The Israeli Air Force (IAF) announced a series of upgrades for its aging fleet of U.S.-made C-130H Hercules heavy lift aircraft. Modernizing the planes’ avionics and reinforcing wing boxes should extend the aircraft’s lifespan by decades, according to an IAF official. A Boeing 707 air-to-air refueler was sent to the U.S. for maintenance. The 707 was introduced into the IAF in the 1970s and 1980s, and as one of the oldest planes in the IAF’s fleet, it must be recertified annually.
IAI will consolidate its non-military divisions into a new Civil Aviation organization, ahead of a partial privatization planned for 2016. The company’s existing Bedek Aviation group, Commercial Aircraft group, and Engineering group will create the backbone of the new firm.
Pilot Cadets began training exercises on the M-346 “Lavi” earlier this month, replacing the IAF Skyhawk. The skills IAF students learn in the Lavi can be applied to the F-15 and F-16, which have similar flight capabilities.
The M-346 Lavi (Photo: IAF)
To protect against the ISIS, Saudi Arabia is working to quickly construct a new security fence along its southern border with Yemen. The 600-mile barrier will run from Jordan to Kuwait and will separate the kingdom from Iraq. Built-in defenses along Saudi Arabia’s northern border include a sand bank to slow oncoming vehicles and two tall razor wire chain link fences. Forty watch towers dotting the perimeter include high tech Airbus Spexer radar arrays and day/night cameras. Two-hundred forty rapid response armor vehicles and 10 surveillance vans can also be deployed to engage infiltrators.
Germany’s national security council halted all military sales to Saudi Arabia in late January, citing “instability in the region.” Some orders have been deferred indefinitely while others have been rejected.
The first shipment of Saudi-funded, French-supplied weapons will not be delivered to the Lebanese armed forces until March. In all, Paris will supply Beirut with over $3 billion of equipment specifically focused on counter-terrorism capacity building.
Canada has begun integrating technology used in Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system into its electrical grid. The Canada-Israel Energy Science and Technology Fund will start using the “same algorithms that help Iron Dome respond to complex inputs quickly and efficiently” to monitor and manage its electricity grid.
South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) selected Israel Aerospace Industries’ (IAI) Heron drone as part of a project to upgrade the country’s UAV program. “We comprehensively evaluated price, capability, operational suitability, T&C and selected the equipment that has a higher score,” said DAPA in a statement.
Due to heightened tensions with Hezbollah and Iran, Israel’s Homefront Command is accelerating the deployment of its C4I interoperability network. The system, which allows “military and civilian emergency responders to share real-time video, maps, messages and other data” on a single network, will likely be certified by the government without completing a large operational exercise scheduled for March. Seperately, Elbit Systems won a series of multiyear contracts worth $117 to upgrade the military’s C4I network with more bandwidth for interoperable communications.
Thirty-one Spanish soldiers accompanied the arrival of a Patriot missile battery to Incirlik Air Base in Adana, Turkey – a NATO facility – earlier this month. A total of 150 troops from Spain will relieve a contingent of Dutch soldiers at six already deployed launchers. The Spanish unit is expected to be stationed near the Syrian border for one year, along with troops already deployed from the U.S. and Germany.
Smoke and flames rise over a hill near the Syrian town of Kobani after a coalition airstrike last October. (Photo: Reuters)
With the help of coalition airstrikes, Kurdish forces pushed ISIS fighters out of the Syrian border town of Kobani, according to local monitors. Sporadic fighting continues in the area and ISIS still controls other neighboring villages. Meanwhile, a new report suggests that ISIS could have as many as 3,000 members in sleeper cells that could target Western interests in Turkey.
The U.S. announced it would deploy 400 troops to Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Qatar to train vetted Syrian opposition fighters. Pentagon officials estimate 5,000 recruits can be trained the first year at a cost of less than $500 million. The UK will also send troops to train rebels opposed to ISIS.
Russian media suggested that Moscow might deliver the long-promised S-300 air defense missile system to Iran. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu recently visited Tehran and signed an agreement with the Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier to boost defense cooperation. In 2010, Russia canceled an agreement to send S-300 batteries to Iran amid new UN sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
Russia’s Admiralty Shipyards plans to begin work this year on two new Varshavyanka-class diesel-electric submarines for Algeria. A contract to build the ships was signed last year and delivery is slated for 2018. Four other Russian subs are already in service with Algerian Navy.