USAF Conducts Successful Launch Test of Minuteman III | IAI Intros Export Version of Heron TP UAV | Poland Looks at Multiple Providers for New Helis
- The USAF has completed a successful test launch of an unarmed Minuteman III missile. Officials from the service said the operational launch was conducted to verify the ICBM’s capability as a nuclear deterrent. For the test, a missile was taken from a silo at Minot AFB, ND, and reassembled at Vandenberg, CA. The ICBM was fitted with a re-entry vehicle, and traveled approximately 2,200 miles to a test range near the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
Middle East & North Africa
- Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has introduced the export version of Heron TP UAV. This XP model has been adapted from the baseline model operated by the IDF and German military, and complies with the restrictions imposed by the international missile technology control regime 2 (MTCR 2) agreement. Another alteration includes the reduction in payload capacity from more than 1t to 450kg (991lb). Potential export customers include India, a recent signatory of the MTCR-2 agreement, and the UAV will be demonstrated at this year’s Aero India 2017 conference.
- The Finnish government has offered Estonia the opportunity to join in their procurement of used K9 Thunder howitzers from South Korea. Finland has been in talks with Seoul for a number of years over the K9, testing the howitzer late last year. Reports suggest Estonia plans to procure 12 units of the weapon while Finland has yet to decide on final numbers to replace their Soviet-era weapons. A decision on the deal is expected for later this month.
- French special forces have received their first batch of 25 heavy vehicles from Renault Trucks Defense. The country’s procurement agency, the Directorate General of Armaments (DGA), has contracted RTD for a total of 443 vehicles-220 heavy vehicles and 241 light vehicles- and said the trucks will improve interoperability and the level of performance of the vehicle fleet of the special forces’ ground, air and maritime components. The technical specifications of the heavy vehicle were not disclosed.
- Poland will purchase 16 new helicopters this year, half destined for the Navy and the rest to the country’s special forces. Two will be Sikorsky Black Hawks, with the remainder to be chosen from offers from Lockheed Martin, Leonardo and Airbus Helicopters. Delivery of the Black Hawks is expected for next month after being produced by Lockheed Martin’s Polish subsidiary PZL Mielec. The 16 aircraft will go toward the replacement of Poland’s Soviet-designed Mil Mi-8, Mi-14 and Mi-17 helicopters.
- India’s state-run Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) is seeking permission to buy six A330s from Airbus and convert them into early warning radar platforms. The deal is currently before the Cabinet Committee on Security and once clearances are given, the DRDO claim they can have the indigenously-built Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) integrated on the first aircraft and delivered to the Indian Air Force within seven years. The IAF has also recently inducted an indigenous AWACS platform on a Brazilian-made Embraer-145 aircraft.
- An op-ed in The Hill pitches the idea that the Trump administration sells the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to Taiwan. In the piece, Yeni Wong and Kent Wang, US-based academics specializing on Taiwan, argue that Taiwanese F-16 fighters would struggle to defeat China’s new fleet of Su-35 and J-20 fighters in an upcoming conflict. They propose that the F-35 would “help the country’s security and secure its democracy,” and the Pentagon “should seriously consider to selling advanced fighters to Taiwan at the earliest opportunity.”
- South Korean military officials have said the latest missile tested by North Korea was a new type of solid-fuel intermediate-range missile, the Pukguksong-2, using submarine-launched ballistic missile technology, not the older Musudan-class earlier reported. Pyongyang utilized a “cold eject” launch system, where the missile is initially propelled by compressed gas before its rocket engine ignites. In response, The US, Japan and South Korea requested urgent UN Security Council consultations on the test, with potential for further sanctions to be discussed. China said that they opposed North Korean missile tests that run contrary to UN resolutions, however they rejected suggestions from Washington and others that they could be doing more to rein in its neighbor.
- GT-221GM Minuteman III Launch:
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