March’s top news stories

5 April 2019 (Last Updated April 9th, 2019 14:41)

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) reached a $1.98bn deal to procure a fleet of E-7 early warning radar aircraft from Boeing for the British Royal Air Force (RAF), and the US MDA and a Boeing-led industry team tested the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system designed for long-range incoming threats. Airforce-Technology.com wraps up key headlines from March 2019.

March’s top news stories
Boeing 737-7ES Wedgetail aircraft is already in service with the RAAF. Credit: Eugene Butler.

UK to buy five Boeing E-7 AEW&C aircraft for $1.98bn

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) reached a $1.98bn deal to procure a fleet of E-7 early warning radar aircraft from Boeing for the British Royal Air Force (RAF).

The MoD will purchase five E-7 aircraft as a replacement for the existing Sentry aircraft.

In addition, the new E-7 fleet will ensure the continued delivery of the UK’s Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) capability.


US MDA and Boeing team conduct GMD missile defence system test

The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and a Boeing-led industry team tested the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system designed for long-range incoming threats.

The test demonstrates the country’s ability to defend itself against intercontinental ballistic missiles.

As part of the test, known as a ‘two-shot salvo’ engagement, two ground-based missile interceptors were launched in quick succession from Vandenberg Air Force Base (AFB) in California, US, to destroy a simulated target.


Rolls-Royce pulls out of joint engine supply bid for Turkish fighter

Rolls-Royce reportedly scaled back attempts to join a programme to build a new fighter jet for Turkey in partnership with Kale Group.

The programme seeks to create Turkey’s first combat aircraft.

Financial Times (FT) first broke the story and stated that the company’s decision will affect the UK’s ambitions to ensure the British aerospace industry plays a pivotal role in the project.


US DoD to buy fewer F-35 aircraft in 2020 than originally planned

The US Department of Defence (DoD) is reportedly planning to procure fewer F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft from Lockheed Martin in 2020 than initially planned.

Bloomberg reported citing defence officials as saying that the Pentagon is set to scale down the number of F-35 jets to be bought from the 84 fighters projected a year ago to 78.

A request for 78 fighter jets was included in the 2020 budget sent to Congress in March.


Taiwan seeks to procure fighter jets from US

Taiwan reportedly made a formal request to the US Government for the procurement of fighter jets to tackle increasing enemy threats.

Taiwan Deputy Defence Minister Shen Yi-ming was quoted by AFP as saying: “We made the request to purchase (fighter jets) because China has been increasing its military strength and we are starting to have an imbalance of power in our air defence capabilities.”

Taiwan defence ministry strategic planning director Huang Wen-chi said the government is not specific in its request for a particular type of fighter jet and is open to considering a range of options that suit its needs.


BAE Systems completes RAAF Hawk Mk127 trainer fleet upgrade project

BAE Systems Australia completed the upgrade of the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) Hawk Mk127 advanced trainer aircraft fleet.

The company commenced the capability upgrade work on the last aircraft at its Williamtown maintenance facility in October.

The development marks the conclusion of the RAAF’s strategically important lead-in fighter capability assurance programme.


Lockheed and AIM Norway to form F-16 sustainment hub in Norway

Lockheed Martin reached an agreement with AIM Norway to jointly form the first F-16 ‘Falcon Depot’ centre in Norway to serve the global fleet.

The facility will offer services for the Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) and other regional F-16 Fighting Falcon customers.

It will be established in Kjeller, Norway, at an existing maintenance, repair and overhaul facility used by the RNoAF.


USAF submits budget request for FY20 to upgrade capabilities

The US Air Force (USAF) requested a budget of $165bn for the fiscal year 2020 (FY20) to modernise its capabilities and equipment, as well as increase readiness to tackle global threats.

The budget request represented a $10bn increase from FY19 and will help the USAF’s efforts to meet challenges posed by China and Russia and to create an effective nuclear deterrent.

In the FY20 budget request, the airforce outlined its plans to fund measures to restore readiness with a special focus on training, maintenance, spare parts and flying hours.


Kongsberg to supply Joint Strike Missile for Japan’s F-35

Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace secured a contract with the Government of Japan to supply the initial deliveries of Joint Strike Missile (JSM) for the country’s fleet of F-35 fighter aircraft.

According to Kongsberg, the JSM is the only long-range sea and land-target missile that can be carried internally in the F-35. The missile is expected to boost the aircraft’s stealth capabilities.

The Norwegian company started the development of the missile in 2008 and completed it last year following a series of validation test firings.


Northrop and MBDA integrate CAMM missile family into IBCS

Northrop Grumman and MBDA completed the integration of the common anti-air modular missile (CAMM) family into the integrated air and missile defense (IAMD) battle command system (IBCS).

The integration of the MBDA CAMM next-generation air defence missiles with the Northrop Grumman-developed IBCS represents the first time a non-US missile system has been integrated with IBCS.

As part of the joint effort, the companies performed functional integration of the end-to-end firing chain for integrated fire control and fire direction configurations between CAMM and IBCS.