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18 Feb 20. Finland launches final HX evaluation, with arrival of Super Hornet and Growler. Boeing has officially launched the flight evaluation phase of its F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler aircraft for Finland’s HX fighter replacement programme, with three aircraft arriving at Tampere-Pirkkala Airbase north of Helsinki on 18 February.
The arrival of one single-seat F/A-18E, one twin-seat F/A-18F and one EA-18G in Finland for Boeing’s HX Challenge evaluation followed earlier stints from the Eurofighter Typhoon from 9 to 17 January, the Dassault Rafale from 20 to 28 January, the Saab Gripen E and GlobalEye airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft from 30 January to 6 February, and the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) from 10 to 17 February. Boeing will conclude proceedings on 26 February.
While the Super Hornets and the Growler being evaluated are in their current Block 2 and Block 1 configurations respectively, for its offering to Finland Boeing is pitching the Block 3 version of the Super Hornet and Block 2 version of the Growler which will be available to the US Navy from 2023 and 2025.
The Super Hornet Block 3 enhancements comprise the Advanced Cockpit System (ACS); the New Distributed Targeting Processor-Network (DTP-N) open-architecture multi-level-secure mission computer; the Block 2 infrared search and track system (IRST) for long-range passive targeting; satellite communications (SATCOM); conformal fuel tanks (CFTs); and a Service-Life Modification (SLM) to increase the aircraft’s service-life from 6,000 to 10,000 flight hours.
The Growler Block 2 will take a lot of what Boeing is doing on the Block 3 Super Hornet, including the ACS and CFTs (which for the Growler give the usual range and endurance increase, but also eliminates the blocking of the sensors that can happen with the drop tanks), and add an upgraded the electronic attack (EA) suite that features the Next-Generation Jammer (NGJ). Boeing noted to Jane’s that the exact configuration of the Growler Block 2 offer to Finland has yet to been defined with the US Navy. (Source: Jane’s)
20 Feb 20. Lockheed’s Raider X enters construction in advance of US Army’s decision on way forward. Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky is already building its prototype for the U.S. Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft competition ahead of the service actually choosing companies to build prototypes.
While the Army will select two companies to proceed next month, Lockheed is already using funding as part of its contract to build its Raider X coaxial helicopter, Tim Malia, Sikorsky’s FARA director, told a group of reporters Feb. 19 at the company’s flight test facility.
The Army awarded full-scope contracts to the five teams selected to design FARA; those deals included funding to build aircraft. But when the Army chooses which two teams will move forward, that funding spigot essentially turns off for those that aren’t picked.
When asked what happens with Raider X, should the Army decides to go with other teams, Malia said: “I don’t anticipate that problem.”
The five teams that won awards in April 2019 to design FARA were: AVX Aircraft partnered with L3 Technologies; Bell Helicopter; Boeing; a Karem Aircraft, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon team; and Sikorsky.
Sikorsky’s offering is based on its X2 coaxial technology seen in its S-97 Raider and the Sikorsky-Boeing developed SB-1 Defiant, which are now both flying.
The prototype aircraft are expected to start flying in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2022, and the flight test is expected to run through 2023. The engineering and manufacturing development phase is expect to begin in FY24.
“This is the culmination of years of investment in the X2 Technology Demonstrator and the S-97 Raider aircraft that have proven the advanced technology and shown its ability to change the future battlefield,” Malia told Defense News when the company first unveiled its design for FARA.
FARA is intended to fill a critical capability gap currently being filled by AH-64E Apache attack helicopters teamed with Shadow unmanned aircraft following the retirement of the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters.
The service has tried and failed three times to fill the gap with an aircraft. The Army also plans to buy another helicopter to fill the long-range assault mission, simultaneously replacing some UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters in the fleet. The SB-1 Defiant is a possible candidate for that future aircraft. (Source: Defense News)
18 Feb 20. Peraton Wins Spot on $1bn U.S. Navy Unmanned Surface Vehicle IDIQ. Award builds on Peraton’s experience as leading unmanned maritime systems contractor. Peraton, one of the nation’s leading unmanned maritime systems contractors, has won a spot on an up to 10-year, $982.1m indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, multiple award contract (IDIQ-MAC) to support the U.S. Navy’s Unmanned Surface Vehicle Family of Systems.
Companies on the IDIQ-MAC, managed by Naval Sea Systems Command, will have the opportunity to compete in up to six awarded functional areas for individual delivery orders. Peraton was selected to compete in all six categories: Payloads, Non-Payload Sensors, Mission Support Systems, Autonomy and Vehicle Control Systems, Ashore and Host Platform Elements, and Logistics and Sustainment.
The IDIQ-MAC has a five-year base period and one five-year ordering period option, which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $982,100,000. The task orders issued under the IDIQ-MAC will help the Navy maintain and modernize to meet current and future operational requirements. Contractors will compete for task orders to support the current Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) systems and subsystems as well as future USV systems and subsystems for Program Executive Office Unmanned and Small Combatants (PEO USC), Program Management NAVSEA 406 (PMS 406).
Peraton was ranked by Deltek GovWin IQ in November as one of the nation’s top unmanned underseas and surface vehicle contractors by revenue, sharing the top rankings with Boeing, Leidos and Lockheed Martin. Peraton is also the 13th-largest contractor by revenue for Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Pacific, which oversees a significant portion of the Navy’s unmanned maritime work. In January, Peraton announced that it had recently received four U.S. Navy Unmanned Maritime Systems Support (UMSS) task orders valued at $27.45M.
“Peraton has been a major supporter of the U.S. Navy’s Unmanned Underwater Vehicle Family of Systems for nearly two decades. As the Navy expands its Unmanned Surface Vehicle Family of Systems work, we are proud to be a part of this critical element of the Navy’s warfighting strategy for the future,” said John Coleman, president, Defense and Homeland Security sector. “Based on our long track record, extensive experience, and unmatched relationships, we are confident that we will be competitive for many future task orders under this IDIQ.”
Peraton has worked with the U.S. Navy on unmanned maritime systems since 2001, when the company first supported the Navy’s program management office responsible for explosive ordinance disposal. Since 2015, Peraton has been a leading contractor on the Navy’s UMSS contract, after being awarded a base contract of $135.6m with an option for up to $228.5m. Over the last 18 years, Peraton has developed long-term system experience and technical knowledge that has helped it become one of the nation’s top providers of unmanned maritime contract support. (Source: PR Newswire)
18 Feb 20. After protest, US Army launches new competition for robotic mule. The US Army has renewed a competition to acquire a robotic mule for light infantry after it canceled its previous award following a protest.
The service posted a new Request for Proposals (RFP) on Feb. 14, allowing the four finalists in the original competition to recompete for a chance to build its Small Multipurpose Equipment Transport (SMET) ground robotic vehicle. (The original name for the program was the Squad Multipurpose Equipment Transport).
General Dynamics Land Systems’ Multi-Utility Tactical Transport, or MUTT, won the original contract to build SMET at the end of October 2019, but Textron, one of the other three companies to compete for the chance to build the system, filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office over the award.
In the protest, Textron claimed GDLS had been allowed to change its vehicle significantly following a soldier evaluation phase, which made the evaluation invalid even though an award was contingent on such an assessment from users.
Four companies were chosen from a larger pool in 2017 to compete to build the robotic vehicle: GDLS, a Textron offering from its subsidiary Howe & Howe, a team of Applied Research Associates and Polaris Defense, and HDT Expeditionary Systems. Each team built 20 platforms issued to infantry brigade combat teams for testing and analysis.
The Army terminated the program in December before the GAO made a ruling and said it planned to hold a new competition among only the four systems downselected as finalists in the previous competition.
According to the RFP, those four companies will have a chance again to compete, under revised evaluation criteria.
The systems were originally assessed using four factors: soldier feedback, system reliability, system delivery and cost and price. The new evaluation will rely on two factors, the RFP notes, which are a “Phase III System Design” and cost and price.
“The driving rationale for the change in the criteria was based on consistent feedback from soldiers during mission exercises regarding the noise signature of the systems, specifically the generators and powertrain,” the RFP states. “Furthermore, payload and operation range in silent mode are essential characteristics of the system based on the intended use of the S-MET amongst Light Infantry and were also determined to be of great criticality.”
The RFP explains the system reliability factor was removed because of “a lack of recorded hours.”
The Army plans to award one 5-year Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) production contract to buy both new and refurbished systems procured under the prototyping effort.
The award, according to the RFP, will come in May 2020 and systems will be delivered through October 2024, with all vehicles fielded by the following October.
The service’s target price per system is $112,000 with a maximum ceiling for the contract set at $249m, according to the RFP.
GDLS’ initial contract totaled $162.4m to produce 624 vehicles with the contract wrapping up in October 2024. Delivery was to begin in the second quarter of fiscal 2021.
The Army has been working through the acquisition of a vehicle that can carry about 1,000 pounds worth of soldier equipment for many years. The goal is to lighten the load of nine soldiers across an infantry squad. The Army wanted the robots to be able to travel 60 miles over three days and to be able to provide a spare kilowatt hour of power while moving and at least 3 kilowatt hours while stationary. (Source: Defense News)
17 Feb 20. DARPA Gunslinger programme to combine gun with missile. In its FY21 budget request, the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has asked for $13.27m to develop a missile with an attached gun.
Although light on details the programme, called ‘Gunslinger’ aims to develop and demonstrate an air-launched tactical range missile that will feature a built-in gun system ‘capable of scalable effects and engagement of multiple targets’.
The budget estimate document reads: “The Gunslinger programme will develop and demonstrate technologies to enable an air-launched tactical range missile system capable of multi-mission support. This system will utilise the high manoeuvrability of a missile system coupled with a gun system capable of scalable effects and engagement of multiple targets.”
According to the document, the missile will address counter-insurgency (COIN) operations, close air support (CAS) and air-to-air engagement missions for use later by the US Air Force (USAF) and US Navy.
It explain the scope of the development effort saying: “The programme will address the system and technology issues required to enable development of a robust missile system considering (1) vehicle concepts possessing the required aerodynamic, propulsion, and payload capacity for a wide operational envelope, (2) the algorithms that support manoeuvring and target recognition to enable expedited command decision making for selecting and engaging targets and (3) approaches to incorporating modularity of design to reduce cost throughout the design and development process.”
For FY21 the programme aims to conduct trade studies including looking for information on propulsion systems, munitions, sensors, GPS and communications capabilities before developing ‘higher fidelity modelling and simulation environment to support program concept of operations’.
DARPA is requesting $230m for the development of advanced aerospace systems, of which the Gunslinger programme is part, along with the Tactical Boost Glide programme, a joint DARPA-US Air Force project to develop hypersonic boost-glide systems.
Other projects under this remit include the ‘Glide Breaker’ project to develop a component of a system to intercept hypersonic threats, and ‘Longshot’ a programme designed to expand the range of missiles by carrying them on a slower, more aerodynamic missile system.
Longshot could be deployed on fighter aircraft or bombers and looks ‘to develop and flight demonstrate a weapon system using multi-mode propulsion that significantly increases engagement range and weapon effectiveness against adversary air threats.’ (Source: airforce-technology.com)
17 Feb 20. DARPA seeks ‘infrastructure-less’ UAS launch and recovery under ANCILLIARY. The US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is seeking innovative launch and recovery concepts for small tactical unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) under the banner of AdvaNced airCraft Infrastructure-Less Launch And RecoverY (ANCILLARY).
In a Request for Information (RFI) released on 12 February, DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office said it was seeking to “revolutionize the design of the next generation UAS and dramatically improve performance through the development and maturation of aircraft configurations and propulsion that allow for ‘infrastructureless’ launch and recovery without compromise to long endurance flight and payload fraction”. (Source: Jane’s)
REST OF THE WORLD
21 Feb 20. NSW government calls for EOI from defence suppliers for Land Forces 2020. NSW Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres has called on defence industry suppliers to register their interest in showcasing their products on the NSW government stand at this year’s Land Forces. Minister Ayres encouraged all NSW-based defence industry suppliers to apply.
“Land Forces is a fantastic opportunity to showcase products and services to an Australian and international audience. Exhibiting on the NSW Defence stand is a way for small to medium enterprises to ensure their work is seen by both domestic and global defence supply chains,” Minister Ayres said.
Land Forces, which is held every two years, will be the major defence industry exhibition in Australia this year. It will be held at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre from 1-3 September.
The last Land Forces was held in Adelaide in 2018 and attracted 624 exhibitor companies from 26 countries and more than 15,000 visitors.
The biennial Land Forces exposition is a powerful forum for key decision-makers, enabling government representatives, defence officials, military procurement managers and senior army officers to network with defence materiel manufacturers, equipment suppliers and service providers.
The Defence NSW stand will give businesses a prime location to showcase their products and services, and connect with domestic and international customers. Other benefits include:
- Ongoing support for accessing new markets and developing businesses;
- On-stand support during the exhibition; and
- Inclusion in the department’s marketing material.
It was attended by 74 defence, trade and industry delegations from 36 countries, including 19 Australian military delegations and 31 foreign military delegations.
Land Forces 2020 will provide delegates, exhibitors, participants and visitors alike with a unique opportunity to meet with their peers, potential suppliers and customers.
It will highlight the platforms, equipment, services and technologies that are increasingly in demand by the armies of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
Land Forces 2020 will be a showcase for defence materiel manufacturers, systems integrators, and maintenance and logistics specialists operating across the full spectrum of land warfare.
Expressions of interest in exhibiting on the NSW Defence stand close on 4 March 2020. Further information is available here https://www.business.nsw.gov.au/defence-nsw/land/land-forces-2020 (Source: Defence Connect)
21 Feb 20. Thai air force issues exhaustive list of aircraft requirements for 2020s. The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) has outlined an ambitious plan for buying new fighters, tactical transports, and other assets in the coming decade. The RTAF’s White Paper 2020 features an impressive list of what the air force would like to obtain. It stresses that the air force operates a number of legacy types. While these are well maintained, the white paper makes clear that sustainment and the obtaining of spare parts is a challenge.
Another theme of the report is Bangkok’s ambition to build more indigenous capability in defence aerospace, particularly in areas such as MRO and components.
Fighter requirements involve the RTAF’s fleet of Lockheed Martin F-16s serving with Sqn 102 and Sqn 103, which it lists as two separate requirements.
To replace Sqn 102’s F-16 A/B Block 15s, it hopes to obtain funding for six new jets in fiscal year 2023-26, and another six jets in 2025-28. For Sqn 103’s F-16 A/B Block 15s, it hopes to obtain funding for six new jets in 2028-31, and six more in 2030-33. Overall, the procurement of 24 new fighters will run from 2023-33.
The F-16 replacement programme calls for a degree of technology transfer and the ability to support aircraft locally.
The RTAF would also like budget to obtain an additional Saab Gripen C/D in fiscal years 2023-25. The air force has 11 Gripens in its inventory after losing one during an air show crash in 2017. In keeping with the indigenous capability theme, the RTAF wants to boost its ability to perform logistics support for its existing Gripen fleet.
The air force also hopes to obtain 12 light attack aircraft to replace its Aero L-39s, which are increasingly difficult to service. As for lead in trainers, the RTAF wants two additional Korea Aerospace Industries T-50THs that would add to the12 examples already procured.
On the cards for upgrading are two Saab 340 airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft, which the country wants to see transformed into aircraft capable of performing the more complex airborne early warning & control (AEW&C) mission.
“[The] SAAB 340 AEW has been in service for a long time, resulting in several mission limitations,” says the White Paper. In addition, the Erieye’s radar’s international airworthiness certificate will expire in 2021. The air force is asking for Bt4.5bn ($142m) between 2021-24 for the work.
Another major programme involves obtaining 12 new tactical transport to replace the RTAF’s fleet of 130Hs, with budget requested from 2022-29, as well as replacements for a pair of Saab 340Bs used as transports.
Also in the transport category, the RTAF hopes to obtain a new VVIP aircraft to transport the country’s royal family, as well as a replacement for a VIP configured ACJ319, and a new VVIP helicopter.
The RTAF will decommission its Pilatus PC-9 basic trainers in 2023 and hopes to replace them with 12 new aircraft. It also wants to obtain a replacement for its Pacific Aerospace Corporation CT-4E basic trainers.
In other areas, the RTAF wants to replace older Bell 412s with new assets, obtain an armed UAV, and obtain four aircraft to replace its Basler BT-67s, an updated version of the Douglas DC-3 that is used for transport and cloud seeding work. (Source: News Now/https://www.flightglobal.com/)
20 Feb 20. New Delhi approves USD2.6bn import of 24 MH-60R helicopters for Indian Navy. India’s Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) has approved the USD2.6bn import of 24 Lockheed Martin/Sikorsky MH-60R multirole naval helicopters – along with related equipment, spares and services – for the Indian Navy (IN).
Official sources told Jane’s that the CCS, which is headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, cleared on 19 February the long-pending procurement of the twin-engined rotorcraft under the US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme, ahead of US President Donald Trump’s two-day India visit scheduled to begin on 24 February.
Senior IN officers said the deal, which is likely to be announced during the visit, is aimed at overcoming the enduring shortage of multirole naval helicopters on IN frontline warships.
They said the MH-60Rs, which are being acquired under the ‘Buy global’ category of the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD’s) Defence Procurement Procedure-2016, will be fitted with twin weapon stations, each of which would mount two anti-ship missiles and an equal number of lightweight torpedoes in an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) role. The platforms will also be armed with depth charges.
The proposed platforms will replace the IN’s legacy fleet of Westland Sea King Mk 42B/C and Kamov Ka-28 helicopters that were inducted into service in the 1980s and have been employed in a range of missions, including ASW, anti-surface warfare, naval gunfire support, and search-and-rescue operations.
The MH-60Rs can also be used for surveillance, communications relay, and logistics support as well as personnel transport and vertical replenishment.
In April 2019 the US State Department approved New Delhi’s request to acquire the 24 MH-60R helicopters, as well one MH-60B/R Excess Defense Article (EDA) helicopter from the US Navy that will likely be used for training. (Source: Jane’s)
19 Feb 20. Dassault and HAL may workshare on possible additional Rafale orders. French aircraft maker Dassault Aviation and state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) are reportedly in discussions for workshare on possible additional Rafale orders.
Sources close to the matter have been quoted by The Economic Times as saying that ‘detailed discussions have taken place on how HAL facilities and expertise could be used for the next round of localisation when more jets are ordered’.
The IAF has agreed to procure a total of 36 Rafale medium multi-role combat aircraft under an approximately $8bn intergovernmental agreement.
As part of the deal, the first Rafale aircraft was officially handed over to the Indian Defence Ministry.
Moreover, Dassault entered a joint venture with Reliance Defence to produce Rafale fighter jet components in India.
Dassault and HAL have already worked together on the $2.1bn upgrade of the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) Mirage 2000 fleet.
The development follows after India Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat talked about the idea of staggered purchase approach of new foreign fighter jets.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) is considering buying 110 new fighter jets in a more than $15bn deal, for which a Request for Proposal (RFP) has not been issued yet.
Rawat was quoted by The Print as saying: “You should not go in for large numbers. Staggered acquisitions are important because when small orders are placed, it gives us time to take care of their downtime and also allow modernisation of the three services simultaneously.” (Source: airforce-technology.com)
18 Feb 20. Italy in talks to sell frigates to Egypt. Italy is negotiating to sell two FREMM frigates to Egypt as local conflicts, rivalries over natural gas and shifting alliances ratchet up naval competition in the Mediterranean.
The talks by Italy’s Fincantieri to sell the two vessels to Egypt were confirmed this month by Italian foreign minister Luigi Di Maio and Fincantieri CEO Giuseppe Bono following days of press speculation a deal was on the cards.
What makes Italy’s offer particularly appealing to Egypt is that the vessels are almost ready. Fincantieri is proposing to sell Cairo the final two of ten frigates now being built for the Italian navy.
The plan is to divert the two vessels to Egypt, then win a top-up order from Italy to complete the Italian navy’s complement of ships.
Of the two frigates in question, the Emilio Bianchi was launched in January and was due for delivery to the Italian navy in 2021, while the Spartaco Schergat is due for delivery in a few months.
With a displacement of 6,700 tonnes, the 144 meter long Emilio Bianchi can reach a top speed of 27 knots.
The two vessels, which may Egypt may buy for around €1.2bn ($1.3bn) for the pair, are general-purpose variants of the FREMM frigate. If they are sold to Egypt, the Italian navy may decide to order its replacement ships with anti-submarine warfare capabilities, an upgrade reflecting heightened tensions in the Mediterranean.
News of the deal drew criticism in Italy from politicians who have been concerned over human rights abuses in Egypt since with the arrest, torture and murder in Cairo in 2016 of an Italian PhD student, Giulio Regeni. Italian prosecutors have named members of Egypt’s security services they suspect ordered the arrest, but the Egyptian government has done little to cooperate in the investigation.
Italy has also found itself on the other side from Egypt in the proxy conflict underway in Libya, where Egypt, Russia, Saudi Arabia and the UAE back the forces of General Khalifa Haftar, who is trying to conquer the capital Tripoli.
Italy is lined up with Turkey and Qatar defending the UN-backed government in Tripoli run by Fayez al-Sarraj.
But in recent weeks, the dynamics of the conflict have changed after Turkey sent military backing, including Syrian fighters, to help Al Sarraj defend Tripoli against Haftar’s forces, contrary to Italy’s call for a negotiated solution to the fighting.
In November, Turkey and Al Sarraj also signed a bilateral maritime agreement which reportedly carves up the area of the Mediterranean between Turkey and Libya and cuts through waters recognized as belonging to Greece and the Republic of Cyprus.
Italy has sided with neighbors like Egypt in condemning the deal, while Rome is also irritated by Turkish prospecting for gas in maritime zones off Cyprus which have already been allocated to Italian state controlled energy firm ENI.
ENI is also working closely with Egypt after discovering an enormous new gas field in Egypt’s Mediterranean waters which could supply the country’s gas needs for years to come.
As Italy holds talks on the FREMM sales to Egypt, French newspapers have meanwhile accused the French government of losing its hegemony in naval sales to Egypt after it sold Mistral helicopter carriers to Cairo as well as corvettes and a FREMM frigate of its own.
“The equilibrium is changing in the Mediterranean since the U.S. is effectively now absent and the European Union members are not unified,” said Gabriele Iacovino, an analyst at the International Study Center in Rome.
“Italy has a longstanding dialogue with Egypt which was interrupted by the Regeni case, but has now resumed. Rome needs to talk to both Al Sarraj and Haftar in Libya and knows that to talk to Haftar you need to speak to Egypt,” he said.
Michele Nones, head of the security and defense department at the Rome IAI think tank, said Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was consolidating his power, building the Egyptian economy and putting the country back on the regional map.
“Egypt is a fundamental actor in Libya, the Mediterranean and the Middle East,” he said.
Rome’s ties with Egypt were strengthening for those reasons — as well as because Turkish activism in the Mediterranean increased, he said.
“Italy would have got closer to Egypt anyway, but Turkey’s strategy increases the need to do that,” he said. (Source: Defense News)
19 Feb 20. Kuwait Stops Airbus H225M Deliveries Over Engine Issues. The Kuwaiti Ministry of Defense has suspended deliveries of Airbus H225M Caracal helicopters after the first two were delivered with unspecified engine problems, and has decided to set up a special committee to investigate the issue. The suspension was announced by a thread of five messages on the ministry’s Twitter account, @KuwaitArmyGHQ, and addressed to local Members of Parliament which had questioned the delivery of the helicopters. The problems refer to technical incidents with the engines of the first two helicopters during their ferry flights to Kuwait.
“Following the investigation of an incident that occurred during the ferry flight of an H225M for Kuwait, we can confirm there is no impact on the airworthiness of the H225M fleet in service today,” Airbus Helicopters said in a Feb. 19 text message. “We are working with our customer to provide support as required.”
This is Twitter’s English translation of the Kuwait MoD’s thread:
- An explanation from the Ministry of Defense regarding the questions and inquiries presented by some of the Honorable Representatives in the National Assembly about the technical malfunction of the (Caracal) planes, and what two planes of this type were exposed to before they were formally received from the manufacturer.
- The Ministry of Defense, out of its keenness on the safety of its children, pilots and workers working on this type of aircraft, in order to preserve public funds, and in interaction with these statements and questions due from the representatives, has today issued a decision to form a (specialized technical committee)
- Its tasks are to examine all the reasons that prevented the receipt of the aircraft, and also to find a mechanism to address these causes and prevent their recurrence in the future, in addition to ensuring that all the aircraft arrive safely to the homeland and without any technical defect therein.
- Accordingly, the Ministry confirms the suspension of its receipt of these aircraft at the present time until awaiting the results of examining the formed committee and receiving the reports of the manufacturer thereof regarding the defect to which some of these aircraft were exposed, and then taking the appropriate decision about officially receiving them from the manufacturer
- And in light of the positive results that appear in this regard, with a statement of all the guarantees that prevent any technical malfunction in the future.
Kuwait ordered a total of 30 H225M Caracals, the French Ministry of Defence announced on August 09, 2016. The contract, worth over €1bn including a support package, covers 24 helicopters for the Kuwaiti Air Force and six for its National Guard, and will be operated for a wide range of missions including Combat SAR. (Source: defense-aerospace.com)
17 Feb 20. IAF to acquire 83 Tejas fighter jets for $5.4bn from HAL. IAF to acquire 83 single-engine Tejas Mark-1A LCA fighter jets. Credit: Rajan Manickavasagam. The Indian Air Force (IAF) has reportedly finalised the acquisition of 83 single-engine Tejas Mark-1A light combat aircraft (LCA) fighter jets. The deal with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) also includes maintenance and infrastructure. Initially, HAL quoted nearly Rs565bn ($7.9bn) but the contract price has now decreased to a final amount of up to Rs390bn ($5.4bn), reported The Times of India (TOI).
The Mark-1A fighter jets are expected to be delivered three years after the agreement has been signed.
Under the deal, the Mark-1A jets will feature 43 improvements.
Some of the enhancements include active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, long-range beyond visual range missiles, air-to-air refuelling and advanced electronic warfare.
A source was quoted by TOI as saying: “With the contract price now settled at Rs390bn, the procurement file is being sent to the Cabinet Committee on Security for the final nod.
“It should be cleared before this fiscal ends on March 31. Once the contract is inked, HAL promises to begin deliveries of the Mark-1A jets in three years.”
The procurement proposal for 83 Tejas was first approved in November 2016 by the Defence Acquisitions Council.
In 2017, the IAF issued a request for proposal to HAL for the procurement.
Another source was quoted by the publication as saying: “The flight testing for Tejas Mark-1A will hopefully be completed by 2022. After these 123 fighters, the IAF is also looking to induct 170 Tejas Mark-2 or the medium weight fighter (MWF) jets with more powerful engines and advanced avionics.”
In February last year, India’s light combat aircraft was given final operational clearance by Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC). (Source: airforce-technology.com)
15 Feb 20. Joint Statement: Australia’s Future Submarine Program. Today we reviewed the implementation of the Strategic Partnership Agreement which forms the basis of the Future Submarine Program.
We both reaffirmed our full commitment to the program, its timetable and the scaling up of Australian industrial capacity.
We agreed on a process for monitoring – at our level – the implementation of the program, on a quarterly basis this year, with a meeting in France in April and another in Australia mid-year.
We know that the Future Submarine Program is essential for our two countries and for our strategic partnership. We are determined to work together to make it a success. We affirmed our strong mutual commitment to the success of Australia’s Future Submarine Program. We will personally review implementation quarterly, focusing on meeting schedule & Australian Industry capability objectives. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Australian and French Ministers of Defense)
17 Feb 20. Joint statement moves to clarify AIC for SEA 1000 program. Defence and Naval Group have responded to mounting public concern in regard to the amount of Australian industry content in the multibillion-dollar SEA 1000 Attack Class submarine program.
Following explosive claims made by Naval Group Australia CEO John Davis in an interview with Ben Packham of The Australian, the Department of Defence and Naval Group have issued a strong rebuke and sought to clear the record.
The joint media release from the Department of Defence and Naval Group begins by stressing the importance of ‘sovereign control’ over the Attack Class submarine fleet and the supporting industry that will develop in order to support the design, build and operational phases of the fleet.
“Sovereign control over the Attack Class submarine fleet and maximising Australian industry involvement throughout all phases of the Attack Class Submarine Program are contracted objectives in the strategic partnering agreement between Defence and Naval Group,” the joint media release stated.
“Defence remains focused on these objectives and Naval Group is committed to their achievement.”
Expanding on this, the joint release sought to allay any fears following comments made by Davis, who raised poignant questions about the amount of Australian industry content in the program and Naval Group’s commitment to supporting the development of Australian industry as mandated.
“At this stage of the program, the preliminary design phase of the Attack Class progressing through the activities with Naval Group’s design team in France and Adelaide and Lockheed Martin Australia’s design team in Adelaide. Over 137 Australian companies and organisations have subcontracts at this point. A listing of many of these is attached and will grow.”
Amid growing concerns about delays to the complex design phase as a result of the conversion of the submarines from nuclear propulsion to a conventional, diesel-electric system, both Defence and Naval Group responded, stating:
“Design of the Attack Class will continue into the 2020s, transitioning to Australia during the detailed design phase. The build of a hull qualification section in Adelaide is projected to commence in 2023 to certify the Australian workers and construction yard equipment ahead of the construction of the first Attack Class submarine.
A key focus of this was the mutual focus on the role Australian industry will play as the program continues to evolve over time from the detailed design phase through to the cutting of first steel, which is planned for 2022.
“As these activities progress, we will also be systematically approaching Australian industry to identify suitable suppliers of the vast array of equipment to be fitted to the submarine, ranging from hydraulic systems to galley equipment,” the joint release stated.
“Providing Australian industry with opportunities to become involved in the program during design of the submarine offers us the best opportunity to develop capability and build the enduring industrial base we will need for the sovereign sustainment of the Attack Class fleet.”
Finally, Defence and Naval Group moved to allay fears, reinforcing their commitment to supporting the development of a sustainable, competitive Australian defence industry, stating: “As all of these activities progress, the level of Australian industry participation and the development of Australian industry capability will continue to grow, meeting our goal of maximising industry’s involvement in the Attack Class Submarine Program and sustaining the sovereign control our nation requires over this strategic Defence capability.”
The Attack Class submarines will be delivered as part of the $50bn SEA 1000 Future Submarine program. Naval Group will build 12 regionally-superior submarines for the Royal Australian Navy.
Naval Group’s successful Shortfin Barracuda design, which serves as the basis for the new Attack Class, is a conventionally-powered variant of the nuclear-powered Barracuda fast attack submarine currently under construction for the French Navy.
Lockheed Martin will provide the AN/BYG-1 combat control system, which provides an open-architecture submarine combat control system for analysing and tracking submarine and surface-ship contacts, providing situational awareness as well as the capability to target and employ torpedoes and missiles.
The 12 vessels will be built by Naval Group at a specialist submarine shipyard at Osborne, South Australia. The Commonwealth government’s Australian Naval Infrastructure (ANI) program will support the development of the future submarine shipyards.
The Commonwealth government formally signed the strategic partnering agreement with Naval Group in February 2019 ahead of confirming the final design specifications and requirements for the Attack Class submarines.
The Attack Class will enter service with the Royal Australian Navy at a time when 50 per cent of the world’s submarines will be operating in the Indo-Pacific region. (Source: Defence Connect)
13 Feb 20. Defence Minister Warns French Designers of Australia’s Submarine Fleet After Company Questions Local Supplier Capability. Relations between the Federal Government and the French company designing Australia’s future submarines have hit a new low, with the Defence Minister declaring she will hold the group to account on its local industry commitments.
— The chief executive of Naval Group questioned the capability of Australian suppliers in an interview with The Australian
— Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said the Government would “hold Naval Group to account for the commitments they signed on for”
— Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price has previously said there is no specific percentage requirement of Australian industry content included in the contract
The Minister’s blistering attack followed comments from France-based Naval Group questioning the capability of local suppliers, and suggestions Australian businesses may not get half of the value of contracts under the $80bn program.
Naval Group Australia chief executive John Davis told The Australian newspaper on Thursday that the company “didn’t know the Australian market before we joined the program”.
“Now we have a much deeper insight, and we recognise there is a lot more work to be done than we anticipated,” he said.
A furious Defence Minister Linda Reynolds expressed her disappointment at the comments and said she would discuss the Government’s expectation of strong Australian industry involvement when she met her French counterpart in Europe on Friday.
“I am disappointed by the comments attributed to Naval Group Australia on the Future Submarine Program as they do not reflect the strong collaboration between Naval Group and Australian industry on this program of national significance,” Senator Reynolds said in a statement.
“Our Government will hold Naval Group to account for the commitments they signed on for to work with Australia’s world-leading defence and shipbuilding industry.” (Source: defense-aerospace.com/ABC Australia)
13 Feb 20. Singapore Airshow 2020: Indonesian Navy seeks USD320mturn for utility helicopters. The Indonesian Navy (Tentara Nasional Indonesia – Angkatan Laut: TNI-AL) has submitted an IDR4.59trn (USD320m) request for six utility helicopters to the country’s finance ministry.
A declassified copy of the request was provided to Jane’s by a military source at Singapore Airshow 2020, which runs from 11-16 February. This document was submitted to the ministry in late January 2020, together with a separate USD375m funding request for eight attack helicopters. According to information from the document, the funding is sought from the country’s national defence budget for the fiscal years spanning 2020-24. (Source: Jane’s)
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