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31 Oct 20. Finland: new anti-aircraft systems in the shadow of the Finnish HX fighter program.
The Finnish tender to increase the range of air defense beyond the existing NASAMS system, which started in 2018, has entered a key phase. Inquiries were sent to 5 bidders among which, surprisingly, Raytheon with the Patriot system was not found. The finalists include: Kongsberg Defense and Aerospace [KDA], Diehl Defense, MBDA, Rafael and IAI. Due to the much more spectacular, both in terms of design and value, the HX multi-role aircraft program, which includes the 5th generation F-35, seems to completely “cover” a very interesting course of this procedure.
Read more: Top 5 best anti-aircraft missile systems in the World
For starters, it is worth recalling that at the beginning of this century, Finland decided to withdraw [by 2015] the Russian Buk-M1 anti-aircraft launchers which it acquired in the 1990s as part of a return on Russian debt. Although the system was fairly new, it was recognized that Russia, being the only potential enemy, would have no problem disrupting and combating them. Therefore, in 2007, a decision was made to replace them with the NASAMS 2 system and the acquisition of 24 launchers with the C2 system and infrastructure.
However, a capacity gap arose, because despite the much more modern design and structure in the configuration acquired by the Finns in the first decade of this century, with standard AMRAAM missiles, it is a system with a smaller range and ceiling (Buk-M1 can engage targets at an altitude of 20 km and above, for a distance of 45 km). Therefore, in 2017, the analysis of the available options began, and in 2018, the air defense inspector of the Finnish Armed Forces launched a competitive procedure, to which 10 companies applied. Ultimately, as Corporal Frisk writes, in the last days of October 2020, inquiries were sent to 5 entities, among which the supplier of the new solution is to be selected within 2 years. Deliveries should be made in the second half of the decade.
Finland is not afraid of Iskanders?
Among the five finalists, which may be a bit surprising, there is no Raytheon company which, together with the Norwegian Kongsberg, provided Finland with the NASAMS 2 system. air defense. First of all, it is about costs, or as Admiral Paula Juhani Kaskeala, commander of the Finnish Defense Forces in 2001-2009, said, “Better to have one Cadillac or four Volvo?” Secondly, Helsinki considers the ability to combat ballistic missiles not only very expensive, but also secondary to the destruction of aerodynamic targets at a longer range and at a ceiling even above 15,000. meters, which is above the NASAMS 2 system in the current Finnish configuration.
Finland, which has been living “in the shadow of Russian ballistic missiles” since the beginning of the Cold War, recognizes that their threat is too much underlined in the West. Finnish experts believe that the effectiveness of combating them is lower than the real threat level in relation to other means of air attack at the disposal of Russia. On the other hand, the most effective defense against ballistic missiles is masking, infrastructure dispersion, warning system and appropriate shelters. This applies in particular to the threat of an attack by ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads, but also to conventional loads.
The Finns consider the possibility of a massive attack by combat aircraft and cruise missiles attacking from different directions and over a wide range of altitudes to be a much greater threat. The ability to fight ballistic missiles is treated as an additional advantage, but with a reasonable cost-effect ratio. That is why it was decided to choose solutions that are more flexible in use and much cheaper than Patriot, which primarily provide other capabilities. The main criterion is to increase the protected area in general while maintaining high efficiency, both thanks to the increase in the range of damage and detection, as well as greater dispersion of components. This factor is particularly important in connection with the methods used by the Finns to protect infrastructure and armed forces through their centering and the extensive use of masking and simulation.
Five Volvo options instead of Cadillac
On October 28, 2020, inquiries were sent to the following entities: Diehl Defense, Kongsberg Defense and Aerospace (KDA), MBDA, Rafael and IAI. Each offers a different approach to the challenge of increasing the reach of Finland’s air defense both horizontally and vertically.
Kongsberg is considered a favorite, which together with the aforementioned Raytheon may propose new missiles with a greater range for the already operated NASAMS 2 system. This is the AMRAAM-ER missile, which, thanks to a more powerful rocket engine, achieves a much greater range and ceiling than previously used rockets. In fact, it has relatively little in common with the AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles, as it is a combination of a much more powerful Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile rocket with the AMRAAM missile guidance system. Together with the new radar, for example the Saab Giraffe, such an upgrade of the Finnish system would probably be the cheapest solution, which, as can be seen from the purchase history of NASAMS 2 in the Finnish configuration, is an important argument, and the performance of the ER missiles would close the “gap” after the Buky. Of course, it would be possible to purchase additional NASAMS fire units to increase the potential.
In the case of Diehl, the most likely offer is the IRIS-T SLM [Surface Launched Medium Range] system armed with launchers with 8 IRIS-T SL missiles, which should not be confused with the IRIS-T used in the IRIS-T SLS (Surface Launched Short Range) system acquired by Sweden in 2015. The version of the missile, marked IRIS-T SL, has an effective range of about 40 km and a ceiling of 20,000 m [during the tests in South Africa in February this year, it was fired towards a target about 30 km away], which is four times more than the IRIS version -T [10 km and 5,000 m respectively], which Sweden adopted under the designation RBS 98.
When it comes to MBDA, the obvious candidate is the Land Ceptor system in service with the British Armed Forces, or the Enhanced Modular Air Defense Solutions [EMADS] system, using CAMM-ER missiles, also proposed for Poland in the Narew program. It is a variant of MBDA rockets with extended range, belonging to the new generation CAMM family of anti-aircraft missiles. All missiles of this family are equipped with the same active self-guiding radar warhead and a cold-start system from a vertical launcher. The specificity of the CAMM-ER is the enlarged propulsion compartment, allowing to achieve a greater range in flight, exceeding 40 km.
It seems that the two Israeli companies participating in the proceedings have a real possibility of countering ballistic missiles in the package.
The first is the Rafael company, which can offer the Spyder-MR / LR system, providing a range of up to 70-80 km with I-Derby ER missiles and designed to counter aerodynamic targets [apart from them, it can also use I-Derby missiles and Python 5 thermovision guided missiles, with a smaller range], but also – at least theoretically – built in cooperation with the Israeli Raytheon, the much more powerful David’s Sling, which has the ability to counter certain ballistic missiles. It is armed with a two-stage Stunner missile. Its variant is offered to Poland as SkyCeptor for the second phase of the Wisła program, as the so-called low-cost missile.
The second Israeli bidder is Israel Aerospace Industries, which can offer the entire system or easily integrated components of a scalable solution known as Barak-MX, also appearing in the Polish Narew program. IAI uses three different classes of missiles in one system, which can be fired from the same type of launcher. The missiles used in the BARAK-MX system can fight air targets within a radius of 35 km [BARAK MRAD], 70 km [BARAK LRAD] and 150 km [BARAK ER], and the latter have the ability to fight ballistic missiles.
As you can see, Finland has a fairly large selection, both among various types of missiles as well as solutions with more or less autonomy. It is possible to both incorporate new launchers or missiles into the currently exploited NASAMS 2 system, as well as to combine two systems within a wider defense infrastructure. It is worth observing carefully the activities of Finland, which have the essential advantage that they are conducted in a very transparent manner, which allows you to familiarize yourself with both the explicit part of the offers as well as with the precise evaluation and selection criteria. (Source: News Now/https://bulgarianmilitary.com/)
REST OF THE WORLD
30 Oct 20. Japan names contractor to build its future fighter jet. Japan has named Mitsubishi Heavy Industries as the prime contractor to build its next-generation fighter jet, with the Defense Ministry announcing earlier Friday that it signed a contract with the company.
“We will steadily proceed with the development of the next fighter (F-X) together with the company,” the ministry said in a brief statement posted on it website.
Local media is reporting Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said the country will select an overseas partner by the end of this year for collaboration on aircraft technology, with stealth technology being one area of focus.
The selection of MHI as the prime contractor for the F-X program comes as little surprise, given Japan was determined to restart its indigenous fighter aircraft capabilities. The company is the only one in Japan with experience in this area. The firm took the 21st spot on Defense News’ most recent ranking of the top 100 defense companies in the world.
Reuters previously reported the contract for the aircraft is worth up to $40 billion. Defense News emailed the Defense Ministry’s Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency for an update on the contract value but did not receive a response by press time.
The Defense Ministry is also seeking more funding for F-X research and development in its latest budget request submitted to the country’s Finance Ministry in late September. The Defense Ministry requested $555.8m for the main program and an additional $113.6m for R&D of fighter subsystems, such as radars and mission systems integration.
The funding will allow Japan to continue its R&D work into fighter technology, which it has kept up over the past decade despite the end of production on the Mitsubishi F-2 fighter jet and the decision to buy the Lockheed Martin F-35.
Work the country plans to continue includes the development and refinement of stealth designs and materials, active electronically scanned array radars, and afterburning turbofan engines. Toward that end, local engine manufacturer IHI is expected to continue work on its XF9-1 afterburning turbofan.
Japan conducted a series of test flights of a locally designed and built fighter technology demonstrator from 2016 to 2018 to validate its work. The country used the data gleaned from the test program to further refine its indigenous capabilities.
The ministry previously said it wants to launch the basic design process for the F-X airframe and engine before the end of the current Japanese fiscal year, which ends March 31, 2021. This would be followed by the production of the first prototype, which is planned to begin in 2024, with flight tests earmarked to start in 2028 following finalization of the design and production plans.
Japan plans to replace its fleet of approximately 90 F-2 jets with the new fighter jet starting around 2035. The F-2 was developed in conjunction with Lockheed in the 1990s, and resembles a larger version of the American company’s F-16 multirole fighter but is primarily equipped with indigenous systems.
Japan also plans to acquire 147 F-35s, which will include 42 of the short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing variants. That version, the F-35B, will operate from a pair of helicopter destroyers currently undergoing modifications to handle the jet.
Japan also recently selected Boeing to upgrade 98 of its license-built Mitsubishi F-15J/DJ Eagle interceptors that will see the jets fitted with newer radars and integrated with standoff land-attack missiles (Source: Defense News)
29 Oct 20. Bell Joins Canadian Advanced Air Mobility Consortium. Encouraging the development of an integrated ecosystem of partners, Bell joins the Canadian Advanced Air Mobility Consortium (CAAM) in its effort to establish Canada as a global leader in Advanced Air Mobility (AAM). Announced Oct. 28, the multi-stakeholder group created by the Canadian Air Mobility and National Research Council of Canada (NRC) will streamline research, development and commercial operations in the AAM sector.
Bell’s Innovation teams are currently developing and testing the Autonomous Pod Transport (APT), a tail-sitting, eVTOL vehicle capable of moving 70 lbs of goods through autonomous flight. The groundwork for Bell’s innovative, new platform was developed in the Bell Textron Canada facility in Mirabel, Quebec.
Bell’s innovators in Fort Worth and Mirabel are working to create a new on-demand delivery solution for consumers, warfighters and medical personnel. In collaboration with NASA, APT recently flew a preprogrammed 10-mile circuit path in Fort Worth through complex air space, collecting detect and avoid data while demonstrating its beyond visible line of sight flight capabilities. The innovation team in Mirabel also played a key role in testing the rotating ducts for our Bell Nexus 4EX, which was showcased at CES 2020. With many more milestones to come, our team continues to develop unmanned technology to deliver impactful experiences for our communities, consumers and global businesses.
As an investing member of the CAAM, Bell is thrilled to lend expertise to industry and government partners to develop an integrated AAM ecosystem in Canada. Paving the way for innovation like APT entails close collaboration and an open conversation about the associated infrastructure, regulatory, operational and technology needs. Through these partnerships, Bell moves closer to redefining mobility and bringing advanced vertical lift solutions to urban regions, like Vancouver.
(Source: ASD Network)
26 Oct 20. South Korean study finds Chinook upgrade more expensive than buying new helos. Research on the long-awaited upgrade of Chinook helicopters flown by the South Korean military shows it would be cheaper to buy new aircraft, according to a local lawmaker.
Rep. Min Hong-chul of the ruling Democratic Party revealed the result of the latest preliminary research on the Chinook upgrade during a parliamentary audit of the Defense Acquisition Program Administration on Oct. 20.
The lawmaker, who sits on the National Assembly’s Defense Committee, said the research concluded in September that the cost of upgrading 17 of the 43 CH-47D Chinook helicopters would be about 1.35trn won ($1.2bn), which is higher than the estimated cost of 1.22trn won for buying new ones.
The upgrade cost is partly driven by the fact that Chinook manufacturer Boeing no longer produces parts for older variants, like those owned by South Korea, so specially ordered parts could prove expensive, Min said, citing the research conducted by the Defense Agency for Technology and Quality, which is affiliated with DAPA.
Furthermore, some Korean military task equipment such as the Korean Variable Message Format data link cannot be installed on the upgraded helos due to incompatibility, the research suggested.
“A series of reverses and delays on decision-making have foiled key arms acquisition projects, including the Chinook upgrade,” Min said, expressing concern about an operational gap in military transport trainings and missions.
South Korea operates about 50 Chinooks, with some of them in service for up to 50 years. With some parts of the older Chinook no longer being produced, the South Korean fleet’s operational rate has suffered, according to the lawmaker. For instance, the Air Force’s Chinook utilization rate from the first half of the year was around 40 percent.
DAPA is expected to hold a meeting soon to decide whether to buy new heavy-lift helicopters rather than upgrade the existing fleet. But industry sources expect buying new helos would take more time and end up costing more, depending on the variant.
“To get Block I CH-47F Chinook cargo helicopters, which have been on the shopping list of the South Korean Army, the letter of offer and acceptance should be issued by July next year at the latest, but it would be very difficult to finalize the decision-making procedures within the timeline,” said Ahn Seung-beom, a military analyst and writer with Defense Times Korea. “[If it doesn’t] buy Block I, South Korea has an option to get Block II, which is to be produced for the U.S. Army first, and then it could take more time and costs to get the up-to-date, heavy-lift helicopters.”
A source at Boeing told Defense News that both cost and an export license stand in the way of South Korea’s CH-47F Block II purchase.
“The development of the CH-47F Block II is still underway, so the price cannot be expected at this moment,” the source explained on condition of anonymity. “The U.S. Army has yet to place an order for the new cargo helicopters, so it’s unclear how many aircraft would be produced.”
It’s also unclear if a foreign sale will receive approval, the source added. “The U.S. government strictly controls arms technology, so getting an export license for key weapons systems is a hurdle.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
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