Latest updates[?]: The Indian government has officially withdrawn the comatose MMRCA fighter competition, following an agreement in April to purchase 36 ready-to-fly Rafale fighters from France in a government-to-government deal which sidestepped negotiations with manufacturer Dassault. The competition intended to procure 126 Rafale fighters, following selection of the French bid in January 2012, with negotiations between Dassault and the Indian government stagnating and ultimately leading nowhere. To fulfill operation necessities, the Indian executive stepped in and directly negotiated a deal with the French President for the 36 jets.
India’s planned multi-billion dollar, 126+ plane jet fighter buy certainly captured the attention of global fighter manufacturers. Boeing’s Mark Kronenberg, who runs the company’s Asia/Pacific business, put it succinctly: “[India’s M-MRCA program is] the biggest fighter aircraft deal since the early 1990s.”
What began as a lightweight fighter competition to replace India’s shrinking MiG-21 interceptor fleet soon bifurcated into 2 categories now, and 2 expense tiers. What changed? In a word, lots. The participants changed, India’s view of its own needs changed, and costs changed dramatically. With the long-delayed release of the official RFP, the competition began at last – and like all Indian decisions, it takes a very long time.
DID offers an in-depth look at the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) competition’s changes, the RFP, and the competitors. After a decade-long slog, Dassault’s Rafale appears to be closing in on its 1st export order.
In fall 2012, the Canadian government began planning in earnest to replace its current fleet of Coast Guard helicopters: 14 MBB Bo-105s and 3 Bell 206L LongRangers at the light end, supported by 6 Bell 212 twin-Hueys. The replacement buy has been structured as 2 competitions: one for 16 light helicopters, and one for 4-8 ‘medium’ helicopters. A 3rd buy may add 2-3 different helicopters for use aboard Canada’s new Icebreaker after 2017.
Unfortunately, the competition has followed the same template as almost every major Canadian defense buy over the last decade: a show of competition, masking a pre-selected winner. That has become a political issue in Canada, now that the government has announced its intent to sole-source a light helicopter award worth up to C$ 1 billion over 20 years.
In July 2006, “India Orders 3 More Krivak III/Talwar Class Frigates” noted that the Talwar/Krivak Class were better described as modern multi-role designs, given the presence of contemporary classes with far better stealth features. The follow-on Project 17/ Shivalik class program offered improvements in that area, with 3 ships ordered and the possibility of more too follow.
In December 2006, India Defence reported that India was looking to acquire up to 7 more frigates with stealth improvements, plus some level of joint development and technology transfer. The Request for Information (RFI) was reportedly issued to about 12 international firms, mostly in Europe and Russia. These “Project 17A” ships could be worth up to 45,000 crore (INR 450 billion, about $9.23 billion as of June 2009), according to a recently-approved budget. Further reports appear to be confirming 100% construction in India, however, even as they clarify an extended timeline for design and delivery…
In 2006, the Turkish SSM procurement agency issued a request for information (RFI) for 4 more diesel-electric submarines. That RFI became an RFP for 6 diesel-electric submarines with air-independent propulsion systems, to replace older boats like Turkey’s U209-based Preveze and Atilay classes.
DID covers the competition, and adds some quick background re: the Turkish Navy’s existing fleet, where its rival Greece stands, and contract developments regarding their new “Cerbe Class”. Turkey has a signed multi-billion Euro contract for HDW’s U214 subs… and are about to add a revolutionary new weapon.
Australia’s 2009 defense white paper made a wide range of commitments, one of which involved replacing the outstanding service provided by Australia’s gull-winged DHC-4 Caribou short takeoff light tactical transports. That particular project had been proposed and delayed repeatedly for over 20 years. In February 2009, the planes it was meant to replace finally had to be retired, after 45 years of service. Without a replacement.
There have been a range of competitions in this class on the international market. While some customers like US Special Forces have chosen Sikorsky subsidiary PZL Mielec’s M-28 Skytruck, most of these competitions are between Airbus Military’s C295, and Alenia’s C-27J Spartan. The Spartan is faster than the C295, and can carry larger and heavier loads, including light helicopters and patrol vehicles. The C-295M offers endurance advantages, and lower operating costs. Neither can match the Caribou’s short take-off performance, but they’re what’s available, and different countries have made different choices. Now, Australia has made its choice: a sole-source C-27J buy, with deliveries slated to begin in 2015.
By the time 2005 drew to a close, Canada was pursuing UAV deployments on 3 fronts. The RQ-11 Raven’s early performance in Afghanistan led to purchases of soldier-portable mini-UAVs, which would be joined by older Sperwer tactical UAVs already in inventory. Canada’s Air Force was also crafting a multimillion-dollar plan to purchase the Joint Unmanned Surveillance Target Acquisition System (JUSTAS), for fielding around 2010.
Canada’s defense procurement system rivals India’s for inefficiency, so it isn’t completely surprising that nearly a decade of effort has produced essentially nothing.
This is a pivotal year for the Polish defense market. Russia’s actions in Ukraine have underscored the urgency of Poland’s $44 billion military modernization program, and accelerated planned purchases. Critical defense procurement decisions will be made in 2014, testing the government’s ability to successfully manage big international tenders that pit Americans against Europeans. This year will also see the implementation of the country’s highly ambitious plans to consolidate most of its domestic industrial base under one roof, with significant implications for foreign suppliers seeking industrial arrangements with local partners.
Naturally, foreign companies are eager to secure a share in Europe’s most promising defense market. To compete effectively, defense primes and their subcontractors need to understand the financial, industrial, and political landscape they face in Poland.
The US military has been coming to the realization that its aging aircraft fleet will begin posing serious challenges in the coming years. Canada is experiencing similar problems. In 2005, Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Rick Hillier said that:
“Our [CC-130 E/H] Hercules fleet right now is rapidly going downhill. We know that three years and a little bit more than that, the fleet starts to become almost completely inoperational and we will have to stop supporting operations – or else, not be able to start them.”
This Spotlight article offers additional details regarding the Canadian CC-130 recapitalization program, and the thinking behind it; some background that points up the parallels between the issues faced by the Canadians, and the experiences of other air services; and some insight into why the buy took so long, after the C-130J was declared Canada’s preferred choice in an “expedited” process. Canada has begun using the new planes on operations, and is preparing to accept the last “CC-130J.” This will shift its focus to issues of long-term support costs.
Canadian Forces took some of the lessons re-learned during Operation Medusa in Afghanistan, directly to heart. Canada’s DND:
“The heavily protected direct fire capability of a main battle tank is an invaluable tool in the arsenal of any military. The intensity of recent conflicts in Central Asia and the Middle East has shown western militaries that tanks provide protection that cannot be matched by more lightly armored wheeled vehicles… [Canada’s existing Leopard C2/1A5] tanks have also provided the Canadian Forces (CF) with the capability to travel to locations that would otherwise be inaccessible to wheeled light armoured vehicles, including Taliban defensive positions.”
In October 2003, Canada was set to buy the Styker/LAV-III 105mm Mobile Gun System to replace its Leopard C2 tanks. By 2007, however, the lessons of war took Canada down a very different path – one that led them to renew the very tank fleet they were once intent on scrapping, while backing away from the wheeled vehicles that were once the cornerstone of the Canadian Army’s transformation plan. This updated article includes a full chronology for Canada’s new Leopard 2 tanks, adds information concerning DND’s exact plans and breakdowns for their new fleet, and discusses front-line experiences in Afghanistan.
The Royal Australian Navy is on its way to fixing the crisis in its amphibious fleet, giving itself modernized FFG-7 and ANZAC Class frigates, and buying itself advanced new air defense destroyers. Without an adequate support fleet, however, the breadth of territory and ocean it has to cover will work against the RAN. The existing replenishment fleet is a combination of the old and the limited, so something has to be done. As of June 2014, something will be done – outside of Australia.