Feb 09, 2016 00:18 UTC
Another milestone was made last Friday for the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA
) Tejas fighter. The Indian jet successfully test fired
a Derby Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM) for the first time in a non-intercept mode, as part of a series of weapons trials needed to gain Final Operational Clearance (FOC). The trials will also see the Close Combat Missile (CCM) Python-5 missile tested. The Tejas' weapons system will also include Paveway and Griffin Laser Guided Bombs (LBGs), the Russian made R-73 missile and Gsh-23 gun.
India’s Light Combat Aircraft program is meant to boost its aviation industry, but it must also solve a pressing military problem. The IAF’s fighter strength has been declining as the MiG-21s that form the bulk of its fleet are lost in crashes, or retired due to age and wear. Most of India’s other Cold War vintage aircraft face similar problems.
In response, some MiG-21s have been modernized to MiG-21 ‘Bison’ configuration, and other current fighter types are undergoing modernization programs of their own. The IAF’s hope is that they can maintain an adequate force until the multi-billion dollar 126+ plane MMRCA competition delivers replacements, and more SU-30MKIs arrive from HAL. Which still leaves India without an affordable fighter solution. MMRCA can replace some of India’s mid-range fighters, but what about the MiG-21s? The MiG-21 Bison program adds years of life to those airframes, but even so, they’re likely to be gone by 2020.
That’s why India’s own Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) project is so important to the IAF’s future prospects. It’s also why India’s rigid domestic-only policies are gradually being relaxed, in order to field an operational and competitive aircraft. Even with that help, the program’s delays are a growing problem for the IAF. Meanwhile, the west’s near-abandonment of the global lightweight fighter market opens a global opportunity, if India can seize it with a compelling and timely product.
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Feb 04, 2016 00:18 UTC
India has received
the final batch of three Mi-17V-5 military transport helicopters from Russia, bringing the total to 151. The models are the most technically advanced of Rostec Corporation's Mi-8/17 type including a KNEI-8 avionics suite. The new suite replaces the previously used multiple systems indicators with four large multi-functional that are easy to read and reduce the intensity of pilot’s workload. The completion of the sale comes as both India and Russia continue negotiations
for forty-eight more of the helicopters, which are to be used in a variety of operations such as in deserts and mountains, matching the wide variety of environments found in India.
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Guest article by Sebastian Sobolev and Aleksandar D. Jovovic
Some years back, global defense companies flocked to the Indian defense market in search of opportunities that could offset declining home budgets. India’s attractiveness as a market was understandable: the country was embarked on an ambitious military modernization program to mitigate perceived threats from neighboring Pakistan and to compete with China in the maritime, air and land domains.
These initiatives ballooned military procurement accounts, which grew at an annual rate of 14% between 2005 and 2010. Yet contractors soon found themselves frustrated by opaque bureaucratic procurement processes, onerous domestic offset and work share requirements, and seemingly endless delays. With the emergence of a new government, what’s ahead for India?
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Feb 03, 2016 00:18 UTC
French procurement agency DGA announced the finalizing
of an order with Lockheed Martin for four C-130 aircraft. The models to be delivered are two standard C-130J transports, and two KC-130Js equipped for in-flight refueling of helicopters. While the exact figure of the deal is unknown, the core value of the deal is around $355 million, slightly more than the $340 million set aside in the revised multiyear defense budget for acquiring four C-130s. The orders will plug a growing capability gap in the French military caused by the Airbus A400M program. Development of the multi-purpose A400M has seen delays in delivery
as Airbus looks to fix technical problems over inflight helicopter refueling capabilities, and for paratroopers to be able to jump from the side door.
RAAF C-130J-30, flares
The C-130 Hercules remains one of the longest-running aerospace manufacturing programs of all time. Since 1956, over 40 models and variants have served as the tactical airlift backbone for over 50 nations. The C-130J looks similar, but the number of changes almost makes it a new aircraft. Those changes also created issues; the program has been the focus of a great deal of controversy in America – and even of a full program restructuring in 2006. Some early concerns from critics were put to rest when the C-130J demonstrated in-theater performance on the front lines that was a major improvement over its C-130E/H predecessors. A valid follow-on question might be: does it break the bottleneck limitations that have hobbled a number of multi-billion dollar US Army vehicle development programs?
C-130J customers now include Australia, Britain, Canada, Denmark, India, Israel, Iraq, Italy, Kuwait, Norway, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Tunisia, and the United States. American C-130J purchases are taking place under both annual budgets and supplemental wartime funding, in order to replace tactical transport and special forces fleets that are flying old aircraft and in dire need of major repairs. This DID FOCUS Article describes the C-130J, examines the bottleneck issue, covers global developments for the C-130J program, and looks at present and emerging competitors.
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Jan 26, 2016 00:19 UTC
Japan and France are the front runners
in providing Australia with its next submarine fleet. Germany's ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems had also been considered, however recent worries over technical concerns may have them out of the running for the $34.55 billion contract. Japan has offered a variant of its 4,000-ton Soryu boats made by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries, where as France’s state-controlled naval contractor DCNS has proposed a diesel-electric version of its 5,000-ton Barracuda nuclear-powered submarine. The final decision will be made within the next six months ahead of Australian elections, with a slowing economy to be the main issue among voters. All competitors have agreed to build the new fleet in South Australian shipyards.
Bridge to the future?
In its 2009 White Paper, Australia’s Department of Defence and Labor Party government looked at the progress being made in ship killing surveillance-strike complexes, and at their need to defend large sea lanes, as key drivers shaping future navies. These premises are well accepted, but the White Paper’s conclusion was a surprise. It recommended a doubling of Australia’s submarine fleet to 12 boats by 2030-2040, all of which would be a new successor design that would replace the RAN’s Collins Class submarines.
The surprise, and controversy, stem from Australia’s recent experiences. The Collins Class was designed with the strong cooperation of ThyssenKrupp’s Swedish Kockums subsidiary, and built in Australia by state-owned ASC. The class has had a checkered career, including significant difficulties with its combat systems, issues with acoustic signature and propulsion, major cost growth to A$ 5+ billion, and schedule slippage. Worse still, reports indicated that the RAN can only staff 2 of its 6 submarines. High-level attention led to a report and recommendations to improve the force, but whether they will work remains to be seen. Meanwhile, the nature of Australia’s SEA 1000 future submarine project – and its eventual cost – remain unclear, with estimated costs in the A$ 36-44 billion range. This FOCUS article covers Australia’s options, decisions, and plans, as their future submarine program slowly gets underway.
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Jan 22, 2016 00:18 UTC
France and Australia may look to collaborate
on investing in a special forces variant of the NH90 attack helicopter. A common version and shared financial expenditure for the limited amounts of the helicopter required would help slash development costs for both countries. Both France and Australia have made substantial orders of the NH90 with seventy-four and forty-seven to be delivered respectively. A small portion of these orders will be developed to carry out special missions with requirements likely to encompass a central trapdoor for fast roping, a rear door gun, and changes to the communications suite.
NH90: TTH & NFH
The NH90 emerged from a requirement that created a NATO helicopter development and procurement agency in 1992 and, at almost the same time, established NH Industries (62.5% EADS Eurocopter, 32.5% AgustaWestland, and 5% Stork Fokker) to build the hardware. The NATO Frigate Helicopter was originally developed to fit between light naval helicopters like AW’s Lynx or Eurocopter’s Panther, and medium-heavy naval helicopters like the European EH101. A quick look at the NFH design showed definite possibilities as a troop transport helicopter, however, and soon the NH90 project had branched into 2 versions, with more to follow.
The nearest equivalent would be Sikorsky’s popular H-60 Seahawk/ Black Hawk family, but the NH90 includes a set of innovative features that give it some distinguishing selling points. Its combination of corrosion-proofing, lower maintenance, greater troop or load capacity, and the flexibility offered by that rear ramp have made the NH90 a popular global competitor.
As many business people discover the hard way, however, success can be almost as dangerous as failure. NH Industries has had great difficulty ramping up production fast enough to meet promised deliveries, which has left several buyers upset. Certification and acceptance have also been slow, with very few NH90s in service over a decade after the first contracts were signed. Booked orders have actually been sliding backward over the last year, and currently stand at around 500 machines, on behalf of 14 nations.
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Jan 20, 2016 00:19 UTC
Latest updates[?]: Testing
of a new blade for the V-22 Osprey
is to take place after the current rotor blades fitted to the aircraft were deemed too labor intensive to manufacture. The new prop rotor blade has been designed as part of the manufacturer Bell's Advanced Technology Tiltrotor (ATTR) program, which aims to reduce production costs for the aircraft. The test has been derived from ongoing development work on the next-generation V-280 with flight testing of the new modified components due to last between 2017-2018.
In March 2008, the Bell Boeing Joint Project Office in Amarillo, TX received a $10.4 billion modification that converted the previous N00019-07-C-0001 advance acquisition contract to a fixed-price-incentive-fee, multi-year contract. The new contract rose to $10.92 billion, and was used to buy 143 MV-22 (for USMC) and 31 CV-22 (Air Force Special Operations) Osprey aircraft, plus associated manufacturing tooling to move the aircraft into full production. A follow-on MYP-II contract covered another 99 Ospreys (92 MV-22, 7 CV-22) for $6.524 billion. Totals: $17.444 billion for 235 MV-22s and 38 CV-22s, an average of $63.9 million each.
The V-22 tilt-rotor program has been beset by controversy throughout its 20-year development period. Despite these issues, and the emergence of competitive but more conventional compound helicopter technologies like Piasecki’s X-49 Speedhawk and Sikorsky’s X2, the V-22 program continues to move forward. This DID Spotlight article looks at the V-22’s multi-year purchase contract from 2008-12 and 2013-2017, plus associated contracts for key V-22 systems, program developments, and research sources.
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Jan 15, 2016 00:19 UTC
The US Navy's San Antonio class warships may be fitted
with missile defense radars and lasers according the a spokesperson for Huntington Ingalls. Discussions are apparently ongoing to have the system installed on LPD vessels as they have ample available space to store and create the energy necessary to run the radar and weapons. Such an addition would greatly increase the defensive capabilities of the amphibious transport ship, and certainly fits in line with the Navy's future plans to make all their vessels more well rounded and capable of operating defensively and offensively.
LPD-17 San Antonio class amphibious assault support vessels are just entering service with the US Navy, and 11 ships of this class are eventually slated to replace up to 41 previous ships. Much like their smaller predecessors, their mission is to embark, transport, land, and support elements of a US Marine Corps Landing Force. The difference is found in these ships’ size, their cost, and the capabilities and technologies used to perform those missions. Among other additions, this new ship is designed to operate the Marines’ new MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, alongside the standard well decks for hovercraft and amphibious armored personnel carriers.
While its design incorporates notable advances, the number of serious issues encountered in this ship class have been much higher than usual, and more extensive. The New Orleans shipyard to which most of this contract was assigned appears to be part of the problem. Initial ships have been criticized, often, for sub-standard workmanship, and it took 2 1/2 years after the initial ship of class was delivered before any of them could be sent on an operational cruise. Whereupon the USS San Antonio promptly found itself laid up Bahrain, due to oil leaks. It hasn’t been the only ship of its class hurt by serious mechanical issues. Meanwhile, costs are almost twice the originally promised amounts, reaching over $1.6 billion per ship – 2 to 3 times as much as many foreign LPDs like the Rotterdam Class, and more than 10 times as much as Singapore’s 6,600 ton Endurance Class LPD. This article covers the LPD-17 San Antonio Class program, including its technologies, its problems, and ongoing contracts and events.
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Jan 13, 2016 00:19 UTC
Remington has completed
its $40.1 million delivery of M4 carbine rifles to the Philippine Army ahead of schedule. Over 56,000 of the rifles have been delivered in total, and will replace the antiquated 1960s era variant of the M-16 currently in use by the PA. Prior to distribution, a third of the new arms will undergo mandatory ballistic testing while the M-16s will be distributed to reservists.
An M4 – or is it?
The 5.56mm M-16 has been the USA’s primary battle rifle since the Vietnam war, undergoing changes into progressive versions like the M16A4 widely fielded by the US Marine Corps, “Commando” carbine versions, etc. The M4 Carbine is the latest member of the M16 family, offering a shorter weapon more suited to close-quarters battle, or to units who would find a full-length rifle too bulky.
In 2006 an Army solicitation for competitive procurement of 5.56mm carbine designs was withdrawn, once sole-source incumbent Colt dropped its prices. The DoD’s Inspector General weighed in with a critical report, but the Army dissented, defending its practices as a sound negotiating approach that saved the taxpayers money. As it turns out, there’s a sequel. A major sequel that has only grown bigger with time.
The M4/M16 family is both praised and criticized for its current performance in the field. In recent years, the M4 finished dead last in a sandstorm reliability test, against 3 competitors that include a convertible M4 variant. Worse, the 4th place M4 had over 3.5x more jams than the 3rd place finisher. Was that a blip in M4 buys, or a breaking point? The Army moved forward with an “Individual Carbine” competition, but as the results started to show the M4 again lagging – even with ammunition changed to a round specially formulated to make the M4 shine – the Army abruptly stopped the process once again, stating that the performance superiority of the competing gun was not better to a degree making it worthwhile. The Army stated after the tests that only a result that was twice as good as the existing gun’s performance would signify an actionable performance difference.
More recently, the Marines have considered adding
various after-market upgrades to the platform in order to increase accuracy, learning from the private sector and competitive shooting circuit what appears to be providing the best bang.
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Jan 06, 2016 00:04 UTC
Saudi Arabia is to coordinate
with Morocco on joint training, military exercises, and exchange of expertise in different areas related to the defense industry. The Agreement on Military & Technical Operations will see Saudi Arabia help finance Moroccan armament acquisition and develop a national “embryonic” military industry. $22 billion will be invested between now and 2019, and several companies such as Bombardier, Airbus, Safran and Thales are to open operations in Morocco in 2016.
French Mirage F1s
Morocco’s combat air force currently flies 2 squadrons of old F-5 fighters, and 2 squadrons of only slightly newer Mirage F1s. T-37 light jets serve as high-end trainers. Their neighbor and rival Algeria flies MiG-23s of similar vintage, but the Force Aérienne Algérienne also flies SU-24 Fencer and SU-25 Frogfoot strike aircraft, plus even more modern and capable MiG-29s, and is receiving multi-role SU-30MKAs as part of a multi-billion dollar weapons deal with Russia.
Morocco can’t beat that array. Instead, they’re looking for replacement aircraft and upgrades that will prevent complete overmatch, and provide a measure of security. Initially, they looked to France, but key reversals have handed most of this modernization work to the United States.
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Jan 04, 2016 00:18 UTC
Next » Latest updates[?]:
After eight years of negotiations, Algeria seems to have formally ordered
Su-34 fighters from Russia. The procurement is said to be for about twelve of the aircraft's export variant, the Su-32, to replace the aging MiG-25s in service. The announcement was made in an interview with director of Novosibirsk Aircraft Production Association, Chkalov Sergey Smirnov.
A February 2006 report noted that a $4 billion arms sale was brewing between Algeria and Russia involving fighter aircraft, tanks, and air defense systems, with the possibility of additional equipment. Those options came through the following month, as a high-level Russian delegation in Algeria closed up to $7.5 billion worth of arms contracts. The Algerian package remains post-Soviet Russia’s largest single arms deal. As an instructive comparison, annual Russian weapons export orders from all customers were just $5-6 billion per year in 2004 and 2005.
Reuters South Africa quoted Rosoboronexport chief Sergei Chemezov as saying that “Practically all types of arms which we have are included, anti-missile systems, aviation, sea and land technology.” The actual contents of that deal were murky, though DID offers triangulation among several sources to help sort out the confusion. A number of these deals have evolved over time, and other public-source information has helped to sharpen the picture a bit. The subsequent crash of Algeria’s MiG-29 deal, and its ripple effects, are also discussed.
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