Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Thailand receives final two Airbus H225M Caracal multi-mission helicopters

One of the new H225M Caracal multi-mission helicopters delivered on 24 November 2021. Photo c/o RTAF.

The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) received 2 more Airbus H225M Caracal multi-mission medium helicopters, previously known as the Airbus EC725. .

The helicopters with tail numbers 20309 and 20310 were welcomed on 24 November 2021 by the RTAF’s Aviation Division 2 commander Air Chief Marshall Chawapon Yimpong. The new helicopters  join other H225Ms assigned with Squadron 203.

The delivered helicopters are part of a four unit order signed on September 2018, with the first two units delivered at an earlier date.

This brings the total EC725 helicopters in the RTAF’s fleet to 12, with the first helicopters arriving in 2015.

The RTAF’s EC725s are specially equipped with emergency flotation gear, fast roping, cargo sling, search light and electro-optical systems (EOS) to perform combat search and rescue (CSAR) missions, search and rescue (SAR) flights, troop transport operations and other tasks.

Airbus Helicopters’ EC725 is an 11-ton twin-engine multirole utility helicopter featuring high-performance navigation and mission systems, including a digital four-axis autopilot for high performance flight autonomy.

It is a member of the successful Super Puma / Cougar family of military helicopters, with more than 500 units delivered worldwide.

In Southeast Asia, Indonesia and Malaysia also operate the EC725/H225M helicopters.

[1] Royal Thai Air Force
[2] Airbus Helicopters
[3] Helis.com

Monday, November 29, 2021

Philippines looking at acquiring a second Pohang-class corvette from South Korea


The former ROKS Andong (PCC-771). Photo c/o ROKN.

The Philippine Navy (PN) has started the process of acquiring a second decommissioned Pohang-class corvette from South Korea.

The PN has made its intentions known more than a year ago of trying to acquire at least 2 more used Pohang-class corvettes to complement its existing surface ships, as it replaces its World War 2-era patrol vessels and expand its fleet.

A Joint Visual Inspection was conducted on the former Pohang-class Flight IV corvette ROKS Andong (PCC-771), which was previously in service with the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) and was decommissioned on 31 December 2020.

According to the PN, the ship was found to be in good condition, although not much detail and timeline were provided on the transfer of the ship.

Should the transfer be successful, it would be the second Pohang-class corvette in the PN, after the former Flight III ship ROKS Chungju (PCC-762), now known as the BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39).

The Flight IV variant of the Pohang-class corvettes are armed with the Boeing Harpoon anti-ship missiles and MBDA Mistral very short range air defense system (VSHORAD), although the missiles may not be part of the transfer to the Philippine Navy.

The former ROKS Andong was built by Hanjin Heavy Industries and launched on 30 April 1987, and commissioned with the ROKN on 07 November 1988.

Naval News
[2] Inquirer.net
[3] MaxDefense Philippines

Thursday, November 25, 2021

India commissions first new Project P15B Vishakhapatnam-class guided missile destroyer


The INS Vishakhapatnam (D66). Photo c/o Indian Navy.

The Indian Navy has commissioned its first Vishakhapatnam-class guided missile destroyer, considered to be the most advanced surface combatant of the country.

Commissioning ceremonies was held on 21 November 2021 at the Naval Dockyard in Mumbai, and was attended by Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

The ship, which was named INS Vishakhapatnam (D66), is the lead ship of the class with the same name, and was built under the Indian Navy's P15B destroyer program, which aims to deliver the latest generation of stealth guided missile destroyers to replace older models like the Rajput-class.

The ship was indigenously designed by the Indian Navy’s in-house organisation Directorate of Naval Design, and constructed by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited in the company's shipyard in Mumbai.

In his address, the Defence Minister said that the ship is a symbol of the growing maritime prowess of the country and a major milestone in achieving Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s vision of ‘Make in India, Make for the World’.

He added that the ship is a reminder of ancient and medieval India’s maritime power, shipbuilding skills and glorious history, and defined that the ship is one of the most technologically advanced guided missile destroyers in the world which will cater to the present & future requirements of the Indian Armed Forces and India as a whole.

The ship was designed and built with a high level of indigenisation, with major indigenous systems including its Combat Management System, Rocket Launcher, Torpedo Tube Launcher, Integrated Platform Management System, Automated Power Management System, Foldable Hangar Doors, Helo Traversing system, Close-in Weapon System and the Bow mounted SONAR.

The INS Visakhapatnam is 163 meters long, 17 meters in breadth, has a displacement of 7,400 tonnes and can rightfully be regarded as one of the most potent warships to have been constructed in India.

The ship is propelled by four gas turbines in a Combined Gas and Gas (COGAG) configuration, and is  capable of reaching speeds in excess of 30 knots.

The ship features an enhanced stealth design resulting in a reduced Radar Cross Section (RCS),  achieved through efficient shaping of hull, full beam superstructure design, plated masts and use of radar transparent materials on exposed decks.

[1] Naval News
[2] India Today
[3] Hindustan Times

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Pakistan commissions its first Type 054A/P Tughril-class guided missile frigate


The PNS Tughril as seen in Shanghai before commissioning. Photo c/o Times of India.

The Pakistan Navy (PN) has commissioned its first Tughril-class Type 054A/P guided missile frigate, as confirmed by an official statement.

The ship, named the PNS Tughril (F261), was commissioned during ceremonies held on 08 November 2021 in Shanghai, China, and attended by Pakistan's Ambassador to China Moin ul-Haque.

The ship, which was named after Tugrul I which is one of the founders of the Seljuk Empire,  is the first of four ships ordered by the Pakistan Government in 2017 and 2018, and was built by Chinese shipbuilder China Shipbuilding Trading Company's Hudong-Zhonghua Shipyard in Shanghai.

The ship is also the third Pakistan Navy warship to hold the same name after an O-class destroyer commissioned in 1951, and a Gearing-class destroyer commissioned in 1980.

Ambassador ul-Haque said that the new frigate would strengthen efforts for peace and stability in the South Asian region, and is a tantamount to a new chapter of long-standing relations between Pakistan and China.

The ship's design was based on the Type 054A frigate built for China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), with some modifications to suit the requirements of the Pakistan Navy.

It is currently the most advanced surface combatant in the Pakistan Navy, and also the largest and most advanced warship made by China for export to another country.

The Type 054A/P Tughril-cass displaces at over 4,000 tonnes, is 135 meters long, and are are armed with a 32-cell Vertical Launch System (VLS), equipped with the HHQ-16 surface-to-air missiles (SAM) and the Yu-8 anti-submarine rockets (ASROC), 2 quadruple CM-302 supersonic anti-ship cruise missile launchers, a PJ-26 76 mm main naval gun, 2 triple Anti-Submarine Torpedo launchers, 2 Type 87 Anti-Submarine rocket launchers, two Type 726-4 18-tube decoy rocket launchers and two Type 1130 close-in weapon systems (CIWS).

Three more ships are in different phases of construction, and are expected to be completely delivered to the Pakistan Navy by 2023. The second ship of the class was launched on January 2021, a;so at the Hudong-Zhonghua Shipyard in Shanghai.

[1] Jane's
[2] Daily Pakistan
[3] Anadolu Agency

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Bhutan receives 15 First Win armored vehicles procured from Thailand


Some of the First Win armored vehicles handed over to Bhutan. Photo c/o Bangkok Post.

The Government of Bhutan has received 15 new First Win 4x4 armored vehicles it procured from Thailand, which would be used for United Nations peacekeeping operations in Africa.

The vehicles were made by Thai company Chaiseri Defence, and were handed over by Thai Deputy Defence Minister General Chaichan Changmongkol to Bhutan's Ambassador to Thailand Kinzang Dorji on 19 November 2021 at the Office of the Permanent Defence Secretary in Nonthaburi.

The vehicles are to be used the Royal Bhutan Army's UN peacekeeping contingent in Central African Republic starting next month.

Thai Permanent Secretary of Defence General Worakiat Rattananont said that Bhutan selected the First Win armored vehicle due to Chaiseri's capabilities, and the quality of the vehicles considering the affordable price tag.

The vehicles were said to be worth a total of THB225 million (US$6.8 million), or around THB15 million each.

Bhutan becomes the 4th country to use the Chaiseri First Win 4x4 armored vehicles, after Thailand, Malaysia (as the AV4 Lipanbara), and Indonesia.

The Chaiseri First Win is considered as a Mine-Resistant, Ambush Protected (MRAP) armored vehicle, designed with a V-shape hull with protection up to STANAG 4569 Level 3B to better protect the vehicle's passengers from mines and improvised explosive device (IED), and has a  STANAG 4569 Level 2 ballistic protection against small arms fire.

It can be equipped with a manually or remote-operated turret with machine guns or automatic grenade launchers, and has firing ports to allow passengers to use small arms from inside the vehicle.

[1] Bangkok Post
[2] Pattaya Mail
[3] AAG_Th Thai Defence page

Monday, November 22, 2021

Taiwan reaches keel laying milestone for first indigenous attack submarine program


A scale model of the Indigenous Defense Submarine for the Republic of China Navy. Photo c/o CNA News.

The construction of Taiwan's first indigenously-built diesel-electric attack submarine has reached a milestone as the keel has been laid recently.

The submarine is being constructed under Taiwan's Indigenous Defense Submarine (IDS) programme, which aims to build a new fleet of eight diesel-electric attack submarines with technical assistance from friendly countries.

Taiwan International Shipbuilding Corporation (CSBC) is building the submarines in their yard in Kaohsiung, with reports saying the ship has been given a factory number "1168", although no pictures are available due to secrecy by the Taiwanese Government.

Naval News reported that the new submarines will be armed with the Mark 48 Mod 6 Advanced Technology heavyweight torpedoes and UGM-84L Harpoon Block II submarine-launched anti-ship missile from the US.

The submarines will also be equipped with high efficiency batteries developed locally, instead of Air Independent Propulsion (AIP system.

The Taiwanese Government has allocated a total budget of NT$49.36 billion (US$1.78 billion) from 2019 to 2025 to fund the design and construction of these new submarines, as it aims to modernize its ageing underwater fleet.

Currently the Republic of China Navy (ROCN) operates two Chien Lung-class submarines built in the 1980s by the Netherlands, and two World War 2-era Hai Shih-class submarines, which are former US Navy Tench-class submarines transferred to Taiwan in 1973.

This pales in comparison to regional submarine forces, especially those from China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), with China considered as Taiwan's biggest security threat.

[1] Taiwan News
[2] Naval News

Friday, November 19, 2021

Indonesia orders 2 Airbus A400M in Multirole Tanker Transport configuration, with options for 4 more


A CGI of what an A400M in TNI-AU colors and markings will look like. Photo c/o Airbus.

European aircraft giant Airbus Defence and Space has announced that Indonesia has placed an order for two new A400M heavy transport aircraft, with an option for four more units.

This was announced by the company at the International Defence Exhibition & Conference  2021 (IDEX 2021) defense exhibition in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

The contract is scheduled to take effectivity starting 2022, and will include a complete maintenance and training support package.

Aside from the order for two aircraft, a Letter of Intern was also signed indicating a possible follow-on order for four more aircraft.

The A400Ms for the Indonesian Air Force (TNI-AU) will be configured for Multi-Role Tanker Transport roles, which will replace the force's ageing fleet of KC-130B Hercules.

According to Indonesian Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto, the A400M will greatly increase the TNI-AU's tactical air-to-air capabilities, and response to any crisis, citing the A400M's role in providing relief and supplies after a tsunami struck Palu in Central Sulawesi, despite the short and damaged runway.

The aircraft will also be used to carry large and heavy loads at tactical and strategic distances, while also used for aerial refuelling capabilities. It can also be used for dropping paratroopers and other missions.

The A400M can carry two underwing refuelling pods using probe-and-drogue method, and can be rapidly configured from an aerial tanker to a transport aircraft, and vice versa.

Indonesia will become the 10th user of the A400M aircraft, and the second in Southeast Asia after the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF).

The TNI-AU currently has the Lockheed Martin C-130 legacy Hercules as its biggest air transport asset.

[1] Airbus

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Vietnam receives first batch of 6 Yak-130 armed jet trainers from Russia


One of the newly-delivered Yak-130 aircraft for the Vietnam People's Air Force. Photo c/o LQM thorough VietDefense.

The Vietnam People's Air Force (VPAF) has received the first batch of Yakolev Yak-130 armed jet trainers from Russia.

Six aircraft were delivered to the VPAF's Phu Cat Air Base in Binh Dinh province, with six more aircraft expected to arrive several months later.

Vietnam ordered a total of 12 aircraft under a deal signed with the Russian Government worth around US$350 million in 2019. 

The Yak-130 will be replacing the VPAF's ageing fleet of Czech-built Aero L-39 Albatross advanced jet trainers, and will be training VPAF pilots for combat and fast jet training.

The aircraft are expected to serve the VPAF's 940th Aviation Training Regiment.

The Yak-130 is a subsonic, 2-seat advanced jet trainers being marketed by Russia to prepare pilots for transition to larger fighters.

It is also capable of being used as light combat aircraft, as it was designed with 9 hard-points to allow the use of armaments including short range air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground munitions and even electronic pods.

Vietnam becomes the 3rd country in Southeast Asia to operate the Yak-130, after Myanmar and Laos.

[1] VietDefense
[2] Military Leak
[3] AIN Online

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Philippines gets last batch of 5 Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk combat utility helicopters from Poland


One of the five new S-70i Black Hawk combat utility helicopters delivered to the Philippines on 08 November 2021. Photo c/o MaxDefense Philippines.

Lockheed Martin's Polish subsidiary PZL Mielec has delivered the last batch of five Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk combat utility helicopters to the Philippines on 08 November 2021.

The helicopters, bound for the Philippine Air Force (PAF), arrived at Clark Air Base north of Manila aboard a commercial Antonov An-124 Ruslan heavy transport aircraft flying from Poland through the United Arab Emirates.

The five helicopters form the last batch of deliveries by PZL Mielec as part of a US$241.4 million contract for 16 new S-70i Black Hawk helicopters for the PAF signed in 2019.

The S-70i Black Hawk was selected after it competed with other international offerings including the Bell 412EPI, the KAI KUH-1 Surion from South Korea, Leonardo AW-139M, and Airbus Helicopters AS565 Panther.

According to Philippine defense page MaxDefense Philippines, the helicopters were received by the PAF and will be undergoing localized inspections and testing prior to induction with the air service.

It is expected that these would take several weeks, and the helicopters might be ready for formal acceptance and induction with the PAF before yearend at the earliest.

The PAF's 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing, based in Benito Ebuen Airbase in Mactan, Cebu province, is the unit overseeing the operations of the Black Hawk combat utility helicopters and other similar helicopters in the PAF.

The S-70i Black Hawk is the export version of the venerable UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter primarily used by the US military and its other key allies and partners. In the PAF, it replaces the ageing Bell UH-1D/H Huey helicopters which have been operated by the PAF since 1968.

The Black Hawk helicopters are far larger than the ones they are replacing, with more internal space, heavier lifting capacity, longer range and better endurance.

The PAF is said to be interested in acquiring more S-70i Black Hawk helicopters as it retired its fleet of UH-1D/H Hueys earlier this year after being involved in a series of fatal accidents.

[1] MaxDefense Philippines
[2] Polish Embassy in the Philippines
[3] Philippine Defense Resource

Monday, November 8, 2021

Indonesia receives 75 new 12.08-meter Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boats


Some of the new RHIBs delivered to the Indonesian Army. Photo c/o Indonesian Ministry of Defence.

The Indonesian Army (TNI-AD) has received over 75 units of new Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIB / Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boats (RHIB) from the Indonesian Ministry of Defence (MOD) on 04 November 2021.

The RIB/RHIBs were made and delivered to the Indonesian MOD by local companies PT Praba Cipta Mandiri and PT Samudera Lautan Biru at the TNI-AU's headquarters in Jakarta.

Indonesian Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto led the ceremonies, which was also witnessed by the Chief of Staff of the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) Gen. Andika Perkasa, as well as the Head of Defence Facilitie Agency of the MOD Air Vice Marshall Yusuf Jauhari, and Assistant Chief of Staff on Logistics of the TNI Major General Saiful Rachiman.

The new RIB/RHIBs are 12.08 meters long, with an aluminium hull and has a capacity of 16 passengers and crew.

It has a fuel capacity of 1,370 liters, enabling speeds of up to 35 knots, and a maximum range of 200 nautical miles at economical speed.

These new assets are expected to improve the TNI-AD's overall waterborne capabilities, while also helping the local defense industry benefit from contracts from the government in support of encouraging support and participation by Indonesian companies, and strengthening the country's defense self-sufficiency program.

[1] Indonesian Ministry of Defence

Philippines getting closer to ordering 5 new C-130J Super Hercules tactical transport aircraft


A C-130J-30 Super Hercules of the US Air Force. Photo c/o Scramble Magazine  / Jos Leendertse.

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) is expected to place an order of five new C-130J Super Hercules heavy tactical transport aircraft from American aviation company Lockheed Martin by 2022.

This is after the country's House of Representatives have approved the funding worth PHP5.5 billion (US$ 110 million) for the initial payment needed to order the aircraft as part of the Philippines' defense budget under Fiscal Year 2022.

According to Philippine defense page MaxDefense Philippines, the PAF intends to order the C-130J-30 stretched Super Hercules, which is 15 feet longer and can accommodate two more standard cargo pallets or increased space capacity.

While the proposal has passed Legislative screening and will still need to be approved at the Executive level, it is expected that the funding will be kept intact for the PAF.

The PAF has requested for the acquisition of new Super Hercules transport aircraft in 2020 to modernize and expand its transport and logistics support aircraft fleet, but funding has not been made available due to defense acquisition funding shifted to COVID-19 response by the Philippine Government.

It suffered a big loss after a deadly crash involving an older C-130H Hercules aircraft last 04 July 2021, destroying the aircraft and resulted to the death of more than 50 pilots, crew members and passengers,  mostly newly-recruited and trained troops from the Philippine Army.

The PAF currently has 1 C-130H and 2 C-130T Hercules transport aircraft in its fleet, although one more refurbished C-130H acquired by the Philippine Government from the US is expected to join the fleet before the end of 2021.

The PAF is also believed to be receiving more refurbished C-130 Hercules aircraft in 2022-2023, as part of US Military Assistance to the country.

Aside from the expected acquisition of new C-130J Super Hercules, the PAF is in the process of receiving 3 new C-295W medium tactical transport aircraft from Airbus Defence, with the first aircraft already spotted undergoing flight tests in Airbus-CASA's facility in Spain.

[1] Aviacionline
[2] MaxDefense Philippines
[3] Scramble Magazine

Monday, November 1, 2021

Papua New Guinea receives 3rd Guardian-class patrol boat from Australia


The NUSHIP Francis Agwi (403), which was handed over to the Papua New Guinea Defence Force Maritime Element. Photo c/o Austal.

Australian shipbuilder Austal has handed over the 3rd Guardian-class patrol boat for Papua New Guinea to the Australian Department of Defence, which was then handed-over to the Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF).

The patrol boat, which was named NUSHIP Francis Agwi (403), was  handed over to the PNGDF at Austal's shipyard in Henderson, Western Australia on 22 October 2021.

Among those present on the handover ceremonies were Head of Maritime System, Australian Department of Defence Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group Rear Admiral Wendy Malcolm, Senior Australian Defence Force Officer in Western Australia Air Commodore Fiona Dowse, Royal Australian Navy HMAS Stirling Commanding Officer Captain Gary Lawton, and PNGDF Maritime Element NUSHIP Francis Agwi Commanding Officer Lieutenant Elizah Lourie.

The boat was donated by the Australian Government to the PNGDF as part of the A$350 million SEA 3036-1 Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement (PPB-R) Project, under the Australian Government's Pacific Maritime Security Program which involves delivering 4 new Guardian-class patrol boats to the PNGDF.

Aside from Papua New Guinea, eleven other Pacific Island nations that received or will receive Guardian-class patrol boats under the program are Fiji, the Federated States of Micronesia, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Palau, Samoa, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Timor-Leste. 

These countries will receive the vessels from Australia through to 2023.

No date has been set yet on the commissioning of the patrol boat with the PNGDF.

The boat is also the 13th Guardian-class patrol boat built by Austal, with 8 more boats under construction for several other Pacific island countries including Papua New Guinea's 4th ship of the class.

These boats would be used for border patrols and policing, search and rescue, and other missions to support of the recipient governments.

The project not only improves the maritime security capability of the said nations, but also allows the creating of 200 direct jobs and 200 indirect jobs within Australia.

The Guardian-class are steel-hulled monohull patrol boats that made extensive use of commercial off the shelf parts for easy maintenance. They have a length of 39.5 meters, a beam of 8 meters, and draft of 2.5 meters.

The boats are powered by two Caterpillar 3516C diesel engines allowing a speed of more than 20 knots, and a range of 3,000 nautical miles at 12 knots.

It has a crew of 23 men, and was designed to allow a naval gun of up to 30mm calibre, and for port and starboard side 12.7mm heavy machine guns.

The steel monohull patrol boat – designed, constructed and sustained by Austal Australia – is based on a proven design platform that has included the 38 metre Bay-class, 56 metre Armidale-class and 58 metre Cape-class patrol boats that are in service with the Australian Border Force and Royal Australian Navy.

[1] Austal