Nov 25, 2007 18:41 UTC
By 2005, QinetiQ (pron. “kinetic”) was a vital UK defense research firm whose owners included the British government and The Carlyle Group. This was a transformation from its previous role as part of Britain’s DERA government research agency, but relations remain close and the firm is involved with a wide variety of UK defense projects. DID has covered a number of projects in which QinetiQ has been involved.
As a second step in line with the UK’s 1998 Strategic Review that pressed for the movement of defense research to the private sector, QinetiQ announced on January 12, 2006 that it was headed for an IPO. Each of the current owners would sell a part of their holding in connection with the Global Offer, which was originally expected to raise gross primary proceeds of about GBP 150 million for the MoD, plus significant secondary proceeds from the sales by the MOD and the Carlyle shareholders.
The IPO ended up raising over GBP 600 million from a partial sale of shares, but now a recent NAO report concerning has ignited sharp political controversy…
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Nov 25, 2007 14:45 UTC
Piranha IIIC 8×8 –
Brigade C2 vehicle
(click to view larger)
In January 2007, “Swiss Converting 160 More Piranha Panzerjaegers” covered the conversion of 160 Piranha I 6×6 vehicles from tank hunters with TOW missiles, to light battalion command vehicles ready for the new Swiss battlefield C3I system FIS HE (Fuhrungsinformationssystem der Stufe Heer, now in its 2nd development stage). Those vehicles do not involve major structural modifications, unlike the Brigade level Piranha IIIC C2 vehicle shown above.
Now General Dynamics subsidiary MOWAG GmbH in Kreuzlingen, Switzerland has announced an order from Swiss Army for 26 PIRANHA IIIC 8×8 APCs, to be be manufactured during 2010-2011.
Out of the ordered vehicles, 6 will be delivered as armored brigade command vehicles, 8 as armored communication vehicles, and 12 as so-called “armored Radio Access Point vehicles with increased functionality.” Close to 900 Piranha (LAV) family vehicles currently serve in various configurations within the Swiss Army. MOWAG release.
Nov 25, 2007 14:21 UTC
BAE’s SEP: out
In the wake of BAE Systems’ SEP vehicle’s elimination from the Future Rapid Effects System-Utility next-generation armored personnel carrier finals (Nexter’s VBCI, GD MOWAG’s Piranha V, ARTEC’s Boxer) and their loss of the Systems of Systems Integrator role to a Boeing-Thales partnership, Defense News recently quoted BAE Systems Land Systems Managing Director Andrew Davies as saying that the firm “must win the last piece of the FRES utility program – the integration-and-build contract – or consider shutting the Newcastle plant.” That may well be a calculated overstatement, but the firm who had built over 95% of the UK’s armored vehicle fleet has definitely fallen short of its own and others’ expectations thus far.
While the BAE Hagglunds CV90 tracked vehicle is reportedly on offer for the FRES Reconnaissance and specialty slot, the integration and build portion of the GBP 15-17 billion FRES program would appear to be BAE’s main focus at the moment. The firm has just unveiled its team, which consists of:
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Nov 25, 2007 12:06 UTC
Catching the wire
Northrop Grumman Corp. Electronic Systems in Sykesville, MD received a $9.3 million order against a previously awarded indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract (N68335-02-D-0023) for 10 Valve Actuation and Control (VAC) system production units: 4 systems for CVN 77 George H.W. Bush under construction, 5 systems for CVN 70 USS Carl Vinson which is undergoing a major overhaul, and 1 shore-based system for training. The VAC system is intended to replace the existing control and actuation system of the Mark 7 Aircraft Arresting Gear that stops high-speed aircraft following the controlled crash of a carrier landing. As Navy Matters puts it:
“The current USN standard is the Mark 7 Mod 3, however starting with the USS Ronald Reagan [DID: CVN 76] the USN is moving to a new three-wire Mark 7 Mod 4 arresting gear design (actually four arresting gear engines but with two of them interchangeable as the barricade engine). The new system uses polycore cables designed to withstand more traps than steel cables and extra-large pulleys to reduce maintenance and man-hours, and provides the capability to land potentially larger and heavier aircraft. It is hoped that the new design will reduce maintenance requirements by half by increasing the time interval between inspections and overhauls, in addition, the costs associated with replacing these high-wear components will be reduced. Another benefit of this system will be that the arresting gear engines will be more accessible to flight line crews.”
Work will be performed in Sykesville, MD and is expected to be complete in May 2009. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Lakehurst, NJ issued the contract.
Nov 22, 2007 15:24 UTC
It’s that time of year again. For those of you celebrating Thanksgiving, or who just want a feast, the US Defense Commissary Agency has some tips for cooking turkey, and some recipes.
DID offers thanks to all of our readers, and to all American and allied soldiers in uniform. We will return on Monday.
Nov 20, 2007 17:04 UTC
The EU’s European Defense Agency has been busy during its short lifetime, attempting to create more transparent competition with fewer set-asides in European defense spending, consolidate national programs into international ones, work to develop technology and standards for UAV civil certification, and get some level of agreement regarding future areas of defense investment. Now a deal reached on Nov 19/07 will see the EDA budget take a significant jump from EUR 22 million (2007) to EUR 32 million in 2008. France had pushed to give the agency a 3-year budget, but Britain vetoed the proposal. A Reuters report quotes a senior British official as saying that “We don’t back a budget without seeing what we are paying for…”
The ministers pointed to “existing gaps” in strategic transport (NATO C-17 and the delayed A400M programs), force protection, and intelligence (vid. AGS et. al.) as key focus areas they hope the EDA will pursue. The ministers also set a series of “collective but voluntary” pledges, as part of a “framework for a joint Strategy on Defence Research & Technology.” Pledges include grow spending on new equipment from 19.4% to 20%, growing spending on multinational programs from 21% to 35%, and growing spending on R&D from 1.2% to 2%, with collaborative R&D spending doubling from 10% of that to 20%. Even so, those pledges to “spend more, spend better and spend more together,” are only useful if they are backed by action. This is an issue that has been a complaint in other venues as well, amidst future projections that show overall spending dropping or holding steady over the next 7 years. EDA release | EDA head report to the Council [PDF] | eu Council 2008 Guidelines for the EDA [PDF] | EU Observer story | DID multi-link Spotlight Article: “EU Procurement Challenges & Defense Weakness Debated“.
Nov 20, 2007 15:41 UTC
In October 2007, “Get SMArt: Control for Aussie Artillery” covered their purchase of the German Diehl/Rheinmetall GIWS(Gesellschaft fur Intelligente Wirksysteme mbH) partnership’s SMArt 155 artillery shell. It’s designed to kill enemy armored vehicles by releasing a pair of can-shaped projectiles that descend by parachute, look for enemy vehicles below, then fire an Explosively-Formed Projectile (EFP) – an explosive charge that turns the concave metal plate they carry into an impromptu tank shell that rips through weak top armor.
Britain has also been looking to update its artillery with new munitions, and the Ballistic Sensor Fused Munition (BSFM) program featured GIWS’ SMArt 155 against BAE Bofors’ BONUS sensor-fized shell to equip Britain’s new AS90 Braveheart self-propelled tracked howitzers. GIWS won that competition, and development of the BSFM will now begin under the UK MoD’s Artillery Systems Integrated Project Team (IPT), integrating requested components and making changes. Missiles and Batteries Ltd (MSB) in Scotland, for instance, have been awarded a GBP 1.5 million (about $3.1 million) contract to produce the required shock-resistant batteries.
What, no blue
BSFM is the first component of the GBP 1.5 billion (about $3.07 billion) Category A Indirect Fire Precision Attack (IFPA) procurement program, which envisages a mix of 5 munitions acquired over time. IFPA aims to use a mix of shells and rockets, in order to give British forces the ability attack and destroy high value targets including enemy armor at ranges up to 300km, around the clock, and in all weather conditions. The program is scheduled to build to full capability by 2017.
Nov 20, 2007 13:16 UTC
Germany’s CH-53G medium-heavy helicopters are already slated for a EUR 520 million upgrade, as Germany extends their useful lives until the HLH program’s replacements are ready around 2020. Some of those CH-53Gs are currently serving in Afghanistan as the only helicopter assets available to ISAF’s Regional Command North, which encompasses 9 of the easier Afghan provinces and contains Provincial Reconstruction Teams from Germany, Hungary, Norway and Sweden. Because they are ISAF RCN’s only helicopter assets, the CH-53Gs normally fly as a pair for mutual support, further limiting their reach.
At present, the 2 door-mounted 7.62mm machine guns mounted in the CH-53Gs aren’t considered powerful enough to deliver effective suppressive fire in an ambush situation. The Afghan helicopters will be among the first to receive an armament upgrade in 2008, which begins by adding a .50 caliber/ 12.7mm M3M machine gun. It’s also mounted on American CH-53s, where it’s known as the GAU-21. Phase 2 of the upgrade will also see the CH-53Gs’ door guns replaced with FN Herstal’s M3Ms. It isn’t much, but it’s something – and more than they currently have available. Aviation Week Ares.
Nov 20, 2007 12:10 UTC
Small business qualifier CSI Armoring in Miami, FL won the full delivery order amount of $7.8 million as part of a firm-fixed-price contract for Armored Sport Utility Vehicles. Work will be performed in Miami, FL and is expected to be complete by May 24/08. There were 6 bids solicited on Aug 13/07, and 14 bids were received by the Multi-National Security Transition Command – Iraq in Baghdad, Iraq (GS-07F-08-0001).
Nov 19, 2007 16:25 UTC
A-10A at Al Asad
The A-10C Thunderbolt (aka. Warthog, or Hog) close air support aircraft program has begun fielding aircraft for use in Iraq, where the new SADL data link and targeting pod + ROVER compatibility in particular have made a big difference in the air and on the ground. The A-10C is a deep refurbishing program that will take some time to perform all of the required conversions, however, and so the US Air National Guard & USAF Reserves are moving to field some of its key capabilities right now, via a quick A-10A+ upgrade that doesn’t involve redoing the wiring and power layout, changing the data bus, et. al.
That program was the obliquely-discussed subject of an October 2007 release from BAE Systems; after working with them, we’re able to explain the full program and its key benefits in more detail…
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