Malaysia begins evaluating proposals to replace fleet of Hawk Mk 108/208s

by Ridzwan Rahmat

A file image depicting a Royal Malaysian Air Force Hawk 208 in the foreground with a Hawk 108 in the background. (BAE Systems)

The Malaysian government has begun evaluating proposals to replace the country's ageing fleet of Hawk Mk108/208 light-attack and lead-in trainer aircraft.

The matter was disclosed by Malaysian Minister of Defence Hishammuddin Hussein on 25 November in his reply to parliamentary questions on a fatal accident involving a Hawk Mk 108 aircraft.

The accident, which occurred on 17 November at the Royal Malaysian Air Force's (RMAF's) Butterworth Air Base in Penang, killed one crew member and injured another. It is the latest in a series of fatal crashes involving the aircraft type in Malaysia since 1998.

In his reply to a question from Ahmad Nazlan Indris, Malaysian member of parliament, Hishammuddin said that the government had recently invited international contractors to submit their respective proposals to replace the Hawk Mk 108/208s under the Light Combat Aircraft/Fighter Lead-In-Trainer (LCA/FLIT) programme.

The programme intends to acquire 36 LCA/FLIT airframes for the RMAF in two phases. Eighteen airframes are being procured in the 2021 process, with the remaining aircraft to be acquired from 2025 onwards.

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US FTC sues to block Lockheed Martin's purchase of Aerojet Rocketdyne

by Marc Selinger

A US Navy destroyer launches a Standard Missile-6 (SM-6) during a test. Aerojet Rocketdyne provides propulsion for most Raytheon missiles, including the SM-6. (US Navy)

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a lawsuit on 25 January seeking to block US defence contractor Lockheed Martin's proposed USD4.4 billion acquisition of US propulsion manufacturer Aerojet Rocketdyne, saying the combination could reduce competition in the missile market.

The FTC described Aerojet Rocketdyne as the last independent provider of missile propulsion in the United States and the only US supplier of divert-and-attitude control systems for missile defence kill vehicles. Lockheed Martin, meanwhile, is one of only a few prime contractors for missiles.

“If consummated, this deal would give Lockheed the ability to cut off other defence contractors from the critical components they need to build competing missiles,” said FTC Bureau of Competition Director Holly Vedova. “Without competitive pressure, Lockheed can jack up the price the US government has to pay, while delivering lower quality and less innovation.”

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Curtiss-Wright to buy Safran's aircraft arresting systems business

by Marc Selinger

US industrial conglomerate Curtiss-Wright Corporation plans to expand its defence portfolio by acquiring Safran Aerosystems Arresting Company (SAA) for USD240 million in cash, the buyer announced on 21 January.

SAA's arresting equipment for fixed-wing military aircraft is used on aircraft carriers and on land and will complement Curtiss-Wright's existing landing and recovery systems for military rotorcraft, Curtiss-Wright said. In addition, SAA sells to more than 70 countries, which is expected to give its future owner increased opportunities for foreign military sales.

SAA, which is part of the Aerosystems company within France's Safran Group, will operate within Curtiss-Wright's Naval & Power segment after the acquisition is completed. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of 2022.

SAA is based in Aston, Pennsylvania, and also has operations in Merpins, France. It employs about 140 people and generated sales of about USD70 million in 2021. Safran did not say why it agreed to divest the business.

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Elbit Systems UK builds British team to compete for domestic UAS projects

by Olivia Savage

Elbit Systems UK forms British industrial team to deliver UAS. (Elbit Systems UK)

Elbit Systems UK has formed and will lead a British industrial team of suppliers to compete for emerging unmanned aircraft system (UAS) programmes, the company announced on 20 January.

While Elbit Systems UK is experienced in UAS design and systems integration, the company hopes that utilising the skills of partner organisations and suppliers will enable the team to collectively deliver fully integrated and supported UAS capabilities. Co-operatively, Team Elbit intends to leverage their product portfolio, including the Skylark mini-UAS, to meet emerging requirements.

An Elbit Systems UK joint venture – UAV Tactical Systems (U-TacS) – will be one member of the team. Based in Leicester, U-TacS is responsible for delivering the Watchkeeper UAS to the British Army, and will contribute system integration, through-life support, and through-life management to the wider industrial team.

QinetiQ will join the group to drive innovation by “developing a collaborative supplier framework of leading UAS technology”, according to the announcement.

Meanwhile, the announcement revealed that Aviation Systems Group (ASG), a UAS specialist subject-matter expert, will support Team Elbit in the management of air safety and airworthiness, operational flight planning, and training.

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