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UNITED KINGDOM AND NATO
09 Jul 20. UK Mobile Fires Platform to replace AS90 kicks off. A number of companies are considering bidding the UK’s Mobile Fires Platform. BATTLESPACE understands that ARTEC is considering offering the Boxer RCH variant, Hanwha’s Team Thunder bidding a K9 variant whilst BAE is offering the Archer system mounted on a MAN truck for the wheeled version and no doubt Nexter will offer Caesar.
08 Jul 20. French push ahead with future aircraft carrier development and acquisition. French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to identify the next-generation aircraft carrier platform, or platforms for the French Navy following years of program delay as the global powers continue to invest in the powerful capability.
Throughout the history of naval warfare, platforms, doctrine and the very concept of maritime-based power projection and sea control have evolved as the ambitions and interests of nations did.
Beginning with the Second World War, aircraft carriers, advanced guided-missile cruisers, destroyers, frigates and, increasingly, conventional and nuclear-powered submarines emerged as the pinnacle of maritime prestige and power projection.
Unlike their predecessor, the battleship, aircraft carriers in themselves are relatively benign actors, relying heavily on their attached carrier air-wings and supporting escort fleets of cruisers, destroyers and submarines to screen them from hostile action.
In recent years, nations throughout the Indo-Pacific have begun a series of naval expansion and modernisation programs with traditional aircraft carriers and large-deck, amphibious warfare ships serving as the core of their respective shift towards greater maritime power projection.
Driving this change is an unprecedented period of Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea and the growing capabilities of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN).
As part of this, China has begun fielding or preparing to field a range of power projection capabilities, including aircraft carriers and supporting strike groups, fifth-generation combat aircraft, modernised land forces, area-access denial and strategic nuclear forces, combined with growing political and financial influence throughout the region.
Building on this, the long-term threat from North Korea has prompted South Korea to embark on a series of land, air and sea acquisition programs that support the Republic of Korea’s transition towards developing a robust, deployable, conventional power projection and deterrence focused force.
The first stage of this redevelopment is the planned construction of a 30,000-tonne short-take off, vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft carrier. This echoes recent confirmation that Japan would commence the modification of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s two Izumo Class vessels, the Izumo and Kaga, to support STOVL ‘B’ variant of the F-35.
Further to this, many traditional ‘great powers’ namely European nations like the UK and increasingly France have sought to flex their muscle in the Indo-Pacific, recognising the region as the epicentre of twenty-first century economic, political and strategic power – and at the heart of that is the aircraft carrier.
Timeline set to replace Charles de Gaulle
Working collaboratively, the French and British narrowed down a number of design commonalities ranging from an original hull form, catapult-launched, barrier assisted recovery (CATOBAR) configuration and an agreement on conventional propulsion.
The requirement for the carriers was confirmed by then-president Jacques Chirac in 2004 for the centennial of the Entente Cordiale, and on 26 January 2006, the defence ministers of France and Britain reached an agreement regarding co-operation on the design of their future carriers.
France agreed to pay the UK for access to the design due to the investment made to date. These payments were £30m in January 2006, £25m in July 2006 and a further £45m if France decides to proceed with the project.
While the FY2008 French defence budget allocated the necessary funding, €3bn, for the ship, doubts within the Sarkozy government began a series of delays, which would eventually see the French withdraw from the joint effort, with the British charting their own course and developing what would become the Queen Elizabeth Class of aircraft carriers.
Despite these setbacks, it now appears as though the European power is close to narrowing down its preferred option, with French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly telling a May session with the Commission of National Defence and Armed Forces of the French Assemblée Nationale: “Regarding the new generation aircraft carrier, we are ready. Decision will be made within the set schedule.”
Minister Parly later expanded on the proposed time frame for delivering and first sea trials for the new vessel at the steel cutting ceremony for the first of the French Navy’s new fleet tankers, where she stated:
“It is here in Saint-Nazaire that the new generation aircraft carrier will be built, which will succeed the Charles de Gaulle in 2038. With 2036 in sight for the first sea trials, the preparatory work carried out by the DGA, the French Navy and manufacturers has already made it possible to sketch out the outlines of the new generation aircraft carrier.
“It is still too early to unveil precise drawings. We still have choices to make and decisions to take, particularly concerning the propulsion mode. I will soon be making proposals to the President of the Republic.
“But the project is already launched at full speed, entrusted to your unique know-how, in partnership with Naval Group and many other players in our industrial defence base. An aircraft carrier is one of the most complex objects to design and build, so we will need everyone.”
Broad design strokes are there, but still some details to be finalise
It appears as though the broad design basis for the French Navy’s future carrier will be based heavily upon the DNCS (now Naval Group) Evolved Aircraft Carrier (DEAC), which emerged as the successor to the original Porte-Avions 2 (PA2) concept – with some major differences, namely a shift away from conventional propulsion to focus on nuclear power.
Admiral Christophe Prazcuk, Chief of Staff of the French Navy, explained some of the design evolutions from the original PA2 and the evolved DEAC concept, “Today the opinion of the industry is almost unanimous on the subject, in the hypothesis of nuclear propulsion. As it will be an aircraft carrier of around 70,000 tonnes, because of the size of the aircraft, it won’t be equipped with K15 boiler rooms like on the Charles de Gaulle, but it will be necessary to develop K22 boiler rooms, of a similar design but bigger and more powerful.
“The ambition of the military planning law is to have a new aircraft carrier in 2038, at the time when the Charles de Gaulle will be 40 years old, and we must by that time de-risk this propulsion technology, design it, realise it then try it.
“In the case of nuclear propulsion, we are on the critical path to reach this ambition. Can we accelerate and have a boat in 2030? Clearly not a nuclear ship. Moreover, it is a budgetary equation which, for the moment, has never been studied.”
A French Senate report does identify a number of additional design factors beyond the nuclear propulsion related to the scale of the ships, namely a proposed length of between 280-300 metres, a displacement of approximately 70,000 tonnes, significantly larger than the existing Charles de Gaulle at 43,000 tonnes and 261.5 metres.
Future proofed and a key component of the aggregated ‘joint force’
French policy makers are focused on maximising the life and capability of the proposed aircraft carrier, with a focus on incorporating future defensive technologies, including directed energy weapons, electromagnetic rail guns, autonomous and unmanned platforms and a carrier-launched variant of the joint French, German and Spanish Future Combat Air System (FCAS).
While the size of the FCAS remains to be finalised, it is expected that the standard carrier air wing complement of the carrier is expected to be approximately 32 FCAS, two-to-three E-2D Advanced Hawkeyes, a yet to be determined number of UCAVs and helicopters – this complement will also impact the size of the flight deck and the elevators.
The inclusion of the FCAS platform represents a major capability aggregator for the French and broader European armed forces as nation’s across the continent will increasingly field the sixth-generation fighter aircraft following the phased retirement of the Eurofighter Typhoon.
The French Senate recognises the importance of this platform commonality, and the additional capability it will provide the French Air Force in particular, with the report into the future carrier program stating:
“From a tactical point of view, the advantage provided by an aircraft carrier is undeniable: in the eastern Mediterranean, for example, while the Rafales taking off from the national territory carry out one mission per day, those deployed from the aircraft carrier can do several.
“The aircraft carrier is still in motion. It can travel up to 1,000 kilometres per day, which gives it the ability to position itself optimally. It makes it possible not to depend on the implementation of land bases near the theatre of operations and to bypass the air passage gates.
“If relations are difficult with the states located near the conflict zone, it becomes risky to count on the use of air bases in the region or on the establishment of a planned air base, as France has made in Jordan with the H5 base.
“It can also become dangerous to go by air to reach these bases or conflict zones: bypasses are then necessary. They lengthen the distance to be covered and require in-flight refuelling.
“The aircraft carrier makes it possible to circulate while benefiting from the freedom of movement at sea and the freedom of innocent passage in the straits.”
This recognition that an aircraft carrier can serve as a key capability aggregator for the broader joint force, particularly as platform commonality becomes increasingly prolific, provides interesting points of consideration for fielding in the Indo-Pacific as the operating environment becomes increasingly contested. (Source: Defence Connect)
08 Jul 20. US Army to award new contracts to support mobile comms units. The Army is awarding delivery orders to three vendors to support equipment for three Expeditionary Signal Battalion-Enhanced (ESB-E) units. Specifically, the awards will support fielding of satellite baseband equipment, said Paul Mehney, director of public communications at Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications-Tactical.
Expeditionary signal battalions support units that don’t have organic communications capabilities. These groups could include military intelligence battalions, chemical battalions, engineering battalions or air defense artillery branches. The ESB-E aims to be more mobile and require less equipment in order to drop in, support units and move more quickly on the battlefield.
Overall, the vendors will be responsible for providing 48 baseband sets of equipment for each ESB-E formation.
“Due to aggressive initial fielding timelines, after the first six ESB-E formations are fielded, the program office intends to open baseband capability competition for future ESB-E needs,” Mehney said.
PacStar was recently awarded a contract to support the ESB-E program to provide its 400-Series modular platform to enhance tactical expeditionary communications, the company said in a July 7 release.
The 400-Series is lightweight allowing these smaller and expeditionary units to maneuver more quickly. It includes 128 GB RAM, virtual routing and the PacStar 463 Radio Gateway.
“Network modernization to meet warfighter needs and defense priorities is a core focus for the Army and across the DoD, and we are proud to support these efforts with PacStar 400-Series for ESB-E,” Peggy J. Miller, chief executive of PacStar, said in a statement. “With these solutions, ESB-E [Scalable Network Node] will get the smallest, lightest, modular tactical communications platform in the industry, which is part of our larger initiative to enable increased reliability and innovation for warfighters.”
The other vendors include Klas and DTECH, with all three supporting one ESB-E. An additional delivery order for each vendor to a second ESB-E will be issued, meaning in the near future, each vendor will support two units a piece. After that, the Army will open up the contracts to competition.
This approach follows how the Army has been experimenting to date by providing similar, yet comparable equipment to several ESB-E’s.
These companies have provided separate equipment to three units allowing the Army to gain useful feedback from units to see what they liked and disliked about the gear. This has allowed the Army to execute rapid prototyping and experimentation on a tighter timeline for making fielding decisions while providing equipment to soldiers in the interim.
The first two ESB-Es fielded include the 57th ESB-E at Fort Hood and the 50th ESB-E at Fort Bragg. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
08 Jul 20. USMC: Kongsberg’s XM914 RWS proceeding under MADIS Inc 1. Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace’s proposal to outfit US Marine Corps (USMC) Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTVs) with its XM914 remote weapon system (RWS) has defeated two other competitors’ bids for the ground-based air-defence effort, Janes has learned.
Earlier this year, the service issued a request for information (RFI) seeking vendor feedback for its Marine Air Defense Integrated System Increment 1 (MADIS Inc 1) effort. Kongsberg, EOS Defense Systems, and Moog submitted their respective plans but the USMC has only asked one company to proceed.
“Kongsberg was notified on June 26 that they were selected to provide a final proposal,” a USMC spokesperson confirmed on 7 July. “Both EOS and Moog were notified that they were not selected.”
The company offered the service its XM914 RWS, which includes a 30 mm × 113 mm cannon, a 7.62 mm M240 machine gun with “full integration” of Stinger missiles, according to Scott Burk, Kongsberg Defence’s vice-president for business development and government relations for US land systems.
“This provides significant accuracy and capability with tracking and targeting over an extended range and addresses a variety of threats,” Burk wrote in a 7 July email. “This weapon station is designed to handle current and future ammunition types, and because of its common missile interface, hardware and software commonality connecting MADIS with CROWS [Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station], MUMS (multi-user, multi-station) and other existing army and Marine Corps capabilities.” (Source: Google/Jane’s)
06 Jul 20. US approves $7.5bn in foreign weapons sales in one day. It was a happy Independence Day for American defense companies, with the U.S. State Department announcing Monday it has approved almost $7.5bn in potential foreign military sales to five different countries.
The potential sales, announced on the website of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, involve UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters for Lithuania, E-2D Hawkeye aircraft for France, MV-22 Osprey aircraft for Indonesia, Stryker infantry vehicles for Argentina and aviation fuel for Israel.
DSCA announcements mean that the State Department has decided the potential FMS cases meet its standards, but is not a guarantee the sales will to happen in their announced forms. Once approved by Congress, the foreign customer begins to negotiate on price and quantity, both of which can change during the final negotiations.
Israel: The biggest price tag, at $3bn, is 990m gallons of petroleum-based fuel for Israel, including JP-8 aviation fuel, diesel fuel and unleaded gasoline. Vendors will be selected “using a competitive bid process through Defense Logistics Agency Energy for supply source,” according to the announcement. Israel operates the American-made F-35I Joint Strike Fighter, among other aviation assets.
France: The French request to purchase three E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft comes with an estimated price tag of $2bn. The aircraft is to replace France’s legacy E-2C Hawkeye fleet. In addition to the aircraft, the country wants 10 T-56-427A engines, three AN/APY-9 radar assemblies, four AN/ALQ-217 electronic support measure systems and one Joint Mission Planning System, among other technologies.
“The E-2D aircraft will continue and expand French naval aviation capabilities and maintain interoperability with U.S. naval forces,” the DSCA announcement read. “As a current E-2C operator, France will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment and support into its armed forces.”
Primary work will be done at Northrop Grumman’s Melbourne, Florida, location. There will be industrial offsets required in the future, but those have not been defined at this point. This is the first DSCA notification of an arms sale to France since at least September 2017, as the country prefers to rely on its domestic arms industry.
Indonesia: Indonesia was cleared to spend an estimated $2bn to buy eight MV-22 Block C Osprey aircraft. Also included are 24 AE 1107C Rolls-Royce engines; 20 each of the AN/AAQ-27 forward-Looking infrared radars, AN/AAR-47 missile warning systems and AN/APR-39 radar warning receivers; and 20 each of the M-240-D 7.64mm machine guns and GAU-21 machine guns, among other gear.
The potential sale is announced at a time when the U.S. is seeking to beef up both its presence and the capabilities of partner nations in the Pacific in order to blunt Chinese interests in the region. This is the first DSCA notification of an arms sale to Indonesia since at least September 2017.
“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy goals and national security objectives of the United States by improving the security of an important regional partner that is a force for political stability, and economic progress in the Asia-Pacific region. It is vital to U.S. national interest to assist Indonesia in developing and maintaining a strong and effective self-defense capability,” the DSCA notification read, adding the sale will “enhance Indonesia’s humanitarian and disaster relief capabilities and support amphibious operations.”
Primary work will be done by Bell Textron in Amarillo, Texas, and Boeing in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania.
Lithuania: The Baltic nation of Lithuania plans to spend $380m to procure six UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters. The standard U.S. configuration requested includes 14 T700-GE-701D engines, 12 M240H machine guns, night vision goggles, a number of radios and thousands of rounds of ammunition.
“The proposed sale of these UH-60 helicopters to Lithuania will significantly increase its capability to provide troop lift, border security, anti-terrorist, medical evacuation, search and rescue, re-supply/external lift, combat support in all weather,” per the DSCA. “These UH-60 helicopters will allow for interoperability with U.S. and NATO forces in rapid response to a variety of missions and quick positioning of troops with minimal helicopter assets. Lithuania intends to use these defense articles and services to modernize and expand its armed forces to provide multi-mission support in its region and combat terrorism threats.”
The Black Hawks will replace the nation’s Soviet-made Mi-8 fleet. The U.S. is helping fund Lithuania’s purchase through the European Recapitalization Incentive Program, or ERIP, a tool developed in 2018 alongside U.S. European Command to speed up the process of getting allied nations off Russian gear.
The State Department kicked in $30m of ERIP funding to help complete that deal. So far, three of the eight countries to receive ERIP funds have used them to purchase Black Hawk helicopters.
Work will primarily be done at Sikorsky’s Stratford, Connecticut, location and General Electric Aircraft Company in Lynn, Massachusetts.
Argentina: The South American nation seeks 27 M1126 Stryker infantry carrier vehicles, with an estimated $100m price tag. In addition to the vehicles themselves comes a pile of equipment, including 27 M2 Flex .50-caliber machine guns, radios and smoke grenade launchers. In addition, the vehicles come with special de-processing services outside of the continental United States as well as contractor-provided training.
“The proposed sale will improve Argentina’s capability to meet current and future threats by increasing operational capabilities and force availability,” per DSCA. “Argentina will use the Stryker vehicles to conduct stability operations in support of disaster relief and international peace keeping obligations.”
Primary work will occur at the General Dynamics Land Systems facility in Anniston, Alabama. This marks Argentina’s second FMS request of the fiscal year, after a December request for $70 m worth of support for its aging P-3C fleet. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
REST OF THE WORLD
10 Jul 20. Airbus forms Team Nightjar to deliver Australian industry capability. Proposal to generate over AUD250m of economic benefits. Airbus Helicopters has joined hands with over 20 Australian partners to form Team Nightjar, as the consortium launches its solution to Project LAND 2097 Phase 4. Under this Project, the Commonwealth of Australia is seeking a fleet of helicopters to support the Australian Defence Force’s Special Operations.
Bringing together Australia’s best industry capabilities and academia, the Team Nightjar members include: Cablex, Cyborg Dynamics, Deakin University, DEWC, ECLIPS, Ferra Engineering, Helicopter Logistics, Helimods, Kinetic Fighting, Kratos Australia, Microflite, PREDICT Australia, QinetiQ Australia, Safran Helicopter Engines Australia, Seeing Machines, Sigma Bravo, Rusada, TAFE NSW, Tagai Management Consultants, Toll Helicopters, University of Technology Sydney, Varley Group and Varley Rafael Australia.
In response to the Commonwealth of Australia’s request for proposal for a four-tonne class, rapidly deployable, multi-role helicopter for the Australian Special Forces, Team Nightjar will be offering a fleet of the highly capable Airbus H145M and in-country support.
“We recognise the importance of working with Australian companies on this programme, with each partner offering niche capabilities to the Commonwealth. Building on our established commitment to Australian industry, Team Nightjar will have a strong focus on Australian industrial support and innovation,” said Andrew Mathewson, Managing Director of Airbus Australia Pacific.
The local consortium will deliver world leading training solutions, empower indigenous participation, and enable rapid design and delivery of enhancements throughout the programme’s lifetime.
With a clear commitment to invest in Australian-led innovation, the teaming proposal will generate over AUD250 million of economic benefits and more than 170 Australian jobs.
“We believe these capabilities will greatly enhance the core offering of the very capable H145M helicopter, while providing local jobs, technology transfer and export opportunities.”
“The Commonwealth is seeking a proven, mature and highly reliable off-the-shelf platform and robust support systems. The H145M that we are proposing is the latest member of the H145 family, which has flown over 5.9 million hours with more than 1,400 aircraft in service globally across civil, parapublic and military domains. It is well supported by a mature global network.”
“The H145M is an exemplar platform for light special operations and is a solid match for the Special Forces’ requirements, with proven capabilities for no-fail, high-readiness missions,” added Mathewson.
The light twin-engine aircraft is an operationally proven, affordable and low-risk option for Australia, complementing the MRH90 Taipan with improved mobility and situational awareness for special operations. By virtue of its compact size, the H145M will be optimised for operations within dense urban terrain and will be rapidly deployable via a C-17A Globemaster.
The H145M is tried and tested and is gaining popularity among defence forces due to its excellent price-performance ratio and the short delivery time, counting military forces in Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Serbia and Thailand as customers.
In particular, the H145M is today supporting special operations roles with the German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) with mission readiness of above 99%, delivering safety and superior power and payload.
Airbus has nearly two decades of presence in Australia, building extensive local industrial capabilities and network, in support of the country’s defence and commercial aviation. With a strong local team of more than 1,500 employees working across 23 sites for civil and military fixed-wing and rotary wing aircraft, the company has injected over A$1.7 billion of activities into the Australian aerospace industry, including A$100m of direct investments from ARH Tiger and MRH90 projects.
Australia’s smallest nocturnal bird of prey, the nightjar’s characteristics include agility, stealth through its compact size, excellent camouflage, silence in flight and non-reflective eyes. The nightjar is known to hunt in pairs, and catch prey on the wing, combining its heightened senses, agility, speed, power and focus – characteristics which are critical for Special Operations. With close resemblance to Airbus’ H145M, the Australian nightjar is adopted as the inspiration for the team’s response to Project LAND 2097 Phase 4.
06 Jul 20. Philippines confirms GBAD funding. The Philippine government’s Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has approved funding for the procurement of a ground-based air defence (GBAD) system for the Philippine Air Force (PAF), according to recently released budgetary documentation. In a ‘Special Allotment Release Order’ (SARO), the DBM said the PAF’s GBAD project has been allocated PHP2.39bn (USD48.4m). It said the funds were approved and released under a SARO issued to the Department of National Defense (DND) in mid-June. According to the DBM, the SARO provides approval for procurement agencies such as the DND to sign contracts with vendors. In January this year Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the PAF intended to meet its GBAD requirement through the procurement from Israel of the Spyder self-propelled surface-to-air missile (SAM) system made by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. The procurement has been prioritised by the Philippines for several years to boost the PAF’s air defence capability, although the DND has not yet confirmed how many Spyder systems it wants to acquire.
The procurement is included under the second phase of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Program (RAFPMP). (Source: Jane’s)
02 Jul 20. Airbus reveals H145M bid plan for Australian special forces helo competition. Airbus will offer its H145M helicopter on July 11 for Australia’s special operations support helicopter program, the company’s Australia Pacific managing director confirmed Thursday.
“We’re excited to have the opportunity to present the H145M as part of [Project] Land 2097 Phase 4,” Andrew Mathewson said. “We have a fantastic opportunity to offer an aircraft which has a family heritage of over 5 million flight hours of operations.”
Mathewson noted that the helicopter is currently used by the German Army’s special forces.
With its bid, Airbus will become the second contender in the competition, behind an industry team of Bell and Babcock Australia, which is proposing a militarized version of the Bell 429 commercial helicopter. The team announced its intention to bid on May 28. Bell is also partnering with Hawker Pacific for Land 2097 Phase 4 and has independent teams working on each bid.
Other contenders are likely to include Boeing’s AH-6i Little Bird; MD Helicopters’ MD530G; and Leonardo Helicopters, but neither company has publicly declared its intent to participate.
The Australian Defence Force is seeking an off-the-shelf helicopter in the 4-ton class to support the Army’s special forces, primarily in their domestic counterterrorism role. Australia plans to buy up to 16 aircraft to provide an air assault capability for small teams within the special forces, and a fast-roping system to rapidly deliver troops while hovering.
Secondary roles include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, fire support, and general utility. A weapons capability is optional.
Four helicopters are required to fit in a single C-17A airlifter and be capable of rapid deployment from the Australian Army’s 6th Aviation Regiment base at Holsworthy, outside Sydney. The regiment currently operates the NHIndustries-made MRH-90 Taipan in a special forces support role, and the new helicopter is to complement that capability.
Deliveries are expected to begin in 2022.
For its planned bid, Airbus Australia Pacific has teamed with 15 local suppliers to meet the Australian Industry Capability policy, which calls for defense suppliers to include local industry in their efforts. Those domestic companies include Safran Australia, Qinetiq Australia, HeliMods, Toll Helicopters, Helicopter Logistics, Sigma Bravo and Thales. The company has also entered a strategic partnership with Deakin University, near Melbourne, to develop innovative solutions and modifications throughout the H145Ms’ proposed 25-year life span.
Mathewson says Airbus Australia Pacific has also offered seven H145Ms to the commonwealth, which, together with a series of technology inserts to the Australian Army’s Tiger helicopters, is an independent bid to meet the requirements of Land 4503 (for armed reconnaissance helicopters). (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
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