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Global wrap-up: Japan confirms F-35B plans, Germany begins acquisition of future fleet oiler

This global wrap-up provides updates of industry developments across the globe, including new procurement deals, capability introductions and key announcements.

This global wrap-up provides updates of industry developments across the globe, including new procurement deals, capability introductions and key announcements.


  • The Japanese Ministry of Defense has officially confirmed its decision to acquire a fleet of 42 F-35B Joint Strike Fighter aircraft with a reported unit cost of US$130 million per air frame – it is expected that aircraft will operate from the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force's two Izumo Class vessels, the Izumo and Kaga
  • Boeing has started upgrade work on the first of the Japanese Air Self-Defence Force's four E-767 airborne early warning aircraft – the project is to be managed by the US Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Hanscom AFB, Massachusetts. The upgrade provides an improved mission computer and other systems to the four E-767s and their associated ground equipment. Work is being conducted at the Kelly Field Annex, formerly the San Antonio Air Logistics Center, at Lackland AFB and is due to be completed by the end of 2022.
  • The Royal Thai Navy has launched the second of its Krabi Class offshore patrol vessels. The ship, which will be in service as HTMS Prachuap Khiri Khan (552) once commissioned, underwent its ceremonial launch at the RTN's Mahidol Adulyadej Naval Dockyard in Sattahip, Chonburi. Like Krabi, Prachuap Khiri Khan was built by state-owned Bangkok Dock under a technology-transfer agreement signed with BAE Systems. It was laid down in June 2017 and first took to the water in late August 2018.
  • The People's Liberation Army Air Force has welcomed an updated variant of the Xian JH-7 fighter-bomber into service – the new aircraft is a two-seat, twin-engine aircraft that entered service with the PLANAF and the PLAAF in 2004. The original JH-7 first flew in 1988. A key role of this aircraft type, which is capable of carrying four anti-ship missiles along with other external stores, is maritime strike.
  • China's state media has confirmed the first operational tasking of a Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group (CAIG) J-20 fifth-generation fighter aircraft, with aircraft 62001 based along with three other aircraft based at Wuhu Air Base as part of the PLAAF's 9th Air Brigade, replacing the unit's Su-30MKK. 
  • The Indian Ministry of Defence has approved the acquisition of BrahMos missile batteries for Next Generation Maritime Mobile Coastal Batteries (NGMMCBs) – the contract for an undisclosed number of NGMMCBs fitted with the BrahMos surface-to-surface supersonic cruise missile would be deployed along India's coastline, but did not elaborate on the precise location.
  • The Indian Air Force officially took delivery of its second batch of AH-64E(I) Apache Guardian attack helicopters – the four twin-engined rotorcraft, which are part of a US$2.02 billion order placed by the service for 22 of these platforms in 2015, were flown from the US to India aboard an Antonov An-124 'Condor' strategic airlifter and have joined an equal number of Apache Guardians that were similarly delivered to the same location on 27 July.


  • The German Navy has identified plans for the acquisition of its next-generation Type 707 Fleet Oilers – the two vessels will have a length of 170 metres, with an increased capacity, being able to carry 15,000 cubic metres of fuel. An option for the embarkation of up to 20 containers is also included. The new fleet tankers will also have a civilian crew. However, the size of the crew will decrease from 42 to around 20 people. The two double-hull tanker vessels type 707 are planned to stay in service with the German Navy fleet beyond the 2050s.
  • The German Navy has selected the NHIndustries NH90 NATO Frigate Helicopter to replace its fleet of ageing Westland Mk 88A Sea Lynx anti-submarine warfare/anti-surface warfare (ASW/ASuW) helicopters. Having previously selected the German-specific Sea Lion variant of the NH90 NFH to replace its Westland Mk 41 Sea King maritime helicopter, the German Navy is to now receive a German version of the French NFH Caiman, named Multi-Role Frigate Helicopter (MRFH). 
  • The first roadworthy prototypes of the French Army's new 4×4 Vehicule Blinde Multi-Role - Light (VBMR-L) Serval armoured fighting vehicle (AFV) are now undergoing performance trials and more prototypes are slated for delivery later this year. Serval will have a combat weight of 17 tonnes and, in addition to its crew of two, will carry eight dismounts. One of the dismounts will operate the roof-mounted remote weapon station (RWS) armed with a stabilised machine gun (MG). 
  • The Russian Navy has officially welcomed the first-in-class Project 20385 corvette Gremyashchiy  to service at the Russia's Navy Day parade in St Petersburg. The corvette represents a further development of the Project 20380 Steregushchiy Class, from which the Gremyashchiy 's sensors, communications, and fire control systems are not thought to be significantly different, if at all. The key difference is in the Project 20385's missile armament. Gremyashchiy is fitted with the latest iteration of the Agat Concern's 3S14 modular VLS and 16-cell Redut SAM VLS.
  • BAE Systems has cut steel for the second Type 26 Global Combat Ship, HMS Cardiff, as progress on Australia’s own Hunter Class program continues to gather pace and learn from the experience of the British program. 
  • Industry teams led by Blue Bear Systems Research, Boeing Defence UK, and Callen-Lenz have been awarded contracts by the UK Royal Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office to complete the preliminary design of a low-cost unmanned combat aircraft that can operate alongside manned fast jets as part of future air power mix.

North America: 

  • Raytheon has received a US$199 million contract from the US Navy for the Mk 15 Phalanx close-in weapons system (CIWS) upgrades – the contract covers Phalanx weapon systems upgrades and conversions, system overhauls and associated hardware. Fast-reaction, 20mm gun weapon system provides ships of the US Navy with an inner layer point defence capability against anti-ship missiles (ASM), aircraft and littoral warfare threats that have penetrated other fleet defences. Phalanx automatically detects, evaluates, tracks, engages and performs kill assessment against ASM and high speed aircraft threats. This contract includes options that, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to US$367.2 million.
  • The US Navy has awarded Lockheed Martin a US$56 million cost-plus-incentive fee, cost-only, firm-fixed-price contract on 15 August for combat system engineering support on the Ship Self-Defense System (SSDS). Under the contract, the SSDS combat system engineering agent and software design agent primary deliverables will be SSDS tactical computer programs, program updates and associated engineering, development and logistics products.
  • Work on the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) propulsion plant has been completed as the US Navy confirmed the Ford Class Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) system received the green light to recover all “props and jets” aircraft, according to the Aircraft Recovery Bulletin (ARB).
  • A detachment of US Air Force F-35A Lightnings has carried out the first deployment of the stealth aircraft to a temporary operating site in the Middle East, US Air Forces Central Command (AFCENT) – the F-35As from the 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron (EFS) and support personnel from the 380th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron relocated from Al-Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates to an "undisclosed location in south-west Asia" for Exercise 'Agile Lightning'.
  • The US Marines in the I and III Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) will begin receiving Oshkosh Defense’s Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTVs) by the end of September after the service announced that the vehicle is ready to deploy and support operations abroad. On 2 August, the US Marine Corps (USMC) deemed that the Humvee replacement effort had reached initial operational capability (IOC), according to a recent announcement.
  • Leonardo has been awarded a contract to provide its active electronically scanned array (AESA) PicoSAR ground moving target indication/synthetic aperture radars (GMTI/SARs) for new intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) drones for the Canadian Armed ForcesQinetiQ has been awarded a C$51 million contract earlier this month to supply drones to the Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Special Operations Forces Command to enhance the forces' situational awareness and deliver ISTAR services.
  • Thales has subcontracted two Canadian companies to provide technologies for the Royal Canadian Navy’s Joint Support Ship acquisition. The French company is a tier one supplier for the program under prime Seaspan Shipyards, and is responsible for the system integration of electronics systems for the vessels, including the communications, control and monitoring systems.


Global wrap-up: Japan confirms F-35B plans, Germany begins acquisition of future fleet oiler
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