12 Jan 22. Hungary to upgrade Gripens. Hungary is to upgrade its Saab Gripen C/D combat aircraft to the latest MS20 Block 2 standard, the original equipment manufacturer announced on 12 January. The Swedish Defence Materiel Administration has concluded negotiations with the Hungarian Government Commissioner Office for the upgrade, which will include a raft of enhancements to the Hungarian Air Force’s fleet of 12 Gripen C and one Gripen D aircraft.
“The MS20 Block 2 upgrade brings a number of improvements,” Saab said. “It greatly increases both Gripen’s combat and communication capabilities, as well as access to a wide range of weapons that can be integrated on Hungarian Air Force Gripen fighters.” (Source: Janes)
12 Jan 22. Slovak AFV tender with contract set for March. Proposals to meet a Slovak AFV requirement have been submitted by the Czech, Finnish, Romanian, Spanish and US governments, with a contract due to be signed by late March 2022.
The Slovak MoD has received five proposals to supply 76 8×8 armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs), as it pushes on with plans to retire and replace an ageing fleet of Russian BVP platforms.
An MoD official confirmed to Shephard that bids for the €332m ($376m) government-to-government (G2G) tender were submitted by the Czech Republic, Finland, Romania, Spain and the US.
Candidates include AFVs based on a Patria chassis as well as the designs based on the Pandur, Piranha V, Dragon and Stryker vehicles. (Source: Shephard)
10 Jan 22. New German government revisits Tornado replacement options. Germany is once again weighing its options for replacing the country’s aging Tornado aircraft fleet, which could put the F-35 back on the table.
The plan, first reported by German press agency DPA over the weekend, follows a pledge in the coalition government agreement late last year.
The review would re-open a recommendation made by then-Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen in early 2019 for phasing out Germany’s nearly 90 Tornados by the end of the decade. It ditched an F-35 option, fearing purchasing that fighter jet would upset the Franco-German defense alliance with the Future Combat Air System at its core.
Officials instead favored buying a roughly equal number of Eurofighters and new-generation Boeing F-18s. The latter would fly electronic-attack missions and serve as a bomb carrier under Germany’s NATO nuclear-sharing commitments, the thinking went.
The German defense ministry on Monday declined to say whether the F-35 is now expressly back under consideration. Conversations between Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht and Chancellor Olaf Scholz about Tornado replacement options, reported by DPA as having happened last Thursday, are considered “internal,” a spokeswoman told Defense News.
Officials pointed to a Dec. 19 Lambrecht interview in the Bild am Sonntag newspaper, where she was quoted as favoring a “European” plane for the nuclear-sharing mission while at the same time leaving open the possibility that the requisite U.S. certifications may not happen in time, or at all.
“I will consider all options,” Lambrecht said.
Germany’s Tornado replacement debate is a recurring exercise for the country’s defense intelligentsia. For the nuclear mission, it is now believed Washington would likely only allow a U.S. aircraft, although even the degrees of atomic readiness among the F-35 and the F-18 are disputed.
Against that backdrop, the nuclear mission is controversial to begin with, treated as a necessary evil by the new government in the formulation of a defense and security agenda that also includes nonproliferation goals.
For the electronic-attack mission, the German defense industry, led by Airbus Defence and Space, had lobbied against an F-18 Growler choice ever since Von der Leyen’s recommendation, arguing the Eurofighter could be developed to at least a similar level of capability.
Meanwhile, introducing the F-35 back into the mix of German considerations, even the talk of it, could lead French officials to question Berlin’s commitment to the Future Combat Air System. That, in turn, risks not only toppling the sixth-generation aircraft program but the European Union’s defense-industrial ambitions as a whole.
The question is if FCAS could co-exist with a German F-35 acquisition, especially given that the DPA report suggests those planes would primarily work doomsday stand-by duty.
German industry should not be expected to actively support any U.S. aircraft in the Tornado-replacement decision, Reinhard Brandl, a member of the opposition Christian Social Union and the parliamentary defense committee, told Defense News in an interview. At the same time, he noted it’s primarily the electronic-attack portfolio that German companies are most keen on guarding against American products.
And the French-German cooperation on FCAS is far from going swimmingly at the moment, according to Brandl, who blamed France’s Dassault for refusing to sign an industry contract for the aircraft portion of the program.
“Dassault is not ready to accept Airbus as a partner on equal terms,” he told Defense News. “They are saying, ‘We’ll do FCAS, but only by our rules.’”
With Dassault’s export order books for its Rafale fighter full, the company may see less reason to agree on an FCAS fighter and focus on upgrades for its own jet instead, Brandl argued. In that sense, German talk of of an F-35 buy may serve as a fall-back option, he added.
A Dassault spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a question about the status of the industry contract. (Source: Defense News)
12 Jan 22. Boeing [NYSE: BA] today announced the expansion of its industrial partnership strategy in Germany in support of the F/A-18 Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler offering to the Bundeswehr. A Request for Information (RFI) was issued to more than 10 German companies to solicit bids.
German industry partners will play a significant role in providing support equipment, logistics and overall maintenance, parts, local sustainment programs, training, and other relevant repair and overhaul solutions for Germany’s potential Super Hornet and Growler fleet. German industry will also have the opportunity to participate in the development of the Next Generation Jammer for the EA-18G Growler.
The RFIs are the first step towards in-country sustainment worth approximately $4bn USD/ €3.5bn over the lifecycle of the programs, and will contribute additional economic opportunity and value to the German economy as the programs evolve.
“Germany is home to outstanding aerospace expertise and innovation and we look forward to expanding our partnerships locally for Germany’s F/A-18 Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler fleet,” said Dr. Michael Haidinger, president of Boeing Germany, Central and Eastern Europe, Benelux and the Nordics. “With this partner expansion strategy, we are laying the foundation for new business opportunities for German industry champions, high-skilled new jobs and long-term economic growth.”
The F/A-18 Super Hornet Block III provides advanced, proven capabilities, as well as low life-cycle and acquisition costs ideally suited to meet Germany’s fighter requirements, including the dual capable commitments to NATO.
With the lowest operating costs of all U.S. tactical aircraft in production ($19,500 USD / €17,000 per flight hour, source: U.S. DoD Special Acquisition Report), combined with low procurement costs, the Super Hornet saves billions of dollars/Euros over its entire service life of +10,000 flight hours. This makes the Super Hornet the most cost-effective solution for the German Luftwaffe.
The EA-18G Growler provides full spectrum protection, jamming radars and disrupting communications, and the combination of Super Hornet Block III and EA-18G Growler will give the Luftwaffe unmatched capability in both air-to-air and surface-to-air missions. This has been demonstrated the last fifteen years, as the EA-18G Growler has spanned the globe in support of all major and rapid reaction actions. Five EA-18G Growler Squadrons uniquely support the US Air Force and US Navy operations.
12 Jan 22. US Army plots path ahead for new mobile 155 mm howitzer prototype. The US Army is taking the next step towards developing a new wheeled 155 mm howitzer and is asking companies to participate in a multi-year assessment that could lead to the design of a new weapon system. In early January the service posted two separate request for information documents related to the towed howitzer effort – one for a truck and the other for an armament capability. Neither document details a straightforward development or acquisition plan, however, each notes that the service may be interested in developing a new howitzer prototype instead of acquiring one that has already been fielded. (Source: Janes)
REST OF THE WORLD
12 Jan 22. Thailand approves $414m budget for fighter jets upgrade. Thailand’s cabinet has backed a plan to buy four fighter jets starting in the next fiscal year, an air force spokesman said on Wednesday, with a budget of 13.8bn baht ($413.67m) set aside for the procurement.
The approval follows a recent expression of interest by the air force chief, Air Chief Marshal Napadej Dhupatemiya, in procuring eight F-35 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) of the United States.
The cabinet has agreed the budget for a four-year period starting in the 2023 fiscal year, to replace some of the country’s aging F-16 jets, air force spokesman Air Vice Marshal Prapas Sornchaidee told reporters.
Thailand’s currently has 12 JAS-39 Gripen fighter jets made by Sweden’s Saab (SAABb.ST) and dozens of American F-16 and F-5 jets, some of which have been in operation since the late 1980s.
Napadej last month expressed a preference for the stealthy, fifth-generation F-35 because its price had fallen since it first hit the market.
The first F-35A cost $221m in 2007 but as production quantities and know-how increased, the price fell to about $79m as of July last year as it gained appeal and buyers in more than a dozen countries.
Spokesman Prapas said the type of aircraft to buy would be decided by two committees tasked with assessing the suitability of different aircraft. ($1 = 33.3600 baht) (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Reuters)
10 Jan 22. India’s Navy, private shipyards flounder as government gives preference to state-owned firms. The Indian Navy is unlikely to meet its goal of having a 175-ship fleet in the next five years due to a lack of funds and the government’s preference to award contracts to state-owned shipyards over private businesses, service officials have told Defense News. The goal, set in December 2019, was already lowered from 200 ships after the government allocated less funding than the Navy expected. Both serving and retired Navy officials have expressed concern that the domestic shipbuilding industry cannot thrive in an environment where the government favors state-owned shipyards for building critical naval platforms, including aircraft carriers, destroyers, frigates and anti-submarine warfare corvettes — projects that are already fraught with delays or additional costs. The Navy operates a 130-ship fleet, and 39 vessels are currently on order or under construction. The service spends about $1.5bn annually on shipbuilding programs, but officials say that is not enough and should be increased threefold to meet the shortfall in capability.
“The Ministry of Defence in the past has always given preference to state-owned shipyards by nominating them for all big-ticket shipbuilding programs, and private shipbuilders continue to suffer due to a lack of orders,” one Navy official told Defense News.
A source at the MoD said the government allocated about $15.28bn over 10 years for the construction of 50 ships (39 are on order or under construction, and 11 were already delivered).
Some sources spoke to Defense News on the condition of anonymity, as they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Of the 50 ships, 40 are meant for the Navy and 10 for the Indian Coast Guard.
“Warship building as an industry in the country has been on the downswing for over a decade now,” former Indian Navy chief Adm. Sunil Lanba told Defense News.
The shipbuilding division of private company Larsen & Toubro successfully completed a floating dock program for the Navy and built offshore patrol vessels and interceptor boats for the Coast Guard. But financial problems led to the cancellation of other maritime projects, including one to construct training ships by Bharati Shipyard and another to build offshore patrol vessels by Reliance Naval (previously known as Pipavav Shipyard).
Reliance Naval stopped production operations in December 2018. Last month, asset management firm Hazel Mercantile Limited was declared the highest bidder at $385.71m for the financially strapped shipyard.
Government-backed National Asset Reconstruction Company Limited made the announcement Dec. 13, although the bid from Indian business tycoon Nikhil Merchant was not approved by press time. He owns a liquefied natural gas terminal at Jafrabad Port near the R-Naval facilities, and it’s unclear what he would do with the newly acquired facility.
United Shipbuilding Corporation of Russia had shown interest in buying out R-Naval’s assets but withdrew from the process in mid-2021, citing the unviable shipbuilding business in India.
Private players ABG Shipyard and Bharati Shipyard were also forced to eventually shut down operations after declaring bankruptcy. However, L&T and Shoft Shipyard — the latter of which primarily serves as a subcontractor to state-owned shipyards — have survived.
Private shipbuilders have managed to deliver 101 vessels to the Indian Coast Guard over the past 20 years. During that time period, only 62 small auxiliary vessels were delivered by state-owned shipyards.
In contrast, state-owned shipyards delivered 59 large ships to the Navy in the past two decades; private shipyards have not been awarded any big-ticket large ship programs since 2001.
“The continued nominations and extremely aggressive bidding for competitive programs by state-owned shipyards is a cause for concern,” Jayant Damodar Patil, an L&T board member and chief of its defense business, told Defense News.
Patil said government funding is available for establishing or modernizing facilities for state-owned yards, whereas private yards must use their own capital. Furthermore, he said, private yards must include in their bids the cost of investing in new shipbuilding efforts, but state-owned shipyards do not need to do so.
“The state-owned shipyards continue to enjoy government preference and continue to secure competitively bid naval projects on undervalued costs to eliminate private players from competition. This has resulted in dismal execution of existing warship orders,” said Mukesh Bhargava, an industry analyst and a retired Navy commodore.
The MoD source said for the next five years, the government is dedicating $13.85bn for new shipbuilding projects. Out of that total, $7.85bn is reserved for state-owned shipyards, the defense official said, while the remaining $6bn will likely be pursued through open competition under the public-private partnership model.
That model allows for state-owned shipyards to offload production work to private shipyards.
But even state-owned shipyards are struggling technologically. The naval industrial bases of China, Japan and South Korea have seen the induction of advanced tech, such as 3D printing, machine-learning systems and cyber capabilities. However, Indian counterparts are not on equal footing, according to Bhargava.
“Despite Indian industry also being on the forefront of most of these technologies, state-owned shipyards have not been able to adopt these disruptive and gamechanging processes of digitalization,” he said.
Another MoD official said the government plans to implement new shipbuilding practices and technologies for state-owned shipyards based on requirements for ongoing and future projects to “increase efficiency [and] productivity, and reduce build periods and avoid cost overruns.”
(Source: glstrade.com/Defense News)
07 Jan 22. Australia finalises ASDEFCON and Procurement Review. Defence has announced a major overhaul of its procurement and contracting practices in a bid to reduce the time it takes to approve large projects by as much as 25 percent. The changes, announced on 27 December by Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price, are designed to reduce red tape and save industry millions of dollars. The overhaul follows the completion of the Australian Standard for Defence Contracting (ASDEFCON) and Defence Procurement Review ordered by Minister Price in 2020.
“The implementation of the Review’s recommendations will significantly improve the way Defence does business,” she said. “It will also improve how Defence works to fast-track the delivery of capability to the ADF and how it communicates with industry.”
Under the changes, Defence will focus on reducing the time it takes to progress large materiel acquisition activities from the identification of a capability need to the signing of a contract.
The Review also identified probity as a current barrier to frank and open discussions with industry. Therefore, Defence will take a more reasonable, pragmatic and risk-based approach to probity by amending its probity practices, guidance and training for procurements. Defence will more openly engage with industry during the tender period to clarify procurement requirements and risks, and support better procurement outcomes.
The ASDEFCON suite of tendering and contracting templates, which are often used to draft solicitation documents and contracts, are designed for a range of procurements, from high-risk and software-intensive procurements all the way through to simple off-the-shelf procurements. They can be adapted to enable more rapid procurements, which enable delivery of equipment to the Australian Defence Force more quickly.
The Review found that the ASDEFCON templates need to cater better for agile procurements. As an outcome of the Review, Defence is working with industry to revise its templates and guidance to meet changing strategic circumstances and compress the time for acquisition processes.
For larger materiel acquisition projects, Defence will focus on shortening the time from capability needs identification through to contract signature, with a target of up to 12 months’ reduction for a process that can take four or more years. the time from starting to develop its requirements through to Government approval and contract signature can be many years.
The Review made seven principal recommendations:
- Time – reduce the time it takes to get to contract and Gate 2 submission to Government
- Improve communication (especially with regard to the misuse of probity as an excuse to limit effective communication and partnership with industry)
- Develop an agile template and process
- Establish a Contractor Accreditation Program
- Enhance Defence’s commercial and contracting experience and expertise
- Improve guidance and mandate regular training for Defence and industry
- Develop more agile and cost-effective approaches to market
To achieve this, Defence will:
- design better procurement processes based on a better understanding of industry, schedule, cost and capability manager requirements, such that early decisions are made on the most time- and cost-effective procurement process tailored specifically for each project
- introduce capped (rather than the current indicative) tender evaluation periods – expected to save in the order of three months for larger projects – with tender evaluation to be completed:
- within a similar time to that provided to industry for their Tender response for lower risk and value projects, but not to exceed six months; and
- not more than double the industry consideration time for more complex and higher risk projects, but not to exceed 12 months;
- changing the use of Offer Definition and Improvement Activities from routine to exceptional circumstances, based on clearly defined criteria and required approvals, which is expected to save at least six to 12 months for future procurements that do not use ODIA.
Better procurement process design will also result in mature requests for tender being released to market, which will reduce uncertainty for industry and promote higher quality tenders. Defence will enhance and improve its communication with industry, particularly when developing requirements before tender release and also during the tender process, through initiatives including:
- providing greater transparency of upcoming procurements through its Annual Procurement Plan on AusTender;
- assessing how a centralised contractor accreditation framework could be adopted to cut red tape for industry;
- improving probity practices, guidance and training for procurements in order to reduce communication barriers between Defence and industry;
- providing more opportunities for industry to brief Defence on tenders they submit to further clarify the offer proposed in support of Defence’s evaluation;
- keeping industry better informed as to the status and progress of tender processes, especially where delays occur; and
- providing feedback as quickly as possible for unsuccessful tenderers so they can improve their future tender responses.
Defence also recognises that industry needs to be informed as quickly as possible in instances where a tender response is clearly uncompetitive.
Prompt feedback on tender submissions will enable unsuccessful tenderers to improve their future tender responses.
“The initiatives introduced following the Review will help industry be better prepared and ready to respond to the needs of Defence and Government,” Minister Price said.
Defence will focus on strengthening its communication with industry as part of the procurement overhaul, with a particular focus on the tender process, she added.
- Defence will now allow industry to brief its project teams on tenders they submit to further clarify the offer proposed in support of Defence’s evaluation
- There will be greater transparency of upcoming procurements through its Annual Procurement Plan on AusTender
- There will be an assessment of how a centralised contractor accreditation framework could be adopted to cut red tape for industry
- There will be an improvement of probity practices, guidance and training for procurements in order to reduce communication barriers between Defence and industry
- Industry will be kept better informed as to the status and progress of tender processes, especially where delays occur
“The Review completes the delivery of the Five Pillars that I set out to support Australia’s defence industry,” Minister Price said. “I have mandated specific, measurable, and enforceable Australian Industry Capability and Content commitments in the body of contracts under a new contracting framework in Defence, which has been rolled out this year  on future projects above $20m.
Defence industry and industry advocates were consulted on the Review via a survey in December 2020. About 250 survey responses were received, with 144 of those from industry across all stakeholders groups, from micro businesses to large primes.
Targeted engagement was also undertaken with industry and Defence.
Implementation of the recommendations will start in 2022.
The ASDEFCON and Defence Procurement Review 2021 findings and recommendations, as well as a fact sheet are available:
- ASDEFCON and Defence Procurement Review 2021 findings and recommendations
- ASDEFCON and Defence Procurement Review 2021 Fact sheet (Source: Rumour Control)
11 Jan 22. Rival teams submit their bids for JP9102 SATCOM program. Rival prime contractors Boeing and Lockheed Martin Australia have submitted their bids for Defence’s sovereign SATCOM project, JP9102. It’s expected other bidders, including Airbus and Optus, will also confirm some details of their proposals for this estimated $3bn program. Boeing’s bid is based on the U.S. military’s Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) system in which the ADF is already a participant, having paid for one of the WGS satellites itself. Boeing’s JP9102 offering builds on the capability developed for WGS-11+, the newest addition to the WGS constellation.
“Using the WGS-11+ design gives Australia a low-risk, proven next-generation satellite product which will meet Defence’s rapid delivery schedule,” said Matt Buckle, Space and Launch business director at Boeing Defence Australia.
Boeing’s solution will also feature a local supply chain including Saber Astronautics, Clearbox Systems, Leidos, ViaSat, Indigenous Defence and Infrastructure Consortium and Titomic and includes a substantial investment in Australian industry capabilities to deliver sovereign defence SATCOM for Australia.
“When coupled with UHF payloads currently provided by Boeing to the U.S. and Australian governments, and a locally-developed mission systems architecture, it puts us in a unique position to deliver an interoperable solution which maximises reuse of JP2008 infrastructure while providing a resilient and flexible SATCOM capability for the future,” said Buckle.
Lockheed Martin Australia’s bid also has a strong Australian supply chain designed to provide a sovereign MILSATCOM capability with superior coverage, capacity, resilience, and extensibility.
Lockheed Martin Australia’s JP9102 team developed an agile solution that will contribute to the ongoing growth of the nation’s sovereign space capabilities, according to David Ball, the company’s regional director for space. Australian industry capability is represented in every aspect of its JP9102 solution, from control segment software and ground stations to satellite operations facilities and spacecraft.
“From the beginning of this campaign, Lockheed Martin maximised Australia’s in-country space capabilities for JP9102,” said David Ball. “The space industry here brings a vast, diverse network of capabilities, and we’re already seeing two-way transfers of skills, know-how and technology. Spearheaded by Lockheed Martin’s unparalleled heritage in resilient MILSATCOM, our JP9102 team stands united and ready to deliver.”
Linfox is the latest addition to the company’s Australian supply chain and will provide support through warehouse provisioning and distribution operations. It joins an extensive network of Australian SMEs and team members: DXC, Conscia, Av-Comm, Calytrix Technologies, EM Solutions, Shoal Group, Clearbox Systems, STEM Punks and Ronson Gears. (Source: Rumour Control)