The Islamic State has been using a small UAV to conduct reconnaissance in Syria [National Defense], joining Hamas and Hezbollah among nonstate UAV users. This seems to be a clear break from the image of “guys in pajamas” equipped with AK-47s and pickup trucks.
President Obama on Syria [WaPo]: “we don’t have a strategy yet.” Or Ukraine for that matter. But this gets points for being candid, and reflects a lack of consensus [Daily Beast] within the US Administration. And it’s not like any other country is offering much either.
USNAVSEA released the RFP [FBO] for the Remote Multi-Mission Vehicle (RMMV) which integrates with the LCS MCM Mission Module. Responses are due by October 27. They seek up to 18 vehicles with deliveries starting 30 months after the initial award.
Croatia’s Jutarnji list reports that a proposed helicopter swap deal was discussed during an Aug 14/14 meeting between high-ranking Croatian defense personnel and a delegation from the US House of Representatives.
The goal is to offer the Ukraine near-term assistance, while bringing Croatian forces closer to NATO standards. Under the deal…
The Ship to Shore Connector (SSC) hovercraft program aims to build on the USA’s LCAC hovercraft experience, and retain the US Navy’s unparalleled transport options from ship to shore and beyond. LCACs launch from inside the well deck of an amphibious warship, then travel the waves at high speed, run right through the surf zone near the beach, and stop at a suitable place on land. Their cargo walks or rolls off. The LCAC(Landing Craft, Air Cushion) returns to the surf to pick up more. Rinse. Agitate. Repeat.
These air-cushioned landing craft are much more capable than the conventional flat-bottomed landing boats used by other countries, but that capability comes at a price. LCACs were expensive to buy, suffered from corrosion and maintenance issues, and remain quite expensive to operate and maintain after many years in service. The other problem is that tanks and other vehicles have gotten heavier, so carrying equipment like the Marines’ latest M1 Abrams can push current LCACs to their capacity limits.
Countries like France are designing fast catamaran landing craft for over-the-horizon delivery at a lower price point, and modern hovercraft offer new options of their own. The US Navy looked at the possibilities, then decided to ask for an upgraded version of the current LCACs. SSC was born, and in 2012 it finally moved into system development.
The Pentagon’s office for operational testing (DOTE) published an update to their presentation [PDF] explaining reasons behind program delays. Their main conclusion is well-known, self-protective, and true as long as you test the right things:
“It is not testing per se that causes a delay, rather it is a problem with the system that is discovered during testing that causes a delay.”
DOTE data shows that Army programs have often faced programmatic issues (e.g. delayed full rate production) while the Air Force sees more problems in manufacturing, software development, and integration. The profile of Navy programs falls somewhere in between. Schedule slippage, especially in missile defense, has sometimes be pretty graphic.
Meanwhile the Pentagon’s acquisition office is focused on increasing competition with new guidelines [PDF] focused on open systems, mostly based on the US Navy’s experience.
The Hungarian Ministry of Defence has announced that they’ve sold 58 T-72 tanks to a Czech company, Excalibur Defense Ltd., who has begun transporting them into the Czech Republic. Under the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE Treaty), the Czech firm will face resale limitations, and they must also comply with certain Hungarian laws.
The sale is a bit of a mystery, but some local reports suggest a possible explanation…
Politico reviewed SEC filings from major US defense contractors and found that “The number of employees at the five largest U.S. defense firms has dropped 14% from a peak in 2008 – and 10% over the past decade.” Lockheed Martin shrunk its workforce the most, in absolute (-31,000) and relative (-21%) terms.
Reports out of Germany suggest that Rheinmetall Defense has signed a contract with Algeria for 980 Fuchs (Fox) 6×6 wheeled armored personnel carriers. They’re often used as NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) reconnaissance vehicles, but their blast-resistant features and good mobility make them perfectly appropriate as conventional APCs. The newest 1A8 variant adds substantially greater protection, including better resistance to landmines and IEDs, and includes an unmanned weapon station up top that can be controlled from within the vehicle.
The order would make the Fuchs Algeria’s largest single APC type.
In January 2012, Hawker Beechcraft sold an initial order of 6 new T-6C+ military trainers to the Mexican Air Force (FAM), with deliveries to begin to “an advanced training base in Mexico’s northern region” in early 2012. This is almost certainly Santa Gertrudis, in Chihuahua. Terms were not disclosed, but Hawker Beechcraft also advertised the T-6C+ plane’s “[carriage of] external stores and delivering practice weapons for training purposes.”
Latin American aviation expert and author Inigo Guevara added some outside background into the sale, and its rationale. The FAM needs to replace its entire 66-plane Pilatus PC-7/9 fleet over the next decade or so. The FAM also needs planes that can respond to the information relayed by their new Integrated Air Surveillance System (SIVA) of aircraft and ground radars, since their fighter fleet is just a handful of aged F-5E/F jets. The T-6C+ planes are Mexico’s 1st step toward solving these problems.