Friday, November 29, 2019

South Korea receives second Chamsuri II-class PKX-B fast patrol boat

A weapon layout illustration of the PKX-B patrol boat. Photo c/o Onyx's Twitter page.

The Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) has received its second Chamsuri II-class PKX-B fast patrol boat from South Korean shipbuilder Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction (HHIC) on 26 November 2019, based on reports from the country’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).

The boat, with hull number 212, is expected to be commissioned with the ROKN within the first half of 2020 and will be assigned to patrol the coastal borders of the country, especially those with North Korea.

 So far, the ROKN is expected to receive a total of 16 patrol boats, with the last four units ordered on October 2019. Only the first of class with hull number 211 is in service while the third and fourth boats of the class are expected to be handed over to the ROKN before year end.

The Chamsuri II-class displaces at 300 tons, are 44 meters long and a beam of 7 meters, and are powered by General Electric LM500 gas turbine and Caterpillar C32 diesel engines in combined diesela and gas (CODAG) configuration, driving waterjets to a maximum speed of 40 knots

The boats are armed with a 76mm naval gun from Hyundai WIA, a pair of 12.7mm heavy machine guns on remote weapon stations, and a 130mm guided rocket launcher in place of large anti-ship missile launchers.

[1] Jane’s Defence Weekly
[2] Asia Pacific Defense Journal

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Philippines receives AH-1S Cobra attack helicopters from Jordan, for commissioning soon

One of the AH-1S Cobra helicopters after unloading from transport aircraft. Photo c/o MaxDefense Philippines.

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) has received the two Bell AH-1S Cobra attack helicopters that were granted by the Kingdom of Jordan as goodwill and assistance in the fight against ISIS-inspired terrorists.

Philippine defense page MaxDefense Philippines reported on the arrival of the aircraft, which were brought in on 26 November 2019 by a chartered Antonov An-124 Ruslan civilian heavy airlifter from Jordan to Clark Air Base north of Manila.

This was later on confirmed by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon in an interview by local news, which also confirmed that the helicopters are expected to undergo assembly and flight tests before put to operational use by December 2019.

This would be the first time the Philippine military will field an attack helicopter, as previous and existing armed helicopters in service are based on general-purpose or scout helicopter platforms. 

It is expected that the newly acquired helicopters will also be used to train PAF pilots for much modern attack helicopter models, since it still has a pending acquisition for brand new attack helicopters. It was previously confirmed that the PAF selected the Turkish-made T129 ATAK attack helicopter although issues regarding engine and subsystems supply has hold back the order confirmation.

[1] MaxDefense Philippines
[3] Philippine Defense Resource

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Vietnam to receive second Hamilton-class cutter from US

The former USCG  John Midgett (WHEC-€26) which will be transferred to the VCG. Photo c/o Wikipedia.

As part of his visit to Vietnam from 19 to 21 November 2019, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced that the US government will turn-over a retired Hamilton-class cutter formerly used by the US Coast Guard (USCG) to the Vietnamese government.

The ship, the former USCGC John Midgett (WHEC-726), will become the second Hamilton-class cutter in service with the Vietnam Coast Guard (VCG), after receiving the former USCGC Morgenthau (WHEC-722) in 2017. 

It is 115 meters long, displaces at 3,250 tons , has a maximum range of 14,000 nautical miles, and is armed with an Oto Melara 76mm Compact naval gun. It is expected that the USCG will remove certain subsystems that are only available to their use.

The ship will enhance the VCG’s ability to patrol the country’s waters as it continues to push back China on its aggressive claims and actions in the South China Sea. Vietnam is one of the most vocal claimants of the disputed Spratly Islands, and has locked horns with China over the Chinese-controlled Paracel Islands.

The US government has been providing the VCG with needed assistance, delivering several US-made coastal patrol boats in several batches, and has entered into several engagements to enhance cooperation.

Sec. Esper did not hold back in naming China as a bully to its smaller neighbours like Vietnam, including describing China’s actions as illegitimate.

[1] Stars and Stripes
[2] Jane’s Defence Weekly
[3] Reuters

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Japanese shipbuilder unveils landing helicopter dock design

The JMU design in anticipation of a future LHD requirement by the JMSDF. Photo c/o JMU.

During the recently concluded DSEI Japan 2019 defense exhibition in Chiba, shipbuilder Japan Marine United (JMU) unveiled a new Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) amphibious assault ship design that it plans to propose to the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF).

This proposal was made by JMU despite the Japanese government not publicly raising a requirement for a similar assault ship. JMU officials mentioned that this design was made in anticipation of a possible requirement by the JMSDF in the near future.

JMU’s LHD design will have a full-length flight deck enabling the operation of five (5) helicopters including tilt-rotors like the V-22 Osprey, all at the same time, a deck elevator, and two aircraft hangar for five additional helicopters. More space is available to allow for other purposes, or as additional aircraft hangar.

The LHD will have a rear well deck enabling direct deployment of amphibious assault vehicles and air-cushioned landing craft (LCAC), which is not present on the JMSDF’s Izumo-class “multi-purpose destroyers”.

Two (2) LCACs can be accommodated, as well as up to 20 amphibious assault vehicles like the BAE Systems AAV7A1 that the Japan Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF) currently use.

It will also have a capability for conventional roll-on/roll-off operations for vehicle loading / unloading at port.

The ship will be around 220 meters long, a beam of 38 meters and a draught of 7 meters, will have a displacement of around 19,000 tons, will have a top speed of around 24 knots, and a standing crew of around 500 officers and sailors. This puts the JMU LHD design as a smaller ship than China’s new Type 075 LHD and South Korea’s proposed LPH-II design.

[1] Jane’s Defence Weekly
[2] The Drive – The Warzone

Monday, November 25, 2019

India receives approval from the US on sale of 127mm Mk. 45 naval guns

The BAE Systems Mk.45 Mod.4 naval gun system on a US Navy destroyer. Photo c/o Navy Recognition.

The US State Department has confirmed that India has given clearance to allow the sale of thirteen (13) BAE Systems 127mm Mk. 45 Mod. 4 naval gun systems.

The deal will be made under the US Foreign Military Sales (US FMS) program estimated to be worth US$1.021 billion, and will also include 3,500 D349 projectiles, 5”/54cal Mk. 92 Mod. 1 rounds and other assorted munitions, spares, training, and logistics support and transportation.

The guns are expected to be installed on new generation Visakhapatnam-class (Project 15B) destroyers and Nilgiri-class (Project 17A) frigates being built by Indian shipyards Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL) and Garden Reach Shipbuilders Engineers (GRSE) for the Indian Navy (IN). 

Previous warships of the IN used the smaller Oto Melara 76mm Super Rapid naval gun system, and the IN required a larger calibre gun for their future class of frontline warships. 

[1] Jane’s Defence Weekly
[2] The Defense Post

US approves sale of C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft for New Zealand

A C-130J Super Hercules, this example from the Royal Australian Air Force. Photo c/o Australian Aviation.

The US State Department has released information that the US government has given clearance for the sale of five (5) Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules tactical transport aircraft to New Zealand.

The C-130J deal to New Zealand is expected to cost around US$1.4 billion, which will also include related equipment including the Wescam MX-20HD electro-optical (EO/IR) sensor turrets, defensive systems, as well as spares, training and logisitics support.

The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) also mentioned that "The proposed sale will improve New Zealand's capability to meet current and future threats by enhancing its current airlift capability.”

Delivery of the new C-130s will allow the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) to retire its older C-130H Hercules which are in service for several decades. Aside from transport duties, the new C-130s will be used for maritime surveillance and reconnaissance, search and rescue, and humanitarian support.

[1] Jane’s Defence Weekly
[2] Defence Connect

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Japan displays new locally-developed 8x8 APC demonstrator

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries' MAV demonstrator at DSEI Japan 2019. Photo c/o Australian Defence Magazine

Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has released their new 8x8 armored personnel carrier (APC) demonstrator for display during the recently concluded DSEI Japan 2019 defense exhibition in Chiba.

The new vehicle called the Mitsubishi Armored Vehicle (MAV) is based on the Type 16 Mobile Combat Vehicle, and will be competing with two foreign designs to meet requirements for the Japan Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF) to replace the ageing Type 96 8x8 armored vehicle.

Different variants of the vehicle will be made available which includes command and control (C2), medical evacuation (MEDEVAC), and anti-tank vehicles.

The vehicle weighs 28 tons and is 8 meters long and 2.8 meters wide, and will be operated by 2 crew members and have space for at least 9 troops in full combat gear. It is powered by Mitsubishi’s 4MA 4-cylinder diesel engine with output of 400 kilowatts allowing a top speed of more than 100 kilometers per hour.

So far, other competitors for the JGSDF Type 96 replacement project includes Finland’s Patria with their Armored Modular Vehicle XP (AMVXP), and General Dynamics Land Systems’ LAV 6.0 which were invited to submit the vehicles for testing by Japan’s Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency (ATLA)

[1] Jane’s Defence Weekly
[2] Army Recognition
[3] Australian Defence Magazine

Friday, November 22, 2019

Thailand laid keel on two T 994-class patrol boats

RTN officials looking at a scale model of the T.994-class patrol boat from Marsun. Photo c/o AAG_Th Thai Defense Page.

Thai shipbuilder Marsun Public Company Ltd. (Marsun) and the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) conducted the keel laying ceremony for two new T.994-class coastal patrol crafts held on 14 November 2019 at Marsun’s facility in Samut Prakan province.

Present during the ceremonies were senior officials from the RTN and Marsun. 

The two boats, which are to be named T.997 and T.998 once in service with the RTN, will be the fourth and fifth boats of the class. Both were ordered under a THB720.1 million (US$23.5 million) contract and are expected to be delivered to the RTN by July 2021.

The T.994-class are 41.44 meters long, with a beam of 7.2 meters, and displacement of 215 tons full load. Both ships will be slightly different to their other sisterships due to the planned installation of Russian AK-306 30mm naval gatling guns and other Russian equipment.

[1] Royal Thai Navy
[2] Jane’s Navy International
[3] AAG_TH Thai Defense Page

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Japan releases more information on future frigate program

A scale model of MHI's future frigate for JMSDF. Photo c/o IHS Jane's.

Japanese shipbuilder Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) released additional information on the planned new frigate program for the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF). 

MHI is expected to be the builder of the new multi-mission frigate class, being awarded the contract to build 6 ships of the class, while assisting in building 2 more as a subcontractor to another Japanese shipbuilder Mitsui Engineering and Shipbuilding (MES).

According to MHI officials during the DSEI Japan 2019 defense exhibition in Chiba, the new frigates will be 132.5 meters long, 16 meters wide, a beam of 9 meters, and a displacement of around 3,900 tons.

The frigates will be powered by two MAN 12V28/33D STC diesel engines and a Rolls-Royce MT30 gas turbine in Combined Diesel and Gas (CODAG) configuration, which will allow the ship to reach speeds of up to 30 knots.

The first two ships are expected to be launched by MHI by November 2020, and commissioned with the JMSDF by March 2022. 

[1] Jane’s Defence Weekly

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Australia proceeds with CEA radars for NASAMS air defense system

The CEATAC short range tactical radar. Photo c/o Tim Fish.

The Australian Department of Defence (DoD) has signed the contract with Australian technology company CEA Technologies for the supply of active phased-array tactical radars to provide detection and cueing for the future National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS) ground-based air defense system (GBADS).

The program is part of the LAND 10 Phase 7B project for the Australian Army (AA), calling for a short-medium range ground-based air defense capability. No quantity or delivery schedule was provided by the DoD for this milestone.

The new radars, which will include short range model called the CEATAC that can be mounted on the Thales Australia Hawkei protected tactical vehicle or on trailers. 

A longer-range fixed or truck-mounted versions called the CEAOPS surveillance and cueing radar is also being developed as an evolution of the CEA Technologies’ active phased-array S-band ground based multi-mission radar. 

The CEAOPS can be integrated to a larger network of sensors of the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

The Raytheon-Kongsberg NASAMS will use the AIM-9X Sidewinder and AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) as primary munitions, both of which are already in service with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). 

The system will replace the existing Saab RBS70 current used in the short range air defense role.

[1] Jane’s Defence Weekly
[2] Monch Publishing Group

Malaysia plans to start Light Combat Aircraft procurement by early 2020

The HAL Tejas is among the candidates for the RMAF LCA program.

The Malaysian government is expected to start the procurement process by first quarter of 2020 for up to 36 light combat aircraft (LCA), which will double as lead-in fighter trainers (LIFT) for the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF).

An option for up to 26 more units is also being considered, as the new aircraft would replace several aircraft in service with the RMAF including the BAE Hawk 108/208, Aermachhi MB-339, as well as the RAC MiG-29N/NUB Fulcrum. 

The new aircraft will also reinforce the RMAF’s existing fleet of multi-role fighters including the Sukhoi Su-30MKM and Boeing F/A-18D Hornet.

According to Jane’s interview with a Malaysian official, the selection of a new LCA/LIFT will be based on the aircraft’s ability to conduct air-to-air and air-to-ground missions, with a future maritime strike capability, and is economically viable to allow the acquisition of enough units to be able to conduct operations in two theatres simultaneously at a very short notice.

Among those being considered for the selection are the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) Tejas Mk.1, Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) FA-50 Fighting Eagle, Saab JAS-39C/D Gripen, Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC)/Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) JF-17 Thunder, Leonardo M-346FA, Yakolev Yak-130 Mitten, Aero Vodochody L-39NG and CAC L-15A/B.

Previous reports indicated that the Malaysian government encountered some problems in finding funding for these aircraft, which replaced an earlier more costly plan to acquire high performance combat aircraft to replace the MiG-29 Fulcrum fleet.

[1] Jane’s Defence Weekly
[2] Flight Global

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Thailand unveils combat unmanned ground vehicle development

The D-Iron UGV. Photo c/o IHS Jane's.

As part of the ongoing Defense and Security (D&S) 2019 defense exhibition in Bangkok, the Defence Technology Institute (DTI) of Thailand has unveiled its unmanned combat ground vehicle (UCGV), which is being developed locally in cooperation with Electro Optic Systems (EOS) of Australia, and Milrem Robotics of Estonia.

The CUGV called the “D-Iron UGV” uses a platform based on Milrem’s tracked THeMIS UGV coupled with EOS’ R400S Mk2 Direct Drive Heavy Duty (D-HD) remote weapon station (RWS).

The vehicle without the RWS is around 1,630 kilograms, and has a carrying capacity of up to 1,200 kilograms of payload or weapons and munitions including machine guns, lightweight autocannons, and anti-tank guided missiles.

It has a maximum speed of 25 kilometers per hour, and can be used in a variety of missions including fire support, reconnaissance, anti-tank, patrol, counter improvised explosive device missions, and logistics support.

[1] Jane’s Defence Weekly

Japan confirms building second 3,000-ton new generation attack submarine

A Soryu-class submarine launched by Kawasaki Heavy Industries. Photo used for reference only, c/o KHI website.

Despite just recently launching the 12th and last Soryu-class submarine for the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF), Japanese shipbuilder Kawasaki Heavy Industries confirmed that is has been building the second of a new generation 3,000-ton conventional-powered attack submarine since 2018.

The submarine class is still unnamed and is known as “30SS” (Heisei 30 or the 30th year of the reign of the Heisei Emperor Akihito, which is the equivalent of the year 2018 in Japanese calendars).  It is estimated to cost around JPY69.7 billion (US$640 million).

The second submarine, which will use the hull number SS-514 is expected to be launched in 2021, and enter service with the JMSDF by March 2023.

It is expected to use technology derived from the later variants of the Soryu-class submarine including the use of lithium ion batteries, reduced noise using a more silent propulsion unit and optimized sound absorbers and reflectors, and improved shock resistance by using a floating floor structure. 

[1] Jane’s Defence Weekly
[2] Japan Ministry of Defense

Monday, November 18, 2019

Thailand commissions upgraded F-5 light fighters, U1 unmanned aerial vehicles

The RTAF U1 UAVs and F-5TH Super Tigris fighter aircraft. Photo c/o AAG_Th Thai Defence Page.

The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) held a ground-breaking ceremony at Don Mueang airbase in Bangkok for the commissioning of the initial batch of two (2) upgraded Northrop F-5E/F Tiger II, which are now called the F-5TH Super Tigris, and indigenously developed and made tactical unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) called the RTAF U1.

RTAF Air Chief Marshal Manat Wongwat presided the event, and flew on one of the F-5TH Super Tigris fighters, which were noted to be armed with the Diehl IRIS-T air-to-air missile originally used on the RTAF’s fleet of Saab JAS-39C/D Gripen fighters.

The F-5TH Super Tigris upgrade was made with the combined efforts of Israel’s Elbit Systems Ltd, the Thai Aviation Industries (TAI), with 14 aircraft slated for the upgrade. The upgraded fighters are equipped with the a new mission computer, the Elta Systems ELM-2032 fire control radar Tactical Data Link-T, and Have Quick II radios, and the integration of Tactical Data Link-16. It can support the use of Rafael products including the Sky Shield electronic warfare pod, Litening III targeting pods, Lizard laser guided bomb, and the Python IV and Derby / I-Derby air-to-air missiles. 

Meanwhile the RTAF’s fleet of 17 new RTAF U1 UAVs as also commissioned with the 206 Squadron based in Watthana Nakhon Air Base.

The RTAF U1 was developed by the Thai company RV Connex based on their Sky Scout, with 90% local content.

Both projects were the product of the Purchase & Development (P&D) approach of the Thai defense ministry.

[1] AAG_Th Thai Defence Page
[2] Bangkok Post
[3] Thairath Online

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Vietnam increases pace on local upgrade of T-54B tanks

One of the T-54M3 upgraded tank of the VPA during demonstrations. Photo c/o QPVN.

Vietnam has started upgrading the People’s Vietnam Army (VPA) fleet of Soviet T-54B tanks to modernize and keep the tanks in service for several more years to come.

The upgrade to the T-54M3 configuration was done with assistance from Israel Military Industries (now part of Elbit Systems), with emphasis on improving firepower, mobility, armor and communications.

Vietnam’s Factory Z153 of the General Department of Engineering is undertaking the upgrades using kits from IMI after an initial unit was upgraded in Israel.

Among improvements noted were the installation of a new composite armor and explosive reactive armor were installed along the turret and on the front part of the tank. 

Instead of using a new 105mm M-68 cannon from Israel, Vietnam decided to stick to the original D-10T2S 100mm gun and upgrade it. A thermal sleeve on the 100mm cannon was installed to reduce bending under heat stress and improve gun accuracy. Improvements were also made to increase  ammunition storage. IMI also supplied new types of ammunition with greater range and flexibility.

The fire control system also improved with a new viewfinder, thermal imager and laser rangefinder to allow day and night operations. A new ballistic computer, weapon stabilisation system and meteorological sensor was also installed to improve accuracy.

A new German-sourced diesel engine was also installed to replace the old engine, with more power up to around 1,000 horsepower, plus an improved hydraulic steering, brake and transmission system. 

New Russian RF2050 digital multibank military radios were also installed to replace the old analogue radios.

The upgrade of the T-54 tanks comes in as the VPA receives new T-90 tanks from Russia, which is now its most capable tank in service.

[1] Shephard Media
[2] IndoPacific_SCS_Info

Friday, November 15, 2019

Solomon Islands receives Guardian-class patrol boat from Australia

The RSIVP Gizo, the Guardian-class patrol boat of the Solomon Islands. Photo c/o Austal.

The distribution of new Guardian-class patrol boats to beneficiaries of Australia’s A$2 billion Pacific Maritime Security Program continues, as the Solomon Islands receive their patrol boat from the Australian government.

The boat, which was named RSIVP Gizo, is the fifth Guardian-class patrol boat released under the program, and the first and only unit for the Solomon Islands.

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogovare and Minister for Police, National Secruity and Correctional Services Anthony Veke were present to receive the patrol boat in Henderson, Western Australia.

12 countries, mostly Pacific island nations plus Papua New Guinea and Timor Leste are scheduled to receive 21 Guardian-class patrol boats granted by the Australian government. The boats were designed and built by Australian shipbuilder Austal.

[1] Australian Department of Defence

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Philippines formally accepts Airbus C-295M for Command and Control missions

The new C-295M C2 aircraft of the PAF. Photo c/o PAF.

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) formally received and inducted into service a newly delivered C-295M medium tactical aircraft which will be configured to a Command and Control platform at a later period.

The aircraft, which is the forth C-295M example in service with the PAF, arrived in the Philippines last October 2019 after flying from Airbus CASA’s facility in Seville, Spain. The aircraft underwent further acceptance tests before being formally accepted by the PAF.

While the aircraft was noted to be for Command and Control (C2), defense experts have noticed that absence of sophisticated C2 equipment found in other C2 aircraft. Philippine defense page MaxDefense Philippines noted that there are no external sensors, antennas, or signs of advanced equipment, and could only be installed with military and civilian communications radios to allow communications with military units and command posts.

It was also noted that the aircraft is to be assigned with the PAF’s 250th Presidential Airlift Wing which is in charge of transport of government head of state, leaders and VIPs. 

In a separate press conference, the Commanding General of the PAF Lt. Gen. Rozzano Briguez insisted that the aircraft will be used to provide C2 to government and military units in times of emergency although did confirm that it can also be used to transport VIPs, and provide airlift capabilities when needed.

Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana also mentioned that the PAF plans to acquire more C-295 aircraft to boost maritime security. MaxDefense Philippines believes that he was referring to the acquisition of at least two C-295ASW Persuader maritime patrol aircraft which the PAF has been pushing to acquire since 2015 under its Long Range Patrol Aircraft project, but has stalled due to funding issues.

[1] Jane’s Defence Weekly
[2] MaxDefense Philippines
[3] Air Force Technology

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

South Korea launches third Daegu-class frigate

The Daegu-class frigate Seoul (FFG-821). Photo c/o HHI.

South Korean naval shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) launched the first Daegu-class (FFX-II) frigte for the Republic of Korea Navy during ceremonies at HHI’s shipyard in Ulsan, South Korea on 11 November 2019.

The ship, which will be the future ROKS Seoul (FFG-821), is scheduled to be delivered to the ROKN by first quarter of 2021, coinciding with its 74th founding anniversary.

Two other ships of the class, the ROKS Daegu (FF-818) entered service with the ROKN on March 2018, while Gyeongnam (FFG-819) was launched on June 2019. Both ships were built by South Korean shipbuilder Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME).

Eight ships were ordered for the ROKN, which was the result of the FFX-II frigate program as a follow up to the FFX-I which resulted to the earlier Incheon-class frigates.

The Daegu-class is 122 meters long, with a beam of 14 meters, and a maximum speed of 30 knots. It has a crew of 120 officers and sailors. 

[1] Jane’s Defence Weekly
[2] Hyundai Heavy Industries

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Singapore confirms retirement of Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker fleet

One of the RSAF's KC-135R Stratotanker.

The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) confirmed that they have retired its fleet of four Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker aerial refueling and cargo aircraft last June 2019. The last flight was conducted on 26 June 2019, and the RSAF is looking at options on how to dispose the aircraft.

This is to give way to the introduction of the Airbus Military A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft, which is being inducted with the RSAF’s 112 Squadron. The third of six A330 MRTTs ordered by the RSAF was delivered also last June 2019.

Singapore acquired the aircraft, originally ex-US Air Force KC-135A Stratotanker aircraft, in 1996 to replace the RSAF’s then aerial refueling aircraft fleet of Lockheed KC-130B/H Hercules. The oldest aircraft of the fleet was built in 1959, although the entire fleet was heavily modernized before delivery to the RSAF.

Upgrades include modernized avionics and cockpit undertaken as part of the US Pacer CRAG (Compass, Radar and GPS) program, as well as replacing the original J57 engines with the CFM International CFM56 turbofan engine. Also added were chaff/flare dispensers, and a Multi-Point Refuelling System (MPRS) for drogue and probe refueling in additional to the standard flying boom refueling system.

[1] AINOnline
[2] Jane’s Defence Weekly
[3] Channel NewsAsia

Monday, November 11, 2019

Philippines sign MOU with Hyundai Heavy Industries on future corvettes

HHI's HDF-2500 light frigate design could be used again as basis for the PN's future corvettes. Photo c/o Military Images.
The Philippines’ Department of National Defense (DND) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) on the company’s participation in designing and constructing a new batch of corvettes for the Philippine Navy (PN).

Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and HHI President Ka Sam-Hyun signed the MOU in HHI’s headquarters in Ulsan, South Korea, with officials from the South Korean Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) attending the ceremonies.

Although Korean media outlets reported it to be for future patrol frigates, Philippine defense pages confirmed that it is actually for a new batch of missile corvettes that the Philippine Navy is set to award in the next few months.

Filipino defense page MaxDefense Philippines confirmed that the PN and DND are at the final planning stages on the Corvette project, which is already decided to be awarded to the South Korean Ministry of National Defense (MND) under a Government-to-Government (G2G) deal. The MND is backing HHI’s offer for the project, which has been under negotiation since 2018.

MaxDefense Philippines also mentioned that an improved version of HHI’s HDF-2500 light frigate design which was used on the Jose Rizal-class frigates also built for the Philippine Navy.

[1] Yonhap News Agency
[2] MaxDefense Philippines
[3] Jane’s Defence Weekly

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Second Jose Rizal-class frigate for Philippines launched by South Korean shipbuilder

The Antonio Luna (FF-151) during launching ceremonies in HHI's Ulsan yard. Photo c/o News1 Korea.

The second Jose Rizal-class frigate for the Philippine Navy (PN), named the Antonio Luna (FF-151) was launched by South Korean naval shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) on 8 November 2019 at their main shipyard in Ulsan, South Korea.

Among those present were Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorezana and top officials from South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Procurement Agency (DAPA), HHI, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and PN.

The frigate was among those ordered in 2016 by the Philippines Department of National Defense under a Php16 billon (US350 millon) contract, after HHI won the public bidding against over Indian shipbuilder Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE).

The Antonio Luna will is expected to continue dockside works as is expected to be delivered to the Philippine Navy by late 3rd or early 4th quarter of 2020, according to Filipino defense page MaxDefense Philippines. 

The Jose Rizal-class is 107 meters long, displaces around 2,600 tons, and is powered by four MKU-STX naval diesel engines propelling the ship to a maximum speed in excess of 25 knots, and a maximum range of 4,500 nautical miles.

The ship is armed with an Oto Melara 76mm Super Rapid naval gun, an ASELSAN SMASH 30mm naval gun system, two twin missile launchers for the LIGNex1 SSM-700K C-Star anti-ship cruise missiles, two twin automated Simbad-RC launchers for MBDA Mistral point defense missiles, two triple anti-submarine torpedo tubes, several manually-operated 12.7mm heavy machine guns, and allocation for an 8-cell vertical launch system (VLS).

It features a Combat Management System from Hanwha Systems, a Hensoldt TRS-3D air/surface search radar, Selex ES NA-25X fire control radar, HarrisL3 Model 997 hull-mounted sonar, and other sensors. It also has an allocation for a small towed-array sonar system.

[1] Philippine Navy
[2] MaxDefense Philippines
[3] News1 Korea

Friday, November 8, 2019

Vietnam installs Kh-35 Uran-E anti-ship missiles on Pohang-class corvette

The VPN corvette 20 with the Kh-35 missile launchers. Photo c/o VietDefense.

The Vietnam People’s Navy (VPN) has domestically installed two quadruple Russian Kh-35UE Uran-E anti-ship cruise missile launchers on its Pohang-class Flight III corvette.

Photos of the ship with the said missile launchers were posted in social media by Vietnamese defense pages.

According to Vietnamese English-language defense page VietDefense, the unnamed Pohang-class Flight III corvette with hull number 20 was the only one that received the upgrade together with the installation of a Russian fire control radar, while the other Pohang-class corvette in VPN service, the unnamed Flight III ship with hull number 18 was not installed with the same upgrade.

This makes the Vietnamese Pohang-class Flight III ship to be armed with anti-ship missiles, as they were originally made by South Korea without one. Other Pohang-class Flight III ships are operated by the Philippine Navy and the Egyptian Navy.

It is also possible that the missiles to be used are actually Vietnamese license-built version of the Russian 3K24E Uran-E missile called the KCT-15, which was a product of technology transfer agreement between Russia and Vietnam between 2011 and 2012.

[1] VietDefense
[2] Navy Recognition

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Japan launches 12th Soryu-class submarine, second fitted with Litium-Ion batteries

The Toryu during launching. Photo c/o KHI.

Japanese shipbuilder Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) launched the second Soryu-class diesel-electric submarine fitted with lithium-ion batteries for the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF), in ceremonies held in KHI’s yard in Kobe on 6 November 2019.

The submarine was named Toryu (SS-512), meaning “Fighting Dragon”, is also the 12th and most likely the final Soryu-class submarine to be built for the JMSDF. It is also the sixth ship of the class to be built by KHI, as the other six were built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI).

The Soryu-class are the first submarines in the world to be equipped with lithium-ion batteries, which is said to store more energy than lead-acid batteries mounted on ten of the submarines of the class.

The Toryu had its keel laid in January 2017, and is expected to enter service with the JMSDF by March 2021.

The Soryu-class submarines are 84 meters long, has a beam of 9.1 meters, and a displacement of 2,950 tons surfaced and 4,100 tons submerged. 

They are armed with six 533mm bow mounted torpedo tubes which employs the Japanese Type 89 heavyweight torpedo and the American UGM-84C Harpoon submarine-launched anti-ship missiles. 

They are powered by two Kawasaki 12V 25/25 diesel generators, four Kawasaki Kockums V4-275R Stirling air-independent propulsion (AIP) engines, in addition to the lead-acid or lithium-ion batteries. This allows the submarine to be propelled to a maximum speed of 12 knots when surfaced and 20 knots when submerged.

[1] Jane’s Defence Weekly
[2] Naval News

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Thailand tests upgraded F-5ST Super Tigris with Elbit Lizard laser guided bomb

An RTAF F-5ST Super Tigris light combat aircraft with the Elbit Lizard LGB. Photo c/o AAG_Th Journal.

The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) conducted tests to integrate the Elbit Systems Lizard laser guided bomb with the newly upgraded F-5E/F Tiger II which is now called the F-5ST Super Tigris light combat aircraft.

The aircraft, which was upgraded in Thailand by Thai Aviation Industries (TAI) with assistance from Elbit Systems of Israel, was seen in videos released by the RTAF to be carrying and dropping the Lizard laser-guided bomb supplied by Elbit Systems.

The RTAF has undertaken the upgrade to the F-5ST standard to 14 of its Tiger II fighter aircraft, with structural repairs to increase the aircraft’s service life, installation of upgraded cockpit and new mission computer, the Elta Systems ELM-2032 fire control radar, and the integration of the Litening III targeting pod, Tactical Data Link 16, Have Quick II radios, and Rafael Python V and Derby air-to-air missiles.

Normally a standard F-5E/F Tiger II fighter aircraft like the pre-upgrade variant used by the RTAF do not have the capability to use laser guided bombs similar to the Elbit Lizard.

[1] AAG_Th Journal Thai Defense Page
[2] Combat Aircraft