June’s top news stories

5 July 2018 (Last Updated July 6th, 2018 14:54)

Bahraini Air Force to buy 16 F-16 Block 70 jets from US for $1.12bn, USAF awarded $928m contract to develop HCSW hypersonic missile, and UK’s first F-35B fighter jets arrived at RAF Marham ahead of schedule. Airforce-technology.com wraps up key headlines from June 2018.

June’s top news stories
Artist’s rendition of the F-16 Block 70 that will be built for the Kingdom of Bahrain. Credit: Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company.

Bahraini Air Force to buy 16 F-16 Block 70 jets from US for $1.12bn

The Royal Bahraini Air Force announced it will procure 16 new Fighting Falcon F-16 Block 70 aircraft from the US Government.

Lockheed Martin was awarded a $1.12bn contract from the US Government for the production of the 16 fighter jets for the Bahraini Air Force.

The current ‘undefinitised contract action’ award represents the sale of the first F-16 Block 70 and the first F-16 production programme carried out in Greenville, South Carolina, US.


USAF awards $928m contract to develop HCSW hypersonic missile

The US Air Force (USAF) awarded a $928m contract for the development of a hypersonic conventional strike weapon (HCSW) system.

The indefinite-delivery-indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contract was awarded to Lockheed Martin. The company is currently working in close collaboration with the USAF to finalise system requirements under the contract’s initial task order.

The advanced air-launched hypersonic cruise missile will be capable of travelling more than five times faster than the speed of sound and be able to overcome enemy defences.


UK’s first F-35B fighter jets arrive at RAF Marham ahead of schedule

The UK received the first four fifth-generation F-35B Lightning II joint strike fighter jets at the Royal Air Force (RAF) Marham air station in Norfolk two months ahead of schedule.

Flown by RAF pilots of the newly-reformed 617 Squadron, the aircraft travelled with the help of air-to-air refuelling across the Atlantic from the US Marine Corps (USMC) Air Station in Beaufort, South Carolina.

Currently, around 150 British pilots are undergoing intensive training on the aircraft along with their USMC counterparts.


Northrop wins $866m USAF contract for radar sensors upgrade

The USAF awarded a contract to Northrop Grumman for the sustainment and modification of critical missile warning radars.

Under the competitively awarded Sustainment and Modification of Radar Sensors (SMORS) contract, the company will be responsible for upgrading a worldwide network of the ground-based radars. They can be deployed to carry out missile warning and defence, as well as space tracking missions.

The seven-year IDIQ contract is worth up to $866m.


Joint airpower strategy released for Nato airforce operation

Nato unveiled a new joint airpower strategy that lays out the current and future security environment that allied airforces are expected to operate in.

The strategy states that Nato airforces need to have the capability to defend against peer competitors and anticipate the growing role of cyber and space-based assets.

The joint airpower strategy is the first of its kind launched by Nato since the alliance was established in 1949.


Northrop awarded $429m EHF XDR payload contract from USAF

The USAF awarded a $429m contract to Northrop Grumman for the delivery of extremely high-frequency extended data rate (EHF XDR) payloads for Enhanced Polar System-Recapitalization.

The contract was awarded by the USAF’s Space and Missile Systems Center, Military Satellite Communications Directorate at the Los Angeles Air Force Base (AFB), California.

Under the deal, Northrop Grumman will be responsible for delivering two payloads designed to provide highly protected communications for troops in the polar regions.


BAE Systems to pilot cobot manufacturing at Lancashire site

BAE Systems is set to trial new collaborative robots (cobots) designed to support manufacturing for the complex production of combat aircraft by the end of this year.

The company will pilot the cobot manufacturing workstation at its Warton site in Lancashire, UK.

A new range of digital technology features such as operator recognition will use wireless sensors to identify workers and customise the working experience.


USAF receive 300th F-35A Lightning II fighter jet

F-35 Joint Program Office completed the delivery of the 300th F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft together with Lockheed Martin.

The F-35A variant of the fighter jet was delivered to USAF Hill AFB in Utah.

To date, the 300 aircraft delivered to the US and other international customers feature 197 units of the F-35A conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) variants, 75 F-35B short take-off / vertical landing (STOVL) jets and 28 units of the F-35C carrier variants (CV).


RMIT studies laser metal technology for defence aircraft parts

A team of researchers from Australia’s RMIT University studied the use of laser metal technology to develop parts for defence aircraft under a two-year project.

Led by professor Milan Brandt, the RMIT team works in collaboration with RUAG Australia and the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre.

The technology can be used to build and repair steel and titanium parts for both existing aircraft and the newest F-35 Lightning II fleet.


Italy assembles first F-35A jet for Royal Netherlands Air Force

Italy started assembly of the first European-built F-35A Lightning II fighter jet, which has been developed for the Royal Netherlands Air Force.

The aircraft is the first of 37 F-35s to be acquired by the Netherlands. It is expected to be delivered to the Dutch Ministry of Defence at the end of next year.

Construction work on the F-35A aircraft commenced at the Italian F-35 manufacturing plant in Cameri.