GA-ASI to upgrade Italian Air Force MQ-9A Predator B MALE UAVs to Block 5 standard
10 September 2021
by Alessandra Giovanzanti
The Italian Air Force's fleet of five MQ-9A Predator B MALE UAVs will receive Block 5 upgrades under a USD30.5 million contract awarded to GA-ASI on 8 September. (GA-ASI)
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) was awarded a USD30.5 million contract to upgrade Aeronautica Militare Italiana (Italian Air Force, AMI) MQ-9A Predator B medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to Block 5 standard, the US Department of Defense (DoD) has announced.
The MQ-9 mid-life modernisation (MLM) contract, awarded under the US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme on 8 September, includes all five Lot 1 MQ-9A UAVs and Block 30 mobile ground control stations currently in service with the AMI. The contract will run through to 31 January 2023.
GA-ASI first announced the MLM programme for the Italian MQ-9 fleet in a press release on 27 May, in which European regional vice president Scott Smith was quoted as saying, “These enhancements give Italian forces the ability to see better and more clearly than ever with their MQ-9 RPA [remotely piloted aircraft].”
The Bundestag budget committee on 20 September approved a contract amendment for the procurement of 12 LUNA NG UASs for the Bundeswehr. (Rheinmetall)
The budget committee of the Bundestag, Germany's parliament, on 20 September approved a contract amendment for the procurement of the Luftgestützte Unbemannte Nahaufklärungs-Ausstattung Next Generation (LUNA NG) medium-range unmanned aircraft system (UAS), which is designated by the Bundeswehr as Hocheffizientes Unbemanntes System zur abbildenden Aufklärung mittlerer Reichweite (HUSAR). The Bundeswehr is procuring 12 LUNA NG UASs and a training system to replace current LUNA and Kleinfluggerät für Zielortung (KZO) UASs.
A LUNA NG system consists of five unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), two ground control stations in protected containers, maintenance and repair equipment, two launchers, and two recovery systems.
The total contract value is EUR290.9 million (USD307.8 million), of which EUR238.6 remains to be funded by Germany's defence budget. The German Federal Ministry of Defence expects LUNA NG deliveries starting in 2025.
Germany's Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) awarded EMT a EUR63 million framework contract for three LUNA NG systems and a training system, with an option for nine more UASs.
An Autel Evo Max UAV and a DJI Matrice quadcopter flying above a General Dynamics Land Systems LAV700 vehicle at C-UAS TIE23. (Janes/Olivia Savage)
NATO will publish its first counter-unmanned aircraft systems (C-UASs) doctrine in 2023, which will lay the foundations for how militaries should standardise and operationalise countering UASs, Janes has learnt.
Along with informing members how best to plan and execute C-UAS missions, the high-priority document will address and outline the strategic environment, Senior Advisor for NATO's Science for Peace and Security programme Claudio Palestini told Janes at NATO's ‘C-UAS Technical Interoperability Exercise 2023' (TIE23) in Vredepeel, Netherlands, held from 12 to 22 September.
A draft of the document will be sent to member countries in October before being ratified by the end of the year, although this timeline could fluctuate pending countries' comments, Palestini said.
Several strategic recommendations will be outlined in the doctrine, according to Palestini. These include advising member states that C-UAS must be integrated into the wider air-defence domain, rather than being ‘considered in isolation'; that it should be a multidomain solution; and that continuous innovation and improvement must be adopted because of the rapidly evolving threat.
UAE firm secures USD5.1 billion to deliver satellite services to UAE government
26 September 2023
by Olivia Savage
Al Yah 1 and Al Yah 2 (pictured) developed by Thales Alenia Space and Airbus will continue to provide secure satellite services to the UAE government under a USD5.1 billion agreement with Yahsat until they are replaced with the new Al Yah 4 and Al Yah 5 satellites being built by Airbus. (Yahsat)
United Arab Emirates (UAE) company Yahsat has been awarded a major AED18.7 billion (USD5.1 billion) deal to provide satellite services to the UAE government, the company announced on 22 September.
Under the 17-year Authorisation to Proceed (ATP) agreement, Yahsat will supply the government with secure and reliable satellite capacity afforded by the Al Yah 1 and Al Yah 2 satellites from 2026 onwards. This will be supplemented by two new planned satellites – Al Yah 4 and Al Yah 5 – which are expected to be launched in 2027 and 2028 respectively, the announcement said.
In 2024 Yahsat will receive an advance payment of USD1 billion from the UAE government under the mandate agreement.
The ATP mandate will replace existing agreements, Capacity Services Agreement and the Managed Services Mandate (MSM), which are expected to conclude in November and December 2026 respectively.
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