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03 Jul 20. Parliamentary probe held over supply chain resilience. Parliament’s foreign affairs, defence and trade committee held a public hearing Thursday as part of a broader inquiry into the resilience of Australia’s supply chains and the “impact of COVID-19 on the global rules-based order”.
Witnesses appearing before the committee represented an interdisciplinary consultancy group, an Australian policy, geopolitical and economic think tank, and experts specialising in “grey zone” defence tactics – which include election meddling, economic coercion, and the ambiguous use of unconventional force.
Committee chair senator David Fawcett said that COVID-19 has heightened awareness for many Australians that a “business as usual” approach is not sustainable with the dual impacts of the pandemic and the changing strategic environment.
“Reducing acquisition cost has been a major feature of business supply chain decisions since the turn of the century, including off-shoring production and just-in-time replenishment,” said Senator Fawcett.
For the first time, he added, Australians have been pushed to have a national discussion on the country’s supply chain models and national resilience.
“COVID‑19 has prompted a rethink of our current trade and manufacturing architecture and ensuring defence strategy responds to the new environment, from both a health and a strategic perspective,” said Senator Fawcett.
Dr Alan Dupont, AO, the CEO and founder of consultancy firm Cognoscenti Group, will discuss his submission highlighting the threats to the current global rules-based order and the likely implications for Australia as supply chains “decouple”.
The committee will explore this — and the possible emergence of new geopolitical blocs — with Dr Dupont and with another submitter, John Blackburn, AO, retired RAAF Air Vice‑Marshal and founder of the Institute of Integrated Economic Research Australia.
Australia’s exposure to geopolitical risks, the stability of near neighbours and its defence and cyber security capabilities will be discussed with joint submitters: Professor Sascha Dov Bachmann, Professor in Law, University of Canberra; and Dr Andrew Dowse, AO, director of defence research, Edith Cowan University, and also retired RAAF Air Vice-Marshal. (Source: Defence Connect)
02 Jul 20. UK to complete Chinook HC6A upgrade by early 2021. The United Kingdom is set to complete the ongoing upgrade of its earliest Boeing Chinook heavy-lift helicopters “by early 2021”, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) told Janes on 2 July. The Royal Air Force’s (RAF’s) fleet of Chinook HC4 helicopters, the earliest of which were introduced in 1981 as the HC1, is currently being converted to the HC6A standard with the fitting of Boeing’s Digital Automatic Flying Control System (DAFCS).
The MoD told Janes that 29 of the 38 HC4 helicopters have now gone through this process, with the remaining aircraft all set to follow early next year.
In addition to the 38 HC4/HC6A helicopters (before being modernised, these were/are broadly analogous to the US Army’s CH-47D-standard plus UK-specific modifications), the RAF fields eight HC5 helicopters (equivalent to the US Army’s MH-47E-standard plus UK-specific modifications) and 14 HC6 helicopters (equivalent to the US Army’s CH-47F-standard plus UK-specific modifications). (Source: Jane’s)
01 Jul 20. Patria consolidates its helicopter maintenance operations in Norway. Patria consolidates its helicopter maintenance operations in Norway for better customer support and efficiency selling its Bardufoss operations (Patria Helicopters AS) to Kongsberg Aviation Maintenance Services (KAMS) of which Patria owns 49,9% of the shares. The deal is effective from July 1, 2020.
“The main purpose of the deal is to help the Norwegian Armed Forces to increase the availability of their NH90 fleet. KAMS is a strategic partner of the Norwegian Armed Forces, and the Bardufoss operations will have much better opportunities to operate within a bigger Norwegian entity in future”, states Jukka Holkeri, President of Patria’s International Support Partnerships business unit.
In Bardufoss, there is a one-stop shop for maintenance, repair and overhaul services specialised in the maintenance of helicopters. Patria acquired the unit in 2011. The unit employs 27 persons.
KAMS supply maintenance, repair and modification services for aircraft, helicopters, components and field equipment to the Norwegian Armed Forces and other military and civilian organizations. It is located in Kjeller and Rygge in Norway, and the company employs 285 persons.
30 Jun 20. Serbia wrings extra life out of M-84. The Serbian military formally unveiled its M-84AS-1 MBT earlier this month, as the latest upgrade of a licensed-built version of the venerable T-72M.
The M-84AS-1 (pictured) was developed by the VTI, the Serbian Military-Technical Institute situated in Belgrade, with upgrade work performed at the MoD-owned Čačak Overhaul Plant.
In the first stage of the upgrade package, Serbian-designed ERO-19 explosive-reactive armour (ERA) was added. Based on the Soviet-era Gofr system, ERO-19 protects a large proportion of the tank’s hull and turret, including its top side.
The gunner is provided with the new DNNS 2ATK day/night sight featuring a thermal imaging channel, while the commander has the TOMS EO system with 360-degree observation capability.
The upgraded M-84 also features slat armour to the rear, an EO soft-kill protection system to counter ATGMs and a 12.7mm remotely-controlled machine gun with a dedicated sight. Thales provided new communications equipment and other features include new tracks.
A follow-on upgrade stage would include a new fully digital fire control system.
According to the Serbian MoD, the production phase of the M-84-AS-1 upgrade programme is set to begin by the end of 2020, but no firm information on the timeline and budget is available.
The upgrade is expected to involve the inventory of one Serbian Land Forces battalion. Today, the army fields four front-line tank battalions with a total inventory of 232 M-84s on strength.
The M-84 is a locally made version of the Russian T-72M inherited from Yugoslav times, and the Serbian MoD still shows a liking for this old platform. In 2017, it sealed a donation from Russia of 30 second-hand T-72B3 MBTs, together with 30 BRDM-2MS reconnaissance vehicles from Russia.
The latter were delivered in mid-2019, but there is no information yet about the delivery date of the ex-Russian T-72Ms. (Source: Shephard)
29 Jun 20. Erickson’s new US naval support contract. Erickson has won a multiple award contract as subcontractor to Metson Marine Services which provides ocean transportation, vessel operations, and ocean environmental services.
In June, Metson was awarded a nearly $23m contract for the procurement of operational and logistic services required to support various at-sea tests for the US Naval Undersea Warfare Centre Division. Work will be performed all over the world and is expected to be complete by June 2025.
Erickson’s scope will be focused on providing fixed and rotary wing services to include torpedo recovery, range clearing and special test aircraft.
Airbus Helicopters H225 Super Puma
Last year Erickson announced its acquisition of an Airbus Helicopters H225 Super Puma to its existing fleet off SA330J Pumas. Purchased on the used market, it has been configured for Erickson’s mission profile, specifically in support of US Department of Defense (DoD) customers.
In September 2018, the DoD awarded Erickson a three-year contract to provide dedicated rotary wing and fixed wing aircraft to the US Pacific Command (USPACOM) which is defined as, but not limited to, continental Asia, Philippine islands, and countries supporting operations in the Philippines.
Kevin Cochie, VP & GM, Erickson Defense and National Security, said “Our combination of experience supporting these operations, and ability to utilize the B214ST Helicopter, a platform where we are Bell’s product support provider, enables us to offer exceptional value and performance to US Government customers”. (Source: Armada)
30 Jun 20. Japan begins refitting first of two Izumo-class carriers to support F-35B operations. Tokyo has begun the process of converting the first of two Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Izumo-class helicopter carriers into aircraft carriers capable of supporting the operations of the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).
As confirmed by Janes on 30 June, the Japan Marine United (JMU) Corporation recently started conducting refit work on JS Izumo at the company’s Isogo shipyard in Yokohama City.
JMSDF helicopter carrier JS Izumo is seen here on 30 June undergoing a refit at the JMU Corporation’s Isogo shipyard in Yokohama City. The JMSDF has begun the process of converting Izumo into an aircraft carrier capable of supporting F-35B operations. (Kosuke Takahashi)
Janes understands that the modifications will be made in two main stages meant to coincide with the vessel’s periodic refit and overhaul programmes, which take place every five years.
While initial modifications are taking place during the refit and overhaul planned for this fiscal year, the final changes are only expected to be made during the vessel’s next overhaul in FY 2025, after which a series of tests and sea trials are expected to follow.
The 248 m-long, 24,000-tonne Izumo class has been built with weight considerations for the F-35B in various parts, including the stowage, elevators, and flight deck. However, further modifications are needed such as reinforcing the flight deck to support additional weight, placing additional guidance lights, and fitting the ship with heat-resistant deck spots for vertical landings, among other things. It is still unclear, however, whether a ski-jump will be added. (Source: Jane’s)
29 Jun 20. Airbus delivers first A330 MRTT to NATO Multinational Multi Role Tanker Transport Fleet. Airbus has formally delivered the first of eight Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft ordered by the NATO Multinational MRTT Fleet (MMF) after a ceremony held at the Airbus Getafe site in Spain. The official acceptance of this first aircraft marks a decisive milestone towards the entry into service of this multinational unit formed by the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Norway, Germany, Belgium and the Czech Republic.
The aircraft will take off tomorrow towards its Main Operating Base located in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. The MMF fleet will also operate from a second location, the Forward Operating Base in Cologne, Germany.
Dirk Hoke, Chief Executive Officer of Airbus Defence and Space, said: “The NATO MMF programme perfectly represents the future of defence cooperation and shows the true success of the pooling and sharing concept. As a trusted partner for the armed forces, Airbus is extremely proud to see its A330 MRTT at the forefront and ready to secure decisive capabilities and interoperability for NATO partner nations.”
Peter Dohmen, NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) General Manager, said: “The MMF programme is a prime example of excellent cooperation between nations, the EU and NATO and the strong collaboration between OCCAR and NSPA. This unique state-of-the-art capability will enable our participating nations to perform a wide range of operations in multiple domains. We thank the nations for their continued trust in NSPA as the system manager and wish them success in their future missions.”
Matteo Bisceglia, Director of the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR), said: “The delivery of the first MMF aircraft marks a key milestone of the MMF ADS acquisition contract managed by OCCAR. OCCAR is proud to have delivered this aircraft to the customer on time without any shortfalls in performance or over cost. Key points for this success are the MMF Nations’ trust in the ability of NSPA and OCCAR to efficiently manage the Programme, the excellent cooperation with the EU and the willingness to succeed of the experienced MMF team.”
The MMF programme is funded by the six nations which will have the exclusive right to operate the NATO–owned aircraft in a pooling arrangement. The aircraft will be configured for in-flight refuelling, the transport of passengers and cargo, and medical evacuation operations.
The European Defence Agency (EDA) initiated the MMF programme in 2012. OCCAR manages the MMF acquisition phase and the first two years of the Initial In-Service-Support as Contract Executing Agent on behalf of NSPA. Following the acquisition phase, NSPA will be responsible for the complete life-cycle management of the fleet.
The A330 MRTT combines the advanced technology of a new generation tanker with the operational experience recorded during more than 200,000 flight hours in service. The A330 MRTT is interoperable with receivers worldwide and delivers true multi-role capabilities as proven during the recent MEDEVAC and strategic transport missions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
26 Jun 20. Turkey’s ‘chronic engine problem’ is harming defense projects, warn officials. Turkey’s inability to produce a fully indigenous engine is harming some of the country’s otherwise successful domestic defense programs, according to industry and government officials.
“We had it 15 years ago, we had it 10 years ago and we are still having it,” said a former defense industry chief. “It’s our chronic engine problem.”
A government procurement official agreed, telling Defense News that “at best the problem causes major delays, and at worst it can be an existential threat [to programs].”
The Altay, a multibillion-dollar program for the production of Turkey’s first indigenous tank, has long been delayed due to difficulties surrounding the engine and transmission used to power the new-generation tank.
BMC, a Turkish-Qatari joint venture that in 2018 won the serial production contract for the Altay, said in October 2020 that the tank would be fielded within 24 months. The original target was to have the Altay in the field this year 2020. Today, procurement officials and industry sources say even 2022 is an optimistic deadline.
Western countries with power pack technology, particularly Germany, have been reluctant to share technology or sell to Turkey for political reasons.
“Lack of a feasible power pack [engine and transmission] is depriving the program of any sensible progress,” noted an industry source.
Turkey also needs an engine for the new-generation TF-X fighter jet as well as indigenous helicopter models in the making.
At the center of these engine efforts is Tusas Engine Industries, a state-controlled engine maker.
TEI announced June 19 that it successfully tested its locally made TJ300 miniature turbojet engine, which the company produced for medium-range anti-ship missiles. The engine features a thrust rating of 1.3 kilonewtons.
Company officials say the TJ300 engine’s more advanced, future versions could power larger anti-ship cruise missiles and land-attack cruise missiles. Turkey hopes to power its anti-ship and land-attack cruise missiles with locally developed engines.
“The effort is about ending dependency on imported designs,” a TEI official said. Turkey currently imports miniature air-breathing engines from Microturbo — a unit of French company Safran — to power its domestically developed cruise missiles.
Separately, Turkey’s Kale Group is developing a larger, albeit miniature turbojet engine called the KTJ-3200. It has a 3.2-kilonewton thrust rating, and will power the Atmaca and SOM missile systems. On a much bigger scale, Kale Group has ambitions to develop an engine to power the TF-X.
In 2017, Kale Group and British company Rolls-Royce launched a joint venture to develop aircraft engines for Turkey, initially targeting the TF-X. But the £100m (U.S. $124m) deal was effectively put on hold due to uncertainties over technology transfer. In December, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoğlu said the government is keen to revive talks with Rolls-Royce.
When asked for an update on negotiations, a Rolls-Royce spokesperson told Defense News: “We submitted an engine co-development proposal to Turkey, but the customer has not elected to pursue this to date.”
A year before the Kale Group-Rolls-Royce partnership, Turkish Aerospace Industries — a sister company of TEI — signed a $125m heads of agreement with U.K.-based firm BAE Systems to collaborate on the first development phase of the TF-X. Turkey originally planned to fly the TF-X in 2023, but aerospace officials are now eyeing 2025 at the earliest.
TEI is also developing the TS1400, a turboshaft engine it intends to power the T625 Gökbey, a utility and transport helicopter developed and built by TAI. The Gökbey currently flies with the CTS-800A turboshaft engine supplied by Light Helicopter Turbine Engine Company, a joint venture between American firm Honeywell and Rolls-Royce.
The Gökbey made its maiden flight in September. TEI says it successfully tested the “core” of its TS1400 turboshaft engine and plans to deliver the prototype to TAI in late 2020.
But analysts remain cautious. “These efforts may eventually fail to materialize without meaningful foreign know-how,” said a London-based Turkey specialist. “Or they may come at costs not viable for mass production.” (Source: Defense News)
About Hobson Industries
Hobson Industries is a private company established in 1987 by Peter Hobson, after serving as a Charge Chief Weapons Engineering Artificer in the Royal Navy. Hobson Industries is an innovative and highly technical engineering business operating to the requirements of ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management System which is complimented with our ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Management System.
Across the markets we serve in, the UK and globally, we establish close relationships with the people that trust and depend on us. We specialise in the through life support management and development of Land Rover heritage military and civilian platforms – in effect, the Land Rover need never die!
Hobson Industries offer four core services that we specialise in:
We offer Land Rover vehicle builds to original specification or complete with modifications and upgrades at the customers request. All work is done in house using our bountiful facilities. In addition to vehicle refurbishment, reconditioning and homologation across all Land Rover models.
Powertrain and Transmission Units:
We offer new and reconditioned units, perfect for your Land Rover. All built using Land Rover tolerances and specifications. All for sale on our website. Additionally, we offer reconditioning services to your own units.
With over 16,000 part lines in stock, and the Asset Management programme pioneered by the company, we are able to provide a cost effective range of parts which may no longer be available. Additionally, we are offering Hobson Original branded parts to drawings for obsolete parts to help provide Land Rover owners the parts to keep them on the road. Our parts strategy ensures that all re-cycled, asset managed and reconditioned parts and units meet original equipment standards and specifications to ensure your safety while driving on or off road.
Amour – Design and Fabrication and Blast Protection
We offer armouring in steel, composite and ceramic of new and refurbished vehicles and fleets.