USAF OA-X experiment could see ME combat | Elbit defense suites spotted on RSAF helicopters | Israeli probe into drone demo in Azerbaijan
- The US DoD has awarded General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems a $9.7 million contract modification for the continued work on submarine fire control systems of US and British Royal Navy vessels. Under the terms of the deal, General Dynamics work remit will include maintenance for the Attack Weapon Control System on SSGN guided missile submarines and missile fire-control development for the future US Columbia-class and British Dreadnought-class ballistic missile submarines. Both vessels will replace the US Ohio-class and British Vanguard-class submarines currently in operation by both navies, and will share a Common Missile Compartment for the Trident II and other weapons such as cruise missiles. The Columbias and Dreadnoughts are projected to start entering service in the late 2020s and phase out the older models.
- Three days ahead of schedule, the USS John C. Stennis aircraft carrier has commenced sea trails following a six-month overhaul and upgrade at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Wash. A Nimitz-class carrier, the vessel is the flagship of Carrier Strike Group Three including its carrier air wing of up to 70 aircraft and the Ticonderoga-class cruiser USS Mobile Bay. After trials, Carrier Strike Group Three will begin its operations in the Pacific Ocean as part of the Navy’s Pacific fleet, at a time when tensions in the region grow amid North Korea’s ballistic missile testing and Chinese naval assertiveness in the South China Sea.
- Following the completion of ongoing demonstrations as part of the USAF’s light attack aircraft experiment, potential aircraft may then face a combat demonstration in the Middle East. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told reporters last week that the aircraft—the A-29 Super Tucano from Sierra Nevada Corp. and Embraer, the AT-802L Longsword by L3 and Air Tractor, and the AT-6 Wolverine and Scorpion jet, both by Textron—could all face missions against militants from the Islamic State and other terrorist groups as part of the demonstration’s next phase. The ongoing flights at Holloman AFB in New Mexico have already has several top Air Force officials view the trials, as well as representatives from about a dozen international partner militaries, including members from Canada, Australia, the United Arab Emirates and Paraguay.
Middle East & Africa
- An investigation is underway by the Israeli Defense Ministry after it received a complaint accusing UAV-maker Aeronautics Defense Systems Ltd. of using its Orbiter 1K UAV to attack a Armenian military position during a demonstration for Azerbaijan officials last month. Azerbaijan—who have already agreed terms on buying the Israeli-made Iron Dome air defense system—allegedly requested that Aeronautic Defense Systems demonstrate the vehicle, armed with explosives, against an Armenian military target, something the drone’s two operators refused to comply with. This resulted in two senior representatives of the company arming and operating the unmanned aircraft themselves. Ultimately the drones are said to have missed their targets, and no damage was caused, but according to the complaint, one of them struck at a distance of about 100 meters (330 feet) from the position. Armenia and Azerbaijan have been fighting over the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh since the late 1980s, with recent years seeing an increased military buildup. In recent years, Azerbaijan has purchased nearly $5 billion worth of military equipment from Israel.
- German Chancellor Angela Merkel has defended her CDU party’s planned defense spending hikes, adding that it will not result in decreased welfare spending by the government. Merkel, who has been Chancellor since 2005, is facing her third federal election as leader of Germany and is looking to ward of a challenge from the rival SPD, who have campaigned on a platform of social justice and has rejected demands from US President Donald Trump that Germany meet NATO’s spending target of 2 percent of national output on defense. Merkel said that while it was necessary to increase defense spending, “that will not lead to any social expenditure being cut … It won’t come at the cost of anything we pay for today.”
- Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) has completed the maiden flight of a two-seater maritime strike variant of the Sepecat Jaguar combat jet fitted with an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar. The flight is part of New Delhi’s $520 million upgrade program to bring 61 of India’s 157 Jaguar jets to the DARIN III standard—a modernization that includes new avionics and cockpit, in addition to the integration of modern armaments. Darin III-standard Jaguars will also be fitted with MBDA’s ASRAAM short-range air-to-air missile, while Textron Systems’ CBU-105 Sensor Fused Weapon has already been integrated on the type. Maritime strike variants of the Jaguar also come equipped with the AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missile.
- An Australian and US firm have concluded a comprehensive teaming agreement that will see the team collude on the sales of products and services in Australia. Florida-headquartered Associated Aircraft Manufacturing and Sales Inc (AAMSI) is a Boeing-licensed structural parts manufacturer for F-18 fighter aircraft and CH-47 helicopters, while Milspec Services has been a long-term supplier of logistical services and spares support to the Australian Defense sector. The teaming aims to improve the support provided to both current and future customers without adding any extra costs to the Commonwealth of Australia.
- Singapore have contracted Elbit Systems to provide and integrate defensive suites on its fleet of Boeing AH-64 Apache attack and CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters. An examination of pictures of the one upgraded helicopter upgraded so far show that they have been fitted with missile approach and laser warning systems that look identical to that offered by Elbit as part of its All-in-Small integrated electronic warfare suite. They have also been fitted with rectangular-shaped radar warning receivers similar to that carried on Royal Singapore Air Force’s AS332M/M-1 Super Puma medium-lift helicopter fleet. A SATCOM dome has also been fitted onto the outer leading edge of each of the upgraded Apache’s stub wings, similar to that on Israel’s AH-64D Sarafs, for full 360-degree coverage while the upgraded Chinooks have a SATCOM dome on the top of the fuselage in between the twin rotor booms.
- RAF F-35B ski-jump testing:
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