The Weekly Wire: Week of 5/18/2015
Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA) revealed last week that the Jordanian government may acquire “weaponized unmanned systems” from a Chinese provider. Jordan has previously requested drones from the United States government and been denied, most recently when Washington rejected a General Atomics application for an export license to market an unarmed version of the MQ-1 Predator UAV to Amman on 28 October 2014. Though unconfirmed, Hunter’s report of a visiting Chinese delegation to Jordan last week indicates another American ally’s willingness to turn to third-party suppliers to meet a growing demand for unmanned aerial systems in the face of U.S. hesitation. In May 2014, Saudi Arabia purchased an unspecified number of Yilong-1 (Pterodactyl) drones manufactured by the Chengdu Aircraft Industrial Group Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of the Aviation Industry Corp. of China (AVIC). Avascent projects the West-accessible UAS market to grow significantly over the next ten years – altogether, international customers will likely spend $59 billion on unmanned aerial systems between 2015 and 2024, two-thirds of which remains unawarded, open opportunities.
On May 7, 2015, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced a potential Foreign Military Sale (FMS) for upgrades and logistical support for Singapore’s 60 F-16 Block 52, worth approximately $130 million. According to the DSCA, the upgrade program will include 50 Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System, 90 AN/APX-126 Advanced Identification Friend or Foe Interrogator/Transponders, and 150 LAU-129 Missile Launchers. It also includes Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), global positioning system/inertial navigation systems and other associated repair, technical and logistics support. Some of the principal contractors associated will be Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and ITT. As a constant U.S. ally, the proposed upgrade of Singaporean F-16 fleet would improve regional and border security, and contribute to coalition operations. According to Avascent platforms data, the Singaporean fleet of F-16s have been in service for 19 years (on average), and are due for an upgrade before funding shifts towards future multirole fighter aircraft.