota, the BT-67 has been fitted with updated systems such as digital avionics, a night-vision goggle-compatible cockpit, weather radar, and a forward-looking infrared (FLIR) sensor. Other PAF requirements filled by the aircraft include running transport, surveillance, aero medical evacuation, and maritime patrol missions.
Taiwan’s anti-drone research:
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