February's top stories: MBDA wins £146m UK MoD contract, Northrop, BAE withdraw joint bid

MBDA wins £146m UK MoD contract, and Northrop and BAE withdraw joint bid for USAF's $16bn T-X trainer programme. Airforce-technology.com wraps up the key headlines from February 2017.


MBDA wins £146m UK MoD contract to upgrade RAF's long-range missile

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) signed a £146m contract with MBDA for the modernisation of the Royal Air Force's (RAF) long-range, air-launched missile.

The contract will see the upgradation of the UK’s Storm Shadow and France’s SCALP missiles in order to keep them ready for operational use.

The planned upgrade is expected to keep the missile in service for the next decade.

Northrop, BAE withdraw joint bid for USAF's $16bn T-X trainer programme

Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems withdrew from the US Air Force's (USAF) T-X advanced pilot training programme.

The T-X programme, which seeks to replace the air force's existing fleet of T-38 Talon aircraft, is valued at $16bn, according to media sources.

Both the companies have decided not to submit a proposal for the programme after carefully examining the T-X Trainer requirements and acquisition strategy, Northrop stated.

Lockheed reportedly agrees to cut $600m in expenses over F-35 development costs

Lockheed Martin reportedly reduced the costs associated with the development and acquisition of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter by around $600m.

The $7.2bn Lot 10 contract was awarded to Lockheed by the US Department of Defense (DoD) in November last year for the production of 90 F-35s.

US President Donald Trump was quoted by Reuters as saying: "We cut approximately $600m off the F-35 fighter, and that only amounts to 90 planes out of close to 3,000 planes.”

Raytheon bags $1.1bn contract to supply early warning radar to Qatar

Raytheon secured a $1.1bn fixed-price, incentive-firm letter contract to deliver an early warning radar (EWR) system and associated equipment to Qatar as a result of a sole-source acquisition.

Under the terms of the contract, Raytheon's A/N FPS-132 Block 5 EWR system will be incorporated into the Qatar integrated air and missile defence enterprise.

Expected to be complete by 30 June 2021, work on the radar system will be carried out at the company's facility in Woburn, Massachusetts, US.

South Korea requests $140m sale of AGM-65G-2 and AIM-9X-2 missiles from US

The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified Congress of a potential foreign military sale of AGM-65G-2 Maverick and AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder missiles in two separate contracts totalling $140m to South Korea.

Under the sale, the Government of the Republic of Korea (ROK) seeks to receive 89 AGM-65G-2 Maverick missiles, missile containers and other related elements of support.

The AGM-65 Maverick is a tactical, air-to-ground missile that can be used for defence suppression, close air support and interdiction missions.

Elbit wins $110m contract to upgrade Mi-17 helicopters

Elbit Systems secured a contract to upgrade Mi-17 helicopters for an undisclosed Asia-Pacific country.

Valued at around $110m, the contract requires the company to upgrade and maintain dozens of Mi-17 helicopters over the next five years.

Elbit Systems delivers rotary-wing modernisation activities, including conversion of utility and assault helicopters into multi-role platforms, upgrading existing utility and attack platforms, supplying cutting-edge systems for latest-generation aircraft and providing full maintenance and support packages.

USAF U-2 aircraft amasses 30,000 flight hours in combat mission against ISIS

A US Air Force (USAF) Central Command U-2 Dragon Lady aircraft completed 30,000 flight hours in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia.

The high-altitude intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft has flown sorties daily against ISIS.

This aircraft has also helped gather information that is used to disrupt revenue streams and create organisational dysfunction, the USAF stated.

Lockheed to produce enhanced laser guided training rounds for Poland

Lockheed Martin has been contracted by Megmar Logistics & Consulting to produce enhanced laser-guided training rounds (ELGTRs) for the Polish Ministry of Defence (MoD).

The Polish MoD will use the ELGTRs in its F-16 Block 52+ laser guided bomb training programme.

The ELGTR provides realistic Paveway II laser-guided bomb (LGB) tactical employment training for warfighters, Lockheed stated.

Northrop demonstrates interoperability between UK RAF's F-35B and Typhoon

Northrop Grumman demonstrated airborne communications interoperability between the UK Royal Air Force's (RAF) F-35B Lightning II and Typhoon FGR4 aircraft.

The company provided an airborne gateway for the two-week long Babel Fish III trial that was conducted in airspace above the upper Mojave Desert, California.

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD)-funded trial forms a part of the RAF’s Exercise High Rider.

French Defence Ministry launches ASMP-A test missile

The French Ministry of Defence successfully conducted the test launch of an Air-Sol Moyenne-Portée-Amélioré (ASMP-A) nuclear-capable missile without a nuclear charge.

The successful demonstration is a result of the collaboration of all personnel from the French force who participated in the project, the Directorate General of Armaments (DGA), the Gendarmerie Nationale, and the participating companies.

To conduct the test, the French Navy’s Rafale-M single-seat fighter took off from Avord Air Base (BA 702) in Central France.