DID has covered a number of stories lately dealing with defense export restrictions, especially with respect to Venezuela. We’ve also covered stories before involving sanctions against firms who have dealt prohibited materials to Iran, and other stories involving Immigration & Customs Enforcement of trafficking in military items. Our January 3, 2006 report focused on the December 2005 sanctions list for Iranian dealings, which added a number of Chinese firms including Norinco. The latest list, published in the US Federal Register on August 4, 2006, names a pair of significant Russian companies as well: Russia’s central arms export hub Rosoboronexport, and jet fighter manufacturer Sukhoi.
While other companies in North Korea, Cuba and India were also named, the fallout has extended into overall US – Russian relations. DID will explain what’s going on and what the resulting sanctions mean, while offering our readers additional sources for their perusal.
In late December 2005, DID noted that the USA has spent $1 billion on humanitarian land-mine removal over the last 10 years. A year ago, on August 16, 2005, we noted a $38 million contract to CyTerra for its AN/PSS-14 (formerly HSTAMIDS) Mine Detection Sets. Someone must have liked them, because L-3 recently announced that its March 2006 acquisition CyTerra has received a 10-year, $300 million contract for over 17,000 more sets as well as Sweep Monitoring Systems for training, Training Target Sets, and worldwide training and support. The value of the first order is approximately $24 million. The US Army and Marines currently have about 2,000 delivered sets in their possession. See corporate release.
The AN/PSS-14 employs a state-of-the-art metal detector and ground penetrating radar (GPR), coupled with an advanced microprocessor array and software in order to achieve a high probability of detection (in excess of 95%) for both large and small metallic and even nonmetallic antitank and antipersonnel mines. They’ve even been used to find underground pipes in civilian applications. It also significantly reduces the number of false targets or alarms. The apparatus weighs approximately eight pounds, uses standard batteries and can be operated by a single Soldier. See this U.S. Army page re: all countermine equipment in current use.
Controversies have kept going on regarding the USA’s 1973 Berry Amendment, which mandates US firms as sources for ‘strategic metals’ used in the defense industry. Aerospace companies want it relaxed to introduce more competition for a metal they’re using more often, and appear to have agreement in principle from the Pentagon. US titanium producers like Allegheny Technologies, RTI International and TIMET are fighting to keep it as is to protect their turf.
The US Senate thinks it has a compromise that allows suppliers to skip reporting on small items like bolts, etc. US titanium producers are fighting even that measure. Which now has the Russians involved.
On Aug 8/06, DefenseLINK announced a $19.6 million firm-fixed-price undefinitzed action contract for advance procurement of titanium in support of F-22A Lot 8 aircraft, with full funds committed (FA8611-06-C-2899). Work will be complete in October 2009, which is when Lot 8 production is scheduled; the current production set is Lot 6. The titanium suppliers will be American, of course, vid. The Berry Amendment controversy.
The F-22A Raptor makes heavy use of titanium in order to give it the lightness, strength, stability, and temperature resistance required by its supersonic stealth design. As such, titanium prices are a significant component of the fighter’s cost. Guess someone thinks the price is about to rise – and given increased global demand, they’re hardly alone.