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02 Oct 19. Latvia relaunches ground vehicle competition following industry complaints. In recent years, the Baltic nation of Latvia has gone on a modernization spending spree, putting down cash for new Black Hawk helicopters, self-propelled howitzers, reconnaissance vehicles and anti-tank weapons.
But there’s another platform competition on the horizon, with officials in Riga having relaunched a stalled contest for tactical wheeled vehicles. In 2018, Latvia’s Ministry of Defence awarded to Finland’s Sisu Auto a €181m (U.S. $197m) deal for four-wheel drive armored vehicles. But the contract was overturned in early 2019 by a government watchdog after two bidders — AM General from the United States, and South Africa’s Paramount Group — filed complaints over the process. Turkish firm Otokar had also bid on the program at the time. The recompete has seen offers from more than 10 companies for what will be a government-to-government agreement for a final contract. The price for the new contract will depend on the eventual winner and is not locked in at the Sisu contract level.
Speaking to Defense News in September, Janis Garisons, state secretary for the MoD, said it’s unlikely the government will reach a decision on the winner of the competition in the short term.
“What we have to do, we will test the vehicles, because we want to ensure we are looking at vehicles fit for our terrain, that can drive into our forests and we are not [getting] stuck on the roads,” said Garisons, who is the No. 2 official at the ministry. “We will look also at the industrial part because we very much interested to have [the] ability to maintain those vehicles.”
The last point is key, as Latvia is concerned about the ability to maintain its new purchases, something the country has struggled with, according to Garisons. “We don’t want to be in that situation anymore.”
The country is also focused on building up its domestic industrial base so that much of the maintenance on its new equipment can be done in-country, in case of conflict.
Along those lines, the competition for a four-wheel drive vehicle is likely be the last big platform purchase for a while, as the ministry is turning its attention toward procurement efforts to benefit training and sustainment.
“Now we face trying to implement everything and put [them] into service. This takes time, and of course all logistical tails, which goes with that,” he said. “Therefore, we now have to concentrate more on — it’s not very fancy things, but basically the training is going on already on all those capabilities that [have been bought], but now we have to ensure all the logistical issues are solved and maintained and sustainment is ensured.”
Regarding research and development, Latvia is working on a joint effort with Estonia to produce unmanned ground vehicles.
“That is something for the future capabilities. The goal is to understand our limits and how to engage our companies, also, coming up with solutions for autonomous systems,” Garisons said. “Because I think the biggest issue right now is how to ensure that those unmanned vehicles can operate autonomously and not need the soldier operating, as that doesn’t add much value.” (Source: Defense News)
26 Sep 19. L-39NG offered as Visegrád Four trainer jet. The Czech, Hungarian, Polish, and Slovak air forces are discussing the possibility of collective fighter jet pilot training. Czech Defence Minister Lubomír Metnar said after a Visegrád Four (V4) meeting in Ostrava, Czech Republic, on 20 September that the L-39NG trainer could be the collective training platform. The Czech Ministry of Defence plans to be the first L-39NG operator and to procure the first batch of four aircraft for its CLV Pardubice training centre. The contract, worth a total of CZK1.1bin (USD 46.8m), is expected to be approved by the Czech government by the end of the year. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
02 Oct 19. USAF seeks HH-60W upgrades, ahead of entry into service. The US Air Force (USAF) is seeking upgrades to the Sikorsky HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter (CRH), even though the type has yet to enter service. The service posted a request for information (RFI) on 1 October to assess the ability of companies and industry at large to perform development, integration, verification, production, and installation of a broad spectrum of capability upgrades for the combat search-and-rescue (CSAR) helicopter that was only recently cleared to enter into low-rate initial production (LRIP). As noted by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) Helicopter Program Office, Combat Rescue Helicopter (CRH) Division (AFLCMC/WIH), the upgrades are necessary as the performance and system requirements for the HH-60W were baselined in 2012, prior to the contract award of its engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase.
“The current system specification reflects the 2012 requirements baseline. During EMD execution, this requirements baseline has continued to evolve, driving the need for planning in support of a new contract vehicle to address a broad spectrum of known and undefined operational capabilities. This Sources Sought Synopsis will gather information on the current experience and capabilities of prospective industry sources to address CRH capability upgrades,” the RFI stated. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
30 Sep 19. Bell teams with Collins Aerospace for FARA. Bell Textron has teamed with Collins Aerospace Systems for the US Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) competitive prototype programme. As part of a contract awarded in April 2019 Bell is designing a vertical lift aircraft for the competition. Under this agreement, Collins Aerospace will act as mission systems integrator, and deliver avionics hardware and software featuring cyber-hardened and digital backbone solutions to the prototype. Collins Aerospace will also provide Model-Based Systems Engineering tools and processes to configure and integrate mission avionics for the FARA.
Dave Schreck, vice president and general manager for military avionics and helicopters at Collins Aerospace, said: ‘By teaming with Bell, we can reduce the overall lifecycle costs and risks associated with this next generation of aircraft and effectively meet the FARA objectives in multidomain threat environments.
‘With a long history of providing avionics solutions to both army and special operations aviators, Collins Aerospace is uniquely positioned to provide Bell with the cutting-edge cockpit technology necessary to enable warfighter mission success.’
Bell’s FARA prototype will take advantage of technologies demonstrated on the V-280 Valor, Bell 525 and other programmes. (Source: Shephard)
02 Oct 19. Bell Textron Inc., a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, has announced a new rotorcraft, Bell 360 Invictus, as the company’s entrant for the U.S. Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) Competitive Prototype program. Bell’s innovative approach to designing the Bell 360 Invictus combines proven low-risk technologies with advanced processes to deliver soldiers an affordable, agile and lethal solution to win on the modern battlefield. The Bell 360 Invictus meets or exceeds all requirements as laid out under the FARA contract.
“The Bell 360 will deliver advanced battlefield situational awareness, as well as lethal options, in support of the maneuver force at an affordable cost” said Vince Tobin, executive vice president of Military Business at Bell. “The multi-domain fight will be complex, and our team is delivering a highly capable, low-risk solution to confidently meet operational requirements with a sustainable fleet.”
The Bell 360 Invictus’ design emphasizes exceptional performance using proven technologies to fulfill the Army’s FARA requirements at an affordable cost and on schedule. One example is the Invictus’ rotor system. This design is based on Bell’s 525 Relentless rotor system which has been tested and proven at speeds in excess of 200 Knots True Air Speed (KTAS). By incorporating proven designs and the best available technologies from commercial and military programs, Bell delivers a low-risk path to a FARA program of record.
This advanced aircraft will have a transformative impact through next-generation flight performance, increased safety and greater operational readiness—all to deliver decisive capabilities.
Some of the key 360 Invictus features include:
- Lift-sharing wing to reduce rotor lift demand in forward flight, enabling high-speed maneuverability
- Supplemental Power Unit increases performance during high power demands
- Robust articulated main rotor with high flapping capability enabling high speed flight
- Fly-by-wire flight control system—synthesizes technologies, reduces pilot workload and provides a path to autonomous flight
- Speed: >185 KTAS
- Combat radius: 135nm with >90 minutes of time on station
- Achieves 4k/95F Hover Out of Ground Effect (HOGE)
- Armed with a 20 mm cannon, integrated munitions launcher with ability to integrate air-launched effects, and future weapons, as well as current inventory of munitions
- Provisioned for enhanced situational awareness and sensor technologies
- Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA) enabled by a Digital Backbone from Collins Aerospace
- Robust design integrating lifecycle supportability processes early to ensure high OPTEMPO availability in multi-domain operations
- Design-as-built manufacturing model and digital thread enabled tools to enhance affordability, reliability, and training throughout the lifecycle of the aircraft
“Bell is committed to providing the U.S. Army with the most affordable, most sustainable, least complex, and lowest risk solution among the potential FARA configurations, while meeting all requirements,” said Keith Flail, vice president of Advanced Vertical Lift Systems at Bell. “360 Invictus is an exciting opportunity for us to continue our support of Army modernization. This is the next solution to ensure soldiers have the best equipment available for the multi-domain fight.”
Bell has decades of experience providing attack and reconnaissance aircraft to the warfighter, such as the Kiowa Warrior which delivered high reliability and availability through more than 850,000 flight hours. The Bell 360 Invictus design builds from that legacy, Bell’s commercial innovations, and from the success in the development and manufacturing capabilities required for Future Vertical Lift (FVL) as part of the Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstration (JMR TD) over the past six years.
REST OF THE WORLD
02 Oct 19. Saab pulls out of Indian submarine project, citing industrial policy concerns. Key Points:
- The Swedish defence group withdraws from India’s Project 75(I) submarine procurement programme
- The move highlights the growing burden on foreign OEMs in India and concerns about project control
Swedish defence group Saab has withdrawn from India’s long-deferred Project 75(I) programme to procure six diesel-electric attack submarines for the Indian Navy, the company told Jane’s on 2 October.
It said the decision was based on scheduling and risks related to engaging with India’s ‘Strategic Partnership’ policy, which mandates local construction supported by technologies and knowledge transferred from foreign original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).
A Saab spokesperson said, “It is a decision we have made due to the customer’s requirements regarding the time schedule and issues related to the Strategic Partnership policy where there is a disparity between Saab’s ability to retain control versus our obligations and liabilities. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
01 Oct 19. Indian Navy battles defense ministry over future of $3bn contract. A war of nerves has brewed between senior Indian Navy officials and the Ministry of Defence over the possible cancellation of a program to replace top priority landing dock platforms.
Despite requests made by several naval planners not to cancel the procurement of four landing platform docks from domestic shipyards, costing around $3bn, MoD is threatening to withdraw the tender said a top Indian Navy official. MoD wants to cancel the tender, because one of the last two bidders faces severe financial crunch. Considering another was eliminated in 2015 due to bankruptcy, that leaves only one player in the fray.
After the original 2012 call for bids was cancelled, the MoD refloated the tender in 2017. After receiving both commercial and technical bids, and revalidating the bids five times, MoD is now threatening to cancel the project again amid RNEL’s significant debt and the rejection of a debt resolution plan by the consortium of bankers.
Despite requests, MoD officials declined to comment.
L&T Ltd has teamed with Navatia of Spain, while RNEL has forged partnership with Naval Group of France to construct the LPDs. The ships would be roughly 30,000 ton helicopter landing platforms with the ability to carry an army battalion, including tanks and armored carriers.
“If MoD cancels the much needed LPD program, it will be signalling that MoD does not want to pursue and promote ‘Make in India’ initiatives,” said a senior representative of the industry chamber Confederation of Indian Industries. If the program is withdrawn, it will be the second time an LPD tender will be cancelled by MoD within the last 15 years.
(Source: Defense News)
27 Sep 19. New government tool to help Aussie manufacturers. The launch of a new online resource from the federal government will help Australia’s manufacturers to innovate, grow and create new jobs.
The Manufacturing Academy is an initiative of the government’s Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC).
Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said the new resource is just one way the Morrison government is boosting the capability and competitiveness of Australia’s manufacturing sector.
“Australia’s manufacturing industry is a key driver of our economy, and the Morrison government is committed to improving the competitive advantage of our businesses so they can thrive in global markets and create more high-skill jobs,” Minister Andrews said.
“The online Manufacturing Academy offers free education to all manufacturers anywhere, anytime and on any device. It is delivered by manufacturers for manufacturers.
“This tool recognises that small and medium-sized businesses often don’t have the capacity or money to spend on developing their business.
“There are six targeted training modules focused on competitiveness, resilience, workforce, product value, exports and state of manufacturing.”
The AMGC, established in 2015, is designed to connect local manufacturers to global supply chains, lift managerial and workforce skills and improve sector-wide collaboration. Many of Australia’s largest companies in the defence industry, such as BAE Systems Australia and Thales, are part of the AMGC. (Source: Defence Connect)
26 Sep 19. Brazil seeks to sell former aircraft carrier. The Brazilian state-controlled company Empresa Gerencial de Projetos Navais (EMGEPRON) intends to issue a tender on 27 September to sell the hull of former Brazilian Navy aircraft carrier NAe São Paulo (A12), for a minimum of BRL5.3m (USD1.3m). During its service for the Brazilian Navy, NAe São Paulo spent 206 days at sea and sailed 85.344 km. The ship, which is moored at the state-controlled shipyard Arsenal de Marinha do Rio de Janeiro (AMRJ), was decommissioned on 22 November 2018.
The 205m-long NAe São Paulo, formerly the FS Foch (R99) was commissioned from the French Navy on 15 November 2000 to replace NAeL Minas Gerais (A11). Brazil had planned to modernise the ship as part of the project Obtenção da Capacidade Operacional Plena, with upgrades slated for communications, a search radar system, propulsion systems, power generation equipment, an aircraft catapult, and aircraft-landing systems. But the cost estimates proved too costly and technically difficult to complete, and the modernisation was formally abandoned in February 2017.(Source: IHS Jane’s)
26 Sep 19. Kuwaiti, Saudi Abrams tank programmes move forward. Kuwait and Saudi Arabia’s plans to acquire new Abrams main battle tanks appear to be progressing after the US Department of Defense awarded a USD21m contract to Honeywell International on 24 September to deliver parts for what it described as the “Advanced Gas Turbine-1500 engine rebuild” for the two Gulf countries. The AGT-1500 is the powerplant for the Abrams. It was announced in 2016 that Kuwait had requested upgrades for its 218 M1A2 Abrams tanks for an estimated USD1.7bn and that Saudi Arabia had requested another 153 M1A2Ss worth USD1.1bn. Kuwait subsequently decided to acquire 218 new M1A2s, which, like the Saudi tanks, will be made by refurbishing and modifying surplus US military vehicles. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
25 Sep 19. CH-53 vs. CH-47: Which Helicopter Will Israel Pick? An IDF team has been taking test flights aboard Lockheed Martin’s new CH-53K in Maryland, but Boeing’s CH-47 Chinook is in the running too — and both programs could use a boost against their American critics.
Last week, while the votes were being counted in Israeli’s second general election in six months, a small Israeli Air Force delegation has been quietly taking test flights in Patuxent, Maryland aboard the US Marine Corps’ brand-new CH-53K helicopter. Whatever coalition government finally emerges will have some long-delayed defense decisions to deal with, including whether to buy the Lockheed Martin CH-53K King Stallion or Boeing’s CH-47F Block II Chinook.
The Israeli buy of 20 aircraft will be significant, not only in itself, but as a vote of confidence from a key ally that could influence future decisions in the US. Both programs need the boost, in different ways.
The CH-53K is entering production after a series of embarrassing development problems and delays that caused Congress, at one point, to demand a study of alternative aircraft, although the Marines are passionately committed to the program. By contrast, the Army itself decided to stop buying the CH-47F Block II and transfer funds to higher-priority programs, only to have Congress overrule it. (Both House and Senate appropriators restored the funding, although a final bill has not been passed yet).
Israeli, for its part, needs to replace the early-model CH-53Ds it has used for 50 years. The heavy-duty, long-range transport helicopters are particularly important for IDF’s Depth Command, which conducts special operations far beyond Israeli borders.
While upgrading from Ds to Ks might seem a logical step, the two designs are very different. In fact, the K-model doesn’t use any of the same parts as earlier CH-53s. Hence the importance of the test team — three pilots, one mechanic, and one program manager — sent to Patuxent Naval Air Station to test the first production CH-53K and four pre-production models from the development program. Israeli pilots have even gotten to fly the aircraft, albeit under the watchful eye of a US co-pilot.
“It’s a new platform and we want to test it in different flight envelopes that fit our operational requirements,” an Israeli source told Breaking Defense.
When the team returns to Israel, it will prepare a comprehensive report for the IDF chief of general staff, Gen. Aviv Kochavi, on everything from flight characteristics to long-term sustainment costs.
The Israelis are also looking at the Block II Chinook, which — like the CH-53K — is a new version of a long-serving aircraft. Driven in part by Depth Command’s requirements, the Israelis are looking at a beefed-up version of the CH-47F Block II being built for the Army, one that includes features from the Special Operations MH-47G model such as larger fuel tanks for extended range.
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Whether Israel buys the CH-47 or the CH-53, it would modify its aircraft with highly classified Israeli electronics. It would also expect “buy back” clauses in the contract. More politely known as “industrial cooperation,” these deals require foreign companies selling arms to Israel to buy a considerable proportion of their components from Israeli companies.
Such provisions are especially important to Israeli industry now that the US is tightening restrictions on aid, requiring Israel to spend an ever-growing proportion of American Foreign Military Financing (FMF) funds in the US rather than Israel. Buy-back has been a big part of Israel’s participation in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, with prime contractor Lockheed Martin already spending over $1.75bn with Israeli subcontractors for items ranging from wings to high-tech helmets.
With Turkey now kicked out of the F-35 program, Israel has its eye on components formerly built by Turkish firms. And Lockheed is forging partnerships with Israeli firms on other projects as well. This kind of international cooperation is increasingly the norm.
Whichever firm wins the IDF helicopter contract, Lockheed or Boeing, will have to offer Israeli companies a sizable share of the work. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Breaking Defense)
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