Raytheon is in the final stages of preparing the GBU-53/B Small Diameter Bomb II for a system verification review to be undertaken within the coming weeks in advance of the U.S. government’s Milestone C review. If the review is passed successfully, a decision to enter the low-rate initial production (LRIP) phase is expected.
McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle
As part of enhanced collective measures agreed to by member countries in April, NATO has deployed more fighters to eastern Europe in response to the continuing crisis in Ukraine. France and Canada have dispatched aircraft this week, while a new NATO multinational team is taking over the enhanced air defense detachment in the Baltic republics.
South Korea’s arms procurement agency chose the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter for the re-competed F-X III fighter competition, announcing plans on March 24 to negotiate a foreign military sale (FMS) for 40 jets, 20 fewer than originally sought. The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) also approved the acquisition of RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 30 UAVs, Yonhap News Agency reported.
A team from UTC Aerospace Systems (Chalet CD07) is here promoting the DB-110 dual-band airborne reconnaissance sensor, and talking of a multispectral upgrade to come. The podded sensor flies on the F-16s of nine air forces, on the new Saudi air force F-15s, and on Japan’s P-3s. It first entered service on the Tornado strike aircraft of the UK Royal Air Force, where it is named the Raptor system.
The war of words between the system integrators and radar houses that are chasing the F-16 upgrade market intensified here this week. With 3,500 Fighting Falcons still flying, at least one-third of which might be upgraded, the stakes are high. Here in Singapore, BAE Systems Inc. and Raytheon are hoping that the local Ministry of Defence will entertain their rival proposals for a contract that could be worth almost $2.5 billion, and consider them above the solution offered by Lockheed Martin (LM) and Northrop Grumman (NG).
Faced with China’s increasingly assertive military posture, as well as a continuing ballistic missile threat from North Korea, Japan plans to spend more on defense, boosting its air and maritime forces. The plan commits to buying 28 Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II combat aircraft, 17 Bell-Boeing MV-22 Osprey tiltrotors, and three Northrop Grumman Global Hawk UAVs over the next five years. The Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) will also upgrade existing fleets of F-2 and F-15 fighters.
South Korea’s air force would be best served in the near term by a mix of fighters that includes an advanced version of Boeing’s F-15, according to retired U.S. Air Force general and former chief of staff Ronald Fogleman. The F-15 would provide needed combat capability to counter the threat posed by North Korea right away, whereas Lockheed Martin’s F-35 will lack full combat capability until around 2020 when its Block 3F software is installed and tested, he said.
Lockheed Martin’s F-35A Joint Strike Fighter and the Eurofighter Typhoon are back in play for South Korea’s F-X III fighter requirement after that country made a sudden decision to reject the last remaining contender, Boeing’s F-15SE Silent Eagle, and restart the procurement process.
Boeing’s F-15SE Silent Eagle fighter offering to South Korea benefits from development work on the F-15SA ordered by Saudi Arabia and an existing base of F-15Ks flown by the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF), the company said this week.
The Republic of Korea seems set to launch the F-15SE Silent Eagle, by confirming Boeing as winner of the F-X III contest for 60 more combat aircraft. The Yonhap news agency reported that the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Lockheed Martin F-35A have been eliminated. Boeing, Eurofighter and Lockheed Martin all said this week that they had received no official notification on the outcome of the F-X III contest. Yonhap said that “a final decision on whether to accept or reject the sole (remaining) candidate” will be made in mid-September.
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