September’s top news stories

3 October 2019 (Last Updated October 7th, 2019 16:19)

The US State Department cleared Poland’s request to purchase 32 F-35 aircraft in a deal potentially worth $6.5bn, and Airbus and the UK Ministry of Defence pulled out of the competition to build and deliver Canada’s future fighter aircraft. Airforce-Technology.com wraps up key headlines from September 2019.

September’s top news stories
Seen here is a Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) F-35A Joint Strike Fighter aircraft. Credit: US Air Force / Ministerie van Defensie.

US approves sale of 32 F-35A fighter to Poland

The US State Department cleared Poland’s request to purchase 32 F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) aircraft in a deal potentially worth around $6.5bn.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) formally notified Congress of the potential foreign military sale (FMS).

Subject to approval from Congress, Poland will also receive 33 Pratt & Whitney F-135 engines, electronic warfare systems, an autonomic logistics global support system (ALGS), as well as command, control, communications, computer, and intelligence / communications, navigational, and identification (C4I / CNI) systems.


Airbus and UK withdraw from Canada’s future fighter jet project

Airbus and the UK Ministry of Defence (UK MoD) pulled out of the competition to build and deliver Canada’s future fighter aircraft.

The Government of Canada issued a request for proposal (RFP) for the Future Fighter Capability Project (FFCP) in July to replace its ageing fleet of Boeing F/A-18 Hornet aircraft.

Airbus stated that the decision to withdraw from the fighter jet competition comes after a detailed review of the RFP.


Boeing and Australia’s DRDC to develop AI for unmanned systems

Boeing formed a partnership with an Australian research group to develop advanced artificial intelligence (AI) technologies for unmanned systems in support of military operations.

Under the partnership, the company will work with Australia’s Trusted Autonomous Systems Defence Cooperative Research Centre (DCRC) to incorporate machine learning techniques into unmanned systems.

The machine learning techniques will improve the understanding and response of the unmanned systems to threat environments, Boeing said.


MBDA and BDL agrees to assemble missiles in India

European missile manufacturer MBDA signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Indian weapon systems integrator Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) to assemble and integrate missiles in India.

On 12 September, the companies signed the agreement at the DSEI 2019 defence and security conference and exhibition in London, UK.

According to the MoU, MBDA and the Indian state-owned company BDL will conduct the final assembly, integration and test (FAIT) of Mistral and ASRAAM missiles in India.


USAF approves Sikorsky HH-60W combat rescue helicopter for production

The US Air Force (USAF) approved the Sikorsky HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter’s (CRH) transition to low-rate initial production.

The USAF awarded a Milestone C status to the HH-60W helicopter following extensive tests involving four instrumented test aircraft at the Sikorsky Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, US.

During the performance and flight load survey testing, the aircraft showcased production readiness.


Saab presents first Brazilian Gripen E for flight test programme

Saab presented the first Brazilian Gripen E fighter aircraft during a ceremony in Linköping, Sweden, to begin the flight test programme.

The ceremony was attended by representatives from Brazilian Air Force, Swedish Air Force, Saab, and defence ministers of the two countries.

The aircraft will remain in Sweden to undergo initial flight tests before moving to Brazil by the end of next year for further flight tests.


UK RAF receives final advanced Typhoon fighter aircraft

The British Royal Air Force (RAF) received the final advanced Typhoon combat aircraft from BAE Systems during a ceremony at the company’s final assembly facility at Warton, Lancashire, UK.

The delivery marks a key programme milestone as BAE Systems completes the handover of 160 Typhoon aircraft ordered by the RAF.

BAE Systems noted that the continuing investment in Typhoon will ensure the aircraft will continue to serve as the ‘backbone of the UK’s combat air power’.


India awards contract to BEL for additional Akash missile systems

The Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) awarded a contract to Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) to supply additional surface-to-air Akash missile systems.

Under the turnkey contract, which has a potential value of about Rs53.57bn ($752.89m), BEL will deliver seven squadrons of Akash missile system for the Indian Air Force (IAF).

The state-owned aerospace and defence company is expected to deliver the systems in the next three years.


Northrop Grumman to provide new LITENING pods and upgrades

Northrop Grumman received a $141m task order from the USAF to provide LITENING advanced targeting pods and upgrades.

The upgrades under the indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract aim to update existing LITENING targeting pods to the latest configuration.

Northrop Grumman land and avionics C4ISR vice-president Brent Toland said: “LITENING was designed for, and has provided, an affordable and rapid upgrade path to our users.”


Italy joins UK Team Tempest

Leaders of the UK and Italian Armed Forces signed an agreement to collaborate on the development of the Tempest Future Combat Air System at the DSEI event in London yesterday.

The statement of intent will see Italian industry joining the development as part of Team Tempest.

Leonardo’s UK subsidiary had already partnered on the programme with its Italian parent company, which has expressed an interested in the project since its inception.