October's top stories: USAF’s strike bomber contract, Finland’s fighter project

Northrop received the USAF contract to produce new long-range strike bomber, Finnish Defence Forces secured a mandate from the MoD to start the HX fighter project, and Boeing received Apache and Chinook order from India. Airforce-technology.com wraps up key headlines from October 2015.


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USAF awards new long-range strike bomber contract to Northrop

B-2 Spirit

The US Air Force (USAF) awarded a contract to Northrop Grumman for the production of new long-range strike bomber (LRS-B), in a bid to replace the air force's aging fleet of bombers.

The new long-range, highly survivable bomber will be capable of penetrating and operating in the future anti-access, area denial environment, with its capability to strike any target, any time around the globe.

The new system will have an open architecture that will allow integration of new technology and timely response to future threats across the full range of military operations.

Finland to begin HX fighter project to replace F/A-18 aircraft fleet

The Finnish Defence Forces received a mandate from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to start the HX fighter project, in a bid to replace the operational capability of the Air Force's F/A-18 aircraft.

Under the HX fighter project, the country is seeking to purchase multi-role fighters as proposed by the working group assigned to assess the replacement options in June.

Possible candidates featured in the report include Saab's Gripen, Dassault Aviation's Rafale, Boeing's F/A-18 Super Hornet, Lockheed Martin's F-35, and the Eurofighter.

Boeing receives Apache and Chinook order from India

Boeing secured a contract from the Indian Ministry of Defence for the delivery of advanced AH-64E Apache and CH-47F Chinook helicopters.

Recently, India's Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) cleared the $2.5bn deal to buy 22 Apache and 15 Chinook.

India will receive these new capabilities under a Direct Commercial Sale (DCS) contract and the US' Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme.

USAF awards $882m contract to ULA to continue satellite launch

The US Air Force (USAF) awarded an $882m contract to United Launch Alliance (ULA), a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing, to continue launching satellites with its Delta IV and Atlas V rockets.

According to the Pentagon, the latest deal will cover launch capability, mission integration, base and range support.

Under the contract, ULA will deliver services that include maintenance commodities, Delta and Atlas depreciation, and provides for mission assurance, programme management and systems engineering.

Rolls-Royce to invest $600m in its Indianapolis facility

Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce is set to invest $600m in a bid to modernise its manufacturing operations at its Indianapolis facility and to carry out technology research.

The investment is aimed at replacing outdated facilities and also to introduce new and advanced manufacturing methods.

Moreover, the new development marks the largest investment by the company in Indianapolis since its original purchase from former Allison Engine Company in 1995.

Pentagon denies to alter ban on Russian rocket engine

The US Department of Defence reportedly refused to grant the United Launch Alliance (ULA) with the permission to use more Russian rocket engines for military and spy satellite launches.

ULA, a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing, earlier urged lawmakers to relax a ban on the use of Russian-made engines.

The company had argued that it needs the waiver to compete against newly formed Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) in the new US Air Force (USAF) competition for satellite launches.

Lockheed receives $305.4m from USAF to continue JASSM production

The US Air Force (USAF) awarded a $305.4m contract to Lockheed Martin for continued production of the joint air-to-surface standoff missile (JASSM) and its extended range (ER) version.

Under the Lot 13 contract, Lockheed will be responsible for providing 140 baseline JASSMs for US and international partners, 140 JASSM-ER missiles, data, tooling and test equipment.

With the latest contract, the largest JASSM-ER order to date, the total number of missiles under contract will become more than 2,300, the company stated.

US and Russia sign agreement over air safety in Syria

The US and Russia signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on air safety in Syria, the Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook has announced.

The MoU is aimed at reducing the risk of inflight incidents among the international coalition and Russian aircraft operating in Syrian airspace.

The new development is a result of earlier discussions between US and Russian officials over Syrian air operation.

Canada to withdraw fighter jets from Iraq and Syria

Canada

Canada will withdraw its fighter jets from the air strikes against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq and Syria, the newly elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced.

As part of his election campaign, Trudeau had promised to bring back the CF-18 fighter jets deployed to combat ISSIL.

Currently, Canada has six CF-18 fighter jets deployed in support of the US-led international coalition effort against ISIL.

Lockheed completes maiden flight of F-16V aircraft

F-16V

Lockheed Martin successfully completed the maiden flight of the latest and most advanced F-16 aircraft, the F-16V, demonstrating advanced combat capabilities.

The latest flight marks the first F-16 operating with Northrop's advanced APG-83 active electronically scanned array (AESA) scalable agile beam radar (SABR).

According to Lockheed, the variants will be the predominant configuration for the F-16 worldwide fleet and the new avionics configuration represents the most significant F-16 upgrade so far.