US Navy Launching ACTUV Test Program | New Attack Aircraft Plans Up for Review by USAF | Mi-28NE Helo Orders Increase
- Boeing will provide another 117 AH-64E re-manufactured Apache helicopters to the US Army. The contract will earn the company $922.6 million with work estimated to be completed by May 31, 2018. It follows the announcement in March by the DoD that the Army had awarded a contract of nearly $185 million for an undisclosed number of the heavily armored attack helicopters.
- The US Navy is about to launch a test program for an unmanned sub hunter vessel, the Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV). Pronounced “Active,” the non-nuclear 132-foot long vessel intends to be able to search for submarines at sea as long as three months at a time. The ACTUV vessel, known as Sea Hunter, has recently completed trials in the Portland area and will now move to San Diego where a two-year-long trial period will begin to test the concept and various sensors that can be installed on the 145-ton full load displacement vessel. It is expected to be competed by September 2018.
- A sources-sought notice has been filed by the US Army for software capable of allowing UAVs to scout ahead for ground vehicles. The Autonomous UAS Navigation system requires the software to be clever enough to allow the UAV to venture just 60 meters ahead of the vehicle, and match speed with the ground vehicle once the distance has been achieved. Other requirements include the ability for manual mode override in order to facilitate operator investigation of target areas of interest, as well as being able to follow roads in advance of a vehicle moving over complex routes.
- Concrete strategic plans and requirements for a new attack aircraft to provide close-air support will be reviewed by the USAF chief this Spring. This will entail either a brand new A-X platform or non-development options that will eventually replace the soon to be retired A-10 “Warthog.” At present, the F-35A will replace the role filled by the A-10; however, the 5th gen fighter is considered too costly for regular air cover missions in uncontested air space. Weapons tests in close-air support missions are currently being planned for the F-35, and a flyoff between the fighter and the A-10 is expected for fiscal year 2018-2019.
Middle East North Africa
- Algeria has upped its orders of Mi-28NE helicopters from the eight initially reported in January to 42, according to a Russian newspaper. A further 19 of the “Night-Hunter” helicopters will also make their way to Iraq. The helicopters have recently seen action in Syria battling Islamic State militants, and it has been said that the radio-electronic jamming systems on board easily suppressed man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) deployed against them by the insurgents. With interest being expressed from over half a dozen nations spanning from Latin America to South East Asia, the helicopter is certainly selling itself well during its recent military activity.
- A decision on the replacement of Portugal’s C-130 fleet is expected to be made soon, with Embraer’s latest KC-390 a likely option. The comments were made by defense minister, Azeredo Lopes, after a visit to the Brazilian company’s two Portuguese plants in Evora, where parts for the heavy-lifter are manufactured. Lopes added that despite recent NATO standard modernizations to the C-130 fleet, the planes only had about ten years left before retirement. If Embraer get the go ahead, they will provide up to six KC-390s to Portugal.
- Pakistan wants to upgrade its air force further, which may include Thales’ Damocles targeting pod for its latest JF-17 fighters. The request comes as it continues to battle Taliban militants in its northern regions, while also engaging in fighting against a separatist uprising on its border with Iran. At present, Islamabad is set to retire its older Dassault Mirage C-7 fighters, while its newer F-16s are only capable of precision targeting. Incorporating the third generation targeting pod on the JF-17 will allow the PAF greater flexibility in counter-terrorism operations, while not breaking the bank economically.
- Talks are to get under way between Indian military officials and US Defense Secretary Ash Carter over the purchase of Predator XP and Avenger UAVs, according to an executive from General Dynamics. Carter landed in New Delhi on Sunday, April 10, for talks over military cooperation prior to the end of President Obama’s administration. It is expected that India will seek to procure 40 Predators for its navy, as well as 100 Avenger UCAVs, which have been used to target Islamic militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
- The Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) speed and maneuvrability:
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