UNITED KINGDOM AND NATO
02 Feb 23. RAF defends decision behind 2-year tactical airlift capability gap, plans additional A400M buy. Elsewhere in a UK defense committee hearing, a military official said he wouldn’t put high-dollar, exquisite drones over Ukraine.
Top UK defense officials from the Royal Air Force (RAF) have strongly defended accelerating the retirement of Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules tactical airlifters by 12 years, despite acknowledging the decision will lead to a two-year airlift capability gap.
“There are a small number of niche capabilities that the C-130J has that will not be transferred across to the A400M program at the point in which the C-130 is retired in the summer [of 2023],” RAF Deputy Commander Capability Air Marshal Richard Knighton told a Wednesday UK defense committee hearing.
At the hearing Mike Wigston, RAF Chief of the Air Staff, also revealed that as part of the replacement program, the service also intends on acquiring an additional six Airbus A400M Atlas transport aircraft before 2030, in conflict with National Audit Office’s (NAO), a financial watchdog, assessment deeming such a procurement “unaffordable.”
At the time, the early retirement of the C-130J fleet from 2035 to 2023 was one of the most surprising decisions to emerge from the UK’s Integrated 2021 Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, with the A400M set to replace it.
“When ministers made the decision in 2021 [to retire the C-130J fleet] we were very plain with what the niche capabilities were and what the potential operational impact is,” Knighton said. “In concert with our operations staff, ministers concluded that, the level of operational risk [outlined] was small enough to be tolerable.”
Wigston told the committee that the C-130J retirement decision had been taken in the face of being “lobbied hard” by members of the service who opposed it.
Lawmakers questioned why the C-130J fleet could not have been spared until the niche capabilities with the A400M had been proven, but that idea was ignored based on “having to pay for it and something else [another aircraft or acquisition] having to be removed,” according to Knighton.
Other issues besides funding influenced the decision to accelerate the C-130J retirement.
“It was about the capacity of the air force to run two tactical airlift fleets, each of them having their own supply chain, their own tail, their own training requirements, their own aircrew requirements,” Wigston explained.
Drawing further on the matter, Wigston also noted that “part of the bargain” to prematurely withdraw the aircraft, included the RAF agreeing to add the range of capabilities available on the C-130J to the A400M as soon as possible.
“By and large we have done that,” he added.
To date, four of 14 C-130Js have been retired, according to Wigston, but concerns over airlift operational output and Special Forces limitations persist because the A400M fleet has experienced reliability problems, suffered from technical faults including discovery of landing gear bay corrosion and requires long landing strips.
Tobias Ellwood, MP and Chair of the Defence Committee, said he had concerns around taking the C-130J out of service because it denies Special Forces “the skillsets they need” to carry out their missions and noted Royal Marines will be unable to carry out boat drops from the A400M as they can with the C-130J.
Earlier in the hearing, Wigston confirmed for the first time that the RAF plans on buying six more A400M “by the end of the decade” which would increase the fleet to 28 aircraft, 21 of which have already been delivered by Airbus.
That decision came in the face of the National Audit Office’s Equipment Plan 2022 to 2032, published in November 2022, which said, “An option to purchase additional A400M aircraft was assessed as unaffordable,” and noted Air Command was “developing an affordable choice to improve A400M availability.”
The NAO does not hold any enforcement powers, so the RAF is free to proceed with the new order, despite the funding warning. Formal approval for the six additional aircraft could be issued by the forthcoming Integrated Review refresh, as the UK looks to update national defense priorities in the wake of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Aside from air mobility issues, Wigston said that the RAF will stand up a second F-35 fifth generation fighter jet frontline squadron and receive a first MQ-9B SkyGuardian (known as the Protector in UK service) Remotely Piloted Air System (RPAS) delivery “this year.”
Cost increases for Protector, spiralled by 74 percent between an initial cost evaluation and year of acquisition approval, according to the NAO. The drone was originally due to enter service in 2018 but was delayed due to budgetary problems. A new date of 2024 has since been set by the RAF.
Such a high cost is one reason observers have said such platforms as the Protector and the MQ-9 Reaper wouldn’t be as valuable in a contested environment, like the skies over Ukraine, compared to cheaper, more expendable platforms. Wigston bluntly agreed.
“There are many platforms that I would not choose to operate in that environment [Ukraine] freely, Protector and Reaper would be [two] of them,” he said. (Source: News Now/Breaking Defense.com)
02 Feb 23. Project Cornerstone – Better Late than Never.
The British Army is performing an overarching modernisation of its electronic warfare capabilities which are converging with cyber effects as the UK hones its CEMA doctrine.
The British Army has embarked on the latest chapter in the wholesale renewal of its electronic warfare capabilities.
The tender for Project Cornerstone was launched on 10th November 2022. Valued at between $121 m and $485 m Cornerstone sees the delivery of a “networked land Electronic Warfare (EW) and signals intelligence capability,” the tender continued. Few details were revealed in the tender notice beyond the requirement for Cornerstone’s architecture to use “common standards.”
JES/00149 – CORNERSTONE
As Armada reported previously the army is undertaking a much-delayed overhaul of its EW posture. The force plans to acquire eleven ARTEC Boxer wheeled armoured fighting vehicles configured for EW. They are likely to be deployed with the 14th Signals Regiment (Electronic Warfare). This is the army’s dedicated electronic warfare formation. It is part of 6th (UK) Division and is headquartered at RAF Upavon, southwest England. The division is responsible for cyber, EW and information operations.
It is over two decades since the UK Ministry of Defence first tried to replace the army’s legacy EW platforms and capabilities. In 2001 the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) contracted Lockheed Martin to provide a suite of backpack and vehicular EW systems for the manoeuvre force under the ill-fated Soothsayer programme. Cost overruns of circa $60 m spelt Soothsayer’s demise in 2009. Soothsayer was followed by Landseeker. This was to have procured a scalable EW architecture to replace all electronic warfare systems used by 14th Signals Regiment.
The regiment currently uses SC Jackal wheeled reconnaissance vehicles to provide EW support to the army’s 16th Air Assault Brigade. GKN Sankey FV-439 tracked electronic warfare vehicles provide similar support to the manoeuvre force. Both vehicles are believed to use variants of L3Harris’ Broadshield electronic attack system. The FV-439 platforms are expected to be replaced by the Boxer EW variants. Electronic warfare support for dismounted operations is provided by the army’s Roke Resolve backpack EW system.
13th Signal Regiment
Last February, Armada learned the army will receive a new EW and signals unit to equip the manoeuvre force. The new unit will be raised by re-rolling the army’s 21st Signal Regiment. This formation is based in Colerne, western England. According to official MOD information, the regiment is responsible for tactical, operational and strategic communications. Other responsibilities include the deployment of wide area networks and information systems. It comprises 215 Signal Squadron which supports brigade headquarters, 220 Signal Squadron assisting brigade elements and a support squadron. The re-rolling of the unit for its new electronic warfare tasks should occur by 2024, according to the MOD source.
The 21st Signal Regiment will form part of a new British Army Cyber and Electromagnetic Activities (CEMA) group. “The timetable to establish the CEMA group is still being finalised,” the source continued. Once activated, the group will be headquartered in Andover, southeast England. In 2018 the MOD published its CEMA doctrine. This prescribed the deeper coalescence of cyber and EW capabilities across the British military. By 2028, both the 14th and 21st Signal Regiments will have been joined by the new 13th Signal Regiment responsible for cyber operations. All three will form the army’s new CEMA group.
A written statement provided to Armada by the MOD said Project Cornerstone architecture will include hardware and software along with “integration into relevant platforms to support brigade combat teams.” The statement confirmed these will include the EW-configured Boxers “based on current planning and funding.”
Once delivered, the MOD expects to continually enhance the Cornerstone architecture throughout its service life: “This aims to deliver the capability (identified by continuous operational analysis) to the end user as early as possible, whilst maximising flexibility to adjust to any future opportunities and threats. To that end there may/will be several vendors that are cohered into a system of systems delivery.” Details on when Cornerstone will enter service remain classified, the statement concluded.
Cornerstone’s advent is undoubtedly good news for the British Army and UK land forces in general. The rejuvenation of UK land electronic warfare assets has already been postponed on numerous occasions. It is now going ahead and will see the army adopting a state-of-the-art, future-proofed EW system. As Europe sees a return of great power competition, these capabilities will be indispensable. (Source: Armada)
31 Jan 23. Title: Protected Mobility Pipeline – Early Engagement – Early Engagement.
Contract Reference: TKR-20230124-CF2-21971285
Publication Date: January 24, 2023
Description: Protected Mobility Pipeline Industry Engagement Day
The primary aim of the day is to Notify industry that we intend to undertake some Early Market Engagement for the Protected Mobility Pipeline programme being developed within Army Headquarters.
Title: Protected Mobility Pipeline – Early Engagement
Awarding Authority: Ministry of Defence Army HQ
Andover England SP11 8HJ
Description: Protected Mobility Pipeline Industry Engagement Day
The primary aim of the day is to Notify industry that we intend to undertake some Early Market Engagement for the Protected Mobility Pipeline programme being developed within Army Headquarters. The programme vision is to deliver a coherent, integrated, and competitive fleet of Protected Mobility (PM) platforms to meet the demands of the Land Environment.
Programme Capability Goals:
- A rationalised PM fleet that meets the appropriate protection and mobility levels, whilst enabling adaptation to a range of missions and threats at the speed of relevance.
- A PM Pipeline procured at pace, to deliver a coherent and integrated fleet.
- To achieve a capable and sustainable PM Supply Chain with the resilience to upkeep, update, upgrade.
This day will start with a presentation from the programme team outlining our progress and requirements. The objectives for the day:
– Understand industry appetite and possible opportunities to meet a variety of projects which sit within the programme.
– Understand constraints on industry which the programme will need to take into consideration.
At the end of the Industry day, RFIs (Requests for Information) may be issued to request input from those in industry that wish to respond.
The Authority reserve the right to then hold bi-lateral meetings based on those responses.
The engagement will be held on 22 February 2023 at the BattleLab Dorset Innovation Park, Dorchester DT2 8ZB. Pre-registration to attend the event is required.
Please provide an expression of interest in attending no later than 10 February 2023 by emailing: . Attendance is limited to maximum 2 personnel from each organisation.
- CPV Codes: 35400000 – Military vehicles and associated parts
- NUTS Codes: UKJ33
- Main Site or Location of Works, Main Place of Delivery or Main Place of Performance: South East
- Reference Attributed by the Awarding Authority:
- Estimated Value of Requirement: Not Provided
- Start Date:
- End Date:
- Closing Date:
- Other Information:
For further information/documentation please visit:
- No related opportunities exist for this opportunity
31 Jan 23. Inspired by nature: chance to collaborate on underwater technology. Funding from NavyX and Dstl will back PhD programmes researching new methods of underwater propulsion and design, taking cues from the natural world.
NavyX, the Royal Navy’s autonomy and lethality accelerator, and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) are seeking to collaborate with UK academic institutions on the advance of bio-inspired underwater technology and are offering generous PhD packages to back research in this field.
Over millennia, natural selection has honed characteristics such as agility, speed, endurance and stealth that through robotic mimicry may lead to improved range, endurance or lethality.
The bio-inspired uncrewed underwater vehicle (UUV) and propulsion PhD cohort programme aims to develop a greater understanding of novel modes of underwater propulsion and platform design. It aims to unlock unrealised competitive advantage through seeking a greater understanding of nature.
The importance of understanding, researching and experimenting with novel propulsion and UUVs of the future remains a priority if we wish to maintain equity with our allies and advantage over our adversaries in this most challenging of environments; it is also anticipated that the advantages of bio-inspired underwater technology may have benefits far beyond the sphere of defence.
Through leveraging the collective might of UK academic institutions, NavyX in collaboration with Dstl seek to seed a burgeoning sovereign market.
Details about the PhD programme will be announced via R-Cloud, the Dstl marketplace for science and technology research, which provides access to security and defence contracting opportunities across all the MOD’s science and technology research areas.
To get involved, register as an R-Cloud provider: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/r-cloud
We welcome applications from all types of supplier: non-traditional defence supplier, micro business, small to medium-sized enterprise (SME), academic institution or large organisation, UK and international research suppliers.
Find out more about Dstl’s work on autonomy and robotics: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/robotics-and-autonomous-systems-defence-science-and-technology-capability
27 Jan 23. UK government funds GBP8m drone surveillance programme to protect sensitive infrastructure. Anti-drone detectors are to be deployed around nuclear plants, transport hubs, oil rigs and other sensitive infrastructure across the UK to protect them from aerial terrorist attacks under a GBP8 m Home Office project, says an article in The Telegraph.
The Government has quietly commissioned the counter-drone technology which will also be deployed at major public events such as the Coronation of King Charles, the Commonwealth games and Eurovision song contest, says the article
“The systems will be designed to enable police and security services to track any small or medium-sized drone and use scanning technology so they can be spotted even if they do not emit a signal. They will enable law enforcement agencies to better police no-fly zones around restricted sites such as nuclear plants, Government buildings, military bases, prisons and royal palaces as well as major national events.
“It is understood that security officials are concerned at the growing capability of drones for terrorists to inflict serious harm and physical or economic damage at strategic sites or major events. Some 1,000 flights, affecting 140,000 passengers over three days, had to be cancelled or diverted when an unauthorised drone entered Gatwick’s airspace in January 2019,” concludes the report. (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
30 Jan 23. MBDA France are looking for innovative UK SMEs with unique capabilities to aid the development of current and future programmes. If you are an SME with capabilities in 1 or more of the below areas, please send a 1 page slide detailing your company’s offering to
- Digital processors
- RF processors
- Quantum technology
- Connectivity between all assets
- Optical comms
- Resilient networks
- Mission planning innovation
- Computer perception
- Image Processing
- Compound semiconductors
- High temperature electronics
- Human system integration
- Non-GPS navigation
- Factory of the future
- Disruptive additive manufacturing
- Automisation of assembly lines
- Materials (Innovative/Affordable/Protection/Survivability)
- Novel Propulsion
30 Jan 23. Leonardo Helicopters: Tight timeframe for £1.2bn MoD deal worries Yeovil firm.
New UK battlefield helicopters are expected to be produced by 2025 – but a lengthy bidding process is dragging on and causing concern
A boss at Leonardo Helicopters has expressed concern about the tight timeframe for a new £1.2bn Ministry of Defence (MOD) aircraft contract as the Yeovil firm continues its fight to secure the bumper deal. Managing director Adam Clarke warned that the “longer negotiations take” the harder it will prove to meet a looming 2025 target for getting new helicopters into service.
The local company is one of four international firms downlisted for the contract to build up to 44 new helicopters for the British armed forces. It is battling for the New Medium Helicopter (NMH) programme with Boeing and Lockheed Martin, as well as Airbus, which has pledged to produce the MOD helicopters at Broughton in Wales.
Leonardo Helicopters, which employs more than 3,000 people in Yeovil, has committed to establishing a production line at its Somerset factory for its latest generation battlefield helicopter – the AW149 – if it wins the contract. It has previously been reported that the UK government is set to “choose between Yeovil and North Wales” as a new procurement strategy means that firms manufacturing in the UK are given a higher weighting in the process.
However, Mr Clarke has revealed concerns as the 2025 target date draws closer with the lengthy bidding process still dragging on. Speaking to Breaking Defense, he said the Yeovil company is “making investments today” so its AW149 helicopter can be “de-risked” to meet NMH guidelines, but added that there is still no “firm” Request for Proposal date set, despite a scheduled early 2024 contract award and the Royal Air Force preparing to retire its current Puma rotary fleet in 2025.
“We understand the process to be gone through, but the actual dates for certain events within that are not clearly defined at the moment,” said Clarke. The tight timeframe puts pressure on the industry, with all of the different work to be done before an operational capability can be considered, he suggested.
“It’s not just about manufacturing, you’ve got to have a design and development capability in the UK, because you’ll have to work through modifications by integrating electronic suites, then assembly and test, followed by certification,” said Mr Clarke. “There’s a huge amount of people upskilling that’s required, if we’re going to be able to say legitimately that this is a low-risk solution ready to be introduced into service. (Source: News Now/https://www.somersetlive.co.uk/)
03 Feb 23. Norway wants to buy dozens of new Leopard 2 tanks. The Norwegian Ministry of Defense put an end to months of speculation, confirming at a Feb. 3 press conference that the government has selected the German Leopard 2A7 as the country’s next main battle tank over a South Korean contender, the K2 Black Panther.
Norway’s Defense Minister Bjørn Arild Gram said his agency is eying 54 of the Krauss-Maffei Wegmann-made tanks in the 2A7 variant. The weapons would arrive in 2026, with the option to procure 18 more.
The decision today amounts to a political announcement on the selected tank type. An industry deal has yet to be signed, though government officials have been pursing negotiations with both tanks’ manufacturers in parallel during technical trials.
Norway’s program for new tanks is worth 19.7 Norwegian crowns, or $1.93 billion, according to a defense spokesperson.
Leaders in Oslo announced on Jan. 25 that Norway would donate some of its older Leopard 2A4 tanks to Ukraine. As such, ensuring that the new tanks are rolled out on time will be critical for the country to maintain the training level and capabilities of its armed forces.
The manufacturing of new tanks, including Leopards, has come into sharp focus recently, as European nations have pledged old stocks and slivers of their active arsenals to help Ukraine.
Nicholas Drummond, a strategic advisor to KMW in the U.K., told Defense News that the company’s production capacity in Germany still has plenty of slack. “Norway is the first of several new expected orders for new-build Leopard 2A7 tanks,” he said. “Previously, at the height of the Cold War, KWM was able to produce 16 tanks a month, today it is producing much less than that, but it still has the same amount of floor space.”
Drummond pointed out that bottlenecks lie in the supply chain rather in the manufacturing process itself.
One year ago, Norway had begun a four-week Arctic assessment to evaluate both tank contenders that included extensive mobility and firing trials alongside harsh climate conditions and snow-covered terrain. At the time, the MoD stated in a press release that officials were looking to guarantee that the contestants possessed “technical features” that would ensure they could survive against Russian forces’ armored vehicles.
The German manufacturer of the Leopard 2, which is the standard main battle tank for most of Europe, has faced increased competition from Korea’s willingness to transfer technology and localize production in European countries. Poland is an example where the government inked significant contracts with South Korea’s Hyundai Rotem and Hanwha Defense for the production of 1,000 K2 tanks and 672 K9 self-propelled howitzers. (Source: Defense News)
01 Feb 23. Germany plans to buy eight IRIS-T air defence systems for its military – document. Germany aims to purchase eight IRIS-T air defence units for its military, according to a document seen by Reuters, referring to a medium-range surface-to-air system that Berlin has bought to donate to Kyiv but not yet purchased for its own forces.
The defence ministry paper, dated Jan. 25 and seen by Reuters on Wednesday, lists the defence deal as one of several planned purchases expected to be submitted for approval to parliament in the second quarter of 2023.
A spokesperson for the defence ministry said it intended to submit a deal on the purchase of the IRIS-T system to parliament this year but declined to comment on the number of units and the exact timing.
In October, Ukraine received the first of four IRIS-T air defence systems pledged by Germany to help Kyiv protect its cities from missile and drone attacks.
The systems are estimated to cost 150 m euros ($163 m) apiece.
The German armed forces themselves do not currently own the system built by privately held German arms maker Diehl and considered among the world’s most advanced.
The fire units can launch missiles over a distance of 40 kilometres (25 miles) to take down fighter jets, helicopters, drones, missiles and cruise missiles.
Also in the second quarter, the defence ministry aims to submit to parliament deals to replace the howitzers and corresponding 155mm rounds that were supplied to Ukraine out of German military stocks, the document says.
The paper notes that some of the purchases listed for the second quarter may also be dealt with by parliament in its session in July, before deputies head off into their summer break. ($1 = 0.9184 euros) (Source: Reuters)
30 Jan 23. European Defence Agency to support FMTC and SATOC platforms.
The support involves the harmonisation of member nations’ requirements for mid-sized and outsized platforms. The European Defence Agency (EDA) has announced support for two Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) projects to enhance the future airlift capabilities of its member nations’ forces.
The two projects, called Future Medium-Size Tactical Cargo (FMTC) and Strategic Air Transport for Outsized Cargo (SATOC), were launched in the fourth cycle of the PESCO projects.
Participating member nations in the FMTC project include France, Germany, Spain and Sweden while SATOC projects include the Czech Republic, Germany, France and the Netherlands as its project members.
EDA’s contribution, which initially spans the next two years, will involve the harmonisation of various requirements of the participating member nations for mid-sized and outsized transport platforms.
Harmonising the requirements is expected to prevent delays caused by design changes and excessive versioning, eventually cutting the overall lifecycle cost.
EDA will also draft a ‘joint document’ carrying accurate common guidance to support the research and development effort for the new platform.
Tactical transport aircraft is a crucial part of the fleet, primarily deployed to conduct various logistics, medical evacuations and special missions.
The European air forces currently operate different tactical cargo aircraft, including C-130 Hercules aircraft, C-295 transport aircraft, and C-27J aircraft, which are soon approaching the end of their lifecycle in the upcoming decade, except for A400M strategic-tactical cross-over aircraft.
The FMTC intends to develop next-generation tactical air mobility for the EU member nations’ armed forces by determining common needs and providing necessary elements for a mid-size cargo platform.
Meanwhile, the SATOC project will address participating countries’ strategic transport needs for outsized and heavy cargo.
This project has a three-step approach, including the identification of project members, harmonising requirements, and finalising a common European solution for the transport of outsized cargo. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
27 Jan 23. Defense firms flock to Hungary amid EU isolation. The Hungarian government and its state-owned holding N7 have signed three joint ventures in December alone, part of a large-scale spending spree for new weapons and production plants.
The deals, involving major foreign defense manufacturers, come amid a reported shortage of personnel to operate and build the equipment.
Over the past few years, the European country has embarked on a journey to modernize and bolster its defense-industrial base, having neglected it for well over a decade. This has translated into an approximate $1.4bn increase in defense spending for 2023, compared to the year prior, which means the budget is nearing $4.5bn, per analytics business Janes.
According to statements by Hungarian Defence Minister Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky, this will allow the country to raise military expenditure to 2% of its gross domestic product — a year earlier than expected. NATO set that goal for its members, of which Hungary is one.
Roughly 30% to 40% of the funds are expected to go toward capability development and upgrading military stocks.
The focus on military production comes as the Budapest government is increasingly isolated within the European Union. Some see Prime Minister Viktor Orbán as working to undermine the bloc, which is home to many of the defense companies seeking to do business in his country.
“The defense budget had been declining since the end of the Cold War, where at its lowest point in 2010, Hungary only had one operational military transport helicopter and less than a dozen combat-ready armored vehicles,” said Péter Wagner, a senior research fellow at the Hungarian Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade.
That left the government with two alternatives, he explained: Either spend an enormous amount of money outside of Hungary, or bring in as much domestic production as possible. The country has primarily banked on the latter.
In the last month, the government and N7 signed three joint venture agreements:
- With Germany’s Rheinmetall for the production of explosives in response to a European shortage of ammunition.
- With Germany’s Dynamit Nobel to become the first customer of the RGW 110 HH-T anti-tank weapon.
- With the Czech Republic’s Colt CZ Group to supply the Hungarian military with firearms.
These deals, in a similar fashion to other ones, share common elements: a transfer of technology and capabilities, the building of an in-country manufacturing plant, local add-ins with future procurement of the weapons to the Hungarian Defence Forces, and the foreign entity retaining majority shares.
The European Union has long criticized Budapest over several issues, ranging from judicial independence to corruption to the misuse of EU funds. In a report published in July 2022, the European Commission concluded Hungary could no longer be deemed a democracy, having become an “electoral autocracy,” where European values are under systemic danger.
According to local advocates, what makes Hungary’s defense ecosystem an attractive destination for investors can be categorized into distinct pillars. Firstly, a number of international entities cite the country’s logistics infrastructure and central location — acting as a gateway for foreign firms to Central and Southeast European markets — as a selling point.
Secondly, Tamás Csiki Varga, a senior research fellow at the Budapest-based Institute for Strategic and Defense Studies, said that “procurements are strongly bound to long-term defense-industrial investment on a spectrum, from assembling through production to future joint innovation, rather than a one-time arms purchase.”
Varga added that the newly developed defense industry receives both government benefits and subsidies. The country further offers a relatively cheap and well-trained labor force as well as a lower production cost per unit than elsewhere.
In addition, “arms exports are not politically sensitive in Hungary,” he noted. “While conforming with international weapons transfer regulations, there are no political or domestic societal gridlocks that could hamper their exports to conflict regions.”
The U.S. Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration refers to Hungary as having a regulatory climate that makes it increasingly challenging to conduct business. Hungary is facing a budget deficit estimated by the agency as amounting to $8 bn; that could likely increase with the EU’s decision to freeze nearly €22 bn (U.S. $24 bn) in long-term subsidies, previously an important economic driver for the country.
Since 2016, the International Trade Administration reports, multinational companies have identified shortages of qualified labor as the “largest obstacle” to financing in Hungary. (Source: glstrade.com/Defense News)
02 Feb 23. Senators want to block Turkey F-16 sale until NATO expansion succeeds. More than a quarter of the Senate sent a letter to President Joe Biden on Thursday threatening to tank a $20bn arms sale that includes 40 Lockheed Martin Block 70 F-16 fighter jets and upgrades to Turkey’s current fleet so long as Ankara continues to block Sweden and Finland from joining NATO.
The letter comes days after another senator on the Foreign Relations Committee floated the prospect of sanctions on Turkey should it continue blocking the two Nordic countries from joining the alliance.
“Once the NATO accession protocols are ratified by Türkiye, Congress can consider the sale of F16 fighter jets,” Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Thom Tillis, R-N.C., wrote in the letter to Biden, signed by a bipartisan group of 25 other senators. “A failure to do so, however, would call into question this pending sale.”
The signatories included multiple senators who sit on the Armed Services panel and the Foreign Relations Committee, which has jurisdiction over arms sales. The Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, Dick Durbin of Illinois, also signed the letter.
The senators argued Turkey is violating its commitments under a trilateral agreement it signed last year with Finland and Sweden. Under that agreement, the two countries would take action on the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party, or PKK, and potentially extradite certain individuals in exchange for Turkish ratification of their NATO membership applications.
“Sweden and Finland have moved forward to address the issues in their memorandum of understanding, so I hope that would trigger ratification,” Shaheen told Defense News.
Sweden in particular landed in Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s crosshairs last month after a far-right Danish politician travelled to Stockholm to burn a Qur’an near the Turkish embassy. The incident prompted Turkey to cancel a visit to Ankara from Sweden’s Defense Minister Pal Jonson, where he had hoped to discuss its NATO bid.
Still, the senators made it a point to note Turkey “has proven to be a valuable NATO ally as Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine continues,” and praised it for its “commitment to implementing the United Nations-brokered grain deal which has allowed Ukraine to export grain and avert a global food crisis.”
Looking to sanctions
At least two Senate opponents of the sale did not sign onto the Shaheen letter and favor an even harder line on Turkey.
Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Menendez, D-N.J., has said he will use his position to hold up the F-16 sale in Congress over a much broader series of concerns that include Turkey’s jailing of journalists and political opponents as well as tensions with neighboring Greece in the eastern Mediterranean. The State Department has yet to formally notify Congress of the F-16 sale amid Menendez’s threat to block it.
“The F-16 issue is far greater than just NATO ascension, although that is part of it,” Menendez told Defense News last month. “But just doing that, it doesn’t solve the problem.”
Menendez’s home state of New Jersey boasts large Greek-American and Armenian-American populations, making Turkey particularly unpopular among some of his constituents.
And on Tuesday, Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., raised the prospect of sanctioning Turkey for refusing to ratify Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership.
“We need to be working in coordination with our [European Union] partners and considering potentially different kinds of sanctions if Erdogan continues to block entry of Finland and Sweden,” Van Hollen said at an event hosted by Al-Monitor.
“The Turkish economy is not in great shape,” he continued. “It’s one of the reasons that polling in Turkey shows that Erdogan is not popular. So, I do think there have to be some consequences to this kind of conduct.”
The Trump administration in 2020 imposed narrow penalties on Turkey’s military procurement agency over its purchase of the S-400 missile defense system as required under a Russia sanctions law Congress passed in 2017. The S-400 sale also prompted the U.S. to expel Turkey from its F-35 co-production program amid fears the Russian system’s powerful radar could be used to spy on the stealth fighter jet.
In addition to sanctions for blocking Swedish and Finnish NATO entry, Van Hollen also raised the prospect of sanctions should Erdogan make good on his increasing threats to attack U.S.-backed Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria ahead of Turkish presidential elections in May.
“This is an area where I think there have to be consequences in terms of joint U.S.-European actions in the form of sanctions,” Van Hollen said at the Al-Monitor event. “The Europeans have in the past also supported and continue to support the U.S. position here.”
Elham Ahmad, the president of the Kurdish-dominated administration in northeast Syria, will visit Washington next week with the aim of thwarting another Turkish incursion, particularly against Kobane, a Kurdish-majority city on the Turkish-Syrian border. She has previously lobbied Congress against the F-16 sale, noting Turkey has used its existing F-16 fleet to target civilian infrastructure in northeast Syria.
Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., who signed onto the F-16 letter, told Defense News “Turkey’s incursions now into Kurdistan and northern Iraq are very troublesome.”
“We’ve always had a challenge with them and the Kurds in northern Syria, but the number of challenges seem to be piling up,” he continued. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
01 Feb 23. Defense Innovation Board launches survey to boost private partnerships. The Pentagon’s innovation advisory board wants feedback from businesses and investment firms about how can better partner with private companies to spur growth in critical technology areas.
The Board’s strategic investment capital task force released a survey Wednesday seeking input from a spectrum of companies about the challenges the non-traditional business sector faces in partnering with the U.S. Department of Defense.
“We really need to talk to people outside the department,” Will Roper, a member of the board and the chair of the task force, said during a Feb. 1 meeting. “It’s not just startups, which you would guess we would do. We really need to speak with investors. We also need to speak with defense companies that have been working with us for decades about how they view working with companies that have a different track record than just being part of the defense industrial base.”
The survey will inform a broader study, directed by Undersecretary of Defense Heidi Shyu, that considers how the department can better mobilize private capital investment toward technology areas that are critical to national security. These include areas like hypersonics and directed energy as well as semiconductors and biotechnology.
The study, which Shyu called for in a Dec. 15 memo, follows the Pentagon’s creation of the Office of Strategic Capital, or OSC, on Dec. 1. The office’s goal is to drive private sector investment in key technology areas to help the military services field new technology faster.
The Defense Department has struggled to transition technology from the commercial sector to military users. Organizations like the Defense Innovation Unit and the Air Force’s AFWERX help create partnerships between these companies and the Pentagon, but OSC’s focus is on directing seed funding to increase investment in deep technology areas steeped in science and engineering advances.
Jason Rathje, director of the new office, told the board during its meeting this week that many of his early conversations with investors have focused on describing that difference.
“There is a lot of work that organizations like AFWERX and DIU are doing to help transition commercial technology into the things that we buy,” he said. “But those conversations are inherently different than seeding and changing the economics in the deep technology community to get after some of these other areas in the economy – areas that are deep within our supply chain, but areas that we certainly need to have advantages in from a supply chain perspective.”
Rathje said his team hopes to release its first investment strategy this summer, which will evaluate liquidity opportunities within each of the Pentagon’s 14 critical technology areas.
“What this does is it really helps us to tip and cue these tools to invest in the technology sectors that most require this source of capital,” he said.
The office is also taking advantage of a recent partnership between DoD and the Small Business Administration to help fund and incubate high-need technologies. The effort, dubbed the Small Business Investment Company Critical Technologies Initiative, was announced Dec. 3 and will offer loan guarantees to new private investment funds. Rathje said OSC will start taking applications from companies in June. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
27 Jan 23. US Army selects four companies to build new tactical truck prototypes. Mack Defense, Navistar Defense, Oshkosh Defense and an American Rheinmetall and GM Defense team will build prototypes for a Common Tactical Truck after the U.S. Army awarded them deals worth a cumulative $24.3m. Each team will build three prototypes of each CTT variant — an M915 Line Haul Tractor and M1088 Medium Tractor; a Palletized Load System; and Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck. Vendors will also provide digital designs to go with each variant and a design study for a wrecker, according to the Army.
The prototyping effort is meant to “really allow the Army to evaluate current commercial technology in a military-type application, modified off-the-shelf for military purposes,” Brig. Gen. Luke Peterson, the Army’s program executive officer in charge of combat support and combat service support, told Defense News last fall. “We are going to really learn what industry can offer us, and affordability is going to be the key driver here for the Army to make those informed decisions.”
In the Army’s award announcement Friday, Peterson said the “CTT effort brings an increased level of standardization to the Army’s Tactical Truck fleet.”
“This effort is reminiscent of the original Liberty Truck, a heavy-duty truck produced by the United States Army during World War I,” he continued. “It was the first official standardized motor vehicle adopted and produced by the U.S. military. “The CTT program can be viewed as the Liberty Truck of the 21st century, as it will similarly seek to streamline the Army’s supply, maintenance, and training requirements.”
The service in June 2022 released a request for proposals to build prototypes.
The Army will begin evaluating the initial prototypes at the start of 2024, according to Friday’s statement. The evaluation results will feed a capabilities development document that will be submitted to the Army Requirements Oversight Council. An AROC decision on whether to move forward is planned for fiscal 2026.
If the Army greenlights the requirements, the Army plans to again open the competition, allowing vendors to submit bids for the engineering and manufacturing development phase, the statement adds.
Initial production could total about 5,700 vehicles valued at around $5bn.
American Rheinmetall Vehicles and GM Defense partnered over the summer of 2022 to compete to build a prototype for the Army. They showcased a Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles HX tactical military truck at GM Defense’s booth at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual exhibition in Washington last fall. The truck was hauling one of the Infantry Squad Vehicles that GM Defense is building for the Army.
Mack Defense’s chief executive, Dave Hartzell, told Defense News last year it was basing its prototype design and technology on its Granite family of vehicles — and militarizing it.
AM General, which did not receive a contract to build prototypes, announced its bid at the AUSA conference. The company teamed with Italian company Iveco Defence Vehicles, which is partnered with BAE Systems to supply the U.S. Marine Corps’ Amphibious Combat Vehicle.
“The team’s High Mobility Range Vehicle architecture for [the Common Tactical Truck] will be based on a newly launched highly modular range of trucks, specifically designed for military use,” according to AM General’s statement at the time. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
REST OF THE WORLD
03 Feb 23. India to boost defense spending 13%, with billions for new weapons. India set aside 1.62trn rupees ($19.87bn) for procurement of new weapons and platforms to be sourced mainly through domestic defense contractors in fiscal year 2023-24.
The country’s annual budget, released Feb. 1, envisages a total outlay INR 45.03trn. Of this, defense is allocated at INR 5.93trn, or about 13% of the total. This includes INR 1.38trn for defense pensions.
The total defense budget represents an enhancement of INR 683.71bn, or 13% over the FY 2022-23 budget. For FY 2023-24, which begins April 1, the budgetary allocation towards capital expenditure for procurement of new armaments is INR 1.62trn, and revenue expenditure meant for stores, spares and repairs is INR 2.70trn.
“This increase is a reflection of the government’s commitment towards sustainable augmentation in the area of modernization and infrastructure development of the defense services,” India’s Ministry of Defence said in a statement.
In keeping with the government’s resolve and focus on maintaining a high level of operational preparedness of the defense services to face current and future challenges, the non-salary revenue/operational allocation gets a boost of INR 275.7bn, with the budgetary outlay under this segment augmented to INR 900bn in FY 2023-24 from INR 624.31bn in FY 2022-23.
“This will cater to the sustenance of weapon systems, platforms including ships/aircraft and their logistics; boost fleet serviceability; emergency procurement of critical ammunition and spares; procuring/hiring of niche capabilities to mitigate capability gaps wherever required; progress stocking of military reserves, strengthening forward defences, amongst others.”, MoD added.
MoD further noted that the government during the mid-term review enhanced the operational allotments of the current financial year by INR 260 bn, which liquidated carry-over liabilities during the current year thereby ensuring that there is no dent in the next year’s operational outlay of the services.
Speaking to Defense News, Amit Cowshish, MoD’s former financial advisor (acquisitions), said that given the present economic imperatives for boosting the national economy, the government has done its best to hike the defense budget. Now it is for the armed forces to make best use of the allocated funds, he said.
The capital expenditure is meant for the procurement of new weapons and platforms and payment of outstanding committed liabilities for past defense contracts.
The capital outlay for the Indian Army will increase to INR 372.41bn from INR 320.15bn. The service will utilize these funds for the procurement of specialized drones, loitering munitions, small arms and light tanks, and to upgrade existing tanks and armored personnel carriers.
The capital outlay for the Indian Navy increased to INR 528.04bn from INR 475.90bn. The service will spend this money towards ship-borne drones, loitering munitions, missiles, satellites and new small warships.
The capital outlay for the Indian Air Force saw only a marginal increase to INR 571.37bn from INR 555.86 bn. The IAF will spend this money towards the procurement of new air defense systems, missiles, drones, anti-drones systems, satellites and combat helicopters.
The defense R&D capital outlay of INR 232.64 bn will be allocated for the indigenous development of new military technologies. The budget for the Border Roads Organisation under MoD to enhance border connectivity jumped 42 % to INR 50bn. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
01 Feb 23. Ukraine plans to spend $540mon drones this year. Ukraine plans to spend about 20bn hryvnia (U.S. $540m) on new drones this year, according to the country’s defense minister.
The UAVs are meant to support the Ukrainian military as it continues to combat Russia’s invasion.
“In 2023, we are increasing the purchases of UAVs for the Ukrainian Armed Forces,” Oleksii Reznikov said in a Facebook post. “This is just the beginning. After all, this is not only about the needs of aerial reconnaissance.”
The official said that, owing to the forthcoming acquisitions, the Ukrainian military will strengthen its combat drone capacities. Ukraine will use other new UAVs for surveillance, to support to artillery units and in other missions, Reznikov added.
To date, Ukraine has ordered drones for its armed forces from 16 local manufacturers, the minister said. Kyiv also continues to buy foreign-made UAVs, with a recent contract for 105 Vector reconnaissance drones signed with German manufacturer Quantum-Systems.
“The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine has placed a second batch order of Vector systems, following an earlier order of 33 UAS of the same model in August 2022,” the company said in a statement. “Vector has been extensively used and intensively tested on the Ukrainian battlefield, where it has proven to be an asset for military intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations. Its robust and rugged design makes it well-suited for operation in harsh environments and extreme weather conditions.”
The German business also announced the opening of a training and support facility in Ukraine, which is to provide services to drone operators and serve as the local hub for spare parts and repair services.
The value of the latest contract, which is funded by the German government, was not disclosed. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
01 Feb 23. Argentina negotiates large order of Brazilian Guarani armored vehicles. Argentina has officially declared its aim to buy 156 Guarani armored vehicles produced in Brazil, having signed a letter of intent on Dec. 23, according to an Argentine government release dated Jan. 23.
The agreement, made in Buenos Aires between Argentine Defense Minister Jorge Taiana and Brazilian Brazil’s Foreign Affairs Minister Mauro Vieira, took place during an official visit to Argentina’s capital by Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. The recently elected president was attending a summit of South American heads of state.
The agreement kick-starts direct negotiations, which are expected to lead to the signing of a contract within the first half of 2023.
Other agreements were also signed during da Silva’s stay in the capital city, including one where the Brazilian government will provide financial guarantees and credits for the export of Brazilian-manufactured goods to Argentina, including military equipment. This is seen as key to the potential sale of Guarani vehicles; one of Argentina’s main difficulties when trying to import military hardware is its ability to obtain financial credit.
The six-wheel drive vehicles will fulfill a long-standing requirement to equip the combat component of a mechanized infantry brigade, which includes elements earmarked for eventual deployment abroad with the binational Southern Cross Force. Locally known as Fuerza Cruz del Sur, this Argentine-Chilean military formation was created in 2005 and is made available for peacekeeping deployments under the mandate of the United Nations.
The Guarani is based on a design by Italy’s Iveco Defence Vehicles and was modified to meet the requirements of the Brazilian Army. The armored vehicle weighs about 17 tons. In its basic troop carrier version, it can carry a crew of three plus eight soldiers.
The letter of intent provides details about Argentina’s planned purchase:
- 120 troop transport vehicles (the Guarani VCBR-TP variant), armed with the 12.7mm SARC REMAX 4 turret.
- 27 infantry combat vehicles (the Guarani VCBR-CI variant), armed with the 30mm SARC UT30BR2 turret.
- Nine command post vehicles (the Guarani VCBR-PC variant).
Both of those turrets are remote controlled, and were developed and produced in Brazil by the security and defense firm ARES, a subsidiary of Israeli company Elbit Systems.
Iveco do Brasil produces the Guarani vehicles in Sete Lagoas, in the state of Minas Geraes in the southeast of Brazil. The factory there was inaugurated in 2013 and has since delivered more than 600 Guarani, most for Brazil’s Army but also for the Philippines, Lebanon and Ghana.
The Sete Lagoas location could assemble the vehicles for Argentina, but it’s also possible Argentina will open its own assembly line “to expedite the production and delivery of the vehicles,” according to Humberto Marchioni, who runs Iveco Defense Vehicles for the Latin American region.
Interviewed by local media in Argentina, Marchioni said Iveco facilities at Cordoba in central Argentina “can accommodate a Guarani assembly line.” That is also where the company makes the Cursor 10ENT-C diesel engine used in the Guarani, as well as the chassis for the armored vehicle.
It’s unclear how much the potential order for 156 vehicles will cost. But Emilio Meneses, an independent analyst based in Santiago, estimates the value at no less than $180 m. (Source: Defense News)
02 Feb 23. AUKUS submarines likely to be tri-nation project: UK defence secretary. British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace says building Canberra’s fleet of nuclear-powered submarines under the AUKUS pact is likely to be a tri-nation project, raising expectations Australia, the United Kingdom and United States will jointly develop a new generation of boats.
Wallace appeared confident the US would waive some restrictions on the transfer of technologies crucial to the operation of the nuclear-powered submarines and the development of any new fleet that was common to all three navies.
Defence Minister Richard Marles is awaiting the recommendations of the federal government’s nuclear-powered submarine taskforce, due within weeks, before announcing the model it will adopt.
With recent speculation about US shipyards’ ability to provide nuclear-powered submarines to Australia as they work to meet their own needs, Marles last month suggested it would involve significant input from both the UK and US.
Wallace, who met with his Australian and US counterparts at the Pentagon in December, reiterated in an interview on Thursday the submarine capability would be delivered as part of a joint project.
“The Australian government’s getting exactly to the position where it knows what it wants,” Wallace said. “I’m pretty confident that it will be a tri-nation project.”
The UK has begun design work on its next generation of submarines to succeed its Astute-class fleet.
The future submarine class, dubbed the SSNR (submersible ship nuclear replacement), could serve as the starting point for any new trilateral submarine.
But Wallace cautioned Australia’s acquisition would take years to deliver and said critical steps to build up the local skills base and infrastructure, such as training Australian submariners on UK boats, were under way.
“No one’s going to press a button and magic up a submarine,” he said.
British subs could patrol Indo-Pacific while Australia procures its own fleet
“We are growing our workforce from 10,000 to 17,000 to build ours and eventually [that] will be part of the Australia program – that is a big program, but it’s also a great economic stimulus for that part of Australia – there will be thousands of jobs in high-tech and engineering.”
Wallace said under AUKUS, the US had shown a determination to change some of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) that both Britain and Australia had often faced.
“I think the Americans have realised that if you want to grow a group of allies and friends to advance together you’re going to have to have a different attitude on ITAR – they recognise that and they’re making a big change,” he said.
Wallace has previously floated the prospect of the UK sending its own boats to the region to plug Australia’s capability gap as its ageing Collins-class fleet retires.
Nick Childs, senior fellow for naval forces and maritime security at The International Institute for Strategic Studies, said the forward deployment of US boats to Australia, perhaps with increasing numbers of Australian personnel in the crews over time for training, was a possible approach.
“A forward-deployed UK submarine might also be added to the mix at some point,” he wrote. (Source: News Now/https://www.smh.com.au/)
01 Feb 23. Defence budgets growing at fastest pace in 15 years.
Global military spending forecast to rise by 8.6 per cent this year
Defence spending has grown at its fastest rate in more than 15 years, as governments respond to greater perceived threats.
The world’s total military spending is forecast to hit $2.18tn (£1.77tn), with defence budgets rising by 8.6 per cent in nominal terms, or 5.1 per cent real terms, according to research provider Janes. This compares with an average real growth rate of 0.7 per cent over the past decade.
In percentage terms, the biggest increases were in Eastern Europe (up 36.1 per cent) and the Russia/CIS grouping (up 28.8 per cent), following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February last year.
Budgets in Western Europe were up by around 5.3 per cent year on year to $289bn, but this equated to just 1.3 per cent when adjusted for inflation. Andrew MacDonald, manager of Janes Defence Budgets, said: “After five years of slowing growth and contraction exacerbated by the pandemic – and then by its easing – Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has shocked defence budgets back into their fastest rate of growth since the global financial crisis.”
The US remained the biggest global spender by some distance. Its budget has increased by 4.6 per cent to $849bn. (See chart)
UBS analysts expect ex-US defence budgets to increase by 7 per cent between 2022-30, more than doubling the 3 per cent rate witnessed between 2014-21.
Higher spending has been driven by security concerns in Eastern Europe and the South China Sea. If tensions escalated further, ex-US budgets could grow by 9.5 per cent a year, similar to cold war era levels, the bank’s analysts said in a note.
In Europe, it expected BAE Systems (BA) and Dassault Aviation (FR:AM) to be the two main beneficiaries, arguing their current valuations appeared to be “priced solely for already announced orders”. (Source: Investors Chronicle)
01 Feb 23. Indonesia approves proposal to procure ex-South Korean corvettes. In an apparent about-turn, the Indonesian Ministry of Finance (MoF) has approved a previously rejected proposal for the country to purchase ex-Republic of Korea Navy (RoKN) Pohang-class corvettes with foreign-sourced loans. The approval was confirmed in a notice issued by the MoF to the Indonesian Ministry of Defense (MoD) on 7 December. A copy of the notice was provided to Janes by a source close to the matter in late January 2023. Janes first reported in October 2022 that the MoD had requested to procure at least one ex-RoKN Pohang-class corvette as a stopgap measure for the Indonesian Navy. The ministry had also proposed that the procurement be financed with funds from a foreign lender. This proposal was rejected by the MoF then, but no reasons were given. (Source: Janes)
01 Feb 23. Ghana’s L-39 purchase stalled. In August 2021, Ghana’s defence minster, Dominic Nitiwul, sought parliamentary approval for the €111 m procurement of six L-39NG aircraft along with spares, training, and support. The aircraft were to be acquired through a loan agreement.
At the time, Aero Vodochody said it was negotiating with the Ghanaian Ministry of Defence for the supply of the aircraft but could not comment further. Six months later, negotiations were still underway.
In January last year it was reported that the Ministry of Defence had suspended negotiations whilst a rival bid from the United States was evaluated. Ghana was offered two different aircraft by the US: the Embraer/Sierra Nevada A-29 Super Tucano and the AT-6C Wolverine made by Textron. Although the US offers were not taken up, Ghana’s Parliament has still not endorsed the Czech purchase almost a year later.
It is believed that budgetary constraints have stalled the procurement in spite of a September 2022 visit to Aero Vodochody by Thomas Mbomba, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Ambassador James Nyasembi from Ghana.
Ghana’s L-39NG acquisition may go the same way as Senegal’s. In April 2018 it was announced that Senegal would be acquiring four L-39NGs, but in early 2022 it emerged that the deal had been cancelled after a number of setbacks.
Ghana previously operated eight Aero L-29 Delfin trainers and two L-39ZO ground attack aircraft but today flies four Hongdu K-8 advanced jet trainer aircraft, and five Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano light attack aircraft.
The L-39NG is the latest iteration of the successful L-39 Albatros trainer. The L-39NG programme started in 2014, with four prototypes being produced. Serial production began in December 2022.
The L-39NG is powered by a single Williams FJ44-4M engine with FADEC control and has five hardpoints for 1 200 kg of weapons (three more than previously). Due to a more efficient engine and reduced drag, range is increased by 800 km to 1 900 km. Other changes compared to the standard L-39 are wet wings without wingtip tanks, a 15 000 flight hour service life, lighter and stronger airframe and Health and Usage Monitoring System. The L-39NG uses 50% new parts.
Ghana has since 2017 made use of Czech company LOM Praha for the maintenance of its Mi-17, Mi-171Sh and Mi-8 helicopters and has interacted with other Czech defence companies. A memorandum of understanding on defence cooperation was signed between Ghana and the Czech Republic in 2021. Czech defence industry delegations have in recent years visited Ghana, Burkina Faso, and Togo, where companies such as Aero Vodochody, LOM Praha, Excalibur Army, SVOS, European Air services, and Transcon have offered their products and services.
30 Jan 23. Additional transport aircraft high on SAAF’s priority list. Medium and strategic airlift are at the centre of the South African Air Force’s (SAAF’s) attention due to its commitments on the African continent, Chief of the SAAF Lieutenant General Wiseman Mbambo has said.
Mbambo’s comments come amid reports that National Treasury is allocating funding for C-130 Hercules aircraft. The SAAF will need to decide whether to upgrade its existing C-130BZs or accept retired C-130s from the United States, which would also need to be upgraded. Last year the US offered the SAAF a dozen retired H model Hercules under its Excess Defence Articles (EDA) programme. A SAAF technical team travelled to the United States in September to examine the aircraft.
In mid-2022, the South African Department of Defence revealed that it was exploring upgrading the C-130BZ Hercules fleet of five airworthy aircraft plus one in storage at a cost of R1.6 bn, as the fleet only has a couple more years of life in it before upgrades are needed.
Mbambo, in response to a defenceWeb question on acquiring additional C-130s, said “in our road going forward, the medium lift capability is right in the centre of our attention. Also, there is a lot of talk around the strategic lift capability. This is not a surprise as to why this capability is being mentioned. The reality we face is South Africa is not in a strategic position. Our location cannot be changed. We need to have very strong legs to connect ourselves to the rest of the continent and the world.”
Mbambo, speaking to the media following the SAAF’s Prestige Day Parade at Air Force Base Swartkop on 27 January to celebrate the force’s 103rd anniversary, said the transport capability is very important in terms of C-130s and, going forward, strategic lift, especially if South Africa has its troops moving up and down the continent. At present, the National Defence Force has troops deployed in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique.
Mbambo added that National Treasury “is warming up” towards funding medium and strategic lift, and “that is very very very good.”
Mbambo indicated the SAAF is still deciding whether to fund the upgrade of the current C-130BZs, as funding is needed to get a number of them flyable, or accepting donated C-130Hs that will also require funding to upgrade.
With regard to the Gripen fleet, a maintenance contract with Saab was signed last year, allowing a couple of aircraft to return to the air and fly at the Africa Aerospace and Defence exhibition in September, but defenceWeb understands an engine support contract with GKN has yet to be signed. No Gripens took part in the SAAF’s Prestige Day Parade flypast, but Mbambo is confident two Gripens will be made available for Armed Forces Day on 21 February.
Mbambo said the SAAF plans to have 13 Gripens back in the air, as per the contract with Saab, but could not give a timeline on that.
The Chief of the SAAF made mention of the “serious issues” facing the Air Force, notably the chronic lack of funds. “This Air Force has tasted what greatness is and at the same time this Air Force has tasted what adversity is and what it is to live with limited funding.” Rebuilding capabilities is something the SAAF aims to do in order to return to its former glory and ensure it is “fully operational across different capability areas, so people have no doubt the Air Force is there.”
“The limitations are real and the constraints are real. If we can just switch to how we approach these problems and provide different solutions we can find a way going forward,” Mbambo said.
In his Prestige Day Parade speech, Mbambo said that “when a common pool form which everyone goes to for quenching their thirst is shrinking, nobody is spared from the consequent results. Our national pool – the South African economy – is currently not in a good shape. The snowball impact is felt everywhere including in the Department of Defence and equally in the South African Air Force. As this reality continues, the mandate of the Air Force to ensure South Africa’s airspace territorial integrity still remains. Furthermore, the increased demand for air assets due to the upsurge of various security threats and disasters cannot be wished away.”
Mbambo quoted defence minister Thandi Modise, who last year said there is a widening dichotomy between that which the SANDF is expected to achieve and the resources that are provided to achieve these expectations.
Mbambo said the SAAF is looking at different approaches to deal with the problem of scarce resources. “Our continuous engagements withal key roleplayers to bring Air Force capabilities to the required combat readiness status is persistent.”
The SAAF Chief mentioned that “we still believe that as the military organisation we must continue to grow our own timber.” He said, “we are going to accelerate the inhouse capabilities in the SAAF this year and beyond. Already there are visible seeds in certain areas which we shall unveil before the end of this year.” (Source: https://www.defenceweb.co.za/)
25 Jan 23. Indian defence ministry invites proposals for mobile counter drone systems. India’s defence ministry has issued an Acceptance of Necessity (AON) for 20 vehicle-based and a Request for Proposal (RFP) for 200 man-portable drone jammers, according to a report published in The Week.
“On January 12, during the customary press conference before the Army Day celebration, Indian Army chief General Manoj Pande voiced concern about the use of drones by adversaries to ferry weapons, ammunition and explosives from across the border in Kashmir, Jammu and Punjab. “We have deployed drone jammers and spoofers in these areas. According to reports, their efficacy is good,” Gen Pande had said,” says The Week.
“The new systems being sought will be deployed on the borders—both on the Line of Control and International Border with Pakistan and along the Line of Actual Control with China. On the AON, the document says the vehicle-based drone jammer “should provide Multi Sensor based (at least two sensors) complete and comprehensive solution with regards to UAS/Drone and SWARMS. The system should be capable of UAS/Drones/SWARMS detection, tracking, designation & neutralization of swarm/ drones/ UAS approaching simultaneously from multiple directions. It should integrate all detection sensors and identify threats to provide operator with a composite air situation pictures and facilitate selection and management of responses for countering UAS/Drone, using jammer systems,” it added.
“In the RFP for 200 man-portable drone jammers, the defence ministry document says the platform should be capable of detecting and jamming all types of drones and quadcopters in field conditions. The system will consist of Radio Frequency (RF) and other requisite sensors to achieve target detection and engagement. The inputs of all sensors should be amalgamated through a C2 (Command and Control) system to facilitate the efficient operation of the system. While the detection (target acquisition and identification) range should be a minimum of 5 km, the countermeasures (jamming) should be effective from at least 2 km. The platform should be suitable for employment in a high-altitude area with extremely cold climatic conditions in the temperature range of – (minus) 10 to + (plus) 45° C.
“The specifications detailed point towards the deployment of these counter-drone systems in the Indian borders,” says the report.
For more information visit: www.theweek.in (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
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