Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Defense signed a letter of intent to acquire 20 Eurocopter EC725 Cougar helicopters during the May KADEX-2012 military exposition in Astana. Kazakhstan joins France, Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Mexico as customers, and the contract includes in-country assembly by the Eurocopter Kazakhstan Engineering 50/50 joint venture at Astana.
Cost was not announced, but Brazil’s deal was around EUR 1.85 billion for 50 helicopters assembled in-country, while Mexico paid around EUR 168 million for 6 delivered machines. EUR 650 – 750 million would be a reasonable estimate range for 20 machines.
Kazakhstan was already a strong Eurocopter customer. Its government VIP transport helicopter is the Cougar’s EC225 civil counterpart, and the country has an agreement to buy up to 45 EC145 helicopters for a variety of government roles. Eurocopter was also touting its Tiger attack helicopter at KADEX-2012, but that hasn’t turned into anything yet. We’d make a Borat reference here, but Kazakhstan would hate us.
Who says you cannot make a U-turn with an aircraft carrier? Early media reports were right (it happens!), the UK officially confirmed [PDF] that it will switch its JSF order from the F-35C to the STOVL flavor:
“We expect HMS Queen Elizabeth to be handed over to the Navy in early 2017 for sea trials. We expect to take delivery of our first test aircraft in July of this year, and we expect the first production aircraft to be delivered to us in 2016, with flying from the Queen Elizabeth to begin in 2018, after her sea trials are complete.”
Canada released its Report on Plans and Priorities 2012-13. It shows total expenses down 10.3% from last year to CAN $19.6B. Planned spending allocates 17.9% to land readiness, 11.6% to joint efforts, 11.4% to maritime readiness and 9.5% to aerospace. Land readiness is almost cut in half but is planned to go back above CAN $3.3B by 2013-14.
DoD’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) FY11 report [PDF] dates from February but was only released publicly earlier this week. Though the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is exempt from DFARS regulations, CAPE has started independently assessing the cost of their programs. They have focused so far on regular major programs (MDAPs) while they have worked mostly on the IT programs (MAIS) deemed to be in the worst shape. Also of note: