US Navy Readying Tactical Cloud by Year End | AH-64 Damaged When Training Exercise Goes Awry | France Blocking US Efforts to Transfer Missile System to NATO
- The US Navy is to deploy AeroVironment’s Blackwing tube-launched unmanned aircraft system from its manned submarines and unmanned underwater vehicles. The company made the annoucement at this years’ Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition. Based on their Switchblade UAS, AeroVironment’s Blackwing “employs an advanced, miniature electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) payload, Selective Availability Anti-spoofing Module (SASSM) GPS and AeroVironment’s secure Digital Data Link (DDL).”
- A new lethal anti-surface ‘tactical cloud’ is to be rolled out by the Navy later this year. This new “kill web” offensive anti-surface network will allow Navy aircraft and ships to strike surface targets by sharing the targeting information. The scheme will use information ranging from sensors in space to the undersea to share information in a so-called tactical cloud that will allow aircraft and ships to access a range of targeting information to launch weapons against surface targets.
- An AH-64 attack helicopter taking part in an exercise at the National Training Center in the Mojave Desert was forced to land after a soldier from Joint Base Lewis-McChord damaged the rotor-craft with live rounds. According to reports, the soldier in question was role playing as OPFOR and his rifle had a blank-fire adapter which was blown off by the first live round. While the OPFOR is usually not issued live rounds, the soldier apparently used a live magazine issued from his home station and scored 5-7 hits on the Apache.
- The UK has sent a RAF Voyager tanker to NAS Patuxent River to participate in air-to-air aerial refueling trials of the F-35B. Since arriving on April 18, the British tanker has participated in five flights out of a scheduled 20, which are due to be completed in mid-June. It remains unclear whether the Voyager’s deployment to the US was caused by refueling issues that arose from the B variant being unable to take fuel from the wing pods of KC-10 and KC-135 tankers.
- US attempts to have the European missile system it built handed over to NATO are being blocked by the French government. Approval for the hand-over was hoped to be finalized during the organization’s July summit in Warsaw, but Paris has voiced concerns over the system’s IOC and whether the system will be truly under alliance, and not US, control. Washington is anxious that failure to agree on NATO control will be interpreted by Russia as a sign of weakness.
- Airbus Helicopters is rumored to have won a $725 million contract to provide and support a fleet of helicopters to the UK for the next 17 years. The nod comes as Paul Livingston, the chief executive of Ascent Flight Training was the guest of Airbus Helicopters at a recent industry dinner. Owned by Lockheed Martin and Babcock, Ascent has a 25-year private finance initiative deal with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to train all British helicopter and fixed-wing crews in a program known as the military flying training system. According to an industry insider, Livingston would not have allowed himself to be a guest of any bidder had the competition still been in play.
- Rheinmetall has been given a contract to upgrade the fire control units and guns of the Swiss Air Force 35mm Oerlikon Skyguard air defense system. Completion of the modernization order is due for 2019 and will extend the service life of the weapon until at least 2025. The upgrades ordered will avoid a capabilities gap prior to introduction of a successor system for Swiss short-range air defence of ground assets.
- South Korea is to join Japan and the US in a joint trilateral missile defense exercise in Hawaii on June 28. The exercise will precede the much larger Pacific Rim exercise due to begin on June 30. For the smaller event, each nation will contribute one Aegis destroyer which will track simulated ballistic missile targets and determine if they exchange the tracking information among each other.
- The unveiling of Saab’s Gripen E smart fighter:
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