Jul 22, 2012 20:14 UTC
The Israeli Air Force has known since December 2008 that its fleet of A-4 Skyhawk jet trainers and light attack aircraft would leave service. It took until July 2012 to sign a contract for the Skyhawk’s successor, despite justifiable complaints from South Korea that the process lacked full professional formality. The first M-346 Master trainers should begin arriving in Israel around mid-2014, where they will be operated by the IAI/Elbit “TOR” joint venture as a public-private partnership service to the IAF.
Italy’s M-346 eventually beat KAI’s supersonic T-50, thanks to a combination of air force evaluations, geo-political considerations, and countervailing industrial offers. For most countries, “industrial offsets” mean sub-contracting work in their country, sometimes even in sectors of their economy outside of the defense industry. Israel’s weapons industry is far more developed, however, and so their advanced trainer competition saw “industrial offsets” as the purchase of full-fledged Israeli weapons systems. South Korea was already a customer for Israeli radars, UAVs, and missiles, and was seen as the favorite thanks to their relationships and their jet. Italy was a much smaller customer, but relations between Silvio Berlusconi and the Jewish state had been good for a long time. By October 2011, reports surfaced that Italy had made Israel a very impressive offer – one that would make Italy a major export customer for strategic systems, even as it equalized purchases on both sides. In the end, it was an offer the Israelis couldn’t, and didn’t, refuse.
The deal’s components are as follows:
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Jul 22, 2012 16:27 UTC
In mid-July 2012, Russia’s Rosoboronexport announced an order from Sri Lanka for another 14 Mi-171 helicopters, to be built at the Ulan-Ude plant. The SLAF started operating Mi-17s in 1993, and the current fleet of 13-18 machines equips No. 6 Helicopter Squadron at Anuradhapura, in north-central Sri Lanka.
The additional buy is part of a $300 million, 10-year loan to buy equipment for Sri Lanka’s military, which was signed during a 2012 state visit to Russia. Why buy more helicopters? SLAF spokesman Group Captain Andrew Wijesuriya told Reuters they were buying them for civilian tourism. Oddly enough, that’s probably at least partly true…
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Jul 19, 2012 08:50 UTC
- Lt. Gen. Charles Davis, recently promoted as the US Air Force’s acquisition deputy chief (the chief position has been vacant for a few months), said the focus was shifting to fielding “capabilities to fight in a contested environment again” – i.e. against a nation state (obviously not China) with decent anti-access capabilities rather than the COIN operations of past years. That includes making a new stealth bomber. He reckons the RDT&E budget should remain stable, at least in the short term.
- Britain receives its first F-35B today. Defence Secretary Hammond joked that he wouldn’t get to fly it home and, more seriously, brushed aside concerns raised in a recent US GAO report by saying: “If you ever buy a house and you get a surveyor to do a structural survey, you will never, ever buy the house if you read the structural survey.” Meanwhile the Pentagon is reportedly finalizing its next JSF production batch with Lockheed Martin.
- Speaking of Lockheed Martin, they sent a letter to all their US employees that confirms their stance on WARN Act notices, in line with statements made by CEO Robert Stevens at yesterday’s HASC hearing:
“Our very rough estimate of the number of employees who could be affected, based on the limited information available to us from the government, is about 10,000. We’d prefer to give you more clarity and details, and we will, just as soon as we get specific guidance from the government.”
This is no doubt distressing for the employees caught in the political firestorm and employment number battles. Sequestration will continue to drown out everything else until it either is resolved or actually comes to pass – a pretty idiotic outcome that nonetheless no longer seems impossible. The sequester is meant as a deterrence mechanism rather than actual policy but the “did you just blink” standstill in Congress has lasted longer than many expected. It looks like these tired late night reruns will stay stuck on the schedule for a few more months.
- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez would like to buy Sukhoi Su-35s. First, he needs to be reelected in October.
- Saab announced [PDF] earlier this month the opening of a multi-country Gripen flight school at AFB Overberg in South Africa. The SA National Defence Force denied yesterday they had even discussed such a plan with the manufacturer. Gripen responded that talks were still underway with the government, presumably at a higher level. Not the greatest way to start establishing a relationship with the base…
- Two recent additions in the DAU’s ACQuipedia explain solicitations and pre-award surveys.
- Changes of command at the US Army Network Enterprise Technology Command (NETCOM) and Joint Attack Munition Systems Project Office (JAMS).
- According to Reuters, United Technologies Corp is in final discussions to sell Rocketdyne to GenCorp. UTC told investors back in March that they intended to sell 3 businesses including Rocketdyne.