UNITED KINGDOM AND NATO
14 Feb 23. UK MPF down to two? Unconfirmed reports on Twitter suggest that all the wheeled contenders for the UK Mobile Protected Fires (MPF) Requirement that is Nexter’s Caesar, BAE’s Archer, Rheinmetall’s HX 3 and Elbit’s SIGMA systems, have been excluded, leaving the Hanwha tracked K9 and Krauss-Maffei’s RCH 155 wheeled Boxer system. Given the procurement timeframe and the fact that the RCH 155 is not on the OCCAR Boxer purchase list, it is likely that the K9A2 would be procured for the MPF buy with RCH 155 being procured post-2cv b027. The twist in the tail is the wording ‘Interim Buy,’ according to a source suggest that any Interim Buy will be for an updated AS90 which will of course have certain drawbacks as not incorporating a 52 calibre barrel and lack of spare support.
07 Feb 23. Today, 7th February 2023, the publication of the Contract Notice for The Supply Of Combat Boots for the UK Armed Forces is one year late, reports Bob Morrison. On 24th June 2021 Team Leidos, acting on behalf of the UK MoD, issued a PIN (Prior Information Notice) for the future ‘Supply of Combat Boots’. In this document the “Estimated date of publication of contract notice” was given as 7 February 2022. This morning, 7th February 2023, marks the first anniversary of the date when potential suppliers expected to hear precisely what the UK defence procurement machine, aka the Sloth on Mogadon, would be requiring them to tender for to keep the troops well shod. Based on previous contracts the Combat Boots tender process itself, once eventually launched, would invariably take well over a year, possibly even as long as two years, to draw to a conclusion as rather than just buying the best kit off the shelf the MoD insists on running evaluative trials and haggling over prices before making a purchase. The last five year Combat Boots contracts were issued in June 2017, albeit with an option to extend to seven years, so one does not need a doctorate in rocket science to work out that somebody needs to be giving the procurement sloth a prod if the British Army and Royal Marines are not going to have to face the possibility of either deploying in their trainers or buying their own combat boots. Having said that, we know several manufacturers who can supply excellent footwear to the guys and gals.
With even something as potentially straightforward to buy as combat boots taking an age to pass through the system, is it really any wonder that major procurements like the AJAX family of vehicles, which eventually passed its Preliminary Design Review ten years ago, overrun by many years and face possible cancellation despite billions having been spent on them? Or that it took the procurement chain 14 years to introduce the F-35B to plug the capability gap left when the Sea Harrier was retired?
- We will keep periodically checking the UK Government’s ‘Find a Tender’ website just in case a Contract Notice about Combat Boots tenders is finally posted, but please note our Refresh button is beginning to wear out. (Source: www.joint-forces.com)
16 Feb 23. China sanctions Lockheed Martin, Raytheon over Taiwan arms sales. China on Thursday put Lockheed Martin and a unit of Raytheon Technologies on an “unreliable entities list” over arms sales to Taiwan, banning them from imports and exports related to China in its latest sanctions against the U.S. companies.
The measures come amid heightened tensions after the U.S. military shot down what it says was a Chinese spy balloon, and a day after Beijing warned of “countermeasures against relevant U.S. entities that undermine China’s sovereignty and security”.
Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) and Raytheon Missile and Defense Corp, a subsidiary of Raytheon Technologies Corp (RTX.N), are prohibited from “engaging in import and export activities related to China,” China’s commerce ministry said in a statement.
Neither company sells defense products to China. Raytheon declined to comment. Raytheon Technologies sells its Pratt & Whitney aircraft engines, as well as landing gear and controls, to China’s commercial aviation industry.
Lockheed, which exports to more than 70 countries, said in a statement, “Foreign Military Sales are government-to-government transactions and we work closely with the U.S. government on any military sales to international customers. Lockheed Martin closely adheres to United States government policy with regard to conducting business with foreign governments.”
Lockheed makes the F-22 Raptor fighter jet, which flew the mission to shoot down an alleged Chinese spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina, using the AIM-9X Sidewinder missile made by Raytheon.
Beijing also banned the companies from further investment in China, barred senior management from entering the country, canceled residence permits for any staff in China and imposed fines that are double the contracted amounts of their arms sales to Taiwan.
It was not clear how China would enforce such fines, which it said must be paid within 15 days.
Last February, China sanctioned the two companies over a $100 million arms sale to Taiwan, a self-ruled island which Beijing views as a breakaway province.
On at least two previous occasions China has announced sanctions against Lockheed and Raytheon, in 2019 and 2020, though Beijing has not explained what those sanctions entailed or how they were enforced.
The U.S. does not sell weapons to China. However, the United States is bound by the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself, and U.S. weapons sales always attract China’s anger. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Reuters)
11 Feb 23. US Army seeks C-UAS capability as part of its PGS personal weapon system. The US Army’s Contracting Command – New Jersey at Picatinny Arsenal, NJ 07806-5000 is conducting a market survey/sources sought notice to identify potential sources for a Precision Grenadier System (PGS), a man portable integrated weapon system that enables precision engagements to destroy personnel targets in defilade and in the open with increased lethality and precision compared to the legacy M203/M320 grenade launchers.
“The PGS will provide overmatch to comparable threat grenade launchers in near peer formations in future operating environments (jungle, urban, woodland, subterranean, desert, day/night/obscured),” according to the tender document in www.sam.gov US government contracting website. “The PGS is envisioned to consist of a weapon, a fire control, and a suite of ammunition which enables the user to engage targets in defilade/cover, hovering UAS targets, conduct door breaching, engage close combat targets, and light armored targets.”
“Based on past results, the Government has determined that specific technologies and components are available to accomplish this mission and is looking for a fully integrated, armament solution. Vendors are encouraged to team as necessary in response to this market survey / sources sought notice. The Government anticipates a single vendor to be the lead system integrator.
“The following integrated system attributes are outlined in order of importance. The Government is interested in receiving information on the attributes that can be achieved:
- System Survivability: The system and its ammunition should be capable of functioning in cold, ambient, and hot conditions at all humidity conditions and be survivable and operational after exposure to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear exposure (CBRNE) to include effects of electromagnetic pulse and cyber-attacks.
- System Effectiveness: Ability to achieve a high probability of incapacitation given a shot from the minimum engagement distance to 500 meters (desired) against unprotected personnel targets in defilade/cover and stationary exposed targets.
- Engagement Times: Time to engage target is desired to be ≤ 5 seconds from decision to engage to trigger pull for a target out to 500 meters. After trigger pull, time of flight is desired to be no greater than 3 seconds to 500 meters.
- Length: Overall system length is desired to be less than 34 inches.
- System Weight: System weight is desired to be less than 14.5lbs.
- Target Acquisition: Ability to acquire targets with a high Probability of Recognition given a detection out to a range of 500 meters in clear air during day and nighttime conditions and a high Probability of Recognition given a detection out to a range of at least 300 meters in obscurants is desired.
- Powerss/Degraded Operation: The system provides the ability to continue the fight and engage targets even when the fire control has no power or becomes damaged and inoperable is desired.
For more information
07 Feb 23. US Army seeks C-UAS industry whitepapers to support Technology Gateway event. Army Futures Command (AFC) is looking to expand the Army’s ability to experiment, evolve, and deliver technologies in real time to address both urgent and emerging threats and expedite critical capabilities to the field to meet Combatant Commanders’ needs. In partnership with RCCTO, AFC DEVCOM is hosting its next Technology Gateway experimentation event anticipated to begin in October 2023 and requesting whitepapers from interested participants. Deadline for submission is March 31, 2023
One of the key areas of interest for the AFC is “State-of-the-art Means to Defeat Targeting and Delivery Capabilities of Precision Munitions (Including Loitering Munitions & UAS)”
According to the announcement:
“Technology Gateway is a collaborative experiment between industry partners and the Army, intended to enable collective innovation and identify novel technology capabilities that will help the Army achieve its modernization goals. It provides Industry, a structured opportunity to demonstrate their technologies to Government representatives in a controlled and operationally relevant environment. It is part of Army Futures Command’s Project Convergence campaign of learning, which is designed to aggressively advance and integrate the Army’s contributions to the Joint and Multi-national Force for convergence effects across all domains (air, land, sea, space, and cyberspace) to overmatch U.S. adversaries. Technology Gateway includes a series of experiments and observations in simulated battlefield environments. Hosted by Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM), Technology Gateway activities will set the conditions for collective innovation and further experimentation in both basic research and applied science and technology with industry partners.
“Whitepapers for participation in Technology Gateway 2023 can be submitted through a single-entry point… in response to Army priorities as outlined in this call. Submissions will undergo a 2-step evaluation process. Step 1 (Technical Merit Reviews): Subject matter experts from across AFC will provide Technical Merit Reviews (TMRs) based on the evaluation criteria as detailed below. Step 2 (Operational Merit Reviews): Following a down-select based on TMR evaluation results, select whitepapers will be invited to participate in virtual Technical Exchange Meetings (TEMs) with the Government team to discuss operational requirements and experiment alignment. Qualifying companies will be invited to participate in Technology Gateway 2023 based on the final Operational Merit Review.”
DEVCOM is soliciting organizations with new and innovative technology in the below challenge areas, as aligned with Army Modernization Priorities. Areas of specific interest for Technology Gateway 2023 include Network and Joint Contested Logistics.
- Innovative Means for Reconnoitering and Securing Far Side of Wet Gap Crossing
- Emerging Capabilities to Autonomously Deliver Large Quantities of Supplies at Scale (1000s of Gallons of Fuel Simultaneously)
- Management of Autonomous Systems to Provide Effective and Efficient Capabilities at Scale (100s of Autonomous Capabilities Simultaneously)
- Advanced Means to Control Erosion and Prevent Degradation of Near and Far Side Terrain
- State-of-the-art Means to Defeat Targeting and Delivery Capabilities of Precision Munitions (Including Loitering Munitions & UAS)
- Innovative Ways to Conduct Multi-Domain Obscuration and Maneuver in an “Unblinking” Environment
- Emerging Means to Protect Forces from Threat Electro-Magnetic Warfare Capabilities
For more information: https://sam.gov/opp/48f6e55e844d4de9a12534107bc98cb7/view
REST OF THE WORLD
14 Feb 23. IAF’s acquisition of 114 fighter jets to be part of a major procurement plan. A mega 500-fighter aircraft acquisition process on the anvil for the armed forces; reaching the sanctioned 42 squadrons will take time and the immediate effort is to arrest the drawdown in strength, says Air Marshal Narmdeshwar Tiwari. The delayed process for the procurement of 114 multi-role fighter jets (MRFA) is set to take off soon and along with three different indigenous fighter development programmes, will result in a mega 500-fighter aircraft acquisition process for the armed forces. This would arrest the dwindling fighter strength of the Indian Air Force and enable it reach the sanctioned strength of 42 squadrons.
“We are hopeful the Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for MRFA will be issued in three to four months,” Air Marshal Narmdeshwar Tiwari, Deputy Chief of Air Force told The Hindu at Aero India. It is a “budgetary decision” and also how fast the aircraft are available, he stated. The AoN will begin the formal procurement process following which the IAF will issue the detailed Request For Proposal.
On the delay in the process, he said they were evaluating how much of Make in India can happen, localisation and capability for them to upgrade the aircraft locally rather than depend on the foreign manufacturer, he said.
The IAF is currently down to 31 fighter squadrons as against the sanctioned strength of 42 squadrons which is set to dwindle further as the remaining three MIG-21 squadrons are phased out by 2025. By end of the decade phasing out of other aircraft would also begin.
On this, Air Marshal Tiwari said reaching 42 squadrons will take time and the immediate effort is to arrest the drawdown in strength. The 83 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA)-Mk1A that will begin coming in from next year followed by the LCA-Mk2 and fifth-generation Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) in the near future along with the MRFA will arrest this, he added.
There is also a Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter (TEDBF) on the drawing board for the Navy’s aircraft carriers. Dr. Girish S. Deodhare, Director General of Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) under the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), said they are looking at six Squadrons of LCA-Mk2 (108 aircraft), seven Squadrons of AMCA (126 aircraft) and up to 100 TEDBF. Besides, the IAF would receive 83 LCA-Mk1A and 114 MRFA. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) officials also said that they expect an additional order for up to 50 LCA-Mk1A. In addition, a decision between 26 multi-role aircraft for the Navy is expected shortly, between Boeing F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet and the Dassault Aviation Rafale.
Also, the final deal to procure 12 additional SU-30MKIs to replace the ones lost in accidents and 21 MIG-29s from Russia has been stuck, which both IAF and Russian officials said has only been delayed but is on track.
On the AMCA which is awaiting government sanction, Air Marshal Tiwari said based on global trends it would take 10-12 years for its development and around three to five years after that to begin production. Dr. Deodhare, chief of ADA which is designing the aircraft, has also stated that the development would take 10 years once the project is sanctioned.
HAL has said that they are on track to deliver the first LCA-Mk1A to the IAF in February 2024. As reported by The Hindu, ADA officials have said that the LCA-Mk2, which would be much more capable than the LCA-MK1A, is expected to be ready for production by 2027.
Speaking on the sidelines of Aero India, Navy Chief Adm. R. Hari Kumar said that they may get upto 45 TEDBF by 2040. Dr. Deodhare has said that the TEDBF is expected to take first flight by 2026 and expected to be ready for production by 2031.
(Source: News Now/https://www.thehindu.com/news)
15 Feb 23. Sale still on the table for Australia’s legacy Hornets. The Australian Department of Defence has confirmed the sale is still valid for 46 former Royal Australian Air Force Hornets to the former Air USA, now RAVN Aerospace company.
The Australian government had initially announced intentions to sell up to 46 McDonnell Douglas F/A-18A/B Hornets to the now rebranded American defence contractor in March 2020.
The initial delivery of aircraft was slated over three or four years from that date.
“Department of Defence is in contract with Air USA for the sale of up to 46 former Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) McDonnell Douglas F/A-18A/B Hornets,” a defence spokesperson said.
“The contract between the Department of Defence and Air USA was initially executed in February 2020 and is still valid.”
The Australian Defence Force withdrew the legacy Hornets and their support equipment from January 2019 to December 2021. They were then replaced with Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter aircraft.
One retired Hornet has been allocated as a training aid to the Defence Explosive Ordnance Training School in NSW, eight are allocated for heritage purposes, and six aircraft will continue to be owned by the RAAF heritage and history units. Twenty Hornets were previously sold to the Royal Canada Air Force and arrived there in February 2019. (Source: Defence Connect)
14 Feb 23. UAE implements two-pronged plan to expand and modernise. The UAE’s cumulative defence investment is expected to surpass $129bn between 2024-28 reflecting their plans to modernise their capability in the Middle East and to harness worldwide industry collaboration.
The UAE’s commitment to cumulative defence investment – which will exceed $129bn between 2024-28 according to GlobalData – gives us a taste of the plans ahead for the Gulf country.
As the second largest investor in the defence sector after Saudi Arabia in the Middle East, the UAE plans a two-pronged approach to its defence industry.
The country aims to further deter Iran from taking an aggressive posture in its support of Houthi insurgents in Yemen, and to lessen the domination of US suppliers in the Emirati market.
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GlobalData’s latest findings tell us that the UAE’s military expenditure makes it one of the most lucrative defence markets in the Middle Eastern region.
The UAE’s acquisition expenditure, which recorded $4.1bn in 2023, is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 5.7% to reach $5.1bn in 2028.
This goes toward their goal of modernising their defence capabilities to defend against Iranian and Iranian-backed Houthi offensive operations.
The Iranian threat
Although the UAE withdrew troops from Yemen in 2019, it still faces danger from Iran and the Houthi insurgents.
These terrorist forces have weakened the authority of the Yemeni government and have created intra-coalition fissures.
The UAE continues have direct control over several non-state armed militia groups with an aggerate strength of as much as 90,000 personnel. They continue to extend indirect support to these groups by providing capacity building, direct training, logistical support, and even regular salaries to groups.
Modernisation is important to sustaining these efforts, and the cumulative investment will go a long way to deter Iranian threats.
The acquisition component of defence expenditure is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 5.7%, owing to the need to modernise the UAE Defence and Security Forces, with specific emphasis on counter-insurgency measures. The threat of Iran meddling in Middle Eastern affairs will compel the UAE to maintain its robust defence posture, thus ensuring defence spending GlobalData says in their report on The UAE Defence Market Size and Trends, Budget Allocation, Regulations, Key Acquisitions, Competitive Landscape, and Forecast, 2023–28.
Luring foreign industries
Akash Pratim Debbarma, aerospace and defence analyst at GlobalData, comments: “The UAE’s efforts to develop its domestic defence capabilities encourages foreign defence companies to start joint ventures with domestic companies”.
One of the challenges the UAE faces in cultivating a more independent internal defence market is their reliance on US suppliers which command a market share of 64.1%.
Other suppliers willing to enter the Emirati market can expect tough competition from the US-based industries.
One way the UAE plans to lure in foreign supply is by hosting the next biennial defence exhibition IDEX from 20 to 24 February 2023, which will act as a perfect market route for companies to showcase their products.
Debbarma adds: “The deals to jointly develop fifth generation aircraft with Russia’s Rostec and next generation multi-mission cargo aircraft with Korea Aerospace Industries show the UAE’s interest in allowing foreign companies to enter its market.”
The UAE’s military fixed wing market is anticipated to be the most lucrative market of the country. Even though it is in the process of procuring 80 units of Rafale F4 from French Dassault, the country still seeks to procure additional combat aircraft. With the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, it is unlikely to expect the UAE signing any contract with Russia. However, GlobalData expects the European or Korean companies to take interest in this requirement. (Source: Google/ naval-technology.com))
14 Feb 23. India’s HAL in talks on Tejas fighter jet exports, faces Malaysia setback. India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HIAE.NS) is in talks with at least four countries to sell its light-combat aircraft, though it faces an uphill battle to win the contract in Malaysia, the company’s top executive said on Tuesday.
Malaysia has shortlisted the Tejas light fighter jet for an order of around 16 planes, and Argentina, Egypt and Botswana have also expressed interest, HAL Chairman and Managing Director C B Ananthakrishnan told reporters at a conference during Aero India, the country’s biggest aviation event.
He said in Malaysia there had been a “slight setback” amid stiff competition with a Korean rival.
“We have not received anything in black and white, but we are hearing that Koreans will get the order,” Ananthakrishnan said. “Notwithstanding that, still we are making out attempts to push through our product.”
HAL is also in talks with the Philippines to sell its light-combat helicopters, he added.
“There is a lot of interest generated in the global aerospace market. Sooner or later we will have a breakthrough order,” he said.
HAL is targeting export sales of 25bn Indian rupees ($302.15m) over the next few years, its director of operations Jayadeva EP told Reuters.
India has been one of the world’s biggest importers of defence equipment for decades, but it has punched below its weight in the global arms export market.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday set out ambitions to more than triple the value of annual defence exports to $5bn over the next two years and his government has been making diplomatic efforts to export the Tejas.
The Indian government in 2021 gave a $6bn contract to HAL for 83 of the locally produced Tejas jets for delivery starting around 2023 – four decades after the design began in 1983.
The Tejas has been beset by design and other challenges, and was once rejected by the Indian Navy as too heavy.
HAL plans to use the General Electric (GE.N) manufactured 414 engine on a second generation of light-combat aircraft, Ananthakrishnan said, adding it was in talks to produce those engines in India. ($1 = 82.7500 Indian rupees) (Source: Reuters)
14 Feb 23. Tentative UK approval given for £2bn nuclear submarine deal. Reports are emerging from the United Kingdom that the Sunak government has “agreed in principle” to sell the Royal Australian Navy a fleet of British-designed and potentially, partially-built fleet of nuclear powered submarines as part of the trilateral AUKUS agreement.
Australia’s pursuit of a fleet of nuclear powered submarines appears to be closer to fruition with the London-based newspaper The Sun revealing that Rishi Sunak’s government has achieved an “in principle” agreement to provide the Royal Australian Navy with British-designed and at least, partially-built nuclear powered submarines worth an estimated £2 billion per unit at this early stage.
The Sun reports that British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is expected to announce the agreement next month in Washington DC, alongside US President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese as part of the AUKUS agreement — with ministers of the British government “open to building a sub for another ally — like Australia — in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, securing billions of pounds and guaranteeing thousands of jobs for a generation.”
Importantly, the reports state that this deal would potentially see Australia’s future nuclear powered submarine would be built to an “existing” design — like the Royal Navy’s Astute class submarines, as part of this, the Royal Navy has also categorically ruled out leasing a Royal Navy submarine to the Royal Australian Navy.
The Sun details, “If constructed here (Barrow-in-Furness), the project could guarantee thousands of jobs and secure billions of pounds.”
A spokesperson for the British government said, “Royal Navy submarines are not being lent to Australia. Australia requested the UK’s support in acquiring nuclear- powered submarines. As close partners, we are meeting that request.
“While talks are ongoing, we will not pre-judge the outcome of the current scoping period, which is being used to understand Australia’s capability requirement. We share a long history of co-operation with Australia on security and defence, including on submarines.”
The Astute class are the largest and most advanced attack submarines ever built for the Royal Navy. Astute leads the way with many technological ‘firsts’ — they are the first Royal Navy Submarine not to be fitted with optical periscopes (instead high specification video technology is used to scan the horizon) and the submarines are the quietest ever made.
Measuring 97 metres in length, the boats can circumnavigate the globe submerged, producing their own oxygen and drinking water and incorporating a suite of advanced sensors, the Astute-class carry both Tomahawk Land Attack Cruise Missiles (TLAM) and Spearfish heavyweight torpedoes providing a range of offensive weapons capabilities. (Source: Defence Connect)
14 Feb 23. Japan plans to bulk order U.S. Tomahawk missiles by March next year. Japan plans to bulk-order Tomahawk cruise missiles from the United States by March next year as it begins a rapid military build-up, Minister of Defense Yasukazu Hamada said on Tuesday. Japan wants to conclude a contract during the next financial year, which begins April 1, to buy Raytheon Technologies Corp (RTX.N) Tomahawks through the U.S. government’s foreign military sales (FMS) programme, Hamada said at a regular news briefing. Japan’s latest defence budget, which will jump by a quarter from last year, includes $1.6bn to buy the cruise missiles, part of its biggest military build-up since World War Two. The government hasn’t said how many it will buy, but local media reports said it wants as many as 500. Japan wants the cruise missile to give its military the capability to strike targets far from Japan to deter potential adversaries, including China, from attacking. The ship-launched version of the munition, which can fly more than 1,000 kilometres, would have enough range to hit targets inside China. (Source: Reuters)
14 Feb 23. DEADLINE ALERT: US Army – 2023 xTech International Advanced Manufacturing and Materials Competition.
Submissions are now open for the US Army’s xTechInternational Advanced Manufacturing and Materials competition.
Non-US SMEs, universities and research organisations are invited to enter for the chance to:
- Engage with and pitch to the US Department of Defense.
- Be awarded up to USD$530,000 total in cash prizes.
- Participate in the groundbreaking Accelerator program.
The competition seeks new capabilities and technology solutions that can assist in tackling the US Army’s current and future needs, enabling new capabilities, improved performance, faster production, or cost savings for Army systems.
Submission of 3-page concept white papers are due by 1pm GMT on March 2, 2023 (Melbourne, Australia: 12am AEDT on March 3, 2023).
An optional 3-minute video can also be submitted.
Topics of interest include:
- Novel materials for additive manufacturing
- Future additive production capabilities
- Additive production systems and analysis
- Manufacturing equipment for expeditionary environments
- Advanced and convergent manufacturing capabilities advanced materials.
- White papers will also be accepted in areas outside the topics of interest.
Find more details here.
https://www.xtech.army.mil/competition/xtechinternational-advanced-manufacturing-and-materials/ (Source: Rumour Control)
14 Feb 23. Defence Trailblazer program formalised. The Defence Trailblazer for Concept to Sovereign Capability program has taken another step in being formalised with the conditions of grant being finalised and the announcement of the board members.
It is estimated that the project, a partnership between the University of Adelaide and UNSW Sydney, will have a net economic benefit to the Australian economy of $1.5bn over 10 years.
“The Defence Trailblazer program is a once in a generation opportunity to strengthen the collaboration between defence, academia and industry whilst accelerating research and commercialisation,” said Dr Sanjay Mazumdar, Executive Director, Defence Trailblazer.
“The program aims to create a new trust-based cross-sector culture founded on shared risk, shared problem solving, shared success, and a shared sense of strategic urgency.
“Formalisation of the grant enables the Defence Trailblazer team to commence work on various projects within the program that will focus on R&D, the defence workforce, innovation, and culture.”
Endorsed in April 2022 with a $50m grant from the Federal Government’s Department of Education the program will assist the country’s economy which is recovering from the effects of pandemic.
The Australian Department of Education’s First Assistant Secretary for Research, Dom English, said that Trailblazer Universities is an ambitious program that encourages collaboration across universities, industry and government, and will turn Australia’s world-class research into real-world innovations while building a stronger culture of engagement in our universities.
“There is a significant opportunity for universities to work hand-in-glove with Australian businesses to develop the next generation of great Australian inventions.
“The University of Adelaide-led program will drive these outcomes through its significant industry partners, and nearly $250 million in funding contributed through Government, university, and industry.
“I look forward to seeing this project succeed along with the impact it will have for the defence industry,” said Mr English.
The program is a partnership between the University of Adelaide, UNSW, more than 50 industry partners and is supported by the Department of Education.
Members of the Board have been appointed:
- Chair: Ms Christine Zeitz – General Manager, Asia Pacific, Northrop Grumman Australia
- Major General (Retd) Kathryn Toohey AM CSC
- Professor Emily Hilder – Chair, Platforms, Defence Science and Technology Group
- Professor Anton Middelberg – Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), University of Adelaide
- Professor Nickolas Fisk – Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Enterprise), UNSW
- Dr James Palmer – Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder, Silentium Defence
- Harry Hubbert – Chief Technology Officer and Director, Greenroom Robotics
In addition to Dr Mazumdar’s appointment in October 2022, Heather Nicoll has been appointed as General Manager – Workforce, Innovation and Culture and Dr Margaret Law as General Manager, Technology Development and Commercialisation.
The Australian Government is providing $369.3 million over four years from 2022-2023 through the Trailblazer Universities Program to build new research capabilities, drive commercialisation outcomes, and invest in new industry engagement opportunities. (Source: Rumour Control)
14 Feb 23. DEADLINE ALERT: Call For Proposals: Quantum Research Network.
The Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG) Quantum Research Network (QRN), under the Next Generation Technologies Fund (NGTF), is seeking submissions in the area of Quantum-Enhanced Communications (QEC).
Building upon the success of previous rounds of QRN investment, and identifying new partnering opportunities, proposals are welcome from industry, academia and Government-funded organisations in the field.
Proposal concepts must be applicable to one or more of the following broad focus areas:
- Quantum-secured communication
- Quantum time transfer
- Quantum memories and repeaters
- Free-space Quantum communications
- Quantum-enabled RF communications
- Quantum-enhanced classical communications.
While there is no budget maximum for proposals, it is expected that most projects will be between $200–$800,000 and last 1-3 years in duration.
Submissions close 4pm (AEDT) on February 20, 2023. Visit the link here for more information. (Source: Rumour Control)
13 Feb 23. Even as Pakistan’s currency plunges and the country pursues a bailout package to avoid default, the country’s naval officials say its maritime modernization programs remain on track. Delivery of a complete fleet renewal is expected by the end of the decade. Pakistan is set to receive this year two remaining Type 054 A/P frigates, which will be the service’s most capable surface ships. The vessels’ HHQ-16 surface-to-air missile systems and P-282/CM-401 supersonic anti-ship weapons are intended to counter the threat from India’s BrahMos supersonic anti-ship missiles and growing carrier capabilities.
“A viable way forward for us has been to follow a cost-effective developmental strategy through a mix of indigenization as well as diverse sources of supply to mitigate specific external dependencies and fulfill our high-tech needs,” the naval chief’s office recently told Defense News. “This is affording us enough flexibility to navigate through these challenging economic times.”
Additionally, three of four Turkish-designed Babur-class corvettes on order were launched and are at various stages that will see the ships fitted with several systems. The fourth corvette is undergoing construction and is expected to launch this year.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Navy’s ship design team, in partnership with its Turkish counterparts, is finalizing development of the related Jinnah-class frigate. Construction of the six planned frigates will begin after the Babur-class corvettes are completed at the state-owned Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works in Pakistan. Initial deliveries of the Jinnah frigates are expected within the next five years.
Despite being Pakistan’s largest-ever indigenous warship program, local industry participation is limited to some onboard systems, and steel production will not take place locally.
Meanwhile, an ongoing midlife upgrade for the F-22P frigate type is expected to improve the Navy’s surveillance, air defense, anti-submarine and offensive anti-ship capabilities. New sensor and weaponry details are unconfirmed, but the ships will feature an indigenous naval combat management system.
However, questions remain over the effectiveness of the air defense technology and sub-hunting capabilities. The current air defense kit features an eight-round FM-90N surface-to-air missile launcher with a limited firing arc.
Rick Fisher, a senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center, said it’s possible Pakistan could retrofit its frigate, which currently features the FM-90N anti-aircraft missile system, with Chinese weaponry.
“China’s recent replacement of the FM-90 on one of its early Type 054 frigates with the HHQ-10 [surface-to-air missile launcher] indicates this may be one option under consideration,” he said.
Naval systems expert Tom Waldwyn of the International Institute for Strategic Studies said an HHQ-10 variant would be a “substantial upgrade over the FM-90N.”
However, “the FL-3000N is an export version of the HHQ-10 and may not be quite the same level of capability,” he added.
As for sub-hunting capabilities, the likely loud acoustic signature of the diesel-powered F-22P frigate may hinder that mission. But Fisher said a potential upgrade could include a towed array sonar as well as the replacement of “some anti-ship missiles with a version of the ET-80 rocket-propelled, small anti-submarine torpedo.”
The Navy has also stepped up efforts to buy and develop unmanned technologies. Pakistan recently acquired the Chinese CH-4, a medium-altitude, long-endurance combat drone, and domestic efforts are underway to develop remotely operated and autonomous surface and underwater vehicles.
With Pakistan’s notable drone sector, the head of UAV specialist Integrated Dynamics in Karachi, Raja Khan, said the domestic industry can rise to the challenge of developing unmanned surface and autonomous underwater drones.
“The capability for [unmanned marine vehicle] and [remotely operated vehicle] development exists, but requires focused support from the government,” he told Defense News. “Integrated Dynamics developed an [unmanned marine vehicle] for channel surface echo sounding and data logging some years ago with internal funding and resources.”
On air power, the Navy would not confirm whether the South African company Paramount Group is working on its future maritime patrol aircraft. However, two Embraer Lineage 1000 business jets are undergoing conversion work as part of the first phase of a long-range MPA upgrade project.
In 2021, Pakistan chose Paramount Group to integrate systems into the Embraer Lineage 1000 aircraft for the program. In June 2022, one of the planes was pictured in South Africa and spotted flying over the Wonderboom area in the capital Pretoria. An aerospace division of Paramount Group is based at Wonderboom National Airport, where the firm also hosts a technical training academy.
Delivery of the first plane is expected within two years, which will determine whether further conversions can take place domestically, the Navy told Defense News.
Asked about the platform’s utility, IISS aerospace expert Douglas Barrie noted the Lineage 1000 “is based on a regional jet design, which obviously isn’t optimized for the demands of the MPA role, but this hasn’t hampered the success of the P-8, which Boeing based on the 737-800.”
There’s no reason the aircraft couldn’t take on the role, he said, adding that the main challenges would be “integration of the mission systems and ensuring any airframe changes don’t adversely affect handling characteristics.”
First locally build assault boat
Moreover, Pakistan’s Bahria Boat Building Yard launched its first 12T marine assault boat on Dec. 5 at its Karachi facility as part of a technology transfer deal with Polish shipbuilder Techno Marine.
The deal represents Techno Marine’s expanding presence in Pakistan; the company previously supplied 30 Chaser TM-1226 rigid inflatable boats for Pakistan’s naval special forces.
The contract for the marine assault boats was signed in 2018, but verifiable public information is limited. Available information notes the delivery in 2019 of two 12T vessels.
However, a spokesman with Bahria Boat Building Yard told Defense News the Pakistan Navy ordered 18 12T boats made up of two types. The Karachi Naval Dockyard is building those powered by outboard engines, and the Navy hired Bahria to make those powered by water jets. Bahria is currently building the remaining three of four vessels it is currently contracted to produce.
The spokesman also said efforts are underway to secure more domestic customers for the Bahria-built boats.
Around the 2003-2004 time frame, Thailand’s Marsun shipyard supplied M-16 fast assault boats — similar to the 12T — and the design for Pakistan’s locally built Jurrat-class missile boats. However, the M-16 vessels no longer meet the Pakistan Navy’s requirements.
The Bahria spokesman said the 12T “is for surveillance, policing purposes and [is] extremely swift in handling, as required, to operate in restricted/Creek areas,” but also around other sensitive areas such as the main naval base in Ormara and the commercial port of Gwadar.
The “Creek areas” refers to the disputed border with India around the Sir Creek, where the land border reaches the Arabian Sea. The tidal estuary is formed of marshland and shifting creeks. Conflicting claims over the border have resulted in a disputed maritime boundary in the Arabian Sea shaped like a large triangle, within which may be subsea energy resources.
Though the Pakistan Marines service patrols the Creeks area with British-built Griffon hovercraft, the 12T would enable a more effective patrolling presence into the disputed area of sea.
The 12T is equipped with twin inboard Cummins-powered Hamilton water jets. It can reach 42 knots (48 mph). It is also equipped with a navigational suite from British company Raymarine, and features ballistic protection by Danish company Scanfiber Composites.
Meanwhile, neighboring China is set to deliver to Pakistan the first Chinese-built Type 039B-based Hangor II submarine in 2024, followed by the remainder — three more from China and four produced domestically — at six-month intervals.
It has been unclear whether Germany would approve export licenses for the submarine type’s diesel engines. In 2020, Pakistan’s Ministry of Defence Production, the Navy’s public relations department, the German embassy in Islamabad, and Germany’s Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control all declined to comment on the matter.
Fisher said China’s submarine customers likely prefer the proven reputation of the German-designed, Chinese-co-produced diesel engines, but Germany’s refusal to grant the necessary clearance means “customers will have to settle for Chinese submarine diesels, or forgo the option of cheap and effective Chinese submarines.”
Nevertheless, submarine expert Aaron Amick, who runs the website Sub Brief, believes the Type 039B “is a good conventional submarine.”
“Most important, and unlike Chinese nuclear submarines, it is very quiet. Pakistan acquiring the Type 039B is a smart decision because it is a powerful, low-cost, short supply chain addition to their Navy,” Amick said. “Incorporating indigenous ship and weapons systems makes these variants uniquely powerful. India should take note that these subs can shoot the Babur-3 nuclear-capable missile up to 280 miles. The combination of stealth and long-range nuclear attack has changed the naval advantage clearly in favor of Pakistan.”
Similarly, independent defense analyst Mansoor Ahmed said the Hangor II will “transform Pakistan’s submarine capabilities.” By more than doubling Pakistan’s “modern subsurface fleet, they will narrow the force asymmetry with archrival India” and ensure greater survivability of Pakistani subs “in the face of growing Indian [anti-submarine warfare] capabilities.”
He noted the Hangor II boats are “insulated from sanctions and other restrictions believed to be associated with Western-origin, big-ticket weapon systems. Coupled with an expanding and modernizing surface fleet, these will also be useful in any Pakistani sea-denial strategy.”
The country’s previous efforts to establish a sea-based deterrent include the 2012 inauguration of the Naval Strategic Forces Command headquarters and the 2016 unveiling of a very-low frequency communications facility for submarines. (Source: Defense News)
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