The United States Air Force is reportedly ready to move forward with the second program aimed at renewing its fleet of aerial refuelers, formerly known under the codename KC-Y. Head of Air Mobility Command Gen. Jacqueline D. Van Ovost indicated that the service will be moving forward with the bridge tanker KC-Y acquisition program. The competition will be full and open plus “non-developmental“, meaning it will be based on an existing, proven aircraft, according to an Air Mobility Command spokesperson. The Air Force is defining which capabilities it needs in its next tanker and how it will “immediately follow the existing KC-46A delivery timeline,” she said. KC-Y will replace the KC-135 and bridge the capability gap between the KC-46 and the future tanker KC-Z. The KC-46 Pegasus was due to be withdrawn by 2025. But the development of the tanker exceeded the initial forecast by $3 billion. The aircraft has also encountered numerous technical problems since its delivery.
According to a statement by the US Pacific Fleet, the US participant in the Malabar exercise this year hosted by Indian Navy is the Arleigh Burke Class guided missile destroyer USS John S. MacCain. The Malabar exercise is a quadrilateral naval exercise involving the United States, Japan , Australia, and India as permanent partners. The exercise began in 1992 to advance planning, integration and employment of advanced warfare tactics between participating nations and this year will feature the return of the Royal Australian Navy, according to Navy officials. According to officials, the exercise will include a variety of tactical training, including specific interactions designed to strengthen interoperability between Royal Australian Navy, Indian Navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and US maritime forces.
Middle East & Africa
The Israeli technology news site CTech reports that the privatization of Israel Aeronautics Industries (IAI) is back on track. According to CTech, the Minister for Cyber and National Digital Affairs David (Dudi) Amsalem called for a meeting of the ministerial committee on privatization to be held on November 15. The ministers are set to approve the issuance of the publicly-owned company’s shares at a planned valuation of $12 billion. The move had been held up recently by the Ministry of Defense, led by Benny Gantz and its director-general Amir Eshel. Officially it was claimed that the delay was due to demands by the Ministry of Digital Affairs and the Government Companies Authority that some of the money for the public issuance go to the state treasury, while the defense ministry officials wanted it to remain in the company’s coffers. IAI provides products and services in aviation and space to the military and civilian markets. In 2019, its revenue totalled $4.1 billion, and 74% of its sales were exports. The company suffers from low profitability, although in 2019 it switched from a loss to an operating profit of $120 million. The privatization process as outlined follows the model of privatizations of aerospace and defense companies in Europe since the 1980s.
The UK started work to convert five Boeing 737 airliners into E-7 Wedgetail airborne early warning Mk 1 (AEW1) platforms for the Royal Air Force. Boeing announced that the first fuselage sections for the first two aircraft to be modified arrived at STS Aviation Services in Birmingham. “Section 46 is the part of the fuselage where the aircraft’s [Northrop Grumman] multirole electronically scanned array (MESA) radar will be installed,” the company said. It also added that the first Section 46 will begin preparation for inclusion into a 737 Next Generation airliner later this month. Boeing UK also noted that parts and tooling will continue to arrive weekly to the Birmingham hangar in preparation for work on the first two aircraft in January 2021. The Wedgetail is an airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) platform. According to Boeing, the UK’s E-7 Wedgetail aircraft is expected to be in service with the Royal Air Force in 2023.
Northrop Grumman Systems won a $57.1 million deal, which provides for the manufacture and delivery of 19 full rate production Lot 14 GQM-163A Coyote supersonic sea skimming targets; 16 for the Navy and three for the government of Japan. Additionally, the contract procures associated technical and administrative data. The GQM-163A Coyote supersonic sea skimming target is designed to provide a cost-effective target to simulate supersonic sea-skimming and other emerging supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles, support research into ship defense systems, and support fleet training exercises. The target missile design integrates a four-inlet, solid-fuel ducted rocket ramjet propulsion system into a compact missile airframe 18 feet long and 14 inches in diameter. Work will take place in Arkansas, Arizona, Vermont, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and various other locations within the continental US. Estimated completion will be in December 2023.
An advanced version of India’s Pinaka rocket system successfully underwent a flight-test from Integrated Test Range in Chandipur, off the coast of Odisha, local news reports. A total of six rockets were launched in succession using Pinaka, indigenously developed by the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO). According to officials, all of the tests fulfilled the mission objectives. The rockets have been manufactured by Nagpur-based M/s Economic Explosives Limited, to whom the technology has been transferred. According to the DRDO, this advanced version has a longer range with reduced length compared to Mk-1, its earlier variant.
Watch: Watch: DRDO successfully test-fires advanced version of Pinaka rockets