Tuesday, April 30, 2013

France to Cut Troops and Limit Defense Spending in White Paper

France has released its White Paper, which contains French defense outlook over the next six years from 2014 to 2019. Overall, France intends to maintain sufficient military capability, including the ability to respond militarily to a crisis abroad on its own.

Despite the current economic difficulties in France, French defense spending will be kept relatively stable over the next six years. However, there will be some cuts needed in order to balance the budget.

The total defense budget during this period will be €179.2 billion or $233.4 billion. From 2014 to 2025 spending is seen at €364 billion or $476 billion. In 2014, spending will be €31.4 billion or $41.1 billion.

The number of personnel will also be reduced by the Defense Ministry. This is in addition to the 54000 job cuts announced by former President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2008. The number of cuts may vary between 20000 to 34000. Exact details are still to be negotiated.

Some other highlights from this report are:
  • Increased cooperation between France and other European countries in matters relating to defense.
  • Joint development of a new anti-ship missile known as the Future Anti-Surface Guided Weapon in the United Kingdom and Anti-Navire L├ęger in France.
  • Maintain the single aircraft carrier France currently has, but building of a second aircraft carrier in addition to the Charles de Gaulle is postponed indefinitely.
  • Maintain the number of nuclear ballistic missiles submarines at four and the number of nuclear attack submarines at six.
  • Possible reduction in the number of Rafale fighter aircraft to be acquired for the Navy and Air Force to a total of 225.
  • Replacement of Boeing refuelling aircraft currently in service with 12 new Airbus A330 MRTT multi-role refuelling / transport aircraft instead of the previously planned 14.
  • Acquisition of 50 new Airbus A400M turboprop transport aircraft.
  • Reduction in the number of rapid deployment forces from 30000 to between 15000 and 20000.
  • Increase availability of resources for special forces.


Monday, April 29, 2013

Composition of French Armed Forces in 2012 and Top Defense Contractors

According to the French Ministry of Defense, France's current armed forces consist of the following:
  • The French military has 328,869 active personnel. The army makes up the largest proportion at 137,248 or about 41.7 percent.
  • A total of 18,800 military personnel were stationed outside of France in various parts of the world.
The inventory of the French armed forces includes:
  • 7299 armored vehicles
  • 391 helicopters
  • 273 combat aircraft
  • 246 surface-to-air weapon systems
  • 75 combat and other support ships

In 2012, the top seven defense contractors in France and their total revenue (including non-military revenue) were:
  • Safran at €13.56 billion or $17.66 billion provides navigation systems, optronics, software for submarines, ships, aircraft and soldiers.
  • Thales at €14.16 billion or $18.45 billion provides radar systems, secure communications, unmanned aerial vehicles, drones, electronic missile systems.
  • Dassault Aviation at €3.94 billion or $5.13 billion provides fighter aircraft such as the Rafale and the Mirage
  • EADS at €56.48 billion or $73.58 billion provides NH90 transport and naval helicopters, Tiger attack helicopters, Airbus A400M transport aircraft, Harfang drones, Astrium anti-missile defense systems and other missile systems in cooperation with MBDA
  • Nexter at €0.74 billion or $0.96 billion provides Leclerc main battle tanks, VBCI armored vehicles, Caesar wheeled self-propelled guns, Aravis tanks and various munitions.
  • DCNS at €2.60 billion or $3.39 billion provides conventional and nuclear-powered submarines, Fremm multi-role frigates, Mistral Landing Platform Helicopter.
  • MBDA at €3.0 billion or $3.91 billion provides Meteor ramjet-powered air-to-air missiles, Storm shadow / Scalp cruise missile, Aster surface-to-air missiles, Milan anti-tank missiles.


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Norway to Acquire Next 6 F-35 Fighter Aircraft But Will Slow Acquisition Schedule

The Norwegian Defense Ministry has requested the parliament of Norway to approve the purchase of six F-35A Lightning II fighter aircraft. The jets are to be delivered starting in 2017 or one year earlier than previously planned.

It has already ordered the first four F-35 in June 2012 and another 48 are to be purchased for a total of 52. The first four will stay in the United States for training and the next six will go to Norway.

Two F-35 fighter aircraft will be delivered in 2015 and another two in 2016. The F-35A variant ordered by Norway is the Conventional Take-Off and Landing (CTOL) variant.

Norway has decided to alter the time frame for the acquisition of the 48 F-35. The jets are now to be delivered over eight years, from 2017 to 2024, instead of the four years between 2018 and 2021.

Six jets will enter service over eight years instead of 12 over four years. The total cost is estimated at 62.6 billion Norwegian Crowns or $10.65 billion. Stretching out the time schedule will reduce the burden on the annual defense budget.

Despite recent problems with the F-35 program, Norway has a strong incentive to stick with the F-35. Norway's Kongsberg is currently developing the Joint Strike Missile (JSM), which is specifically designed to be carried internally by the F-35.

Based on the stealthy, sea-skimming, subsonic Naval Strike Missile, the JSM offers several improvements, including:
  • Fits inside the F-35
  • Extended range to about 280 km
  • Addition of a two-way data link
The missile is guided by a combined Imaging Infrared / GPS and can be used against both land and sea targets.

Norway considers the JSM to have excellent export potential due to its compatibility with the F-35, which is expected to be acquired in large numbers by many countries.


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Chinese J-20 and J-31 May Use Data From American F-22 and F-35 Fighter Programs

Lieutenant General Charles Davis testified to lawmakers from the Senate Armed Service Committee's subcommittee on tactical air and land forces that China may have used compromised American data to design and build the  J-20 and J-31 fifth-generation fighter aircraft.

Similar accusations have been mentioned before, but this time it came from a very high-ranking US Air Force officer. The statements were part of criticism that defense contractors had not done enough to protect technology relating to the F-22 and F-35 stealth fighter programs.

Especially worrisome is the threat of cyber-intrusion from foreign entities. Lieutenant General Christopher Bogdan expressed doubts regarding security implemented. In response, companies such as Lockheed Martin have assured that security is well take care of and problems have been fixed.

While China often, and especially recently, gets singled out for cyber-intrusion, all major countries have active programs to gain as much intelligence from other countries. This includes countries that are officially allies or friends of each other.

For some reason, there's the tendency to associate every advancement China has made with espionage, especially in the media. There's the conviction that China couldn't possibly have done it by themselves and therefore must have stolen or copied technology from other countries.

The J-10 is still often referred to as the result of Israeli transfer of technology to China. To some people, the J-10 is basically the Lavi. Actually, there is lots of evidence why Israel could not play a significant role in the J-10, but people tend to ignore it.

The J-31 does seem to incorporate features from the F-35, but that does not mean China is using American technology. Often, engineers come up with the same solution to the same problem independently.

The J-31 is not even that similar in terms of design, despite a passing resemblance. The whole idea that China or any other country can simply develop new aircraft based on downloaded information is oversimplifying the complexity in developing a fifth-generation aircraft.

That doesn't mean cyber intelligence cannot help narrow down the path to take in solving a specific problem. It can speed up development somewhat, but countries will still have do all the really hard work on their own.


Friday, April 26, 2013

Russian PAK FA / Sukhoi T-50 Fighter to Enter Service in 2016

According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Sukhoi T-50 or PAK FA fighter will enter service with the Russian Air Force in 2016, a year later than was previously announced.

The Sukhoi T-50 is a fifth-generation multi-role fighter aircraft in development that incorporates stealth, super-maneuverability, super-cruise without using any afterburners and advanced electronics.

The T-50 will include an X-band Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar. It also supports internal weapons carriage to help reduce its radar cross section.

The aircraft has its first flight in January 2010, the first fifth-generation fighter outside of the United States. There are currently a total of four Sukhoi T-50 aircraft being used for test flights.

Since then, other fifth-generation have appeared such as China's J-20. Both the T-50 and J-20 seem to place less heavy emphasis on stealth as compared to the F-22 Raptor.

Optimizing an aircraft design for very low observability often demands sacrifices be made in other areas. Russia and China seem to have decided to sacrifice some degree in stealth in return for a more evenly balanced aircraft.

Like the T-50, the J-20 will enter service before the end of the decade. Russia and China are intent on narrowing the gap that currently exists with the United States as quickly as possible.

The F-22 is the premier fighter currently and will likely retain the edge in stealth, but it does have some weaknesses, including high cost, high maintenance and relatively short range that other aircraft would be wise to avoid.

Russia and India are also supposed to be developing a new fighter, the Fifth-Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA), which is partially based on the PAK-FA. However, not much progress has been made on that front besides some internal discussions.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

China to Acquire Bigger Aircraft Carriers

According to the Deputy Chief of Staff of the PLA Navy, Song Xue, China will acquire additional aircraft carriers. These will be larger and carry more aircraft than the Liaoning.

The Liaoning is the former Varyag, the second of the Project 11435 class aircraft carriers. The lead ship of this class is the Admiral Kuznetsov, which is also Russia's only aircraft carrier.

Although they share the same hull design, the Liaoning has been modified according to Chinese needs. Being younger, it is more modern, especially in terms of electronic systems, compared to the much older Admiral Kuznetsov.

The news that China intends to acquire additional aircraft carriers should not come as a surprise to anyone. China has spent decades preparing for the time when it would induct its own aircraft carriers.

Before it acquired several older aircraft carriers, such as the Melbourne and the Kiev class aircraft carriers, while trying to learn from them, such as how they were build, why they were build that way, their flaws and so on.

It has build extensive infrastructure and facilities relating to aircraft carriers, including a dedicated training facility. It has developed the J-15, modeled after the Su-33, and which is specifically designed for naval operations.

All of this cost a lot in terms of time, money and manpower. Resources that could have gone somewhere else. One does not spend all these resources if you only intend to operate a single aircraft carrier.

Rather it is clear that aircraft carriers will take a prominent role in China's Navy. The question is how many aircraft aircraft carriers China intends to build and and what the time schedule is for these future aircraft carriers.

What also remains to be seen, is how China intends to use these aircraft carriers. Carriers are still new to China and will have to develop its own doctrine. Maybe modeled on other countries or come up with something completely new.


Credit original poster, via Chinese Internet

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Russia Developing New Rail-Mobile Intercontinental Ballistic Missile

According to the Russian Deputy Defense Minister, Yury Borisov, an R&D program to develop a new rail-mobile InterContinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) has been started by the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology.

The Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology is currently already engaged in developing long-range ballistic missiles with Multiple Independently Targetable Reentry Vehicles (MIRV), including:
  • The RSM-56 Bulava Sea-Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM)
  • The RT-2UTTKh Topol-M silo-based and road-mobile ICBM
  • The RS-24 Yars silo-based and road-mobile ICBM
The new rail-mobile ICBM will be much smaller and lighter than the previous rail-mobile ICBM used by Russia, the RT-23 (NATO: SS-24 Scalpel) that were eliminated under the START II treaty.

Of the five countries that have ICBM's, Russia is the only one to have deployed the rail-mobile ICBM. The idea was also considered by the United States, but abandoned in favor of other methods.

The US, United Kingdom, France, Russia and China have all taken their respective geographical conditions into account in deciding how to base their nuclear deterrent.

The result is that the five countries do not follow a single philosophy, but take a different approach based on their own beliefs. This is reflected in the systems that they have developed.

The UK and France, being relatively small countries in terms of geography, rely mostly on submarines for their nuclear deterrent. The US also favors the SSBN, but being a larger country, also has silo-based ICBM's.

On the other hand, Russia and especially China, have given more weight to the land-based option. Both have developed road-mobile ICBM's unlike the previous three.

Russia is by far the largest country in terms of geography and its vast territory makes rail-mobile ICBM a viable option. Of the five countries, Russia has the most diverse options for basing its nuclear deterrent.

It has the nuclear submarine for launching the SLBM, the long-range bomber with nuclear-armed cruise missiles, the silo-based ICBM, the road-mobile ICBM and now the rail-mobile ICBM.

China is similar in size to the United States and relies mostly on land-based, road-mobile ICBM's. It currently lags behind the other four in terms of the nuclear submarine, but has taken a unique approach to its nuclear deterrent.

China is a country where a large portion is mountainous terrain. It has by far the most extensive network of underground facilities in the world, part of which is used to house its nuclear missiles.

From China's standpoint, this method of hiding road-mobile missiles deep underground is even more secure than the nuclear submarine. The submarine does have some unique advantages, such as being able to significantly adjust the angle of attack of inbound missiles.

But for China, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. For example, both the UK and France have four SSBN, of which one and sometimes two can be on patrol at any point in time.

If anything were to happen to that SSBN, which tend to house a large number of warheads, the loss would be very severe and would knock out a large portion of the counter-attack when it's needed the most.

The Chinese system allows for greater amount of redundancy. The loss of several systems can be more easily absorbed, while still retaining the option of striking back.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Qatar Buys 62 Leopard II Tanks and 24 PzH2000 Self-Propelled Howitzers from Germany

Krauss-Maffei Wegmann from Germany has signed a contract with Qatar for the delivery of 62 Leopard II Main Battle Tanks and 24 PzH2000 Self-Propelled Howitzers / Guns.

Qatar wants to modernize its armed forces due to increasing tensions recently in the middle east and the new acquisitions are intended to achieve that goal. Other purchases such as the Javelin missiles from the United States are part of the effort. 

The contract, including related equipment, training and other services, is estimated to be €1.89 billion or about $2.5 billion. Last year, Qatar had expressed interest in acquiring up to 200 Leopard 2 tanks.

The Leopard 2, depending on version weighs over 60 tons and carries a 120 mm smoothbore gun as its main armament. It is operated by a crew consisting of the driver, commander, loader and gunner.

The tracked PzH2000 is a 155 mm and 52 caliber Self-Propelled Howitzer with support for Multiple Rounds Simultaneous Impact (MRSI), where 5 rounds are fired in sequence and impact simultaneously.

The PzH2000 has a very high maximum rate of fire of up to 13 rounds per minute. The diesel-powered vehicle is operated by a crew consisting of the driver, commander and gunner.

Qatar currently operates the French AMX-30B2 tanks and South African G5 towed 155 mm howitzers that were acquired back in the eighties and will have to be replaced.

Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, in cooperation with other German defense companies such as Rheinmetall, is now looking at selling hundreds of Leopard 2A7 tanks and Boxer Infantry Fighting Vehicles to Saudi Arabia.


Monday, April 22, 2013

UK to buy 500 AGM-114 Hellfire missiles

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has notified the United States Congress as required of a possible Foreign Military Sale (FMS) to the United Kingdom of 500 AGM-114 Hellfire missiles.

Already in service in the UK, the purchase would replenish Hellfire stocks that have been depleted during recent conflicts. If the contract is signed, the value is estimated at about $95 million.

Two versions of the precision-guided, air-to-surface Hellfire are to be acquired:
  • The AGM-114-N4 Hellfire for the UK's AH-64D Apache attack helicopters
  • The AGM-114-P4 Hellfire for the UK's MQ-9 Reaper Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
Both types of Hellfire II missiles have a length of 163 cm, a diameter of 18 cm, a weight of 100 to 105 lbs, a 20 lbs warhead and a range of 8000 m. Guidance is based on semi-active laser homing.

The United Kingdom has recently also replenished its stocks of Brimstone missiles, which are somewhat similar to the Hellfire missiles. That contract was worth about $22 million.

The Brimstone was originally developed on the basis of the Hellfire missiles and they share the basic missile body. However, the Brimstone internals have been developed from the ground up.

It was intended as a followup and an improved version of the Hellfire missile. The addition of the MMW radar would make the Brimstone far more accurate and a true fire-and-forget missile with much less collateral damage.

However, the later versions of the Hellfire have also incorporated the MMW radar. The Hellfire may eventually be replaced by the Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) currently in development.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Major Arms Deal in The Works Between The US, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates

A major arms deal is in the works between the United States, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. The total value of all contracts is estimated at around $10 billion.

The deal is expected to be the main topic of discussion when US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel visits the three countries starting in April 21. The arms purchases are intended to strengthen the armed forces of US allies in the Middle East against potential threats in the region.

Exact details are yet to be determined, but may include the following:
  • Sale of the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft to Israel. This would mark the first time the V-22 has been exported abroad.
  • Sale of KC-135 refuelling aircraft to the Israeli Air Force. Israel currently does not operate any.
  • Sale of 26 new F-16 fighter aircraft to the United Arab Emirates. The UAE has already ordered 80 F-16 Block 60, the most advanced version of the F-16 currently available.
  • Possible sale to Saudi Arabia of the Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM), the latest version of the High-Speed Anti-Radar Missile (HARM) for suppression of enemy air defenses.

Israel receives billions of dollars in military aid each year from the United States, which presumably will be used to pay for the arms purchases. Both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are major buyers of US weapons with major contracts signed in recent years.

In 2011, Saudi Arabia signed a $30 billion contract with the United States that included 84 Boeing F-15SA fighter jets, upgrade of 68 older F-15S to the SA standard, and 72 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. The first F-15SA is expected to be delivered in 2013.

In 2011, the United Arab Emirates ordered the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) air defense system in a $3.49 billion deal to become the first country outside the United States to do so.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Kuwait Looking to Add Second C-17 Globemaster III Transport Aircraft

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has notified the United States congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale (FMS) of a single Boeing C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft. The value of the contract is estimated at $371 million.

The C-17 is a heavy transport aircraft with a maximum payload of 77000 kg. Besides Short Take-Off and Landing capability, the C-17 can also operate from unpaved runways.

If the deal is concluded, the contract provides Kuwait with:
  • 1 Boeing C-17 transport aircraft
  • 4 F117-PW-100 turbofan engines
  • 1 AN/AAR-47 Missile Approach Warning System
  • 1 AN/ALE-47 Countermeasure Dispenser Set (CMDS)
  • secure radios
  • precision navigation equipment
  • spare and repair parts
  • support and test equipment
  • publications and technical documentation
  • tactics manuals
  • personnel training and training equipment
  • US Government and contractor engineering
  • aircraft ferry support
  • aircraft fuel
  • technical and logistics support services
  • logistical and program support
The Kuwaiti Air Force had reportedly already ordered one C-17.

Besides Kuwait, the C-17 is already in service with 6 countries. They are Australia, Canada, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The C-17 is also in service with NATO. India has ordered 10 C-17 aircraft in 2011. The first aircraft is currently conducting flight tests and is scheduled to be delivered sometime in 2013.


Friday, April 19, 2013

FREMM Frigate starts sea trials for delivery to Morocco in 2013

The Mohammed VI, the FREMM frigate destined for the Moroccan Navy has started sea trails and is on schedule to be delivered in late 2013. Morroco had ordered the French anti-submarine warfare (ASW) variant in 2008 to become the first and to date only export customer of the FREMM frigate.

Developed by France and Italy, only one FREMM frigate, the Aquitaine, has so far been commissioned in France. Like the Mohammed VI, the Aquitaine is also of the ASW variant. The next FREMM frigate, the Normandie, is set to be delivered in 2014.

In all, France intends to acquire 9 hulls of the ASW variant and another 2 hulls of the FREDA variant. The FREDA is a version of the FREMM frigate dedicated to providing air defense.

Italy intends to acquire 4 units of the ASW variant and another 6 units of the general purpose variant. The first general purpose variant, the Carlo Bergamini, is set to be commissioned into the Italian Navy in late 2013.

All the FREMM frigates share a common hull design, but the Italian and French versions differ from each other and are relatively easy to distinguish. The FREMM frigate specifications are:
  • a lenght of 142-144 m
  • a beam of about 20 m
  • a draught of 5 m
  • a displacement of 6000 tonnes
  • a maximum speed of 27-30 kn
  • a range of 6000 nautical miles at 15 kn
The FREMM powerplant is based on COmbined Diesel eLectric Or Gas (CODLOG) using electric motors for silent low speed and gas turbine power for high-speed propulsion.

There are many differences between the French and Italian versions in terms of sensors, weapons and other equipment fitted. Some notable differences are:
  • the French version uses the Herakles radar, while the Italian verison uses the EMPAR radar
  • both versions use the Otobreda Super Rapid 76 mm gun, but the Italian version is fitted with one on the hangar and the Otobreda 127 mm gun
  • both versions have 32 VLS cells, but differ in the type of SYLVER modules that are installed
  • the French version carries a single NH90 helicopter, while the Italian version can carry an additional NH90 or EH101 helicopter
Some of the equipment is subject to changes pending construction. The FREDA version, especially, has yet to have its design finalized.

The FREMM frigates will succeed the HORIZON class frigates. Only 4 units of the HORIZON class were build for the French and Italian Navies.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

South Korea Decides to Buy 36 AH-64E Apache Guardian Attack Helicopters

South Korea has decided to buy 36 Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopters from the United States in a contract worth about $1.6 billion. The AH-64E was selected over the Bell AH-1Z Viper and Turkish Aerospace Industries T-129 attack helicopters.

The announcement was made by South Korea's Defense Acquisition Procurement Administration (DAPA). The AH-64E helicopters are scheduled to be delivered by 2018 over 3 years and starting in 2016.

South Korea becomes the 13th country to select the Apache attack helicopter. The previous 12 countries are Egypt, Greece, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States.

In all, over 1800 Apache attack helicopters have already been delivered since 1984. The US Army was the first to receive the production version of the AH-64E, also known as the AH-64D Block III, in October 2011.

Taiwan is scheduled to receive the first of 30 AH-64E Apache Guardian helicopters in the last quarter of 2013. There they will join the 2 existing squadrons of AH-1W Super Cobras in Taiwan.

The AH-64E incorporates 26 new technologies designed to enhance the aircraft's capabilities, including:
  • The improved drive system features a new gear transmission that increases power capacity to 3400 shaft horsepower
  • The new composite main rotor blade accommodates that power increase, resulting in improved aircraft performance with an increase in payload.
  • Integrating the new T700-GE-701D engine with the enhanced digital electronic control unit and other drive system technologies results in an increase in hover ceiling altitude at greater gross weight
The AH-64E can be armed with up to 16 Hellfire missiles, 70 mm rocket pods and Stinger air-to-air missiles. A 30 mm dual-purpose cannon with 1200 rounds of ammunition is mounted under the chin.

South Korea will also soon decide the winning bidder for the acquisition of 60 new fighter jets. The candidates in that competition are the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, F-15 Silent Eagle and Eurofighter Typhoon.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Israel's Iron Dome Air Defense System to receive additional funding from the United States

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) from the United States is requesting $220 million for Fiscal Year 2014, which begins October 1, and $175.9 million for Fiscal Year 2015. The funds are intended to purchase Iron Dome air defense systems for Israel.

Pending approval, the funds would add to the $486 million that has already been allocated in recent years to the Iron Dome system, which is made by the Israeli Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. For the current fiscal year, $211 million has been allocated.

The allocation of precious funding to Israel comes at a time when several sections of the US Armed Forces have or will see some of their budgets cut. This has led to negative consequences, such as:
  • layoffs and hiring freezes
  • suspension of tuition assistance to service members
  • delays in medical care
  • reduced flying hours for pilots
Yet despite all of this, the United States is to pay for the purchase of additional Iron Dome systems for Israel.

The Iron Dome system is designed to provide air defense, especially against short-range rockets and artillery shells, for civilian population centers. The system is already in service and has been used in recent conflicts.

According to Israel, the Iron Dome system has performed exceptionally well in intercepts and attained accuracy figures that are unmatched anywhere by any other system.

These claims have been disputed with some suggesting that the real accuracy figures are only a fraction of what is claimed by Israel. The Israeli government has dismissed these criticisms.

However, regardless of the true effectiveness of the Iron Dome system, the real question remains whether it makes sense to invest in a system, which uses missiles that are much more expensive than the unguided rockets and shells it's supposed to intercept.

In a war of attrition, the economics are overwhelmingly against the side using the Iron Dome system. From this standpoint and the fact that unguided rockets and shells will always have the price advantage, the Iron Dome as it's currently conceived, is fundamentally flawed.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Marte anti-ship missile tested on Airbus C295 Maritime Patrol Aircraft

An inert Marte MK2/S anti-ship missile round was successfully released from underneath the wing of an Airbus C295 Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA), also known as the Persuader.

The test was conducted by Airbus in collaboration with MBDA to validate the aerodynamic integration of the Marte missile on C295, the handling qualities and performance tests.

The ability to install weapons such as missiles under the wing of an C295, gives the C295 MPA the option of performing new missions. The C295 MPA currently has the ability to carry MK46 torpedoes in the anti-submarine warfare role.

The Marte MK2 from MBDA is a family of light-weight, subsonic, fire-and-forget, medium-range, sea-skimming anti-ship missiles that can be used in all-weather conditions. The Marte specifications are:
  • a length of 3.85 m
  • a finspan of 1 m
  • a diameter of 0.32 m
  • a weight of 310 kg
  • a warhead of 70 kg
  • a maximum range of 45 km depending in release altitude
The Marte MK2 is powered by a solid-fuel rocket booster and sustainer and guided by an active radar seeker. It also incorporates some advanced features such as waypoint planning.

Besides the C295, the Marte Mk2/S is already integrated on the AW-101 and the NH90 NFH helicopters in service with the Italian Navy. An extended range version, the Marte ER with a turbojet engine, is being developed for the Eurofighter Typhoon.

The Airbus C295 is a twin-engined turboprop aircraft originally developed for the transport role. In addition to the maritime patrol role, a variant of the C295 is being developed for Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C).

This version comes fitted with a 360 degrees, Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar housed in a radome and mounted on top of the fuselage. The radar is provided by Israel.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Antonov An-70 transport aircraft again suffering delays

Mykola Azarov, the Ukrainian Prime Minister, has said that Ukraine will continue development of the Antonov An-70 aircraft even in Russia were to withdraw from the project.

The An-70 is a transport aircraft being developed by the Ukraine and Russia. Russia is reportedly again dragging its feet with regards to the An-70 and has already withdrawn from the project before, only for it to rejoin after some time.

The An-70 project dates back to the former Soviet Union and has suffered numerous delays over the years. These delays have really hurt the progress of the An-70 aircraft. Crashes involving test aircraft didn't help matters.

At one point during the nineties, the An-70 was considered to have great prospects. It was well ahead of the competition in terms of development. Since then, that lead has pretty much been squandered away to the point that the future of the An-70 is now increasingly in doubt.

The delays have allowed other aircraft to catch up and even surpass the An-70:
  • Russia itself favors its own upgraded Ilyushin IL-476 and has never really shown to completely support the An-70 project, but only halfheartedly.
  • China was once thought to be a prime customer for the An-70. But since then, the Y-9 and Y-20 projects have reached fruition. Both are backed by China and it's unlikely there is room left for another aircraft like the An-70.
  • The An-70 was once marketed to European customers. However, the homegrown Airbus A400M, which is the aircraft most similar to the An-70, is guaranteed to have the market in Western Europe.
All these aircraft are potential competitors the An-70 may have to face against. They have strong backing from their respective countries, while the only country to consistently back the An-70 is the Ukraine itself.

However, the Ukraine is a country with very limited resources. The An-70 project will almost certainly need at least one other customer to make the project worthwhile. Otherwise, it is doubtful the An-70 will be able to compete against other aircraft.

The An-70 aircraft is designed for short takeoff and landing. It can also takeoff and land on unpaved airfields. The An-70 specifications are:
  • a length of 40.7 m
  • a wingspan of 44.06 m
  • a height of 16.38 m
  • a maximum payload of 47000 kg
  • an empty weight of 66230 kg
  • a maximum takeoff weight of 145000 kg
  • a maximum speed of 780 km/hr
  • a ceiling of 12000 m
  • a range of 3000 km with 47000 kg payload
  • a range of 5100 km with 35000 kg payload
  • a range of 6600 km with 20000 kg payload
The An-70 is powered by 4 Progress D-27 propfans with 14000 hp each.

The An-70 is notable for its unique counter-rotating propfans. In theory, these would offer performance approaching those of turbofans, while maintaining the benefits of a turboprop engine.

For example, they can generate much more power than traditional turboprops allowing higher aircraft speed and increased payload. At the same time, they use much less fuel compared to normal turbofans.

In practice, the D-27 propfans have so far proved troublesome. It's possible that the engine could be refined and the problems solved. However, it doesn't look like the resources will be available to make that happen.


Sunday, April 14, 2013

AGM-154 JSOW ER with longer range completes ground test

The Joint Standoff Weapon Extended Range (JSOW ER) has been successfully tested by Raytheon with a new integrated fuel system. The test involved a modified JSOW C-1 integrating a new tactical fuel tank and fuel delivery system with the TJ-150 turbojet engine.

The functional ground test confirmed the JSOW ER can extend the range of its predecessor, the JSOW, by 4 times to a distance of more than 250 nautical miles (463 km). In an earlier test, a JSOW ER reached 264 nautical miles.

Unlike the new JSOW ER, the original JSOW did not have any propulsion and was simply an unpowered glide bomb. The JSOW ER maintains the current shape, form, two-way datalink and seeker of the JSOW Block III / JSOW C-1.

The JSOW ER is designed to be integrated with the existing aircraft fleet at minimal cost. The completion of the ground test will be followed by a upcoming captive carry test of the JSOW ER in the near future.

The JSOW is a family of air-to-surface precision guided weapons that can be used against both moving and stationary targets at standoff ranges in all-weather conditions. The JSOW consists of the following variants:
  • The JSOW A carries BLU-97/B Combined Effects Bomb (CEB) submunitions or BLU-111 unitary warhead and is guided by a GPS / Inertial Navigation System
  • The JSOW B carries BLU-108/B sensor fuzed submunitions and is guided by a GPS / Inertial Navigation System
  • The JSOW C carries the deep penetrating Bomb Royal Ordnance Augmented CHarge (BROACH) warhead and is guided by a imaging infrared seeker in the terminal stage
The specifications of the JSOW are:
  • A length of 4.1 m
  • A diameter of 0.33 m
  • A wingspan of 2.69 m
  • A weight of 1065 pounds (483 kg)
  • A range of 22 km (Lo-Lo) or 116 km (Hi-Lo)
The JSOW is compatible with internal carriage on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, one of the few weapons currently available.

The JSOW is combat tested during conflicts, including in Iraq. It has also been exported to various other countries.


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Guatemala and Senegal order EMB-314 / A-29 Super Tucano aircraft from Brazil

The Brazilian company Embraer has signed a contract with Guatemala for the delivery of 6 EMB-314 / A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft. Guatemala thus becomes the 12th country to order the Super Tucano and the 6th in Latin America.

The aircraft will be used in the fight against drug traffickers. The single engined, turboprop Super Tucano is already used in a similar role in Colombia. The 3 other countries in Latin America to use the Super Tucano are Chile, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic.

The multi-role Super Tucano aircraft can perform a number of roles, including attack, close air support, counter insurgency, reconnaissance and surveillance. It can also be used to train pilots.

Senegal has also ordered 3 Super Tucano aircraft. It is the 4th country in Africa to buy the plane after Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Angola. Brazil has provided financing to Guatemala and Senegal to secure both deals.

Earlier, the Super Tucano has again been selected by the United States Air Force to supply 20 Super Tucano aircraft for operations in Afghanistan. An initial order had been cancelled. This, despite repeated opposition from Beechcraft to the $428 million order.

Embraer other aircraft, the KC-390 medium transport aircraft is proceeding as planned. The KC-390 aircraft design has now been finalized and the aircraft may fly for the first time in 2014.

Interestingly, the KC-390 will use 2 turbofan engines. Other aircraft in its class, such as the American C-130J and the Chinese Y-9 with which it will compete against, have opted to use 4 turboprop engines.

Embraer is now already looking to export its KC-390 aircraft. The aircraft is aggressively being marketed to many countries around the world and Embraer claims that the aircraft will be priced much lower than the competition.


Friday, April 12, 2013

Brazil to receive last 3 of 12 Mi-35 helicopters

The last 3 Mil Mi-35 helicopters will be delivered by Russia to Brazil in the Fall of 2013, where they will join the 9 that have already been delivered. A total of 12 Mi-35 were ordered in 2008 in contract worth about $150 million.

The Mi-35 had been selected over the Augusta A-129 Mangusta and the Eurocopter AS-665 Tiger in a Brazilian tender. The first 3 helicopters were delivered in 2010, followed by 3 more each in 2011 and 2012.

Deliveries of the helicopters have been delayed from what was originally scheduled when the contract was first signed due to necessary Brazilian cuts in defense spending after the contract was signed.

The Mi-35 helicopters will be used in several roles, including to combat international drug traffickers and to help patrol border regions in the Amazon region with other surveillance aircraft.

The Mi-35 is an export version of the Mi-24 Hind helicopters. The Mi-24 Hind is a hybrid helicopter, able to fulfill the role of both a gunship/attack helicopter and a transport helicopter with room for up to 8 soldiers.

The Mi-24 in turn was developed on the basis of the Mi-8 Hip transport helicopter. The Mi-8 and its export versions, the Mi-17 and Mi-171 are one of the most widely used helicopters in the world and noted for their reliability and ruggedness.

Brazil has also expressed interest in other Russian weapons. It is looking into acquiring the Pantsir-S1 short and medium-range air defense system. The Pantsir-S1 is armed with dual 30 mm guns and up to 12 missiles.

Brazil may also acquire the Igla-S Man Portable Air Defense System (MANPADS). However, no actual contract has been signed for either systems as of this moment.


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Laser Weapon System to be deployed on USS Ponce to Persian Gulf for tests

Developed by the United States Navy, the Laser Weapon System (LAWS) is the first naval solid-state weapon to be deployed for field testing in the Persian Gulf. The LAWS will be installed on the USS Ponce, an Austin class Landing Platform Dock (LPD).

In earlier tests, the LAWS had successfully shot down a drone. Once the system has matured, the LAWS is envisioned as a Close-In Weapon System (CIWS), which can provide terminal defense for naval platforms.

So far, the LAWS has only been tested against slow targets. In the future, it is to be tested against much faster and more more maneuverable targets in order for it to be a truly useful system.

The laser-based LAWS is a new type of CIWS, which doesn't rely on either guns, missiles or guns and missiles combined. Up to now, these had been the dominant forms providing terminal defense on ships.

Compared to more conventional CIWS, such as the gun-based Phalanx and missile-based RAM, the laser offers some advantages, including:
  • The laser can reach the target almost instantaneously. Both guns and especially missiles needs some time to reach the target. From the point of detection, the laser can engage targets much faster.
  • The laser can reach pin-point precision. Guns use a very crude method and even missiles aren't that accurate. In terms of accuracy, the laser certainly has the advantage.
  • The intensity of the laser beam can be adjusted, which gives the option of using the laser in a non-lethal way. This is very hard to achieve with bullets and missiles.
  • The laser could potentially be cheaper to operate, especially compared against missiles. Missile rounds such as RAM are relatively expensive. In theory, an engagement using the laser could reduce costs to a fraction.

The laser also has some potential drawbacks compared to existing types of defense, including:
  • The laser is susceptible to diffraction, meaning that the light waves get bend and the beam loses strength as it travels through the atmosphere. Certain weather or environmental conditions can aggravate the effect.
  • Very long range is hard to achieve with a laser. It may not be practical due to the large size and other requirements. Missiles can achieve longer range much easier.
  • The laser may not be able to operate in all-weather conditions. This requires an alternative backup should the laser not be able to engage the target under specific conditions.
  • The laser has high energy requirements compared to other systems. This requires a large power plant that can produce enough energy. Only larger ships have this and smaller ships may require an alternative system.

It remains to be seen if the laser will ever be inducted into service. Laser systems have been in development for a long time and take a prominent role in popular culture, especially in movies.

They do offer some potential benefits that speak to the imagination of many people. On the other hand, they have certain issues that need to be resolved first. Technology does evolve continually and only time will tell what role the laser will play.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Japan deploys PAC-3 and SM-3 missile interceptors

In order to defend against a possible ballistic missile attack from North Korea, Japan has decided to deploy Patriot Advanced Capability 3 (PAC-3) anti-missile defense units at several strategic locations.

Japan has already deployed AEGIS destroyers that are armed with the RIM-171 Standard Missile 3 (SM-3). The SM-3 is launched from the Mark 41 Vertical Launch System.

The Japanese Navy has 4 Kongo class destroyers and 2 Atago class destroyers that are equipped with the AEGIS system. The Kongo class is based on the Arleigh Burke class destroyer. The Atago classis a further improved version of the Kongo class.

Due to questionable effectiveness aagainst ballstic missiles of the preceding PAC-2, the PAC-3 was designed from the ground up specifically against ballistic missiles.

It smaller size allows you to fit 4 PAC-3 missiles in the same space of a single PAC-2. However, it's also not suitable against traditional targets such as aircraft for which the PAC-2 is still needed.

The PAC-3 is supposed to complement the SM-3 in providing a layered defense against ballistic missile attack. The SM-3 is responsible for missile intercepts in the mid-course phase. Once this has been breached, the PAC-3 is responsible in the terminal phase.

Both the SM-3 and PAC-3 rely on kinetic energy to destroy incoming missiles using the hit-to-kill technique. The PAC-3 also carries an additional explosive charge to enhance its lethality.

The PAC-3 only supports missile intercepts within the atmosphere after missile reentry or endoatmospheric intercepts. The SM-3 can intercept missiles outside the atmosphere or exoatmospheric intercepts.

One drawback of the PAC-3 is its relative short range of less than 30 km against ballistic missiles. An improved version now under development is the Patriot Advanced Capability 3 Missile Segment Enhancement (PAC-3 MSE).

The PAC-3 MSE addresses some shortcomings of its predecessor with a 50 percent improvement in range. The PAC-3 MSE is also faster and more maneuverable.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tunisia receives its first C-130J-30 Super Hercules transport aircraft

Tunisia has received its first Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 Super Hercules transport aircraft. It had placed an order for 2 aircraft in 2010. Tunisia thus becomes the first country in Africa to receive this type of aircraft.

The Tunisian Air Force already operates the older versions of the Hercules, namely the C-130B and C-130H. The new aircraft will be used for multiple missions, including relief efforts, firefighting and airlift sorties.

The C-130J is the latest version of the C-130 family of turboprop transport aircraft. The C-130J-30 is in turn a stretched version of the C-130J with a longer fuselage. Its specifications are:
  • a crew of 3
  • a maximum payload of 44000 lbs
  • a length of 34.36 m
  • a wingspan of 40.41 m
  • a height of 11.84 m
  • an empty weight of 34274 kg
  • a maximum takeoff weight of 175000 lbs
  • a maximum speed of 671 km/hr
  • a range of 5250 km
The C-130J is powered by 4 Rolls-Royce AE 2100D3 turboprops with Dowty R391 6-bladed composite propellers, each generating 4637 shp.

The original version of the C-130 entered service in 1957. Designed to use unprepared runways for landings and takeoffs, the C-130 has seen many variants used for different roles, including:
  • troop and cargo transport
  • medical evacuation
  • search and rescue
  • aerial refuelling
  • maritime patrol
  • reconnaissance
  • airborne assault
  • gunship
The C-130 family has now been in production for over half a century, which is a record.

Besides Tunisia, the C-130J aircraft is in service with 14 other countries. They are Australia, Canada, Denmark, India, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Kuwait, Norway, Oman, South Korea, Qatar, the United Kingdom and the United States.


Monday, April 8, 2013

Singapore to buy 100 AIM-120C7 AMRAAM and 20 AIM-9X Block II Sidewinder missiles

Singapore has requested the purchase of air-to-missiles from the United States for its F-15SG fighter aircraft.  As required, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has notified the US Congress of a possible sale of missiles and related equipment.

The first is for 100 AIM-120C7 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM) in a $210 million contract. The second is for 20 AIM-9X Sidewinder Within Visual Range Air-to-Air missiles in a contract worth about $36 million.

Both sales would be concluded through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route. The AMRAAM contract includes:
  • 100 AIM-120C7 AMRAAM missiles
  • an AMRAAM Programmable Advanced System Interface Simulator (PASIS)
  • 10 AMRAAM Spare Guidance Sections
  • 18 AN/AVS-9(V) Night Vision Goggles
  • H-764G with GEM V Selective Availability Anti-Spoofing Module (SAASM)
  • Common Munitions Built-in-Test Reprogramming Equipment (CMBRE-Plus)
The AIM-9X contract includes:
  • 20 AIM 9X-2 SIDEWINDER Block II All Up Round Missiles
  • 8 CATM-9X-2 Captive Air Training Missiles
  • 5 CATM-9X-2 Block II Missile Guidance units
  • 2 AIM-9X-2 Block II Tactical Guidance units
Other tools and test equipment, technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment is included.

The AIM-9X is the latest version of a long line of short-range air-to-air missiles. The Block II includes Lock-On After Launch (LOAL) capability with a datalink. The AIM-9X specifications are:
  • a length of 3 m
  • a diameter of 127 mm
  • a finspan of 280 mm
  • a weigth of 85 kg
  • a warhead of 9.4 kg
The AIM-9X is guided by an imaging infrared seeker.

The AIM-120C7 is the last version of the AMRAAM family before the introduction of the AIM-120D missile.Its specifications are:
  • a length of 3.66 m
  • a diameter of 178 mm
  • a finspan of 447 mm
  • a weight of 157 kg
  • a warhead of 18 kg
The AIM-120 is guided by an active radar seeker.

Singapore first ordered about 12 F-15SG, a variant of the F-15E Strike Eagle, which was selected over the French Dassault Rafale. It later placed additional orders to bring the total number of aircraft on order to 24.



Sunday, April 7, 2013

South Korea will buy Taurus KEPD 350 air-to-surface cruise missiles

According to Defense Minister, Kim Kwan-jin, South Korea will buy the Taurus missile and integrate them with the F-15K fighters currently in service. South Korea may buy up to 200 missiles.

South Korea is said to prefer the AGM-158 JASSM from the United States. However, the US is unwilling to sell the JASSM to South Korea causing it to turn to Europe for an alternative.

The Taurus KEPD 350 is a low-flying, long-range, stealthy, highly-accurate cruise missile developed jointly by Germany and Sweden. Its specifications are:
  • a length of 5.1 m
  • a missile diameter of 1.08 m
  • a wingspan of 2.06 m
  • a weight of 1400 kg
  • a warhead of 480 kg
  • a maximum speed of Mach 0.95
  • a maximum range of over 500 km
The missile is powered by a Williams P8300-15 Turbofan from the US.

The Taurus KEPD 350 is designed to penetrate and strike high-value targets against strong air defenses at stand-off ranges. Its mutiple guidance methods makes it highly immune to any jamming environment.

The Multi-Effect Penetrator, HIgh Sophisticated and Target Optimised (MEPHISTO) warhead gives the Taurus KEPD 350 the ability to strike at hardened bunkers buried deep beneath the earth.

Its Programmable Intelligent Multi-Purpose Fuze (PIMPF) gives the KEPD 350 the ability to detonate the penetrator at pre-selected floors within the target through layer counting and void sensing technologies.

This makes the Taurus KEPD 350 suitable against North Korea which has extensive underground facilities. North Korea's hilly landscape is also suited to the terrain hugging flight profile of the Taurus missile.

The Taurus KEPD 350 will complement the existing SLAM-ER, an air-to-surface variant of the Harpoon missile with a range of about 280 km. The missiles were acquired as part of the purchase of 61 F-15K aircraft.

South Korea will also soon decide the winning bidder for the competition to provide 60 new fighter aircraft. The 3 competing candidates are the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the F-15 Silent Eagle and the Eurofighter Typhoon.


Saturday, April 6, 2013

South Korea to Buy 60 Fighter Jets in June 2013

South Korea will decide in June 2013 who the winning bidder is of the competition to provide 60 new fighter aircraft. Currently, negotiotions are still ongoing regarding pricing.

South Korea plans to acquire 60 fighter jets from one of 3 candidates, who have been competing since 2010 for the contract:
  • the American F-35
  • the American F-15 Silent Eagle
  • the European Eurofighter Typhoon
The purchase was initially estimated to cost around 8.3 trillion Won or about $7.3 billion, but may now cost a lot more.

The Eurofighter Typhoon is the most mature platform of the 3 competitors. While its air-to-air capability is fairly well developed, its air-to-ground capability does remain significantly behind.

The Eurofighter Typhoon is in service in a number of countries already and has won recent contracts in Oman. It may also win in other countries such as the United Arab Emirates.

Both the F-35 and F-15SE are not ready at this point and still have a lot of testing and development ahead of them. The F-35 is probably the most advanced on paper and a true fifth generation fighter.

However, the F-35 has encountered lots of problems recently. A number of countries have reduced or cancelled some orders and the cost of the aircraft is rapidly escalating.

The F-15SE has the advantage in that it is the next iteration of the F-15, which is already in service in South Korea after placing orders for 61 F-15K aircraft. The F-15K is a variant of the F-15E Strike Eagle modified for South Korea.

The F-15SE improves on its predecessors by reducing its Radar Cross Section. It offers some fifth generation features such as internal weapons carriage. However, if South Korea orders it, it will be the only operator of the aircraft.

South Korea does have the tendency to favor American companies in arms purchases for strategic reasons. Increased tensions with North Korea recently can only increase emphasis on interoperability with American equipment.

However, American companies do sometimes lose in South Korea. This was proven again when the European AW159 was surprisingly selected over the American Seahawk helicopter.

There is currently no clear favorite to win the competition. All three parties are still jockeying for position. EADS just recently offered South Korea local production of 48 Typhoons instead of the earlier offer of 30.

As the date of the final decision comes closer, candidates may decide to sweeten their offer in the hopes of securing the win. Whatever the outcome, it's likely to be only decided at the last moment.


Friday, April 5, 2013

THAAD Missile Defense System to be deployed to Guam

In response to increasing tensions on the Korean peninsula and the threats of nuclear attack by North Korea, the United States has ordered the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system to be deployed to Guam.

Guam and other bases in Japan and South Korea are considered to be within striking distance of North Korean ballistic missiles. Despite severe internal problems, North Korea has invested its limited resources into ballistic missiles.

Although not as sophisticated as those in Russia and China, the North Korean arsenal has several ballistic missiles with which it could potentially launch an attack, including:
  • Nodong-1
  • Taepodong-1
  • Musudan
  • Taepodong-2
The Taepodong-2 is the only one with enough range to reach Alaska, but has only been tested once, which resulted in a failure.

For its part, the US has invested significant resources into ballistic missile defense. It has a range of systems of systems available to form a multi-layered defense under the guidance of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), including:
  • Ground Based Interceptor (GBI)
  • SM-3
  • PAC-3
These are all hit-to-kill systems using kinetic impact to conduct missile
intercepts. Other systems, such as the Airborne Laser (ABL) may also join service.

While ballistic missile defense true effectiveness is  something that has been debated extensively, it is something that can only be determined for sure in an actual conflict under real conditions.

However, there is very little doubt that todays systems are more capable than ever. Today's technology has made possible what wasn't doable in the past during say the eighties.

Of course, this applies equally for both the attacking and defending sides. As technology continues to progress, what's impossible can become possible. It is up to each country to make sure that they keep up, don't fall behind and perhaps even gain an advantage over opponents.


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Qatar looking to buy 500 FGM-148 Javelin missiles

As required, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has notified the United States Congress of a possible sale of FGM-148 Javelin missiles and related equipment to Qatar.

The proposed Foreign Military Sales deal if realized would include:
  • 500 FGM-148 missiles
  • 50 command launch units
  • battery coolant units
  • missile simulation rounds
  • Javelin weapon effects simulators
  • spare parts
  • support equipment
  • personnel training and equipment for training
  • logistics support
The entire package is estimated to be worth about $122 million.

The FGM-148 Javelin is a man-portable, fire-and-forget, anti-tank missile. Its specifications are:
  • operated by a crew of 2
  • a length of 1.2 m
  • a missile length of 1.1 m
  • a diameter of 142 mm
  • a missile diameter of 127 mm
  • an effective range of 2500 m
  • a maximum range of 4750 m
  • a weight of 22.3 kg
  • a missile weight of 11.8 kg
  • a 8 kg tandem-shaped charge High Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) warhead
The missile is guided by an imaging infrared seeker.

Unlike older generation missiles, which were often wire-guided and left the launch crew vulnerable during attack, the Javelin crew can move as soon as the missile is fired, which improves survivability.

The Javelin can be used against armored vehicles using a top-attack flight profile, where armor usually is the thinnest, or against buildings and low-flying helicopters using a direct-attack flight profile.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Peru may buy 24 Mil Mi-171 helicopters

Peru is considering buying another 24 Mil Mi-171 Hip helicopters from Russia in a contract worth $406.8 million. If the contract is signed, the first 21 will be delivered in 2014 and the remaining 3 helicopters in 2015.

The Mi-171 is already in service with the Peruvian armed forces. Russia delivered 6 Mi-171 helicopters in 2009. The helicopters are to be used in the fight against terrorists and drug traffickers.

The Mi-171 is a variant of the Mi-17, which are export designations based on the original Mil Mi-8. All are medium-sized, transport and utility helicopter and one of the most numerous helicopters of all time.

Many variations are in use by many countries all over the world. It is not unusual to see both sides of an armed conflict use the same helicopter from the Mil family. Its specifications are:
  • a crew of 3
  • a length of 18.47 m
  • a rotor diameter of 21.25 m
  • a height of 4.76 m
  • an empty weight of 7489 kg
  • a maximum takeoff weight of 13000 kg
  • a payload of 4000 kg (internal) or 5000 kg (external)
  • a speed of 250 km/hr
  • a range of 465 km
  • a ceiling of 6000 m
The Mi-171 is powered by 2 Klimov TV3-117VM turboshafts, each producing 1633 kW (2190 shp).

The Mi-171 can be armed with gunpods, rockets and bombs. The Mi-24 Hind is an gunship / attack helicopter variant whose roots can be traced back to the Mi-8.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Germany buys RIM-116 Block 2 Rolling Airframe Missiles

The Germany Navy has awarded a $155.6 million contract to Raytheon for Block 2 Rolling Airframe Missiles (RAM). It is the largest ever RAM contract so far by Germany.

The RIM-116 RAM is a missile-based, Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) developed by the United States and Germany. Its specifications are:
  • a length of 2.79 m
  • a diameter of 127 mm
  • a wingspan of 434 mm
  • a speed of Mach 2.0+
  • a warhead of 11.3 kg
  • a weight of 73.5 kg
  • a range of 9 km
The RIM-116 RAM is guided by a dual passive radio frequency and infrared homing seeker.

The RAM Mk 31 Guided Missile Weapon System (GMWS) consists of the Mk 44 Guided Missile Round Pack (GMRP) and the Mk 49 Guided Missile Launching System (GMLS) with 21 missiles.

The RAM is designed to be flexible in integration with existing platforms and requires no dedicated sensors. All targeting information is provided by various external sensors already fitted on the ship.

The Block 2 RAM is the latest version featuring several upgrades, including:
  • a four-axis independent control actuator system
  • an increase in rocket motor capability
  • double the missile's effective range
  • three times increase in maneuverability
  • an upgraded passive radio frequency seeker
  • can detect Low Probability of Intercept anti-ship missiles
  • a digital autopilot
The fire-and-forget RAM can defend against both supersonic and subsonic missiles and other aerial threats.

One variant of the Rolling Airframe Missile currently under development is the SeaRAM. The SeaRAM replaces the M601A1 Gatling gun in the Phalanx CIWS with an 11-round launcher.

The SeaRAM is fitted with the sensors of the Phalanx CIWS to create an autonomous system, eliminating the need for external targeting information as in the original RAM.


Monday, April 1, 2013

Vietnam to Receive its First Project 636M / Kilo Class Submarine in 2013

According to Igor Vilnit, the general director of the Rubin design bureau, Vietnam will receive its first Project 636M / Kilo class diesel-electric submarine in 2013 as scheduled.

The submarine is currently undergoing sea trials. Russia and Vietnam had signed a $2 billion contract for the delivery of 6 Project 636M submarines. All 6 are to be delivered by 2016.

The Project 636M submarine is the latest export version of the Project 636 / Varshavyanka class submarine, which in turn is an improved version of the Project 877 class.

Compared to the Project 877 class, the Project 636 class is slightly larger and longer. It features several improvements, such as lower acoustic signature with noise reduction, 7-bladed skewed propeller and a new sonar.

In addition to laying mines and firing torpedoes from its six 533 mm topedo tubes, the Project 636M can fire the 3M-54 Klub missiles to engage targets on land, under water and on the surface.

The first country to purchase the Project 636M submarine was China, which ordered 8 submarines in a $1.6 billion contract. This raises the possibility that Project 636M submarines would face off against each other in a conflict between Vietnam and China.

Algeria is the only other user of the Project 636 class with 2 Project 636M units. Other prominent users of the older Project 877 class submarines are India and Iran.

Due to problems with the Project 677 / Lada class submarines, which was to replace the Project 636, Russia placed an interim order for 6 domestic versions of the Project 636 submarine.

The Russian versions of the Kilo class are thought to be superior to the export versions. All 6 Russian Project 636 submarines are scheduled to serve in the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Navy starting in 2014.