Saturday, February 28, 2015

Egypt Is The First Buyer of French Rafale and the Second of FREMM Frigate

Egypt has agreed to buy 24 Rafale fighter aircraft from France, ending the French quest to find the first export customer for the Rafale which had its first flight all the way back in 1986.

Prior to this, France had lost in several countries against fighter aircraft from other countries, such as the F-16, Typhoon and the Gripen. This includes countries such as Morocco and Brazil where it had initially been considered the favorite to win, but in the end lost out to someone else.

Ironically, Egypt also happens to be the first export destination of the Mirage 2000, the predecessor of the Rafale. There are still about 18 Mirage 2000 in service with the Egyptian Air Force.

In the near future, France is looking at additional customers for the Rafale in Qatar and India, both of which have operated the Mirage 2000. Other countries where the Rafale is hoping to secure a contract in the more distant future is Malaysia.

Egypt also becomes the second customer of the French-Italian FREMM frigate after Morocco, which, like Egypt, ordered a single ship in 2008. This ship was delivered to Morocco in 2014 and is more similar to the French version of the FREMM than the Italian version.

Besides Morocco, France has two FREMM frigates and Italy has another four frigates. In all, Egypt has spent over 5 billion euros on new acquisitions. France is expected to provide loans to Egypt to help cover the purchases.

Monday, January 5, 2015

China's Gongji GJ-1 / Wing Loong UAV In Service and Equipped With Satellite Guided Glide Bomb

At the 2014 Zhuhai Airshow, the Wing Loong or Pterodactyl Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) from AVIC was again displayed. However, unlike in Zhuhai Airshow 2012, this time the display model carried the official emblems and insignia of the Chinese Air Force.

This confirms that the Wing Loong UAV has now entered service in China as the unit was pulled from service with number 76024. At the airshow, the UAV was also referred to as GJ-1 (Gongji) in contrast to the past where it was known only as the Wing Loong or Pterodactyl.

The Wing Loong / Pterodactyl / GJ-1 Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAV is designed for persistent Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) thanks to its extended range and endurance. It can carry out a wide range of missions, including battle damage assessment.

Depending on mission, the GJ-1 can be equipped with various electro-optical and other surveillance equipment, including the LE-350, YY-1 and YY-12 pod. The GJ-1 can also be used for precision attack in real-time as it can carry a wide range of precision guided munitions.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

India Opts For Western Suppliers When It Comes To Anti-Submarine Warfare

The Indian Navy has selected the S-70B SeaHawk over the NH Industries NH90 NFH. India will start negotiations to purchase 16 multi-role S-70B helicopters with an option for eight more, including logistics support and training.

A final contract has yet to be agreed upon, but is estimated to be worth around $1 billion. Once completed, the acquisition will fix a significant weakness in the Indian Navy with a number of ships not having the helicopters they're supposed to be equipped with.

The Indian Navy is currently short on naval helicopters. The existing Kamov Ka-28 and Sea King are both few in numbers and outdated. The new S-70B are expected to serve on both old and new ships, including the recently commissioned Kolkata class destroyers which can carry two helicopters.

The Sikorsky S-70B SeaHawk helicopter can perform a variety of missions, including:
  • Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW)
  • Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW)
  • Search and Rescue (SAR)
  • Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC)
  • Vertical Replenishment (VERTREP)
India's selection of a western vendor for naval helicopters continues a recent trend where India has gone exclusively western when it comes to anti-submarine warfare.