Daily Archives: January 8, 2017

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Nordic arms make their way to Asia-Pacific

By EMANUELE SCIMIA NOVEMBER 22, 2016 6:40 AM (UTC+8)

They are the standard bearers of Europe’s progressive social democracy, often at the forefront of international humanitarian efforts, track-two diplomacy and conflict resolution initiatives. But Nordic states (Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland) are also becoming among the world’s most dynamic arms exporters, with growing shares of their defense-related sales ending up in the Indo-Pacific region, thus contributing to its ongoing militarization.

Nordic nations are working to consolidate and integrate their military-industrial sectors while keeping a careful eye on expansion of overseas arm sales. Asia-Pacific is not the first target of this push at the moment, but it is steadily rising as recipient of military goods from Northern European defense companies. These are indeed used to deal with clients such as India, Pakistan, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei, South Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

The Swedish giant

To top all that off, there is Sweden’s Saab aeronautics, which is trying to sell its next generation Gripen multi-role combat aircraft to the Indian Air Force, a bid that includes transfer of technology and the establishment of a production and assembly line in that country. Hakan Buskhe, CEO and President of Saab, upheld the Swedish company’s interest in the Indian market during his recent visit to India, where he attended the first meeting of the India-Sweden Business Leaders Roundtable.

Delhi is committed to modernizing its air fleet and signed an US$8.8 billion contract to acquire 36 Rafale fighter jets from France’s Dassault Aviation in September. The Indian government recently invited a number of foreign manufacturers to present proposals to produce 200 single engine fighters in-country under the “Make in India” scheme, but the competition is apparently limited to Saab and United States defense giant Lockheed Martin.

Saab is not new to fighters sales in Asia. In fact, it provided Thailand with 12 Gripen C/D fighters and is discussing with the Thai government a further order for this aircraft, which is the precursor of the brand-new Gripen-E platform. Bangkok has been Sweden’s second-largest defense client in the 2010-2015 stint, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). In Southeast Asia, Saab is also focusing on the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia as potential buyers of Gripen jets.

New realities at hand

Among Nordic states, Sweden has the lion’s share in the transfer of arms and weapon systems to Indo-Pacific customers; it stood at some US$2.5 billion from 2000 to 2015, the fourth-largest amount throughout Europe. The Asian-Pacific market portion of all other Nordic defense exporters is still negligible compared to Stockholm’s during the same period, with Norway’s arm sales at US$92 billion, Denmark at US$51 billion and Finland at US$6 billion, but it is increasing.

Since September 2015, Norwegian firm Kongsberg Defense Systems has been cooperating with BAE Australia to realize a missile with new seeker capacities for the US-made F-35 Joint Strike Fighter; Danish defense manufacturer Terma is teaming up with India’s Nova Integrated Systems to sale surface surveillance radars to the Indian navy; next year, the Australian army will evaluate the AMV35, an armoured modular vehicle for combat reconnaissance operations that is manufactured by Finnish defense producer Patria Oyj in combination with BAE Systems Australia.

Nordic defense collaboration is also reaching out to the Baltic states, which are making progress in the military high-tech domain. Estonian defence operator Milrem, which is partnering with Singapore Technologies Kinetics to develop the combat unmanned ground vehicle THeMIS, has been showing a glimpse of this potential.

An expanding market

Public opinion in Northern Europe is increasingly critical of governments selling arms to warring parties or countries whose democratic and human rights records are often questioned (albeit this accusation is mostly aimed at weapon transfers to Middle Eastern and Central Asian regimes). But, as economic crises keep biting in Europe, Nordic states have no intention of staying out of the always lucrative defense business, even though this hits at the very basis of their much-touted “ethical foreign policy.”

Still, the perceived threat of Russia’s renewed geopolitical assertiveness in East and North Europe has sparked a multiplier effect on the growth of Nordic and Baltic military-industrial complexes; Asia-Pacific is now a breeding ground for Northern European defense enterprises eager to place their items abroad, given that increased instability from the Indo-Pakistani border to the Strait of Taiwan has expanded the spectrum of possible acquirers.

Original post atimes.com

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Saab is not new to fighters sales in Asia. In fact, it provided Thailand with 12 Gripen C/D fighters and is discussing with the Thai government a further order for this aircraft, which is the precursor of the brand-new Gripen-E platform. Bangkok has been Sweden’s second-largest defense client in the 2010-2015 stint, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). In Southeast Asia, Saab is also focusing on the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia as potential buyers of Gripen jets.

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India wants firm commitment whether the agreement will allow commercial production and exports of FGFA Project

Delhi Wants to Ascertain Production, Export Right of Russia-India FGFA Project

12:53 04.01.2017(updated 14:54 04.01.2017)

The Indian government has been hanging back from making a firm commitment on the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) project because it first wants to confirm whether the agreement will allow commercial production and exports.

New Delhi (Sputnik) — India and Russia are expected to sign the detailed design and development contract of Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) in the next two to three months. This will enable Moscow to retain its position as the prime supplier of Indian Air Force’s fighting strength.

India has signaled that negotiations on R&D are almost final except for some issues related to rights over export to third countries. “Secondary round i.e. R & D round is almost finalized except some issues related to the future of the aircraft. Because, when R&D phase will get over and you are not able to produce and sell, what is the point in developing? Whether we will have right to produce because there will be some IPRs over which Russia will have claimed. All these important aspects are being clarified properly,” says Manohar Parrikar, India’s Defense Minister in New Delhi. Sources told Sputnik that a Russian delegation is arriving in New Delhi in the next few weeks to discuss all these aspects. The Indian government feels that before embarking on commercial production, every issue needs to be sorted out such as the aircraft’s stealth capabilities or the right to export right. Parrikar said two to three months does not hold much importance for the project with a time frame of 10-15 years. Currently, both the countries are not discussing the number of aircraft to be produced under the project.

“We are trying to ascertain quantum of stealth, transfer of technology and whether we will be able to manufacture and sell jointly. All these aspects are being discussed because when we invest huge money ($5-6 billion) you are commercially not only producing for ourselves but considering exports as well. Secondly, stealth aspects should also be in conformity. So all these technical aspects are being looked into before going forward,” Parrikar said.

The Russian-Indian FGFA has stealth capabilities and is based on the Russian T-50 prototype jet. The FGFA project came about following the signing of a Russian-Indian cooperation agreement on October 18, 2007. Both the countries signed the primary contract in December 2010. India has spent $242 million on the primary contract.

The Indian Air Force has proposed building an indigenous FGFA called the Advanced Medium Combat Stealth Aircraft (AMCSA), but it still remains at the conceptual stage. Sweden’s SAAB has offered to help in the development of AMCSA but the Indian establishment is yet to respond. Meanwhile, China exhibited its fifth generation stealth fighter aircraft J-20 in November this year. The J-20 is expected to provide long range, hard-to-detect strike capacity to the PLA Air Force from 2018 onwards.

Original post sputniknews.com

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India has signaled that negotiations on R&D are almost final except for some issues related to rights over export to third countries. “Secondary round i.e. R & D round is almost finalized except some issues related to the future of the aircraft. Because, when R&D phase will get over and you are not able to produce and sell, what is the point in developing? Whether we will have right to produce because there will be some IPRs over which Russia will have claimed. All these important aspects are being clarified properly,” says Manohar Parrikar

“We are trying to ascertain quantum of stealth, transfer of technology and whether we will be able to manufacture and sell jointly. All these aspects are being discussed because when we invest huge money ($5-6 billion) you are commercially not only producing for ourselves but considering exports as well. Secondly, stealth aspects should also be in conformity. So all these technical aspects are being looked into before going forward,” Parrikar said.

The investment cost has been reduced to $4 billion each….

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Sales Outlook Brightens For Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet Fighter

JAN 6, 2017 @ 11:40 AM

Loren Thompson

When President-elect Donald J. Trump tweeted on December 22 that he had asked Boeing to price-out an alternative to the stealthy F-35 fighter based on the company’s F/A-18 Super Hornet, he stunned the defense industry. Although Super Hornet is the most successful carrier-based tactical aircraft the Navy has ever operated, it has long been assumed that production would cease in the near future to make room in the budget for the next-generation F-35.

Trump’s tweet made many observers wonder whether that will still be the case during his presidency. The F-35 is being bought in three different variants to meet the future combat-aircraft needs of the Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy plus a dozen overseas allies. The Navy version is the most expensive, and is generally thought to have the least appeal to foreign customers because of the unique features it requires to accomplish catapult launches and arrested landings on aircraft carriers.

Its development has also lagged behind that of the Air Force and Marine Corps variants, which are now operational with their respective services. The delay in fielding the F-35C — the naval variant — has kept alive hopes that the Super Hornet production line at Boeing’s Saint Louis manufacturing complex might continue humming for many more years, and Trump’s tweet capped a year in which several developments seemed to justify that conclusion.

First, the Navy has stated a requirement for additional Super Hornets to fill the capability gap created by delayed delivery of carrier-based F-35s. Second, the Obama Administration has approved the sale of 40 new Super Hornets to Kuwait, raising the prospect of additional F/A-18 sales in the Persian Gulf region since Washington is not offering the F-35 there. Third, Canada announced in November that it would buy 18 Super Hornets as an interim step while launching a competition to replace its aging fleet of CF-18 fighters.

The Canadian move is especially intriguing because Ottawa’s existing fighter fleet consists mainly of earlier versions of the same airframe on which the Super Hornet is based. Although Canada was one of the original U.S. allies participating in the F-35 development program, its role was put in doubt by a domestic political imbroglio centering on the new fighter’s cost. Now the government of prime minister Justin Trudeau says it will hold an open competition to decide what fighter should be bought to modernize its fleet.

So whereas Boeing began 2016 with the disappointing news that the Super Hornet had lost a hard-fought competition to the F-35 in Denmark, it ended the year with additional sales prospects in the U.S., Canada and Middle East. Trump’s surprise tweet on December 22 was like a Christmas present to workers in Saint Louis, and his suggestion that the F/A-18 might be configured in a fashion comparable to the widely touted F-35 certainly isn’t going to hurt overseas sales prospects.

The president-elect may have been doing no more in his tweet than trying to leverage Boeing’s plane to drive down the price of the Lockheed Martin F-35, but in the process he has awakened hopes of more Super Hornet production to come. That would be good news for Boeing, which is struggling to stay in the fighter business as F-35 makes inroads in places like Israel, Japan and South Korea.

Another way in which a Trump Administration could be good news for Boeing’s fighter prospects is that he is a strong supporter of Israel, and will undoubtedly continue Washington’s longstanding commitment to preserving the Jewish state’s qualitative military edge over its neighbors. That policy means nobody in Washington is ready to offer the stealthy F-35 to other countries in the region, for fear that Israeli air defenses might be unable to defeat it. Super Hornet is the next-best option for those countries if they wish to buy American.

While Super Hornet may not offer the same degree of signature reduction as the F-35, it is an exceptionally survivable aircraft designed from its inception to combine low-observable technology, electronic warfare, reduced ballistic vulnerability and innovative tactics in a highly resilient package. A jamming variant of the airframe designated the EA-18G Growler with similar operating characteristics can accompany Super Hornet on penetrating missions to suppress enemy defenses with both electronic countermeasures and kinetic weapons.

Boeing was a partner on the super-stealthy F-22 fighter built for the U.S. Air Force, so it has a deep understanding of how to manage the telltale signs that would reveal a plane’s presence to hostile sensors. The F/A-18s it offers to Canada and other prospective buyers will likely include extensive low-observable technology, conformal fuel tanks and enclosed weapons pods to make the plane difficult to track. When these airframe features are combined with the escort jamming provided by the Growler, the plane will be nearly invisible to most adversaries.

The plane’s agile multifunction radar built by Raytheon and defensive countermeasures suite manufactured by BAE Systems further enhance survivability, as do standoff weapons that deliver pinpoint accuracy without requiring close proximity to intended targets. A variety of on-board electronic systems provide pilots with situational awareness far superior to what most adversaries will enjoy — a key factor in surviving and successfully accomplishing missions.

Time will tell whether the new president’s tweet about Super Hornet has real consequences for the program, but the program’s sales outlook seems to be brightening. Boeing is moving the headquarters of its defense unit to the nation’s capital with an eye to marketing its military products more effectively, and extending Super Hornet production is high on the company’s list of priorities. If the naval version of the F-35 falters, or overseas allies decide they want to buy a more mature fighter from America, Super Hornet could stay in the game for decades to come.

Original post forbes.com

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F/A-18E/F Super Hornet: Details (Revised)

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EA-18G Growler: Details