* After a few months of delay, the USAF may soon re-release a request for proposals for the replacement of the UH-1 Huey helicopter fleet. The delay originated after a number of manufacturers told the service their off-the-shelf solutions would not meet all of the proposed requirements, with only the Sikorsky HH-60U Black Hawk fitting the earlier requirements. Speaking on the matter, USAF chief Gen David Goldfein said that the “delay in the UH-1 replacement is actually based on the dialogue we’re having with industry and what they’re saying they can produce based on our RFP.” “We want to make sure when the RFP hits the streets it’s right,” he added. Alongside the Black Hawk, Boeing and Leonardo are looking to offer a militarized version of the Italian firm’s commercial AW139 helicopter. An attempt at providing a media flight for the MH-139, however, had to be cancelled following the malfunction of one of its modular avionics units.
* Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $1 billion contract from the Pentagon to provide various support services for the F-35 aircraft. The deal covers ground maintenance, action request resolution, depot activation, supply chain management and other activities for F-35s operated by the USAF, Navy, USMC, and other foreign military sales (FMS) customers. Work will be carried out at the company’s plants in Forth Worth, Texas; Orlando, Florida; and other various locations, with a completion date set for December 2017. Lockheed also won a $427 million contract to continue production of the Hellfire II missile for the US Army. Work on the contract will continue until September 2020.
Middle East & North Africa
* Sikorsky has delivered an S-70i Black Hawk helicopter to be used as a prototype for the Turkish Utility Helicopter Program (TUHP). The delivery coincides with the signing of a “cooperation agreement” with Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), aimed at enhancing business between the two companies in the next 10 years. Sikorsky is collaborating with Turkish industry on developing its new T-70 utility helicopter, and later into Turkish-built Black Hawks, in a program that is worth approximately $3.5 billion. The delivered Black Hawk will now be equipped with a new avionics suite jointly developed with Sikorsky and TAI, with work to be carried out by Turkish arms manufacturer Aselsan. Ankara is initially planning to produce 109 T-70s but this could later reach a production total of 300 if the helicopter is rolled out to meet future Turkish requirements.
* Top officials from the Italian and Qatari navies have moved forward with signing a naval training deal that covers the enrollment of Qataris at Italian Navy training centers, the embarking of Qatari Navy personnel on Italian vessels, and the dispatch of an Italian naval liaison officer to the Qatar naval headquarters in Doha. The agreement follows June’s $4 billion purchase by Qatar of seven naval vessels from Italy’s Fincantieri shipyard as part of Italy’s largest-ever naval export deal. Naval heads also discussed the possibility of Qatar’s Navy joining the Virtual Regional Maritime Traffic Centre, a virtual network coordinated by Italy linking participating navies and providing information about merchant shipping.
* Boeing is taking the Danish government to court over the lack of access to documents relating to the government’s pick of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter over Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet. The company complained last year that they questioned the accuracy of data used in the decision making process which suggested its Super Hornets would be a more expensive option. As a result, Boeing wanted to look at the documents that were at the foundation of the competition and used in the evaluation process for the fighter selection, submitting a request for such documents last September. The Danish MoD replied saying that that it had not given Boeing access to the documents because the US firm had not told the government exactly what documents it wanted to see.
* India’s Ministry of Defence has announced the successful March 1 launch of the Advanced Area Defence (AAD) interceptor missile. Conducted by the Defence Research & Developmental Organization (DRDO), the AAD was launched from Abdul Kalam Island in the Bay of Bengal several minutes after a Prithvi missile was launched from launch complex 3 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur near Balasore in Odisha, before destroying the Prithvi in mid-air at an endo-atmospheric altitude (less than 60 miles high). This is the second AAD launch by India in under a month.
* Israel and India will co-develop and produce a medium-range surface-to-air missile for the Indian Army. Contracts for the deal are expected to be awarded later this month with the value of the project estimated at over $2.5 billion. Known as the MRSAM, development of the missile will be undertaken jointly by India’s DRDO, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), and will be produced by state-owned Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) in partnership with other state-owned and private defense companies. It does, however, remain unclear who will own the Intellectual Property Right (IPR) for the missile as well as the ownership of the data package for the technology.
* Lotte Duty Free’s website was crashed on Thursday in a cyber attack believed to have originated in China. A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, which overloads servers with requests, began slowing all four language versions of the website at 11:00 a.m. (0200 GMT) and crashed them all around 12:00 p.m., Lotte Duty Free said in a statement. The attack comes as the company’s parent organization approved a land swap deal with the South Korean government to allow the deployment of the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system on the land. Seoul’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho June-hyuck said he was concerned about the growing calls in China to put South Korean companies at a disadvantage as a result of the deployment, but insisted that that the system was strictly for defensive purposes and it had no plans to change the scheduled deployment.