BATTLESPACE BOOK CLUB
25 Mar 09. In its new analysis entitled “The Market for Fighter/Attack/Trainer Retrofit & Modernization,” Forecast International estimates that nearly $20bn will be spent on military aircraft upgrades during the 2009-2018 period. The United States alone is expected to earmark $9.5bn for fighter/attack/trainer retrofit & modernization (R&M) programs, with the rest of the world kicking in another $10.3bn. “Air forces have a need to update their existing fleets of fighter/attack/trainer aircraft to meet the challenges of 21st century warfare,” said Adam Feld, airborne R&M analyst and author of the report. “However, the economic turmoil spreading across the globe is having an effect on defense budgets, including upgrade funding.” The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have illustrated that the traditional roles of combat aircraft – to provide air superiority and destroy enemy surface assets – are of little help against an enemy with no air force, and that hides among a civilian population. To meet this new challenge, many Western nations, particularly the United States, are improving their fleet’s ground support role with improved sensors and precision ground attack capability. Yet these nations remain aware that conventional warfare is not dead but only dormant, and seek to maintain their fleets’ traditional capabilities as well. Eastern nations are thus pressured to upgrade their own fleets to maintain parity. Both China and Russia are seeking to build their status as superpowers with modernized militaries, while tensions between India and Pakistan have led those nations – and their neighbors – to evaluate their true capabilities. India has launched a major modernization effort that it claims will suffer no cuts even in the face of a slowing global economy. Yet not all nations are so enthusiastic. With an economic recession spreading worldwide, governments are feeling the pinch and are cautious about upgrade efforts. “Programs that are expensive in the short term but provide long-term savings – such as re-engining – are often put on the backburner pending more favorable economic conditions,” said Feld. For example, the promising field of composite airframe structure upgrades has fallen into stasis and is unlikely to fully mature until funding becomes less tight, according to Feld. And as always, the specter of higher fuel prices remains, despite the dramatic dive over the last few months. Caught between changing needs and tight budgets, militaries will seek upgrades for their air fleets that grant the greatest capability without being prohibitively expensive – literally, the most bang for their buck.
19 Mar 09. Nuclear Deterrent: Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Report. The PAC published (19 Mar 09) a Report on The UK’s Future Nuclear Deterrent Capability. The Government’s position was published in a White Paper (Command 6994 of 4 Dec 06) which set out plans to build a new Class of (SSBN) submarine and to participate in the US Trident D5 ballistic missile life extension programme. The PAC Report draws attention to the need for the MoD to make key decisions about the submarine design in September 2009, “which will have implications for the procurement and support costs of the programme for decades to come”.
Comment: The PAC Report is published, as HC 250, for £10:00. The arguments for and against the UK retaining a nuclear capability are aired in the February 2009 RUSI Journal. General Sir High Beach makes the case against retention while Dr Julian Lewis MP, a Shadow Defence Minister, advocates renewal. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 09/13, 23 Mar 09)
18 Mar 09. Service Families Accommodation (SFA): National Audit Office (NAO) Report. The NAO published (18 Mar 09) a Report on MoD SFA. The MoD has over 50,000 properties across the UK, providing housing for around 42,000 Service personnel and their families. At the current rate of upgrade, it will take about 20 years before all properties