Jan 27, 2008 16:03 UTC
During the Cold War, NATO countries had a strong incentive to invest in minesweeper fleets, in order to keep their ports open to American reinforcements and cover key chokepoints that might be mined by Soviet submarines. With the demise of the Soviet Union, and the rise of remote-controlled UUVs and USVs that can be mounted on any ship, the perceived need for minesweeper ships has declined. The US Navy, for instance, will decommission all 12 of its 893 ton, fiberglass MHC-51 Osprey Class minesweepers by the end of FY 2008. So far, 8 of them have been sold to the Egyptian (MHC 60 & 61), Greek (MHC 52 & 53), Lithuanian (MHC 56 & 57), and Turkish (MHC 58 & 62) navies, even though the first ship was only christened in 1991.
With piracy rising sharply in the early 21st century, however, and land mines showing themselves to be the preferred tactic of islamists and other terrorists on land, some countries are connecting the dots and reassessing their post Cold War needs…
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Jan 27, 2008 13:53 UTC
Flowforming is an advanced cold forming process, used to manufacture dimensionally precise, seamless metal components in rounded shapes. The technology offers a number of advantages, including very high precision, the ability to use very thin walls or even variable thickness walls, refined grain structure and uniformly oriented texture that helps create higher yield and tensile strengths, and working with pre-hardened metals in ways that eliminate further grinding, machining, et. al. See flowforming animations.
On the materials side, Inconel 718 is a precipitation hardenable nickel-based steel alloy designed to display exceptionally high yield, tensile and creep-rupture properties at temperatures up to 1300Â°F. This alloy also has excellent weldability.
If you’re building mortar tubes that have to be light enough to carry, while containing and channeling the controlled explosions that send mortar bombs on their way, the attributes of flowforming and Inconel 718 make them an attractive combination. The US Marines certainly think so…
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Jan 24, 2008 17:16 UTC
The photo at the top of this article never fails to grab our readers’ attention. As it should. Taken on the front lines in Iraq, it depicts a v-hulled Force Protection Cougar (MRAP Class II) vehicle, shortly after a deeply buried land mine believed to contain over 200 pounds of explosives blew up under the vehicle. That’s a shocking big boom, and even MRAP vehicles do not guarantee protection against a blast that size. Indeed, US MRAP tests at Aberdeen Proving Ground are considered vicious because they use 30-50 pound charges – a test set that has failed at least 3 MRAP contenders. Amazingly, the Cougar in this picture did what it was designed to do, minimizing the impact of the blast by deflecting it to the smooth v-hull’s sides, rather than catching the full impact on a Hummer’s flat bottom and multiple “blast trap” niches. The engine was thrown over 100 feet from the vehicle – but the crew lived. The challenge then became removing the vehicle wreck, instead of finding enough crew remains to provide a burial.
This picture provides a certain level of perspective, as one contemplates the recent NY Times article “Hopes for Vehicle Questioned After Iraq Blast“. While Australia’s DoD has a standing “On the Record” section of the site that takes issue with media reports they believe to be misleading or flat out wrong, the US Department of Defense hasn’t quite caught up yet. It did issue a direct response in this case, however, and the contents are interesting…
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Jan 24, 2008 16:32 UTC
Naval Open Source Intelligence is a good set of quick links to international navy-related stories in the news. Each year, they also add a summary of their take on the most significant trends and items to their “Naval Year in Review” set. They’ve added the 2007 list, which includes competing sovereignty claims over the Northwest Passage, the Chinese satellite killer missile test, the “Anbar Awakening” movement in Iraq, the resurgence of the Russian Navy (hence our photo of a TU-26 Backfire bomber and an F-16), US Navy recommendations re: climate change, and what NOSINT sees as a growing crisis in U.S. Navy shipbuilding, as shown by the crumbling of the Littoral Combat Ship program.
The page includes Naval Year in Review lists that go all the way back to 2000. It’s one person’s opinion, but our readers many find it interesting.
ADDENDUM: We’ve had readers go back and forth with proposed corrections re: the F-16 in the picture: Dutch, or Norwegian. Reader Adriaan van der Sluijs has the most convincing argument, however:
“It’s the markings at the tail and the absence of the Dutch roundel. Moreover, the colour of the plane is lightish grey whereas the Dutch F-16s are darker two-tone grey. Point is that Dutch & Norwegian F-16s were built at Fokker, Amsterdam, Netherlands. The reg. number also is not in Dutch inventory.”
Jan 24, 2008 15:35 UTC
The growth of identity theft and related fraud has turned a spotlight on security practices in all companies and organizations that deal with sensitive public data. Private sector practices in this regard are often severely lacking, but even organizations like the military have had difficulties. In May 2006, for instance, a serious American incident was covered in “ID Theft the Potential Reward for 26.5 million US Veterans.”
Now the UK Ministry of Defence has confirmed that a laptop stolen from a Royal Navy officer in Birmingham on the night of 9/10 January contained personal information relating to some 600,000 people who have either expressed an interest in, or have joined, the Royal Navy, Royal Marines and the Royal Air Force. In some cases, nothing more than a name would be present. In other cases, the data may include passport details, National Insurance numbers, drivers’ license details, family details, doctors’ addresses and National Health Service numbers.
The UK MoD did not immediately notify the public of the risk, on the grounds that the West Midlands Police felt it might impair the investigation, and the MoD’s apparent belief that it might be better not to make the potential value of the theft clear. That latter rationale can be defensible. Bluntly put, many thieves are not terribly bright; as an illustrative example, it’s quite possible for someone looking to score a quick payoff for a drug fix to miss a detail of this kind. Media reports made those rationales moot, however, and so an official admission has been made, along with contact information for a help line (0800 0853600). In the meantime, action had already been taken with APACS [Britain's Association for Payment Clearing Services] to inform the relevant banks and place a watch on potential accounts, and the UK MoD says that letters to the 3,500 people whose bank details were included on the database are in process. Meanwhile, the story will continue to play itself out in the media, and on the ground where investigations continue. UK MoD: “MOD confirms loss of recruitment data.”
Jan 24, 2008 14:51 UTC
In July 2006, “Britain Buying New Land Vehicles for Iraqi & Afghan Theaters” covered the UK’s ongoing acquisition of 3 up-armored vehicles: Force Protection’s v-hulled and mine-resistant Mastiff, Armor Holdings’ up-armored – but not mine-resistant – Pinzgauer Vector trucks, and BAE Systems’ tracked FV430 Mk3 armored personnel carrier. In May 2007, BAE’s $4+ billion acquisition of Armor Holdings brought the Pinzgauer vehicles into its corporate structure as well.
In addition to the ongoing controversies concerning the Pinzgauers’ questionable protection against the #1 threat in theater, BAE Systems also had to deal with the vehicle’s fit into its overall land systems and wheeled vehicle strategy. It would appear that they have now found their answers, on both fronts…
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Jan 24, 2008 12:27 UTC
The U.S. Army Sustainment Command in Rock Island, IL recently issued a delivery order for the full amount of a $52.2 million firm-fixed-price contract with ATK’s Lake City Small Caliber Ammunition Co., LLC in Independence, MO. Work will be performed in Independence, MO and is expected to be complete by Sept 30/09. One bid was solicited on Oct 31/06, and 1 bid was received (DAAA09-99-D-0016).
The contract is slated to finance the ongoing modernization and enhancement of ammunition production at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant, a legacy of World War II that remains the USA’s main manufacturing plant for small caliber (.50 caliber and lower) ammunition. In July 2005, “Pass The Ammunition: Army Taking Action on Small-Cal Shortages” explained the issues American forces have faced with ammunition shortages, and the steps that have been taken over the past few years to address this issue.
Jan 23, 2008 15:34 UTC
The Swiss Pilatus PC-9M was a recent candidate to an RFP for COIN aircraft issued by Iraq. An incident involving the African nation of Chad would appear to have removed this possibility for them, and shrunk Pilatus’ market sharply in favor of competitors in Korea (KT/A-1), Brazil (EMB 314), etc.
Chad’s government borders Sudan, and the same janjaweed forces that perpetrated the Darfur genocide have also been involved in attacks inside neighboring countries like Chad. Relations between Chad and Sudan have deteriorated badly in response, with Chad accusing Sudan of having a destabilization plan for their country, and of using the same Darfur tactic of arming and unleashing terrorists to that end. A series of mediation efforts and agreements have followed, which have mostly been ignored as the fighting continues. Now, one of those battles has wider ramifications.
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Jan 23, 2008 14:01 UTC
See article, below
The Alpha Jet was developed jointly by France’ Dassault Aviation and Germany’s Dornier. In France, they are mainly used as lead-in fighter trainers before pilots graduate to front-line combat aircraft like the Rafale and Mirage 2000, but they were built with secondary light attack capability as well. The Alpha Jet was expected to be the BAe Hawk’s main competitor in the international trainer and light attack market when it was introduced in the early 1980s, but it finished a distant 4th behind the Hawk, which remains in production to this day. Alpha Jet sales were made to France (176), Germany (175), Belgium (33), Cameroon (6-7), Egypt (45), Ivory Coast (7), Morocco (24), Nigeria (24), Qatar (6), and Togo (5). Germany would later dispose of most of its Alpha Jets during its 1990s disarmament drive, with sales to to Portugal (50), Thailand (25), the UAE (32), and the private “Flying Bulls” aerobatic team (3).
France’s DGA defense procurement agency awarded a EUR 22.6 million (about ) euro contract to modernize the avionics of 20 Alpha Jet E aircraft used by the Armee de l’Air. Co-contractors Thales Avionics and Belgium’s SABCA (Societe Anonyme Belge des Constructions Aeronautiques) will run the project, which will take place in 2 phases…
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Jan 22, 2008 15:40 UTC
Walsh Construction Co. in Chicago IL won a $61.7 million firm-fixed-price contract for military housing at Whiteman Air Force Base, MO. Notable tenants at Whiteman include the USA’s 509th Bomb Wing and its 21 B-2 Spirit stealth bombers, as well as the Air Force Reserve’s 442nd Fighter Wing that flies the A-10 Thunderbolt II and the Missouri Army National Guard’s 1-135th Aviation Battalion, which flies the AH-64 Apache helicopter.
Work and is expected to be completed by Feb 9/11. Web bids were solicited on Aug 17/07, and 2 bids were received by the Army Corps of Engineers in Kansas City, MO (W912DQ-08-C-0015).
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