US SOCOM modifies MEUAS contract | Denel accelerates Cheetah development | Vietnam joins Russian GLONASS system
The US Special Operations Command is modifying a contract with Insitu. The additional $18 million cover mid-endurance intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance services under the MEUAS 1.5B program. Insitu will use its ScanEagle as an advanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) solution in order to provide the US military with the capability to effectively execute a number of deployment operations. The ScanEagle is an unmanned aerial vehicle that can hover over areas for over 24 hours at a maximum altitude of 19,000 feet and carry several kinds of sensor payloads and other equipment. The modification increases the ceiling value of the contract to $250 million in an attempt to bridge gaps in ISR services as orders transition to MEUAS III.
The US Naval Sea Systems Command is contracting VT Halter Marine to start production on the Military Sealift Command’s next survey ship. The contract is priced at $9 million and provides for further design engineering, procurement of long-lead time material and limited advanced production of the Oceanographic Survey Ship (T-AGS 67). MSC’s oceanographic survey ships are special mission ships, which are operated by civilian mariners who work for private companies under contract. These ships can perform acoustical, biological, physical and geophysical surveys. They gather data that provides much of the military’s information on the ocean environment. The collected data helps to improve technology in undersea warfare and enemy ship detection. Work will be performed at the company’s facilities in Pascagoula, Mississippi; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and New Orleans, Louisiana. Performance of the contract is scheduled for completion by May 2019.
Middle East & Africa
Jane’s reports that South Africa’s Denel group is accelerating the development of its Cheetah C-RAM missile. Reinart Moraal, Denel Dynamics’ chief systems engineer says that successful trials of the Cheetah missile earlier this year have taken it closer to full integration with Rheinmetall Defence’s Oerlikon Skyshield CAP. The Cheetah missile flies at Mach 3 to ranges of 10.000 m and acts as an effector as part of a C-RAM system designed to counter cruise missiles, UAVs and helicopters. The Cheetah-Skyshield combination will protect South African troops against widely available light artillery weapons, such as shoulder fired rocket launchers, mortars and light cannons, which are increasingly found on the asymmetric battlefield.
The Serbian Air Force will soon receive its first two H-145M multirole helicopters. They are part of a 9 unit order, with first deliveries scheduled for December. The M is the member of the H145 family and can be deployed in transportation, special operations, intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR), search-and-rescue, fire support, and medical evacuation missions. The helicopters are equipped with the HForce battle management system designed to engage conventional and asymmetric threats with a large set of ballistic or guided air-to-ground and air-to-air weapons.. The platform can be fitted with different equipment packages depending on individual mission requirements. The Serbian aircraft will be equipped with a fast roping system, high-performance camera, fire support equipment, ballistic protection as well as an electronic countermeasures system to support the most demanding missions. The Serbian government expects to receive all six H145M battlefield support helicopters by the end of 2019. The contract between Airbus Helicopters and Serbia foresees transfer of technology, spare parts, tools and documentation for the helicopters’ maintenance and repair.
Germany’s next steps in its upcoming fighter jet acquisiiton program will be announced by the end of the year. Sources familiar with the process told Reuters that the Eurofighter consortium and Lockheed Martin will be the main contenders in the multi-billion competition. The new fighter jets will replace the Luftwaffe’s ageing fleet of Tornado aircraft, which will be phased out from 2025 onwards. Ursula Von der Leyen, Germany’s Defense Minister, favours a European solution which would put the Eurofighter in the lead, but her office also reviewed data submitted in April by the US government on the F-35, and the F-15 and F/A-18E/F jets, both built by Boeing. One of Germany’s key requirement will be a nuclear capability. The new jets must be able to carry and deliver nuclear bombs, so that Germany can fulfil some of its NATO nuclear-sharing policy obligations. This nuclear requirement put tip to balance in favour of Lockheed’s F-35, as nuclear certification is much cheaper than the Eurofighter’s which is estimated to cost over $793 million. A decision on the Tornado’s replacement needs to be approved by parliament within the next two years and a contract signed by 2020 or 2021 to ensure deliveries by 2025.
CFM International is being contracted to deliver a new jet engine to Norway under the Foreign Military Sales program. Priced at $13 million the contract sees for the procurement of one P-8 Poseidon engine. The Poseidon is powered by a CFM56-7B27AE high-bypass turbofan aircraft engine. Norway bought nine Poseidon multi-mission maritime aircraft in 2016 to replace its ageing P-3 Orion fleet. Work will be performed at factories in Villaroche, France, Evendale, Ohio, Bromont, Canada and Singapore. The contract is set to run through September 2019.
Vietnam will equip its KCT-15 cruise missiles with Russia’s GLONASS system. GLONASS is one of four GPS systems. The KCT-15 is Vietnam’s license build version of Russia’s Kh-35 anti-ship missile. Development of the Kh-35 started as a Soviet response to the US Harpoon, but was adopted into service only in 2003. The Kh-35 carries a 300 lbs High Explosive Fragmentation warhead, and is designed to pierce horizontally through the bulkheads and compartments prior to exploding inside the ship. It travels at subsonic speed and is effective against frigates and smaller destroyers. Yevgeny Bushmin, Russia’s vice-president, recently said that the Kremlin was very supportive of concluding an intergovernmental agreement with Vietnam on the development and use of the GLONASS system. GLONASS is a high-altitude orbital space complex comprised of six high-elliptical orbiting satellites, that will provide high-precision navigation services from 2023 onwards. This will give Vietnam extensive access to Russia’s GLONASS network.
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