DefenseTech brings us reports that American and Israeli intelligence seriously underestimated the amount and quality of weapons Hezbollah’s state sponsors have managed to smuggle to them, including advanced anti-ship missiles and an arsenal of rockets from Iran that include weapons considered SRBMs. Intelligence is always imprecise, however, and slip-ups like this are to be expected on occasion.
Recent events may have put a more serious dent, however, in some implementation doctrines around military transformation and “the Revolution in Military Affairs.” DID has talked about both transformation’s value and its limitations, as expressed in case studies and situations like the US military’s encounter at Objective Peach in 2003. The Israelis, too, may be finding the limits of transformation, according to some Israeli military observers.
Ultra Electronics Holdings announces that its Sonar & Communication Systems business, based in Greenford, Middlesex, has been selected by the UK Ministry of Defense to supply and support LITENING III variant surveillance & targeting pods for the RAF’s Eurofighter aircraft. Ultra will act as the prime contractor and assemble the pods in the UK, with its Sonar & Communication Systems business unit running the project. LITENING designer RAFAEL of Israel will act as the principal sub-contractor.
The Eurofighter has initially been produced and delivered in its air defense version; full muti-role capabilities are still several years away. The addition of the LITENING pods is a fast way to upgrade the aircraft’s ground attack capabilities, and make it more relevant to the Global War on Terror and other likely contingencies. With respect to the contract’s cost, and the pods’ additional features…
If the latest Russian order for 67 helicopters holds up, it could be the lifeline that Rostvertol’s Mi-28N attack helicopter has waited a decade for.
The Mi-28A “Havoc” first appeared at the Paris Air Show in 1989, but was never produced in numbers due competition from the Ka-50 “Black Shark,” and Russia’s financial situation in the aftermath of communism. An improved Mi-28N (see also Rostvertol profile) with full day/night capabilities was introduced as a prototype in 1996. Characteristically, the 2nd, improved prototype Mi-28N would wait until 2004 for its flight, and only began flight testing with the Russian Air Force in June 2005.
The Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) has placed a development order valued at around 500 million Swedish Kronor ($68.8 million equivalent) for SEP hybrid drive armored vehicles from BAE Systems Hagglunds. Final deliverables include 2 SEP 6X6 wheeled vehicles and 2 SEP tracked vehicles, each of which will be produced in both troop transport and logistic configurations. The Swedish Defence Force plans to have the SEP system in operation by 2014, and SEP has also received a contract from Britain’s FRES vehicle program as a demonstrator platform with further potential applications. BAE Systems Hagglunds’ President Sven Kagevall also sees further applications, and prospects, for the SEP:
“This is a significant order for BAE Systems Hagglunds… Since the first delivery of CV90 [armored vehicles] to Sweden [in] 1994, BAE Systems Hagglunds has sold 20 billion Swedish Kronor worth of CV90 on the export market. I am convinced that when we look back at the export figures for SEP, these figures will far exceed those of CV90. SEP will be a very good export business.”
It has been a long road for the USA’s aerial tanker replacement competition. After the Darlene Druyun scandal and the linked but separate withdrawal of Boeing’s KC-767 lease proposal, the USA continues to examine its options. Some reports note that the existing tanker fleet of “more than 490” KC-135 Stratotankers (USAF figure, out of 732 built until 1966), derived from Boeing 707s, and 59 KC-10 Extenders derived from McDonell Douglas DC-10-30CFs, may be able to perform until 2040. Yet a combination of procurement momentum, steadily increasing and future-uncertain maintenance costs, and the impact of an unforeseen fleet-wide grounding for the USAF’s aging Boeing 707s continue to push the competition ahead.
With a Phase One buy of around 175 aircraft, whose unmodified civil versions cost well over $100 million each, this could easily become a $100 billion program by the time all is said and done. Meanwhile, studies like “Brittle Swords: Low-Density, High-Demand Assets” [PDF] highlight the dangers and potential false economies of under-investment.
KC-10 extends F/A-18C
In the wake of the USAF’s recent RFI, industry-watchers are paying attention again. Boeing’s latest 10K investors’ report noted that the likelihood of KC-767 tanker orders coming in before the civilian 767 production line runs out had “diminished”; Boeing added that the decision to “complete 767 production” could come before the end of the 2006 calendar year. Meanwhile, some observers believe the EADS Airbus/ Northrop-Grumman KC-30 (A330 MRTT) tanker may have become the competition front runner – but new options like the larger 777 or A340 are being bandied about, and military opinions differ re: the preferred size and mix of the USAF’s future tanker force.
The latest news is the release of the KC-X RFP, amidst uncertainty over the EADS/Northrop Grumman team’s willingness to compete.
Raytheon Co. Integrated Defense Systems in Portsmouth, RI received a $13 million firm-fixed-price contract for the fabrication, assembly, test, and delivery of 52 MK 20 MOD 1 canisters on behalf of the Governments of Japan (88%) and Canada (12%) under the foreign military sales program. The MK 20 MOD 1 canister holds a RIM-7 Sea Sparrow missile in a cell of the MK 48 guided missile vertical launching system (GMVLS) for naval ships.
Work will be performed at the facility of Raytheon’s subcontractor Stork Fokker in Hoogeveen, Netherlands, and is expected to be complete by February 2009. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, DC (N00024-06-C-5435).