LCS Program Picks up Speed with a Launch and a Commission | UK Announces Defense Spending Increase | Indonesia Inks Deal with KAI as Part of KF-X ProgramNov 24, 2015 00:20 UTC
- The US Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship Class (LCS) program is picking up speed with a launch and a commission in the last few days. November 20 saw the USS Omaha enter the water in Mobile, Alabama and the USS Milwaukee was commissioned the following day. There are now five LCS class ships operational and they are being completed at an average of four per year. It is hoped that by 2018, 38 of the ships will have undergone construction in only 13 years and will be operating in shallow and coastal waters throughout the world.
Middle East North Africa
- Pakistan is to keep using the the Russian made RD-93 engine for its series of JF-17 fighters. The confirmation comes after hints made by Chinese officials that Pakistan would revert back to an original arrangement with China but Pakistan Air Force (PAF) officials are happy with the Russian engine. PAF officials have said that improvements to the JF-17 along with the reliability of the RD-93 engine has resulted in a number of interested parties. Russia on the other hand will be happy to see product solidarity due to economic sanctions over Ukraine closing many export markets.
- A task force led by French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle has commenced operations against the Islamic State. The 261.5m nuclear-powered vessel, commissioned in 2001, is the largest warship in deployment by any Western European country. Aircraft on board the vessel include Dassault-Breguet Super Étendard, Dassault Rafale M and E 2C Hawkeye aircraft, as well as EC725 Caracal and AS532 Cougar helicopters. This is in addition to the six Rafale and six Mirage 200 already stationed in Jordan and UAE. Both Russia and the UK have offered assistance to the French with the UK allowing the French Air Force to conduct air strikes from their RAF base in Cyprus.
- The UK has announced an increase in defense spending as part of the Strategic Defence & Security Review. Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged an extra $18.15 billion, bringing planned spending to $269 billion over the next ten years. Plans have been made to purchase nine new Boeing P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to aid in surveillance and anti-surface ship warfare as the government scrapped its Nimrod spy-plane program in 2010. The review also includes plans to create two ‘Strike Brigades’ for rapid troop deployment and eight BAE warships. In order to keep within budget spending, civilian staff will be cut at the defence ministry by 30%.
- QinetiQ has been awarded a $231 million contract to deliver technical services to the Royal Air Force’s (RAF) fast jets and A400M aircrafts. The contract comes as part of an agreement developed jointly between QinetiQ and the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) called the Strategic Enterprise. The agreement is aimed to increase cost effectiveness in providing services to the RAF. The A400M recently replaced the C130-J fleet and a total number of 22 will be operational by 2019. Fast jets to be maintained involve the Tornado and Typhoon which have recently had their life expectancy extended under the Strategic Defence & Security Review.
- A deal has been signed between between Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) and the Indonesian government as part of South Korea’s KF-X fighter program. The agreement includes details of shared costs of the joint engineering and development phase of the fighter. Indonesian contributions to the costs amount to $1.5 billion, about 20% of the costs. KAI was announced as preferred in March by the South Korean Defence Acquisition Production Administration (DAPA) and will collaborate with Indonesia with design and some part production. Planned production of the indigenous fighter will commence in 2025 with Indonesia as one of the first customers as export. Indonesia hopes the collaboration will help their own indigenous development capabilities in future.
- India announced the latest test of their Advance Air Defence (AAD) Interceptor missile, although its success has yet to be announced by officials. This is the 11th test of the missile and follows the April 6 failure. Tests scheduled for September and then October had been postponed due to the system not being ready. The AAD missile is part of India’s two tier and indigenously developed missile defence system with both high and low altitude anti-ballistic missile capabilities.
- Task Force Talon, the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) battery in Guam have completed their replacement of missiles. The exercise took place between September and November and involved a total replacement of its existing Interceptor stock to help maintain combat readiness. With a force of 200 soldiers, Task Force Talon is about a third of the size of the traditional air defense Patriot battalion. The exercise comes at a time of increased activity in the Pacific region and talks of installing further THAAD systems in South Korea which may be seen as a threat to an increasingly aggressive China.
- The sky is getting pretty crowded in Iraq. Flights between Baghdad and Iraqi Kurdistan have been cancelled due to increased Russian air strikes and cruise missiles in the area.