UNITED KINGDOM AND NATO
30 Jul 21. UK Space industry to benefit from new £1.5m fund for pioneering space tech. UK Space Agency has announced new funding to support ambitious plans for the exploration of space. Proposals could include ideas such as the utilisation of resources beyond Earth’s atmosphere, the use of nuclear power in space or the exploration the Moon, and Mars.
The funding call, which opens today from the UK Space Agency’s Space Exploration programme, invites the space sector to bid for up to £500,000 to boost technology that will support and advance robotic and human exploration of Low Earth Orbit, the Moon, and Mars.
Proposals could include ideas to develop:
- Space based nuclear power
- Technology that supports human and robotic exploration
- Technology to support potential future exploration missions
- Techniques for extracting mineral resources in space
The development of space-based nuclear reactors, for example, could potentially lead to the more efficient use of technology on Earth, such as quickly deployable microreactors to restore power to disaster-hit areas.
Sue Horne, Head of Space Exploration at the UK Space Agency, said:, “Exploration of Low Earth Orbit and our surrounding celestial neighbours delivers important breakthroughs that advance our understanding of the universe, opens up economic possibilities and make life better back on Earth. The UK has provided expertise and equipment to some of the most high-profile space missions of recent times. This funding will help our world-class space sector kickstart new technological successes, allowing us to explore our solar system further.”
From supplying components for planetary orbiters to developing game-changing equipment to aid research in space, the UK space sector plays an important part in global space exploration, allowing us to discover more about our solar system and its formation.
The deadline for applications is 5pm on 31 August 2021. Organisations can bid for between £50,000 – £500,000. Details on how to apply for funding can be found here. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/announcement-of-opportunity-space-exploration-technology-call (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
28 Jul 21. UK mulls 105mm Light Gun replacement project. The UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) is leading a programme, referred to as the Light Fires Platform (LFP), to study a potential replacement for the towed 105 mm L118 Light Gun.
The LFP effort is at a pre-concept phase that is now in its second year and is due to be completed in 2022, according to Ricky Hart, principal advisor for Land Weapons and Land Fires at Dstl. Hart said unmanned, autonomous, and self-propelled concepts are being considered for technology development.
According to Dstl, “The study is investigating and evaluating multiple calibres and advanced projectiles in order to increase range, improve end effect, improve accuracy, improve tactical/strategic mobility, and reduce crew members.” High-explosive, illumination, smoke, and terminally guided rounds could potentially be fired.
Potential options could include a more mobile 105mm weapon, 120mm mortar, or a 5 inch (127mm) naval weapon. An artist’s impression, released by Dstl as an example, showed a mobile 4×4 platform armed with a 105 mm weapon.
First production 105mm L118 Light Guns were completed for the Royal Artillery in 1974, with the most recent upgrade being the installation of Leonardo’s Laser Inertial Navigation Artillery Pointing System, which is also referred to as an Artillery Pointing System. The maximum range of the current 105mm L118 Light Gun, firing the L31 high-explosive projectile, is 17.2km. Under the latest British Army reorganisation, two Heavy Brigade Combat Teams (HBCT) will be equipped with an artillery system selected for the upcoming Mobile Fires Platform (MFP), which will be a 155mm/52 calibre system that could be tracked or wheeled. (Source: Jane’s)
30 Jul 21. Could Germany and France Sail a the First European Aircraft Carrier? Most European nations don’t routinely send warships to foreign stations, or have tiny navies, or are landlocked and don’t need navies.
by Michael Peck
Here’s What You Need to Remember: And of course, there is the question of who would control a European carrier. Where would it be built, who would build it and which aircraft would it fly (France builds its own Rafale M carrier planes, while Britain opted for the F-35)? Which authority would command it and commit it to hazardous situations?
Maybe Germany is planning revenge for Brexit by sinking British merchant ships in the North Atlantic again.
Because otherwise, a top German politician’s call for a European Union aircraft carrier doesn’t make much sense.
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, president of Germany’s Christian Democratic Union and a likely successor to Chancellor Angela Merkel, created a stir when she advocated that European nations work together to build a carrier.
“Germany and France are already working together on the project of a European future combat aircraft,” she wrote in an essay in the German newspaper Die Welt (English translation here). “The next step could be the start of the symbolic project of building a common European aircraft carrier to express the global role of the European Union as a power ensuring security and peace.”
Merkel seemed to endorse the idea. “It’s right and good that we have such equipment on the European side, and I’m happy to work on it.”
Ironically, Kramp-Karrenbauer was actually rejecting a call by French President Emmanuel Macron for tighter European integration. “There is no version of a European superstate which can live up to the goal of a Europe made up of sovereign member states, and able to take action,” she wrote.
But that still leaves room for a common European defense policy, including a European Security Council that includes Britain. And, a European aircraft carrier.
Significantly, even Kramp-Karrenbauer referred to the Euro-carrier as a “symbolic act.” The value of an aircraft carrier is that it is a mobile airfield that can station aircraft near places that might be difficult to reach with land-based aircraft. That’s important to some nations with global interests or pretensions, such as the United States, Russia, China and even Britain and France, two European nations that do operate carriers. Britain, for example, is sending its new aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, as a warning to China to cool its regional ambitions. France’s Charles de Gaulle, and the proposed new carrier to replace it, signal France’s remaining colonial interests in places such as the Indian Ocean.
But most European nations don’t routinely send warships to foreign stations, or have tiny navies, or are landlocked and don’t need navies. An aircraft carrier would be of limited value in a conflict with Russia in Eastern or Northern Europe, or the Baltic States. It would need sophisticated defenses, and a screen of escort ships, to survive in the Baltic against Russian naval and air forces, as well as coastal defense missiles such as the hypersonic K-300P Bastion. Even the U.S. Navy, with all its money and resources, worries about the survival of its supercarriers. It’s hard to imagine that Europe would design and fund a more powerful and survivable ship than a $13bn American Ford-class carrier.
Europe does have interests in the Mediterranean. In 2018, Britain and France joined the United States in launching air and missile strikes against Syrian government installations. But land-based aircraft can operate from Cyprus or Italy. The European Union also wants to stop a massive flow of illegal immigrants sailing across the Mediterranean to Europe. A carrier would be a very expensive coast guard vessel.
Perhaps the real question isn’t what a carrier would bring, but what Europe would give up. The German military is barely functional, with Typhoon jet fighters that don’t fly, ships that can’t sail and an ill-equipped army that is at a fraction of its Cold War strength. Many NATO members are not even spending the 2 percent of GDP that they are supposed to allocate to defense, which leaves little money for an expensive carrier, carrier-based aircraft and escort ships. The biggest threats that European nations face, from Russian missiles to cyberwarfare, a carrier would not solve.
And of course, there is the question of who would control a European carrier. Where would it be built, who would build it and which aircraft would it fly (France builds its own Rafale M carrier planes, while Britain opted for the F-35)? Which authority would command it and commit it to hazardous situations? Unless Continental Europe is planning to invade Britain in a new Operation Sealion, a carrier is the wrong choice. (Source: News Now/https://nationalinterest.org)
29 Jul 21. US Congressman secures amendment for contract of DDG-51 built at BIW. BIW is one of the two shipyards that builds the Arleigh Burke-class DDG-51 destroyers. US Congressman Jared Golden has received approval for the US Navy to enter a multiyear contract to construct up to 15 DDG-51 destroyers, starting from FY2023. The approval is for the amendment to the FY22 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). According to Golden, receiving this authorisation is a significant win for shipbuilders at Bath Iron Works (BIW). The House Armed Forces Seapower Subcommittee, where Golden serves as vice-chair, unanimously passed the amendment. Golden said that the amendment also authorises two DDG-51 destroyers in FY2022. BIW is one of the two shipyards that builds the DDG-51 vessels.
Golden said: “This multiyear procurement contract will deliver DDG-51 Flight III ships to the navy over the next five years, ensuring that we have the large surface combatant fleet that we need to remain competitive in the short term.
“And this multiyear contract will act as a bridge to the DDG-X that the navy will need in the long term, by providing the stability and predictability needed to maintain the shipbuilding workforce.
“The preservation of this workforce is a matter of national security, and we just can’t afford to lose these skilled shipbuilders.”
In December 2018, the US Navy awarded General Dynamics BIW a contract to build a fifth DDG 51 destroyer.
Five DDG 51 destroyers initially contracted to be built by BIW are Daniel Inouye (DDG 118), Carl M Levin (DDG 120), John Basilone (DDG 122), Harvey C Barnum (DDG 124) and Patrick Gallagher (DDG 127).
In March, General Dynamics BIW officially delivered the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer future USS Daniel Inouye (DDG 118) to the US Navy.
The navy’s DDG 51 destroyers possess multi-mission capabilities and can operate independently or as part of carrier strike groups.
They are also capable of operating as part of surface action groups, amphibious ready groups, and replenishment groups. (Source: naval-technology.com)
REST OF THE WORLD
29 Jul 21. Russia Wants to Sell Its Su-57 Stealth Jet, But China Isn’t Buying.
“The Su-57, Russia’s fifth-generation fighter jet comparable to China’s J-20 and the US’ F-22, is usually considered not a true fifth-generation jet because of its ‘below-standard’ stealth capability, according to media reports,” said Chinamil.com.
Here’s What You Need to Remember: Is China interested in acquiring the Su-57, or at least some of its technology, from Russia? Though no longer allies as they were during the 1950s, or enemies as they were during the late Cold War, China and Russia are enjoying closer military ties such as joint exercises. Last year, China bought Su-35 fighters and an S-400 anti-aircraft missile system.
China should learn from Russia’s Su-57 stealth fighter, according to Chinese media.
The article in Chinamil.com, the Chinese military’s English-language news site, was peculiar in that it both criticized and praised the Su-57, of which Russia has only built ten so far, with thirteen more slated for 2020.
“The Su-57, Russia’s fifth-generation fighter jet comparable to China’s J-20 and the US’ F-22, is usually considered not a true fifth-generation jet because of its ‘below-standard’ stealth capability, according to media reports,” said Chinamil.com. “This makes it at a significant disadvantage against Chinese and US counterparts, some military observers said.”
But the article then proceeded to cite praise for the Su-57 from Wang Yongqing, chief designer of the state-owned Shenyang Aircraft Design Institute, who said “the Su-57’s overall capability is not bad at all.” Shenyang has developed several warplanes, including the J-11 and J-16, the J-15 carrier jet and the F-31 stealth fighter.
“Having an innovative aerodynamic design and capable of thrust vectoring control, the Su-57 attaches strong importance to supersonic cruise capability and super-maneuverability, and stealth is intentionally a second priority,” Wang wrote in China’s Aerospace Knowledge magazine, according to Chinamil.com. “The US concept of next-generation aerial battle stresses beyond visual range attacks, but missiles capable of delivering such attacks have to travel for a while, a time window far enough for the Su-57 to make super-maneuvers and evade them, Wang said, noting that the Russian fighter is also equipped with special radars designed to detect the precise location of incoming missiles. With long-range missiles out of the question, the final showdown will eventually take place at close range, where stealth loses its meaning and super-maneuverability thrives.”
“Another unique design is the world’s first side-facing radars in addition to the front-facing ones,” Wang said. “Combined with other radars and infrared sensors, the Su-57 is expected to find enemy stealth aircraft as early as possible.”
One interesting question is exactly what China means by “learning,” given the nation’s reputation for copying or stealing technology from other countries. Even Russia has been a victim, such as when China built an unlicensed copy of the Su-33 carrier jet and called it the J-15, of which so many have crashed that China is developing new carrier planes.
“China has a long tradition of purchasing Russian warplanes, recently highlighted by an Su-35 deal,” Chinamil.com explained primly. “But as the country developed its own fifth- generation fighter jet, it does not need to buy or even learn from the ‘below-standard’ Su-57.”
Presumably China means that its recently unveiled J-20 stealth fighter is so advanced that Beijing can snort at poor Russia’s Su-57. If so, that is a remarkable assertion given that the three J-20s that flew in a November 2018 airshow in Zhuhai were powered by Russian AL-31 engines, because the J-20’s Chinese-designed WS-15 engines are too unreliable.
China still appears to consider the United States as having superior technology to Russia. “Russia might be limited by its industrial capability and might not be able to rival the US aircraft in specific or overall performance, but its [Su-57] concept is very unique,” said Wang.
Nonetheless, that the article was authorized to appear on a Chinese military site also raises an intriguing question: is China interested in acquiring the Su-57, or at least some of its technology, from Russia? Though no longer allies as they were during the 1950s, or enemies as they were during the late Cold War, China and Russia are enjoying closer military ties such as joint exercises. Last year, China bought Su-35 fighters and an S-400 anti-aircraft missile system.
Moscow has not committed to buying large quantities of the Su-57, probably because of expense and reliability issues. A Chinese purchase could help subsidize production, assuming that China wants a Russian stealth fighter—and that Russia is comfortable sharing its stealth secrets. (Source: News Now/https://nationalinterest.org)
28 Jul 21. Ukrainian official reveals number of Ada-class corvettes on order from Turkey. A December 2020 deal between Turkey and Ukraine for the sale of an unknown batch of Turkish-built corvettes has turned out to involve two vessels.
Ukraine’s consul general in Istanbul, Alexander Haman, said on a Turkish television show that the deal covered two Ada-class corvettes to be co-produced by Turkey’s state-controlled defense technologies company STM and a Ukrainian shipyard.
Under the deal, the first vessel will be delivered to Ukraine by the end of 2023 unfinished, to then be completed in Ukraine.
The Ukrainian Navy plans to deploy the corvettes in both the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.
A Turkish procurement source said the contract’s value is about €200m (U.S. $236m), though that could change depending on workshare agreements and ship configurations.
The Ada-class corvette can perform location, classification, identification and destruction of air, surface and underwater targets as well as provide naval gunfire support. It can also perform maritime surveillance, patrol missions, and coastal and infrastructure protection.
The 99.44-meter vessel has a maximum speed of 29 knots. It can carry two S70 Seahawk helicopters. Its sensors and weapons include 3D radar. It will also be equipped with electro-optical sensors, an electronic support system, a laser warning system, a torpedo detection/countermeasure capability, hull-mounted sonar, and two 12.7mm guns with an electro-optical capability.
A steel-cutting ceremony was held in January for the fourth Ada-class corvette tailored for Pakistan’s Navy. In July 2018, the service signed a contract for the acquisition of four Ada-class ships. Under the deal, two corvettes were to be built in Turkey and the other two in Pakistan. (Source: Defense News)