The US Army is ordering more High Mobility Artillery Rocket System launchers for its troops. Lockheed Martin will procure 24 M142 HIMARS at a cost of $289.2 million. The contract also includes training, spares and enhanced improvement modifications. The HIMARS is a cut-down, truck-mounted, C-130 transportable version of the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS). The M142 HIMARS uses the same controls, communications, and even crew as the tracked M270 MLRS launcher, but carries only one rocket or missile set on a 5-ton FMTV truck chassis instead of the MLRS’ twin setup mounted on a tracked vehicle. HIMARS, as part of a Fire Brigade, provides fires that shape, shield and isolate the battle space and while using both precision GMLRS and ATACMS Unitary munitions, HIMARS provides close support fires for troops in contact in both open and urban terrain. Work will be performed at Lockheed’s facility in Grand Prairie, Texas and is scheduled for completion by July 1, 2022.
The US Air Force is choosing Boeing’s MH-139 Helicopter as replacement to its ageing fleet of UH-1N Hueys. The company is being with awarded with an initial firm-fixed-price contract that provides for the delivery of four aircraft at a cost of $375.5 million. This is the basic award of a $2.38 billion contract that sees for the acquisition of a total of 84 MH-139s. The MH-139 derives from the Leonardo AW139 and will be used to protect America’s intercontinental ballistic missile bases. The new variant is said to offer more than $1bn in savings in acquisition and lifecycle expenses over 30 years when compared with competitor aircraft. Work will be performed at Boeing’s Ridley Park and Philadelphia factories and is expected to be completed by September 2031.
The Naval Sea Systems Command is modifying a contract that sees for the development of the Aegis Advanced Capability Build (ACB) 20. The contract modification awarded to Lockheed Martin is valued at $78.3 million and provides for the design, development, integration, testing and delivery of the new capability build. ACB 20 is the next effort in the Aegis modernization program. It will integrate the new AN/SPY-6 radar, RIM-162 ESSMs, and CIWS sensor data. This development effort is planned for fielding on new construction Aegis DDG 51 Flight III ships that will enter service in 2023. Work will be performed at Lockheed’s facility in Moorestown, New Jersey and is expected to be completed by December 2021.
Middle East & Africa
The German government is authorising several military sales to Middle-Eastern countries. Saudi Arabia will receive four artillery positioning systems for armored vehicles, despite a German commitment not to export arms to countries fighting in the war in Yemen. The mounted radars can locate the origin of enemy fire and enable precise counterstrikes. Qatar will receive a total of 170 warheads and engines for its Meteor BVRAAMs. The Meteor missile is equipped with a blast-fragmentation warhead, supplied by German company TDW and is powered by a ramjet supplied by Bayern-Chemie. Egypt will receive seven air-defense systems, produced by Diehl. These systems fire the Iris-T SLM, a new, mobile, medium-range surface-to-air guided missile. Jordan will receive up to 385 RGW 90 anti-tank weapons from Dynamit-Nobel. The value of the above mentioned deliveries is not known at this time.
Germany plans to sell a secondhand surveillance drone to Canada. The Euro Hawk is one of Germany’s white-elephants, having cost the country more than $823 million since its introduction. The transatlantic Euro Hawk project aimed to produce an RQ-4B with additional capabilities in signals intelligence collection (SIGINT), to complement its native ground surveillance capabilities. But the program quickly ran into several costly problems and subsequent delays. Germany ordered the Global Hawk variant from Northrop Grumman in 2000, but later cancelled the order because of skyrocketing costs and revelations that the prototype wouldn’t be certified to fly in Europe. Since then Germany demilitarised the UAV, meaning technicians removed the drone’s radio equipment, its GPS receiver and aerials, as well as all encryption and the flight control system. Considering this, it remains to be seen if Canada would truly bee interested in purchasing a gutted UAV that practically can’t fly.
Vietnam is set to receive further contractor support as part of the US Cooperative Threat Reduction Program. URS Federal Services will support Vietnam in its efforts to destruct and prevent the proliferation of WMDs under this $42.8 million ceiling cost-plus-fixed-fee task order. The DoD uses the CTR program to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and eliminate chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats. The program’s mission is to collaborate with willing countries worldwide to reduce the threat of WMDs and related materials, technology, and expertise, including providing for the safe destruction of WMDs, associated delivery systems, and related infrastructure. The anticipated completion date is September 23, 2021.
Japan is developing new supersonic glide bombs to strengthen the defenses of remote islands. The government will spend close to $122 million in the coming fiscal year and plans to deploy a fully functional weapon by 2025. The missiles will protect islands like Okinawa and the Senkakus, which are claimed by China, where they are known as the Diaoyu. If outlying islands come under attack or are occupied by an enemy force, the system would launch a missile to reach an altitude of more than 20km before the glide bomb separates and then falls at an angle at supersonic speed towards the target on the ground. The missile’s high velocity protects it from interception by enemy air-defense weapons.
The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency is green lighting a military sales package to Taiwan. The approved sale is valued at $330 million and provides for the delivery of spare and replenishment parts needed to keep Taiwan’s F-16s, C-130s and F-5s operational. This package is part of a US contribution to Taiwan’s Force Modernization program, aimed at breaking the country’s defense equipment logjam. Taiwan expects to retire its F-5 and Mirage 2000v5 fighters by 2020. To mitigate this decrease in fighter numbers, Taiwan is modernizing its fleet of F-16s, this is however a medium term solution, not a long term one, and does nothing to address the growing numeric imbalance across the strait.
Watch: USS Ronald Reagan Launches Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM)