Each year, NATO publishes updated figures on its members’ defense expenditures, based on the NATO definition of the term. Data is also provide with respect to key outside entities; estimates are presented for Russia as well. The alliance has been tracking defense spending since 1963, and the figures are available in PDF, HTML, and Excel formats, depending on the year.
“The figures given in Table 1 represent payments actually made or to be made during the course of the fiscal year. They are based on the NATO definition of defence expenditures. In view of the differences between this and national definitions, the figures shown may diverge considerably from those which are quoted by national authorities or given in national budgets. For countries providing military assistance, this is included in the expenditures figures. For countries receiving assistance, figures do not include the value of items received. Expenditures for research and development are included in equipment expenditures and pensions paid to retirees in personnel expenditures.”
During the Cold War, NATO countries had a strong incentive to invest in minesweeper fleets, in order to keep their ports open to American reinforcements and cover key chokepoints that might be mined by Soviet submarines. With the demise of the Soviet Union, and the rise of remote-controlled UUVs and USVs that can be mounted on any ship, the perceived need for minesweeper ships has declined. The US Navy, for instance, will decommission all 12 of its 893 ton, fiberglass MHC-51 Osprey Class minesweepers by the end of FY 2008. So far, 8 of them have been sold to the Egyptian (MHC 60 & 61), Greek (MHC 52 & 53), Lithuanian (MHC 56 & 57), and Turkish (MHC 58 & 62) navies, even though the first ship was only christened in 1991.
With piracy rising sharply in the early 21st century, however, and land mines showing themselves to be the preferred tactic of islamists and other terrorists on land, some countries are connecting the dots and reassessing their post Cold War needs…
Flowforming is an advanced cold forming process, used to manufacture dimensionally precise, seamless metal components in rounded shapes. The technology offers a number of advantages, including very high precision, the ability to use very thin walls or even variable thickness walls, refined grain structure and uniformly oriented texture that helps create higher yield and tensile strengths, and working with pre-hardened metals in ways that eliminate further grinding, machining, et. al. See flowforming animations.
On the materials side, Inconel 718 is a precipitation hardenable nickel-based steel alloy designed to display exceptionally high yield, tensile and creep-rupture properties at temperatures up to 1300Â°F. This alloy also has excellent weldability.
If you’re building mortar tubes that have to be light enough to carry, while containing and channeling the controlled explosions that send mortar bombs on their way, the attributes of flowforming and Inconel 718 make them an attractive combination. The US Marines certainly think so…