07 Oct 21. Italy drops drone program, instead buying Piaggio aircraft. Italy will purchase six new Piaggio Aerospace aircraft to help relaunch the Italian firm, and indicated the government is dropping long-held plans to buy drones from the company, ending the ill-fated story of the Hammerhead UAV. The Italian Defence Ministry said it would spend €171m (U.S. $198m) to buy six P.180 Avanti Evo turboprop plane as well as a flight simulator and engine maintenance work. The aircraft, which add to the ministry’s existing fleet of P.180s, will likely be used for transport, reconnaissance and special missions. The purchase comes at a useful time for the firm, putting it on a sounder financial footing as it comes up for sale following a three-year spell in receivership.
“Fulfilling the Government’s commitment to supporting Piaggio Aerospace’s turnaround, this remarkable order further enhances the value of the Company, which is now close to finding a new owner,” said Piaggio Aerospace’s extraordinary commissioner, Vincenzo Nicastro.
The contract means Rome has made good on its commitment to hand over about €700m in deals to get the firm back on its feet. A previous work order was worth €540m.
Previous contracts included engine maintenance work on the Army’s CH-47 and A129 Mangusta helicopters as well as upgrades to operational P.180 aircraft.
However, a contract is missing — one the government said in 2019 it would award to Piaggio Aerospace.
At the time, Italy promised to purchase four of the firm’s P1.HH drones — the unmanned version of the P.180 planned by Piaggio and nicknamed the Hammerhead. The drone was originally on the United Arab Emirates’ shopping list after Piaggio was taken over in 2014 by Mubadala Development Company, an Abu Dhabi-based strategic investment firm.
The UAE wanted to buy the Hammerhead, and wanted Italy to buy a version. But when Italy dragged its heels on the purchase, the UAE walked away, canceling its orders and placing the firm in receivership in 2018, putting hundreds of jobs at Piaggio in jeopardy and leaving the firm with nearly completed P1.HH drones on its hands.
Hence, the decision by Italy to buy the drones in 2019, despite the Italian Air Force chief telling parliament he did not want them.
But three years on, it appears the government has decided it can avoid buying the drones ― effectively letting the program die ― if it simply switches to buying manned aircraft from the firm to make up its spending promise.
“The decision on drones will now be left to future investors,” an industry source told Defense News.
With an Italian-Swedish group of investors reportedly close to buying the firm with a view to building electric propulsion aircraft, military drones may not be high on the agenda, and the fate of Hammerhead may be sealed. (Source: Defense News)
07 Oct 21. Turkey eyes jets, engine and subs as it moves further into Russia’s orbit. Challenging Western sanctions, NATO ally Turkey has pledged to further its defense industry cooperation with Russia, including fighter jet and aircraft engine technologies, a second batch of S-400 air defense systems, and submarines. The end of September saw Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan fail to mend ties with the Biden administration, instead turning eastward to strengthen defense industry cooperation. In an interview with CBS show “Face the Nation,” Erdogan said America’s refusal to both deliver F-35 fighter jets — which Turkey agreed to purchase — and sell Patriot air defense missiles gave Turkey no choice but to turn to Russia for the S-400 anti-aircraft missile system. The acquisition was a point of contention between Turkey and NATO during the Trump administration, and that sentiment has carried over to the new administration.
“In the future, nobody will be able to interfere in terms of what kind of defense systems we acquire, from which country at what level. Nobody can interfere with that. We are the only ones to make such decisions,” Erdogan said.
Turkey was kicked out of the U.S.-led, multinational consortium that builds the F-35 Lightening II. Washington also placed sanctions on Ankara in December 2020 via the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. The move was the first time the law was used to penalize a U.S. ally.
The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., pointed out that sanctions were mandated by law for “any entity that does significant business with the Russian military or intelligence sectors.”
“Any new purchases by Turkey must mean new sanctions,” Menendez said on Twitter.
But Turkey remains defiant. On Sept. 26, Erdogan said his country would consider buying a second batch of S-400 systems from Russia.
“Negotiations [for the second batch] are progressing,” a senior procurement official told Defense News. “The level [of talks] is strategic and political at the moment. We have not yet reached technicalities, financing and pricing.”
Erdogan went to Sochi, Russia, on Sept. 29 for a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. “We had the opportunity to discuss comprehensively what steps to take in the production of plane engines, what steps to take regarding fighter jets,” Erdogan said of the meeting, adding that other measures could include building ships and submarines.
On the flight back, he told reporters that Turkey intends to seek compensation for its removal from the F-35 program, possibly during a meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden on the margins of a Group of 20 meeting in October.
“We made a $1.4bn payment. What will become of that?” Erdogan said. “We did not — and do not — earn this money easily. Either they will give us our planes or they will give us the money.”
Turkey is running a program to co-produce, under German license, six submarines. But Erdogan said the program was not progressing at a desired pace. “We may have to look at alternatives,” he said.
The procurement official told Defense News that “Russia can be the know-how source to meet our need for engine technology.”
“And not only that; we may soon start talks to acquire Russian fighters as a stopgap solution before our indigenous fighter program matures,” the official added.
Turkey has been thriving to design, develop and build its homemade fighter, the TF-X, for the past several years. The program has been crawling despite initial predesign help from Britain’s BAE Systems under a $115 m contract.
Turkish Aerospace Industries, the prime contractor for the TF-X effort, has not yet selected an engine that will power the future jet. TAI hopes to fly the TF-X in 2025 or 2026, but industry sources say that target is too optimistic. (Source: Defense News)
08 Oct 21. Turkey asks U.S. to buy 40 F-16 jets to upgrade Air Force -sources. Turkey has made a request to the U.S. to buy 40 Lockheed Martin-made F-16 fighter jets and nearly 80 modernization kits for its existing warplanes, as the NATO ally looks to modernize its Air Force after the purchase of F-35 jets fell through, sources familiar with the matter said. The deal, worth billions, is still working its way through the Foreign Military Sales process which is subject to approval by the U.S. State Department as well as the U.S. Congress which can block deals. The people spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the deal.
“As a matter of policy, the Department does not confirm or comment on proposed defense sales or transfers until they have been formally notified to Congress,” a spokesperson for the State Department said. The Turkish Embassy in Washington declined to comment.
Ankara had ordered more than 100 F-35 jets, also made by Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N), but was removed from the program in 2019 after it acquired Russian S-400 missile defense systems.
The decades-old partnership between the NATO allies has gone through unprecedented tumult in the past five years over disagreements on Syria policy, Ankara’s closer ties with Moscow, its naval ambitions in the eastern Mediterranean, U.S. charges against a state-owned Turkish bank and erosion of rights and freedoms in Turkey.
The request for the jets will likely have a difficult time getting approval from the U.S. Congress, where sentiment towards Turkey has soured deeply over recent years, primarily due to Ankara’s purchase of the S-400s and its problematic human rights track record.
Ankara’s purchase of the S-400s has also triggered U.S. sanctions. In December 2020, Washington blacklisted Turkey’s Defense Industry Directorate, its chief, Ismail Demir, and three other employees.
Since then the U.S. has repeatedly warned Turkey against buying further Russian weaponry. But last week, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan indicated Ankara still intended to buy a second batch of S-400s from Russia, a move that could deepen a rift with Washington.
There is bipartisan support in U.S. Congress to push the Biden administration to put further pressure on Ankara, primarily over its purchase of Russian weapons and its human rights track record.
Ankara has said it hopes for better ties under U.S. President Joe Biden.
(Source: News Now/Reuters)
05 Oct 21. Spain continues funding of IFV programme. Spain’s Council of Ministers announced on its website on 28 September that it had authorised the Ministry of Industry and Trade to sign a new contract with national consortium Tess Defence to continue the Dragón 8×8 wheeled infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) production programme. The contract, valued at EUR1.2bn (USD1.4bn) to be paid in installments between 2021 and 2024, is the ministry’s contribution to the EUR2.08 bn Spanish IFV programme, with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) paying the remainder. The MoD signed a contract with Tess Defence in August 2020 for the first tranche of 348 Dragón IFVs for delivery to the Spanish Army over the next decade, with further tranches planned for another 348 and then 287 vehicles. The Council of Ministers said the IFV production programme involves high technological and industrial content not only from TESS Defence, but also numerous Spanish companies in sectors such as materials, telecommunications, defence systems, and propulsion. The Council of Ministers expected the contract to create 1,230 qualified jobs per year and sees it as an opportunity to develop a national product and to export technology, allowing the Spanish defence industry to position itself on the international market. The Tess Defence consortium comprises General Dynamics Santa Bárbara Sistemas, Indra, Sapa Plasencia, and Escribano Mechanical & Engineering. (Source: Jane’s)
05 Oct 21. Space Force Eyes Commercial P-LEO SATCOM.
“If the Space Systems Command is going to acquire other commercial services in the same fashion that CSCO has been acquiring commercial SATCOM, then that will not serve the warfighter well,” said Rebecca Cowen-Hirsch, senior vice president for government strategy and policy at Inmarsat.
:Operators of commercial broadband mega-constellations in Low Earth Orbit, known as p-LEO providers, have until Thursday to respond to Space Force’s draft request for proposals (RFP) on how it might acquire their services. Space Force’s goal is to expand the options for military users in the field to connect to the internet, and share data including video.
“This approach would pave the way for LEO constellations like OneWeb’s network both to support coordinated control of the battlespace and to supply hosted solutions to the armed forces. … We are excited to see this draft lead to a final RFP,” said Dylan Browne, head of government business at OneWeb, one of the firms with eyes on a potential contract.
Brown added that OneWeb’s satellites are “well positioned” to meet Space Force’s needs, “given our planned network’s inherent resilience, its interoperability with GEO Ku-band networks, and its scalability, which makes it able to handle simultaneous usage surges in places around the world.”
OneWeb on Sept. 15 successfully added 34 satellites to its constellation, bringing the total number in orbit to 322 satellites — almost half the planned 648 birds planned. According to the company, it remains on track to start actual broadband services this year, and achieve global service coverage in 2022.
Similarly, SpaceX is populating LEO with its Starlink constellation, which ultimately is planned to comprise some 100,000 satellites. As of its last launch on Sept. 14, the company has orbited 1,791 Starlinks and has approval in 14 countries to operate. Like OneWeb, SpaceX is not yet actually offering commercial services.
However, it has been participating in a number of DoD experiments and prototypes, including the Space Development Agency’s effort to build new missile tracking satellites in lower orbits than the current Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) birds.
The p-LEO draft proposal is not public but only only available to industry upon contacting Space Systems Command (SSC) — the new Space Force command for acquisition, replacing Space and Missile Systems Center, at Los Angeles AFB. The SSC request for information (RFI) says that Space Force intends to grant indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (ID/IQ) contracts to a number of p-LEO providers.
Commercial Space Acquisition
DoD for many years has had, in one form or another, a program to tap into commercial satellite communications (SATCOM). Currently, use of commercial bandwidth is managed by SSC’s Commercial Satellite Communications Office (CSCO), headed by Clare Grason — an office that Space Force is looking to expand to handle acquisition of other types of commercial space capabilities, such as remote sensing.
CSCO serves as a middleman between commercial satellite operators and then matches the needs of various operational commands and other DoD customers to a provider — helping manage the contracting process. However, CSCO doesn’t have a budget or program of record for buying bandwidth access; rather funds are found in the Overseas Contingency Operations fund when a need for a surge in connectivity is required by operators.
Chief of Space Operations Gen. Jay Raymond, in his February 2020 Enterprise SATCOM Vision document, laid out a farther reaching aspiration.
That document calls for Space Force to build and manage a seamless network of military and commercial comsats in all orbits, accessible to troops, vehicles, ships and aircraft via ground terminals and mobile receivers that would automatically “hop” from one satellite network to another. It includes looking at new acquisition approaches, and Space Force has been experimenting with using contracting authorities like Section 804 and Other Transaction Authority (OTA).
Whither ‘Satellite As A Service’?
But traditional commercial SATCOM providers — whose satellites are based in higher Geosynchronous Orbits (GEO, some 36,000 kilometers in altitude) or Medium Earth Orbit (MEO, between GEO and the edge of LEO at some 2,000 kilometers) — continue to be disappointed with the lack of progress toward that goal.
Major industry players, including Viasat; Hughes; Intelsat; Inmarsat; SES and Eutelsat, have been arguing the Pentagon would save money, and speed capabilities, by buying satcom “managed services” — like an average mobile phone or cable TV/Internet plan — instead of leasing commercial bandwidth in fits and starts for short periods of time.
“If the Space Systems Command is going to acquire other commercial services in the same fashion that CSCO has been acquiring commercial SATCOM, then that will not serve the warfighter well. As you know, we have been advocating for many, many years now that commercial SATCOM be acquired more strategically, and not on an ad hoc, case-by-case, reactionary basis,” said Rebecca Cowen-Hirsch, senior vice president for government strategy and policy at Inmarsat, in an interview. “If today’s method is going to apply to other broadband commercial services, then that is a recipe that is not going to bake well.”
“We’ve been talking about it for as long as I’ve been involved with satellites in the last 12 years,” Rick Lober, vice president of Hughes’s Defense & Intelligence Systems Division, told Breaking Defense. “We need to see this stuff move more towards programs of record, and not, you know, BAAs, OTAs, studies, prototyping, and that seems to have been been slow.”
Congress, too, has been trying to push the Department of the Air Force, which oversees Space Force and the Air Force, and DoD writ large to reform how it buys commercial bandwidth. Lawmakers have been consistently adding money to launch a program of record to buy SATCOM as a service for a number of years.
“There’s a trail that goes back to 2014,” Hirsch noted. “And it is a bipartisan issue.”
Space Force asked for $23.8m in its fiscal 2022 budget request, but that was for integration of commercial SATCOM into its portfolio of options for bandwidth — not for actually buying data and/or services from companies.
“And that’s an M as a m, so it’s a very infinitesimally small number in the big scheme of things,” Cowen-Hirsch said. She noted, with some obvious frustration, that commercial SATCOM providers keep waiting to see actual movement rather than “just acquiring additional consultants to do studies.” (Source: glstrade.com/Breaking Defense.com)
REST OF THE WORLD
06 Oct 21. Rheinmetall and Navistar Defence Canada join forces in bid to win Canada’s Logistics Vehicle Modernization project. Rheinmetall Canada and Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles (RMMV) are proud to welcome Navistar Defence Canada to their partnership, dubbed Team 45⁰ North (45⁰N), in pursuit of Canada’s Logistics Vehicle Modernization (LVM) project – an initiative that will revitalize the Canadian Army’s light and heavy logistics vehicle capabilities. Drawing on more than 200 years of combined expertise in developing technical solutions in the realm of defence and vehicle programmes in Canada, Team 45⁰N brings together two premier military vehicle manufacturers and a world-class integrator to offer the Canadian Army battle-tested trucks that are purpose-built for military use.
Team 45⁰N: Joining forces to support our Forces
With its members’ extensive experience in various logistics vehicle solutions and in the execution of complex defence projects, Team 45⁰N offers a low-risk, high-quality solution for Canada’s LVM project.
For decades, Rheinmetall Canada has been a trusted partner of the Canadian Armed Forces in several programmes. The company is an internationally acknowledged system integrator in the defence and security industry and a dependable provider of in-service support to large Canadian vehicle projects. Rheinmetall Canada is also known for its collaborative approach in working with its customers throughout the full lifecycle of their programmes.
Bringing unique skills and deep knowledge to the team, RMMV has successfully developed, built, and serviced military vehicles around the globe for more than a century. To satisfy all of its customers’ needs and to support them in fulfilling their most demanding missions, the company offers a complete range of services, including project management, systems engineering and integration, through-life support, repair and maintenance, as well as spares management.
Navistar Defence Canada rounds out Team 45⁰N, offering significant experience in working with the Canadian government. Navistar Defence Canada delivered 1 300 militarized commercial-off-the-shelf (MilCOTS) vehicles to the Canadian Department of National Defence for the Medium Support Vehicle System (MSVS) project to support domestic and expeditionary missions. It continues to provide logistic support through its vast parts and service network across Canada. The company also supplied the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) with armoured personnel carriers to provide increased protection and rescue capabilities for RCMP officers and members of the public in high-risk situations.
Reliable capabilities, proven solutions
In collaboration with its partners, Team 45⁰N will offer a comprehensive LVM solution that fulfills the Canadian Army’s logistics mission profile, specifically designed to meet military requirements – durability, protection, payload capacity, mobility, and all-terrain capability.
RMMV’s HX series of tactical trucks already has a successful track record globally and has a well-established group of user nations, including Canada’s close allies (Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom) as well as other NATO nations (Germany, Norway, Denmark) and western countries (Austria, Sweden). These reliable military vehicles excel in all climates, are off road capable, and – most importantly – offer an unparalleled level of protection to soldiers. The combat-proven ready-to-use design can also be upgraded and modified according to specific customer needs. A true military off-the-shelf solution, the HX family of vehicles combines professional logistics with force mobility support and tactical special role applications, making it a reliable enabler for joint operations in complex environments.
Navistar Defence Canada provides unrivalled domestic and expeditionary logistic vehicle solutions. Its vehicles are among the most versatile in the world. The flexible platforms are easily tailored to meet specific mission requirements and configured in several variants such as water tankers; petroleum, oil and lubricant trucks; general troop transporters; wreckers; dump trucks; heavy equipment transport trucks; and more. They have been used in recent natural disaster relief missions in Canada and have been a key logistics force-multiplier on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Dedicated to supporting the Canadian Armed Forces while leveraging the Canadian industry
Team 45⁰N is committed to supporting the Canadian Armed Forces before, during, and after deliveries while creating pan-Canadian economic growth. The partnership draws on a coast-to-coast network of suppliers and will help bolster an in-country workforce and supply chain. Rheinmetall Canada and its partners’ excellent track record in fulfilling their Industrial and Technological Benefits (ITB) commitments are a testament to Team 45⁰N’s dedication to Canadian industry.
Thanks to the alliance’s exceptional product offering, extensive experience in working with the Canadian Armed Forces, and its commitment to Canadian economic growth, Team 45⁰N is the solution of choice for Canada’s LVM project, as well as all other future logistic vehicle initiatives.
The Infrastructure and Projects Authority has been critical of the program in the past and said at one point the successful delivery of the program to time, cost and quality appeared to be “unachievable.” (Source: Defense News)
05 Oct 21. Indonesia to implement Arrowhead 140 design on Iver Huitfeldt-variant contract. Indonesian shipbuilder PT PAL will implement the Arrowhead 140 design on a contract it secured from Jakarta in April 2020 for two Iver Huitfeldt class-variant frigates. In response to questions from Janes, PT PAL’s public affairs office confirmed that the two-ship contract worth USD720 m is officially in force, and work is under way in Surabaya, Indonesia, to prepare for the first build. However, Janes also understands from a separate industry source that discussions are still ongoing between PT PAL and Babcock on design modifications that will be undertaken to meet the Indonesian Navy’s requirements. As reported by Janes in June 2020, the Indonesian Ministry of Defence (MoD) signed a preamble contract for a variant of the Iver Huitfeldt frigate with PT PAL in April 2020. However, the two-ship contract only became effective from 24 May 2021, PT PAL told Janes on 5 October. (Source: Jane’s)