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22 May 14. The US Army is creating a ‘radio marketplace’ by launching a competition for the Rifleman Radio. The Army released a draft request for proposals on May 21, to procure additional radios using a full and open competition. The RFP moves the Army toward Full Rate Production (FRP) for the Rifleman, which is part of the Handheld, Manpack, Small Form Fit (HMS) program, according to a statement from the Army PEO C3T at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. The Army plans to award an indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract to several vendors, who will then compete against each other for delivery orders. It will span a five-year base period with a five-year optional extension. ‘This structure enables the Army to choose from numerous technologies, and release a new contract if radio technology changes significantly after the initial five-year award,’ according to the announcement. The Army is planning an industry day on May 27 to get more feedback before issuing the final RFP. The contract award will come sometime in fiscal year 2015. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)

22 May 14. The Indian Defence Ministry, tired of waiting for its homemade intermediate jet trainer, is seeking a solution from overseas. The MoD floated a global tender in early May for the trainer through a request for information (RFI). The jet trainer is being developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL). Analysts see the RFI as the MoD’s first attempt to allow competition for low-tech defense products that are under development by state-owned companies. “In the past, whenever an indigenous product was available [through state-owned defense companies], it completely closed the gates for further efforts to seek alternatives with better operational or commercial terms,” said Subhash Bhojwani, a retired Air Force air marshal. “And if the defense services still insisted on going ahead, they were labelled as being enamored by imports.” The RFI was sent to Russia’s Yakovlev; Italy’s Alenia Aermacchi; Korea Aerospace Industries; US companies Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Beechcraft; and Sweden’s Saab. The Sitara trainer has been delayed by eight years, due initially to the late delivery of Russian NPO Saturn engines and later to the slow pace of development at HAL, an Air Force official said. HAL takes advantage of being a monopoly state-owned company and takes orders promising early delivery, the official said. HAL has promised that the jet would reach initial operating capability by December. The Sitara, under development for over 15 years, was to have entered service in June 2012. But in 2011, flight-testing suffered a major setback when a Sitara crashed in stall testing. Another Air Force officer said the HJT-36 Sitara has yet to be demonstrated in any air show, indicating unspecified technical insufficiencies. The Air Force earlier abandoned the HAL basic trainer and opted to buy the Pilatus trainer from Switzerland in 2012. The specifications call for the intermediate trainer to be a two-seater with a ferry range of at least 1,500 kilometers and the capability to fire a lightweight gun or pod with ammunition for at least five seconds, and to carry at least four 250-kilogram bombs. The RFI asks vendors for the likely cost to supply their trainers in batches of 10, 20, 30 and 50 aircraft. The Air Force wants to retire the aging Kiran Mark-1 and Mark-22 intermediate trainers by 2015. Indian pilots graduate from the Pilatus PC-7 trainer to the Kiran and then to Hawk advanced jet trainers. (Source: Defense News)

20 May 14. Philippines announces MPA programme. The Philippine Air Force (PAF) has announced a programme to acquire long-range maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) as the service continues to expand capabilities in response to strategic threats. An invitation-to-bid document dispatched by the Department of National Defense (DND) on 21 May states that the MPA programme is valued at PHP5.976bn (USD137m), with the procurement including the purchase of two MPA

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