- Boeing has admitted that the planned delivery of the first KC-46 Pegasus tanker aircraft to the US Air Force (USAF) has been postponed. The firm had previously maintained, as recently as last month, that it was confident the tanker could be delivered by the end of the year, after missing the initial delivery deadline of August 2017. Now, Boeing say deliveries will now take place in 2018, and is contractually obliged to deliver 18 KC-46s and nine refueling pods by October 2018—14 months later than originally planned. Cost overruns for the program experienced by Boeing to date amount to approximately $2.9 billion pretax, or $1.9 billion after tax.
- Raytheon has been selected by the US Navy to deliver AN/SPY-1 Radar for the unnamed Arleigh Burke-class DDG-127 US Navy destroyer. Valued at an estimated $48.6 million, the deal falls under an undefinitized contract action that modifies the terms of a previous award contract, with US Navy fiscal 2016 shipbuilding and conversion funds of $22.6 million obligated to Raytheon at the time of the award, and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Work will take place primarily at Andover, Mass., with a scheduled completion date of January 2020.
Middle East & Africa
- A planned developmental test of the Arrow-3 interceptor system was postponed on Monday after its target missile started acting unsafely. The target—an upgraded version of Rafael’s Sparrow family of air-launched missiles—started to behave strangely shortly after launch in a way that was not conforming to safety parameters determined in advance, and resulted in testers calling a ‘no test’. Engineers are now evaluating the data from the missile target to see what went wrong. Speaking on the incident, Israel’s Defense Ministry noted that Monday morning’s planned test was part of a series of tests periodically conducted by Israel and the US to continuously validate the nation’s multitiered defense network, while Boaz Levy, executive vice president for lead contractor Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), insisted that the planned intercept test was a developmental test aimed at validating new capabilities planned for future block versions of the Arrow-3, and thus had no bearing on the operational capability of the Arrow weapon system or its continuously upgraded Arrow-2 and Arrow-3 intercepting missiles deployed by the Israeli Air Force. Arrow-3 is Israel’s highest layer of a multitiered and intentionally overlapping network of active defenses against rockets and tactical ballistic missiles aimed at intercepting advanced, possibly nuclear-tipped threats hundreds of kilometers in space.
- The US Army has granted Raytheon a $150.2 million foreign military contract to provide Qatar with services and support of the Patriot Air Defense System. Work on the contract will be performed in Doha, Qatar, and is expected to be completed by November 2020. More than $150.2 million of fiscal 2018 foreign military sale funds was obligated to Raytheon at the time of award. Under the terms of the deal, Raytheon will provide technical expertise and assistance in the training, planning, fielding, deployment, operation, maintenance management, configuration management, logistics support, installation and sustainment of the Qatar Patriot Air Defense Systems and associated equipment.
- A report by the New York Times has quoted experts claiming the Patriot air defense system operated by the Royal Saudi Air Force failed to intercept a missile fired by Yemeni Houthi militants on Saudi Arabia’s King Khalid international airport in Riyadh on November 4. Five interceptors were fired at the Houthi missile—believed to be a Burqan-2, a Scud family missile popular in the Middle East—however, US officials now say that there was no evidence to prove that any of them hit the incoming missile. Instead, they said, the incoming missile body and warhead may have come apart because of its sheer speed and force. In the immediate aftermath of the attack, even US President Trump hailed the Patriot system’s effectiveness—“That’s how good we are. Nobody makes what we make, and now we’re selling it all over the world”—but governments have overstated the effectiveness of missile defenses in the past, including against Scuds. During the first Gulf War, the United States claimed a near-perfect record in shooting down Iraqi variants of the Scud. Subsequent analyses found that nearly all the interceptions had failed.
- The Czech military will pursue a new surveillance and combat drone procurement program, according to Gen. Josef Becvar, the chief of the Czech Republic’s General Staff. $46.5 million has been made available for the program, which will run until 2025, and approximately 20 percent of that funding will be spent on obtaining new ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from Boeing’s subsidiary Insitu, which will be purchased in 2019. Prague is also looking to obtain combat UAVs from 2020, with the aim of increasing its air strike capability. In 2017, the Czech defense budget is to total more than $2.67 billion, a 10 percent increase compared with a year earlier. This makes this year’s Czech military expenditure the largest in absolute numbers since 2007.
- Japan is considering a procurement of long-range air-launched missiles that could give Tokyo the capability of striking North Korea for the first time. While no money has yet been made available for such a purchase, money is expected to be made available for a study at the start of the next defense budget starting in April, with additional funding expected to be made available to evaluate such missiles, sources claim. However, the purchase of such offensive weapons—which includes Lockheed Martin’s extended-range Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM-ER) and the Kongsberg Joint Strike Missile (JSM)—could prove controversial in Japan as restrictions on strike weapons imposed by its pacifist constitution means Japan’s missile force is currently composed of anti-aircraft and anti-ship munitions with ranges of less than 300 kms (186 miles). The JASSM-ER and JSM boast ranges of 1000 km and 500 km respectively.
- The South Korean and US military kicked off five days of joint aerial war drills on Monday, a week after North Korea’s most advanced ICBM test to date. Vigilant Ace, which will run until Friday, will involve over 230 aircraft—including six F-22 Raptor stealth aircraft and a number of the fifth-generation F-35A Joint Strike Fighter—and 12,000 US service members, including from the Marines and Navy, will join South Korean troops. The drills—designed to enhance readiness and operational capability and to ensure peace and security on the Korean peninsula— come a week after North Korea said it had tested its most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile ever in defiance of international sanctions and condemnation. Pyongyang had criticised Washington at the weekend for raising tensions and warned that Vigilant Ace exercise was pushing tensions on the Korean peninsula towards “a flare-up”.
- Footage of India’s BrahMos air-launched cruise missile test from an IAF Su-30MKI:
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