Western militaries have have increasingly adopted vehicles designed from the outset for blast-resistance against land mines and even car bombs. A collective realization is sinking in that up-armoring flat-bottomed vehicles which aren’t designed to take that kind of weight, and which have strict limits on the level of protection they can ever provide, is an inadequate response. While existing vehicles will remain in inventory, patrol vehicles will and do need more. Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the USA has fielded thousands of up-armored Hummers as a stopgap measure, even though their design is the very definition of the problems described above. In fairness, it has also placed hundreds of orders for genuinely blast-resistant vehicles like Force Protection’s Cougar and Buffalo, Textron’s M1117 Guardian ASV for its military police, and BAE OMC’s smaller RG-31 Nyala/Charger.
USMC RG-31, IEDed in Iraq (click to view story)
In late December, the US military stepped up the pace and announced a new program called MRAP, a tri-service procurement effort that could end up fielding 4,100 or more Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected vehicles in both patrol and squad carrier sizes. There were 9 approved competitors, and DID will cover the entire competition very soon – but even before testing has begun, Valentine’s Day 2007 orders went out to BAE Systems and Force Protection. These vehicles won’t be headed for the test range, but for the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan. BAE’s newest offering is about to receive its trial by fire.
IAF: Jaguar, Mirage 2000 SU-30K, MiG-27, MiG-21 BiS
Replacing India’s rapidly aging military aviation assets will cost at least $35 billion over the next quarter century to bring its air force, army and navy aircraft up to date, according to India Strategic Defense Magazine. The magazine was released by IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal S. P. Tyagi during the Aero India air show that ran between February 7-11, 2007 at Air Force Station Yelahanka in Bangalore, India. Aviation manufacturers from Russia, the European Community, Brazil, and the United States were all there vying for a piece of the potentially huge market. See the full India Defence Article, and also their coverage of the Aero India 2007 defense exhibition.
Defense Update covers the UAE’s IDEX 2007 show, which ended last Thursday. IDEX is the premier Middle East arms exhibition, and one that is growing in both size and global prominence given regional spending trends. During the show, the UAE Armed Forces announced that it has signed deals with worth over 1.34 billion Dirhams (currently about $360 million) with local and international companies. The UAE’s defense procurement process is widely respected, and carries influence beyond its borders. Announcements included:
Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. in Linthicum Heights, MD received a $10.8 million modification to a firm-fixed-price contract for vehicular intercom systems. Work will be performed in Linthicum, MD and is expected to be complete by July 31, 2008. This was a sole source contract initiated on Jan. 25, 2007 by the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command in Fort Monmouth, NJ (W15P7T-06-C-L010).