Mar 17, 2014 20:19 UTC
Latest updates[?]: ANAO report highlights project state - still not 100% ready; A$ 900+ million support contract to Boeing.
over New South Wales
The island continent of Australia faces a number of unique security challenges that stem from its geography. The continent may be separated from its neighbors by large expanses of ocean, but it also resides within a potential arc of instability, and has a number of important offshore resource sites to protect. Full awareness of what is going on around them, and the ability to push that awareness well offshore, are critical security requirements.
“Project Wedgetail” had 3 finalists, and the winner was a new variant of Boeing’s 737-700, fitted with an MESA (multirole electronically scanned array) radar from Northrop Grumman. That radar exchanges the traditional AWACS rotating dome for the E-7A’s “top hat” stationary antenna. That design, and the project as a whole, have run into severe turbulence, creating problems for Boeing earnings, the ADF, and other export orders for the type. DID’s FOCUS articles offer in-depth, updated looks at significant military programs of record. This one covers contracts, events, and key milestones within Australia’s E-7A program, from inception to the current day.
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Mar 17, 2014 19:48 UTC
Israel’s attack helicopter fleet still flies AH-1 Cobras, but larger and more heavily armored AH-64 Apache helicopters began arriving in 1990, and have distinguished themselves in a number of war since. The country received 44 AH-64A helicopters from 1990 – 1993. Additional buys, conversions, and losses placed the fleet at 45 helicopters as of Flight Global’s World Air Forces 2013 report, split between AH-64As and more modern AH-64D Longbows.
The AH-64D Longbow’s sophisticated mast-mounted radar can quickly pick up tanks and other dangerous targets, but isn’t designed to distinguish civilians from combatants, or to hover close over the deck in highly populated areas. Confronted by asymmetrical urban warfare and budget priority issues, and faced with a lack of cooperation from the Obama administration, the IAF decided in 2010 to forego AH-64D upgrades for their remaining helicopters. On the other hand, the type’s consistent usefulness has led Israeli to make extensive improvements of their own, to the point where Israel has effectively created their own improved AH-64A configuration…
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Mar 17, 2014 15:35 UTC
- The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) updated its database to include 2013 arms sales, and sees China’s share of international arms exports above France’s, as China gained the 4 percentage points that France lost from the 2004-2008 period to 2009-2013. The completion of a couple large French sales to India and the Middle East could still reverse that trend in the 4 years ahead. Trends in international arms transfers [PDF].
Ukraine/Russia: What to Watch Beyond Military Movements
- As Russia didn’t even pretend to massage the outcome of the Crimean referendum to make it look somewhat credible, the EU and the US have agreed to a new set of financial and travel sanctions targeting a few influential Ukrainians and Russians.
- As DID pointed out earlier this month, there’s no sign that London is ready to apply real state-to-state financial pressure, while Paris appears unwilling to cancel its Mistral contract with Russia. You know how the joke goes: in paradise the police are British and the cooks are French. In hell…
- The most likely explanation for a massive drop of custody holdings at the US Federal Reserve last week is that Russia moved some of its Treasuries to another central bank such as Belgium’s. Note that Russia didn’t sell these bonds, they presumably moved them out of direct US reach. An advisor to Putin recently made threats against the market for US Treasury market, were the US government to seize Russian assets.
- Lest you think Russians threats are empty, the BBC quotes former US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, talking about the 2008 financial crisis:
“Here I’m not going to name the senior person, but I was meeting with someone… This person told me that the Chinese had received a message from the Russians which was, ‘Hey let’s join together and sell Fanny and Freddie securities on the market.’ The Chinese weren’t going to do that but again, it just, it just drove home to me how vulnerable I felt until we had put Fanny and Freddie into conservatorship.”
- The (broke) Ukrainian government approved $600M in emergency military spending and mobilized its active and national guard troops. They are also saying they repelled Russian troops out of the Strilkove village in the Kherson oblast, just north of Crimea, though whether their effort was actually successful is disputed.
- Rostec’s Russian Helicopters grew their sales by 10% to RUB183B ($3.8B) in 2013.
Italy to Revisit JSF Buy
- Roberta Pinotti, appointed as Italy’s defense minister last month, said the country’s F-35 buy will be “rethought, reviewed, and reduced” as the new government is reviewing spending. A point of contention is whether parliament’s control of military spending will be overridden by the executive branch. Italy’s defense ministry is going to sell real estate, close facilities, and reduce its quantity of active troops. Pinotti is a former school teacher, but as a member of parliament she worked on defense matters and was for a few months a defense shadow minister (Italian governments have an short life expectancy). Sky TV interview [in Italian] | Il Fatto Quotidiano [in Italian] | Reuters.
Taking Care of Your Oil Tankers so You Don’t Have To
- Last week the Libyan government proved unable to prevent rebels from hijacking an oil tanker, leading to the sacking of the prime minister. Fear not, US Navy Seals took control of the tanker which will soon be returned to Libya.
Meanwhile in Pyongyang…
RHIBs from LCS
- Today’s video shows US marines launching and recovering rigid hull inflatable boats from USS Freedom (LCS 1):