Over the last decade, a belief has taken root in global naval circles that shallow littoral chokepoints for maritime trade, operations in and around failed states like Somalia, and expeditionary stabilization operations, will become key foci for many deployments. That realization has driven a number of approaches to naval construction. In the Netherlands, Royal Schelde’s Sigma Ships are designed in block modules, which can be added or subtracted to build anything from an offshore patrol vessel to a large frigate. Denmark is already building its Flyverfisken Class and Absalon Class ships, which leverage the mission module concept and can be used in roles ranging ranging from mine or sub hunting, to anti-ship warfare/ land attack, to carrying troops. Sweden’s Visby Class stealth corvettes helped to inspire the American concept of the Littoral Combat Ship – which has been criticized both for its cost, and for having fewer and less flexible high-end weapon options than any competitor.
Germany’s response has been the F125 frigate, which might best be described as an “expeditionary frigate” design. It doesn’t use the Danish or American mission module concept. Instead, it includes a number of features aimed at making it a strong contributor to long international deployments in littoral environments, and to naval support for stabilization operations.
In August 2012, reports emerged that Indonesia had made a deal with Germany to buy heavy tanks and infantry carriers, after the Dutch had demurred. The Indonesian Army has a long record of human rights abuses, which sparked considerable opposition in the Netherlands. In contrast, Germany has been pushing hard for defense exports as a way to keep its defense industrial base busy, and of preserving jobs amidst Europe’s economic slowdown.
In May 2013, those reports were finally confirmed. What is the exact shape of the deal? How will the new vehicles fit with, and compare to, Indonesia’s existing equipment? And how did we get to this point?
At the end of May 2013, the German and Polish defense ministers signed a Letter of Intent on naval cooperation. What does that mean for Polish submarine plans?
Poland’s current submarine fleet includes 1 Russian Kilo Class boat, ORP Orzel, which was commissioned in 1986. Another 4 modernized U207 Kobben Class pocket submarines of German design were given to Poland by Norway, who added 1 Type 207 used for spares/ training. The tiny 435t Type 207s were commissioned in Norway from 1964 – 1967, which doesn’t leave them much of a safe lifespan.
In mid-May 2013, MBDA signed an MoU with Lockheed Martin that has the potential to shake up the naval missile industry. It sounds innocuous: both companies agree to jointly explore the market for the integration of MBDA naval missile systems into Lockheed Martin’s MK-41 Vertical Launch System, and ExLS VLS/cell insert. They’ll begin with a late 2013 demonstration involving Britain’s new CAMM-M Sea Ceptor missile, but the implications reach far beyond.
Right now, the naval missile market is divided by launcher type, and many of MBDA’s missiles sit in a DCNS banlieue.
In July 2012, Qatar’s government announced their interest in purchasing up to 200 Leopard 2A7 heavy tanks from Germany. The tanks would more than replace Qatar’s existing set of 30-40 French AMX-30 medium tanks, which are a 1970s era design. The deal was completed in 2013, and it turned out to be smaller but broader.
October. 10, 2012: EADS announces [PDF] that they and BAE have decided to terminate their merger discussions.
They confirm what had been widely discussed in the past month, with mounting pressure in recent days:
“it has become clear that the interests of the parties’ government stakeholders cannot be adequately reconciled with each other or with the objectives that BAE Systems and EADS established for the merger.”
British military procurement is to make a big step if Philip Hammond’s statement [PDF] to Parliament last week is followed up by implementation. The Defence Minister wants to turn Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) into a Government Owned, Contractor Operated (GOCO) entity after having “soft market tested” alternatives earlier this year. This is likely to lead to a competition among interested service companies but it will take a while to happen, and there are many challenges ahead. DE&S currently employs about 18,000 people with a budget of around 14 billion pounds (slightly under 22 billion US dollars).
At the opening of the Farnborough 2012 defense exhibition, British Prime Minister David Cameron discussed the Eurofighter’s future:
“Typhoon’s growth potential is huge and the four partner nations, Italy, Germany, Spain and the UK have agreed the next steps required to further exploit this. The integration of the METEOR missile, an Electronically Scanned Radar, enhancements of the Defensive Aids System, further development of the air-to-air and air-to-ground capabilities and integration of new weapons.”
All of these capabilities will be welcome. Indeed, all are necessary, in order to address key platform weaknesses, and keep the plane competitive in the international marketplace as a multi-role fighter. A short synopsis of each aspect follows.
In June 2012, France’s DGA began the 1st installment of its EUR 1.06 billion CONTACT(COmmunications Numeriques TACtiques et de Theatre) program, which will replace many of the French armed forces’ existing vehicle and personal radios. When it’s done, France will field an array of “software-defined” radios that offer much lower upgrade costs, as the backbone of its Army’s future tactical communications architecture.
Because ESSOR already includes France, Finland, Italy, Poland, Spain, and Sweden, radios created for CONTACT will have good export potential as replacements for existing radios. A defined equipment line will also help the ESSOR standard attract new customers, much as TETRA adoption has been driven well beyond Europe’s shores in the civil sphere.