USS George Washington begins overhaul | UK chases post-Brexit business | Bangladesh fighters sent to Myanmar border amid claims of ethnic cleansing
- Huntington Ingalls has being awarded a $2.8 billion US Navy contract for USS George Washington (CVN-73) refueling complex overhaul. The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier is expected to be out of action for the next 4-5 years as it undergoes the necessary mid-life refurbishment to keep the vessel in service, which includes refueling the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier’s reactors, as well as extensive updates to over 2,300 compartments, 600 tanks and hundreds of systems. Major upgrades will be made to the flight deck, catapults, combat systems and the island. After the overhaul, Huntington Ingalls says the Washington will be “one of the most modern and technologically advanced Nimitz-class aircraft carriers in the fleet.” The vessel is the sixth Nimitz-class carrier to undergo overhaul.
- General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems has been awarded a $60 million US Army contract modification to an earlier 2014 award for additional Hydra-70 air-to-ground rocket systems. The rockets will be for US combat aircraft and for customers of the US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. The unguided 2.75″/70mm Hydra-70 air-to-ground rocket comes in a wide variety of warhead configurations and is used by a variety of fixed-wing and rotary aircraft, including Apache and Cobra attack helicopters, F-16 Fighting Falcons and aircraft of other nations.
- The US Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson has warned that upcoming procurement programs and extra hirings could be put on hold if Congress was to fund the Pentagon through a long continuing resolution (CR)—which funds the government at previous fiscal levels. If this was the case, big ticket contracts for programs like the T-X trainer competition, as well as additional hirings of new pilots and cyber experts are likely suffer prolonged delays. Asked whether a winner of the T-X competition could still be named without contracts being released, Wilson said, “Well, what’s the point? We don’t have the money to be able to do it, so you end up delaying a lot of new starts.” Budget analysts widely expect Congress to operate under a CR for at least a month or two; the bigger concern is that a CR could drag into next year if Congress is sidetracked by the Trump administration’s push for tax reform or becomes deadlocked over funding for a border wall with Mexico.
Middle East & Africa
- During a trip to Nigeria last week, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said that London is considering a Nigerian military equipment request to help fight the jihadist militants of Boko Haram. “They have put out a request for more help with materiel – equipment of one kind and another. We are going to look at that,” he said following an earlier meeting with Nigeria’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, in the capital, Abuja, on Thursday. However, Johnson failed to give any specifics on costing or platforms requested, but said that Whitehall “will look at that [the Nigerian request] very seriously on counter-IED provision, on a request for more help with attack helicopters, for instance. Let’s have a look at what we can do.” Last month, the Pentagon approved the sale of 12 A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft and weapons worth $593 million, to help it fight Boko Haram.
- The UK’s Secretary of Defense, Michael Fallon, has claimed that Britain’s planned exit from the European Union in 2019—Brexit—will not effect its defense ties with France. “I know French and British companies are concerned that we should not lose any cooperation after Brexit because we are working together on combat aircraft programs and new missiles systems that we need to progress on together,” Fallon said, adding that their “strong relationship” would not be diverted. However, as governments on the continent move towards greater defense procurement cooperation and integration, Britain may find itself going alone (or with non-European nations) on future defense programs. In July, France and Germany unveiled plans to develop a European fighter jet, ending a decades-long split since France withdrew from the Eurofighter project in the 1980s to produce its Rafale warplane with Dassault Aviation. At the time, defense industry experts called the move a setback to the UK and its leading arms contractor (and Eurofighter participant), BAE Systems.
- Bangladesh reportedly has moved fighter aircraft and naval vessels close to its border with Myanmar, after a number of alleged border incursions by the Myanmar military. Sources claim that an air group consisting of four MiG-29s and possibly several F-7 jets have been deployed near Chittagong, where they are on air defense alert. The incursions occurred as the Buddhist-majority Myanmar military conducts what it calls anti-insurgency operations in the eastern state of Rakhine—home to the Muslim Rohingya people—where they have been accused of conducting ethnic cleansing and genocide against civilians. The latest wave crackdowns erupted after 150 insurgents launched coordinated attacks on 24 police posts and the 552nd Light Infantry Battalion army base in Rakhine State on August 25. Since then, over 400 civilians have been killed and as many as 87,000 refugees have fled across the border to Bangladesh.
- Taiwan has completed integration of the AN/ALQ-131 pods with Digital Radio Frequency Memory (DRFM) technology on its F-16s. The electronic warfare pods are part of a series of upgrades to bring its fleet of F-16A/B aircraft up to the V-model standard, improving the fighters’ air-to-air and air-to-ground surveillance capabilities and combat capability to meet the needs of advanced warfare. However, while Taipei had initially planned to acquire 42 pods from the US at a cost of $160 million, rising development costs had eaten up the budget and Taiwan could only afford to buy 12 pods.
- Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) releases animation of the launch of KSLV-2, South Korea’s second carrier rocket:
Categories: Daily Rapid Fire