The latest review by the US Congressional Budget Office concludes like in past years that the US Navy’s shipbuilding plan is underfunded, especially in the out years. “CBO’s estimate of the cost of new-ship construction in the Navy’s 2015 shipbuilding plan is $66 billion, or 13 percent, higher over the next 30 years than the Navy’s estimate.”
Brazil’s defense budget saw a steep rise in the late 2000s, a necessary step after years of neglect. One of its priorities was to select an attack helicopter – something the country has not previously fielded to its Army or Air Force. competitors reportedly included the Italo-Turkish AW-TAI A129 Mongoose, EADS’ Tiger, and Russia’s heavyweight Mi-35M, a modern variant of the Mi-24 Hind that became famous in Afghanistan. The Mi-24/35 is unique among dedicated attack helicopters in that it can carry a handful of troops, in addition to performing its offensive role.
The A129 and Mi-35M were the reported finalists, and November 2008 reports cited the Mi-35M4 as the winner of a contract for 12 “AH-2 Sabre” helicopters. It took until the end of 2014 for deliveries to be completed.
According to the SIPRI nonprofit, global armament sales lost 2% YoY to $402 billion. Russia’s internal demand has driven strong growth for their manufacturers for 2 years in a row. See also SIPRI’s updated top 100 list.
Brazil’s submarines are seen as a key part of the country’s new national armaments and defense strategy, which was released on Dec 18/08. It places a higher priority on protection of Brazil’s offshore energy reserves, and sees submarines as key players in that effort. The experience of the 1982 Falklands War, in which Argentina’s entire fleet was kept in port by Britain’s nuclear fast attack boat HMS Conqueror, is often cited as instructive.
In 2008, Brazil and France signed an agreement to build 4 diesel-electric submarines (SSK), and provide assistance in developing and fielding the non-nuclear parts of 1 nuclear fast attack submarine (SSN). Key specifics, such as the presence or absence of SSK Air Independent Propulsion technologies, have yet to be made public, but the terms of the agreement leave the possibility open. Reports regarding the submarine deal’s value have varied, but the budget is now set at almost EUR 7 billion. Financing now appears to be in place, and recent releases explain the budgets, the timing, and some of the key players in Brazil’s Prosub program.
US House Armed Services Committee Chairman-elect Thornberry announced subcommittee chairs: Intelligence, Emerging Threats and Capabilities: Joe Wilson [SC – was Thornberry]; Seapower and Projection Forces: Randy Forbes [VA – same]; Military Personnel: Joe Heck [NV – was Joe Wilson]; Tactical Air and Land Forces: Michael Turner [OH – same]; Strategic Forces: Mike Rogers [AL – same]; Readiness: Rob Wittman [VA – same]; Oversight and Investigations: Vicky Hartzler [MO – was Joe Heck, she’s the only new entrant]. All Republicans of course since the GOP controls the lower house.
Readers can decide for themselves what the latest GAO report on regulatory efforts over UAV integration in the US national airspace may say about the Administration’s priorities, or the state of the US economy as a whole:
“As of December 4, 2014, FAA granted seven commercial exemptions to the filmmaking industry allowing small UAS operations in the airspace. However, over 140 applications for exemptions were waiting to be reviewed for other commercial operations such as electric power line monitoring and precision agriculture. […] A 2014 MITRE study found that Japan, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada have progressed further than the United States with regulations that support commercial UAS operations.” [Emphasis DID.]
That said, US lawmakers expressed alarm [WaPo] about the risks posed by cheap drones used in civilian airspace at a House Transportation Aviation Subcommittee hearing yesterday (full video).
And they have a point, as deconfliction is a serious issue. The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) recently disclosed [BBC] that a “serious risk of collision” had occurred last July between a small rotorcraft UAV and an Airbus 320 about to land in Heathrow.
For reference, here’s the list [PDF] of small commercial UAV operators approved by the UK CAA.
Textron received a certificate of authorization from the FAA to start Aerosonde operations at the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership (MAAP) test site.
Airports in the Arabian peninsula are becoming increasingly busy since they positioned themselves as inter-continental hubs between Europe, Asia, and Africa. A significant amount of airspace in the region is reserved for military use. The UAE has been working to alleviate the pressure and better coordinate military and civilian airspace uses, something that China would be well advised to emulate. The National | Emirates 24×7 (May 2014) | NATS airspace management company.
The Netherlands and Estonia signed an agreement on Dec. 9/14 for the sale of 44 CV 9035NL Mk-III tracked infantry fighting vehicles. These vehicles are used but were acquired in recent years before the Netherlands decided it no longer needed them, or more accurately, could afford them. The Dutch had announced their intent to sell these vehicles in September 2013, and Estonia had been revealed as their buyer in October 2014.
Russia was already making Estonia nervous after cyber attacks in 2007, but the Baltic states have had even more reason to worry after the events that unfolded in Ukraine through 2014. For Estonia, clearly annexations have consequences.
As the Netherlands struggled over proposed defense cuts in 2007, its Ministerie van Defensie signed an agreement with Germany, France and Belgium to create “European Air Transport Command” (EATC) as a coordination pool for their own military transports. The EU EDA also has a parallel program with much wider participation, the European Air Transport fleet (EATF). EATF offers a step short of EADC level integration, while laying the foundation for wider EADC membership in future. They’re farther away than they’d like to be, but probably closer than you think.
Last week Bill Gertz at the Washington Free Beacon reported that according to US officials China had conducted its 3rd test of a hypersonic missile. Chinese officials seemed to implicitly confirm the test in the state-run China Daily today.
Yu Long is the second former United Technologies employee accused of having attempted to provide a foreign country with sensitive documents related to defense aerospace programs. Hartford Courant | Fox CT.
The state-owned Russian TASS agency quotes Pavel Sozinov, an armament designer at Almaz-Antey:
“Russia is working on an equivalent of the THAAD missile defense complex, which is capable of intercepting ballistic intermediate range missiles and, to a certain extent, warheads of inter-continental ballistic missiles. It will undergo testing soon.”