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20 Jun 19. Eurofighter Looks to Future Improvements But AESA Radar Lags. The four Eurofighter partner nations have agreed to invest €53m euros to study the program’s potential evolution over the next 20 years, Eurofighter GmbH announced Wednesday at the Paris Air Show. The goal is to keep Typhoon operationally relevant and allow it to remain in service until it is replaced by the next generation of combat aircraft around 2040. Known as the Long-Term Evolution (LTE), the improvement package will build onto the Project Centurion developed to give the Royal Air Force Typhoons the air-to-ground capabilities of the Tornado strike fighter it retired earlier this year, and also includes integration of the Meteor long-range air-to-air missile and the Brimstone air-to-ground missile. The LTE studies – 19 months for the aircraft and 9 months for its engine – will mostly focus on improvements to the cockpit and mission systems; the electronic warfare system; and the engine. Eurofighter executives seem certain that the LTE capability enhancement programs will be accepted, but provided no insight as to when this might happen.
Eurofighter AESA radar delay impacts competitiveness
The status of Eurofighter’s future AESA radar, however, remains murky, and it is not even mentioned in Eurofighter’s June 20 statement on the LTE study. Clearly, studying how to keep Eurofighter operationally relevant “for decades to come” without replacing its 20-year old mechanically-scanned radar leaves a glaring gap in its market credibility, yet Eurofighter continues to evade the issue.
At a press conference at the Paris Air Show on Wednesday, Eurofighter officials refused to say when, and if, the Leonardo Captor-E active electronically-scanned array (AESA) radar developed for Eurofighter will be procured by the four partner nations.
Company spokesman Adam Morrison dismissed a question about the status of Captor-E by saying that “all things come in good time,” and refused follow-up questions. He later added that there might be some good news regarding the radar at some unspecified, future time.
His position is in line with Eurofighter’s long-standing evasiveness about the status of the Captor-E radar. Companies working on the program refer questions to Eurofighter, which is the nominal customer, but Eurofighter brushes off unwelcome questions with the claim that “We cannot provide any further details at this point for reasons of commercial sensitivity.”
The subject clearly touches a raw nerve at the company.
No AESA radar yet ordered by the four partner nations
The fact is that, while the electronically-scanned Captor-E radar first flew on Eurofighter in 2007, and while the four partner nations have spent €1bn on its full-scale development, so far none of the four has decided to retrofit it to its Typhoons. It has become even touchier since the United Kingdom decided not to retrofit the Captor-E to its own Typhoons, while the Italian defense ministry, already unable to meet its defense funding obligations, seems to consider an AESA radar on Typhoon an unnecessary expense.
Both Britain and Italy operate the Lockheed F-35, whose capabilities in this respect are claimed to far exceed what Typhoon could do even with an AESA radar. The British and Italian military have come to believe their own hype about the F-35’s capabilities, and so see little reason to invest in an AESA radar for Eurofighter.
A top executive of Airbus Defence and Space told Defense-Aerospace.com June 14 that industry is preparing a retrofit offeror Captor-E, which should be submitted by early 2020 to the four nations through the joint program executive agency, NETMA. This might allow a final decision by the end of 2020, he said.
“For Germany, it is urgent because the radar is needed for the new Eurofighters that will replace the Luftwaffe’s Tornados. The UK is going its own way, and we regret it,” he added.
In fact, there will be no concerted action on the AESA radar procurement by the four Eurofighter partner nations, and each will decide whether or not to buy it. But the lack of a concerted, program-wide acquisition and retrofit will increase costs, making the AESA option even less attractive.
Commenting on the situation, an industry official noted that the two countries that also operate the F-35 – Italy and the UK – won’t invest in Eurofighter’s radar modernization. “Early on, it was said that Lockheed planned the F-35 to kill off Europe’s combat aircraft industry, and we are now seeing it come true, as both UK and Italy are dropping out” of the Captor-E retrofit.
Eurofighter was originally due to submit its offer for the production and retrofit of the Captor-E radar by the end of December 2018 – a year earlier than now planned – and a production order would have followed as early as mid-2019, according to the German defense ministry’s autumn report on armaments programs, released Dec. 7, 2018.
A competitive disadvantage on the export market
The fact that none of the four partner nations has yet decided to buy Eurofighter’s AESA radar is hard to explain on the export market, where most combat aircraft of Eurofighter’s generation – and all its competitors – have already been retrofitted with such a radar. Only Eurofighter remains with a mechanically scanned radar.
Without an order from the partner nations, claims that Captor-E is available for export do not carry much credibility, especially as the company’s evasiveness and reluctance to clearly explain the state of play raises questions.
Raffael Klaschka, head of marketing at Eurofighter GmbH, said during Wednesday’s press conference that “we will look into operational effectiveness, interoperability and reduced costs…. and fully exploit the full growth potential of the aircraft,” although the potential for ‘full exploitation’ seems limited without an AESA radar.
Spain, Germany to retrofit Captor-E later
Spain’s final two Tranche 3a production Eurofighters are to be delivered this summer, according to Airbus, which has already delivered the first upgraded Tranche 1 aircraft, with another later this year, and the remaining 15 to follow later. These will however keep their mechanically-scanned radars.
But Spain also needs to replace its Boeing F-18 Hornets, for which it plans to buy a batch of new-build aircraft with AESA radar, and it is not impossible that it may also at some time in the future retrofit the radar to the rest of its Eurofighter fleet. “The goal for a decision on the Spanish radar upgrade is 2022,” a company official said.
Meanwhile, Hensoldt has completed development and testing of the Captor-E’s AESA antenna, and delivered the first production examples to Leonardo UK, the radar’s manufacturer, in December 2018. These will be fitted to the Kuwaiti Typhoons.
Only Kuwait is known to have ordered the Captor-E for its Typhoons. Deliveries to Kuwait are due to begin in late 2020. Logically, Qatar may also have opted for Captor-E, but this has not been officially confirmed. According to the company, 558 Eurofighter aircraft have been delivered, out of a total order book for 623 aircraft. The Eurofighter fleet has now logged a total of 535,000 flight hours. (Source: defense-aerospace.com)
20 Jun 19. Air2030: Flight and Ground Tests of Candidates for A New Fighter Jet Are Over. The evaluation of candidate aircraft for the acquisition of a new fighter jet for the Swiss Armed Forces was completed with the departure of the Lockheed Martin F-35A. Four of the five announced candidates completed flight and ground tests in Payerne. The fifth candidate (Gripen E from Saab) decided not to participate in the flight and ground tests and withdrew from the evaluation. The tests were conducted by armasuisse in collaboration with the Air Force.
For armasuisse and the armed forces, preliminary work on the acquisition of a new fighter jet to replace the F/A-18C/D and F-5 E/F began about a year and a half ago. On 25 January 2019, the five candidates submitted to armasuisse the tenders they drew up on the basis of the requirements published on 23 March 2018 by the Swiss Ministry of Defence (DDPS). Switzerland had requested bids for the following aircraft, which it had been offered: Eurofighter (Airbus, Germany), F/A-18 Super Hornet (Boeing, United States), Rafale (Dassault, France), F-35A (Lockheed-Martin, USA) and Gripen E (Saab, Sweden).
From February to March 2019, specialists of armasuisse and the Air Force proceeded to test the aircraft in the simulators of the different candidates. These tests were organized with the respective manufacturers and ran parallel to the “product support audits”.
During these audits, the air forces of the manufacturing countries made presentations of the operation and maintenance of their aircraft and their required training curricula. Then, from April to mid-June, in-flight evaluations were conducted in Payerne, in parallel to the evaluation of the responses that the manufacturers had made to the catalog of questions during the first offer.
Flight tests in Payerne
As part of the flight tests, each candidate was subjected to eight missions that were to be performed with one or two combat aircraft. Seven of the eight missions had specific tasks. The last mission could be chosen freely, either to repeat one of the predefined missions, or to demonstrate particular characteristics. The objective was to check the sensors in the Swiss environment, the compatibility with the technical infrastructure of our country as well as the degree of maturity of the combat aircraft. The Empa Research Institute also carried out noise emission measurements at Payerne and Meiringen.
Four out of five candidates took the flight tests in Switzerland and completed all eight missions. On the recommendation of armasuisse, Swedish manufacturer Saab has decided not to take part in the flight tests with its Gripen E and will not take part as a result of the procedure.
The following four candidates remain in the running:
- Airbus with the Eurofighter (DE)
- Boeing with the F / A-18 Super Hornet (USA)
- Dassault with his Rafale (FRA)
- Lockheed Martin with the F-35A (USA)
Great interest of the media and the population for the tests
With the support of the armed forces, armasuisse organized for each candidate a demonstration on the military aerodrome of Payerne, during which the manufacturer was able to present his plane. These events generated a great deal of interest from the media in Switzerland and abroad: between 50 and 80 media professionals took part in each of the four presentations.
Moreover, nearly 2,000 citizens had the opportunity to attend the afternoon sessions for “spotters”. They were able to watch and photograph the planes up close. Many other aviation enthusiasts have followed the tests from the various spectator seats around the military aerodrome.
Next steps of the project
For armasuisse, in cooperation with the Army Staff, the Air Force, the Army Logistics Base and the Command Support Base, it is now necessary to gather the results and conclusions from the flight and ground test evaluations into special reports. These reports will also be used to determine the required size of the fleet for each aircraft model.
On the basis of the results of the analysis and evaluation phase, armasuisse will then prepare a request for proposals which it will send to the candidates at the end of 2019. Based on the results of this second offer, armasuisse will compare the benefits of the candidates on the basis of the specialized reports and will determine the overall utility for each aircraft.
The results, together with a complete risk analysis, will be incorporated into the appraisal report, which will compare the overall usefulness of each candidate with its acquisition and operations costs over a period of 30 years. Work on the evaluation report will begin in the second half of 2020. The report will only be finalized after a possible referendum poll. The Federal Council will then decide on the model and the number of aircraft to be acquired. (Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com) (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Swiss Dept. of Defence, Civil Protection and Sports; issued June 20, 2019)
20 Jun 19. Britain broke law in allowing arms exports to Saudis: court. Britain broke the law by allowing arms sales to Saudi Arabia that might have been deployed in the war in Yemen, an English court ruled on Thursday after activists said there was evidence the weapons had been used in violation of human rights statutes.
While the court’s decision does not mean Britain must immediately halt arms exports to Saudi Arabia, it does mean that there is a stay on the granting of new export licenses to sell arms to the kingdom – Britain’s biggest weapons purchaser.
The United Nations has described the conflict in Yemen, which has killed tens of thousands of people including thousands of civilians, as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
“The Court of Appeal has concluded that the process of decision-making by the government was wrong in law in one significant respect,” said Terence Etherton, England’s second most senior judge.
Handing down the ruling, Etherton said the government made “no concluded assessments of whether the Saudi-led coalition had committed violations of international humanitarian law in the past, during the Yemen conflict”.
International Trade Minister Liam Fox said he disagreed with the judgment and would seek permission to appeal.
“Alongside this we are carefully considering the implications of the judgment for decision making,” Fox said.
“While we do this we will not grant any new licenses for export to Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners which might be used in the conflict in Yemen.”
Britain is the world’s sixth largest seller of arms, after the United States, Russia, France, Germany and China, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
A senior U.S. State Department official declined to comment on the court ruling, but said both the United States and Britain had long-standing, deeply rooted security ties to Saudi Arabia, despite what he called certain “difficult situations.”
“They are carrying a significant amount of equity to protect U.S. interests and U.S. persons, and it is incumbent upon us to stand shoulder to shoulder with our partners, especially when they are on the front line for our interests,” he said.
The U.S. Senate also voted to back two resolutions opposing President Donald Trump’s plan to complete weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and other countries.
Saudi Arabia accounted for 43 percent of Britain’s global arms sales in the past decade. BAE Systems, Britain’s biggest defense company, generates 14 percent, or around 2.6bn pounds ($3.3bn), of its group sales from Saudi.
“We continue to support the UK Government in providing equipment, support and training under government-to-government agreements between the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia,” a spokesman for BAE Systems said in a statement.
The British government is negotiating a multi-billion-pound deal to sell Saudi Arabia 48 new Typhoon fighter jets, but the deal has been held up by an embargo imposed by Germany, whose firms account for about a third of the content on the aircraft.
The legal action against the British government was brought by the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, which wants to end the global arms trade and argued that British weapons were likely to have been used in Yemen in violation of human rights law.
A Western-backed alliance led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates intervened in Yemen in 2015 to try to restore the internationally-recognized government to power after the Iran-aligned Houthis seized the capital, claiming to fight graft.
Saudi Arabia’s minister of state for foreign affairs, Adel al-Jubeir, said Iran would be the only beneficiary of cutting off arms exports to the kingdom or its regional allies.
“The coalition is fighting a legitimate war at the behest of a legitimate government to stop Iran and its proxies from taking over a strategically important country – so the only beneficiary of a cut-off of weapons to the coalition is going to be Iran,” Jubeir told reporters in London.
The war has left tens of thousands of people including civilians and children dead, and has put 10 million people at risk of famine and the world’s worst cholera epidemic.
“The decision of the court today does not mean that license to export arms to Saudi Arabia must immediately be suspended,” said Etherton, the British judge.
“It does mean that the UK government must reconsider the matter, must make the necessary assessments about past episodes of concern, allowing for the fact that, in some cases, it will not be possible to reach a conclusion.”
Rights groups and Britain’s opposition Labour Party welcomed the judgment.
Labour said British ministers had wilfully disregarded evidence that Saudi Arabia was violating international humanitarian law in Yemen, while nevertheless continuing to supply Riyadh with weapons.
“UK advice, assistance and arms supplies to Saudi’s war in Yemen is a moral stain on our country,” Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said. “Arms sales to Saudi must stop now.”
Fox, the trade minister, said Britain had always taken its export control obligations very seriously and would continue to do so. “Our whole assessment has been infused with IHL (international humanitarian law) considerations, indeed everything was looked at through the prism of IHL,” he said. (Source: Reuters)
19 Jun 19. US officials threaten retribution for European Union’s restrictions on defense fund. The top Pentagon official attending the Paris Air Show this week made clear she would use the venue to make a declarative statement about a subset of European arms funding: Either give the United States the ability to compete for work, or risk retaliation.
The U.S. Defense Department is concerned about restrictions that would limit its ability to participate in the Permanent Structured Cooperation initiative, otherwise known as PESCO — a group of projects spearheaded by the European Union, as well a €13bn (U.S. $15bn) pool of money for military programs known as the European Defence Fund.
“As we read the language right now, even European-based subsidiaries of U.S. corporations, with European facilities and European employees, would not be allowed to participate with intellectual property exchange and a number of other issues of programs that grow out of EDF and more importantly PESCO,” Ellen Lord, the Pentagon’s undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, said Monday during a roundtable with reporters at the air show.
Read more from Paris Air Show 2019!
“Working together is of critical importance. Right now European companies enjoy an enormous amount of business in the U.S. and we want to make sure that U.S. companies have the same opportunity,” she said. “The interagency right now is discussing where this might go, and a whole range of actions are being discussed.”
Those options could include the possibility of shutting European companies out of future U.S. weapons competitions, Lord said, but she added that the United States is in no rush to make a decision and still sees ample time to negotiate with the EU.
The Pentagon acquisition executive wasn’t the only U.S. official making sure Washington’s complaints were heard during the air show. U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross expressed similar concerns during an Aerospace Industries Association reception in Paris, according to Lord.
Lord also discussed the issue with Kay Bailey Hutchison, the U.S. ambassador to NATO, and Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the EU.
The Pentagon has raised concerns about PESCO before, most recently in a May 1 letter signed by Lord and Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Andrea Thompson.
However, EU foreign policy and defense chief Federica Mogherini responded that PESCO and EDF were designed for European nations.
“It’s not defined as an instrument for partnership,” she said in May, adding that U.S. defense contractors do more work with Europe than European firms do with the U.S. military.
Although EU leaders have thus far resisted U.S. pressure, Lord said the letter helped bring clarity to the United States’ point of view and launch conversations.
“I think it’s a healthy dialogue that we need to have because I’m not sure that the Europeans understand the unintended consequences perhaps of some of the language that they have include in the documents,” Lord said.
But that could change as more European nations and businesses become aware of the United States’ objections, she said.
“I had a meeting with Thales this morning and we had very, very productive discussions because they frankly were unaware of the concern that we had as the U.S.,” she said. “It was a particularly good conversation because there is a number of Thales individuals that I worked with when I was in industry and now I’m working within government, so they understand that I understand both sides of this partnership.” (Source: Defense News)
18 Jun 19. French Minister Says Eurodrone Too Expensive, Announces New Projects. French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly has warned the international industry group that is developing the Eurodrone medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aircraft that the program will not be pursued unless they reduce their financial ambitions. Below are selected excerpts from the minister’s opening speech at the Paris Air Show.
“I would like to say a few words about the Eurodrone project that is particularly dear to me, because it is the symbol of the strategic autonomy that we want to acquire, and for which we have an imperative requirement.”
“But — and the manufacturers know it – I have to say that this program will only be able to be completed if the drone they offer is competitive. It’s not only an issue for the buyers already involved – France, Germany, Italy and Spain – but also for future export customers. A period of intense negotiations is opening, and I hope we will be in a position to announce some good news together by the end of the year.”
The four countries have tasked an industry team comprising Airbus, Dassault Aviation and Leonardo with preparing an offer for the full-scale development of Eurodrone, and it was expected that the contract could be awarded by year-end. The drone is due to fly in 2026.
Grâce à leur système de simulation embarqué, les Pilatus PC21 permettent d’entraîner nos futurs pilotes de combat comme s’ils étaient à bord d’un Rafale. Après le succès des premiers vols de formation il y a 2 semaines, leur mise en service est imminente.
Nos PME ont du talent et nous devons le montrer. J’ai souhaité la création d’un label « utilisé par les Armées françaises » pour que nos entreprises puissent officiellement se prévaloir de l’utilisation de leurs produits par nos forces. Un véritable atout à l’international.
“Our SMEs are talented and we need to show that. I wanted the creation of a label “used by the French Forces” so that our companies can officially avail themselves of the use of their products by our forces. A real international asset,” says Florence Parly.
France to order three ELINT aircraft by year-end
By the end of this year, we will launch the development and acquisition of three Dassault Aviation Falcon 8X [business jets], fitted with a sensor package that has been under development by Thales for the past ten years. Beginning in 2025, these aircraft will replace the C-160 Transall Gabriel electronic intelligence aircraft, thus reinforcing our electromagnetic intelligence capabilities, and will contribute to our forces’ “know and anticipate”
Order in 2020 for 7 ‘Albatross’ maritime surveillance aircraft
Mastering airspace is not only a question of air dominance, it also means close surveillance of the sea. The order for the Navy’s new surveillance and intervention aircraft, scheduled for 2020, is being prepared, and will initially cover seven Falcon 2000 LXS developed and produced by Dassault Aviation. This program, which I am today pleased to name ‘Albatross,’ will reinforce the Navy’s aviation capabilities.
Two-year study for MAWS Maritime Patrol Aircraft
In our cooperation with Germany, we are also advancing on the project of the future MAWS (Maritime Airborne Warfare System) maritime patrol aircraft, which is intended to renew the maritime patrol capabilities of the German and French navies by 2030. For France, it will replace the Atlantic 2 and for Germany, the P-3 Orion. Common projects of course mean common needs.
We have therefore agreed with Germany to award to the manufacturers a two-year study to identify the common requirements of the French and German navies, and to submit different architectures. This study will also provide us with the technical and financial elements necessary to select the architecture that will determine how to continue our cooperation for the development and production phases.
All these emerging perspectives, all these projects that flourish and the enthusiasm of the teams involved give me full confidence in our future ability to control the airspace. (Source: defense-aerospace.com)
19 Jun 19. Great Power Competition Ushers in a New Generation of European Weapons. Rising tensions on display at the Paris Air Show as NATO and Russia unveil new and proposed arms. From a distance, the two red-white-and-blue helicopters seemed perfectly comfortable sandwiched between the flight-line chalets of Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and L3 Technologies. But as music started blaring and a group of women wearing red-and-white-skirted leotards began to dance, it became obvious that these were Russian, not American, aircraft.
This week’s Paris Air Show marked the western European debutof Russian Helicopters’ Ansat light helicopter, just part of Russia’s recently renewed visibility at a show that was once known for dueling superpower aircraft demonstrations. Add that to the buzz around various European advanced-weapons efforts launched since Russia illegally annexed Crimea, and this year’s Paris show began to look like the latest example of great power competition, the foreign-policy chess match predicted by the U.S.National Defense Strategy that’s expected to play out in the coming decades.
“It’s like the Cold War all over again,” quipped one U.S. defense executive nearby.
Some of the new European weapons, or models of them, were on display in the exhibit halls and on the tarmac here. France, Germany and Spain unveiled full-sized models of a new, twin-engine, stealth fighter jet. Turkey, which the U.S. is threatening to remove from its F-35 Joint Strike Fighter over Ankara’s plan to buy S-400 missiles from Moscow, showed off a model of a stealth fighter it’s developing. That two-engine warplane resembles a cross between the American F-35 and its older sibling, the F-22.
“We made a promise to our nation to make the best fighter in Europe,” Temel Kotil, Turkish Aerospace Industries CEO, said moments before a giant black sheet was ceremoniously pulled off the plane.
The U.K. is also developing a new stealth fighter called Tempest, a jet revealed last year at the Farnborough Air Show.
“I think it’s a good trend that NATO is taking both the level of needed spending seriously and…I think they’re focused also on getting the right technology to their forces,” said William Lynn, CEO of Leonardo DRS, the U.S. arm of the Italian aerospace and defense firm. “They’re not looking at it just as an economic benefit to the country; they’re looking to improve the security of the alliance.”
It’s not unusual for Russian delegations to attend western European air shows. But the placement of the Ansat helicopter on the tarmac in a prime spot traditionally occupied by Lockheed Martin aircraft raised eyebrows, especially among U.S defense contractors. At the previous Paris show, in 2017, the spot was occupied by a Lockheed Martin-made C-130 cargo plane.
Inside the exhibit hall, Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation — parent firm of fighter jet makers MiG and Sukhoi — showed offmodels and handed out literature about new warplanes. Company reps chatted with journalists about plans for teaming drones with manned fighter jets. The U.S. military has similar ambitionsto pair drones and manned warplanes.
And all this is driving NATO allies to pursue their own new advanced defense capabilities.
“The ’90s view of the Russian threat, which was that it had really gone away, has shifted,” Lynn said. “I don’t know if they have the same view that we have, but I think they have a harsher view of where that threat’s going.”
In addition to the three new stealth fighters, Europe is developing advanced drones. Airbus, Dassault and Leonardo are working ona Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance drone. Italy’s Leonardo unveiled a new surveillance drone that can stay airborne for 24 hours.
Despite Europe’s advances, U.S. firms don’t see Europe’s work as cutting into their own sales, at least not yet. Most of these new projects are years or even decades from being battle-ready.
Aerospace Industries Association CEO Eric Fanning, a lead advocate for U.S. defense companies, said the current situation is hardly unique.
“The United States has always led the way and then industry in other parts of the world see that, they want a part of it, they develop it as well while the United States continues to innovate and advance and think about what’s next,” said Fanning, who served as Army secretary during the Obama administration. “It’s hard to distinguish what’s United States [and] what’s not United States because these partnerships have been so strong and have existed for so long.”
Since these new planes are years from being ready for war, Lockheed executives pushed the F-35 as available now.
“It took us a long time to get to where we got on F-35,” Greg Ulmer, who oversees the Joint Strike Fighter program for Lockheed, said reflecting on Europe’s new fighter initiatives.
Some have called these new fighters as sixth-generation, more advanced than the fifth-generation American F-22 and F-35 fighters.
“I can’t take away any country pursuing sixth-gen,” said Michele Evans, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin’s Aeronautics business the division that includes the company’s fighter jets and advanced development efforts.
But Evans urged allies to use U.S. technology and not duplicate development work that’s already been done.
“With the 40-plus years of experience we have in terms of stealth aircraft, we certainly know the challenges real time,” Evans said. “We just look to make sure that they leverage our capabilities. We would hate for them to start from scratch with technology that already exists.”
While European weapons-maker MBDA offered a slew of new missile concepts, U.S. firms Raytheon and Northrop Grumman announced they are cooperating on a new hypersonic missile with a novel 3D-printed engine.
“That’s what’s going to drive the affordability for hypersonic cruise missiles,” said John Wilcox, Northrop Grumman’s vice president of advanced programs and technology.
While at the same the same time, the U.S. Air Force released pictures of a different type of hypersonic weapon — made by Lockheed Martin — under the wing of a B-52 bomber on a test flight.
Amid the uptick in European weapons development, there is concern from the U.S. officials that American companies might be shut out of future business. The U.S. and Europe find themselves in a rift over a pair of European Union initiatives — the Permanent Structured Cooperation, or PESCO, and the European Defence Fund — in which members pooling resources to develop new weapons. U.S. officials think the initiatives could undermine contributions to NATO.
“We want to make sure that the Europeans don’t do anything that shuts down unfairly competition,” Fanning said. “We’re not asking for a leg up, we’re just asking for the ability to compete and we want to make sure that, in total and aggregate, what NATOcountries purchase and buy is interoperable and increases the military capability and capacity.”
U.S. defense exports to France, Germany, Spain, Italy, The Netherlands and the U.K. totaled $3.4bn in 2018, according to Byron Callan, an analyst with Capital Alpha Partners. Those countries defense imports to the U.S. totaled $2.3bn.
“[The data] shows that the balance of defense trade between the U.S. and Europe has in recent years favored the U.S. and this balance may work further in favor of the U.S. on increased F-35 deliveries to the region,” Callan wrote Wednesday in a note to investors. (Source: Defense One)
17 Jun 19. Swedish Air Force holds back on helicopter modernisation. Unlike plans to refresh fighter jet capabilities with a forthcoming Gripen E fleet, the Swedish Air Force is in no hurry to change the look of its helicopter fleet. Instead, future air power priorities will be dominated by a strengthening of six fighter squadrons courtesy of Saab’s new Gripen E variant joining C and D models, with a next generation platform, not yet decided upon, serving the organisation beyond 2030.
Those plans, initially laid out by the country’s Defence Commission white book on security and military defence 2021-2025, last month, are due for approval by the Swedish government in Q2 2020, but fall shy of including any new investments for air force rotary platforms.
The service currently has NH90 TTH, Leonardo AW109 and Black Hawk UH-60M aircraft within its inventory, and of those the light twin aircraft is the first that will reach its end of life or require a major upgrade, according to Maj Gen Mats Helgesson, Chief of the Swedish Air Force.
‘In the coming years we will look at how to handle that decision. We would need to make some kind of investment if we want to extend its life or else we would have to procure something new in the mid-2020s,’ he told Shephard.
‘It’s an on-going process where we are carrying out analysis but there are no [definitive] answers yet’.
Other air domain policies proposed by the Defence Commission include advanced trainer aircraft pilots flying the Gripen D with Lockheed Martin’s C130 Hercules to be kept in service until a replacement is sourced before 2030.
Discussing adversarial threats to Swedish borders, the spokesperson mentioned that there hadn’t been ‘many violations’ of the country’s airspace, but admitted that there had been a ‘significant change’ to air power threats in recent years, from Russia in particular. (Source: Shephard)
17 Jun 19. Turkish Aerospace Industries reveals indigenous TF-X fighter as S-400 dispute looms. Turkish Aerospace Industries unveiled a full-scale model of its indigenous fifth-generation fighter Monday at the Paris Air Show, a display meant to signal the rise of Turkey’s domestic defense-industrial capabilities.
But the tensions between Turkey and the United States loomed over the much-hyped event, which occurred as the U.S. takes steps to unfurl Turkey’s participation in the F-35 fighter jet program over Ankara’s planned purchase of the Russian S-400 air defense system.
The TF-X is set to be the country’s first homemade fighter. If Turkey’s access to the F-35 is permanently restricted, it could be the country’s best hope of developing its aerospace industrial base — even though some observers have raised questions about Turkey’s ability to generate a truly fifth-gen plane.
Throughout the ceremony, TAI officials referenced Turkey’s work on the F-35 program and repeated a pledge to make TF-X the best fighter in Europe.
“On the F-35, actually, my company is building the center fuselage,” TAI President and CEO Temel Kotil said while speaking of the company’s role as a secondary supplier augmenting Northrop Grumman, which manufactures the majority of F-35 center fuselages.
“So this means, in terms of manufacturing, Turkish Aerospace has enough strength to build this fighter,” he added. “Our machine is a mock-up, but in 2023 there will be a real machine, and first flight is in 2025, and [it will be in] service in 2028.”
A promotional video for the TF-X stated a top speed of Mach 2, a maximum takeoff weight of 60,000 pounds and a combat radius of 600 nautical miles. While the shape of the mock-up’s fuselage and canted tails looked very similar to the F-35, the TF-X appears to have a narrower body than the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and will be powered by two engines with 20,000 pounds of thrust.
Temel also stressed the importance of allies, pointing to TAI’s collaboration with British defense firm BAE Systems on the program.
“This will be the best fighter in Europe, able to carry the Meteor missile — which is the best European missile — in the weapon bay,” he said. “Hopefully this will be also a good fighter for NATO and the NATO allies.”
Earlier this month, acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan signed off on a letter laying out initial steps to remove Turkey from the F-35 program, including a mandate for Turkish officials connected with the program — pilots, maintainers and personnel based at the F-35 Joint Program Office — to vacate the United States by July 31.
Since then, the commander at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, which trains international F-35 pilots, has ordered a pause to training for Turkish operators, citing security concerns, according to Foreign Policy. Training of Turkish maintainers at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, will continue, as students do not have access to classified material.
Ellen Lord, the Pentagon’s top acquisition official, said Monday that there had been “no significant progress” with Turkey since Shanahan’s action, but noted that the U.S. Defense Department still hopes Turkey will reverse its decision to buy the S-400.
Lord declined to respond to a question on whether she perceived the TF-X reveal as a signal that Turkey was stepping away from the F-35.
She also hinted there could be further consequences to Turkey’s aerospace industry if the S-400 deal moves forward.
“Turkey has been a very good NATO ally and they are an excellent supplier. High quality, good cost, on time delivery and we are very well aware of the other programs where they form a critical part of the supply chain,” Lord told reporters at the air show.
“Right now we have bifurcated the S-400 and F-35, impact from impact, to the rest of our defense and commercial industry. We have been very clear about the structured wind down of the F-35 supply chain. Everything outside of the F-35 from a defense perspective we have reviewed within the department, and that would be subject to any CAATSA sanctions,” she said, referring to the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which penalizes U.S. partners that purchase Russian military equipment.
“There have been no decisions made on that at this point, however it would be very, very significant for Turkey.” (Source: Defense News)
17 Jun 19. Signing of the Framework Agreement on SCAF, the Future Air Combat System. The President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, chaired the signing ceremony of the framework agreement on the SCAF, the air combat system of the future. Defence Ministers Florence Parly (France), Ursula von der Leyen (Germany) and Margarita Robles (Spain) today signed this framework agreement at Le Bourget, making a true legal commitment for the production of a complete system of combat aircraft and drones, which will enter service with the armed forces by 2040.
This signature materializes a key step in the construction of Europe of defense, combining technological excellence, political will and industrial cooperation. A full-scale model was unveiled on this occasion, presenting the culmination of the concept and architecture work of the industrials Dassault and Airbus. Translating the first important choices concerning the fighter jet of the future, this model is not a mere artist’s view but the result of the first technological decisions made between the countries concerned.
Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces, welcomed this signing. “Concrete proof that Europe is able to anticipate the great strategic challenges of tomorrow, the SCAF is a major piece in the way we will be able to face the power struggles of the second half of the 21st century What is happening today is historic.”
(defense-aerospace.com EDITOR’S NOTE: SCAF (Système de Combat Aérien du Futur) is the French designation of the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) that will be jointly developed by France, Germany and Spain.) (Source: (Source: defense-aerospace.com/French Ministry of Defence)
16 Jun 19. As Europe highlights sixth-gen fighters at Paris Air Show, US keeps its plans under wraps. If Farnborough Airshow 2018 was all about the debut of the Tempest, the United Kingdom’s future sixth-generation fighter, Paris Air Show 2019 might be the year of the Franco-German Future Combat Air System. Early photos from the flight line at Le Bourget show a covered FCAS mockup ahead of its unveiling by French aerospace firm Dassault on Monday. But although European companies will be showing off their sixth-generation fighter concepts, expect officials from the U.S. Defense Department and its industrial base to keep quiet about their own plans for a follow-on the F-35.
“I think we have a very strong industrial base that’s bringing lots of new ideas to us,” Ellen Lord, the Pentagon’s acquisition executive, told reporters during a June 6 press conference ahead of Paris Air Show, which runs June 17 to 23.
“I know the Air Force has ongoing competitions and a number of things going,” she said, referring to the service’s secretive Next Generation Air Dominance effort. “The manned, unmanned teaming aspect of that will be very, very important as we look at more unmanned systems.”
But Lord was clear that the United States will pursue a solution apart from its allies and partners, saying “I think that we might have a very good competition there.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
17 Jun 19. Airbus welcomes Franco-German decision to onboard Spain as partner in Future Combat Air System programme. At the 2019 Paris Air Show, the Governments of France and Germany officially welcomed Spain as a partner nation in the sixth-generation Future Combat Air System (FCAS) programme. With the agreement, announced by French Defence Minister Florence Parly, German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, and Margarita Robles, Defence Minister for Spain, in the presence of French President Emmanuel Macron, three Airbus home nations now form the core part of Europe’s most decisive military aviation programme for the next decades.
Alberto Gutiérrez, Head of Military Aircraft at Airbus Defence and Space, said: “Starting FCAS on a bilateral basis between France and Germany was important to kick-start the programme and to get it on track. The integration of Spain now is a credible step forward towards the envisioned Europeanisation of FCAS. Not only is Spain one of Airbus’ founding countries but it’s also an industrial stronghold for military aircraft in our company. The country is a key contributor to Europe’s defence capabilities as well as an experienced and trusted partner in joint defence programmes. So we’re not only glad to see Spain join FCAS, we also believe it is a natural evolution for the programme.”
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