Sunday, August 31, 2014

First P-15A / Kolkata Class Destroyer Commissioned in India

The Indian Navy has commissioned the first of its latest P-15A class destroyer, the INS Kolkata. Two more, the INS Kochi and INS Chennai, have been launched to make a total of three units for the P-15A class, with the P-15B class in the works.

The P-15A class has been plagued by numerous delays and cost overruns. The Kolkata itself was laid down back in 2003 and launched in 2006. This gives the P-15A class the distinction of having one of the most drawn out development ever witnessed for a surface warship.

Further more, despite being formally commissioned into service, the ship still has yet to be fully fitted. Among other things, it still lacks the Barak 8 surface-to-air-missile that is being jointly developed by Indian and Israel and which also has seen extensive delays during development.

Even so, the introduction of the P-15A class marks a major milestone for the Indian Navy as it gives it capabilities that it did not possess before. This is sorely needed as India comes up short in terms of warships, both in terms of quantity and quality.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Qatar Commits to Patriot SAM Batteries, Javelin Missiles and Apache Attack Helicopters

Qatar has committed itself towards purchasing over $11 billion worth of arms from the United States. Around $7 billion will be spent on Patriot Surface-to-Air Missile Air Defense Systems, another $3 billion on Apache attack helicopters and the remainder towards Javelin anti-tank missiles.

Around 10 batteries of Patriots with over 350 missiles are expected to be delivered and will include both Patriot Advanced Capability 2 (PAC-2) and PAC-3 variants. The PAC-3 variant was designed specifically to intercept incoming ballistic missiles, including those that Iran could potentially use in a conflict.

Qatar will join Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as countries in the region that have all acquired the Patriot system. Qatar's addition is another step towards a regional missile defense network using common equipment.

All four countries will also operate the Apache with Qatar's decision to acquire 24 AH-64 attack helicopters. Qatar will join Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates by purchasing 500 man-portable, fire-and-forget Javelin missiles.

However, Qatar has yet to make a decision on which fighter aircraft it will acquire. The F-15, F-18, Typhoon and Rafale are all competing to replace the French Mirage fighters that are currently being used by Qatar.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Sweden Opts For New Gripen E Fighter Aircraft Instead of Remanufactured Ones

The Swedish parliament has voted in favor of amending the existing contract for the delivery of 60 Gripen E fighter aircraft. Originally, the aircraft were to be converted from existing Gripen C currently used. The Swedish Air Force will now receive completely new aircraft instead of remanufactured ones.

This change comes shortly after the Gripen program suffered a setback when the public in Switzerland voted against the purchase of 22 Gripen E/F fighter aircraft. Switzerland had been expected the become the first export customer for the latest variant of the Gripen and Swiss pilots had already taken active part in the testing and development of the Gripen E/F.

If Switzerland does not purchase the Gripen, production of the Gripen E/F would almost certainly be affected and very likely raise the cost of the aircraft. This raises the importance for Sweden of finding a new partner, the most obvious one being Brazil, which selected the Gripen E/F as its new fighter. A contract with Brazil would help lessen the loss in Switzerland.

The Swedish decision to go for new aircraft also means that there will be many more used Gripen aircraft available that could be leased to other Air Forces. Used Gripen aircraft are currently being leased to Hungary and the Czech Republic. South Africa and Thailand are the other users besides Sweden itself.