USMC rolls out modernized LAV-AT to troops | DSCA approves Javelins for Georgia | UK and Japan to cooperate on Meteor BVRAAM upgrade
- Having successfully completed its initial operational goals during field tests in September, the US Marine Corps (USMC) has started rolling out its upgraded Light Armored Vehicle Anti-Tank (LAV-AT) weapons system to troops. Developed under the USMC’s LAV-AT Modernization program established in 2012, the upgraded ATWS includes a new turret that is unmanned, fires both wire-guided and radio frequency TOW missiles, and can acquire targets while on-the-move with an improved thermal sight. It also has a Far Target Location system, new commander/gunner video sight displays, and an electric elevation and azimuth drive system, which helps rotate the weapon system onto the target. Fielding will be completed by the end of 2019.
- BAE Systems has been awarded a $8.7 million US Navy contract modification to complete the fitting out availability process for the USS Portland (LPD-27) and for continued efforts associated with the post shakedown availability for the USS John P. Murtha (LPD-26). Work on the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ships will take place at BAE’s San Diego facility in California with work on the USS John P. Murtha scheduled to be completed by February 2018, followed by the USS Portland in October 2018.
Middle East & Africa
- Saudi Arabia is believed to have ordered approximately $7 billion worth of precision guided munitions from Boeing and Raytheon. While the US State Department has yet to formally notify Congress of the deal, sources close to the sale said it was agreed as part of a $110 billion weapons package that coincided with President Donald Trump’s visit to the Gulf kingdom in May. A State Department official maintained that the department does “not comment to confirm or deny sales untilthey are formally notified to Congress,” and both Raytheon and Boeing have declined to comment. The sale of munitions and missiles to Saudi Arabia has become an increasingly contentious issue for many US lawmakers opposed to the Saudi Royal Air Force’s conduct in the Yemen civil war, where Iran-allied Houthi rebels fight against the government backed by a Saudi-led Arab coalition. The UN estimates that nearly 4,800 civilians have been killed since March 2015, and Saudi Arabia has either denied attacks or cited the presence of fighters in the targeted areas, adding that it has tried to reduce civilian casualties.
- Azerbaijan is expected to sign a deal with Turkish munitions firm Roketsan for the delivery of the SOM stand-off air-to-surface missile initially developed by TUBITAK SAGE. Three variants—the SOM-A, SOM-B and SOM-B1—come with varying warheads and guidance/communication packages, while a forth version, the SOM-J is being developed by Roketsan and Lockheed Martin for use in the internal carriages of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The missile boasts a range of 250KM and can be launched from land, sea, and air platforms. Also ordered from Turkey are Roketsan’s Kasirga rocket launchers (MLRS), which allow for the operator to strike at targets deep in the enemy’s defense, including military bases, concentration sites, rocket launcher launchers, airports and transport hubs, administrative and industrial centers. Costs and number of units for both purchases have yet to be revealed.
- The government of Georgia has been approved by the US State Department for the possible foreign military sale of Javelin missiles and Command Launch Units. Announced by the Department of Defense’s Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) last Monday, the sale, if approved by US Congress, will include 410 Javelin Missiles, 72 Javelin Command Launch Units (CLUs)—includes two Javelin Block 1 CLUs to be used as spares—as well as training equipment, and US Government and contractor technical assistance. The value of the sale is estimated at $75 million, and while the Raytheon/Lockheed Martin Javelin Joint Venture has been listed by the DSCA as prime contractors, the missiles will be provided from US Army stock and the CLUs will be obtained from on-hand Special Defense Acquisition Fund (SDAF)-purchased stock.
- Finland’s Defense Ministry has decided that its F/A-18 fighter replacement program will require a one-to-one acquisition of 64 fighter jets. The defence report, which was approved by the Finnish Parliament in February, says that the readiness of the current fleet must be fully maintained after the procurement, and between 7-10 billion euros ($8.3-12 billion) has been made available for the purchase. A tender is planned to start in 2018, with a newly elected government to pick a winner in 2019. In August, US President Donald Trump claimed during a White House press conference with his Finnish counterpart, Sauli Niinisto, that Helsinki was already buying fighter aircraft from Boeing, much to Niinisto’s confusion. Niinisto later told Finnish media, “It seems that on the sale side, past decisions and hopes about future decisions have mixed … The purchase is just starting, and that is very clear here.”
- In what will be its first non-US defense partnership, Japan is expected to announce, alongside the UK, a new joint development effort on the Meteor air-to-air missile. Developed by the European missile consortium MBDA, the upgraded missile will incorporate a powerful radar system developed by Mitsubishi Electric and a prototype will be built at an MBDA plant starting in fiscal 2018. Live-fire testing will take place in the UK in 2023 at which point Tokyo and London will decide whether to put the weapon into mass production. Japan is likely to select the missile for its fleet of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. A joint statement giving further details on the joint program is likely to take place after a meeting of their top diplomatic and defense officials December 14 in London.
- India’s Ministry of Defense has hailed the successful test-firing of its long-delayed air-;aunched variant of the Brahmos supersonic cruise missile. Launched on November 22 from an Indian Air Force (IAF) Su-30MKI, the 2.5 ton nuclear-capable missile successfully hit a ship target off of India’s Eastern Coast. A derivative of the Russian P-800 Oniks over-the-horizon supersonic anti-ship cruise missile,Ge the BrahMos is a joint venture between India’s Defense Research Development Organization (DRDO) and Russian rocket design bureau NPO Mashinostroyeniya. Ground- and naval-launched variants are already in operation with the Indian Army and Navy respectively, and the IAF plan to modify 50 Su-30MKIs to carry the air-launched weapon. Modifications include electrical and software upgrades, as well as reinforcement of the jet’s undercarriage in order to properly support such heavy-weight ordinance. First deliveries are expected to commence in January 2018.
- Indian news report on the IAF’s Brahmos test:
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