UNITED KINGDOM AND NATO
02 Nov 22. UK selects four competitors to fight for New Medium Helicopter contract. Four competitors are left standing in the UK’s New Medium Helicopter program with a future contractor due to reap a lucrative reward of $1.15bn. The UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) has downselected four manufacturers to move to the next phase of its £1bn ($1.15bn) New Medium Helicopter acquisition.
Airbus, Boeing, Leonardo and Lockheed Martin were all notified on Oct. 31 that they had successfully passed the DPQQ assessment, with those excluded including Bell and the lesser known AceHawk Aerospace — based out of Teeside International Airport, Northern England.
Industry competitors were asked in May to submit responses to a dynamic prequalification questionnaire (DPQQ) in order for an initial assessment phase to be carried out and a shortlist of eligible bidders approved. Next steps in the process will see a full set of requirements being released by the MoD and industry receiving an RFP in 2023.
“The second half of the competition, in which we will ask the selected suppliers to provide more detailed responses, is due to be launched later this financial year,” added a MoD spokesperson in a Nov. 2 statement.
NMH calls for a maximum procurement of 44 aircraft to replace the RAF’s Puma HC.2 battlefield helicopters (a fleet made up of 23 platforms) and a number of smaller rotary fleets, including the Bell 212, Bell 412 and AS365 Dauphins.
The new rotorcraft is expected to enter service from 2025 onward, with offers from industry to be judged against a new procurement strategy based around introduction of the Defence and Security Industrial Strategy (DSIS), introduced in March 2021. Under that guidance, all UK military acquisitions are supposed to give greater consideration to national “prosperity opportunities,” with contractors expected to demonstrate how their proposals can add long term social value and economic growth across the region or around their preferred, UK-based production facilities.
Such a change in strategy has already influenced manufacturing plans, with Airbus — offering the H175M — committing to set up a production line for the aircraft in Broughton, Wales, where it makes wings for the A380 commercial airliner.
The company has also confirmed that any future export orders of the helicopter will be manufactured at the same site, again on the basis that such a move will boost UK prosperity.
That plan should not be underestimated in terms of how significant it is, diverging from the wider tradition of Airbus helicopter exports being overseen by the company’s Marignane, France, production base. Also of note is the fact it offers genuine competition to Leonardo, which has long grown accustomed to being the only onshore rotary supplier in the UK.
Airbus has however, had to work to allay any national security fears over the inclusion of Chinese sourced parts in its commercial H175 supply line, with it consistently maintaining that the H175M, if selected, will use alternative suppliers.
For its part, Leonardo has said it will end AW149 production in Italy should it receive a NMH contract and move out with a new assembly line in Yeovil, Southwest England. It has also added 70 suppliers from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as part of “Team AW149 UK” to convince the UK MoD that it has formidable social value aspirations.
The decision, announced by Gen. Micael Bydén, Supreme Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces, was announced as part of newly issued defense modernization and procurement guidance.
The eight ton multirole helicopter can support troop transport, MEDEVAC, CAS, C2 and ISR missions and has already been ordered by Thailand, Egypt and Poland.
American giant Lockheed Martin, pitching the S-70M Black Hawk, has so far stopped short of revealing production plans despite Poland currently managing all S-70i exports.
Plainly viewed as the most operationally proven and mature military aircraft under consideration, the utility helicopter has something of a troubled history with the UK as London turned it down three times in 2009, according to The Observer newspaper. The Royal Air Force went on to invest in a midlife Puma upgrade instead.
Returning to more current affairs, Boeing has still to reveal which helicopter it will offer for NMH, though the most obvious choice appears to be the MH-139A Grey Wolf currently under order by the US Air Force to protect intercontinental ballistic missiles bases.
“Boeing has supported the United Kingdom armed forces for decades and employs hundreds of people across the country in helicopter sustainment, maintenance and training,” said a company spokesperson in a statement. “We look forward to hearing more from the Ministry of Defence on the next steps in the New Medium Helicopter requirement.” (Source: News Now/Breaking Defense.com))
01 Nov 22. SNC completes high-altitude balloon trial for UK MoD. Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has successfully trialled its persistent high-altitude balloon (HAB) as part of the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) Aether project. Bill Leonard, director of programmes for SNC’s Mission Solutions & Technologies (MST) business area, told Janes on 28 October that the company’s HAB successfully accomplished all mission objectives set by the Aether programme office, proving the viability of the system in the stratosphere. Launched in Page, Arizona, the HAB flight 1 demonstration was held from 15 to 25 September and was conducted in partnership with the UK MoD as part of the Project Aether Flight 1 Assessment Phase contract, Leonard said. (Source: Janes)
01 Nov 22. Defence Secretary Must Give Fleet Solid Support Ship Guarantees. Sending the Fleet Solid Support ships order to Spain is an insult to shipyards across the UK, says GMB Union. GMB, the shipbuilding union, has demanded cast iron guarantees for UK yards now a vital £1.6 bn order for ships to supply the Royal Navy looks set to go overseas.
Sources close to the tendering process for the three new military support ships say the Secretary of State for Defence, Ben Wallace MP, is set to award the contract to a consortium led by Spanish government-owned company Navantia which has a history of receiving state subsidies, rather than Team UK.
Mr Wallace gives evidence in front of the Defence Select Committee today [2 November]
GMB, which has long campaigned for the Fleet Solid Support ships to be built in the UK, has written to the Secretary of State warning of the impact of the move, particularly on shipyards in Scotland, the North West, the North East and the South West.
GMB estimates that at least £285 m would also be returned to the taxpayer through income tax, national insurance contributions and lower welfare payments if the ships were built in the UK.
Shipbuilding and ship repair employment in Great Britain has fallen by 80,000 jobs since the early 1980s – threatening the UK’s sovereign defence manufacturing capability at a time of international uncertainty.
Matt Roberts, GMB National Officer, said: “At a time of international uncertainty and with the UK economy in crisis, it seems utterly perverse for the Conservatives to send a massive naval contract overseas. Sending parts of the FSS order to Spain rather than delivering all the work in the UK is an insult to shipyards across the UK. The Defence Secretary must reassure GMB members and the public there will be adequate oversight to ensure foreign bidders cannot and do not renege on their obligations. The UK should prioritise the maintenance and strengthening of our sovereign defence manufacturing capabilities. Once again the Conservatives are showing they cannot be trusted with our nation’s security.”
01 Nov 22. UK launches post-Mosquito ‘drone’ effort. The UK has launched an effort to develop and bring into service unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) at a faster pace than the recently cancelled Mosquito ‘loyal wingman’ programme, with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) announcing on 31 October that an industry day is to be held in the near future.
The ‘Rapid Capabilities Office and Air Capability Industry Engagement: Low-Cost Uncrewed Air Systems (LANCA Follow-On)’ project is being billed as a lessons learned endeavour, building on the Project Mosquito effort that was canned in June, as well as the Project Alvina swarming drone programme, and the MoD’s wider unmanned aircraft system (UAS) experimentation efforts. (Source: Janes)
28 Oct 22. UK slips full operating capability for F-35B. The UK is to delay declaring full operating capability (FOC) for its Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning fleet, with a government minister saying it will now happen in 2025 rather than the earlier stated 2023.
Minister for the Armed Forces, James Heappey, made the disclosure while answering a question in the House of Commons on 12 September.
“Full operating capability for the Lightning Force is expected in 2025, at which point the Lightning Force will be able to operationally deploy both [617 and 809] squadrons concurrently,” he said.
Heappey’s comments seemingly marked a departure from the earlier stated timeline of declaring initial operating capability (IOC) for the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) F-35B in 2023, by which time both 617 Squadron and 809 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) would have been stood up as the first two front-line units for the type and able to deploy with 12 aircraft each. At this time, 42 (the number is now 37) of the 48 contracted aircraft would have been delivered, and HMS Prince of Wales. (Source: Janes)
01 Nov 22. Swedish Armed Forces recommends replacing NH90, buying additional UH-60M helos. Sweden is set to replace its NHIndustries (NHI) NH90 maritime helicopters, at the same time as expanding its fleet of land-roled UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters.
The Supreme Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces, General Micael Bydén, made the announcement on 1 November as part of a raft of wider planned capability enhancements delivered for consideration to the Swedish government.
“Air defence is proposed to be strengthened, among other things, through the acquisition of a new sea-operational helicopter, and an additional ground-operational helicopter 16,” Gen Bydén said, referring to the UH-60M’s national designation of HKP 16.
The Swedish Air Force (SwAF) operates 18 NH90 helicopters that were acquired across a range of interim HKP 14A–E configurations, with the ultimate objective of fielding nine HKP 14E troop transport/assault/search-and-rescue (SAR) and HKP 14F anti-submarine warfare (ASW)/anti-surface warfare (ASuW)/SAR standard aircraft.
Sweden’s NH90 fleet was to have been fully operational in 2008, but this has been progressively delayed and is still not achieved, with Janes World Air Forces. (Source: Janes)
03 Nov 22. Rivada Space Networks Issues RFP for its Satellite Constellation.
- RSN to launch a constellation of 600 ultra-secure, networked low-earth orbit satellites
- Constellation deployment starts in 2024 with global coverage by 2026 and full deployment expected by mid-2028
- Unique network combines satellite and terrestrial capabilities for ultra-low latency, high speed, unparalleled security and true global coverage
- Telecom, Enterprise, Maritime, Energy and Government Services markets
Rivada Space Networks GmbH, a European network company launching a unique connectivity constellation for Government and Enterprise communications, today announced that it has issued its request for proposals for 600 low earth orbit (LEO) satellites, having released the RFP for the associated heavy-lift launch services two weeks ago. The company anticipates selecting a prime contractor for the space segment, parts of the ground segment and system integration for the LEO constellation by the end of 2022 in parallel to the selection of the launch service provider.
Recognizing that the business world is increasingly data-driven, cloud-based and cybersecurity conscious and that existing systems do not and cannot meet these needs, wireless technology entrepreneur Declan Ganley formed Rivada Space Networks to deliver a unique solution for secure, global, end-to-end enterprise and government connectivity – responding to specific customer needs that are not being met by today’s technology.
For the first time, Rivada Space Networks will offer access to a secure satellite network with pole-to-pole reach, offering end-to-end latencies similar or better than terrestrial fiber. The Rivada network will operate like an optical backbone in space, using lasers to interconnect satellites and deliver an ultra-secure and highly reliable global data network for business operations in the telecom, enterprise, maritime, energy and government services markets.
Since formally launching in March 2022, Rivada Space Networks has been on a fast-track mission to complete the detailed definition of the overall system architecture and provide the production and deployment framework needed to place a firm contract for the constellation and associated launch services. The preceding phase B study concluded that the procurement plan will successfully fulfill the requirements associated with the company’s high priority ITU Ka-band filings. With a contract for manufacturing and launch in place by the end of 2022, deployment will start in 2024, with 300 satellites in orbit by mid-2026 and full constellation deployment expected by mid-2028.
Clemens Kaiser, Rivada Space Networks Chief Program Officer, said: “Following a rigorous process with a number of leading satellite manufacturers, we are delighted that today we have completed another major milestone in the specification and development of our unique constellation to enable secure, global connectivity for governments and enterprises. The key attributes of RSN’s laser-linked LEO constellation architecture include global reach, low latency, ultra-security, resilience and optional quantum key encryption.” He added: “We have worked tirelessly to ensure that our system comprises the best the satellite industry has to offer. We are really looking forward to moving to the next phase of our program to manufacture and deploy our LEO constellation.”
Severin Meister, Rivada Space Networks CEO, further added: “RSN is a German ‘NewSpace’ innovator and disruptor. I am incredibly proud of what our team has achieved in such a short time frame. Over the course of the past eight months we have completed the design of our satellite system and grown our teams in Munich and Berlin to further develop the technical, commercial and regulatory competencies of the company. With over 60 people today, we anticipate expanding further to over 100 people by the end of Q1 2023 and are on track to execute our vision of providing the first truly global point-to-point low latency connectivity network.” Meister added: “Initial customers are showing great interest, which confirms that we will occupy a much-needed niche. This is the German NewSpace company to watch!”
Rivada Space Networks Founder Declan Ganley said: “I am thrilled that we have completed this important milestone. This is a unique satellite network in terms of security, speed and global reach.” He added: “Our constellation in combination with our patented Open Access Wireless Market Platform allows us to offer a network with unprecedented flexibility. It will be instrumental in driving the next leg of the ongoing communications revolution. Having recently joined the ITU Partner2Connect digital inclusion initiative and the EU’s multi-stakeholder Secure Connectivity Program, we are committed to providing a secure communications infrastructure like no other for Government and Enterprise.”
*Rivada Space Networks Chief Program Officer Clemens Kaiser and Chief Commercial Officer Ronald van der Breggen, will be outlining Rivada’s ultra-secure connectivity network at SpaceTechExpo from 15th-17th November in Bremen:
About Rivada Space Networks (www.rivadaspace.com)
Rivada Space Networks GmbH is a disruptive new company set to establish and operate the first truly global low latency point-to-point connectivity network of LEO satellites. By connecting its satellites with lasers, Rivada Space Networks will provide resellers and B2B customers with the ability to securely connect any two points on the globe with low latency and high bandwidth. The constellation of 600 low-earth-orbit communications satellites will represent a fundamental change in the availability of secure, global, end-to-end enterprise-grade connectivity for Telecom, Enterprise, Maritime, Energy and Government Services markets. Rivada Space Networks is a wholly owned subsidiary of Rivada Networks, Inc. www.rivadaspace.com (Source: PR Newswire)
02 Nov 22. USN wants to avoid shortfall of nuke-armed subs in 2030s.
U.S. Navy officials are worried the service in the 2030s may have just enough nuclear-armed submarines to meet operational requirements — but no extras in case one becomes unavailable.
So the sea service is looking at steps to both extend the service lives of some outgoing Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines and hasten the delivery of new Columbia-class submarines.
Rear Adm. Scott Pappano, the program executive officer for strategic submarines, said the submarine force is required to have 10 SSBNs ready to go to sea at any given time. These submarines go on long deployments, tasked with lurking undetected in the depths of the oceans and carrying the nuclear missiles the United States hopes to never launch.
As the Ohios age out of the fleet, though, and the new Columbias come online, there are times when the fleet is expected to have 10 or fewer boats available, Pappano said Nov. 1 at the Naval Submarine League’s annual conference here.
To address that problem, Pappano said the Navy is working to accelerate the delivery of new submarines.
The Navy developed an integrated enterprise plan with industry, Rear Adm. Doug Perry, the director of undersea warfare on the chief of naval operations’ staff, said at the conference. The plan, which requires buy-in from the Defense Department, ship construction yards and lower-tier suppliers, could accelerate the delivery schedule for boats 2 through 12 by as much as six months, Perry said.
Pappano added that the Navy hopes to buy boats 3 through 7 through a block-buy contract, meant to allow the Navy and prime contractor General Dynamics Electric Boat to buy material more cost-effectively. As global supply chain woes have slowed the delivery of long lead time parts, Pappano said the block buy would allow these parts to be put on contract earlier in the process.
Pappano said accelerating ship construction timelines by six months would eliminate all instances of the available SSBN inventory falling below 10 in the future force projections.
Still, that leaves no extra submarines in case of unforeseen incidents. So, as many as five Ohio SSBNs may go through an 18-month maintenance and modernization period to give them three additional years of operations at sea — offering the fleet a greater buffer, Pappano said.
Operating the Ohios even longer
The Navy already extended the service life for the entire Ohio class out to 42 years, and the class cannot be extended again. But the Navy can assess each individual hull as it nears the end of its life and look for ones that still have plenty of nuclear fuel remaining and whose hulls are in good shape.
Submarines that meet these criteria could be put into a so-called pre-inactivation restricted availability, where targeted maintenance work would be done to keep the boats and their combat systems in top shape for three more years of service life.
Subs that aren’t good candidates for this life extension would be used to benefit the rest of the fleet, either by undergoing destructive testing to learn more about the condition of the boats or to be cannibalized so their parts can be used on the boats that are extended.
Navy officials first publicly discussed the idea of extending the lives of select Ohio boats at Sub League’s 2020 conference. In comments then and since, leadership has couched the decision to consider these life extensions as a hedge against any problems with Columbia construction. The Navy bought its first Columbia SSBN in fiscal 2021, will buy the second in FY24, and will then buy the remaining ships at a one-a-year rate from FY26 through FY35, asking industry to build at a pace not seen since the Cold War.
But Pappano raised a number of other concerns over the ship inventory the Navy is eyeing for next decade.
“The riskiest period during the transition is in the 2030s, as the Columbias come online and Ohios go offline,” he told Defense News at the conference.
Much like with cars, he said, submarines are most prone to problems at two times, when they’re new and may reveal production line mistakes, and when they’re old and components start to fail. The 2030s will be “a critical period with just new ships and just old ships.”
And, he said, the Navy will upgrade its nuclear-tipped missiles in the 2030s, moving to the Trident D5 Life Extension II payload. In the 2036 to 2039 timeframe, Pappano said, the Navy will need to use both an Ohio-class submarine and a Columbia-class submarine to test the new missile and ensure they’re interoperable with both classes of ships — meaning one or two submarines will be pulled from operations to participate in sea trials.
Asked how much it would cost to fix up a handful of Ohios, Pappano didn’t provide a dollar amount but said it’s “not cost prohibitive to go do that” and would be on par with any other 18-month maintenance and modernization availability for a submarine.
Perry added that cost would be one factor in deciding how many ships to put through the life extension work. Shipyard availability would be another; the Navy’s shipyards are already struggling to improve their performance and get boats out of maintenance on time, and Perry said he doesn’t want this life extension project to upend the work already being done.
Pappano said he believed the service would extend at least two or three boats, and as many as five.
For the first potential ship, USS Alaska in 2029, Pappano said he’s eyeing a decision in fiscal 2026 to ensure enough time to buy long-lead material, allow the shipyard to plan and work the modernization availability into the budget. (Source: Defense News)
01 Nov 22. Air Force launches Autonomy Prime program in hunt for new tech. The future of defense technology is in autonomy, the Air Force says, and the service wants to find out what industry can bring to the table.
AFWERX, the Air Force office in charge of finding new and innovative ways to use technology, has set up a new program called Autonomy Prime to learn about the autonomous technologies companies have under development — and how the military could adapt them for its missions.
Autonomous systems use technologies such as artificial intelligence to manage them and make decisions normally handled by a human.
Several of Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall’s top priorities would rely on greater use of these capabilities. In an Oct. 28 interview with Defense News, Lt. Col. Tom Meagher, chief of AFWERX’s Prime division, said Kendall’s emphasis makes clear how important this technology will be to the service in coming years.
So far, the Air Force and industry’s work on autonomy has mostly focused on small unmanned aerial vehicles. Think the “collaborative combat aircraft” program to create drone wingmen flying alongside fighters or Golden Horde’s research into swarming drones.
But eventually, Meagher said, the Air Force wants to get autonomy into larger platforms and other kinds of vehicles. This could include using autonomous technologies to steer spacecraft or ground vehicles, he said, or to control other programs and systems such as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sensors.
“The exciting and interesting thing about autonomy is that there are many, many different applications,” Meagher said. “That’s why we said hey, what are these core functions that could apply across these mission areas? It could be … there’s a lot of stuff [commercial companies are] doing out there in the sensing piece that could help us out with that ISR mission.”
He said AFWERX’s Prime model can provide a low-risk, low-cost way for the Air Force to hone autonomous technology and pave the way for new uses for it.
“A lot of stuff we’re going to do, right off the bat, will benefit multiple Air Force programs down the line,” Meagher said.
Prime programs don’t work like a traditional acquisition program, where the government says what it wants and then awards a contract to a company to build it. Instead, this approach asks companies — often firms outside of the typical defense industrial base — what capabilities they’re already working on, and how they could be adapted to the military’s needs. AFWERX has already used this model to advance electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing vehicle technology under its Agility Prime program.
In September, AFWERX released a request for information for Autonomy Prime; it closed Oct. 31. Meagher said interest was high, and attracted proposals from big companies, small firms, and everything in between, though he would not identify any of the companies that submitted pitches.
“It’s not just small business,” Meagher said. “We want to cast a wide net across all of industry and have an ability to work with all sizes of business.”
And AFWERX can provide testing infrastructure, airspace, or other government resources that could help industry with their efforts, Meagher said.
The RFI said the Air Force plans to create “a purpose-built autonomy testing and development facility,” dubbed the AFWERX Proving Ground, which will let firms demonstrate, test and develop their technologies side-by-side with Air Force personnel.
According to the RFI, AFWERX hopes to refine its transition pipeline to speed the process for fielding these technologies, whether as part of larger programs of record or directly provided to warfighters.
AFWERX has contacted other Air Force organizations, as well as the Navy, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, NASA, and the FAA, to discuss how to work together on autonomous projects.
Next, AFWERX will go through the submissions and figure out where industry’s offerings might line up with something the Defense Department is working on. AFWERX expects to have finished reviewing the submissions and to send companies solicitations in early 2023, Meagher said.
AFWERX plans to release solicitations in phases, with each phase focusing on specific capabilities.
But AFWERX wants this program to move fast. Meagher said the plan is to have autonomous capabilities in hand in 2023, so the office can start testing and maturing the technology.
Meagher declined to detail Autonomy Prime’s budget, but said it operates within Agility Prime’s budget. He said the cost of individual programs could range from thousands of dollars to low ms. And because the government can offer valuable in-kind resources such as testing infrastructure, Meagher said some companies may not charge AFWERX and simply take advantage of the opportunity to test their technology.
And Meagher is confident a company will bring a fresh and innovative idea no one has thought of before.
“We will be surprised,” he said. “We want our socks to be knocked off.”
(Source: Defense News)
01 Nov 22. Department of Defense Releases 2022 Military Intelligence Program Budget. The Department of Defense released today the Military Intelligence Program (MIP) appropriated top line budget for FY 2022. The total MIP budget was $24.1bn and is aligned to support the National Defense Strategy. The Department has determined that releasing this top line figure does not jeopardize any classified activities within the MIP. No other MIP budget figures or program details will be released, as they remain classified for national security reasons. (Source: US DoD)
28 Oct 22. DARPA Kicks Off Prep for $1bn Contract. Work is underway on the recompete of this technical services vehicle that supports research efforts. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has started to develop the next version of a technical and analytical support services that could have a $1bn ceiling.
DARPA awarded the first Technical and Analytical Support Services contract to seven companies in 2018 and that vehicle is slated to expire in August 2023.
In a new sources sought notice, DARPA says it likely will make between five and 10 awards for the new five-year contract. DARPA hopes to have the new vehicle in place by August 2023.
DARPA is using that request for information develop its strategy for the acquisition, including opportunities for small businesses to compete for and perform the work.
The TASS vehicle covers technical support such as subject matter expertise to help in the oversight of research-and-development programs, acquisition analysis and support, and assessments and evaluation support.
Financial management, front office support and meeting planning are other areas DARPA is interested in.
Contractors under TASS also help in the management of program events such as the DARPA Robotics Challenge, Cyber Grand Challenge and Spectrum Challenge. There also are ad hoc special projects, studies and assessments.
Examples of DARPA offices that tap TASS for support include the director’s office, the biological technologies office, defense sciences office, microsystems technology office and the contracts management office to name a few.
Feedback on the RFI is due Nov. 7.
Current incumbents for TASS are Amentum, Avantus Federal, Booz Allen Hamilton, ECS Federal, ManTech and Strategic Analysis Inc.
REST OF THE WORLD
03 Nov 22. SAAF evaluating offer of acquiring ex-US C-130H Hercules. The United States has offered South Africa retired C-130H Hercules transport aircraft to replace its ageing C-130BZ fleet, with the South African Air Force (SAAF) presently considering the offer.
Africa Intelligence reported that the United States is offering a dozen 1980s-era C-130H transports under the Excess Defence Articles (EDA) programme.
“A team of South African Air Force technicians travelled to the United States last month (September) to scout available equipment and exchange views with their US Air Force (USAF) counterparts,” the publication reported.
African Defence Review Director Darren Olivier cautioned that the extremely low South African National Defence Force (SANDF) budget is the main limitation in pursuing this. He added that there are a number of factors that go into deciding whether to take up the US offer, including the fact that the C-130Hs would need upgrades before entering SAAF service.
“What’s presently unknown is whether the USAF has offered any grants for the aircraft (nominally +/- $12 m each) and the necessary upgrades. That’ll change the calculus dramatically, of course. My understanding is that a full grant is not on offer, but there may be discounts.”
Olivier noted that “no decision has yet been made, as it will depend on the post-inspection report and whether this does turn out to be more cost effective than upgrading the existing C-130BZs.”
In May this year, the Department of Defence revealed that it was exploring upgrading the C-130BZ Hercules fleet at a cost of R1.6 bn. Defence Minister Thandi Modise also revealed that the United Kingdom had offered to sell South Africa surplus C-130J Super Hercules, while the US was offering excess C-130Hs.
The SAAF considered three options, Modise explained. The first was to spend no money and decline the purchase of second hand aircraft and not upgrade the current C-130BZ fleet – this would mean aircraft lifespan terminates in 2024.
The second was also to decline the purchase offer and upgrade aircraft currently in 28 Squadron’s inventory, returning to service “the rest of the fleet”. Upgrade cost is estimated at R1.6 bn for five aircraft presently in service aircraft and one in long term storage. This would enable the C-130BZs to remain airworthy until 2040, Modise stated.
The third option is to accept the US offer and simultaneously upgrade the current fleet of five aircraft for R1.6 bn. Second-hand C-130H models would be able to serve until 2028 and the C-130BZs until 2040.
“The SAAF considered option two,” Modise stated at the time, adding that the door for additional Hercules transports was not completely closed.
Either way, the SAAF will have to spend money to maintain a Hercules capability. It will now have to determine whether spending R1.6 bn on upgrades is cheaper or more expensive than refurbishing excess C-130Hs. It is likely that a decision on the US offer will be reached in a few weeks’ time. (Source: https://www.defenceweb.co.za/)
03 Nov 22. Indian Army seeks more than 2,200 drones. The Indian Army has launched a series of fast-track drone procurement efforts under emergency powers that will see the service spend up to 3 bn rupees (U.S. $36 m) for each program.
The new tenders are for:
- 163 high-altitude logistics drones.
- 200 medium-altitude logistics drones.
- 1,000 unmanned surveillance helicopters.
- 750 remotely piloted aerial vehicles.
- 80 mini-remotely piloted aircraft systems.
- 10 runway-independent remotely piloted aircraft systems.
According to the Defence Ministry, orders are to be fulfilled within one year after contract signing.
On Oct 16, the Army issued two tenders to procure 363 drones in keeping with its commitment to fight future wars with indigenous solutions. That planned order includes 163 drones that can operate at high altitudes, while the remaining 200 are meant for medium altitudes. The Army requires 60% of each system includes indigenous material.
Each drone system should include one UAV, one man-portable ground control station, one color video camera for daytime and one monochromatic nighttime thermal sensor. The system should weigh 100 kilograms (220 pounds) and be able to withstand strong winds at high altitudes. The drone should have a mission range of 10 kilometers (6 miles), an endurance of 40 minutes and a shelf life of 1,000 landings.
On Oct. 18, another tender was issued for the procurement of 1,000 surveillance copters. Each surveillance system should come with one aerial vehicle, one man-potable ground control station, one remote video terminal, one color video camera for daytime, one monochromatic nighttime thermal sensor and two sets of spare batteries.
Each surveillance copter should weigh 10 kilograms, have a mission range of 5 kilometers and operate at an altitude of 5,000 meters with a one-hour endurance. The system must have a shelf life of 1,000 landings.
The tender for 750 remotely piloted aerial vehicles, issued Oct. 21, said the Army wants each system to weigh 2 kilograms and have an endurance of 30 minutes. The government also said it should only take one person 10 minutes to launch the drone, which should be able to operate in the day and night as well as autonomously generate and execute a flight plan based on a 3D scan of an area as defined by the user using augmented reality or coordinates.
The call for 80 mini-remotely piloted aircraft systems, issued Oct. 20, requires the ability to perform tactical surveillance to locate adversaries as well as their equipment and weapons systems in a particular area. Each system is to include two aerial vehicles, two man-portable ground control stations, one launch and recovery system, two remote video terminals, two color video cameras for daytime, two monochromatic nighttime thermal sensors, and two training payloads.
The systems should have a mission range of 15 kilometers, have an endurance of 90 minutes and be able to operate at an altitude of 4,500 meters. The remote vehicles should have a shelf life of 500 landings, or about seven years. The systems should also be suitable to withstand strong wind currents.
The open tender for the purchase of 10 runway-independent drones, issued Oct. 28, also calls for four ground control stations, four remote video terminals, and eight sensor packages/payloads for use in the day and night, with inter- and intra-communications systems as well as the facility to transmit imagery in real-time. The drones are to have a service and shelf life of 10 years.
“The system will provide high-resolution imagery to enable target detection, recognition, identification and accurate location of adversary’s location/build-up, location of mortars/guns, movement to troops and vehicles during border management tasks and active operations. It will also facilitate accurate engagement and direction of artillery fire,” the tender read.
Based on experience and prior industrial activities, it’s possible these state-run domestic companies could compete for one or more contracts: Bharat Electronics Ltd., Bharat Dynamics Ltd. and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. Those in the local private sector likely to bid are: Bharat Forge, Alpha Design Technologies, Adani Defence, Larsen & Turbo, Mahindra Defence Systems, Paras Aerospace, Kadet Defence Systems, ideaForge, Newspace Research and Technologies, VOTL Aviation India, and Tata Advanced Systems. (Source: Defense News)
03 Nov 22. BMT-Boeing partner for Australia’s Project SEA1442 Phase 5.
The project aims to modernise maritime wide area communications capabilities for the RAN. BMT has collaborated with Boeing Defence Australia for the Australian Department of Defence’s (Dod) Project SEA1442 Phase 5.
Under the project programme, the DoD seeks to provide a secure communication capability to the warfighter that will fulfil the demands of existing and future information exchange.
The capability is also required to ensure interoperability between fleet units.
The Boeing-BMT team will work together to develop and offer an integrated, interoperable and resilient system that will enhance the RAN’s wireless information exchange capability.
This will be a locally designed and manufactured solution that will comprise of over 90% of Australian system and equipment to support and uplift the local suppliers.
Besides, the flexible, advanced and evolving technology will combine expertise and experience from both the companies to serve the requirements of the RAN. (Source: naval-technology.com)
03 Nov 22. Naval Group and PT PAL sign MoU for future submarine energy solutions. Naval Group has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Indonesia’s PT PAL to commence work on establishing a new energy research laboratory.
The new lab is being created to support the development of next-generation submarine energy and propulsion solutions.
The strategic cooperation was signed during the ongoing Indo Defence 2022 Expo and Forum in Jakarta, Indonesia on 2 November.
It was signed between Naval Group India, Asia and Pacific vice-president Nicolas de La Villemarque and PT PAL Indonesia CEO Kaharuddin Djenod.
The event was also attended by various dignitaries and officials including Indonesian defence minister Prabowo Subianto.
Nicolas de La Villemarqué said: “Our goal is to develop a long-term partnership with Indonesian partners for Submarine programme, either during construction and maintenance phase, but and also to collaborate on research and development (R&D) projects so as to prepare future of naval domain in Indonesia.”
The latest signing builds on a previously signed agreement between PT PAL and Naval Group.
Under this R&D effort, the two companies are working together with other Indonesian companies, universities and research partners to develop future of naval technologies in the country.
The scope of work primarily includes embedded electrical network and exploring different capabilities to produce and operate lithium-ion batteries and hydrogen cells in Indonesia by transfer of technology and knowledge from Naval Group.
According to PT PAL, work will also include exploring several energy storage technologies for submarines, including fuel cells and air-independent propulsion systems.
The cooperation will further strengthen Indonesia’s maritime capability and provide long-term economic benefits to the nation by generating new job opportunities locally.
Djenod said: “The collaboration between PT PAL and Naval Group begins with building lithium battery for submarines.” (Source: naval-technology.com)
02 Nov 22. Australian Shadow minister calls for more bombers and drones.
Shadow defence minister Andrew Hastie has said Australia must quickly invest in bombers and drones to prepare for a potential conflict.
In comments made at a business breakfast in Perth, the former SAS commander called for an increase in defence spending “well above” 2 per cent of GDP and argued that “the window is closing fast” for Australia to be ready for a major war.
“I don’t want to discuss particulars here today except to make clear that we need to build strike capabilities that can hold an adversary at risk beyond the archipelago to our north,” he said in words reported by The Australian.
“(We need) strike bombers, precision-guided missiles and unmanned autonomous vehicles — in the skies and in the seas below.”
He also urged Defence to better target younger people to encourage them to sign up for the military.
“Emphasising the service ethos is critical. Duty, honour and country,” said the shadow minister.
“They may seem antiquated, but they are values and principles that call people to stand and fight for something bigger than themselves. Aren’t these values we would all want to see in our employees?”
Hastie’s storied service saw him deployed to Afghanistan as a Cavalry Troop Leader before becoming a troop commander in the SAS as well as touring the Middle East and Indo-Pacific. He first entered parliament in 2015, where he won the Canning by-election for the Liberals.
It comes after Defence Connect’s sister brand, Australian Aviation, reported in September how Hastie urged the federal government to explore the potential of purchasing the in-development B-21 Raider.
He referenced remarks from Admiral Phil Davidson, the former Commander of Indo-Pacific Command, who last year warned China could take military action against Taiwan over the next six years — a timeline referred to as the “Davidson window”.
“We’re now five years [away] if we go with his timeline [and] we’re not going to see a nuclear submarine in the next five years,” he said.
“The question is, what are we going to do to hedge against that happening in the next five years, which is [why] we need to start talking about strike capabilities like missiles and potentially B-21s out of the United States.
“We need to be able to hold an adversary at risk, at distance, out passed the archipelago to our north, and in order to do that, you need strike capabilities — missiles, aircraft and long-term, nuclear submarines.”
The B-21 is the “sequel” to the UFO-like B-2 Spirit, which can carry nuclear weapons and costs $2 bn each.
Introduced in the late 1980s, the batwing bomber is seen as the US’ most prestigious and prized aircraft, with only 20 in active service.
(Source: Defence Connect)
03 Nov 22. Indonesia restarts KF-21 repayments to South Korea. Indonesia has restarted payments to South Korea for its involvement in the programme to develop the KF-21 Boramae multirole fighter aircraft, earlier known as the KF-X.
A source with knowledge of the matter told Janes on 3 November, “On 1 November, Indonesia paid part of the KF-X development cost. The amount is KRW9.41 bn (USD6.63 m).”
Janes understands that the KF-21 repayment – the first that Indonesia has made to South Korea in three years – follows several rounds of bilateral talks that concluded in November 2021.
South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) has said that under this agreement, Indonesia will recommit to funding 20% of the KF-21 development costs till 2026, with about 30% of this contribution to be paid ‘in kind’, meaning commodities and other goods. Details about repayments beyond 2026 have not been disclosed. (Source: Janes)
02 Nov 22. Indo Defence 2022: Baykar in talks with Indonesian government on Bayraktar TB2, Akinci UAVs. Turkish defence company Baykar is in talks with the Indonesian government to discuss the Bayraktar TB2 and Akinci lines of strike-capable unmanned aerial systems.
A source who spoke to Janes at Indo Defence 2022, being held in Jakarta, from 2 to 5 November, confirmed that meetings are taking place with various personnel to discuss the systems’ capabilities but is not able to give further information on these citing confidentiality issues.
Models of both the TB2 and Akinci unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are on display at the stand of Baykar, which is taking part in the Indo Defence 2022 exhibition.
According to specifications released by the company at its stand, the TB2 has a wingspan of 12 m and a maximum take-off weight of 650 kg. It can carry payloads of up to 55 kg and features an endurance of up to 24 hours, with communications range of up to 150 km.
01 Nov 22. Otokar aims to strengthen its presence in Southeast Asia. Turkey’s global land systems manufacturer Otokar, participates in Indo Defence 2022 on November 2-5, in Jakarta, Indonesia. During the exhibition, Otokar will promote its broad land systems product range, including 4×4, 6×6, 8×8 tactical wheeled armored vehicles, tracked armored vehicles and weapon systems.
Pointing out that Otokar is a registered NATO and United Nations supplier General Manager Serdar Görgüç, said, “Actively serving 55 end users with our military vehicles in over 40 countries under many different climates around the world, for sure Otokar owes this performance to its advance development, engineering, and testing capabilities as well as its capacity to develop accurate solutions in the fastest manner. In fact, Otokar recently very much stands out with its “technology transfer and local production” capabilities as we aim to expand our activities on a global level. In due course, we are very much focused on meeting countries’ requirements while we create added value in their defense industries and economies. Therefore, we develop collaboration opportunities in our targeted markets including local production models through transfer of technology.”
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01 Nov 22. Australia to replace C-130Js with new Super Hercules fleet. The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) will replace and expand its existing fleet of Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules tactical transports with new C-130Js.
“Defence has identified that the new C-130J aircraft represents the only option that meets all of Australia’s capability requirements and assures Defence’s medium air mobility capability without introducing substantial cost, schedule and capability risk,” says the Department of Defence (DoD).
“As a result, new C-130J aircraft will be the only option that Defence will progress for Government approval under Project AIR 7404 Phase 1 in 2023.”
The DoD states that the decision to obtain new C-130Js reflects experience with previous defence acquisitions as well as the RAAF’s experience with the type. It states that opting for new C-130Js reduces risk and is affordable, while meeting requirements.
It adds that it considered other aircraft types before deciding on the C-130J.
“The relative merits of each aircraft type have been assessed against Australia’s capability requirements,” adds the DoD.
Cirium fleets data shows that the RAAF operates 12 C-130Js with an average aircraft age of 23 years. Prior to operating the C-130J, the service had experience with legacy C-130 variants – the A, E, and H.
“Lockheed Martin welcomes the statement from Australia’s Department of Defence that it seeks to replace and expand its current medium air mobility fleet of 12 C-130J Super Hercules aircraft with new C-130J Super Hercules airlifters,” says Warren McDonald, chief executive of Lockheed Martin Australia.
“Since becoming the first global operator of the Hercules in 1958, the fulfilment of this new procurement will provide the Royal Australian Air Force with one of the most modern and advanced C-130J fleets in the world with a proven track record of versatility and reliability.” (Source: News Now/Flight Global)
28 Oct 22. Chile kicks off push for locally made training aircraft.
The Chilean Air Force has officially launched a program to acquire 33 Pillan II training aircraft, to be developed and produced locally by state-owned Empresa Nacional de Aeronaútica (ENAER), under a contract worth 142m.
The award of the deal to ENAER follows the project’s kick-off last April during the FIDAE International Air Show in Santiago city. As a proof of government support, the program’s launch ceremony was presided by Chilean Defense Minister Maya Fernandez.
The new aircraft will replace around 30 T-35 Pillan training aircraft, developed by ENAER with assistance of Piper and produced locally in the 1980s, that are currently operated by the Chilean Air Force.
The option to procure an off-the-shelf aircraft from the international market was previously considered and studied. But in the end the choice was to proceed with the development and production of an indigenous design, “in order both to preserve and to build up the industrial and technological capacities of ENAER and other firms in Chile’s local industry,” said ENAER chief executive Henry Cleveland.
Work on the current project started in 2012, using the experience gained by ENAER between the late 1990s and 2004, when a new wing was designed for T-35 Pillan, a prototype fitted with a turbo-prop engine was tested, and studies were made for the modernization of the cockpit.
According to Pablo Astica, engineering director at ENAER, “besides including aerodynamical improvement and a major use of composites instead of metallic parts, the main characteristic of the Pillan II will be the fitting of an advanced glass-cockpit and avionics suite.”
The upgrades as designed to replicate the interior of new-generation combat aircraft that trainee get familiar with what they will find when progressing to fly tactical types, he added.
For cost and efficiency reasons,the Pillan II will be powered by a piston engine, but it will be upgraded to four-blade propeller.
The aircraft will be the center of an Integrated Flight Training System for the Chilean air service, which will also include synthetic training using flight simulators as well as flight pre-planning support. Those elements are already in advanced stage of development by Desarrollos de Tecnologias y Sistemas (DTS), another Chilean company subsidiary of ENAER.
The program of development and production of Pillan II will run for eight years. The phase of definition of requirements and design, already completed, will be followed by a phase of engineering and production of a prototype, which is expected to be ready to perform its first flight in 2025. A subsequent testing phase is expected to end in 2026, giving way to serial production, with deliveries to start from 2027 and to continue until 2030.
But production of Pillan II will not necessarily end in 2030. ENAER also expects that Pillan II will replicate the success of the original T-35 Pillan, which was also exported to Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Salvador, Spain and Panama, countries where it is still in use with military and paramilitary forces.
While those users will also need to replace their machines and could choose Pillan II as the solution, an effort will be made to find new customers abroad, according to the company. (Source: Defense News)
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