Venezuela Spending $$ with Russia and China | Russia’s Escalation Niggles Norway to Acquire More F-35s | Russia Establishing FOBs in Syria
- Lockheed Martin unveiled its bid for the Marines’ Amphibious Combat Vehicle 1.1 program on Tuesday. The USMC released an engineering & manufacturing development (EMD) Request for Proposals in April, with the program intended to supply the next generation of armored ‘connector’ vehicles for the Marine Corps. Two designs are to be down-selected later this year, with five companies (ADVS, BAE Systems, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin and SAIC) currently offering up designs.
- Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is reported to be planning a purchase of a dozen Su-30 fighters, along with equipment from China. The Venezuelan Air Force operates 23 Su-30MK2 multirole fighters, following a crash of one of these last week. Speaking at a ceremony to mark the loss, Maduro stated that he would talk with Vladimir Putin to acquire a replacement for the lost Su-30 as well as the twelve new fighters. The aircraft in service were procured from Russia as part of a $3 billion arms sale, following a refusal by then-President George Bush to sell replacement parts for the country’s fleet of F-16s.
- The Dutch Defense Ministry has penned an agreement with engine-manufacturer Pratt & Whitney for a Maintenance, Repair, Overhaul & Upgrade workshop in the south of the country to support future F-35 operations. The company’s F-135 engine powers the F-35, with the new workshop at the Royal Netherlands Air Force’s Woensdrecht Logistics Centre set to become a dedicated engine support facility from 2019. The country was selected by the DoD in December to support F-35 heavy engine maintenance, along with Norway and Turkey, and placed its first order for eight F-35A fighters in March.
- The Norwegian government announced on Monday that the country has partnered with Australia to finance the development a new RF seeker for the Kongsberg Joint Strike Missile (JSM), with the long-range air-to-ground missile scheduled for integration with the F-35. BAE Australia will design and integrate the new seeker, which will provide the JSM with a dual-seeker capability alongside its current imaging target seeker. The agreement plans for the cost of this integration to be split if Australia decides to purchase the Joint Strike Fighter. The two countries have been developing the JSM for a while, announcing in February their intention to adapt the JSM to fit into the F-35A’s slim internal weapons bay.
- Meanwhile, Norwegian defense officials reiterated their commitment to the procurement of up to 52 F-35s, citing Russian power projection in Northern Europe as a reason to press ahead with the acquisition. The first F-35 deliveries to Norway are expected in 2017, with Initial Operating Capability expected two years later. The Norwegians opted to buy the F-35A in 2013, after the Lockheed Martin jet beat off competition from an upgraded version of Saab’s JAS-39NG Gripen. The first F-35 manufactured for the Norwegian Armed Forces was rolled out by Lockheed Martin on Tuesday.
- The UK’s Ministry of Defence is reportedly set to launch a tender for Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) robots, with this estimated to value up to $124 million. The tender, covering a base of 56 unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) and an option for a further 30, will see an Invitation to Tender (ITT) released by the end of 2015.
- MBDA and BAE Systems have agreed to a marketing partnership for the latter’s advanced precision kill weapon system (APKWS) in an aim to flag the system to European customers. MBDA will lead the marketing charge for the APKWS in Europe, with the system developed by BAE Systems’ US subsidiary. The system bolts onto unguided 70mm rockets to transform them into a low-cost laser-guided weapon, which has been integrated with several platforms in the US inventory, including the Cobra and Huey helicopters, Apache AH-64D and A-10.
Middle East North Africa
- With the number of Russian fixed-wing aircraft thought to have been deployed to Latakia, Syria now reaching 28, (including Su-24s, Su-25s and Su-30s), reports emerged on Tuesday that Russia has also supplied the Assad regime with at least five new aircraft. It is also thought that Russian forces have begun to operate from other areas, establishing two new forward operating bases according to the WSJ. Reports from last week indicated that the Syrian air force has also begun using more precise weapons, also the likely result of an arms transfer from Russia. Syria has operated Russian platforms for years; in August Turkish media reported that six MiG-31 Foxhound interceptors had been delivered to the Syrian regime, as part of a 2007 contract.
Asia & Pacific
- India’s Cabinet Committee of Security has cleared the procurement of 22 AH-64E Apache and 15 CH-47F Chinook helicopters in a deal estimated to value $2.5 billion. Headed by Prime Minister Modi, the CCS’ clearance paves the way for a contract within months, following years of delays to the deal owing to disputes over offset arrangements. The price quoted for the helicopters by manufacturer Boeing was extended for a tenth time in July, with this price guaranteed to the end of September. The Apache and Chinook helicopters beat out the Russian Mi-28N and Mi-26 respectively, with India currently operating an aging fleet of Hind helicopters.
- Indonesian officials will meet their Russian counterparts later this month to discuss a possible acquisition of Su-35 multi-role fighters. The country has been looking to buy the Russian fighter for a while, with the Indonesian Air Force already operating earlier Su-27 models. Reports in the Indonesian press indicate that the government is planning to acquire half a squadron of Su-35s initially, with further orders planned to phase-out ageing F-5 Tiger fighters.
- Fast-roping with a GoPro:
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