* The Army has successfully conducted Manned Unmanned Teaming (MUM-T) involving an AH-64 Apache and a MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAV. The Gray Eagle was used to designate a target for the Apache, with the latter then firing a Hellfire missile using data from the UAV. The test has allowed the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade to certify the Fort Stewart complex for live Hellfire tests, an important tool as access to training ranges in Afghanistan and Iraq has diminished.
* In related news, the Army awarded a $121.4 million contract to General Atomics on Tuesday for nineteen MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAVs, with these set for delivery by 2018. This follows a comparable contract in March, also for nineteen Gray Eagles, with that contract valued at $133 million. The company was also awarded a $84.8 million contract in May for performance-based logistics to support the UAV.
* Boeing has delivered the final C-17 Globemaster III aircrew training simulator to the Air Force, with this the twenty-eighth simulator. L-3 is also a major contributor to the Air Force’s C-17 training, winning a $1 billion service contract in 2010.
* The Air Force has published a draft program schedule and requirements list for a Helmet-Mounted Display (HMD) and cuing system to fit out the F-22 Raptor, with a provisional entry date given of 2020. A four-year development and testing period has been pencilled-in to start in 2017. Sequestration curtailed previous development on an earlier system, with the HMD a requirement for the Raptor program since 2007.
* With Germany selecting the transatlantic MEADS air defense system over Raytheon’s Patriot in Germany’s TVLS competition earlier this month, European missile house MBDA has emerged as prime contractor for the program. The MEADS International company is comprised of Lockheed Martin, MBDA Italia and MBDA Deutschland, with the US government funding 58% of the development work for the system and the remainder split between the governments of Germany and Italy (25% and 17% respectively). The precise work share arrangements have not yet been finalized, with other possible customers including the Netherlands and Italy.
* The German Army has received its first production Puma Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFV) from Projekt System & Management GmbH, with the model passing verification trials earlier this year and approval given in May. The German defense ministry signed a contract for 405 of the IFVs in July 2009, with the first batch used for the verification trials, taking place across a variety of environments.
* Re-branded firm Kalashnikov has unveiled a new Remote Weapon Station (RWS) at the Army 2015 forum in Russia. The RWS – referred to as the Modul Boyevoy Distantsionno Upravlyaemiy – has the option of operating two machine gun variants (7.62mm and 12.7mm) and two grenade launchers (30mm and 40mm) and a marketed target acquisition range of 2.5km. An export customer has been reportedly found in a North African country. Kalashnikov has also marketed a new 9mm pistol at the forum, known as the PL-14.
* Russia is fitting out its MIG-31 interceptors with a special inertial navigation system designed for Arctic conditions, capable of operating independently of satellite feeds and capable of coping with low temperatures. Russia has deployed its MIGs to the region earlier this year, amid increasing competition over control of the resource-rich region. The MIG-31 is reportedly timetabled to remain in Russia service until 2026.
* South Africa will likely require more Inshore and Offshore Patrol Vessels than it is currently scheduled to field in order to meet operational demands, according to analysis by a former government official. Under the country’s Project Biro acquisition of six new patrol vessels, domestic shipyards would construct three new IPVs and three OPVs; – defense analyst Helmoed Romer Heitman argues however that the South African Navy requires four OPVs, suggesting further that existing vessels should be re-roled to fit the IPV requirement, instead of the procurement of new ships.
* Algeria is reportedly interested [Russian] in acquiring the Russian-manufactured Ka-52 Alligator scout/attack helicopter, with demonstrations planned for this summer. The Ka-52 has reportedly secured an export order to an undisclosed customer, with this announced at the Paris Air Show last week; – whether this is Algeria remains to be seen.
* China is challenging US air superiority, according to Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work. The Pentagon’s COO, Work’s speech at the China Aerospace Studies Institute earlier this week highlighted how China’s defense technology base is rapidly approaching parity with the US, undermining US conventional deterrence in the process. He called for more rapid innovation, including the leveraging of commercial competition and technologies, citing the Air Force’ Rapid Capabilities Office as a model to build into other services. The launch of a Long Range Research and Development Planning Program, which calls for an updated offset strategy, is one way that the Defense Department is trying to catalyze technological development. Work’s comments come after China reportedly test-launched a hypersonic glide vehicle earlier this month. Chinese and US military officials have however been showing signs of increasing cooperation, signing a dialogue agreement earlier this month.
* A Rosoboronexport promotional video for the Ka-52, featuring an Abrams MBT as a would-be target…