USAF Names Suppliers for NG’s B-21 | Turkey’s TF-X Program Hits Snag | China’s 2nd Carrier to be J-15 Equipped
- Bugs in the F-35A 3i software are forcing pilots to restart the AESA radars while in flight. The glitch represents one of the greatest threats to the USAF’s initial operational capability (IOC), expected sometime between 1 August and 31 December. The root cause of the problem has been identified by lead contractor Lockheed Martin, now in the process of running the software solution through lab tests. The patch is expected to be delivered to the USAF by the end of March.
- Raytheon’s recent SM-6 anti-air missile test was used to engage the decommissioned USS Reuben James, (FFG 57) made famous for its appearance in the 1990 movie The Hunt for Red October. The test was a demonstration of the Navy’s concept of “distributed lethality,” employing ships in dispersed formations to increase the offensive might of the surface force, and enabling future options for the joint force commander. The USS John Paul Jones fired the SM-6 while another Arleigh Burke-class destroyer was on station as the assist ship.
- The USAF has named seven top-tier suppliers for Northrop Grumman’s B-21 Long-Range Strike Bomber. Announced five months after Northrop was awarded the main contract for the secretive program, sub-contractors include BAE Systems, GKN Aerospace, Janicki Industries, Orbital ATK, Rockwell Collins, Spirit AeroSystems, and engine-maker Pratt & Whitney. Pratt & Whitney’s selection as engine maker is a departure from GE Aviation, who provided the engines for the B-2 stealth bomber. The others will work on airframe or mission systems for the program.
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- Turkey’s indigenous next-generation fighter (TF-X) program has hit a number of pre-development issues caused by administrative delays and differences of opinion between procurement and military officials. Plans to have the fighter operational by 2023 are now under scrutiny by some analysts, with major delays potentially on the way. One particular issue surrounding the delays involves their partnership with BAE Systems. While pre-contract negotiations began last year, a deal has not been finalized, and has yet to be authorized by the country’s procurement decision body, the Defense Industry Executive Committee. As a result, design, development, and production of the jet has gone on the back burner indefinitely.
- The South African-based Paramount Group is to collaborate with Boeing to weaponize and integrate Boeing mission systems and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) payloads for the South African-developed advanced, high-performance, reconnaissance, light aircraft (AHRLAC). An agreement was decided at the Global Aerospace Summit in Abu Dhabi. The five year old AHRLAC program has developed a high-wing, two-seat aircraft designed to incorporate advanced ISR capabilities and weapon systems with a single-pusher-engine configuration, with an aim to claim a portion of the helicopter market.
- BAE Systems and the UK MoD are currently in discussions to agree on to the next tranche of work, and establish a revised production schedule that could delay the start of building a fleet of new anti-submarine warfare/general purpose frigates. An initial contract under the Type 26 program was to build 13 of the vessels, however this was cut to eight last November by the Conservative government. To fill the capability gap, the Type 31 program looks to build five cheaper, smaller general purpose frigates. The current discussions aim to decide on how these programs will go forward with a revised schedule expected for the early fall.
- China’s second aircraft carrier will be larger than its first and equipped with J-15 fighter jets. Construction of the 50,000-tonne vessel was announced by the defense ministry last December, and aims to assert Beijing’s claims to contested islands in the South & East China Seas. The design is based on the operational Liaoning but will also include space to carry more ammunition, fuel, early warning aircraft, anti-submarine aircraft, and health evacuation helicopters aimed to improve its self-sufficiency and combat effectiveness at sea.
- The New Zealand Defence Force has chosen Boeing as the preferred provider of an update of submarine detection sensors on the air force’s P-3K2 Orion surveillance aircraft. The upgrade, yet to be approved by the government, would replace ISR equipment 50 years old and cost in the tens of millions of dollars. Plans for future defence procurement will be announced next month in a government Defense Whitepaper including plans for the Orion fleet.
- F-35 software engineers giving radar troubleshooting advice to pilots:
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