In October 2012, Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki signed a deal with Russia’s Rosoboronexport, variously estimated at $4.2 – $5.0 billion. The deal is characteristically murky, but it includes a combination of 43 Mi-35 (28) and Mi-28NE (15) attack helicopters, plus 42-50 mobile SA-22 Pantsir low-level air defense systems. Their combined cost is unlikely to approach $4 billion unless very extensive long-term support arrangements are included, but Iraq’s maintenance record suggests that this would be a very good idea. There has also been discussion in the press concerning MiG-29M2 fighters or armored vehicles as follow-on options, and the recent crisis in Iraq has led to a limited sale of refurbished SU-25 close air support aircraft.
The deals fill some important military and political holes for Iraq, and the full civil war in progress
Latest updates[?]: Algeria has upped its orders of Mi-28NE helicopters from the eight initially reported in January to 42, according to a Russian newspaper. A further 19 of the "Night-Hunter" helicopters will also make their way to Iraq. The helicopters have recently seen action in Syria battling Islamic State militants, and it has been said that the radio-electronic jamming systems on board easily suppressed man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) deployed against them by the insurgents. With interest being expressed from over half a dozen nations spanning from Latin America to South East Asia, the helicopter is certainly selling itself well during its recent military activity.
A February 2006 report noted that a $4 billion arms sale was brewing between Algeria and Russia involving fighter aircraft, tanks, and air defense systems, with the possibility of additional equipment. Those options came through the following month, as a high-level Russian delegation in Algeria closed up to $7.5 billion worth of arms contracts. The Algerian package remains post-Soviet Russia’s largest single arms deal. As an instructive comparison, annual Russian weapons export orders from all customers were just $5-6 billion per year in 2004 and 2005.
Reuters South Africa quoted Rosoboronexport chief Sergei Chemezov as saying that “Practically all types of arms which we have are included, anti-missile systems, aviation, sea and land technology.” The actual contents of that deal were murky, though DID offers triangulation among several sources to help sort out the confusion. A number of these deals have evolved over time, and other public-source information has helped to sharpen the picture a bit. The subsequent crash of Algeria’s MiG-29 deal, and its ripple effects, are also discussed.
Latest updates[?]: After sensationally backing out of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, the Canadian government will not exclude the jet from the renewed CF-18 replacement competition. Canadian minister of national defence Harjit Sajjan said at the annual Conference of Defence Associations (CDA) that once the government determines its needs, and capabilities are specified, potential contractors will be allowed to bid, including Lockheed Martin with its F-35. The announcement marks the first time that Sajjan has explicitly said that the F-35 could still be in the running, after weeks of hinting at the possibility.
Liberal versus Conservative politics are dominating the coverage of Canadian self examination of their defense procurement process. Conservatives came to power criticizing a broken and opaque process run by the Liberals, and now the Liberals are enjoying throwing similar barbs at the majority party. But in the fray, several interesting analyses have surfaced that the defense establishment is taking seriously.
The Harper government insists that a defense procurement overhaul conducted last year has yet to toll, and that patience is needed to prove that things have improved. By far, the largest effect is exerted by the major fighter and ship programs, which evolve in year and decade timescales.
As to the actual content of the report, much blame is placed at the cutting of procurement staff levels, which have been halved over the past 20 years. Also unpopular among the procurement officials are rafts of the new reporting requirements – reportedly up by about 50 percent – that are part of the Harper governments reforms.
Separately, the objectives of major defense procurement projects have also been called into question. Because the F-35 has greatest advantage in the objective of overpowering a state with top anti-air resources, Canadian officials are now questioning whether this is something relevant to Canada, especially in the face of a lopsided price disadvantage versus other fighters. Reportedly, the only other fighter contending still against the F-35 is Boeing’s Super Hornet. This analysis, a product of the 2012 decision to delay what was to be a $45 billion purchase of F-35s, did not draw a conclusive recommendation, although it did note that the likelihood of requiring a mission profile uniquely suited to the F-35 was low.
The F-35 program has been controversial in Canada, even more so than in other countries, complete with alleged plots to conduct secret initial procurement of four fighters to be delivered in 2015, with a commitment for 9 more two years later. Internal pressures led the Harper administration to develop a more explicit offset seeking program, called the Value Proposition Guide, as in show-us-what-industrial-value-we-can-bank domestically.
February 26/16: After sensationally backing out of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, the Canadian government will not exclude the jet from the renewed CF-18 replacement competition. Canadian minister of national defence Harjit Sajjan said at the annual Conference of Defence Associations (CDA) that once the government determines its needs, and capabilities are specified, potential contractors will be allowed to bid, including Lockheed Martin with its F-35. The announcement marks the first time that Sajjan has explicitly said that the F-35 could still be in the running, after weeks of hinting at the possibility.
February 23/16: Major defense purchases through Canada’s problem-plagued procurement process is to be guided by a cabinet-level committee. The committee will have direct access to support from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and is tasked with seeing that billion dollar sales, which include all aircraft purchases, will not be held up in federal bureaucracy. While details of the committee have not been disclosed, it will include high ranking members of the Liberal government including Procurement Minister Judy Foote, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, Navdeep Bains, minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, and Scott Brison, the president of the Treasury Board.
Pentagon auditors are questioning more than $108 million in costs claimed by Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown Root (KBR) under its $875 million “Task Order 5” contract to provide fuel in Iraq in 2003 and 2004. The Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) also faulted KBR for the quality of the records it delivered to the investigation, citing discrepancies between reported actual costs and accounting records. Halliburton is asserting that no wrongdoing was involved, claiming that the costs stemmed directly from the strictures it was working under and the challenges of getting shipments into a war zone without fail. Company officials also point out the firm’s estimating and purchasing systems have recently received a nod of approval from the Pentagon’s Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA).
A Pentagon spokeswoman said the audit was conducted to determine whether “fair and reasonable” prices were charged, and that DCAA (Defense Contract Audit Agency) auditors believe that KBR paid an unreasonable price for the fuel in some cases. “The major issues in this audit report have not been resolved,” she said, without providing details. Halliburton spokeswoman Wendy Hall said the company was cooperating fully with auditors, and would work with the Pentagon to resolve the issue. Army Corps spokeswoman Carol Sanders said the Corps was looking at a series of audits before starting final negotiations with KBR over final prices and potential payment adjustments. Meanwhile, Congressional pressure shows no signs of letting up.
On Sept 30/08, “The USA’s National Cybersecurity Initiative” focused on the belated but growing reaction to recent uses of cyber-attacks as an adjunct to warfare, and by the growing rate of attempted intrusions into American systems from countries like China. “Secure Semiconductors: Sensible, or Sisiphyean?” discussed the growing realization within the US military that massive use of commercial electronics, coupled with the complexity of modern chip designs, made it very difficult to be sure that “backdoors” and other security flaws weren’t being inserted into high-end American defense equipment. It’s a difficult conundrum, because commercial chips offer orders of magnitude improvements in cost and performance. Hence DARPA’s “Trust in IC” program, which hopes to crack the problem and offer the best of both worlds.
On Oct 2/08, Business Week’s in-depth article “Dangerous Fakes” claimed that a key component of the silicon security threat might be even simpler:
“The American military faces a growing threat of potentially fatal equipment failure – and even foreign espionage – because of counterfeit computer components used in warplanes, ships, and communication networks. Fake microchips flow from unruly bazaars in rural China to dubious kitchen-table brokers in the U.S. and into complex weapons. Senior Pentagon officials publicly play down the danger, but government documents, as well as interviews with insiders, suggest possible connections between phony parts and breakdowns… Potentially more alarming than either of the two aircraft episodes are hundreds of counterfeit routers made in China and sold to the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines over the past four years. These fakes could facilitate foreign espionage, as well as cause accidents. The U.S. Justice Dept. is prosecuting the operators of an electronics distributor in Texas – and last year obtained guilty pleas from the proprietors of a company in Washington State – for allegedly selling the military dozens of falsely labeled routers… Referring to the seizure of more than 400 fake routers so far, Melissa E. Hathaway, head of cyber security in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, says: “Counterfeit products have been linked to the crash of mission-critical networks, and may also contain hidden ‘back doors’ enabling network security to be bypassed and sensitive data accessed…”
August 19/15: A Chinese company has been accused of selling counterfeit Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar systems, using a design taken from Israel’s Elta Systems. NAV Technology Company is believed to be selling a version of Elta Systems’ EL/M-2052 system, an airborne fire control radar capable of tracking dozens of targets simultaneously. The company also offers other products thought to be taken from US designs, including a copy of the GBU-39 precision munition.
Latest updates[?]: Russia has reportedly delivered six MiG-31 Foxhound interceptors to the Assad regime in Syria, with Turkish media first reporting the delivery. The two states are thought to have signed a contract for the aircraft in June 2007, with Russia previously supplying Syria with significant quantities of military hardware, including deals for Yak-130 light attack jets and MiG-29 fighters.
In June 2007, Russian newspapers claimed that Russia had begun delivering 5 MiG-31E Foxhound aircraft to Syria, under a deal that was reportedly negotiated in autumn 2006. The Russian newspaper Kommersant added that part of the deal was being financed by Iran as a back-door purchase. A series of other deals have been announced since, for items that include advanced anti-ship missiles and air defense systems.
To call these deals opaque would be an understatement, and the lack of transparency exists in several layers. Russia has been Syria’s main arms supplier for decades, and both regimes are very secretive about their activities. Russia’s growing relationship with Israel, especially in the oil and gas fields, adds another layer of opacity to decisions, and appears to have delayed or canceled some sales. The third layer was created by Syria’s civil war, which has been raging since April 2011. This article covers public reports of new arms sales to Syria, though we also welcome any conclusive public IMINT or inside information readers wish to refer our way.
In the 1970s, fighter aircraft began to appear with Head-Up Displays (HUD) that projected key information, targeting crosshairs etc. onto a seemingly clear piece of glass. HUDs allowed pilots to keep their eyes in the sky, instead of looking down at their instruments. In the 1990s, another innovation appeared: helmet-mounted displays (HMDs) put the HUD inside the pilot’s helmet, providing this information even when the pilot wasn’t looking straight ahead. The Israelis were already pioneering a system called DASH (Display And Sight Helmet) when a set of former East German MiG-29s, equipped with Soviet HMDs, slaughtered USAF F-16s in NATO exercises. Suddenly, helmet-mounted displays became must-haves for modern fighters – and a key partnership positioned Elbit to take DASH to the next level.
This DID Spotlight article offers insights into the rocky past, successful present, and competitive future of a program that has experienced its share of snags and controversy – but went on to become the #1 helmet-mounted sight in the world. It also details the game-changing effects of Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems on air combat, its production sets and known customers, and all contracts since full-rate production began.
The Swiss Pilatus PC-9M was a recent candidate to an RFP for COIN aircraft issued by Iraq. An incident involving the African nation of Chad would appear to have removed this possibility for them, and shrunk Pilatus’ market sharply in favor of competitors in Korea (KT/A-1), Brazil (EMB 314), etc.
Chad’s government borders Sudan, and the same janjaweed forces that perpetrated the Darfur genocide have also been involved in attacks inside neighboring countries like Chad. Relations between Chad and Sudan have deteriorated badly in response, with Chad accusing Sudan of having a destabilization plan for their country, and of using the same Darfur tactic of arming and unleashing terrorists to that end. A series of mediation efforts and agreements have followed, which have mostly been ignored as the fighting continues. Now, one of those battles has wider ramifications.
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.
Latest updates[?]: The Secretary of the Navy
issued letters of censure to three rear admirals - all of whom are retiring - for involvement in the "Fat Leonard" scandal that involved officers steering ships to particular port facilities in return for gifts and sexual favors. A review concluded that the three admirals improperly accepted gifts between 2006 and 2007 and that their improper familiarity with Leonard "Fat Leonard" Francis "cultivated an unacceptable ethical climate within the respective commands."
The Secretary of the Navy issued letters of censure to three rear admirals – all of whom are retiring – for involvement in the “Fat Leonard” scandal that involved officers steering ships to particular port facilities in return for gifts and sexual favors. A review concluded that the three admirals improperly accepted gifts between 2006 and 2007 and that their improper familiarity with Leonard “Fat Leonard” Francis “cultivated an unacceptable ethical climate within the respective commands.”
Rear Admirals Michael Miller, then a commander serving on the USS Ronald Reagan; Terry Kraft, CO of the same carrier; and David Pimpo, the Reagan’s supply officer, have all asked to retire. The Navy’s issuance of reprimands does not preclude criminal charges. Secretary Mabus promised to set up an ethical disciplinary process to follow up with Navy officers who are not charged criminally, or whose ethical lapses aren’t addressed directly in criminal proceedings. Navy officials previously indicated that the scandal will grow wider as leads are followed up.
Francis, proprietor of a Malaysian naval resupply and refit firm named Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd. pleaded guilty to various corruption charges, having been successfully lured to the U.S. in a San Diego hotel sting, and after finally losing the services of a bribed senior official in the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, who had previously been tipping him off. Francis’s firm aggressively sought Navy business, bribed officials for secret ship movement information and for favorable contracting decisions and overcharged for services. Allegations have been made as well that Francis was effective in changing the schedules and destinations for certain Navy deployments.
Francis has been cooperating in recent weeks, according to the Washington Post.
Francis has agreed to pay back $35 million in money made through the scheme, and awaits sentencing of up to 25 years in prison.
Navy captain Daniel Dusek pleaded guilty to giving Francis secret information in exchange for money, prostitution services and travel services around the Pacific. Dusek was relieved of his relatively new command of the Bonhomme Richard in 2013 when he was first suspected of involvement. Dusek is one of five navy officials to plead guilty, and the most senior so far.
He has admitted to, in at least one instance, to change the movements of a carrier and strike group to ensure that they stopped at Francis’s Port Klang facility in Malaysia.
A couple months before Dusek’s arrest, a former commander of the USS Mustin, Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz, was arrested for bribery, about the same time that Naval Criminal Investigative Service supervisory agent John Bertrand Beliveau II was arrested.
Misiewicz allegedly attempted reschedule port visits to include Francis’s firms facilities, adopting routes that included Sepangar, Malaysia, and Laem Chebang, Thailand.
Already, several mid-level officers have been found guilty, including one who pleaded guilty only last week.
In documents presented to the court using Francis’s own words, the scheme was designed to “drive the big decks into our fat revenue” facilities.