Sponsored by Exensor
20 Aug 20. Poll shows Swiss back $6.6bn plan to buy new fighter jets. Swiss voters are set to approve a 6bn Swiss franc ($6.6bn) purchase of new fighter jets in a referendum next month, a poll for broadcaster SRF showed on Thursday.
The survey by gfs.bern found 58% of respondents favoured the government’s plan while 39% opposed it and 3% had no opinion. The vote is planned for Sept. 27 and will decide whether to approve the purchase without knowing who will win the contract.
The poll of 29,450 eligible voters had a margin of error of 2.9 percentage points.
European aerospace group Airbus, France’s Dassault, Sweden’s Saab, and Boeing and Lockheed Martin from the United States bid for the contract in January. Swiss authorities later excluded Saab from the race, saying its entry was not developed enough.
Switzerland’s ageing stable of Boeing McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C and D Hornets and Northrop F-5 Tigers is scheduled to be retired within years. Airbus’s Eurofighter, Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet, Dassault’s Rafale, and F-35As made by Lockheed Martin are in the running.
New jets are to be delivered by 2025.
Neutral Switzerland, which last fought a short war in 1847, has struggled in the past to persuade citizens to back a deal for new fighters. In 2014, around 52% voted against a 3.5bn franc plan to buy 22 Gripen fighter jets from Saab. (Source: Reuters)
18 Aug 20. First Meeting of Defence Ministers of E3 Countries. Federal Minister of Defence Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer will invite her colleagues, Florence Parly of France and Ben Wallace of the United Kingdom, to the first formal meeting of Defence Ministers of the E3 group in Saarland on 20 and 21 August 2020.
“I want to use Germany’s presidency of the European Council to discuss increased European capacity for action in defence policy and Europe’s role in the world, also within the E3 format. I am delighted that my colleagues from France and the United Kingdom have accepted the invitation to my Saarland home – at the heart of Europe, if you will.”
“Crises in our immediate neighbourhood, the United States’ partial reorientation, and the impact of as well as the defence and technological challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic require that we better pool European resources. Despite BREXIT, cooperation with the United Kingdom will continue to be of high importance to Germany and France with respect to security policy. The E3 format provides an added value for new impulses, also as an additional link between the EU and NATO.”
Since 2003, within the scope of negotiations regarding the Iranian nuclear programme, the E3 format has become part of security policy coordination in Europe and has acted as a mediator between the EU, the US and Iran. In her keynote address at the Bundeswehr University Munich on 7 November 2019, the Federal Minister suggested that the E3 format be consolidated at the ministerial level. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/German Ministry of Defence)
18 Aug 20. US, Poland Sign Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.
The United States and Poland signed a recently negotiated Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) Saturday in Warsaw.
Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak inked the deal after meeting with Polish President Andrzej Duda.
“The agreement will enhance our military cooperation and increase the United States military presence in Poland to further strengthen NATO deterrence, bolster European security, and help ensure democracy, freedom, and sovereignty,” U.S. President Donald Trump said in a statement.
The deal supplements an existing NATO Status of Forces Agreement, and it also allows U.S. forces access to additional military installations in Poland.
About 4,500 U.S. troops are currently based in Poland and about 1,000 will be added, as both counties agreed and announced last year.
Last July, the Pentagon said that about 12,000 troops would be withdrawn from Germany, from which some 5,600 would be stationed in other countries in Europe, including Poland.
The relocation of U.S. troops is in line with Trump’s demand to reduce American forces in Germany.
Also Saturday, Pompeo met with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki in Poland’s capital, where he honored the centennial of the Battle of Warsaw, State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said.
Pompeo and Morawiecki discussed a new draft bilateral agreement to cooperate in the development of Poland’s civil nuclear power program, which the two countries initialed this week.
Besides defense cooperation, Pompeo and Morawiecki discussed the support for the people of Belarus, measures to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, securing 5G networks, and improving regional energy and infrastructure through the Three Seas Initiative.
Pompeo said Saturday at a news conference in Warsaw that the U.S. is following developments “closely” in Belarus after last weekend’s disputed election and a clampdown on subsequent protests.
The top U.S. diplomat also said the U.N. Security Council’s failure Friday to extend a U.N. arms embargo on Iran was “a serious mistake.”
The U.S. effort to extend the embargo failed because of opposition from China and Russia, and a decision by Britain, France, Germany and eight other council members to abstain from voting.
In a statement Saturday, Pompeo lauded Lithuania for designating Hezbollah as a terrorist group and prohibiting its affiliates from entering its territory.
“Lithuania’s decisive action, which follows Germany’s own ban on Hezbollah on April 20, recognizes there is no distinction between Hizballah’s so-called ‘military’ and ‘political’ wings,” the statement said.
Poland was the last leg of Pompeo’s four-nation tour of eastern and central Europe, during which he visited the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Austria, and met with the countries’ leaders. (Source: ASD Network/VOA News)
19 Aug 20. Royal Navy monitor heightened Russian activity in waters close the UK. The Royal Navy and NATO allies have escorted nine Russian Navy warships during heightened levels of activity in the waters close to the UK. Offshore Patrol Vessels HMS Mersey and HMS Tyne joined Type 23 frigate HMS Westminster in an operation that saw allied ships monitor every movement of three Steregushchiy-class corvettes, three Ropucha-class landing ships and the same number of missile-armed patrol boats.
Royal Navy warships joined NATO allies from Portugal, Canada, Germany, Norway and Denmark in tracking the Russians through some of the busiest sea lanes in the world.
Russian ships had dispersed after their Navy Day in St Petersburg last month and sailed out from the Baltic Sea and into the North Sea for large-scale exercises.
“We had NATO warships shadowing the Russian task group through some of the busiest traffic lanes in the world,” said HMS Mersey’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Will Edwards-Bannon.
“This was made possible by the professional and highly-trained ships’ companies of all allied units involved, whose shared NATO tactics and training allow for seamless integration and joint working.”
The Royal Navy warships were assigned to the very high readiness Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1), which patrols the waters of northern Europe from the Baltic to the Atlantic.
British ships worked closely with Portuguese frigate NRP Corte-Real – the task group’s flagship – and Halifax-class frigate HMCS Toronto of the Royal Canadian Navy, while there were numerous supporting vessels from German, Norwegian and Danish navies.
Royal Fleet Auxiliary tanker RFA Tideforce kept the task group ticking, carrying out replenishment of supplies and fuel to keep the ships at sea and able to continue on their operations.
Commanding Officer of HMS Westminster, Commander Will Paston, said: “The Royal Navy demonstrated its flexibility in being able to shadow the Russian Navy units.
“While the Russian Navy operated in a safe and professional manner, HMS Westminster combined with NATO-allied units across the North Sea and Baltic Sea to escort them throughout.”
HMS Westminster joined NRP Corte-Real in the north, monitoring the missile-armed patrol boats, while under the control of HMCS Toronto, HMS Tyne and Mersey shadowed the corvettes and landing ships as they headed south towards the English Channel.
“Shadowing missions such as this are increasingly routine for Mersey and her sister ships of the Royal Navy’s Overseas Patrol Squadron,” added Lt Cdr Edwards-Bannon.
“This was the first time in recent years, however, that we have done so while under the operational command of NATO.
“As such we raised the NATO flag here in Mersey with pride as we worked closely with fellow service personnel from many of the alliance’s 30 member countries, both ashore at NATO’s Maritime Command HQ in London and afloat in the other allied warships comprising the Standing NATO Maritime Group One.”
Lieutenant Commander Richard Skelton, Commanding Officer of HMS Tyne, said: “I am proud to say Tyne seamlessly integrated into SNMG1 and supported NATO in monitoring Russian activity in the North Sea.
“The speed at which the task group formed and became operationally effective is testament to the strength of NATO and I am pleased to be part of it.”
This latest operation comes after Mersey and sister ship Tyne tracked destroyer RFS Vice Admiral Kulakov as it headed into the North Sea and through the English Channel earlier this month. (Source: Royal Navy)
18 Aug 20. Finland’s $12bn fighter plan dodges the post-pandemic budget axe. The Finnish government’s budget proposal for 2021 has allayed concerns of delays or reduced funding for the Armed Forces’ (FAF) HX Fighter Program. The plan will effectively increase the military’s budgetary framework in 2021 by $2bn to $5.8bn to meet phase one of the project’s procurement costs.
The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced Finland to significantly increase international borrowings and further load national debt, was feared to have a negative bearing of the fighter replacement project, particularly against the backdrop of a potential economic recession and grim forecasts of an 8 to 10 percent drop in GDP in 2020.
Instead, the 2021 budget both protects and moves forward the $12bn national security capital investment.
The HX Fighter Program will have a “substantial effect” on the FAF’s budgetary position and finances from 2021, said the HX Program’s Director, Lauri Puranen.
The $5.8bn allocation represents a massive 54 percent increase on the FAF’s defense budget for 2021 compared to 2020. Moreover, the higher financial provision will elevate military non-aligned Finland’s defense spend, as a ratio of GDP, from 1.4 percent in 2020 to over 2 percent in next year.
Finland plans to procure up to 64 fighters to replace its ageing fleet of F/A-18C/D Hornets. The government is slated to finalize its decision on the choice of fighter aircraft in 2021.
The project timetable, with oversight from the FDF’s Logistics Command, envisages the Finnish Air Force taking delivery of new fighters over the period 2025 to 2030.
International fighter aircraft in contention for the $12bn contract include the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, the Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin F-35 and the Saab Gripen.
Phase two of the HX project is currently underway. This is focused on the content of the procurement in respect to each individual bidder. A request for best and final offers will be sought at the end of the second phase of negotiations in the fourth quarter of 2020, and ahead of a government decision on selection in the first half of 2021.
Although the 2021 budget has secured project-specific funding for the HX Fighter Program, the overall fragile state of Finland’s national finances threatens to curtail capital increases to other areas of defense, including training and multi-branch field exercises, in that year.
Gen. Timo Kivinen, the FAF’s defense chief, said that while the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the postponement of exercises, it has not affected Finland’s military readiness. (Source: Defense News)
18 Aug 20. Greek and Turkish warships collide in the Aegean Sea. A Greek and Turkish warship were involved in a minor collision during a standoff in the eastern Mediterranean on 12 August.
The Turkish survey vessel Oruç Reis is pictured being escorted by Turkish Navy vessels in the eastern Mediterranean on 10 August. (Ministry of National Defense/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
The incident occurred amid rising tensions between the two countries after Turkey dispatched a geological survey vessel, Oruç Reis, to chart an area claimed by both sides for possible hydrocarbon deposits accompanied by five Turkish warships.
When the expedition was first announced, the backlash from NATO, the EU, US, and the UK appeared to force a re-think in Ankara, only for the flotilla to re-start its mission on 10 August between Crete, Cyprus, and around the small isolated Greek island of Kastellorizo, which is 2 km off the Turkish coast but 125 km east of Rodos, the nearest Greek territory. During its excursions, Oruç Reis has been shadowed by several Greek frigates.
On 12 August, the Hellenic Navy’s 3,500-tonne Ellis-class frigate Limnos (F 451) reportedly made contact when its bow touched the stern of the Turkish 3,100-tonne Barbaros-class frigate TCG Kemalreis (F 247). Greek defence ministry officials described the incident as “an accidental mini-collision” that was caused by the Greek ship’s manoeuvre to avoid a head-on collision. Turkey, however, has described it as a “provocation”.
Although there were rumours and news reports of serious damage to one or both ships, causing a return to port, these have proved unfounded and both ships remain operational at sea. Following the incident, Limnos continued on its voyage to take part in a joint exercise with another Greek warship and two French Navy ships, while Oruç Reis’s mission is set to continue until 23 August. (Source: Jane’s)
17 Aug 20. Unions urge UK Government to fastrack defence programmes. The Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions has urged the government to not ignore nine ‘shovel-ready’ defence projects that it says would secure over 13,000 highly skilled jobs.
The Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions has urged the government to not ignore nine ‘shovel-ready’ defence projects that it says would secure over 13,000 highly skilled jobs.
The nine projects worth a combined £2.9bn that are part of the Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) equipment plan, but are either on hold or not due to be procured until 2025. The projects include the construction of new Royal Fleet Auxiliary support ships, upgrades to armoured vehicles and fighter jet projects.
The CSEU said that while the French and German governments were making ‘multi-billion’ investments in defence as part of their industrial response to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, the UK had ‘no stated plans to bring forward defence equipment programmes’.
The CSEU is made up of four affiliated unions, Unite, GMB, Community and Prospect, which together represent over 100,000 members.
The German government is set to invest a further €1.5bn in defence as part of a €130bn targeted investment to support industry, while the French government has brought forward defence orders worth €300m.
France’s Assemble National has also asked French Service Chiefs to present a wishlist of equipment programmes expected to be worth up to €1.5bn per annum over several years.
Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions general secretary Ian Waddell said: “Boris Johnson called for shovel ready projects to help Britain weather the economic crisis. There are dozens of projects which have been budgeted for are in the pipeline and which can either be brought forward a couple of years or have additional orders added. This will boost the economy now when it needs it.
“We were promised that the economy would be levelled up through investment in our manufacturing sector. Protecting jobs and creating new ones will be by far the quickest way to get the country out of the economic crisis. The public will not understand why this is not happening”.
So far the UK Government has committed £82.2bn to support businesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The CSEU said that bringing forward its recommended projects would be ‘a drop in the ocean’ in terms of spend and would ‘maintain and create jobs which will provide tax income for the exchequer as well as boost consumer spending on the high street’.
Waddell added: “The Integrated Defence and Security Review is in danger of turning into the Dominic Cummings Review with the Prime Minister’s advisor wanting to buy equipment off the shelf from the US rather than design, build and maintain it in the UK.
“The danger is that the economy goes into such a nosedive that future defence budgets get reallocated and existing orders dry up and more jobs are put at risk.”
Of the nine programmes outlined, the Union identified six already in the process of being procured and three existing programmes that could benefit from new orders.
The six programmes the CSEU wants to be accelerated are:
- The Fleet Solid Support Ships (FSS), which it says would support 2,500 jobs and is worth £500m a year. The three ships are seen as vital to the UK’s plans to deploy Carrier Strike groups and will keep the UK’s new aircraft carriers stocked with supplies whilst at sea.
- Type 26 frigates, CSEU said that only three of the planned eight ships have been ordered. It said the government should order the next five now to secure 1,000 jobs, adding that the new order would be worth £100m a year.
- Typhoon AESA Radar Upgrade. CSEU said the radar upgrade had been pushed back to post-2025 but that ordering it now would secure 600 jobs and be worth £100m a year.
- Team Tempest, the UK’s project to develop a future combat air system. CSEU said bringing forward the second phase of the programme would secure between 2,500 to 3,500 jobs and be worth £150m a year.
- Boxer Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV). CSEU is calling for the government to double the production rate of the Boxer MIV, securing 1,250 jobs. This, the Unions said, would be valued at £125m a year.
- AJAX and Warrior CSP. With AJAX underway, the CSEU called for production of Warrior CSP to be brought forward at a cost of £200m a year to safeguard 1,200 jobs.
The CSEU is also calling for the following three programmes to be extended:
- Typhoon Tranche 3B/4. The CSEU has said that the UK could acquire 24-36 new Typhoons to replace tranche 1 jets already in service. This it said would cost £2.5-3bn over three-to-five years. Both Germany and Spain are acquiring new Typhoons as part of their pandemic industrial response.
- Merlin Mk2 Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Helicopters. The CSEU said that the UK does not operate enough Merlins to fill the AWACS and ASW role. With an already running production line, the Unions advocated for adding eight to ten new helicopters at a cost of £500-£750m.
- Boxer Variants. The UK is set to acquire four Boxer variants at present. The Unions are advocating that the UK Government order new variants to bolster UK involvement in the supply chain. The CSEU said this would cost £1.5-2bn over an eight to 10-year period. (Source: army-technology.com)
17 Aug 20. Turkish industry prospers, but foreign relations are limiting its potential. The official numbers are impressive. In President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s narrative, the number of Turkish defense industry programs rose from 62 in 2002 to 700 today. In the same period, the number of defense and aerospace companies rose from 56 to 1,500. The government was administering $5.5bn worth of programs then; now this is at $75bn. Local industry turnover rose from $1bn to $10.8bn; and exports jumped from a mere $248m to more than $3bn.
Two Turkish companies that weren’t on the Defense News Top 100 list last year have made their way onto the list this year, making the total number of Turkish firms on the list to seven, from five the year prior. Those companies are military electronics specialist Aselsan (48th on the list), Turkish Aerospace Industries (53th), armored vehicles maker BMC (89th), missile maker Roketsan (91st), military technologies specialist STM (92nd), armored vehicle maker FNSS (new this year at 98th) and military software specialist Havelsan (new this year at 99th). Of the seven, five are government-controlled companies. BMC, a Turkish-Qatari partnership, and FNSS are privately owned.
A success story, by any criteria. Thanks to which, according to the Turkish government, the country’s dependence on foreign defense systems plunged from 80 percent to 30 percent. Erdogan says he aims to end dependency on foreign systems by 2023, the centennial of the Turkish republic.
However, while the Turkish defense industrial base has made progress, there have been lingering roadblocks along the way.
It can be difficult to determine the percentage of foreign input in a system. And what the Turkish authorities portray as “indigenous systems” (or 100 percent national systems, in local jargon) are often not.
One of the major weaknesses of the Turkish industry is the lack of engine technology. For instance, one of Turkey’s most prestigious “indigenous” programs, the Altay tank, is struggling to make progress, despite a serial production contract, due to the lack of a power pack — the engine and the transmission mechanism.
Similarly, Turkey’s most ambitious indigenous program — the design, development and production of a national fighter jet, dubbed TF-X — appears stalled, as Turkish aerospace authorities are yet to find an engine for the planned aircraft. The TF-X program was officially launched in December 2010. In January 2015 then-Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced that the planned fighter would have a twin engine. That was when the search for an engine began.
The amphibious assault ship TCG Anadolu, the Turkish Navy’s flagship vessel under construction with license from Spain’s Navantia, is progressing as planned, but industry experts say it is no more than 60 percent Turkish-made and is a copy of the Spanish Navy warship Juan Carlos I.
Turkey’s indigenous T129 attack helicopters are a Turkish variant of the A129 built by the Italian-British company AgustaWestland. The T129 is produced under license from AgustaWestland. A $1.5bn export deal with Pakistan for a batch of 30 T129s has long been stalled as it awaits U.S. export licenses, which is required because the helo is powered by an American engine.
For the past decade, Turkey’s local industry has been unable to produce a national solution for the need for long-range air and anti-missile defense systems. After years of uncertainty Turkey signed a $2.5bn deal for the acquisition of the Russian-made S-400 system. In response, the United States ejected Turkey from the American-led multinational Joint Strike Fighter program that builds the F-35 fighter jet.
“That will cost the Turkish industry critical capabilities it could have earned during the production cycle,” a Western industry source in Ankara told Defense News. “It also means a loss of significant income for the Turkish industry.”
Otherwise, local and international analysts agree that drone, shipbuilding, military electronics and armored vehicles technologies have been progressing exponentially in Turkey. The country has found foreign customers for these systems due to high technological standards and competitive pricing. The combat-proven technologies easily find their place in export markets, especially in countries with which Turkey has friendly political relations. Lucrative markets for Turkish companies include those in Qatar — Turkey’s most important regional ally — as well as some north African countries, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Turkic republics in Central Asia, and Muslim countries in southeast Asia like Indonesia and Malaysia.
Turkish exporters have been augmented by a steady decline of the country’s national currency. The U.S. dollar was trading at 1.7 Turkish liras five years ago. Today, the exchange rate is $1 to 7 liras. That plunge gives an exchange rate boost to companies with higher local input rates and export potential. In other words, when the local currency experienced a decline, the commodities produced in Turkey generally became cheaper for foreign customers.
However, those companies dependent on now pricey foreign technology have seen their international competitiveness badly pruned.
The lira’s slide downward also slows or altogether suspends government-run programs due to a cash shortage. Overseas investors have withdrawn $7bn from Turkey’s local currency bond market in the first six months of 2020. The economy is in recession, and inflation and unemployment rates are soaring. At the end of May 2020, Turkey’s national budget produced a deficit of 90.1bn liras (U.S. $12.9bn), or 65 percent of the government’s deficit target for the entire year of 2020.
That macroeconomic picture may further squeeze the government in financing its weapons programs, economist warn. (Source: Defense News)
17 Aug 20. Europe’s next-gen fighter club faces a dilemma: Who else can join? With mainland Europe and the United Kingdom pursuing their own sixth-generation fighter programs, differing views have started to emerge about how many nations should partake in the action.
At issue is whether the British Tempest and the German-French-Spanish Future Combat Air System can coexist in the long run without cannibalizing the continent’s defense budget.
What’s more, while leaders in the U.K. have openly advertised their appetite to pick up partner countries for Tempest, Paris and Berlin are divided about admitting additional members, besides Spain, for fear of slowing down their effort.
German defense officials early this year told Bundestag lawmakers they consider it risky to keep the circle of participants too small because team Tempest could go around snagging up contributors, though that concern has yet to bear out.
To Dirk Hoke, the CEO of Airbus Defence and Space, the issue comes down to the budget. His company is the co-lead for the FCAS program along with France’s Dassault Aviation. Notably, the French have the lead for the Next-Generation Fighter, envisioned as the central aircraft for the larger program of supporting drones and command-and-control equipment.
“Europe can’t afford two new systems,” Hoke said in a virtual panel discussion organized by a German defense industry lobbying association.
That is especially the case, he argued, because a competition between the U.K. and members of the European Union would reinforce the perception that Britain’s divorce from the bloc has weakened the intra-continental defense alliance — a notion that leaders on both sides of the Channel have been trying to dispel.
Finding a way to merge FCAS and Tempest should become a top priority for decision-makers once a Brexit agreement on future trade and defense relations is in the bag, according to Hoke. Until then, he said, “we simply have to be patient.”
In order to be prepared for “an opportunity to negotiate at eye level,” both projects should continue to work through their technology development so that eventual touchpoints for cooperation are already far along, he explained.
In contrast, Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier has urged caution when it comes to broadening the FCAS circle too soon.
“I don’t know if there won’t be some new partners in the future,” he said during a company earnings call late last month. “We must not exclude them.”
Noting that Spain already was admitted to the program after Germany and France had kicked it off, Trappier said the companies involved were still learning to work together. “We have to get to know each other and share our work together,” he said.
“If we change partners every six months, I can tell you that we will not reach 2040,” he added, referring to the envisioned in-service date for the futuristic weapon.
The next big milestone for the program is fielding a demonstrator aircraft in 2026. (Source: Defense News)
Founded in 1987, Exensor Technology is a world leading supplier of Networked Unattended Ground Sensor (UGS) Systems providing tailored sensor solutions to customers all over the world. From our Headquarters in Lund Sweden, our centre of expertise in Network Communications at Communications Research Lab in Kalmar Sweden and our Production site outside of Basingstoke UK, we design, develop and produce latest state of the art rugged UGS solutions at the highest quality to meet the most stringent demands of our customers. Our systems are in operation and used in a wide number of Military as well as Home land Security applications worldwide. The modular nature of the system ensures any external sensor can be integrated, providing the user with a fully meshed “silent” network capable of self-healing. Exensor Technology will continue to lead the field in UGS technology, provide our customers with excellent customer service and a bespoke package able to meet every need. A CNIM Group Company