The Weekly Wire: For Your Situational Awareness 6.21.17
A congressional committee in Peru has given the green light to a military operation agreement with Belarus. Peru fields 19 MiG-29s purchased from Belarus, eight of which have been upgraded to the MiG-29SMT in recent years. Lima bought the aircraft in the late 1990s without a service contract, and the original equipment manufacturer, Mikoyan, was unwilling to assist its competitor, BelTechExport, until relations with Russia improved. In addition to the MiGs, the country’s combat air capabilities also include 19 Su-25s and a dozen Mirage-2000C/Ds. Peru has expressed an interest in a fourth-generation fighter, although Avascent Analytics estimates that Lima won’t finalize a contract before 2021. Avascent Analytics estimates that a deal, which likely would not be finalized before 2021, could be worth upwards of $700 million.
The Portuguese government has started negotiations with Embraer to buy up to six KC-390 transport aircraft to replace its fleet of six C-130Hs. The negotiations are likely to include a full flight simulator, spares, and other support services. Embraer is expecting to finalize the sale within three months. If finalized, the sale would be the first foreign order for the KC-390. While Argentina, Chile, and Colombia have all signed letters of intent signaling interest in buying KC-390s, none of those deals have yet been finalized. The Brazilian OEM is also in various stages of negotiations with other countries, including Sweden and New Zealand, for the military cargo jet. Brazil placed an order for 38 KC-390s in 2014 for $3.1 billion.
On June 13th, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) advanced its close air support aircraft acquisition project further than ever before. The project to acquire six aircraft has moved to post-bid qualification inspections to verify documents, manufacturing capability, and aircraft capability. Embraer’s Super Tucano aircraft is the heavy favorite. The project has been moving in fits and starts for the past four years, and the acquisition has failed to even reach a bidding stage. The total cost of the acquisitions is estimated to be $100 million with deliveries scheduled to be complete no later than 2020. Recent terrorist attacks in the Philippines have highlighted the need for more modern close air support aircraft to replace aging OV-10 Broncos.
On June 12th, the government of Pakistan ordered an undisclosed number of offshore patrol vessels from Damien Shipbuilders. The new ships will be capable of an array of missions, including anti-air operations, anti-surface operations, search-and-rescue, and surveillance. This order is the most recent in a series of procurements by Pakistan with a focus on improving maritime security. Pakistan is expected to sign a contract for four new corvettes from Savunma Teknolojileri Muhendislik ve Ticaret (STM), and will soon receive two maritime patrol vessels from China as well. According to Avascent Analytics, the market for patrol vessels, corvettes, and small surface combatants in Pakistan has an annual value of $141.6 million and is growing at a rate of 38%.
NASA is in the midst of what it calls an “orderly closeout” phase of the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) program, whose mission was to place a small asteroid in orbit of the moon for eventual study by on-site astronauts. ARM program director Michele Gates stated at a June 13 meeting that the agency was informed of the project’s cancellation by the Trump administration in April. Despite this, some of ARM’s primary technological efforts, such as the solar-electric propulsion system and increased funding for near-Earth asteroid searches, will continue to support other programs. NASA’s budget request, released in March, also notably failed to provide funding for a Europa lander mission (an effort to land on Jupiter’s moon), and the $19.1 billion appropriated for fiscal year 2018 was approximately $500 million less than its 2017 appropriation.