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28 Feb 19. Lithuania submits request for 200 US joint light tactical vehicles. The JLTVs form a significant part of the Lithuanian Armed Forces mechanisation programme. The Lithuanian Ministry of National Defence (MND) has revealed plans to procure 200 joint light tactical vehicles (JLTV) from the US. In line with the plans, the MND has also submitted procurement applications to the US Government for acquisition and maintenance of the armoured tactical vehicles for the Lithuanian Armed Forces. According to the MND, approximately €142m has been planned to be set aside in 2020-23 for the acquisition and maintenance of the JLTVs. Lithuania National Defence vice-minister Giedrimas Jeglinskas said that the US Government is expected to finalise the terms and conditions of the JLTV procurement contract by 2020.
Jeglinskas said: “Lithuania cooperates with the US Government seeking to secure the most effective conditions of JLTV procurement and maintenance. The combat support vehicles will increase the mobility of the Lithuanian Armed Forces, protection of personnel, and combat power.”
The JLTVs form a significant part of the Lithuanian Armed Forces mechanisation programme and will fulfil the shortage of armoured all-terrain vehicles in the inventory.
The mechanisation programme also includes the purchase of the Vilkas / Boxer infantry fighting vehicles. These vehicles are likely to be deployed to defend against potential threats, for national defence tasks and multinational operations. The Lithuanian Armed Forces uses the high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle (HMMWV) and Toyota Land Cruiser 200 armoured all-terrain vehicles. In addition to the JLTVs, Lithuania is acquiring a range of equipment from the US that includes anti-aircraft missiles, turrets for combat vehicles, and Javelin anti-tank systems. (Source: army-technology.com)
27 Feb 19. Contenders line up for Netherlands replacement submarines. Industry rivals for the Netherlands’ Walrus-class submarine replacement programme have laid out details of their propositions ahead of the government’s release of the all-important ‘B-letter’ that will start the definition phase of the programme. France’s Naval Group, Navantia in Spain, Saab Kockums of Sweden, and German shipbuilding group thyssenkrupp Marine Systems are all proposing in-country construction of new non-nuclear boats, and promising significant opportunities for Dutch industry consistent with the government’s recently unveiled Defence Industry Strategy (DIS). Local media reports suggest that Saab Kockums (teamed with Damen) and Naval Group (in partnership with Royal IHC) are set to be shortlisted to participate in the B-phase. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
28 Feb 19. The US Air Force doesn’t want F-15X. But it needs more fighter jets. The U.S. Air Force wants more fighters. But it didn’t necessarily want the F-15X, and it didn’t intend to buy any in the upcoming fiscal 2020 budget, its top two leaders confirmed Thursday.
“Our budget proposal that we initially submitted did not include additional fourth-generation aircraft,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told reporters during a Feb. 28 roundtable at the Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium.
Wilson’s comments confirm reporting by Defense News and other outlets who have reported that the decision to buy new F-15X aircraft was essentially forced upon the Air Force. According to sources, the Pentagon’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation Office was a key backer of the F-15X and was able to garner the support of the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
Asked by one reporter, point blank, whether the Air Force wanted new F-15s, Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein danced around the question.
“We want to buy new airplanes,” Goldfein said.
“We want to buy 72 aircraft a year,” Wilson added.
Air Force leadership has confirmed that, as long as current budget plans don’t change, it will request money for new F-15s in FY20. The service plans to purchase eight F-15X planes from Boeing in FY20, with an expected total buy of about 80 jets, Bloomberg reported Feb. 19.
It’s normal for the Pentagon to be intimately involved with each service’s portion of the budget — and even to overrule service leadership and move funding around to better support the White House’s aims — something that Wilson herself alluded to in her comments.
“The Air Force and each of the services put in their budget proposals, given the top line that we’ve been allocated, and then there are further discussions that include the potential for some additional funds throughout that process,” she said. “It’s not something that is an Air Force decision. Ultimately it’s a Defense Department budget, and it goes into an overall presidential budget.”
However, the potential F-15X buy has received increased scrutiny for a number of reasons.
For one, Wilson has been vocal in dismissing reports that the Air Force had been considering purchasing an upgraded F-15.
“We are currently 80 percent fourth-gen aircraft and 20 percent fifth-generation aircraft,” she told Defense News in September. “In any of the fights that we have been asked to plan for, more fifth-gen aircraft make a huge difference, and we think that getting to 50-50 means not buying new fourth-gen aircraft, it means continuing to increase the fifth generation.”
Additionally, when Bloomberg broke the news that the Air Force would buy new F-15Xs in December, it reported that the decision was pushed by then-Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, a former Boeing executive who has since become acting defense secretary. Shanahan’s spokesman has rebutted those reports, stating that “any DoD programmatic decisions impacting Boeing were neither made nor influenced by Mr. Shanahan.”
One official alluded to sustainment costs as being a critical factor in the decision to buy the F-15X over additional F-35 fighter jets.
Boeing has not disclosed its proposed F-15X unit price, with numbers from $100m to less than $80m having been reported by various outlets.
Gen. Mike Holmes, head of Air Combat Command, declined to comment on the cost per plane in a later roundtable, but said that some of the value of the F-15X proposal lays in the total ownership cost of the plane, especially when taking into account the expense of sustaining the F-35.
“There’s more to think about than just the acquisition cost. There’s the cost to operate the airplane over time. There’s the cost to transition at the installations where the airplanes are — does it require new military construction, does it require extensive retraining of the people and then how long does it take?” he said. “We’re pretty confident to say that we can go cheaper getting 72 airplanes with a mix of fifth and fourth gen than we did if we did all fifth gen.” (Source: Defense News)
REST OF THE WORLD
01 Mar 19. Future Vertical Lift to enhance Australia’s expeditionary capabilities. As Australia’s responsibilities in the region continue to evolve, Lockheed Martin, Sikorksy and Boeing have geared up to present the Future Vertical Lift capability to support the ADF.
As Australia’s responsibilities in the region continue to evolve, Lockheed Martin, Sikorksy and Boeing have geared up to present the Future Vertical Lift capability to support the ADF.Beginning in 2011, the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program will see next-generation replacements for traditional rotary airframes like the UH-60 Blackhawks, CH-47 Chinook and OH-58 Kiowas. The FVL program is broken down into four key areas, delivering different capability packages, specifically:
- JMR-Light: Scout version to replace the OH-58 Kiowa, with introduction planned for 2030;
- JMR-Medium: Utility and attack versions to replace the UH-60 Blackhawk, with introduction planned for 2027-28;
- JMR-Heavy: Cargo version to replace the CH-47 Chinook, with introduction planned for 2035, although Boeing expects 2060;
- JMR-Ultra: New ultra-sized version for vertical lift aircraft with performance similar to fixed-wing tactical transport aircraft, such as the C-130J Super Hercules, with introduction planned for 2025.
Raider is a next-generation light tactical prototype helicopter capable of carrying six soldiers and external weapons that will redefine helicopter flight during the 21st century.
The Defiant is a next-generation medium tactical lift prototype helicopter, capable of carrying up to 12 soldiers and four aircrew. Both aircraft utilise the proprietary X-2 counter-rotating coaxial main rotors and pusher propeller system, designed by Lockheed Martin subsidiary Sikorsky, which provides improved range, speed and payload for both platforms.
Neale Prescott, business development director, Lockheed Martin Rotary Mission Systems (RMS), explained to Defence Connect, “For Australia, we are looking at the ARH replacement program gathering pace in the early 2020s and then the MRH-series battlefield, airlift helicopter being replaced in the mid-2020s. From Lockheed Martin’s perspective, the Defiant and its X-2 system will not only be mature technology suites, they will alsoenhance the capabilities currently available to the ADF.”
Sikorsky and Boeing have designed the SB-1 Defiant to provide the right combination of speed, lift and range that are paramount to both the assault and attack missions while increasing overall manoeuvrability and agility.
Developed with 85 per cent commonality between attack and assault aircraft, the Defiant will reduce development and life cycle costs and ensure minimal disruption or loss of existing rotorcraft expertise. Its open mission systems architecture allows rapid technology and capability insertion to meet evolving FVL requirements and provide the US military with evolutionary sustainability, affordability and readiness for years to come.
“Building on the successful roll-out and introduction of the Romeo series of helicopters with the RAN, Defiant provides the next-level of operational capability and we are focused on developing a roadmap to integrate key-technologies as they mature and both the Defiant and X-2 technologies will play a key role in that,” Prescott said.
The aircraft’s capabilities are largely derived from the X-2 rigid co-axial rotor system, which has already proven its airworthiness through flights of the X-2 and S-97 Raider. With two coaxial rotors on top that rotate in opposite directions, the extra lift from each rotor’s advancing blade balances out the diminished lift from the opposite side’s retreating blade to eliminate retreating blade stall.
As Australia’s role in the region continues to evolve, particularly in increasingly contested, congested and challenging environments, major ADF expeditionary platforms like the Navy’s LHDs become increasingly vulnerable. Both Raider and Defiant, through increased capability, serve to enhance tactical and strategic capabilities available to the ADF.
“The increased range, endurance, manoeuvrability and payload provides Australia with an operational, tactical and strategic advantage by ensuring key-platforms like LHDs are out of the range of enemy fire, while enabling the force to project force with a high-degree of survivability, with outstanding ISR capabilities, integrating into the broader fifth-generation force,” Prescott added. (Source: Defence Connect)
01 Mar 19. Singapore plans to buy four F-35 jets with option for eight more. Singapore plans to buy an initial four F-35 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin Corp, with an option to purchase eight more, as it looks to replace its ageing F-16 fleet, the city-state’s defence minister said on Friday.
Ng Eng Hen said in parliament that the ministry of defence will issue a letter of request (LOR) to the United States for the purchase, which must be approved by the U.S. Congress.
With Southeast Asia’s largest defence budget, the wealthy city-state is a key prize for global arms companies as it looks to invest in new technology and upgrade its equipment.
“Our LOR will request an initial acquisition of four F-35s, with the option of a subsequent eight if we decide to proceed,” Ng said. “Singapore has the endorsement of both the U.S. Administration and the Department of Defence for our proposed purchase of F-35s, but the Congress must still approve it.”
Ng added it was an “opportune time” for Singapore to put in the request because the price of F-35s – which ranges from $90m to $115m – has been steadily falling amid high demand from the United States and ten other countries, including Britain, Italy, Australia, Japan and South Korea.
A Lockheed executive told Reuters a year earlier that talks with Singapore had centered on the F-35B version short take-off and landing variant that is “a nice fit for a smaller land-constrained environment”.
Lockheed did not respond to a request for comment on Friday.
Singapore’s fleet of around 60 F-16 jets, which first entered service in 1998, will be retired soon after 2030. (Source: Reuters)
27 Feb 19. Japan pitches C-2 for New Zealand transport fleet. Kawasaki Heavy Industries will offer its C-2 transport aircraft to New Zealand for the country’s Future Air Mobility Capability, or FAMC, program, a company representative confirmed Tuesday. New Zealand has a requirement to replace its aging Lockheed Martin C-130H Hercules and Boeing 757-200C aircraft with a new capability. The FAMC program seeks to deliver a strategic and tactical airlift capability, which may involve a mix of two different aircraft types, or a single type able to meet essential requirements in both roles. Speaking at the 2019 Avalon Airshow, the official said that Kawasaki Heavy Industries, or KHI, had been in discussion with the Royal New Zealand Air Force for several years regarding its requirements.
“We have just started marketing the aircraft,” the official said. “We expect the C-2 to be in production for at least 10 years.”
A C-2 from the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s 3rd Tactical Airlift Wing is on static display at Avalon, and one aircraft had visited New Zealand in November 2017.
The C-2 has been designed against JASDF requirements for an airlifter capable of both strategic and tactical missions to replace the existing Kawasaki C-1 aircraft. Seven aircraft and two prototypes have been delivered to date, against an ultimate requirement of between 20 and 30 aircraft. The aircraft entered service with the JASDF in March 2017, and the official revealed that KHI recently delivered the seventh aircraft to the customer.
The official also said KHI was in discussion with “several other countries” regarding C-2 sales, but he declined to name a specific nation or region. He said the company was consulting with the Japan Defense Agency and Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko for export approvals. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
27 Feb 19. Australia changes how it will buy drones for shipborne operations. How is industry reacting? Australia’s search for a new unmanned aircraft system to operate from its naval vessels has taken a new twist, as the service announced tweaks to its procurement program to streamline the process and put it in a position to take advantage of future technological advances.
Speaking at a media event during an unmanned aircraft conference during the ongoing Avalon Airshow, officers from the Royal Australian Navy, or RAN, confirmed that it was rolling its two-stage procurement program into one.
The program, Project Sea 129 Phase 5 Maritime Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems, will look for a single prime contractor to offer a system to operate from all of the RAN’s major fleet units, primarily its upcoming 12 offshore patrol vessels and nine future frigates.
Sea 129 Phase 5 had previously been split into two stages, with the first seeking a system to operate from the OPVs and the second to equip the frigates.
According to RAN Capt. Adrian Capner, Sea 129 Phase 5 will seek a platform systems integrator, or PSI, to be put in charge of the entire program, with the ability to meet capability requirements taking precedence over platform.
“We will tell you what we want the system to do; you are going to come forward and show us how you expect to achieve that,” Capner told the audience.
These requirements include being able to operate from the flight deck of a German-designed Lurssen OPV 80-class ships selected by Australia, which are the smallest ships slated to use the selected UAS. The aircraft must be able to perform surveillance and maritime domain awareness missions in Antarctic conditions, and participate in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
Capner said the RAN is open to using multiple platforms to achieve the program’s capability goals, adding that the PSI will also be responsible for constant upgrades to the UAS, as the service needs the system to stay relevant over the next few decades.
The program is currently at the request for information stage, with Capner confirming that a request for tender is expected in the first half of 2020 and an initial operating capability planned for the mid-2020s.
This change in procurement strategy appears to reduce the burden of risk on the RAN and lessen concerns about operating outdated technology by the time the platform enters service. Rather, these burdens shift to the winning PSI, who will be responsible to managing the program and adjusting for technological changes when the system is in service.
The reaction to these changes from potential bidders has been mixed.
James Lawless, business development manager at Saab Australia, called it an “intelligent way to approach [the program],” noting that it mirrors Saab’s strategy in partnering with UMS Skeldar and Airflite to offer the UMS Skeldar V-200 UAV.
Meanwhile, Melissa Pina of Northrop Grumman told Defense News that the company will continue looking for its offering based on the latest development. Northrop Grumman previously offered its MQ-8C Fire Scout drone for Sea 129 Phase 5 Stage 2 for the RAN’s future frigates. The Fire Scout is slated to be the platform of choice to go onboard U.S. Navy ships. The RAN is currently conducting trials on the use of UAS under a “navy minor project,” operating Schiebel’s Camcopter S-100, the ScanEagle by Insitu (a subsidiary of Boeing), and other UAS from land bases and onboard its ships. (Source: Defense News)
28 Feb 19. Lockheed Martin to support Australian industry development through mentorship program. Lockheed Martin Australia has announced the establishment of a relationship with Clearbox Systems to assist the small, innovative high-tech company to successfully compete for future prime and subcontractor contracts in both local and global supply chains.
The mentor-protégé relationship, being overseen by Lockheed Martin Australia’s Office of Australian Industrial Participation, is based on a highly successful US program where Lockheed Martin will act as a mentor to Clearbox Systems to provide dedicated assistance and market advice to open opportunities for technology transfer, innovation and local skilled jobs.
The Mentor Protégé Program will see Lockheed Martin provide subject matter expertise and mentoring to Clearbox in areas such as competitive intelligence, ethics, human resources and workforce planning, cyber security and product management. Upon graduation, Clearbox will have undertaken world-class and contemporary training that will provide them the foundations to take the company even further on the global stage.
Clearbox Systems is a leading Australian player in the field of secure communications. In 2018, they came to Lockheed Martin Australia’s attention during industry briefings held to inform small to medium enterprises (SMEs) about partnership opportunities on the development of future joint battle management capabilities for the Australian Defence Force.
Chief executive of Lockheed Martin Australia and New Zealand Vince Di Pietro said the relationship, a first for Australia, is at the heart of the company’s enduring commitment and Australian presence as an industry partner and sovereign capability enabler.
“At Lockheed Martin Australia, we work with like-minded industry partners, such as Clearbox Systems, to provide meaningful guidance and support to raise the technology base in Australia and to help develop these businesses to grow sovereign capability to ensure our Australia defence capability remains at the cutting edge,” he said.
Executive director of Clearbox Systems Jeremy Hallett said it was a privilege to be selected as the first Australian company to have this unique relationship with Lockheed Martin Australia, saying, “Receiving mentoring and training from the world’s largest Defence company means we will be better placed to continue deliver sovereign capability to the Australian Defence Force. We also believe this will be an opportunity for us to become more competitive on the world stage, positioning us for more export opportunities.”
Headquartered in Canberra, Lockheed Martin Australia is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corporation. The company employs more than 1,000 people in Australia working on a wide range of major programs spanning the aerospace, defence and civil sectors. Clearbox Systems is an Australian-owned SME delivering technology solutions for the operations and management of communications networks and the electromagnetic spectrum.(Source: Defence Connect)
27 Feb 19. Russian MoD and Russian Helicopters dispute Mi-28NM helicopter price. The Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Russian Helicopters are at loggerheads over the price of the modernised Mi-28N combat helicopter, according to the Interfax news agency. The dispute is reported to be delaying production of the new Mi-28NM after the MoD called on Russian Helicopters to review its costs for the aircraft, Interfax reported on 25 February. “In preparing the next contract for delivery of Mi-28NM helicopters, we really confronted, in our opinion, an elevated cost for these aircraft,” said MoD main armaments directorate head Lieutenant General Anatoly Gulyayev. He said the Russian military asked Russian Helicopters to review its pricing policy in view of the potential volume of the Mi-28NM procurement, according to Interfax. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
28 Feb 19. Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) continues to demonstrate its commitment to building Australian defence industry capability with today’s signing of the company’s first Australian Industry Capability (AIC) Deed. Australian Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Steven Ciobo, and Warren King, chairman, Northrop Grumman Australia’s Advisory Board, signed the certificate during a ceremony at the Avalon airshow. Minister for Defence Industry, Hon Steven Ciobo MP, center, signed the Australian Industry Capability Deed with Northrop Grumman during Avalon Airshow 2019. Northrop Grumman’s AIC Deed establishes a framework to deliver real opportunities for Australian industry in major defence programs, in particular the MQ-4C Triton program with the Royal Australian Air Force. The company is committed to working with government to develop the highly-skilled workforce required to build a sustainable, sovereign industrial base. Northrop Grumman will continue to assist small- and medium-size enterprises to deliver innovative capabilities and technologies to a global market.
28 Feb 19. Nova Systems secures partnership to support JP 2096 Phase 1. Nova Systems has announced that it will support Leidos Australia in the delivery of the $500m Joint Project 2096 Phase 1. As announced on 13 February 2019 by the Minister for Defence Christopher Pyne and the Minister for Defence Industry Steven Ciobo, Leidos Australia secured its position as the prime system integrator (PSI) for this key data project. Described by Defence as a “multi-phase and evolutionary program to enable and support military and intelligence force elements and organisations in their conduct of operations”, the project will ensure the integration of selected intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data and applications. Nova Systems has been selected as a key sub-contractor to provide a systems training solution and verification and validation services, leveraging its proven capabilities in these areas.
Nova Systems Australia and New Zealand chief executive Steven Robinson welcomed the announcement, saying, “Through this important new relationship, we are looking forward to having a significant impact supporting Leidos Australia to successfully deliver this strategically important capability to Defence.”
Minister Pyne said the project was critical to enhancing the security of Australians at home and abroad: “This project will allow intelligence analysts to rapidly search and discover collected data to improve intelligence and decision support to Australian Defence Force and whole-of-government decision makers.”
This first tranche will integrate selected ISR data and applications, provide an ISR search and discovery capability, deliver an ISR development and support centre, and sustain the ISR integration capability throughout its life.
Nova Systems’ communications, information and space business unit will support Leidos Australia in the training analysis, design, development, implementation and evaluation phases in accordance with the System Approach to Defence Learning (SADL) to deliver the required Mission System training and Development Centre (Support System) services.
JP 2096 is broken into two distinct phases with different capability objectives. Phase 1 will provide infrastructure and functionality to the Defence Secret Network (DSN) to create a unified dataset that enables users to effectively manage ISR information and intelligence.
JP 2096 Phase 1 focuses on the design and development of an architecture that will provide networked access to the growing volumes of data sourced from multiple surveillance sensors available to the Australian Defence Organisation (ADO), and facilitate the related information management (including search, tasking and dissemination) of the sensor outputs. Phase 1 will also provide an ISR integration capability, key ISR services and integration of legacy ISR capabilities.
Phase 2 will extend the capability provided by Phase 1 in response to ADO ISR capability requirements and priorities. The extension of the Australian Defence ISR Integration Backbone (ADIIB) capability under Phase 2 will also include the continued integration of legacy capabilities, the provision of key ISR services, and the application of the architecture to other physical or security domains. (Source: Defence Connect)
26 Feb 19. Leonardo and Northrop Grumman team up for New Zealand Spartan bid. Leonardo and Northrop Grumman Australia have signed an agreement to partner on a bid to supply the Italian group’s C-27J Spartan transport aircraft to the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF). The memorandum of understanding – signed on 27 February at the Avalon Airshow 2019 – is intended to meet New Zealand’s requirement under its Future Air Mobility Capability (FAMC) programme.
Officials told Jane’s that the agreement positions Northrop Grumman to provide through-life support services for the C-27J in service with the RNZAF. New Zealand is expected to issue a tender to support the procurement in the second half of 2019, they said. The Leonardo-Northrop Grumman teaming will also look to leverage the existing partnership between the two companies to support the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) fleet of C-27Js, said officials.
The RAAF ordered 10 C-27Js in 2012 for AUD1.4bn (USD1bn). The fleet reached initial operating capability (IOC) in December 2016, and Northrop Grumman secured a AUD200m contract to support the aircraft in November 2017, providing engineering and logistics services.
“Under this new agreement Northrop Grumman will provide support services to New Zealand in line with what they have been doing here in Australia,” said one Leonardo official.
“We want to exploit the positive aspects of ongoing collaboration between Leonardo and Northrop Grumman, which may bring benefits for both New Zealand and Australia as they collaborate and undertake joint operations. A common team, supporting both countries, might be of interest to New Zealand.”
He added that in supporting the C-27J in service with the RNZAF both Leonardo and Northrop Grumman would consider investing in New Zealand to develop maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) capability in the country. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
25 Feb 19. Australian Army launches Shadow replacement effort. The Australian Army expects to begin the procurement for the replacement of its Textron RQ-7 Shadow 200 unmanned aircraft system (UAS) shortly with the declaration of Gate 1 in the contracting process and the beginning of acquisition effort. The industry engagement paper was released in mid-February and under the timelines outlined in the programme, which is designated Land 129 Phase 3, risk mitigation and requirements setting in Gate 2 will occur up to 2021, followed by acquisition and initial operating capability in 2023/24 and service life through to 2033/34.
Two Shadow 200 systems have been in service for almost a decade with the 20th Surveillance and Target Acquisition Regiment, and the systems have entered obsolescence management. The replacement systems will be operated by the regiment and a third system will be introduced.
There are five core tasks for the new system: surveillance, target detection, targeting for enhanced lethality, intelligence support, and organic support, such as communications relay.
The replacement system will have a higher level of performance than Shadow 200 with a range out to 150km and, most importantly, it will be runway independent. The platform will be required to carry a range of interchangeable payloads with some evaluation already done, such as for multispectral sensors, and synthetic aperture radar evaluation is expected to begin soon.
Laser targeting is essential in the new system along with integration with Joint Fires and Airbus Tiger attack helicopters and Boeing F/A-18 Hornet combat aircraft. The air vehicle will be integrated with improved Bushmaster vehicles and the ground control station will include an intelligence officer, the latter a change from the old system. Following the Australian Army’s success with Shadow 200, one official said they were looking for “a system like Shadow, but better”. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
26 Feb 19. Bell out to win Australia’s bid for special ops helicopters. Bell is positioning itself for Australia’s special operations helicopter requirement by showcasing its offerings and promoting local industry tie-ups at the Avalon Airshow. Speaking to Defense News, Dan McQuestin, Bell’s business development director for Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, confirmed that the company responded to a request for information issued by the Australian Army, offering the Bell 407 or Bell 429 helicopters with local partner Hawker-Pacific.
The helicopters being offered for Australia’s Land 2097 Phase 4 requirement will be commercial off the shelf, with kits developed to meet the majority of mission requirements spelled out in the RFI. These include air assault, intelligence-gathering, and troop transport. There is also a potential requirement for the helicopter to be weaponized in the future.
McQuestin said that 60 weaponized Bell 407 are already operating with a customer in the Middle East, and existing customers have expressed interest in an armed configuration of the Bell 429. The company is preparing to offer a similar weapons kit tfitted to the 407 on the 429, with two, four or six weapons stations.
McQuestin also confirmed that four Bell 407s can fit inside a Boeing C-17A Globemaster III airlifter, adhering to one of the requirements set out in the RFI. He added that testing is ongoing with the Bell 429 to assess its compatibility on the C-17 with government customers elsewhere.
The company has its Bell 407 and 429 helicopters painted in camouflage on the static display at the show currently being held at Avalon Airport outside Geelong in Victoria, Australia.
Partner Hawker Pacific in Australia submitted the response to the RFI as the prime contractor.
Trevor Thomas, government relations adviser to Hawker Pacific in Australia added that the company, which is well-established in defense and performance-based sustainment contracts in Australia, is a “natural fit” with Bell. It also has local experience with special operations equipment, and is fulfilling a sustainment contract to support the Royal Australian Air Force’s fleet of 49 Pilatus PC-21 trainer aircraft.
Sign up for our Early Bird Brief Defense News reported last year that Land 2097 Phase 4 is seeking at least 16 helicopters to fulfil the requirement, with major delivery of equipment to be delivered in 2022 and initial operating capability to follow soon after. A request for tender is expected at the end of this year. (Source: Defense News)
20 Feb 19. South Korea confirms potential aircraft swap deal with Spain. South Korea’s DAPA has confirmed a proposal from Spain to swap A400M transport aircraft (pictured) for Korean-produced platforms thought to include the KAI KT-1 and T-50 trainer aircraft. South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) has confirmed a potential plan to swap military aircraft with Spain.
DAPA confirmed in a recent media notice that it has received a proposal from Spain outlining the potential transfer of South Korean-produced aircraft in exchange for Airbus A400M Atlas medium transport aircraft.
South Korean aircraft thought to be the subject of the potential transfer include the T-50 Golden Eagle advanced jet trainer (AJT) and the KT-1 Woong-Bee basic trainer, which are both produced by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI).
DAPA said it has not yet decided whether to proceed with the deal. The agency gave no details about the number of aircraft that could be swapped.
DAPA dismissed news reports in South Korea that the proposal will be discussed with counterparts from Spain later this month. The agency also said that, contrary to reports, it has not been informed by the Spanish government about price details for the A400M.
It had earlier been reported that South Korea and Spain had discussed the potential transfer during a joint defence-industrial committee held in November 2018. Reports said the plan could feature the swap of up to six of Spain’s surplus A400Ms in return for 30 KT-1s and 20 T-50s. The value of the deal is about USD1.8bn.
Neither KAI nor Airbus has responded to Jane’s questions on the matter. The potential deal could be positioned to meet an outstanding requirement within the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) to procure a medium transport capability to support tactical airlift operations and replace legacy fleets of Lockheed Martin C-130H aircraft. Both Airbus and Lockheed Martin have been positioning for this programme for several years. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
21 Feb 19. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), the leading manufacturer of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) systems, radars, electro-optic and related mission systems, today outlined the tangible progress of Team Reaper® Australia towards achieving the Australian Industry Content requirements for this project. GA-ASI first unveiled Team Reaper Australia at AVALON 2017 when the team consisted of four companies dedicated to the support, development and manufacture of RPA for the Australian Defence Force (ADF). Since then, the team has grown to 10 members. This past November, the Australian Government named GA-ASI to provide the Armed RPA system under Project Air 7003, with the specific variant – the MQ-9A or advanced MQ-9B – to be selected during 2019.
“We’ve brought together a world-class group of companies that make up Team Reaper Australia, and the team continues to grow,” said Linden Blue, CEO of GA-ASI. “Following the Australian Government’s selection of GA-ASI to provide the Armed RPAS, Team Reaper Australia activity has increased significantly and all team members committed to supporting ADF requirements.”
While the specific support requirements are still in definition between the Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG), the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and General Atomics, Team Reaper Australia is currently geared towards the following services and capabilities:
- Cobham Aviation Services Australia – Lead Partner – Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO), logistics
- CAE Australia – RPA training devices, training services, support material and courseware
- Airspeed – Sovereign payload pods and in-country composite repairs
- Flight Data Systems – Aviation services and products, including environmental testing of line-replaceable units, flight data acquisition, monitoring and analysis
- Raytheon Australia – Electro-Optical/Infrared image systems, and integration of payloads and weapons
- Collins Aerospace – Fast Attack (FasTAK) Network Joint Fires on Rosetta Data Link Processor Gateway for Digital Joint Fires
- Quickstep Technologies – Composite component manufacturing
- Sentient Vision Systems – Autonomous detection systems, including all environmental ViDAR Wide Area Motion Imagery
- TAE Aerospace – Honeywell TPE331 Engine MRO and other powerplant-related component manufacturing
- Ultra Electronics Australia – Electronic Warfare (EW) payloads
With the selection of GA-ASI to supply the ADF RPAS, Australia joins other top-tier military forces in choosing a MQ-9 variant because of its proven, multi-role combat performance and networking/interoperability effects. Known as the warfighters’ choice, the MQ-9 is part of GA-ASI’s Predator® series of RPAS, which is the world’s most trusted and capable Armed Medium-Altitude, Long-Endurance (MALE) RPAS, and hails from a family of RPA systems that recently surpassed five million flight hours.
22 Feb 19. Osprey still attracting strong interest in Middle East. Interest from the UAE and other regional operators. Interest in the V-22 Osprey is continuing to grow, as requirements continue to be shaped following operational experiences.
“When we’re showing scenarios using an Osprey versus multiple aircraft, the reasoning is pretty clear. Whether it’s a tactical or humanitarian mission, many times it facilitates the mission to have one aircraft that can do everything. Expeditionary operations are much easier to plan, there are fewer fuel stops, fewer man-hours involved, and less logistics,” Bell’s Senior Manager for Business Development in the Middle East and Africa Eric “Strut” Knowlton told Jane’s .
The US government’s third multi-year contract for the aircraft would represent significant cost savings for foreign buyers, Knowlton said, with a Letter of Acceptance needing to be agreed by the end of 2020 to take advantage of the US government’s programme. Approaches to offset for a sale of the Osprey, particularly in the UAE, will likely see the company push to allow any company in the wider Textron business to participate in the discharge of obligations incurred, Knowlton said.
“It will give the company much more flexibility in meeting offset requirements, and the host nation more flexibility in the types of industrial participation, job creation, technology transfer programmes that will benefit them in a broader range of things, instead of just aviation,” he added. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/IHS Jane’s)
25 Feb 19. Another contract milestone for Attack Class submarine program.
Defence Minister Christopher Pyne has announced another formal contract signing as work on the $50bn SEA 1000 Attack Class submarine project continues to gain momentum.
Coming just two weeks following the signing of the Strategic Partnering Agreement (SPA), Defence Minister Christopher Pyne has confirmed the signing of another critical document for the future of Australia’s Attack Class future submarines.
Confirming the formal signing of the Framework Agreement between Naval Group Australia and ASC, Minister Pyne said the agreement would identify ways Naval Group Australia and ASC would collaborate for the provision of supplies and services to each other to support Australia’s through-life, sovereign submarine capability.
“The Framework Agreement includes workforce development such as training apprentices, occupational health and safety training and services, as well as helping Naval Group tap into ASC’s existing supply chain,” Minister Pyne said.
Naval Group Australia and ASC will establish joint working groups to manage the Framework Agreement and identify, develop and recommend other collaboration opportunities.
John Davis, Chief Executive Officer, Naval Group Australia welcomed the formal signing, saying, “Naval Group and ASC are natural partners, we share common values and are ideally placed to maximise the synergies between the ongoing Collins Class sustainment program and the design and build of the Attack Class submarines.”
The Framework Agreement details the terms and conditions through which Naval Group Australia and ASC will collaborate through separate commercial arrangements for the provision of supplies and services to each other, including:
- Workforce development: co-ordinate resources and talent pools to plan future activities in support of both Australian Sovereign Submarine Programs;
- OH&S training and services: draw on ASC’s well established safety culture and system to support Naval Group Australia to grow its own safety program in Australia; and
- Supply chain services: draw on each other’s existing supply chain knowledge to further develop the supply chains and opportunities for local industry in the Australian Sovereign Submarine Programs.
“This innovative collaboration with ASC is a key enabling component of Naval Group’s commitment to design and build 12 Attack class submarines. It will support the development of a sovereign submarine capability, providing economic benefits and supporting industrial development to deliver a multi-generational submarine enterprise to Australia,” Mr Davis added.
ASC Chief Executive Officer Stuart Whiley said, “It’s an exciting time for ASC and our people to be working with Naval Group for the Attack Class Submarine program and this agreement will provide Collins Class life-extension program access to Naval Group technology.
“With Naval Group and ASC working together, I’m confident that both Australian Sovereign Submarine programs will deliver for Australia now and in the future,” Whiley explained.
Minister Pyne added, “Today’s signing of the Framework Agreement demonstrates the close co-operation needed to grow the submarine workforce for many decades to come.”
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 for the French Navy.
Lockheed Martin will provide the AN/BYG-1 Combat control System, which provides an open-architecture submarine combat control system for analysing and tracking submarine and surface-ship contacts, providing situational awareness as well as the capability to target and employ torpedoes and missiles.
The 12 vessels will be built by Naval Group at a specialist submarine shipyard at Osborne, South Australia. The Commonwealth government’s Australian Naval Infrastructure program will support the development of the future submarine shipyards.
“This Framework Agreement is a great early step to ensure ASC Submarines has a role in delivering the Attack Class as well as sustaining our existing Collins Class fleet,” Minister Pyne explained.
The Attack Class will enter service with the Royal Australian Navy at a time when 50 per cent of the world’s submarines will be operating in the Indo-Pacific region. (Source: Defence Connect)
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