SAIC announces it intends to split into two listed entities. The spin-off will focus on government and enterprise IT services, which they expect to be a $4B/year business. The bulk of SAIC’s work on defense programs will stay in what they call the “solutions-focused business”, a $7B/y company that will also pursue engineering and health markets. SAIC was for decades an employee-owned company, as its tagline used to proudly proclaim until it went public in 2006.
Andrew Erickson and Gabe Collins argue in The Diplomat that China is simply modernizing its Navy, not building the sort of blue water fleet that would allow deep projection. Maybe. They do seem in a hurry though.
Gyrocam Systems, which was acquired by Lockheed Martin in 2009, has supplied a large number of 15″ class gyro-stabilised VOSS(Vehicle Optics Sensor System) surveillance turrets to the US military, mostly for mounting on blast-resistant MRAP vehicles. Extendable VOSS turrets can be raised over 20 feet to offer a combination of color, night vision and thermal sensors. They’ve been used for everything from force overwatch, to noting disturbed ground that might indicate land mines. The recent November 2011 contract split over $750 million in potential future orders with FLIR systems, but Gyrocam retains its considerable installed base.
How considerable? In August 2012, Lockheed Martin Gyrocam Systems in Sarasota, FL received a 2-year firm-fixed-price contract for VOSS spares and support, worth up to $333.3 million. Work will be performed in Sarasota, FL, with an estimated completion date of Aug 22/14. The bid was solicited through the Internet, with 1 bid received by the U.S. Army Contracting Command in Alexandria, VA (W909MY-12-D-0017).
In February 2006, IANS reported that India had finally signed a $500 million deal with Russia for SPLAV’s Smerch-M BM 9K58 long-range 300mm multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS). SMERCH systems will offer a huge capability boost, relative to India’s older truck-mounted 122mm Grad rocket launchers.
So, what kind of capabilities does this weapon bring to the table? It sounds similar to the Soviet NKVD’s dreaded World War 2 SMERSH (“death to spies”) units, who sometimes acted to stiffen defenders’ resolve by waiting just behind the front lines with machine guns. The Smerch 9K58s may also stiffen resolve on the front lines, and end up being justly feared – albeit for different reasons.
Rear Adm. Yin Zhuo from the Chinese Navy is convinced that talks of increased US missile defense in Asia are meant to trick his country, as well as India, into diverting funds from conventional weapons into budget-draining ballistic weapons that would not be used in a conventional war.
In the meantime China does not seem to lack cash, with a surge of acquisitions in Western countries in sectors such as energy that bring up national security concerns [PDF].
France’s diplomatic pressure on Russia over its support of the Syrian regime falls short of putting their Mistral deal in the balance. Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius said [in French] that France would block any further deliveries if Russia were to breach contract clauses forbidding re-exportation to third parties, though that does not have much to do with the matter at hand.
India’s Army wants to buy 20 mini-UAVs for intelligence gathering and reconnaissance, while China’s State Oceanic Administration will launch UAVs to monitor the weather on its coasts.
Togo’s Air Force acquired a CASA CN235M-10 transport aircraft from Botswana [PDF backgrounder on their Airforce] which replaced it recently with one of two newer CN235M-300s. General Philip Breedlove, commander of the US Air Forces in Europe and Africa, recommends that African nations pool their air force assets.
Rheinmetall plans to cut more than 500 jobs in Germany, according to a trade union representative interviewed by Reuters.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) recommends [PDF] to grow US-Brazil defense trade through the promotion of corporate partnerships and easing technology transfer. The Institute for National Strategic Studies makes a similar assessment [PDF] and notes that Franco-Brazilian deals are underpinned by external financing. The Pentagon reached a similar conclusion in its talks with India: these big emerging countries want more than just trade out of defense deals.
Brazil’s Embraer is leading the consortium which last week won the first phase of the SISFRON border security project. The firm is following the Boeing model with a separate defense company with its own CEO and is aiming to reach the $1B/year threshold this year.
The MK7 MOD 2 Anti-Personnel Obstacle Breaching System (APOBS) is used to clear mines or wire obstacles, and create a safe footpath for troops. APOBS can be carried by 2 people, takes 30 to 120 seconds to be set up, and fires a rocket from a 25-meter standoff position, sending a line charge with fragmentation grenades over the minefields or wire obstacles. The grenades clear the mines, and sever the wires. Developed by the US Army Armaments Engineering and Technology Center in Picatinny Arsenal, NJ, APOBS won a US Army top military inventions of the year award in 2004. It replaces the Bangalore Torpedo, which was heavier, took longer to set up, and required 4 times the number of people to carry.
In 2006, small business qualifier Ensign-Bickford Aerospace & Defense Co. in Simsbury, CT received a maximum $150.8 million, 5-year contract for up to 3,000 units. In 2011, however, the Army/USMC contract shifted to Chemring Ordnance, Inc. in Perry, FL…
The Congressional Research Service updated their report [PDF] on international conventional weapon sales with 2011 data. Agreements for new sales from the US to developing nations boomed above $56B or a close to 80% market share, leaving #2 Russia far behind. The mega deal with Saudi Arabia was the biggest contributor to that surge in demand for American armament. Deliveries during 2011 were less lopsided but the US still led with close to 38% of the total in value.
The RAND Corporation looked into the reasons behind high cost increases in the Army Excalibur artillery round and the Navy’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) programs. In the case of Excalibur, smaller ordered quantities was the primary driver for its Nunn-McCurdy cost breach. Looking for a deeper root cause, that reduction was triggered by the increased precision of modern artillery. Meanwhile the Navy ERP started with an optimistic baseline, as happens very often with software implementation projects.
Army Sustainmentexplains the intricacies involved in recovering an RG-31 MRAP that rolled over last year on “little more than a goat trail” in Northern Afghanistan. Plan A involved lifting the ditched vehicle with a massive MRAP Recovery Vehicle, but after a rocky trip just to get there, the MRV failed – it turned out after the operation because of a simple loose fuse. Then came plans B and C, and eventual success.
The US Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued a short report [PDF] on the effects of sequestration, though they note that their estimates are not binding, as it’s the Administration’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that has authority to determine how cuts would be made. Their interpretation:
“The reductions in the caps for defense programs would be proportionately larger than the reductions in the caps for nondefense programs. The defense cap would shrink by $55 billion each year (which translates to a cut of 9.8% for 2014 and smaller percentages for subsequent years).
With the way they reckon automatic enforcement procedures would play out, they see the defense budget bottoming out at $501B in FY2014. The report lacks details though, as it does not spell out whether the Administration’s decision to exclude personnel expenses from the sequester is taken into account.
The US DSCA notified Congress [PDF] on August 21, 2012 of Indonesia’s request for 18 AGM-65K2 Maverick missiles, 36 TGM-65K2 Captive Air Training Missiles, 3 TGM-65D Maintenance Training Missiles, and the necessary services and ancillaries, for an estimated $25M total. If the request turns into an actual contract, the missiles will equip Indonesia’s F-16s. The contractor is Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ.