F-35 program milestone

The U.S. Department of Defense said today that its F-35 Joint Program Office recently completed a long-delayed series of crucial tests which could pave the way for Lockheed Martin to move to full production next year. [node:read-more:link]

Czech F-35s confirmed

The U.S. has approved the sale of 24 Lockheed Martin F-35s to the Czech Republic. The procurement itself is valued at some US$5 billion while an additional $1.5 billion will be spent on airbus upgrades and other related projects. [node:read-more:link]

Keeping up with F-35 demand

Lieutenant-General Richard Moore, deputy chief of staff for plans and programs in the U.S. Air Force, suggests Lockheed Martin’s success in marketing the F-35 could be problematic because “they’ve already got orders that exceed what they’re producing.” [node:read-more:link]

More support for Ukraine

The federal government has topped up assistance for Ukraine with a $650-million deal to supply 50 armoured vehicles over three years. The announcement coincided with a commitment to send personnel to train Ukrainian fighter pilots, an updated trade deal, more funding for Ukrainian mental health programs, and extended Russian sanctions. [node:read-more:link]

Reaper drones for Canada

More than six years after the 2017 Strong, Secure, Engaged policy paper disclosed plans for Canada to acquired armed drones, the Department of National Defence has confirmed plans to buy a fleet of General Atomics MQ-9 Reapers which can be fitted with Hellfire missiles at an overall cost of some $5 billion. “Should the finalization phase conclude successfully, contract award is expected within this fiscal year,” says DND spokesperson Jessica Lamirande. “We expect the first delivery in 2028.” [node:read-more:link]

U.S. F-35 support slammed

The U.S. Government Accountability Office reports that a lack of depot capacity, access to technical data, insufficient spare parts and overreliance on contractors have undermined F-35 fleets’ mission capability rates. Only 55% of aircraft were mission-ready earlier this year, well short of 90% for the basic F-35A and 85% for the B and C variants. [node:read-more:link]

U.S. defence jeopardized

With Congress deadlocked yet again and a government shutdown increasingly likely, there is huge uncertainty about the impact on the U.S. defence budget. The only hope evidently is a short-term funding bill that would still limit key procurements. [node:read-more:link]

Chinese defence minister out?

It’s reported that Chinese Defence Minister Li Shangfu and eight senior officials in his department’s procurement unit are being investigated for corruption. Li, who was appointed minister in March 2023 but has not been seen in public so far this month, led that unit from 2017 until 2022. [node:read-more:link]

South Korea JSF fleet to grow

The U.S. has approved the sale of potentially 25 more Lockheed Martin F-35A fighters to South Korea but the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said September 13 that the number of aircraft and the contract value are subject to negotiation and congressional review. South Korea already has 40 of the aircraft as replacements for McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantom IIs introduced in 1977. [node:read-more:link]

Micro-reactor in Alaska

A California company has been contracted by the U.S. Air Force to design, build and operate a nuclear micro-reactor at its Eielson fighter base near Fairbanks, Alaska. Subject to Nuclear Regulatory Commission approval, the 20-megawatt reactor would cost some $60 to procure and $3 million a year to operate and maintain. [node:read-more:link]

CSC Shipbuilding Strategy a taxpayer fiasco

Former ADM (materiel), Alan Williams, takes a critical look at the Canadian Surface Combatant procurement from the taxpayer's perspective. Comparing costs and quotes on similar projects from other countries, he finds that Canadian taxpayers are paying 2-3 times more for the CSC ships under the project management of Irving Shipbuilding. [node:read-more:link]

Sweden pumps defence budget

Newly-released numbers indicate that Sweden plans will boost defence spending by 28% nest year, to the equivalent of US$10.8 billion as it awaits NATO membership. “Appropriations have doubled since 2020,” the defence ministry says. [node:read-more:link]

New USAF trainer update

Boeing has set September 12 for delivery of the U.S. Air Force’s first T-7A Red Hawk trainer, a supersonic platform developed together with Sweden’s Saab. The USAF plans to buy 351 as replacements for its legacy Northrop T-38 Talons. The program has been delayed by several years due to safety, software and production issues. [node:read-more:link]

U.S. rifles for British operators

Knight’s Armaments Company of Florida has received an initial £15-million order to supply the British Army Special Operations Brigade with 1,620 KS-1 rifles which shoot 5.56x45mm NATO ammunition. Royal Marine Commandos also are in line to get the weapon through contract options for up to 10,000 at a total cost of £90 million over the next decade. The guns will be manufactured in the U.S. but assembled in Britain by Edgar Brothers of Macclesfield, which is responsible for sourcing sub-systems. [node:read-more:link]

How not to build warships

Fifteen years after the U.S. commissioned its first of a planned 19 Littoral Combat Ship with expectations that the smaller vessels, similar in size to other navies’ corvettes, would be more effective, the program evidently has devolved into a huge boondoggle. The fleet ultimately cost more than budgeted and has had had an array of equipment failures. [node:read-more:link]


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