UNITED KINGDOM AND NATO
27 Dec 21. Royal Navy plans to introduce three new class of vessels Type 26 – 31 frigates and Fleet Support Ship. According to a report published by the UK’s House of Commons Defence Committee on December 14, 2021, in 2027–28 the British Navy’s current plans are to introduce three new classes of vessels (Type 26, Type 31 and FSS Fleet Support Ship) simultaneously. The British Minister for Defence Procurement described the planned transition in which Type 23 frigates will be replaced by Type 26 and Type 31 frigates.
Citing the British Defence Committee report, Admiral Radakin noted that one of the big challenges of the transitions between classes is likely to be to the need to crew both old and new vessels simultaneously for a period. He reported that due to positive recruitment numbers he was optimistic about the British Navy’s ability to do this.
The Type 26 and Type 31 frigates face project specific challenges from the design and build of first of class vessels. BAE has provided British Defence Committee with an overview of specific risks in the Type 26 program and explained the measures they have put in place to manage them. These include supply chain risks, engineering or software design not maturing in time, issues with integration of equipment, and COVID-19 impacts.
David Lockwood, CEO, Babcock, confirmed that the Type 31 program faced many similar risks, in addition of the start-up risk of a new dockyard. Glynn Phillips, Group Managing Director, Maritime and Land, BAE, also informed us that the Type 26 program had had historic issues with the “first of class gear box”, including difficulties meeting the exacting specification for operating extremely quietly. He believed that these issues had been resolved but noted the gear box was still going through testing.
In September 2021, the British Ministry of Defense had announced the award of Competitive Procurement Phase (CPP) contracts to four contenders to develop their design and construction proposals for the Fleet Solid Support (FSS) ships project. In May, the British MOD launched a £1.6bn competition to acquire three new FSS ships that will keep the Royal Navy’s two new aircraft carriers stocked with supplies while at sea. Selection of the preferred bidder is expected by Q4 of 2022, with a build contract expected to happen in May 2023.
The four consortia awarded CPP contracts include Larsen & Toubro, which includes UK company Leidos Innovations, Serco /Damen, which includes UK company Serco, Team Resolute, which includes UK companies Harland & Wolff and BMT and Team UK, which includes UK companies Babcock and BAE Systems.
The FSS program is meant to find a replacement for the Fort Class support ships. The need for the ships and their potential role in a national shipbuilding strategy was identified in 2005. However, as a result of numerous delays and u-turns by successive governments, the competition to procure them is still ongoing and there are concerns that they will come in late and that they will either be built abroad or, if they are built in the UK, would strain the capacity of UK shipyards, which are also attempting to deliver the Type 26 and Type 31 frigates at the same time. This has turned what should have been the cornerstone of the fleet and the UK shipbuilding industry into a millstone around both their necks.
The Type 26 or City-class is a class of frigate being built for the United Kingdom’s Royal Navy, with variants also being built for the Australian and Canadian navies. The program, known as the Global Combat Ship, was launched by the British Ministry of Defence to partially replace the navy’s thirteen Type 23 frigates, and for export.
In July 2017, BAE Systems had been awarded a contract by the UK Ministry of Defence worth c£3.7 bn to manufacture the first three ships for the Type 26 Global Combat Ship program.
The Type 26 Global Combat Ship will be a world-class anti-submarine warfare ship and will replace the anti-submarine variant Type 23 frigates. Globally deployable, it will be capable of undertaking a wide range of roles from high intensity warfare to humanitarian assistance, either operating independently or as part of a task group.
The Type 26 frigate will be powered by a Combined diesel-electric and gas (CODLAG) propulsion systems including one Rolls-Royce MT30 gas turbine, four MTU Type 20V 4000 M53B high-speed diesel generators and two electric motors. The ship will be able to reach a top speed of 26 knots (48 km/h) with a maximum cruising range of 7,000 nautical miles (13,000 km).
The Type 26 will have a length of 149.9 m, a beam of 20.8 m, and a displacement of 6,900 tons. She will have accommodation health and recreation services for 208 crew and 157 core complement.
The Type 26 will be armed with a total of eight canisters advanced anti-ship missiles, 32-cell Mark 41 Vertical Launch System able to fire RIM-66 Standard 2 surface-to-air missiles, and RIM-162 ESSM medium-range surface-to-air missiles, MU90 Impact torpedoes, one 5-inch 62 caliber Mark 45 Mod 4 dual purpose naval gun, two 30 mm short-range gun systems and two 20 mm Phalanx CIWS (Close-In Weapon Systems).
The Type 31 or Inspiration-Class is a new generation of frigates that will be built for the British Navy by the company Babcock International and will be deployed alongside the submarine-hunting Type 26 frigate. Designed by Babcock International, it is also marketed under the name Arrowhead 140.
It was announced on 12 September 2019 that the Arrowhead 140 design had been selected for the Type 31 frigate. A contract was formally awarded to Babcock on 15 November 2019, for an average production cost of £250m per ship and an overall program cost set to be £2bn with £1.25bn value to Babcock.
The Type 31 frigate will be powered by four Rolls Royce/MTU 20V 8000 M71 (8.2 MW) diesel engines and four Rolls Royce/MTU 16V 2000 M41B (900 kW) generators. The Combined diesel and diesel (CODAD) propulsion system will include MAN Alpha VBS Mk 5 CP propeller driving two shafts. The ship will be able to reach a top speed of 28 knots (52 km/h) with a maximum cruising range of 9,000 nautical miles (17,000 km).
The Type 31 will have a length of 138.7 m with a displacement of 7,700 tons. She will have a crew from 80 to 100 people and accommodation for up to 160 people. The ship will have one helicopter hangar and flight deck able to carry one Wildact helicopter.
The Type 31 will be armed with up to 24 cells VLS (Vertical Launching System) Sea Ceptor anti-air missiles, one 57 mm Mk 110 naval gun, two 40 mm Mk 4 secondary guns, four 7.62 mm General purpose machine guns, and four 7.62 mm Miniguns. (Source: News Now/https://www.navyrecognition.com/i)
30 Dec 21. Turkey opens bidding for three new frigates. Turkey’s procurement agency has invited bids for the construction of three I-class frigates under its national corvette program, dubbed MILGEM.
The Presidency of Defence Industries, or SSB, issued a request for proposals on Dec. 22 for the construction of the sixth, seventh and eighth ships under the MILGEM program.
“Local industry content for the three ships will be higher than those built previously,” claimed Ismail Demir, who leads SSB. “The ships will be 100% Turkish design.”
Under the MILGEM effort, Ada-class corvettes TCG Heybeliada entered service in 2011, TCG Buyukada in 2013, TCG Burgazada in 2018 and TCG Kinaliada in 2019. The fifth ship, I-class frigate TCG Istanbul, is currently under construction, with a delivery date of 2023. SSB says the first five ships contain 75% local material.
The I-class frigates will perform reconnaissance and surveillance; target traction and identification; early warning of adversarial activities; base and port defense; anti-submarine, anti-aircraft and surface warfare; amphibious operations; and patrolling missions.
According to the RFP, only local shipyards or foreign subsystem suppliers partnered with a local shipyard are allowed to bid. SSB also requires that bidders previously built a surface navy platform or is currently building one in partnership with the Turkish government.
An SSB official familiar with the program said the I-class frigates will be powered by foreign engine technology. He said SSB expects Turkey’s largest defense firm, military electronics specialist Aselsan, to supply a wide range of systems, including anti-submarine, anti-aircraft and surface warfare technology; reconnaissance and surveillance systems; anti-asymmetric warfare capabilities; command-and-control technology; self-defense systems; defensive laser warning tech; infrared trail management systems; electronic support; torpedo jamming; and chaff and decoy systems.
“We expect nearly 250 local companies to take part in the frigate program,” the official told Defense News on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Some of the subsystems required for the program include:
* The 76mm TAKS firing control system
* The KULAC echo sounder system
* Two ANS-510 gyro systems
* The WECDIS cruise control and monitoring system
* The Link 11 data terminal set
* 76mm gun integration
* The 12.7mm STAMP weapon
* Advanced Harpoon Weapon Control System integration for the Harpoon Block II surface-to-surface missile
Industry sources said the Turkish companies likely to bid for a contract include Anadolu Shipyard, Sefine Shipyard, Sedef Shipyard, TAIS Shipyards, Istanbul Shipyard, Dearsan Shipyard, RMK Marine, Desan Shipyard, Ares Shipyard and Yonca-Onuk.
Turkey’s procurement and naval officials had long been divided over whether to build one or three frigates, and whether private shipyards or a Turkish Navy shipyard should administer the program.
“SSB favored the idea to go for a private shipyard, calculating that this option could create export opportunities for the local shipbuilding industry. The Navy, on the other hand, wanted to build the ships at its own shipyard, citing that possible modification of specifications or design during the construction process would bring in extra costs if the contract was awarded to a private shipyard,” said Ozgur Eksi, a defense analyst in Ankara.
Turkey’s per capita income fell for the seventh consecutive year to $7,000 in 2021 from $12,500 in 2012. The official inflation rate is at 22%, but independent economists say it exceeds 50%. The Turkish lira has lost a third of its value against major Western currencies since September. But the decision to have three frigates built instead of one at a time of budgetary constraints is a geostrategic message, Eksi explained.
“The political authority is telling Turkey’s regional adversaries that it will not reconcile in geostrategic disputes in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean seas,” he said. “Pressing the button for three new frigates, Ankara is sending the message that it will not back down on any naval challenge.”
In the summer of 2020, the Aegean Sea was host to a geopolitical tug of war. Turkey and Greece declared one NAVTEX after another — a means of transmitting urgent marine safety information to ships worldwide.
Turkey sent a survey vessel to the disputed continental shelf just 6.5 nautical miles off the Greek island of Kastellorizo. Turkish military figures suggested Turkey could close the Dardanelles and Bosporus straits to Greek and Cypriot ships.
In response, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis convened his national security council. “We are in complete political and operational readiness,” the council said in a statement following its meeting.
On Aug. 14, 2020, the Hellenic Navy frigate Limnos and Turkey’s frigate TCG Kemalreis collided in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. Pro-government media in Turkey suggested the military invade 16 Greek islands in response.
(Source: Defense News)
27 Dec 21. Italy to use TIM-led project as blueprint in national cloud tender. Italy will use a proposal presented by a consortium that includes Telecom Italia (TIM) (TLIT.MI) as a blueprint in the national cloud tender it plans to launch in the first weeks of 2022, the digital innovation ministry said on Monday. Known as the National Strategic Hub, the infrastructure is part of the government’s strategy to accelerate digital transformation and guarantee national data security. In its national Recovery Plan sent to Brussels in April, Rome earmarked 900m euros ($1.04bn) for the project.
The ministry said it had received three proposals for the national cloud and identified that prepared by the TIM-led consortium – which includes state lender CDP, defence group Leonardo (LDOF.MI) and government IT agency Sogei – as the one which “fully and satisfactorily reflects the requirements” set by Rome in September.
“It is expected that the call for tenders could be published in the first weeks of 2022, in order to allow the start of the works within the second half of the year,” the ministry added.
While others can submit proposals in line with the parameters set by the TIM-consortium, that project is seen as a clear favourite to win the tender. That consortium also has a right to match any improved rival bid that may be presented. The other two proposals came from a partnership between Italian IT group AlmavivA and cloud provider Aruba and a consortium that includes Italian software developer Engineering and telecoms group Fastweb, a unit of Swisscom (SCMN.S). (Source: Reuters)
22 Dec 21. Slovakia advances acquisition of IFVs and AFVs. The Slovak MoD is on track to receive proposals for the supply of 76 8×8 AFVs and 152 IFVs to replace an ageing fleet of BMP-1, BMP-2 and modernised version of the BMP. Unaffected by the same problems its Czech neighbour is experiencing, Slovakia will receive proposals for the supply of 76 8×8 armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) by 31 December 2021 and for 152 IFVs by 31 January 2022. Slovak MoD spokeswoman Martina Kova Kakašíková told Shephard that the country will acquire the platforms under separate government-to-government (G2G) agreements to enhance military and industrial cooperation with international allies. The MoD released tenders for both the IFVs and AFVs in September 2021 and it sent requests for government proposals to 33 countries (Source: Shephard)
22 Dec 21. Spain approves Tiger III upgrade. Spain has approved its participation on the Tiger Mk III upgrade, to be conducted alongside partners France and Germany. The Spanish Council of Ministers gave its consent on 21 December, agreeing EUR1.2bn (USD 2.03bn) in financing from 2029 to 2037. Once all the nations have given their approval via the Organisation for Joint Armament Co-operation (OCCAR), a contract is likely to be awarded to Airbus Helicopters in early 2022. The major system upgrades for the Mk III programme include improvements to the mast-mounted electro-optical system; the helmet-mounted sight system; the enhanced vision system; radios; datalinks for manned-unmanned teaming; new air-to-surface and air-to-air missiles, guns, and rockets; improved countermeasures; a new navigation system synchronised to the Galileo global positioning system; and an updated avionics suite that includes a new tactical data management system and battlefield management system. (Source: Janes)
30 Dec 21. Congress gives Missile Defense Agency authority to research and develop laser tech for missile defense. Congress is giving the Missile Defense Agency the authority to research and develop laser technology to use in ballistic and hypersonic missile defense applications, according to the recently passed fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Act. The secretary of defense is required to delegate to the MDA director the authority to “budget for, direct and manage directed energy programs applicable for ballistic and hypersonic missile defense mission in coordination with other directed energy efforts of the Department of Defense,” the NDAA states.
The director is tasked with prioritizing early research and development of technologies and managing the transition of technologies to industry “to support future operationally relevant capabilities,” it adds.
“I think what you’re seeing is a desire by Congress to make sure that [science and technology] and [research and development] work is no kidding translated into some missile defense relevant programs,” missile defense analyst Tom Karako of the Center for Strategic and International Studies told Defense News.
Riki Ellison, who heads the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, said, in a way, the provision restores funding and responsibility MDA previously had to pursue directed-energy technology programs.
MDA is “supposed to do this. They’ve done it before and at a huge magnitude with a huge budget and created a system that … with a chemical laser shot down a missile,” Ellison said in an interview with Defense News. “Some of the optics and the technology from that effort we are still using.”
Ellison is referring to the Airborne Ballistic Laser program, which began in the 1970s and was pushed aggressively during the George W. Bush administration to address ballistic missile threats.
Cost overruns and technical challenges caused the program to ultimately be downgraded into a demonstration.
The MDA’s Airborne Laser Test Bed successfully destroyed a short-range ballistic missile in 2010. In 2012, the laser-equipped aircraft had its final take off from Edwards Air Force Base, California, and transitioned into long-term storage at Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, according to MDA.
An infrared image of the Missile Defense Agency’s Airborne Laser Test Bed (right) destroying a threat representative short-range ballistic missile (left). (MDA)
Roughly five years ago, MDA turned its focus to laser scaling to enable a low-power laser demonstration planned for 2021 to determine the feasibility of destroying enemy missiles in the boost phase of flight. But the effort was derailed by funding cuts. The MDA’s long-term goal, at the time, was to deploy lasers on high-altitude, long-endurance, unmanned aerial vehicles to take out intercontinental ballistic missiles in the earliest phase of flight.
In addition to giving MDA the authority to pursue directed energy programs in the FY22 NDAA, Congress also authorized an additional roughly $100 million in directed-energy research and development funding. It includes $50 million to work on improved beam control for high energy laser research and another $20 million for a short-pulse laser directed energy demonstration.
The addition of funding for directed energy and the provision granting MDA authority to pursue directed energy programs is “significant,” Patty-Jane Geller, policy analyst for nuclear deterrence and missile defense at the Heritage Foundation, said during a Dec. 16 MDAA virtual event.
“Directed energy can help us address cruise and ballistic missiles in a potentially more cost effective way than ground-based interceptors,” she said.
“I look at what’s going on in the Indo-Pacific in particular where it seems that China is exercising a bit of an offset strategy to overwhelm our ships and assets in the region with its large missile arsenal, maybe a competitive strategy to get us to spend more and more money on missile defense,” Geller said. “That’s why I think investing in directed energy and other advanced technologies is so important to strengthen our position in the spending race as well.”
While MDA has backed away from developing defensive laser weapons, the services have made some operationally relevant headway with the technology.
The Army, this year, successfully demonstrated a 50-kilowatt laser on a Stryker combat vehicle for short-range air defense and General Dynamics Land Systems is now integrating the Raytheon Technologies-developed laser technology onto four more vehicles.
The Army has indicated it plans to hold a competition for a directed-energy weapon on a Stryker vehicle beginning in FY23, which could lead to a production contract in FY24.
A Dynetics and Lockheed Martin team is slated to deliver a 300-kilowatt high-energy laser technology demonstrator for the Army’s Indirect Fires Protection Capability designed to defend fixed and semi-fixed sites against cruise missiles, unmanned aircraft systems and rockets, artillery and mortars in FY22. Four prototypes would be due at the end of FY24.
And Lockheed Martin delivered to the U.S. Air Force in October the Airborne High Energy Laser so the service can integrate it on its AC-130J Ghostrider gunship, while the U.S. Navy this month tested a laser weapon in the Middle East from its amphibious transport dock ship Portland. The laser weapon destroyed a floating target. (Source: Defense News)
22 Dec 21. Northrop wants L3Harris kicked out of $500m jammer competition. Northrop Grumman has asked the U.S. Court of Federal Claims to ban L3Harris from a $500m. competition to build the next-generation jammer for the Navy’s EA-18 Growler aircraft. The two companies have been locked in a fly-off competition and it looked like L3Harris had won the $500m contract to continue development and deploy of an electronics pod that sits under the EA-18 Growler aircraft.
But in a successful protest at the Government Accountability Office, Northrop argued L3Harris had a conflict of interest because it hired a Navy official who worked on the specifications for the contract during that company’s process of recruiting him. GAO normally recommends that in situations like this, a competitor be disqualified as we wrote in a recent decision involving Booz Allen Hamilton. Eliminating L3Harris wasn’t an option here however, GAO said in that ruling.
GAO instead recommended the Navy use people who review the requirements and see if they were influenced in L3Harris’ favor by the Navy official.
If problems were found, GAO recommended the Navy amend the solicitation and get new proposals. If no issues were found, the Navy should reopen discussions and get revised proposals.
In a complaint filed with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, Northrop says the Navy rejected GAO’s recommendation and moved ahead with the award to L3Harris.
It’s important to note that GAO only makes recommendations. The vast majority of agencies follow the recommendations but they aren’t required to. Agencies must file a report with GAO if they don’t follow the recommendations. During fiscal year 2021, no agency went against GAO’s recommendations.
Northrop filed its complaint with the court in October, but it was sealed until this week when a redacted version was released.
According to the filing, the Navy said it implemented the first part of GAO’s recommendations by forming an independent review panel. The panel found that the requirements were consistent with the Navy’s needs. In other words, the Navy official didn’t shape them in L3Harris’ favor.
But the Navy didn’t follow the second part because they felt it was unnecessary, the branch said. There is more to the Navy’s answer, but that portion is blacked out in the document.
Northrop argues that both conflict of interest still exists and that L3Harris should be deemed ineligible for the contract on that point, plus that L3Harris didn’t meet several of the requirements in the contract.
There isn’t a public timeline for the court to decide the case. The docket has many filings that are still sealed and there appears to be a dispute about the paper record of the procurement.
Northrop is asking for more documents. A decision on that request is expected in January. (Source: Washington Technology)
REST OF THE WORLD
23 Dec 21. Malaysia keen on buying Kuwait’s Hornet fighter jets. Malaysia is hoping to buy Kuwait’s entire fleet of Boeing F/A-18 Hornet multi-role fighter jets, although discussions between both governments over the sale have yet to begin. Speaking during a question-and-answer session in Malaysia’s parliament, the country’s deputy defense minister Ikmal Hisham Abdul Aziz said the southeast Asian country is seeking to purchase the Kuwaiti Air Force’s fleet of 33 jets “lock, stock and barrel.”
He noted the Kuwaiti Hornets are still in good condition with relatively low flight hours and adding them to the Royal Malaysian Air Force, or RMAF, inventory “will definitely increase the level of preparedness and capability of the RMAF in safeguarding the country’s [air]space.”
He also added the country is planning on operating the type till 2035.
Malaysia currently operates a fleet of eight F/A-18D twin-seat fighters in the air defense and strike role, serving alongside 18 Russian-built Sukhoi Su-30MKM Flanker-H jets. The Hornets were acquired in 1997 and have been upgraded over the past decade.
The incremental improvements include the integration of the Joint Helmet Cueing System, AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air missile and satellite-guided Joint Direct Attack Munitions as well as the addition of the Link 16 datalink.
Kuwait is seeking to dispose of its fleet of F/A-18C single-seaters and F/A-18Ds, 40 of which were acquired in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War. The small Persian Gulf emirate is currently taking delivery of 28 Eurofighter Typhoons and a similar number of F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighters.
Malaysia has evaluated the Super Hornet and Typhoon alongside the French Dassault Rafale as it flirted with the procurement of a new multi-role combat aircraft. However, budget problems have meant the country’s Russian-built MiG-29 Fulcrum interceptors have been quietly withdrawn from service without a replacement.
The country has instead put its emphasis on acquiring a new light combat aircraft to replace the RMAF’s fleet of Hawk 108 jet trainers and Hawk 208 light combat aircraft, which also date back to the late 1990s and have suffered from a series of crashes and accidents.
Acquiring the Kuwaiti Hornets would allow the RMAF to beef up its existing, albeit understrength, inventory of the type with eight aircraft being short of a typical fighter jet squadron’s strength of at least 12 aircraft.
However, should Malaysia be successful in acquiring the Kuwaiti jets, it’s likely to need to refurbish the Kuwaiti jets to bring them in line with its existing fleet of Hornets to ensure fleet commonality.
The desire to boost Malaysia’s air defenses have added impetus with the widely publicized flight of 16 Chinese transport aircraft over a disputed South China Sea shoal in late May. The Chinese jets approached to within 60 miles of Malaysia’s coast and prompted the RMAF to scramble Hawks in response.
The country would likely face competition for the Kuwait Hornets from other interested parties, however, as Tunisia is also reportedly keen on buying the jets. Any potential buyer will also need U.S. government permission to complete the sale. (Source: Defense News)
23 Dec 21. Philippine Army to boost its aircraft capabilities. On 15 December the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Lieutenant General Andres Centino, said that the manned airborne capabilities of the Philippine Army (PA) aviation regiment will be expanded as part of the broader Philippine Armed Forces Modernization Program (AFMP) to complement operations performed by the other services.
Centino stated his commitment to support the PA’s air modernisation plans during the opening ceremony of the helicopter transition training course for the Bölkow Bo 105 helicopter at the army aviation regiment’s Fort Magsaysay airbase (Nueva Ecija).
“I am fortunate to see the dawn of aviation in the Philippine Army. Rest assured that as chief of staff, you will have my full support in the enhancement of your capability,” he said.
The Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm Bo 105 multi-purpose helicopter, which was donated by a private businessman and commissioned into service in July 2021, is one of three helicopters in the PA’s inventory. (Source: Janes)