The EU’s European Defense Agency has been busy during its short lifetime, attempting to create more transparent competition with fewer set-asides in European defense spending, consolidate national programs into international ones, work to develop technology and standards for UAV civil certification, and get some level of agreement regarding future areas of defense investment. Now a deal reached on Nov 19/07 will see the EDA budget take a significant jump from EUR 22 million (2007) to EUR 32 million in 2008. France had pushed to give the agency a 3-year budget, but Britain vetoed the proposal. A Reuters report quotes a senior British official as saying that “We don’t back a budget without seeing what we are paying for…”
In October 2007, “Get SMArt: Control for Aussie Artillery” covered their purchase of the German Diehl/Rheinmetall GIWS(Gesellschaft fur Intelligente Wirksysteme mbH) partnership’s SMArt 155 artillery shell. It’s designed to kill enemy armored vehicles by releasing a pair of can-shaped projectiles that descend by parachute, look for enemy vehicles below, then fire an Explosively-Formed Projectile (EFP) – an explosive charge that turns the concave metal plate they carry into an impromptu tank shell that rips through weak top armor.
Britain has also been looking to update its artillery with new munitions, and the Ballistic Sensor Fused Munition (BSFM) program featured GIWS’ SMArt 155 against BAE Bofors’ BONUS sensor-fized shell to equip Britain’s new AS90 Braveheart self-propelled tracked howitzers. GIWS won that competition, and development of the BSFM will now begin under the UK MoD’s Artillery Systems Integrated Project Team (IPT), integrating requested components and making changes. Missiles and Batteries Ltd (MSB) in Scotland, for instance, have been awarded a GBP 1.5 million (about $3.1 million) contract to produce the required shock-resistant batteries.
What, no blue face paint?
BSFM is the first component of the GBP 1.5 billion (about $3.07 billion) Category A Indirect Fire Precision Attack (IFPA) procurement program, which envisages a mix of 5 munitions acquired over time. IFPA aims to use a mix of shells and rockets, in order to give British forces the ability attack and destroy high value targets including enemy armor at ranges up to 300km, around the clock, and in all weather conditions. The program is scheduled to build to full capability by 2017.
Germany’s CH-53G medium-heavy helicopters are already slated for a EUR 520 million upgrade, as Germany extends their useful lives until the HLH program’s replacements are ready around 2020. Some of those CH-53Gs are currently serving in Afghanistan as the only helicopter assets available to ISAF’s Regional Command North, which encompasses 9 of the easier Afghan provinces and contains Provincial Reconstruction Teams from Germany, Hungary, Norway and Sweden. Because they are ISAF RCN’s only helicopter assets, the CH-53Gs normally fly as a pair for mutual support, further limiting their reach.
At present, the 2 door-mounted 7.62mm machine guns mounted in the CH-53Gs aren’t considered powerful enough to deliver effective suppressive fire in an ambush situation. The Afghan helicopters will be among the first to receive an armament upgrade in 2008, which begins by adding a .50 caliber/ 12.7mm M3M machine gun. It’s also mounted on American CH-53s, where it’s known as the GAU-21. Phase 2 of the upgrade will also see the CH-53Gs’ door guns replaced with FN Herstal’s M3Ms. It isn’t much, but it’s something – and more than they currently have available. Aviation Week Ares.
Small business qualifier CSI Armoring in Miami, FL won the full delivery order amount of $7.8 million as part of a firm-fixed-price contract for Armored Sport Utility Vehicles. Work will be performed in Miami, FL and is expected to be complete by May 24/08. There were 6 bids solicited on Aug 13/07, and 14 bids were received by the Multi-National Security Transition Command – Iraq in Baghdad, Iraq (GS-07F-08-0001).