Thursday, December 31, 2020

India's second Project P17A Nilgiri-class guided missile frigate launched


The frigate Himgiri (F 41) during launch on 14 December 2020. Photo c/o The Tribune India.

Indian naval shipbuilder Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers (GRSE) launched the second ship of the class of the Project P17A Nilgiri-class guided-missile frigate for the Indian Navy, during ceremonies held on GRSE's shipyard in Kolkata on 14 December 2020.

While the ship, named Himgiri (F 41), was the second ship of the class, it is actually the first ship of the class that has been launched by GRSE. The lead ship of the class, the Nilgiri (F 40) together with 3 other sisterships are being built by another shipbuilder, Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd. (MDSL) based in Mumbai.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic affecting supply and production of the frigate, GRSE's Chairman Retired Rear Adm. VK Saxena announced that the ship was launched two months ahead of schedule. 

GRSE was awarded an INR192.94 billion (US$2.64 billion) contract to GRSE to build three (3) Project P17A Nilgiri-class frigates. The frigate project is GRSE's largest project in terms of complexity, cost, and warship size. It also is the first gas turbine-powered warship built by GRSE.

The frigate will undergo dockside fitout works, testing and sea trials for the next 2 years. The Indian Navy is expecting to take delivery of the Himgiri by 202.

The Nilgiri-class will become the Indian Navy's most modern and largest frigates, and are built using up to 80% local content, involving 2,000 Indian companies and firms and generating thousands of direct and indirect jobs.

The ships are designed with extensive use of low-observability technologies, including the use of composite materials and radar-absorbing coatings.

It will have a displacement of around 6,670 tons, a length of 149 meters, a maximum speed of 28 knots and a maximum range of 5,500 nautical miles.

The frigates are to be armed with a BAE Systems 127mm Mk.45 naval gun, two 30mm AK-630M close-in weapon system (CIWS), two triple torpedo tubes, eight Brahmos supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles, and 32 Barak-8 surface to air missiles in Vertical Launching System (VLS) launchers.

[1] Naval News
[2] The Tribune India
[3] Economic Times India

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Myanmar commissions first ever diesel-electric submarine, 6 other new ships


New ships were presented to the Tatmadaw (Myanmar Armed Forces) leadership. Photo c/o Myanmar Defence Review.

The Myanmar Navy (MN) has commissioned seven (7) new naval ships, including its first ever submarine, as part of the service's 73rd anniversary ceremonies held on 24 December 2020.

The submarine, a Russian-built Kilo-class Project 877EKM formerly with the Indian Navy and donated by the Indian government to Myanmar, was commissioned as the UMS Minye Theinkhathu (71).

Indian Ambassador to Myanmar Saurabh Kumar was present during the ceremonies, which shows its significant importance in India-Myanmar relations.

The submarine was formerly the INS Sindhuvir (S58) of the Indian Navy, which first entered service in 1988. It was refurbished by Hindustan Shipyard Ltd., before the submarine was transferred to the Myanmar Navy.

It has a displacement of around 3,000 tons, an underwater top speed of around 20 knots, and has an endurance of up to 45 days. The submarine can be armed with the Russian UGST torpedo, and the 3M-54 Klub submarine-launched anti-ship missiles.

It is expected that the submarine will be in service with the Myanmar Navy through the 2030s, as the service plans to use it to train its submarine forces, as plans are underway to acquire additional submarines in the next few years.

Aside from the submarine, the Myanmar Navy also commissioned two 63-meter Yan Nyein Aung-class Submarine Chasers, a 49-meter stealthy fast attack missile craft, a 56-meter landing craft utility (LCU), and two seagoing tugboats.

The submarine chasers, commissioned as the UMS Yan Nyein Aung (443) and UMS Yan Ye Aung (446), were built by the Thanlyin Naval Dockyard in Myanmar, and are armed with a 57mm Type 66 twin guns, two 25mm 2M-3M twin guns, two Type 81 ASW rocket launchers, two triple torpedo tubes for the Indian-made Sheyna torpedoes, and two Large Depth Charge throwers.

The 49-meter missile-armed fast attack craft was also built by the Thanlyin Naval Dockyard, is armed with a 30mm NG-18 close in weapon system, two Type 91 guns, four C802A anti-ship missiles, two Igla short range surface to air missile launchers, and two MA-16 heavy machine guns.

[1] Myanmar Times
[2] Swarjaya Magazine
[3] Myanmar Defence Review

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Japan picks Lockheed Martin to assist in F-X future fighter aircraft development


A concept image of the F-X fighter for the JASDF. Photo c/o Japan MOD.

The Japanese Ministry of Defense (MOD) has selected American defense giant Lockheed Martin as its preferred partner to provide support to Japanese company Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) in developing the F-X fighter aircraft for the Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF).

MHI is the prime contractor for the project.

The announcement was made on 18 December 2020, wherein the MOD chose Lockheed Martin due to its experience in fifth generation fighter development which includes the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II.

Two other competitors, Boeing and BAE Systems, were competing for the partnership.

Among the aspects considered by the Japanese MOD in their decision to select Lockheed Martin includes its proposals with regards to mission system integration, compatibility between kinematic performance and stealth capabilities, and capability to create detailed designs through computer simulation.

Lockheed Martin also benefits from previous working experience with Japan on fighter development, with the Mitsubishi F-2 derived from Lockheed Martin's F-16 Fighting Falcon, and the JASDF being a major export market for the F-35 Lightning II. MHI's operation of a final assembly line for the F-35s also gives advantage for both companies.

MHI is yet to finalize its partnership with Lockheed Martin, which also brought in Northrop Grumman as its team partner, although the Japanese MOD still plans to seek partners to assist on specific subsystems and equipment including engine and avionics development.

The Japanese government will still need to receive export approvals from the US government with regards to technology to be used in the F-X program.

The F-X fighter program aims to provide the JASDF with an advanced manned fighter aircraft to keep up with the growing threat from China, while replacing older aircraft like the Mitsubishi F-2, and most likely the Boeing F-15CJ/DJ Eagle as well.

It is expected to feature electrically actuated control surfaces, fiber-optic flight control system, and reduced radar cross section and heat signatures. Advanced technology like electromagnetic wave absorbers, metamaterial application and use of ionized gas are also being considered to further reduce radar cross-section.

Other technology like a new low-bypass engine from IHI Corporation, Gallium-Nitride AESA radar from Toshiba and Fujitsu, thrust vectoring systems, advanced mission systems and electronic warfare systems from Mitsubishi Electric, and others.

Japan's MOD will be receiving JPY57.6 billion (US$557 million) for Fiscal Year 2021, which will be used for developing the F-X fighter program.  

[1] Jane's
[2] Flight Global
[3] Forbes

Sunday, December 27, 2020

South Korea awards contract to upgrade 3 more Chang Bogo-class submarines


One of the upgraded Chang Bogo-class submarines after handing-over to ROKN in 2019. Photo c/o ROKN.

South Korean shipbuilder Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) has been contracted to upgrade three (3) more Chang Bogo-class diesel-electric attack submarines of the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN). 

The contract, worth KRW165 billion (US$151 million), was signed with the South Korean Ministry of National Defense (MND) and was announced by the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) and reported on 11 December 2020.

No information was provided about the names of the submarines to be upgraded under this program, although all nine submarines of the class are expected to undergo upgrades.

Three submarines of the class, the ROKS Lee Eok Gi (SS-071), ROKS Na Dae Yong (SS-069), and ROKS Choi Moo Sun (SS-063) already underwent upgrade works under a KRW179 billion (US$164 million) program.

For the first batch of submarines, upgrade works included the installation of a new locally-made Combat Management System from Hanwha Systems to replace the outdated ATLAS ISUS-83 CMS; a new Towed Array Sonar, and improvements on the target detection and tracking capabilities.

This makes the upgraded submarines the first Type 209 submarines in the world to be equipped with a Towed Array Sonar, and was reported to have improved the submarine's Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and shallow water operations capabilities.

The second batch of submarines are expected to undergo similar works and improvements.

The Chang Bogo-class are based on the German Type 209/1200 diesel-electric submarines from Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW), specifically designed for the ROKN. The first unit was built in Germany, while succeeding units of the class were built by DSME starting in the early 1990s.

The submarines are 55.9 meters long and 6.2 meters wide, displaces at around 1,285 tons, and is equipped with eight 21-inch 533mm torpedo tubes. 

[1] Jane's
[2] Navy Recognition

Malaysia's fourth and final Keris-class Littoral Mission Ship launched by Chinese shipbuilder


The 4th Keris-class LMS launched in China on 16 December 2020. Photo c/o RMN through Jane's.

The fourth and final Keris-class Littoral Mission Ship (LMS) for the Royal Malaysia Navy (RMN) has been launched by Chinese shipbuilder Wuchang Shipbuilding Industry Group, during ceremonies held on 16 December 2020 at the company's shipyard in Wuhan, China.

The ship, which is unnamed yet although has the hull number 114, is expected that the new ship would undergo a series of port acceptance tests and sea trials, and is expected to be handed-over to the RMN by November 2021.

Four (4) Keris-class LMS will be assigned with the RMN's 11st LMS Squadron based in Sepanggar Naval Base in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. 

Currently, only the lead ship of the class, the KD Keris (111) is in service with the RMN, while the second ship of the class, the Sundang (112) is expected to enter service in 2021.

The RMN's 4 Littoral Mission Ships were ordered by the Malaysian government from China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Corporation in 2017.

Originally, the last two ships were suppose to be built in Malaysia by Boustead Naval Shipyard (BNS) under a technology transfer agreement, but the plan was shelved after cost cutting measures were made by the government.

The Keris-class are 68 meters long, 9.20 meters wide, has a maximum speed of 22 knots and a maximum range of 2,000 nautical miles at 16 knots.

The are equipped with Chinese-made sensors and weapon systems including one 30mm CS/AN3 naval gun and two CS/LM6 12.7mm heavy machine guns, the SR2405A air and surface search radar, and OFC-3 electro-optical tracking system (EOTS).

[1] Jane's
[2] Asia Pacific Defense Journal

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Singapore confirms deployment of Aster 30 SAMP/T medium range surface to air missile system


Min. Ng while inspecting the Aster-30 SAMP/T system. Photo c/o The Straits Times / Timothy David.

Singapore's Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen confirmed that the MBDA Aster-30 Surface to Air Missile Platform/Terrain (SAMP/T) medium-range ground based air defense system of the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) has been deployed conducting "round the clock" air defense operations since August 2020.

The system has also been integrated with the RSAF's Island Air Defence System network, which was designed to counter airborne threats including fighter and attack aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, and precision munitions.

Minister Ng witnessed an Aster-30  deployment drill on 17 December 2020 at the Lim Chu Kang Camp II, where he mentioned that the new system could help reduce the threats to the small size, densely populated country.

It is expected that the Aster-30 SAMP/T system, which were delivered in 2018, would serve the RSAF in the next 2 decades.

The Aster-30 SAMP/T has an interception range of at least 70 kilometres, and were delivered to the RSAF in 2018 to replace its older Raytheon MIM-23B Improved Homing All the Way Killer (I-HAWK) system that has been heavily improved and has been in service for more than 30 years with the RSAF's 163 Squadron.

The Island Air Defence System integrates the Aster-30 SAMP/T system with other air defense assets including the Multi-Mission Radar, the Gulfstream G550 Airborne Early Warning Aircraft, and the shorter-range SPYDER-SR short range air defense system.

The Aster-30 can be controlled via the use of a combat management system developed locally by the RSAF and the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA), improving operations and response times, while reducing operator workload.

The Straits Times
[2] Jane's

South Korea selects Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk as next ship-based naval combat helicopter

The Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk, examples above with the US Navy. Photo c/o Naval News.

The South Korean Defense Acquisition Programme Administration (DAPA) announced that it has selected Lockheed Martin's Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk multirole naval helicopter for the Maritime Operations Helicopter (MOH) Batch II program of the Republic of Korean Navy (ROKN).

A total of 12 new naval helicopters, with anti-surface warfare (ASuW) and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities, will be acquire and is expected to cost around US$800 million. The contract is expected to be signed before the end of 2020, and deliveries are expected to be completed by 2025.

The MH-60R won over the Leonardo AW159 Wildcat, which won the Batch I program implemented a few years ago, and delivered 8 helicopters back in 2016. 

Due to the AW159 Wildcat already in service and its cheaper cost, it was expected that Leonardo would win the MOH Batch II program, and was already positioned win its competitors, Sikorsky Lockheed Martin and NH Industries, failed to submit a proposal on the tender's deadline.

But the the US government submitted a price using Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program just before awarding the project to Leonardo, which DAPA used to open a re-open the project tender.

The ROKN intends to deploy the new MH-60R helicopters with its latest naval surface combatants, particularly the KDX-III Batch 2 Aegis destroyers, and FFX Batch III frigates.

[1] Jane's
[2] Defense News
[3] Flight Global

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Australia reaches first steel cutting milestone for first Hunter-class frigate, test production systems


A CGI of the Hunter-class frigate, which is based on BAE Systems' Type 26 Global Combat Ship design. modified to suit RAN requirements. Photo c/o RAN.

BAE Systems Maritime Australia has reached a milestone in the construction and delivery of the next generation Hunter-class frigates to the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), as it conducted the first steel cutting for the shipbuilding program.

The milestone is also part of the prototyping stage of the program, which involves construction of 5 prototype ship blocks to test its production systems, develop its facilities, and ensure its manpower are trained to build the frigates.

Prototyping stage is expected to continue until 2023, with the construction phase for the first ship of the class is seen to start by 2022 at the Osborne Naval Shipyard - South in South Australia.

The new Hunter-class frigates are the centrepiece of the Australian government's A$183 billion (US$138 billion) Naval Shipbuilding Plan, a program that involves the construction of around 70 new ships for the RAN, and employing 15,000 Australian workers over the course of several years. 

The Hunter-class frigates, which are based on BAE Systems' Type 26 Global Combat Ship frigate designed for the British Royal Navy (RN), involves the construction of 9 new advanced frigates, considered to be among the most advanced once the first ship is commissioned with the RAN starting in the late 2020s.

The frigates are designed to have a length of around 150 meters, with a maximum full load displacement of around 8,800 tons, and will be powered a Rolls Royce MT30 gas turbine, 2 electric motors, and 4 MTU high speed diesel generators in a Combined Diesel-Electric and Gas (CODLOG) configuration. 

The ships will also be equipped with the Aegis combat system, and armed with a 32-cell Mk. 41 vertical launching system with Standard SM-2 and Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSM), 8 anti-ship missiles, two triple torpedo launchers, a 127mm Mk. 45 Mod. 4 naval gun, two 30mm close range guns, and two 20mm Phalanx close-in weapon systems (CIWS). 

The frigates are expected to replace the existing German-designed ANZAC-class frigates which have been in service with the RAN since 1996.

[1] Australian Department of Defence
[2] BAE Systems Australia

Monday, December 21, 2020

Myanmar acquiring 2 used Airbus C-295 transport aircraft from Jordan


An Airbus-CASA C-295 tactical transport aircraft of the Royal Jordanian Air Force. 

The Myanmar Air Force (MAF) was reported to be interested in acquiring two (2) used Airbus-CASA C-295 medium tactical transport aircraft from the Kingdom of Jordan, in a deal expected to be worth US$38.6 million.

The move is said to allow the Myanmar government to avoid the arms embargo imposed to them by the European Union (EU) in 2018, since Jordan has no sanctions imposed against Myanmar. 

Myanmar is under an arms embargo by EU due to human rights violations against the ethnic Muslim Rohingya in 2016. This is addition to an existing embargo due to a bloody military takeover of the civilian government in 1988.

A Myanmar-based company, Aero Sofi, was said to be facilitating the deal on behalf of Myanmar and Jordan. Based on reports, there is no direct negotiations between Myanmar and Jordan. Aero Sofi will also help provide training to MAF personnel at an Airbus facility in Spain.

According to Myanmar news outlet The Irrawaddy, the MAF is negotiating the procurement of the transport aircraft, which will help the service replace some of its Chinese-made Shaanxi Y-8 transport aircraft, one of which crashed in 2017.

The Airbus-CASA C-295 is one of the most successful medium transport aircraft in the world, with Myanmar's neighbors including Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam among its users.

The C-295's short take off and landing capabilities are said to be suited to Myanmar's conditions.

[1] The Irrawaddy
[2] The Diplomat
[3] Myanmar Now

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Taiwan launches new missile corvette, receives new rapid minelayer


The new missile corvette, which was named as Ta Chiang (619). Photo c/o Taipei Times.

The Republic of China Navy (ROCN, Taiwanese Navy) reached a major milestone on 15 December 2020, as the launching ceremony for its latest Tuo Chiang-class missile corvette was held, while also receiving delivery of a new rapid minelaying vessel.

Both projects are important developments in the country’s indigenous shipbuilding program, while also improving the capabilities of the ROCN.

The new corvette, named Ta Chiang (619) was launched during ceremonies held at Lung Teh Shipbuilding’s facility in Suao, Yilan County, with Taiwanese President Tsi Ing-wen present and satisfied by the country’s self-sufficiency programs.

The ship is said to be an improvement over the original Tuo Chiang-class design, dubbed “aircraft carrier killers”, and will be armed with the Hsiung Feng II subsonic and Hsiung Feng III supersonic anti-ship missiles, Sky Sword II air defense missiles, a 76mm gun, a Phalanx CIWS, and two triple torpedo tubes.

It features a wave-piercing catamaran hull design, with waterjet propulsion, and a low radar cross section design. It has a displacement of 685 tons, a maximum speed of 30 knots, and an operational range of 1,800 nautical miles.

The ROCN also received a the first ship of the new Min Jiang-class minelaying vessel, which is a new class of small minelayers designed to operate in coastal areas like the Taiwan Strait.

The Min Jiang-class rapid minelayer are 41 meters long and 8.8 meters wide, displaces at 347 tons and has a maximum speed of 14 knots,. The boat is also equipped with 20mm and 12.7mm guns and utilizes an indigenous minelaying system capable of laying up to 100 mines.

The ROCN is expecting 3 more Min Jiang-class minelayers, which are all in different stages of construction.

[2] Focus Taiwan
[3] Taipei Times

Monday, December 14, 2020

Philippines plans to acquire second batch of 16 S-70i Black Hawk combat utility helicopters

PAF S-70i Black Hawk combat utility helicopters. Photo c/o Philippine Armed Forces Unofficial.

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) has expressed its desire to acquire another batch of 16 Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk combat utility helicopters, in addition to the 16 units ordered back in 2019.

During the induction ceremonies of the first 6 S-70i Black Hawk helicopters delivered by Sikorsky to the PAF, the Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana mentioned that the PAF made a request for the acquisition of 16 more Black Hawks to replace its existing fleet of Vietnam War-era Bell UH-1D/H Huey helicopters.

According to Sec. Lorenzana, the PAF’s Commanding General Lt. Gen. Allen Paredes told him that it is practical to acquire additional Black Hawks instead of another model, to allow for commonality and ease in logistics and spares, training, and support.

Sec. Lorenzana also mentioned that the Philippine government has funds available for the acquisition of more helicopters, and the chances of this request to be approved is high.

The PAF selected the S-70i Black Hawk for its new combat utility helicopter requirements, after cancelling an earlier contract with Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) representing Bell Helicopters with its Bell 412EPI helicopters, after the Canadian officials questioned Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s human rights record, and potentially using Canadian-made helicopters for human rights violations.

Sec. Lorenzana mentioned that the cancelation of contract with as a blessing, as the Black Hawks were said to be more capable, larger, and cheaper than the Bell 412EPI.

The helicopters were built in Poland thorough Sikorsky's subsidiary PZL Mielec. 10 more helicopters from the first batch of 16 are scheduled for delivery in 2021.

[1] Philippine News Agency

Friday, December 11, 2020

Japan to construct two new Aegis destroyers as replacement to canceled Aegis Ashore BMD systems

The Maya-class Aegis destroyer JS Maya (DDG-179) of the JMSDF. Photo c/o Japan MOD.

Japan is planning to build two (2) new Aegis-equipped destroyers to replace an earlier plan to deploy the land-based Aegis Ashore Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) systems, which was cancelled in June 2020 following safety and security reasons.

Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi raised this plan during a meeting held with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition Komeito Party. 

The plan was reported to have been approved by both parties, with Minister Kishi already starting the process on pushing through with the shipbuilding program, starting with Cabinet approval within December 2020.

The decision was said to be based on studies that building sea-based mobile platforms, specifically Aegis-equipped guided missile destroyers are found to be the best solution out of three options being considered by the Japanese Ministry of Defense (MOD).

Other options considered were using an offshore structures, or using private-sector merchant vessels.

The Japanese MOD previously announced plans on revamping its deployment of personnel on Aegis-equipped destroyers, including plans to raise the retirement age of Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) personnel to retain a pool of specialists, rotation of ship crew, and other improvements in living conditions.

Japan’s latest Aegis-equipped guided missile destroyer are the Maya-class, which are based on the Atago-class but with a larger hull to allow the use of a hybrid electric propulsion system in Combined Gas Turbine-Electric and Gas Turbine (COGLAG) configuration.

It also features the latest Aegis Weapon System Baseline 9C with the Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) system to allow sharing of surveillance and targeting information with other CEC-equipped ships and aircraft.

It is expected that the future Aegis destroyers will be based on the Maya-class, and will also be armed with the Standard Missile SM-3 and SM-6 Anti-Ballistic Missiles.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Philippines inducts 6 new Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk combat utility helicopters


3 of the 6 S-70i Black Hawk helicopters inducted with the PAF. Photo c/o Frances Mangosing /

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) has inducted six (6) new Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk combat utility helicopters in its fleet, during acceptance and blessing ceremonies held in Clark Airbase on 10 December 2020.

The new helicopters were assigned with the PAF's 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing, which currently flies the Bell UH-1D/H Huey, and a few Bell 412EP and PZL Swidnik W-3A Sokol combat utility helicopters. 

The helicopters were built by Sikorsky's Polish subsidiary, PZL Mielec, and were delivered to the Philippines in November 2020. All 6 were part of a deal for 16 new S-70i helicopters ordered in 2018 as part of the PAF's modernization efforts.

The 10 remaining helicopters are scheduled for delivery to the Philippines by early 2021, also coming from PZL Mielec's production facility in Poland.

Previous confirmation from the Philippines' Department of National Defense (DND) mentioned the training of PAF pilots and crew on Black Hawk operations in Sikorsky's facility in Florida, which appears to be ongoing.

The PAF is looking at replacing the Bell UH-1D/H Huey fleet, which the PAF started using in the late 1960s. But its decision to acquire more surplus units and spare parts from regional partners like South Korea and Japan appears to be a sign that it is struggling in replacing the old helicopters with new ones.

The PAF was reported to be also procuring 16 Russian Mil Mi-171 Hip medium helicopters, but its addition would still be not enough to meet the PAF's total requirements.

According to Philippine defense page MaxDefense Philippines, the PAF is expected to order more combat utility helicopters in the future, most likely follow-on orders of S-70i Black Hawk, or additional Bell 412EPI/EPX helicopters considering the type is also in use in the PAF as combat utility and VIP helicopters.

[1] MaxDefense Philippines

[2] Philippine Defense Resource

US willing to sell latest F-15 Eagle, F/A-18 Super Hornet to Indonesia

A US Navy Boeing F/A-18E Super Hornet (foreground) and a US Air Force Boeing F-15D Eagle fighter aircraft.

The US Department of Defense supports the possibility of selling the latest F-15 Eagle and F/A-18 Super Hornet twin-engine fighter aircraft to the Indonesian government, according to Indonesian defense officials.

According to a report by Nikkei Asia, visiting US Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller met with his Indonesian counterpart, Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto, where discussions about the potential sale of the Boeing F-15 and F/A-18 fighter aircraft were made.

A request was also made for the sale of F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters, but the US was not positive on it due to the long duration for the aircraft to be delivered.

This new development gives the Indonesian government more options as it plans to acquire more fighter aircraft and expand the combat capability of the Indonesian Air Force.

Currently the Indonesian Ministry of Defence (MOD) were reported to be in advanced stages of negotiation with France for the procurement of 36 Dassault Rafale fighters, while also discussing with the Austrian Defense Ministry for 15 used EF-2000 Eurofighter Tranche 1 fighters.

It also has a pending contract for 11 Sukhoi Su-35 fighters from Russia.

Acting Sec. Miller’s discussions with Min. Subianto included the security issues in the South China Sea and territorial disputes with China, as well as training between US and Indonesian military forces.

[1] Nikkei Asia

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Philippines receives grant of Sniper Rifles, IED Disposal Equipment, PPE from US


US Acting Defense Sec. Christopher Miller, with Philippine Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana and Philippine Foreign Affairs Sec. Teodoro Locsin during the hand-over ceremonies of US-granted equipment for the Philippine military. Photo c/o Philippines DND.

The US Department of Defense led by its Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller handed over PHP1.36 billion (US$29 million) worth of defense equipment to the Philippines' Department of National Defense (DND) on 08 December 2020.

Acting Sec. Miller is in the Philippines and met his Philippine counterpart, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, and personally led the handover of defense including sniper rifles and scopes, bomb disposal and counter-IED equipment, helmets and body armor vests, and other undisclosed equipment.

The grant is part of the US government's commitment to assist its ally the Philippines in tackling security issues including terrorism and insurgency.

It is expected that these new equipment will be used by the Armed Forces of the Philippines Special Operations Command (AFPSOCOM), which comprises different special operations units from the AFP's services branches.

The handover appears to be the third from the US government in a span of less than a month, as US government also handed over BMG-71 TOW 2A bunker buster missiles and ITAS launchers, and GBU-49 Enhanced Paveway II laser guided bombs last 23 November 2020, and Insitu ScanEagle 2 unmanned aerial vehicles for the Philippine Navy last 25 November 2020.

US Acting Sec. Miller also confirmed that a pending delivery of a refurbished C-130 Hercules transport aircraft is also scheduled on 17 December 2020. A second aircraft is also scheduled to arrive in early 2021.

Acting Sec. Miller is in the Philippines to also discuss about Philippine and regional defense security issues with his Philippine counterparts.

The Philippines has been the US' longest ally in the Asia-Pacific region, and has been assisting the AFP in fighting terrorism through aid, training, and surveillance especially in the southern island of Mindanao where US Special Forces are deployed together with an MQ-1C Grey Eagle UAV detachment in Edwin Andrews Airbase in Zamboanga City.

[1] Philippines Department of National Defense
[2] ABS-CBN News

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Taiwan to complete upgrade of 22 F-16A/B to current Viper configuration before end of 2020

ROCAF F-16A/B Fighting Falcon fighters during exercise. Photo c/o CNA.

Upgrade works on 22 Lockheed Martin F-16A/B Block 20 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft of the Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF / Taiwanese Air Force) to the current F-16 Block 70 Viper configuration are expected to be completed before the end of 2020.

According to Taiwanese news outlet Central News Agency (CNA), at least 19 aircraft have completed their upgrade works, while 3 more are expected to be completed in December 2020.

Works have been made by Taiwanese state-run Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC), with Lockheed Martin providing assistance.

Once completed, the ROCAF will have 37 F-16A/B Block 20 upgraded to Block 70 standards, as an initial batch of 15 aircraft were already upgraded in the past 2 years.

Upgrade works include the installation of more advanced avionics including the APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam radar, Helmet-Mounted Cueing System, and improved electronic warfare systems. It also shares technology from the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, which is also from Lockheed Martin.

A total of 140 F-16A/B Block 20 fighter aircraft are scheduled to be upgraded to Block 70 standards, with an estimated project completion by the end of 2023 – with 35 aircraft scheduled for upgrade in 2021, another 35 in 2022, and the final batch of 32 aircraft in 2023.

In addition, Taiwan ordered 66 new-build F-16 Block 70 Viper fighters from the US government in 2020, with deliveries expected to start in the next few years.

[1] Jane’s
[2] Focus Taiwan
[3] CNN

Monday, December 7, 2020

Indonesia in advanced stages of negotiations for French Rafale fighters

The Dassault Rafale fighter, these examples with the French Navy. 

France’s Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly confirmed in an interview that they are in advanced stages of negotiation with the Indonesian Ministry of Defence (MOD) on the acquisition of at least 36 units of the Rafale 4.5 generation fighter from Dassault Aviation.

In a TV interview with BFM Business, Min. Parly said that the no orders have been signed yet, but a lot of work has been done and negotiations are in advanced stages.

Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto met with Minister Parly in October 2020 in Paris, with the potential sale of Rafale fighter among those discussed, on top of other potential arms sale to Indonesia of French submarines, warships, and weapon systems.

Previous reports already mentioned Indonesia’s interest in the Rafale fighters as it try to look for alternatives to modernize the Indonesian Air Force (TNI-AU) and replace its ageing fleet of Northrop F-5E/F Tiger II light fighters, after a contract with Russia’s Rosoboronexport for 11 new Sukhoi Su-35 fighters worth US$1.1 billion remain pending.

Indonesian reports mentioned that the US government did apply pressure on Indonesia to cancel the deal with Russia, although Russian officials insist that the deal with Indonesia is still on.

And while the US government has offered to sell the latest variant of the F-16 fighter aircraft, Indonesia was said to have counter proposed the sale of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, which Indonesian Ambassador to the US Muhammad Lufti said may take several years to fulfill.

Indonesia is also in discussions with the Austrian Ministry of Defence to procure the Austrian Air Force’s fleet of 15 EF-2000 Eurofighter Tranch 1 fighters, which is also said to be ongoing.

[1] The Drive – The Warzone
[2] Aerotime Hub
[3] Reuters

Friday, December 4, 2020

Preparation for 1st steel cutting held on new MCMVs for Indonesia

Milestone signing between representatives of the Indonesia MOD and Abeking & Rasmussen. Photo c/o Indonesian Embassy in Berlin.

German shipbuilder Abeking & Rasmussen conducted the Milestone of Starting of Steel Cutting for two new Mine Countermeasures Vessel (MCMV) based on the MHV-60 design for the Indonesian Navy (TNI-AL).

The milestone was held in Abeking & Rasmussen’s shipyard on 26 November 2020, with a ton of plate material inspected and cut during the activity. Due to COVID restrictions in Germany, the milestone was only limited to a few representatives of Abeking & Rasmussen, and the Indonesian Ministry of Defence (MOD).

The milestone is in preparation for the actual First Steel Cutting Ceremony which is scheduled to be held in Germany on January 2021.

The Indonesian MOD signed a contract with Abeking & Rasmussen for the design and construction of two new MCMVs for the TNI-AL on 29 January 2019.

The new ships arebased on the MHV-60 design, similar to the German Navy’s Frankenthal-class MCMVs and will be replacing the TNI-AL’s two Pulau Rengat-class ships that are in service since 1988.

The new MCMVs are around 62 meters long, and will be fitted with a mine hunting sonar system, and unmanned underwater vehicles, as well as able to launch and recover a Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB).

Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Berlin
[2] Abeking & Rasmussen

Indonesia interested in enlarged variant of France’s Scorpene diesel electric submarine

Brazil's Riachuelo-class submarine, which is an enlarged variant of the Scorpene-class diesel electric submarine from France's Naval Group. Photo c/o Maritime Global News.

The Indonesian Ministry of Defence (MOD) was reported to be in talks with French naval shipbuilder Naval Group (NG) for a potential sale of a variant of the Riachuelo-class diesel electric attack submarine, which NG is building for the Brazilian Navy.

According to British defense media outlet Jane’s, NG suggested the variant as being suitable to the requirement of the Indonesian Navy (TNI-AL).

The Riachuelo-class is a derivative of NG’s Scorpene-class diesel electric submarine, but with an extended hull to allow for greater endurance, although they are not fitted with the Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system.

Also discussed between NG and the Indonesian MOD are financing options, and technology transfer opportunities including potentially building the submarines in Indonesia, and participation of local suppliers.

The Indonesian MOD already signed a deal with South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) for the sale of 3 improved versions of the DSME 1400 diesel electric submarine, which are based on the German Type 209/1400 design. But the deal appears to be on hold due to reports of issues surrounding the construction of 3 earlier submarines delivered by DSME to the TNI-AL, which are now collectively called the Nagapasa-class.

The Riachuelo-class, also called the Scorpene S-BR design, are 71.6 meters long, displaces at around 1,870 tons, and are equipped with six 533mm torpedo tubes capable of firing heavyweight torpedoes and the MBDA SM39 Exocet Block 2 submarine-launched anti-ship missile.

It can dive up to a depth of 300 meters, has a submerged speed of greater than 20 knots, and an endurance of up to 45 days.

[2] Naval News