Y-12 qualifies for the manufacture of the B61 nuke | Germany calls for Saudi arms export freeze | Belgium opts for Lockheed’s F-35
A major component of the B61-12 nuclear bomb will now be produced at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge. The Complex is one of the nation’s most important national security assets. The 811 acre site contains the world’s largest stockpile of highly enriched uranium, enough to build 14.000 nuclear warheads. Y-12 is now qualified to manufacture the B61-12’s canned subassembly, which is the second stage of a modern thermonuclear weapon, and is also part of the nuclear explosives package. Y-12 Site Manager Bill Tindal said, “We are delivering a key contribution to global security through this program. I couldn’t be more proud of how all organizations pulled together to accomplish this difficult task.” The B-61 is currently undergoing a life extension program, which will consolidate four versions of the bomb into one. The nuke can be launched from B-2A, B-21, F-15E, F-16C/D, F-16 MLU, F-35 and PA-200 aircraft. Delivery of the first production unit is scheduled for March 2019.
Colonna’s Shipyard is being contracted to work on the Navy’s first Spearhead-class ship during the ship’s upcoming regular overhaul and dry docking phase. The firm-fixed-price contract is valued at $7.9 million and provides for a 67-calendar day shipyard availability. The contractor will be responsible to conduct structural inspection of the hull, perform a variety of repairs, support the main propulsion engine’s overhaul, replace heater exchangers and perform gear maintenance. The USNS Spearhead is an Expeditionary Fast Transport ship that was launched in 2011, it is designed for the fast, intra-theater transportation of troops, military vehicles and equipment with aviation support. Work will be performed at Colonna’s shipyard in Norfolk, Virginia. The Regular Overhaul availability is expected to be completed by January, 2019.
National Industries for the Blind is being awarded with a contract modification that extends a one-year base contract for the second year in a row. The modification is priced at $13.1 million and allows for the continued production for the advanced combat helmet (ACH) pad suspension system. The ACH is made of a new type of Kevlar to provide improved ballistic and impact protection. The helmets are also designed to allow an unobstructed field of view and increased ambient hearing capabilities for the wearer. Modular, flame-retardant, and moisture-resistant pads act as the suspension system between the wearer’s head and the helmet. This allows a soldier to fight more effectively when wearing body armor. Work will be performed at facilities in Virginia, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. This second option period is set to run through October 26, 2019.
Contitech is being tapped to provide the US Army with vehicle tracks for its M109 Paladin artillery system. The firm-fixed-price contract is valued at $20.1 million and will run through July 8, 2021. The M109 family of systems has been in service since 1962. The latest variant is the BAE produced Paladin M109A7 next-generation artillery system. The new variant incorporates upgrades to hull, turret, engine, and suspension systems that offer increased reliability, survivability and performance over its predecessor. The 155 mm cannon is mounted on the chassis structure common to the Bradley tracked fighting vehicle. Work will be performed at Contitech’s factory in Fairlawn, Ohio.
Middle East & Africa
Saudi Arabia may be blocked from future arms purchases as world leaders are calling on the government to provide more information on the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. German chancellor Angela Merkel recently said that future weapon deliveries to the Middle-Eastern nation are highly unlikely until an investigation into the journalist’s death has been carried out. The German parliament approved exports worth $416.4 million to Saudi Arabia in 2018 alone, making it Germany’s second biggest defense customer, right after Algeria. One of the largest deals in recent year included the Saudi purchase of 270 Leopard A2 Main Battle Tanks. Germany is currently calling on other countries to consider setting up bans on the sales of arms to Riyadh.
Belgian news agency, Belga reports that the country has chosen Lockheed Martin’s F-35 JSF over the Eurofighter Typhoon to replace its old fleet of F-16s. Despite the final deadline being set for October 29, government sources are confident that the US-made fighter jet will make the cut. Lockheed spokeswoman Carolyn Nelson told Reuters that “the F-35 offers transformational capability for the Belgian Air Force and, if selected, will align them with a global coalition operating the world’s most advanced aircraft.” The potential deal could also strengthen Lockheed’s position in forthcoming tenders in Switzerland, Finland and Germany. The order for jets due for delivery from 2023 is estimated to be worth $4.14 billion. European countries that currently fly the F-35 include Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark, Italy and Norway.
Jane’s reports that the Romanian Ministry of Defence is expected to soon make a decision on the procurement of new multirole corvettes. The planned acquisition program sees for the delivery of four corvettes at a cost if $1.85 billion. The new 2.500 ton-class vessels must come with capabilities across the ASW, anti-surface warfare, AAW, EW, SAR and naval gunfire support spectrum. Current bidders include Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding of the Netherlands, Italy’s Fincantieri, and France’s Naval Group. All bidders are currently in line with Romanian stipulations for local industry participation. The French Naval Group, has associated with local Constanta Shipyard, Dutch group Damen Shipyards, owns the Galati shipyard and is in the process of acquiring the Mangalia shipyard, Italian group Fincatieri, controls the Tulcea and Braila shipyards. The corvette program is the centrepiece of Romania’s naval modernization process that seeks to mitigate the growing Russian military threat in the Black Sea.
India’s sole operational aircraft carrier will start sea trials by the start of next week. The INS Vikramaditya recently completed its second refitment at Cochin Shipyard, a process which cost close to $96 million. Captain Puruvir Das, the carrier’s commanding officer, told the New Indian Express “soon, we will start the sea trials, which will take place off the Kochi and Goa coasts. We are hopeful of returning to the Western Naval Command without delay.” During the refitment major work was carried out, including an extensive hull survey and repainting, as well as some large scale repair of the ship’s shaft system. “The refitment will enhance the operations of Vikramaditya. It will be ready for sea operations once the trials are completed,” added Captain Das. The Kiev-class former Russian Navy aircraft carrier has been in service since 2013 and upgrade of its infrastructure were started in September 2016.
Watch: GAO: Flight Test of a B61-12 Nuclear Bomb