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For its first launch of the year, Ariane 5 has placed two telecommunications satellites in orbit namely Eutelsat and GSAT-30 for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). This was the 251st flight of an Ariane launcher which celebrated its 40th anniversary on December 24, 2019. Arianespace, operator of the Ariane rocket, has scheduled 10 launches by 2022, including four more in 2020.
Boeing has responded with an offer for its CH-47 Chinook to the German Army’s tender for a heavy lift helicopter to replace its Sikorsky CH-53Gs. Michael Hostetter, Vice President of Boeing Defence, Space & Security said that the CH-47 Chinook is a platform, capable of performing missions that other helicopters cannot. It is a proven multi-mission heavy lift helicopter with advanced technology that meets German requirements. Currently, there are more than 950 Chinook helicopters operating in 20 countries, including eight member countries of NATO.
For the first time, Boeing and the US Navy flew an F/A-18 Super Hornet equipped with an Infrared Search & Track (IRST) Block II pod in late 2019. The Block III conversion will include enhanced network capability, longer range with conformal fuel tanks, an advanced cockpit system, signature improvements and an enhanced communication system. IRST is a passive, long-range sensor incorporating infrared and other sensor technologies for highly accurate targeting.
On December 30, 2019, the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) had ordered the Archange airborne strategic intelligence programme, comprising three Dassault Aviation Falcon 8X aircraft equipped with the Thales new-generation payload CUGE (universal electronic warfare capability). A contract has been awarded for the first two aircraft.
The Israeli Air Force’s (IAF) second squadron of F-35I ‘Adir’ stealth fighter jets was inaugurated on January 16, 2020 at Nevatim air base. The ceremony was attended by senior IAF commanders including IAF Commander Maj Gen Amikam Norkin as well as officials from Lockheed Martin. The 116th squadron, nicknamed “Lions of the South,” will join the 140th “Golden Eagle” squadron.
Sierra Technical Services Inc (STS) has achieved a major milestone with the completion of Engine Run Testing on the 5th Generation Aerial Target (5GAT). The 5GAT contract is administered by the US. Army Corp of Engineers Contracting Office. The 5GAT is a high-performance, unmanned, fighter-size aircraft that will be utilised for Air-to-Air and Surface-to-Air weapons evaluation, pilot training and ground forces training.
Lockheed Martin will deliver 50 C-130J Super Hercules to the US government through a C-130J Multiyear III award, which was finalised by the US government on December 27, 2019. The award comes as a delivery order under an existing Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity contract awarded in August 2016. The Department of Defence has awarded more than $1.5 billion in funding for the first 21 C-130J aircraft on the multiyear award. The overall award is worth more than $3 billion. Delivery is scheduled between 2021-2025.
As per a report in Aircraft Recognition, the Russian defence industry is working on several models of antidrone weapons to improve protection for the military. Some of the handheld anti-drone weapons that are being developed include the Garpun-M, Pishchal and REX-1. The Russian military has begun to emphasise anti-drone weapons more in response to the experience in the campaign in Syria, where Russia’s Hmeymim airbase has come under attack by militant-operated drone swarms.
Long-term orders of Russian arms by other countries amount to $55 billion whereas annual exports of local arms and military equipment stand at $14-15 billion, Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov said on January 4, 2020.
Summarising three reports about the aviation fleets of the US Air Force, Army and the Department of the Navy, Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects the number and costs of aircraft the US Department of Defence would need to procure to maintain the fleets’ current size through 2050. Between 2000 and 2018, DoD’s annual costs for procuring aircraft averaged about $26 billion (in 2018 dollars); CBO projects that the costs of DoD’s procurement plans would average $40 billion in the 2030s.
The aircraft carrier USS Gerald R Ford (CVN 78) has begun Aircraft Compatibility Testing (ACT). ACT continues at-sea testing of Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) and Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) - two Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment (ALRE) systems unique to Ford. This phase of ACT will include: T-45 Goshawks, F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets, E/A-18G Growlers, E-2D Advanced Hawkeyes, C-2A Greyhounds.