The US refusal to sell the F-22 Raptor to its main allies is a matter of grave concern to many around the world and is an issue exacerbated by the possible termination of the Raptor project before it even delivers the number of aircraft demanded by the American military itself.
There seem to be no dissenting voices to the view that the Raptor is far and away the best air dominance fighter on the planet. But key US allies – particularly Australia, Britain, Japan and, although with a very different relationship, Israel – have been told the Raptor is simply too good for them, and that they will have to be content with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (and a hobbled export model at that, to ensure even America’s closest friends remain inferior in the skies).
Now there have been many serious concerns raised about the JSF, and specifically its ability to meet the air defence requirements of some intended client states such as Australia. Some critics suggest this aircraft will never be a match for the new Russian-origin aircraft and air defence systems already proliferating in the Asia-Pacific, and so will fail both as a deterrent and as a counter in any conflict. But even giving the JSF the benefit of the doubt, its staunchest proponents quite openly concede it will be found lacking against the Raptor.
To foist this inferior “Little Brother” of the Raptor on close long-term allies is akin to a motorcycle dealer telling a customer they can buy only a 50cc scooter. Unfortunately, such light-hearted analogies fail to convey the gravity of the issue…
Feb 23/09: Northrop Grumman announces that the U.S. Army has increased the ceiling for its Force XXI Battle Command, Brigade and Below (FBCB2 – and see video) contract by $574 million. Under this contract modification, Northrop Grumman will provide FBCB2-Blue Force Tracking installation kits, cables, and related hardware, which will allow inclusion of the new in-line KGV-72 encryption device.
Program management, engineering and supply chain management are performed in Carson, CA, with the final kits packaged and shipped from Huntsville, AL. To date, the company has received 34 delivery orders under this indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract, which runs through March 2011. The U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Life Cycle Management Command contract modification brings the 6-year contract’s new ceiling to $908 million.
FBCB2 is more commonly known to the public as “Blue Force Tracker,” though that is only part of a system designed to enable a diverse array of communications, in addition to showing the positions of friendly forces and detected enemies. DID has covered Blue Force Tracker and its profound implications for land warfare before, along with related contracts for computers and back-end services. Northrop Grumman was awarded its first FBCB2 development contract in January 1995. Since then, the Army has fielded more than 50,000 FBCB2 systems, installed in about 45 different military vehicles and aircraft. A new version is under development by Northrop Grumman, and this Joint Capabilities Release will provide faster updating, as well as compatibility between Army and USMC systems.
BAE recently announced that the Norwegian Defence Logistics Organisation has selected BAE Systems Sting Ray MOD 1 lightweight torpedo for its Norwegian Antisubmarine Torpedo (NAT) program following an international competition, and issued a GBP 99 million (EUR 136.1M / $145M) contract. These pump-jet propelled, autonomous active-homing 324mm torpedoes will arm Norway’s new Fridtjof Nansen Class AEGIS frigates, NH90 NFH Anti Submarine Warfare helicopters, and its P-3C Orion maritime patrol planes.
“Lightweight” torpedoes are light only in comparison to their huge 533mm ship-killing counterparts, like the submarine-launched American Mk48 torpedo and BAE’s own Spearfish. Submarines are easier to sink than enemy destroyers, however, which allows warhead and torpedo size to be reduced for carriage and launch from smaller surface ship torpedo tubes, maritime patrol aircraft, and anti-submarine helicopters.
This is the first export success for the upgraded Stingray MOD 1…
The Republic of Ireland is a neutral power with a small armed forces, whose equipment is more suited to policing than war. Eire’s troops do deploy abroad on UN missions, however, where more protection and firepower are needed. French AML-20/AML-90 armored cars, and GD MOWAG’s wheeled LAV/Piranha vehicles have been purchased and deployed for those operations.
In September 2005, Ireland canceled a planned purchase of up to 66 light-armored tactical vehicles (LTAV), which would have provided its forces with mine-resistant patrol vehicles for use on its missions in Pakistan/Afghanistan, Bosnia, Lebanon and the Golan Heights, The Congo, Liberia, and the Western Sahara between Morocco and Algeria. Instead, the Department of Defence purchased 15 more Piranha-III wheeled APCs in January 2006.
That move has now been reconsidered. In early 2008, the EUFOR Chad mission was added to the above deployments, and in May 2008, the An Roinn Cosanta (DoD) restarted the LTAV tender competition. The new competition will be for 27 vehicles, plus a pair of options that could add 27 more and bring the total number of vehicles to 54. Tenders were received in early July 2008, and in September 2008 the 3 finalists were announced. Now, it seems that we have a winner…