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UNITED KINGDOM AND NATO

11 Feb 20. UK completes Merlin HC3/3A helo upgrades. The UK has upgraded the last of its AgustaWestland Merlin HC3/3A transport and assault helicopters for littoral use by the Royal Navy (RN) and Royal Marines (RM). The commanding officer of 845 Naval Air Squadron (NAS), RN Commander Bob Bond, tweeted on 11 February that the final HC3A helicopter had departed Leonardo Helicopters’ facility in Yeovilton, southern England, bringing to an end the mid-life sustainment effort that began in 2016.

As noted by the commander, “a small number” of interim maritime iHC3-standard platforms remain to go through the upgrade process before all 25 helicopters are at the final Commando Merlin HC4/4A standard.

The Merlins were transferred from the Royal Air Force (RAF) to the RN Commando Helicopter Force (CHF) in July 2015, being delivered in a baseline HC3/3A ‘land’ configuration. Seven of these were then modified to the interim iHC3 configuration to bridge an operational capability gap between the retirement of the Westland Commando HC4s on 31 March 2016 and the introduction into service of the Merlin HC4/4A in September 2017.

This iHC3 configuration included equipping the helicopters with a folding main rotor head (no tail fold); a fast rope point; modified undercarriage for deck operations; and new deck mooring points. The seven iHC3 helicopters were delivered to the CHF’s 846 NAS and 845 NAS at Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Yeovilton in time for the retirement date of the Commando.

The HC4/4A conversion programme built on the iHC3 configuration with a tail fold assembly, a life sustainment package to solve HC3/3A obsolescence issues, and an avionics upgrade to include a ‘glass cockpit’ common to the RN’s Merlin HM2 and similar to the Lynx Wildcat. (Source: Jane’s)

11 Feb 20. The Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) can today announce £1m funding for innovative technology to recycle waste aircraft oils and lubricants – saving the Armed Forces money in waste charges whilst delivering environmentally-friendly by-products in the process.

DASA – on behalf of the Royal Air Force – has awarded contracts to three universities and one engineering firm to develop the new technology to turn waste hydrocarbons into recyclable by-products such as water, organic residue for fertilisers, and CO2.

Announcing the funding to an audience of more than 150 innovators from small and medium-sized businesses attending the inaugural DASA Engagement Day at Cranfield University, Defence Minister James Heappey said: “I am delighted to announce the winners of this important DASA competition who will work with great minds in the RAF to decarbonise our flying activities and help with the battle against climate change.

“Climate change is one of the greatest threats we face. Working with scientists and innovators, we are determined to lead the way in decarbonising Defence”.

The contracts will build on the innovative concept of recycling waste hydrocarbons utilising microbes, which was developed by a small team from 47 Squadron at RAF Brize Norton.

The team proved that waste oils and lubricants generated from servicing the Squadron’s C-130 Hercules aircraft could be broken down using microbes by a process called bioprocessing. The team won the RAF 100 Engineering Competition in 2018 with their concept demonstrator, and the project was selected for further funding to develop the concept for the MOD.

Wg Cdr Nicholas Atkinson, special projects officer at RAF Brize Norton, said: “These innovations should provide a significant improvement in the way the MOD manages waste with the ability to use deployable bioprocessors on military or disaster relief operations.

“This technology also has the potential to save money for the military – and the taxpayer – in waste charges, as well as protecting the environment.”

DASA associate delivery manager Katy Violet said: “DASA is proud to be working with the RAF on this important work. Innovation isn’t just about new kit, it is also about new and novel ways of doing things. The results from this funding have the potential to transform the way the Armed Forces deal with waste hydrocarbons in a green way while saving money.”

As well as being used on military bases, it is intended the technology will be further developed into portable bioprocessing systems for overseas bases and operational deployments.

This is the first joint competition run by DASA and the RAF.

DASA – the Ministry of Defence’s innovation hub – finds and funds exploitable technology to give Her Majesty’s Armed Forces and UK security a strategic advantage over adversaries while supporting the nation’s prosperity.

DASA works with scientists from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), academia, and industry to rapidly develop these new technologies.

The winning contracts have been awarded to:

  • The University of Sheffield has been awarded nearly £300,000
  • North Shields-based SME Northern Engineering Solutions Ltd – in collaboration with Northumbria University – awarded nearly £330,000
  • University College London has been awarded around £200,000
  • Liverpool John Moores University has been awarded around £200,000

EUROPE

12 Feb 20. Demonstrator phase launched: Future Combat Air System takes major step forward. The governments of France and Germany have awarded  Dassault Aviation, Airbus, together with their partners MTU Aero Engines, Safran, MBDA and Thales, the initial framework contract (Phase 1A), which launches the demonstrator phase for the Future Combat Air System (FCAS).

This framework contract covers a first period of 18 months and initiates work on developing the demonstrators and maturing cutting-edge technologies, with the ambition to begin flight tests as soon as 2026.

Since early 2019, the industrial partners have been working on the future architecture as part of the programme’s so called Joint Concept Study. Now, the FCAS programme enters into another decisive phase with the launch of the demonstrator phase.

This phase will, in a first step, focus on the main technological challenges per domains:

  • Next Generation Fighter (NGF), with Dassault Aviation as prime contractor and Airbus as main partner, to be the core element of Future Combat Air System,
  • Unmanned systems Remote Carrier (RC) with Airbus as prime contractor and MBDA as main partner,
  • Combat Cloud (CC) with Airbus as prime contractor and Thales as main partner,
  • Engine with Safran and MTU as main partner.

A Simulation Environment will be jointly developed between the involved companies to ensure the consistency between demonstrators. The launch of the Demonstrator Phase underlines the political confidence and determination of the FCAS partner nations and the associated industry to move forward and cooperate in a fair and balanced manner. The increased momentum enables industry to deploy the necessary resources and best capabilities to develop this decisive European defence project. FCAS will be the cornerstone project guaranteeing Europe’s future operational, industrial and technological sovereignty. The next important step in the FCAS programme will be the onboarding of Spain and the involvement of additional suppliers from Phase 1B onwards, which will succeed Phase 1A after its successful conclusion.

11 Feb 20. Finland launches HX evaluations for F-35A. Lockheed Martin has officially launched the flight evaluation phase of its F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) for Finland’s HX programme, with a pair of aircraft arriving at Tampere-Pirkkala Airbase north of Helsinki on 9 February. The two aircraft were part of a flight of four that departed Luke Air Force Base (AFB) in Arizona on 5 February but problems with the aerial refuelling tankers assigned to support the aircraft on their trans-Atlantic crossing meant that only two F-35As were able to make the journey. Lockheed Martin’s arrival in Finland for its HX Challenge evaluation followed earlier stints from the Eurofighter Typhoon from 9 to 17 January, the Dassault Rafale from 20 to 28 January, and the Saab Gripen E and GlobalEye airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft from 30 January to 6 February. With the F-35A evaluation set to run through to 17 February, Boeing will conclude proceedings with its F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler aircraft from 18 to 26 February. For the HX evaluations, Finland is assessing a potential replacement for the air force’s 55 Boeing F/A-18C and seven F/A-18D Hornet fighters. The government’s request for quotations (RFQs) calls for a “capability” to be delivered for EUR10bn (USD13bn), which includes the cost of acquiring the aircraft, infrastructure, training, and support from the arrival of the first aircraft in 2025, through the declaration of initial operating capability (IOC) in 2027 and full-operating capability (FOC) in 2030. After this time, support and sustainment funding will move from the acquisition to the operations budget. The evaluations are being held in three phases against the Finnish Air Force’s concept of operations (CONOPS). (Source: Jane’s)

10 Feb 20. Polish Naval Helicopter Programme. Poland’s Armaments Inspectorate, acting for the MoD, shared a list of nine companies (Polish and international) keen to participate in the technical dialogue preceding an anticipated Polish Navy helicopter tender, called the “Kondor” programme to replace the currently operated Kaman SH-2G Super Seasprites. Poland procured four SH-2Gs that came with two OLIVER HAZARD PERRY frigates acquired in 2002-2003 from existing U.S. Navy stock. Today only one or two of the Super Seasprites are operational, which just does not suffice in an era of renewed Russian aggression in the Baltic.

Looking at the list of nine companies, there are no surprises here – especially if you visited any MSPO during the past five or six years: Airbus Helicopters, Bell Flight, Elbit, Enamor, GDMS Canada, Leonardo’s PZL-Świdnik, PGZ, PZL-Mielec, and Kaman – the incumbent. The procedure is expected to start in May and conclude in July.

Under Kondor the Polish Navy will procure between four and eight new naval helicopters fitting within these initial parameters:

  • maximum take-off weight of 6.5 tonnes
  • fit an anti-submarine warfare and combat search-and-rescue configuration
  • meet modern combat requirements
  • provide sufficient protection to their crews
  • have adequate MRO support

Kondor helicopters will serve the Polish Navy’s Aviation Brigade and operate from existing and future ships, such as the MIECZNIK class coastal defence vessels, which the MoD intends to procure.

In 2019 the Polish MoD bought four AW101 Merlin helicopters worth €389m from Leonardo for its Navy. These helicopters are similar to Kondor in that they are configured for ASW and CSAR operations. However, they will operate from inland bases for the Naval Aviation Brigade. (Source: ESD Spotlight)

08 Feb 20. Spain seen joining Greece, France, Italy on European Patrol Corvette program. Plans by Italy and France to win European Union funding for the construction of a new corvette have been boosted as Spain looks set to follow Greece and sign up to the program.

The planning for a new 3,000 ton corvette is a cornerstone of the new naval joint venture between Italy’s Fincantieri and France’s Naval Group which was launched last year and named Naviris.

The two firms are hoping to match Italian and French navy requirements with a jointly built, modular vessel that can handle patrol and surveillance missions as well as taking second-tier roles in anti-submarine and anti-surface missions.

The program, dubbed the European Patrol Corvette, has also been inserted in the EU’s so-called Permanent Structured Cooperation, or PESCO, list of recommended pan-European defense programs, which according the EU offers members “options on how to plan and bridge capability gaps in a collaborative manner.”

The PESCO corvette project is coordinated by Italy, with France as partner, but in recent weeks, Greece has also joined as a partner, following discussions between the countries’ navies. And now Spain is likely to follow, an industrial source told Defense News.

“Naviris presented the program to Spain’s Navantia which is interested and it is likely Spain will sign up,” said the source.

On its PESCO listing for the corvette, the EU states “the objective is to design and develop a prototype for a new class of military ship, named “European Patrol Corvette” (EPC), which can host several systems and payloads, in order to accomplish, with a modular and flexible approach, a large number of tasks and missions.”

Adding new partners to the roster of Italy and France is key to winning EU funding. PESCO programs are possible candidates for cash from the European Defence Fund, but only if they have more than two partners on board.

“The corvette is the only naval program on the PESCO list and it should be a priority,” said the source.

Naviris expects the EU fund to issue a Request for Proposal for projects this year, with proposals to then be submitted by industry in 2021, and for decisions on fund allocation to be made the same year.

The source said that if the corvette program gets EU part-funding, it would help sustain the development of the ship’s modularity, allowing it to serve different functions for different navies. “It would have a very open architecture, as well as having a basic and enhanced version,” he said.

Apart from the boost given the program by potential EU funding, the corvette remains a requirement for Italy and France. Rome needs to replace Cassiopea- and Minerva-class vessels being phased out as well as aging Commandante-class vessels.

France is looking to substitute its Floréal-class vessels.

“Italy might need eight corvettes and France is looking to substitute six ships. They both have a need, so the EU funding would be an added opportunity that could create a bandwagon effect with other navies,” said the source.

As Naviris picks up steam, Naval Group CEO Hervé Guillou has said the industrial alliance is open to new partners joining, but so far Germany seems to be uninterested. Addressing the economic affairs committee of the French Senate on Jan. 28, Guillou said he had visited Berlin the week before to sound out German interest but got little response. (Source: Defense News)

06 Feb 20. The Ministry of the Armed Forces Launches Initial Development of the Cheetah Military Helicopter. Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces, welcomes the award by the General Directorate of Armaments (DGA) of the first development work for the future light joint helicopter Guépard (Cheetah). The Cheetah is a militarized version of the H160 helicopter from Airbus Helicopters, the latest addition to its civilian range. It will equip the three services with a single model to replace five different currently in service (Gazelle, Alouette III, Dauphin, Panther and Fennec).

Florence Parly announced, in May 2019, her decision to accelerate the program to allow the first deliveries from 2026, 2 years ahead of the initial schedule.

The French defense procurement agency (DGA) on December 30, 2019 awarded Airbus Helicopters and Safran Helicopter Engines the pre-development contracts for the militarization of the H160. It concerns in particular the adaptation of the avionics, sensors, and the cabin to enable military missions to be carried out, including from French Navy ships.

In conjunction with the French military staffs, DGA is continuing to define the performance and characteristics requirements of the Cheetah and its support system. The full-scale launch of the program is planned for 2021. All of the project’s stakeholders — DGA, Aviation Maintenance Department (DMAé), armed services, Airbus Helicopters and Safran Helicopter Engines — are continuing in parallel their work to prepare to support and maintain the H160. The existence of a single helicopter fleet for the three armies should enable an efficient and optimized support organization. The Cheetah, whose full-scale model was presented for the first time in June 2019 at the Paris Air Show-Le Bourget, will eventually replace the French Army Gazelles, the French Navy’s Alouette III, Dauphin and Panther, and the Fennec operated by the Air Force. Thanks to its modularity and versatility, the Cheetah will allow the armed forces to carry out a wide variety of missions in a national or interallied framework. It will thus ensure the missions of armed reconnaissance, fire support, infiltration of special forces or medical evacuation in the Army. It will also carry out anti-ship, naval force protection, intelligence and maritime rescue missions within the French Navy. Finally, it will carry out airspace protection, search and rescue, intelligence and even deep-penetration missions for the air force. (Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com)

(Source: defense-aerospace.com/French Ministry of the Armed Forces)

12 Feb 20. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) and the Regional Government Department of Andalucía, Spain, through Extenda, held a Spanish Industry Day at GA-ASI’s Poway, California headquarters on February 11, 2020. Twelve companies participated from the Andalucían aerospace industry. The event was organized by GA-ASI, a leading manufacturer of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) systems, and Extenda, Andalucía’s export support agency.

During the event, the Andalucían companies learned about GA-ASI’s procurement process and supply chain dynamics, and presented their capabilities for potential support for GA-ASI RPA programs. The event gave GA-ASI an opportunity to learn about the Andalucían aviation industry’s capacities first-hand. GA-ASI supplies the MQ-9 RPA to the Spanish Air Force and is seeking to increase its number of Spanish defense industry suppliers.

“It’s been a great pleasure to host a cross-section of Spanish aerospace suppliers,” said Linden Blue, CEO, GA-ASI. “As a global provider of Remotely Piloted Aircraft, GA-ASI is always enthusiastic about working with companies that share our drive for innovation.”

The following companies attended the event: Hispano Aeronautica, Sofitec composites, Airgrup, Aertec Solutions, Airtificial Aerospace & Defense, CiTD, DHV Technology, Integrasys SA, Seven Sols, AYESA Air Control, Alter Technologies and Malaga-based MADES also participated. GA-ASI and Extenda worked together on a similar event in 2017 in Malaga, Spain.

USA

13 Feb 20. The US Navy is planning to get serious about a next-generation large surface combatant. The U.S. Navy in 2021 is planning to kick off a five-year research, testing and design effort for its next generation of large surface combatant, according to Navy budget documents released Monday.

The large surface combatant program is looking install older, proven systems “into a new hull design that incorporates platform flexibility and growth capabilities to meet projected future Fleet system requirements,” according to Navy fiscal year 2021 budget documents. The effort will be increasingly important as the Navy starts decommissioning its cruisers without a direct replacement.

And the Navy isn’t just talking about it, they’re asking to put real money towards it. The Navy is requesting $46.45m in 2021, but funding is slated to triple the next year. In 2022, the Navy is expecting to spend $129.5m and $145.9m after that.

The service released a request for information in 2019 with some ideas about where the Navy wanted to go, but the 2021 budget request is the first time the Navy has requested significant money toward its next generation of heavy warships.

In 2021, the money will be divided up among several entities, including the Naval Surface Warfare Center Philadelphia, which will do some engineering work on hull, mechanical and electrical systems to the tune of $2.1m. Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock in Maryland would receive $6.2m perform some of the hull design work. And Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division in Virginia is slated to get $1.85m for combat systems engineering work.

Notably, the service is putting $5.15m toward a “Land Based Integration and Test” endeavor. The Navy has been criticized in the wake of the meltdown over the delays with Ford-class carrier’s advanced weapons elevators, which did not have a land-based testing facility where the Navy could work out some of the kinks before installing it into the $13bn carrier.

Another $16.15m is going toward an unspecified “Ship Design Engineering Contract,” which the documents say will be divided among various entities, and $9.5m toward “shipboard systems development” for various government entities. The Navy is beginning to develop system requirements for the program and a preliminary design, which should cap off with a requirements review in the second quarter of 2021, according to the documents. The process should then begin to incorporate industry designs, which will head to a preliminary review by the third quarter of 2025, according to the documents.

The service intends to start building the ships in the late 2020s, USNI News reported in January. (Source: Defense News)

13 Feb 20. The US Navy is spending millions plotting the drone-enabled fleet of 2045. The U.S. Navy is requesting $21.5m to fund ongoing studies on what the service will look like in 2045 once its fleet of Ticonderoga-class cruisers and many of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers no longer rules the waves, according to budget documents released Feb. 10.

The bulk of the requested funding will go toward future surface combatant studies that are funded this year to the tune of $33m.

“This effort will lay the analytic foundation for the development of the Future Surface Combatant Force,” the documents read. “Ships produced from this effort will fill critical gaps in the fleet in the 2045 timeframe created by the decommissioning of CG 47, DDG 51, and LCS 1 [and] 2 ships.”

The effort seems aimed at integrating as much unmanned technology as possible into a future fleet.

“Unmanned surface vessels concepts and CONOPS will be developed to decouple mission capability from manned force structure,” the budget book read, using an acronym for “concept of operations.”

The Navy has in recent months become more vocal about the need to move to unmanned surface technology as a means of increasing the reach of Navy sensors and weapons without spending billions of dollars on large surface combatants. Indeed, the Navy has sought to scale back investment in large surface combatants, appearing to cancel five of the 13 Flight III Arleigh Burke-class destroyers in the budget.

The studies are aimed at “concept development engineering, mission effectiveness analysis, force architecture analysis, and other analyses for formulation of future surface ship force structure along with development of the platforms, payloads, people and processes required to accomplish these efforts,” Navy budget documents read.

“Advanced ship concept studies, ship and ship systems technology assessments, and the development and upgrade of ship concept design and engineering tools, methods, and criteria are funded in this project,” it continued.

Early days

The work in 2020 includes completion of initial requirements for unmanned surface vehicles and the development of a technology investment strategy to invest in tech the Navy thinks it will need to enable the fleet of tomorrow but that doesn’t yet exist.

The work is still early on, but the Navy thinks it will be integral to the success of the future fleet. That’s vital since the Navy is coming off a very unsuccessful transformation that saw the next-generation destroyer truncated to three ships, the next-generation cruiser canceled and the littoral combat ship truncated, with the first four ships already up for decommissioning with as little as six years of service life on them.

“This project provides the foundation for an affordable and mission capable surface ship force,” the documents read. “It also supports the next step in the development of a transformed naval force by accomplishing the [early development] efforts for all potential surface combatants.

“These efforts are the required first step in the identification of relevant, effective, and affordable platform requirements for the future force.”

The surface Navy was recently directed by the head of Fleet Forces Command to study and develop initial concepts of operations for unmanned surface vessels, which will be hammered out and tested at the newly established Surface Development Squadron.

SURFDEVRON will be home to new technologies such as the Sea Hunter drone and the DDG-1000 class. (Source: Defense News)

13 Feb 20. Boeing bullish on Super Hornet, despite US Navy mulling cuts. Boeing is confident that it will continue to deliver F/A-18E/F Super Hornet combat aircraft to the US Navy (USN), despite the service disclosing that it is seeking to prematurely curtail production to focus on developing its future aviation requirements. Speaking to Jane’s on 12 February, a company representative said that the USN still has a need for more Super Hornet aircraft and that it is likely to reinstate production beyond the final batch disclosed in the Department of Defense’s (DoD) fiscal year (FY) 2021 budget documents released on 10 February.

“We believe the US Navy needs more Super Hornets to meet its mission needs; we are confident that more Block 3 Super Hornets will be added into the Future Years Defense Plan [FYDP] to meet those requirements,” the representative said. Boeing’s optimism was somewhat reflected by the USN itself, which noted shortly after the release of its budget documents that the FYDP was not yet ‘set in stone’, and that it could well change.

According to the DoD FY 2021 budget documents, the USN will fund manufacture of the final 24 Super Hornets in FY 2021 to conclude the current USD4bn three-year multi-year procurement award from March 2019. After this time, funding will be redirected to accelerate development of Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) and other key aviation investments.

“The decision to cease F/A-18 procurement after FY 2021 ensures the Carrier Air Wing will maintain capable strike fighter capacity to pace the most stressing threat through the 2030s,” the service said. According to the documents, USD4.5bn will be saved over the five years of the Future Years Defense Plan (FYDP) included in the budget. (Source: Jane’s)

10 Feb 20. Navy Cuts Super Hornet Production to Develop Next-Generation Fighter. The Navy wants to truncate production of the legacy F/A-18E/F Super Hornet in favor of pumping money into accelerating the development of its long-gestating next-generation carrier-based fighter program, the service revealed in its Fiscal Year 2021 budget request.

Next year’s order of two dozen F/A-18E/F Super Hornets would be the last on the books for the Navy under this plan. In 2019, Super Hornet maker Boeing won a $4bn multi-year contract to buy 78 Super Hornets through FY 2021.

According to the justification in the documents, the money the Navy for planned a subsequent multiyear buy of 36 Super Hornets from FY 2022 to 2024 would be rerouted to “accelerated development of Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) and other key aviation wholeness investments,” read the documents.

The cut of the Super Hornets past FY 2021 is estimated to route $4.5bn over the five-year horizon of the Future Years Defense Plan (FYDP) to the new aviation effort.

“The decision to cease F/A-18 procurement after FY 2021 ensures the Carrier Air Wing will maintain capable strike fighter capacity to pace the most stressing threats through the 2030s,” read the Navy documents.

The NGAD program, previously known as F/A-XX, has sought to replace the payload capacity of the Super Hornets on carrier decks as the incoming F-35C Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter brings a stealthy fighter to the air wing. The program has had fits and starts over the last decade as the service has grappled with shaping the future of the air wing.  (Source: defense-aerospace.com/USNI News)

REST OF THE WORLD

13 Feb 20. Australia launches Deployable Force Infrastructure project. The Australian government has launched its Deployable Force Infrastructure project, LAND 8140, the Department of Defence announced on 13 February.

The project will fund investment in capabilities for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to rapidly and independently support a range of operations, including humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, peacekeeping and warfighting.

In total project will invest $500m in these capabilities, with the first $150m in funding to modernise deployable sanitation, catering, water management and treatment, shelters and power generation.

Linda Reynolds, Minister for Defence, said the funding will provide responsive, scalable and adaptable deployable infrastructure to meet evolving operational needs.

‘While this modernised capability will be used on missions overseas, it will also enhance support the ADF provides for humanitarian assistance and responding to natural disasters, including bushfire emergencies in Australia,’ Reynolds said. Tenders are due to be released between February and March 2020. (Source: Shephard)

13 Feb 20. Singapore Airshow 2020: Boeing sees increasing demand in Asia for AH-64E Apache. Boeing sees an opportunity for its AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopter in the Asia-Pacific market, with a senior company representative telling Jane’s that follow-on and new orders are likely. Speaking at the Singapore Air Show running from 11-16 February, Boeing’s senior manager for global sales and marketing for attack and cargo helicopter programmes, Terry Jamison, noted particular prospects for the latest-variant of the Apache in the region. Singapore itself, already an operator of the AH-64D-model Apache, has expressed an interest in remanufacturing 12 of its 20 helicopters to the AH-64E-standard. The remaining eight aircraft are based in the US, and for now will likely be used for training purposes. (Source: Jane’s)

13 Feb 20. Saab Australia to deliver ‘next generation’ Navy combat system. Defence Minister Linda Reynolds and Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price have announced the signing of an enterprise partnering agreement with Saab Australia to deliver its ‘next generation’ combat management system.

Minister Reynolds said Saab’s ‘next generation’ combat management system is a critical element of a ship’s fighting capability and will help to ensure Navy can protect Australia in the decades ahead.

The Saab ‘next generation’ combat management system will be delivered across Navy’s fleet, including the Anzac Class frigates, new Arafura Class offshore patrol vessels and Supply Class replenishment ships.

Saab Australia will also leverage their ‘next generation’ combat management system experience in the development of the Australian interface to the Aegis system, for the Hunter Class frigates and the Hobart Class destroyers.

Minister Reynolds said, “This commitment will enhance surface fleet interoperability and lethality, and support the ability to operate as a joint force with our coalition partners and allies.”

This was reinforced by Minister Price, who said it was a great sign to see such advanced capability being developed here in Australia.

“For more than 30 years, Saab Australia has established a strong relationship with Navy in delivering the combat management systems for the Anzac Class frigates and Canberra Class landing helicopter dock vessels,” Minister Price said.

She added, “This system was designed in Australia and is contributing to the build-up of our sovereign capability, which is crucial to delivering our Naval Shipbuilding Plan.”

The Naval Shipbuilding Plan, released on 16 May 2017, outlines the government’s vision for the Australian naval shipbuilding enterprise and the significant investment required in coming decades.

The plan sets out how the government is delivering on the commitment to build a strong, sustainable and innovative Australian naval shipbuilding industry.

It provides the foundation for implementing the government’s commitment to the greatest regeneration of the country’s naval capability since the Second World War.

At the same time, it will create a long-term, sustainable naval shipbuilding and ship sustainment capability that will serve Australia’s strategic and economic interests for many decades.

The Australian government is laying the foundations for an Australia-wide, continuous National Naval Shipbuilding Enterprise, ending the boom-bust cycle that has afflicted the Australian naval shipbuilding and sustainment industry.

This will provide certainty to local businesses and shipbuilding workers and provide direct and indirect employment opportunities for generations to come.

The government will invest:

  • around $90bn in new naval ships and submarines;
  • more than $1bn in modern shipyard infrastructure; and
  • up to $62m in workforce growth and skilling initiatives to enable the delivery of these platforms.

Four key enablers are required to implement the government’s Naval Shipbuilding Plan:

  • modern, innovative and secure naval shipbuilding infrastructure;
  • workforce growth and development;
  • a sustainable and cost-competitive Australian industrial base; and
  • a national collaborative approach. (Source: Defence Connect)

08 Feb 20. South Africa Seeks to Unlock Stalled Arms Sales to Saudi, UAE. South Africa aims to free up over a billion dollars in stalled weapons sales, including to Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, by amending a document at the heart of an export row, a senior arms control official told Reuters. Local defense firms have lobbied the government for months to change a clause in the export document requiring foreign customers to allow South African officials to inspect their facilities to verify that weapons aren’t being transferred to third parties.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE buy at least a third of South Africa’s arms exports and have been engaged in a war in Yemen. They refused to agree to the inspections because they considered them a violation of their sovereignty, industry officials told Reuters in November.

“I can confirm that the amendment of the end-user certificate was approved by the NCACC recently,” Ezra Jele, the head of the secretariat of South Africa’s National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC), told Reuters.

A draft letter from Jele to a defense industry association obtained by Reuters and authenticated by two industry sources said the NCACC planned to replace a clause allowing for “on-site verification … performed by an inspector designated by the (defense) minister.”

The new clause would state “on-site verification of the controlled items may be performed, through diplomatic process”.  (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Reuters)

07 Feb 20. Lockheed Martin and BEL to Explore Opportunities in F-21 Fighter Programme. Lockheed Martin signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Navratna Defence PSU Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) to explore industrial opportunities in the F-21 programme today at DefExpo 2020. Lockheed Martin is strengthening and growing its partnerships with the

“We are excited to begin exploring F-21 opportunities with BEL, one of India’s leading aerospace and defence companies,” said Dr Vivek Lall, Vice President of Stragety and Business Development, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. “An F-21 partnership with India integrates Indian industry, including BEL, into the world’s largest and most successful fighter aircraft ecosystem and demonstrates Lockheed Martin’s commitment to India.”

Mrs Anandi Ramalingam, Director (Marketing), BEL, said: “We are happy to collaborate with Lockheed Martin which is a global major in the aerospace sector. We are eagerly looking forward to cash in on this co-operation to address domestic and international market needs in this sector.”

The advanced, single-engine F-21 is the ideal solution to meet the Indian Air Force’s capability needs and deliver unparalleled industrial opportunities. The F-21 delivers an advanced, single-engine multi-role fighter at the most optimal Life Cycle Cost for the Indian Air Force, with the longest service life of any competitor – 12,000 flight hours. In concert with India’s Rafale and Tejas, the F-21 will fill a critical operational role for the Indian Air Force. The F-21 also provides unmatched opportunities for Indian companies of all sizes, including Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and suppliers throughout India, to establish new business relationships with Lockheed Martin and other industry leaders in the US and around the globe.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 110,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.

A Navratna PSU and India’s foremost Defence electronics company, BEL is a multi-product, multi-technology, multi-Unit conglomerate having products in the areas of Radars, Missile Systems, Military Communications, Naval Systems, Electronic Warfare & Avionics, C4I Systems, Electro Optics, Tank Electronics & Gun/Weapon System Upgrade in the Defence segment. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Lockheed Martin)

10 Feb 20. Thai partnership looks to meet Philippine OPV requirement. Naval shipbuilder Bangkok Dock and the Thai Ministry of Defence’s (MoD’s) Defence Technology Institute (DTI) have signed an agreement to collaborate on meeting a requirement in the Philippines to procure offshore patrol vessels (OPVs), Jane’s has learned. Under the memorandum of agreement (MOA), which reflects growing efforts to expand defence industrial collaboration across Southeast Asia, the Thai partners will look to position for the Philippine Navy (PN) a modified version of the 90 m OPV that Bangkok Dock is building for the Royal Thai Navy (RTN). This vessel is based on BAE Systems’ 90m OPV, the design for which the RTN acquired from the UK-headquartered defence group in 2009. (Source: Jane’s)

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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.

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