12 Jun 14. Czech Republic seeks command vehicles. The Czech MoD intends to launch a procurement programme this year for 30 wheeled armoured command and control vehicles for the Army of the Czech Republic (ACR), Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky said on 11 June. “The ministry plans to procure 30 wheeled armoured vehicles that will fulfil a command and control mission for the Czech army and complement the existing fleet of 107 Czech army Pandur 8×8 armoured vehicles”, Stropnicky told local media. Stropnicky said the MoD has funding set aside for the procurement in its defence budget. “At this point there is CZK2bn (USD9.8m) set aside for up to 30 new vehicles. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
09 Jun 14. Belgium issues RFI for F-16 fighter replacement. The Belgian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has issued a request for information (RFI) to five foreign government agencies regarding various aircraft that could replace the national air force’s ageing F-16 Fighting Falcon fleet.
Several defence ministry officials were quoted by Belga News Agency as saying that the RFI does not commit to a future purchase nor to the selection of a specific aircraft, but “aims to gather information” beyond the open-source data used for initial evaluation. One of the sources said that the RFI was issued following approval from the outgoing defence minister Pieter De Crem, and does not mention the number of aircraft to be acquired. Issued to the Joint Program Office (JPO), the Navy Integrated Program Office (NIPO), the Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) of the French Ministry of Defence, the Swedish Defence and Security Export Agency (FXM) and the UK Ministry of Defence, the RFI marks the first step in a process that will lead to the acquisition of a new fighter before the retirement of the F-16s starts in 2023. While JPO is in charge of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II programme, the NIPO, DGA, FXM and UK MoD look after Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale, Saab JAS-39 Gripen, and Eurofighter Typhoon multi-role combat aircraft, respectively. “One of the sources said that the RFI was issued following approval from the outgoing defence minister Pieter De Crem.” The MoD prefers a government-to-government agreement, rather than a commercial purchase from a contractor, according to the officials. For the first time, De Crem had voiced his opinion in December 2013 to acquire around 40 new fighters during the incoming legislature, to ensure Belgium remains a reliable partner within NATO and the European Union (EU), according to the news agency. The acquisition is expected to cost €4bn, and the selection is likely to take place in 2015 or early 2016, to facilitate the aircraft’s entry into service between 2023 and 2025, when the F-16s will retire, subject to approval from the next federal government. The Belgian Air Force currently has 54 F-16s in its inventory and all of them have completed the mid-life update (MLU). (Source: airforce-technology.com)
09 Jun 14. Philippines extends deadline for ASW helicopter bidding. First stage bidding for the Philippine Department of National Defense’s (DND’s) PHP5.4bn (USD123m) acquisition of two anti-submarine warfare helicopters has been reset to 24 June, DND undersecretary Natalio Ecarma has said. Bid documents for the project initially indicated a submission deadline of 3 June but the date has been extended because some bidders have given the feedback that they were unable to register for the tender via PhilGEPS, the Philippine government’s online procurement system. According to the DND’s Bids and Awards Committee, so far two firms have indicated interest by purchasing bid documents – AgustaWestland and Bell Helicopters. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/IHS Jane’s)