Will US export ban SCALP Franco-Egyptian Rafale deal? | Navy awards contracts to mature FFG(X) designs | Airbus blasts Germany’s export restrictionsFeb 20, 2018 05:00 UTC
- Five shipbuilding firms have been awarded US Navy contracts worth $15 million each to deliver conceptual designs for the Guided Missile Frigate (FFG(X)) program—the effort for the service’s future frigate. Awarded to Huntington Ingalls, Lockheed Martin, Austal USA, General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, and Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri, the contracts task the firms with submitting mature designs to the Navy over the next 16 months, that will inform the Navy on what the final specifications for the vessel will be. The awards also contain options that could grow the value to between $22 million and $23 million. Both Austral and Lockheed Martin are offering versions of their Littoral Combat Ship designs, while Huntington Ingalls is offering a version of the Coast Guard’s National Security Cutter. Fincantieri is offering its FREMM design, and General Dynamics will partner with Spanish shipbuilding Navantia to offer the the latter’s F100 frigate. The Navy plans to order its first FFG(X) vessel in 2020, buying a further vessel in 2021, with two additional vessels each year thereafter, according to recent Navy spending plans.
- Huntington Ingalls received Friday, February 16, a $1.43 billion US Navy contract for the procurement of the detail design and construction of landing platform dock 29—the latest addition to the service’s San Antonio-class amphibious transport docks. Work will take place mostly in Pascagoula, Mississippi, but also in Crozet, Virginia, Beloit, Wisconsin, New Orleans, Louisiana, with other efforts to take place across the continental United States. Contract completion is scheduled for July 2023.
- The US Army has awarded General Dynamics Land Systems a $148.9 million contract modification to provide parts supply support for the entire Stryker wheeled combat vehicle program. Awarded on Friday, February 16, work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with the contract expected to run until February 28, 2019. Meanwhile, the Army has also requested $368.3 million for its Stryker program in fiscal year (FY) 2019, looking to use the funds for engineering change proposal (ECP) 1 testing, an ECP 2 lethality upgrade, and supports some fleet-wide modifications such as new C4I equipment, reliability, and performance improvements, and safety fixes. The funding also provides for the logistical support for new Stryker variants armed with a 30 mm remote weapon station.
- Bell Helicopters will supply additional long-lead items for 27 Lot 16 AH-1Z Viper helicopters in support of the US Marine Corps. Valued at $37.6 million, work on the contract modification will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas, and Amarillo, Texas, and is expected to be completed in March 2019. Last week, USMC Vipers of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, met up with service members from seven full participating nations in advance of the start of the “Cobra Gold” exercise in Thailand—a co-sponsored event by the US and Thailand that seeks to advance regional security and ensure effective responses to regional crises. “The Marines of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 369 are here to promote multilateral training and deliver close air support for the participating nations such as the Kingdom of Thailand and Republic of Korea,” Maj. Kevin M. Keene, an operations officer and AH-1Z Viper pilot with HMLA-369, under the Unit Deployment Program with Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st MAW, said in a press release. In addition to the Vipers, the USMC will use UH-1Y Venoms, along with CH-53E Super Stallions and KC-130J Hercules to provide aerial support for the exercise. The exercise will run until February 23.
Middle East & Africa
- Egypt’s plan to purchase further Rafale fighter jets from France’s Dassault Aviation has hit a roadblock, as US authorities are refusing to allow the export of an American component that is used on the SCALP cruise missile. Manufactured by MBDA and going by the name Storm Shadow in the UK, Cairo has requested the inclusion of the munition for its Rafales as part of a deal to purchase a further 15 aircraft. According to French financial newspaper La Tribune, French President Emmanuel Macron might lobby on behalf of MBDA during a planned visit to Washington DC in April.
- Pakistan will send troops to Saudi Arabia on a “training and advise mission,” stressing that the troops “will not be employed outside” the kingdom. The news comes three years after Pakistan decided not to participate in the Sunni-majority, Saudi-led intervention in Yemen—which had the aim of stemming the influence of Shi’ite Iran, although the conflict has slowly descended into a proxy conflict between the two rival regional powers—after Pakistan’s parliament voted to remain neutral to avoid being pulled into a sectarian regional power struggle, in part because the country shares a border with Iran and has a sizeable Shi‘ite minority. While the number of troops to be sent remains unknown, 750-800 Pakistani servicemen are already present in Saudi Arabia, in part to guard Islamic holy sites, but they are not combat troops.
- Airbus has criticised the new German coalition’s commitment to defense spending, adding that its call for a tougher approach to arms exports could prompt the weapons maker to re-examine its business plans. After months of negotiations and scuppered coalitions, a new coalition deal between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) was proposed last week—it still needs to be ratified by the SPD—has pledged an immediate ban on arms sales to countries involved in the war in Yemen and a tougher approach to arms sales in general. Speaking to Reuters on the sidelines of the annual Munich Security Conference, Dirk Hoke, chief executive of Airbus Defence and Space said that “unilateral restrictions on European arms exports by Germany not only hurts domestic industry, but also reduces the room for maneuver of a strategic European security and defense policy,” adding that many “European partners already do not consider us a reliable partner because our arms export policies change depending on the outcome of our elections.” French Defense Minister Florence Parly echoed these sentiments, telling the conference that European defense firms needed to export to maintain their ability to meet future European weapons requirements. “If one day we decided only to produce for ourselves with no ambition to export, then before long we’d have to question whether we were still able to protect our own citizens,” she said. “Arms exports have to be done seriously and rigorously, but we shouldn’t make it into a kind of spectre in what is a very sensitive political debate.”
- The second batch of South Korea’s K2 Black Panther main battle tank will come with a German RENK transmission system, as part of a new powerpack that includes a locally-developed 1,500hp engine produced by Hanwha Defense Systems. The decision was announced earlier this month by Seoul’s procurement body, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA). 106 K2’s will be produced under the run, which was initially started in 2014 but was stopped due to repeated failures in evaluating reliability of the local transmission system built by S&T Dynamics. The first batch of 100 K2s featured a German MTU 883 diesel engine and RENK transmission system, and in December 2014, Hyundai Rotem signed an $820 million contract to supply the additional K2s to the Army. But the plan hit a snag as S&T Dynamics’ automatic transmission failed in the durability tests six times. DAPA added that the second-batch of K2s is scheduled to be deployed with the Army units between 2019 and 2020, and a further third batch of 100 units is expected in the coming years.
- Russia test-fires the Tor-M2DT air defense missile system: