16 Feb 17. Germany joins European tanker project, signs transport deal with France. Catalysed both by US pressure on the allies to spend more on their defence, and by Berlin’s political desire to strengthen Europe’s own military capabilities, Germany signed off on a quartet of new multination equipment and capability initiatives on 15 February.
“Germany is pushing ahead with co-operation,” its defence ministry announced when releasing details of the initiatives, signed in the margins of a NATO ministers’ meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels.
As one German diplomatic source noted prior to the announcements, “we have to work on our shortfalls and that means investing in new material. The [German army] needs to be able to do crisis management in terms of collective defence.”
The new memoranda of intent entails beefing up Germany’s air transport capabilities and submarine fleet and expanding its anchor role as a “framework nation” by boosting structured training and exercises with two allies.
The first accord will create a German-French air transport unit of C-130J aircraft, consisting of 4-6 German aircraft and up to eight from France. The accord includes provision for a training facility – probably in Évreux – with all falling into place by 2021 when Germany’s ageing fleet of C-160 aircraft reach the end of their life cycle. The Bundestag is expected to give its blessing to the arrangement in the first quarter of 2019.
This is complemented by the second accord, which lays out Germany’s intention to join the multirole tanker transport (MRTT) fleet programme. Sponsored by the European Defence Agency (EDA), the MRTT project will cover a multination purchase and flight-hour sharing of up to eight A330 tankers. Germany said it will acquire a “flight hour contingent equivalent to a requirement of five aircraft” – 5,500 annual flight hours – and thus joins Belgium and Norway in participating in the programme.
Germany’s third accord formalises the already announced plan to jointly develop and procure with Norway six submarines and co-operation on the Naval Strike Missile (NSM). (Source: IHS Jane’s)
15 Feb 17. Dassault Aviation Eyes Indian Naval Contract for 57 Fighter Jets. After bagging the Euro 8.78bn deal for 36 Rafale fighters to strengthen the IAF fleet, French aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation is now eyeing the naval contract of 57 aircraft that is up for grabs. The navy issued a ‘Request for Information’ last month seeking response from various manufacturers to equip its aircraft carriers with fighter jets, shelving the original plan to go in for the naval version of the indigenous Tejas. Eric Trappier, CEO of Dassault Aviation, said the French aviation company will pitch for the naval contract.
“We are the only company to have strictly the same aircraft for our air force and for our navy. Our Rafale for the navy and the air force are same,” he told PTI.
Early last year, a team from France had given a detailed presentation to senior navy officers on various aspects of the naval version and the benefits it would offer with two arms of defence forces using Rafale fighter jets.
“In case we have the new contract for the navy, we will benefit from the local implementation of the Rafale production (for the air force),” Trappier said.
The air force is also looking to procure fighter jets to replenish its aging fleet. Dassault has already begun manufacturing the initial lot of the 36 Rafale jets for the Indian Air Force.
Like other defence companies vying for the multi-billion dollar contract, Dassault too has offered to set up a manufacturing line in India.
“We started to think seriously about producing Rafale in India a long time ago. We will start production of parts of Rafale, which is a part of the existing contract.
“It will not only be Rafale, but parts of Falcon (fighter jet) will be produced in India. We want to have a serious footprint under the Make in India programme.
“If we get new contrac