Sponsored by American Panel Corporation
UNITED KINGDOM AND NATO
12 Jul 18. UK DASA seeks proposals to safely eliminate CBW munitions and IEDs. The UK Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) is set to launch a competition to encourage new innovative solutions that would help counter munitions safely on the battlefield. Dubbed ‘Safely eliminating chemical and biological munitions on the battlefield ‘Don’t Blow It!’, the competition seeks proposals on how to access, disable and / or irreversibly destroy chemical and biological weapons (CBW) munitions, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and bulk agents. Seeking participation from the private sector and academia, the competition is aimed at non-traditional defence and security innovators, particularly from the allied technology areas such as the oil and gas, mining sectors, as well as those which have experience in handling hazardous materials. The competition has been jointly funded by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the US Department of Defense (DoD) and is expected to be operated under an existing memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the two countries. Initially, the two defence ministries will fund £500,000 for multiple proof-of-concept proposals at low Technology Readiness Levels (TRL). An additional £1.5m is expected to be funded based on the results of the initial funding phase. The competition is slated to be officially launched during an event in London, UK, on 26 September this year. In May this year, the DASA made an open call to seek for new and innovative ideas that would allow UK improve the defence and security of the country. IED is a type of unconventional explosive weapon capable of taking any form and can be activated in different number of ways, thereby continuing to be part of the operating environment for future Nato military operations. (Source: army-technology.com)
09 Jul 18. NATO and Antonov negotiate additional airlift. NATO and Antonov Airlines are negotiating a contract to provide additional outsized airlift following the announcement in April that Volga-Dnepr will no longer support the alliance. The contract for between 1,300 and 1,600 flying hours of heavy airlift should be in place by the time the current agreement with Russian provider Volga-Dnepr expires at the end of this year, a NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) official told Jane’s on 9 July, adding that the agency was unable to provide additional information at this time. Ukraine-based Antonov Airlines previously said it would provide the necessary number of An-124 aircraft to support NATO’s Strategic Airlift International Solution (SALIS) programme, after Volga-Dnepr said that the poor political climate between Russia and the West meant that it was unable to continue its participation. While NATO does field strategic airlifters of its own – in terms of nationally operated Lockheed Martin C-5 Galaxy and nationally and alliance-operated Boeing C-17 Globemaster III platforms – it does not have enough capacity to service all of its current requirements. Under the existing SALIS agreement, Antonov Airlines and Volga-Dnepr contribute a total of six An-124 aircraft for charter services to NATO and partner nations. As noted on the company’s website, Antonov Airlines specialises in the transport of outsized and project cargo worldwide using a fleet of one An-22, seven An-124s, and the world’s only An-225. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
12 Jul 18. Spain spends on urgent requirements. Although Spain cannot reach the NATO target to spend 2% of GDP on defence in the medium term, the new Socialist government has promised to commit EUR5bn (USD5.86bn) on new equipment by the end of 2018.Defence Minister Margarita Robles told the Cadena SER radio station on 11 July that the money would be spent on “urgent requirements”. Robles’ secretary of state, Ángel Olivares, listed the main items that would be included in spending plans for 2018: a second tranche of NH90 helicopters for the navy, expected to cost around EUR1.45bn spread over the coming years, and the modernisation of Chinook heavy-lift helicopters. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
11 Jul 18. Slovakia selects F-16 over Gripen for new fighter. Slovakia has decided to purchase 14 new Lockheed Martin F-16 fighters to replace its Russian made MiG-29 jets. The Slovakian Defence Ministry’s announcement Wednesday means the F-16 has beat out the Saab Gripen. In a statement on the ministry’s website, Defence Minister Peter Gajdoš said the U.S. jets were selected because they are “state-of-the-art modern machines,” and the ministry statement said the U.S. planes were cheaper according to an analysis done through 2040. However, the ministry did not put a final price tag on the F-16 purchase, but Reuters reported that the dollar figure could be €1.1bn (U.S. $1.3bn) for the 14 jets.
“We are pleased Slovakia has selected the F-16 Block 70,” Lockheed spokesman John Losinger said. “This partnership will deliver new capabilities to the Slovak Armed Forces and strengthen Slovakia’s strategic partnership with NATO and the U.S.”
In April, the U.S. State Department OK’d the potential sale of 14 Block 70/72 F-16Vs for Slovakia, indicating the process for getting those planes on contract should be fairly smooth. Slovakia’s choice of the U.S. jet over its Swedish counterpart is notable in a regional context, as two of its closest neighbors ― Hungary and the Czech Republic ― operate the Gripen. Poland, however, operates the F-16, as do a number of other NATO nations. Lockheed’s sale of the F-16 to Slovakia is the second order since the company made the decision to move its production line from Fort Worth, Texas, to Greenville, South Carolina. The Slovakian sale, coupled with the Bahrain deal cemented last month, will help Lockheed keep production of the F-16 going while its biggest potential customer, India, figures out what it wants out of a future fighter. Lockheed has proposed moving the entire F-16 line to India in exchange for a large order, but India seems to be taking its time, having released a request for information to a handful of defense aviation companies in April. (Source: glstrade.com/Defense News)
11 Jul 18. Leonardo and PGZ sign letter of intent on the AW249 combat helicopter. Leonardo and Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa S.A. (PGZ) signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) that will see the two companies collaborate on the AW249, the only new combat helicopter currently being designed, aiming to meet the Polish Army’s requirement for a new combat helicopter. With this LoI, Leonardo and PGZ will explore collaboration in a number of areas including design, manufacturing, final assembly, marketing and aftersales support for the AW249 helicopter. The document reinforces PGZ and Leonardo’s common interest in the development and production of a new combat helicopter, created for the needs of the Italian Army, and its Polish variant which is being considered under Poland’s “Kruk” procurement. Thanks to this collaboration, Poland’s defence industry will have the unique opportunity to participate in a brand new helicopter development programme, while at the same time contributing to the modernization plans of the Polish Armed Forces with a new state-of-the-art platform. The AW249 will feature all the latest technology developments in its market segment and will benefit from the extensive operational expertise logged by Leonardo’s AW129 and the know-how of the Company in this specific helicopter sector.
11 Jul 18. Airbus Seeks Collaborative Approach to Future Combat Air System. European OEMs should be working together rather than competing to build Europe’s future air combat system (FCAS), according to Airbus Defense and Space CEO Dirk Hoke. During a pre-Farnborough media briefing, Hoke outlined the challenges and opportunities facing Europe’s aerospace and defense community as it works toward developing a sixth-generation fighter jet over the next two decades. The defense ministers of Germany and France signed letters of intent during a June 19 bilateral meeting to provide guidance in the development of FCAS. About two months before that, an FCAS agreement was signed between Airbus and Dassault at April’s Berlin Air Show. The goal for the two companies is to eventually replace the current generation of Eurofighter and Rafaele jets. Looking to the future, Hoke said Airbus wants to avoid the competition between OEMs that in the past led to Dassault’s Rafaele, the Airbus Eurofighter and the Saab Gripen. All three jets have amassed a combined 1,129 orders between them. However, Hoke believes that technologically and economically, the best path forward is a multi-OEM sixth-generation jet used across Europe.
“Even when we’re optimistic for decades to come for orders of Eurofighter, more important is that we unite and go for European solution for sixth-generation aircraft,” Hoke said.
Upon announcing their collaboration, Airbus and Dassault proposed developing demonstrator aircraft for FCAS by 2025. Hoke said developing more than one sixth-generation fighter aircraft would drop Europe into the “second league” on the global stage.
The Airbus defense executive also emphasized that FCAS needs to be more than just an aircraft. Instead, it will be a “system of systems” approach, using artificial intelligence, drones and advanced communications capabilities.
“It’s not only the sixth-generation aircraft,” Hoke said. “Today’s systems and future systems need to be working hand-in-hand in real-time connectivity and connection and communication that needs to include artificial intelligence to steer swarms of drones and connect the different platforms on information. There is a huge change in the warfare of the future.”
Hoke went on to note the uncertainty over Brexit and whether or not that would mean BAE Systems would become a partner with Airbus and Dassault in the future development of FCAS. BAE and Dassault were previously working on a joint feasibility study, also named FCAS, funded by the British and French governments. Hoke called the U.K. a key partner for FCAS and expressed optimism that BAE Systems could join the collaboration. With Airbus and Dassault still in the earliest stages of planning for FCAS, the technological capabilities of the sixth-generation fighter jet are still unknown. However, a November 2017 promotional video released by Airbus gave a brief overview of capabilities it is considering. Among them were a synthetic aperture radar capable of identifying enemy targets and the ability to operate in a manned-unmanned teaming mode with autonomous vehicles. (Source: News Now/www.aviationtoday.com
09 Jul 18. Western Balkans Arms Exports Exceed 500m Euros in 2016-Report. Western Balkans countries led by Serbia exported over 500 m euros (442.6m pounds) worth of weapons, ammunition and equipment in 2016, with Saudi Arabia the single largest buyer, a U.N.-appointed watchdog said in a report. Weapons producers and governments in the region, which comprises Serbia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Albania, are boosting arms production and exports of surplus stocks to improve their struggling economies. All but Albania are former parts of old federal Yugoslavia, which was a major global arms exporter, especially to developing countries. The report by the South Eastern and Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SEESAC) said that the region’s annual revenues from arms sales rose by 12 percent to 514.6m euros in 2016. That is the latest year for which figures are available. Serbia tops the 2016 regional export list with sales worth 406.6m euros, followed by Bosnia with 104.3m euros. In 2016, Albania sold 1.28m euros worth of arms. Montenegro and Macedonia sold 1.13m euros and 1.21m euros respectively, according to the report, citing statistics from individual governments. Earlier this year Serbian Defence Minister Aleksandar Vulin said Belgrade aimed to export weapons and military equipment worth around 600 m euros this year, up from 570m euros in 2017. Weapons sales from the Western Balkans to Saudi Arabia in 2016 amounted to 118m euros, making it the single biggest buyer. The remainder was sold to countries ranging from Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq and Turkey to the United States. (Source: glstrade.com/Reuters)
10 Jul 18. Germany Heads for Political Dogfight Over Replacing the Tornado. The first Tornado fighter jet roared across the sky over Germany in 1974, ushering in a new era for the country’s air force. The twin-seater combat aircraft served as the backbone of the Luftwaffe in the closing stages of the cold war and the turbulent years that followed. In 1999, a squadron of German Tornados took part in combat missions above Bosnia — the first by the Luftwaffe since the end of the second world war. Now the ageing plane is heading for retirement — leaving the government in Berlin with a difficult choice that touches military, political and even nuclear sensitivities and that is bound to antagonise at least one of Germany’s closest allies. The government will decide this year which model should replace the Tornado when the 85-strong fleet goes out of service, starting in 2025. One of the tasks the new aircraft will have to replicate is the ability to carry and deploy US nuclear weapons — one of the core capabilities still provided by the Tornado and its most contentious by far. Defence officials agree there is no time to develop a new plane, meaning the lucrative contract will go to the maker of one of four existing aircraft: the Eurofighter, which is built by a consortium of German, British and Italian groups; or one of three US-made plans — the ultra-modern F-35A (Lightning II), the F-15E (Strike Eagle) or the F/A-18E/F (Super Hornet). The size of the order has yet to be determined but is likely to be worth billions of euros. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Financial Times)
06 Jul 18. Air2030 – Issuance of RFQs to Government Agencies of Combat Aircraft Manufacturers. The first Request For Quotations for the next fighter jets has been sent to the government agencies of the manufacturers. armasuisse expects offers in response by the end of January 2019. On the basis of the requirements published by the DDPS on 23 March 2018, armasuisse, on July 6, 2018, sent the request for quotations for the next combat aircraft to the governmental agencies of the five manufacturers concerned:
— Germany (Airbus Eurofighter),
— France (Dassault Rafale),
— Sweden (Saab Gripen E), and the
— United States (Boeing F / A-18 Super Hornet, Lockheed-Martin F-35A).
After making contact with their government agency, manufacturers have the option to submit their offer to armasuisse until the end of January 2019.
Tenders must include the following information:
— calculation of the number of aircraft required by the manufacturer to fulfill the missions of the Swiss Air Force (and in particular to fly four planes permanently for four weeks);
— price for 40 and 30 aircraft, logistical costs and guided missiles included, as a basis for the subsequent determination of the required number;
— information and proposals for cooperation between armed forces and procurement authorities;
— indication as to the possibility of offsets and other compensation. Evaluation and analysis of costs and effectiveness
Then, the indications of the manufacturers will be analyzed in detail. To do this, the DDPS has defined a weighting of the four main evaluation criteria concerning the effectiveness of the system:
— effectiveness (operational, endurance) 55%
— product support (ease of maintenance, autonomous assistance) 25%
— cooperation 10%
— direct compensations (offsets) 10%
This weighting will also apply to the surface-to-air defense system (DSA) for which the request for tenders should be sent at the end of the summer. This time, the comparison of candidates for the new combat aircraft and of the new ground-to-air defense system will be based, in addition to the overall effectiveness, on the acquisition and operating costs.
From May to July 2019, fighter jets will undergo, one after the other, in-flight and ground tests in Payerne, after which a second request for proposals will be sent by armasuisse in November 2019, with responses expected by the end of May 2020. The observations made during the flight and ground tests, as well as the evaluation of the initial quotations, will be included in this second request for proposal. It will ask manufacturers to submit their best possible offer for Switzerland. The evaluation report will be drawn up from June to the end of 2020, and then submitted to the Federal Council at the same time as the surface-to-air defense system, in order to decide on the model.
Dossier Air2030 – Protection of airspace (www.ddps.ch/air2030) (in French) (defense-aerospace.com EDITOR’S NOTE: This time around, Switzerland intends to buy both a new fleet of combat aircraft and new air-defense missiles for a combined value of 8bn Swiss francs ($8.1bn). It is the biggest arms procurement program in Swiss history. The new fighter fleet is intended to replace the Northrop F-5E Tigers and Boeing F/A-18s Hornets which are scheduled to be retired by the mid-2020s. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Swiss Ministry of Defence, Civil Protection & Sports)
09 Jul 18. US Army to Host Fly-Off for Future Tactical UAVs. The US Army plans to host a fly-off demonstration using off-the-shelf drones to define the capabilities of the FutureTactical Unmanned Aerial System (FTUAS), a replacement for the Textron RQ-7 Shadow. The Army anticipates awarding multiple indefinite-delivery-indefinite-quantity contracts with an estimated ceiling value of $78 m following a fly-off demonstration, it said in a draft request for proposal posted online 2 July. The service will host an industry day to discuss the demonstration on 17-19 July. The FTUAS programme office plans to select up to six off-the-shelf drones for the demonstrations. Manufacturers will be responsible for logistics support covering training, maintenance, sustainment and operation of the drones at two Army units inside the United States for a minimum period of six months with additional options to increase the total term to two years if required. The US Army is looking for a Group 2 or Group 3 UAS, drones of medium size and range, which are used for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and target designation, as well as ground attack missions. The tactical drone must have a minimum range of 100km, be runway independent and able to transmit data to a Boeing AH-64 Apache, among other requirements. The Army is also interested in how the drones might pair with its next generation of rotorcraft and plans to conduct demonstrations for its Future Vertical Lift Cross Functional Team. Medium-sized drones that might fit what the Army is looking for include Textron’s next-generation Shadow M2, which has additional range and payload capacity compared to its predecessor, Lockheed Martin’s Fury, Northrop Grumman’s Bat or Boeing/Insitu’s Integrator. (Source: UAS VISION/FlightGlobal)
06 Jul 18. Super Hornet Upgrade to Feature Advanced Cockpit. Boeing is developing an advanced cockpit display for its block III F/A-18 Super Hornet that pilots who were raised in the age of iPads will be comfortable using, a company official said. The Navy has ordered 110 block III Super Hornets, which will begin production in 2020. In the meantime, it will fill an order from the Kuwaiti air force for 28 aircraft. Boeing will be both building new systems and doing service life extensions on block II aircraft to meet the Navy’s acquisition needs. Part of the planned upgrades will be a 10-by-19-inch cockpit display that Boeing has said will be the most advanced ever to be featured in a tactical jet fighter. It will also be lighter and easier to maintain than traditional cockpits, John Keeven, F/A-18 flight simulation manager at Boeing, said during a media briefing. The company has worked with pilots from the “Top Gun” schoolhouse at Naval Air Station Fallon in Nevada, and Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in California to see which features could prove useful, Keeven said.
“It’s not on the jet now, [but] it will be, judging from the operator response that we have got,” Keeven said. “They want it sooner rather than later, so we are starting the design process.” Boeing has already developed a first iteration of the display. “We have a good baseline and from this we can start thinking about advanced design,” he added.
The screen will do away with hard displays and replace them with iPad-like features, although there will be redundant push-button features for backup purposes. Pilots will be able to expand or get rid of displays. They could fill the entire screen with a map if they wish. The backseat pilot will have the same features. As for the final version, that will depend on the pilots in the advisory groups, he noted. “They will decide if they need to limit themselves on where they can move things.” The pilots will do air-to-air and air-to-ground operations simultaneously on the new screens.
“If the backseater is trying to put a laser-guided bomb into the front door, he can work that. And the frontseater can work on his targeting but still be aware of what’s going on from the air-to-air perspective,” Keeven said.
The display technology requires more than just a tablet. It has to be operated by someone wearing gloves and bouncing around in turbulence at 6.5 G-forces, he noted. Boeing is considering including 3D renderings of maps, along with 3D audio cues where a radar warning will sound a tone in the headphone from the direction of the signal. However, voice command technology in the aircraft has proven to be a tough proposition with all the noise inside the cockpit, Keeven added. (Source: glstrade.com/National Defense)
REST OF THE WORLD
12 Jul 18. Australian F-35 inbound: SMEs preparing for Australia’s next-gen fighters. As the Royal Australian Air Force prepares for the arrival of its next-generation air combat capability, the F-35, the Defence Connect Podcast spoke with Milskil CEO and managing director John Lonergan to discuss the company’s role as an SME in preparing pilots and aircrews to fly and maintain the aircraft, which will be the face of the RAAF for the next 40 years. Lockheed Martin’s F-35A Joint Strike Fighter has been described as a game changer for the RAAF and allied air forces who operate the fifth generation aircraft. An aircraft defined by the incredibly complex digital combat system, the JSF will provide a quantum leap in the capability offered to commanders placing unique requirements on the pilots and aircrews who operate and sustain the aircraft. During his discussion with the Defence Connect Podcast, John Lonergan, chief executive and managing director of Milskil, identifies the important role SMEs play in supporting F-35, and the corporate, operational and cultural differences that set Milskil apart from competitors, helping them to deliver the next generation training capability Defence and Lockheed require. With the arrival of Australia’s first two JSF aircraft later this year, the atmosphere is fever pitch at RAAF Williamtown, which will serve as the primary training and maintenance facility for Australia’s F-35 pilots and aircrew. Gearing up for this ‘landmark year’, as described recently by Lockheed Martin’s general manager for training and logistics systems Amy Gowder, Milskil has been working with local and international partners to prepare for the arrival of F-35 later this year and initial operating capability (IOC) in 2019. Milskil has established and maintained a robust relationship with prime F-35 contractor Lockheed Martin, of which Lonergan said: “First of all you need to know what you stand for, and what your product is and what your value proposition is to the customer, ultimately the end user being Defence. But also the other point I made, and I would reinforce this, is to develop and affect meaningful relationships with Defence primes, who by virtue generally have a shepherding over the top of a lot of the work opportunities and making sure that they understand what you do and that you can give them confidence, not only do you have a good product, you know how to manage the delivery of it.”
As part of the F-35 Lightning II JSF Integrated Training Centre (ITC) at RAAF Williamtown, Milskil provides a number of training solutions, including:
- The Aircraft Systems Maintenance Trainers (ASMTs) currently being installed will allow students to immerse themselves in all core maintenance tasks on the F-35. This training technology enables more robust, immersive maintenance training to occur without tying up aircraft to do it.
- F-35 Full Mission Simulators (FMS) completes in late October. The F-35 FMS is a critical component to Australia’s sovereign training capability, as roughly half of the required qualification flights are conducted in the simulator.
The role of SMEs in supporting such large-scale, high impact defence projects is clear, particularly from the prime’s perspective, however Lonergan maintains that such relationships are symbiotic and Milskil’s model, key to which is establishing trust between partners, is an example of how to successfully deliver for primes.
“To be attractive (as an SME) you need to be doing something either a prime can’t do or they can’t do as well as what you do, so that might be a matter of scale, or it could be a matter of something so niche and difficult to manage across a broad business, that it is much easier to get someone who understands the environment,” Lonergan said. “Fighter training is a classic example of that. To do that well takes a lot of effort and takes a lot of knowledge, its just not something that you decide to do and hire some people to move into. So, I think its important that you’re offering them a value proposition that’s going to make it easier for them to deliver what they want to deliver and also mitigate risk in terms of them being assured that whatever they’ve been tasked with by Defence, bringing you on board will actually get that delivered and that is going to reduce the risk of the program from their perspective.”
Business culture is another area identified by Lonergan as essential for ensuring success when partnering with major primes. In particular, it is the ‘operational’ and ‘warfighter’ focus of Milskil that has enabled it to establish itself as an invaluable corporate and operational partner with Lockheed. As the tempo of training increases with more aircraft deliveries, Milskil has successfully recruited 18 new positions as Lockheed roll out and expand the training here in Australia. These 18 positions are highly specialised air crews, made up of instructors, maintenance, logistics and some enabling functions, drawing candidates from both the Hunter and across the nation, with some coming from as far away as Darwin to support the F-35 project. As part of supporting Milskil in delivering the training, the Lockheed Martin global mobile training team (GMTT) is likely to arrive in Australia in August to provide specialised training to the RAAF and Milskil, enabling success for the RAAF in their ITC stand-up. The GMTT provides worldwide on-demand site stand-up and sustainment support training for F-35 training centres and operational sites. This relationship has developed organically over the life of the program and provides SMEs with the opportunity to embrace the opportunities of the rapidly developing aerospace hub at Williamtown. F-35 in particular has served as an incubator for developing Australian industry, which has been very successful in the allocation of Asia-Pacific regional repair capabilities for the F-35, many of which will be located in the Williamtown area, including an airframe repair and upgrade depot, component repair capability and regional warehouse.
Lonergan expanded on this: “Williamtown is turning into a major hub for Defence, ourselves we invested and moved into a new corporate headquarters and also an operations hub in the Williamtown Aerospace Centre, there is more and more companies moving in there so there is certainly, and they’re not all the big companies, a lot of the SMEs are now finding their place in and amongst the major primes in that facility, so Williamtown itself from a defence industry perspective is turning into a hub.”
The development of this facility has shown how specific systems and capabilities can serve to form centres of excellence, particularly as it invites industry, both SME and prime to collaborate and develop a robust incubator type environment which supports the competitive advantages emerging in the respective areas. Diversity across business capability is one final area identified as key to ensuring success. As a fifth generation platform, incorporating stealth, sensor integration, situational awareness and broader force integration, the F-35 serves as a valuable stepping stone for SMEs like Milskil to integrate as part of Defence’s transition to a data-focused force.
“We are interested in any of the opportunities that may come up on P-8A (Poseidon), opportunities across Air Warfare Centre, we’ve just started work there and opportunities across the Live-Virtual-Constructive (LVC) space, so these are the emerging, next large businesses for Defence, so that is what we are positioning ourselves for,” Lonergan said.
As Australia’s defence community surges toward the certification and delivery of the nation’s F-35s, SMEs like Milskil stand ready and able to support industry partners like Lockheed and Defence as they deliver the nation’s future air combat capability. Milskil is an Australian-owned company that delivers unique, operationally-focused training solutions for Defence, government and commercial clients. Milskil currently provides training services on the F-18A Classic Hornet, F-18F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler at RAAF Williamtown, Amberley and Tindal. (Source: Google/Defence Connect)
09 Jul 18. Plans for India’s second indigenous aircraft carrier continue to stall. The Indian Navy’s (IN’s) longstanding plan to build and commission its second indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC-2) into service by 2030–32 has been further postponed due to steadily declining budgets, technological hurdles, and, above all, enduring delays by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in approving the programme. The proposed 65,000–70,000 tonne conventionally powered ‘flat top’ carrier – tentatively named Vishal (Grand) – capable of embarking 50–60 fixed- and rotary-wing platforms, attaining speeds of up to 30 kt, and projected to cost INR800–900 billion (USD11.65–13 billion) – is part of the IN’s Maritime Capability Perspective Plan (MCCP). First announced in 2005 and later updated for the 15-year period until 2027, the MCPP envisages the IN fielding three carrier battle groups (CBGs): one for each seaboard and one in reserve. For the IN, CBGs incorporate its ‘sea control’ approach to regional power projection, helping shape the regional security environment and countering Chinese plans of fielding 5–6 carriers in the strategically vital Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
“The government needs to urgently take a call on approving the IAC-2, as that will determine whether or not China dominates India in the IOR,” former IN chief of staff Admiral Arun Prakash told Jane’s. If not, India will end up playing a subsidiary role in this region, he added.
The IN currently has just one aircraft carrier in operation: the 44,000-tonne refurbished Kiev-class carrier INS Vikramaditya (ex- Admiral Gorshkov), with its MiG-29K/KuB (Fulcrum-D) fighter group. INS Viraat (ex-HMS Hermes), the service’s second 23,900-tonne Centaur-class carrier, was decommissioned in March 2017 following 30 years of service. By 2018–19, Vikramaditya was to have been supplemented by INS Vikrant, the 37,000-tonne Project 71 carrier with a short take-off but arrested recovery (STOBAR) configuration that has been under construction since 2009 at Cochin Shipyard Limited, southern India. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
10 Jul 18. RAN grants operational licence for JFD-developed submarine rescue system. The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and the Australian government have granted an operational licence for a new AUD19.7m (USD14.7m) submarine rescue system developed by JFD, the Australian subsidiary of the UK-based company announced in a 3 July statement. The move means that for the first time the whole crew of an Australian submarine can be treated at once using the new hyperbaric equipment, Toff Idrus, general manager of JFD Australia, was quoted as saying in the statement.
“What it means for submariners is extremely significant as up to 88 people can now receive life-saving medical treatment in the hyperbaric equipment suite and pressurised transfer chamber at any one time. When you consider that a Collins-class submarine has a crew of 48–60, this new capability is very significant and represents an important milestone for submarine rescue in Australia,” said Idrus.
The equipment, which consists of a transfer-under-pressure chamber and a recompression treatment suite, is able to withstand and operate effectively in rough, continuous seas with swells of 5 m, according to JFD. The system, which took two years to build, will undergo further naval testing and evaluation in August, culminating in the annual ‘Black Carillion’ naval exercises set to be held in November 2018, added the company. As Jane’s reported in April, JFD is contracted to provide submarine escape-and-rescue services for the RAN under the James Fisher Submarine Rescue Service (JFSRS) brand. For its Australian JFSRS, JFD utilises the 21.5-tonne LR5 free-swimming submarine rescue vehicle (SRV), which is designed to mate with a distressed submarine in the event of an emergency, and transfer the rescued personnel onto the deck of its host ship. The rescued submariners are then moved through the transfer-under-pressure chamber and into the hyperbaric equipment suite, with doctors monitoring their wellbeing and helping them overcome any life-threatening effects that come from being rescued from pressurised waters. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
10 Jul 18. 5th generation fighter race heats up for industry participation. While a US export ban prevented foreign sales of the F-22 Raptor, Japan has endeavoured to develop its own design and is now allegedly in talks with US aerospace giants Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, adding fuel to the world’s fifth generation arms race and providing avenues for Australia’s defence industry to join the $40bn foray. Fifth generation fighter aircraft represent the pinnacle of modern fighter technology. Incorporating all-aspect stealth even when armed, low-probability-of-intercept radar, high-performance air frames, advanced avionics and highly integrated computer systems, these aircraft provide unrivalled air dominance, situational awareness, networking, interdiction and strike capabilities for commanders. Following the debut of the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor, many nations began to speed up the process of developing their own fifth generation air combat capability. Russia began the development of it’s own Su-57, while China brought the J-20 and FC-31 to the global stage, the US and allies extended their fifth generation capability gap through the development of the largest defence project in history, the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). It is the rapid development of China’s own fifth generation capabilities, combined with continuing tensions on the Korean Peninsula, which initially encouraged Japan to pursue the export of the Raptor despite an export ban implemented by the US Congress. While committing to the procurement of 42 F-35As, most of which will see final assembly take place domestically, the Japanese government has remained focused on procuring a fifth generation, air dominance fighter, with or without US help, to counter the growing challenges it faces in it’s direct region. This resulted in the development of the X-2 Shinshin, a technology demonstrator that proved Japan’s domestic aerospace industry could produce an indigenous stealth fighter design capable of competing with the world’s best. However, the success of the X-2 was and indeed is limited, which in recent months has resulted in talks beginning between Lockheed Martin and Japanese businesses, namely Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, about the collaborative development of a hybrid F-22/F-35 system. Recent changes within the US political establishment, notably the election of President Donald Trump, has triggered a major rethink in the policies that govern America’s arms exports, opening the door for Japan to engage with major US defence contractors like Lockheed Martin and, as recently as the weekend, Northrop Grumman. Both companies have a history of developing highly capable fighter systems; Lockheed’s F-22 Raptor is the world’s premier air superiority and air dominance fighter aircraft, while Northrop Grumman, largely famous for it’s UFO like B-2 Spirit stealth bomber and the new B-21 Raider bomber, competed with the Raptor design during the competition to replace the F-15 Eagle in the early ’90s with the YF-23 Blackwidow. The Blackwidow, although unsuccessful in the competition, presented the US Air Force and now Japan with an incredibly stealthy, fast and manoeuverable air frame. The Japanese requests for information (RFI) identify that the program would be worth approximately US$40bn for up to 100 new stealth fighters and would see increased global industry participation. It is understood that Northrop has provided a suite of technologies that could be incorporated into the Japanese F-3 project. Meanwhile, Boeing and European conglomerate BAE Systems have also been invited to contribute to the program in an attempt to spread development costs and burdens. For Australia, allied involvement, particularly by the US and UK in the development of a new, fifth generation air superiority fighter presents a number of opportunities. It could, in some way, call into question the procurement of the reliably troubled and delayed F-35 JSFs, 72 of which the nation has committed to purchasing. Australian procurement could mean enjoying a highly capable, interoperable and future-proofed airframe operated by Japan, a key regional ally, and potentially the US and UK, which agreed with the Japanese government in 2017 to collaborate in the joint development of a fifth generation aircraft to replace the Royal Air Force’s Typhoons within the next two decades. Global participation in the project, particularly around the design and manufacturing phase, presents Australian suppliers to the F-35 program with economic opportunities and incentives for wanting the project to proceed. In particular Marand and Quickstep holdings, which enjoy existing global supply chain relationships with key US contractors Lockheed Martin and Boeing that could place them in good standing to bring their advanced manufacturing and materials engineering solutions to the $40bn project. These recent moves by the Japanese have also been echoed by a combined French and German push to develop their own next-generation fighter aircraft to compete with the F-35, which was announced over the weekend. Australia’s developing relationships with key European manufacturers and governments, particularly France, Germany and the UK, stemming from the government’s $195bn defence capability and industrial capability plan provide further opportunities for Australian industry participation. (Source: Defence Connect)
08 Jul 18. India’s ‘Request For Information’ for fighter jets get six bids. F-16, Gripen, Boeing F-18, Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon and MiG-35 enter the contest. Six global aircraft manufacturers have responded to a Request for Information (RFI) from the Indian Air Force to supply 110 fighter aircraft. The deadline for the RFI was July 6. All six manufacturers have earlier bid for the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA), which was cancelled in 2015. Officials confirmed that six bids have been received, of which Lockheed Martin F-16 and SAAB Gripen are single-engine fighters, while Boeing F-18, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon and United Aircraft Corporation MiG-35 are twin-engine ones.
“The bids will be evaluated after which the IAF will issue the Request For Proposal (RFP) with the exact specifications of the aircraft to be procured. The RFP is expected by early next year,” an official source said.
The RFI, issued on April 6, states that the government plans to buy 110 fighters jets, of which 85% will have to be built in India under the ‘Make in India’ programme in partnership with a “Strategic Partner/Indian Production Agency.” The procurement will be processed through the Strategic Partnership (SP) model under the Defence Procurement Procedure. However, the SP model itself needs some clarification which could delay the process. Air Force sources expressed confidence that the technical evaluation and trials can be completed very quickly, as all the aircraft have been extensively tested earlier.
“Once the process starts, from the technical evaluation to the down select of one aircraft can be completed in less than two years. After that it depends on how fast the contract negotiations can be completed,” a source said.
Earlier, the IAF was looking for a single-engine jet to replace the MiG-21s and MiG-27s being phased out of service, but the RFI did not specify it, opening up the contest to both single-and twin-engine jets. Officials said both configurations were equally competent and the final choice would depend on the price and extent of technology transfer. According to informal estimates, the entire cost could be worth over $15bn. Single-engine aircraft will cost lower than the twin-engine jets, both in unit and operational costs. The move comes almost two decades after the IAF began the last major effort to acquire fighters in large numbers. The effort culminated in the global tender for 126 fighters under the MMRCA deal which was cancelled in 2015 after the Modi government decided to buy 36 Rafale fighters from France under a government-to- government deal. (Source: News Now/www.thehindu.com)
09 Jul 18. ‘Landmark year’ for Australia’s F-35s. Forming the backbone of Australia’s future air combat capability, the F-35 will be one of the most complex air combat systems in history. Defence Connect recently spoke with Lockheed Martin Australia about the local partnerships and technology that are shaping the maintenance and training practices for the country’s future top guns. As the Royal Australian Air Force prepares for it’s F-35s to achieve initial operating capability (IOC) in 2019, the training, sustainment and maintenance operations at RAAF Williamtown have been busily preparing for the arrival of key technologies and systems that will enable Australia to serve as a regional and world-leader in the training, support and maintenance of the world’s most complex weapons system. 2018 will see a number of key milestones as Australia gears up to receive the first pair of 72 planned F-35s, including the arrival of key support, maintenance and training technologies, such as:
- Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS), which is a system-of-systems approach to fleet management that connects F-35 maintenance, supply chain and sustainment information into a single management tool to support all F-35 operations. ALIS turns data into actionable information for pilots, maintainers and military leaders, enabling them to make proactive decisions to increase aircraft availability and reduce operations and maintenance costs.
- Weapons Loader Trainer (WLT) and Ejection System Maintenance Trainer (ESMT), which are realistic mock-ups of an F-35 aircraft designed to enable hands-on learning for these critical tasks.
- The Aircraft Systems Maintenance Trainers (ASMTs) currently being installed will allow students to immerse themselves in all core maintenance tasks on the F-35. This training technology enables more robust, immersive maintenance training to occur without tying up aircraft to do it.
- Installation of two F-35 Full Mission Simulators (FMS) completes in late October. The F-35 FMS is a critical component to Australia’s sovereign training capability, as roughly half of the required qualification flights are conducted in the simulator.
Lockheed Martin general manager for training and logistics systems Amy Gowder said, “2018 is a landmark year standing up at Williamtown as we get the jets ready to ride by the end of the year and really start operations and to get ready for IOC next year.” (Source: Defence Connect)
06 Jul 18. Argentina considers resuming nuclear submarine project. Following the loss of Argentina’s TR 1700-class diesel-electric submarine (SSK) ARASan Juan in November 2017, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is considering restarting construction of sister vessel ARA Santa Fe and competing it as a nuclear variant, the Argentine Congress was informed on 3 July. San Juan was one of two German-built TR 1700 submarines delivered in the 1980s that formed the core of the Argentine submarine force. The second boat, ARA Santa Cruz, is currently undergoing an extended refit that is expected to be completed in late 2019/early 2020. Construction on third boat Santa Fe began in the 1980s but was suspended in the early 1990s when it was 70% complete. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
American Panel Corporation
American Panel Corporation (APC) since 1998, specializes in display products installed in defence land systems, as well as military and commercial aerospace platforms, having delivered well over 100,000 displays worldwide. Military aviators worldwide operate their aircraft and perform their missions using APC displays, including F-22, F-18, F-16, F-15, Euro-fighter Typhoon, Mirage 2000, C-130, C-17, P-3, S-3, U-2, AH-64 Apache Helicopter, V-22 tilt-rotor, as well as numerous other military and commercial aviation aircraft including Boeing 717 – 787 aircraft and several Airbus aircraft. APC panels are found in nearly every tactical aircraft in the US and around the world.
APC manufactures the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Large Area Display (LAD) display (20 inch by 8 inch) with dual pixel fields, power and video interfaces to provide complete display redundancy. At DSEI 2017 we are exhibiting the LAD with a more advanced design, dual display on single substrate with redundant characteristics and a bespoke purpose 8 inch by 6 inch armoured vehicle display.
In order to fully meet the demanding environmental and optical requirements without sacrificing critical tradeoffs in performance, APC designs, develops and manufactures these highly specialized displays in multiple sizes and configurations, controlling all AMLCD optical panel, mechanical and electrical design aspects. APC provides both ITAR and non-ITAR displays across the globe to OEM Prime and tiered vetronics and avionics integrators.