The Ukraine has a substantial defense industry left as a legacy from the Soviet Union, and some products like the BTR-3E1/3U have become export successes. India is certainly aware of the T-80UD “Al-Khalid” tank developed for Pakistan, whose rapid and successful fielding resulted in a rush effort to add T-90S tanks to the Indian Army’s fleet. The Ukraine needs more of those orders in order to modernize and maintain its defense industrial base, which is vital to the country’s continued security.
India has a different problem, which it shares with the Ukraine: sets of Soviet/Russian-made equipment that must be maintained and upgraded, despite poor cooperation from Russian firms. Reports indicate that Ukrainian expertise will be sought for programs aimed at modernizing Indian armor, MiG, Antonov, Tupolev and Ilyushin aircraft; and Mil and Kamov helicopters. Missiles, radars, and weapons cooperation are also reportedly under discussion.
It’s worthy of note that all of these potential areas are also areas of Israeli expertise, and Israeli cooperation with India has grown apace on that basis. What Israel lacks, and the Ukraine offers, is original manufacturing capabilities for Russian equipment designs, and for many of the associated parts that would be used as spares.
On Feb 19/09, the Australian Government formally opened an A$ 85 million Defence Materials Technology Centre (DMTC) in Bendigo, Victoria, aimed at researching futuristic materials for the Defence industry. The DMTC is the first center to be established under the Defence Future Capability Technology Centre Program, and the project was announced in December 2007. It’s funded under a partnership arrangement, with the Australian Government provided A$ 30 million. Collaborating partners contribute a further A$ 52-55 million.
BAE Systems announced a $45 million contract from General Dynamics Land Systems that will see them equip U.S. Army Stryker family wheeled APCs and and M1 Abrams family tanks with their “Check 6” infrared rear-view system. Deliveries are set to begin in April 2009, and BAE Systems expects to deliver more than 12,000 of these systems over the next decade.
The Check 6 system uses a thermal viewer derived from the company’s weapon sights, in order to provide all-water, all-hours visibility. It’s fitted into a tail light housing, and installs with no drilling or welding. The system allows the crew to “see” in a cone behind the vehicle, without leaving its armor protection.
More than a few civilian drivers could also benefit from this technology. These days, some do. Daylight videocameras mounted in the rear of civilian vehicles, and displayed on the rear view mirror or dashboard screen, are now available as options on a number of medium and high-end cars.
Mexico needs surveillance, and many of its key surveillance assets are coming from Israel. Its E-2C Hawkeye AWACS aircraft were bought used from the Israeli Air Force. A recent $25 million purchase from Elbit Systems added cheaper long-endurance aerial surveillance via Hermes 450 mid-tier UAVs, as well as hand-launched Skylark-I mini-UAVs for troops on the ground. Now Aeronautics Defense Systems of Yavneh, Israel will be selling Mexico’s federal police over $22 million worth of its Skystar 300 surveillance aerostats and small Orbiter UAVs.
These UAVs and aerostats will be needed. Mexico doesn’t make the headlines very often, but the country faces what counter-terrorist analyst John Robb has called a growing “open source insurgency” of narco-traffickers and some leftist groups. The violence associated with “The Cartel War” has reportedly claimed almost 8,000 lives in the last 2 years. It is starting to create ripples of concern in many American Hispanic communities, who still have considerable family ties in Mexico. It also appears to be prodding the Mexican government into belated force improvements, as the scope of the growing conflict becomes clearer.
TLD America Corp. in Windsor, CT won a $39.5 million fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract. Under this contract, US NAVAIR will buy between 5-200 Large Landbased Tow Tractors (LLTTs), which are used to safely move aircraft weighing up to 350,000 pounds (158.75 tonnes). This contract also provides for associated technical and logistics data, and training in support of the LLTT.
Work will be performed in Sherbrooke, QC, Canada, and is expected to be complete in February 2014. This contract was competitively procured by electronic RFP, and 5 offers were received by the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Lakehurst, NJ (N68335-09-D-0093).
Rep. Gene Taylor [D-MS-4] Chairs the US House Armed Services Committee’s Seapower and Expeditionary Forces subcommittee. He has represented the 4th district for almost 20 years now, despite the fact that it hasn’t voted for his party’s presidential candidate since 1956. Taylor is a vocal critic of the US Navy’s current shipbuilding strategy, while remaining one of Congress’ strongest advocates for a larger shipbuilding budget and a larger Navy. On Feb 4/09, he released his statement on the future of US Navy shipbuilding:
“For far too many years I have watched as the size of the Navy fleet has decreased… In particular, the failure of the [Littoral Combat Ship] program to deliver on the promise of an affordable, capable, and reconfigurable warship only puts the exclamation point on a Bush administration’s strategy that was neither well envisioned nor properly executed. As for the DDG 1000, we will not know the true cost of that program for a number of years but significant cost growth on that vessel will require diverting funding from other new construction projects to pay the over-run.
Lacking the expectation of increased funding available for ship procurement, it is more important than ever to set the Navy on an affordable strategy for ship procurement… To achieve an affordable, stable shipbuilding plan I recommend the following to the new administration…”
The start of 2009 seems to be viewed with some ease by most military contractors. In the United States, Barack Obama has selected a so-called “centrist” team of top national security lieutenants largely from Bill Clinton’s administration, plus continued service from Republican Robert Gates. The signals of continuity seem so unavoidably clear that Obama’s most leftist benefactors are upset.
Throughout the rest of the Western world, the settling global recession has thus far led at worst to mere program delays, while small bursts of spending meant to fill immediate battlefield needs continue. There is a widespread feeling that most existing procurement programs will remain on course for some time, and perhaps trend downward later.
This conventional wisdom is unconvincing. Rather, it is quite possible that financial constraints, conventional overmatch, and constabulary impulses may combine to significantly reorder military spending priorities throughout the western world in the next few years. Procuring the right kit for small wars, cost-effectively and on-time, means following the economics demonstrated in the procurement of their decisive weapons: the Predator, the JDAM, and the MRAP…
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The M299 missile launcher equips a number of helicopters, including the he AH-64D Apache Longbow, Britain’s WAH-64 MK1 Apache helicopters, the USMC’s new AH-1Z Viper (Cobra family) attack helicopter, Eurocopter’s Tiger scout/attack helicopter, and the SH-60B Seahawk. It weighs 145 pounds and supports 4 Hellfire II laser-guided anti-armor missiles, or up to 4 Longbow Hellfire dual guidance (laser/radar) fire-and-forget missiles, or up to 16 of Lockheed Martin’s new laser-guided DAGR 70mm rockets. Lockheed Martin produces the electronics for the M299 launcher at its facility in Ocala, FL, and Marvin Engineering in Inglewood, CA performs final assembly and test.
In late 2007, Lockheed Martin announced a $51.3 million U.S. Army contract to supply an additional 430 M299 helicopter-mounted missile launchers (402 USA, 38 foreign military sales) and 376 launcher electronic assemblies for U.S. and international forces. The contract from the US Army’s Aviation and Missile Command, at Redstone Arsenal, AL also included multiple spares, engineering services and depot support. That order extended M299 production activity in Ocala and in Inglewood until late 2011, as Deliveries were scheduled to run through the 3rd quarter of 2011.
DAGRs & Hellfires
Now a $31.3 million modification to that Bridge 3 contract award will add 298 M299s (total: 728), 134 launcher electronic assemblies (total: 510) and multiple spares to U.S. and international forces. Lockheed Martin is increasing the rate of production, and deliveries are still scheduled to be completed in 2011. The 2009 release also touts its compatibility with the resurrected JAGM missile program, which features a competition between previous competition winner Lockheed Martin and a Boeing/Raytheon partnership.