Latest updates[?]: Sweden has committed to buying more Archer 155mm mobile howitzers from BAE Systems, having signed a letter of intent at the Paris-based defense exhibition Eurosatory this week. The Swedish Defence Materiel Administration and BAE Systems Bofors took the first step to establish an additional artillery battalion in line with Sweden’s defense strategy, which runs through 2025.
Bofors Archer system
BAE Systems Bofors’ Archer is a light, air-portable, and highly automated 155/52 light mobile artillery system. Archer began as a Swedish project, administered by their FMV procurement agency. Funding was provided for system development and some initial production, but the project’s future had been shadowed by anemic Swedish defense budgets.
In May 2007, however, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed with Norway’s FLO procurement agency, which evolved into a joint production venture. Just as initial production moved the Archer system from concept to imminent reality, however, Norway left the program. Why?
On August 16, 2011, Rafael and Raytheon announced a partnership to market the Iron Dome system in the United States. This rocket interception system developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has an all-weather range of up to 70 km (43.5 miles). To make the system mobile, the detection/tracking radar and battle management/control parts of the system are carried on trucks, while the missile firing unit is mounted on a trailer.
Latest updates[?]: Rheinmetall announced Wednesday the receipt of a USD$77 million contract to supply various types of its Assegai ammunition, fuses and propelling charges to the government of Australia. The order falls under the Land 17 Phase 1C.2 Future Artillery Ammunition project and includes options for additional five-year periods as well as war reserve stocks. First deliveries will occur during the year with a second lot coming in 2019. The order marks the first time that Assegai ammo will be used on the M777A2 field howitzer, a platform that is also in use with Canada and the United States.
Now: M2A2 105mm
In February 2006 the Australian Government gave first pass approval for the replacement of the ADF’s current 105mm and 155mm artillery pieces with new, more capable, artillery systems that feature improved mobility, protection, range and accuracy. Current systems are all towed, and include the aged 105mm M2A2, the L119 Hamel 105mm Field Gun, and the M198 155mm Howitzer. Options for replacing them include a mix of self-propelled artillery systems and lightweight towed artillery systems under an A$ 450-600 million project known as LAND 17. The project will also examine advanced high precision munitions and a networked command and fire control system.
So, how does this project fit into Australia’s larger defense plans? What’s the expected program timeline? And who are the declared and potential contenders? That matters even more now that the solicitation has been released. DID covers the program, and a number of the confirmed or likely competitors… but one category has now been decided.
Latest updates[?]: The Indian Air Force has successfully carried out its first air-to-air refeuling of its Embraer EMB-145-based airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft. The 'probe and drogue' refuelling was carried out by an Ilyushin Il-78 tanker, with only ten minutes of refueling necessary to keep the platform flying for an additional four hours. Ordered in 2008, New Delhi has received the first two of three new EMB-145 aircraft and have been fitted with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)-designed Netra AEW&C systems, which the IAF claims provide 240-degree coverage as well as surveillance ranges between 250 and 375 km.
In recent years India has been shifting toward aircraft that would give it the ability to patrol and act at extended ranges. In January 2004, India and Israel signed a $1.1 billion contract for 3 Phalcon airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft, as part of a $1.5 billion tripartite agreement with Russia. With the arrival of its first IL-76 Phalcon, India joined the global ranks of AWACS operators. The aircraft has to monitor huge swathes of Indian airspace, intercept communications and log radar frequencies, add some ground surveillance, and help command IAF responses. By 2012 India announced that it wanted to follow up on that procurement with native capabilities.
In parallel, India has moved to implement AWACS capabilities on a smaller platform, in order to provide broader aircraft coverage of its territory. The goal there is to field a Tier 2 platform based on Embraer’s ERJ-145 jet, and Indian radar and electronics, allowing India to join the global ranks of AWACS designers. Just to make things interesting, their arch-rival Pakistan offers a contrasting case study, with quicker fielding of off-the shelf buys from China (Y-8 based ZDK-03) and Sweden (Saab 2000 Erieye).
In July 2008, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced Iraq’s formal request to buy 24 Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters that act as scouts, perform light close air support, and escort other helicopters on dangerous missions. The DSCA documents also included requests for airborne weapons – which would be a new capability for the nascent post-Saddam air force.
At the time of the requests, the IqAF relied on a small force of Russia’s popular Mi-8/17s, and a handful of refurbished Bell “Huey II” helicopters. While the Russian helicopters can be armed, their status as Iraq’s only medium utility helicopters makes them a poor fit for an ARH role. Instead, Iraq chose between 2 competitors. Bell’s 407 bears a close resemblance to the OH-58 scout helicopters used by the US Army, and the 407-derived ARH-70A won the American ARH competition before running into trouble. Boeing’s AH-6 “Little Bird” light attack helicopters are used by US Special Forces, are very effective in urban settings, and provided critical fire support during the 1991 “Blackhawk Down” incident. Iraq went on to pick Bell as its its ARH winner.
Alliant Tech Systems’ GPS-guided Precision Guidance Kit hopes to do for artillery shells what Boeing’s JDAM tail kit has done for conventional bombs – or what ATK’s APMI kit has done for 120mm mortars.
The Western way of war has largely pushed conventional artillery off of the battlefield. A 200 – 300 meter CEP (Circular Error Probable, where 50% of rounds hit within that radius) just isn’t viable when you need to reduce the risks of friendly casualties and collateral damage. Attempts to improve that performance began in the 1980s, but ran into 2 big roadblocks: cost, and reliability…
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.
It seems recent outreach efforts from US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and his deputy Ash Carter might be paying off: according to the Times of India a $1.4B order for 22 AH-64D Apache helicopters (and assorted weapons) is about to be signed. However such reports that Boeing had won the competition already surfaced up in October last year, while the initial DSCA request dates from December 2010.
Separately the Indian Navy has issued an RFP for 56 light naval utility helicopters that may be worth $1B. Induction planned for 2016.
Russia will deliver 55 Mi-171E transport helicopters to China at an estimated $10M+ each.
On August 15, 2012 the Office of the Product Director for Joint Products (PDJP) awarded a single Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) Firm Fixed Price (FFP) contract to Alliant Techsystems (ATK) to manufacture MK437 Multi Option Fuze for Navy (MOFN). Contract W15QKN12D0089, administered by the Army Contracting Command – New Jersey (ACC-NJ), spans FY12-16 split in five 1-year ordering period for a maximal potential value of $84.1M. MOFN fuzes are used in MK 186 HE-MOF rounds fired by 5″ (127mm) Mk45-mounted guns for anti-surface warfare (ASuW) and land attacks, while airborne threats are handled with the MK419 Multi-Function Fuze.
Sept 21/11: The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announces Saudi Arabia’s formal request for up to $886 million of equipment to augment the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s existing light artillery capabilities. The Royal Saudi Land Forces already have towed 155mm and 105mm howitzers and support vehicles and systems, and DSCA says they will have no difficulty absorbing these additional howitzers into their armed forces. If a contract is negotiated, implementation of this sale will not require the assignment of any U.S. Government or contractor representatives to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
As a Foreign Military Sale mode purchase, any contract will be managed by a US Army department, probably the Rock Island Arsenal, IL. The specific items requested include: