UNITED KINGDOM AND NATO
23 June 21. Two reasons Britain could slow its purchase of the F-35. The high costs of supporting F-35s and a failure to quickly integrate the MBDA Meteor missile to the aircraft could slow British plans to buy more of the jets, defence secretary Ben Wallace warned June 23.
Wallace told Britain’s Parliamentary defence select committee that he had the budget to buy more than the 48 jets the military has already ordered, but wanted to see progress controlling maintenance costs and fair treatment for integrating Meteor.
“Its important for me to say to BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and all the other [ contractors] that ‘It’s in your interest to keep through-life support costs down’ because simply, I don’t want to be held to a massive bill I can’t get out of,” he said.
“Also it’s important that we continue the planned integration of Meteor on the F-35, I don’t want to be put to the back of the queue for that and it’s in all your interests that if you want me to carry on buying F-35 that we keep a lid on those costs and that we are treated fairly integrating a European made missile [on the jet].
“We need more than 48 and we will invest in more than 48, but I’m not in the business of giving a blank check to contractors if they don’t play their part in cost controls, support and indeed making sure Britain’s developed capabilities are put on them [ the F-35], ” Wallace told lawmakers.
Britain originally said it would buy 138 jets, but recently has become rather vague on when, and how many, fighters it will eventually buy.
The British plan to have the Meteor and MBDA’s Spear precision ground attack missiles in service on the F-35Bs operated by the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force by around 2024.
British and U.S. Marine F-35Bs flying from the deck of the carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth mounted the first combat mission from the new ship earlier this week, striking Daesh targets in the Middle East.
British Typhoon jets have been operating with Meteor since 2018, replacing Raytheon AMRAAM missiles.
The British MoD issued a £41m contract to MBDA in 2017 to start integrating a variant of Meteor tailored to fit in the F-35′s internal weapons bay.
Defense sources here said Wallace’s “don’t mess with the program” remarks were likely firing a warning shot at the United States not to disrupt the British program by inserting additional capability requirements of their own.
Although Spear wasn’t checked by name by Wallace it’s likely the missile’s integration would likely suffer a similar problem to Meteor if there is a delay for any reason.
Responding to Wallace’s remarks a Lockheed Martin spokesperson said the company ” understands the importance of F-35 affordability, both with regard to production and through-life costs. Through significant investments, we have lowered our portion of F-35 cost per flight hour by 44% over the past five years, and expect to continue to lower those costs by an additional 40% in the next five years through collaboration with the UK, the US government, our partners, and industry.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
21 June 21. The Ministry of Defence have confirmed that the Queen Elizabeth class carriers might be fitted with catapults ‘in the coming years’ in order to launch certain types of aircraft.
Kevan Jones, MP for North Durham, asked via a written Parliamentary question: “To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what assessment his Department has made of the feasibility of fitting a catapult system to Aircraft Carriers.”
Jeremy Quin, Minister of State for the Ministry of Defence, responded: “Since the Queen Elizabeth Class carriers entered service no such feasibility assessment has been made. In the coming years, the intent is to expand experimentation of Uncrewed Air Systems (UAS) with Royal Navy vessels. This may include a number of projects to consider UAS capabilities for the Queen Elizabeth Class carriers. Including Fixed Wing UAS. The launch and recovery systems for these capabilities may require assessments which could include catapult systems.”
This isn’t entirely new news, however. It’s been known for some time that the Ministry of Defence were looking for information regarding fitting catapults to certain unspecified ships capable of launching aircraft of a certain weight (more about that below). The new news here is the confirmation that it’s for the carriers and that it’s part of efforts to operate large uncrewed aircraft from the decks of the carriers.
Back in March, I reported that the Ministry of Defence was seeking information on the potential for industry provide assisted launch and arrested recover systems for a range of air vehicles, which would be suitable to fit to a vessel within 3-5 years.
The Ministry of Defence say that this request for information is to support the development of the Royal Navy’s Future Maritime Aviation Force with potential for use with both crewed and un-crewed air vehicles.
The Ministry of Defence also add that it is looking to assess the availability of electromagnetic catapult, and arrestor wire systems for the launch and recovery of air vehicles.
While the Request for Information looks to assess the “availability of electromagnetic catapult and arrestor wire systems to launch aircraft” from a ship, words associated with the previous effort to explore converting the vessels to ‘CATOBAR’ in order to launch carrier variant F-35Cs, it shouldn’t be taken as indication that the Royal Navy are abandoning the short take off and vertical landing F-35Bs and returning to catapult launched fighters. They aren’t, they’re looking to “add mass” to the F-35B fleet by complemening it with uncrewed aircraft like ‘Vixen’. You can read more about Vixen by clicking here or by visiting the link below. (Source: News Now/https://ukdefencejournal.org.uk/)
21 June 21. Lockheed Martin F-35 leads in Swiss fighter jet evaluation – TV. Lockheed Martin’s (LMT.N) F35-A Lightning II performed the best in a Swiss evaluation of what fighter jet to buy next, although the final political decision was still open, Swiss broadcaster SRF reported on Monday, citing three unidentified sources.
The government is supposed to decide this month among the Eurofighter from Airbus (AIR.PA), the Rafale from France’s Dassault (AVMD.PA), Boeing’s (BA.N) F/A-18 Super Hornet, or the F35-A.
Swiss voters in September backed the government’s plan to spend up to 6bn Swiss francs ($6.53bn) on new fighter jets in a surprisingly close referendum.
“According to insiders, Switzerland can buy a larger number of F-35s with the budgeted 6bn Swiss francs than would be the case with the three competitors. The F-35’s simulator could also be an asset: it would allow the F-35 to carry out significantly more virtual training missions than the competition,” SRF’s investigative programme Rundschau said in a summary of a report to air on Wednesday.
The defence ministry declined to comment.
The aircraft will replace Switzerland’s ageing fleet of 30 F/A-18 Hornets, which will go out of service in 2030. New jets are to be delivered by 2025.
At least two of the seven Cabinet members would prefer a European fighter jet, SRF said, while critics have promised to launch a referendum campaign under the Swiss system of direct democracy against any decision to buy a U.S. fighter jet. ($1 = 0.9183 Swiss francs) (Source: Reuters)
24 June 21. Bell Textron Inc., a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company is advancing Bell’s flight-proven V-280 Valor program to meet requirements for the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) program of record. The competition is expected to begin with the Army releasing a Request for Proposals this summer. The optimized design for a fleet of next-generation tiltrotors builds on the exemplary flight-test results and programmatic execution during the Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR TD) program and Competitive Demonstration and Risk Reduction (CD&RR) efforts.
Bell and Team Valor are transitioning focus to the critical next phase of the competition supporting Army Modernization. The V-280 Valor marked the completion of its three-year flight-test program with a series of demonstrations to highlight its revolutionary performance during more than 214 hours of flight. The V-280 completed all planned Key Performance Parameters including low-speed agility, long-range cruise, 305 knot high-speed flights, and rapid mission systems integration during this thorough test period. Five Army Experimental Test Pilots have flown the V-280 over 15 sorties. Additionally, Bell hosted “Soldier Touchpoint” events enabling critical feedback from pilots, mechanics, and infantry squads for the Army program office to inform their requirements. This feedback provided critical data that decreased risk and rapidly advanced the maturation of technology for a FLRAA weapons system to meet warfighters Joint All-Domain Operational requirements.
“The FLRAA challenge presented by the U.S. Army was unattainable using helicopter configurations. They have been clear about the need to modernize and field transformational capabilities. We assessed several vertical lift technologies and determined the tiltrotor to be the only solution to the agility, range, and speed requirements of a Long-Range Assault Aircraft that can meet the cost, timeline, and risk profile required for a successful acquisition program. Bell and our Team Valor teammates could not be more proud of the V-280’s record of performance in close collaboration with the U.S. Army throughout the JMR TD and CD&RR to date,” said Keith Flail, executive vice president, Advanced Vertical Lift Systems at Bell. “Our team is committed to providing the Army the highest performance and flight-proven option to move into the FLRAA program of record.”
In addition to flight-testing, Bell and Team Valor delivered extensive data explaining how the program will deliver an affordable program by developing a weapons system built with efficiency in mind. The V-280 incorporates a Modular Open Systems Approach and relies on simplified and inherently reliable designs to increase lifecycle affordability and sustainment using a holistic view of digital models, processing and analysis to improve operations and maintenance.
“We have come a long way since we started our journey eight years ago. We made commitments, we safely executed our program on time, and we validated our performance claims and the accuracy of our digital models through flight demonstrations. Ultimately, the Army doesn’t send warfighters into battle riding in the back of digital models and so we thought it was important to bring that physical proof,” said Ryan Ehinger, vice president and program director, FLRAA at Bell. “This next-generation aircraft technology provides a proven foundation, the ’truck’, for the employment of our open architecture digital backbone to provide maximum flexibility for the Army to sustain their mission systems in a way that makes sense for them. It also empowers them to ensure their long-term interoperability in future Joint All-Domain Operations.”
As the FLRAA competition moves towards a program of record, Bell will continue CD&RR Phase II efforts to provide initial preliminary designs for major subsystems and the conceptual weapons system, based on data-proven performance that ensures transformational capabilities will be delivered in line with the Army’s schedule
REST OF THE WORLD
24 June 21. Canada’s Jet Fighter Purchase Decision: Planes, Prices, Politics. As Canada struggles with COVID-19 and its economic fall-out, issues which otherwise might command public attention have largely gone underground. Among them is the long-pending decision on which new fighter aircraft it should buy, where discussion has been largely relegated to specialty aviation publications and websites. Meanwhile, the Department of National Defense keeps mum as it considers the bids of two American manufacturers—Lockheed Martin, which offers the F-35 Lightning II, and Boeing, which offers the F/A-18 Super Hornet, and one Swedish, Saab, which offers the JAS-39 Gripen.
The Long and Winding Road
The effort to find a replacement for Canada’s existing fleet of CF-18 Hornet fighters, which date from the early 1980s, began in earnest during Steven Harper’s government, when he announced his intention to purchase the Lightning II without allowing other fighters to compete. In the face of severe criticism that costs were greatly under-estimated, most tellingly from the Office of the Auditor General, the decision was reversed.[i] In his 2015 campaign, Justin Trudeau explicitly ruled out the Lightning II in favor of something “more affordable.”[ii]
Once in office the Trudeau government announced that Canada would purchase eighteen Boeing Super Hornet fighters as “interim” replacements to meet urgent needs, but then reversed itself after Boeing filed a claim with the U.S. International Trade Commission against civil aircraft manufacturer Bombardier, asserting that it had received illegal subsidies from the Canadian government and was dumping aircraft below cost in a sale to Delta Airlines. Boeing lost its case before the Commission, rendering the issue moot.[iii] Ultimately, a majority share in Bombardier was sold to the European Airbus consortium. Unfortunately for Boeing, the Super Hornet deal was not revived, but after the Trudeau government decided in November 2016 to address the fighter purchase issue by holding a new competition to purchase 88 aircraft, it was allowed to participate in the bidding. To bridge the gap until a new fighter is purchased, Canada has bought 25 used Hornets from Australia (which is taking delivery of new F-35s).
While French manufacturer Dassault was interested in selling its Rafale fighter and the pan-European “Eurofighter” consortium its Typhoon, both dropped out of the competition. The Rafale was considered to be insufficiently interoperable with U.S. aircraft[iv] and the Typhoon was burdened by questions regarding the cost of meeting security requirements, given that its manufacture and supply chain was outside of the U.S. and Canada.[v] There was also concern that Canada had revised the bidding specifications regarding local manufacturing offsets in ways which favored the F-35, which was now very much back in the running.
While the Department of National Defense has remained silent while it reviews the bids (each of which may be as much as 7000 pages long), aviation journalists, think tank writers, and aircraft enthusiasts have sought to handicap the race. The reality is that a decision depends not only on price and capabilities, but also on the role given to domestic industry and on purely political concerns, both international and domestic.
Will Lightning Strike?
Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II is the only true “fifth generation” aircraft in the race, with stealth technology, which makes it nearly invisible to hostile radar until it comes very close, as well having advanced radars, helmet displays and other cutting edge systems that would make it a formidable opponent for any foe it is likely to confront. The real problem is cost, with the published “fly away” figures varying from US$80 to 110m per plane, and total maintenance likely the highest of the three competitors.[vi] Thus sticker shock has always been a real issue, especially as Canada is also seeking to rebuild its navy, which had languished for decades even as it racks up deficits to keep the economy functioning in the face of COVID 19.
Canada paid to be part of the original multinational group of potential users and, as such, has been an important supplier of inputs for the plane with US$2 bn going to 110 Canadian suppliers, according to Lockheed Martin.[vii] However, Canada would be less likely to receive future contracts if it were to choose another fighter. Given the deep relationship between the USAF and the RCAF, this U.S.-made aircraft is reportedly the favorite of many within the latter organization. The fact that air forces from Australia and Japan to Poland and Denmark are buying the aircraft would be helpful to Canada, should it want to train or fight together with them.
Sting of the Super Hornet
Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet is not as stealthy as the Lightning II, although effort has been made to reduce its radar signature from that of the original Hornet on which it is based.[viii] It is a major element of U.S. air power, with 600 in service to the U.S. Navy. Unlike its competitors, it is a two engine aircraft, which its proponents argue means it would be safer to operate in the distant reaches of the Arctic, where it would be hard to return to base quickly in the event of trouble. It has a range of advanced radars and other electronic systems and can provide mid-air refueling to other Super Hornets. Perhaps most importantly, its fly away costs are distinctly cheaper at US$65-70m per unit. Its roots are in the original Hornet, which Canada currently flies, making for some useful overlap in terms of pilot skills and aircraft maintenance.
Given that it first entered service in 1999, the Super Hornet is arguably a bit long in the tooth for a country like Canada, which, to judge by history, is not likely to purchase a successor for many years. By contrast, the Lightning II is just beginning to enter service globally. The U.S has bought more Super Hornets in recent years and sales are ongoing to other nations, although the U.S. Navy looks to cease purchases and wants to devote the savings to development of a future aircraft.[ix] It is worth noting that, while the bad feeling which Boeing engendered with its claim against Bombardier has not prevented it from competing, in the latest budget the Trudeau government has included language allowing it to evaluate whether companies that wish to sell to it are engaging in “economic damage” to Canada.[x]
A Saab in Canada’s Garage?
The Saab JAS-39 Gripen is reportedly the cheapest of the three competitors with flyaway costs seemingly around the US$60m range, although some estimates judge the new E version’s price to be comparable to that of the F-35. That said, its maintenance costs are generally considered to be the lowest of the three.[xi] The Gripen airframe is not configured for stealth, but instead relies on advanced avionics to reduce its signature. Saab also touts the fact that as electronics advances, it is designed so systems can be replaced relatively easily. The new version of the Gripen is said to have the longest range of the three competitors, meaning it can loiter over distant airspace, such as the high Arctic, for longer periods. Designed to meet Sweden’s own conditions, the Gripen can be based at relatively small, rugged airfields with smaller support teams.
On the downside, how well it would do against a top of the line hostile aircraft with stealth capability is an open question, especially as the Gripen E version is only now becoming operational. Saab is selling hard the industrial benefits it would provide, asserting that extensive research and manufacturing would take place in Canada.[xii] Still, the issue arises of whether Canada should buy from a non-U.S. (indeed, a non-NATO) country given its uniquely close defense relationship with its southern neighbor. The Gripen’s engines are made by General Electric and its landing gear by the UK’s BAE, and several NATO countries have purchased Gripens. Hence, Saab argues, there would be no interoperability issue. Nonetheless the Canadian government would have to consider how turning down either of two major U.S. manufacturers would be viewed in Washington.
To Govern is to Choose…
If one is buying a car, before taking into account factors such as price and reliability, one must ask to what purpose it will be put, be it driving one’s children to soccer practice, commuting to work, taking long vacations in rugged terrain or some combination of all of them. So it is with Canada’s fighter aircraft purchase. There are four major purposes for which Canada needs a fighter: protecting its airspace, notably the Arctic, from a foreign aggressor, (i.e. Russia) either in a genuine war or just deterring it from peacetime intrusions; participating in NATO’s traditional deterrence mission, again against Russia, as, for example through Canada’s participation in Baltic and Black Sea air patrols; participating in coalitions against smaller states, such as its actions in Serbia, Libya and Iraq/Syria; and lastly joining with the United States in protecting North America against 9/11-type terrorism.
Patrolling North America against a terrorist hijacker does not require the ultimate in fighter capability- such patrols go forward as part of NORAD’s responsibilities under the rubric of “Operation Noble Eagle. The same may be true for participating in a coalition against a less developed adversary, although even a relatively poor country may have been provided with advanced air defense systems. Serving as a meaningful deterrent against a “pacing competitor,” such as Russia (or even China), may call for a higher end solution. If the goal is merely to see off some Russian planes, which are misbehaving during peacetime, lower capabilities may do the job. But even then, is the aircraft which is best for patrolling the vast spaces of the Arctic or Pacific also right for the short distances of Europe? And, of course price, both initial and long term, is a consideration, as are the benefits to local industry and relationships with allies. To govern is to choose, as the saying goes. Since no aircraft is perfect for all missions, the choice is at some level an exercise in risk management.
How will the fighter purchase saga unfold? With the decision due at some unknown time in 2022, it is likely to be after the next election. If Justin Trudeau remains in office, will he swallow hard at the F-35 price tag and leave his earlier objections in the rear view mirror? Will the government instead go for the Super Hornet, as a widely used compromise with significant capabilities, and forgive Boeing’s temerity in challenging the Bombardier subsidies? Or will the lower priced Swedish Gripen get the nod, as the right pick for Canada’s unique needs despite non-NATO origin?
And what would a Conservative government do? Would it harken back to the Harper days and decide for the costly, high-powered F-35 Lightning II? Would it demand yet another review and change the standards for a decision? And what if there is another minority government? The NDP has expressed support for a new fighter purchase although it is no fan of the F-35, while the Greens are opposed to any purchase at all.
Is it possible that, given the economic fall-out from the COVID crisis, a Canadian government might simply punt even further, making do with its current fleet of Hornets, improved with some equipment upgrades and the used Australian aircraft? Such a non-decision (while in keeping with how the issue has been managed in the past), would leave Canada’s role in defending the North American homeland ever more marginal and make it harder to either support NATO’s deterrence or take part in out-of-area operations, as it has done in the recent past. The temptation may exist to keep the current fleet in the air even longer, until something else—sixth generation fighters or advanced drones—comes along, although this could mean decades without any replacement for the Hornets. What fighter Canada decides to buy is its own business, of course. That it make a decision is very much a subject of interest to the United States and Canada’s other allies. (Source: News Now/https://www.wilsoncenter.org/)
24 June 21. Who is the mystery buyer of Airbus C295 aircraft? Airbus is selling its C295 tactical airlifter to a mystery Southeast Asian customer and is fulfilling a follow-on order for Thailand, the company announced Monday.
The European aircraft manufacturer announced the sale of an additional C295 to Thailand for its Army. The aircraft will be delivered in 2023, outfitted in a utility transport configuration, although no contract values were disclosed in the announcement for either buy. The announcement also mentioned a recent sale of three aircraft to an “undisclosed military customer in the region.”
Johan Pelissier, the head of Airbus Defence and Space’s Asia-Pacific business activity, said that “the C295 is gaining popularity in Asia-Pacific due to its modularity, maneuverability and endurance capability,” adding that “the low cost of operation compared to any other platform of its class makes it a good prospect for the militaries.”
Industry sources tell Defense News that in this case, the “Asia-Pacific” region refers specifically to Southeast Asia instead of the wider geographic region. The sources added that the unnamed customer has never before operated the C295, narrowing the mystery buyer to Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.
It’s unlikely either of those last three is the customer because they are more aligned with Russia or China than Western countries.
That means the first three remain as likely candidates, although Malaysia is unlikely to request such a level of secrecy. The country’s arms purchases tend to be publicized for domestic political mileage, although the actual purchases themselves do not happen often due to fiscal constraints.
Transport aircraft are also not a modernization priority for Malaysia, which has taken delivery of four Airbus A400M airlifters between 2015 and 2017.
Brunei, on the other hand, has long sought improved airlift capability. The country requested permission to acquire a Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules airlifter, which the U.S. State Department approved in 2014. However, the country never signed a contract, which would have added to the sole CASA/IPTN CN-235 transport it already operates.
Meanwhile, the Republic of Singapore Air Force has four Fokker 50 light transports and 10 C-130B/H airlifters. It previously considered replacing the five Fokker 50 maritime patrol aircraft that serve alongside the transports in 2015, but it eventually opted to upgrade its onboard systems instead.
Singapore had also said it will continue to operate its C-130s despite its four aging “B” models, which were acquired secondhand from the United States and Jordan in the 1970s, already more than 60 years old.
The C295 is already in service with a number of other Southeast Asian air forces, namely those of Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam. Another 28 air forces operate the type or have it on order, including Canada, Egypt and Spain. (Source: Defense News)
22 Jun 21. Malaysia issues tender for RMAF’s LCA/FLIT programme. Malaysia’s Ministry of Defence (MinDef) announced on 22 June that it has launched a tender for the Royal Malaysian Air Force’s (RMAF’s) Light Combat Aircraft/Fighter Lead-In-Trainer (LCA/FLIT) programme. Published on the ministry’s website, the brief announcement said the service aims to acquire an initial 18 aircraft, adding that the request for bids will close on 22 September.
No further details were provided, but industry sources told Janes that the RMAF wants eight of these platforms to be primarily configured for lead-in-fighter training, while the remaining 10 would be LCAs.
The programme is part of the RMAF’s ‘Capability 55′ plan. Launched in 2018 the plan calls for the procurement of 36 LCA/FLIT platforms in two phases, with 18 aircraft set to be purchased from 2021 and the rest from 2025. The 36 aircraft are intended to equip one LIFT and two LCA squadrons. The FLITs are meant to replace the service’s currently grounded fleet of seven Aermacchi MB-339CM jet trainers, while the LCAs will replace the 18 BAE Systems Hawk Mk 108 twin-seat and Mk 208 single-seat LCAs in service. (Source: Jane’s)
23 June 21. UK signs agreement to support enhancement of Ukrainian naval capabilities. In a trilateral agreement signed onboard HMS Defender, which was in Odesa as part of the Carrier Strike Group deployment, the UK, Ukraine and industry will collaborate to boost Ukraine’s naval capabilities.
Minister for Defence Procurement Jeremy Quin and First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Tony Radakin were joined by Deputy Minister of Defence of Ukraine, Oleksandr Myroniuk, on the Type 45 Destroyer, where the Memorandum of Implementation (MOI) was signed.
Building on the agreement signed on HMS Prince of Wales in October 2020, the two nations and their industrial partners will now push Ukrainian naval capabilities enhancement projects (UNCEP) forward.
These projects will include; the introduction of new capabilities through the delivery of new naval platforms and defensive shipborne armaments, the training of Ukrainian Navy personnel, the creation of new naval bases, and the purchase of two Sandown class mine countermeasure vessels.
Signing the MOI on behalf of the UK, Minister for Defence Procurement Jeremy Quin said, “The UK and Ukraine have a close defence relationship, and we continue to strengthen this partnership to help deter shared threats. I am delighted that British and Ukrainian industry will work together on these projects, which will provide world-leading capabilities and provide opportunities for both our nations to boost our shipbuilding enterprises.”
Babcock International will lead British and Ukrainian industrial partners to assist the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence in delivering these projects, with funding made available by UK Export Finance (UKEF).
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defence said, “Ukraine and the UK are good friends and allies. Today’s Memorandum gives a new impetus to our co-operation in naval industry and will facilitate further development of the Ukrainian Navy. We appreciate the British support and value your experience.”
Contractual work will now begin to implement the following projects:
- Missile sale and integration on new and in-service Ukrainian Navy patrol and airborne platforms, including a training and engineering support package.
- The development and joint production of eight fast missile warships.
- The creation of a new naval base on the Black Sea as the primary fleet base for Ukraine and a new base on the Sea of Azov.
- Babcock will participate in the Ukrainian project to deliver a modern frigate capability.
- A Government to Government sale of two refurbished Sandown class mine countermeasure vessels.
David Lockwood, CEO Babcock International said, “We are very proud to support Ukraine with their Naval Capabilities Enhancement Programme. This marks the beginning of a new international relationship for Babcock, bringing together our new ship capability, our infrastructure and support capability and our new strong relationship with the UK Government. I know that we can bring our collective experience and knowledge together to achieve some really great things. Our strengthened relationship with the UK Government has been instrumental in underpinning this significant agreement which is supported by UK Export finance and we continue to work with them on a number of international opportunities.”
The UK and NATO are committed to Black Sea regional security, stability and prosperity, and to Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, which is exemplified by HMS Defender’s visit to the port of Odesa as part of the UK’s Carrier Strike Group deployment.
During the visit by Ministers a trilateral exercise between the UK, Ukraine and the US took place on board the ship, showcasing our support to maritime capability development and interoperability.
The UK enjoys a strong bilateral relationship with Ukraine and is committed to securing its security. Since 2015, the UK has trained over 21,000 Armed Forces of Ukraine personnel in medical skills, logistics, counter improvised explosive devices (C-IED), leadership, planning and infantry tactics as part of Operation Orbital and the UK-led Maritime Training Initiative. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
22 June 21. Elbit Systems shortlisted for LAND 125. The prime has joined the race to support the delivery of an Integrated Soldier System for the Australian Army. Elbit Systems of Australia (ELSA) has confirmed it will be competing for the Commonwealth government’s LAND 125 Phase 4 project, after being down-selected to participate in the limited request for tender (RFT) process.
Defence is seeking an industry partner to provide prime vendor services for product acquisition, integration and support to help deliver an Integrated Soldier System (ISS) for the Australian Army.
The ISS is expected to embed all elements and subsystems used, worn or carried by soldiers in any operational context or environment for up to 72 hours without resupply.
ELSA managing director, Major General (Ret’d) Paul McLachlan, AO, CSC, said the firm is committed to working with stakeholders to deliver requested capability enhancements.
“I am very pleased to announce our progress to the limited RFT stage for LAND 125 Phase 4 for the ISS, which is indicative of our continued commitment to produce world-leading soldier systems from global technology using an upskilled sovereign workforce here in Australia,” McLachlan said.
According to McLachlan, ELSA’s technologies, demonstrated at Land Forces 2021, would bolster capability by improving situational awareness, mobility, lethality, survivability and sustainability.
McLachlan said ELSA would leverage an “agile design and development approach”, which aims to support the incremental evolution of the ISS for the duration of the tranche, aided by “in-house” research and development.
“Not only do we have ability to access, adapt and apply global technology right here in Australia, we opened our new Centre of Excellence in Melbourne earlier this year, which will conduct research and development with academic and industry partners to develop highly-advanced autonomous solutions to build home-grown capabilities to complement our existing suite of soldier solutions,” McLachlan added.
“The research, which focuses on collaboration between people and autonomous systems, will produce applications that can not only be used across Defence, but could also benefit homeland security and emergency services.”
ELSA is set to leverage a workforce of approximately 250 staff, including over 100 software and systems engineers.
The firm will be competing against Babcock Australasia and Team Sabre — a consortium made up of Safran Electronics & Defense Australasia, Nova Systems Australia & New Zealand, and BAE Systems Australia. (Source: Defence Connect)
22 June 21. UK Giving Ukraine Sandown-Class Vessels In Defence Deal. As part of the agreement, the UK will assist in the building of new missile vessels and the construction of Ukrainian naval bases.
The UK and Ukraine have signed a deal that will see the latter’s navy receive two Royal Navy Sandown-class minehunters.
As part of the agreement, eight new missile vessels will be built, with two of those constructed in the UK, according to the Ukrainian Navy.
The UK will also assist in building naval bases around the Azov Sea and the Black Sea regions.
Minister for Defence Procurement Jeremy Quin and Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Defense, Alexander Mironyuk signed the agreement on HMS Defender in Odessa, a city located on the Black Sea in southern Ukraine.
In signing the memoranda, both nations agreed to implement the Ukrainian naval capabilities enhancement programme, with Babcock as the prime industrial partner.
While the first two of the missile boats, made to meet the requirements of the Ukrainian Navy, will be built in the UK, the other six will be constructed in Ukraine.
The Ukrainian Navy added that the two Sandown-class vessels will be upgraded before they receive them.
In the Royal Navy, the ships are minehunters, deploying around the world as part of Mine Counter Measures 1 Squadron, being part of NATO exercises and clearing old ordnance from the UK coast.
During the signing of the deal, Counter-Admiral Alexei Neizhpapa, Commander of the Armed Forces of Ukraine met with the UK’s First Sea Lord, Admiral Tony Radakin.
The pair discussed both the security situation in the Azov-Black Sea region and issues of ongoing and further cooperation.
This latest collaboration comes after the Memorandum of Intent was signed by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Ukraine’s Defence Minister Andrii Taran on board HMS Prince of Wales in October last year. (Source: forces.net)
21 Jun 21. Indonesia approves USD700m in foreign loans for aerial tanker buy. The Indonesian Ministry of Finance (MoF) has granted approval for the country to obtain up to USD700m in foreign loans to procure two aerial tankers for the Indonesian Air Force (Tentara Nasional Indonesia Angkatan Udara: TNI-AU) in 2021.
This was revealed in a notice issued by the MoF on 26 April listing a total of 31 Ministry of Defence (MoD) programmes for which funding through foreign loans has been approved.
Issued after consultations with the MoD and the Ministry of National Development Planning (Kementerian Perencanaan Pembangunan Nasional: BAPPENAS), the list, which was initially classified, has been provided to Janes by a government source. The document also shows that a total of 56 requests for foreign funding were rejected.
Janes was first informed by a source at the Singapore Airshow 2018 that the TNI-AU had appointed GMF AeroAsia, a subsidiary of national carrier Garuda Indonesia, for assistance with an in-depth study on Indonesia’s aerial refuelling capabilities.
Among the matters that were explored in the study were life cycle costs, local capabilities in maintaining the airframes, compatibility of refuelling methods with the TNI-AU’s fleet of aircraft, and inter-operability with existing and future TNI-AU assets.
As part of its findings, the TNI-AU and GMF AeroAsia recommend that the new tankers be equipped with both the probe-and-drogue and flying boom aerial refuelling methods, Janes has learnt. Prior to the joint study with GMF AeroAsia, the TNI-AU had conducted its own preliminary study comparing Airbus’ A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT), Boeing’s KC-46A Pegasus, and Russia’s four-engined Ilyushin Il-78. (Source: Jane’s)
20 June 21. Ukraine will buy F-16 Block 70/72 fighter jets – forecast.
Defense-Block reports that the American defense and space concern Lockheed Martin has offered Ukraine to buy the latest fighters of the 4th generation F-16 Block 70/72. Ukraine needs new fighters, as it currently operates old MiG-29 (35), Su-24 (18), Su-25 (13), and Su-27 (33). All but the Su-27 fighter jets are too old, out of date, and the deteriorating relationship between Kyiv and Moscow in recent decades means that the Su-27 will most likely be the last Russian fighter to be purchased.
The price that Lockheed Martin offered Ukraine is not clear, as is the amount that Ukraine wants to buy. But in addition to the new F-16 Block 70/72, the company has also offered to sell second-hand F-16 fighters. At this stage, a press release from Lockheed Martin for a proposal to Ukraine is not available on the company’s website. However, the information is spread among various media related to the defense industry.
Most recently (April 2021 – ed.) the French portal opex360.com wrote that Paris is ready to join the competition for the renewal of Ukrainian aviation with modern fighter jets, and will most likely offer Kyiv the same two options – new fighters Rafale or second hand.
Analyzing the events of recent years, Israel and Sweden will be the next countries to offer Ukraine old F-16s (Israel) and new Gripen (Sweden), respectively. However, Israel may face a serious problem, as the United States once denied a license to Tel Aviv to resell the old Israeli F-16, and it is uncertain whether it will do the same now. (Source: News Now/https://bulgarianmilitary.com/)
21 June 21. NSW SBIR program to fund innovative R&D. The NSW Small Business Innovation & Research (SBIR) program will provide up to $12m in grants to NSW SMEs to solve five NSW Government challenges, some of which are of direct defence relevance.
Proposed solutions must address one of the SBIR program challenges listed below. Five challenges have been defined for the 2021 SBIR program:
Personal Protective Equipment
R&D NSW will host a webinar for each challenge in July 2021. Each webinar will describe the SBIR program, the challenge, and provide an opportunity for prospective applicants to ask questions of the NSW Government agency proposing that challenge. The webinars will be recorded and made available on the SBIR program website.
Details of the webinars and how to participate will be released in late June.
Applications open in late June 2021 and close at 11:59pm AEST on Monday 16 August 2021.
Before applying, all applicants should read the 2021 NSW SBIR Program Guidelines and 2021 NSW SBIR Program FAQs.(Source: http://rumourcontrol.com.au/)