USMC wants new radar for C/D Super Hornets | Efforts to add laser to USAF tanker fleet “in the infancy stage” | MBDA to extend range of Otomat AShM
- While the US Air Force moves ahead with plans to equip its fighters and gunships with a high-energy laser weapon, it remains on the fence as to whether it will do so with its tanker fleet. Speaking to Defense News on Monday, Tom Lockhart, director of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation Office, said putting the laser onboard aircraft such as the KC-135 was “still in the infancy stage,” adding that his people had recently met officials from Air Mobility Command to identify an area to mount a pod for the laser and the next step is to figure out if that make sense. Lockhart described the KC-135 integration as a parallel effort with the Air Force’s best-known laser program—the Self-protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHiELD)—which aims to test a laser pod on an F-15 fighter by 2021.
- The US Navy has tapped Rolls Royce to build and deliver 14 AE 1107C engines for use in the V-22 Osprey program. Valued at $31 million, the contract modification will see 12 engines go to Ospreys used by the Navy while the remaining two will go to the Marine Corps. Work will take place at Rolls’ Indianapolis, Indiana plant with a scheduled completion date set for March 2019. In 2012, Rolls landed a $598 million contract for 268 engines destined for the USMC and Air Force. In 2013, it received an $84 million contract for 38 more AE 1107C engines for the two military branches.
- Sierra Nevada has been contracted by the US Air Force to provide logistics support for two USAF aircraft precision strike packages of weapons and sensors. Nearing a value just shy of $20 million, the order exercises options on a previous contract to provide additional services to AC-130J and AC-130W aircraft, bringing the total value of the contract to $72.3 million. Work will be carried out at Canon Air Force Base, in Curry County, New Mexico, and Hurlburt Air Force Base in Okaloosa County, Florida. Work is expected to wrap up by March 31, 2019. The AC-130J Ghostrider is a gunship that gained its initial operational capability (IOC) in September 2017 and will replace the AC-130H once enough crews are trained to operate them, while the AC-130W, AKA the Stinger II, has been flying since 2010 and is a highly modified C-130H.
- Jane’s reports that the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) has issued a request for information (RFI) on behalf of the Marine Corps, requesting a new AESA radar for the service’s F/A-18C/D fleet. Approximately 98 sets are being sought to replace the incumbent Raytheon AN/APG-73 radar currently installed and a winner is expected to be selected by October 1. Retrofits are scheduled to take place from the fourth quarter of 2020 and running through to the fourth quarter of 2022. Potential entrants include Raytheon’s Raytheon Advanced Capability Radar (RACR)—which has been adapted from the AN/APG-79 as fitted to the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler—and Northrop Grumman, with its Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR). Both radars are compatible with the legacy Hornet and Lockheed Martin’s F-16 Fighting Falcon.
Middle East & Africa
- Qatar has reportedly spent $800 million on various defense wares during this year’s Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference (DIMDEX). Held earlier this month from March 12 to 14, the Gulf state tapped Turkish shipyard Ares Shipyard to supply three additional ARES 150 Hercules offshore and inshore patrol boats—adding to the two ARES 150 it originally ordered in 2014—alongside six 24 m ARES 80 SAT boats. Two other Turkish outfits, the Anadolu Shipyard and Yoncha-Onuk, will supply two ‘cadet training ships’ (CTS) and eight MRTP24/U high-speed patrol boats respectively. For drones, Qatar will be the launch export customer of the Bayraktar TB2 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), in use with the Turkish armed forces. Its land forces will receive 214 of Nurol Makina’s NMS 4×4 light armoured vehicle, as well as 50 Kirpi mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles and 35 Amazon 4×4 armoured vehicles from the Turkish auto-manufacturer BMC.
- Italy’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) has set money aside to allow MBDA to commence development of an evolved-range variant of its Otomat MK2 Block IV anti-ship missile. An official contract is expected by the end of the year upon which the program will commence. Initial deliveries will take place between 2022-23. The new MK2E will leverage component technologies from MBDA’s new Marte extended range (ER) anti-ship missile, the initial customer for which is the Qatari Emiri Naval Forces, to equip its coastal defence system, and the Qatari Emiri Air Force to arm its new NH90 NFH naval variant medium twin-engine multirole helicopters. For Italy, the new missile will eventually arm the Italian Navy’s PPA (Pattugliatore Polivalente d’Altura) multirole combatant patrol vessel as its primary anti-ship missile.
- Germany has taken tentative steps towards replacing its fleet of 22 Westland Sea Lynx anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters. In service since 1981, maintaining the Sea Lynx has been an ever increasing challenge for the navy with an average of only six rotorcraft deployable with the service in 2017. According to the defence ministry, the federal procurement office is now developing several proposals for a successor ASW platform, however, a request for proposals is not expected for this year, and no details have been offered up as to the specifications for the mission or the number of helicopters sought. Potential contenders for the competition are likely to be NH Industries’ NH90—already a navy winner, selected to succeed its Sea King fleet—as well as Leonardo’s AW159 Wildcat and the Sikorsky S-70B Seahawk.
- Rheinmetall announced Wednesday the receipt of a USD$77 million contract to supply various types of its Assegai ammunition, fuses and propelling charges to the government of Australia. The order falls under the Land 17 Phase 1C.2 Future Artillery Ammunition project and includes options for additional five-year periods as well as war reserve stocks. First deliveries will occur during the year with a second lot coming in 2019. The order marks the first time that Assegai ammo will be used on the M777A2 field howitzer, a platform that is also in use with Canada and the United States.
- Saudi F-15 warplane comes under attack from Houthi missiles in Yemen:
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