Efforts by Iraq’s embattled Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki to urgently acquire combat aircraft to assist with the battle against Isis rebels have already born fruit in the form of Sukhoi Su-25 “Frogfoot” attack aircraft from Russia and Iran.
The long quest by the U.S. Air Force to acquire a new combat rescue helicopter (CRH) appears to have concluded, with Sikorsky’s announcement that it has received an engineering and development (EMD) contract worth an estimated $1.28 billion for a derivative of the UH-60M Black Hawk.
MD Helicopters showed off its prototype MD540A armed scout helicopter last week at the Sofex show in Jordan, marking the type’s first appearance outside the U.S. The choice of venue was made to highlight the type’s credentials in an area where its hot-and-high performance is of considerable interest, at a show where its special-forces support capability is highly relevant, and in a country that has a requirement for a new armed helicopter.
The first of 36 Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Block 52 fighters for the Iraqi Air Force made its first flight from the company’s Fort Worth, Texas facility. Iraq confirmed the purchase of 18 F-16s in September 2011, and has apparently committed to the other 18 since then. The Iraqi and other orders have extended the F-16 production line through 2017. More than 4,540 F-16s have been delivered to date.
Guided rocket conversion competitors BAE Systems and Raytheon announced new milestones for their respective offerings. BAE’s Advanced Precision Kill Weapon (APKWS) and Raytheon’s Talon laser-guided rocket (LGR) convert standard 2.75-inch Hydra rockets into precision guided munitions by adding a semi-active laser guidance package.
Boeing said that it recently flew its AH-6i light attack/reconnaissance helicopter for the first time in production configuration. Flight status moves the program “another step closer to full-scale production,” the manufacturer said on May 1.
Kaman Aerospace has begun production flight-testing of the first of 10 refurbished SH-2G(I) Super Seasprites that were previously delivered to Australia, but have now been bought by the Royal New Zealand Navy. The milestone opens another chapter in the story of a design that made its first flight (as the HU2K-1) on July 2, 1959, and which became a stalwart of the U.S. Navy’s shipborne helicopter fleet until retired in 2001.
The U.S. Navy is fitting Sikorsky MH-60 Seahawk helicopters with a new digital rocket launcher, for the first time enabling them to carry a variety of weapons. The “smart” launcher will be integrated on the MH-60S as part of a rapid deployment capability, and later added to the MH-60R and potentially other platforms, the service said.
Qatar has announced a raft of orders for new equipment worth around $23 billion, covering vehicles, vessels and aircraft, plus associated systems and weaponry. The announcements were made on March 27, which was the last day of the Dimdex show in Qatar’s capital Doha.
The Obama administration delivered a proposed $496 billion base U.S. defense budget for Fiscal Year 2015 to the Congress on March 4. In a round of briefings at the Pentagon, service budget officials spoke of making difficult choices because of spending limits Congress imposed in the Budget Control Act of 2011, followed by deep “sequestration” budget cuts that took effect in FY2013.