Textron’s M1117 Commando ASV is a modern-day armored car, with armor, weapons, and mine protection that are superior to a Humvee jeep. Its 29,500 pound curb weight is lower than other MRAP vehicles, and the type failed MRAP testing. Nevertheless, it’s widely fielded in American Military Police units, has been exported to Bulgaria, and is in use by Iraq and Colombia in a stretched infantry carrier version.
There have been a series of reports from a number of sources that Venezuela has finalized a deal with Russian arms manufacturers. Those reports have now shifted the total from $1 billion to around $3 billion, and expand its focus beyond Su-30MK2 (Mnogofunktzionniy Komercheskiy 2-seat) long-range multi-role fighters and various Russian helicopters to include other equipment as well. The final deal is reportedly still being negotiated.
Russian deals are extremely non-transparent, and often there are conflicting reports with no official confirmation of announced reports or additional details released. Based on news reports from various sources, however, here’s what DID can tell you about the likely shape of the deal and the nature of the equipment in question, aside from the USA’s predictably futile requests that Russia not go through with the sale.
DID’s coverage today includes updated information regarding the deal, and adds sources that have emerged sicce this article was first published on July 24, 2006. The latest news is the claimed crash of a Mi-35 – but DID explains why that story may be problematic…
Sonobuoys are used to detect and identify moving underwater objects by either listening for the sounds produced by propellers and machinery (passive detection), or by bouncing a sonar “ping” off the surface of a submarine (active detection). They usually float, or have at least some part of them that does. Specialized sonobuoys can also detect electric fields, magnetic anomalies, and bioluminescence (light emitted by microscopic organisms disturbed by a passing submarine); as well as measuring environmental parameters like water temperature versus depth, air temperature, barometric pressure, and wave height.
Sonobuoys are generally dropped from aircraft or helicopters that are equipped with a means to launch them, and electronic equipment to receive and process data sent by the sonobuoy. They can also be launched from ships. This entry will discuss some of the new sonobuoys in use, and cover related contracts.
Hindustan Aeronautics’ Dhruv project aimed to create a light helicopter that was well suited to light helicopter roles in India’s range of weather and altitude conditions. The firm has supplied 76 Dhruvs to India’s armed forces, an armed version has been created, and another 159 are in production for India’s Army and Air Force as a complement to India’s derailed light helicopter competition. The Navy has declined to buy more Dhruvs for its own needs, however, saying that several aspects of the design were not up to naval requirements yet.
HAL signed an agreement with Israel Aircraft Industries in 2004 for global marketing of the helicopter, which contains IAI avionics and Snecma Turbomeca engines. Sales of 1-2 helicopters have been made to Israel, Nepal, and Bolivia for various roles, some Dhruv helicopters have reportedly been transferred to Myanmar by the Indian government, and civilian versions are flying in India and Peru. The helicopter has also been marketed in other places, such as Chile, where it lost to the Bell 412.
Now the Dhruv has reportedly won a $50.7 million Ecuadoran Air Force contract for 7 Advanced Light Helicopters in the face of competition from Israel’s Elbit Systems, EADS Eurocopter, and Russia’s Kazan. India’s Business Standard reports that HAL’s offer was about 32% lower than the second lowest bid, which as reportedly from Elbit Systems. The contract is expected within a few weeks, and the first helicopter will be delivered by HAL in 6 months.
November 4/15: A team from India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is preparing to travel to Ecuador in an attempt to resurrect a contract for Dhruv helicopter unilaterally terminated by the country in October. The Indian Ministry of External Affairs is reported to have intervened to facilitate the meeting between HAL representatives and Ecuadoran officials. Four of seven Dhruv helicopters delivered to Ecuador through a contract signed in 2008 have crashed, with the remaining three now grounded [Spanish].
October 16/15: After delivering seven Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopters to Ecuador, state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd has now seen its contract with the country terminated after Quito unilaterally withdrew on Wednesday. Four of the seven helicopters – delivered through a contract signed in July 2008 – have crashed, with the remaining three now grounded [Spanish]. HAL saw Boeing back out of a deal with the company in July, citing shoddy manufacturing quality. The company has also seen crash statistics for its licensed-manufactured aircraft (including the Su-30MKI and Hawk AJT) grow alarmingly in recent months.
Major purchases that make headline news are few and far between in Peru. How do you top the recent re-opening of the DIFAA UFO investigation department? If you’re the Peruvian Air Force, you buy 2 C-27J light tactical airlifters from Italy’s Alenia Aermacchi, in order to shore up a weak area for the FAP. DID looks at the underlying need, the contract, the larger opportunity thjat is coming into focus, and why Alenia won. We also compare successes to date for Finmeccanica’s C-27J and its main rival, Airbus Military’s C295.
The Armed Forces of Malta has signed a contract for the provision of a 2nd Hawker Beechcraft King Air B200 maritime patrol aircraft, under a EUR 9.7 million program that ordered the 1st plane in October 2009. Aerodata at Braunschweig airport in Germany will be the prime contractor for the conversion process, which will install a belly-mounted Telephonics RDR-1700B radar with 360 degree coverage, L-3 Wescam’s MX-15i day/night surveillance turret, a Search And Rescue direction finder, plus a number of other sensors and communication equipment, including satellite communication and data transmission. The 1st B200 maritime patrol aircraft had its airframe rolled out in May 2010, and the AFM expects it in February 2011. This 2nd aircraft is expected in Mach 2012.
Malta’s location at the center of the Mediterranean Sea has made it a key strategic waypoint for many hundreds of years, from the Knights of Malta’s struggles against Islamic invaders to Britain’s razor-edge defense of Malta during World War 2. Now it’s turning the tiny island into an immigration flashpoint…
Latest updates[?]: Lockheed Martin's Space Fence system has passed an Air Force Critical Design Review, according to a company press release. Passing the CDR now means that the full-scale Space Fence System radar and facilities can be constructed on Kwajalein Atoll, part of the Marshall Islands. Designed to serve as a second-generation space surveillance radar system, the Space Fence will allow the Air Force to track satellites and space debris.
Space Fence concept
Space is big. Objects in space are very dangerous to each other. Countries that intend to launch objects into space need to know what’s out there, in order to avoid disasters like the 2009 collision of 2 orbital satellites. All they need to do is track many thousands of man-made space objects, traveling at about 9 times the speed of a bullet, and residing in a search area that’s 220,000 times the volume of Earth’s oceans.
The US Air Force Materiel Command’s Electronic Systems Center at Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts leads the USA’s Space Fence project. It’s intended to improve space situational awareness by tracking more and smaller objects, while replacing legacy systems in the Space Surveillance Network (SSN) as they retire. With a total anticipated value of around $6.1 billion over its lifetime, Space Fence will deliver a system of 2-3 geographically dispersed ground-based radars to provide timely assessment of space objects, events, and debris. International cooperation will supplement it, as part of overall Space Situational Awareness efforts. Failure is not an option. Or is it?
In the 1970s, fighter aircraft began to appear with Head-Up Displays (HUD) that projected key information, targeting crosshairs etc. onto a seemingly clear piece of glass. HUDs allowed pilots to keep their eyes in the sky, instead of looking down at their instruments. In the 1990s, another innovation appeared: helmet-mounted displays (HMDs) put the HUD inside the pilot’s helmet, providing this information even when the pilot wasn’t looking straight ahead. The Israelis were already pioneering a system called DASH (Display And Sight Helmet) when a set of former East German MiG-29s, equipped with Soviet HMDs, slaughtered USAF F-16s in NATO exercises. Suddenly, helmet-mounted displays became must-haves for modern fighters – and a key partnership positioned Elbit to take DASH to the next level.
This DID Spotlight article offers insights into the rocky past, successful present, and competitive future of a program that has experienced its share of snags and controversy – but went on to become the #1 helmet-mounted sight in the world. It also details the game-changing effects of Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems on air combat, its production sets and known customers, and all contracts since full-rate production began.
In November 2012, Peru signed a $200 million contract with South Korea for turboprop trainers and light attack aircraft. The deal involves 10 of its KT-1 trainers, which have also been exported to Turkey and Indonesia, and 10 KA-1 armed counterinsurgency variants. Korea Aerospace Industries will ship 4 of the planes from South Korea, with the rest being assembled from KAI kits in Peru.
The same “value positioning” model that made items like Korea’s Hyundai cars a success is also at work in the global defense sector. It’s time for competitors to take note, because that model is starting to rack up steady wins.
For the last 50 years, newer fighters have been sold as requiring less maintenance than their predecessors, due to technical advances. As people like Chuck Spinney and the Congressional Research Service have documented, the reverse has been true.
That decades-long defense death spiral has finally reached a point where it’s prompting musings about the collapse of American TacAir, and European countries with their small and dwindling defense budgets are also strongly affected. If the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter was to have any hope of becoming a commercial and operational success, it needed to change that operating cost dynamic. To do that, Lockheed Martin, BAE, and the international JSF team have turned to embedded HUMS (Health & Usage Monitoring System) diagnostics. Even that probably won’t be enough, absent integration with the Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) – which an IEEE paper has described as “perhaps the most advanced and comprehensive set of diagnostic, prognostic, and health management capabilities yet to be applied to an aviation platform.”