Friday, July 31, 2020

Philippines acquires light boats for riverine operations, plans to acquire more assets

One of the new riverine light boats of the Philippine Army. Photo c/o Philippine Army.

The Philippine Army (PA) announced that it has started receiving deliveries for a total of 52 light boats that it ordered from a local boatbuilder.

These boats are to be used for riverine operations by the PA’s Special Forces Regiment, which includes a riverine battalion.

The PA described that the boats can carry 8 fully-armed soldiers, and can reach a maximum speed of 25 knots.

According to Filipino defense page MaxDefense Philippines, the boats are just the first part of a larger plan that includes the integration of larger assault and support boats to improve its riverine and inshore capabilities.

These were said to be results from lessons learned from their combat experience during the Battle of Marawi in 2017 when terrorists used lakes and rivers to move and get supplies.

The boats were acquired under the Riverine Operations Equipment project, which MaxDefense Philippines explained as a 3-lot project. The light boats are part of the 1st lot, while succeeding lots are still in pre-procurement stages and may take more time before a contract can be reached.

The PA’s 4th Special Forces Battalion is the service’s primary riverine operations unit, and has received small boats to improve its capabilities in the last decade.

[1] Philippine Army
[2] MaxDefense Philippines

Monday, July 27, 2020

Philippines postpones several defense acquisition projects due to COVID-19

The Damen 10514 corvette  which was offered by Damen to the PN'S corvette project. Photo c/o Damen.

The Philippines’ Department of National Defense (DND) confirmed in a statement from Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana that several military acquisition projects for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) scheduled for Fiscal Year 2020 will be postponed by at least 1 year.

This is due to the diversion of funds originally allocated to 15 acquisition projects for the Philippine Army (PA), Philippine Navy (PN), and Philippine Air Force (PAF).

The DND returned Php9.4 billion (US$188 million) worth of funds from the AFP Modernization Program, as well as Php9.9 billion (US$US$198 million) from capital outlay, maintenance, and operating expenses.

Among those the DND confirmed to be delayed are the PA’s C4ISTAR System, Combat Engineering equipment, and Light Tanks, the PAF’s Medium Lift Aircraft, and the PN’s Landing Platform Docks, all of which were allocated an initial funding under FY2020.

Acquisitions projects that were already ordered and have contracts signed with suppliers were allowed to proceed.

In an earlier statement, the DND also confirmed that they are delaying the acquisition of 2 new Guided Missile Corvettes for the PN worth Php28 billion (US$560 million), and is rescheduled to the next 5-year modernization phase stating 2023, as the effects of COVID-19 pandemic to the Philippine economy will affect its ability to pay for them.

According to Philippine defense page MaxDefense Philippines, South Korea's Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) is leading the selection, although offerings from other shipbuilders like the Netherlands' Damen, Turkey's ASFAT, France's Naval Group, and India's Goa Shipbuilding are being considered.

[1] CNN Philippines
[2] Philippine News Agency
[3] Philippine Defense Resource

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Australia deploys air units to Guam to conduct air-naval exercises with RIMAC-bound ships

RAAF and RAN contingent during exercises off Guam. Photo c/o Australian Department of Defence.

Australia has deployed Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) units to Guam, as it meets up with a Joint Task Group from the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) arriving in the area to conduct advanced joint air-naval integration drills, and local units of the United States Air Force (USAF).

The RAAF unit consists of Boeing F/A-18A Hornets fighters, Boeing EA-18G Growler electronic warfare attack aircraft, a Boeing E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft, and an Airbus KC-30 Multi-Role Transport Tanker aircraft together with 150 personnel. 

The unit met the RAN Joint Task Group composed of the Canberra-class amphibious assault ship HMAS Canberra (L 02), the Hobart-class air defense destroyer HMAS Hobart (DDG 39), the ANZAC-class frigates HMAS Stuart (FFH 153) and HMAS Arunta (FFH 151), and the fleet replenishment ship HMAS Sirius (O 266) while on its way to Hawaii to participate in next month's multinational Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercises 2020.

Before leaving for Hawaii, the RAN Joint Task Group conducted regional deployment in Southeast Asia including sailing in the contested South China Sea.

Australian Minister of Defence Linda Reynolds said that the training of air and sea forces is an important progression in joint force capabilities, and integrating in an air and sea environment.

Min. Reynolds also mentioned the deployment's demonstration of Australian Defence Force (ADF)'s being a capable force able to conduct complex and deploy extended periods at sea and air organically with its regional partners.

The exercise also improves on the interoperability of RAN and RAAF units with the USAF forces in the region.

The RAAF contingent will return to Australia in late July 2020, while the RAN contingent is expected to arrive in Hawaii by early August 2020.

[1] Australian Department of Defence

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Australia to order an additional 8,500 EF88 Austeyr 5.56mm assault rifles

The EF88 Austeyr rifle of the Australian Army. Photo c/o The Firearms Blog.

The Australian Department of Defence (DOD) confirmed that they are investing more on the EF88 Austeyr 5.56mm assault rifle for the Australian Army under its Soldier Modernisation Programme.

The DOD is planning to order another 8,500 units of the locally-made rifle, in addition to the 30,000 units already being Thales Australia under a A$100 million (US$70 million) contract signed in August 2015.

This is expected not just to boost the overall capability of the Australian Army, but also provide jobs in the production facility in Lithgow, New South Wales. The decision appears to be part of the Australian government’s move to provide jobs and push for economic recovery.

The purchase will allow for the retirement of older rifles, reduce cost on sustainment, maintenance and training, and improve the soldier’s overall capability due to the rifle’s improved sighting system, accuracy, ergonomics and weight.

The EF88 Austeyr is the Australian designation of the F90 rifle, which is an improved variant of the F88 Austeyr rifle produced by Lithgow Arms, which is now part of Thales Australia. The F88 and F90 are license copies of the Steyr AUG rifle from Austria.

[1] Australian Department of Defence
[2] Jane’s

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Indonesia offered to buy Austria's entire Eurofighter Typhoon fighter fleet

Austrian Air Force Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon fighter aircraft. Photo c/o Eurofighter GmbH.

The Indonesian Ministry of Defence (MOD) was reported to have been interested in acquiring used Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon fighter aircraft, and has offered to purchase the Austrian Air Force's (AAF) fleet.

According to Austrian newspaper Die Presse and reported also with Indonesia's Jakarta Post, Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto has sent a letter dated 10 July 2020 to his Austrian counterpart Klaudia Tanner with an offer to purchase all 15 Typhoon fighters of the AAF.

The Austrian Ministry of Defence declined to provide any comment about the report.

The Austrian EF-2000 Typhoon fighters are part of the initial Tranche 1 batch that are limited in capability, although upgrades can be made into the Tranche 2 and current Tranche 3 standard used by other operators of the type.

The Eurofighter Consortium, composed of entities from Germany and Spain (Airbus Defense and Space), Italy (Leonardo), and the UK (BAE Systems), already offered the latest Eurofighter Typhoon to Indonesia, and has even offered to transfer production facilities in Spain to Indonesia should they choose to go with the offer.

The sale of Austrian Typhoons to Indonesia may require the approval of all 4 countries, since this may also hinder their offer to sell brand new units. But this could also benefit them as allowing Indonesia to acquire the Austrian Typhoons will make Indonesia commit more to the Typhoon, and allow for potential sale of new units in the near future.

The AAF's fleet of Eurofighter Typhoons were ordered in 2003 and delivered starting 2007. According to British defense media Jane's, the fighters were flown less than expected due to budget constraints, reaching around 1,500 hours per year across the entire fleet.

The Austrian government previous announced that they are considering retiring the Typhoon fighter fleet, although this has not pushed through yet.

[1] Jane's
[2] The Jakarta Post

Monday, July 20, 2020

Thailand receives first prototype of Black Widow Spider 8x8 armored vehicle

The Black Widow Spider APC. Photo c/o Defence Technology Institute.

The Royal Thai Army (RTA) has received the first Black Widow Spider 8x8 wheeled armored personnel carrier from the Thailand Defence Technology Institute during ceremonies held at the Infantry Center in Fort Thanarat, Prachuap Khiri Khan province on 9 July 2020.

The vehicle, which was indigenously built by Preecha Thavorn Industrial Co. Ltd., will serve as a working prototype for testing in field conditions by the RTA. 

It also features further improvement compared to the vehicle that was shown to the public last year during the International Defense and Security Equipment expo in Bangkok.

The vehicle is equipped with a Singaporean company ST Engineering’s Addem DM 40/50 stabilized remote weapon station, which mounts an STK 40 AGL 40x53mm automatic grenade launcher and an STK 50MG .50 caliber heavy machine gun, as well as 6 smoke grenade launchers. It also has a thermal imaging camera for day and night operations.

The vehicle was meant to replace older armored vehicles in RTA service, in addition to the acquisition of other imported wheeled armored vehicles like the Strkyer Infantry Combat Vehicles from the US, and BTR-3E1 infantry fighting vehicles from Ukraine.

It is not yet known how many vehicles will the RTA acquire should the vehicle be approved for serial production.

[1] Thailand Defence Technology Insitute
[2] AAG_TH Journal Defense Page

Thursday, July 16, 2020

India approves emergency procurement of light tanks to equip mountain troops

Russia's 2S25 Sprut-SD light tank appears to be the Indian Army's most possible choice for their requirement for an air-transportable light tank.

The Indian Army was given an approval by the Indian government to conduct an emergency procurement of light tanks that can be deployed in mountainous areas, including its Himalayan borders with China.

The approval was said to have been made last week together with several other projects that are approved for emergency procurement.

This is to provide more firepower to mountain troops as they might potentially face Chinese troops equipped with the Chinese-made Type 15 light tank that was designed for operations in the Himalayan area for the People's Liberation Army (PLA).

The Indian Army requirement is for an air-transportable light tank that can be airdropped in forward locations for rapid deployments. This is to compensate the lack of an effective road network that connects the border with the rest of India.

India confirmed that satellite images of Chinese Type 15 light tanks camouflaged near the border with India in Ladakh were seen. 

This gave a wake-up call to Indian defense leaders as part of the detailed study made by the Centre of Joint Warfare Studies for the reintroduction of light tanks.

The report indicated that light tanks enjoy enhanced strategic, operational, and tactical mobility for rapid deployment in inaccessible areas where medium tanks movement are impeded.

There are several areas in the Ladakh border that are seen where tanks and mechanized units can be used effectively.

India currently has limited options, as it does not have any light tank manufacturing program. Only Russia appears to be in a position to provide the tanks, with their 2S25 Sprut-SD light airborne-capable tank, which weighs only 20 tons.

This would be light enough to be carried by the Indian Air Force's fleet of C-17 Globemaster III and Ilyushin Il-76 strategic airlifters.

[1] India Economic Times
[2] The Defenstar 
[3] Swarajya

China starts mass production of improved J-20 5th generation fighter aircraft

The J-20 fighter, this example without the thrust vectoring capability, conducting flight demonstrations at Airshow China 2016 in Zhuhai. Photo c/o Wikipedia.

China has started mass production of an improved version of their Chengdu J-20 "Mighty Dragon" 5th generation fighter aircraft, as confirmed by a Chinese military source associated to the project.

According to the report of South China Morning Post, this was signaled by the unveiling of an improved variant of the J-20 called the J-20B on 15 July 2020, which was attended  by several senior Chinese military leaders, including the second highest official involved in weapons development for the People's Liberation Army (PLA).

Among the major improvements are the introduction of a thrust vectoring capability, which allows improved flight handling and characteristics.
The new J-20B is said to still use Russian-made Saturn AL-31 jet engines as China has failed to complete development of a locally-made engine called the WS-15. According to reports, the WS-15 has not met requirements although Chinese engineers believe it would take one or two more years to complete the engine development.

Only then will the J-20B be fitted with the locally-made engine, which is the ultimate goal of the project.

The Chengdu J-20 is China's attempt to have a fighter that has similar capabilities as America's Boeing F-22A Raptor, and is expected to be ordered in significant numbers by the People's Liberation Army - Air Force (PLAAF) as it increase its modernization phase to replace older generation, obsolete fighter aircraft.

According to reports, Chengdu Aerospace Corporation (CAC) currently has a 4 production lines, which has a combined production capability to produce 4 J-20 aircraft a month.

[1] South China Morning Post
[2] Forbes

Indonesia loses one of its ex-East German landing ship medium in sinking incident

The KRI Teluk Jakarta (541) in an undated photo. Photo c/o MBS News.

The Indonesian Navy (TNI-AL) recently lost one of its medium landing ship (LSM), the KRI Teluk Jakarta (541) inside Indonesian waters off Kangaean Island on 14 July 2020.

Teluk Jakarta means Jakarta Bay in English. The ship was reported to have sank 90 meters deep at 9:00am local time.

All 55 crew members were declared safe after they were rescued by passing commercial ships, and were transferred to the frigate KRI Raden Eddy Martadinata (331) once the weather conditions became more favorable, to allow the crew to be returned back to the TNI-AL's naval base in Surabaya.

Although formal investigations are underway by the TNI-AL, initial reports stated that the sinking may have happened because of a leak in the hull. The sea state during the incident was said to be high, with waves up to 4 meters reported.

The ship is one of the TNI-AL's Teluk Gilimanuk-class LSM, which were formerly the East German Navy's Frosch I-class LSMs acquired in 1993 as they became redundant once the reunification of East and West Germany was completed.

The TNI-AL received a total of 12 Frosch-I and 2 Frosch-II class ships, with two ships already retired from service.  The entire class remains the most numerous in the TNI-AL's fleet of amphibious vessels.

[1] Overt Defense
[2] Media Indonesia

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Vietnam develops new STV-410 7.62x39mm assault rifle

The STV-410 rifle. Photo c/o The Firearms Blog.

Vietnam has developed a new assault rifle called the STV-410, made by Factory Z111 and physically resembles a Russian Kalashnikov AK-103/AK-105 assault rifle and the Israeli IWI Galil ACE assault rifle.

According to Vietnamese defense page VietDefense, the new weapon has a barrel length of 410mm and fires the 7.62x39mm round commonly used by Russian weapons and by the Vietnamese military.

Based on the observations made by firearms website The Firearms Blog, it appears that the new rifle uses a modified IWI Galil ACE milled receiver without dust cover, and the charging handle on the left side, while also having an ambidextrous safety selector or magazine well. This might have come from Factory Z111’s experience in license production of the IWI Galil ACE for the Vietnamese military.

The STV-410 also has picatinny rails to allow the installation of optics, night vision and thermal sights, and other accessories to improve its performance.

VietDefense mentioned that it remains to be seen if the rifle will be mass produced for the Vietnamese military since it has already standardized the use of the Galil ACE, wherein the locally-made variant is called the STV-380.

[1] VietDefense
[2] The Firearms Blog

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

India receives full delivery of AH-64E Apache Guardian and CH-47F Chinook helicopters

AH-64E Apache Guardian and CH-47F(I) Chinook helicopters of the Indian Air Force. Photo c/o Boeing India.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has received all its ordered AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopters and CH-47F Chinook heavy transport helicopters from American aviation giant Boeing.
This was confirmed by Boeing on 10 July 2020, in the midst of India's security challenges and stand-off with China in their common border in the Himalayas.

A total of 22 AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopters, as well as 15 CH-47F Chinook heavy lift helicopters were ordered by the IAF in 2015. 

Boeing handed over the final 5 units of the Apache Guardian helicopters recently, while also handing over the final 5 units of the Chinook helicopters to the IAF last March 2020.

Boeing also stressed its full commitment to working with India's armed forces to meet its operational requirements. It also has current ventures with Indian defense companies as part of Tata-Boeing Aerospace Limited which produces aero structures for the AH-64 helicopter.

The IAF has started using the AH-64E attack helicopters in operations in Ladakh, maximizing the high-altitude capabilities of the helicopter. It has also started using the CH-47F to transport troops, artillery pieces, and equipment in the border areas.

Aside from the IAF, the Indian Army has also ordered six new AH-64E Apache Guardian helicopters during US President Donald Trump's visit in New Delhi.

[1] Boeing India

[2] Economic Times India
[3] New Indian Express

Philippines commissions its first new Jose Rizal-class frigate

The BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) of the Philippine Navy. Photo c/o Philippine Navy.

The Philippine Navy (PN) has commissioned its first ever missile-armed frigate and the lead ship of the Jose Rizal-class frigate, the BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) during ceremonies held on 10 July 2020 in Subic Bay Freeport north of Manila.

The event was attended by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, South Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Amb. Han Dong Man, and Chief of the Philippine Navy Vice Adm. Giovanni Bacordo.

The frigate was built by South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), and was delivered in May 2020, and has been formally accepted by the PN during the commissioning ceremonies.

The ship was supposed to have been commissioned on 19 June 2020 during the birth anniversary of its namesake, Philippine national hero Dr. Jose P. Rizal. But due to restrictions related to COVID-19 pandemic, it was moved several times.

The BRP Jose Rizal represents a leap in capability of the PN, which until lately was armed only with ships without missile capabilities. The commissioning is also a milestone for the PN as this is its first ever brand new surface combatant, considering its previous assets were mostly former ships of the US Navy, US Coast Guard, and the Royal Navy.

The ship still has some issues to be settled, as HHI failed to have the ship's Combat Management System (CMS) get certification from the US Department of Defense for compatibility with the US Tactical Data Link 16. This is among the project's requirement that has been an issue since 2018.

The South Korean Ministry of National Defense (MND) as well as HHI made a sovereign guarantee to bankroll and be responsible for settling the Link 16 compatibility, which became a reason for the PN's acceptance of the ship.

A sistership, the Antonio Luna (FF-151) is currently undergoing final fit-out before its scheduled delivery either late 2020 or early 2021.

The Jose Rizal-class are armed with a 76mm Oto Melara Super Rapid naval gun, a 30mm Aselsan SMASH stabilized naval gun, two twin Simbad-RC launchers for the Mistral VSHORAD system, launchers for 4 LIG Nex1 SSM-700K C-Star anti-ship cruise missiles (expandable to 8 missiles), and two triple lightweight anti-submarine torpedo launchers.

It has allocations for an 8-cell vertical launching system (VLS) and a Close-In Weapon System (CIWS), which would be acquired separately.

[1] Philippine Navy
[2] MaxDefense Philippines

Monday, July 13, 2020

Philippines to receive 2 refurbished C-130H Hercules airlifters acquired from US

One of the PAF's C-130H Hercules, this example also acquired from US EDA.

The Philippines’ Department of National Defense (DND) confirmed in a press statement that the Philippine Air Force (PAF) is expecting to receive delivery of two refurbished C-130H Hercules heavy tactical airlifter this year.

The first aircraft is expected to arrive before the end of July 2020, and the second aircraft will be arriving before the end of the year.

Both aircraft were acquired as part of the PAF’s modernization program, and were partly funded by the US government under US Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program. 

The PAF was said to have spent Php1.6 billion (US$30.76 million), while the US FMF program covered Php900 million (US$17.30 million) in total costs.

The aircraft are retired US military aircraft and placed as Excess Defense Articles (EDA), and were refurbished and upgraded before delivery to the PAF. A similar acquisition was made by the PAF in 2014, with the delivered C-130s featuring improved avionics including partial glass cockpit.

According to Philippine defense page MaxDefense Philippines, the C-130s were suppose to be delivered last year and delays pushed back the delivery by a year.

The PAF will now have a total of 7 C-130 Hercules aircraft, although MaxDefense Philippines said that the PAF’s sole C-130B is currently non-operational and is planned for retirement, while another C-130H which was damaged in a fire accident last year was now written off and cannibalized for spares.

[1] Philippine News Agency
[2] MaxDefense Philippines

Friday, July 10, 2020

New Zealand to purchase 43 Thales Australia Bushmaster protected vehicles

The Thales Australia Bushmaster NZ5.5 Protected Mobility Vehicle. Photo c/o New Zealand Army.

The New Zealand government has confirmed that they approved the acquisition of a fleet of 43 Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicles (PMV), which are designed and made in Australia by Thales Australia.

The vehicles are expected to replace the New Zealand Army’s (NZA) ageing fleet of armoured Pinzgauers trucks, and would be available to provide new capabilities aside from troop transport, including protected ambulance and as a command and control hub.

The program is expected to cost around NZ$102.9 million (US$67.6 million), will involve the purchase of the Bushmaster NZ5.5 variant, which offers improved protection, carrying capacity, and mobility compared to the NZA’s existing fleet which are now reaching the end of their operational life.

Also included in the program are the acquisition of a desktop simulator, support equipment and infrastructure upgrade at NZA’s Linton Camp, and a training package.

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) expects that the vehicle would be used for responding to natural disasters, and on New Zealand’s peacekeeping operations.

Deliveries are expected to start by late 2022, with the fleet starting operational introduction starting late 2023.

The NZA actually is a current operator of the Bushmaster PMV, with at least 5 vehicles already in service with the New Zealand Special Air Service (NZSAS), and designated as the Special Operations Vehicle – Protected Heavy (SOV-PH).

[1] Beehive - New Zealand Government
[2] Jane’s

Thursday, July 9, 2020

New Zealand receives first batch of 6 Polaris MRZR all terrain vehicles

A Polaris MRZR D4 all-terrain vehicle, this example with the US Army. Photo c/o Polaris.

The New Zealand Army (NZA) confirmed in its publication that they already received the first batch of six (6) Polaris MRZR D4 all-terrain vehicles acquired under the New Zealand Ministry of Defence (MOD) Protected Mobility Capability Project (PMCP).

According to a report by British defense media outlet Jane’s, the vehicles will provide enhanced mobility and rapid deployment capability to infantry units, replacing older quad bikes as well as other unprotected vehicles.

The vehicles underwent an extensive 2-year trial period to determine its useability with NZA units, and has an option to purchase more vehicles. The 6 vehicles will enter service soon with the High Readiness Company of the 1st Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment.

The NZA has requirements to replace many of its small utility vehicles, composed mostly of Mercedes Benz Unimog trucks. The service is also expecting a new protected vehicle model called the Supacat Special Operations Vehicle – Mobility Heavy (SOV-MH).

[1] Jane’s

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

South Korea to release first prototype of indigenous KFX fighter by April 2021

The fuselage of the KFX prototype as shown by KAI. Photo c/o KAI through Jane's.

South Korean aviation company Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) confirmed that they are planning to have the first prototype of their indigenous Korea Fighter Experimental (KFX) fighter aircraft by April 2021.

KAI released a photo of the prototype’s fuselage as the aircraft is being assembled in KAI’s production yard in Sacheon.

According to a report by British defense media outlet Jane’s, the KFX’s first flight is expected to be made by 2022, and completion of the development program by mid-2026. Mass production of the first tranche called Block 1 is expected to proceed also by 2026, while Block 2 models will be produced from 2029.

Jane’s also reported that the development of a new indigenous Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar for the KFX is expected to be completed by August 2020 by the Agency for Defense Development (ADD) and Hanwha Systems.

Block 1 aircraft is expected to be only capable of delivering a limited range of air-to-air and air-to-ground munitions, while Block 2 aircraft will be fully integrated with a wider range of munitions.

[1] Jane’s

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Indonesia gets US approval for potential acquisition of MV-22 Osprey aircraft

A CGI of a potential Indonesian MV-22 Osprey. Photo c/o Bell.

The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) released a report confirming that the US State Department has approved the potential sale of up to eight (8) Bell-Boeing MV-22 Block C Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft to the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI).

The potential sale is expected to cost US$2 billion, with the US State Department notifying the US Congress about the possible deal. The US government believes the sale would support their foreign policy goals and national security objectives by improving the security of an important regional partner that is a force for political stability and economic progress in the Asia Pacific Region. 

Included in the proposed package are the 8 MV-22 Block C Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, 24 AE 1007C Rolls Royce engines, 20 AN/AAQ-27 Forward Looking Infra-Red Radars, 20 AN/AAR-47 Missile Warning Systems, 20 AN/APR-39 Radar Warning Receivers, 20 AN/ALE-47 Countermeasures Dispenser Systems, 20 AN/APX-117 Identification Friend or Foe Sysems, 20 AN/APN-194 Radar Altimeters, 20 AN/ARN-147 VHF OmniDirectional Range VOR Instrument Landing System Beacon Navigation System, 20 AN/AN-ARN-153 Tactical Airborne Navigation Systems, 20 Traffic Collision Avoidance System TCAS-II, 20 M-240D 7.62mm machine guns, 20 GAU-21 machine guns, Joint Planning Mission Systems, and other related equipment, logistics, training, and support systems.

The aircraft is expected to be used to enhance the TNI’s amphibious assault operations, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) capabilities.

It is expected that the deal will be through US Foreign Military Sales (US FMS) program. Should Indonesia proceed with the deal, they will become the type’s 2nd export market after Japan.


Monday, July 6, 2020

Australia’s new Hunter-class frigates expected to be larger than planned

The Hunter-class frigate. Photo c/o BAE Systems

Reports have surfaced that the new Hunter-class frigates being built by BAE Systems for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) is expected to be larger and heavier than initially planned.

Australian Financial Review posted a new report suggesting that the displacement of the ship has gone up from 8,800 tons full load to more than 10,000 tons. The report also said that the ship has grown longer than the 149.9 meters as proposed.

This could create cost overruns due to the higher construction cost of the ship, while also increasing the operating cost, while requiring additional funding for modification of basing facilities.

Australian shipbuilder ASC Shipbuilding, which is partnered with BAE Systems, dismissed the reports and said that it is normal for the ship design to undergo normal naval design processes, and they remain confident in the ability to meet Australia’s requirements and specifications. 

The Hunter-class frigate is based on BAE Systems’ Type 26 Global Combat Ship frigate design for the British Royal Navy (RN), and has also been adapted by the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) for their own frigate requirement. 

Modifications from the original Type 26 design includes the use of locally-developed AESA radar from CEA Technologies, the AEGIS combat system from Lockheed Martin, and an Australian-developed combat system interface from Saab Australia. The large AESA radar including the requirement for a higher power generation requirement may have increased the weight of the ship.

The RAN is acquiring 9 new Hunter-class frigates under a A$35 billion program called Project SEA 5000, with the first ship of the class expected to be in service with the RAN by the end of the decade.

[1] Australian Financial Review
[2] Defence Conenct
[3] Defense News

Friday, July 3, 2020

India to acquire HAL-assembled Su-30MKI, additional Russian MiG-29 fighters

An upgraded MiG-29 Fulcrum fighter of the IAF. Photo c/o Russian Aircraft Corp.

The Indian Ministry of Defence (MOD) confirmed that it approved a INR181.48 billion (US$2.43 billion) plan to procure 12 new Sukhoi Su-30MKI and 21 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29 fighters for the Indian Air Force (IAF).

This is in line with the plan to increase military preparedness as India and China face-off in their common borders along the Himalayan Line of Actual Control. 

The IAF is also planning to close the gap on their target to have more than 40 operational fighter squadrons to meet threats from China and Pakistan.

The Sukhoi Su-30MKI will be worth INR107.3 billion ((US$1.43 billion) and will be built under license by Indian aerospace company Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to replace the same number of aircraft that the IAF lost over the years due to different circumstances. No new fighter squadron will be stood up from these aircraft.

HAL has pushed the Indian government to order additional Sukhoi Su-30MKI aircraft to allow the production lines to be open.

Another 21 units of MiG-29 fighters are to be acquired from Russia under a INR74.18 billion (US$1 billion) program, which will add to the 59 MiG-29 fighters the IAF has been using since 1986. These aircraft were offered at a lower cost due to the aircraft already partially built units from a previously-cancelled order, and would be upgraded to IAF-standard MiG-29M variant as part of the program.

It is expected to replace a squadron of MiG-21 Bison fighters, which are being programmed for retirement in the next couple of years. Delivery is expected to be faster than usual.

[1] Jane’s
[2] The Economic Times India
[3] Zee News

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Australia unveils increased defense spending, upgrade plans over next 10 years

The Hunter-class frigates which will be armed with the LRASM. Photo c/o Australia DOD.

The Australian Government has released a new white paper called the Defence Strategic Update 2020 on 1 July 2020, which unveils plans to increase defense spending over the next 10 years.

The plan involved spending A$270 billion (US$187 billion) until 2030, aims for an aggressive defense strategy in anticipation of “a poorer, more dangerous, and more disorderly world” and countering China’s increasing rise and presence in the Western Pacific.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison believes that Australia is facing a security threat not seen since World War II, as the risk of miscalculation and conflict has become heightened. 

Among those being proposed for improving the Australian Defence Force (ADF) are on cyber and information warfare and security, long range strike capabilities, and high-tech underwater surveillance capabilities.

Defense budget is also expected to rise to an average of 2% of Gross Domestic Product by 2020-2021.

Among the first in line to improve long range striking capabilities is the purchase of 200 AGM-158C Long Rang Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) worth A$800 million (US$553 million), which has a maximum range of more than 370 kilometers.

Other programs planned are research and development of a new hypersonic long range weapons, deployment of a comprehensive underwater surveillance system to counter submarine threats, and plans to acquire unmanned submarines.

[1] ABC News
[2] Jane’s
[3] BBC

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

South Korea orders 20 TA-50 Block 2 lead-in fighter trainers

The KAI TA-50. Photo c/o Korea Aerospace Industries.

As the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) expects a growth in combat training requirements in the coming years, the South Korean Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) has awarded a contract to Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) to supply TA-50 Bloack 2 lead-in fighter trainers (LIFT).

The contract, worth KRW688.3 billion (US$573 million), allows for the supply of 20 new TA-50 Block 2 LIFT which are expected to be completed by 2024.

The TA-50 Block 2 is an upgraded version of the TA-50 Block 1, 22 units of which are already in service with the ROKAF. Compared to the original T-50 LIFT aircraft, the TA-50 are capable of light attack missions, being equipped with an IAI Elta EL/M-2032 fire control radar, and capability to fire the AIM-9 Sidewinder ait-to-air missile and AGM-65 Maverick air-to-ground missile.

The ROKAF is expected to utilize the additional TA-50s to replace the Northrop F-5F Tiger II twin-seat light combat aircraft trainer which are utilized for training jet-bound pilots but are retiring soon as the service commissions new generation fighters like the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter.

[1] The Korea Herald
[2] Jane’s
[3] Air Recognition