India is planning a $1.5 billion upgrade for its 30 military airports and their air traffic control systems, and reportedly issued a request for bids in January. According to India Defence, invited bidders to Phase 1 included: France’s Thales, the U.S.’s Lockheed Martin, Germany’s Siemens, Italy’s Selex, Britain’s Terma. Indian firms Tata Power and Mumbai-based NELCO were also invited.
Phase 1 will include the supply, installation, testing and integration of equipment subsystems at airfields that include Adampur, AFA, Agra, Ambala, Bagdogra, Bareilly, Bhatinda, Bhuj, Bidar, Chabua, Chandigarh, Gorakhpur, Gwalior, Halwara, Hasimara, Hindon, Jaisalmer, Jamnagar, Jodhpur, Jorhat, KKD, Nal, Naliya, Pathankot, Pune, Sirsa, Suratgarh, Tezpur, Uttarlai and Yelahanka. India Defence’s “US$ 1.5 Billion Upgrades For 30 Indian Air Force Military Bases” has further details re: the required components and other specifications.
Over the last several months, “Aging Aircraft: USAF F-15 Fleet Grounded” has covered the sudden loss of the USAF’s F-15 A-D Eagle fighter fleet, in the wake of an accident in which one of the USAF’s plane’s broke in half in mid-air due to structural fatigue. The ripple effects have been wide-ranging within the existing fighter fleet, as other aircraft were diverted to cover F-15 missions. Pilot re-certification very nearly became a nightmare of its own. The largest effects, however, may play out on the procurement front. If many of the USAF’s F-15s, which were supposed to serve until 2020, must be retired, how should they be replaced?
“On Dec. 12, 28 Senators and 68 members of the House of Representatives wrote to Pentagon chief Robert M. Gates, urging him to keep buying F-22s, at least through the end of the 2009 Quadrennial Defense Review. They said that, in light of the F-15 groundings and reports indicating that “significantly more than 220” Raptors are needed to fulfill national strategy, ending F-22 production now would be, at best, “ill advised.”… In late December, Pentagon Comptroller Tina W. Jonas directed USAF to shift $497 million marked for F-22 shutdown costs to fix up the old F-15s instead. The move effectively set the stage for continued F-22 production.
“Bird Dogs for the Iraqi Air Force” discussed orders for the IqAF, and the successful history of Cessna’s “bird dog” aircraft in battlefield surveillance and support roles. While the Cessna 172s will be used for flight training, the incoming Cessna Grand Caravan 208B aircraft are equipped with the same cheap surveillance and targeting turrets used on Predator UAVs. The Cessna 172s may also graduate to this role at some point, and there are indications that the Grand Caravans may be armed with light weapons as a surveillance/ light counterinsurgency counterpart to Iraq’s pending COIN aircraft selection.
The Iraqi Air Force is a pale shadow of its former self; in many ways, it is starting over from zero. A small handful of C-130E transports, a couple squadrons of helicopters, and an assortment of light propeller planes are all the IqAF possesses. They’ll need more than that in order to protect Iraq’s basic sovereignty, and training efforts with the USAF are underway. Now, so is a contract to support that effort…
The infantry soldier sits at the center of gravity of current wars. While institutional infatuation with larger projects often makes defense departments slow to adapt to this reality, improvements to the individual soldier’s equipment and firepower overmatch are generally where countries will find the most bang for their buck if they wish to make a difference on the ground.
While countries like the USA have been using 40mm grenade launchers as standard equipment for some time, and are even introducing new options like the terminator-style Milkor M-32, Britain has lagged behind. As the MoD article noted, “views coming back from the front line were that [.50 cal machine guns] needed some high explosive back-up to provide full force protection and security to airfields and forward operating bases.” To fix this problem, in November 2006 Britain bought 40 Heckler & Koch 40mm grenade machine guns for use in Afghanistan by the Royal Marines. The weapon is exactly what its name implies, firing up to 340 grenades per minute to burst around enemies up to 1.5 km away. Although the ammunition can be used against light armour, its main role is infantry suppression and overmatch against enemies with AK-type weapons, RPGs, etc. These are true crew-served weapons with a weight of at least 30kg/ 70 pounds, however, so many will be mounted on “Wimik” (weapons mount installation kit) Land Rovers.
Projects to give GPS-guided smart bombs dual-guidance capability are popular these days. Israel has developed its GPS/EO Spice bomb, the USA has Laser JDAMs, and Britain has cobbled together a Paveway II+ as an interim step while working on its own Paveway IV. The combination provides the improved accuracy and ability to hit moving targets offered by laser-guidance, with GPS available as a backup that allows the pilot to drop bombs even through weather conditions that would defeat lasers. While the Spice is entirely autonomous thanks to its use of cameras + image recognition technology as a final guidance corrective, the laser/GPS combination relies on either a targeting pod or another targeting laser source to light up its quarry for final adjustments. If weather conditions allow laser use closer to the ground, it may even be possible to receive all the benefits of dual laser/GPS guidance despite poor conditions at altitude.