France nationalizes shipyard, annoys Italy | Army orders Abrams upgrades and JLTVs | Refurbished T-64s in the DRC
- General Dynamics Land Systems has been awarded a $270.2 million contract to provide System Enhancement Package (SEP) components for upgraded US Army M1A2 SEPv2 and SEPv3 Abrams main battle tanks. According to the work order, GD will provide, install, and integrate System Enhancement Package v2 legacy components for 45 M1A2 SEPv3 tanks and 60 additional sets of SEPv2 and SEPv3 parts, as well as providing tooling, test, and support equipment. Work will be carried out primarily at Lima Army Tank Plant in Ohio, and other sites in the United States, and is scheduled to run until Aug. 21, 2019. The SEPv2 includes upgraded computers, improved front and side armor, a improved transmission, new infrared sensors and a Common Remotely Operated Weapons Station (CROWS) for the .50 machine gun. While the SEPv3 has improved power generation, networking capabilities and possesses a lower-profile CROWS system.
- The latest order of the Joint light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) program has been made by the US Army, with the service requesting the production and delivery of 748 vehicles and 2,359 installed and packaged kits from manufacturer Oshkosh. Valued at $195 million, this has been the fifth JLTV buy since 2015 as part of Low Rate Initial Production orders, while testing and evaluation of the new land vehicle continues. It is anticipated that a decision on Full Rate Production of the JLTV will be made in fiscal year 2019 and first units delivered to the Army later that year.
- With pressure coming from the White House to cut costs on the new Air Force One procurement, the USAF is in talks with Boeing to purchase two 747-8 jetliners that were originally built for a now defunct Russian airline before they were delivered. Sources close to the negotiations added that the service was getting a good deal on the aircraft, said to usually retail for about $386 million on average. The two aircraft were initially ordered four years ago by Transaero, a Russian airline that went bankrupt in 2015, and since then have been stored in the Mojave Desert, where the dry, hot climate slows corrosion.
- It has been revealed that the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) received 25 modernized T-64BV-1 main battle tanks from Ukraine last year after it was initially thought that the deal was cancelled. In 2014, an unknown customer ordered 50 of the modernized Soviet-era tanks in a $11.5 million contract with the Ukrainian state-owned conglomerate Ukroboronprom. However, up until now it was thought the tanks were diverted for use in Kiev’s ongoing conflict with Russian-backed separatists is Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region. It now looks that half of the original 2014 order was diverted to Ukrainian forces, while the other half made their way to the DRC. Ukraine is the DRC’s biggest supplier of defense platforms—since 2000 it has received 18 2S1 122 mm self-propelled guns, 30 BTR-60PB armoured personnel carriers, 8 Mi-24K helicopters, six MT-LB APCs, 12 2S3 152 mm self-propelled guns, 12 BM-21 122 mm multiple rocket launchers, 36 D-30 122 mm towed guns, and 36 M-43 120 mm mortars from Ukraine.
- The French government has stepped in on a bid by Italian shipyard Fincantieri to gain a controlling stake in the country’s largest shipyard previously owned by STX France. Located at Saint-Nazaire on the Atlantic coast, and the only yard in France big enough for the construction of aircraft carriers, Fincantieri’s interest in the yard started last year when a stake was put up for sale by South Korean company STX after it went bankrupt. Instead, Paris swooped in to take a 50% interest in the yard in order to “protect France’s strategic interests in matters of naval construction.” Italy hit back at the move saying: “Nationalism and protectionism are not an acceptable basis for establishing relations between two great European countries.”
- Austal has laid the keel for the first Pacific Patrol Boat during a ceremony at Henderson, Western Australia. Once completed, the vessel will be handed over to Papua New Guinea as part of a program to enhance practical maritime security cooperation across the South Pacific region. The Australian shipyard was contracted last May to build and sustain 19 steel-hulled patrol boats for 12 Pacific Island nations as part of Canberra’s Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement project. Austral has already delivered 32 patrol boat vessels to the Australian Border Force and Royal Australian Navy.
- South Korea’s new Defense Minister Song Young-moo has met with his Indonesian counterpart, Ryamizard Ryacudu, as the latter visits Seoul for the handing over ceremony of one of three diesel-electric attack submarines ordered from Daewoo. While the meeting included discussions on North Korea, the primary focus of the talks was on how to build on existing defense cooperation—Jakarta has already agreed to buy KAI’s T-50 advanced jet trainer and signed a separate deal to join in the development of the KF-X fighter program—and focus on boost their respective defense industries. Song, a former naval chief and part of President Moon Jae-in’s reform-minded cabinet, said that he believes the local defense industry is too dependent on domestic demand and should become more export focused.
- Several flight and squadron level leaders in the Afghan Air Force (AAF) requested to assume full responsibility for flight line maintenance of its Embraer/Sierra Nevada A-29 Super Tucano light combat aircraft. Until now, such work has been completed by Train, Advise, Assist Command-Air (TAAC-Air), a US-led initiative to train and build the physical capacity of the AAF. However, despite this request, TAAC-Air will be responsible for 80% of all A-29 maintenance functions, though it aims to reduce its role to 20% by 2022 and aims to see the AAF’s training capacity become self-sustaining such that training is done internally through local personnel over the oncoming years.
- 3D animation of Austal’s Pacific Patrol Boat:
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