Years of unswerving pressure from the Colombian army wore down the narco-terrorist FARC. Much of that pressure was led by the popular (former) President Uribe, who ruled out a bid for constitutional amendments and an attempt at a 3rd term of office in 2009. His legacy continued, however, thanks to a special 2006 tax was set up to back those military gains with about $4 billion worth of military hardware.
Colombia’s El Tiempo newspaper reported that the deals were set to include a wide variety of equipment from American, French, German, Israeli, and Russian suppliers. Colombia is well into the delivery phase, and has added key equipment buys along the way.
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 March 2012, Peru announced the winner of its competition to upgrade its air defenses. The country’s air defense needs are most sharply focused on the relatively narrow border with Chile, but the country does have borders with Ecuador, Colombia, and Brazil, and has facilities it may wish to protect. Mobile and portable systems have been a priority for Peru, and their current architecture relies on a combination of upgraded SA-3/S-125 medium range missiles, Russian/Chinese derivatives of the very short range SA-16/18 man-portable missile, and guns.
Russian and Chinese firms competed for the deal, but the winner of its $140 million competition was the TRIAD consortium of Poland’s Bumar, Israel’s RAFAEL, and Northrop Grumman from the USA.
Latest updates: Civil war ends; Hydrocarbon output back up; Post-Gadhaffi, France to refurbish Mirage F1s.
SU-35 flight, 2008
After a long hiatus in major arms purchases, and an equally long fall from its status as an ultra-modern Soviet arms client, Libya was among the countries discussed by Forecast International in its review of African defense market opportunities.
Libya’s military has traditionally been Soviet supplied, alongside some equipment from France and Brazil. The demise of the Soviet Union, the 1990s drop in oil prices, and Libya’s pariah status all combined to choke military modernization – but Libya’s new political direction, and the rise in oil prices, were beginning to change that. Widespread reports emerged in 2007 that France and Libya had signed a Memorandum of Understanding covering arms deals worth up to EUR 4.5 billion, including the first foreign sale of the Rafale fighter. Those reports weren’t followed by contract announcements – but 2009 reports and 2010 contracts showed that Russia was willing to fight to keep its old customer. Now, the question is where all of old the players fit in the new Libya, after Gadaffi’s fall:
In early FY 2011, DARPA awarded a pair of initial contracts for something called the Triple Target Terminator. In their own words:
“The Triple Target Terminator (T3) program will develop a high speed, long-range missile that can engage air, cruise missile, and air defense targets. T3 would be carried internally on stealth aircraft or externally on fighters, bombers and UAVs. The enabling technologies are: propulsion, multi-mode seekers, data links, digital guidance and control, and advanced warheads. T3 would allow any aircraft to rapidly switch between air-to-air and air-to-surface capabilities. T3’s speed, maneuverability, and network-centric capabilities would significantly improve U.S. aircraft survivability and increase the number and variety of targets that could be destroyed on each sortie.”
Oddly, T3 sounds very similar to an ongoing Air Force Research Laboratory project – and seems to confirm a trend toward multi-guidance, multi-role smart weapons. But can the USAF develop and field its desired Next Generation Missile from among these development programs? Seems not.
F-16C/D Block 52 aircraft serve as the backbone of Poland’s air force. In February 2012, the USA’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced [PDF] Poland’s official request for F-16 weapons, as well as a 5 year fleet support contract that includes associated equipment, parts, and training. They will be bought using the USA’s Foreign Military Sales process, and the requested items are expected to cost up to $447 million.
If a contract is negotiated after the 15-day FMS wait period for NATO members, the prime contractors are listed as Raytheon in Tucson, AZ and Waltham, MA; Boeing in St. Charles, MO; McAlester Army Ammunition Plant in McAlester, OK; and United Technologies Corporation in Hartford, CT. Poland’s specific request includes:
Malaysia has an unusual air fleet, which includes Russian MiG-29s and very advanced SU-30MKMs, alongside 8 of Boeing’s F/A-18D Hornets. Southeast Asia is crowded, and contested claims over rich local resources occasionally makes it tense. Airpower is critical, but Malaysia’s slow efforts to pick a MiG-29 replacement, and the Hornet fleet’s age, have led the Tentera Udara DiRaja Malaysia (TUDM) to look to F/A-18D upgrades as an immediate step.
Advanced ATFLIR surveillance and targeting pods have been part of that process. So, too, is the latest move to arm TUDM Hornets with the newest AIM-9X Sidewinder Block II short range air-to-air missiles. The AIM-9X-2’s 2-way datalink, thrust vectoring maneuverability, and advanced imaging infrared seeker even allow it to hit targets behind the launching fighter. The numbers so far indicate an initial testing and training buy, but it’s a start…
Raytheon’s AIM-9X Block II would have made Top Gun a very short movie. It’s the USA’s most advanced short range air-air missile, capable of using its datalink, thrust vectoring maneuverability, and advanced imaging infrared seeker to hit targets behind the launching fighter. Unlike previous AIM-9 models, the AIM-9X can even be used against targets on the ground. The 2-way datalink is the most significant single Block II change, as it allows the missile to fly toward targets its seeker can’t yet see, using target position tracking from its fighter. The Block II also has improved seeker lock-on-after-launch vs. the original AIM-9X, a ‘lofting’ fly-out profile the boosts its range, and better all weather laser fusing against small targets.
These changes will help keep it competitive against foreign missiles like MBDA UK’s AIM-132 ASRAAM, RAFAEL of Israel’s Python 5, the multinational German-led IRIS-T, and Russia’s R73/ AA-11 Archer. The end of September 2011 saw the first significant order from the US military for AIM-9X Block II missiles, shortly after successful live fire tests at China Lake, CA. This $61.9 million buy is Production Lot 11. Unlike last year’s Lot 10 buy, it’s all-American…
As 2011 begins, the French DGA made France the 4th customer nation to place production orders for MBDA’s ramjet-powered Meteor missile, after Britain, Spain, and Sweden. The 200 missile order was placed through the multinational program lead, Britain’s MoD Defence Equipment & Services (DE&S), to MBDA-UK. Price was not mentioned. The first French Meteor missile deliveries are expected in 2018.
MBDA’s Meteor missile was conceived as a longer-range competitor to popular weapons like the Russian R77/AA-12, and American AIM-120 AMRAAM. Its ramjet propulsion is intended to offer the missile a head-on closing range of 120 km, with a 2-way datalink and full powered performance at Mach 4+ throughout its flight, instead of the standard “burn and coast” approach use by rocket-powered counterparts. The intent is to give the Meteor both longer reach, and a wider “no escape” profile.
“The Indian Navy is facing shortage of Sea Harrier aircraft. The ongoing upgrade of Sea Harrier programme has also temporarily affected the availability of the aircraft. Contract for the limited upgrade of Sea Harrier aircraft was concluded with M/s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in March 2005 at a cost of Rs. 476.69 crore [DID: about $109.8 million at the time]. The upgrade programme is expected to be completed by 2009.”
Can India’s Sea Harriers survive as an effective force, until MiG-29Ks aboard the rebuilt INS Vikramaditya can replace them?