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18 Jun 20. New Evidence of Russian Aircraft Active in Libyan Airspace. Russian aircraft delivered to Libya in late May are being actively flown in Libya. These Russian aircraft are being used to support private military companies (PMCs) sponsored by the Russian government.
U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) has photographic evidence of a Russian aircraft taking off from al-Jufra, Libya. A MiG-29 was also photographed operating in the vicinity of the city of Sirte, Libya.
“Russia’s sustained involvement in Libya increases the violence and delays a political solution,” said U.S. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Bradford Gering, USAFRICOM director of operations. “Russia continues to push for a strategic foothold on NATO’s southern flank and this is at the expense of innocent Libyan lives.”
In late May, USAFRICOM reported that at least 14 MiG-29s and several Su-24s were flown from Russia to Syria, where their Russian markings were painted over to camouflage their Russian origin. These aircraft were then flown into Libya in direct violation of the United Nations arms embargo.
“We know these fighters were not already in Libya and being repaired,” said Col. Chris Karns, director of USAFRICOM public affairs. “Clearly, they came from Russia. They didn’t come from any other country.”
Russia’s introduction of manned, armed attack aircraft into Libya changes the nature of the current conflict and intensifies the potential of risk to all Libyans, especially innocent civilians.
“There is concern these Russian aircraft are being flown by inexperienced, non-state PMC mercenaries who will not adhere to international law; namely, they are not bound by the traditional laws of armed conflict,” Gering said. “If this is true and bombing occurs, innocent Libyan lives are at risk.”
As the number one arms dealer in Africa, Russia continues to profit from violence and instability across the continent. Russian government backed PMCs, such as the Wagner Group, are active in sixteen countries across Africa. It is estimated that there are about 2,000 Wagner Group personnel in Libya.
“Russia has relentlessly stuck to a narrative of implausible denials in the media,” said Karns. “It’s difficult to deny facts. Russian interference and masking of activity in Libya is visible and delaying progress. Progress the people of Libya deserve.”
Imagery of the Russian aircraft can be found at: https://go.usa.gov/xwyce
(Source: defense-aerospace.com/United States Africa Command)
17 Jun 20. India’s defense industry is set to lose $3bn from nationwide lockdown. Indian defense companies may have lost $3bn in potential revenue during March 24-May 31 amid a nationwide lockdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Ministry of Defence official.
Those affected include more than 100 large defense firms and some 4,000 small and medium aerospace and defense businesses. The lockdown has also impacted the supply of local and foreign material for 50 major defense projects.
Currently, every Indian-made weapon and platform is designed to use 10-20 percent of imported components. The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to disrupt the supply of such components for at least a year, which could cause delays and cost overruns for major defense programs, according to a senior executive with the Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers, a defense industry advocacy body.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, he said local defense industry factories are operating at 30-50 percent capacity and that the outlook is grim.
“This will lead to a direct hit in the first-quarter revenue of all defense companies operating in India, which will also seemingly struggle for cash flows for operation costs,” he said, adding that those costs could increase in the second quarter of the current fiscal year.
Another MoD official told Defense News that some of the ongoing major defense projects — such as licence production of French Scorpene submarines, Project 17A destroyers, Indo-Russian BrahMos cruise missiles and license production of Russian T-90MS main battle tanks — will take a major hit because foreign engineers are unwilling to come to India to supervise the projects.
Due to disruption in the supply chain, the SIDM exec warned, the cost of material and components will increase sharply — possibly an extra 10-15 percent — and Indian defense companies will have to spend more if fluctuations in the exchange rate between the Indian rupee and the euro or U.S. dollar harms India’s purchasing power. (Source: Defense News)
17 Jun 20. Op-Ed: Let’s not forget, the Australian Future Submarine is an ab initio design. The Joint Strike Fighter and the Hunter Class future frigate programs are large and complex, as was the Air Warfare Destroyer before that. But what makes the Future Submarine fundamentally different is that it is an ab initio design, both platform and to a lesser degree the combat system.
There has been much public commentary on the Future submarine and other Defence mega-projects and their progress to completion over multi-decade timelines.
With such a design the start to the process is to define the purpose, top level requirements for a solution to achieve the required purpose and all the other applicable general policies and standards and the general characteristics of the proposed solution to meet the requirements as closely and affordably as practicable.
Generally, an ab initio design is not the first choice of a solution. If there is an off-the-shelf design that closely meets the requirements or is judged to be readily adaptable to meet our needs then that will be chosen as lower risk, faster realisation and hence less costly.
But when there is no such solution, as is the case for the Future Submarine, then the formal process for design and development must be followed. This logical decision-making is universal and Australia is aware of the challenges in undertaking such a path.
The Collins submarine program was painful evidence of the lack of understanding of the full implications of an ab initio design whereby we applied off-the-shelf mindset to a fundamentally different design undertaking. The results were many lessons learned that fortunately are being applied to the Attack Class design and development.
Now rest assured mature internationally respected companies such as Naval Group, Lockheed Martin or for that matter BAR Systems, Raytheon, Boeing or Thales to name few, all understand this imperative to approach ab initio design is a measured and cautious way.
The very worst thing is to rush through the design, ticking boxes as having achieved such and such a date, while fundamental design issues remain unresolved. This is not a matter of intensive project management.
You cannot solve an inherent disparity in displacement, buoyancy or power demand simply by throwing additional time, money or other resources at the problem.
The deliberate design and development process is V-shaped
The classical approach is to expand the top-level requirements into more detailed requirements and criteria for acceptance in a cascading process ultimately down to where you have drawings and specifications for manufacture, software coding and thence systems integration and testing.
Sometimes this doesn’t complete satisfactorily, and it is necessary to go round the cycle repeatedly converging on a compromise solution, in a process called spiral development.
For the Future Submarine, thanks to Naval Group’s deep experience in submarine design the process is once-through and so far is pretty well on track. The five-week delay in starting System Requirements Review (SRR) is trivial and seems to have been due to the inexperience of Defence in participating in such reviews.
This is understandable because most of Australia’s programs are off-the-shelf in fundamental respects.
The reason the design development and delivery process is described as V-shaped is the process is expanded into progressively more detail until the components are produced and then they are progressively integrated to form lager and more complex sub-assemblies, culminating in a final product delivery.
The flow chart looks like a V with each layer dealing with different levels of detail.
How then is the Future Submarine going?
On 20 May, the General Manager, Submarines, reported that the SRR had started five weeks late, but that all actions arising had been completed and there only remained to tie up any loose ends contractually to close the entire event.
This is really good news, as without this step all later steps are in jeopardy.
The next big step is the Systems Functional Review (SFR, previously termed the Preliminary Design Review), which is slated for January 2021, only seven months hence, which will be challenging in view of the COVID-19 disruption.
To return to the overall status of the Future Submarine Program there have been numerous media stories recently about a cost escalation and the veracity of that is yet to be demonstrated. There have also been reports of time delays when in reality there have been none shown to have occurred.
I go further to emphasise that there could have been, and still could be in the future, major delays due to the inability of the requirements to be rendered into a coherent whole as a basis for ongoing work.
So far so good and full marks to the teams of Defence, assisted by international and domestic expertise, Naval Group and Lockheed Martin, in their collective efforts.
Maybe their public relations could be improved but the engineering and project management processes are functioning well, judging by externally available reports.
So where is the main challenge then?
What worries me far more than any other aspect of the Future Submarine Program is the workforce development is incomplete and being questioned for the unique aspects of ab initio design.
Much effort has gone into building up the workforce for ship and submarine construction, but the same attention has not been given to the demands of skilled designers that apply to a design program but not to an off-the-shelf program.
Fortunately, Naval Group know this very well and are already planning to move more of their people to South Australia and maybe even duplicate the design teams but that won’t meet all the Defence needs for similar people.
So, I conclude that the Future Submarine Program should be celebrated, not as the largest government program in dollar value, but rather as the largest ab initio program undertaken in Australia, with all the unique challenges that entails.
So far, so good, but let’s focus on encouraging young people into design careers for undersea vehicles – a field with unique challenges for which Australia can provide innovative solutions. (Source: Defence Connect)
17 Jun 20. US State Dept. clears $600m deal with Ukraine for patrol boats, guns and sensors. The U.S. State Department has cleared a potential sale to Ukraine of 16 Mark VI patrol boats and other gear worth $600m, it was announced Wednesday.
The pending sale to Ukraine is the first of its kind since U.S. President Donald Trump was acquitted in February in congressional impeachment proceedings that centered on his administration’s freeze on military aid to Ukraine.
Along with the modern and fast patrol boats, the sale includes various weapons, sensors and communications gear to deter Russia from muscling Ukraine in the contested Kerch Strait and key ports along the Azov Sea.
According to a State Department official, the sale will improve the capability of the Ukrainian Armed Forces to “sustain river and littoral water patrols throughout Ukraine’s [maritime] exclusive economic zone.”
“Ukraine’s military has an urgent need to strengthen its capabilities to patrol and police their EEZ, territorial waters, and protect other maritime interests due to persistent maritime threats posed by the Russia‐led forces in eastern Ukraine and surrounding waters and the credible threat of Russian conventional military maritime attack,” the official said.
The 16 boats follow two boats announced earlier this month as part of the Pentagon’s package of Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative funding, the official said. Kyiv will pay for the purchase with its own funds, with support provided by the State Department’s Foreign Military Financing program.
For the U.S. Navy, the Mark VI is a heavily armed replacement for its Riverine Command Boat. The prime contractor is SAFE Boats International of Bremerton, Washington.
Wednesday’s announcement includes 32 MSI Seahawk A2 gun systems; 20 electro-optic/infrared radar, or FLIR systems; 16 Long Range Acoustic Device 5-kilometer range loudspeaker systems; 16 identification, friend or foe systems; 40 MK44 30mm cannons; and unspecified communications and support equipment.
The notifications were posted on the website of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency. DSCA notifications are not final sales; once cleared by Congress, the sales enter negotiations, during which quantities and costs can shift.
“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy goals and national security objectives of the United States by improving the security of a partner country that is a force for political stability and economic progress in Europe,” the DSCA announcement read.
The news came both as the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv announced the delivery of a $60 m aid package that includes Javelin anti-tank missiles, radios and ammunition, and a week after the approval of a $250 military aid package to Ukraine. The $39m Javelin sale was announced in October 2019.
Ukraine has depended heavily on U.S. support during a six-year war with Russia-backed separatists in the east of the country that has killed more than 14,000 people.
In 2019, U.S. military assistance to Ukraine became a cornerstone of a presidential impeachment case. Trump was accused of withholding the aid to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Trump’s rival, former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, and Biden’s son.
The aid was eventually released after a whistleblower complaint brought to light a phone call between Trump and Zelenskiy that became a basis for the congressional impeachment inquiry. (Source: Defense News)
17 Jun 20. India is on a war footing as warships and fighter jets move towards China. The Indian government has moved to a war footing as warships and fighter jets have moved to the Malacca Strait within striking distance of China. The Indian military have been given emergency powers to build up their reserves following the brutal hand-to-hand combat that took place on Monday.
The Economic Times in India reported that the Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat has been ordered to work with the country’s three armed forces in prioritising procurement requirements where necessary.
The newspaper confirmed that the Indian military have now moved Naval warships with heavy firepower along with fighter jets to the Malacca Strait and are free to move anywhere they need to in the Indo-Pacific to counter any Chinese military action.
Sources told the newspaper; the Indian government will now take no chances and are prepared and ready for any further aggression from China.
On Tuesday evening the Indian military confirmed that a total of 20 of their soldiers were killed as 17 of the troops who were in a critical condition have now died.
In a statement, the army said, “Indian troops who were critically injured in the line of duty at stand-off location and exposed to sub-zero temperatures in the high-altitude terrain have succumbed to their injuries, taking the total that were killed in action to 20.
“Indian army is firmly committed to protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the nation.”
A government source told Reuters, “They attacked with iron rods, the commanding officer was grievously injured and fell, and when that happened, more soldiers swarmed to the area and attacked with stones.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters in Beijing, “What’s shocking is that on 15 June, the Indian side severely violated our consensus and twice crossed the border line and provoked and attacked the Chinese forces, causing a violent physical confrontation between the two border forces.
“China is raising strong opposition and stern representations to the Indian side on this.”
He added, “Our border troops had a high-level meeting and reached important consensus on easing the border situation but astonishingly on 15 June the Indian troops seriously violated our consensus and twice crossed the border line for illegal activities and provoked and attacked Chinese personnel which led to serious physical conflict between the two sides and China has lodged strong protest and representation with the Indian side.
“We once again solemnly ask the Indian side to follow our consensus, strictly regulate its front-line troops and do not cross the line, do not stir up troubles or make unilateral moves that may complicate matters.” (Source: London Loves Business)
17 Jun 20. Houthis Have Built their Own Drone Industry in Yemen. Houthi rebels in Yemen are becoming increasingly capable in making unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that can carry explosives long distances. Their new skills are part of Iran’s strategy to use drones and UAV technology to project its power across the region with the ability to use ‘plausible deniability’ as an excuse for attacks.
It is now using the technology, aligned with its development of highly accurate ballistic missiles, to demonstrate to Gulf States, the US and others that a military attack on Iran would come with significant consequences.
“When you look at what Iran has been doing, it is all very consistent with its reliance on non-conventional tools that allow it to project power with plausible deniability that does not lead to the threat of direct confrontation,” said Dr Aniseh Bassiri Tabrizi, of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).
The Middle East specialist warned that Iran’s brinksmanship could result in a “confrontation without that being the intention”.
She added: “Iraq is the closest case we have seen where this type of strategy is translating into warfare between the two sides.”
The greatest success with drones came after Houthi-made models were used alongside Iranian cruise missiles to attack two oil production facilities belonging to Saudi state oil company Aramco in September last year. The development confirmed Iran’s role in arming the Yemeni militia faction.
“The Houthis have their own drone industry,” a military intelligence source told The National.
“And they are not stupid. They get a new bit of kit, they take it apart and see how it works. Amazingly they’ve gained knowledge in ballistic missiles, land attack cruise missiles and drones because that’s the kit they’re getting across the border and by sea from Iran. As well as equipment, Iran is providing technical advisers and engineer know-how on how to turn drones into deadly attack weapons.”
The growing Houthi threat to the Gulf has been examined by other analysts at RUSI. Justin Bronk, a Research Fellow for Airpower and Technology at the London-based institution, said:
“While it’s low tech – that’s a benefit. If you want to enable your proxies – and Iran does this very successfully with relatively small-scale technical transfer – you need just key components and a few technical specialists. As a result the Houthis have been able to set up quite an impressive indigenous drone battlefield drone industry.”
In a case of “reverse proliferation” the Iranians then took the Houthi manufactured drones to the launch area in Iran – opposite the Kuwait border – and used them alongside their own cruise missiles as part of a “plausible deniability” operation against Saudi. At the time the Houthi drones did not have sufficient range to fly from Yemen 800 kilometres to the Aramco plant.
Both Iranian and Houthi drones are considered a serious threat for countries like Saudi with critical infrastructure spread across a vast geographical area where one attack could cause serious problems. It is also near impossible to defend the infrastructure against drone attacks.
While Iran is passing on its knowledge to allies, it is also expanding drone use for its own forces. Without a strong air force, Iran has found it can achieve ISR – intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance – by flying drones over the battlefield.
This allows troops on the ground to see what’s ‘over the hill’ making it harder to be ambushed or easier to spy on enemy forces.
But they are also becoming effective at using drones to call in highly accurate artillery and mortar fire.
The use of drones for indirect fire is making Iran’s proxies “massively more lethal”, according to Mr Bronk.
“For example, a mortar is inaccurate and it’s very hard to be precise in an ambush unless you have a small drone – quadcopter or multi-copter or small UAV – at which point you can spot where your first round goes, adjust with your second and get your third on target. We’ve seen lots of use of that by Iran proxies.”
This can be used against military bases or embassies.
Currently all of Iran’s drones have to be operated by a remote control from a ground station, limiting the range of the bigger drones like the Shahab 129 to about 200km. Iran has yet to match the ability to remotely control drones from space on a par with America’s massive satellite communications network.
However, defending against drones – especially mass attacks – is very difficult as a definitive technology does not exist, although defence manufacturers are looking at laser and jamming technology alongside detection equipment. (Source: UAS VISION/The National)
14 Jun 20. Putin says Russia will be able to counter hypersonic weapons. Russia will soon be in a position to counter hypersonic arms deployed by other countries, President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday, adding that Moscow was ahead of the United States in developing new types of weapons.
Hypersonic glide vehicles can steer an unpredictable course and manoeuvre sharply as they approach impact. They also follow a much flatter and lower trajectory than ballistic missiles.
Washington and Moscow have been expanding their defence capabilities as some Cold War-era arms control agreements collapsed during worsening of Russia’s ties with the West.
Last year Russia deployed its first hypersonic nuclear-capable missiles, while the Pentagon has a goal of fielding hypersonic capabilities in the early to mid-2020s.
“It’s very likely that we will have means to combat hypersonic weapons by the time the world’s leading countries have such weapons,” Putin was quoted as saying by the RIA news agency.
While Russia and the United States had broadly the same number of nuclear weapons, Putin said Moscow was ahead in advanced arms development. (Source: Reuters)
12 Jun 20. Russian nuclear-powered sub enters service amid arms control fears. Russia’s most-advanced new nuclear-powered submarine entered service on Friday, the defence ministry said, at a time of growing arms control tensions between Moscow and the West.
The Knyaz Vladimir (Prince Vladimir) – designed to carry Bulava intercontinental nuclear missiles – was enrolled into the navy during Friday’s Russia Day celebrations.
The announcement comes against the background of a rift with Western powers over Ukraine and fears of a burgeoning arms race following the demise of a landmark Cold War-era nuclear pact.
The Borei-A (Boreas) class submarine is named after a ruler of the medieval Kievan Rus, the territory in modern-day Ukraine from which the Russian state would later emerge.
The first upgraded 955A model to be produced in the Borei class is one of the centrepieces in President Valdimir Putin’s plans to upgrade the nuclear-powered fleet.
The Borei submarine project, started shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, had long been plagued by shortages of cash and failures during tests of the Bulava missile.
The global arms control architecture erected during the Cold War to keep Washington and Moscow in check has come under strain since the demise of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
In August last year, the United States pulled out of the accord that banned the deployment of short and intermediate range missiles, accusing Moscow of flouting it, something Russia denies.
The last major nuclear arms control treaty between Russia and the United States, the New START treaty, is due to expire in 2021. It limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads the world’s two biggest nuclear powers can deploy. (Source: Reuters)
11 Jun 20. Global Spending on Defence Declines as Governments Allocate Funds to Reactivate the Economy. Frost & Sullivan’s recent analysis, “Post-pandemic Growth Opportunity Analysis of the Defence Industry,” presents the impact of global spending on defence under three scenarios—gradual containment, severe pandemic, and global emergency.
As governments around the world allocate funds to contain the COVID-19 pandemic and reactivate the economy, under the severe pandemic scenario, defence spending will stagnate at current levels for the short term (2020-2021). In the global emergency scenario, defence spending will reduce, though this will mainly depend on global and regional political conditions.
But, in the long term, it will be cut by at least 10%, as witnessed in the past.
“The decline in GDP and the increase of budget deficits would have an impact on defence spending, but the effect would be lower than other industries,” said Alexander Clark, Aerospace & Defence Research Analyst at Frost & Sullivan. “Additionally, governments across the world will promote investments for national security and as potential investments for export revenue.”
Clark added: “With increasing geopolitical tensions, the regional defence spending ratio will remain unaffected as the underlying political factors continue to remain constant. Further, the United States, Asia and Europe, respectively, will remain the biggest consumers of defence products.”
Despite this, defence market participants are likely to increase revenue realisation from a services portfolio by redesigning their strategies and customer engagement models, including:
— Mergers and acquisitions: Identify businesses/SMEs whose acquisition/partnership would diversify and strengthen the existing portfolio.
— Vertical integration: Focus on offering aftermarket services such as simulator training, PBL contracts, spare parts or maintenance, repair, and operating (MRO).
— Robotics and artificial intelligence: Develop and upgrade products that serve military-medical, commercial-security, containment, and logistics purposes.
— Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defence (CBRN): Strategic acquisitions or diversification of product portfolio should include CBRN protective clothing and equipment.
For over five decades, Frost & Sullivan has become world-renowned for its role in helping investors, corporate leaders and governments navigate economic changes and identify disruptive technologies, Mega Trends, new business models and companies to action, resulting in a continuous flow of growth opportunities to drive future success. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Frost & Sullivan)
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