Russian President Vladimir Putin stopped in Indonesia to finalize a $1.2 billion defense agreement and to strengthen economic ties. Indonesia has begun buying Russian equipment, including the recent $335 million purchase of more SU-27/30 Flanker family fighters, but Defence Ministry spokesman Edy Butar Butar told Reuters that no banks had stepped forward yet to finance the deal. The Russian defense package opens a line of credit that will allow Indonesia to buy Russian military equipment during the next 15 years, something they can afford as natural resources have made Russia the world’s second-largest holder of foreign currency reserves after China. A pair of SSK Kilo Class attack submarines, 20 armored vehicles, and 15-22 helicopters are reportedly on the shopping list, as part of larger modernization efforts; meanwhile, President Yudhoyono was blunt about their other reasons for accepting:
“We want to diversify the sources of our equipment. Russia is offering us a generous package, and Russia also does not attach any conditions whatsoever. Russia is all business and does not attach any political conditions and that is the way we like it, and that is why we took up the offer.”
Indonesian Defence Minister (and blogger) Juwono Sudarsono was even blunter:
June 29/11: The U.S. Army Contracting Command-Aberdeen Proving Ground’s Natick Contracting Division in Orlando, FL recently issued a 7-vendor, multiple-award contract for “non-intrusive” systems that can scan the inside of personnel, vehicles, and cargo containers; and Entry Control Point (ECP) systems for protecting bases in war zones. The ECP Hardware Sets will include day/night cameras, command and control stations, environmentally protected work stations, biometric systems, barriers, and protective shelters. Most of these systems will be used in Afghanistan, but some few systems will be bought for for training in the United States.
Up to $248.5 million in equipment will be bought, with the winning vendors competing for task orders. In several cases, the vendors listed below are actually leading teams of sub-contractors. The contract will run until August 31/14. Bids were solicited through the Internet, with 7 bids received. The winners were:
Honeywell International Inc. in Morris Township, NJ won a U.S. Army contract to change the way it supports its AGT-1500 turbine engine, used on the M1 Abrams tank and related platforms. Honeywell had forecast that the overall contract under the US Army’s Total InteGrated Engine Revitalization (TIGER) program could amount to $1.4 billion by the end of its lifetime – and with the program reaching the $1.5 billion milestone, their estimate was proven correct.
What distinguishes Honeywell’s performance-based approach under TIGER from previous contracts? How does the program fit in with overall US Army plans for the M1 Abrams out to 2027? And what are the latest awards made under the TIGER program to the end of FY 2011?
At a time when defense budgets are being cut, the era of the multi-billion dollar military satellite program might be over. Witness the fate of the massive $12 billion TSAT program, which was shut down in 2009. As a much cheaper alternative, governments are exploring the possibility of using microsatellites to perform many of the functions currently performed by expensive large satellite systems: GPS navigation, communication, surveillance, and earth imagery.
At a 10th of the cost of their larger cousins, microsatellites are much easier sell to budget conscious procurement officers. They are much cheaper and faster to build and launch. For key military missions, however, their reliability and longevity are an issue. They might be cheaper, but if the military has to use 10 times as many to do the job of traditional satellites, would that be a cost savings?
This DID Spotlight article will focus on the US military’s microsatellite development and launch programs, as well as the Army’s development of nanosatellites for battlefield communication, and take a brief look at the problem of space debris.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Aerospace Industries Association calls for increased investment in research and development so that the United States does not lose its leadership of aerospace and defense. Speaking at the launch of the ‘Second to None’ [PDF] campaign, Marion C Blakey raised a number of concerns that could affect the aerospace and defense industry. These include the development of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), trade regulations and the absence of new fighter aircraft programs.
The European Defence Agency (EDA) and 15 European Union (EU) member states demonstrate a Maritime Surveillance network (MARSUR) that could support military operations and homeland security. Aimed at improving the Recognized Maritime Picture (RMP), MARSUR’s open design will allow member states to feed in and exchange data at their own discretion. The primary cost to member states will be the ability to plug into an interface costing $1.3 billion.
France confirms that it has provided weapons to Libyan rebels. A spokesman confirmed that assault rifles and ammunition were part of the airdrop, but denied that France had supplied Milan anti-tank missile launchers.
At present, many soldiers don’t have communications radios because the hardware is too expensive. Buying 2-way radios from Radio Shack before deployments solved that problem for some soldiers, but insecure communications created others. On the high end, the US military’s JTRS program is expected to create radios that are much better at working together, and much easier to upgrade. As one might expect, however, the hardware appears to be on track to be more expensive, in return for that improved performance.
The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Wireless Network after Next (WNaN) program aims to shift the approach used to design these military wireless networks. It also intends to use inexpensive, high-volume, commercial off the shelf hardware components. They would be combined with adaptive wireless network software operating over densely-deployed, low-cost wireless nodes, with the aim of putting a reliable communications radio into the hands of every soldier. How could that work?
President Barack Obama tells a press conference that questions over whether he should have sought congressional approval for operations in Libya are ‘noise about process’. The President is also confident that he has fulfilled his commitment not deploy troops on the ground and that the United States has been supportive of operations led by other NATO members.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passes a measure that authorizes President Obama to conduct a ‘limited’ military engagement in Libya. Note that the committee can’t actually authorize any such thing, but it can set up a full Senate vote.
In an interview for a BBC program to be broadcast this evening, General Dan McNeil says that it was only in 2010 that the British operation in Helmand, Afghanistan, was given the troops and equipment needed to be effective. Until that point, US commanders effectively bailed out the British by deploying more forces in Helmand.
June 24/11: The US DSCA announces [PDF] the United Arab Emirates’ formal request for 5 UH-60M Black Hawk VIP helicopters. The move will bring the UAE’s UH-60M fleet to 45 helicopters, which breaks down as at least 17 standard transports, up to 23 modified and armed AH-60M Battlehawks, and 5 VIP helicopters. It will also keep pace with Jordan’s monarchy, which recently bought a pair of UH-60M VIP machines. With nearby Bahrain as a UH-60M customer, and Saudi Arbia submitting a major buy request for the type, the UH-60M is quickly becoming the Gulf Cooperation Council’s referenceable standard.
The estimated cost is $217 million, but actual costs will depend on negotiated contracts. The complete request involves…