Singapore’s intention to upgrade its fleet of about 60 Lockheed Martin F-16C/D fighters was indicated by a recent notification to Congress by the Pentagon. But no choice has yet been made between rival upgrade systems integrators BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin. According to the notification, the upgrade will cost Singapore an estimated $2.43 billion, although this total also includes three new weapons.
News and issues relating to the defense aerospace business, with emphasis on current/in-use, in-development and prospective programs for manned military aircraft, unmanned combat aircraft vehicles (UCAVs), military aircraft engines, avionics, missiles, bombs, guidance systems and ground-based air-defense systems.
F-35 test pilots will begin flying this year with a third-generation helmet mounted display system (HMDS) that incorporates modifications to the earlier-generation display system, which the Pentagon has identified as an F-35 program risk.
Dassault Aviation received a development contract from the French Ministry of Defense for a further upgrade of the Rafale combat aircraft. Designated “F3 R”, the upgrade consists mainly of integration of the MBDA Meteor BVRAAM; the laser-homing version of the Sagem AASM air-ground weapon; and the new Thales PDL-NG laser designator pod. There will also be some improvements to the Rafale’s avionics and defensive systems.
The UK Royal Navy (RN) deployed its first maritime UAS this week, when an Insitu Scan Eagle system was added to RFA Cardigan Bay, which is supporting the EU anti-piracy patrols off Somalia.
The Army also plans to upgrade analog UH-60L models to the same capability of M models rather than purchase all M models. Last summer, it formed the new UH-60L Digital Product Directorate to lead the effort.
Photos have appeared on Chinese websites of an Ilyushin Il-76 testbed fitted with a large high-bypass ratio turbofan under the port inner pylon.
With national elections looming in India, speculation is growing that contracts for the long-delayed Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA), as well as the Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT), could soon be signed.
China’s newest military helicopter made its first flight on December 23 at a location in “northeastern China,” a site presumed to be the Harbin facility. The aircraft, believed to be designated Z-20, is in the “10-tonne” class, and is thought to be a collaborative effort among Harbin, Changhe and the 602 Institute.
The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) will acquire through an intra-service transfer 14 Alenia Aermacchi C-27J Spartans that the U.S. Air Force planned to store. Congress directed the transfer in the Fiscal Year 2014 defense authorization bill, which President Obama signed on December 26.
The U.S. government said this week that it will expedite foreign military sales (FMS) to Iraq, including deliveries of small UAVs and Hellfire missiles, to help stem spiraling violence in Anbar Province. The weaponry is part of a “holistic” strategy the U.S. and Iraqi governments are pursuing to dislodge al-Qaeda-affiliated groups, officials said.