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.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

UK Launches Third Astute Class Submarine

Artful, the third of the Astute class of nuclear attack submarines, has been launched and is expected to be commissioned in 2015. The previous two submarines, Astute and Ambush, were commissioned in 2010 and 2013 respectively.

The Royal Navy will have a total of seven Astute class submarines. The remaining four, Audacious, Anson, Agamemnon and Ajax, are expected to be commissioned between 2018 and 2024.

The Astute class submarines will join the Trafalgar class submarines, seven of which were commissioned between 1983 and 1991. Of these two have already been decommissioned, with one more expected this year in 2014.