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27 May 19. Sikorsky Formally Responds to Call for Competition for Germany’s New Heavy Lift Helicopter. Sikorsky formally responded to the German Air Force “Schwerer Transporthubschrauber” (STH) Program call for competition. Sikorsky expects to offer the most modern heavy lift helicopter in production, the CH-53K King Stallion, in response to the official Request for Proposals, which is expected this summer. The new STH heavy lifter will allow the Bundeswehr to move troops and equipment more quickly, safely and effectively than ever before.
“The CH-53K is the modern heavy lift solution that will provide the German Armed Forces with a safe, reliable heavy lift helicopter that can be entered into service seamlessly without need for upgrades for the next several decades. It is the only heavy lifter that will remain in production through 2032 and beyond,” said Sikorsky President Dan Schultz. “Our strong German industry team will provide sustainment and maintenance over the next 40-50 years ensuring high-quality jobs across the country for decades to come.”
Sikorsky and its Germany industry partners, including Rheinmetall, remain confident that the Sikorsky CH-53K offers the best value to the Bundeswehr and offers unrivaled growth potential over its lifecycle. German partners include: Rheinmetall, MTU, ZF Luftfahrttechnik GmbH, Autoflug, HYDRO Systems KG, Collins Aerospace, Vincorion, Hensoldt, Liebherr and Rohde & Schwarz.
“Sikorsky is already today in close partnerships with more than 10 leading German technology companies, including the exclusive teammates Rheinmetall, MTU, Autoflug and HYDRO,” said Susanne Wiegand, Member of the Management Board, Rheinmetall Defence. “This team is a fundamental key factor for a successful STH program, high availability rates of the helicopters and creates best added value for Germany and its industry. We are looking forward that the procurement decision will be made in favor of the CH-53K.”
King Stallion Update
The U.S. Marine Corps on May 17 awarded Sikorsky a contract for 12 more CH-53K aircraft. Sikorsky is now on contract for a total of 14 LRIP aircraft, plus the four development and test aircraft that will also go to the Marines, with one aircraft already delivered. The Marine Corps program of record is 200 aircraft.
“We are very glad about the decision of the U.S. Marine Corps,” Wiegand said. “This sign of confidence from the U.S. government perfectly demonstrates the trust in the performance of the CH-53K. It is the most modern, intelligent and powerful available Heavy Lift Helicopter in the market and we were able to get an impression of the CH-53K’s enormous capabilities in USA. Countless successful test flights with the helicopter are approved for the advanced maturity of the test program.”
The all-new CH-53K, designed to be survivable in the most difficult conditions, has flown more than 1,400 test hours and has met all the outer reaches of the test envelope. The King Stallion is in the midst of a rigorous test program to ensure safe, effective operations moving more equipment over longer distances and higher altitudes than any other heavy lift aircraft in production.
Accomplishments to date include: high altitude, hot temperature, and degraded visual environment flights, maximum weight single-point cargo hook sling load of 36,000 pounds (16,329 kilograms); forward flight speed of over 200 knots; 60 degrees angle of bank turns; altitude of 18,500 feet mean sea level (MSL); 12-degree slope landings and takeoffs; external load auto-jettison; and gunfire testing. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Sikorsky Aircraft Corp)
28 May 19. Contenders formally respond to German heavy-lift helo tender. Boeing and Lockheed Martin have both formally responded to the German Bundeswehr’s Schwerer Transporthubschrauber (STH) tender for a new heavy-lift helicopter. The two companies, who are the only bidding parties for the VFW-Sikorsky CH-53G/GS/GA Stallion-replacement programme, announced in late May that they had responded to the tender documents for the STH requirement that the German government released in February.
The STH requirement will see the Bundeswehr procure 44–60 helicopters for the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) over an eight-year delivery period. In approving the STH programme in November 2018, the German government said developing an entirely new helicopter to replace its 70 incumbent CH-53G/GS/GA/GEs is “out of the question” and that the Boeing CH-47F Chinook and Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion were “appropriate” solutions. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
27 May 19. European Commission seeks industry research partners for GNSS U-Space applications. The European Commission, Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (Small to medium sized enterprises) seeks industry partners to help accelerate the use of EGNOS and Galileo, the European GNSS (EGNSS) components, in the UAS market, “putting in place the necessary means at service provision level for facilitating the operational use of EGNSS by operators and their approval by aviation authorities.”
The European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) is Europe’s regional satellite-based augmentation system (SBAS) that is used to improve the performance of global navigation satellite systems (GNSSs), such as GPS and Galileo. It has been deployed to provide safety of life navigation services to aviation, maritime and land-based users over most of Europe.
The research is part of the “Horizon 2020: EGNOS and Galileo as a U-space Service” programme.
The procurement documents are available for unrestricted and full direct access, free of charge, at: https://etendering.ted.europa.eu/cft/cft-display.html?cftId=4696
Reference number: 746/PP/GRO/RCH/19/113057
Value excluding VAT: EUR 500,000.00
Duration in months: 18 (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
27 May 19. The French Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, has announced that the launch of the Joint Light Helicopter (Hélicoptère Interarmées Léger; HIL) programme has been brought forward to 2021. The HIL programme, for which the Airbus Helicopters’ H160 was selected in 2017, was initially scheduled for launch in 2022 by the current military budget law. Launching the programme earlier will enable delivery of the first H160Ms to the French Armed Forces to be advanced to 2026.
During a visit to the Airbus Helicopters headquarters, the Minister also revealed the full-scale mock‑up of the H160M that will be presented on the Ministry of the Armed Forces stand at the next Paris Air Show. The helicopter was also given its official name and will be designated as “Guépard” (“Cheetah”) by the French Armed Forces.
The H160 was designed to be a modular helicopter, enabling its military version, with a single platform, to perform missions ranging from commando infiltration to air intercept, fire support, and anti-ship warfare in order to meet the needs of the army, the navy and the air force through the HIL programme.
“We are proud that the HIL is considered a strategic programme. I would like to thank the Ministry, the French Defence Procurement Agency DGA and the armed forces for their trust and for the close collaboration which helped create the conditions for the programme to be brought forward within the framework of the current military budget law. This will make it possible to speed up the replacement of the older generation of aircraft, while optimising the support and availability of the French State’s helicopter fleet,” said Bruno Even, CEO of Airbus Helicopters. “Our teams are committed to delivering an aircraft in 2026 that meets the needs of the French armed forces in terms of availability, performance and capability, thus enabling it to rapidly become the new benchmark on the world’s medium-lift military helicopter market.”
Built around a platform that will enter service next year, the HIL programme will benefit from many of the advantages inherent in the civil H160, particularly in terms of support, with simplified maintenance and lower operating costs than the previous generation of helicopters in this category.
28 May 19. Lockheed Martin Won’t Submit Freedom LCS Design for FFG(X) Contest. Lockheed Martin won’t submit a bid to compete in the design of the Navy’s next-generation guided-missile (FFG(X)) frigate competition, company officials told USNI News on Tuesday. The company elected to focus on its involvement developing the frigate combat system and other systems rather than forward its Freedom-class LCS design for the detailed design and construction contract Naval Sea Systems Command plans to issue this summer, Joe DePietro, Lockheed Martin vice president of small combatants and ship systems, told USNI News.
“We reviewed the entire program and obviously, given some of the stuff that has already happened that is outside of the contract for the program – that includes the designation of our combat management system, COMBATSS 21, derived off of Aegis; we have the Mk-41 vertical launch system; the processing for our anti-submarine warfare area; advanced [electronic warfare] and platform integration,” he said. “As we evaluated all of those different areas, we determined not to pursue, as a prime contractor, the FFG(X) detailed design and construction.”
The company informed the Navy on May 23 it would not join the other bidders for the hull design, two sources familiar with the notification told USNI News. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/USNI News)
28 May 19. USN issues RFI for Growler Block 2 upgrade. The US Navy (USN) has formally launched the Block 2 upgrade for the Boeing EA-18G electronic attack (EA) aircraft, with a request for information (RFI) issued in late May. In a solicitation posted on the Federal Business Opportunities (FedBizOpps) website, the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) announced its intention to procure non-recurring engineering in support of EA-18G Growler Block 2, including Electronic Attack Unit (EAU) Surrogate Processor (ESP), AN/ALQ-218(V)4 RF receiver system, and AN/ALQ-227(V)2 communication countermeasures set requirements for the USN.
The anticipated start date for the effort to retrofit all 161 of the USN’s Growlers to the Block 2 configuration is 7 June 2020, with the upgrade itself being launched in fiscal year 2022 and aircraft being received from 2025. While not included in this initial solicitation, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) fields 11 Growlers that are also likely to be upgraded (the service received 12 but one was lost to an accident in a ground accident in early 2018 and has yet to be replaced). Further to current customers, Boeing is also offering the aircraft to Finland and Germany.
Previously known as the Advanced Growler, the Growler Block 2 enhancement is based on the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet Block 3 upgrade that is now in its early stages. Features common to both aircraft comprise 10×19 inch large-area display (LAD) cockpits (front and back) and conformal fuel tanks (CFTs), while the Growler will also receive enhancements to the systems listed in the RFI; the Next-Generation Jammer; EA sensor improvements; as well as networking and crew-interface improvements. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
23 May 19. USAF meets its goal to shave a century from its weapons development schedules. The Air Force has officially stripped 100 years out of the schedules of its acquisition programs, the service’s top civilian announced Thursday.
“The Air Force has taken advantage of the authorities that Congress has given us to try to do things faster and smarter,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said during an event on Capitol Hill. “[Having] unnecessary schedule delays getting capability to the warfighter and speed matters in an era of re-emerged great power competition.”
A number of Air Force programs have shrunk down their schedules in the hopes of challenging acquisition personnel to get weapons to airmen quicker. For instance, the B-52 engine replacement program cut more than three years from its planned development cycle. The “F-22 Capability Pipeline,” a suite of upgrades for that jet, cut out two years from that program.
Now comes the hard part. Those savings are an estimate based on current schedules, so it will be up to the service to ensure that programs stay on track.
Air Force acquisition executive Will Roper has no illusions that the Air Force will be able to achieve all 100 years of savings that are on the books. And that’s ok, he told Defense News earlier this week.
“Part of changing the culture of acquisition is telling people that real world learning is expected. We build things that do not exist, that have never existed. If there’s no learning, we’re not taking enough risk to build a cutting-edge Air Force,” he said.
“Issues will happen, we train our people to be able to troubleshoot them. But troubleshoot those issues is going to mean slippages. What I’m going to be able for is the amount that we expect to save versus the amount that we actually save,” he added. “As long as it’s a pretty healthy actual savings compared to intended, then this is worth doing.”
For the most part, Air Force acquisition officials were able to shave time off programs in two different ways, Roper said.
Leaders on new programs could submit an acquisition strategy than conforms to the Section 804 authorities approved by Congress in the fiscal year 2016 defense bill, as well as the traditional acquisition instructions known as DoD 5000.
Most of the time, Section 804 is the better fit for weapon system development, allowing personnel to get on contract faster and begin prototyping, Roper said. The Air Force shed five years on each of its major hypersonic weapons programs — the hypersonic conventional strike weapon or HCSW and the AGM-183A Advanced Rapid Response Weapon or ARRW — simply by using Section 804 authorities to build the schedule.
The fast timeline required of Section 804 efforts can also help prevent the Air Force from creating a program that is “too big to fail.”
“If you can’t do it in five years, that’s probably a generation beyond what can be done in the warfighter today,” Roper said. “I like the fact that you’ve got the ability to commit to a prototype and make it crystal clear to industry … that there is another decision, which is the big decision. And that’s the decision to field. What kills acquisition is when a flawed concept makes it into production.”
For older programs, officials revisited the existing schedule and removed extraneous tasks that only serve to create more bureaucracy and may not really apply to that platform.
Some very complicated, integrated weapon system like the B-21 bomber or Ground Based Strategic Deterrent need follow more of a traditional acquisition process, but most programs don’t involve the same high levels of risk, Roper said.
“People are re-looking at acquisition strategies and saying is it really necessary to complete all of these steps, check all of these boxes that are meant to any program that the department could ever do, but that never apply to every program?” he said. “There is an overkill in terms of making sure you can guide a program.”
In other cases, acquisition officials were able to compress development times by incorporating commercial best practices. For example, the Air Force hit its 100-year goal when a classified space program removed six months from its schedule by using agile software development methods to deliver new capabilities more quickly.
It won’t be easy for the Air Force to keep its programs on track, and one of its biggest success stories — the Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared missile defense satellite constellation — is already in danger of falling behind.
Roper has warned that unless Congress transfers an additional $632m to the program in fiscal year 2019, it would be forced to delay the launch of the first three missile warning satellites by two years.
Further, the House Appropriations Committee wants to cut funding for Next-Gen OPIR in FY20, removing about $202m from the program.
“We’ll continue to work with Congress to ensure that we can meet this requirements of the warfighter. In this case this means reprogramming and continuing on with the Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared development,” Wilson said.
But if Congress doesn’t offer up the requested funding, “then it gets delayed and we take risk,” she added. “I don’t think this is a good place to take risk.”
REST OF THE WORLD
29 May 19. Swedish firm says it can build Gripen fighters in Canada to provide maximum jobs and technology transfer. A Swedish aerospace firm offering Canada a new fighter jet says it could build the aircraft in Canada and make maximum use of the expertise of domestic firms and create high-tech jobs. The pitch by Saab to build its Gripen E fighter jet in Canada further ups the ante on the $19bn competition that will see the federal government purchase 88 new aircraft. The Liberal government has been emphasizing the transfer of new technology and expertise to Canadian aerospace firms as well as the creation of high-tech jobs as some of its key goals for the fighter jet program. Another European firm, Airbus, has hinted it could also build its Typhoon fighters in Canada but Saab said its commitment is solid if the federal government wants the planes built on a domestic production line.
For the Canadian program, Saab is hoping to follow the same process that helped it win the fighter jet competition in Brazil. The first batch of Gripen E fighter jets are being built in Sweden but then the technology is being transferred to Brazilian firms so they can assemble the remaining aircraft.
“We think that is the model that makes sense for Canada,” Patrick Palmer, senior vice president of Saab Canada, told Postmedia. “We’re going down that path but we’re also looking at how the (request for proposals) is written and what the customer values. Certainly if that is what the customer values for Canada that is something that we can easily do.”
Aerospace firms have been told that the federal government will request their proposals in mid-July.
The fighter jet competition was launched on Dec. 12, 2017 and at this point four aircraft are to be considered. Those include the F-35, the Super Hornet, the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Gripen.
The Gripen E is the newest of the fighter jets being offered to Canada. The first Gripen E for Sweden is expected to be delivered later this year. The first of the 36 aircraft ordered by Brazil in a $5bn program will be delivered in 2021.
The first delivery of the jets for the Canadian program is expected in the mid-2020s with the full capability available in the early 2030s, according to documents produced by the Department of National Defence.
The issue of industrial benefits for Canadian companies will be high profile in the competition.
In early May the Canadian government told companies it was making changes to its fighter jet competition to allow the U.S. to enter the F-35 stealth fighter.
The changes came after a series of discussions with the U.S. government and threats by the Pentagon to withdraw that jet from consideration.
The changes allow for a more flexible approach in determining the value of industrial benefits for the competition, industry sources say.
U.S. officials had warned that the F-35 agreement that Canada signed prohibits partners from imposing requirements for industrial benefits. Under the F-35 agreement, partner nations such as Canada are prohibited from imposing requirements for industrial benefits as the work on the fighter jets is determined on the best value basis. Canadian firms compete and if they are good enough they receive contracts. Over the last 12 years, Canadian firms have earned more than $1.3bn in contracts to build F-35 parts. Per Alriksson of Saab Aeronautics said the Gripen is designed specifically for operations in the Arctic, giving it a leg up on other planes. “Sweden has air force bases in what you call the far North,” he added. “We operate there daily. (The Gripen) has Arctic DNA built into it.”
Alriksson said the Gripen E can operate from remote airfields in the north, landing and taking off on runways less than 800 metres in length. It has a quite turnaround time for missions, with technicians able to reload and refuel the planes in 10 minutes. “It is pretty good in operating in dispersed locations as you have in Canada,” he added.
Alriksson said the company can integrate U.S. and other equipment on the Gripen E so it is interoperable with American forces, another consideration for Canada. “Moving forward with the Gripen E, we see no problem whatsoever to integrate that fighter into a NORAD context,” he said, referring to the U.S.-Canadian North American Aerospace Defence Command. (Source: Google/https://beta.canada.com)
30 May 19. The latest on new defence contracts and CANSEC 2019. Here is the latest on defence contracts and CANSEC 2019 exhibitors courtesy of Esprit de Corps magazine.
Collins Aerospace will launch its first exhibition in Canada as it showcases what it can offer the Canadian Armed Forces. The firm, which combines the forces of UTC Aerospace Systems and Rockwell Collins, will be front and centre at CANSEC 2019 in Ottawa.
Technologies on display include space solutions, TruNet, the networked communications for air, land and sea, seamless data-link networking capabilities, simulation and training, modern and networked joint-fires solutions, advanced laser threat warning systems, integrated avionics systems and the company’s TCTS pod, the first certified multi-level security tactical training system packaged in both airborne and ground equipment.
Seaspan Shipyards has awarded BCS Automation Ltd. a contract for work on the Canadian government’s new Offshore Oceanographic Science Vessel (OOSV). BCS is the most recent supplier to partner with Seaspan in its work on the OOSV program.
BCS is a family owned Canadian small business located in Belleville, Ontario, Seaspan pointed out. The firm is supplying a state of the art ship control and monitoring system for the OOSV. The system is designed to provide ship personnel with all the basic alarms and status information they require in order to maintain the safe and efficient operation of the machinery, auxiliary systems and other relevant equipment.
The system features built-in self-diagnostics, an intuitive, user-friendly interface and a fail-safe redundant network to enhance safety and reliability. BCS has previous experience working on NSS projects having been subcontracted by Hawboldt Industries to design and build the winch drive system for the Offshore Fisheries Science Vessels (OFSV).
Two NATO member nations have opted to purchase Rheinmetall’s ROSY rapid smoke/obscurant system for protecting their vehicle families. This versatile modular system thus continues to expand its presence in the global force protection market. The two orders are worth several million euros. Delivery of 126 systems to Spanish defence contractor URO Vehículos Especiales S.A. (UROVESA) has already begun. UROVESA will be installing these systems in 126 out of 139 VAMTAC protected patrol vehicles purchased by the Portuguese armed forces in July 2018, according to Rheinmetall. Delivery of the systems will be complete in March 2020. Pre-series delivery in response to another order begins in May 2019, this time from Belgium. Here, Rheinmetall is acting as subcontractor for the British company Jankel, which is supplying the Belgian Army with the Light Troop Transport Vehicle, or LTTV. All 199 of the vehicles are being prepared for integration of the system, in addition to the supply of control units and launchers for 167 vehicles. Series production commences in February 2020 and will be complete the same year.
These two orders mean that ROSY will soon be in service in no fewer than eleven countries. ROSY provides protection from surprise attacks by creating a wall of smoke/obscurant that renders vehicles invisible to the enemy. Unlike conventional smoke/obscurant systems, it not only produces an instantaneous, extensive, multispectral interruption in the line of sight, but also generates a dynamic smoke screen that provides moving assets with long-lasting protection.
Ocean Industries Inc. will build four tugs for the Royal Canadian Navy. The firm from Isle‑aux-Coudres, Quebec, was awarded the contract for $102m under the National Shipbuilding Strategy. The new tugs will provide towing, firefighting and other critical support services to the Royal Canadian Navy. They will replace the navy’s five civilian-crewed ‘Glen-class large tugs and two Fire-class rescue boats.
Two of the tugs will go to Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt in British Columbia. The other two will be delivered to CFB Halifax in Nova Scotia. The first two tugs are scheduled to be delivered in 2021. The last two tugs will be delivered in 2023.
Chantier Davie of Levis, Que., has been awarded a $7.2m contract for the dry-dock refit of the Canadian Coast Guard’s largest icebreaker. The scheduled refit of the CCGS
Louis S. St-Laurent will ensure the Canadian Coast Guard continues to provide critical icebreaking and other marine services effectively, according to the federal government. The contract was awarded following an Advanced Contract Award Notice issued on November 16, 2018.
The federal government also announced the names of the two interim icebreakers currently undergoing conversion work at Chantier Davie; CCGS Jean Goodwill and CCGS Vincent Massey. The ships will be available to support Coast Guard programs by late 2019 and summer 2020, respectively, the government noted. In December 2018, the Canadian Coast Guard accepted the first of three interim icebreakers which were acquired to supplement its existing fleet during vessel life extension and repair periods.
CCGS Jean Goodwill takes its name from one of the founding members of the Aboriginal Nurses Association of Canada and contemporary champion of public health services for Indigenous people, federal government officials pointed out.
CCGS Vincent Masse, is named after the first Canadian appointed to the post of Governor General, which until then was occupied by British born individuals. Massey was appointed Governor General on the recommendation of then Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent.
CCGS Jean Goodwill and CCGS Vincent Massey will be part of the national Coast Guard fleet which carries out icebreaking duties in Atlantic Canada, the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes, and Arctic regions. CCGS Jean Goodwill’s homeport will be in Halifax, NS, and CCGS Vincent Massey in Quebec City, QC.
The CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent is Canada’s largest icebreaker, homeported in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.
Leonardo DRS recently celebrated its 50 th anniversary of the founding of the global defence firm. The firm began in 1969 and transformed itself into a major player in ground, air and naval systems for militaries around the world. For instance, Leonardo DRS, Inc. announced in the fall of 2018 that it had been awarded a contract to develop upgraded Deployable Flight Incident Recorder Set (DFIRS) technology for new and in-service F/A-18E/F and EA-18G aircraft. The contract, awarded by The Boeing Company, is being handled by Leonardo DRS’ subsidiary, DRS Technologies Canada Ltd., in Kanata, Ontario.
Meggitt Training Systems Quebec will be highlighting at CANSEC 2019 a variety of its products including the FATS 100MIL, a major expansion in weapons training capability. That system introduces revolutionary features such as advanced game engine 3-D marksmanship, enhanced diagnostics with intelligent automatic coaching and VBS3-based collective training, according to the firm. Also featured will be the firm’s GranTrap granulated rubber bullet trap as well as the Multi-Function Stationary Infantry Target (MF-SIT) System with LOMAH (location of miss and hit). (Source: Google/https://beta.canada.com)
30 May 19. Global wrap-up: Korea seeks new anti-sub helicopters; Poland to acquire F-35. This global wrap-up provides updates of industry developments across the globe, including new procurement deals, capability introductions and key announcements.
- The South Korean Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) has issued a US$804m tender for the procurement of a second batch of anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters for the Republic of Korea Navy – tenders have been received from Lockheed Martin and Leonardo-Finmeccanica.
- US President Donald Trump has toured the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) ship Izumo ahead of the vessels modification to accommodate a fleet of Lockheed Martin F-35B short take-off, vertical landing (STOVL) to become Japan’s first aircraft since the end of the Second World War.
- Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) has been awarded a US$52.5 m contract by the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) to modify the service’s T-50TH Golden Eagle lead-in fighter trainers (LIFT).
- The Indian Air Force (IAF) has confirmed it will arm its Su-30MKI with BrahMos-A air-launched missiles in the next two or three years – the BrahMos missile has been developed by Russia’s Research and Production Association of Machine-Building and India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO).
- The Japanese Ministry of Defense’s Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA) has confirmed a US$91.2m contract extension to Mitsubishi Electric Corporation for the development of a ship-launched surface-to-air missile (SAM) system based on the Type-03 SAM system.
- The US Department of State has approved a US$317 m foreign military sales (FMS) to Japan for an additional batch of Raytheon AIM-120C-7 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAMs) along with related equipment and services.
- Korean-based Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) has successfully launched the first Jose Rizal Class frigate on order for the Philippine Navy and laid down the keel for a second vessel as part of a US$337 m contract.
- Dutch shipbuilder Damen has launched the first of two corvettes for the Pakistan Navy – the 2,300-ton vessel has been described as an offshore patrol vessel (OPV)
- Saudi Arabia has been approved for a transfer of aircraft support services valued at US$2.7bn – which includes three separate approvals covering aircraft follow-on support services for US$1.8bn, aircraft follow-on support and services for US$800m, and continued Tactical Airborne Surveillance System (TASS) aircraft for US$136m.
- The United States has deployed the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a range of other military firepower including US Air Force B-52H as tensions between the US and Iran continue to grow.
- The US Department of State has approved a US$1.2bn contract to supply the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with air-to-surface missiles, additional Javelin anti-tank missiles, RQ-21A Blackjack small tactical unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and US Marine Corps training.
- Poland has announced plans to acquire a fleet of 32 Lockheed Martin F-35A aircraft worth in excess of US$2.5 bn to replace the ageing Soviet-era aircraft of the Polish Air Force (PAF). The announcement has drawn attention from Russia.
- German Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) is continuing to invest in developing its private venture remote-controlled Artillery Gun Module (AGM) that, when integrated onto the rear of the Boxer 8×8 Multi-Role Armoured Vehicle (MRAV), is now being referred to as the Remote Controlled Howitzer 155mm (RCH 155).
- Boeing and Lockheed Martin have both formally responded to the German Bundeswehr’s tender for 44-60 heavy helicopters for the German Luftwaffe. Boeing is expected to present the CH-47F Chinook while Lockheed Martin’s subsidiary Sikorsky will present the CH-53K King Stallion helicopters.
- Royal Air Force F-35B aircraft have deployed for their first overseas deployment in UK service – the six aircraft took off from their home base at RAF Marham in Norfolk and flew non-stop to RAF Akrotiri with support from an RAF Airbus A330 air-to-air refuelling aircraft.
- Russia is expected to take delivery of 20 Su-35S fighter jets by the end of 2020, with the Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Plant announcing that it is ready to start mass manufacturing Su-57 fifth-generation fighter aircraft.
- The French Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, has announced that the launch of the Joint Light Helicopter program has been brought forward to 2021. The HIL program, for which the Airbus Helicopters H160 was selected in 2017, was initially scheduled for launch in 2022 by the current military budget law. Launching the program earlier will enable delivery of the first H160Ms to the French Armed Forces to be advanced to 2026.
- Boeing is offering to expedite deliveries of F-15EX Advanced Eagle combat aircraft to the US Air Force by two years, should the service request it. The USAF has requested eight F-15EX as part of its FY2020 budget request and is expected to request 18 aircraft annually from FY2021-24.
- Embraer remains committed to participating in the USAF’s Light Attack Experiment (LAE) despite the prospect of a large procurement batch being delayed, if not diminishing. The USAF recently settled on buying six aircraft, three Embraer/Sierra Nevada Corp (SNC) A-29 Super Tucano light turboprop aircraft and three Textron Aviation Defense AT-6 Wolverines.
- Raytheon Missile Systems has been awarded a US$355.5 m contract by the USAF for the AGM-88B High Speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM) Replace Exchange In Kind (REIK) program.
- The US Navy has formally launched the Block 2 upgrade for the Boeing EA-18G Growler electronic attack (EA) aircraft, with a request for information (RFI) issued in late May. The anticipated start date for the effort to retrofit all 161 of the USN’s Growlers to the Block 2 configuration is 7 June 2020, with the upgrade itself being launched in FY2022 and aircraft being received from 2025.
- Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) made the first steel cut on 23 May to officially begin advance construction for USS Columbia, the first-of-class ballistic-missile submarine (SSBN) slated to replace the ageing Ohio Class ships performing nuclear deterrence patrols.
- The US Army is moving out with plans to field its first brigade of up-gunned Strykers in 2022, and has selected five companies to participate in a design integration study. On 22 May, the service announced it was kicking off its two-phased plan by awarding a handful of companies – General Dynamics Land Systems, Kollsman, Leonardo DRS, Raytheon, and Pratt & Miller Engineering and Fabrication – with contracts valued up to US$150,000 each.
- Defence Science and Technology (DST) has initiated the Transformative Energetics Research Programto position the ADF and Australian defence industry to take full advantage of advances in energetic materials, coupled with cutting-edge manufacturing technology that can exploit those materials.
- Hanwha Defence Australia (HDA) was formally launched at the Victorian government’s Investment Centreby the CEO of Hanwha Defence Sungsoo Lee – in a major step forward for the company’s bid for LAND 400 Phase 3.
- DST has signed a three-year collaboration agreement with universities and industry to develop new acoustic materials that will make Australian submarines harder to detect.
- Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s new look defence portfolio draws on broad experience to oversee the delivery of key materiel acquisition, alliance building and enhancing Australia’s position and presence in the Indo-Pacific. The appointments include senator Linda Reynolds, CSC, as Australia’s Minister for Defence succeeding Christopher Pyne, with Melissa Price as the Minister for Defence Industry and Alex Hawke becoming the Assistant Minister for Defence in the new look Coalition cabinet.
- DST has called for expressions of interest to participate in its premier collaboration event, SCINDICATE 2019, to be held at its Edinburgh laboratory in Adelaide. (Source: Defence Connect)
27 May 19. Japan to buy 105 F-35 US stealth warplanes: Trump. Japan plans to buy 105 US-made stealth warplanes, Donald Trump said on Monday, which the US President said would give Tokyo the largest F35 fleet of any US ally.
Trump, in Tokyo for a state visit, said Japan “has just announced its intent to purchase 105 brand new F35 stealth aircraft. Stealth, because, the fact is you can’t see them.”
“This purchase would give Japan the largest F35 fleet of any US ally,” added the president.
Trump appeared to be referencing a deal first announced by the F35’s manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, in December.
Japan’s government announced in its latest defence budget in December plans to buy 105 units of the F35A, which performs conventional take-off and landings.
Local media said at the time that the purchases could total more than 1trn yen ($9.1bn). The White House could not immediately comment on the timing of Trump’s comments about the deal Monday. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/https://www.afp.com)
28 May 19. Future-proofing the Australian Navy and securing shipbuilding jobs. With $90bn worth of naval shipbuilding programs, the Royal Australian Navy and naval shipbuilding industry would appear to be in an enviable position, however, the long-lead time on key programs and ramp up in delivery poses challenges for industry. Meanwhile, changing regional dynamics present increased tactical and strategic challenges – does an increased buy of the Hobart Class provide an answer?
As a maritime nation, Australia is dependent on unlimited access to the ocean – as the regional paradigm changes, there is greater strain on the Navy to protect the national interests and naval assets like the Canberra Class amphibious warfare ships, combined with concerns about the continuity of Australia’s sovereign naval shipbuilding industry in between major programs.
Now, for the first time in the nation’s history, Australia’s prosperity, security and way of life is intrinsically linked to the ambition, stability and direction of its Indo-Pacific neighbours. Guaranteeing this requires the nation to find a balance between the expeditionary and interventionist focused ‘Forward Defence’ and the continental defence focused ‘Defence of Australia’ doctrines to counter the high and low intensity threats to the nation’s security and interests.
Australia’s focus on the Indo-Pacific region makes a great deal of sense, particularly given the positioning of key regional economic and strategic partners across what has been referred to as the ‘Arc of Instability’, which plays host to a range of traditional state and asymmetric economic and political challenges, however the growth of China and India and smaller nations surrounding them, combined with the importance of the Indo-Pacific as a pillar of the national, regional and global economy, now requires renewed Australian focus.
However, the question now becomes, given the geographic area of responsibility Australia will become increasingly responsible for and dependent on, is the Royal Australian Navy and the recapitalisation and modernisation programs currently underway enough for Australia to maintain its qualitative and quantitative lead over regional peers?
Additionally, concerns about the continuity and sustainability of Australia’s shipbuilding workforce between the delivery of the final Hobart Class vessel, HMAS Sydney, and the beginning of the construction of the HMAS Hunter, the first of the $35bn Hunter Class vessels, have once again reared their head, raising the question – could the answer lie in an expanded acquisition of Australia’s leading-edge Hobart Class vessels?
Rule of thirds – maximising Australia’s area-air and missile defence capabilities
Australia’s existing fleet of three Hobart Class vessels provides a leading-edge, quantum leap in capability for the RAN – powered by the Aegis combat system and incorporating the state-of-the-art phased array radar, AN/SPY 1D(V), will provide an advanced air defence system capable of engaging enemy aircraft and missiles at ranges in excess of 150 kilometres.
However, the changing regional balance of power and the increasing proliferation of advanced anti-ship cruise and ballistic missile systems places increased pressure on the limited number of Hobart Class vessels. This is where the concept of the ‘rule of thirds’ comes into play, which describes the deployment and usage of a military organisation or asset. The ‘rule of thirds’ outlines that one third of the total military forces involved should be available for operations, one-third should be preparing for operations and the final third, having been on operations, should be recuperating – ideally with units and individuals that regularly will rotate through each of the three phases.
Accordingly, Australia’s existing fleet of three Hobart Class destroyers and the larger task group assets, including the Canberra Class and future Supply Class auxiliary fleet oilers, deploy with limited area-air and missile defence shields in increasingly contested tactical and strategic environments.
Enter a doubling of the existing fleet – expanding the Hobart Class acquisition to include an additional three vessels would serve as a one-for-one replacement for the ageing Adelaide Class frigates and would enable the deployment of large, self-sustaining Australian task groups with multiple redundant area-air and missile defence capabilities, while also expanding the Navy’s role within the broader ‘joint force’ ADF of the future.
Saving jobs and expanding naval shipbuilding capabilities
With the expected completion of HMAS Sydney and entry into service in late 2019-early 2020, the shipbuilding workforce in Adelaide will be split between the Arafura Class program prior to its transition to the CIVMEC yards in Henderson in Western Australia and the prototyping phase for the $35bn Hunter Class program, expected to begin in the early 2020s.
This same workforce capability gap served as one of the key limiting factors impacting building delivery and success during the early stages of the Hobart Class program – with a minimum gap of between 18-and-24 months between delivery and construction commencing the workforce will struggle to retain skilled shipbuilders, presenting problems for the future Hunter and Attack Class programs.
Additionally, increasing the unit acquisition of the Hobart Class will serve to increase the economies of scale –reducing unit cost while supporting increased shipbuilding industry growth and maintaining a skilled workforce –enabling for the transition of the later builds to Henderson in WA to make way for the Hunter Class program.
Finally, the expanded acquisition of a ‘Block 2’ variant would enable the lessons learned throughout the ‘Block 1’ phase to reduce delivery delays, cost overruns and also support the integration of Australian industry with the US Navy’s FFG(X) program by supporting the block build of the US Navy’s own future frigate program, in which Navantia has presented the F-100 Alvaro De Bazan Class, upon which the Hobart Class is based – enhancing allied industry co-operation and interoperability.
Additionally, the increasing proliferation of advanced anti-ship ballistic and anti-ship cruise missiles, combined with the growing prominence of naval aviation – again led by China, but also pursued by Japan and India – is serving to raise questions about the size and the specialised area-air defence, ballistic missile defence, power projection and sea control capabilities of the RAN.
Australia is defined by its relationship and access to the ocean, with strategic sea-lines-of-communication supporting over 90 per cent of global trade, a result of the cost effective and reliable nature of sea transport. Indo-Pacific Asia is at the epicentre of the global maritime trade, with about US$5trn worth of trade flowing through the South China Sea and the strategic waterways and choke points of south-east Asia annually.
The Indian Ocean and its critical global sea-lines-of-communication are responsible for more than 80 per cent of the world’s seaborne trade in critical energy supplies, namely oil and natural gas, which serve as the lifeblood of any advanced economy.
Traditionally, Australia has focused on a platform-for-platform acquisition program – focused on replacing, modernising or upgrading key capabilities on a like-for-like basis without a guiding policy, doctrine or strategy limiting the overall effectiveness, survivability and capability of the RAN. (Source: Defence Connect)
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