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.
The Air Force indicated last year that the life of air-launched cruise missiles (ALCM aka AGM-86) would be extended through this decade and the next. Boeing is the lead contractor since the 70s but BAE Systems has indicated they intended to compete as a prime for future ALCM and CALCM support. So in the meantime the USAF has put a 1-year bridge contract [PDF] in place with Boeing. Separately, last month the Air Force indicated they will need engineering services for these missiles including feasibility studies, material deficiency report analysis, and reliability/maintainability analysis.
Boeing will lay off 160 people at its El Paso, TX plant – where 370 currently work – over the next 2 years. This will leave the site with less than 20% of the staff it employed in 2000. Press release | El Paso Times.
Driven by UAV programs, San Diego, CA, has seen somewhat of a resurgence in defense manufacturing – albeit at lower levels than in the 80s – according to the National University System Institute for Policy Research. San Diego Union-Tribune | UAV impact assessment [San Diego North Chamber PDF, Oct. 2012].
Huntington Ingalls’ shipyard in Avondale, LA, may be converted to work on energy-related civilian applications instead of being closed, said CEO Mike Petters. Decision to be made this year.
US Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley said during a press conference last Friday that CV-22s would be deployed to Japan. Given that the Marines are already facing vocal local opposition to their use of V-22s there, the Pentagon later walked back that statement, saying that no decision had yet been made.
The US Army is surveying which companies may develop software libraries shared across Abrams, Bradley, Stryker, and Wolverine vehicles to support training. Firms interested in the Common Software Library (CSL) and Common Embedded Training System (CETS) should reply to the market investigation [MS Word] by Feb. 11. Prior knowledge of vehicle capabilities and system architectures (hardware and software) needed. For context ,see this presentation [PPTX, Nov. 2011] from PM Trade on live and embedded training standards.
The UK’s armed forces will receive Glock17 Gen4 9mm handguns to replace heavier Browning L9A1s. The 8.5 million pound contract (about $13.7M) should lead to fielding later this year, according to the Guardian.
France had a change of heart and started air strikes against AQIM insurgents in Mali, who are taunting the French to get involved with ground troops. The campaign, dubbed Operation Serval, started last Friday. MINDEF [in French]. Germany rules out sending combat troops while Britain offers to support with 2 C-17 transport aircraft.
Soon-departing US SecDef Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Dempsey held a press conference (transcript, video) mostly focused on budget issues:
“The continuing resolution (CR) expires on March 27th. If Congress fails to pass the appropriations bill for FY 13 and simply extends the CR through the year, our overall operating accounts would decrease by about 5% below the proposed budget presented by the president for our 2013 budget. That amount roughly comes to about $11 billion that would come out of Operations and Maintenance (O&M).”
As colliding deadlines loom ever closer and Congress has been stuck in a holding pattern, Panetta is directing the department to “curtail facility maintenance for non-mission-critical activities, freezing civilian hiring, delaying certain contract awards.” Dempsey was somewhat confused about how much sequestration would impact the remaining part of FY13 (about $43B-$45B according to Comptroller Dale and CSBA, not $52B) but nonetheless took a comment from Bloomberg’s Capaccio in stride: “Actually you’re not correcting me, because I’m right.” (Dempsey’s point on the burn rate was right but his number was incorrect.)
Todd Harrison from the CSBA think tank explains [PDF] how the way the recent American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA) tinkered with sequestration affects defense. His estimate is $42.7B in cuts spread over the last 7 months of the current fiscal year, a couple billion dollars below Bob Dale’s number. But the revised base number for FY14 would be lower at $475.2B vs. $479B in the original sequester, and $533.6B in the FYDP.
“March Madness” is the new “Fiscal Cliff”, as the US Congress is hooked to lousy sequels. Debt ceiling vs. sequestration are the bargaining chips that Democrats and Republicans say are off the table, but they will still have to use in the end.
Malaysia has an unusual air fleet, which includes Russian MiG-29s and very advanced SU-30MKMs, alongside Boeing’s F/A-18D Hornets. The MiG-29s are declining in numbers, and Malaysia had hoped to phase them out, but it expects the Hornets to soldier on for a little while longer.
Part of their efforts in that regard involve upgrades, to give their Hornets the same advanced surveillance and targeting pod capabilities enjoyed by advanced air forces around the world.
DOD Comptroller Robert Hale spoke at the Brookings think tank, where he confirmed, between a couple decent jokes, that a delay in the FY14 budget request was likely. His number for the impact of sequestration on FY13 – starting on March 1st unless it is further delayed or cancelled – is $45B, vs. earlier estimates of $62B in cuts (back when the sequester was supposed to kick in on Jan. 1st). Hale does not rule out an extension of the current Continuing Resolution. Video embedded below.
A timely 2014 President Budget is definitely not going to happen by its legal due date (i.e. next month), as the US government first needs to sort out – again – how to deal with its debt ceiling. The Bipartisan Policy Center offers a helpful analysis.
NAK Browne, the Chief of Staff of the Indian Air Force, is complaining that a recently-announced decrease in the defense budget will slow down modernization efforts.
India’s Business Standard is accusing the Ministry of Defence of lowering its requirements for a forthcoming purchase of night vision devices in order to favor Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL), despite the Army’s demands for equipment that works under practically no light.