July’s top news stories

6 August 2019 (Last Updated August 12th, 2019 11:33)

The US expelled Turkey from the F-35 fighter jet programme, and the UK and Sweden signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on the development of future combat air systems. Airforce-Technology.com wraps up key headlines from July 2019.

July’s top news stories
US expels Turkey from F-35 programme Credits: USAF / Senior Airman Alexander Cook.

US expels Turkey from F-35 programme after S-400 purchase

The US expelled Turkey from the F-35 fighter jet programme in retaliation for the country accepting delivery of the Russian S-400 missile system.

The move will have severe effects on the F-35 supply chain as currently around 900 parts for the fighter are made in Turkey. The Pentagon said that relocating the manufacture of those components from Turkey to the US and other states could cost upwards of $600m, which could lead to a near 10% rise in the overall cost of the project.

The US insisted it still values Turkey as a strategic partner despite the country’s ejection from the F-35 programme.


UK and Sweden to partner on future combat air systems

The defence ministries of the UK and Sweden signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to collaborate on the development of future combat air systems.

Under the MoU signed at the Royal International Air Tattoo, the UK and Sweden will work on a joint combat air development and acquisition programme.

The joint programme will include the development of new concepts to meet future combat air requirements of the two nations.


Boeing withdraws from Ground Based Strategic Deterrent project

Boeing reportedly pulled out of the US Air Force’s (USAF) Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) programme.

The company expressed reservations over the manner that the procurement process was taking shape, stressing the lack of a level playing field.

This left Northrop Grumman as the only bidder for the deal, which is valued at around $85bn. The programme seeks to replace the USAF’s land-based Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM). The ageing LGM-30G Minuteman III ICBM first became operational in the mid-1960s.


Raytheon to supply NASAMS and Patriot systems to Qatar

Raytheon received two contracts from the state of Qatar to supply its National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS) and Patriot weapons systems.

The contracts are valued at around $2.2bn and are part of a larger agreement Qatar is seeking to reach with the US Government.

As part of the contracts, Raytheon will deliver the NASAMS, final certification of the advanced medium-range air-to-air missile extended range (AMRAAM-ER), as well as additional Patriot fire units.


Virgin Orbit signs MoU to launch satellites for RAF

Virgin Orbit signed an MoU with the British Royal Air Force (RAF) to provide small satellite launch capabilities.

The company will provide responsive launch capabilities for a small satellite constellation Operational Capability Demonstrator.

The agreement is part of the RAF project known as ‘ARTEMIS’, which aims to develop quick launch capabilities and streamline procurement timelines.


Canada issues RFP for future fighter aircraft

The Canadian Government issued a formal request for proposals (RFP) for the procurement of a new fleet of 88 future fighter aircraft.

In a release, the government named four companies as eligible suppliers, namely Saab, and consortiums headed by Airbus Defense and Space, Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

These companies have to submit initial proposals by mid-2020. The contract is expected to be awarded to the winning bidder in 2022 following evaluation of the proposals.


France to establish space defence command

France became the latest country to announce the creation of a space command to boost its defence capabilities.

Announced by French President Emmanuel Macron, the new space command would be established within the country’s airforce by next September.

Macron told military personnel on the eve of the country’s annual Bastille Day celebrations that the space command will enhance the protection of French satellites.


Lockheed Martin integrates ground collision avoidance system in F-35A

Lockheed Martin commenced the integration of the automatic ground collision avoidance system (Auto-GCAS) into the F-35 fighter aircraft.

The company is delivering the system in coordination with the F-35 Joint Program Office, the US Air Force (USAF) and other government agencies.

Integration of the life-saving technology into F-35s comes seven years ahead of schedule. The Auto-GCAS technology was originally planned for delivery by 2026.


Rolls-Royce and DSTA to optimise engine maintenance using AI

Rolls-Royce announced its partnership with Singapore’s Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) to develop and deploy new digital technologies to optimise the Republic of Singapore Air Force’s (RSAF) engine maintenance.

In July last year, Rolls-Royce and DSTA entered an MoU to collaborate on digital service solutions.

Through the collaboration, DSTA intends to improve the availability and performance of RSAF aircraft. Rolls-Royce engines power the RSAF’s C-130 Hercules aircraft, G550 early-warning aircraft and A330 multi-role tanker transport.


US approves follow-on support for India’s C-17 aircraft

The US State Department cleared a possible sale of equipment and services in support of India’s C-17 Globemaster III military transport aircraft programme.

The C-17 aircraft sustainment follow-on support will include equipment worth of $670m and will be implemented under the foreign military sale route.

Subject to approval from Congress, India will receive spares and repair parts, support equipment, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical documentation.