USAF aircraft get ‘tired’ | B-2 Spirit gets a defense upgrade | Turkey signs single largest defense export deal
- Lockheed Martin and Michelin North America are being awarded a modification to a previously awarded performance-based logistics contract in support of various aircraft types. The modification is valued at $9.5 million and provides for supply chain management of aviation tires through August 2019. Supported aircraft include the P-3C, E-2C/D, C2, AV-8B, CH-46E, F-18, EA-18G, MH-60S/R, SH6OB/F, 5-3, EA-6B, CH-53/E, and V-22. Lockheed Martin will be responsible for a variety of services ranging from requirements forecasting to meeting critical supply response time availability metrics. The company’s SCM+ supply chain management system accurately forecasts tire usage which helps to decrease the amount of warehouse inventory by 80% and provides the Navy with cost savings. In addition to supporting the Navy, the contract supports Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Egypt, France, Greece, Italy, Korea, Spain, Taiwan, Turkey, Japan, and United Kingdom under the Foreign Military Sales program. All work will be performed at Lockheed Martin’s location in Baltimore, Maryland, and will be completed by August 2019.
- The Air Force is upgrading the defenses of its B-2 Spirit bombers. The firm-fixed price delivery order is valued at $28.6 million and allows for a defense management system overhaul by Lockheed Martin. The Defensive Management System is a technology designed to help the B-2 recognize and elude enemy air defenses, by using various antennas, receivers and display processors to detect signals or “signatures” emitting from ground-based anti-aircraft weapons. The upgraded DMS technology ensures that the air crew knows where the threats are in real time in order to avoid flying into striking range. Built by Northrop Grumman, the B-2 Spirit costs about $2.2 billion per aircraft. It can reach altitudes of 50,000-feet and carry 40,000-pounds of payload. First produced in 1989, the stealth bomber was engineered to deliver weapons behind enemy lines and evade Soviet air defenses. Work will be performed in Owego, New York, and is expected to be completed by July, 2020.
Middle East & Africa
- The government of Botswana is still undecided if it should acquire several Gripen C/D fighter aircraft. The African nation started negotiations about purchasing 8 to 12 aircraft with Sweden in 2016. However, the country is currently struggling to fund the $1.7 billion needed for the purchase. The JAS-39 Gripen is an excellent lightweight fighter by all accounts, with attractive flyaway costs and performance. Its canard design allows for quick “slew and point” maneuvers, allowing it to take advantage of the modern trend toward helmet-mounted displays, and air-air missiles with much wider boresight targeting cones. The Gripens were meant to replace the Botswana Defence Force’s ageing fleet of US-made F-5 fighter jets acquired over two decades ago. The aircraft acquisition is part of a force modernization program that also includes the replacement of old troop carriers, transporters, tanks, armored vehicles, light weapons and aerial defense systems.
- The Pakistan Navy is set to boost its fleet with four Ada-class corvettes. The ships are produces by a consortium of Turkish defense contractors. National Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli said in an interview that “this will be largest single export deal in the history of the Turkish defense industry”. The Ada-class has been developed for Turkey’s Milgem national warship development project with the aim to design and build locally a fleet of hi-tech stealth multipurpose corvettes and frigates that will replace older ships which are currently in service. According to Jane’s Fighting Ships, the Ada class has a fully-loaded displacement of 2,032 tons, a draught of 3.6 m, and a beam of 14.4 m. Armament on the 99 m-long platforms includes a 76 mm naval gun, four (two twin) 324 mm torpedo tubes, eight (two quadruple) launchers for anti-ship missiles, and one RIM-116 close-in weapon system. To this point, no details were provided about the value of the contract. Two of the ships will be built at Turkey’s Istanbul Shipyard while the remaining two will be constructed in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi.
- Sweden’s planned acquisition of the Patriot defense system may be cancelled due to tight budget constraints. Swedish opposition leaders are currently questioning the government’s capacity, or willingness, to release sufficient funding to the military to cover the procurement of the US-made missile system. Sweden plans to purchase a package of four Patriot Configuration-3+ Modernized Fire Units, that include radar sets, engagement control systems, antenna mast groups and 300 missiles. The Christian Democrats party has threatened to block the deal from proceeding unless the government agrees to create a separate funding vehicle for the Patriot missile program, because it fears that the military’s operations would be seriously impaired if burdened with the $3.2 billion acquisition.
- Jane’s reports that, the UK Royal Air Force (RAF) can now fly the first of its Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft upgraded with the Project Centurion weapons fit. The multi-national Eurofighter Typhoon has been described as the aerodynamic apotheosis of lessons learned from the twin engine “teen series” fighters that began with the F-14 and F-15, continued with the emergence of the F/A-18 Hornet. The Project Centurion configuration is intended to combine the already-delivered Raytheon Paveway IV precision-guided bomb, and the Storm Shadow, Meteor beyond-visual range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM), and Brimstone on the Typhoon FGR4 in time for the retirement of the Tornado in April 2019.
- China’s Yaoying II medium-altitude, long-endurance UAV has reached another milestone. The UAV’s manufacturer (Aviation Industry Corporation of China) confirmed that the UAV conducted its maiden flight. The Yaoying II is based on the on the Yaoying-1, it can fly at speeds up to 142 mph at an altitude of 24.606 ft, which is in the middle to high range compared with its peers. It can stay in the air for 16 hours, with controllers up to 124 miles away. The 19 feet long, fixed-wing platform, features a rear-mounted propeller and is fitted with at least one hardpoint under each wing. With full automatic control and integrated navigation, the new drone can conduct photoelectric image reconnaissance and surveillance, radar image reconnaissance, and communication signal detection. The drone can provide real-time image and monitoring information for many fields, including firefighting, disaster relief, aerial photography, oil pipelines, forest fire prevention and land resource surveys.
- The Indian defense contractor Larsen & Toubro (L&T) is opening a new production line to support its BrahMos (PJ-10) supersonic cruise missile. The new production line is L&T’s second BrahMos facility, a third is currently being built in the southern city of Coimbatore. The PJ-10 is a short-range, ramjet powered, single warhead, supersonic anti-ship/land attack cruise missile developed and manufactured by India and Russia. The missile flies at supersonic speed between Mach 2.0-2.8 and is equipped with stealth technology designed to make it less visible to radar and other detection methods. L&T and BrahMos Aerospace also jointly developed a new Quadruple Canisterized Inclined Launcher (QCIL), designed to be installed on warships unable to accommodate a vertical-launch module system due to space constraints
- USAF F-15C conducts low-level flight
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