The USA’s Global Positioning System service remains free, but the European Union is spending billions to create an alternative under their own control. In addition to civilian GPS (the Open Service), services to be offered include a Safety of Life Service (SoL) for civil aviation and search and rescue, a paid Commercial Service with accuracy greater than 1 meter, plus a Public Regulated Service (PRS) for use by security authorities and governments. PRS/SoL aims to offer Open Service quality, with added robustness against jamming and the reliable detection of problems within 10 seconds.
Organizational issues and shortfalls in expected progress pushed the “Galileo” project back from its originally intended operational date of 2007 to 2014/15. After a public-private partnership model failed, the EU gained initial-stage approval for its plan to finance the program with tax dollars instead of the expected private investments. Political issues were overcome in 2007 by raiding other EU accounts for the billions required, but by 2011, it became clear that requests for billions more in public funds were on the way. Meanwhile, doubts persist in several quarters about Galileo’s touted economic model. Security concerns regarding China’s early involvement, and its potential Beidou-2/Compass projects, have been equally persistent, and there is good reason to expect that the constellation has a military purpose. On a European political and contractual level, however, Galileo is now irreversible.
This article offers background, players, developments, contracts, and in-depth research links for Galileo, as well as linked EU programs like GIOVE and EGNOS.
The Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) program began in 1995, and it has taken a very long time. Its MoU was late, its contract will be both late and smaller in scope, and it won’t meet even a revised 2012 – 2014 fielding window. At long last, however, one can be assured that it will exist. This is DID’s in-depth FOCUS Article covering the AGS program, from its platforms to its program structure to its long-awaited contracts.
The original AGS plan involved an Airbus A321 counterpart to Northrop Grumman’s E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (J-STARS), a Boeing 707 derivative whose powerful ground-looking Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) offers American commanders combat-changing battlefield surveillance and communications. AGS would be a pooled NATO asset, adding 7 RQ-4B Global Hawk UAVs and dedicated ground stations to complement the manned planes. It has since been reduced to just 5 RQ-4 Block 40 Global Hawk UAVs and dedicated ground stations, but could expand again if countries decide to make some of their national surveillance assets part of the program.
The long-range C-17 Globemaster III heavy transport aircraft remains the backbone of US Air Mobility Command inter-theater transport around the world, and its ability to operate from shorter and rougher runways has made it especially useful during the Global War on Terror. Recent buys by Australia, Britain, and Canada have broadened the plane’s its global use. Now NATO, who has relied on the SALIS arrangement and its leased super-giant AN-124s from Russia, is looking to buy and own 3 C-17s as NATO pooled assets with multinational crews. Participating countries will receive allocated flight hours relative to their participation, and thus far they include 12 nations: Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden, and the United States.
This order will not materially change the coming shut-down of C-17 production, but it does look like the inauguration of a pool that will fill a gaping hole in Europe’s defense capabilities – its complete lack of heavy airlift. This article covers NATO C-17 acquisition program, including its structure and ongoing announcements.
The program now has an adequate name, as NATO SAC has signed a contract, all 3 aircraft have been delivered, and SAC C-17s have been busy on missions for a couple of years now.
In December 2006, Australia bought a new tactical UAV to go with the Israeli Skylark mini-UAV. Australian Minister of Defence Senator Hill said the Government had agreed to the A$ 145 million (USD $109 million) UAV project to provide its Army with a high precision day and night surveillance and targeting capability.
The initial winner was IAI’s short-range I-View Mk. 250 UAV, but that didn’t last. Issues with the platform led to contract cancellation, and the use of leased solutions as interim options on the front lines. JP129 didn’t go away, though. Australia was still interested in owning a tactical UAV solution, and events in Afghanistan upped the urgency level. Finally, an August 2010 deal got them their JP129 UAVs.
The U.S. Marine Corps sees the 120mm Expeditionary Fire Support System (EFSS) mortar as the 3rd leg of its expeditionary fire support triad. EFSS will be the short-range but easily transportable counterpart to the reduced-weight M777 155mm towed howitzer, and the truck-mounted M142 HIMARS rocket system.
Accompanying Marine Air Ground Task Forces (MAGTFs) in expeditionary operations, EFSS will be the heliborne Ship-To-Objective Maneuver (STOM) force’s primary fire support, before the larger and longer range systems can move into position. As such, the EFSS launcher, its Internally Transportable Vehicle (ITV) carrier, a portion of the basic load of ammunition, and a portion of its crew, must all be transportable by a single CH-53E Super Stallion or future CH-53K heavy lift helicopter, and/or a single MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft. The program’s path has not been smooth, and its vehicle choice in particular has come in for criticism, as it heads toward full-rate production.
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.
More than 200 F-16 aircraft currently make up the backbone of Turkey’s current fighter fleet. On Sept 28/06, the US DSCA (Defense Security Cooperation Agency) notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Turkey of 30 more F-16C Block 50 aircraft, as well as associated equipment and services. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $2.9 billion. This sale is in addition to Turkey’s billion-dollar upgrade program for its existing F-16 fleet, which aims to bring all of its aircraft to a common configuration.
Turkey is one of 5 countries that has built F-16s locally (USA, Belgium, Netherlands, South Korea, Turkey), and the final Turkish F-16 under this contract will be delivered in 2013. This article will cover the deal, as its component contracts and agreements come together.
In late November 2012, Raytheon announced a $600+ million contract to deliver a national-level Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4I) system to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Raytheon Network Centric Systems was awarded the deal as a Direct Commercial Sale, which means that the Saudi Ministry of Defense will manage the buy and the implementation project themselves. This is in contrast to the Foreign Military Sale process, which routes contract negotiations and management through a selected department of the US military.
None of this is any kind of magic. Poor command and poor training, coupled with the best C4I system money can buy, just means that your military can watch itself lose conventional fights in near-real time. Having said that, a system that removes some of the “fog of war” can help a force possessing basic or better competence, and national-level C4I is critical to any nation considering missile defense. So, what do the Saudis want?
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.
NATO’s Muli-sensor Aerospace-Ground Joint ISR Interoperability Coalition (MAJIIC) project aimed to help participating nations share imaging and radar data from their planes and UAVs, even if their individual platforms were not designed for that kind of compatibility. MAJIIC ran from April 2005 through March 2009, and showed results in exercises and in Afghanistan, where participating countries could share full motion UAV videos. Now, NATO is embarking on a 5-year, EUR 100 million second phase, called MAJIIC 2 (Multi-intelligence All-source Joint ISR Interoperability Coalition).
While the name behind the original acronym suggests a focus on aerospace platforms like UAVs, the project aims to handle any sensor platform on ground, sea, or air. That includes SAR/GMTI radars, day/night cameras, and even sensors like ESM radar finders and artillery locating radars.