Sponsored by American Panel Corporation
27 Dec 19. Spanish Government Cancels €2.1bn Piranha 5 Contract. Spain’s acting Minister of Defense, Margarita Robles, announced on Thursday that the Government will re-compete the €2.1bn contract to produce 348 Vehiculo de Combate sobra Ruedas (VCR) wheeled combat vehicles, after having rejected the offer submitted by Santa Bárbara which breached technical and economic requirements. During a visit to the Spanish Air Force’s Ala 12 fighter wing, Robles explained that the VCR program is going to be opened to public tender so that any company can opt to compete, and emphasized that the Government will give it “the highest priority.”
“This is a program that will not fall into oblivion, but next year we will give it more momentum and more strength,” Robles said, adding that the government deeply feels “that a company like Santa Barbara, has backed down at the last minute, and has not fulfilled the contract.”
“There has been no breach of Santa Barbara Systems because there is no contract, just an offer request,” a company source told Defense-Aerospace.com on Friday. “It cannot be said, therefore, that Santa Barbara Sistemas has backed down. It has presented an offer that responded to the technical requests contained in the specifications and to the economic requirements, and that it what has been rejected.”
“We understand that there is an insufficient budget to cover the scope and the solutions defined in the specifications,” the source added.
Robles reiterated the “firm, clear and unequivocal commitment on the part of the Government” to ensure “that the Army has a safe vehicle, because this will be good not only for the Army, but for Spanish industry and for employment as well.”
The Piranha 5 was selected as the winner of the Army’s Vehiculo de Combate sobra Ruedas (VCR) 8×8 wheeled combat vehicle competition. Spain’s Council of Ministers on July 12 approved the acquisition of 345 of the vehicles at a cost of €2,083.2m euros, but this was only the first phase of a program that ultimately planned to acquire 998 vehicles at a cost of €3,836m.
At the time, the Council of Ministers designated the Santa Bárbara Sistemas company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of General Dynamics European Land Systems, as the main contractor, as it was “the only company with sufficient industrial capabilities to carry out the contract,” and because of national security reasons contract negotiations were to be carried out without the normal publicity requirements. Mowag, the maker of the Piranha 5, is also owned by GD European Land Systems; Indra and SAPA sere selected as the main subcontractors.
It was expected that the negotiations would be completed by year-end, but the Army’s procurement arm, the General Directorate of Armament, rejected Santa Barbara’s offer and considered it “not acceptable” for various technical, operational and economic reasons.
Santa Bárbara Sistemas continues and will continue to look for alternatives to achieve the 8×8 VCR contract,” the company source said, “and is prepared to guarantee the most competitive offer possible in any type of tender,” but also cautioned that re-running the tender, which is not a legal necessity, would, “at the very least, extend the execution deadlines.” (Source: Defense-Aerospace.com)
20 Dec 19. Netherlands moves closer to Combat Support Ship contract. The Dutch government has given the green light to the acquisition of a new afloat support ship for the Royal Netherlands Navy (RNLN). This follows the conclusion of negotiations between the Defence Materiel Organisation and Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding for the EUR375m (USD417m) programme. A so-called D-letter was submitted by the cabinet to parliament on 19 December authorising the acquisition of the new combat support ship (CSS), to be named HNLMS Den Helder . This paves the way, subject to parliamentary approval, for the award of a design and build contract to Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding in early 2020. (Source: Jane’s)
20 Dec 19. Bulgaria evaluates IFV proposals. The Bulgarian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has reported that it has received four proposals from interested bidders in the competitive procurement of 150 new wheeled infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) to equip three battalion-size battlegroups for a mechanised brigade. The proposals submitted by the four bidders – General Dynamics European Land Systems (GDLS) – Mowag, Patria, Nexter, and Rheinmetall-Krauss-Maffei Wegmann joint venture ARTEC – were opened in the ministry on 18 December. The Bulgarian requirements call for 90 wheeled 8×8 IFVs, armed with a 30mm gun, in addition to 60 more support vehicles – equipped for roles including reconnaissance, command-and-control, and medical evacuation – that could be in 8×8, 6×6 or 4×4 configuration. (Source: Jane’s)
20 Dec 19. Applications for German”Combat Drones” for the Bundeswehr Rejected. AfD and FDP called for the purchase of armed drones for the Bundeswehr. On Friday, December 20, 2019, the Bundestag rejected, by roll vote by 526 votes to 69, with two abstentions, a motion submitted by the FDP parliamentary group entitled “Strengthening the protection of Bundeswehr soldiers by procuring armed drones” (19 / 15675) rejected.
The decision was based on a recommendation by the Defense Committee (19/16149). A motion by the Left Group, which was also submitted for the debate, entitled “No acquisition, but ostracism of armed drones” (19/16041) was also rejected in a roll call vote by 485 votes to 54 with 59 abstentions.
In addition, lawmakers rejected an AfD Group motion entitled “Procurement of Armed Unmanned Aircraft” (19/13527) with the vast majority of the other political groups, with two abstentions from independent MPs. The decision was based on a recommendation from the Defense Committee (19/14499).
FDP: “Targeted killings” not compatible with the Basic Law
The FDP is calling on the federal government to initiate the procurement or leasing of armed, unmanned aircraft “as soon as possible” within the existing budget. They are intended to complement the Bundeswehr’s combat and reconnaissance aircraft. In addition, the development of the Euro drones for reconnaissance and combat missions within the framework of the permanent structured cooperation of the European Union should be “vigorously followed”. The testing and procurement of maritime and land-based drone systems should also be promoted.
The Liberals also demand that the legal framework for the technical approval of drones and their approval for European airspace be developed immediately. As part of the mandate of the Bundeswehr’s missions abroad, the rules and requirements for the use of drones are to be formulated in full, taking into account the rule of domestic and international law. The basic principle must be that any use of unmanned systems is subject to human control, and that so-called “targeted killings” are not compatible with the Basic Law and are not carried out.
According to the FDP faction, the procurement of armed drones has been delayed for years by the government factions of the CDU / CSU and SPD. This leads to an unacceptable situation; the soldiers would have to forego protection, although it had been available for years.
AfD: Advantages of drones over combat aircraft
The AfD faction bases its demand on the significant military advantages of armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). These offer the possibility of a long loiter time in the operational area and thus a better assessment of the situation before a possible use of weapons. This also serves to avoid collateral damage as much as possible, which is not the case when using combat aircraft, cruise missiles or long-range artillery.
The final decision on the use of weapons also remains with humans in combat drones. The AfD parliamentary group refers to the thesis paper “How will land forces fight in the future”, which was developed by the Army command. It is “imperative” to close the capability gap of the armed forces “immediately in the interest of the German soldiers,” says the motion.
The procurement of the armed Heron TP drone by means of a leasing contract with Israel, on the other hand, was “not a future-oriented undertaking”, since arming it was not envisioned. Therefore, armament should also be planned for the Euro drone, which is still to be developed.
Left: Don’t get armed drones
In its own motion, (19/16041), the Left requests the German government not to implement the armament capability of the Heron TP drone, i.e. not to buy, lease, test or use any armament for the Heron TP. Nor should Germany procure or lease any armed drones. The faction wants to terminate the services contract with Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) for the use of the Heron TP combat drone, and will not use the Heron TP system.
In addition, the development and procurement of the “Euro drone” should be stopped and the money intended for it should be used for civilian purposes.
Finally, the government is urged to advocate internationally to outlaw the development, production, procurement, trading, and use of armed drones, as well as all (partially) autonomous weapon systems. (Aw / HAU / 12.20.2019) (Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com) (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Bundestag)
23 Dec 19. Swiss Lawmakers Approve €6bn New Fighter Buy. The Swiss Federal Assembly on Dec. 20 overwhelmingly approved the government’s Air2030 plan to buy new fighter aircraft, and set a deadline of end 2030 for their delivery and service introduction.
Only 10 lawmakers voted against the project, while 33 voted in favor and one abstained; the ensuing Federal Decree will now be submitted to a referendum.
The “Federal Decree on the Acquisition of New Combat Aircraft,” approved Dec. 20 mandates that the acquisition cost no more than 6bn Swiss francs (at Jan. 2018 prices), and that it be coordinated technically and in terms of schedule with the parallel procurement of a ground-based air-defense system, which will be approved separately, and for which a cost ceiling of 2bn Swiss francs has been set.
The Federal Assembly also finalized the offset requirements for the fighter purchase. Foreign suppliers awarded contracts under the program will have to compensate 60% of the contract value, of which 20% through direct offsets and 40% by indirect offsets to profit Switzerland’s technology and security industrial base, and notably in the field of machinery; metallurgy; electronics and electrical engineering; optics; watch-making; vehicle and wagon construction; rubber and plastic products; chemicals; aeronautics and space; computer and software engineering, and cooperation with universities and research institutes.
As far as possible, these contracts will have to be split between German-speaking Switzerland (65%), French-speaking Switzerland (35%) and Italian-speaking Switzerland (5%). (Source: Defense-Aerospace.com)
27 Dec 19. U.S. Military to Test New Hypersonic Weapons. The U.S. Military braces up to accommodate flight testing of hypersonic weapon system flight test automobiles, in response to a Federal Business Opportunities notice issued earlier this month. The Army Contracting Command (ACC) has released a request for information on testing support for hypersonic weapons, particularly “the current, new, and evolving Hypersonic Test Engineering, Mission Planning and Systems (HyTEMPS) standards.”
The U.S. Military needs information on potential sources that may provide the mandatory technical skills, amenities, and personnel to support the current, new, and evolving HyTEMPS standards, according to a Federal Business Opportunities notice.
This RFI aims to obtain knowledge of the capabilities, capacity, and expertise of potential distributors regarding approaches to accommodate flight testing of flight test autos, in addition to recommended contractual criteria. At the moment, the Federal Government is contemplating completing a contract award no later than June 2020 with an acquisition strategy of an overall four-year contract valued below $100M.
The contractor must possess a top-secret facility clearance and secret safeguarding capability at the time of the contract award. Moreover, as determined by the cognizant Government authority, all contractor personnel that performs contractor duties in support of the ensuing contract at a Government site requiring access to categorized data should be U.S. residents and have a secret clearance at the time of the contract.
In keeping with open sources, Hypersonic strike weapons, capable of flying speeds above Mach 5, are a crucial aspect of the long-range precision fire modernization effort for the Military and the national safety strategy to fight with and oust potential threats. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/https://aerospacedefencetalks.com/)
25 Dec 19. US Navy proposes decommissioning first 4 LCS more than a decade early. The US Navy has put forward a proposal to decommission the first four littoral combat ships in 2021 as part of a cost-savings measure, according to a memorandum from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget to the Defense Department.
The memo obtained by Defense News outlines plans to decommission the littoral combat ships Freedom, Independence, Fort Worth and Coronado, part of an overall plan to shrink the size of the force to deal with a flat budget. The ships all have between a 12 and 17 years of planned hull life left.
The memo also outlines plans to decommission three dock landing ships Whidbey Island, Germantown and the Gunston Hall, between eight and 14 years early, as well as accelerating the decommissioning of four cruisers.
In the same document, the DoD outlined plans to slash construction of Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, cutting five out of 12 of the Burkes planned over the five-year future year defense program.
The memo amounts to a back-and-forth between the Defense Department and OMB on areas of disagreement inside the DoD’s 2021 budget request, which has yet to be finalized. Bloomberg News and Breaking Defense have previously reported on aspects of the memo.
The plan, which an administration source told Defense News was driven by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, was not greeted warmly by OMB, which directed the DoD to come back with a plan that would get the Navy to 355 ships as per the original program.
The Pentagon’s plan shrinks the size of the fleet from today’s fleet of 293 ships to 287 ships. The 355-ship goal was also made national policy in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act.
But the plan to decommission the first four LCS will upset the Navy’s plan to use them as test ships for the still-to-be-fielded mission modules, a key part of the 2016 reorganization of the program prompted by a string of major casualties caused by system failures and operator errors.
The Navy upended the program’s signature modularity, a concept that would have seen crews attached to specific mission modules such as anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare or mine warfare, and could be switched out rapidly pier-side depending on the mission. But the reorganization assigned each ship a permanent mission module, with the crews training and testing on the first four LCS.
Decommissioning the ships will send the Navy back to the drawing board on how to get the new modules tested.
Bryan McGrath, a retired destroyer captain and analyst with the defense consultancy The Ferrybridge Group, said the plan to reduce the size of the fleet is a sign that the Defense Department isn’t willing to put the resources required toward growing the fleet.
“If what you are reporting is true, this is a sign of the tension between the grand desires for a much larger fleet and the modest resources being applied to the problem,” McGrath said. “There simply is no way to grow the fleet as it is currently architected while maintaining the current fleet at a high state of readiness with the given resources.”
McGrath said if 355 is still the goal, the Pentagon has to either dramatically restructure the fleet to switch out large surface combatants such as cruisers and destroyers with smaller, less expensive ships, or it has to change what’s counted as a ship – both moves that have been signaled by the Navy in recent years.
“This is why it’s so hard to grow a Navy,” McGrath said. “You have to decide it’s a national priority, you have to devote a lot of resources and you have to do it over a period of years. None of that has happened.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
26 Dec 19. Pentagon proposal cuts an FFG(X) and an attack submarine out of the budget. A small but potentially significant change in the Pentagon’s five-year budget projection slows down the buying profile for the U.S. Navy’s new frigate, which is expected to be awarded in 2020, according to a memo from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget to the Department of Defense obtained by Defense News.
The Navy’s 30-year shipbuilding plan submitted to Congress with the 2020 budget showed the Navy planned to buy one FFG(X) in 2020, then it had planned to buy two every year until 2030, when it would buy the last of the planned 20-ship program. That would mean the next future-year defense program, or FYDP, in the 2021 budget would be for 10 FFG(X).
But the Dec. 16 memo from OMB, which responded to the Navy’s submitted budget, shows the service planning to request just one FFG(X) in 2021 and 2022. Then the buy jumps to two per year 2023 and 2024 and increases to three in 2024, the last year of the FYDP.
The proposal also cuts a Virginia-class submarine out of the budget. The 30-year shipbuilding plan shows two attack submarines per year through the next decade, but the OMB memo shows the Navy requesting just one in 2021, before returning to the two-per-year profile for the remainder of the FYDP. The single FY21 Virginia-class submarine, which is planned as an expanded Virginia Payload Module Block V submarine, is listed at $3.86 billion.
The reason for the change is not addressed in the memo and a Navy spokesman declined to comment on the substance of the memo, citing a Navy policy not to comment on budget matters before they are finalized and sent to Congress. And while the pushing off a single FFG(X) and Virginia to later years isn’t much cause for alarm, the Pentagon proposal does come packaged with a dramatic series of other cuts to both current Navy force structure and planned ship construction.
The surface Navy and experts see the FFG(X) as a vital program to put credible weapons systems and sensors on a small, less expensive platform that the Navy can buy more of than the current fleet of destroyers, which cost nearly $2bn per hull. The memo shows the unit cost of an FFG(X) at $955m per hull. More ships to act as nodes in a spread-out, or “distributed” network of ships and sensors, is key to making the Navy distributed maritime operations concept work.
The FFG(X) is also key to the drive toward a 355-ship Navy, which the Trump Administration has signaled is a priority. Indeed, the memo from OMB directs the Pentagon to submit a “resource informed” plan to get to 355 ships, which is current national policy. The memo says the Navy should come back with a plan to include unmanned vessels such as its planned Large Unmanned Surface Vessel in the ship count.
Still, the FFG(X) and Virginia programs fared better than others. the. The same proposal cut five of the planned 12 Flight III Arleigh Burke-class destroyers out of the budget, and essentially directs the Navy to cancel its Common Hull Auxiliary Multi-Mission Platform program. The proposal also accelerated the decommissioning of three dock landing ships and four cruisers, as well as the first four littoral combat ships.
A Trump Administration source pointed the finger at the Office of the Secretary of Defense for the cuts, saying the Navy and OMB are on board for 355 ships. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
REST OF THE WORLD
26 Dec 19. Boeing to Deliver AH-64E Apache Helicopters to Three Allied Countries. Nearly 50 Foreign Military Sales orders valued at more than $560m. Boeing [NYSE:BA] and the U.S. Army have finalized orders from three nations to provide their armed forces with the new, more capable AH-64E Apache model. The contracts are for the remanufacture of 47 existing AH-64D Apaches. The total combined value of the orders is more than $560m.
“More allied defense forces worldwide are selecting the AH-64E Apache because they know it provides the most advanced technology and capability to keep their nations safe and secure today and well into the future,” said Kathleen Jolivette, vice president of Attack Helicopter Programs. “The Apache continues to be the most proven and reliable attack helicopter on the battlefield today.”
Sixteen countries currently field the Apache. AH-64 Apaches have flown 4.6 million flight hours, including more than one million flight hours in combat. The remanufactured aircraft will be delivered in the early 2020s.
23 Dec 19. India May Sign Deal For 20% Cheaper LCA Jets At DefExpo-2020. India is likely to finalise the INR 40,000 crore contract for 83 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas jets, 20% cheaper from previously quoted price, next February at DefExpo-2020 event in Lucknow city, Uttar Pradesh state.
In November 2016, Defense Acquisition Council (DAC), India’s highest decision-making body on procurement, approved purchase of Tejas Mark-1A fighters by the IAF at a cost of Rs 50,025 crore.
Subsequent negotiations between defense ministry, Indian Air Force (IAF) and manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has helped bring down the price of the jets from INR 50,025 crore to INR 40,000 crore, Indian media reported late last week.
“The draft contract of the deal has been readied by the HAL and the cost of the deal has now come down to around Rs 40,000 crore. This is Rs 10,000 crore less than the Acceptance of Necessity given by the Defense Ministry in 2016,” defense sources said.
In December 2017, the IAF had issued a single-vendor tender to the HAL for procuring 83 LCA, but the negotiations and other related issues have been going on since then mainly due to issues over the price.
The aircraft will have improved serviceability, faster weapon-loading time, enhanced survivability, a better electronic warfare suite and Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar that will significantly enhance its capability.
The Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC) had provided the Final Operational Clearance to the Tejas LCA earlier this year during Aero India in Bengaluru approving its capabilities including beyond visual range air-to-air and air-to-ground attack capabilities as well as longer endurance through mid-air refueling.
In a previous order, the IAF had signed a deal with the HAL for 40 Tejas LCAs. So far, around 18 LCAs have been delivered to the IAF from the previous order. (Source: Google/https://www.defenseworld.net/)
20 Dec 19. Argentina eyes Norwegian SSKs and plans to modernise military. Argentina is considering buying diesel-electric submarines (SSKs) from Norway to bolster its navy’s operational submarine force, which is currently reduced to ARA Salta, a worn-out German-built U209-1200 boat that cannot fully submerse and is used only for training. The Argentine Navy hopes to secure the procurement of at least two 1,150-tonne Ula-class diesel-electric submarines (UBK-210 Type design) from Thyssen, according to local military sources in Buenos Aires. The two submarines are part of a six-boat Norwegian force completed and commissioned between 1989 and 1992. Until 2018, Argentina had three SSKs, including two 2,300-tonne German-built TR-1700 type boats. But one of them, ARA San Juan, was lost at sea with all 44 hands in the South Atlantic late that year, when an onboard explosion made the boat dive out of control until its hull collapsed. (Source: Jane’s)
American Panel Corporation
American Panel Corporation (APC) since 1998, specializes in display products installed in defence land systems, as well as military and commercial aerospace platforms, having delivered well over 100,000 displays worldwide. Military aviators worldwide operate their aircraft and perform their missions using APC displays, including F-22, F-18, F-16, F-15, Euro-fighter Typhoon, Mirage 2000, C-130, C-17, P-3, S-3, U-2, AH-64 Apache Helicopter, V-22 tilt-rotor, as well as numerous other military and commercial aviation aircraft including Boeing 717 – 787 aircraft and several Airbus aircraft. APC panels are found in nearly every tactical aircraft in the US and around the world.
APC manufactures the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Large Area Display (LAD) display (20 inch by 8 inch) with dual pixel fields, power and video interfaces to provide complete display redundancy. At DSEI 2017 we are exhibiting the LAD with a more advanced design, dual display on single substrate with redundant characteristics and a bespoke purpose 8 inch by 6 inch armoured vehicle display.
In order to fully meet the demanding environmental and optical requirements without sacrificing critical tradeoffs in performance, APC designs, develops and manufactures these highly specialized displays in multiple sizes and configurations, controlling all AMLCD optical panel, mechanical and electrical design aspects. APC provides both ITAR and non-ITAR displays across the globe to OEM Prime and tiered vetronics and avionics integrators.