Kongsberg has announced a NOK 150 million (about $24 million equivalent) contract from Finmeccanica’s Italian shipyard Fincantieri. Kongsberg will deliver 2 command and weapon control systems, which will equip 2 more Salvatore Todaro/ U212A Class submarines that Fincantieri is building for the Italian Navy. ThyssenKrupp and Fincantieri worked together on the design under a 1996 Memorandum of Agreement, and Salvatore Todaro was commissioned in 2006.
The U212A is a modernized outgrowth of ThyssenKrupp’s ubiquitous U209 Class, with the addition of supplemental air-independent propulsion systems for quieter operation and long dives. Since diesel-electric submarines are most detectable, and most vulnerable, when they surface for air to feed their engines, AIP is a big step forward for non-nuclear submarines. In April 2006, a German U-212A set a world record for non-nuclear subs with a two-week-long dive from Eckernfoerde in Germany to Rota in Spain.
U-212A Salvatore Todaro
The combat system contract was won against international competition, but Kongsberg came in with a number of advantages. One is commonality; a 1998 contract had already supplied the Salvatore Todaro and the Scire with Kongsberg’s combat system. The second advantage is history. Kongsberg has more than 35 years’ experience of delivering command and weapon control systems for Norwegian, German and Italian submarines.
Afghanistan has forced a number of participating countries to upgrade their UAV fleets through purchase and rental, and Dutch forces are no exception. They have bought Aladin and Raven mini-UAVs, and a recent announcement indicates that they’re about to retire their old, limited Sperwer-A UAVs as of March 1/09. Instead of buying replacements, they will join the rent-a-UAV trend.
The concept of renting front-line military equipment would have seemed outlandish a very short time ago. Now, UAVs like Boeing’s ScanEagle are rented and operated by contractors on the front lines of battle, Britain has rented Elbit Systems’ mid-size Hermes 450 UAVs until its derivative Watchkeeper system is fielded, and Canada is renting IAI’s large, long-endurance Heron UAVs for use in Afghanistan. P.W. Singer’s recent book Wired for War even discusses examples of human rights groups inquiring about renting or buying UAVs to monitor key conflict zones. Private surveillance UAVs are already operating along the US-Mexican border, and additional examples around the globe seem to be just a matter of time. The times, they are a’ changing.
The Dutch have picked Aeronautics Defense Systems’ Aerostar UAV, and that firm has just confirmed the contract…
America’s 21 B-2A Spirit stealth bombers have been leaders in stealth technology and weapon support arrangements. Now, they’re a leader in a less desirable category. DTI’s Bill Sweetman reports that during a 2008 bandwidth auction, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission inadvertently sold the operating frequency band of the B-2 bomber’s Raytheon AN/APQ-181 radar to an obscure firm headed by a Russian-educated citizen of Mali. Installing new radar arrays on the 20 surviving jets will reportedly cost “well over $1 billion.”
Sweetman notes that this is just one side effect of spectrum allocation problems, and greater civilian appetites for its use. Patriot PAC-3 missiles that are critical to Japan’s missile defense system have problems there, because the radios used to link all the scattered firing units use frequencies assigned to the Japanese cell phone industry. The JTIDS predecessor to modern Link-16 MIDS-LVTs is currently the only way to get AWACS targeting data to an F-22, but it has “limited supportability outside the continental U.S.” because it was developed in an occupied band. Even flight testing and telemetry is beginning to have these problems.
In January 2009, “8 Super Tucanos to Dominican Republic” added that a 24 plane sale worth up to $280 million was also pending to Ecuador, on South America’s west-central coast. Embraer has now confirmed that sale.
The Fuerza Aerea Ecuatoriana has come into conflict with Peru over border disputes, with full-scale combat breaking out as recently as 1981 and 1995. The Brazilia treaty of 1998 has quieted that threat for now, allowing the government to focus on other missions…
By The Heritage Foundation’s Mackenzie Eaglen and Eric Sayers
USN Fleet plan, 2009
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Representative Ike Skelton [D-MO] recently expressed his concern about the state of the United States Navy, noting that since the Cold War ended, the U.S. “…forgot that we are a maritime nation. We forgot that lesson of history that only the nations with powerful navies are able to exert power and influence, and when a navy disappears so does that nation’s power.”
“The U.S. has 11 aircraft carriers, and that number should increase to 13 over the longer term. The number of cruisers and destroyers should increase from a projected 88 to 100, and the number of attack submarines should rise from 48 to at least 60. This should be facilitated, in part, by reducing the projected number of littoral combat ships from 55 to 20. Further, the QDR should at least consider recommending that the Navy proceed with DDG-1000 procurement instead of extending the construction of DDG-51 Arleigh Burke destroyers by ensuring that the DDG-1000s will have both air and ballistic missile defense capabilities.”
This article is set within the context of Heritage’s overall QDR recommendations, which were necessarily brief. It expands on the strategic, tactical, and industrial rationales behind the choices that we believe a secure America will require, within the context of Heritage’s belief that America needs consistent defense budgets around 4% of national GDP.
Caterpillar, Inc in Mossville, IL received a $73.2 million cost plus, no fee, firm-fixed-price contract with options. They will provide services to the Life Extension Program for Program Executive Office (PEO) Combat Support/Combat Service Support’s Caterpillar equipment, which includes the D7F Dozer, the 130G Grader and the 621B Scraper. Note that the D7Fs were first introduced in 1969, and the 621Bs are also several generations old.
This umbrella contract simply sets the terms and the maximum ceiling; each request will be taken care of by a task order between March 4/09 and Feb 20/12. One bid was solicited and one bid received by US Army TACOM in Warren, MI (W56HZV-09-D-0027).
Research and Development is essential to any national technology base, and to the health of its defense industrial base. The USA is a global research leader, and some of its efforts have created international infrastructure – like the internet. In other cases, it has been a matter of adapting existing civilian research like low-power, flexible displays for military use. For smaller nations like Canada, Australia, et. al. R&D budgets are smaller, and so funded research must be more focused.
Australia’s Capability and Technology Demonstrator (CTD) Extension Program aims to take existing DSTO research projects to higher maturity levels for operational./ commercial evaluation, in a manner similar to the USA’s SBIR Phase III awards. Australia’s Minister for Defence Science and Personnel Warren Snowden recently announced 4 winners in this area:
In March 2007, United Technologies subsidiary Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Stratford, CT received Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) contract for a program called “Sandblaster.”
Sandblaster? Being under a helicopter’s rotors can certainly feel like that, especially in sandy or dusty areas. That’s a problem in current operations, as “brownout” leaves helicopter pilots attempting to land blind – or unable to land at all. Since 1973, the US military says that there have been 21 MH-53 and 10 HH-60G brownout-related accidents within the combat search and rescue force alone. Future operations can also expect to encounter these conditions on a regular basis.
Advances in computer processing power and display technologies have led to the development of “synthetic vision systems” for commercial aircraft, and even for some ground vehicles. Could a set of sensors combine their data in a synthetic vision system that lets rotary-wing pilots see, even in total brownout conditions?
From the US Department of State, which is busy with an anti-stimulus program of freezing defense-related exports to key allies and markets, while it conducts an indefinite bureaucratic “review” of those relationships:
March 5/09: DS-4071: Notification of Initial Exports of Technical Data and/or Defense Services per 22 CFR 123.22(b)(3). See MS Word file.
“Pursuant to 22 CFR 123.22(b)(3), the exporter of record (e.g., license applicant or agreement holder) must notify the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) of the initial export of technical data and/or defense services. Currently, the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) requires this notification to be provided to DDTC electronically. The electronic mechanism to meet this requirement, the DS-4071, is not available at this time. The required notification must be provided to DDTC via paper submission. DDTC is continuing to work on the implementation of the DS-4071 and will provide status updates via web notice. The final implementation of the DS-4071, and instructions, will be provided via Federal Register notice.”
As was the case in the communist Soviet Union, China’s official military budget and real military budget are not the same thing. Many items are hidden under other ministries, or simply not reported truthfully in the absence of accountable government. Official figures are given, however, and for the last 20 years those figures have shown uninterrupted double-digit increases.
That tradition continues in 2009, as the official budget is set to rise to 14.9% to YUAN 480.6 billion (about $70.2 billion) from the 2008 figure of YUAN 417.77 billion ($58.81 billion). In 2006, the equivalent figure was $35 billion, which means the official budget has doubled over that time.
The biggest unanswered questions have to do with the differential between announced and actual figures. RAND’s Project Air Force, which has also studied China’s arms industry modernization, gave a figure of 150% – 200% difference. Other international analysts have estimated the actual budget at up to 400% of the official budget. A related question involves whether or not these differentials are narrowing or remaining stable, as a result of these continuous double-digit increases. SIPRI has side-stepped this issue by using the interesting metric of purchasing power parity, in order to derive a $188 billion figure that was just over 300% of the official total in 2008.
Any of these estimates would make China’s military budget the world’s second-largest, far outpacing competitors like India (reliable, and around $28 billion equivalent). BBC News.