Australia approves fourth MQ-4C procurement, P-8A upgrade
19 September 2023
by Akhil Kadidal
Australia has envisaged procuring at least six Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Tritons. (Northrop Grumman/Commonwealth of Australia)
The Australian government is enhancing its maritime intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities by approving the acquisition of a fourth Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) and upgrades to its Boeing P-8A ‘Poseidon' maritime aircraft fleet.
“The estimated combined value of these decisions is over AUD1.5 billion [USD965.5 million],” the Australian Department of Defence (DoD) said. Janes earlier reported that the Tritons are slated to replace the two Lockheed AP‐3C Orions in service with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). The upgrade of Australia's fleet of 14 P-8As will enhance anti-submarine warfare (ASW), maritime strike, and intelligence collection capabilities, the DoD said.
“The purchase of an additional Triton will enhance operations from Australia's northern bases, a priority under the Defence Strategic Review,” Australia's Minister for Defence Industry, Pat Conroy, said. “The upgrades to the fleet of Poseidon aircraft strengthens our ability to secure and protect Australia's maritime interests.”
The withdrawal of Australia's NHIndustries MRH90s from flight operations increases the burden on other army aviation rotary-wing assets, until adequate numbers of new Sikorsky UH-60Ms can be inducted into service. In this image, an MRH90 from the 5th Aviation Regiment prepares to land behind a CH-47F at Ingham Airport in Queensland in May 2022. (Commonwealth of Australia)
The Australian government is permanently withdrawing its NHIndustries MRH90 ‘Taipan' fleet from flight operations.
The “MRH-90 Taipan helicopters will not return to flying operations before their planned withdrawal date of December 2024”, the Australian Department of Defence (DoD) said on 29 September.
The decision to withdraw the MRH90 fleet is being attributed to the amount of time required to close four separate investigations of the 28 July crash of an MRH90 near Lindeman Island during Exercise ‘Talisman Sabre', according to the DoD and Australian Defence Minister Richard Marles.
“As the government made clear at the time, [the army] would not fly this platform until investigations into that incident were complete,” the DoD said. “The advice provided to [the] government has outlined [that] these ongoing investigations are likely to continue well into 2024.”
Nigeria signs for Cayuse Warrior Plus light attack helicopters
29 September 2023
by Gareth Jennings
Nigeria is set to become the latest customer of the MD 530F light attack helicopter, with the announcement that a deal has now been finalised. (MDH)
Nigeria has signed for MD Helicopters (MDH) MD 530F Cayuse Warrior Plus (CWP) light attack helicopters, the company announced on 28 September.
The Arizona-based company said it has finalised a deal to supply the West African country with its CWP helicopters, closing out a deal that was first disclosed in March.
“MD Helicopters closed a contract with the Nigerian federal government for 12 MD 530F Cayuse Warrior Plus scout/attack helicopters during a signing ceremony in Nigeria,” MDH said.
MDH did not disclose a contract value, but said it will begin delivering the aircraft to Nigeria in the fourth quarter of 2023.
While the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) fields a range of attack and assault helicopters, including the AgustaWestland AW109, Mil Mi-24/35 ‘Hind', and Aerospatiale SA 342 Gazelle, the CWPs are earmarked for the Nigerian Army, whose aviation capabilities are being re-established amid the Boko Haram crisis.
USAF seeks new SIGINT collection, processing capabilities
29 September 2023
by Carlo Munoz
One of the USAF's trio of legacy ‘Senior Scout' SIGINT shelters being loaded into a fixed-wing transport aircraft. (Lockheed Martin)
The US Air Force's (USAF's) research division is looking to develop advanced cyber and signals intelligence (SIGINT) processing capabilities, which once developed and deployed will accelerate SIGINT data distribution to operational and tactical units in near real time.
The broad agency announcement (BAA), issued on 25 September by the information directorate of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), is specifically seeking prototype proposals “[for] emerging cyber and SIGINT real-time processing solutions to improve tactical information collection, geolocation, extraction, identification, analysis, simulation, and reporting”.
“SIGINT technologies process information on various communications mediums, operate in environments in low signal-to-noise ratio areas, and conduct operations against uncooperative targets where the noise types and channel conditions are frequently varying from message to message,” the BAA stated.
“As time is critical and mission analysts' workload is high, the automation of the SIGINT collection, processing, and exploitation capabilities … is a major goal,” it added.
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