In December 2005, the interference of American arms export restrictions within the huge F-35 program became so burdensome that they became a high-level diplomatic problem. Despite the promises of 2 successive American Presidents, the ITAR exemptions that Britain had sought remained blocked in America’s legislature – and European initiatives to resume defense exports to China were not improving the situation in Congress. Meanwhile, MPs in Britain were becoming very insistent on a fix, and there was even talk of abandoning the F-35. The stakes were high.
In time, many of these issues were worked out. In August 2006, the US and UK reached a technology transfer agreement concerning the F-35 fighter, which would serve as a model for other F-35 industrial partners. By December 2007, Tier 1 partner Britain had signed the F-35’s Production, Sustainment & Follow On Development MoU. A broader fix was still on the agenda, however, and in July 2007 it materialized as a a treaty that would change the way the American and British defense firms cooperate on defense programs.
This Spotlight article aims to act as a one-stop briefing that explains the treaty’s motivation, key terms, and outstanding issues. It also links to the key documents, and keeps track of events en route to full implementation nearly 5 years later…
Deconfliction issues have also prevented civil UAV markets from reaching anything close to their full potential for border patrol, land surveying, etc. The task is not impossible – for instance, the Hermes 450, which is the basis of Britain’s Watchkeeper Mk450 system, is now civil certified in Israel. Which is why a May 2007 EUR 500,000 (then about $672,000) European Defence Agency initiative could be significant… and now, a EUR 50 million MIDCAS contract involving an array of European firms has been signed at the 2009 Paris Air Show.
As part of Britain’s Defence Industrial Strategy, the Labour Party government and Ministry of Defence actively sought to reduce the number of companies involved in naval surface ship building and maintenance. In fact, they wanted just one company to deal with. Monopolies tend to drive prices up and effectiveness down, but the Ministry of Defense believed that a long-term partnering arrangement with performance guarantees could counteract that natural tendency. They also believed that the expected volume of warship construction and maintenance could no longer support more than one sizeable firm. Rather than force the merger, they dangled a sizeable carrot: they would not issue contracts for the planned CVF aircraft carrier program until they had a single entity to deal with.
Almost a year after the original July 25/07 Heads of Terms signed by BAE systems, VT Group, and the UK MoD, BAE Systems plc finalized a legally binding Framework Agreement with VT Group plc (‘VT’) to establish the BVT Surface Fleet Ltd. joint venture as the UK’s premier provider of surface warships and through-life support. The firm would become the UK Government’s strategic partner for the design, build and support of future warships, and will also pursue export opportunities. The joint venture targets total net savings to the government in excess of GBP 700 million (currently about $1.4 billion) to be shared 70/30 between the MoD and the BVT. These net savings, and the extent to which the parties will actually benefit, remain to be seen in practice.
The joint venture is now a single venture again, as BAE Systems buys out its partner…
Rolls-Royce announced an $80 million contract to provide AE 2100D3 spare engines and parts to power new C-130J military transport aircraft for the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps, the Royal Norwegian Air Force and the Indian Air Force. The contract, which is managed by Robins Air Force Base in GA, includes an initial 27 AE 2100D3 spare engines and parts for delivery through 2011.
The AE 2100D3 engine is a modular turboprop engine with 4,600 shaft-horsepower. The AE engine line is produced by Rolls-Royce and manufactured in Indianapolis, IN. Along with the AE 3007 and AE 1107C-Liberty, the engine line has totaled more than 37 million hours of service.
“Il n’y a pas de liberte, il n’y a pas d’egalite, il n’y a pas de fraternite sans securite.”
— French President Nicolas Sarkozy
By mid 2007 it seemed that France’s President Sarkozy was softening on defense after an electoral stumble. In July 2007, Sarkozy put together a group that was tasked it with creating a White Paper to define France’s future defense policy. The last time an exercise of this type had been conducted was in 1994.
That group eventually returned with its report, and on June 17/08, President Sarkozy made a speech outlining the key elements of that future direction. The decisions made will change the shape of French defense spending, and will launch an attempt to implement an interlocking set of procurement, infrastructure, and political reforms and changes.
That plan has implications for NATO and the EU, while it received cabinet approval for a 6-year spending plan.
Over at C4ISR Journal, “Europe’s declaration of independence” covers a EUR 2.3 billion (about $3.6 billion) Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) satellite constellation. EADS-Astrium will build the satellites, which fit into the growing trend toward “civil” satellites whose fine resolution and advanced sensors give them dual-use potential. Euroconsult in Paris predicts that the next 10 years will see almost 200 Earth observation satellites placed in orbit, some of which will have dual-use capability.
The EU is not alone in believing that environmental changes could become a significant driver of interstate conflict in a crowded world, and responses to natural disasters often require quick imagery in order to assess and plan a response. In addition to that kind of environmental monitoring, GMES will also serve as an independent check on other countries’ satellite data concerning weapons of mass destruction, genocide, et. al. This is not a formal requirement, but several European defense ministers have already expressed interest.
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…”
Aviation Week’s Ares reports that The European Parliament will vote on including military aviation in the EU’s greenhouse gas emission trading scheme (ETS) during its plenary session in Strasbourg, France, this week. Military aircraft were not originally included, but an amendment to the draft legislation calls for flights performed by military aircraft to be included in the ETS unless they are “part of an international mission.”
If the aircraft are included, the cost of purchasing emissions credits would be added to the price of training flights and other military activities – presumably including local disaster relief, unless this too was exempted.
Amusingly, the Green party has criticized the European Parliament itself for the emissions its members and staff cause, by moving back and forth from Brussels and Strasbourg to hold plenary sessions.
VIVACE(Value Improvement through a Virtual Aeronautical Collaborative Enterprise) is a very large research & technology project funded by the European Commission that was launched in January 2004, grouping 63 companies and research institutions from the aerospace sector to improve 7 key areas of the product development process, providing solutions in “Design Simulation”, “Virtual Testing”, “Design Optimisation”, “Business and Supply Chain Modelling”, “Knowledge Management”, “Decision Support” and “Collaboration in the Extended and Virtual Enterprise”. By using the latest innovations in advanced simulation and modeling techniques, it hopes to provide the means to improve knowledge about the product prior to its physical development, reducing development costs, shortening time to market, and improving product quality.
If European aerospace firms can incorporate these advantages, the thinking goes, they will be in a better position to maintain their global competitiveness. By creating shared learnings among many companies, meanwhile, the research creates a common base of knowledge and practices among its participants, improving the odds that they will be on the same page managerially and technically as well. A level of commonality that is crucial, if the full gains of the research are intended to extend beyond any one firm’s supply chain.
Airbus has put out a release, stating its belief that its co-ordination of the VIVACE project has produced significant results. The final results of VIVACE were presented at a public Forum held in Toulouse from 17th to 19th October, and further background is available online as a 25 MB book.