US Senate Passes $602B Defense Authorization | Rafael’s Iron Dome: Global Interest, No Sales Yet | Gabon Signs Multiple Defense Orders with French Nexter
- The US Senate voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to pass a $602 billion defense authorization bill, despite President Barack Obama’s threat to veto the annual policy measure over issues including a ban on closing the Guantanamo Bay military prison. Passing of the bill was ensured with a compromise on the use of Russian RD-180 rocket engines. Lawmakers eased a ban on their use late last year, worried that it could drive United Launch alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, out of business and leave only privately held SpaceX to transport satellites into space.
Middle East North Africa
- Despite much global interest, Israel has not received any export orders for its Iron Dome short-range missile defense system. Developed by the state-owned Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, Iron Dome has gained notable world recognition since its first successful intercept in 2011 of a Hamas launched rocket from Gaza. Despite a 90% interception rate, Rafael execs have been working to entice customers with an expanded mission set including sea-based defense, drone killing missions, and the ability to intercept anything from mortars to precision-guided munitions.
- Rafael has completed its first export orders of its Spike SR (Short Range) shoulder-fired anti-tank missile to an unknown customer. Designed to respond rapidly against so-called targets of opportunity, the Spike SR can be fitted with two warheads, one to target tanks and fast traveling vehicles and a blast fragmentation penetrator designed for bunkers. As a next generation missile, the Spike SR allows infantry in congested urban environments to utilize a versatile, short, small diameter missile with an augmented penetration capability and a range from 50 metres to 1.5km.
- Gabon has signed a number of defense orders which will see French manufacturer Nexter provide a positioning system, unmanned ground vehicles (UGV), and mobile medical shelters to the west African country. The deal was announced by the company after signing, at the ongoing Eurosatory exhibition in Paris, although no details have been given on the value of the sale. UGVs such as the Nerva LG and NX-100 UAVs have already been deployed in the current UN peacekeeping mission in the central African Republic, where Gabonese soldiers have recently begun operations.
- French and Italian defense ministers signed a “Cooperation Arrangement” agreement in Paris to jointly develop the Aster 30 Block 1 NT missile. Tuesday’s signing will see the development program encompass not just the upgrade of the interceptor, but the modernization of the SAMP/T air defense system as well. This will see an increase in French and Italian air defense capabilities – notably against ballistic missiles – thereby making essential contributions to the NATO program in this domain.
- Airbus has announced a successful live firing of its HForce plug n’ play weapon management system on an H225M in Belgium from May 25 to June 3. The system is comprised of a central core unit, Thales Scorpion monocular helmet mounted sight display (HMSD), an electro-optical system (EOS) from Wescam as well as gunner armament weapon grips and weapon pods. Weapons fired during the trial included 12.7mm guns, 70mm rockets as well as 20mm cannons.
- JAS-39 Gripens operated by the Royal Swedish Air Force have been equipped with the latest MS20 software upgrade and showcased at the annual Tactics, Techniques and Procedures exercise. Materiel System 20 is an update of both equipment and software in the aircraft, and involves everything from upgrades in the presentation areas and linkages to new and enhanced abilities. New weapons on the aircraft include the METEOR missile and the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb (GDB).
- After a rather public shunning of the Italian defense industry, the Indian Ministry of Defense (MoD) has begun the task of searching for alternative suppliers to meet a growing range of weaponry requirements. Its latest cancellation of a $200 million deal to buy 98 Black Shark torpedoes from Leonardo-Finmeccanica subsidiary WASS leaves not only torpedoes on the shopping list, but also network-centric capabilities and naval gun solutions for its submarines. One alternative may be the German defense industry with reports of a deal to buy SeaHake torpedoes from Atlas Elektronic. Also in the mix is the purchase of six conventional submarines with air-independent propulsion technology under the Make in India program with negotiations between the MoD and ThyssenKruupp Marine Systems underway.
- Rafael’s Spike SR:
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