In December 2005, fresh from an expedition that tentatively sold $2 billion worth of military hardware to Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez regime, Spain’s Defence Minister made the neighboring state of Colombia an offer. A combination of sales and aid transfers would give the FAC another 21 light tactical transport planes – and if they’d buy, he’d throw in 4 helicopters for free.
It was a peace gesture of sorts, but it failed to appease the USA, who blocked the Venezuelan aircraft by using US military export laws against key equipment. Even so, it was a smart marketing move. Colombia was already an EADS-CASA customer, thanks to previous transfers of Spanish C-212 Aviocar light STOL transports as anti-terrorism aid, and a 2002 buy of CN-235 Maritime Patrol Aircraft. In the end, Colombia bought at least some of what Bono was offering, and they’ve continued to add to that fleet over time.
In January 2013, the Colombian Ministry of National Defence awarded a $65.3 million contract to General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada, for 24 of the firm’s double-V hulled LAV-IIIs with add-on armor. In the USA, this LAV-III is known as the M1126 Stryker DVH, but Colombia’s new armored personnel carriers won’t have the same internal electronics fit-out. They’ll also swap in RAFAEL’s Samson RCWS weapon station up top. The contract was signed through the Government of Canada’s CCC export agency, and deliveries will be complete by May 2014.
The Ejercito Nacional de Colombia operates a very broad mix of APCs: M1117 ICVs from Textron, Russian BTR-80s, Brazilian EE-9 and EE-11s, and old US M113 tracked vehicles. None have the LAV-III DVH’s ability to survive land mine blasts. That’s becoming a bigger part of Colombia’s defense planning lately: Oshkosh’s Sand Cat vehicle was picked as a light patrol MRAP in December 2012.
In November 2005, Israel’s Ministry Of Defense (GOI/MOD) announced its interest in replacing the IAF “Zukit” (“Thrush,” an upgraded 1950s-era Fouga Magister) basic training aircraft with a new trainer. The Zukit’s high fuel and maintenance costs, and low mission capable rates were all creating issues. The intent was to execute this program using an RFI concept, including a comprehensive test and evaluation phase of candidate aircraft, which would then be taken into account during a potential RFP stage.
Israel is secretive about its defense undertakings, and nothing was heard for a long while. Possible candidates included the IAI/ATG Javelin, Romania’s IAR-99C Soim, and possibly even the Czech L159 Albatros, which remained on the market at an excellent price. The winner? “None of the above.” The lure of using American aid dollars instead of hard currency, combined with advertised operating economies, eventually decided the competition in favor of an American-built turboprop: Hawker Beechcraft’s T-6A Texan II, which is used in this same role by the US military.
The Pentagon’s FY2012 annual report from the Office of the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E) is now available online. We will update our coverage of major programs accordingly in the days to come.
DARPA launched its 1st of 3 public challenges meant to spur innovation for the FANG (Fast, Adaptable, Next-Generation Ground Vehicle) program. Participants are tasked with designing the drivetrain and mobility systems for an amphibious infantry fighting vehicle using open source tools. The winner will get $1M. Their goal is as much the testing of new ways to design complex systems through decentralized networks, as it is to produce any specific vehicle. The competition will continue to unfold into 2014 at vehicleforge.org.
General Dynamics is laying off another 139 people in Anniston, AL, after firing 98 just 2 months ago, as work building and maintaining Strykers is winding down.
Boeing sent a new proposal to the SPEEA trade union on Friday last week, though negotiations seem impaired by bizarre file sharing slowness, in the age of secure cloud-based services such as Dropbox or Google Drive. The company and union negotiators will resume their protracted talks tomorrow, but the possibility of a strike has not been ruled out. Boeing | SPEEA | Bloomberg | Daily Herald.