Phoenix International Holdings is being tapped to provide the US Navy with the continued maintenance and operation of its Submarine Rescue Diving and Recompression System (SRDRS). The awarded cost-plus-fixed-fee modification has a value of $29.9 million and ensures that the rescue systems are maintained in a high state of readiness so that they can be rapidly deployed on a 24/7 basis. The SRDRS is a tethered, remotely-operated vehicle that is placed into the water and attaches to the disabled submarine’s hatch. It can be transported via sea, air and land, and doesn’t need a mother submarine or dedicated surface support ship, making it more more mobile than its predecessor. The system includes an air transportable rapid assessment/underwater work system, a decompression chamber system and a pressurized rescue module. The SRDRS was first delivered to the US Navy in 2008. Work will be performed at the contractor’s location in San Diego, California and will run through August 2019.
Jane’s reports that the US Navy plans to fast-track the integration of a new gun system onto the MH-60S. The MH-60S entered service in 2002 as a replacement for the US Navy’s Boeing CH-46D Sea Knight. Its roles encompass troop transport, search and rescue, and other standard roles. However their weapons package either includes the GAU-17 M134 Minigun or the GAU-21 .50 calibre heavy machine gun limiting the helicopter to either perform SAR or SUW missions. The new externally mounted gun system (EMGS) will bridge this gap, essentially making the MH-60S capable to simultaneously perform defensive air patrols while maintaining its SAR capability. Five n-flight live trials are planned for later this year.
The USS Abraham Lincoln is currently hosting several F-35Cs from the Strike Fighter Squadron 125. The pilots and aircraft are currently conducting their Operational Test-1 (OT-1) phase, which evaluates if the JSF is ready to operate within a carrier air wing. The C-variant of the JSF is the most expensive one and features 30% more wing area, larger tails and control areas and wingtip ailerons. Its structure is strengthened so that it can withstand hundreds of launch and recovery rounds. The F-35C is expected to be the US Navy’s high-end fighter, as well as its high-end strike aircraft. OT-1 helps give the Navy an assessment of how the aircraft would perform on deployment. Rear Adm. Dale Horan, director, Joint Strike Fighter Fleet Integration Office is asking, “Can we maintain it? Can we get the parts? Can we get it airborne? Can we repair it if it has a problem? ” Those are the kinds of things the Navy will have to figure out in the coming days and weeks.
Middle East & Africa
Qatar is currently in the process of building a new airbase. A senior Qatari Amiri Air Force official said that the new Tamim Airbase will host the country’s new Rafale, F-15s and Typhoons. Since 2014 the country’s airforce underwent a major modernization and overhaul process including the introduction of modern technology, upgraded airfields, the first class of female fighter pilots and the acquisition of new jets. Qatar has purchased a total of 35 F-15QAs at a cost of $12 billion, 24 Rafale jets for $7.8 billion and 24 Typhoons for $6.7 billion. In the coming years the Qatar Air Force will grow its fleet to a total of 96 aircraft, which is a significant leap from its current of 12 Mirage-2000s.
Defense News reports, that the US Air Force may soon deploy some of its MQ-9 Reapers to Romania’s 71st Air Base at Campia Turzii. According to a Air Force document the service is building a new $950 million hangar that will be able to house medium-altitude, long-endurance drones. The UAV in its ISR configuration will likely conduct support intelligence-gathering operations around eastern Europe and the Black Sea. The upcoming deployment of the Reapers will help the US to generate a real-time picture of Russian activities in the Black Sea. The UAVs will assist in monitoring what ships are moving in and out and can provide early warning of hostile activities.
The Czech Republic is set to boost its inventory with 62 Titus armored vehicles. The Titus is the result of a cooperation between Tatra Trucks and Nexter Systems. The Titus looks quite similar to other MRAP models with the engine at the front, the crew compartment in the middle and the troop’s area at the rear. The vehicle is highly adaptable and can be outfitted with any kind of RWS from 7.62mm to 20mm, and 40mm grenade launcher. Its 500hp engine powers it to a maximum speed of 64 mph and to ranges of up to 434 miles. According to a company press release, there is a number of versions of the vehicle available, ranging from a classic IFV through a mobile command post, armoured ambulance to communications, maintenance and evacuation vehicles. For police purposes, there are a number of modules, which can be used to quickly prepare a vehicle to fulfil specific roles, such as the SWAT module, the WCT module (Water Cannon Tank) or the riot control module. The deal has a total value of $303.1 million, with delivers expected for the years 2020-2025.
The UK Royal Marines are currently embarking their new Commando Merlin HC4 helicopters on HMS Queen Elizabeth as part of the carrier’s four-month ‘Westlant 18’ deployment. In the upcoming months the helicopters will be provide a SAR capability in support of F-35B trials. The UK is currently in the process of upgrading a total of 55 helicopters at cost of $3 billion. Of which, 25 AW101s are refurbished to the Merlin HC4 configuration, which includes cockpit modernizations and minor redesigns, plus standard naval changes like a folding rotor head, strengthened landing gear, deck lashing points, and a fast roping point for the Royal Marines.
Russian daily newpaper Kommersant claims, that Algeria has voiced its intent to purchase 14 MiG-29M fighter jets. The new planes are set to replace the country’s Soviet-era MiG-29s. Over the last decade the Algerian Air Force was an avid costumer of Russian equipment. So far it bought 44 Su-30MKAs, 14 Mi-26T2s helicopters, 16 Yak-130 trainers and 42 Mi-28NE combat helicopters. The MiG-29 Fulcrum is a single-seat, highly maneuverable fighter aircraft designed to engage airborne targets such as aircraft, UAVs and cruise missiles and was designed as Soviet counterpart to US F-15s and F/A-18s. The upgraded M-version features a longer range, an in-flight refueling system, state-of-the-art equipment, redundant fly-by-ware system for improved safety and reliability, and higher weapon load. The potential deal has a value of $700-800 million.
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