The US government, along with 44 other nations, has signed a joint declaration on the “Export and Subsequent Use of Armed or Strike-Enabled Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).” Signatories promise to “ensure the responsible export and subsequent use of these systems” as misuse of these UAVs could fuel conflict and instability, and facilitate terrorism and organized crime. The declaration said none of the principles were meant to undermine a country’s legitimate interest in producing, exporting, or acquiring such systems.
General Dynamics Land Systems has unveiled their medium-weight tracked vehicle demonstrator, the Griffin, at the Association of the US Army (AUSA) 2016 Annual Meeting & Exposition. Combining elements of the turret and 120mm cannon from their M1A1/M1A2 Abrams main battle tank and the Ajax Scout Specialist Vehicle, the Griffin is being offered by GDLS as a “conversation starter” for the US Army’s Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) program. Speaking to IHS Janes, Mike Peck, GDLS’ head of business development, said the company could respond to army feedback with a revised platform within about 9-12 months.
Middle East & North Africa
Joran’s King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Center (KASOTC) compound is playing host to Iraqi officers training under a NATO-led scheme to build a more stable, permanent cadre of squadron leaders. The six week course, involving both classroom and live-fire training exercises, comes at a time when the Iraqi government gears up for its assault on the city of Mosul, held by the Islamic State since June 2014.
Poland has dropped plans to purchase H225M Caracel military helicopters from Airbus. The move was revealed by the Ministry of Economic Development, citing the cessation of negotiations with the company over potential offsets, and indicating that the Ministry of Defense was backing away from the $3.5 billion sale. Warsaw’s new government is instead leaning to offerings off Lockheed Martin’s Black Hawk and Leonardo’s AW149 helos, which come with greater offsets and production at domestic subsidiary facilities.
Airbus has successfully demonstrated their C295W transport aircraft as an aerial tanker. Equipped with a palletized air-to-air refueling unit and associated computer control system, the aircraft conducted multiple contacts with a Spanish air force C295 aircraft during a test flight on September 2. Further trials with a helicopter receiver are planned before the end of the year and work is underway to eventually refuel UAVs. Future applications for the C295W include special operations and extending search and rescue aircraft range.
The Philippine Air Force is to launch its fourth bid in two years to procure a close-air support (CAS) platform to replace its OV-10. A request for proposals (RFP) is expected in the coming months with Embraer’s Super Tucano tipped as the hot fave to win the competition. Previous attempts to acquire new CAS aircraft have fallen short as potential bidders failed to meet the requirements.
AM General has been awarded a $151 million contract to provide High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (Humvees) to Afghanistan, Ukraine, and the US National Guard and Reserves. The deals cover new vehicles, automotive kits, spare parts, and training. Afghanistan will receive 360 M1152A1B2 and 73 M1151A1B1 variants while Ukraine and US forces will receive 40 M1152 and 237 M997A3 ambulance vehicles respectively.
In order to fill a capability gap before the introduction of what comes from the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program, the US Army is considering a new block upgrade of the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter. This new AH-64F variant will have an improved radar, forward-looking infrared sensor, and a new helmet, according to Col. Jeff Hager, the service’s program manager. However, a better look at the time frame for FVL’s introduction will be necessary in order to judge the need for a full block upgrade.
Middle East & North Africa
Three US Navy warships have been dispatched to the coast of Yemen following an attack on an Emirati HSV-2 by Houthi forces. The USS Nitze (DDG-94), USS Mason (DDG-87) and the afloat forward staging base USS Ponce (AFSB(I)-15) are now stationed near Bab Al Mandeb strait where the missile attack took place. Prior to its use by the UAE, the HSV-2 was once used by US Military Sealift Command.
A pooling initiative is to commence between the French and German defense ministries for the purchase and joint use of C-130J transport aircraft following the signing of a declaration of intent in Paris. Berlin announced plans to purchase between four and six of the aircraft from Lockheed Martin which would be added to those recently ordered by France. The move is part of a solution to fill a German cargo and transport aircraft capability gap caused by delays and limitations of the larger A400M from Airbus and the retirement of their older Transall cargo planes.
Raytheon and Kongsberg have successfully test-fired an extended range version of Raytheon’s Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) from the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS). By simply pairing the sensor from the AMRAAM to an Evolved Sea Sparrow missile (ESSM) the new variant gives a 50% in maximum range and 70% in maximum altitude. Modifications undertaken to accommodate the new missile include extending the top row of three canisters by a foot, and Raytheon is targeting first deliveries of the missile in the 2020 timeframe.
A lack of orders alongside a complex production process has seen production of the Eurofighter Typhoon suspended and potentially removed from the German market, at least until 2018. A joint European offering, the Typhoon receives components manufactured at four plants in Germany, Britain, Italy and Spain, which makes the production very complicated and expensive. It’s believed that Spain may soon follow in suspending production but production lines are likely to remain open in Italy and the UK. This is due to orders arranged between Italy and Kuwait as well as UK ambitions to shift Eurofighters to Saudi Arabia.
Disclosures made by a South Korean lawmaker have revealed that the two Green Pine radars bought from Israel’s Elbit Systems have been failing repeatedly. Data submitted to Rep. Lee Chul-gyu showed that the radars have stopped working 21 times over the past three years which resulted in the anti-ballistic missile radars being out of operation for up to nine days at a time. An anonymous air force official said the reason was because moisture entered the radars, condensing inside the antennae. A temporary solution by the service was to install air conditioners inside the units and plans are in motion to house them inside “radomes” next year.
India is anxious to close a number of defense and nuclear related deals with the Pentagon as the Obama administration enters its final months. Deals including the purchase of 22 MQ-1 Predator UAVs are in advanced stages of negotiations and should be finalized within the coming months. But with a potentially radical regime change on the cards in Washington, New Delhi may want to capitalize on the good relationship between leaders Modi and Obama as the prospect of an “America First” Trump administration may spark a US pullback from Asia.
Lockheed Martin is to upgrade a target acquisition and vision sensor aboard US Army AH-64E Apache helicopters. The upgrade to the Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensor, or M-TADS/PNVS on the AH-64E was commissioned by the Army under a $49 million contract. Lockheed said that under the award it will produce an additional 42 Modernized Day Sensor Assembly upgrade kits and spares for the US Army as part of Lot 1 production at two of its facilities in Florida.
Middle East & North Africa
A second batch of mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles have been delivered to Egypt under the US Excess Defense Articles grant program. While the exact number of vehicles delivered remains unknown, the original shipment contained 762 MRAPs. First used for US operations in Afghanistan, the vehicles will give enhanced levels of protection to Egyptian soldiers tackling Islamist militants in the Sinai desert.
Regional changes and increased demand has Israel looking for more airborne early warning, communications intelligence and electronic intelligence aircraft. It’s believed that the newly agreed 10-year $38 billion foreign military financing package from the US may facilitate the needed acquisition, which will add to the Gulfstream G-5 Shavit COMINT/ELINT aircraft and G-550 Eitam AEW aircraft that are in service. An IAF source said that the radar and other systems that are installed in the two types have been upgraded, and now have an improved performance.
The Ukrainian state-owned Kiev Design Bureau released footage of the successful test of their Sarmat anti-tank guided missile. Sarmat missiles form part of a module mounted on jeeps and can engage tanks, motionless helicopters, sea vessels, and ground forces. Its smaller version has a maximum range of about 8,200 feet, and the larger variant has a range of about 16,400 feet.
An enhanced production version of the Airbus A330-200-based multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) has made its maiden flight in Spain. Manufacturer Airbus stated the aircraft – already carrying its advanced refuelling boom system and under-wing hose and drogue pods – “performed in line with expectations”. The enhanced model represents the new build standard that also will be delivered to other future customers of the MRTT, which currently include France, South Korea, and a consortium of NATO members.
Philippine hardman Rodrigo Duterte has continued his war of words with the Pentagon, saying he doesn’t need to buy arms from US manufacturers. Telling US President Barack Obama to “go to hell”, Duterte continued with “If you don’t want to sell arms, I’ll go to Russia. I sent the generals to Russia and Russia said ‘do not worry, we have everything you need, we’ll give it to you'”. His comments were the latest in a near-daily barrage of hostility toward the United States, during which Duterte has started to contrast the former colonial power with its geopolitical rivals Russia and China.
Singapore remains interested in purchasing the F-35, however it won’t be until a 2030s timeframe. While the country has long been linked to the F-35 program, Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen said his country’s crop of F-15s and F-16s will “last us well into the next one or two decades.” This is backed up by last December’s $914 million award to Lockheed Martin to upgrade Singapore’s 60 plane F-16 fleet, with work occurring through 2023.
Two more H225M helicopters are on their way from Airbus with Thailand looking to add to the existing fleet of four of the twin-engined type operated by the Royal Thai Air Force. Delivery of the two Caracals is due in 2019, and will be preceded by another pair due to be handed over this year dating from a 2014 order. The H225Ms will be used on a variety of missions including combat search and rescue, and troop transportation.
The Cougar family of medium-sized blast-protected vehicles is produced in both 4-wheel (formerly Cougar H) and 6-wheel (formerly Cougar HE) layouts. Eventually, the wisdom of using survivable vehicles in a theater where land mines were the #1 threat became clearer, and these vehicles have gradually shifted from dedicated engineer and Explosives Ordnance Disposal (EOD) roles to patrol and route-proving/ convoy lead functions as well. Related variants and blast-resistant designs are also produced in response to country-specific requirements (Wolfhound, Mastiff, Ridgeback, ILAV Badger) and other designs cover different operational needs (Buffalo mine-clearance, Cheetah, Ocelot, and JAMMA patrol vehicles). To date, the firm has received orders from Britain, Canada, France, Hungary, Italy, Iraq, and Yemen; and Poland operates some on loan from the USA. Front line testimonials offer evidence of their effectiveness.
Cougar orders predate the USA’s MRAP program to rush mine-resistant vehicles to the front lines; indeed, the performance of Force Protection’s vehicles on the front lines was probably the #1 trigger for the MRAP program’s existence. This FOCUS article describes Force Protection’s vehicles and corporate performance, which became an issue in recent years. It also covers key events and procurements around the world related to Force Protection’s Cougar (MRAP CAT I & II), Buffalo (MRAP CAT III), and related blast-resistant vehicle families.
United Launch Services, a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing, has been awarded an $861 million modification to a previously awarded contract for Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle capability for the Delta IV and Atlas V rockets. The USAF contract will run until September 20, 2017. Other work contained within the deal include mission assurance, program management, systems engineering, integration of the space vehicle with the launch vehicle, launch site and range operations, and launch infrastructure maintenance and sustainment.
A freedom of information request diligently requested by Aviation Week has revealed some of the 2,100 would be names submitted as part of the B-1 naming competition. According to the request, “the responses ranged from historically informed to odd, witty and downright inappropriate, with airmen requesting the names Death Star, Meme Machine, Chuck Norris, Taxslayer and Mecca Wrecka.” Of course Nukey McMeltface (not dissimilar to DID’s own Stealthy McBombface suggestion) was just one of several McMonikers to be submitted, joining Stealthy McStealthface, Bombypants McGee and McLovin on the discarded pile.
Denel Dynamics has moved closer to selling their Ingwe missile to Saudi Arabia following the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the Saudi ITEAC Group. The move will see both firms jointly market the South African’s ZT3 Ingwe anti-tank missile to the Saudi armed forces. Denel has been attempting to enter the Saudi defense market for some time, and any deal could likely see technology transfers as well as the setting up of local manufacturing facilities.
BAE Systems will commence work on the UK’s newest nuclear submarines following the release of nearly $1.7 billion in funds. The announcement was made by the Minister of Defence on Saturday after approval was given by MPs earlier this year. Known colloquially as the Trident system, the first of the Vanguard-class submarines will enter service in the early 2030s.
A collaboration between Leonardo-Finmeccinca, Dassault Aviation and Airbus Defence has launched the European Medium Altitude Long Endurance Remotely Piloted Aircraft System program (RPAS). The project will facilitate the creation of new remotely piloted aircraft systems to support European intelligence-gathering missions, with all three companies to first conduct definition studies to support the program. In addition to intelligence gathering, the drones will be used for infrastructure surveillance, firefighting, border control, and disaster relief efforts.
A week after French and India’s defense ministers finalized their long awaited Rafale deal, manufacturer Dassault and India’s Reliance Group signed contracts in relation to the deal’s production offsets. As much as $4.51 billion, 50% of the total deal, will be reinvested in Indian firms as part of work share conditions attached to the sale of the 36 fighters. As the world’s largest defense importer, New Delhi’s “Make in India” initiative requires foreign defense companies to invest a percentage of the value of deals that they have been awarded into India to help the country build their own manufacturing base and wean them from imports.
Lockheed Martin will provide combat systems for Australia’s new fleet of submarines. The move is said to increase interoperability with fellow Lockheed system-user the US Navy. French firm DCNS won the $38 billion Australian submarine contract back in April defeating Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine and Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries. Since then, the company has been dealing with the aftermath of a 22,000 page data leak of submarines they are building for India, drawing a warning from Australian defense officials.
Latest updates[?]: Lockheed Martin will provide combat systems for Australia's new fleet of submarines. The move is said to increase interoperability with fellow Lockheed system-user the US Navy. French firm DCNS won the $38 billion Australian submarine contract back in April defeating Germany's ThyssenKrupp Marine and Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries. Since then, the company has been dealing with the aftermath of a 22,000 page data leak of submarines they are building for India, drawing a warning from Australian defense officials.
Bridge to the future?
In its 2009 White Paper, Australia’s Department of Defence and Labor Party government looked at the progress being made in ship killing surveillance-strike complexes, and at their need to defend large sea lanes, as key drivers shaping future navies. These premises are well accepted, but the White Paper’s conclusion was a surprise. It recommended a doubling of Australia’s submarine fleet to 12 boats by 2030-2040, all of which would be a new successor design that would replace the RAN’s Collins Class submarines.
The surprise, and controversy, stem from Australia’s recent experiences. The Collins Class was designed with the strong cooperation of ThyssenKrupp’s Swedish Kockums subsidiary, and built in Australia by state-owned ASC. The class has had a checkered career, including significant difficulties with its combat systems, issues with acoustic signature and propulsion, major cost growth to A$ 5+ billion, and schedule slippage. Worse still, reports indicated that the RAN can only staff 2 of its 6 submarines. High-level attention led to a report and recommendations to improve the force, but whether they will work remains to be seen. Meanwhile, the nature of Australia’s SEA 1000 future submarine project – and its eventual cost – remain unclear, with estimated costs in the A$ 36-44 billion range. This FOCUS article covers Australia’s options, decisions, and plans, as their future submarine program slowly gets underway.
An SM-6 air defense missile interceptor fired from the USS Princeton has set a new distance record for an intercept during testing at the Point Mugu Test Range on September 22. Using data from a remote airborne sensor and equipped with the latest Aegis Baseline 9, the missile beat the previous long-distance intercept record held by the USS John Paul Jones’ test in January.
The US Air Force Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has requested funding in the FY 2018 defense budget for the modification of an AC-130W with a laser weapon. If approved, modifications will start in FY 2020 using an existing aircraft now stationed at Cannon Air Force Base. However, the plan has received skepticism from some quarters with Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer, noting airborne lasers continue to face issues with weather and atmospheric conditions.
Airbus has delivered the first batch of AS565 MBe variant helicopters to the Mexican Navy. The service ordered ten back in 2014 as the variant’s launch customer, coming with a new Safran Arriel 2N engine that improves its performance in hot & high conditions and enables it to achieve a top speed of 278 km/h and a range of 780 kilometers. Three more are to be delivered before the end of 2016 and the remaining six by early 2018.
Middle East & North Africa
Bahrain’s purchase of F-16 fighters are believed to come with strings attached, with the Pentagon set to include a “declaration of concern” into the draft notification of the sale. Prior to the sale proceeding, Washington wants Bahrain to improve their human rights, although they did not specify what steps they want the Gulf kingdom to take. Other Gulf nations awaiting US fighters, namely Kuwait and Qatar, have not been required to undergo such conditions.
Houthi rebels fighting in Yemen’s ongoing civil war have claimed the successful sinking of an HSV-2 Swift hybrid catamaran operated by the UAE. The UAE military said on Saturday that a boat under their command was involved in an “incident” in the Bab al-Mandeb Strait, but also stated that no casualties were suffered. It’s believed that the vessel was carrying aid.
A decision on Germany’s small transport requirement is expected for later this fall. The winner will replace existing Transall aircraft, due to be retired in 2021, for missions that the new Airbus A400M could not perform due to its larger size. A likely candidate touted by Reuters is Lockheed Martin’s C-130J, which could be purchased and used jointly with France or bought second-hand from the UK.
A spokesperson for the Philippine Air Force has said the service is looking to acquire 36 additional FA-50PH fighter jets from Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI). The official said the procurement is needed “to meet a requirement specified in Flight Plan 2028 to “detect, intercept, and neutralise” any perceived threat in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).” This adds to 12 FA-50PH fighters already ordered in 2014, with deliveries set to conclude in late 2017.
Iran has unveiled a new unmanned combat aerial vehicle supposedly based on a captured American RQ-170 Sentinel. Dubbed “Saegheh”, or lightening, the UCAV will be able to carry up to four guided munitions, according to Iranian state media. In 2011, a US RQ-170 reconnaissance UAV was captured in eastern Iran which Tehran claim was taken over and landed by its cyberwarfare unit.