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29 Jul 20. Project TYRO delayed until mid-August. Sources close to BATTLESPACE suggest that the Project Tyro decision between the RBSL team which includes GDELS and the KMW/WFEL team which is now believed to include Pearson Engineering,  to supply  a new Close Support Bridge to replace the current UK BR90 bridge has been delayed until mid-August: ; the Invitation To Negotiate (ITN) has not been issued as we are led to believe.  The contract requires supply of a number of bridging systems plus upgrades to the existing Titan tracked vehicle and an armoured MAN truck version.

Project TYRO — Close Support Bridge


  • mobile bridges
  • close support bridge
  • close support bridging
  • provision of close support bridge
  • service support
  • close support launch vehicle
  • service support element of the contract
  • titan armoured vehicle bridge launcher
  • support solution


Bristol, City of

2 buyers

  • MOD Land Equipment Operational Infrastructure, Bristol


Mobile bridges. Operational Infrastructure team has identified a possible future requirement to procure and support a Heavy Forces Close Support Bridging (CSB) capability for use by UK Armed Forces until at least 2040. The CSB system is used within the direct fire zone and must provide a minimum Military Load Classification (MLC) of 100 (Tracked).

Total Quantity or Scope

Provision of Close Support Bridge sets with a Military Load Classification of at least MLC100(T) which can be rapidly launched and recovered by the TITAN Armoured Vehicle Bridge Launcher. Any modifications to the TITAN Launch Mechanism to meet the detailed technical requirement is also included in the CSB scope. Provision of a suitable Wheeled Close Support Launch Vehicle (CLV) and Wheeled Support Vehicles/Trailers to transport bridging components. Initial equipment quantities: finalised fleet numbers are subject to the potential providers equipment proposals and affordability. However, the information below provides an expected range for each major sub-system: (a) 29-49 Short Bridges capable of spanning a gap of at least 11,5 m; (b) 19-34 Medium Bridges capable of spanning a gap of at least 24,5 m and, with the use of additional supplied equipment, scalable to achieve a 60 m gap crossing; (c) 14-36 Wheeled Close Support Launch Vehicles; (d) 11-17 Wheeled Support Vehicles. Support solution: the potential provider is expected to supply a full Integrated Logistic Support package for the offered equipment. The extent of the in-service support is subject to value for money decisions but may range from a Traditional Support solution (i.e. repairs, Post Design Services) through to Contracting for Availability. Coherence with the Army’s Whole Force Approach initiative is sought. Contract: it is the Department’s intent to award a single contract for this requirement, covering the Demonstration, Manufacture and initial In-Service Support activity for the CSB system. Demonstration of the proposed CSB system is expected to take place no later than approximately 40 months after contract award and manufacture to be completed circa 75 months after contract award. The in-service support element of the contract should be in place to support the first delivered system and is anticipated to operate for a further 60 months after delivery of the final system. The contract will include options to both procure additional components or complete bridging systems and extend the support element of the contract potentially to its planned out of service date. Contract rationalisation: it is the Department’s intention to run this competition simultaneously with the requirement for a General Support Bridging capability (GSB). It should be noted that a single contract may be awarded to encompass both the CSB and GSB requirement if the same potential provider wins both competitions.

Renewal Options

1) Potential additional optional years for In Service Support out to 2040. 2) Potential options to provide additional bridge sets and vehicles.

CPV Codes

  • 34144300 – Mobile bridges


  • Published under EU Directive 2009/81/EC.
  • An E-Auction will not be used.

(Source: http://bidstats.uk/)

27 Jul 20. Vehicle Support Capital Spares Supply Framework.

Type of document: Contract Notice

Country: United Kingdom – UK-Bristol: Parts of military vehicles.

Section I:

Contracting Authority

I.1)Name, Addresses and Contact Point(s):

Ministry of Defence, Land Equipment, Vehicle Support Team

Cedar 1a #3157, MoD Abbey Wood South, Bristol, BS34 8JH, United Kingdom

Tel. +44 1179130000, Email: deslevs-comrclteam@mod.gov.uk

Main Address: https://des.mod.uk/what-we-do/army-procurement-support/

NUTS Code: UKK11

I.2)Type of the contracting authority and main activity or activities:

Ministry or any other national or federal authority, including their regional or local subdivisions

I.3) Main activity:


I.4) Contract award on behalf of other contracting authorities/entity:

The contracting authority is purchasing on behalf of other contracting authorities:


Section II:

Object Of The Contract: SUPPLIES


II.1.1)Title attributed to the contract by the contracting authority/entity: Vehicle Support Capital Spares Supply Framework

II.1.2)Type of contract and location of works, place of delivery or of performance: SUPPLIES


Region Codes:

UKG21 – Telford and Wrekin

II.1.3)Framework agreements: The establishment of a framework agreement

II.1.4)Information on framework agreement:

Framework agreement with several operators

Duration of the framework agreement:

Duration in year(s): 7

Estimated total value of purchases for the entire duration of the framework agreement:

Range between:

£120,000,000 and 400,000,000

II.1.5)Short description of the contract or purchase:

Parts of military vehicles. The Vehicle Support Team (VST), herein referred to as the Authority, has a requirement to enable the procurement of a range of Capital Spares for the majority of the Vehicle Support (VS) fleet of vehicles – including wheeled and tracked platforms – through establishment of a multi-supplier Framework Agreement.

There are approximately 9000 individual items that will be included within the scope of the Framework Agreement, defined by NATO Stock Numbers (NSN) and Manufacturer’s Part Numbers (MPN) and supplemented with packaging codes. The Authority reserves the right to amend the list at its discretion, including as a result of obsolescence and/or Post Design Services (PDS).

Those Potential Providers who are selected following the DPQQ exercise and subsequently Invited To Tender (ITT) will, as part of the ITT exercise, be provided with an indicative list of NSNs that may be procured during the life of the Framework Agreement; and will be required to confirm which of these NSNs they can supply including relevant evidence to support such statements.

If successful in their bid, Tenderers will be responsible for:

  • Responding to Requests for Quotation (RFQs) raised by the Authority, depending on operational demand;
  • Sourcing and delivering items, conforming to their NATO specifications;
  • Ensuring compliance with safety and quality standards;
  • Managing traceability back to source at a unit level;
  • Reporting on obsolescence, if encountered, during the procurement process;
  • Transporting items safely and securely following HAZMAT and COSHH and other relevant guidelines;
  • Delivering to UK MOD secure facilities.

The duration of the Framework Agreement is intended to be a maximum of seven (7) years from 1 May 2021 until 31 March 2028, with an estimated value between £120,000,000 and £400,000,000 GBP. However, due to the nature of how a Framework Agreement operates, there is no guaranteed order amount or quantity of work. Expressions of Interest to participate in this requirement are to be submitted on the Defence Contracts Online (DCO) portal by completing the DPQQ, reference 7T42D76JCP.

II.1.6)Common Procurement Vocabulary:

35420000 – Parts of military vehicles.

II.1.7)Information about subcontracting:

Not Provided

II.1.8)Division into lots: No

II.1.9)Variants will be accepted: No

II.2)Quantity Or Scope Of The Contract

II.2.1)Total quantity or scope (including all lots, renewals and options):

If successful in their bid, Tenderers will be responsible for:

  • Responding to Requests for Quotation (RFQs) raised by the Authority, depending on operational demand;
  • Sourcing and delivering items, conforming to their NATO specifications;
  • Ensuring compliance with safety and quality standards;
  • Managing traceability back to source at a unit level;
  • Reporting on obsolescence, if encountered, during the procurement process;
  • Transporting items safely and securely following HAZMAT and COSHH and other relevant guidelines;
  • Delivering to UK MOD secure facilities.

Full details will be provided in the ITT. The authority reserves the right to add items of a similar nature to the framework during its lifetime.

Estimated value excluding VAT:

Range between:

£120,000,000 and 400,000,000

II.2.2)Options: No

II.2.3)Renewals: No

II.3)Duration Of The Contract Or Time-Limit For Completion

Section III:

Legal, Economic, Financial And Technical Information

III.1)Conditions relating to the contract

III.1.1)Deposits and guarantees required:

The authority reserves the right to ask for an indemnity, guarantee or bank bond if the potential provider does not meet the required standard.

III.1.2)Main financing conditions and payment arrangements and/or reference to the relevant provisions governing them:

Payment will be made on delivery of items to designated MoD storage facilities.

III.1.3)Legal form to be taken by the group of economic operators to whom the contract is to be awarded:

If a group of economic operators submits a bid, the group must nominate a lead organisation to deal with the Authority. The authority would require the group to form a legal entity before entering into contract.

III.1.4) Other particular conditions to which the performance of the contract is subject, in particular with regard to security of supply and security of information:

Potential providers should be aware that some material may be subject to the United States’ International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).

Information to be released with the ITT could be classified as official sensitive and baseline personnel security standard (BPSS) clearance would be required for access to this documentation. Therefore, potential providers that do not hold the required security clearance at DPQQ stage must provide evidence that relevant personnel will have clearance by 13 November 2020 to allow the authority to release to them any sensitively marked supporting material. Facility security clearance (if needed) for the successful tenderer must be in place by the proposed contract award date of 1 May 2021 and maintained throughout the life of the contract. The contract will be subject to a Security aspects letter (SAL).

III.1.5) Information about security clearance

Candidates which do not yet hold security clearance may obtain such clearance until:

2020-11-13 00:00:00.0

III.2)Conditions For Participation

III.2.1)Economic and financial capacity:

Criteria regarding the personal situation of economic operators (that may lead to their exclusion) including requirements relating to enrolment on professional or trade registers.

The Authority will apply all the offences listed in Article 39(1) of Directive 2009/81/EC (implemented as Regulation 23(1) of the Defence and Security Public Contract Regulations (DSPCR) 2011 in the UK) and all of the professional misconducts listed at Article 39(2) of Directive 2009/81/EC (see also Regulation 23(2) in the DSPCR 2011) to the decision of whether a Candidate is eligible to be invited to tender.

A full list of these criteria are at http://www.contracts.mod.uk/delta/project/reasonsForExclusion.html#dspr

Candidates will be required to sign a declaration confirming whether they do or do not have any of the listed criteria as part of the pre-qualification process. Candidates who have been convicted of any of the offences under Article 39(1) are ineligible and will not be selected to bid, unless there are overriding requirements in the general interest (including defence and security factors) for doing so.

Candidates who are guilty of any of the offences, circumstances or misconduct under Article 39(2) may be excluded from being selected to bid at the discretion of the Authority.

III.2.2) Economic and financial standing:

Criteria regarding the economic and financial standing of economic operators (that may lead to their exclusion)

(a) Appropriate statements from the economic operator’s bankers or where appropriate, evidence of relevant professional risk indemnity insurance;

(b) The presentation of balance-sheets or extracts from the balance-sheets, where publication of the balance-sheet is required under the law of the country in which the economic operator is established;

(c) where appropriate, a statement, covering the three previous financial years of the economic operator, of:(i) the overall turnover of the business of the economic operator; and (ii) where appropriate, the turnover in respect of the work, works, goods or services which are of a similar type to the subject matter of the contract.

Information and formalities necessary for evaluating if the requirements are met:

The information required is outlined within the pre-qualification questionnaire.

Minimum level(s) of standards possibly required:

(if applicable)

The minimum standard is outlined within the pre-qualification questionnaire.

III.2.3) Technical and/or professional capacity:

Criteria regarding the technical and/or professional ability of economic operators (that may lead to their exclusion)

(c) a statement of the principal goods sold or services provided by the supplier or the services provider in the past five years, or during a shorter period if necessary, and: (i) the dates on which the goods were sold or the services provided; (ii) the consideration received; (iii) the identity of the person to whom the goods were sold or the service were provided; (iv) any certificate issued or countersigned by that person confirming the details of the contract for those goods sold or services provided; and (v) where – (a)that person was not a contracting authority, and (b)the certificate referred to in sub-paragraph (c)(iv) is not available, any declaration by the economic operator attesting the details of the goods sold or services provided;

(d) a statement of the technicians or technical services available to the economic operator to: (i) carry out the work under the contract, or (ii) be involved in the production of goods or the provision of services under the contract, particularly those responsible for quality control, whether or not they are independent of the economic operator;

(e) a statement of the economic operator’s: (i) technical facilities; (ii) measures for ensuring quality; (iii) study and research facilities; and (iv) internal rules regarding intellectual property;

(j) a description of the tools, material, technical equipment, staff numbers, know-how and sources of supply (with an indication of their geographical location when it is outside the territory of the EU) available to the economic operator to perform the contract, cope with any additional needs required by the contracting authority as a result of a crisis or carry out the maintenance, modernisation or adaptation of the goods covered by the contract;

(m) in the case of contracts involving, entailing or containing classified information, evidence of the ability to process, store and transmit such information at the level of protection required by the contracting authority;

(n) a certificate: (i) attesting conformity to quality management systems standards based on the relevant European standard; and (ii) from an independent accredited body established in any member State conforming to the European standards concerning accreditation and certification;

(o) any other evidence of conformity to quality management systems standards which are equivalent to the standards referred to in sub-paragraph (n)(i);

Information and formalities necessary for evaluating if the requirements are met:

The information required is outlined within the pre-qualification questionnaire.

Minimum level(s) of standards possibly required:

(if applicable)

The minimum standard is outlined within the pre-qualification questionnaire.

III.2.4) Information about reserved contracts: Not Provided

Section IV:


IV.1)Type Of Procedure

IV.1.1)Type of procedure: Restricted

IV.1.2)Limitations on the number of operators who will be invited to tender or to participate:

Objective Criteria for choosing the limited number of candidates:

In the event that multiple potential providers meet the minimum PQQ score, the authority reserves the right to restrict the number of potential providers taken forward to the ITT stage at its discretion. For example, the highest scoring submissions only.

IV.2)Award Criteria

IV.2.1)Award criteria:

The most economically advantageous tender in terms of

The criteria stated in the specifications, in the invitation to tender or to negotiate or in the descriptive document

IV.2.2)An electronic auction will be used: No

IV.3)Administrative Information

IV.3.1)File reference number attributed by the contracting authority: 700007835

IV.3.2)Previous publication(s) concerning the same contract: No

IV.3.3)Conditions for obtaining specifications and additional documents or descriptive document:

Not Provided

IV.3.4)Time-limit for receipt of tenders or requests to participate



Time: 17:00

IV.3.5)Date of dispatch of invitations to tender or to participate to selected candidates: 13/11/2020

IV.3.6)Language(s) in which tenders or requests to participate may be drawn up: English

Section VI: Complementary Information

VI.1)This Is A Recurrent Procurement: No

VI.2)The contract is related to a project and/or programme financed by European Union funds: No

VI.3)Additional Information: The contracting authority considers that this contract may be suitable for economic operators that are small or medium enterprises (SMEs). However, any selection of tenderers will be based solely on the criteria set out for the procurement.The Authority reserves the right to amend any condition related to security of information to reflect any changes in national law or government policy. If any contract documents are accompanied by instructions on safeguarding classified information (e.g. a Security Aspects Letter), the Authority reserves the right to amend the terms of these instructions to reflect any changes in national law or government policy, whether in respect of the applicable protective marking scheme, specific protective markings given, the aspects to which any protective marking applies, or otherwise. The link below to the Gov.uk website provides information on the Government Security Classification.



Advertising Regime OJEU:

– This contract opportunity is published in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU),the MoD Defence Contracts Bulletin and www.contracts.mod.uk


30 Jul 20. Serbia notes interest in Boeing-Saab T-7A Red Hawk jets. The Boeing-Saab T-7A Red Hawk is one of the options that Serbia is considering as a replacement for its existing jet trainer and light attack fleets.

Speaking on national TV on 25 July, a senior government official said that aircraft could replace both the SOKO G-4 Super Galeb (Super Seagull) advance trainer and light attack platform and the SOKO J-22 Orao (Eagle) ground attack jets that, despite ongoing modernisation efforts, are due for retirement.

Serbia has expressed interest for the acquisition of 20 T-7A jets, the acting assistant minister for material resources in the Serbian defence ministry, Nenad Miloradović, said. He added that the T-7A, which is being developed as a trainer for the US Air Force (USAF) and marketed as a potential light fighter/attack solution for the international market, possesses “excellent characteristics and capabilities”.

Miloradović explained that Serbia was attracted by the combination of the T-7A’s price and its performance, noting that the country is looking at options that are about half the price of current fourth-generation platforms (so approximately USD50m) and whose capabilities are between the existing capabilities of [Serbia’s] assault [G-4 and J-22] and fighter [MiG-29] aircraft.

These are the initial steps in developing new capabilities as no such capital acquisition is realised overnight”, Miloradović explained. “The [T-7A] aircraft itself is supersonic and features modern avionics, and as such would be able to entirely replace our ground attack aviation and being multirole would also be able to support our [MiG-29] interceptors. (Source: Jane’s)

28 Jul 20. Spain’s Indra Joins the FCAS Concept Study As Contractor. Indra, one of the world’s leading technology and consulting companies, has bolstered its participation in the European Defence Program NGWS/FCAS (New Generation Weapon System/Future Combat Air System) by formally joining the project in execution of the Joint Concept Study (JCS), launched by France and Germany in February 2019.

Indra has signed a contractual amendment that positions the company as a contractor of the Joint Concept Study, along with the national coordinators of France (Dassault) and Germany (Airbus). The French agency DGA has signed as the procurement entity acting on behalf of the Defence Ministries of France, Germany and Spain.

This amendment materializes the agreement Indra had already completed with Dassault and Airbus, which means the permanent entry of Spanish industry in the Joint Concept Study and a notable step forward in its participation in the NGWS/FCAS program, paving the way for the other leading Spanish firms in the program: Airbus, ITP and SATNUS.

Indra thus cements its role as coordinator of Spanish industry in the program and its representative to the industrial coordinators of France and Germany.

The Joint Concept Study strives to investigate and define system capabilities and common architecture for the NGWS systems, defining and updating the technology development road map needed to achieve functional and operational targets and establish the scheduling framework for all the program’s execution phases.

In addition to this achievement within the Joint Concept Study, Indra has made strides in other ways to strengthen its position as the Spanish leader of four of the eight pillars upon which the program is structured.

The company has signed international industrial agreements to lead, alongside Dassault and Airbus, the two transversal pillars (the aforementioned Joint Concept Study and the inter-pillar consistency/SIMLAB), to lead the Sensors Pillar, teamed with Thales and German FCMS, and take part as Main Partner, along with Thales, in the Combat Cloud, led by Airbus in Germany.

The role Indra plays as coordinator in the NGWS/FCAS program has the goal of ensuring Spanish industry’s participation is at the highest level. The development of the program will generate a major influx of knowledge and added value for Spanish companies and provide them with the opportunity to develop cutting-edge products in both defence and civilian environments. The appointment of Indra as national industrial coordinator of the program ensures the maximum return on the program for Spanish industry and sovereignty over the technologies developed by these companies.

Indra’s commitment as Spain’s national coordinator means ensuring the highest yield and the utmost quality of the NGWS/FCAS program for all of Spanish industry (defence and civil). All this takes the form of business generation, the development of its export capacity, the creation of technology also usable in the civil sphere, and high-value job creation.

Indra, as national coordinator, will represent the interests of the entire national industry, respecting the independence of the various companies participating in the project and strengthening its position with regard to companies from the other participating countries.

It is estimated that the program will generate billions of euros in investment in the coming decades, in both the development phase and later in the production phase. Initial estimates point to a potential figure of 300bn euros from the program over the next 40 years.

Indra is one of the leading global technology and consulting companies and the technological partner for core business operations of its customers world-wide. In the 2019 financial year, Indra achieved revenue of €3.204bn, with more than 49,000 employees, a local presence in 46 countries and business operations in over 140 countries. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Indra)

24 Jul 20. Industry Submits New Offer for EuroDrone: Dassault CEO. Dassault Aviation yesterday submitted its latest offer for the EuroDrone unmanned aircraft to Airbus Defense and Space, which in turn will submit it “within days” to OCCAR, Dassault CEO Eric Trappier said July 23.

Industry, led by EuroDrone prime contractor Airbus, has been negotiating the future of the program for over a year, after governments found the initial offer too expensive. The program, formerly known as Euro MALE (Medium Altitude, Long Endurance), intends to develop a European unmanned aircraft to provide an alternative to US models. It is a joint effort between France, Germany, Italy and Spain, and was launched with great fanfare at the 2015 Berlin Air Show.

Industry completed the program’s definition study a year ago, and negotiations currently focus on the cost of development and production, for which industry has requested about €10bn, according to media reports, while governments are unwilling to spend much more than €7 bn. Time is running out if the original goal of a first flight in 2025 is to be met. Its service introduction is not now feasible until 2028, according to a July 22 report by the National Assembly on the preservation of the Defense Industrial Base.

Trappier’s comments were made during a press conference on the company’s first-half results. The company delivered 16 Falcon business jets during the first half, compared to 17 during the first half of 2019, and seven Rafale combat aircraft, down from 10 in the year-earlier period. More significantly, Dassault will only deliver 13 Rafales for the year, half as many as the 26 delivered in 2019.

This led the company to post sales of €2.6bn for the first half, and an operating profit of €87m, down from €286m in H1 2019. Order intake fell from €2.9bn in H1 2019 to €1bn in H1 2020.

The seven Rafales were delivered to Qatar and India, and an additional six will be delivered during the second half of the year. Trappier declined to break down deliveries by country, but said the first batch of Rafales, already handed over to the Indian Air Force in France, will leave the company’s factory in Bordeaux on Monday to fly to India.

Dassault is not due to deliver any Rafales to France in 2020 and 2021, and from 2022 it will deliver the remaining 28 aircraft on order. Without new export orders, Dassault will then face another 30 months without deliveries to France between mid-2024 and 2027, according to the Defense Industrial Base report.

Three options are under consideration, the report adds: delivery of 11 aircraft per year from 2025; delivery of 18 aircraft in 2025 and 2026; and bringing forward from 2027 to 2024 the order for Tranche 5, which is to include 30 aircraft.

As part of the aerospace post-Covid support package that will be announced in September, the French Air Force could order an additional 20 Rafales and the French Navy an additional 10, according to the report.

“We are discussing a fifth tranche of Rafale, and there are several options on the table,” Trappier said, but declined further comment.(Source: defense-aerospace.com)


28 Jul 20. Coast Guard To Deliver Nuclear Icebreaker Plan to White House. The Coast Guard is on track to deliver plans for a new generation of potentially nuclear-powered icebreakers to the White House by August 10, just two months after the Trump administration issued a surprise public directive to do so.

For decades, the US has only used nuclear power on its supercarriers and submarines. Russia has nine nuclear-powered icebreakers. The ability to go long voyages without refueling is attractive in the infrastructure-poor Arctic, especially given the immense power demands of plowing a ship through ice.

The plans to be presented next month won’t affect the acquisition, already underway, of three new conventionally-powered breakers — known as Polar Security Cutters — over the next six years. Instead, it will be a blueprint for three ships of yet-to-be-determined design that the Coast Guard and Department of Homeland Security will procure beyond 2026.

The June 9 statement from the White House calling for the study was the public face of work already well along, however. So the 60-day deadline was less a demand for quick action than a long-held schedule.

“It wasn’t really a new look at a new design,” one official familiar with the planning told me. “It was a more bringing together plans that were already in the works.”

The memo “reflects the Administration’s commitment to the Arctic and Antarctica and directs the interagency to conduct a holistic analysis of icebreaking capabilities for a future polar icebreaking fleet,” Coast Guard spokesman Cmdr. Jay Guyer said in an email. “It does not however, impact the current Polar Security Cutter acquisition program.”

The plan is going through final scrubs across a variety of departments, including Defense, State, and Energy, and “we anticipate the final report will be presented to the White House via the National Security Council on or before August 10th,” Guyer added.

As tensions rise, ISR demand will increase exponentially as will the need for kinetic response to threats.)

The White House’s call for a major rethink of its heavy icebreaker fleet comes at a critical time, as the three Polar Security Cutters are slated for delivery by 2026, and Russia and China are racing ahead with their own icebreaker building efforts that include nuclear ships, and other technologies not in USA plans.

The White House memo identified few key capabilities that are currently lacking, including the ability to launch drones, install intelligence-collection systems, considering “defensive armament” to “defend against threats by near-peer competitors,” and consider the “potential for nuclear-powered propulsion.”

It also, ambitiously, describes a new fleet that consists of “at least” three heavy polar-class security cutters capable of being “operationally tested and fully deployable by Fiscal Year 2029.” To get there, the US government is open to leasing ships from friendly nations.

As it stands now, the US icebreaker fleet is far smaller than that of Russia — which has the world’s longest Arctic coastline to keep clear — and has already been matched by China, which is not an Arctic nation at all. China has a keen interest in the fisheries in the high north, as well as potential oil and gas extraction. By 2025, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz argued in Congressional testimony earlier this year, China could have more icebreakers than the United States.

The Coast Guard currently operates only one heavy and one medium icebreaker, numbers that won’t rise until the new cutter is delivered in 2024, if the program stays on schedule.

Speaking at the Southern Commnd headquarters in Miami on July 10, however, President Trump suggested he might be in the market for more breakers than had previously been suggested.

“We’ve approved the two new state-of-the-art National Security Cutters and two Polar Security Cutters for the United States Coast Guard,” he said. “We have under construction right now the largest icebreaker in the world and we’re going to be trying to get, if we can, an extra ten icebreakers.”

As often happens, it’s not clear what the president was referring to, or how the US would ramp up to ten breakers under current budget projections. Last month’s White House memo suggested leasing some icebreakers is an option the administration would consider, but no other country operates enough breakers to lease several to the US.

In Moscow, the Russian government has made a show of its plans for dozens of new icebreakers to help clear the Northern Sea Route as the polar ice cap melts and floating ice becomes more of a problem for ships rushing to exploit new fisheries and the potential for mineral extraction in the high north.

In April, Atomflot, a subsidiary of Russian nuclear powerhouse Rosatom, and the Zvezda shipyard announced they were building the first ship of a new Leader-class of nuclear icebreakers. The first ship is scheduled to be ready by 2027, adding a major new capability to the country’s existing 40 icebreakers. Moscow plans to build dozens more in coming years, including at least 13 heavy icebreakers, nine of which would be nuclear-powered.

The Russian plans are part of a new strategy calling for modernizing four polar airports, building railways and seaports in the high north, and ramping up industrial scale exploitation of natural resources in the Arctic, particularly natural gas, oil and coal.

China is also marching ahead with its own plans to operate more consistently in both the Arctic and Antarctic. Beijing has already matched the US in the number of icebreakers it has in its fleet, though only one of the two was built domestically. Beijing has expressed a desire to float a nuclear-powered breaker at some point in the future, though plans remain unformed, at least publicly. The first ship, MV Xuelong, was built at a Ukrainian shipyard but has since been upgraded by Chinese shipyards. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)

28 Jul 20. US Army sets timeline for long-range assault helo prototypes. The U.S. Army is still considering two different paths to build prototypes for its future long-range assault aircraft following an industry day earlier this month, but is pushing toward a contract award in fiscal 2022, according to the service’s FLRAA program manager.

While the Army continues to sift through industry feedback to help it choose a route, the service remains on track to publish a draft request for proposals by the end of the year, followed by a finalized RFP in FY21, Col. David Phillips told reporters July 24.

The Army chose Bell and Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky to enter into a competitive demonstration and risk reduction effort ahead of the start of the FLRAA program of record. The service is on a tight timeline to field a brand-new, long-range assault aircraft by 2030. The CDRR effort will consist of two phases that will last roughly one year each.

Bell and a Sikorsky-Boeing team respectively designed, built and flew technology demonstrator aircraft as part a Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstration phase prior to entering the CDRR effort. The companies will deliver initial conceptual designs, an assessment of the feasibility of requirements and trade studies using model-based systems engineering.

“Due to the success of phase one (awarded on 16 March) the Army is looking at the scope of a second phase which would refine the digital designs from the system to subsystem level and further burn down risk as FLRAA enters into the [program of record,” Phillips said in a written statement to Defense News on July 27.

The Army provided two schedules to get through the design and prototyping phase in an RFI in May to gain industry feedback.

The first schedule lasts 52 months, putting the end of the prototyping period somewhere in the ballpark of early summer 2026. The schedule allows for a preliminary design review for just the air vehicle from the winning team — picked in the second quarter of FY22 — eight months after the contract award.

The team would then have another preliminary design review for the weapon systems 17 months past contract award, which roughly falls around August 2023.

The Army would hit the engineering and manufacturing development phase around October 2023, followed by a critical design review in early 2025. The first prototype would be delivered in the summer of 2025, with five more prototypes delivered through the summer of 2026.

The alternative schedule would allow for a preliminary design review for both the air vehicle and the weapon systems at the same time at roughly 10 months following a contract award. This approach aims to get to an engineering and manufacturing development decision around March 2023. A critical design review would follow at the start of 2024, with a first prototype delivery expected around February 2025. All six prototypes should be delivered to the Army by roughly March 2026.

The total time frame for the second option is 48 months post contract award.

Sikorsky’s and Boeing’s Defiant sits on a tarmac in West Palm Beach, Fla. (Jeff Martin/Staff)

While the difference in schedules is just roughly four months, every week counts as the Army works to field new capabilities as fast as possible. Army leaders have often said that schedule is king when it comes to fielding the service’s top modernization priorities. FVL is the third-highest priority, preceded only by a Next-Generation Combat Vehicle and Long-Range Precision Fires.

The Army is driving toward entering a production and deployment phase in 2028 ahead of the first unit receiving the aircraft in 2030.

“We believe FLRAA’s design and requirements approach is inverting the defense procurement paradigm. Our approach gives the Army multiple opportunities to optimize requirements through digital engineering prior to entering the design, build, and test of the weapons system,” Phillips told Defense News. “Making informed decisions on requirements through design optimization will enable the Army to ensure FLRAA capabilities are affordable; meet [Multi-Domain Operations] requirements; and deliver on an aggressive schedule that does not sacrifice rigor for speed.”

Multi-Domain Operations is the Army’s war-fighting doctrine designed to operate and fight against anticipated future adversaries across land, sea, air and cyberspace.

Bell and Lockheed are also competing head-to-head to design and build the Army’s future attack reconnaissance aircraft, which will follow a nearly simultaneous schedule as the FLRAA competition. (Source: Defense News)


30 Jul 20. Italian Minister Confirms Sale of Two Frigates to Egypt. Italian shipyard Fincantieri has committed to delivering two new FREMM-class frigates to the Italian Navy by 2024 to replace the two ships that are being sold to Egypt, Italian Defense Minister Lorenzo Guerini told a July 28 Parliamentary hearing.

This is the first ministerial confirmation of a multi-billion euro Italian arms sale to Egypt that has been regularly reported in Italian media for the past two years. The reports also mentioned corvettes, helicopters and two or four squadrons of Eurofighters, with a total value of up to €9-10bn euros.

The commitment to deliver two new ships by 2024 is predicated on signature of a contract by the end of the year, a senior industry official said July 30. “Negotiations have been approved, but contract signature won’t happen until the government issues the export licences,” he said. The contract will be signed directly by Fincantieri with the Egyptian government.

Speaking to the “Regeni Committee,” an ad-hoc parliamentary panel looking into the disappearance of Giulio Regeni, an Italian student at Cambridge University whose tortured body was found in a ditch Cairo in March 2016 several days after he had disappeared, Guerini said “I do not see any risks to our ability to perform the assigned tasks.”

One of the panel’s inquiry lines is to determine whether Italy should supply cutting-edge weaponry to a government that not only is regularly criticized for its brutality and flouting of human rights, but whose secret police is also widely held responsible for the abduction, torture and murder of Regeni.

The sale of the two FREMMs marks a reversal for France, whose Naval Group had sold a FREMM frigate, two Mistral-class amphibious ships and four Gowind corvettes to Egypt before the bilateral relationship broke down, reportedly after French President Emmanuel Macron criticized Egypt’s human rights record during a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

The initial sale could be followed by two additional FREMMs, for a total of four, with a value of about €2.4bn. In addition, Egypt is also interested in buying patrol ships from Fincantieri, some of which it would build locally under license along the same business model it adopted with the French Gowinds.

The initial agreement with Egypt now being finalized calls for Fincantieri to modify and deliver to Egypt two frigates which it built for the Italian Navy but which have not yet entered service. These are the ninth and tenth Italian FREMMs, Spartaco Schergat and Emilio Bianchi, which were launched in January 2019 and January 2020 respectively. Both are being outfitted by Fincantieri. The modifications will include removing NATO-specific and Italian-specific equipment, and fitting instead new equipment specified by the Egyptian Navy – a process will require some time.

Guerini told the committee that “preliminary contractual activities” between Fincantieri and the Egyptian government on the frigate sale began in the first half of 2019, and in February 2020 Fincantieri selected the two ships. The sale was then cleared on national security grounds by the Unità per le autorizzazioni dei materiali di armamento (unit for the authorization of armament matériel, or UAMA) and was subsequently approved on March 27 by the Defense General Staff.

The Defense General Staff then asked Fincantieri to build and deliver to the Italian Navy two latest-generation ships by 2024. Construction of these new Fremms will begin later this year, the minister said.

Finally, Guerini concluded by saying that “industry has committed itself to carrying out a series of maintenance and adjustment operations on the ships currently in service” with the Italian Navy to extend their service life until the two new replacement Fremms are delivered, “without any [financial] impact on the Defence” ministry. (Source: defense-aerospace.com)

28 Jul 20. Russian MoD Preparing Acquisition of 76 Sukhoi Su-57 Fighters. Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday announced the purchase of 76 of the latest Su-57 fighters by the Ministry of Defense, which are to enter service with three aviation regiments by 2028. The contract, according to Kommersant, is estimated at up to 170bn rubles (approx. $2.4bn), which makes it the largest in the history of Russian aviation and guarantees a full workload for the Komsomolsk-on-Amur aviation plant for at least a decade. The agreement may be signed in the presence of the President at the MAKS aerospace show.

Vladimir Putin announced the readiness of the military to purchase large quantities of new aircraft at a meeting on the development of military aviation held in Sochi. He recalled that in 2013-2018, the troops received more than a thousand new and modernized aircraft and helicopters; as a result, 65% of the Aerospace Force aircraft fleet was modernized.

Now, Putin, it is necessary to start serial procurement of the latest models of aircraft, including the fifth generation Su-57 fighters. “By 2028, three aviation regiments of the Aerospace Forces must be fully re-equipped,” Putin said, stressing that the state armament program until 2027 planned to purchase only 16 such aircraft. Thanks to work with industry, the cost of the aircraft has decreased by almost 20%, which will allow purchasing 76 fighters over the same period of time, the president explained.

Work on the Su-57 fighter began in 2002. Two years later, the plane was presented to the president in a layout. In 2010, Mr. Putin said that about 30bn rubles were spent at the first stage of creating the aircraft, and the same amount was required to complete the work, he said.

Aircraft numbers and service introduction dates were constantly changing, and the state armament program for 2011–2020 provided for the purchase of 52 production Su-57 fighters, with the first two due for delivery in 2015. Subsequently, the military admitted that due to the unstable economic situation, the department would be able to absorb only 15 such aircraft, of which the first two in 2017.

As a result, the first contract for a pair of Su-57 was signed only in August 2018: according to its terms, the aircraft should be transferred to the military in 2019. Since the program was launched, ten Su-57 prototypes were built. According to a top manager of one defense contractor, the contract for the supply of 76 Su-57 fighters to the Ministry of Defense could become a record in the history of the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC).

The cost of the contract, estimated at 160 to 170 bn rubles, is decreasing not only due to decisions to change the internal layout of the Su-57 and standardization of technical solutions, but also due to the fact that production will enter full rate. The source told Kommersant that military contracts allow only low (3-5%) profitability, but this contract will guarantee the full-rate capabilities of the Komsomolsk-on-Amur aircraft plant for the next decade. Theoretically, its production line can produce at least seven to eight such aircraft each year.

The first Su-57 batches will initially be equipped with first phase engines (AL-41F1), and subsequently with the second phase (Product 30) engines.

When domestic and export orders for previous generation Su-35 fighters are included, the Komsomolskoye-on-Amur aircraft plant, is becoming the busiest of all UAC plants, a senior government official said. According to him, the contract can be signed in the presence of Vladimir Putin at the MAKS aerospace show, which will be held in Zhukovsky near Moscow from August 27 to September 1.

Yesterday, Putin said that by 2028 another 100 Mi-28NM combat helicopters, a version of hundreds of Mi-28Ns already in service with the Russian Aerospace Forces, should be delivered to the army by 2028.

This contract, and the parallel signing of an agreement for 114 Ka-52 combat helicopters, will provide the main workload under the current state armament program for two enterprises belonging to the Russian Helicopters holding: Rostvertol (Rostov) and Progress (Arseniev). According to a Kommersant source in the aviation industry, the total cost of these agreements is estimated at 180-190 bn rubles. (Source: defense-aerospace.com)


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