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12 Sep 18. Estonia eyes mid-range air defense systems to rectify NATO ‘oversight.’ Estonia’s military is prioritizing the purchase of a midrange air defense system as the country seeks to plug a capability gap its defense minister called the result of a “total oversight” by NATO. During a Washington trip to attend Sen. John McCain’s funeral, Estonian Defence Minister Jüri Luik told Defense News that NATO made a strategic mistake in the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union by not building up air defense capabilities, outside of rotational deployments of aircraft.
“For a long time, there was no consideration that you would actively have to close the airspace at some point. So NATO countries have very weak air defense capabilities,” Luik said. “I think this is one of the priority systems, or priority areas, which every [one of the allied] countries should develop. I have to say with sadness that very few NATO countries actually have proper air defense capabilities. That is one of the areas which was gravely mismanaged, or was not under any attention,” he added. “I think that was a total oversight. But, of course, it was based on the idea that the era of big power tensions is over.”
Luik hopes to put Estonia’s money where his mouth is. The country in June signed an agreementwith MBDA to purchase more Mistral short-range air defense weapons, but has its eyes on adding another layer of protection.
The country is looking at procuring a medium-range air defense system, similar to the Kongsberg network-centric air defence system, or NASAMS, purchased by Lithuania, which is also in use by Finland. While not declaring Estonia would also go after NASAMS, Luik acknowledged that regional air defense systems “should be as close as possible coordinated” with neighborhood countries.
However, such a system is “the only step which is even theoretically available to our country with our defense spending,” Luik said, even if the upcoming March elections lead to a government willing to increase defense spending to about 2.5 percent of gross domestic product. (At the worst, Luik predicts, defense spending would remain flat.)
Compounding the challenge: While NATO was laying off air-dominance investments, Russia was doubling down on that capability, with the goal of being able to close off entire chunks of airspace to NATO jets.
Luik points to “massive” buildups of weapons and equipment in Leningrad, Pskov and especially the Kaliningrad regions, including long-range standoff weapons like the Iskander missile, as a dangerous sign that the Baltics cannot afford to ignore.
“Any Russian threat depends on what we do. Because if we are firm, if we are clear, if we are strong, then the likelihood of Russian threat goes down immediately,” he said. “If we are weak, if we show hesitation, then the Russia threat goes up.
“We cannot change what Russia does. But we can be sure that what we do really corresponds to the needs of the Western alliance and to the security of the Western allies.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
11 Sept 18. Spain gives green light for further helicopter orders. The Spanish government gave the go ahead on 7 September for the procurement of a second tranche of Airbus Helicopters NH90s and the modernisation of the army’s Chinook CH-47D heavy transport fleet. The long-awaited green light for the two programmes came after the new Socialist Partido Socialista Obrero Español government took over in June, saying it would cut the greater defence spending promised earlier in the year by the previous government of the conservative Partido Popular (PP). A cabinet statement stressed the Chinook upgrade was “necessary” to “maintain the operational capability of the army’s heavy transport helicopters”. It will include updates of the safety systems, ground support equipment, mission planning, and simulation systems supplied through the manufacturer, Boeing. The second tranche of NH90s was also needed to “guarantee potential mission capabilities”. Defence Minister Margarita Robles said in July that the government would reduce spending promised by the PP on new defence orders in 2018 to about EUR5bn (USD5.8bn) to cover priority programmes. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
11 Sep 18. US Army issues specifications for small VTOL UAV. The US Army has released required performance specifications for a small vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that it wishes to procure under the Short-Range Reconnaissance (SRR) programme. The specifications, released to industry on 10 September, are based on evolving requirements for a manportable short-range VTOL platform that the US Department of Defense’s Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx), which is overseeing the programme, describes as being “cheap, easy to access, [and] highly capable”. Required performance specifications state that the intended DIUx/SRR platform has a 30-minute flight endurance; a 3km operational range; an 8,000 ft service ceiling; the ability to operate in 15kt winds or greater; manual and semi-autonomous/waypoint flight modes; link-loss procedures; and the ability to conduct a programmable mission. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
11 Sept 18. USAF Secretary outlines strategy for new software acquisition model. US Air Force (USAF) Secretary Heather Wilson has outlined the strategy for upgrading and modernising the service’s old and outdated software acquisition model. The presentation was made during the Air Force Information Technology and Cyberpower Conference held in Montgomery, Alabama, US. According to Wilson, the upgrade to the software acquisition model is important to enable the airforce to compete or be in line with the technological advances of potential adversaries.
Wilson said: “We are facing a rapidly innovating adversary who is challenging us, and we have to be willing to accept more risk in our acquisition process. This is particularly true when it comes to software.”
She added that the US Air Force Weapons Systems Software Management Guidebook is an outdated document that cites practices from an even older document.
Wilson said: “It is ten years old. It was written before Airbnb, Uber, Lyft, Snapchat, Instagram and Pinterest were even incorporated.
Wilson further added: “So, we’re now leaving the past behind. We’re going to accelerate to a new future driven by the threat that we face and move to a new paradigm for software development.”
With new advanced developments and acquisitions in hardware and software, the USAF will help support the implementation of the new National Defense Strategy in the US. In May, the USAF opened a new software lab in Boston. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
11 Sep 18. US Army resumes accepting Apache helicopters from Boeing. The U.S. Army has begun to accept new AH-64E Apache attack helicopters from Boeing after halting deliveries due to a safety concern, according to Brig. Gen. Thomas Todd, the service’s program executive officer for aviation. The Army was able to resume accepting Apaches into the fleet on Aug. 31, Todd told Defense News in a Sept. 10 statement. Defense News broke the news in April that the Army stopped accepting AH-64Es into its fleet the month prior because it was not confident in the durability of the helicopter’s strap pack nut, a “critical safety” item. The strap pack nut holds very large bolts that subsequently hold the rotor blades on the helicopter. The Army was unhappy with the performance of the nuts in severe coastal environments and saw corrosion due to climate and stress during routine safety inspections of the fleet. The service told Boeing it wouldn’t take any more AH-64Es off the production line until the company redesigned a new strap pack nut that would be more durable in tough environments. In June, Boeing started the Army-directed effort to begin retrofitting Apaches with a redesigned strap pack at no cost to the U.S. government or Foreign Military Sales customers, Todd told Defense News in a Sept. 10 statement. The strap pack nut will be replaced on all Apaches in the fleet to include the earlier variant, the AH-64D, which is still operational in many foreign fleets around the world. The new strap pack nut is “a fully qualified and airworthy solution,” Todd said.
The Army anticipates the retrofit of the entire fleet of U.S. government and FMS aircraft will be completed by December 2019, he added.
The first units to receive new parts will be those that fly regularly in severe, coastal environments. Todd estimated that at roughly six units in the Army. There are 653 AH-64s currently fielded in the U.S. Army. Boeing builds an average of six AH-64Es per month in its Mesa, Arizona, facility. (Source: Defense News)
REST OF THE WORLD
12 Sep 18. Uruguay opens tender to procure a second-hand Bell 206 Jet Ranger. The Uruguay Navy recently opened an international tender to acquire a second-hand Bell 206 Jet Ranger or its military variant, the OH-58 Kiowa. The navy is looking for a helicopter with at least 500 remaining flying hours on its principal components including the engine, transmission gear, main rotor, and structural and hydraulic components. The aircraft will need basic communications and navigation equipment, but bids that include IFR certification and VOR/DME, ILS, and RNAV equipment will receive more points towards the bidding qualification. This aircraft will provide crew training and cover basic search-and-rescue as well as patrol missions in conjunction with the two Agusta Bell 412 helicopters that are due to arrive in 2019. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
12 Sep 18. French Naval Group and Germany’s ThyssenKrupp square off in Egyptian warship deal. Naval Group finds itself in direct competition with German rival ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems in Egypt’s acquisition of two more corvettes, Hervé Guillou, CEO of the French shipbuilder told Defense News. The contest comes after Egypt in 2014 placed an order for four Naval Group Gowind corvettes worth some €1bn, with options for two more units. Winning that two-year option has since become anything but certain for the French company.
“TKMS is not sitting on its hands,” Guillou said on Tuesday on the sidelines of the Summer Defense University event at the military staff college here.
There already is a “permanent presence of the Germans” in Egypt, which operates a fleet of German submarines, Guillou explained. Egypt attracts strong international interest, with the Chinese, Koreans, Dutch shipbuilder Damen and French electronics company Thales very active, he added.
The TKMS offer consists of two Meko 200 corvettes, worth €1bn (US $1.2bn) excluding weapons, business publication La Tribune reported Sept. 3. That is double the value of the two Gowind 2500 corvettes pitched by Naval Group, the report said.
A spokesman for Naval Group declined to comment on the prices. If TKMS were to snatch the business in the end, the French interministerial committee overseeing arms export likely would approve a sale of MBDA-made Aster 15 missiles for the German ships, a French government official said.
The company, a joint venture by Airbus, BAE Systems and Leonardo, is pursuing a “platform neutral” sales pitch, placing an emphasis on boosting foreign sales, according to an industry source.
Guillou said he attended Egypt’s launch on Sept. 6 of the first locally built Gowind, christened Port Said. “It all went well,” he said.
The Egyptian Navy sails a FREMM multimission frigate and two Mistral-class helicopter carriers. The four Gowind corvettes will complement that fleet. The day before the Egyptian launch, Guillou was in Poland pitching three Scorpene diesel-electric submarines to the Polish authorities.
“There is political support at the highest level,” he said, referring to the French government backing. That offer competes with TKMS offering its 212CD and Saab the A26 boat.
French Defense Minister Florence Parly has made it clear arms exports are a government priority, seen as needed to support domestic industry. Future program budgets would actively factor in prospective foreign sales, pushing industry to sharpen its export drive, she said.
In a Greece, Naval Group is offering two FTI intermediate frigates, which would be built with a local partner if the French offer were accepted, Guillou said.
In Romania, the shipbuilder has offered four Gowind 2500 corvettes, which would be built with local partner Santierul Naval Constanta (SNC), Naval Group said. The first ship would be built in three years, with all four delivered within seven years.
The government could decide a short list or pick a bidder in October, but that decision could slip to the end of the year, a second industry executive said. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
10 Sep 18. Indian MoD issues follow-on RFP for 200 Ka-226T helicopter. India’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has issued a follow-on request for proposal (RFP) to the India-Russia Helicopters Limited Company for 200 Kamov Ka-226T ‘Hoodlum’ light multirole helicopters that are to be acquired for the Army Aviation Corps (AAC) and the Indian Air Force (IAF) for an estimated USD1bn. The RFP was submitted around 26 August to the company, which is a joint venture (JV) between India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Russian Helicopters, industry officials told Jane’s , adding that the latest RFP “is more detailed than the one issued in May”.
HAL sources told Jane’s on 8 September that the RFP incorporates comprehensive technical and commercial bids for the helicopter tender, which includes the import of 60 twin-engine Ka-226Ts from Russia in fly-away condition. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
10 Sep 18. Australian Government launches project for new soldier field equipment. The government has given the go-ahead for a project to enhance and continuously improve equipment used by Australian soldiers. New Defence Minister Christopher Pyne said the Integrated Soldier Systems project, worth up to $1bn over its 13-year life cycle, would deliver a range of items of equipment to the ADF. The first tranche will deliver supplements to the basic equipment used by soldiers including body armour, helmets, hearing and eye protection, and load carriage equipment, as well as field equipment like water purifiers, helmet torches, storage bags, cooking gear, and sleeping bags.
“We’re taking a flexible approach here, investing up to $240m between now and 2023, with the flexibility to update and change things as technology develops into the future,” the minister said.
Minister Pyne said this project would deliver a broad range of equipment to ensure ADF personnel continue to meet emerging threats, are less detectable, less susceptible to enemy attacks and able to fight longer and more effectively in challenging conditions.
In the future, the project will continue to enhance the basic equipment used by soldiers to keep it up to date. It will also consider new and emerging technology, such as hand-held language translators, portable unmanned aerial vehicles and exoskeletons or ‘mule’ unmanned vehicles to help soldiers carry their equipment.
“This investment under LAND 125 Phase 4 will ensure our soldiers have the mobility and protection to deploy quickly and achieve their mission as an integral component of the ADF,” Minister Pyne said. “Delivery of the subsequent tranches will be subject to a range of variables centred on incorporating emerging technologies, some yet to be fully developed, to ensure our soldiers continue to have the best capabilities available.”
Minister Pyne said the 2016 Defence White Paper made it clear that the government would invest in a program for continuously improving personal equipment soldiers use. The open request for tender to establish a prime vendor for the supply of ADF field equipment will be released to market through AusTender. Industry are encouraged to register with AusTender, which will provide access to all tender documentation and ensure you receive any additional updates on the project. Personal equipment has much improved since the early years of the Afghanistan deployment when soldiers patrolled in stifling heat in body armour that provided a high level of protection, but which was so heavy that ability to fight against a nimble foe was affected. That resulted in new lighter body armour, which provided a high degree of protection, as well as a range of other equipment. The Army’s Diggerworks organisation oversees development and introduction to service of new and improved kit, surveying soldiers for ideas and to assess what works and what doesn’t. (Source: Defence Connect)
American Panel Corporation
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