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Newscast: December 1-31, 2007

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

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Previous items published this month:

Recent News Analysis:

  • Bhutto's Murder Spurs Al Qaeda's Quest for Islamic Nukes
    The assassination of Benazir Bhutto brings closer the ultimate nightmare of Al-Qaeda and its affiliates being armed with nuclear weapons. Defense Update provides a fresh view and assessments of the unfolding, volatile situation.
  • After Brit's Withdrawal - Basrah Province Ready for Iranian Takeover
    Last Sunday the British forces in Iraq transferred security authority over Basra to the Iraqi Army. Unfortunately, the only thing which took place during the transfer ceremony was its orderly fashion. What the British leave behind is one of the worst security nightmares in that troubled land, which could well end up in disaster.
  • Defeated in Iraq, Al Qaeda Migrates to Maghreb - Next Stop: Europe
    The twin blasts that caused such devastation in Algeria this week posted a grim announcement that an Islamic group, once thought to have been defeated, is back in its bloody business. Poised to extend its ruthless tactics throughout North Africa, it is making the first stop towards its ultimate target - the European continent. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, (AQIM) is becoming a dominant element in Osama Bin Laden's global terror ambition.
  • 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.
  • 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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T-95 Main Battle Tanks & Tank Support to Augment Russian Armor Units

In 2009 the Russian Army is scheduled to receive a new main battle tank, claimed to be superior to existing designs. The new tank will introduce a new hull, power plant and drive train. It will also have improved firepower, comprising of new armament, target acquisition, fire control and surveillance systems. The Russian Army is also planning to field the long awaited Tank Support Vehicle, scheduled to enter production at Uralvagonzavod next year. The first armor units are expecting the new BMPTs by 2010.

Russia to Deliver Missile Defense Systems to Iran

Iran will receive the first shipments of the Russian S-300 PMU-1 air/missile defense systems next year (2008), an unidentified defense industry source told the Russian news agency Interfax. The Russian agency confirmed the Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Najjar quoted saying that Iran will soon receive the missiles, under a previously signed contract. Previous Iranian claims were denied by the Russians. However, the current Russian arms trade policy led by President Vladimir Putin is stressing Russian right to pursue opportunities regardless to US restrictions that effected Russian defense exports in recent years.

Morocco Considers F-16C/D Block 50/52 As Part of a $2.4 Package

Following the US proposed sale of F-16C/D aircraft to Morocco, the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified the US Congress about the proposed package, which could cost up to $2.4 billion. This sale is considers as strengthening U.S. support to Morocco and bolstering U.S. efforts to fight terror and insurgency in the Maghreb, as part of its Global War on Terrorism (GWOT).

Switzerland Plans an Upgrade for the F/A-18s

Switzerland plans to upgrade its fleet of F/A-18C/D with a comprehensive modernization package to be provided by Boeing, at an estimated value of $535 million. The program, known as "Upgrade 25" aims at enhancing survivability and networking capability of the Swiss Hornets, extending the operational life of the 33 Swiss Air Force F/A-18C/D aircraft with modernized cockpit displays, image capture, handling and transmission, data recording and navigation systems and mission planning support. The basic package includes the delivery of 20 shipsets of AN/ASQ-228A(V) Advanced Tactical FLIRs (ATFLIR) targeting pods, and AN/ALR-67(V)3 Electronic Warfare Countermeasures Receiving Sets (44 sets).

Russian Bombers Continue Long Range Patrols

Refuting claims that Russian bombers are in poor conditions (especially the worn out engine) and cannot sustain operational tempo dictated from the Kremlin, the commander of the Air Force's strategic aviation said there are no technical obstacles to the continuation of long-distance patrols by Russian strategic bombers.

'Digitized Combat Group' demonstrates Advantages of Integrated Sensors

Sagem Défense Sécurité demonstrated the capabilities of advanced 'sensor to shooter' capabilities, as part of the Phoenix demo, coinciding with a recent “Battlespace Digitization” exercise held by the French Army 2nd Armored Brigade. Utilizing representative demonstration systems including digitized vehicles and infantry combat suites, the Phoenix project has been developed with private funding by Sagem, with the support of France’s defense procurement agency, the DGA, and French Army. Sagem is planning to conduct a follow-on Phoenix 2 exercise, in 2008to evaluate the progress and implementation of lessons learned in the current demonstration.

IMI Introduces a new design for the Wildcat Armored Vehicle

Defense Update Exclusive: The new configuration of the Wildcat armored wheeled vehicle introduced by IMI is designed to meet US Marine Corps specifications. It is expected to begin testing by the USMC by early 2008. Wildcat is designed in two protection levels. The current Kit -A offers protection against armor-piercing small-arms (up to 14.5 mm ), roadside IEDs and mines. The vehicle can be equipped with form-fit Kit B where enhanced protection is required, augment the vehicle protection to defend from RPGs. Prior to its departure to the USA the Wildcat successfully completed a series of mobility tests in Israel, where it demonstrated excellent cross-country, as well as unpaved road mobility.

Israel Considers Reducing F-35 Buy to Address F-15/16 Upgrades

"The IAF’s plan is to get more than 100 F-35s the minute they are available" writes David A. Fulghum in his column on Aviation Week's Defense Technology International Ares Blog. According to Tom Burbage, quoted by Fulghum in his article, Lockheed Martin’s vice president and general manager for the F-35. However, he says the overseas release of the first export aircraft will be no sooner than 2014.According to Fulghum the IAF considers options for its future order of battle, including a tradeoff where the air force will reduce its F-35 fleet while upgrading existing F-15Is and F-16C/D and F-16Is.

Czech Pandur II Order Scrapped

After scrapping a $1.3 billion contract to buy 199 Pandur II 8x8 armored vehicles, from Austria, the Czech Defence Ministry invited the Austrian manufacturer Steyr to negotiate further actions. One possibility is reducing the vehicle mix. According to Reuters, the right-wing Civic Democrats, who won the election and lead the current government, criticized the former centre-left administration for making such a big decision after the polls. They also recommended that more 6x6 armored personnel carriers vehicles will be bought, in place of some of the heavier, 8x8 armored fighting vehicles, armed with RAFAEL's 30mm remotely controlled gun turret. Check Defense Industry Daily for a detailed coverage of this saga.

Xenonics develops High Intensity Airborne Illumination Device for UAVs

XENONICS Holdings, Inc. (AMEX:XNN) is developing a high-intensity illumination system customized for unmanned aerial systems (UAS). The system is designed for integration into a Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) being developed by Advanced Ceramics Research, Inc. (ACR), for the U.S. Government.

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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