Friday, March 17, 2017

Malaysian Defense: Budget Hinders Military Asset Procurement

Malaysian Defense: Budget Hinders Military Asset Procurement

17 Maret 2017

RMAF Hawk 208, F/A-18D Hornet, MiG-29N, and Su-30MKM (photo : RA AZ)

MELBOURNE, Australia — Malaysia’s military continues to struggle to implement plans to recapitalize its assets, as the government’s budget is battered by slow economic growth mainly due to falling oil revenues. 

As a result, major procurement programs for the Malaysian Armed Forces have mostly been put on hold even as existing platforms rapidly approach obsolescence. For the Royal Malaysian Air Force, this means that badly needed fighters, trainers, helicopters and maritime patrol aircraft will unlikely be acquired in the short to medium term.

Situated alongside the vital maritime trade routes and the hotly disputed islands of the South China Sea of which it partly claims, Malaysia faces a unique geographical challenge, as its territory is split by the South China Sea into two separate landmasses 365 miles apart at its narrowest point.

This has had the effect of spreading the RMAF thinner, with the service recently moving a squadron of BAE Hawk 108/208 light attack aircraft to eastern Malaysia in response to continuing unrest and lawlessness in neighboring southern Philippines. This has spilled over into Malaysia on a number of occasions in the form of kidnappings and even an armed insurrection in 2013 that necessitated a military operation, including airstrikes by RMAF aircraft, to it put down.  

Malaysia’s $3.6 billion 2017 defense budget represented a 13 percent drop from 2016’s budget. And it represents 1.2 percent of gross domestic product, taking defense spending in real terms down to 2002 levels.

The budget includes $104 million to the RMAF for procurement, but as Malaysian defense analyst Dzirhan Mahadzir told Defense News, this will be used to pay for ongoing programs rather than new acquisitions. 

This will include the first delivery of an eventual total of six MD 530G armed scout helicopters by MD Helicopters planned for the end of 2017. Malaysia’s defense minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, has confirmed the program will go ahead, with the helicopters assigned to Malaysia’s Eastern Sabah Security Command and based at the eastern state of Sabah on the island of Borneo.

The ongoing upgrades to various RMAF platforms will also continue, with contracts for upgrades to the Hawks, Lockheed Martin C-130H Hercules airlifters and Sikorsky S-61 Nuri helicopters expected to be signed this year. Malaysian aerospace company Airod is expected to perform the upgrade in conjunction with a foreign partner.

The details and requirements of the Hawk upgrade have yet to be released, but both the C-130Hs and S-61s will require cockpit and avionics upgrades. Airlift is one area where Malaysia is well-equipped, with deliveries of four Airbus A400M strategic airlifters completed with the delivery of the last aircraft. These will join 15 C-130Hs and seven Airtech CN-235 transports already in the RMAF inventory.

However, the RMAF’s major procurement programs still remain unfunded and look to be the case for a while yet. Malaysia is seeking a multirole combat aircraft, or MRCA, to replace the survivors of 18 MiG-29N/NUB Fulcrums acquired in the mid-1990s, with the Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and Saab JAS-39 Gripen having all been touted for the MRCA program, with the first two believed to be the preferred choice.

Malaysia’s budgetary constraints have, however, contributed to a stalling of the MRCA competition, although Saab is still marketing the Gripen in Malaysia, believing it is offering the best solution to a budget-conscious customer. In the meantime, a handful of MiG-29s continue in service, although Defense News understands their flying hours are carefully conserved in an effort to preserve airframe life.

The RMAF currently flies 18 Sukhoi Su-30MKM Flankers alongside eight older F/A-18D Hornets as its primary combat aircraft. And although these remain capable aircraft, Malaysia needs more front-line fighters to be able to properly defend its airspace along with other platforms outlined at the beginning of this piece. 

However, the medium-term outlook for increased Malaysian defense spending is poor at best, and the longer its aging assets soldier on without replacement, the harder the country will need to work to get back “on the curve” when the times comes.


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Air Force Acquiring Fire-Control Radar for FA-50PH

Air Force Acquiring Fire-Control Radar for FA-50PH

17 Maret 2017

Israeli Elta EL/M-2032 fire control radar (photo : Defense Update)

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) is allocating some PHP82,543,000 for the acquisition of one transmitter needed for unscheduled maintenance of the fire-control radar (FCR) of one of its South Korean-made FA-50PH “Fighting Eagle” jet fighters.

FA-50PHs are equipped with Israeli Elta EL/M-2032 fire control radar further developed by LIG Nex1.

The money will be sourced from PAF General Appropriations Act CY 2017, said Department of National Defense Bids and Awards Committee (DND BAC) chair Assistant Secretary Josue S. Gaverza in bid bulletin posted at the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System.

Winning bidder is required to deliver the parts within 540 calendar days from the receipt of the Notice to Proceed.

Bidders should have completed, within the last five years, a similar contract.

A pre-bid conference is scheduled on March 23, 10 a.m. at the DND-BAC conference room, basement, left wing, DND Building, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, which shall be opened to all interested parties.

While bid opening is on April 6, 10 a.m. at the same venue.

An FCR is a radar that is designed specifically to provide information (mainly target azimuth, elevation, range and range rate) to a fire-control system in order to calculate a firing solution (i.e., information on how to direct weapons such that they hit the targets.


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RSAF"s New Drone Heron 1 Now Combat-Ready

RSAF"s New Drone Heron 1 Now Combat-Ready

17 Maret 2017

Singapore"s new Heron 1 UAV was declared combat ready by Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen on March (photo : StraitsTimes)

SINGAPORE - It can fly as high as 6km in the sky, cruise at speeds as fast as 130kmh, and can be deployed up to 200km away from a remote location.

This drone - or unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) - can also fly for more than 24 hours continuously, and take off and land automatically.

It is no ordinary drone though, but the Singapore airforce"s latest "eye-in-the-sky" - the Heron 1, which was declared combat-ready on Wednesday (March 15) by Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen.

It is a milestone which places the Singapore Armed Forces" (SAF) on a par with other advanced militaries in intelligence and surveillance capabilities.

In a ceremony held at Murai Camp, Dr Ng marked the Heron 1"s achievement of the Full Operational Capability (FOC) status by the Republic of Singapore Air Force"s (RSAF) 119 and 128 Squadrons.

In a speech, he said: "It"s a significant milestone. The FOC of the Heron brings RSAF"s (unmanned) aerial capabilities to the level of advanced militaries globally."

With its advanced imaging sensors, the Heron 1 provides ground commanders with a real-time, bird"s eye view of the battlefield, and it can also guide munitions to targets precisely using its laser designator.

Inaugurated into the RSAF in 2012, the drone can be deployed alongside fighter aircraft and attack helicopters.

To achieve FOC, the squadrons" personnel have to be fully trained to operate, maintain and deploy the Heron 1 in operations.

The UAV"s capabilities are also validated in missions, to ensure integration with the SAF"s network of sensors and fighting systems.

Dr Ng said the 119 and 128 Squadrons have gained considerable expertise and depth, through many high-level exercises, such as multi-agency counter-terrorism exercises in Singapore, and Exercise Forging Sabre in Arizona, US.

Commending the RSAF and the UAV Command, Dr Ng also said SAF has come a long way since 1979, when it launched its first Mastiff remotely piloted vehicle, and that it has steadily built up its experience on successive and more advanced platforms.

The Heron 1 is made by the Israel Aerospace Industries Malat division and will replace the Searcher-class UAV, which has been in service since 1994.


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Upgrade of ASLAV Turret Simulators Completed

Upgrade of ASLAV Turret Simulators Completed

17 Maret 2017

ASLAV turret simulator (photo : Thomas Global)

Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, has congratulated Thales and its subcontractor Thomas Global, following their successful delivery of nine upgraded Crew Procedural Trainer (CPT) turrets for the Australian Army’s Australian Light Armoured Vehicle (ASLAV).

The ASLAV CPT is a simulator which enables the crew commander and gunner to practice gunnery skills without the need to use live ammunition.

“Contributing to the Australian economy, the upgrade contract valued at $5 million has seen the creation of nine new jobs in Rydalmere and Regents Park, in NSW, as a result of industry and Defence working together,” Minister Pyne said.

“The upgrade will lead to lower life cycle costs and higher availability, ensuring this platform remains reliable, affordable and effective.

“This project is yet another example of how industry is helping deliver important, cost-effective capabilities to the Australian Defence Force.

“Thales and Thomas Global in partnership with the Defence project office have brought the Australian Army’s fleet of 18 ASLAV CPTs to a common technology baseline, and addressed component obsolescence,” he said.

(Aus DoD)

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Lockheed Martin Canada Delivers High Fidelity Combat System Trainer to Royal New Zealand Navy

Lockheed Martin Canada Delivers High Fidelity Combat System Trainer to Royal New Zealand Navy

16 Maret 2017

Lockheed Martin Canada"s Combat System Trainer delivered to the Maritime Warfare Training Centre at the Royal New Zealand Navy base in Devonport, New Zealand. (photo : Lockheed Martin)

OTTAWA, Ontario/PRNewswire/ -- Completing the first major delivery under the New Zealand ANZAC Frigate System Upgrade Project, prime systems integrator Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) Canada and Chief of Navy Rear Admiral John Martin have officially opened the New Zealand ANZAC combat system trainer.

The combat system trainer was delivered ahead of schedule to the Maritime Warfare Training Centre at the Royal New Zealand Navy base in Devonport on February 16, 2017.

Rear Admiral Martin stated, "It is wonderful to receive the trainer early which will allow our sailors to be properly prepared when the upgraded ships arrive. Lockheed Martin Canada"s combat system trainer is a world class trainer that will revolutionize the way we train our crews."

"The ANZAC combat system trainer provides a generational shift in training capability with a realistic synthetic environment capable of generating high fidelity simulations of real world conditions," said Rosemary Chapdelaine, vice president and general manager Lockheed Martin Canada Rotary and Mission Systems. "We are proud of our Canadian-developed solution and thrilled to deliver this advanced capability to the Royal New Zealand Navy."

This milestone marks the first international delivery of Lockheed Martin Canada"s combat management system, CMS 330, product line, initially developed for Canada"s Department of National Defence and then modified for the Royal New Zealand Navy with Canada"s support.

CMS 330 and Lockheed Martin Canada"s combat system integration capability are proving performance everyday on Canada"s modernized HALIFAX class frigates and the record of success continues to generate international attention as an attractive solution for both new ships and mid-life upgrades.

Thanks to the expertise of its engineers, scientists and computer programmers, Lockheed Martin Canada was the only Canadian company to pre-qualify as a combat systems integrator for the upcoming Canadian Surface Combatant program. The company was also selected as the command and surveillance integrator for Canada"s new fleet of Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships.

(Lockheed Martin)

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Philippine Navy Expecting 4 New Mk. 38 Mod. 3 Gun Systems from 2 Contracts

Philippine Navy Expecting 4 New Mk. 38 Mod. 3 Gun Systems from 2 Contracts

16 Maret 2017

The Mk. 38 Mod. 3 MGS with a 30mm ATK cannon. The Philippine Navy opted to use the 25mm M242 Bushmaster cannon instead, based on the DoD"s information. (photo : DefenseMediaNetwork)

Based on information made public by the US Department of Defense through its website as of September 29, 2016, the US Navy"s Naval Surface Warfare Center awarded a US$25.4 million contract to BAE Systems Land & Armaments LP for the production of Mk. 38 Mod. 3 Machine Gun System (MGS), which will be installed on US Navy ships as well as Foreign Military Sales (FMS) to friendly countries.

Among those scheduled to receive from FMS is the Philippine Navy, whose share on the contract is around 8%, or roughly US$2.03 million.

This is in addition to an earlier contract, which the US Navy"s Naval Surface Warfare Center also awarded to BAE Systems Land & Armaments LP in October 2015 for US$30.556 million, wherein the Philippine Navy shares around 6.24% of the contract amount.

Based on previous information gathered by MaxDefense Philippines using publicly available sources and confirmation from our sources, a Mk. 38 Mod. 3 system costs a little less than US$1 million as of mid 2016.

Thus it would be safe to assume that in each of the two contracts, the Philippine Navy stands to get two (2) brand new Mk. 38 Mod. 3 MGS, for a total of four (4) systems.

MaxDefense sources previously confirmed that the machine gun systems covered by the 2015 contract was meant to be installed on the Del Pilar-class frigate (DPCF) BRP Gregorio del Pilar (FF-15), so it is highly possible that the MGS covered by the 2016 contract was meant for the only other DPCF left without an allocation, the BRP Andres Bonifacio (FF-17).

But MaxDefense would still put some caution on this information.

Currently, aside from the DPCFs, the Tarlac-class Landing Platform Docks are also in need for self-defense weapon systems to defend itself from fast moving surface threats and slow moving aircraft. Also, based on the acquisition plans of the Philippine Navy for the LPD"s weapon systems, they are also recommending the acquisition of MGS systems like the Mk. 38 Mod. 3 for the class, at least two (2) units for each ship.

It now boils down to the latest threat assessments made by the Philippine Navy. Which ships are in need of these Mk. 38s first? While MaxDefense has no information yet on that, the possibility of the Philippine Navy making changes on the installation plans is present. So while we can assume that the four upcoming Mk. 38 Mod. 3 MGS are for the the FF-15 and FF-17, this is not yet 100% final.

See full article MaxDefense

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Australia Test New Minehunter Capabilities

Australia Test New Minehunter Capabilities

16 Maret 2017

Crew members from HMAS Huon and 723 Squadron practice personnel transfers during Exercise OCEAN EXPLORER. (photo : RAN, images : Thales)

Mine hunters conduct advance force operations

HMAS Huon has tested a critical piece of mine countermeasures equipment and practiced helicopter operations as part of Exercise OCEAN EXPLORER.

Over a two week period, the mine hunter tested her Type 2093 variable depth sonar for accuracy and carried out vertical replenishments and personnel transfers with aircraft from 723 Squadron.

Commanding Officer Lieutenant Commander Jason Mullen said the role of the mine hunters - to find, identify and dispose of mines – often placed them in harm’s way.

For that reason all systems onboard needed to be validated on a regular basis to ensure mines and obstacles were dealt with at a safe distance.

“We need to be fully cognisant of our system’s capabilities as this affects how we train and do business,” he said.

OCEAN EXPLORER was a multinational exercise designed to test the Navy’s ability to conduct high-end warfare.

As part of the exercise conducted in locations around Australia, HMA Ships Huon, Diamantina and Yarra conducted maritime advance force training in Jervis and Broken Bays, in New South Wales.

Lieutenant Commander Mullen said the mine hunters were an essential part of Navy’s advance force operations.

“The mine hunters ensure a body of water is safe for shipping prior to the arrival of the follow-on forces, such as an amphibious platform,” he said.

“Once the mine hunters, the clearance diving teams and the mine warfare teams have reduced any potential mine threat to a minimum, the amphibious landing can begin.”

Australian Mine Warfare and Clearance Diving Task Group oversaw the training.  

Huon successfully conducted all validation trials of the Type 2093 sonar and is now waiting on scientists to conduct their operational analysis and report.

OCEAN EXPLORER marks the start of a busy year for Huon with another major exercise, TALISMAN SABER and an end-of-year deployment scheduled.

The Type 2093 can be operated in hull-mounted mode or in variable depth mode. The sonar has dual-frequency search and classification capability.

In the variable depth mode both frequencies operate simultaneously, the lower frequency covering mid-water to surface depths and the higher frequency covering the seabed. 

The system achieves a detection range greater than 1000 metres and a classification range greater than 200 metres.


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