January’s top news stories

11 February 2019 (Last Updated February 12th, 2019 15:51)

US signed MoU with Qatar to expand support at Al Udeid Air Base, and Airbus delivered the first A330 MRTT aircraft to Korea Air Force. Airforce-Technology.com wraps up key headlines from January 2019.

January’s top news stories
The high-fidelity Protector mission trainers developed by CAE will be based on the General Atomics certifiable ground control station. Credit: GA-ASI.

US signs MoU with Qatar to expand support at Al Udeid Air Base

The US Department of Defense (DoD) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the state of Qatar to expand support for US military activities at the Al Udeid Air Base (AUAB) located southwest of Doha, Qatar.

The MoU was signed during the second US-Qatar Strategic Dialogue in Doha in the presence of US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Qatar Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.

According to the DoD, the agreement will help promote interoperability, support regional stability, and reaffirm the defence partnership between the two countries.


Airbus delivers first A330 MRTT aircraft to Korea Air Force

Airbus Defence and Space delivered an A330 multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) aircraft to the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF).

The aircraft is ROKAF’s first Airbus A330 MRTT, which was selected in June 2015 as its future air-to-air refuelling and transport aircraft after an ‘open and objective competition’.

Boeing’s KC-46A Pegasus and Israel Aerospace Industries’ B767-300 Multi-Mission Tanker Transport (MMTT) also participated in the competition.


Dassault’s Rafale fighter jet undergoes cold weather testing

French defence and aerospace company Dassault Aviation’s Rafale multi-role fighter underwent a cold weather testing event at Finland’s Rovaniemi Air Base.

Hosted by Lapland Air Command, the testing lasted for approximately one week. The event has been scheduled for the coldest time of the year in Lapland.

As part of the event, the fighter jet will be put through tests to measure its performance in sub-zero temperatures.

Cold weather tests include engine run-up and taxiing on the flight line. The event may also comprise a few flights.


CAE wins contract to develop training system for Protector RPAS

CAE secured a contract for the development of a comprehensive synthetic training system for the UK’s Protector RG Mk1 remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) programme.

The contract awarded by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) requires CAE to design and develop a training system that will include desktop and high-fidelity mission trainers specific to the Protector RPAS.

Protector mission trainers will be based on GA-ASI’s certifiable ground control station (CGCS). They are set to become the first simulators developed for this advanced CGCS.


Raytheon to modernise USAF Global Hawk ground control stations

Raytheon Company received a contract to maintain and modernise both hardware and software of the ground control systems and on-board sensors used by the US Air Force (USAF) fleet of RQ-4 Global Hawk remotely piloted aircraft.

As part of the contract, the company will deploy sustainment and cybersecurity experts around the world to deliver support services. Work includes the provision of software upgrades to defend against cyber threats.

Raytheon IIS mission support and modernisation vice-president Todd Probert told Airforce Technology: “Every connected system is a potential vector for a cyber-attack. Just as consumers get security updates for their phones and computers, Raytheon constantly provides cybersecurity upgrades to military systems like the Global Hawk ground control station to secure them against this constantly evolving threat.”


BAE Systems wins $250m analytic mission support contract from NGA

BAE Systems secured a $250m contract from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) to continue the provision of full-motion video (FMV) advanced analytic services, training, and intelligence production support.

The company received the five-year task-order contract under NGA’s Multi-Intelligence Analytical and Collection Support Services indefinite-delivery indefinite-quantity contract.

BAE Systems will establish a Performance Innovation Council to introduce NGA leaders to new FMV services, software, systems, platforms, and sensors developed by the company and its programme team.


EU commissioner proposes European space force

European Union (EU) commissioner and deputy prime minister of Poland Elzbieta Bienkowska suggested that the EU should consider establishing a European space force.

Bienkowska said in her opening speech at the 11th Annual Conference on European Space Policy in Brussels: “The link between defence and space will increase. The US has recently created a space force. Some of our member states are considering a similar arrangement. We should reflect on the possibility to have a European space force.

“From an industrial perspective, the military will soon run the disruption of technologies. For instance, on earth point-to-point space flights. Such a prospect can be very disruptive on the medium term, for instance, to the aviation sector.”


Israel and US conduct test of Arrow 3 missile defence system

Israel Defense Ministry’s Missile Defense Organization and the US Missile Defense Agency have tested the advanced Arrow 3 missile defence system from the Palmachim air base in central Israel.

Testing was carried out with assistance from the Israeli Air Force and Arrow 3 manufacturer Israeli Aerospace Industries.

The Arrow 3 missile defence system is designed to intercept and shoot down long-range ballistic missiles while the incoming projectile is still outside the Earth’s atmosphere.


India to increase overhauling capacity of Sukhoi-30 fighter jets

The Indian Government reportedly planned to increase the overhauling capacity of Sukhoi-30 fighter jets to 25 per year from the existing 12 aircraft.

State-owned aircraft manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) manufactures and overhauls the fighter jets at its Nashik facility in the state of Maharashtra.

Indian Minister of State for Defence Subash Bhamre was quoted by The Times of India as saying: “The Ministry of Defence has plans to increase the overhauling capacity of Sukhoi 30 up to 25 aircraft a year in the future.”


Singapore Air Force selects F-35 JSF to replace ageing F-16 jets

Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) selected Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) to replace its ageing F-16 fighter jets.

The development comes after RSAF and Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) completed a technical evaluation to select the next-generation fighter.

The existing fleet of F-16s have been in service since 1998 and are set to retire soon after 2030.

Following the five-year evaluation, the F-35 was deemed to be the most suitable replacement.