US to Sell $1.29B in Smart Bombs to Saudis | Turkey-China T-LORAMIDS Collaboration Kaput | Australian DoD Issues RFI on IFVs Worth $7.1B
- The US State Department has cleared the sale of $1.29 billion worth of smart bombs to Saudi Arabia. The purchase will replenish supplies used in recent air strikes against both Iranian backed Houthi insurgents in Yeman and Islamic State forces in Syria. Details of the sale were posted by the Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) last Friday and follow last months shopping spree by the Saudis which totalled $11.25 billion. Last months sale included four multi-mission Littoral combat ships as well as various equipment and munitions which came in the wake of the US-Iranian nuclear agreement. Several Gulf nations made requests to the US to help modernize their military before they acquiesced to the deal.
- A crack has been found on the wing of the F-35C fighter during durability testing earlier this month. The crack was located on one of the 13 wing spars of the aircraft but the Pentagon has assured that the government and engineering teams are working on a solution and retrofits are being planned for existing aircraft. The US Navy does not see the setback impacting upon the planned Initial Operating Capability (IOC) of the C model set for August 2018. One does wonder will this impact upon Canada’s order of the aircraft which has been put into question since the election of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last month. Trudeau announced that he would put an end to their participation in the F-35 program for a more costly alternative during campaigning. This may increase the cost by US$1 million per aircraft.
Middle East North Africa
- Turkish officials have announced that a program to develop a long-range air and missile defense program (T-LORAMIDS) with China has been cancelled . The program, which was to be worth $3.4 billion had faced competition from US company Raytheon as well as Franco-Italian company Eurosam but neither will be revisited as Ankara has decided to continue developing a defense system independently. The tender, which was initially awarded earlier this year was a cause for concern by other NATO members who expressed issues over security and compatibility with existing NATO systems. It is still unknown as to whether Turkey’s indigenous system will fit into the existing NATO infrastructure but we may know sooner rather than later after this weekend’s G-20 summit which concluded on Monday.
- Saab has announced the successful full integration of its RBS 70 NG into the air defense system of the Czech Republic, the first time the company has done so for any country. The integration comes as part of efforts by the Czech ministry of defense to modernize it’s existing systems and military hardware in order to become a NATO -interoperable force which has been under way since 2006. Saab will no doubt look to emulate such co-operation with future clients and cater to their needs in future contracts.
- Russia has test fired two ballistic Bulava SLBM from a submerged position in the White Sea hitting targets in the Kura test range in the Russian Far East. The launch was conducted on the 4th generation strategic nuclear submarine, the Vadimir Monomakh and was hailed as a success by the Russian Ministry of Defense, who wish to have eight of these vessels in operation by 2020. The Russian tests follow a week after the US Navy tested its own Trident II SLBMs in California, which one nightscape photographer initially mistook for the world ending.
- Vladimir Putin has used the G20 summit in Turkey to claim that the Islamic State has been funded by up to 40 different nations, including members of the G20 group. Data supplied by Russian security analysts was circulated to attending diplomats however Putin did not mention any by name during his speech to the public or relay details to the media so it’s difficult to ascertain how accurate his claims are or to what extent they are being funded. Putin also used the meeting to highlight the extent of IS oil sales, which amount to about $50 million per month and how integral these are to funding their operations in the region. The Pentagon stated on Monday that they have already started targeting IS routes confirming they had hit 116 fuel trucks in strikes on Sunday. The G20 nations vowed to up cooperation and security steps in the wake of the attacks in Paris last week but this fell short of agreeing on any joint strategy for Syria.
- The Australian Department of Defense have issued a request for information for 450 tracked Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFV) as part of the Australian Defence Force’s largest ever land systems acquisition program. Project LAND 400, which is now in its third phase, has been a major overhaul of existing aging equipment of the ADF and in total will cost approximately USD $7.1 billion. Phase Three will aim to replace the existing M113AS4 and it is hoped that these will be replaced by 2025 and the M113AS4 LOT by 2030, but the Australian DoD find the machinery decaying given current and emerging threats.
- South Korea has warned that North Korea may be planning to launch an SLBM in the near future following the issuance by Pyongyang of a no-sail zone off the east coast which has been in place for the last month. The warning comes alongside the visit by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to the hermit kingdom this week. Moon oversaw multinational negotiations over the North’s nuclear capabilities during his tenure as South Korean foreign minister between 2004-06 but these deals ultimately fell through. South Korea has also announced its plan to introduce its own UAV development program starting in 2017 and costing $674 million. The UAVs will help monitor the 4 kilometre De-Militarized Zone (DMZ) between the two nations which has been in place since 1953.
- Saab and Czech Army RBS 70 Test Fire.
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