30 Jun 16. Singapore to decide soon on $1bn deal for military helicopters. Singapore will decide “soon” on an estimated $1bin purchase of new military helicopters which it had delayed after the crash of a civilian aircraft made by one of the bidders, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said on Thursday.
The tiny city-state has the largest defense budget in Southeast Asia at a time when China’s increasingly assertive actions in the disputed South China Sea waterway spur regional nations to step up defense spending.
Singapore put on ice its plans to replace 32 ageing Super Pumas after the April 29 crash of a civilian Airbus Super Puma, whose military version had been the frontrunner to clinch the helicopter order.
The city-state, a customer highly sought-after by military contractors, had been expected to announce its decision in the first half of this year, after 18 months of evaluation.
“We are finalizing evaluations for the replacement,” Ng told reporters. “We will announce it soon.”
He gave no estimated timeframe, however.
The race for the contract is between Airbus Helicopters and Italian firm Leonardo Finmeccanica. It would be the first major test of confidence in the military version of the aircraft since the crash that killed 13 people off Norway.
“When there are developments, the evaluation committee will look into it,” Ng added. “You cannot ignore it, and that goes for every platform.”
Singapore’s fleet of F15 and F16 fighter jets currently meets requirements, said Ng, although experts had expected the country to order the Lockheed F-35 Joint Strike Fighter by the end of the decade.
“We are watching it, but no hurry at all, and there is no fixed timeline that we need to make an evaluation,” Ng said.
The city state is also studying tactical lift helicopters to replace its Boeing Chinooks, Ng said.
Singapore could upgrade its air capabilities beyond helicopters by expanding airbases at Tengah and Changi, with a “smart air base” potentially set up at the latter to enable aircraft launch and recovery with automated systems, he added.
Two new type 218SG submarines produced by Germany’s ThyssenKrupp will join the fleet from 2020.
To protect against terror attacks, Singapore will set up a battalion-sized Army Deployment Force of skilled soldiers, capable of responding within minutes.
Ng said it was “unfortunate” that ASEAN leaders retracted a common statement on the disputed South China Sea, where Singapore is not a claimant, at a meeting of foreign ministers of the Southeast Asian grouping in June.
“We would wish that it could have gone better, but things are as they are,” he said. (Source: glstrade.com/Reuters)
30 Jun 16. Kuznetsov overhaul designed to maintain carrier capability while Russia considers future carrier options. Key Points:
• The Russian Navy appears keen to have its sole aircraft carrier returned quickly and available in good operating condition, while it waits for a future carrier• Work on Admiral Kuznetsov will be limited by both time and finances, and will entail more overhaul than modernisation as a result
Russia reportedly will begin a major overhaul and modernisation of its sole aircraft carrier, the Project 1143.5/6 Orel-class ship Admiral Kuznetsov, in the first quarter of 2017. The renovation work will commence after the carrier conducts a deployment to the Mediterranean Sea later this year.
The carrier has just completed a brief period of shipyard maintenance, and is working up in the Barents Sea for its Mediterranean deployment.
The ship has not been overhauled extensively since 1998. It has received only hull maintenance and general repairs during two- or three-month dry docking periods. The planned overhaul will be essential to keep Admiral Kuznetsov operational while Moscow considers the future design and construction of a new, larger aircraft carrier.
The renovated Admiral Kuznetsov could remain in active service for up to another 25 years. It might still be operational if and w