13 Aug 15. The Daily Mirror reports that the Major Projects Authority has issued an amber/red alert on the £10bn Astute-class submarine project. The paper claims spending in 2014-15 on the project is £87.5m more than planned, and that the MPA assessed that there are major issues in key areas of the project. The article concedes that, after years of delays, the scheme to replace the Trafalgar-class fleet remains on time against a revised schedule. We are very clear that under the Astute submarine programme, we are committed to delivering seven submarines as a vital component of our maritime forces. A number of Performance Improvement initiatives have been developed to address the main risks and issues, with a focus on programme delivery.
A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said, “Submarine build programmes are extremely complex and significant steps have been taken to address the issues raised by the MPA. The Astute programme is progressing to deliver world class submarines with the third, of seven, planned to enter service with the Royal Navy towards the end of the year.” (Source: defence-aerosapce.com/Daily Mirror)
12 Aug 15. Israel Sets Specs for Infantry UAV. The Israeli defence forces (IDF) have drawn up the main design features of a “personal” unmanned air vehicle that will be carried by a large number of infantry soldiers in any formation of a battalion-level unit.
The required micro-UAV would weigh approximately 2kg (4.4lb) and would have a flight time of around 20-30min while carrying a lightweight optical payload.
In the coming months the Israeli defence ministry will issue a request for proposals linked to the tender, and all the Israeli manufacturers of such equipment are expected to respond.
According to Israeli sources, the request will lead to the selection of more than one system to undergo field-testing.
The need for a personal UAV capability has been noted in Israel for several years, and the issue has received higher priority following the lessons learned from last year’s “Protective Edge” operation in Gaza.
Currently, the only Israeli infantry units using UAVs are artillery corps personnel operating the “Sky Rider” – Elbit Systems’ SkyLark 1 LE. This is designed for data collection and target marking duties at mission ranges exceeding 32nm (60km). (Source: UAS VISION/Flight Global)
11 Aug 15. Brazil still considering Swedish Gripen C/D fighters. The Brazilian Air Force’s (Força Aérea Brasileira: FAB’s) Aeronautics Command is still considering to eventually obtain Saab Gripen C/D fighters from the Swedish Air Force, an FAB spokesperson told IHS Jane’s on 10 August.
Plans to lease 12 Saab Gripen C/D fighters as an interim solution were reportedly cancelled around June for cost-saving reasons.
Still, a potential acquisition could still be made through a leasing or renting scheme, the spokesperson added. This would be intended to meet the needs for advanced fighters to reinforce the country’s air defence until 2019, when Brazil begins receiving the first of its 36 Gripen NG (Gripen E/F) aircraft from Saab. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
11 Aug 15. US Air Force Plans Industry Day for Huey Replacement. As the US Air Force gears up to modernize its legacy UH-1N Huey helicopter fleet, the service is planning an industry day later this month to explore the path ahead for the 40-year-old platform.
The upcoming sessions are meant to educate potential vendors about improvements the Air Force is looking to make to the existing fleet to reduce long-running capability gaps. Unlike modern aircraft, the Huey is analog, which means it lacks the digital displays most current platforms take for granted. The Huey has also been criticized for its lack of modern technology, such as navigational tools needed for flight during adverse weather conditions.
Following the industry day, which will take place Aug. 26 and 27, the Air Force will release a capabilities request for information on potential solutions and sources to p