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UNITED KINGDOM AND NATO
27 May 20. Navantia, BMT, Harland and Wolff to lure UK ship contracts. The two companies have signed an ‘exclusive Teaming Agreement’ to bid for the Fleet Solid Support Ship (FSS) contract with BMT listed as an exclusive subcontractor should the team win the contract.
The teaming follows a troubled year for Harland and Wolff which went into administration last August and was later acquired by InfraStrata.
In a press release Team Resolute wrote: “Team Resolute combines 159 years of shipbuilding experience at one of the UK’s biggest shipyards, including the two largest dry docks in Europe, with unrivalled auxiliary design experience from UK designer BMT and a world-leading auxiliary shipbuilding track record from Navantia.”
The teaming agreement follows a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by InfraStrata and Navantia last year that raised hopes the Fleet Solid Support Ship contract would be awarded to a UK contractor. The MoU laid the groundwork for further discussion on sharing work on the programme should it be awarded to Navantia.
The partnership described its offer to build the Fleet Solid Support Ships as ‘low risk and value for money UK solution’ based on the companies’ experience in building similar support vessels for foreign navies.
If successful in its bid, the FSS ships would be designed by BMT and assembled at Harland and Wolff’s Belfast shipyard incorporating ‘wider UK fabrication, materials and equipment.’
Under the deal, Navantia would also supply ‘digital shipyard knowledge’ to Harland and Wolff, which the partnership says could improve efficiency by up to 20%. The technology would be used for the FSS programme and other UK naval modernisation efforts that Team Resolute hopes to secure.
BMT has experience in designing ships for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, having designed the Tide-class tankers which provide Royal Navy vessels with fuel and other stores while underway. Despite being designed by BMT the ships were built by Daewoo in South Korea.
In its press release, the trio said its bid for the FSS contract was ‘the ideal partnership for assured FSS delivery’ building on BMT’s ‘unique design experience’ which it said would shrink development time. The group added: “Harland & Wolff’s and Navantia’s joint unparalleled dry dock capacity will minimise the FSS ships entry to service for the Carrier Strike Group.”
Executives respond to the partnership
InfraStrata CEO John Wood, said: “This partnership has the capability and credibility to disrupt the UK defence shipbuilding duopoly that currently exists, providing much-needed competition in the defence sector to ensure value for money and guaranteed delivery.
“Team Resolute will create a more level playing field when competing for upcoming defence contracts. It will also provide Harland & Wolff with a strong proposition to tender for contracts in the oil & gas, cruise & ferry, commercial and renewable sectors. We have always selected our partners carefully. In Navantia, we see a long term partner not only within the defence sector – we are also in advanced discussions for further teaming agreements in relation to offshore wind farms.”
Navantia Director of International Defence & Security and spokesperson Abel Méndez commented:
“It is clear that under a new management team, Harland & Wolff is a shipyard that is forward-thinking, agile and ready to do business. We are excited about this new collaboration and the opportunities it will bring for both partners.”
BMT business development director Rob Teasdale said: “BMT is excited to be part of Team Resolute with leading shipyards Harland & Wolff and Navantia to provide a dedicated partnership for UK’s Future Solid Support (FSS) ships.
“This new cooperation for Team Resolute, under which the three companies will work together on the FSS project, will lend our globally renowned ship design capabilities on a world-leading capability for UK’s defence and national security requirements. We look forward to working with Harland & Wolff to modernise and strengthen the UK’s sovereign shipbuilding capability.
“The combination of BMT’s experience across the maritime sector and our heritage in ship design is the ideal pedigree to bring large and challenging projects to successful fruition. With the reopening of the contest anticipated later this year, BMT stands ready with Harland & Wolff and Navantia to offer a modern approach to the FSS program that will contribute to sovereign shipbuilding and prosperity for the United Kingdom for years to come.”
Fleet Solid Support Ships: controversy and carrier strike
The FSS vessels are designed to supply vessels with ammunition, food, and other requisites while underway, a role currently filled by RFA Fort Austin and RFA Fort Rosalie. The contract to build the ships received criticism after the Ministry of Defence (MOD) decided not to classify the vessels as warships paving the way for the ships to be built overseas and not in UK shipyards.
Late last year the £1bn three-ship contract was put on ice by the MOD which said the current approach to acquisition ‘will not deliver the requirement.’ The MOD also said it was looking to ensure the programme delivered ongoing value for money.
The programme has yet to be restarted, however, in May, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has said he expects the programme to recommence in September this year.
Commenting on the current status of the programme an MOD spokesperson told Naval Technology: “We continue work on the procurement strategy for the Fleet Solid Support ship and will provide further details when the current stage is completed.”
Harland and Wolff, Navantia and BMT
Harland and Wolff was founded in 1861 and its facilities include some of the largest dry docks in Europe, the shipyard went into administration last year and was acquired by InfraStrata put in place a new management team to oversee the company.
Spanish-based Navantia has delivered 40 ships in the last five years including vessels for several international customers including Turkey, Australia, and Norway. Under the deal, Navantia and Harland and Wolff could work concurrently on contracts between the pairs shipyards in Belfast and Puerto Real.
BMT works across defence and several other sectors. The company worked on the design of the UK’s two Queen Elizabeth-Class aircraft carriers as well as the Tide class tankers in service with the RFA. (Source: naval-technology.com)
26 May 20. Fighter Aircraft of the Future: Common Air Chiefs Assessment Criteria. What should the future common European fighter plane look like, what should it be able to do and how should the different systems be networked?
These are essential questions for the further development of the Next Generation Weapon System (NGWS) and the national Future Combat Air System (FCAS).
The Air Chiefs of the German, French and Spanish Air Forces have now signed two important key documents. The German Air Force inspector, Lt. Gen. Ingo Gerhartz, the French Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Philippe Lavigne and the Spanish Air Force Chief of Staff Lt Gen Javier Fernández had already agreed on the content during a video conference on May 7.
They have been with the Next Generation Weapon System (NGWS) program from the start at the working group and management levels. They have now specified and defined their common position on two important topics. (Because of the current pandemic restrictions, each signed the documents at his desk—Ed.)
Cooperation as seamless as possible
The first is a common vision of the Air Force, the “Common Understanding Connectivity” (CUC), to promote the interoperability of its own air combat components and that of its multinational partners, and to pave the way for connectivity at the NGWS / FCAS level.
Interoperability is the ability of different systems to work together as seamlessly as possible. Connectivity basically describes the ability of operating systems to establish a connection between a computer and networks. A common understanding of the operation of complex communication systems is a key element of the Next Generation Weapon System program. The CUC enables partners to bring their development programs closer together and to coordinate them.
The second topic concerns the evaluation criteria for the architecture of the NGWS. So far, there are ten different models of how the system could be built. There are several concepts for the planned new fighter aircraft (Next Generation Fighter) as well as for their unmanned support aircraft (Remote Carriers) with differences in range, maneuverability, armament and others. The Air Chiefs have now jointly weighted the evaluation criteria for the architectures in order to support the joint project team in their selection in a later phase of the concept study.
The Next Generation Weapon System consists of several components. From 2040, the Next Generation Fighter, unmanned remote carriers and a Combat Cloud will form the Next Generation Weapon System (NGWS) which, together with other systems, will constitute the Future Combat Air System (FCAS)
FCAS is intended to connect all components – both manned and unmanned — in air combat as a “System of Systems” from 2040 -. The aim is to create a large-scale system that connects the individual systems of the participating countries with the support of artificial intelligence. The heart of every Future Combat Air System is the Next-Generation Weapon System, which is shared by Germany, France and Spain.
(Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com) (Source: defense-aerospace.com/German Armed Forces)
27 May 20. US Navy seeks multi-engine trainer aircraft. The US Navy (USN) is seeking a new aircraft to train multi-engine students for itself, the US Marine Corps (USMC), and US Coast Guard (USCG). Having flown the T-44 Pegasus (pictured) since 1980, the US Navy is now looking for a new multi-engine trainer to instruct its own student pilots, as well as those of the US Marine Corps and US Coast Guard.
A request for information (RFI) for the Multi-Engine Training Aircraft (META) requirement called for a commercially available aircraft to replace the Beechcraft T-44 Pegasus variant of the King Air 90 that the service has used for the role since 1980.
“This Performance Based Specification (PBS) establishes the overall system capabilities, functionality, and equipage for the commercial airplane that is part of Multi Engine Training System (METS)”, the solicitation posted on the beta.sam.gov website on 26 May said.
The RFI laid out some required performance parameters for the candidate aircraft, including a cruise speed of no less than 195 kt, a service ceiling no less than 20,000 ft, and endurance no less than 3.5 hours (while performing certain stated flight profiles). Other specifications included passenger seating numbers, baggage carrying loads, and other items.
While the solicitation made no mention of anticipated aircraft numbers, Janes World Navies lists the USN as currently having 54 T-44s in its inventory. Operational multi-engine types flown by the USN, USMC, and USCG include the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey, Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules, Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye, Boeing P-8A Poseidon, Boeing C-41 Clipper, Airbus HC-144A Ocean Sentry, and Leonardo HC-27J. Responses to the RFI are due no later than 16:30 h EDT, 10 July. (Source: Jane’s)
REST OF THE WORLD
28 May 20. Babcock selects Bell 429 for Australian special forces bid. Babcock Australia has downselected the Bell 429 as its bidding platform for Australia’s contest to obtain a new special forces helicopter.
“The Bell 429 has a relatively new paramilitary design, with high levels of safety, role flexibility and performance that will meet the demands of Australian Special Forces,” says Babcock Australasia managing director Graeme Nayler.
“Working together, Babcock and Bell draw on a global track record of successful helicopter operations to deliver a trusted solution,” Babcock says.
The Bell 429 was also selected by another Australian prime contractor, Hawker Pacific, in a separate bid for the requirement, designated Project Land 2097 phase 4. The two companies have separate offerings for the deal, with the only similarity being the aircraft type selected.
“Babcock’s success as a defence prime is attributed to its ability to offer capability-focussed solutions that select the best products and services tailored to the specific needs of the customer,” Nayler says. “Babcock operates helicopters from all of the major manufacturers and understands the relative advantages of each system and provider.”
A request for proposals for the programme was issued in February, following a request for information (RFI) in September 2018. The requirement calls for 20 rotorcraft.
According to the RFI, the Department of Defence wants in-service helicopters – both commercial and military platforms – “optimised for dense urban environments”, and which can be deployed by a Boeing C-17 strategic transport.
The system must be capable of deploying with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment and weapons. Missions will involve the insertion and extraction of special forces, fire support for small teams, hostage recovery, and tactical observation.
The project has attracted interest from suppliers such as Airbus Helicopters, with the H145M, and Boeing, pitching its AH-6I Little Bird, plus Leonardo Helicopters.
Babcock Australia, a unit of Babcock International, is a major helicopter operator in Australia. Key missions include emergency medical services, search and rescue, offshore services, and police operations.
Cirium fleets data shows that Babcock Australasia has 21 in-service rotorcraft. These include 11 Bell 412s, six Leonardo Helicopters AW139s, two MD Helicopters MD500s, one Airbus Helicopters H125 and one H130. (Source: News Now/Flight Global)
21 May 20. Indian Air Force restructures $17bn fighter jet program. The Indian Air Force is overhauling its plan to induct 114 medium-weight multirole fighters, with a senior service official saying the aircraft will be built in India with significant foreign technology transfer and no foreign procurement. The effort will cost about $17bn under the Make in India economic policy.
The Air Force official said the project is very much alive, but that the “final nitty-gritties have yet to be worked out, and that will take time because it will require manufacturing capability building in the country.”
Daljit Singh, a retired Indian Air Force air marshal and current defense analyst, agreed that India must move quickly to create the capability to manufacture high-tech systems at home.
“The main aim should be to extract the maximum [transfer of technology] from the OEM [original equipment manufacturer] and start manufacturing subcomponents through Indian companies,” Singh said.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced Saturday that the government will create a separate budget for domestic procurement of weapons and equipment to help reduce the imports bill.
A Ministry of Defence official said a formal budget allocation of about $17bn for the multirole fighters project will be granted sometime next year, and will be launched under the Strategic Partners procurement policy.
Under that policy, the multirole fighters will be manufactured by domestic private defense companies with one of the original equipment manufacturers approved by the government. The process for selecting contractors is yet to begin, but the MoD official said the businesses will be selected within three years.
No private defense company in India has made fighter jets before, but several have expressed interest in participating in the program, including Tata Advanced Systems, Adani Defence, Reliance Defence, Mahindra Defence and Bharat Forge Limited.
Reliance Defence has created a joint venture with France’s Dassault Aviation, which currently manufactures components for Rafale fighters.
Meanwhile, Tata Advanced Systems has teamed with Lockheed Martin, an American company that produces the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Adani Defence has announced a teaming arrangement Sweden’s Saab AB, which makes the Gripen jet.
Another Indian Air Force official said a request for information was sent in June 2018 to foreign original equipment manufacturers for the multirole fighters. Among those who have responded to the RFI are: Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Dassault Aviation, Saab AB, Airbus Defence and Space, Russian Aircraft Corporation, and Sukhoi Company.
The Indian Air Force plans to induct all 114 multirole fighters within 12 years after the contract is awarded.
The official added that the RFI included the requirement for transfer of technology, including the transfer of design, development, manufacturing and repair expertise. It also included the requirement for the unilateral capability to integrate weapons, systems and sensors. The capability to upgrade the aircraft and a provision on exporting the aircraft is also part of the program. India is also seeking transfer of technology for stealth technology, active electronically scanned array radars, avionics, electronic warfare systems and engines.
“The advantage of making a fighter aircraft in India is that the customer can select the types of sensors, EW equipment, avionics and weapons, as per operational requirements. Subsequently, the customer is assured of full logistic and upgrade support without any restriction. However, it is important to embed most of these systems in the aircraft design itself to ensure low observability and systems compatibility,” he said.
However, Singh, the defense analyst, said any transfer of technology agreement would need to make business sense to the OEM. “Propriety Items could still be under the control of the OEM,” he said. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
26 May 20. EOI sought for next-gen maritime electronic warfare capabilities. Defence is seeking expressions of interest to support the research and development of next-generation maritime-based electronic warfare capabilities, with a particular focus on supporting Australian SMEs and the R&D sector.
Late last year, the Commonwealth released a Request for Information (RFI) seeking to understand the sovereign industry capacity and maturity that is available to support delivery of the Modernisation of Maritime Electronic Warfare Program.
Although the RFI had a good response, the criteria to respond may have precluded some organisations with capability in this area from participating in the RFI.
The Commonwealth is keen to support Australian sovereign capability, particularly SMEs without existing security clearance, and publicly funded research organisations likewise currently lacking this accreditation or otherwise may have thought that the scope of the technology was not in their realm.
Electronic warfare covers a broad range of R&D areas and as such the Commonwealth is interested in exploring and connecting with others who may not currently comply with the original RFI’s participation criteria.
The program will enable superior levels of command and control through improved battlespace situation awareness, relevant and timely intelligence and information products, innovative electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) tools that encompass electronic warfare (EW) capabilities, and communication and information management systems.
This includes the following:
Sense: Measures the EMS, which is required to manage, navigate, shape and manipulate the EMS.
In the program construct, the sense function represents not only the core (EMS) measurement function but also the fusion of data across an integrated sensor network (being platform, task group, joint force).
Analyse: Takes the output from the Sense function and integrates it with additional information (i.e. radar tracks, geographical location etc) and provides an integrated situation awareness picture (with a strong EMS bias).
Under the program, it is anticipated that this function is almost entirely automated. This function includes pre and post-mission data analysis activity.
Effect: Represents the “active” electronic attack capability that the program ultimately delivers.
Under this model, the effect function includes all actions that the entity may perform in order to manage and/or manipulate the electromagnetic environment.
This includes the switching off or reconfiguration of systems, active management of signatures (both active and passive), passive countermeasures (flares and chaff) and active emissions and/or electronic attack.
Command/Control and Co-ordinate: Underpins the timely delivery of capability effect in a co-ordinated and controlled manner.
Activities performed by this function include EMS battle management, situation understanding and co-ordination of passive and active effects. These activities are scalable across the platform, task group and joint force operations. (Source: Defence Connect)
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