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17 Dec 18. Bulgarian Fighter Jet Acquisition: Bulgarian Defence Minister Outlines Options. There are three main components in considering Bulgaria’s choice of a new fighter jet – price, its capabilities and the value over the life cycle, Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov said in a television interview.
Karakachanov spelt out three hypotheses about what could happen.
One was to recommend one offer. Another hypothesis was, where offers exceeded the spending agreed by the National Assembly, to decide whether to increase the spending. The third was for Parliament to tell the government to move to direct negotiations, he said.
Bulgaria’s Defence Ministry received four offers in reply to its request for proposals to supply fighter jets to the Bulgarian Air Force, the deadline for which was October 1.
Two offers came from the United States, for new F-16s and new F-18s, while Sweden once again put forward its offer for new Gripen jets. Italy’s offer was for used Eurofighters.
Bulgaria had invited bids from seven countries in July after Parliament approved, in June 2018, a 3.5bn leva military modernisation project, which included 1.8 billion leva for the fighter jets, to be acquired in two stages of eight each.
The deadline for the US, Sweden and Italy to improve their bids was December 14.
Sweden’s Gripen announced that day that it was now offering 10 instead of eight fighters. The same day, Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said that he had spoken to Air Force pilots and saw the F-16 as the best offer, though he added he did not want to interfere in the selection process. Two committees are dealing with the selection, one a military-technical one, the other a political one. Karakachanov said that an interdepartmental group, with him and the Economy Minister, should prepare a report and say which offer they recommended. “We describe all the offers and we say which offer meets all the criteria,” he said. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/The Sofia Globe)
17 Dec 18. The ECA consortium Belgium Naval & Robotics has presented its industrial cooperation plan. On the 13th of December, Belgium Naval & Robotics gathered its Belgian industrial and research partners as well as several elected officials to present the industrial cooperation plan that the consortium wishes to implement as part of the Belgian-Dutch mine hunter programme This plan includes 39 partnerships established with partners throughout the Belgian territory and will generate hundreds of jobs over the next 20 years.
Over 30 years of experience in the mine action activities
On the proposition made by Belgium Naval & Robotics is in particular based on Naval Group and ECA ROBOTICS’ acknowledged industrial and operational expertise, both in the naval sector as in mine counter measures (MCM) activities. Naval Group and ECA Group collaborate since the ‘70s on naval mine clearing and on the mine hunter programme (Belgian-Dutch-French tripartite programme) . With its industrial cooperation plan, Belgium Naval & Robotics offers to accompany Belgium in the strengthening of its strategic autonomy and its leadership on international level and within the NATO, in the field of MCM activities. The growth of the Belgian industrial base related to high-tech and key products for this sector will help create jobs with high added value in a sustainable way.
Guiding Belgium in the evolution of the systems
Belgium Naval & Robotics will set up an industrial centre of excellence in Belgium, positioned on activities with very high added value. The main objective of this centre will be to ensure Belgium’s autonomy and strategic excellence. The centre will also be able to accompany Belgium in the evolution of the systems in areas such as robotics, artificial intelligence or acoustic discretion and cyber security and this for the duration of the programme and beyond. These structuring partnerships have already been signed in order to accomplish this project.
Involve the Belgian economic structure – create sustainable jobs
Belgium Naval & Robotics have already set up nearly forty Belgian partnerships around the key aspects of the programme and its future developments. The consortium now presents a plan to the Belgian authorities to create hundreds of jobs over 20 years. The activity will generate significant added value related to the number of jobs but also on a technological level and will be evenly distributed over the three regions: Wallonia, Flanders and Brussels. Flanders Ship Repair, a major partner of the project, will ensure 100% of the maintenance on the twelve vessels in Zeebrugge. Belgium will thus have full autonomy to maintain and develop its vessels and the mine warfare system for the duration of the programme. ECA Robotics Belgium can carry out the maintenance of the drones (“Tools”) in Zeebrugge should the Belgian navy express this wish.
14 Dec 18. US Air Force releases RFI for SRP-O ASLON-45 small launch effort. The US Air Force (USAF) seeks industry feedback on draft mission requirements for a small launch effort called Small Rocket Program-Orbital (SRP-O) Agile Small Launch Operational Normalizer (ASLON)-45.
One goal of ASLON-45 is to launch an orbital demonstration mission delivering a 39 kg spacecraft to a 550 km orbit, according to a 14 December request for information (RFI) posted on Federal Business Opportunities (FBO). The launch will be conducted from an east coast site. The ASLON-45 space vehicle (SV) manifest will consist of multiple 3U and larger Pentagon CubeSats to low Earth orbit (LEO) at a 45° inclination. This mission requires a dedicated launch solution, and a rideshare proposal is not acceptable due to customer requirements. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
17 Dec 18. Raytheon completes FoXTEN testing, now awaits DCGS-A RFP. The US Army is expected to issue a request for proposals (RFP) for its Distributed Common Ground System-Army (DCGS-A) Capability Drop (CD)1 in early 2019, which is designed to upgrade the current DCGS-A system and make it easier to use. An RFP for CD2, which will focus on a server capability and could bring artificial intelligence and machine learning to DCGS-A, is expected to be published later in 2019.
The army’s goal for CD1 has been to provide a capability that is simple and intuitive to use, is interoperable with the army’s host system, and leverages the best of commercially available hardware and software to support intelligence analyst operations at the tactical echelon.
CD1 is intended to enhance the ability of brigades and battalions to produce intelligence products and operate in a disconnected, intermittent, and limited (DIL) bandwidth environment.
In CD1 the hardware solutions will comprise “ruggedised laptops and a displacement of the current Intelligence Fusion Server at the battalion echelon to improve expeditionary operations. Software will enable operations in DIL bandwidth environments, enhance ease of use, and provide improved tools for intelligence preparation of the battlefield [IPB] and processing, exploitation, and dissemination [PED]”, the army said.
Raytheon, along with Palantir Technologies, is bidding for DCGS-A CD1. Palantir Technologies declined to discuss its offering for CD1.
Raytheon is competing with its Force Multiplier Tactical Edge Node (FoXTEN) software, which was designed as an open architecture capability to incorporate apps from any provider, Todd Probert, vice-president of mission support and modernisation at Raytheon, told Jane’s .
“That is important because the government is spending a lot of money developing apps across the various agencies and if agency ‘A’ comes up with a great way to look at a mapping app and pays to develop that, we would like the ability to morph that into [FoXTEN],” he said. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
REST OF THE WORLD
18 Dec 18. Turkey, Philippines Sign Defense Memorandum. Turkey and the Philippines signed a memorandum of understanding for defense cooperation in the Philippine capital Manilla on Tuesday. The deal was signed by Ismail Demir, the head of Turkey’s Defense Industries Presidency (SSB), and Delfin Lorenzana, the Defense Secretary of the Philippines. Currently selling guns, ammo and night-vision glasses to the Philippines, Turkey now has its indigenous ATAK battle helicopter, unmanned aircraft and vessels on its agenda to sell to the Philippines, Demir told Anadolu Agency. Aerial and offshore platforms, tanks, armored cars modernization, and shooting platforms are also on the table, he noted.
“Cooperation in technology and local talent development are key to the bilateral relations with the Philippines,” Demir said.
The Philippine Air Force was planning to purchase 24 attack helicopters within the scope of the Attack Helicopter Acquisition Project, but reduced the number to eight to 10 due to budgetary concerns. Turkey previously inked an agreement with Pakistan for the sale of 30 ATAK helicopters. Designed in accordance with the challenging climate and geography conditions, the T129 ATAK is used in the inventory of the Turkish Armed Forces and the Ministry of the Interior with the new generation mission and weapons systems and the highest performance and maneuverability features in its class. ATAK is one of the most important players in the competition in global markets with its features. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Daily Sabah)
18 Dec 18. With massive F-35 increase, Japan is now biggest international buyer. Japan will officially increase its order of F-35 joint strike fighters, including procurement of the F-35B model — making the Pacific nation the second-largest buyer of the Lockheed Martin-made jet.
Tokyo previously planned to procure 42 F-35A models. However, a source close to the program confirmed that Japan will be adding 63 F-35A models, as well as 42 F-35B models, for a total of 147 F-35 fighters.
The announcement, anticipated for weeks, was rolled out as part of Japan’s new defense plan Tuesday.
The package would make Japan second only to the United States in terms of procured F-35s, with the United Kingdom (138 total fighters) now third. Japan also becomes the fourth user of the “B” model, joining the U.S. Marine Corps, the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force and the Italian Navy.
From an operational standpoint, the decision to procure the F-35Bs are notable, as it comes hand in hand with a plan to use an existing ship design as an aircraft carrier. The presence of Japanese carriers armed with F-35Bs would be a clear signal of power projection to China, analysts have said, and also ease coordination with U.S. Marine Corps F-35Bs already stationed in Japan. Japan is in the process of standing up its first operational F-35 unit.
Japan’s plan calls for 45 F-35s, including 18 B models, to be acquired over the next five years.
Since coming to office, U.S. President Donald Trump has made increasing arms sale abroad a key effort, with Japan a frequent target.
In a company statement, prime contractor Lockheed Martin called the decision “a testament to the aircraft’s transformational capability and its increasing role in promoting regional stability and enhancing the US-Japan security alliance.” (Source: Defense News)
18 Dec 18. Indian Army issues global RFI for 938 air-defence guns. The Indian Army (IA) has invited responses by 17 January from foreign manufacturers to its request for information (RFI) for 938 air-defence guns and 505,920 rounds of ammunition to plug an operational gap in its inventory. The RFI, which was issued on 27 November, requires the ammunition to comprise 342,720 high-explosive rounds and 163,200 Smart 3P all-target rounds. The air-defence guns, which must not weigh more than 5,000 kg, are required to fire 300 rds/min and be able to engage aerial targets to a range of more than 4 km and an altitude of 2,500 m.
They should also be able to engage targets moving at speeds of 500 m/s and above, and have a “minimum hit probability of 0.6 during an engagement cycle”. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
17 Dec 18. Focus shifts to Aus Navy modernisation. Last week was busy for both industry and the Royal Australian Navy, with the next phase of the government’s $90bn naval shipbuilding plan now underway. Focus has shifted from the Air Force following the successful arrival of the F-35 on Monday last week to the Royal Australian Navy, in what has undoubtedly been one of the most groundbreaking weeks in the service’s history following a number of major announcements and program updates. As part of the government’s $90bn naval shipbuilding and sovereign industry capability plans, the Royal Australian Navy will undergo its largest modernisation and capability expansion since the Second World War.
Major projects totalling about $88.5bn across the SEA 1180 Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV), SEA 5000 Hunter Class frigates and SEA 1000 Attack Class submarines will transform the Navy’s capability and support the development of Australia’s sovereign shipbuilding capacity over the next three decades. The past week has marked a number of major program milestones as part of the Navy’s unprecedented period of modernisation and expansion. Shipyard construction kicks off. Australia’s future frigates and submarines require an immense amount of infrastructure to support the initial construction phases and through the critical maintenance and sustainment cycles, which ensure that the platforms remain combat capable throughout the life cycle of the platforms. As the centre for Australia’s $95bn shipbuilding program, the ASC shipyards at Osborne in South Australia will undergo a series of modernisation and expansion programs, which were announced by the Minister for Defence Christopher Pyne late last week. On Thursday, Minister Pyne officially turned the first sod at the future site of the submarine shipyard, which will be responsible for building Australia’s future fleet of 12 Attack Class submarines from the 2020s.
Minister Pyne said, “An Australian continuous naval shipbuilding capability will see the creation of thousands of jobs across Australia over coming years, hundreds of which are construction and infrastructure roles based at the Osborne Naval Shipyard.”
Senator Mathias Cormann, Minister for Finance and the Public Service, took part in the official ceremony and welcomed the ground breaking milestone in the $50bn SEA 1000 program.
Minister Cormann said the government’s decisions to establish Australian Naval Infrastructure (ANI) and purchase land and facilities from the SA government in 2017 have enabled work to progress rapidly.
“The investment we have made through ANI will support a sustainable, long-term naval construction industry in Australia,” Minister Cormann said.
Following on from this, both ministers announced the beginning of construction at the $535m Osborne South facility, which will be responsible for building the Hunter Class future frigates.
“The steel raising for the new shipyard involves the elevation of more than 8,000 tonnes of structural steel fabricated by local South Australian companies, Samaras Structural Engineering and SA Structural Steel, two of the 58 local suppliers involved in this project,” Minister Pyne said.
“It’s estimated the $535m Osborne South project will create up to 600 jobs.”
Minister Cormann reinforced the comments made by Minister Pyne, welcoming the news and support for Australian industry, noting that about 89 per cent of the steel used in the project would be Australian made.
“Progress at the Osborne South Shipyard is critical to ensure we meet our ambitious timeline to start the frigate program in 2020,” said Minister Cormann.
Strategic partnering agreement progress means all ahead full for subs
Minister Pyne also took the opportunity to announce that the formal strategic partnering agreement (SPA) between the Commonwealth and SEA 1000 submarine designer Naval Group had been finalised, clearing the path for further design work to continue ahead of the formal signing early in 2019.
“I can also announce the negotiations between the Commonwealth and Naval Group on all key provisions of the SPA have been completed. I congratulate everyone involved in achieving this significant milestone,” Minister Pyne said.
“Work on the design of the Future Submarines will continue without interruption under the design and mobilisation contract, which was signed on 30 September 2016.”
The full range of other activities required to deliver this major program, including the development of the submarine construction yard, and the ongoing engagement of Australian industry to achieve Australian sovereignty, are also continuing.
Fair winds and following seas for HMAS Attack and all who follow her
Australia’s fleet of future submarines officially have a class name and first of class. The vessels will be known as the Attack Class, with the lead vessel to be known as HMAS Attack when it enters service with the Royal Australian Navy in the early 2030s.
The Attack Class submarines will be delivered as part of the $50bn SEA 1000 program, which will see Naval Group deliver 12 regionally superior submarines to the Royal Australian Navy.
Naval Group’s successful Shortfin Barracuda design, which serves as the basis for the new Attack Class, is a conventionally powered variant of the nuclear powered Barracuda fast attack submarine currently under construction in France for the French Navy.
The Attack Class vessels will begin replacing the ageing Collins Class vessels at a time when 50 per cent of the world’s submarines will be operating in the Indo-Pacific region.
Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Michael Noonan, said the Attack Class would provide Australia with a regionally superior submarine.
“The name Attack along with its motto ‘Never Waver’ captures the tradition of tenacity and determination within the Australian submarine service,” VADM Noonan said.
Minister Pyne welcomed the announcement, saying, “The Attack Class represents the inherent stealth, long-range endurance and lethality of a submarine.”
Each of these major shipbuilding and capability acquisition programs represent a major step change in the way Navy does business. Like the F-35 for the Air Force, these platforms and supporting manufacturing and sustainment infrastructure will play a critical role in the ADF’s transition to an integrated ‘joint force’ capable of distributed lethality well into the 2050s.
15 Dec 18. Australia, Naval Group conclude sub negotiations. Australian Defence Minister Christopher Pyne confirmed that the Australian government has finally concluded negotiations for the formal signing of a strategic partnering agreement for 12 large conventionally-powered attack submarines from Naval Group.
Australia is acquiring the vessels under its $50bn (U.S. $36.12 bn) Project Sea 1000 (Future Submarine) to replace its existing fleet of six Collins Submarines from the early 2030s. The subs will be the ‘Attack’ class with the lead vessel named HMAS Attack. They will be fabricated in Australia to a design previously known as the Shortfin Barracuda 1A.
Recent local media reports have suggested that negotiations between the parties had stalled, placing the government’s timeline for the Collins replacement in jeopardy, but Pyne said on Thursday the program was still on track.
“There’s been a lot of ill-informed mythmaking around the negotiations but I’m very happy to say today the negotiations are complete,” Pyne said during sod-turning event at the site of the Future Submarine Construction Yard at Osborne in South Australia. “The strategic planning agreement will be signed in February next year and we can continue to get on with the submarine project, which has been under the design and mobilization contract for the last two years.”
Declining to provide details of the intricacies of the agreement due to their commercial nature, Pyne said the negotiations were officially concluded at an Australian Government National Security Committee meeting in Melbourne on Dec. 10.
“Suffice to say the Australian government’s interests, the Australian taxpayer’s interests, have been taken care of,” he said. “Naval Group Australia will deliver 12 regionally-superior submarines on time and on budget.”
Australia’s Chief of Navy, Vice Adm. Mark Noonan, also denied reports of an emerging capability gap between the retirement of the first Collins submarines and the Attack boats entering service, which some analysts have suggested might require a ‘Plan B’ to be formulated.
“I don’t believe that’s the case,” he told reporters. “We’ve got a very solid plan to ensure that there is no gap in our nation’s submarine capability, and there is a very advanced plan that will see a number of our current Collins class submarines going through a life of type extension program, which will ensure that capability gap doesn’t exist.”
(Source: glstrade.com/Defense News)
14 Dec 18. Japan pursues additional exports to the Philippines. Japan is engaging with the Philippines over potential opportunities to export additional defence equipment to the Southeast Asian country, the Japanese Ministry of Defense’s (MoD’s) Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA), has confirmed to Jane’s. The export effort is largely focused on opportunities for sales of maritime security equipment including the J/FPS-3 air defence radar produced by the Mitsubishi Electric Corporation. Since Japan lifted its ban on international military sales in 2014, it has exported to the Philippines equipment including thousands of spare parts for Bell UH-1H helicopters, five Beechcraft TC-90 King Air trainer aircraft to the Philippine Navy, and 10 multirole response vessels to the Philippine Coast Guard. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
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