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Newscast: December 12, 2007

Events / Calendar / News / Analysis / Defense Markets / Jobs

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Previous items published this month:

Recent News Analysis:

  • Russian Mediterranean Naval Build-Up Challenges NATO 6th Fleet Domination
    Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov announced sending a sortie of six Russian warships to the Mediterranean, led by the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier and the flagship Moskva a guided missile cruiser. This deployment further increases the strategic role of Russia's new naval buildup in the Eastern Mediterranean ports of Latakiya and Tartus in Syria. New!
  • Is Washington Losing the Gulf to Moscow?
    Internal rivalries and conflicts in the house of Saud have opened an unprecedented window of opportunity for Russia. Establishing closer strategic ties with Saudi Arabia and in other Persian Gulf countries brings Moscow closer to a region which played a strategic role in the security and stability of the USA and Europe.

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British Medium Protected patrol Vehicle Shifts into High Gear

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced today that the Ministry Of Defence plans to order 150 'Ridgeback' protected patrol vehicles to support the British forces in Afghanistan. Few months ago MOD announced plans to procure up-to 180 Medium Protected Patrol Vehicles (MPPV) to fill a gap between the heavyweight Mastiff patrol vehicles and the vector – a much lighter, armored vehicle based on the Pinzgauer truck. Ridgeback is expected to assume this role.

Malaysian Royal Air Force Su-30MKM. Photo:  chaityMalaysia Considers Increasing Su-30MKM Buy

The Malaysian Royal Air Force is considering placing a new order for an additional squadron of Su-30MKM multi-role variant of the Flanker aircraft. Russian news agency Novosti reports from Kuala Lumpur. The Su-30MKM is based on the Su-30MKI fighter. Malaysia has already received six out of 18 Su-30MKM fighters under a $900-million contract signed in 2003. The remaining 12 aircraft will be delivered in two shipments by the end of 2008. Malaysia currently operates a mixed fighter fleet, with the Russian MiG-29N Fulcrum, and the U.S.-made F/A-18D Hornet and F-5 Tiger.

F-35 in the Air… Again

The F-35 resumed flying after several months of being grounded due to electrical redesign work following malfunctions uncovered during the 19th test flight May 3rd, 2007. The 20th test flight took place seven months later, on December 7th, 2007 lasting 55 minutes, testing engine performance and aircraft handling qualities at up to 20,000 feet.

Rafale fighter aircraft in service with the French Air orce. Photo: SIRPA.
Would Libya Become the First Foreign User of the Rafale?

During the recent visit of Moammar Gaddafi in Paris, the Libyan leader and French President Nicolas Sarkozy concluded a memorandum of understanding (MOU) detailing an arms sales package worth at least over €4.5 billion. The two countries are expected to complete nnegotiating the contracts within the next 6 months. While the specific elements of the sale have not been finalized yet, apparently it includes the delivery of a Rafale fighter squadron (14 aircraft), armed with MICA air-to-air missiles. If this opportunity is translated into a firm contract, the sale will represent the first, long anticipated export sale for the Rafale.

Spain Orders Spike ER Missiles for its Tiger Attack Helicopters

On November 30th the Spanish government approved the MOD decision to equip the new Eurocopter Tiger attack helicopters with Spike ER missiles, signing an acquisition contract valued €44 million. The missiles will be delivered through 2012. The Spanish contract is a breakthrough for RAFAEL Advanced defense Systems, not only for its commercial value but since it represents the first publicly released application of the Spike as an airborne armament.

Saab Scores Two Export Contracts, for Arthur & BILL-2

Saab announced today the reception of two export orders for Arthur artillery locating radar and BILL 2 anti-tank missile system. Sofar, Saab's top-attack anti-tank missile has been fielded only with the Swedish Army. Its predecessor, BILL 1 is used by the Swedish, Austrian and Brazilian land forces. Both orders represent a total value of one billion Swedish crone (SEK - about US$156 million).

Laser Equipped C-130H Prepared for Flight Testing in 2008

Boeing has installed a 12,000 pound high-energy chemical laser module on board a C-130H aircraft, as part of the US Air force Advanced Tactical Laser (ATL) Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (CTD) program. The module was moved into place aboard the aircraft and aligned with the previously-installed beam control system, which will direct the laser beam to its target. The aircraft is being prepared to conduct a series of tests leading up to a planned demonstration flight in 2008.

The Pentagon Plans to Equip Saudi F-15Es with Sniper Targeting Pods

The Saudi air force is planning to upgrade the ground attack capability of its F-15E strike Eagle aircraft, by replacing the ageing LANTIRN targeting systems with Lockheed Martin's AN/AAQ-33 Sniper targeting pods. The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified the US Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale (FMS) of 40 Sniper pods systems at a maximum value of $220 million. DSCA stated that the acquisition will upgrade the RSAF capability to a standard already obtained by few other air forces in the region, including some of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries. Under a separate program the Royal Saudi Arabia Air Force (RSAF) is planning to invest $400 million in furtehr modernization of their 'Peace Sentinel' E-3A Sentry Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) aircraft. The upgrade will include Command, Control and Communications (C3) mission equipment/Radar System Improvement Program (RSIP) Group B kits.

Gulf States Plan US$10 Billion Investment in Air Defense, AEW

Kuwait and the UAE are planning to spend over US$10 billion in the acquisition and modernization of Patriot air defense missile systems. UAE is making the largest spending of about $9.5 billion, establishing nine fire units and a flight of three E-2C AEW aircraft. The UAE is spending about 1.35 billion in the modernization of existing Patriot PAC-2 systems. into PAC-3 and GEM-T standards.

India Cancelled Plans to Buy Light Helicopters from Eurocopter

India has cancelled its intended procurement of 197 military helicopters from EADS's subsidiary Eurocopter. In February this year Eurocopter was selected as the preferred supplier for the helicopters, beating US competitor Bell Textron which was the second finalist for the bid, estimated at US $600 million value (the expected life cycle value could be up to $4 billion).

US Navy Awards US$33 Million For Spiral 3 CREW Developments

The Network Communications Division of Northrop Grumman's Space & Mission Systems of San Diego, CA, ITT Advanced Engineering & Sciences, Annapolis Junction, Md. and Sierra Nevada Corp., ACM Systems, Sparks, Nev. were awarded $33 million contracts for the development 14 prototype models of Counter Radio-Controlled Improvised Explosive Device (RCIED) Electronic Warfare (CREW) systems Spiral 3+ systems. Under the contract, the companies will produce seven Spiral 3.1 dismounted systems and seven mounted spiral 3.2 systems each. Under a separate order the Navy awarded EDO another order for 1,136 CREW 2.1 jammers, bringing the total number of jammers ordered this year to over 6,500.

Marines Reduce MRAP Order to 2,300 Vehicles

The US Marine Corps decided to cut their planned MRAP order by 1,400 vehicles, settling for about 2,300 vehicles to equip currently deployed forces in Iraq. The stated reason for the decision is the reduced violence in Iraq and the vehicle's mobility issues, restricting its movement in theater. Other considerations could derive from the difficulty to support the outsized vehicle with current or future naval transportation vessels. The reduction in MRAP orders could save the corps $1.7 billion.

AxleTech, Eaton Team to Offer JLTV Components

Eaton Corporation announced a teaming agreement with AxleTech International to offer a vehicle traction and stability control system for the future Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) program. The Electronic All-Wheel-Drive System (eAWD) rollover protection system will provides tactical military vehicles with enhanced safety, mobility and maneuverability.

Eurofighter, BAE Sign Production Order for 72 Saudi Typhoons

The Saudi Typhoon order is now secured. Eurofighter GmbH has signed a contract with its shareholder BAE Systems acting as the industrial prime contractor on this government to government contract for the supply of 72 aircraft to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The contract represents the second and most significant export order for the Typhoon, first was the sale of 15 fighters to Austria. Including the recent order, the Typhoon order book now totals 707 Eurofighter aircraft.

Saab Promotes Gripen in Denmark Offering Industrial Incentives

Saab has signed a significant co-operation agreement with Terma, valued to more than 10 Billion Danish Krones ($1,9 Billion), part of a comprehensive industrial collaboration with Danish industry, covering cooperation in aviation, space, defense and civil security. This agreement is part of an incentive package Saab is offering Denmark, promoting the possible selection of the Swedish Gripen fighter as next generation fighter for the Royal Danish Air Force.

German Luftwaffe to Modernize Targeting Pods

The German Air Force (Luftwaffe) will acquire Israeli Litening targeting pods for its Tornado and Typhoon aircraft. The $25M deal is a follow-up to the German's previous order for a similar amount. The Luftwaffe is already operating Litening targeting pods with its Tornado strike fighters. The new generation Litening III pod employs an advanced, high resolution day and night sensors used for target acquisition and targeting with precise strike weapons. Rafael Defense Systems' Litening pods are operational with many air forces worldwide, including Israel Air Force, US Air force, Air National Guard and US Marine Corps (The US Congress recently approved the procurement of additional Litening pods in the amount of about $39M), the Australian and Indian, Dutch and Hungarian air forces. Litening is also on order to equip the British RAF Typhoons.

MDA Tests New Seeker for Boost-Phase Missile Interceptor

Earlier this week (December 3, 2007) Raytheon conducted the first test where an air-to-air missile successfully acquired and tracked a ballistic missile boosting off from its launch pad at the White sands missile range in New Mexico. The test was part of the 'Network Centric Airborne Defense Element', a missile defense system program. The test demonstrated the interceptor missile's infrared seeker's ability to acquire and track a ballistic missile target in the boost phase. The AIM-9X missile fitted with the NCADE seeker was launched from an Air National Guard F-16 test aircraft. If and when such missiles are employed the will be carried and launched from loitering over enemy areas from where missile could be launched. Such UAVs will be capable of loitering for long period of time using stealth technology to avoid detection.

F-22/F-35 - Trading Stealth for ISR?

Advances in sensor technology are expanding the data collection capabilities of next-generation fighter aircraft, enabling platforms like the F-22 and F-35 to perform sophisticated supersonic battlefield surveillance. But communication technology to transmit collected data without compromising the very-low-observable (VLO) "stealth" features of these aircraft stealth is lagging, according to a report in the December issue of Defense Technology International (DTI) magazine by Editor-in-Chief Bill Sweetman. As a result, contractors are scrambling to navigate new requirements and develop new communication protocols, including Internet-based systems, compatible with low probability of intercept (LPI) techniques to facilitate faster and more secure air-to-air and air-to-ground data networks.

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