Technology allowing parts to be printed is rapidly seeing military adoption, but manufacturing experts warn that they need to be designed in a fashion to allow for inspection.
The Navy is prepping a patch of seafloor off Florida to be an undersea training ground of sorts. They have installed the first leg of data cable, surfacing at Naval Station Mayport. More will be installed to reach the grounds, about 50 miles offshore.
France has reportedly returned Russia’s $900 million for failing to deliver the two Mistral class helicopter carriers it had manufactured. Interestingly, the Sputnik News report indicates that Russia feels it has a right to grant or withhold permission to France to resell the craft to a third nation. This could conceivably be the case were Russia contributing significant design work or classified specifications.
Pakistan continues to add to its nuclear arsenal , although Pakistani officials deny that it is moving quite at the pace indicated by a recent report. The country has the capacity to become the owner of the third largest nuclear arsenal in the next few years.
Japan launched another helicopter carrier, its second, built by local firm Japan Marine United. The new Kaga joins the JS Izumo, which became operational in March. The Kaga is the second ship to be named after the Kaga Province of Japan. The first Kaga, part of the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II played an integral role in the Battle of Midway, where it was damaged to the point that it was scuttled soon after.
Saudi Arabia will buy 75 15-meter interceptor vessels for its Coast Guard. German manufacturer Lurssen won the contract, and is subcontracting manufacturing to French Shipyard Couach.
Iran is reported to be interested in purchasing the Sukhoi superset-100 for civil aviation. Going with a Chinese or Russian manufacturer would likely make most sense, as the Iranian government could well put itself in a sanctions penalty box again in the future, making western manufacturers the least reliable.
The PAK FA / T-50 in all its vector-thrusted maneuverability…
Lockheed is reportedly working on a U2 replacement. To be optionally manned, which is less apt to offend either pilot officers or policy wonks. A new U2 could well see improvement in either stealth capabilities or operation costs, but not likely both. Since the new effort comes from the Skunkworks shop, stealth is almost certainly the objective.
Textron’s loss of the Sikorsky deal has been interpreted by Wall Street as a major setback now in the context of poor performance from its Bell Helicopters unit. The unit’s reliance on the V-22 Osprey is not seen as much of a future-facing asset by the street.
It should go without saying that yesterday’s Oshkosh award of the JLTV program may well be contested. The Army has yet to debrief Lockheed or AM General, a key step in the process toward a proper GAO protest.
The Pentagon threw cold water on the incoming Joint Chiefs chair’s written testimony that seemed to indicate that the Pentagon was reviewing whether 2,443 was the right number for F-35 procurement.
Russia’s “fifth generation” Sukhoi PAK FA stealth fighter is to get the X-58USHK missile, which will reportedly reach mach 3.5. But the critical advantage the new combo would bring was expressed in the a Tass sub-headline: “The missile will be placed inside the fighter’s fuselage.” Thus the PAK FA – also called the T-50 – will remain stealthy, where the F-35’s weapons bay has grown even smaller on the new variants and most weapons will have to be mounted externally.
Iran is trying to push Russia to deliver at least a few of the S-300 anti air systems, holding out the offer that it will vacate its suit against the Russians if they make a first delivery. Russia has employed the ability to withhold the S-300 from Iran – or not – as a form of leverage with western countries for a surprising number of years.
Austal is enjoying the start of the sweet spot of its $3.5 LCS contract, showing record profits and anticipating additional efficiencies as it starts to knock out the remaining 9 LCS ships.
The PAK FA / T-50 in all its vector-thrusted maneuverability…
Oshkosh won one of the largest land forces defense contracts ever, taking the $30 billion JLTV contract. The initial order for 17,000 vehicles will start replacing Humvees in fiscal 2016 and really ramp in 2018. Runner ups were Lockheed and AM General.
In what is perhaps the biggest reality perception difference between the Air Force and the rest of the military and civilian government, the Air Force has been working hard to shut down the A-10 program, maintaining that the close air support stalwart isn’t earning its keep. The several billion dollars saved would go to more F-35 work, as that platform has been tipped to be the replacement, although some senior Air Force officers have suggested that perhaps a completely new craft would be in order. So it was newsworthy that a senior officer for testing had suggested a shoot-out between the A-10 and F-35. That test is now taking fire from the Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh, who called such a test “silly.” Still, Welsh said that the F-35 was never intended as an A-10 replacement, so that leaves observers scratching heads as to which parts of the Air Force desire what outcome, especially as few believe an A-X replacement would be cheaper.
After a series of embarrassments, such as a test cheating scandal, the Air Force’s Global Strike Command will be part of an officer exchange program with their well-respected submarine equivalents. The “Striker Trident” program this week saw the start of two-year tours for two boomer officers, who will be working at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming, presumably in hopes some of the sub culture will rub off.
Northrop Grumman’s naval UAV the Fire Scout is completing endurance demonstrations, flitting about for 10 hours at a time.
The U.S. will deploy F-22 fighters to Europe in an effort to shore up Eastern European depth of defense against a theoretical incursion by Russia.
France is reportedly in talks with Malaysia to take on the two helicopter carriers initially purchased by Russia. France found it impolitic to sell to the Russians after various instances of Russian ill behavior. Malaysia joins a lengthening list of countries reportedly interested in the craft, including Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Airbus has been straining politeness as it protests the Japanese decision to choose an indigenous vendor along with Textron for its $3 billion transport contract. When asked about a rumored lawsuit, Airbus responded that things had not quite reached that stage, but managed to lay in some insults to its winning competition, noting that the Textron version of the UH-X will be built around a 60-year old design, versus Airbus’s “clean sheet” design.
Russian state news agency Tass reports that the much touted Armata tank program is moving along and will be presented to various foreign defense markets through exhibitions.
The Thai Air Force took delivery of four of six ordered Airbus EC725 helicopters. They are to become operational in September. Ordered in 2012, the remaining two will be delivered next year.
The “invisible” Russian Armata tank gets towed after breaking down in the big Red Square parade:
A House Representative is demanding answers from the Air Force Secretary regarding discrepancies over the Air Force’s projected cost for the Long Range Strike Bomber program, after it emerged last week that the estimated program cost rose from $33.1 billion to $58.4 billion over the 2016-2026 period. Rep. Speier has given Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James until the end of September to provide clarification on the swinging cost estimates, as well as criticizing the Air Force for lack of transparency.
A supplier of systems equipping E-3 Sentry AWACS early warning aircraft has agreed to pay $2.8 million to settle a False Claim Act lawsuit centered on PoleZero’s subcontract to supply the Air Force with components for the E-3 fleet from 2004 to 2013. The contractor reportedly supplied radio frequency equipment to the Air Force which the company knew were below contractual standard.
Lockheed Martin subsidiary Sandia Corp. has also agreed to settle with the government over the alleged illegal use of government funds for lobbying efforts. The $4.79 million settlement regards the use of federal funds to lobby for the extension of the company’s contract to run Sandia National Laboratories, a major nuclear weapons research establishment and follows a nine-month Energy Department report authored by the Department’s Inspector General.
General Dynamics is reportedly set to build Spain’s next generation of infantry fighting vehicles, with GD’s Santa Bárbara Sistemas company winning a $99 million research and development contract for the new vehicle’s design. Intended to replace the Spanish Army’s fleet of M113 and BMR IFVs, the program has attracted design bids from several European and US companies, including the French VBCI, Italian Centauro Freccia, German Boxer, Finnish Patria AMV and Swedish SEP; however the Piranha Class 5 is reported to be the favourite to win the competition. The first prototypes of the class are anticipated to emerge by 2017, with Denmark also opting for the Piranha earlier this year.
Poland will carry out upgrade work on the Bulgarian Air Force’s fleet of MiG-29 Fulcrum fighters, according to reports on Monday. The Bulgarian government has approved the intergovernmental arrangement, following a decision to postpone the replacement of the country’s MiG-29 fleet with more modern Western aircraft; most likely F-16s from Greece. This postponement is thought to be down to budgetary constraints, something not uncommon with Bulgarian defense projects, with the Polish Air Force upgrading their Fulcrums in 2011. The decision to contract Poland’s WZL plant for the upgrade works makes a lot of sense, given the political realities of current NATO-Russian relations taking the option of sending the jets back to the original manufacturer off the table.
The UK’s Ministry of Defence has ordered additional Saab Giraffe Agile Multi-Beam radar systems for use on the Falkland Islands, supplementing existing systems already in use as part of the British Armys’ Land Environment Air Picture Provision (LEAPP) system. Delivery of the new Giraffes is scheduled to begin later this year, concluding in 2018. The LEAPP system was declared operational in late 2014, with a contract to supply a BMC4I capability for the system anticipated for next year. The first contingent of five Giraffe systems for the LEAPP system was ordered in April 2008 for $60 million, with this latest contract valued at $74 million.
BAE Systems has begun a redevelopment project for the company’s Barrow-in-Furness shipyard, ahead of a planned major build program for the Royal Navy’s future Successor nuclear submarine fleet. The Ministry of Defence-funded redevelopment will take approximately eight years to complete, with construction of the first of four Successor boats scheduled for next year. The four Successor submarines will replace the current Vanguard-class and are due to enter service from 2028. The first part of the redevelopment is a $36.1 million logistics center, with other developments thought to include extension of the Devonshire Dock Hall building and new hull pressure units.
Belgium’s four NH90 NFH naval helicopter fleet have achieved Initial Operating Capability, eight years after they were ordered in May 2007 through a mixed order for ten NH90 helicopters. Three of the country’s four helicopters have now entered service, with a fourth scheduled to join them in early 2016.
China has reportedly conducted a fifth test of the WU-14 hypersonic glide vehicle, following a similar test in June. This test is thought to have demonstrated evasive manoeuvres, a key element of the mach 10 delivery system thought to be designed principally to penetrate capable ballistic missile defenses. The US, Russia and China are each developing their own hypersonic strike capabilities, with the vehicle’s speed and manoeuvrability making them theoretically much more potent than ballistic missiles for nuclear weapon delivery.
Russia is handing Bangladesh a $1 billion loan to purchase seven Mil Mi-171 helicopters, following a contract signed in April 2015. The number of helicopters Russia will sell has risen from five, with deliveries reported to already be underway. Russia also recently began deliveries of 24 Mi-171 helicopters to Peru, delivering a second batch of nine helicopters to the South American country in June.
The Chinese Wing Loong UAV dropping ordnance in a recent test involving eight different weapon types:
The Navy has begun integration testing and certification of the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) onto F/A-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft. The missile is scheduled for fielding on the aircraft in 2019, with the LRASM a joint DARPA/Navy development program intended to produce the Navy’s next generation of long-range strike missiles. Manufacturer Lockheed Martin was recently awarded a $104.3 million modification for the LRASM accelerated acquisition program in June, bringing the total value of Lockheed Martin’s LRASM contract to $306.9 million.
The Navy has also ordered more radio-frequency jammers for its fleet of Super Hornets. Harris Corp was awarded a $97 million contract for the company’s twelfth production lot of ALQ-214 radio-frequency integrated countermeasures systems, with an option for a thirteenth in 2016 included within the contract terms. The ALQ-214 systems are capable of operating with ALE-50 or ALE-55 towed decoys and provides protection against radar-guided missiles.
Two firms have been awarded contracts totaling $880.8 million to produce and maintain the tri-service Multifunctional Information Distribution System (MIDS) Low Volume Terminal (LVT) communications system (MIDS-LVT). ViaSat Inc. and Data Link Solutions LLC (a Rockwell Collins and BAE Systems joint venture) have been handed IDIQ contracts potentially valuing $514.3 million and $366.5 million respectively, with these lasting five years. The MIDS-LVT system facilitates the exchange of real-time situational awareness data and voice communication using Link 16 connection on various platforms.
The much-anticipated winner of the Army’s Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) competition is expected to be announced in coming days, with the winner poised to bag contracts for 54,600 of the vehicles for the Army and Marines. A BAE Systems/Lockheed Martin team is up against AM General – manufacturer of the Humvee, which the vehicles are intended to replace – and Oshkosh Defense. Proposals were submitted in January, with the Firm Fixed Price contract scheduled to see an initial three-year production contract followed by a subsequent five-year full-rate production contract. Each firm has a lot riding on this competition, with each of the three winners of the EMD phase in August 2012 having already produced 22 prototype vehicles.
The Air Force is developing an air-dropped weapon capable of destroying chemical and biological weapon agents through the creation of extremely high temperatures. The Heated And Mobile Munitions Employing Rockets (HAMMER) project is designed to pelt a target with rocket-powered incendiaries, launched from a BLU-109B bunker-busting bomb, with these capable of producing temperatures of approximately 1,000°F; – all without creating an unnecessary level of explosive power which would eject and disperse the chemical/ biological agents, The Air Force is now seeking to progress this theoretical weapon, awarding General Dynamics a $7.2 million contract to develop the concept and demonstrate its viability.
European defense giant Airbus is reported to be developing a new version of the Tiger attack helicopter, through work commissioned by OCCAR. The ‘Architecture Study’ for the Mk3 version will involve the assessment of new capabilities to be incorporated into the new version, with a particular emphasis on reduced life-cycle costs and drawing on lessons from the helicopter’s substantial operational deployment by European states over recent years.
The United Kingdom’s Royal Marines may receive new amphibious vehicles to replace the force’s fleet of BV206 tracked vehicles. The Ministry of Defence’s DE&S procurement body is looking at a potential procurement of 233 vehicles for approximately $360.3 million. The precise requirement set scheduled to form the basis for selection of the new vehicles has not yet been released, but it is thought that the new vehicle will be a two-car design like the current fleet of BV206s. A contract is expected to be awarded in the spring of 2018, with the first new vehicles slated to enter service in 2021.
Belarus and Russia are reported to be co-developing a replacement for the Strela-10M mobile air defense system currently operated by both countries. Meanwhile, Iran’s Defense Minister has announced that the country will collaborate with Russia to develop and manufacture new combat aircraft. Iran has previously stated its intention to procure new combat aircraft to bolster its capabilities in the short-term, citing French Mirage fighters in as a possible acquisition.
Turkey is donating thirty-four T-36 Talon jet trainers to Pakistan. The trainers are reportedly scheduled for delivery by the end of 2015. In April Pakistan showed interest in the South Korean KAI T-50 jet trainer, principally in an effort to cement relations with the Asian country; it is unclear whether Turkey’s gift will satisfy the Pakistani Air Force’s trainer requirement, thus killing the T-50 deal, or not.
Kazakhstan is reportedly selling armored vehicles to Azerbaijan, produced through a joint venture with South African firm Paramount Group, established last year. A contract with Kazakhstan Paramount Engineering for the sale of these vehicles is anticipated by the end of the year, with the company producing three vehicle models; a mine-resistant variant, an armored riot-control van and an infantry fighting vehicle, known as the Arlan, Nomad and Barys respectively.
The F-35A firing its GAU-22/A 25mm cannon at full capacity during recent testing:
Following the news earlier this week that the Pentagon intends to increase the number of UAV Combat Air Patrols by 50% by 2019, private contractors are reported to already be stepping into the breach to support stretched Air Force personnel. General Atomics is reported to have been operating some ISR flights since April, with the DoD earmarking approximately 10 of the 90 scheduled Combat Air Patrols for contractors. The Air Force wants to boost the number of its own drone-operating personnel, despite planning to phase-out its MQ-1 Predator UAVs completely by 2018.
Meanwhile, the heavyweight MQ-4C Triton UAV is scheduled to undergo a Navy operational assessment in September, with an initial production contract slated for next year hanging on successful completion of this assessment. The two months of testing could lead to a Milestone C decision and subsequently a production contract, ahead of an anticipated Initial Operation Capability date of 2018. The procurement of up to seven Tritons by Australia, announced in March 2014, is also dependent on the UAV achieving these milestones.
The Army launched a JLENS aerostat on Wednesday to increase cruise missile early warning coverage of the East Coast, joining one first launched in December last year. The unmanned, tethered platforms will complement each other through the operation of both broad-area and precision radar systems, providing an over-the-horizon early warning capability. Developed by Raytheon, the two Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor (JLENS) units are part of a three-year evaluation program to assess the capability of JLENS with NORAD’s early warning architecture.
The Navy is planning to test the carrier variant of the F-35 on the USS Eisenhower in early October, marking the second phase of testing for the F-35C after a first set of successful trials aboard the USS Nimitz in November. The F-35C is due to achieve initial operational capability (IOC) in 2018, making the carrier variant the last of the three Joint Strike Fighter models to enter service.
The Israeli Air Force is reportedly upgrading its fleet of F-16I fighters to meet emerging missile threats. Coming only days after the Iranian Foreign Minister announced that the country would sign a contract with Russia for the potent S-300 air defense system, the Israeli upgrades will reportedly include a number of undisclosed new systems. Media reports on Thursday have now indicated that this deal has now been finalized. In May the IAF took part in exercises involving the Greek military’s S-300 systems, with this likely to have catalyzed this new set of upgrades. The country has been working to improve its fleet of US-manufactured fighters in recent years, which are the mainstay of its strike fleet, at least until the arrival of the country’s F-35 fleet.
The gifted missile corvette reportedly delivered to Egypt earlier this week has now returned to Russia, with photographs placing the vessel in the Bosphorus, en route to Russia through the Black Sea. The Egyptian Defense Ministry announced [Arabic] that it had taken delivery of the R-32 Molnya missile corvette and that the ship’s crew would travel to Russia for training, with it now appearing that the ship will be accompanying them.
The Russian Navy’s sole aircraft carrier has completed three months of dry dock maintenance. The Admiral Kuznetsov will now reportedly undergo further work in Murmansk before re-entering active service. Russian media reports have stated that the Russian Navy will begin construction of another carrier after 2025.
Russia is reported to be testing the use of small UAVs to guide indirect fire. The geolocation of targets by drones such as the Orlan-10 is a result of a lack of sufficient EO/IR sensors [p. 60] capable of directing artillery and mortar fire from distance, meaning that those firing aim instead at the drone itself. Russia has been moving to increase its use of UAVs, including the Orlan-10 in the Arctic.
Following reports from March indicating that the country was showing interest in Russian helicopters, Pakistan is buying four Mil Mi-35M Hind attack helicopters from Russia through a deal of undisclosed value. The helicopters were cleared for sale to Pakistan in June 2014, with the model also exported to Azerbaijan, Brazil and Egypt.
Promotional material for the Hind attack helicopter:
CACI International received a $75 million task order to support the US Army’s Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC) Intelligence and Information Warfare Directorate (I2WD) under the Technical Engineering Support Services (TESS) contract.
CACI was awarded the 5-year, $900 million TESS contract on Aug 19/09. York Telecom Corp. and DSCI also were awarded TESS contracts.
Under this task order, CACI will provide engineering and technical support to assist I2WD in developing and deploying US Army intelligence and information warfare systems.
Lockheed Martin is reportedly developing an optionally-manned, high-altitude intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft to replace the company’s U-2 and Northrop Grumman’s RQ-4 Global Hawk. The new design intends to combine the best features of both aircraft, including stealth capabilities, while the DoD has hedged its bets by keeping both platforms in operation, pushing back the U-2’s retirement to 2019 and investing in new radar systems for the aircraft. Lockheed Martin has also demonstrated how the U-2 can be integrated with Air Force Open Mission Systems payloads, including the ability to communicate with fifth-generation aircraft. The U-2 fleet will reportedly remain in a safe flying condition until 2045.
Argentina is formally retiring its fleet of Mirage fighters, which will leave active service in November. The Argentinian Air Force has been looking for a new fighter fleet for a while now, with reports in July indicating that the South American country may be in negotiations to buy second-hand Israeli Kfir Block 60 fighters.
Newport News Shipyard will lay down the hull of the future USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) on Saturday, following the awarding of $4.3 billion in contracts in June to accelerate construction of the second Ford-class carrier. The ceremony will mark the official start of the ship’s construction, with first work on the hull having begun in 2011.
The Navy is buying small, tracked robots designed to act in a first-responder/special operations capacity. The 110 iRobot First Look robots were ordered through a $4 million contract announced on Wednesday. The company saw a significant number of orders during the Afghanistan campaign, through its counter-IED robot product range, including to the UK and Germany, as well as the US through the MTRS program.
The Mexican Navy will reportedly begin serial production of indigenously-developed unmanned aerial vehicles next year. Developed as the Mexican Navy Tactical Air Reconnaissance Autonomous Patrol System (SPARTAAM) program, with each system comprising three UAVs and a ground station, this announcement builds on news from September 2012 when the Mexican Navy announced that it had completed indigenous development of the UAV system. The Mexican Navy has been looking to bolster its intelligence-gathering capabilities over recent months, including the acquisition of manned aircraft in September last year.
Middle East North Africa
Russia intends to deliver another pair of Mil Mi-26T2 heavy lift helicopters to Algeria later this year, with another two following in early 2016, according to Russian media reports. The first two helicopters were delivered to the North African country in July, with reports indicating that a second contract – covering eight further helicopters of the type – is likely to complete deliveries by the end of 2017, bringing the total of heavy lift helicopters operated by Algeria to 14. The Mi-26T2 re-entered series production in May, with Algeria also reported to be ordering attack helicopters from Russia.
The Polish Armaments Inspectorate is looking to procure an automated command system for the country’s Special Forces, using specialist IT software to build a more rapid communications capability. The Inspectorate has released a request for information to industry, with a deadline of mid-October. The proposed system reportedly requires an ability to integrate feeds from UAVs and a wide variety of sensors, as well as the capacity to provide specialist applications interfaces, including for tactical air controllers. The Polish Armed Forces are looking to build in automated command systems as part of the country’s strategic plan [p. 20] out to 2030.
The South African Air Force (SAAF) is reportedly buying Seeker UAVs from domestic firm Denel Dynamics. The Seeker 400 is an unarmed intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance drone capable of being equipped with a variety of sensor payloads, including synthetic aperture radar.
China is shoring up its defense aerospace industry through investment in Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group and Shenyang Aircraft Industry Group. The investors – five Aviation Industry Corporation of China group companies, with AVIC Capitol Co. being the largest – are investing $779.9 million into the two companies. The two recipients produce some of China’s most important aircraft, including the J-10 and J-11 multirole fighters and J-20 and J-31 stealth fighters.
The future HMAS Adelaide, the Royal Australian Navy’s second Canberra-class Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) vessel, has begun final sea trials ahead of an anticipated commissioning into service next year. The ten days of trials will take place just south of Sydney, with the RAN’s first LHD, the HMAS Canberra, commissioned in November last year. The second LHD was launched in July 2012. The joint construction of the two vessels by Navantia and BAE Systems follows a $2.8 billion contract announced in October 2007.
The Philippines has received a batch of new helicopters as the country pursues a rotary-wing modernization program. The helicopters include eight Bell 412EPs through Canada and two AgustaWestland AW-109E through Italy. The country previously received four of the latter in January, with the country having signed for thirteen AW-109s through two contracts with the Anglo-Italian manufacturer.
The Missile Defense Agency is reportedly revamping the Airborne Laser (ABL) concept it ditched in 2012. The newly-designed concept will see the laser – designed to intercept ballistic missiles – equipping a long-range UAV. The head of Boeing’s Phantom Works stated in May that he wants to put solid-state lasers onto the company’s Phantom Eye high-altitude UAV; the MDA has used the developmental drone before, including reportedly carrying laser payloads. The MDA is planning to test various technologies over the next three to four years, with a view to select and develop the most promising of these.
The next generation Air Force bomber, the Long-Range Strike Bomber, is likely to run over budget. A cost estimate for the program rose from $33.1 billion to $58.4 billion over a ten-year period, with the Air Force now revising this figure down to $41.7 billion. The thirty-year program could see the awarding of a prime contract to either Northrop Grumman or a Boeing/Lockheed Martin team, with the timetabled August deadline pushed back to later this year, likely September or October.
Despite the Air Force voicing plans last week to reduce the number of UAV combat flight operations to 60 by October, the Pentagon has announced its intention to increase overall US military UAV flights to 90 by 2019. The extra flights will reportedly be taken up by the Army, Special Operations Command and contractors operating unarmed aircraft. The Air Force dropped down from 65 flights to 60 in April, with FY2014’s 65 flights an all-time high for the Air Force.
The mistake earlier this month involving the accidental insertion of chemicals into the fuel system of the KC-46A tanker has officially delayed the aircraft’s first flight by a month. The tanker will now see its first flight in late-September or early October, with the program’s original timetable calling for this flight to have taken place last year, with this pushed back to April and then again to late August, before this latest setback.
The H-1 helicopter fleet of both the Navy and Pakistan will receive a boost through a $85.5 million contract to develop weapons systems for the aircraft as part of its system configuration set (SCS). The SCS intends to create prototypes for emerging operational requirements, with the majority of this contract covering acquisitions for the US Navy, with the contract set to run to 2020.
After much speculation, Russia may finally supply Iran with S-300 air defense systems, after Putin signed a decree in April paving the way for export of the system. Manufactured by sanctions-hit Almaz Antey, the S-300 was nearly sold to the country in 2010, with that deal scrapped in the face of pressure from Israel and the US. The Iranians are reported to be acquiring four S-300 battalions, with the first contract – expected next week – to cover the initial delivery of four systems.
Russia is building two new nuclear early warning radar systems in the north of the country, with these scheduled to come online in 2017 [Russian]. The radar will cover the Arctic region, Barents Sea and the Norwegian Sea. Other Voronezh-M systems are in operation in the south of the country, with four coming online last year. These new radars are intended to form part of a comprehensive early warning system due to come online by 2020.
India has cleared sixteen broadly-defined categories of defense equipment for export, including warships, armored vehicles and electronic warfare equipment. These include the Akash missile, Tejas light combat aircraft and Nishant UAV. The clearance brings India’s defense industry in line with international arms trade regulations, with the Indian government easing restrictions in July on private companies looking to export abroad, reducing the requirements for end-user licenses. India has been looking to join several international arms control regulatory regimes, with Sweden endorsing the country’s membership to the Missile Technology Control Regime in June.
A Chinese company has been accused of selling counterfeit Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar systems, using a design taken from Israel’s Elta Systems. NAV Technology Company is believed to be selling a version of Elta Systems’ EL/M-2052 system, an airborne fire control radar capable of tracking dozens of targets simultaneously. The company also offers other products thought to be taken from US designs, including a copy of the GBU-39 precision munition.
The Indian Army is planning to test fire an Agni-IV surface-to-surface, nuclear-capable missile later this month. The planned test will be the Indian Army’s second user trial, following a previous test fire by the Army in December 2014. The missile was previously tested in early 2014, the missile’s third test. Manufactured by the government’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the Agni-IV is thought to have a range of approximately 4,000km.
On Sept 30/08, “The USA’s National Cybersecurity Initiative” focused on the belated but growing reaction to recent uses of cyber-attacks as an adjunct to warfare, and by the growing rate of attempted intrusions into American systems from countries like China. “Secure Semiconductors: Sensible, or Sisiphyean?” discussed the growing realization within the US military that massive use of commercial electronics, coupled with the complexity of modern chip designs, made it very difficult to be sure that “backdoors” and other security flaws weren’t being inserted into high-end American defense equipment. It’s a difficult conundrum, because commercial chips offer orders of magnitude improvements in cost and performance. Hence DARPA’s “Trust in IC” program, which hopes to crack the problem and offer the best of both worlds.
On Oct 2/08, Business Week’s in-depth article “Dangerous Fakes” claimed that a key component of the silicon security threat might be even simpler:
“The American military faces a growing threat of potentially fatal equipment failure – and even foreign espionage – because of counterfeit computer components used in warplanes, ships, and communication networks. Fake microchips flow from unruly bazaars in rural China to dubious kitchen-table brokers in the U.S. and into complex weapons. Senior Pentagon officials publicly play down the danger, but government documents, as well as interviews with insiders, suggest possible connections between phony parts and breakdowns… Potentially more alarming than either of the two aircraft episodes are hundreds of counterfeit routers made in China and sold to the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines over the past four years. These fakes could facilitate foreign espionage, as well as cause accidents. The U.S. Justice Dept. is prosecuting the operators of an electronics distributor in Texas – and last year obtained guilty pleas from the proprietors of a company in Washington State – for allegedly selling the military dozens of falsely labeled routers… Referring to the seizure of more than 400 fake routers so far, Melissa E. Hathaway, head of cyber security in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, says: “Counterfeit products have been linked to the crash of mission-critical networks, and may also contain hidden ‘back doors’ enabling network security to be bypassed and sensitive data accessed…”
August 19/15: A Chinese company has been accused of selling counterfeit Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar systems, using a design taken from Israel’s Elta Systems. NAV Technology Company is believed to be selling a version of Elta Systems’ EL/M-2052 system, an airborne fire control radar capable of tracking dozens of targets simultaneously. The company also offers other products thought to be taken from US designs, including a copy of the GBU-39 precision munition.