By the end of the year the UK government is due to complete its Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) that will lay out the future direction of UK defence policy and procurement. While both the armed forces and industry await the outcome of SDSR, little domestic business was concluded at the DSEI multi-domain defence exhibition held at the London ExCel center last week.
In the air domain, the principal UK announcement was a contract worth more than $450 million awarded to MBDA to build newASRAAM air-to-air missiles for the RAF. They will replace older stock as they reach their mid-life refurbishment date. MBDA is opening a new factory in Bolton to begin large-scale production next year of the ASRAAM-based CAMM (common anti-air module missile) for the British Army and Royal Navy (the Sea Ceptor system). It was deemed more cost-effective to build new ASRAAMs using components from the CAMM line than to disassemble and refurbish the existing weapons. MBDA also unveiled a future attack helicopter capability based on the Brimstone missile with possible application to the UK AH-64 Apache force, and announced a teaming with BAE Systems to market the APKWS laser-guided rocket in Europe.
Lockheed Martin announced a contract for continued support of the Desert Hawk 3 hand-held UAV used by the British Army. Procured under an urgent operational requirement for use in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Desert Hawk is now being brought into theUK’s core defence capability. The manufacturer also unveiled the Desert Hawk 3.1, an improved version with more power for prone or crouching launches, waterproofing for all-weather operations and deep-stall recovery.
One item that is almost certain to appear in the SDSR is a multi-mission maritime patrol/surveillance platform for the RAF to replace a capability lost with the retirement of the Nimrod five years ago. Both Airbus (with the C295) and Alenia (with the C-27J) promoted their products in this role, while Lockheed Martin outlined its proposal to convert the RAF’s 10 short-fuselage C-130J transports, which are due to be withdrawn, into the SC-130J configuration. A replacement of the center wing box would give the “Hercs” another 25 to 30 years of life, and LM proposes to adapt the two-console mission system from the Merlin HMA.2 helicopter into a five-console system for the SC-130J. Sensors would include an “AESA radar” (almost certainly the Selex ES Seaspray 7500E), sonobuoys and a 20-inch electro-optical/infrared turret. The fuselage sponsons would be extended forward to create space for weapons bays to house torpedoes, while underwing hardpoints could carry air-to-surface missiles.
Eurofighter came to DSEI days after Kuwait’s selection of the Typhoon. During the show it was confirmed that the Kuwaiti aircraft will be in “Radar 1 Plus” configuration, with the initial production standard of the Captor-E “e-scan” (AESA) radar. Although the deal has yet to be finalized, deliveries to Kuwait are scheduled for 2019. The consortium also revealed it has successfully conducted end-to-end guided live trials with the MBDA Meteor long-range air-to-air missile.
Thales announced an order to supply its ForceShield air defence system to Malaysia, based on the StarStreak missile and ControlMaster radar, while Thailand signed a follow-up deal for more StarStreaks. Thales also unveiled a new export approach for the Watchkeeper unmanned air system. The company is offering the Watchkeeper X as a baseline system to which can be added a number of options, including weapons such as the company’s FFLMM light precision missile. Forthcoming requirements in France and Poland are the initial priorities for the sales team.
AgustaWestland highlighted its AW159 helicopter, which is known as the Wildcat in UK service. The company confirmed that the first four of eight AW159s for the Republic of Korea Navy will be delivered before year-end. Korean AW159s differ from those of the Royal Navy by having Thales FLASH dipping sonar and an indigenous torpedo design. They will also be armed with Rafael SpikeNLOS missiles in place of the UK’s MBDA Sea Venom/Thales Martlet combination. Firing trials with Spike NLOS are understood to have already taken place in the UK.
(Source: Hawk Information)