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Brazilian Nuclear Sub Program Inches Forward

Brazil has long dreamed of building its own nuclear-powered submarines. Initial work began in the 1970s, but the program did not get off the ground until the last decade. In 2008, Brazil partnered with France for the construction of conventional and nuclear boats. Development work with French firm Naval Group began in 2012, but the project has suffered delays due to fiscal issues. Preliminary design work reportedly wrapped up in 2017, with detailed design slated to begin in mid-2018. A contract for the start of construction on the hull of the Alvaro Alberto was let in November 2021.

The Alvaro Alberto class (an artist’s impression at left) is about 330 feet (100 m) long with a beam of 32 feet (10 m). It will displace about 6,000 tons and accommodate a crew of 100. A domestically developed 48-MW pressurized-water reactor supports a top speed of around 26 knots. She is expected to be armed with French F21 torpedoes and SM 39 Block 2 Exocet cruise missiles, launched from six 533-mm torpedo tubes. The sub can also carry mines. The Alvaro Alberto is scheduled to be commissioned in 2034.

Aging Air Force Eagles Get New Eyes

The U.S. Air Force fielded a new infrared search-and-track (IRST) pod on its F-15C Eagle fighter jets earlier this year. The Lockheed Martin Legion pod features the same AN/ASG-34 infrared sensor used by the Navy’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and an advanced processor. It provides high-fidelity detection and tracking for aerial targets. The pod can accommodate additional sensors, such as data links, synthetic aperture radar or electronic warfare systems, potentially providing a multirole sensor suite without requiring aircraft or system modifications. 

Development of the Legion pod (at right) began around 2012 and it was first displayed by Lockheed in February 2015. Initial testing took place on F-15C and F-16 fighters. The Air Force selected the system for its requirement for an IRST pod for F-15Cs in September 2017. The service had a requirement for 130 systems. Initial deliveries of production systems were slated for 2018. Testing and integration work on the F-16 continued. The Air Force declared initial operational capability for Legion pods on F-15Cs in January 2022.

Arquus Proposes Armored Beetle for French Army Requirement

Arquus has developed a new light armored vehicle for the French army’s armored engagement support vehicle (VBAE) program. The Scarabee light armored vehicle is designed to operate over a variety of terrain, including enclosed and urban environments. It has a compact design, with four crewmembers carried in a diamond configuration with the driver at the front. A hybrid propulsion system consists of a diesel engine and an electric generator. The Scarabee can run solely on the generator to reduce acoustic and thermal signature.

The Scarabee (at left) can be armed with a variety of remote weapon stations or ring mounts for 7.62-mm to 14.5-mm machine guns or 20-mm to 30-mm cannons or anti-tank guided missile launchers. A variety of sensor and battle management systems can be integrated. Development began in 2017. Arquus displayed the vehicle publicly for the first time at the Paris Air Show in June 2019. In 2021, company officials said the Scarabee was ready for production and export and that several countries had expressed interest in the vehicle. 

Lockheed Continues to Extend Range of JASSM
A number of aviation records have been updated this month, including the AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, which is increasingly being built in the extended-range configuration; the Chinese KJ-2000 airborne early warning aircraft; Israel’s SkyStar family of aerostats; the Austrian DART family of basic trainers; the U.S. Proteus experimental aircraft; the Chilean CB-500 cluster munition; and U.S. CBU-24 and CBU-52 cluster bombs.

The latest information is also available for ground vehicles such as the Russian BMD-3 airborne combat vehicle; South Korean 20-mm Daewoo Vulcan air defense system; India’s recently inducted Kestrel amphibious combat vehicle; and the U.S. M47, M48 and M60 Patton tanks.

Ankara Modernizes Military with Indigenous Gear
Turkey continues to build its domestic defense industry, with the indigenously developed Bayraktar TB2 drone capturing headlines for its performance in Ukraine. The Albania order of battle has also been updated.

There is also new information on the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, which seeks to establish an independent Uighur state in Central Asia.

New Carrier Poses Challenges for Chinese Navy
China launched its third aircraft carrier, the Fujian, in June, its first with a flat deck and catapult launching system. Reuben Johnson reviews the challenges the new carrier poses for the Chinese navy as well as the U.S. in his report, “China’s Growing Carrier Force.”

In May, Reuben Johnson attended a Saab demonstration of its latest portable anti-tank weapons in Sweden. He provides the details in his piece, “Saab Shows Off Its Portable Weapons.”