Thursday, July 28, 2022

Philippines scraps deal to procure Mil Mi-17 helicopters from Russia


A Mil Mi-17 Hip helicopter, this example operated by the Indian military. Photo c/o Tribune News.

The Philippines has reportedly scrapped a deal worth PHP12.7 billion (US$227 million) involving the acquisition of Mil Mi-17 Hip transport helicopters from Russia for the Philippine Air Force (PAF).

This was disclosed by the country’s former Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana in an interview by the Associated Press, and also seconded by Manila’s Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez.

The Department of National Defense (DND) and the Philippine Air Force have yet to officially confirm the cancellation of the deal.

The decision to cancel the deal was due to fears of possible sanctions from the United States, which is implementing its Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) aimed at keeping arms sales away from Russia.

The procurement of Russian helicopters by the Philippines was approved by former Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte, with the contract signed between the Philippines’ Department of National Defense (DND) and Russian agency Sovtechnoexport in November 2021.

The deal was believed to be a move to improve ties with Russia as the Philippines is not a traditional Russian arms market and does not operate any major Russian or Soviet weapon system.

A military official confirmed that the contract would undergo a termination process, and reconsideration might be difficult even if Russia appeals against the decision.

The Philippine government already paid 15% of the contact’s worth, and it remains to be seen how the money would be returned or use due to the deal’s cancelation. 

Ambassador Romualdez confirmed that the US Government is aware of the Philippine Government’s decision to cancel the contract and is expected to offer American equivalents of the Mil Mi-17 helicopter. 

Philippine defense page MaxDefense Philippines previously posted that the Mil Mi-17 was actually up against the Boeing CH-47F Chinook as part of the PAF’s Heavy Lift Helicopter Acquisition Project, but the Russian helicopter was ultimately selected, mostly because of the higher number of helicopters the Russians can deliver based on the budget allocated for the project.

Russia is believed to be capable of delivering a total of 17 helicopters, with deliveries expected to start by 2024.

[1] Reuters

[2] Yahoo News

[3] Philippine Defense Resource

Friday, July 22, 2022

Indonesia shows strong interest in Brahmos coastal defense missile system


The Brahmos coastal defense missile system firing unit of the Indian armed forces. Photo c/o Wikipedia.

Indonesia was reportedly negotiating with India for the possible acquisition of the Brahmos coastal defense missile system. 

Indian media outlet Financial Express reported that a contract is within reach, and is looking at either the end of 2022 or early 2023.

Indonesia was said to have shown interest in the Brahmos supersonic anti-ship cruise missile as early as 2018, which is one of India’s champion product for global defense exports.

If this deal pushes through, Indonesia would become the second export market, and second Southeast Asian country to order the Brahmos missile system after the Philippines, which signed a US$375 million contract with Brahmos’ manufacturer Brahmos Aerospace Ltd early this year.

The Brahmos missile is a ramjet-powered supersonic anti-ship missile capable of flying up to Mach 2.8, and can be launched from shore-based launchers, as well as from ships, submarines and aircraft.

It was developed as a venture between India and Russia, said to be based on supersonic Russian anti-ship missile designs,  and is currently used by the Indian military.

Aside from Indonesia and the Philippines, Indian sources reports that other countries have also shown interest in the Brahmos includes Vietnam and Malaysia, and countries from the Middle East, South America and Africa.

[1] Financial Express India

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

South Korea completes maiden flight of indigenous KF-21 Boramae fighter aircraft


KF-21 taking off during maiden flight on 19 July 2022. Photo c/o ROKAF

South Korean aircraft company Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) together with the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) have successfully carried out the first flight of its homegrown KF-21 Boramae fighter aircraft on 19 July 2022.

The aircraft took off at 3:40pm from the ROKAF’s 3rd Flying Training Wing in Sacheon, and the flight took around 33 minutes, with the aircraft landing at 4:13pm.

This marks an important milestone in South Korean aviation history, and is a signal of South Korea’s advancement in supersonic fighter aircraft development that only a few countries have achieved.

The KF-21 Boramae is the realization of South Korea’s KFX Fighter Program, which also includes Indonesia as an investing partner, and is believe to cost around KRW8.8 trillion (US$6.7 billion).

The KF-21 is meant to provide South Korea with a new fighter aircraft to replace its ageing fleet of Northrop F-5 Tiger II and McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom fighters from the 1970s, and to counter North Korea’s missile and nuclear threats.

South Korea’s indigenous aviation sector has developed quickly, starting with the roll-out of the first KT-1 Woongbi propeller-driver trainer aircraft in November 2000, and after plans to develop a fighter aircraft capable of exceeding the capabilities of the F-16 Fighting Falcon.

The program was not all smooth sailing, as there were scepticisms on the feasibility of developing its own fighter aircraft from various sectors, citing project cost and acquiring fighter technology.

This was proven when the United States in 2015 rejected South Korean requests for technology transfer for four critical technologies - an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar system, for Infra-red Search and Track (IRST) system, an Electro-Optical Tracking Pod (EO TGP), and on Radio Frequency (RF) Jammer. 

These technologies were eventually developed domestically, with Hanwha Systems developing the AESA radar system and releasing a prototype in August 2020, and developing the IRST and EO TGP systems.

LIG Nex1 is also developing the electronic warfare suite including the RF jammer system.

KAI is expected to start manufacturing of the initial KF-21 Block I units between 2026 to 2028.

[1] Yonhap News

Friday, July 15, 2022

Taiwan expected to launch its first new indigenous attack submarine by September 2022

A scale model of the still unnamed indigenous diesel-electric attack submarine from Taiwan. Photo c/o CNA.

The first of Taiwan’s new indigenous diesel-electric attack submarine is expected to be launched by its shipbuilder by September 2022.

This was reported by Taiwanese media outlet Central News Agency, citing an unnamed source.

The submarine is expected to undergo Harbor Acceptance Tests and Sea Acceptance Tests after launching, which could take another one to two years after its launch.

The first submarine is expected to start operating with the Republic of China Navy (RoCN) by 2025, and seven other submarines will undergo a similar process.

Based on the scale models released in previous events, Taiwan’s indigenous submarine have an X-form rudder similar to those found on Japan’s Soryu and Oyashio-class submarines, and are expected to be built using Japanese construction techniques.

The submarines are also expected to be armed with American munitions including the Mark 48 Mod 6 Advanced Heavyweight Torpedo, and the Boeing UGM-84L Sub-launched Harpoon Block II anti-ship missiles.

The development and construction of new submarines is one of Taiwan’s major nation defense projects given priority by the administration of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, and has been allocated a budget of NT$49.36 billion (US$1.69 billion) between 2019 to 2025.

[1] Central News Agency Taiwan
[2] Taiwan News
[3] Navy Recognition

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Philippines receives Merkava IV-based armored bridgelayers from Elbit Systems


One of the Merkava IV platforms delivered to the Philippine Army as it was being unloaded from a cargo ship last 12 July 2022. Photo c/o Philippine Army.

The Philippine Army (PA) confirmed that the two new armored vehicle launched bridge (AVLB) it ordered from Israel's Elbit Systems have arrived on 12 July 2022.

Based on the photos released by the Philippine Army, the new bridge-layers are using an armored vehicle platform based on the Israeli-made Merkava IV main battle tank.

This appears to be the first time the Merkava series are exported by Israel since 1979 when the type has started production.

According to Filipino defense page MaxDefense Philippines, the new AVLB are based on the Joint Assault Bridge developed by Leonardo DRS and Israel Military Industries (IMI) which is now part of Elbit Systems.

The difference is the Philippine Army version is that the bridge has a longer span, and it uses a different armored vehicle platform, in this case the Merkava Mk. IV instead of the M1A2 Abrams.

The Philippines Department of National Defense (DND) awarded the project to the joint venture of Elbit Systems Land & C4I, and IMI Systems Ltd. on December 2018, and the US$27.7 million contract signed  in late 2019. 

The specifications of the Philippine Army's AVLB requires it to have a maximum operating weight of  60 tons, with the bridge span at least 18 meters long, roadway width of at least 3.5 meters, and has a MLC 50 military classification.

In a social media post by the Philippine Army, it described the new AVLBs as game changer capabilities for its engineer combat battalions, and will be due for Post-Delivery Technical Inspections before acceptance and deployment.

This is the Philippine Army's mobile bridge-layer, and the service aims to procure additional systems in the future as its armored and mechanized fleet are expected to grow as part of its modernization program.

[1] Philippine Army
[2] Philippine Defense Resource
[3] MaxDefense Philippines

Friday, July 8, 2022

Japan signs contract for 12 new naval offshore patrol vessels


Design of new Japanese OPV taken from ATLA's presentation. Photo c/o Japan ATLA 

The Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) will be getting 12 new Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV), with Japan Marine United (JMU) selected as the project’s main contractor, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) selected as the main subcontractor.

Both companies, as well as Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding, were being considered by Japan’s Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA). 

JMU was selected over its competitors due to its proposal being superior in terms of fuel efficiency, manpower cost savings, life cycle costs, and maintainability, among others.

The new OPVs will be utilized to increase naval presence and increase intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities in Japanese waters and exclusive economic zones especially in disputed areas in the country’s western and southwestern flanks. 

The vessels are expected to have a high degree of automation which would allow a total crew of around 30 officers and sailors, a high adaptability and stealthy design, and modularity including deck space for modular payloads and ISO containerized mission modules.

They are also design to allow easy maintenance and low fuel consumption, and will include a maintenance support package.

Each vessel is expected to cost around JPY9 billion (US$67 million), and will be 95 meters long, have a width of 12 meters, a displacement of around 1,920 tons.

It would be powered via a Combined Diesel Electric and Diesel (CODLAD) allowing a maximum speed of over 20 knots.

The ships would be equipped with a 30mm main gun, and would have landing deck and hangar for helicopter and/or unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operations.

[1] Naval News

[2] Shephard Media

[3] The Diplomat

Australia confirms order for Naval Strike Missiles to replace Harpoons


The Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile. Photo c/o Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace.

(press release from Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace)

Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace (KONGSBERG) has signed an initial contract valued at NOK 489 million (US$48 million) with the Commonwealth of Australia for Naval Strike Missile (NSM) capability. 

The order income is booked in second quarter 2022.

On 5 April 2022, the Federal Government announced the accelerated acquisition of the NSM to replace the Harpoon Anti-Ship Missile on the Royal Australian Navy’s ANZAC Class Frigates and HOBART Class Destroyers.

√ėyvind Kolset, Executive Vice President Missile Systems in Kongsberg Defence and Aerospace, stated “Signing this initial contract to commence the acquisition of an Australian NSM capability is a very important milestone.  This is a clear demonstration of KONGSBERG’s commitment to the accelerated delivery of NSM to the Royal Australian Navy to meet their requirements,” said Kolset.

Developed in Norway, KONGSBERG’s NSM is a fifth-generation, long-range, precision strike missile designed to defeat heavily protected maritime targets in contested environments.

[1] Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Malaysia believed to be closing in to pick Indian HAL Tejas Mk 1A for light fighter requirement


The HAL Tejas light combat aircraft. Photo c/o Aerotime Hub.

India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has announced that it is finalising negotiations with the Malaysian Ministry of Defence to sell its Tejas Mk 1A light combat aircraft to the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF).

According to HAL Chairman and Managing Director R Madhavan, an agreement is expected to be made soon between HAL and the Malaysian MoD, and that they are sure of winning the tender unless a political shift takes place.

India is expecting that should Malaysia become its first export market for the Tejas, it would improve the chances of selling the aircraft to other countries. 

So far, India has been struggling to gain the Tejas’ first export market, as it competes with the Sino-Pakistani PAC JF-17 Thunder, South Korea’s KAI FA-50 Fighting Eagle, and Russia’s Yakolev Yak-130 Mitten and Mikoyan MiG-35 Fulcrum-F fighter.

HAL claims that the Tejas Mk 1A is superior to the JF-17 and FA-50 in terms of technological specification, and ability to improve the aircraft in the future.

Aside from supplying the Tejas light combat aircraft, HAL also offered to assist the RMAF in maintaining its fleet of Sukhoi Su-30MKM Flanker fighter aircraft, as importation of spare parts and services are affected by Western sanctions to Russia.

HAL will establish a Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility in Malaysia to support its Su-30MKM fighter fleet, as part of the deal to sell the Tejas fighters.

The offer for an MRO facility appears to be the biggest factor for Malaysia’s selection of the Tejas, considering India is the only other country capable of supporting the Sukhoi Su-30 aside from Russia, being the largest user of the type.

The new light combat aircraft will replace the RMAF’s fleet of Russian-made Mikoyan MiG-28N/NUB Fulcrum fighters, which were retired from service a few years ago due to poor serviceability.

[1] Free Malaysia Today

[2] Hindustan Times

[3] Zee News India

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Myanmar receives first two Sukhoi Su-30SME Flanker fighters from Russia

Sukhoi Su-30SME fighter aircraft. Photo c/o Rosoboronexport.

Reports from Myanmar confirmed that Russia has delivered the first two of six Sukhoi Su-30SME Flanker twin-engine fighters to Myanmar in March 2022.

Myanmar press outlet The Irrawaddy reported that aside from the two new Su-30SME fighters now based in Naypyidaw, Russian pilots and technicians were also reported to be deployed in the area, as well as in the city of Mandalay.

These Russian personnel will be providing assistance to the Myanmar Air Force, and would stay during the aircraft’s warranty period.

Myanmar signed a contract for the sale of six Su-30SME fighters with Russia in 2018, together with the sale of Yakolev Yak-130 lead-in fighter trainers during a visit by Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu to Myanmar.

These new fighters are the most advanced in the Myanmar Air Force’s fleet which are mostly made up of Russia and Chinese made combat aircraft.

It was reported in 2021 that Myanmar used Sukhoi Su-30SME fighters against Kachin Independence Army (KIA) separatists, but there was no proof, and could actually be the smaller but similar-looking Mikoyan MiG-29 Fulcrum fighter.

The sale of the fighters are part of increased military-to-military cooperation between Myanmar and Russia, with Russian military officials frequently visiting Myanmar over the last 3 years, and Myanmar supporting Russia in its invasion of Ukraine.

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Thailand selects Elbit Systems Hermes 900 for maritime surveillance UAV requirement


An example of a Hermes 900 Kochav UAV from Elbit Systems.

The Royal Thai Navy (RTN) has selected the offer from Israel’s Elbit Systems, winning an international tender to supply maritime surveillance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).

The winning bid was approved by the Thai Ministry of Defence (MoD) Permanent Secretary General Warakiat Rattanonont, and a formal contract with Elbit Systems is expected to be signed within 30 days.

The UAVs will be used by the RTN for maritime surveillance, over-the-horizon targeting, search and rescue, and other maritime missions.

Elbit Systems offered the Hermes 900 Kochav medium altitude long endurance unmanned aerial system (MALE UAS), and competed against fellow Israel-based defense company Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), and three other companies from Turkey, China and the United States.

With the RTN’s budget of THB 4 billion (US$120 million), Elbit Systems reportedly proposed to deliver 7 UAVs, while IAI proposed 5. Both the offers from Turkey and China proposed 3 UAVs, while the proponent from the United States failed the screening test.

The Elbit Systems Hermes 900 UAV has a length of 8.3 meters, a wingspan of 15 meters, a gross weight of 1,100 kilograms, and is powered by a Rotax 914 piston engine capable of providing the UAV with a cruise speed of 70 miles per hour, a maximum speed of up to 140 miles per hour, and an endurance of up to 36 hours with a maximum service ceiling of 9,100 meters.

It can carry different payloads up to 300 kilograms in total, which includes surveillance cameras, sensors and search and rescue packages.

The Hermes 900 Kochav UAV is considered as the successor to the smaller Hermes 450, in which the Royal Thai Army has 4 UAVs in service with the 21st Aviation Battalion.

Within Southeast Asia, the only other user of the type is the Philippine Air Force, which purchased 9 units in 2017.

[1] Thai PBS World

[2] Pattaya Mail

[3] The Defense Post

Monday, July 4, 2022

Malaysia receives 2 new AW139 maritime helicopters, activates new naval air squadron


One of the two new AW139 helicopters of thenRMN. Photo c/o Defence Security Asia.

The Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) has formally received and inducted the first two AgustaWestland AW139 maritime utility helicopters.

Both helicopters, manufactured by Italian defense compaby Leonardo Helicopters, were handed over to the RMN on 01 July 2022, together with the opening of the Kota Kinabalu Air Station at the RMN’s Eastern Fleet Command Headquarters at TLDM Sepanggar naval base, with Malaysian Senior Minister of Defence leading the honors.

The new air assets are to be operated by the RMN’s Squadron 503, which was also activated on 01 July 2022 and will be responsible for monitoring the Malaysian Maritime Zone.

The helicopters would enable the RMN to conduct increased frequency on patrolling the waters of Sabah and Sarawak, including combat duties like Maritime Domain Awareness, Over the Horizon Targeting (OTHT), support of Special Operations, and training.

It would also be used other duties including Search and Rescue (SAR), Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC), Casualty Evacuation (CASEVAC), and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations.

One more helicopter is expected to be delivered to Malaysia by September 2022.

The newly activated Squadron 503 have a total of 25 officers and 92 personnel of various ranks are assigned in four divisions, namely aviation safety, operations and training, administration and logistics, and aerospace engineering.

[1] Bernama

[2] Kosmo!

[3] Defence Security Asia

Indonesian shipbuilder bags contract to supply landing platform dock to United Arab Emirates


The 163m LPD design from PT PAL. Photo c/o Valleryan through MaxDefense Philippines.

Indonesian state-owned shipbuilder PT PAL (Persero) has signed a contract with United Arab Emirates Navy (UAEN).

The contract was signed on 01 July 2022, and was part of a total of six agreements between Indonesian and the United Arab Emirates signed during the visit of Indonesian President Joko Widodo to Abu Dhabi.

PT PAL has offered its landing platform dock (LPD) design to the UAE Ministry of Defence (MoD) since 2020 in response to Request for Information released to several international shipbuilders.

The design selected is a 163-meter variant of PT PAL’s LPD design, which is longer than the variant ordered by the Philippines last June 2022, and is closer to the design offered by PT PAL to meet the Royal Malaysian Navy’s Multi-Role Support Ship (MRSS) program.

The additional length allows for a longer helicopter landing facility for 3 medium helicopters, and a hangar large enough to accommodate 2 medium helicopters.

It also has highly customizable payload bays, and equipped with an automated launch and recovery system for Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIB) and landing crafts.

According to Indonesian sources, the ship has a displacement of around 12,500 tonnes, a beam of 24 meters, a draft of 6 meters, and is capable of achieving a maximum speed of 18 knots and a cruising speed of 15 knots.

It can be armed with a variety of weapon systems including a 76mm naval gun, 20mm to 30mm remote controlled weapon stations or close-in weapon systems, heavy machine guns, and counter-measure systems

[1] Global Business Press Aerospace & Defence

[2] Cabinet Secretariat of the Republic of Indonesia