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21 Feb 20. Boeing moves to emphasise industrial legacy alongside advanced platforms. Boeing is working to take advantage of its long-running relationships with Finnish industry as part of its industrial offering for the replacement of Finland’s legacy Hornet aircraft to ensure security of supply, officials told Jane’s at a media event on 19 February.
“Because Finland is very conscious in complying with EU Directive 81 and Article 346 TFEU, which allows it to have an official industrial participation project, it needs to ensure that all those projects are focused on the defence sector,” Boeing Vice President for International Strategic Partnerships Maria Laine told Jane’s at the launch of Boeing’s HX Challenge.
As a result, commercial aerospace opportunities for Finland’s industry through the HX acquisition programme are not available, when compared to other countries’ industrial participation programmes, such as those of the UK and Australia.
Wider opportunities for Finnish industry in the HX programme could include collaboration in other areas related to the acquisition, such as assembly, or component and sub-system manufacture, or defence and security related work in areas such as cyber security.
Some bidders in the HX programme have said that the establishment of an aero engine final assembly line could be a possibility for their offering. However, GE Aviation Military Business Director Geoff Hanson said that it was “too early to say. It will be one of the options we consider, and we will work with Boeing on that.”
“We work with Patria now, having supported the previous sale of Hornet, and will continue to work with Patria and other local industry,” Hanson added. Boeing is bidding the Block III F/A-18 E and F Super Hornet, as well as the Next Generation Jammer (NGJ) equipped E/A-18G Growler. Boeing’s offering to Finland also includes a buddy-tanker capability. (Source: Jane’s)
27 Feb 20. AFA Winter 2020: US Air Force faces integration challenges with B-52H re-engining.Pratt & Whitney PW800. The US Air Force (USAF) faces a variety of integration issues ranging from connectivity to weight when it eventually attempts to install new engines on its fleet of Boeing B-52H Stratofortress heavy bombers.
The USAF is proceeding with this effort that is formally known as the B-52 Commercial Engine Replacement Program (CERP). CERP promises to be a big procurement opportunity for industry, as the USAF has 76 B-52Hs in service: 58 (four test) in the active service plus 18 in the Air Force Reserves. The USAF would procure at least 608 engines, as there are eight Pratt & Whitney TF33-P-3/103 turbofan engines on each platform.
The current industry offerings for CERP are Pratt & Whitney, with its PW800, and Rolls-Royce, with its VR725 from the company’s family of F130 engines. General Electric (GE) is offering its legacy CF34-10 engine and its newer Passport propulsion system.
Replacing engines on an aircraft such as the B-52H, which initially entered service in the 1950s, is not as easy as simply procuring and installing new propulsion systems, even if they are commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) offerings. Christopher Johnson, Pratt & Whitney executive director for mobility and diverse engine programmes, told Jane’s on 25 February that integrating new engines was risky as there were weight concerns. The USAF, he said, must ensure that the B-52H wings could handle a heaver engine if the proposed engine was indeed heavier than the TF33.
There could also be potential changes needed to physically and electronically connect the new engines in the aircraft’s nacelles. Craig McVay, Rolls-Royce senior vice-president for strategic campaigns, told Jane’s on 21 February that it would be very important to ensure that the B-52H, with its new engines, still received the same signals as it would with a TF33. (Source: Jane’s)
24 Feb 20. Air Force To Pump New Tech Startups With $10m Awards. The Air Force’s new investment strategy is designed to “catalyze the commercial market by bringing our military market to bear,” says Roper.
The Air Force will roll out the final stage in its commercial startup investment strategy during the March 13-20 South By Southwest music festival, granting one or more contracts worth at least $10m to startups with game-changing technologies, service acquisition chief Will Roper says.
The first-of-its kind event in Austin, called the Air Force Pitch Bowl, will match Air Force investment with private venture capital funds on a one to two ratio, according to a presentation by Capt. Chris Benson of AFWERX at the Strategic Institute’s Dec. 4-5 “AcquisitionX” meeting. So, if the Air Force investment fund, called Air Force Ventures, puts in $20m, the private capital match would be $40m.
AFWERX, the Air Force’s innovation unit, has one of its hubs in Austin.
“This has been a year in the making now, trying to make our investment arm, the Air Force Ventures, act like an investor, even if it’s a government entity,” Roper explained. “We don’t invest like a private investor — we don’t own equity — we’re just putting companies on contract. But for early stage companies, that contract acts a lot like an investor.”
The goal is to help steer private resources toward new technologies that will benefit both US consumers and national security to stay ahead of China’s rapid tech growth, Roper told reporters here Friday.
The Air Force wants to “catalyze the commercial market by bringing our military market to bear,” he said. “We’re going to be part of the global tech ecosystem.”
Figuring out how to harness the commercial marketplace is critical, Roper explained, because DoD dollars make up a dwindling percentage of the capital investment in US research and development. This is despite DoD’s 2021 budget request for research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) of $106.6bn being “the largest in its history,” according to Pentagon budget rollout materials. The Air Force’s share is set at $37.3bn, $10.3bn of which is slated for Space Force programs.
“We are 20 percent of the R&D is this country — that’s where the military is today,” Roper said. “So if we don’t start thinking of ourselves as part of a global ecosystem, looking to influence trends, investing in technologies that could be dual-use — well, 20 percent is not going to compete with China long-term, with a nationalized industrial base that can pick national winners.”
The process for interested startups to compete for funds has three steps, Roper explained, beginning with the Air Force “placing a thousand, $50K bets per year that are open.” That is, any company can put forward its ideas to the service in general instead of there being a certain program office in mind. “We’ll get you in the door,” Roper said, “we’ll provide the accelerator functions that connect you with a customer.
“Pitch days” are the second step, he said. Companies chosen to be groomed in the first round make a rapid-fire sales pitch to potential Air Force entities — such as Space and Missile Systems Center and Air Force Research Laboratory — that can provide funding, as well as to venture capitalists partnering with the Air Force.
As Breaking D broke in October, part of the new acquisition strategy is luring in private capital firms and individual investors to match Air Force funding in commercial startups as a way to to bridge the ‘valley of death’ and rapidly scale up capability.
The service has been experimenting with ‘pitch days’ across the country over the last year, such as the Space Pitch Days held in San Francisco in November when the service handed out $22.5 m to 30 companies over two days. Roper said he intends to make “maybe 300 of those awards per year,” with the research contracts ranging from $1 m to $3 m a piece and “where program dollars get matched by our investment dollars.”
The final piece of the strategy, Roper explained, is picking out the start-ups that can successfully field game-changing technologies.
“The thing that we’re working on now is the big bets, the 30 to 40 big ideas, disruptive ideas that can change our mission and hopefully change the world,” Roper said. “We’re looking for those types of companies.”
The Air Force on Oct. 16 issued its first call for firms to compete for these larger SBIR contracts under a new type of solicitation, called a “commercial solutions opening.” The call went to companies already holding Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) awards. The winners will be announced in Austin.
If the strategy is successful, Roper said, the chosen firms will thrive and become profitable dual-use firms focused primarily on the commercial market.
“The, we’re starting to build a different kind of industry base,” Roper enthused. “So, we’ve gotta get the big bets right. Then most importantly, if you succeed in one of the big bets, then we need to put you on contract on the other side, or else the whole thing is bunk.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Breaking Defense)
25 Feb 20. FARA: Five-Way Fight For Army’s Future Scout. AVX/L3, Bell, Boeing, Karem, and Sikorsky have submitted their designs for the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft. None of them is a conventional helicopter. After four decades of failed attempts to replace its Vietnam-vintage OH-58 Kiowa scout, next month the Army will choose two of five competing teams to build prototypes for a new Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft.
Those prototypes, in turn, will compete for a mass-production contract in a 2023 “fly off,” with deliveries no later than 2028. A new scout is urgently overdue as the US faces ever-more-sophisticated Russian and Chinese air defenses that can keep traditional aircraft at bay. But with limited budgets, the Army will have to pick and choose high-priority units to get FARA first, and the rest of the force will have to wait.
“We’ve got to look at, where are the most critical spots to bring capability,” said Brig. Gen. Michael McCurry, director of aviation for the Army Deputy Chief of Staff for operations and plans. The priority is the cutting-edge combat units that must break open sophisticated anti-aircraft defensives for the rest of the force to follow, he told me: “That penetrate force, that’s where FARA is going to go.”
Learning From the Past
Now, the Army has made its job easier in a couple of important ways. Perhaps most important, instead of the traditional dozens or hundreds of detailed technical specifications that hem in designers’ ingenuity, Future Vertical Lift director Brig. Gen. Walter Rugen told me, “we have very few critical attributes within our FARA spec.”
One huge thing that the Army is not asking for: stealth. Unlike the costly Boeing Comanche cancelled in 2006, the FARA won’t have to be shaped and coated to be impervious to radar – which is largely irrelevant to low-flying helicopters hiding behind hills, trees, or buildings, which are most often detected by the sound of their rotors, not by radar. Like the Comanche, advertised as a “digital quarterback,” FARA will act as an electronic hub for battlefield intelligence, collecting target data from drones and passing it to Army artillery, hypersonic missiles, and Air Force strike fighters – but network tech has come a long way since 2006, the year before the iPhone went on sale.
Finally, unlike the Comanche, FARA won’t be a conventional helicopter with a single main rotor and a small tail rotor for stability. The speed and range required to survive the future battlefield are greater than that classic set-up can achieve. That’s driven all four firms who’ve discussed their designs in public – Boeing has not revealed anything – to adopt innovative configurations the Army’s never fielded before. Only one of the designs, Sikorsky’s, is based on an existing aircraft that’s done actual flight tests.
But the Army is confident the competitors can deliver. In detailed modeling, Rugen said, “all those offerings are beating those [minimum] mission critical attributes that we’re trying towards.”
Congress actually cut the FARA budget for 2020 by $34m. That won’t slow the program down, the Army has said, but it will reduce the amount of Government Furnished Equipment (GFE) the service can provide the contractors to build their prototypes around: weapons systems including a 20-millimeter autocannon and a missile launcher, Modular Open Systems Architecture (MOSA) electronics, and the GE Improved Turbine Engine. To simplify and speed up development, all the competitors are required to include these standard-issue systems in their design — but the aircraft they build around them are radically different.
Design shop AVX has proposed an aircraft with two helicopter-style main rotors for vertical takeoff, wings for extra lift, and a pair of their characteristic ducted fans for speed. AVX, founded by Bell alumni, has never built an actual aircraft. But it’s backed by the manufacturing might of the much larger L3Harris, a firm created by the merger of the 18th and 26th-largest defense contractors in the world (as per their 2019 rankings on the Defense News Top 100).
By contrast, Bell – part of Textron, No. 34 on the Top 100 – is a major builder of both military and commercial helicopters, as well as the revolutionary V-22 Osprey tiltrotor, from which the company’s contender for the Army’s future transport aircraft, the V-280, derives. Ironically, the Bell 360 Invictus is the most conservative-looking of the four known FARA designs: It’s a streamlined single-main-rotor helicopter (looking kind of like Comanche) with the addition of two short wings for extra lift. Inside the aircraft, though, Bell is using new fly-by-wire flight controls and other technologies developed for its civilian Bell 525.
Aerospace giant Boeing – No. 2 of the top 100, counting its defense contracts alone – builds the Army’s current mainstay armored gunship, the AH-64 Apache; its heavy lifter, the CH-47 Chinook; and, with Bell, the V-22 tiltrotor. But Boeing, which built the stealthy Comanche, is so far in public-relations stealth mode on FARA, declining to discuss its design.
Karem Aerospace is another design shop with an excellent pedigree – its founder is the father of the Predator drone – but no track record of actually building an aircraft. However, it’s partnered with Northrop Grumman (No. 3 of the top 100) and Raytheon (No. 4) for this program, giving it serious manufacturing heft. The Karem AR-40 design has a unique combination of a single main rotor on top, a propeller at the tail that can swivel to act either as a tail rotor for stability or a pusher propeller for thrust, and wings that can tilt for the optimum aerodynamic angle in different modes of flight.
Last in the alphabet, comes Sikorsky, the helicopter division of the world’s biggest defense contract, Lockheed Martin. While Sikorsky’s Raider-X design hasn’t flown yet, it’s essentially a 20 percent larger version of the two S-97 Raiders the company built and flight-tested at its own expense. (One of them was totaled in the process, thankfully with no loss of life). And Sikorsky already knows how to upscale its compound helicopter technology, because there’s already an even bigger member of the family, the Sikorsky-Boeing SB>1 Defiant, now in flight tests for the Army’s Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA).
All these aircraft derive from the Collier Trophy-winning X2 and share its configuration: two main rotors on top, using ultra-rigid blades to provide maximum lift with minimum vibration at high speeds, and a single pusher propeller at the tail. Between the X2, the S-97, and the SB>1, Sikorsky’s configuration has been through far more flight testing than any of its competitors on FARA.
So which team has the best combination of innovative design, proven technology, and the manufacturing muscle to build it at a price the nation can afford? That’s a call the Army will make, and soon. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Breaking Defense)
24 Feb 20. USMC seeks medium- and long-range/endurance ISTAR UAVs. The US Marine Corps (USMC) is looking to field two new unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) for intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR), according to requests for information (RFI) issued on 21 February. The two separate RFIs posted by the Department of the Navy call for a medium-range/medium-endurance (MR/ME) and a long-range/long-endurance (LR/LE) UAS. The RFIs define MR/ME and LR/LE as 10km/2 h and 20km/4 h respectively.
In both cases, the Program Executive Officer, Strike Weapons and Unmanned Aviation (PEO [U/W]), Navy and Marine Corps Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program Office (PMA-263), is looking for a system that is capable of providing ISTAR services during day and night operations in all environmental conditions.
“The system should be rugged and ready to use as delivered with minimal logistic, training and support requirements. The system should provide real-time full motion video via electro-optical [EO] and/or infrared [IR] sensors. The air vehicles (AV) should be capable of autonomous or a safe manual launch with a minimum of support equipment from a small confined area, and should be capable of either a manual or an autonomous recovery within the same area as launch. The recovery method should be adequate to prevent system damage and allow for short turn-around times between missions. The ground control station (GCS) should be man-portable and consist of the necessary equipment to monitor the sensor(s) position and status, control its movement, and view its video”, the RFIs stated.
Both the medium- and long-range AVs should be capable of short-field operations and/or vertical take-off and landing (VTOL), and be battery-powered. The smaller medium-range AV should have a take-off weight of less than 20lb (9.07kg), while the long-range system should be less than 55lb (24.95kg). (Source: Jane’s)
24 Feb 20. USAF to issue Agility Prime eVTOL solicitation. The US Air Force (USAF) on 25 February will release its Agility Prime electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft solicitation, an attempt to influence a key future technology and avoid repeating previous Pentagon mistakes that allowed China to dominate the small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) market.
Will Roper, USAF assistant secretary for acquisition, technology, and logistics (AT&L) told reporters at the Pentagon on 21 February that the service will have a challenge-style acquisition strategy. Companies will perform missions and, if they qualified, will move on to further opportunities on the path to being safety certified by the USAF and eventually a procurement contract. (Source: Jane’s)
21 Feb 20. Night court review frees $1.2bn from US Army legacy programmes. The latest ‘night court’ review carried out by top US Army leaders has freed more than $1.2bn from the service’s legacy programmes. As per an official document released by US Army budget officials, the entire list of programmes includes 39 reductions and 41 eliminations. More than $868.9m was freed from the reductions and $324.1m from the eliminations.
The complete list includes smaller savings such as $1.4m on nine FIM-92 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and $303,000 from six M102 non-lethal reloadable grenades, more than $3.4m in lasers, $4.8m in armour protection kits, and $1.6m in defence cyber tools and other programmes.
The larger savings came from reducing $222m in M2 Bradley upgrades and more than $122m from Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System elimination.
Savings would be used to finance modernisation projects in the fiscal 2021 budget request. The projects include long-range precision fires, the next-generation combat vehicle, future vertical airlift, tactical network, air and missile defence, and soldier lethality. (Source: army-technology.com)
21 Feb 20. Air Force Pushes Ahead On ‘Flying Car’ Challenge. The Air Force will release a request for proposals Feb. 25 for a ‘flying car’ that could eventually transport soldiers and supplies to the battlefield, says service acquisition head Will Roper.
“Now is the perfect time to make Jetson’s cars real,” with this program, Agility Prime. It “has come a long way,” Roper told reporters here today/. In his irresistible way, he added that “it’s a fun program.”
The goal is not for the Air Force to build the new transport vehicle, but to offer commercial firms an opportunity to test their prototypes on military ranges — avoiding the need to go through the time-consuming safety certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), while at the same time demonstrating their possible military utility.
Roper explained that Agility Prime is an effort to to influence an entire emerging marketplace to take defense needs into account from the beginning. The program is “looking at commercial markets, in this case the electric vertical and takeoff and landing, flying car market,” he said, “that view the Air Force as a potential influencer of that market.”
“In the case of EVTOL, we see numerous companies that are pushing really cool technology that has the chance to really change the world, but their challenge is getting certification and safety,” Roper explained. “So, the value proposition we have with those companies isn’t our R&D money — they’re flush with cash from private investors — our value proposition is our test ranges our safety and air worthiness certification.”
(In fact, along the same lines, NASA has been working with Uber since 2018 on a similar flying car project for civil transport.)
The competition, Roper said, will be “challenge-based” where vendors will be required to meet different flight duration goals and carry various payloads to advance in the competition for an Air Force safety certification. (DARPA often uses challenges, that involve small cash prizes, for testing out new technologies.)
“We’re working with our operators right now on what missions we might do,” Roper added. “They’re a lot, which is great. There’s pilot rescue, there’s logistics, mobility is a great mission,” he said. Flying cars could even provide security, he enthused, “as at a nuclear base, where things are spread apart, this would really speed up how fast defenders are able to move.” Back in September, Roper further mused that they could be used by Air Force Special Operations Forces, although he downplayed a bit the original concept that they might replace the V-22 Osprey.
At the end of the challenge, he said, the winner would be in a position to garner a procurement contract.
“Moving on to a procurement contract, buying in quantity, logging flight hours” with the Air Force will allow winning companies to prove to domestic authorities that they can fly safely, Roper said. “We want to catalyze the commercial market by bringing our commercial market to bear.”
What the Air Force wants to avoid, he stressed, is what happened in the small drone market; an issue that also has been bemoaned by DoD acquisition czar Ellen Lord. In that case, a potentially militarily beneficial commercial market was essentially conquered by Chinese investors because there wasn’t enough initial private capital and the Pentagon “didn’t take a proactive stance.”
“Now, most of that supply chain has moved to China,” he said. “If we had realized that commercial trend, and shown that the Pentagon is willing to pay a higher price point for a trusted supply chain drone, we probably could have kept part of the market here.” (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
REST OF THE WORLD
27 Feb 20. Canada extends Future Fighter Capability Project proposal deadline. The Canadian Government has granted an extension for the submission of preliminary proposals for the Future Fighter Capability Project (FFCP). The FFCP project will provide the Royal Canadian Air Force with an improved and advanced fighter aircraft.
The capability will replace the force’s existing fleet of CF-18 fighter jets. It involves acquiring 88 advanced jets, related equipment and weapons, including training and sustainment services.
At the request of industry, the deadline for completion and proposal submissions has been pushed from 30 March to 30 June 2020.
Evaluation of all proposals will be done based on criteria of capability (60%), cost (20%) and economic benefits (20%).
The extension of deadline has been granted to support open, fair and transparent competition.
The government is expecting to receive good proposals meeting the forces’ technical, cost and economic benefits requirements.
The request for proposals was issued in July last year.
Canadian National Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said: “Our government is making the necessary decisions to get the best aircraft for the Royal Canadian Air Force and Canada.
“This extension will allow the eligible suppliers to make their best possible offer to ensure that we are able to provide the equipment our members need at a fair cost to Canadians.”
This is said to be a significant investment carried out by the Royal Canadian Air Force after 30 years.
Saab, Lockheed Martin and Boeing were invited to submit proposals.
In September 2019, Airbus and the UK Ministry of Defence (UK MoD) decided to pull out of the FFCP.
Canadian Innovation, Science and Industry Minister Navdeep Bains said: “Canada’s industrial technological benefits policy is expected to generate high-value jobs and economic growth for Canadian aerospace and defence businesses for decades.
“Ensuring that all suppliers have the opportunity to put their best bid forward is important to ensure strong economic benefits are secured for Canadians.” (Source: airforce-technology.com)
27 Feb 20. Tunisia cleared to buy Wolverine light attack aircraft. The US government has approved the sale to Tunisia of four Textron AT-6 Wolverine light attack aircraft and associated equipment. The State Department approval, announced on 26 February, covers the twin-seat turboprop aircraft, as well as weapons, training, support, infrastructure, and other services, and is valued at USD325.8m.
“The proposed sale will improve Tunisia’s ability to meet current and future threats by increasing their capability and capacity to counter-terrorism and other violent extremist organisation threats. The AT-6 platform will bolster their capability to respond to and engage threats in multiple areas across the country,” the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said in its announcement.
The approval for Tunisia includes a range of general-purpose and precision-guided bombs, BAE Systems Advanced Precision Kill Weapon Systems (APKWS) guided rockets, and 12.7mm machine guns. The aircraft will also be fitted with the L-3 WESCAM MX 15D electro-optic/infrared (EO/IR) sensor turret.
The Wolverine is a dedicated light-attack variant of the T-6 Texan II trainer (the two types share 85% commonality). It features tandem digital cockpits, as well as six underwing pylons for carrying up to 680kg of external drop-tanks, bombs, rockets, and machine gun pods under each wing. (Source: Jane’s)
27 Feb 20. Pakistan to buy Chinese attack helicopters if Turkey and US fail to deliver. Pakistan will procure the Chinese-built Z-10 attack helicopter if Turkey and the United States fail to deliver on their orders of the T-129 and AH-1Z respectively, a senior offer said on 26 February.
Speaking at the IQPC International Military Helicopter conference in London, the commander of Pakistan’s Army Aviation, Major General Syed Najeeb Ahmed, said that the Changhe Aircraft Industries Corporation (CAIC) Z-10ME “remains an option” if the Turkish Aerospace T-129 and Bell AH-1Z Viper prove to be unobtainable for different reasons.
The Pakistan Army has a pressing need to replace its 32 ageing Bell AH-1 Cobra helicopters that have been in service for more than 30 years, with Gen Ahmed’s predecessor, Major General Nasir D Shah, telling Jane’s and other defence media in January 2018, “The AH-1 helicopters have provided effective close support for our ground forces engaged in counterinsurgency [COIN] operations, but they cannot be employed effectively in high-altitude operations above 8,000 ft.”
In the near-term, the army partially offset these limitations with the four Mil Mi-35s that it ordered from Russian some years ago, and which were delivered to the country in late 2017. Further to the Mi-35s, it evaluated the AH-1Z, T-129, and the Z-10 attack helicopters.
In January 2016 it was announced that Bell had been awarded a contract for 12 AH-1Zs, and in April 2017 Jane’s reported that the first three of 12 would be delivered in mid‐2017, with a second order to follow. However, the aircraft were yet to be delivered, and while there has been no official statement concerning reasons for delay it is understood to result from the current strained Pakistan-US relations. (Source: Jane’s)
25 Feb 20. Defence Minister outlines renewed commitment for SEA 1000 AIC. Defence Minister Linda Reynolds has confirmed a renewed commitment from Naval Group and French Defence Minister Florence Parly to maximising Australian industry involvement in the Future 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.
It is shaping up to be one hell of a labour and birthing process for Australia’s multibillion-dollar SEA 1000 Attack Class submarine program as government, Defence and Naval Group move to allay the fears of Australia’s strategic policy community and the public.
Despite repeated rebuffs by senior Defence uniformed personnel, bureaucrats and successive ministers of defence and defence industry, concerns released recently by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) in the report titled Future Submarine – Transition to design, combined with political concerns, all serve as powerful fuel to question the program.
This cost explosion is further exacerbated by an apparent ‘slip’ in the planned commencement date for construction of the lead boat, HMAS Attack, which was widely publicised as 2022-23 and has now subsequently been pushed back to the 2024 time frame – further exposing Australia’s ageing Collins Class vessels to potential adversary over match.
Defence Minister Linda Reynolds released a brief statement following a meeting with her French counterpart, Florence Parly, to confirm the continued role and participation of Australian industry in the submarine program.
“Following my meeting with French Minister of Defence Florence Parly in Munich, I welcome the French government’s continued commitment to maximising Australian industry involvement in the Future Submarine program,” Minister Reynolds explained.
“I have received an undertaking from Minister Parly that Naval Group is committed to a level of Australian industry capability of at least 60 per cent of the contract value spent in Australia.”
Expanding on this, Minister Reynolds stressed the government’s continued commitment to the multibillion-dollar program, and the role the future Attack Class will play in Australia’s strategic environment, stating:
“While I welcome this commitment, the Morrison government will hold Naval Group to account on their contractual commitment to maximise Australian industry involvement in this program, as per the objectives outlined in the strategic partnering agreement.
“Through this program, we are growing Australia’s sovereign industrial base while delivering this important national security capability of 12 regionally superior submarines. The Future Submarine Program underpins the growing strategic partnership between Australia and France and I look forward to continuing my productive dialogue with Minister Parly as we deliver this critical national security 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)
21 Feb 20. Airbus makes Tranche 3 Eurofighter offer to Colombia. Airbus Defence & Space (DS) has formally offered the Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft to the Colombian Air Force (Fuerza Aérea Colombiana: FAC) to replace its ageing fleet of Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) Kfirs.
Iván Gonzalez, Head of Combat Aircraft Campaigns at Airbus Group, told Jane’s on 20 February that the company has offered 15 Tranche 3 aircraft (12 single-seat and 3 twin-seat) to Colombia.
According to Gonzalez, the Eurofighter would be the best option for Colombia for several reasons: “The country needs an advanced multirole fighter and the Eurofighter is the aircraft that best meets this requirement. In addition, the Eurofighter has an air-to-air superiority unmatched by other competitors, as well as air-to-ground superiority already demonstrated in real operations”.
“Additionally, it is important to consider that in the event that Colombia opted for a Eurofighter fleet, it would join the largest European defense programme, which would also allow the country to take advantage of the technological and economic benefits associated with this programme,” he said.
The FAC is currently evaluating and examining proposals from several countries and manufacturers for its air superiority fighter replacement programme. According to the air force, the Eurofighter, Lockheed Martin F-16V Block 70/72 and Saab JAS 39 Gripen E/F have been shortlisted as a potential replacement for its Kfirs.
Replacing the 23 Israeli Kfir fighter jets, which Colombia bought three decades ago, could cost more than USD1bn, according to government sources. Despite budget limitations, President Ivan Duque has said he is in favour of modernising the country’s military equipment.
As part of its pitch, Airbus is proposing three main co-operation ‘pillars’: Sharing knowledge that will allow the national industry to support Colombia’s strategic defence programmes, support the development of the Colombian defence industry building up on the experience Airbus has with Corporacion de la Industria Aeronautica Colombiana (CIAC); and providing the necessary capacities to increase the country’s aeronautical industry autonomy and independence. (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.