* Reuters has revealed that the Venezuelan government has stockpiles of 5,000 Russian made MANPAD surface-to-air weapons. The stash of SA-24 missiles is the largest known stockpile in Latin America and is a source of concern for US officials amid the country’s mounting turmoil, where anti-government protests against the socialist president, Nicolas Maduro, has resulted in deaths. Weapons experts said there have long been fears that the weapons could be stolen, sold or somehow channeled to the wrong hands, concerns exacerbated by the current civil unrest in Venezuela and the economic crisis roiling the oil-producing nation.
* Lockheed Martin has won a $137.8 million contract modification for cost-reduction programs for the initial low-rate production of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Fiscal 2016 aircraft procurement funds from the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps of $137.8 million will be allocated to the program, none of which will expire at the end of the fiscal year. Eighty percent of the modification will go to the Air Force, with the rest split between the Navy and Marine Corps. Scheduled to be completed by December 2020, work will take place at Waco, Texas, El Segundo, Calif. and Warton, England, with other work being completed across the United States.
* Boeing has been awarded a $1.09 billion undefinitized modification to a previously awarded contract for the procurement of Redesigned Kill Vehicle development. The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) made the award, with work to include, but not limited to, payload development, payload ground testing, integration with the Ground-based Interceptor (GBI) and Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) Ground system, flight testing and four initial production RKVs for initial fielding. The modification brings the total cumulative face value of the program to $5.84 billion.
Middle East & North Africa
* In addition to its deal to build Blackhawk helicopters in the kingdom, Lockheed Martin will develop a $28 billion air and missile defense program that will include the THAAD ballistic missile defense system, the anti-aircraft missile Patriot, 150 utility Blackhawk helicopters, and other systems and logistical support. The program is projected to support 18,000 skilled jobs in the US, along with thousands of jobs maintaining the equipment in Saudi Arabia for the next 30 years. It had been reported that Riyadh was interested in THAAD ahead of US President Donald Trump’s visit last weekend.
* Israel Military Industries (IMI) has unveiled a new precision rocket system for special forces’ operating in urban environments. The ACCULAR system is a 122mm rocket with a 44-pound penetration or controlled fragmentation warhead with a range of 27 miles. It was developed to respond to a need by forces who operated beyond the range of traditional artillery fire support.
* Malta has taken delivery of its third King Air maritime patrol aircraft. The $18 million purchase was made possible due to funds made available by the European Union (EU), and will go towards improving the Mediterranean island’s situational awareness with the ability to have a maritime domain awareness picture and advanced navigational capabilities. The previous two aircraft had been commissioned in 2011 and 2012 respectively
* Japanese firms have partnered with Raytheon and Lockheed Martin to work on rival projects to develop new radars that will enhance Japan’s shield against any North Korean missile strike. Mitsubishi Electric Corp have paired with Raytheon, while Lockheed is working with Fujitsu Ltd in an effort to extend the range of Japan’s detection and targeting radars multiple times beyond range of models currently deployed at sea. Tokyo’s announcement comes as the government forge ahead with a plan to acquire the Aegis Ashore system ahead of THAAD.
* The Indian government is likely to approve an Army plan to to buy 11 AH-64 attack helicopters. A previous batch of 22 Apaches had been ordered for the Air Force in 2015, but an initial procurement designated for the Army had been rejected by the previous government. The additional helicopters will now be purchased out of an optional clause in the original 2015 deal through the US Foreign Military Sales program.
* IMI’s ACCULAR: