Rafael unveils AeroSpike stand-off air-to-surface missile

by Robin Hughes

Rafael is pitching AeroSpike as the SOPGM solution for AFSOC's future ‘Armed Overwatch' platform. (Rafael Advanced Defense Systems)

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has disclosed development of an advanced lightweight stand-off air-to-surface missile specifically designed for use with fixed-wing aircraft.

The new internally funded missile development, designated AeroSpike, is a derivative of the ground-launched Spike LR2 multi-purpose surface-to-surface guided missile system, adapted to the air-launched role by Rafael's Air-to-Surface Directorate.

Intended for use in the first instance with fixed-wing turboprop light-attack and armed reconnaissance platforms, AeroSpike is optimised for day/night all-weather air-to-surface engagements against static or moving targets, including tiered air-defence artillery (ADA) networks, mobile surface-to-air missile systems, armoured land platforms, and urban infrastructure.

Full-scale development of AeroSpike was effectively finalised in 2019, and since then Rafael has been spiralling the capability. Now at Technical Readiness Level (TRL) 9, and in use with several undisclosed customers, AeroSpike is to be officially unveiled at the 2022 Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) in Tampa, Florida, 16–19 May.

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New Zealand increases 2022–23 defence budget by 4%

by Jon Grevatt & Andrew MacDonald

New Zealand is forecast by Janes Defence Budgets to continue to increase its military expenditure over the coming few years. The spike in 2019 was caused by a one-off recognition of veterans' entitlements. (Janes Defence Budgets)

New Zealand has announced a defence budget of NZD6 billion (USD3.8 billion) for 2022–23. The figure represents a nominal increase of 4% over the final budget of NZD5.75 billion in 2021–22.

New Zealand's defence budget contains two appropriations: ‘Vote Defence Force', which covers salaries, training costs, capital expenditures, and military preparedness, and ‘Vote Defence', which is allocated for managing procurement and sustainment activity and policy advice.

The Vote Defence Force has been allocated NZD4.89 billion for 2022–23, a 6% increase over the estimated final budget of NZD4.63 billion from the previous year. The Vote Defence expenditure has been allocated NZD1.17 billion, a rise of 5% over the NZD1.11 billion final allocation from last year.

The Vote Defence Force allocation provides a total capital expenditure of NZD1.56 billion for the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF), an increase of 16% compared with the final allocation of NZD1.34 billion in 2021–22.

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Ukraine conflict: US Congress clears more Ukraine aid

by Marc Selinger

The US Capitol building in Washington, DC. (Janes/Marc Selinger)

The US Senate approved USD40 billion in additional funding for Ukraine-related security, humanitarian, and economic assistance on 19 May, sending the legislation to President Joe Biden for his expected signature.

The supplemental funding bill, which the US House of Representatives passed nine days earlier, “will allow us to send even more weapons and ammunition to Ukraine, replenish our own stockpile, and support US troops stationed on NATO territory”, Biden said in a statement.

The senate's 86–11 vote came the same day that the US Department of Defense announced it is tapping an earlier supplemental to send USD100 million worth of military equipment to Ukraine, including 18 155 mm howitzers, 18 tactical vehicles to tow those howitzers, and three AN/TPQ-36 counter-artillery radars. The United States has provided almost USD4 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since Russia invaded the country on 24 February.

Biden said his “administration will continue to expedite the delivery of additional weapons and equipment for which Congress has provided authority”.

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USAF team to assess Thailand's ability to operate F-35s

by Akhil Kadidal

The USAF is preparing to send a team to assess Thailand's ability to operate F-35s. (US Air Force)

The United States will assess Thailand's capability to operate fifth-generation Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter. The planned visitation suggests that the country has moved closer to potentially acquiring the stealth fighters.

Speaking to Janes, a Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) spokesperson said, “We have been informed that the US Air Force (USAF) is now under the process of setting up a team to travel to Thailand for [assessment], as well as providing advice for the right practices to prepare the receiving and use of the fifth-generation fighter.”

“However, we still don't know the exact schedule of when to travel, as this will be decided by the US Air Force,” he added.

The US Department of State declined to comment on the specifics of the USAF visitation and “potential procurements” of a “longtime treaty ally and security partner”.

The USAF team will likely assess the RTAF's capabilities and infrastructure to determine if the Southeast Asian country can support F-35 operations.

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