USAF order more Reapers from GA | E/F Super Hornets bound for Kuwait in $1.6 billion FMS | China & Russia collaborate on rocket launched recon drone
- General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. has been awarded a contract for the production of MQ-9 Reaper aircraft. The contract is valued at over $295 million. Work will be performed in Poway, California, and is scheduled for completion by July 2021. The MQ-9 Reaper UAV, once called “Predator B,” is somewhat similar to the famous Predator, but with a strong hunter-killer design. Some have called it the first fielded Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV). The Reaper is a major asset for the US Air Force, its capability set makes the MQ-9 considerably more expensive than MQ-1 Predators. MQ-9 operators currently include the USA and Britain, who use it in hunter-killer mode, and Italy.
- General Dynamics Electric Boat Corp, is being contracted for the provision of post-delivery work on the USS Colorado (SSN 788). The awarded contract is valued at over $14 million. The USS Colorado is the 15th Virginia Class submarine delivered to the US Navy. She was delivered on September 21, 2017 and was commissioned on March 17, 2018. The SSN 788 is part of a 5-year, $17 billion deal to strengthen the USA’s nuclear submarine fleet. The SSN 788 belongs to Block III submarines that took a big step forward by replacing the 12 vertical launch tubes with a more flexible “6-shooter” approach, and swapping a water-backed, horseshoe-shaped LAB sonar array for the existing air-backed spherical array. Electric Boat Corp. will perform planning and execution efforts, including long lead time material procurement, in preparation to accomplish the maintenance, repair, alterations, testing, and other work on USS Colorado. Work will be performed in Groton, Connecticut and is expected to be completed by September 2018.
- Raytheon has been awarded a $22.7 million modification to a previously awarded contract to add the Phase IIB/IIC tasks for the Multi-Azimuth Defense Fast Intercept Round Engagement System (MAD-FIRES) program. This brings the total cumulative face value of the contract to $50 million. The MAD-FIRES program aims to tackle the evolving and potentially lethal threats to ships and other maritime vessels posed by unmanned vehicles, missiles, small planes, fast in-shore attack craft and other platforms. The goal of the program is to design and develop technologies associated with a medium-caliber guided projectile that would combine the guidance, precision and accuracy generally afforded by missiles with the speed, rapid-fire capability and large ammunition capacity afforded by bullets. Work will be performed in Tucson, Arizona and Raufoss, Norway. It is scheduled for completion by May 2020.
Middle East & Africa
- Lockheed Martin Corp. will provide Arrowhead upgrade kits in support of the Egyptian Air Force AH-64 Apache helicopter fleet. The contract modification is valued at $7.7 million. Work will be performed in Orlando, Florida and is scheduled for completion by October 2022. The AH-64A/D Apache has become a dominant attack helicopter around the globe, in service abroad with Britain, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and the UAE. All are strong candidates for AH-64E upgrades at some point, and some have already placed formal export requests. The Arrowhead system is an electro-optical and fire control system that Apache helicopter pilots use for combat targeting of their Hellfire and other weapons, as well as flying in day, night, or bad weather missions. The system also provides accurate targeting at high altitudes. Egypt operates at least 45 Apache helicopters to help counter jihadists operating in the Sinai desert.
- Boeing has been awarded a contract for the production and delivery of 22 F/A-18E and 6 F/A-18F Super Hornets in support of the government of Kuwait. The contract is valued at $1.16 billion. The contract immediately obligates $275.9 million for long-lead nonrecurring engineering costs, including radar warning receivers and aircraft armament equipment. The Super Hornets have less than 40% commonality with previous F/A-18A-D versions. The F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets have been enlarged in all dimensions and fitted with 2 extra weapons pylons. The State Department approved the Super Hornet sale to Kuwait in November 2016. At the time, Kuwait was considering a purchase of up to 40 aircraft to replace its current fleet of legacy Hornets, and the department estimated the sale could rack up a value of up to $10.1 billion. Work will be performed at various sites including Hazelwood, Missouri; Goleta, California and El Segundo, California. Work is expected to be completed in September 2022.
- Lockheed Martin Corp. was awarded to separate contract modifications to increase the fiscal 2018 Patriot Advanced Capability-3 production contract in support of the government of Saudi Arabia. One modification, valued at over $278 million, includes Cost-Reduction Initiative missiles and associated ground support equipment. The other modification includes missile segment enhancements, a command launch station, initial spares and other unique costs and is valued at over $251 million. The Patriot Advanced Capability-3 or PAC-3 is the current US standard for new-build Patriot Missiles. PAC-3 uses a “hit-to-kill” approach, instead of the PAC-2’s large fragmentation warhead, which allows it to pack more missiles per launcher (16 instead of 4). Its enhanced capabilities also allow it to be used for point defense against ballistic missiles, and its Config-3 ground systems also feature a range of improvements to the battery’s radar, communications, electronics, and software. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia requested the sale of 202 Patriot PAC-3 missiles in 2014 for an estimated cost of $1.75 billion. Work will be performed in Grand Prairie, Texas; Huntsville, Alabama; Camden, Arkansas; Lufkin, Texas; Chelmsford, Massachusetts; and Ocala, Florida, with an estimated completion date of February 2023.
- Reuters reports that Germany currently faces major problems with its ageing Tornado fighter jet fleet. Reports suggest that the 10 Tornado’s currently registered for the NATO Response Force cannot be fitted with an encryption device for secure data transfer into the jet. Germany plans to phase out the over 40 years old Tornado in its GR4 low-level precision strike configurations by 2025. The German defense ministry currently lists the Eurofighter, the F-35, the F-15, and the F-18 as potential successors.
- Russia’s Tecmash Research and Production Group and China are currently jointly working on the experimental design to develop a reconnaissance drone launched inside a projectile of the Smerch multiple launch rocket system. The 9K58 Smerch 300mm Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) is designed to defeat soft and hard-skinned targets, artillery and missile systems. It is produced by the Splav State Research and Production Association, Tula, Russia, which also manufactures the Uragan, Grad and Prima rocket launchers. Smerch was developed in the early 1980s and entered service with the Russian Army in 1988. The firing tubes are arranged as two blocks of four with a single row of four above. The reconnaissance drone, or miniature aerial vehicle is supposed to contain a stabilized camera, enabling real-time battlefield surveillance data. It can hover at an altitude of 500m for a duration of up to 30 minutes. This drone shows some similarity to Aerovironment’s Switchblade UAV, which is produced for the US Army and entered service in 2011.
- Su-255M3: The Latest Incarnation of Russia’s ‘Flying Tank’
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