USAF one step closer in getting new and capable ‘small radar’ | Israel joins the club: buys advanced F-15s | Tokyo buys SM-3 variants
The US Air Force’s next-generation stealth bombers will be maintained at Tinker Air Base in Oklahoma and at Edwards Air Force Base in California. The B-21 Raider previously referred to as the Long-Range Strike Bomber, or LRS-B, is expected to be delivered in the mid-2020s. The air bases will be responsible to coordinate all maintenance and sustainment efforts of the new aircraft, which includes leading testing and evaluation efforts. This decision comes as the Northrop Grumman-made B-21 is expected to enter its critical design review milestone next month. The Air Force plans to buy a total of 100 Raiders as replacement to its fleet of B-2s and B-1Bs, which are expected to be retired by 2040. “From flight testing the X-15 to the F-117, Edwards AFB in the Mohave Desert has been at the forefront of keeping our Air Force on the cutting edge,” says Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen David L. Goldfein. “Now, testing the B-21 Raider will begin another historic chapter in the base’s history.”
Vista Outdoor Sales is being contracted to supply special ammunition to the Navy and the Marine Corps. Awarded by the Naval Surface Warfare Center, the firm-fixed-price, IDIQ contract provides for the delivery of 5.56mm ball, carbine, barrier ammunition. This ammunition is designed to defeat intermediate barriers such as auto windshields and doors while providing sufficient terminal performance. The full name and designation of the round is the MK 318 MOD 0 “Cartridge, Caliber 5.56mm Ball, Carbine, Barrier”. Developed as a SOST (Special Operations Science and Technology) ammo, the 62 grain bullet features an open tip with lead at the front and a thick copper base. The lead is designed to defeat barriers and the copper to penetrate the barrier. Work will be performed at the company’s factory in Anoka, Minnesota. The $41.2 million contract is expected to be completed by November 2023.
IMSAR LLC is being tapped to proceed to Phase III of a previously awarded Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract. The awarded $10 million delivery order provides for ongoing work on the SBIR Topic AF112-144 entitled “Advanced Radar Concepts for Small (Tier I/II) Remotely Piloted Aircrafts.” The research program aims to develop a small multi-mode Ground Surveillance Radar (GSR) for small UAV’s. GSR is an integral part of the DoD’s Battlefield Awareness requirement. However nearly all ‘small radars’ (weighing 10 lbs or less) are limited to Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) processing and lack a Ground Moving Target Indicator (GMTI) and Dismount Detection Radar (DDR) capability. IMSAR is responsible to develop a new ‘small radar’ that incorporates SAR, GMTI and DDR capabilities and bridges the gap between advanced weapon system radars, and small Size Weight & Power radar systems that can operate on Group I/II Remotely Piloted Aircrafts.
Middle East & Africa
The Israel Air Force (IAF) is set to acquire upgraded F-15s to supplement its fleet of F-35 ‘Adir’ fighter aircraft. The squadron of F-15IAs will include certain stealth capabilities, such as radar-absorbing paint and internal weapons carriage. The fighter jets will be capable of carrying 11 missiles, in addition to 28 heavy, smart bombs for ground targets. Other additions include Raytheon’s AN/APG-63(V)3 AESA radar, a long-range infrared search and track (IRST) sensor system, allowing for a “first sigh-first shot-first kill” capability and a helmet cueing system. With this upcoming purchase, Israel will be the third Middle-Eastern country to do so. Both Saudi Arabia and Qatar have ordered their respective SA and QA variants which are the most advanced Eagles in the world. However experts say that Israel’s Eagle will be even more capable and advanced than the others. The upcoming deal marks the first Boeing fighter jet acquisition by the Israeli Air Force in two decades, with the first F-15IA expected to arrive in Israel as soon as 2023. The IDF says the new F-15 will not completely replace the F-35 stealth fighter, but is intended to reinforce the systems currently in place to enhance the range of capabilities to an optimal position vis-à-vis its missions—from Iran to Gaza.
The Czech Republic joins the multi-national European MALE RPAS program, formerly known as EuroDrone and EuroMALE project. The effort headed by Germany in partnership with France, Italy, and Spain was noted in the European Council’s Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) updated list of projects. This advanced UAV is being developed in partnership with Dassault Aviation (France) and Leonardo (Italy) and will from now on probably involve Aero Vodochody as it is the Czech Republic’s prime defense contractor. The drone is slightly bigger as IAI’s Heron TP has a turboprop engine and will be capable of carrying various weapon systems. EuroMALE external link is the second biggest European defense project and costs about $356 million. The drone has a wingspan of 26 meters, can carry up to 992 pounds of equipment and can fly for about 24 hours on an altitude of 49.000 feet. The European MALE RPAS development phase is expected to be launched in 2019, with a prototype first flight expected in early 2023 and delivery of the first system in about 2025.
The Japanese government is requesting the purchase of several Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM). If approved by Congress the deal would see for the delivery of 32 AIM-120C-7 missiles at a cost of $63 million. Raytheon’s AIM-120 AMRAAM has become the world market leader for medium range air-to-air missiles. At present, the AIM-120-C7 is the most advanced AMRAAM approved for export beyond the USA. It features an improved seeker head, greater jamming resistance, and slightly longer range. Also included are containers, weapon support and support equipment as well as various contractor repair and support services. The DSCA notice states that the potential deal will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by supporting a key US ally and one of the major political and economic powers in East Asia and the Western Pacific.
The US State Department is determined to approve a possible Foreign Military Sale to Japan. The $561 million sale includes the delivery of 8 SM-3 IB missiles and 13 SM-3 IIA missiles. Block IB missiles allow the Japanese navy to defend against medium range and some intermediate range missiles developed by rouge regimes such as North Korea. IB upgrades include an advanced 2-color infrared seeker, and a 10-thruster solid throttling divert and attitude control system. Block IIA is a co-operative US-Japanese program, that adds a larger, more maneuverable “high-divert” kill vehicle. Once deployed the IIA missile will handle the near-strategic IRBM threat, and even engage some ICBMs. The contract also includes the provision of missile canisters and contractor support ranging from technical assistance, engineering and logistical support services. Prime contractors will be Raytheon and BAE Systems, who will respectively produce the missiles and canisters.
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