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23 Jan 20. Negotiations ‘almost complete’ on Poland’s buy of 32 F-35s, defense minister says. Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said Jan. 22 that next week Poland “will finalize the deal on the purchase of F-35” Lightning II fighter jets.
The negotiations to buy 32 aircraft from the U.S. “are almost complete” and “the first units will be ready [for delivery] in 2024,” Blaszczak told local broadcaster Polish Radio.
In what could be the largest defense contract to be signed in Central-Eastern Europe this year, Poland is set to become the first user of Lockheed Martin’s fifth-generation fighter jets in the region, adding the aircraft to its fleet of 48 F-16s.
The defense minister did not disclose the final value of the procurement. Last September, Following the State Department’s approval of the potential sale for an estimated $6.5 billion, Blaszczak said his ministry hoped to obtain a preferential price tag for the aircraft, similarly to Warsaw’s acquisition of Patriot missiles from Raytheon.
To reduce the fighters’ price tag, the defence ministry has reportedly decided not to sign an offset agreement with the U.S. side. Sources close to the deal told daily Dziennik Gazeta Prawna that the final contract could be worth about $4bn, including logistics and training.(Source: Defense News)
22 Jan 20. Aerospace industry fires Brexit warning shot at Johnson. New head of trade body urges caution over divergence from EU rules. Britain’s aerospace and defence companies fired a warning shot at Boris Johnson’s government on Wednesday after chancellor Sajid Javid’s defiant comments that there would be no regulatory alignment with the EU after Brexit. In a speech to the sector’s biggest annual gathering in London, Tony Wood, incoming president of the industry trade body, ADS, said staying aligned with European aviation regulations was “in our national interest”. Mr Wood went on to warn that any changes to the current status — where the UK remains a member of the European Union Aviation Safety regime (EASA) — “need to be considered and carefully introduced.” “If the UK government has a different ambition, it needs to work with us to make sure we can deliver,” Mr Wood added. People close to the new ADS boss called for the government to set out its position in consultation with industry. They said his remarks reflected deep frustration in the aerospace and defence industries over the government’s failure to accept the implications of divergence from the EU.
Companies and trade bodies across several sectors reacted with dismay to comments by Mr Javid in an interview with the FT last week in which he insisted Britain would not be a ruletaker from Brussels. He added that after 3½ years of Brexit paralysis businesses in the UK have had plenty of time to prepare for the effects of leaving the bloc. Two senior aerospace executives said it was unclear whether this was clear policy or whether Mr Javid was merely taking a hardline position ahead of what are likely to be tough trade negotiations with the EU. Recommended UK defence industry Tempest fighter jet programme to accelerate in 2020 Either way, it was impossible for businesses to prepare for a new regime if they did not know what the government proposed in its place, said Paul Everitt, ADS chief executive. The UK aerospace industry, which has a highly-regulated global supply chain, relies on membership of EASA to maintain common safety and certification standards that are also acceptable to the US safety agency, the Federal Aviation Administration. The industry has estimated that it would take a decade and cost between £30m and £40m a year to create a UK safety authority with all the expertise of EASA, against a current contribution to the European agency of £1m to £4m annually. While aircraft components are exempt from tariffs under World Trade Organisation rules, the aerospace industry has long argued that divergence from European regulations would add cost and complexity to UK manufacturing and jeopardise export success. In 2018, UK exported some £34bn in aerospace products.
In October, Mr Everitt wrote to British government ministers raising the industry’s concerns about divergence after it emerged that Mr Johnson planned to ditch close regulatory ties with the EU. Tom Enders, the former chief executive of Airbus — the Franco-German aerospace group which has significant operations in the UK — warned repeatedly that the company could begin to shift investment out of Britain if competitiveness was harmed by Brexit. In his speech on Wednesday night, Mr Wood also called on government to double the funding of the Aerospace Technology Institute from the current £150m a year to £300m a year to 2036 in a bid to preserve the UK’s future technological expertise. This funding would be matched by industry, Mr Everitt said. (Source: Google/FT)
20 Jan 20. French Jets Arrive In Finland For A Week of Combat Tests. Two Rafale fighter jets built by French manufacturer Dassault have landed at Pirkkala Air Force Base to start [ten days] of intensive testing and evaluation. They’re the second of five aircraft types which will be coming to Finland through the end of February, as the Air Force weighs up the pros and cons of each in the process to determine which company will win the €10bn contract to replace the country’s ageing fleet of Hornet jets.
Rafale means “burst of fire” [or “gust of wind”], and the two aircraft were escorted in Finnish air space by a Finnish F/A-18D, one of the jets that Rafale hopes to replace.
Although the French military is the main user of the Rafale jets, they’ve also been sold to India, Egypt and Qatar.
What’s happening at Pirkkala Air Base?
The aircraft will take part in simulated long-term war games, where the candidate jets will play their roles as part of Finland’s defence systems. In the simulated battles, they’ll face the Air Force’s current F/A-18 Hornets and Hawk jet trainers.
The Air Force says the event is taking place in Finland so that each plane can be tested under Finnish winter operating conditions – and also to provide a balanced evaluation for each of the five candidate aircraft.
The other contenders taking part in ‘Operation HX Challenge’ are America’s Lockheed Martin F-35 and Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet; and Sweden’s Saab Gripen. Next candidate to take part in the #HXChallenge is Dassault Rafale. On 20 January, Dassault flew two Rafale fighter jets to Pirkkala Airbase. They will undergo tests during 20–28 January.
Eurofighter’s Typhoon aircraft from a base in England were the first to take part in the evaluation exercise.
Although all the aircraft are designed to operate in sub-zero temperatures, the challenges come when the temperatures hover around freezing with snow, sleet or freezing drizzle throwing extra challenges at the jets. Harsh weather conditions can have an impact on the performance of electro-optical sensors in particular. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/News Now)
20 Jan 20. New Hungarian procurement agency prepares to begin operations. Hungary’s new Defence Procurement Agency (DPA) – a top-level body to co-ordinate defence and security related procurements – is preparing to commence work, the Magyar Nemzet newspaper reported on 17 January.
The agency will be led by national armaments director Gáspár Maróth who has been responsible for the supervision of a broader armed forces modernisation process and the development of the national defence industry.
The creation of the DPA was mandated in 2019 through government decree 329/2019 and comes against the backdrop of Hungary’s overarching Zrinyi-2026 defence modernisation programme that commenced in January 2017.
The objectives of Zrinyi-2026 include increasing the size of the Hungarian armed forces, enhancing defence spending, and recapitalising military materiel inventories. (Source: Jane’s)
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