Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Indonesia to receive large patrol vessel from Japan as part of aid


The Kunigami-class patrol vessel of the JCG, used as basis for new patrol vessels built for the Philippines. Photo c/o Wikipedia.

The Indonesian Maritime Security Agency (BAKAMLA) is scheduled to receive a large patrol vessel from Japan as part of a grant aid to improve Indonesia capacity for maritime law enforcement and maritime safety.

As part of the ASEAN-Japan 50th Commemorative Summit held in Tokyo, Japan, the Foreign Affairs ministries of both countries held an Exchange of Notes ceremony with Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio and Indonesian President Joko Widodo witnessing the event.

As part of the agreement, Japan would provide a large patrol vessel worth JPY9.053 billion (US$63 million) to help the BAKAMLA to respond to maritime safety and security situation in its Exclusive Economic Zone as well as along important sea line of communication.

The new ship will be built by a Japanese shipyard, although no detail has been provided as to what ship design would be used, which shipbuilder will construct the ship and what timelines are expected for the project to start and the ship to be delivered.

Japan sees Indonesia as an important partner in maintaining security in important sea lanes including the Malacca-Singapore Strait, and sees the need for the BAKAMLA to improve its capabilities.

Japan acknowledged that the BAKAMLA is in need of more assets and facilities for it to have the capacity to carry out its mission in the interest of not just Indonesia but also other countries whose trade passes through Indonesia’s EEZ.

[1] Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs

[2] Reuters

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Malaysia to open tender for 12 new helicopters by 2024.


RMAF EC725AP medium helicopters. Photo c/o

The Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) will be procuring 12 new helicopters in 2024, which would be done through a competitive open tender.

This was confirmed to Malaysian press by the RMAF’s Chief General Mohd Asghar Khan Goriman Khan, who also said that he will be inviting companies to display their assets and participate in the open tender.

Currently the RMAF operates 12Airbus EC725AP medium helicopters, and it was widely anticipated that the RMAF would be ordering the same aircraft for commonality. 

The decision to procure new helicopters through an open tender may find the RMAF with a different helicopter model although the RMAF said that helicopter manufacturers will need to follow their specifications.

According to the RMAF, the new helicopter will be used for Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) as well as utilitarian roles to meet requirements for Military Operations Other Than War (MOOTW) and Humanitarian and Disaster Relief (HADR).

The helicopters will also be lightly armed, most likely by a window or door mounted machine guns.

The Malaysian Armed Forces have had difficulty getting replacements for its S-61A Nuri medium helicopters which have been mostly retired from service after a series of accidents and affecting operational requirements.

To fill in the shortfall, the RMAF has leased 4 AgustaWestland AW139 helicopters from an aviation services company, until acquisition of more helicopters are realised.

[1] Bernama 

[2] Free Malaysia Today

Australia signs contract with Hanwha for 129 AS21 Redback IFVs


The AS21 Redback. Photo c/o Australian DOD.

The Australian Department of Defence has confirmed on 08 December 2023 that it signed a contract with South Korean defense company Hanwha Defense Australia for the manufacture and delivery of 129 units of its AS21 Redback tracked infantry fighting vehicle for the Australian Army.

The total value of the project is around A$7 billion (US$4.7 billion), with the vehicles to be manufactured locally at Hanwha Defense Australia’s facility in Avalon, Greater Geelong, Victoria, which will contribute in creating opportunities for Australian businesses and workers..

This is considered the single largest project for the Australian Army in terms of cost, with the actual procurement and initial support contracts worth around A$4.5 billion (US$3.03 billion).

The first Redback IFV is expected to be delivered to the Australian Department of Defence by 2027, or 2 years earlier than previously predicted. The last vehicle is expected to be delivered by late 2028.

The Australian Army’s LAND 400 Phase 3 Project was previously slated to deliver 450 units to replace its ageing M113AS4 armored personnel carriers, but was pushed back to just 129 units after the 2023 Australian Defence Strategic Roadmap has given more priority for the Australian Army to acquire long range fires and missile systems to counter threats from China.

 The AS21 Redback IFV is an Australian-specific derivative of the proven K21 infantry fighting vehicle used by the Republic of Korea Army, with several changes to meet Australian requirements.

This includes the use of armouring from Plasan, propulsion from a MTU America MT881 Ka-500 diesel engine paired with an Allison transmission, use of the Australian-designed EOS T-2000 turret derived from Elbit System’s MT30 Mk. 2, armed with a ATK Mark 44S Bushmaster II 30mm autocannon, with mount for two Rafael Spike LR2 anti-tank guided missile system, an EOS R400 remote weapon station and a co-axial mounted FN Herstal MAG58 7.62mm general purpose machine guns. 

The AS21 Redback is also equipped with Elbit Systems’ Iron Fist active protection system and Iron Vision sighting system that allows for 360 degree view for improved situational awareness.

[1] Australian Department of Defence

[2] Australian Defence Magazine

Friday, December 8, 2023

Indonesia signs contract for 24 new S-70M Black Hawk helicopters


Sikorsky S-70M Black Hawk helicopters. Photo c/o Lockheed Martin.

The Indonesian Ministry of Defence (MOD) signed a contract with Indonesian aerospace company PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI) for the procurement of up to 24 new Sikorsky S-70M Black Hawk multirole helicopters.

PTDI’s Director of Commerce, Technology & Development Mr. Mohammad Arif Faisal, and the Indonesian Ministry of Defence’s Head of Defence Equipment Center Marshal Yusran Lubis represented their agencies during the contract signing event held on 01 December 2023 at the Indonesian Ministry of Defence in Jakarta, Indonesia.

PTDI has a cooperation agreement with Sikorsky’s mother company Lockheed Martin, with PTDI to be directly involved in dealing with the American defense giant with regards to the Indonesian S-70M Black Hawk procurement.

As part of PTDI’s agreement with Lockheed Martin, the Indonesian company will also be the recipient of Technology Transfer and designated PTDI as a Completion Center for S-70 helicopters.

This will allow them to assemble and upgrade the helicopters including fitting the basic S-70M helicopter with the equipment as required by the requirement of the Indonesian MOD.

The Indonesian National Armed Forces (TNI) currently uses a wide variety of helicopters for multiple roles including utility and transport, air assault, search and rescue, special operations, and fire support. 

The Indonesian Army (TNI-AD) is expected to receive the new S-70M Black Hawks, and will complement existing utility and transport helicopters in its fleet which comprises mostly of different Bell 412 variants, the Mil Mi-17V-5 from Russia, and other smaller helicopters including the MBB BO-105CB, Bell 205A-1, and Airbus Fennec helicopters.  

[1] Indoensian Ministry of Defence

[2] BNN Network

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Philippines receives last batch of two T129B ATAK attack helicopters from Turkey


One of the PAF'a T129B ATAK attack helicopter. Photo c/o Iniego Lumbay.

Aerospace company Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) was reported to have delivered the last batch of two T129B ATAK attack helicopters to the Philippine Air Force (PAF).

The helicopters arrived at Clark Air Base in the Philippines via a Turkish Air Force A400M Atlas transport aircraft on 30 November 2023.

Philippine defense page MaxDefense Philippines said that the helicopters are already undergoing flight tests and inspections in preparation for their induction into service with the PAF’s 18th Attack Squadron, 15th Strike Wing.

The Philippines Department of National Defense (DND) ordered 6 new T129B ATAK attack helicopters under a PHP13.728 billion (US$284.8 million) Government-to-Government (G2G) deal between the Philippines and Turkey.

The Philippines is the first export market of the T129 ATAK attack helicopter, which is a Turkish derivative and modernized version of the Italian-made Agusta A129 Mangusta, built by Turkish Aerospace Industries and heavily uses Turkish technology.

The T129B ATAK is the Philippines’ first dedicated attack helicopter, as the PAF usually operate armed versions of light helicopters which includes the MD Helicopters MD520MG Defender and AgustaWestland AW109E Power currently in its fleet.

Four other helicopters were delivered in 2 batches on March 2022 and November 2022, and have already seen action against local communist insurgents with devastating effects.

The T129B ATAK is armed with a n M197 20mm rotary cannon, and four hardpoints allowing for rocket pods for guided and unguided rockets, the Roketsan UMTAS anti-tank air-to-ground missile, and the Air-to-Air Stinger (ATAS) short-range air-to-air missile.

[1] MaxDefense Philippines

[2] Savunma Sanayi ST.

[3] Philippine Defense Resource

Indonesia receives 8 new H225M Caracal helicopters, supporting flight simulator

One of the H225M helicopters during the hand-over ceremony to TNI-AU. Photo c/o Indonesian MOD.

The Indonesian Air Force (TNI-AU) received eight new Airbus H225M Caracal helicopters from the Indonesian Ministry of Defence (MOD) during hand-over ceremonies held on 01 December 2023 at Alang Sendjaja Air Base in Bandung, West Java.

The handover ceremony was led by Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto and were attended by officials from Badan Usaha Milik Negara (National State-Owned Enterprises) (BUMN), the Indonesian National Armed Forces (TNI) and the TNI-AU including TNI Chief of General Staff Lieutenant General Bambang Ismawan and TNI-AU Chief of Staff Marshal Fadjar Prasetyo.

The new helicopters were locally assembled and kitted by Indonesian aircraft manufacturer PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI), as part of efforts for local companies to participate in defense procurements and projects.

The helicopters will be assigned with Skadron Udara 8 and will be used for special missions including combat search and rescue (CSAR), support of special operation forces, medical evacuation, maritime surveillance and aerial fire support.

Aside from the helicopters, the Indonesian Air Force also inaugurated a new H225M Flight Simulator system at Atang Sendjaja Air Base to train and maintain high operational readiness among current and future H225M helicopter pilots.

Min. Subianto said that the MOD will fight hard to improve the capabilities of the TNI by providing the best weapon systems, equipment and maintenance, as well as improving its services and quality of life of its personnel. 

[1] Antara News

[2] Scramble Magazine

Indonesia launched 2 new 29-meter patrol boats


Launching of one of the 29-m patrol boat. Photo c/o Kompass.

The Indonesian Navy (TNI-AL) and shipbuilder PT Citra Shipyard conducted Ship Naming and Launching of two new 29-meter patrol boats on 04 December 2023.

The two boats were named “Sembulungan” and “Hinako”, which according to TNI-AL Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Muhammad Ali, were named after a beach in Banyuwangi and an island in Nias, respectively.

The patrol boats are 29 meters ling, has a width of 6.20 meters, a draft of 1.40 meters, and is powered by two MAN V12-1900 marine diesel engines enabling them to achieve a cruising speed of 18 knots and a maximum speed of 28 knots.

The boats also have two Perkins 6KVA diesel generators to provide electrical power.

The boats are armed with one 20mm autocannon, two 12.7mm heavy machine guns, and will be used for maritime patrol, maritime law enforcement, search and rescue, and a variety of other missions.

Once in service with the Indonesian Navy, the two patrol boats will be assigned in naval bases in Surabaya and Padang.

The Indonesian Navy operates around 30 units of the same class and were built by several other local shipyards.

[1] Kompas

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Australia launches second Arufara-class offshore patrol vessel


NUSHIP Eyre during launch. Photo c/o SA Defence.

(Press release from the Australian Department of Defence)

The Arafura class offshore patrol vessel (OPV) NUSHIP Eyre has been launched at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in South Australia.

NUSHIP Eyre is the second in the class of OPVs being built by Luerssen Australia, in collaboration with local defence industry partners, for the Royal Australian Navy.

The Arafura class OPVs are intended to replace the Armidale class patrol boats and have been designed to perform maritime patrol and response duties for the Australian Defence Force.

Named for the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia, the OPV will be the first Royal Australian Navy ship to carry the name Eyre.

NUSHIP Eyre is the second of two OPVs to be constructed at the Osborne Naval Shipyard, and follows the launch of NUSHIP Arafura in December 2021.

The remaining vessels will be built by Luerssen Australia at the Henderson Maritime Precinct in Western Australia.

Quotes attributable to Head Navy Capability, Rear Admiral Stephen Hughes, Royal Australian Navy:

“On behalf of the Chief of Navy, and the sailors and officers of the Royal Australian Navy, I congratulate the defence industry workforce at Osborne on the launch of Australia’s second OPV, NUSHIP Eyre.

“We look forward to accepting Eyre into service and thank the many skilled shipbuilders who contribute to ensuring the RAN continues to operate capable warships of the highest quality.”

Deputy Secretary Naval Shipbuilding and Sustainment, Mr Jim McDowell said, “The launch of NUSHIP Eyre is a significant milestone for the Arafura class OPV program, made possible by the commitment and cooperation everyone here at the Osborne Naval Shipyard.

“We look forward to continuing to work with Luerssen Australia to deliver these Arafura vessels.”

[1] Australian Department of Defence

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Philippines receives 5th and 6th Shaldag Mk. V missile attack crafts


The delivery of 2 new Shaldag Mk. V attack crafts. Photo c/o Philippine Navy.

The Philippine Navy (PN) has received the delivery of the fifth and sixth Shaldag Mk. V fast attack interdiction crafts from Israel Shipyards Ltd. last 19 November 2023.

The two fast crafts arrived via a commercial cargo vessel that brought them from Israel, and are reported to be in the Philippine Navy’s naval base in Cavite for its post-delivery inspections, as well as further enhancement, testing and personnel training before they are commissioned.

The two crafts are part of a PHP10 billion (US$208.4 million) Government-to-Government deal between the Philippines Department of National Defense and Israel’s Ministry of Defense, with Israel Shipyards Ltd. assigned to undertake the project.

So far, 4 crafts have already been delivered and are in service with the Philippine Navy’ Littoral Combat Force and collectively known as the Acero-class.

Based on the photos, the two crafts are equipped with the Rafael Typhoon RCWS with 30mm chain gun, two Mini Typhoon RCWS with 12.7mm heavy machine guns, and a Typhoon MLS-NLOS missile launcher for the Spike NLOS short-range surface-to-surface missile.

According to Philippine defense page MaxDefense Philippines, the boats are expected to be named as the BRP Herminigildo Yurong (PG-906) and BRP Laurence Narag (PG-907), and could be commissioned with the Philippine Navy before the end of the year.

Three more Shaldag Mk. V fast attack interdiction crafts are still scheduled for delivery, but are expected to be constructed locally by the Philippine Navy’s Naval Yard in Cavite City in partnership with Israel Shipyards under a technology transfer agreement as part of the procurement deal. 

The naval yard recently opened a newly upgraded facility that is capable of building the Shaldag Mk. V boats, as well as other small crafts.

[1] MaxDefense Philippines

[2] Philippine News Agency

[3] Philippine Defense Resource

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Philippines receives first completed Japanese-made radar system


The first radar station with J/FPS-3ME AESA radar completed for the PAF. Photo c/o Japan ATLA.

Japan’s Acquisition Technology and Logistics Agency (ATLA) has confirmed in a report that the first radar station utilizing the Japanese-made J/FPS-3ME air surveillance and air defense radar system has been completed and handed over to the Philippine Air Force (PAF).

The new radar facility is located in Wallace Air Station in San Fernando, La Union province, which has been utilizing Cold War-era US-made air surveillance radar prior.

The J/FPS-3ME active electronic scanned array (AESA) radar was made and delivered by Mitsubishi Electric, with the Philippine Air Force acquiring 3 such radars, as well as a single J/TPS-P14ME mobile air surveillance radar under a PHP5.26 billion (US105 million) contract as part of its modernization efforts under the Horizon 2 phase covering 2018 to 2022.

Mitsubishi Electric is expected to complete its deliveries and installation works on the radars by 2024, giving the PAF a more comprehensive air surveillance coverage especially in the northern and western parts of the country that is more exposed to security issues with its neighbours.

The export of the radars is the first ever by Japan as it relaxes its arms export policies, and is expected to use this project to boost its image in the global arms market.

[1] Japan Acquisition Technology and Logistics Agency

[2] NHK World

[3] Philippine Defense Resource

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Singapore to procure four new German-designed offshore patrol vessels


The German Bundespolizei's Potsdam-class OPV, which will be the basis for Singapore's new OPV. Photo c/o Fassmer.

The Singapore Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) has announced that it has signed a contract with German shipbuilder Fr. Frassmer GmBH & Co. KG (Fassmer) for the construction and delivery of four new Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV).

The new ships would be replacing the current Sentinel-class Maritime Security Response Vessels (MSRVs) in service with the Republic of Singapore Navy’s (RSN) Maritime Security and Response Flotilla.

According to MINDEF, the ships would be based on the proven OPV design already in operation with the German Bundespolizei (Federal Police), 

German Bundespolizei operates the Fassmer 86m offshore patrol vessels, known as the Potsdam-class, which are expected to be the basis of the new Singaporean OPVs. These are steel-hulled, steel superstructure ships powered by 2 marine diesel engines and displaces at around 2,000 tonnes. It has a helicopter deck for 12T helicopters and space for five 20-foot mission containers and could be armed depending on the RSN’s requirements.

The ships will be designed with high manoeuvrability to operate in the busy waterways around Singapore. They will also have sufficient capabilities to deal with a wide range of maritime threats and emergencies in support of Singapore’s national security and law enforcement needs.

The new OPVs are scheduled for progressive delivery starting 2028, with the existing Sentinel-class MSRVs retiring in step with the operationalization of the new ships.

[1] Singapore Ministry of Defence


Thursday, November 9, 2023

Australia receives Tier-2 surface combatant proposals from Navantia-Austal-Civmech partnership

The scale models of the Tasman class corvette (foreground) and the ALPHA 5000 frigate (background) during Indo Pacific 2023. Photo c/o Tim Fish.

Spanish shipbuilder Navantia has made its presence known at the ongoing Indo-Pacific 2023 International Maritime Defense Exposition n Sydney, Australia by presenting two options for the Royal Australian Navy’s anticipated requirement for a “Tier 2” surface combatant as part of proposals made in Australia’s Defence Strategic Review 2023.

The first proposal which Navantia named the Tasman-class corvette using the ALFA 3000 light frigate/corvette design as its base platform with a length of 109.6 meters, and beam of 15.35 meters and a displacement of 3,600 tonnes. 

The scale model presented at Indo Pacific 2023 showed the corvette to have a CEAFAR 2L phase array radar system from Australia CEA Technologies, navigation and fire control radars, an electronic warfare suite, and a hull mounted sonar system. It is also believed that it will use the Saab 9LV combat management system.

It is armed with a 57mm naval gun, two 12.7mm heavy machine guns in remote-controlled weapon stations (RCWS), a Close-in Weapon System (CIWS), two 8-cell Mk. 41 Vertical Launch Systems (VLS) for short/medium range surface to air missiles, four quadruple anti-ship missile launchers believed to be for Kongsberg Naval Strike missiles, two triple lightweight torpedo launchers, and two soft-kill decoy launchers.

It also has two rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIBs) and a helicopter deck and hangar for one Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk medium naval helicopter.

Alternatively, Navantia also featured a larger ship called the ALPHA 5000 light frigate design, with a length of 121 meters, a beam of 16 meters and a displacement of 4,550 tonnes.

The scale model at Indo Pacific 2023 shows it equipped with a CEAFAR phased array radar system, navigation and fire control radars, and an electronic warfare suite. 

It has a 76mm naval gun, two RCWS for medium caliber guns, a CIWS, a total of four 8-cell VLS divided into two 8-cell VLS located at forward and midship, two quadruple anti-ship missile launchers, two triple lightweight torpedo launchers, and four soft kill decoy launchers.

It also has two RHIBs, and a helicopter deck and hangar for a medium naval helicopter.

Aside from these ship designs, Navantia has also partnered with Australian shipbuilder Austal and Civmec to build these ships in Henderson, Western Australia 

So far, the Royal Australian Navy has not released any information on the specifications and quantity of Tier 2 surface combatants that it intends to acquire, and these proposals may change depending on what the requirements would look like.

The Australian Defence Strategic Review 2023 proposed for the review of the fleet structure of the Royal Australian Navy, giving priority to more firepower delivery capabilities for offensive and defensive needs in light of increased threat environment in the Indo Pacific region.

[1] Naval News

[2] Naval Today

[3] Navy Recognition

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

New Zealand to receive Arrowhead 140 frigate formal offer from Babcock


The Arrowhead 140 frigate design from Babcock. Photp c/o Babcock.

(Press release from Babcock)

In response to the New Zealand Ministry of Defence’s industry engagement request to replace the current naval fleet, Babcock Australasia held a suppliers’ day for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in New Zealand aspiring to undertake work to support the delivery of company’s Arrowhead solution.

Babcock Australasia confirmed that it will formally present its proven Arrowhead platform as the future solution for the Royal New Zealand Navy.

Attended by more than 65 suppliers, the event was aimed at increasing awareness of Babcock’s design, build and support offering, and engaging local SMEs so they could better understand how they can play a part in delivering this adaptable solution to the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN).

Babcock has a strong marine defence presence in New Zealand. The company is currently contracted to operate the country’s largest marine engineering and maintenance support facility in Devonport, Auckland.

Babcock Australasia, Managing Director Marine, Simon Spratt said: “Our local suppliers are critical to supporting the services we proudly provide the Royal New Zealand Navy, and they will be integral to supporting the country’s future naval fleet.

“Babcock’s Arrowhead offering is a capable, adaptable and cost-effective modern ship that is operationally proficient in both blue water and littoral areas and would deliver significant multi-mission capability to the Royal New Zealand Navy, meeting its requirements both now and in the future.

“Now more than ever, what we do matters: creating a safe and secure world, together.”

Babcock’s Arrowhead would provide support for a range of RNZN functions including combat, search and rescue, humanitarian and disaster relief capability.

At Rosyth, Scotland, Babcock is well underway with the design and build programme that will deliver five Type 31 Frigates for the UK Royal Navy, based on our Arrowhead 140 (AH140) platform.

In 2021, Babcock secured its first export contract for the AH140 through a licence agreement with PT PAL Indonesia, with the first keel, of the two-ship programme for the Indonesian Navy, laid this year. Babcock’s AH140 frigate has also been selected by the PGZ-MIECZNIK Consortium as the baseline platform design for Poland’s Miecznik frigates with steel cut on the first of three frigates for the Polish Navy in August 2023.

[1] Babcock

[2] Naval News

Papua New Guinea receives two new PAC 750 light aircraft from Australia

A PAC 750 aircraft of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force. Photo c/o Royal Australian Air Force.

(Press release by the Australian Department of Defence)

Australia and Papua New Guinea have marked another milestone in our strong defence partnership with the handover of two new PAC 750 light transport aircraft to the Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) in Port Moresby today.

Assistant Minister for Defence, The Hon. Matt Thistlethwaite MP, joined Papua New Guinea Deputy Prime Minister, The Hon. John Rosso MP, to formally hand over the aircraft. In consultation with the PNGDF, the PAC 750 aircraft was selected because of its ability to take off and land from short and varied airfields, which is highly valued in PNG’s diverse terrain and geography.

The aircraft will further increase the PNGDF’s sovereign aviation capabilities and enhance the ability of the Government of Papua New Guinea to support communities and civil authorities across the country.

The new aircraft bring the PNGDF’s PAC 750 fleet to three, following the Australian Defence Force’s support to remediate the PNGDF’s first PAC 750 in 2021.

The new aircraft will enhance existing defence aviation cooperation activities already underway, including the recently announced Defence Pacific Air Program.

Australia, through the Royal Australian Air Force, the Defence Cooperation Program and the Flights of Excellence Program, will continue to work closely with the PNGDF on aviation safety, maintenance and sustainment throughout the operational life of the aircraft.

The PNGDF has qualified four pilots on the aircraft and PNGDF loadmasters and maintenance personnel have been integrated into PAC 750 activities.

Australia and Papua New Guinea have also continued to partner in support of Papua New Guinea’s security infrastructure priorities, with construction works underway to refurbish the PNGDF’s Air Transport Wing at Jackson’s International Airport in Port Moresby.

Quotes attributable to the Assistant Minister for Defence, Assistant Minister for Veterans Affairs and Defence Personnel, and Assistant Minister for the Republic, the Hon. Matt Thistlethwaite:

“Australia is pleased to be able to partner with the PNGDF to strengthen their aviation capability and to respond to the needs of the Government and people of Papua New Guinea.

“The two aircraft will create new opportunities for our forces to work together building on our longstanding defence partnership.”

[1] Australian Department of Defence

[2] Australian Aviation

Friday, October 27, 2023

Philippines receives second batch of Sabrah Light Tanks from Israel


Sabrah light tanks being unloaded at Subic Bay Freeport. Photo c/o MaxDefense Philippines.

The Philippine Army (PA) has taken delivery of a second batch of Sabrah light tanks manufactured and delivered by Israeli defense company Elbit Systems.

Undated photos circulating in Philippine defense social media pages, said to be taken within the last 3 days of at least 9 vehicles, based on the GDELS ASCOD 2 tracked armored vehicle, being unloaded from a commercial cargo vessel in Subic Bay Freeport and being transported by road to an undisclosed location.

Philippine defense page MaxDefense Philippines noted in a video it posted that at least 8 vehicles can be confirmed as ASCOD 2 Sabrah light tanks, while one did not have a tank turret and could either be an armored recovery vehicle, or a command vehicle variant.

As part of Elbit Systems’s PHP9.49 billion (US$185 million) contract with the Philippines’ Department of National Defense (DND) signed in 2021, 30 ASCOD 2-based vehcles, 28 of which are Sabrah light tanks equipped with Elbit Systems’ 105mm tank gun and turret system, one command vehicle, and one armored recovery vehicle variant.

The deal also includes the delivery of Pandur 2-based 8x8 wheeled armored vehicles, all of which are also equipped with the Sabrah light tank system. Elbit Systems also committed to provide 2 additional wheeled armored vehicles of unknown configuration.

At least 1 ASCOD 2 Sabrah light tank has been delivered in December 2022 for in-country testing and training of tank crews.

Elbit Systems is expected to deliver all tanks and associated packages by 2024, with the Philippine Army’s Armor Division receiving these new assets.

[1] MaxDefense Philippines

[2] Philippine Defense Resource

Monday, October 23, 2023

Thailand backs down from submarine deal with China, to procure new frigate instead


A scale model of a S26 Yuan-class submarine. Photo c/o AFP.

The Thai Ministry of Defence has confirmed that it will not continue its procurement of a Chinese-made S26T Yuan-class attack submarine for the Royal Thai Navy (RTN), and will change the order to a new frigate instead.

In a surpassing announcement, Thai Defence Minister Sutin Klungsang announced the change of plan was due to China’s inability to provide the submarine with a German-made MTU diesel engine after the German government rejected the export of the engine for use on Chinese-made military hardware.

China tried to persuade Thailand  to use the Chinese-made CHD620 diesel engines instead, with the Royal Thai Navy agreeing to the changes. But the Thai government insisted on sticking to German-made MTU396 diesel engines, rejecting the RTN’s agreement on China’s proposal.

Instead, the RTN was asked to propose other option, which includes the procurement of a new frigate for anti-submarine warfare operations worth THB 17 billion (US$465 million), or new offshore patrol vessels.

Ultimately the Thai Government accepted the proposal for a new ASW frigate, which is actually slightly more expensive than the original submarine acquisition which was worth THB 13.5 billion (US$379 million). 

New Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin already discussed the revised option last week to Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Qiang, with the Chinese side agreeing to the changes based on Thailand’s proposal despite the S26T submarine ordered by Thailand already partially built by its shipbuilder China Shipbuilding & Offshore International.

Min. Sutin said that the submarine project is not scrapped, but will be shelved for a period and the country is ready to proceed. No timeline has been announced though on how long will it take to bringing back the submarine acquisition.

[1] Bangkok Post

[2] Thai PBS World

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Indonesia receives updated Scorpene submarine offer with Lithium Ion batteries, more range


Artist i.pression of the Scorpene submarine with the F21 heavyweight torpedoes. Photo c/o Naval Group through Naval News.

French shipbuilder Naval Group has updated its submarine proposal to Indonesia using the Scorpene submarine design.

Dubbed the “Scorpene Evolved”, the latest variant of the proven submarine design utilises Lithium Ion battery technology, allowing it to have greater underwater endurance compared to earlier variants of the Scorpene submarine designs.

According to a report by Naval News, the Scorpene Evolved’s lithium-ion battery configuration allows the submarine a total endurance of 80 days of which 78 days are submerged), an operational range of more than 8,000 nautical miles. These can be achieved while also maintaining the submarine’s top speed longer, and with lower indiscretion rate compared to using Lead Acid batteries. 

Naval Group also explained that using full lithium ion battery configuration has advantages over lithium ion + AIP configuration in terms of weight and space, increased cruising range and mission duration.

The use of Lithium Ion batteries also allow for lower costs and ease of maintenance compared to using AIP technology which requires the construction of supporting offshore facilities to resupply the system.  And compared to lead acid batteries, lithium ion batteries require less maintenance and provide up to 40% longer service life.

Since Naval Group has previously proposed to assist Indonesia in establishing an Energy Research Laboratory focused on developing future submarine energy technologies, the use of Lihium Ion battery technology will be among the technologies that could be included that would allow Indonesia to produce lithium ion battery technology for future submarines and other related military and commercial applications.

Aside from the lithium ion batteries, Naval Group has offered the Scorpene Evolved with their own F21 heavyweight torpedo, as well as the MBDA SM39 Exocet submarine-launched anti-ship missile.

[1] Naval News

Brunei receives second Fearless-class patrol vessel, signs MRO contract


The KDB Al Faruq upon arrival at Muara Naval Base. Photo c/o Brunei MOD.

The Royal Brunei Navy (RBN) has formally received a second refurbished Fearless-class patrol vessel from Singapore on 02 October 2023.

The handover ceremony was held at the RSS Singapura – Changi Naval Base in Singapore, with Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) Chief of Navy Rear Adm. Sean Wat and Royal Brunei Navy Acting Commander Capt. Haji Mohamad Sarif Pudin bin Matserudin jointly officiating the event.

The ship, formerly the RSS Gallant (97), was granted to Brunei and renamed as the KDB Al Faruq (99), with Rear Adm. Wat looking forward for the ship to continue to service the Royal Brunei Navy after protecting Singapore’s maritime interests in the last 25 years. 

The RBN’s ship then sailed home to Brunei with its new crew led by LCdr. Pengiran Khairul Anwar bin Pengiran Haji Abu Bakar, arriving at Muara Naval Base in  04 October 2023 and welcomed by the RBN Acting Commander and the RBN Executive Board officers ratings and families of the crew.

In addition to the ship’s transfer, Singaporean company ST Engineering announced that it has signed a naval maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) in-service support contract for the two Fearless-class patrol boats in service with the Royal Brunei Navy. 

The contract is for a period of 18 months and involves Muara Maritime Services Sdn Bhd based in Muara, Brunei Darussalam.

The Fearless-class of the Republic of Singapore Navy was a class of 12 patrol vessels that were built by Singapore Shipbuilding and Engineering, now known as ST Engineering Marine, and have been in service from October 1996 to December 2020 when they were replaced by the new and larger Independence-class littoral missions vessels.

[1] Brunei Ministry of Defence

[2] Republic of Singapore Navy

[3]ST Engineering

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Philippines proceeds order for three new C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft


A C-130J-30 stretched Super Hercules, this example with the US Air Force. Photo c/o US Air Force.

The Philippines’ Department of National Defense (DND) has confirmed that it has proceeded with its order with American defense giant Lockheed Martin for three new C-130J Super Hercules tactical transport aircraft.

The DND confirmed that it has released the Notice to Proceed (NTP) in favor of Lockheed Martin, which gives the signal to start the contract to deliver the new aircraft for the Philippine Air Force (PAF).

The PAF will be getting the C-130J-30, which is the stretched version of the versatile Super Hercules aircraft, which is 15 feet longer than the standard model and allows for 2 additional pallet to be loaded.

The DND confirmed that the first aircraft will be delivered by July 2026, the second by October 2026, and the third by January 2027.

According to Philippine Defense Resource, the acquisition of new C-130J Super Hercules have been planned since 2019 and five aircraft was supposed to be funded under the Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program in FY 2021, but was delayed due to COVID-19 pandemic. The procurement was restarted in FY 2022 but only covers 3 aircraft, with more aircraft as options. The funding was released on June 2022, and the project awarded to Lockheed Martin on December 2022.

According to Philippine defense page Pitz Defense Analysis, the Contract between the DND and Lockheed Martin was signed on 09 February 2023, and the Notice to Proceed was actually released last 05 June 2023.

The Philippines will become the second country to purchase the C-130J Super Hercules after Indonesia, as the PAF modernizes its air fleet including its airlift capabilities. Currently it has 4 legacy C-130H/T Hercules and has a pending delivery of one more C-130H procured from US excess defense articles (EDA). The US Government has also made a commitment to transfer more C-130H from US EDA as part of its military assistance to the Philippines.

According to Lockheed Martin, the C-130J-30 Super Hercules has a maximum allowable payload of 19,958 kilograms, a maximum range with normal payload of 2,100 nautical miles, and a maximum range with 40,000 pounds of payload at 2,390 nautical miles. It can carry 9 pallets of 97 litters, or 24 CDS bundles or 128 combat troops or 92 paratroopers, or a combination of men and cargo up to the compartment capacity or maximum allowable weight.

[1] Philippine Defense Resource

[2] Pitz Defense Analysis

[3] Lockheed Martin

Monday, October 16, 2023

Australia receives 6th Evolved Cape-class patrol boat

The 6th Evolved Cape-class patrol boat ADV Cape Pillar (319). Photo c/o Austal Ltd.

The Australian Government has officially accepted the sixth of eight Evolved Cape-class Patrol Boat being built by Australian shipbuilder Austal Ltd. for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

The vessel, named ADV Cape Pillar (319), was turned over to the Royal Australian Navy during ceremonies at Austal’s shipyard in Henderson, Western Australia on 13 October 2023, with Austal Ltd Chief Executive Officer Paddy Gregg saying that collaboration between the shipbuilder and the Australian Department of Defence and the RAN demonstrates delivering sovereign capabilities for Australia..

The ADV Cape Pillar is the third ship of the class delivered by Austal to the Royal Australian Navy within 2023, which Austal described as an “enviable track record of Australian shipbuilding efficiency and productivity”.

Two more ships of the class are under construction in Austal’s Henderson shipyard and is scheduled for delivery to the Royal Australian Navy by 2024.

The acquisition of the Evolved Cape-class patrol boats was started under the SEA 1445-1 project in May 2020, with the first ship, ADV Cape Otway delivered in March 2022. Four other ships were delivered to the Royal Australian Navy within an 18-month period.

The Evolved Cape-class patrol boats are 58 meters long and can accommodate up to 32 personnel, with improved quality of life systems and advanced sustainment intelligence systems compared to previous designs.

The class, together with the larger Arufara-class offshore patrol vessel, will be replacing the RAN’s fleet of Armidale-class patrol boats and will be used for border and fisheries protection, maritime law enforcement, and maritime defense missions.

[1] Austal Australia Ltd

[2] Naval News 

Monday, October 2, 2023

Taiwan launches first indigenous Hai Kun-class diesel-electric attack submarine

The lead ship of the Hai Lun-class submarine. Photo c/o ROCN.

Taiwan launched its first indigenously designed and built diesel-electric attack submarine, which is aimed to improve the country’s naval warfare capabilities amidst lingering threats of a forceful reunification by China.

The first of class submarine, named Hai Kun (SS-711) or Narwhal in the Chinese language, was launched by its shipbuilder CBSC Corporation in its shipyard in Kaohsiung on 28 September 2023, with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen personally leading the unveiling.

According to local estimates, the Hai Kun-class is around 70 meters long, and will displace at around 2,500 tonnes. It was also noted during the launch that the submarine has a X-rudder configuration, and additional small horizontal fins which is suitable for shallow-water operations.

Pres. Tsai is said to have initiated the plan to start an indigenous submarine program back in 2016 as part of strengthening Taiwan’s asymmetric warfare capabilities, and to replace the four ageing submarines operated by the Republic of China Navy (ROCN) composed of two World War 2-era Hai Shih-class (former USN Tench-class) and two 1980s-era Dutch-made Hai Lung-class (Improved Zwaardvis-class).

Taiwan did not have prior experience nor technology to build submarines, and has failed to acquire submarines from foreign countries in fear of Chinese response. But a breakthrough was made, with the country gaining assistance from friendly countries.

This includes submarine combat management system, digital sonar systems, combat systems, periscope, Mast Raising Equipment, integrated communications system, and auxiliary equipment from the United States, technology and submarine parts from the United Kingdom, as well as technical assistance from retired Japanese naval and submarine engineers and technicians previously working with Japanese submarine builders Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

It will also be armed with US-made Mark 48 Mod.6  heavyweight torpedoes, with Taiwan reported to have procured 18 torpedoes in 2020.

Taiwan was also reported to have recruited different submarine technicians and submariners from several countries including the US, UK, South Korea, Australia, and some European countries to provide technical assistance to the ROCN and CSBC Corporation.

The Hai Kun is still expected to undergo harbour trials starting October 2023. It was reported that the Mast Raising Equipment made by L3 Harris will only be delivered and installed by early 2024 due to production issues, and that sea trials are scheduled by April 2024. It is expected to be delivered to the ROCN by the end of 2024, but may only be commissioned and become fully operational by 2025.

[1] Reuters
[2] Defense News
[3] Naval News

Monday, September 25, 2023

Vietnam in talks with US over potential arms supply including F-16 fighters


An F-16 fighter aircraft. Photo c/o Associated Press.

Vietnam is reportedly in talks with US government officials in what could be the biggest arms deal between the two countries.

This is after the upgrading of ties between two former Cold war adversaries which are now strategic parners that included closer defense and economic ties.

An arms sales package with a strctured financing scheme were said to be part of discussions, including the potential sale of a squadron of F-16 single-engine multirole fighters that could mark the start of reduced reliance on Russian military hardware.

it remains to be seen if the offer will be for new-build F-16 Vipers, older F-16s from US Excess Defense Artciles, or a combination of both.

The deal is also expected to irk Vietnam's northern neighbor China, which it has ta rocky security relationship due to disputed territorial clains and a major reason for Vietnam's military build-up and improved ties with the US.

While the deal is still in its early stages of discussion, it was a topic that was raised in previous meetings between Vietnamese and American officials.

Vietnam is traditionally reliant on Soviet and Russian-made weapon systems, but Russia's war in Ukraine as well as the associated  political and trade sanctions has made it difficult for them to supply arms to other countries like Vietnam.

Vietnam is also in the process of replacing many of its Soviet-era weapon systems which have become obsolete compared to those of its neighbors, particularly China's People's Liberatiom Army.

[1] Reuters

[2] Aviacionline