UNITED KINGDOM AND NATO
27 Jan 23. UK adding to GBAD? Sources close to BATTLESPAE suggest that the UK MoD is looking at extending the remit of the forthcoming GBAD Requirement which includes airbase defence to include hypersonic missile coastal defence facilities to meet the growing Russian naval threat.
26 Jan 23. UK Mobile Fires RFQ Issued. Sources close to BATTLESPACE suggest that an RFQ has been issued for the UK’s Mobile Fires Howitzer Requirement which will include wheeled and tracked vehicles: K9 from Hanwha’s Team Thunder, a refurbished BAE Systems AS90, a 155mmm gun mounted on a MAN 10×10 truck from Rheinmetall, Caesar from Nexter, Krauss-Maffei Boxer RCH 155 and Archer from BAE Systems. The RFQ will also include details of an interim tracked solution between an refurbished AS90 system by RBSL and a Hanwha K9 A1 vehicle delivered from the RoK’s exiting stocks. The AS90 suffers from limited spares and ammunition, production of which has been discontinued. One key upgrade is the requirement for a 52 calibre barrel. However, there is no current barrel making capability in the UK. A source told BATTLESPACE that Hanwha could deliver 24 K9 A1 vehicles to the UK by the end of 2025 followed by 26 K9 A2 models for an 80+ vehicle Requirement.
26 Jan 23. UK annual defence procurement worth more than £2bn to Scotland. New figures today (Thursday January 26, 2023) show Ministry of Defence (MoD) expenditure with industry and commerce in Scotland in 2021/22 was £2.01bn.
This is up from just under £2bn the previous year and is the equivalent of £370 per person in Scotland.
For the whole UK, it is £21.1bn, working out at an average of £310 per person.
These figures show how crucial defence is to both the security of the United Kingdom and to delivering on the Prime Minister’s priorities – growing the economy, creating better-paid jobs and opportunity right across the country.
Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said: “Nothing is more important than defending our country. We are so proud of our Royal Navy and all of our Armed Services. But these figures also show defence spend contributes significantly to delivering high-skilled jobs and investment in Scotland, not least through shipbuilding at which we are a world leader.”
Defence investment in Scottish shipbuilding will see order books full until the 2030s.
In 2021/22 construction began on the first of five new Type 31 Royal Navy frigates – HMS Venturer. Building the fleet will support around 2,500 jobs both at Babcock’s Rosyth dockyard and nationally through the UK supply chain, as well as creating 150 additional apprenticeships.
Earlier this week, the steel was cut in Rosyth on the second frigate – HMS Active. During the coming months they will rise to 6,000-tonne warships. The construction of the Type 31 frigates is part of a wider investment in UK yards and industry under the UK Government’s National Shipbuilding Strategy of more than £4bn.
Each ship is larger than the current Type 23s they replace but slightly shorter and lighter than HMS Glasgow and the seven other planned Type 26 frigates also being built for the fleet by BAE Systems in Govan.
The 26s will focus on anti-submarine warfare leaving the 31s to carry out patrols wherever they are needed, from conducting counter-terrorism/drug smuggling patrols in the Indian Ocean to helping out in the aftermath of a disaster.
Within the last couple of decades Scotland has also delivered six Type 45 destroyers, two aircraft carriers and five offshore patrol vessels.
In 2021/22 defence has also invested in the expansion of the operational support facilities for the Poseidon P8 submarine hunter aircraft which are based at RAF Lossiemouth and there is continued investment in facilities for the Royal Navy’s submarine fleet on the Clyde.
MoD expenditure supports around 12,700 Scottish private sector jobs – on top of the 10,400 MoD staff in Scotland. The money spent by the MoD directly supports around 25,000 jobs across the United Kingdom, plus some 20,000 jobs supported indirectly.
https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/mod-regional-expenditure-with-uk-industry-and-supported-employment-202122 (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
26 Jan 23. Dstl and DASA research underpins Royal Navy maritime autonomy.
Defence research organisations have played a key role in the funding and technical partnering of maritime autonomous systems (MAS).
The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) provides Ministry of Defence (MOD) with science and technology advice for current and future capabilities including generation after next research. Maritime autonomous systems (MAS) are likely to be a major component of the future fleet, operating in 3 domains at the front line and through to logistics and support. The research done now, and the investment into UK industry, will help prepare the Royal Navy and bring in more MAS capability.
MAS may be employed in anti-submarine warfare (ASW) to better defend UK waters and Royal Navy fleets from underwater threats. Dstl and the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) have been leading technical research to enable and understand MAS contribution to the anti-submarine warfare role through investment into: uncrewed underwater vehicles, towed arrays from uncrewed systems, navigation, sensing and concepts of operation.
To further investigate the concept and feasibility of underwater MAS, Dstl and DASA worked closely with the Royal Navy and Plymouth-based MSubs on the development of the eXtra Large Uncrewed Underwater Vehicle (XLUUV). Initially a crewed submersible (S201), it was converted to autonomous control and set up as a testbed for technologies.
XLUUV is 9 metres long and just under 9 tonnes in weight, with a large internal space at 1 atmosphere for electronics, and freeflooding payload spaces fore and aft. It has an endurance of up to 48 hours, and top speeds of up to 12 knots. It was just over a year from crewed system to first autonomous dives, and further iteration of the control and software is ongoing.
As a testbed XLUUV has trialled Sonardyne Sonars and SprintNav, Seiche and SEA towed arrays, Vizguard optical software and Petard’s camera system. The autonomous control system was also shared with the Mayflower surface vessel, also developed by MSubs and other partners, and its ground breaking transatlantic crossing.
The Royal Navy already operates small maritime autonomous systems, so the XLUUV was the first at this size and presented its own opportunities and challenges. The XLUUV was deployed to the Robotic Experimentation and Prototyping of Maritime Unmanned System (REPMUS) 22 as the first international operation of this vehicle. The SEA Krait array was integrated and the system successfully operated as an anti-submarine warfare asset against international targets in the ocean off the coast of Portugal.
The impetus and confidence this project has given MOD has influenced such as the recently announced Project Cetus crewless submarine and furthered MOD research into maritime autonomous systems capability. Dstl will continue to work with the Royal Navy and its innovation accelerator, NavyX, to research and develop MAS technology for the future, using its expertise and maritime assets such as MAST (Maritime Autonomy Surface Testbed) vessels. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
23 Jan 23. UK Space Agency announces £50m for satellite communications. The UK Space Agency has announced £50m of funding for ambitious and innovative projects that will supercharge the UK’s satellite communications industry. The UK Space Agency has announced £50m of funding for ambitious and innovative projects that will supercharge the UK’s satellite communications industry.
The funding, which is part of the European Space Agency (ESA) Advanced Research in Telecommunications Services (ARTES) programme, is available for a wide range of projects, such as developing new satellite constellations, the ground systems needed to access them, or whole end-to-end systems delivering new services to customers.
These could include integrating 5G systems to unlock connectivity for people and machines through upgrading infrastructure to enable new markets and services such as drones or driverless haulage, creating space-based networks to rival cable-based terrestrial ones, and helping UK space operators to use disruptive new technologies and business models to enable global operations.
Science Minister George Freeman said: “Developing UK space capabilities and maximising commercial opportunities are key to the National Space Strategy, as part of our plans to become a leading power in space and build on a sector already worth £16.5bn to the UK economy.”
We are determined to invest in our world class satellite technology sector, which is why I committed £1.8bn for UK participation in ESA programs over the next five years and recently committed £190 m specifically to participate in international telecommunications missions.
This latest £50m UK Space Agency funding will help more companies into our vibrant fast growth UK space telecoms sector, helping drive both growth and wider UK economic resilience.
The UK already has a fast-growing satellite communications industry, with services contributing £10.4bn to the economy and to the creation of more than 26,600 jobs.
Successful companies will have the opportunity to help kick off the next generation of satellite communications hardware, paving the way for services that can provide better quality connectivity in remote and hard-to-reach places, higher bandwidth, lower latency, and increased security.
UK Space Agency CEO Dr Paul Bate said: “This is an exciting time to be involved in the satellite communications industry as the world increases its dependence on these services to manage business, travel, security, infrastructure, connectivity, and more. This funding will help UK companies that have the right expertise and ambition to become global players in this market and lead on ground-breaking technologies that will enhance the wider UK space sector, create jobs and generate further investment. I look forward to seeing the results of the competition and following the successful projects in their next steps.”
The UK is a leading investor in ARTES, having committed £190m to the programme at the ESA Council of Ministers in November.
Previous UK projects funded by ARTES include Sunrise, supporting the delivery of OneWeb’s first generation platform and user terminals for a UK-wide supply chain, and Pioneer, working with companies including Spire Global and AAC Clydespace to develop infrastructure that will enable new service providers with low cost and quick access to space.
See guidance to apply for funding: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/apply-for-uk-national-delegate-support-for-the-esa-artes-public-partnership-programme-ppp (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
27 Jan 23. Italy taps local defense companies to work on next-gen warplane. Italy has signed a deal with its leading defense firms for the development of the Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP) aimed at producing a new sixth-generation fighter with the U.K. and Japan by 2035.
The contract signed by the Italian ministry of defense with four firms – Leonardo, Elettronica, Avio Aero and MBDA Italia – envisages support for the program’s “concept and assessment phase and related demonstration activities,” the companies said in a joint statement.
Without giving the value of the deal, the firms said they would team with universities, research centers, small firms and start-ups, under the guidance of the ministry.
The GCAP program is an evolution of the UK-led Tempest program which Japan signed up to as a partner in December, while the role of former Tempest partner Sweden is now uncertain.
“With the launch of this new phase of the GCAP program, we are developing a plan for technology and industry that will move Italy’s technology sector from the Typhoon era, the last major European combat air development programe, into a new era of combat air underpinned by sixth-generation capabilities,” said Enzo Benigni, chairman and CEO of Elettronica.
Italy’s defense budget in 2022 contained €220 million ($239 million) for the Tempest program, and planners predicted Rome would spend €3.8 billion on it between now and the mid-2030s.
The statement from the companies said: “In support of the GCAP program, Italy has already earmarked 6 billion Euros for investment in research and development.”
Last month, Italian defense minister Guido Crosetto said Italy would insist on an equal share of the program with the U.K. and Japan.
Crosetto told an Italian parliamentary commission on Wednesday he was pushing for Italy to be able to exclude defense spending from European Union budget deficit rules to allow budgets to rise in order to cover the costs of supporting Ukraine’s war effort.
Italy has so far contributed equipment worth one billion euros and is about to dispatch a Samp-T air defense battery, one of five it operates.
Crosetto, a former head of Italy’s defense industry association, also proposed three-year defense budgets for Italy, up from the annual budgets now produced, in order to give greater funding stability to programs. (Source: Defense News)
14 Dec 22. EU Commission, EDA and OCCAR sign European Defence Fund agreements. Today, the European Commission, the European Defence Agency (EDA) and the Organisation for Joint Armament Co-operation (OCCAR) signed Contribution Agreements to delegate the implementation, under indirect management, of four strategic defence projects under the European Defence Fund. For EDA, the agreements involve two research projects:
ARTURO – The project ARTURO will provide a solution to fulfil future operational needs for advanced radar technologies in Europe.
ECOBALLIFE – The project ECOBALLIFE will research eco-designed ballistic systems for durable lightweight protection against current and new threats in platform and personal applications.
For OCCAR, the agreements involve two development projects:
European Patrol Corvette (EPC) – The EPC will focus on the initial phase of a European innovative, modular, flexible, interoperable, green, multirole vessel, enabling European navies to face the 21st century challenges.
European Hypersonic Defence Interceptor (EU-HYDEF) – The project EU HYDEF will define the concept for a European Interceptor to achieve the highest maneuverability and capability to respond to high velocity threats.
Selected under the €1.2bn European Defence Fund 2021 calls for proposals, these projects are highly important for the development of key EU defence and technological capabilities. The EU funding contribution to these four projects amounts to €190m (almost 17% of the total EDF 2021 budget). The signing ceremony was attended by Timo Pesonen, Director-General of DG DEFIS; Jiří Šedivý, EDA Chief Executive; and Matteo Bisceglia, OCCAR EA Director.
During the ceremony, they stated: “This Contribution Agreement is an excellent opportunity for the European Commission and EDA to join forces and expertise, unlock synergies and build mutual trust again after the Pilot Project and the Preparatory Action on Defence Research (PADR). This agreement can also pave the way for a continuous long-term cooperation, based on the governance framework and taking advantage of expertise and resources of the two organisations.” – Jiří Šedivý, EDA Chief Executive.
26 Jan 23. Japan, Sweden sign deal for possible GCAP co-operation. Japan and Sweden have signed an agreement that could enable the Scandinavian country to play a role in the new Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP). The two countries signed the ‘Agreement on the Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology’ in late December 2022, about two weeks after GCAP partners – Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom – announced the joint fighter aircraft programme on 9 December.
The Japanese Ministry of Defense (MoD) told Janes that the agreement provides a formal framework for deeper bilateral defence-technology engagement. The MoD said the accord will initially facilitate talks between Japan and Sweden to identify areas of collaboration, including – potentially – GCAP.
“The details of defence equipment and technology co-operation with Sweden, including the next-generation fighter development, will be determined through the exchange of views between [the countries] in the future,” said a Japanese MoD spokesperson. “Therefore, at this point, it is premature to mention what areas it is possible to co-operate in.” (Source: Janes)
23 Jan 23. Partner governments reaffirm commitment to NGWS element of FCAS/SCAF. The partner governments have reaffirmed their joint commitment to developing the Next-Generation Weapon System (NGWS) element of the wider Future Combat Air System (FCAS)/Système de Combat Aérien du Futur (SCAF) programme.
The defence ministries of France, Germany, and Spain restated their collective support for the NGWS currently under contract, which comprises the New Generation Fighter (NGF), Remote Carrier (RC) ‘loyal wingmen’, and the Air Combat Cloud (ACC) networking system.
A joint statement issued to mark the first meeting of French Armed Forces Minister Sébastien Lecornu and German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius noted the importance of the programme to support and develop European industrial capability and sovereignty. A statement put out at the same time by the Spanish Ministry of Defence referred to the project being “at the heart of 21st-century European air combat systems”. (Source: Janes)
23 Jan 23. U.S. – Turkiye Delegations Conduct Second Round of F-35 Consultations. Delegations of the U.S. Department of Defense and Turkish Ministry of National Defense carried out the second round of F-35 consultations on January 18, 2023 in Washington D.C., as the first round had been held in Ankara. The delegations agreed upon continuation of the consultations with the next meeting scheduled to take place in Ankara in spring 2023. (Source: US DoD)
26 Jan 23. Northrop eyes low-rate production contract for B-21 this year. Northrop Grumman expects the Air Force to award the first production contract for the B-21 Raider stealth bombers later this year.
In an earnings call with analysts Thursday, Chief Financial Officer Dave Keffer said the expected contract will be for the first of five low-rate initial production lots. The LRIP phase is scheduled to run through roughly the end of the decade, he said.
But Keffer said Northrop Grumman and the Air Force are wary of macroeconomic risks — particularly inflation, labor problems and lingering supply chain issues — and are looking for ways to make the program more efficient and manage those concerns as it moves out of the engineering and manufacturing development phase.
Northrop Grumman chief executive Kathy Warden said Wednesday the B-21 is still on track for its first flight later this year, following its “historic” rollout in December.
Warden said “unprecendented” inflation, supply chain disruptions and labor issues have raised the bomber’s cost estimates on its LRIP phase. But cost projections are still coming in below the government’s estimates, she said, and the government continues to support buying at least 100 of the advanced stealth bombers.
Northrop Grumman said in its financial filings it doesn’t see a financial loss on any of these LRIP options as “probable” — but couldn’t rule out a loss of up to $1.2 billion on one or more lots as “reasonably possible.”
Warden said a potential loss would spread out over all five lots, which would help Northrop absorb the blow.
“Inflation clearly is the primary driver there, as we think about what’s changed recently in our estimates, and we are working to mitigate those impacts,” Warden said. “We have some time as we move forward and get into production to continue to do that.”
She said the government is talking with defense firms like Northrop about ways to encourage them to invest in future capabilities, while helping industry weather the risks that come with inflation.
That could lead to less reliance on fixed-price development contracts in the future, she said. The defense industry is now “pushing back” on long-term fixed-price contracts, she said, and asking for the government to reconsider some contracts to take inflation into account.
Many government customers “now understand that shifting too much risk to industry doesn’t support that investment, nor does it deliver the capability they need in a timely fashion,” Warden said. “I expect we’re going to see less fixed-price development going forward.”
Suppliers to Northrop Grumman are also asking the company to take into account how inflation has increased their costs, Warden said. Northrop in turn passes those costs on to the government.
“Really that’s just common sense,” Warden said. “I believe that will become the norm.” (Source: Defense News)
26 Jan 23. With demand high in Ukraine, US Army ramps up artillery production. The U.S. Army is rapidly moving to expand its domestic production capacity of 155mm artillery shells, according to the Army’s acquisition chief, as Ukraine uses thousands daily fending off Russia.
U.S. defense officials said last year Ukrainians expended roughly 3,000 rounds a day, while a Pentagon fact sheet issued this week said the U.S. government has already sent over 1 m 155mm rounds to the country.
Prior to the war in Ukraine, the U.S. could build about 14,400 155mm artillery shells a month. But as Ukrainian forces burn through the ammunition for howitzers sent to the country, the U.S. is hoping to ramp up production to roughly 90,000 shells a month, according to a New York Times report this week.
Army acquisition chief Doug Bush, in a Jan. 25 press conference, did not detail the Army’s production goals, but said the Army wants to expand production at facilities that build the outside shell as well as those focused on packing explosives and producing fuzes and charges.
Activity for 155mm shells “is almost exclusively at one place — Iowa Army Ammunition Plant,” said Bush, referencing a government-owned factory in Middletown, Iowa. “We are looking to both expand there and stand up additional capability in the private sector to supplement them.” This includes both metal shell body production as well as fuzes, explosive fill and charges, he added.
Initial contracts to ramp up production awarded late last year are focused on manufacturing the metal body, which is the line that will take the longest to build up, Bush said.
The Army is working with General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems to expand production capacity at Scranton Army Ammunition Plant in Pennsylvania and a neighboring facility. GD OTS runs the government-owned facility.
And the Army is under contract with the company to stand up another plant to do the same work in Garland, Texas, Bush added.
The Army also awarded late last year a $391 m contract to an Ontario-based company — IMT Defense — to make shell bodies.
“That would give us potentially four locations where this is being done,” Bush said.
The Army is “very close to or [has] already made contract awards” to establish additional locations to assemble fuzes, load the bodies with explosives as well and pack them for shipment in “Arkansas, Canada, and also potentially Iowa and potentially also Kansas,” Bush said.
While those contracts “aren’t final yet,” he added, “I think we’re going to go from having one production chain to having several all working at the same time.”
Most of that expansion, he noted, is through the private sector. (Source: Defense News)
REST OF THE WORLD
27 Jan 23. Japan initiates unmanned amphibious assault vehicle effort. Japan is aiming to develop an unmanned amphibious assault vehicle (AAV) as part of its Future Amphibious Technology Research (FAT-R) programme, a representative from the Japanese Ministry of Defense’s Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA) revealed at the International Armoured Vehicles (IAV) 2023 conference held in London on 23-26 January.
Colonel Sakasegawa Daisuke, 3rd Development Section Chief at ATLA’s Ground Systems Development Division, noted that two versions of the unmanned FAT-R vehicle are under consideration. The first is a tele-operated variant that will be remotely controlled by a crewperson from another FAT-R vehicle, while the other is expected to autonomously follow a crewed vehicle in ‘leader-follower’ mode.
Prototyping work, including experimentation with novel vehicle sensors such as a sonar system, is expected to be completed by between 2024 and 2025, Colonel Sakasegawa explained.
“Unmanned FAT-R vehicles can be used to support logistics operations such as transport of personnel and supplies, and also to minimise casualties as forward elements of an amphibious landing operation to recapture remote islands,” he added.
First announced in 2017, the FAT-R programme aims to mature technologies that would enable production of a high-speed AAV capable of manoeuvring in coral reefs and the steep terrain of Japan’s remote southern islands. The vehicle is designed to accommodate up to 10 fully equipped dismounts, with five seats on either side of the crew compartment facing inwards.
If successfully produced, FAT-R vehicles will likely equip Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade (ARDB), which was launched at Camp Ainoura in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, in March 2018.
The ARDB – which presently operates the BAE Systems AAV7A1 Reliability, Availability, Maintainability/Rebuild to Standard (RAM/RS) platform – was formed as part of an ongoing effort by the service to enhance its ability to defend or recapture the Nansei Islands in the southwest, including the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture, which are controlled by Japan but claimed by China.
Following several years of computer-assisted design and subscale prototyping, ATLA also recently completed and tested a full-sized technology testbed and validated its ability to overcome coral reefs and steep terrain at a forward angle of up to 70º.
The 40-ton testbed, which measures 7.9 x 3.3 x 2.3 metres, is equipped with a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 12VB engine which produces up to 3,000hp. The engine also powers a pair of 1,500hp-class waterjets, which combine with the tracks – which provide upward traction force – with propulsive force to overcome steep terrain. (Source: AMR)
26 Jan 23. Canada moves to rebuild search-and-rescue helicopter fleet. The Canadian military will rely on parts from the former U.S. presidential helicopter fleet as well as additional airframes from contractor Leonardo as it rebuilds its search-and-rescue helicopter capability.
Canada is moving forward with a modernization program for its CH-149 Cormorant helicopters to allow them to keep flying until at least 2042.
The Royal Canadian Air Force is slated to receive the first modernized Cormorant helicopters in 2026, Department of National Defence spokesman Dan Le Bouthillier said.
The Canadian government announced Dec. 22 two contracts for what it is calling the Cormorant Mid-Life Upgrade, or CMLU. Leonardo U.K. of Yeovil, United Kingdom won a $1.16bn Canadian (US $870m) contract to provide the modernized helicopters, while CAE of Montreal was awarded a $78m Canadian contract for simulation systems for the aircraft.
The project will see the CH-149 Cormorant fleet upgraded to the most advanced version of the helicopter, the AW101 612, Le Bouthillier said. That is the same model Norway has recently procured to conduct its rotary wing search-and-rescue missions.
Canada will grow its fleet from 13 to 16 helicopters. It will acquire two basic airframes from Leonardo while the RCAF will provide a third. New parts, as well as parts from Canada’s inventory of VH-71 and CH-149 components, will be used to complete the helicopters. Those parts include transmissions, landing gears and other systems.
“The CMLU upgrades include maximum use of existing components and parts from current CH-149 inventory, which includes VH-71 parts,” Le Bouthillier said.
In 2011, Canada paid $164m Canadian to the U.S. government for nine VH-71 Presidential helicopters, which provided several hundred thousand spare parts.
The VH-71 and the CH-149 are similar variants of the AgustaWestland EH-101 helicopter. Thanks largely to requirements creep, the cost to develop and buy the presidential helicopters soared from $6.1 billion in 2005 to $11.2bn three years later. A few months after taking office in January 2009, President Barack Obama pulled the plug on the effort, and the production run ended at nine.
Canada’s Cormorant Mid-Life Upgrade will involve modernizing navigation, communication, flight management, flight recorder, and safety systems. The program also includes improved sensor capability and in-cabin wireless communications.
As part of the Cormorant modernization program, CAE will provide the RCAF with a flight simulator to be situated in Canada. Previously, Cormorant crews have had to travel to the United Kingdom to train on simulators there. (Source: Defense News)
24 Jan 23. Indian lab teams up with France’s Naval Group on submarine tech. Indian defense laboratory and French company Naval Group are teaming up to integrate fuel cell-based air-independent propulsion systems in Kalvari-class submarines.
As part of the agreement made on Monday between Naval Materials Research Laboratory and Naval Group, the latter will certify the AIP design. The AIP system, which the lab has already developed, will improve the endurance of India’s diesel-electric submarines, the India Defence Ministry said in a statement.
AIP technology is known to enhance the endurance of conventional, or non-nuclear, submarines from about 24 hours to 14-21 days. The Indian Navy has decided to equip all six Kalvari-class submarines with the lab-designed AIP system when the boats undergo their first major refits, with the first planned for two years from now.
The lab, which is part of the government’s Defence Research and Development Organisation, is currently conducting research on strategic materials for the Navy. According to DRDO, efforts involve developing an optimized design for a phosphoric acid fuel cell system, hydrogen generators, power conditioners, control systems, heat exchangers, a demineralization water system, and auxiliaries for the AIP system.
India’s largest private defense contractor, Larsen & Toubro, will serve as prime contractor for the AIP systems, while another private company, Thermax, will supply fuel cells. The Navy has not previously ordered AIP systems from domestic prime contractors.
DRDO declined to comment on the cost of developing the technology.
To date, the Indian government has only tested AIP prototypes, which have successfully met design requirements.
The prototype designs are advanced because the system onboard the submarine uses the chemical sodium borohydride, which mitigates risk since hydrogen is not carried or stored, which is the case with other AIP systems, according to retired Indian Navy Commodore Mukesh Bhargava. The storage of hydrogen — a flammable element — onboard a submarine carries with it the risk of an explosion.
Also on Monday, the Indian Navy commissioned its fifth Kalvari-class submarine INS Vagir. The service said this submarine type features advanced stealth technology and is equipped with long-range guided torpedoes and anti-ship missiles.
The state-run Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd. in India builds the subs in collaboration with Naval Group. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
25 Jan 23. Zero interest in vintage armoured cars. There were no takers to an Armscor Defence Disposal Solutions (DDS) tender for either the sale or destruction of 21 scrap armoured vehicles at Army Support Base (ASB) Port Elizabeth. Included in the offering were Eland, Vickers and Ferret armoured cars, as they were known in service.
DDS sent out seven sets of tender documents as per enquiries. defenceWeb was informed the adjudication process is complete and none of the bids was successful.
If there had been a successful bid, he or she would have acquired the redundant armoured cars – a far cry from today’s high-tech wheeled armoured fighting and infantry vehicles – along with whatever “related equipment” service technicians at the Eastern Cape coastal city base found in stores.
Options to ensure the no longer required equipment leaves the base include moving them to the School of Armour Museum in Bloemfontein or finding a new – preferably – donated home at somewhere like Sandstone Estates in Eastern Free State.
The Armour Museum in Bloemfontein’s Tempe has its roots in a 1995 decision by then SA Army Chief, Lieutenant General Reg Otto, to use a historic building in the lines of the School of Armour to house the museum. The museum is home to a sizeable display of armoured fighting vehicles – tracked and wheeled – as well as indoor displays, an auditorium and a research library. Other assets are Garrison Hall and a Wall of Remembrance.
Sandstone Estates is a working agricultural estate where aficionados of steam trains, old agricultural equipment and implements as well as vintage military equipment gather to indulge their specialities. Its social media identifier includes Sandstone being recognised internationally as an agricultural, military and railway preservation site between Bethlehem and Ficksburg.
At the same time, the state-owned defence and security acquisition agency has been asked by the landward force to request information with a view to acquiring armoured personnel carriers (APCs) in two plus eight seating configuration. The intention, according to James Kerr of Orion Consulting, is for the APCs to “replace or supplement” the current Casspir and Mamba fleets.
Still on army mobility, Lieutenant General Lawrence Mbatha’s service wants Armscor to source a suitable supplier to maintain and repair the engines of its Ratel MK3s. This tender was issued on 14 December and closes on 3 February. (Source: https://www.defenceweb.co.za/)
25 Jan 23. $38m investment in Aerospace Research and Innovation in Quebec. The Consortium for Research and Innovation in Aerospace of Quebec – CRIAQ announces 6 new collaborative research and development projects, for a total of 17 projects approved and funded by the industry and the Quebec government to advance aerospace technology innovations in Quebec in direct response to market demand.
These 6 new collaborative research and innovation partnerships bring together 7 national and international private companies, in addition to 5 academic research centres pooling their expertise to create new solutions.
$38m invested to address the challenges facing the global aerospace ecosystem and accelerate R&D
Since the Quebec government launched the Quebec Aerospace Strategy Horizon 2026 last February, CRIAQ has set up 17 research partnerships involving a total of 24 companies and 12 research centres for a total value of $38m. Of this total investment, $15m comes directly from public funds announced by the Quebec Government, MEIE in April 2022. In addition to these public funds, there are budgetary envelopes from Mitacs and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).
One of the major strengths of CRIAQ’s R&D investment model is the leverage effect that public funds generate by necessarily adding private sector investments. In the creation of these collaborative research partnerships, the companies that are part of them must invest, which brings the total amount of investment to two, and sometimes, even three times that amount.
“To meet the major challenges facing the entire global aerospace ecosystem and accelerate the transition to a new resilient and sustainable air mobility, we must be bold and invest in research and development. It is crucial that Quebec consolidate its leadership position by accelerating the evolution of the entire sector through new technologies geared towards decarbonization, customer-centric air mobility of the future and its renewal in the digital age,” says Alain Aubertin, President and CEO of CRIAQ.
In a global context where the aerospace industry is facing, more than ever, the challenges of political, economic, technological, societal, and environmental changes; CRIAQ is firmly committed to the increase of the mobilization of the research and innovation community, industrial and governmental partners, and other collaborators of the ecosystem, to stimulate diversity, creativity, talent development and the emergence of entrepreneurs and innovators to support the evolution of the sector.
“Every day at CRIAQ, our role is to bring ideas together, to stimulate them, and sometimes even to confront them with the aim of creating innovation. For the past 20 years, with the financial support of the Quebec government, we have been linking the specialized scientific researchers of our universities with the industrial sector to further develop science and technological solutions to strengthen the leadership of the Quebec aerospace industry,” adds Mr. Aubertin.
See the annex for a full list of the 17 new projects and partners teams. Further details are available on request.
64 new project ideas will also be presented by aerospace companies at the RDV Forum 2023 on February 14 and 15, 2023, at the largest meeting of its kind in Canada, bringing together aerospace technology experts. These experts will present their projects with the aim of creating partnerships that will be supported by CRIAQ in setting up these projects and their financing. All the details on this high place of discussions on aerospace technologies and solutions of the future can be found here: https://rdvforum2023.criaq.aero/en.
The Consortium for Research and Innovation in Aerospace in Quebec (CRIAQ) is a unique model of collaborative aerospace research conducted by companies of all sizes involving universities and research centres. Its mission is to increase the competitiveness of the aerospace industry by stimulating business innovation through collaborative R&D. Its role is to bring together ecosystems and develop a new generation of innovators to strengthen Quebec’s technological leadership in cutting-edge aerospace applications: digital aviation, future air mobility and sustainable aerospace.
More than 220 projects have been completed and are underway, with a value of more than $300m, involving more than 1,900 scientific researchers and academic members and 2,200 students over the last 20 years of CRIAQ’s existence. (Source: PR Newswire)
20 Jan 23. Jordan inks deal for 12 Block 70 F-16s from Lockheed Martin.
The US State Department approved the deal in February, saying the planes and associated equipment would cost some $4.21bn. The Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF) Command has signed a deal to buy 12 Block 70 F-16 fighter jets from the US in a bid to help modernize its aging air force.
As announced by the armed forces’ official website, the deal was signed Thursday by Royal Air Force Commander Brigadier General Pilot Muhammad Fathi Hiasat and US Deputy Chief of mission in Amman Rohit Nepal.
According to the Jordanian statement, the deal comes within the framework of boosting defense capabilities and military deterrence, to increase the level of combat readiness. It will also strengthen joint cooperation between Jordan and the US, including in combating terrorism and enhancing stability in the region, the air force said.
In February 2022, the US State Department approved the sale of 12 F-16 fighter jets with an estimated cost of $4.21bn — a deal that also included radios, targeting pods and associated munitions components like guided missile tail kits. But the number of fighters was reduced to eight in a letter of acceptance signed by Maj. Gen. Yousef Al-Hnaity, chief of the Jordanian armed forces, and Brig. Gen. Mohammad Hiyasat, commander of the Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF), as Breaking Defense previously reported, before apparently rising again. At the time, deliveries were expected to begin in 2027.
“Jordan wants the modernized Block 70s as part of a broader defense push to retain up-to-date warplanes, but also specifically because their anti-radar capabilities could in theory be useful should Jordan once more need to intervene in Syria (presumably against the resurgence of ISIS), where Syrian and Russian air defenses could pose a challenge to such missions,” Ryan Bohl, Senior Middle East and North Africa Analyst at the RANE Network told Breaking Defense.
Bohl added that in the event of a US-Iran conflict, Jordan could be pulled in, and in that case Jordanian F-16s would likely be part of a coalition targeting regional Iranian militias in Syria and Iraq.
In a statement, Aimee Burnett, vice president of F-16 Business Development at Lockheed Martin, said the company is “proud the Royal Jordanian Air Force is extending its participation in the F-16 Block 70 program. The F-16 Block 70 will extend Jordan’s existing fleet of F-16s, bringing advanced 21st Century Security capabilities to the mission combined with affordable operating and lifecycle costs. Our history partnering with Jordan strengthens regional security and helps protect citizens through cutting-edge technologies that support critical missions today and into the future.”
The F-16 is the backbone of the Royal Jordanian Air Force, which operates 43 F-16As as the primary combat aircraft and 18 F-16Bs.
Jordan operates 230 aircraft in total, which is a relatively large but ageing fleet. RJAF operates Lockheed C-130 Hercules transport aircraft, Air Tractor AT-802 Cessna 208B Grand Caravan reconnaissance aircraft, and Pilatus PC-21, Grob G120TP and Robinson R44 trainers. It also flies Sikorsky UH-60, McDonnell Douglas MD500 Defender and Bell AH-1 Cobra helicopters.
Lockheed Martin’s F-16 Block 70 is gaining increased interest in the Gulf countries, as Bahrain is also under contract for the Block 70 under a $1.12bn deal for 16 aircraft. The flight tests for Bahrain are planned to begin in early 2023. The Royal Bahraini Air Force expects to receive its first batch of four F-16 Block 70 aircraft by the first half of 2024, following a COVID-19-related delay, commander of the air force Maj. Gen. Shaikh Hamad bin Abdullah Al Khalifah told Breaking Defense in November 2022. These new F-16s will be built in Greenville, S.C. after finalizing the contract. The production rate in Greenville is four aircraft per month. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Breaking Defense.com)
23 Jan 23. Australia to speed up purchase of sea mines to shore up maritime defence. Australia said on Monday it would accelerate plans to buy advanced sea mines to protect its maritime routes and ports from “potential aggressors” amid China’s plans to increase its influence in the Pacific region.
The so-called smart sea mines are designed to differentiate between military targets and other types of ships, a defence department spokesperson said in a statement.
“(Australia) is accelerating the acquisition of smart sea mines, which will help to secure sea lines of communication and protect Australia’s maritime approaches,” it said. “A modern sea mining capability is a significant deterrent to potential aggressors.”
Though the defence department did not specify any further details, a report in the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper on Monday said Canberra would spend up to A$1bn ($698m) to procure the high-tech underwater weapons.
The federal government will soon announce a contract to buy “a substantial number” of sea mines from a European weapons supplier, the report said, citing unidentified defence industry sources.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told ABC television he would not “pre-empt those national security issues.”
“What we need is to make sure we have the best possible defences. So we have looked at missile defence, we’re looking at cyber security, we’re looking at all of these issues,” Albanese said.
China has plans to step up its presence in the Pacific and entered a security pact with Solomon Islands last year, raising concerns in the United States and Australia, who for decades have seen the region as their sphere of influence. (Source: Reuters)
19 Jan 23. Israel formally requests 25 F-15 EX from the US: Sources.
Jerusalem previously expressed interest in the F-15s, along with F-35s, but political instability delayed the official move.
The Israeli Ministry of Defense has officially requested 25 F-15 EX fighters from the US, according to industry sources, but the Israeli air force is already hoping to double the order.
An official Letter of Request (LOR) for the fighters was sent from the Israeli government to the US government last week, the sources said. Letters of request are the first step in the Foreign Military Sale process, after which details on numbers and pricing are negotiated.
The political instability in Israel in recent years forced Israelis to take part in five general elections in less than four years, delaying the official decision on the purchase of the advanced version of the F-15. In 2020, the Israeli government made a general decision to acquire additional F-35s and F-15s. But while the contract for the F-35 was signed, the one for the F-15s was not.
Since that time, however, the IAF expressed an urgent need for more F-15s that can be loaded with some types of weapon systems developed in Israel that are tailored to destroy “hardened” targets, such as Iranian nuclear sites.
A defense source told Breaking Defense that now that the LOR has been issued, the earliest deliveries of the F-15 EX are expected in 2028, but the Israeli government may ask the US to condense that timeline. Both the Israeli Ministry of Defense and the US Embassy in Jerusalem declined to comment for this report.
According to Boeing, the F15-EX “carries more weapons than any other fighter in its class, and can launch hypersonic weapons up to 22 feet long and weigh up to 7,000 pounds.”
The IAF wants 25 F-15 EX and in parallel to upgrade its 25 F-15 I variants to the same avionic configuration of the F-15 EX, except for the fly-by-wire system. The Israeli defense source said that budget limitations may affect the “scope” of the F-15 I planned upgrade. The IAF currently operates 50 F-15 A/B/C/D variants and 25 F-15 I.
When the IAF made a decision to buy more F-15s and F-35s, it was based on the assumption that in future combat scenarios targets will be protected by advanced air defense systems. This will require a first wave of F-35s to neutralize the air defense systems and then the F-15 “trucks” to follow with heavy loads of very advanced weapon systems, some which are in development.
In Israeli eyes, the new defense relations between Russia and Iran make the operational need for more F-15 urgent. This following reports that Moscow may sell its S-400 air defense systems to Iran that plans to deploy them to protect its nuclear sites.
The Israeli fleet of F-15s is essential not only to attack targets in Iran but also to stop accurate rocket launches by Hezbollah, Iran’s proxy force in Lebanon.
The general staff of the Israeli defense forces has prepared a target bank that will be heavily attacked if the Hezbollah starts launching rockets as a result of an Israeli action or as a “supportive act” if Israel attacks the Iranian nuclear sites, as Breaking Defense has reported.
Before Israeli chief of general staff Lt. General Aviv Kochavi ended his term on Jan. 16, said in interviews that if a new war breaks out with Hezbollah, Israel would unleash “waves of firepower” that wouuld send Lebanon 50 years back in time. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Breaking Defense.com)
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