Sep 13, 2012 17:36 UTC
In the aftermath of the 2006 war between Iran/Syria proxies Hezbollah and Israel, after action reviews and assessments began to trickle in. While war is inseparable in practice from political strategy, and the Olmert government’s interference in military planning & operations was significant and negative, DID has searched for analyses that offer more of a techno-tactical assessment. A picture has begun to emerge, as independent evaluations were made of the 2 forces’ effectiveness.
Hezbollah can safely be characterized as a state within a state and was aided by Iranian forces. Accordingly, this conflict featured most of the accoutrements of full state conflicts: Armed UAVs (apparently used by both sides), air and missile strikes with corresponding air defense activity, anti-ship cruise missiles, tanks vs. advanced anti-armor missiles (incl. AT-13s and Milans), etc. As such the performance of the two forces and their equipment is of serious interest to defense observers around the world. The fact that public assessments are still being published in 2012 is solid evidence of that interest.
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Jul 22, 2012 20:14 UTC
The Israeli Air Force has known since December 2008 that its fleet of A-4 Skyhawk jet trainers and light attack aircraft would leave service. It took until July 2012 to sign a contract for the Skyhawk’s successor, despite justifiable complaints from South Korea that the process lacked full professional formality. The first M-346 Master trainers should begin arriving in Israel around mid-2014, where they will be operated by the IAI/Elbit “TOR” joint venture as a public-private partnership service to the IAF.
Italy’s M-346 eventually beat KAI’s supersonic T-50, thanks to a combination of air force evaluations, geo-political considerations, and countervailing industrial offers. For most countries, “industrial offsets” mean sub-contracting work in their country, sometimes even in sectors of their economy outside of the defense industry. Israel’s weapons industry is far more developed, however, and so their advanced trainer competition saw “industrial offsets” as the purchase of full-fledged Israeli weapons systems. South Korea was already a customer for Israeli radars, UAVs, and missiles, and was seen as the favorite thanks to their relationships and their jet. Italy was a much smaller customer, but relations between Silvio Berlusconi and the Jewish state had been good for a long time. By October 2011, reports surfaced that Italy had made Israel a very impressive offer – one that would make Italy a major export customer for strategic systems, even as it equalized purchases on both sides. In the end, it was an offer the Israelis couldn’t, and didn’t, refuse.
The deal’s components are as follows:
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Jun 25, 2012 14:29 UTC
In June 2012, Elbit Systems Ltd. announced a $62 million contract to upgrade the South Korean ROKAF’s 12 C-130H and stretched C-130H-30 transport aircraft. The 4-year project will be performed in conjunction with Korea’s KAI, and will give the aircraft a modern cockpit and communications electronics, including a “glass cockpit” whose digital displays will replace many of the crew’s analog gauges. Elbit did not mention whether the upgrades would give the ROKAF’s planes full Global Air Traffic Management clearance to fly in civil airspace past 2015.
A number of countries are busy modifying their older C-130s with modern avionics, which can be a rather involved and expensive undertaking. The USA canceled its own C-130 AMP program over cost issues, while Sweden completed a similar program of avionics modernization and civil GATM clearance for its fleet. Elbit itself already had experience with cockpit upgrades for Romania’s C-130 Hercules fleet, and for Brazil’s C-95 Badeirante transports. They even have some experience with the ROKAF’s Hercules fleet, as a 2009 contract had already equipped the aircraft with Israeli self-defense electronics.
May 08, 2012 11:15 UTC
India has not been left out of the global UAV push. The country operates Israeli Searcher tactical UAVs, and Heron Medium Altitude, Long Endurance (MALE) UAVs, placing an additional Heron order in 2005. It has also undertaken development programs for a smaller UAV, the “Nishant”. With its “Rustom” program, however, India hopes to offer a UAV in the Heron/ Predator/ Watchkeeper class of MALE UAVs.
It had also hoped to begin to change a culture and tradition of wholly state-owned development of military hardware, which has not always performed well, or served India’s needs. A recent award has selected a winner, and moved the project forward. It may also serve as a reminder that bureaucracies are very difficult to change.
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May 02, 2012 14:00 UTC
Flight International reports that Finland has picked Aeronautics Defence Systems’ Orbiter 2 UAV as its future tactical UAV, beating BlueBird’s SkyLite B for a likely EUR 23 million, 55-system contract. The contract signing is expected soon, and once that happens, Finland will join its Baltic Sea neighbor Poland as an Orbiter UAV customer.
Despite their small size and weight of under 10 kg, both systems require a vehicle-towed or mounted catapult for launch, and use parachute recovery. They offer similar performance ranges just above the mini-UAV class, with endurance of around 3.5 hours, and payloads that involve just a small surveillance and laser designation turret. A slightly larger Orbiter 3 variant is available that would have doubled endurance to 7 hours, and increased control range to over 100 km, but Finland appears not to have picked it. BlueBird touted the Skylite’s high-wind, all-weather capability, while the Orbiter can extend its operating control range to 80 km using ground data terminals. In either case, Finland is picking a small UAV with limited range and capabilities, in exchange for higher numbers at relatively low cost. Given the country’s dispersed defense doctrine, it’s a choice that makes military as well as financial sense.
Mar 21, 2012 19:27 UTC
In March 2012, Peru announced the winner of its competition to upgrade its air defenses. The country’s air defense needs are most sharply focused on the relatively narrow border with Chile, but the country does have borders with Ecuador, Colombia, and Brazil, and has facilities it may wish to protect. Mobile and portable systems have been a priority for Peru, and their current architecture relies on a combination of upgraded SA-3/S-125 medium range missiles, Russian/Chinese derivatives of the very short range SA-16/18 man-portable missile, and guns.
Russian and Chinese firms competed for the deal, but the winner of its $140 million competition was the TRIAD consortium of Poland’s Bumar, Israel’s RAFAEL, and Northrop Grumman from the USA.
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