Sponsored by American Panel Corporation
UNITED KINGDOM AND NATO
26 Jul 18. UK considers options for possible off-the-shelf Harpoon replacement. The United Kingdom may look to acquire an off-the-shelf surface-to-surface guided weapon (SSGW) to bridge the gap between the retirement of Harpoon and the planned introduction of a Future Cruise/Anti-Ship Weapon (FC/ASW). Providing evidence on 11 July to the joint UK House of Commons Defence Committee/French National Assembly inquiry for the FC/ASW programme, senior Ministry of Defence (MoD) officials confirmed that market survey activity was already under way. All 13 Royal Navy (RN) Type 23 frigates and three out of six Type 45 destroyers are fitted with the GWS 60/Harpoon Block 1C SSGW. The system, procured in the 1980s under Staff Requirement (Sea) 6548, had originally been planned to retire at the end of 2018, but the life of the weapon has now been extended to 2023. Intended to enter service in the 2030 timeframe, the FC/ASW is currently the subject of a three-year concept phase activity, jointly funded by the French and UK governments, being led by MBDA. The United Kingdom is in parallel looking at several off-the-shelf options as part of the concept phase to be informed of other potential solutions. Giving evidence to the joint committee hearing, Defence Equipment and Support Chief Executive Simon Bollom said that any further Harpoon life extension would be difficult. “The biggest challenges with this weapons system are the energetics, the propulsion system, and the warhead,” he said. “Here we come to difficult issues with finite lives and, clearly, its chemical compounds. Our assessment at this stage is that going beyond 2023 would be a challenge.” According to Lieutenant General Mark Poffley, deputy chief of the Defence Staff (Military Capability), a new SSGW has assumed a higher priority inside the equipment programme. “We know we would like a surface-to-surface weapon. We have got some choices to make about where it might come from, and we know there is a lot of pressure on the rest of the budget. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
01 Aug 18. Czech MoD to procure light CBRN defence vehicles. The Czech Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on 31 July that it plans to procure 80 4×4 light armoured vehicles for the Army of the Czech Republic’s (ACR’s) 31st Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) Defence Regiment based in Liberec. The MoD plans to issue a CZK5.1bn (USD233.3m) contract in September to the MoD-owned Military Research Institute (VVU) based in Brno, which will act as the prime contractor. The new vehicles will be based on the Iveco LMV 4×4 chassis, deliveries of which to the ACR are planned for in 2020-22. The VVU will equip the vehicles with mobile laboratory modules it has developed and designed that will enable members of the 31st CBRN Defence Regiment to detect contaminants, collect samples, and analyse findings in the field and then relay the data to nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) laboratories in the rear area for further analysis. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
30 Jul 18. Portugal eyes acquisition of amphibious ship and advances plans for additional OPVs. Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa has announced plans for the local construction of a multipurpose logistics ship for the Portuguese Navy. Speaking at the naming ceremony of the Viana do Castelo-class offshore patrol vessel (OPV) NRP Sines (P363) on 20 July, he said the logistics ship will be built at the yards of privately owned shipbuilder West Sea-Estaleiros Navais. Six new OPVs are also planned for construction at the same yard, he said. Portugal currently operates three OPVs and a fourth is being completed. The two acquisitions projects will be inserted into first review of the country’s Military Programming Law 2015–2026, which is planned for release in late 2018, sources said. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
27 Jul 18. Reprogramming the Annuities of the Submarine Program S-80. The Council of Ministers has approved the rescheduling of the annuities that affect the Special Program for the Modernization of the Armed Forces corresponding to the S-80submarine, so as to adapt the financing to the current payment schedule. With this action, the cost ceiling of the S-80 submarine program is raised to 1.771.703.930,42 euros. Special Programs have particular financing characteristics that imply the realization of continuous adaptations during their development. Currently, the Ministry of Defense has the need to reprogram the calendar of annuities corresponding to the submarine program S-80, which aims at the design and construction of four high-tech, non-nuclear submarines with superior capabilities to others in service.
(defense-aerospace.com EDITOR’S NOTE: The S-80 submarine program, designed by the Spanish Navantia shipyards group, which is also building the four boats, has a particularly troubled history. First, it was discovered that the first boat was too heavy to be able to resurface after having dived, so it was decided to lengthen it by inserting a 10-meter plug so as to ensure its neutral buoyancy. By increasing its displacement by 800 tonnes. It was then discovered that, once lengthened, the boats are too long to fit into the submarine pens at their base in Cartagena, which will have to be dredged and the docks lengthened. These modifications require an additional budget of 1.77bn euros, approved on July 27 as stated above which, when added to the initial budget of 2,132m euros, puts the total cost at 3,907m euros, or almost onebn euros for each of the four submarines — practically twice the original estimate. (Source: (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Spanish Council of Ministers)
30 Jul 18. Airbus shows off H145M HForce in push for further sales. Airbus Helicopters is capitalising on the recent export success of its H145M HForce to Hungary with a series of in-country customer and prospective customer demonstrations of the battlefield rotorcraft and modular weapons system combination. Speaking to reporters in Hungary on 27 July, senior programme officials noted that the sale of 20 of the armed battlefield support helicopters to Hungary earlier in the year had acted as a catalyst for a series of demonstrations at the country’s Bakony Combat Training Center (BCTC), about 80 km southwest of Budapest.
“We’re now on the third day of the Hungary demonstrations that will continue into next week,” senior H145M Programme Manager Mark Henning said, adding, “The team is very pleased with how things have gone so far.”
As Henning noted, delegations from Brazil, the Czech Republic, Germany (already a recipient of 15 H145Ms for its KSK special forces), Hungary (20 H145M HForce helicopters on order for the air force), Iraq, and Kazakhstan have already attended demonstrations, while Australia, Austria, Serbia (nine H145M HForce helicopters on order with the air force [six] and police [three]), and the United States are scheduled to arrive in the coming days. In addition, Luxembourg has ordered two H145Ms for its government and Thailand five for its navy. However, neither of these two countries are scheduled to attend the current round of demonstrations. The demonstrations at the BCTC have involved day and night firings of laser-guided rockets, building on the trials of ballistic rocket firing trials that took place at the same location earlier in July. With five countries already part of the H145M programme (of which two will also receive the HForce weapons package), Airbus Helicopters hopes that this intensive round of demonstrations will add significantly to the 49 platforms ordered to date. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
31 Jul 18. US Army discloses timelines for Block 3 Chinook. Boeing is to begin development of a Block 3-standard Boeing CH/MH-47 Chinook transport and assault helicopter toward the end of the 2020s, ahead of fielding by the US Army in the late 2030s/early 2040s. The timeline was disclosed by the army’s MH-47G programme manager, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Klarenbach, in a briefing presented earlier in 2018 and seen by Jane’son 1 August. According to the briefing, Block 3 technology development for both the CH-47F and MH-47G will run from about 2027 to 2040, with production immediately following. With Boeing currently engaged in the early stages of the Block 2 upgrade for the US Army’s Chinook fleet (the first of three prototypes is now in final assembly, ahead of the first low-rate initial production delivery in fiscal year 2023), in May 2017 the company first touted the notion of a Block 3 upgrade to take the Chinook out to the 2060s. No details as to what a Block 3 upgrade might include were released, but Boeing at that time noted it could feature the new Future Affordable Turbine Engine (FATE), which is being provisioned for inclusion in Block 2, as well as active parallel actuator systems and torque management systems. It could also see the Chinook become optionally-piloted. “[Optionally piloted] is not a huge technology challenge with the flights controls the Chinook has – it is more a tactics, techniques, and procedures [TTP] challenge,” said Randy Rotte, Boeing’s director of cargo helicopter sales and marketing. “Unlike the [US Marine Corps’] K-MAX, which carried its cargo sling-loaded, someone would need to get inside [of the unmanned Chinook] to load and unload it.”
While the US Army has yet to comment on what a Block 3 Chinook might entail, Col Klarenbach’s briefing slides showed two possible configurations. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
31 Jul 18. SNC believes few new data rights make its UH-1N replacement offering a winner. Key Points:
- SNC believes fewer data rights in its UH-1N replacement offering will lead to a more affordable aircraft
- The company is offering recapitalised UH-60A-to-L models for the US Air Force’s UH-1N replacement programme
Sierra Nevada Corp (SNC) believes that its offering of recapitalised Sikorsky UH-60A Black Hawk helicopters for the US Air Force’s (USAF’s) UH-1N replacement programme will be a winner because the service will have to spend less money acquiring data rights.
“There is nothing unique or out-of-the-ordinary from a data rights perspective that [the Pentagon] doesn’t already own,” Jack Bailey, SNC director of proposal management for integrated mission systems, told Jane’s in a recent interview. “So there’s no an additional or second cost because this isn’t a new aircraft to [the Pentagon].”
SNC announced on 23 July it submitted its Sierra Force helicopter as its final bid in the USAF’s effort to replace its ageing Bell UH-1N helicopters used for VIP transportation in the Washington area and for nuclear missile silo security, among other missions. Sierra Force is a UH-60A upgraded into a UH-60L model, according to a company statement. SNC will purchase divested UH-60As from the US Army via the service’s Black Hawk Exchange and Sales Transaction (BEST) programme. Then it will convert the aircraft’s exterior and interior, effectively upgrading it to a UH-60L model. The Sierra Force UH-60L will be equipped with two new General Electric Aviation T-701D engines and a new glass cockpit and avionics suite. SNC will also use a metal airframe, different from composite materials, which the company believes will enable a longer service life and lower overall maintenance costs. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
30 Jul 18. Boeing’s new F-15X may replace an aging fleet of F-15C/D Eagles. The Air Force’s fleet of F-15 C and D Eagle fighters are aging faster than F-35 joint strike fighters are being fielded, a gap in the transition that some think needs to be filled. And even when more F-35s have been fielded, F-15s could still fill a tactical role to help the Air Force carry out its mission. Boeing’s new, single-seat F-15X design may be the Air Force’s answer to that issue. Very little has been made known about the F-15X initiative, which was first reported by Defense One, and the Air Force’s Pentagon officials could not provide comment on it, only telling Air Force Times that “there is no acquisition program” with respect to the new platform. But multiple media outlets still reported this week that the F-15X was being pitched to the Air Force by Boeing. Alternatively, some reports state that the Air Force first solicited Boeing for the new fighter. Regardless, the possibility of a new platform to replace aging the fourth-generation F-15 fighters could alleviate the strain put on F-22 Raptors and make up for the F-35s slow roll-out. Created during the Cold War, the more than 40-year-old F-15 has been the U.S. Air Force’s primary air-to-air fighter jet for decades. The aircraft has been known for its range of operational roles, however, to include close-air support in the Global War on Terrorism.
Dan Grazier, the Jack Shanahan Military Fellow at the Project On Government Oversight, writes extensively on military procurement, to include the F-35 acquisition. He said that while he can’t comment on the specific designs of the F-15X, it is generally better to develop weapon systems from “an evolutionary approach.”
“Whenever the military possesses a proven basic design like the F-15, the Pentagon should focus its efforts on maintaining and improving it until the state of technology changes to the point where the basic design is no longer viable,” Grazier told Air Force Times. “Until that happens, there is no reason to continually reinvent the wheel. If it is possible to incorporate improved technology into a design that has already been bought and paid for, then it only makes financial and common sense to do so. There will doubtless be arguments made that the unit flyaway costs of the F-15X and F-35 will be roughly comparable. When you factor in the development costs of both into the program unit average cost, I bet the F-15X will be much less expensive.”
While the F-35 is a supposed to be a multi-role aircraft — capable of a stealth mode, as well as an air-to-ground combat mode once air dominance is achieved — it has been questioned whether the F-35 can outperform an F-15 in an air-to-air dogfight, or an A-10 Warthog in close-air support missions. As to what the F-15X includes that separates it from older F-15s, not too much is definitively known. Citing sources close to the initiative, The War Zone reported the most extensive breakdown so far. The F-15X reportedly came out of an Air Force inquiry to Boeing and Lockheed Martin about fielding an aircraft that could easily transition into the service’s existing air combat infrastructure, specifically to help counter the Air Force’s shrinking force. There were some caveats to the solicitation: it needs to be cost-effective, low-risk and not considered an alternative to the larger F-35 procurement program, The War Zone reported. It seems those requirements were met, based on the reported features. The F-15X armament would be designed for a mixed air-to-air and air-ground-role, including “eight air-to-air missiles and 28 Small Diameter Bombs (SDBs), or up to seven 2,000-pound bombs and eight air-to-air missiles,” according to The War Zone. The F-15X would allegedly be very affordable, as well. The aircraft reportedly costs roughly $27,000 per hour to fly. Meanwhile, the F-35A costs more than $40,000 an hour to fly, according to The War Zone. Finally, The War Zone said the F-15X will have a 20,000-hour service life, meaning it could be flying for several more decades. Still, Boeing officials have not outright confirmed they were pitching the F-15X.
“We see the marketplace expanding internationally and it’s creating opportunities then to go back and talk to the U.S. Air Force about what might be future upgrades or even potentially future acquisitions of the F-15 aircraft,” Gene Cunningham, vice president of global sales of Defense, Space & Security, told DefenseOne.
The Air Force has been considering retiring its F-15 Eagles for some time. In March 2016, service officials said they were considering a retirement for the more than 230 F-15 C and D fighters, and replacing them with F-16 Fighting Falcons. Speaking before the Senate Armed Services air land forces subcommittee in April, Lt. Gen. Jerry Harris, the Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and requirements, said the service was still looking at options for the F-15 fleet.
“There’s nothing off the table,” Harris said. “We’re looking at, as we bring F-35s in, can we grow our capacity rather than just replace one-for-one? If we can’t do that, what’s our least-capable asset to retire, based on the value that it would provide for us?” (Source: Defense News)
REST OF THE WORLD
01 Aug 18. Bolivian Army receives new Chinese military aid package. The Bolivian Army received a new military aid package from the China on 30 July under the framework of a 2011 military technical co-operation agreement. The accord, which is negotiated and renewed annually, has so far provided the Bolivian armed forces with a regular influx of new, albeit modest, quantities of military equipment. In this iteration, the army received 10 Shaanxi Baoji ‘China Tiger’ 4×4 light armoured tactical vehicles, which join an existing inventory of 19 vehicles received in 2016. The Tiger 4×4 vehicle, which can carry a squad of nine soldiers in addition to a crew of two, is armoured against 7.62mm munitions and can be fitted with additional protective plates. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
31 Jul 18. Despite Trump’s Rhetoric, U.S. Defense Firms Pitch Moving Production To India. The Trump administration has cleared the decks for what promises to be a huge increase in technology and weapons exports to India, putting the country on the same footing as members of NATO, and allies like Japan and Australia, when it comes to favored export status. While the new status may pave the way for major U.S. defense firms to lock up multi-billion deals with the Indian government, those deals would likely come with the stipulation that production be moved to India, something American defense giants like Lockheed Martin and Boeing have promised to do, even if it runs counter to the Trump administration’s focus on creating more manufacturing jobs at home. Such offsets, as they are known in the arms export business, are a staple of such deals and are a crucial part of negotiations. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross made the announcement yesterday as part of the US government’s continuing efforts to draw closer to Delhi, partly as a bulwark against Chinese expansionism in the region. Granting India Strategic Trade Authorization status also comes as the Indian military is considering spending tens of billions of dollars on drones, fighters and helicopters made by U.S. defense manufacturers. Ross, speaking at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event, said the move reflects India’s efforts to abide by multilateral export rules, and “provides India greater supply chain efficiency, both for defense, and for other high-tech products.”
India’s ambassador to the United States, Navtej Sarna, added that it is a sign of trust in India’s “capabilities as an economy and as a security partner, because it also…would allow the transfer of more sensitive defense technologies,” and “fleshes out our defense partnership in a big way.”
But the new trade status can only do so much, and India’s decades-long reliance on Russian weaponry over U.S. or European equipment is something that shows no sign of changing anytime soon, a fact that rankles many on Capitol Hill. In Washington, the House recently passed its version of the 2019 NDAA, which granted Defense Secretary James Mattis’ request to waive sanctions on partner countries that have bought Russian arms in the past, but the Senate has yet to take up the bill, and is expected to vote on it some time next month. The waivers, Mattis said in a series of letters to lawmakers, would allow the Pentagon to forge closer ties with countries like India, Vietnam, and Indonesia, by not penalizing them for having Russian equipment, even as they move closer to the U.S. But the chronically chaotic state of the Indian military’s acquisition practices also presents significant hurdles, according to experts. Air Marshal M. Matheswaran, former deputy chief of the defense staff in the Indian Ministry of Defense told an audience at the Stimson Center in Washington that the Indian government and military often seek to simply to “fill in technological gaps” they believe they have, rather than building strategically.
“Their procurement is a mess. They’re not joint. They’re risk adverse. They’ve just got a ton of problems,” one former White House official, who asked to speak anonymously, told me. “Broadly, in procurement they have tried in the post-Cold War era to diversify their procurements as a political sop to potential partners,” he said. “They start to move more through the pipeline than they can actually pay for, and they end up building this very motley force in a way that’s not always coherent.”
As it stands, the United States accounts for about 12 percent of India’s defense imports, a number which is expected to grow 6.2 percent annually through 2023, according to a recent study by Avescent, a consulting firm. The Indian defense budget, at more than $53bn, is the fifth-largest in the world, and as the Avascent analysis noted, it “is also one of the most competitive,” as local companies battle it out, along with a mix of Russian, French, Israeli, and American firms. The air force, for example, flys Russian MiG and French Rafale fighters, along with American C-17 and C-130 transport aircraft and Israeli Heron drones. In recent years, France has emerged as the big winner in several hard-fought awards, inking an $8.6bn contract for 36 Rafale fighter aircraft in 2016 — which will serve as India’s primary nuclear delivery aircraft — and a deal for six Scorpene-class submarines for $4.6bn in 2005. As part of the government’s “Make in India” initiative, most of the work on the subs will be done at the Mazagon dockyard in Mumbai. But Russia isn’t going anywhere. Moscow is on the verge of finalizing a $3.2bn contract for four S-400 surface-to-air missile systems with India, part of about $12bn worth of Russian arms deals in the works with the Indian government.
The two countries are also close to finalizing a $1.1bn deal for 48 additional Mi-17-V5 military transport/utility helicopters, with final signatures expected during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s October visit to India. According to local reports, the contract will mandate that 30 percent of the work be done by the Indian defense industry, as part of the Modi government’s push to build up the Indian manufacturing sector. The helicopters joint U.S.-made Chinooks and Apaches in the country’s rotary-wing fleet.
The Indian government says that it doesn’t have a problem with such a mix and match approach, however, even if it does complicate supply chains. Currently, the big contract up for an award is the Indian Air Force’s requirement for 110 aircraft, expected to be worth as much as $15bn. Boeing has announced it would join with Indian firms Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Mahindra Defense Systems to manufacture its F/A-18 Hornet in the country if it wins the contract, and Lockheed Martin has pledged to move its entire F-16 production line to India from Greenville, S.C., to India, potentially at the expense of 250 South Carolina jobs.
“The F-16 gives the Indian industry a unique opportunity to be at the center of the world’s largest fighter aircraft ecosystem,” Lockheed exec Vivek Lallsaid earlier this year in his pitch, adding that the company was ready to equip the jets with the same target tracking device currently on the F-35, as well as a helmet-mounted tracking system and a new radio data link system.
Swedish defense giant Saab Group is also in the running for the fighter deal, and has announced it is ready to do a “full” technology transfer of its Gripen-E fighter jet production to India if it wins the competition. Boeing, in conjunction with Indian manufacturer Tata has already moved part of its Apache helicopter fuselage manufacturing to India, and the factory will eventually be the sole supplier of the part for Boeing’s worldwide sales. The promise was one of the keys to the company winning the $3.1bn deal in 2015 for 22 Apache and 15 Chinook helicopters. While the deal for the fighter planes shakes out over the coming months, the competition is merely one part of a larger American push, which included a recent visit by the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer, Ellen Lord, and the upcoming “two-plus-two” meeting between defense minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and their American counterparts, James Mattis and Mike Pompeo. And in a jab at the Russians, Indian officials announced this week that they would be replacing their Russian-made Pechora air defense systems around the capital in a $1bn deal to buy the NASAMS-II, manufactured by Kongsberg and Raytheon. (Source: glstrade.com/Breaking Defense.com)
01 Aug 18. Aussie companies awarded funding to develop F-35 breakthroughs. Chemring Australia and Quickstep Holdings have secured funding for product development and cost reduction initiatives for F-35 countermeasure flares. The Australian F-35A Project, also known as AIR 6000 Phase 2A/2B, is introducing a fifth-generation air combat capability to meet Australia’s air combat needs beyond 2030. Australian industry involvement in F-35 production is expected to exceed $2bn by 2023. In addition to acquiring 72 aircraft, the project will also deliver facilities, weapons and new support systems to meet the fifth-generation requirements. The workforce will also need to transition to meet fifth-generation approaches to operating and sustaining a fifth-generation F-35A fleet as part of a global F-35 network.
Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne said, “This funding shows Australia’s defence industry continues to play a vital role in the Royal Australian Air Force’s fifth-generation capability transformation.”
Minister Pyne said more than 50 Australian companies have directly shared in more than $1bn in global F-35 production contracts to date, and small and unique Australian businesses have the opportunity to benefit indirectly through supply chain work. This initiative will position Australian industry to take advantage of emerging opportunities to supply countermeasures to the burgeoning F-35 market and beyond.
Defence Minister Marise Payne said the RAAF had six F-35A aircraft operating in the US at the international Pilot Training Centre at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, with delivery of four more aircraft planned before the end of the year. “Chemring and Quickstep have both invested heavily in this initiative, and have also received funding from the United States F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office,” Minister Pyne said.
Chemring Australia, a leading pyrotechnic and countermeasures developer, manufacturer and supplier, has announced it will expand its highly advanced Lara facility in Victoria to design, test and manufacture F-35 countermeasures. Funding via Chemring Australia from the F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office, through a multi-million dollar US government contract, will support engineering and production tooling for the production improvement project. Additionally, a New Air Combat Capability – Industry Support Program (NACC-ISP) grant of $1m will complement investment being made by Quickstep.
“Further opportunities are expected for Australian companies to increase production contract values over the next four years as F-35 production rates continue to increase,” Minister Pyne said.
Mark Burgess, CEO and managing director of Quickstep, said, “This exciting new project will involve Quickstep applying advanced tooling and process engineering skills to establish world-class advanced manufacturing capabilities for production of F-35 countermeasure flare housings.”
Quickstep, the largest independent aerospace-grade advanced composite manufacturer in Australia, will develop and commission new advanced manufacturing technology at its facility in Bankstown, NSW, to supply countermeasure housings to Chemring. Quickstep is already a key supplier into the global F-35 Program, supplying 40 per cent of the materiel to Marand Precision Engineering to produce each F-35 conventional take-off and landing vertical tail. During the project, Quickstep will commission additional advanced manufacturing processes and technologies at Bankstown, extending its capability to support the F-35 Program and other defence and aerospace projects. Marand recently delivered its 50th vertical tail to the F-35 Program, all to schedule and with no customer quality issues. (Source: Defence Connect)
31 Jul 18. Customers have second thoughts about Surion helo buy after fatal crash. A fatal crash of a South Korean Marine Corps helicopter is expected to deal a serious blow to the local helicopter maker’s export bids as well as domestic supply to the military and civilian buyers, experts and industry sources say. On July 17, an MUH-1 Marineon, a variant of the South Korean Army’s KUH-1 Surion utility helicopter, crashed during a test flight at an airfield in the southeastern port city of Pohang, killing five of the six marines aboard. Closed-circuit video footage released by the Marine Corps shows the rotor blades fell apart shortly after takeoff. The rotorcraft caught on fire immediately after crashing. The deadly accident occurred just six months after two units of the Surion’s amphibious assault variant were delivered to the Marine Corps, which was planning to procure 28 Marineon aircraft by 2023. A military investigation committee involving experts from Airbus Helicopters, which had provided its SA 330 Puma design and related technologies to Surion manufacturer Korea Aerospace Industries, or KAI, has launched a probe into the cause of the accident. Meanwhile, some local experts are raising concerns about potential defects in the rotorcraft’s components, such as the main gearbox, and over possible design failures in the modification process of the rotor blades’ folding system for the Marine variant.
“The footage clearly shows the rotor blade was destroying and being separated from the fuselage, indicating the possibility of mechanical defects,” Kim Dae-young, a research fellow of the Seoul-based think tank Korea Research Institute for National Strategy. “Without the possibility of maintenance failures, it’s highly possible that design and component defects could be blamed for the crash.”
Yang Uk, a member of the advisory committee for the government’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration, or DAPA, pointed to the possibility of malfunctions with the aircraft’s fuel system.
“A fuel system normally explodes when an aircraft crashed from a high altitude. But the Marine one fell just 10 meters above the ground and caught on fire, which doesn’t quite make sense to me,” Yang said.
Following the accident, the Army grounded about 90 Surion troop-carrying helicopters deployed in the field. The service is supposed to receive some 150 more Surions by 2023. Flights of Surion’s civilian derivatives operated by the police, forest service, and fire and rescue service were also suspended. As a result, the accident could give foreign helicopter makers more chances to win contracts on civilian helicopters in the short term, according to Ahn Young-soo, a researcher at the state-funded Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade.
“The Marineon crash will inevitably cause a setback in the domestic supply of Surion variants due to safety concerns,” Ahn said “In particular, Surion variants could be shunned in the civilian helicopter market, which has been dominated by foreign helicopter makers.”
KAI previously forecast that Surion variants would be able to replace about 80 foreign helicopters used by government agencies by 2030, reaping nearly $1.8bn. Currently, government agencies operate about 100 helicopters, while about 100 corporate and private helicopters are flown in the country. KAI has signed contracts to supply the Korean National Police Agency with eight patrol variants of the Surion; the Korea Forest Service with one firefighting version; the Fire Safety Headquarters of Jeju Special Self-Governing Province with one firefighting and rescue version; and the Coast Guard with two maritime patrol derivatives. Some of the agencies, however, are having second thoughts about additional orders of Surion variants.
“The Surion patrol helicopter has conducted successful missions so far, but we’re not sure if we can order more in the current state,” said an air operations management official at the Korean National Police Agency, speaking on condition of anonymity. “We’re closely watching the results of the investigation into the Marineon crash.”
Even before the Marineon accident, many fire and rescue departments across the country were hesitant to introduce Surion variants, citing the lack of an airworthiness certificate for safe flights. The Surion was originally built for domestic military operations, and so it only received a certificate of airworthiness from the DAPA. But some of the fire and rescue headquarters issued requirements including a certificate of airworthiness from the International Civilian Aviation Organization, or at least one from the local transportation ministry. Against that backdrop, both the fire and disaster headquarters in Seoul and Busan purchased AgustaWestland AW189 and AW139 medium-lift helicopters, respectively, in 2016. Last year, the National 119 Rescue Headquarters signed a contract with Airbus Helicopters to buy two H225 helicopters.
“The first priority is safety. That’s the bottom line,” noted Kim Kyung-ho, a deputy director of the National 119 Rescue Headquarters in Seoul. “We didn’t intend to deny a local helicopter nor give a favor to a foreign helicopter. As an agency tasked with rescue operations, we just need helicopters guaranteed for safety both locally and internationally.”
Surion’s export bids remains unclear. Following a visit by President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte to Seoul last month, the Philippines’ Department of National Defense looked into buying a score of Surion helicopters as an alternative to a botched deal to procure 16 Bell EPI helicopters from Canada. KAI President Kim Jo-won had told a parliamentary forum on June 28 that “the Surion deal worth $220m is in the final stage.” Following the fatal crash, however, the Manila government halted discussions about the Surion purchase, according to DAPA and KAI officials.
“The Philippines government requested us to provide information about the cause of the accident,” a KAI official said. “Discussions about the Surion export are expected to resume after the results of [the] investigation [are] release[d].”
Modeled after the SA 330 Puma, the Surion was built in technical assistance from Airbus Helicopters, formerly known as Eurocopter, under a 2006 deal valued at $1.2bn. The 8.7-metric-ton rotorcraft can accommodate two pilots, two gunners and nine fully armed troops. Without arms and equipment, it can handle 16 troops. The helicopter can fly at a cruise speed of 279 kph. South Korea chose Airbus Helicopters for a new light helicopter development project in 2015. Under the $1.4bn agreement, South Korea will develop a light-weight helicopter with a gross weight of about 4.5 metric tons for both civil and military purposes. The helicopter will be designed on the basis of the Airbus H155, a wide-cabin derivative of the AS365 Dauphin of the 1970s. The civilian variant is to be developed by 2020 and the military version by 2022, with the aim of supplying about 400 units domestically and exporting some 600 units overseas. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
31 Jul 18. NSW government and DIN providing seed funding for SMEs. Grants of up to $50,000 are up for grabs to provide seed funding for NSW small-to-medium-size enterprises (SMEs) to help develop early stage defence technologies under a joint program between the NSW government and Defence Innovation Network (DIN). The DIN brings together NSW industry, universities, the state government and the Defence Science and Technology Group to help make NSW businesses more competitive and innovative on a global scale, and better able to respond to national objectives for defence industry research and development by harnessing the world-class research capabilities available within the NSW university system. NSW defence advocate Air Marshal (Ret’d) John Harvey AM said the DIN is calling for proposals to accelerate development of technology that can provide innovative solutions for defence capability challenges.
“The $50,000 grants being offered are a fantastic opportunity for NSW SMEs to harness the world-class research skills within our university system to help bring their technology concepts to reality for the benefit of Defence,” said Harvey.
The DIN is calling for proposals from small–to–medium enterprises (SMEs) to work with university partners to accelerate development of early-stage technology concepts that have the potential to lead to defence innovations and solutions with opportunities for commercialisation in both local and overseas markets. DIN support for seed projects is based on a co-investment model, where seed funding of up to $50,000 per project will be made available on a competitive basis, and will require commitment of matching funds from the industry partner. A successful proposal will see pairing of the industry partner with one or more member university research teams that have the expertise and capacity to deliver project outcomes in collaboration with industry capability. To be successful, industry proposals for seed projects must meet the DIN’s selection criteria, including areas deemed to have the greatest potential for defence innovation:
- Medical countermeasures;
- Directed energies and advanced sensors;
- Multi-disciplinary materials science;
- Enhanced human performance;
- Trusted autonomous systems;
- Quantum technologies;
- Aerospace; and
- Cyber and intelligence.
Projects should be scoped to deliver outcomes within six-10 months and, to ensure substantive progress towards realistic goals, may be aimed towards a long-term program of research that will be well-placed for future funding initiatives.
Harvey said, “The DIN has brought together defence industry with seven universities, the Defence Science and Technology Group, and the NSW government through Defence NSW and the Office of the Chief Scientist and Engineer to help make NSW and its defence businesses more competitive and innovative on a global scale.”
Key selection criteria:
- Identified need in Defence (technology or capability);
- Novelty and potential to become world leading;
- Technical/scientific merits, scientific and technical risk, best collaborative team;
- Potential for impact and implementation pathway; and
- Capacity and capability of the SME to commercialise project IP.
The DIN is made up of NSW universities, including UNSW, University of Sydney, Macquarie University, University of Wollongong, Western Sydney University, University of Newcastle and UTS.
SMEs wanting to apply for grants need to lodge full proposals by 6 August, any queries and completed proposals should be submitted here. (Source: Defence Connect)
30 Jul 18. Austal closes in on Cape-class export deal. Australian shipbuilder Austal is close to signing a contract with Trinidad and Tobago to build and supply two 58 m Cape-class patrol boats, the company announced on 30 July. The patrol boats will be operated by the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard, which in 2008 also ordered six 30 m fast patrol craft from Austal for about USD60m. Austal said in a statement that the new contract is likely to be valued at about AUD100m (USD74m) with funds provided by the Australian government through its Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (EFIC). This finance package will be “developed specifically to support the programme”, Austal said, adding that the EFIC has already supplied Trinidad and Tobago with a “letter of support” to facilitate the deal. The contract will also be accompanied by a multiyear maintenance package, according to Austal. The company added that it expects to set up a service centre in Trinidad to support the new patrol boats, as well as fast patrol craft that it previously exported to the Caribbean country and any additional vessels requiring maintenance. Austal said its announcement follows its submission of a proposal to Trinidad and Tobago in recent weeks. The Royal Australian Navy (RAN), which operates two Cape-class patrol boats, also recently demonstrated the capabilities of the type to a visiting delegation of senior officials from Trinidad and Tobago. The Australian Border Force also operates eight vessels in the class. Austal said the new vessels will be built at its Henderson shipyard in Western Australia, with deliveries to Trinidad and Tobago from mid-2020. It added that the sale is conditional on final contracts being signed in the coming weeks, together with a conclusive offer from the EFIC to Trinidad and Tobago. (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.