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India to Buy Airbus Tankers Over Russian Proposal

It is being reported that India has gone ahead and selected the Airbus A-330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) for its new aerial tanker mission. This aircraft is manufactured by EADS and has been chosen by the U.K., Australia and some Middle Eastern states as well. The aircraft was proposed for the new U.S. Air Force tanker but that contract went to Boeing (BA) with a version of the 767 aircraft 2 years ago.

India selected the A330 to augment a small fleet of Russian Il-76 based tankers rather then buying more of those aircraft in a blow to Russian military overseas sales.

While the aircraft has been selected to fulfill the requirement the final contract has yet to be negotiated and should be some time in the next year. As the new fighter program shows, won by France’s Rafale, it may take some time to compelte final negotiations and actually award the contract.

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Reports Canada to Commit to F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

The U.S. led Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program has seen its struggles over the last few years. It has had test, schedule and cost issues that have increased the total cost of the program and stretched out its planned development and production. Designed to replace the aging fleet of F-16, F/A-18 and AV-8 aircraft used by the U.S. and its Allies its has been developed by Lockheed Martin (LMT) and funded by the U.S., United Kingdom, Australia and other countries that ultimately will receive it.

Due to the cost increases some of the countries in the joint program have been reconsidering their commitment. Holland’s legislature has made noises about delaying their further investment due to the lower quantities that their budgeted money will buy. The problem the Allies face is that they based their budgets on the lower estimated costs and now either have to find more money or face a smaller fleet of the new F-35.

Due to the program’s delays all of the planned users face a “fighter gap” as their current fleet ages and the JSF is not there to replace them. This means that more money must be spent to maintain the older aircraft or capability will be diminished. The U.S. Navy is planning to extend the production of their F/A-18 to help fill the gap.

Canada is expected to announce today that they are keeping their commitment to the program by awarding Lockheed a contract for up to sixty-five of the aircraft at a cost of over $15 billion. This plan has raised objection from the opposition Liberal party who would like to wait and possibly hold a competition to buy a replacement for the countries CF-18 aircraft.

Certainly there is an argument for delaying the contract award and perhaps looking at other aircraft already in production. The counter would be that these would not be as capable or last as long as the F-35 which is expected to be in service well past the mid-point of the current century.

The U.S. Department of Defense despite all of the cost and schedule issues has remained committed to getting the F-35 into production and in the last year the program has seen quite a bit of progress. The problem may be in a few years when the Federal budget and defense spending may have to be cut. The JSF is the largest procurement program in that budget and might seem attractive to cuts.

Even small cuts around the edges may cause long term problems as they would stretch out production increasing the total cost of the program.

Canada may be wise to award their contract now if they structure it correctly to protect against further delays and cost increases. Of course they may have limited options to do that.

The decision by Canada to support the program will aid it in keeping on track and keeping its funding. Canada may help the JSF get done.

Photo from Rob Shenk’s flickr photostream.

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Australia Continues Targeted Investment in Military Modernization

Australia has announced a series of contracts to upgrade parts of their military. Some of this has been in response to the fighting in Afghanistan since 9/11 and others due to the expanding ability of the Chinese and other Asian states military. These contracts include updated naval combat ships as well as the major commitment to the struggling F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). When at all possible Australia is awarding these to companies based in the country to maximize the stimulus effect of the contract. As all nations Australia has been affected by the global economic downturn of the last two years and is trying to spend its defense dollars judiciously to help its own domestic suppliers.

The next major contract announced is one for light armored vehicles that will be used to upgrade both troops in Australia and those deployed in Afghanistan. The U.S. and its Allies have seen the need for better systems with more maneuverability and protection against the mine and Improvised Explosive Device (IED) threat.

The contract could be worth up to $1 billion (Aus) and several different teams will be bidding for it. One of these will be Thales Australia based in Victoria. As it names indicates this is part of the Thales, French based, aerospace and defense company. The company has about a $1 billion (Aus) business already in Australia so winning this contract will be a major coup and increase in their business.

The Australian government plans to conduct the contract in the same manner as the U.S. Department of Defense’s recent MRAP-ATV contest. Here companies were paid to build prototypes that were tested and then one or more of the designs were chosen. Australia is giving Thales and General Dynamics Land Systems, part of the U.S. General Dynamics (GD) defense giant, as well as a company headed up by the U.S. Force Protection (FRPT) MRAP maker contracts to deliver prototypes.

The choice of a new vehicle will be a major upgrade to the Australian defense capabilities and the decision to use an Australian based company to do the development and production will aid the county’s economy.

Photo from ISAF media flickr photostream.

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Australia To Buy New CH-47 Chinooks

The Australian government has signed a contract with Boeing to provide seven new CH-47 Chinook cargo helicopters. These will replace existing CH-47D aircraft.

The Chinook due to its size and power has proved instrumental in Afghanistan due to the high-and-hot environment. The United States, Canada and Great Britain have invested in more and better versions of Boeing’s venerable helicopter. Now Australia joins them in using the new CH-47F version. The aircraft are basically similar to those being made for the U.S. Army with some user modifications.

The demand for lift in Afghanistan has seen heavy use of Russian helicopters being operated by civilian companies. These provide logistical support for the allied units operating in that country.

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Australia Moving Out On New Submarines

20071207ran8095516_299159.JPGThe Australian government has planned an ambitious expansion of their armed forces. Several major defense contracts will be let in the next few years with a goal of local companies doing the work. The largest amongst these is to build new submarines for the Navy. The first step in this contract was taken last week with the award of a contract to The Rand Corporation of the United States to begin doing a study of Australia’s capability to build these submarines in the necessary quantity. There was no value given for the contract but the goal is to have the study done early next year.

Australia had built there last class of submarines, the Collins Class, at the ASC company’s yards. This company provides maintenance for the vessels as well. They are also the lead for a new class of destroyers being built by Australia. Earlier this year the government had expressed concern about ASC’s performance maintaining the existing submarine fleet and this contract is related to those beliefs.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/httpblogsinacomcnhomeofbeijingpeople/ / CC BY-ND 2.0
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Australia Reportedly To Buy F-35

Two days after the roll out of their first F/A-18 aircraft necessary to provide an interim air capability until the nation moves out on its fifth generation buy of either the F-35 JSF or the F-22 Raptor the Government announced that they would invest in the F-35. While the F-22 was attractive due to its longer range and greater payload up to seventy F-35 aircraft will be purchased.

Australia plans to now review their defense procurement plans every four years and readjust as necessary. Australia has been a partner in the F-35 development effort but recently had looked at buying the F-22. This would require an act of Congress as current law bans the sale of the modern aircraft. Japan and Israel have also inquired about the availability of the F-22. With the Obama Administration planning on ending procurement of the F-22 foriegn sales are now attractive to Congress as a way to keep production going.

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Australia’s First F/A-18 Delivered

Boeing delivered the first F/A-18 Super Hornet for Australia on July 8. This is the first of twenty-four. The aircraft will provide a stop gap until either the F-35 JSF or the F-22 aircraft Australia has expressed interest in buying. The total value of the contract to Boeing is about $3 billion.

The F-18 for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps is facing the end of production as the Obama Administration has proposed accelerating deliveries of the F-35 for those services as well as the U.S. Air Force. This is tied in to the ending of F-22 production. Congress has not received these proposals well and have included continued F-22 deliveries in the appropriation and authorization bills working their way through both Houses. The House has also looked at increasing planned F-18 deliveries as well as exploring the award of another multi-year production contract. Multi-year contracts have to be specifically authorized and have been used for large aircraft contracts in a bid to keep overall costs down. If there is a consistent buy profile over several years it makes it easier for the contractors to manage supplies and material ideally reducing costs.

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Australia Buys Support for Jet Engines from GE

The Jacksonville Business Journal writes that Australia has awarded a contract worth over $300 million to provide parts, maintenance and overhaul of the engines for their F/A-18 fleet to General Electric. GE has several other of this type of contract with the U.S. armed forces that utilize their engines in a variety of platforms. Even though the contract is with a foreign country the parts will be shipped to the U.S. for work in Jacksonville, FL and Lynn, MA.

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Army continues investment in Excalibur

The Excalibur is a 155 mm artillery round fired by the standard Army gun systems, both towed and self-propelled. When the program started in the Eighties the plan was to use laser guidance for terminal homing. Excalibur now uses GPS guidance, like the Joint Directed Air Munition (JDAM) used so successfully over the last seven years in Iraq and Afghanistan. The round also has extended range over older, more conventional ammunition. Raytheon was awarded a production contract for the US and Australia. The value is about $85 M.

The press release is at the Phoenix Business Journal.

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Lockheed Martin expands in Australia

Lockheed Martin has moved to buy a joint venture it had set up in Australia today. See a press release here. RLM Holdings was a company established by Lockheed Martin and the Tenix Group to manage the Jindalee Operational Radar Network (JORN) and provide other defense services. The JORN is a large array over-the-horizon surveillance system that can detect surface and aerial targets at very long range. RLM also manages other defense radar systems as well as providing services to the Australian defense forces. This acquisition will have to be approved by the Australian Government.

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Australia buys recruiting help

July 2, 2008 by · Comment
Filed under: Australia, Contract Awards, logistics, training 

Australia has awarded a contract to Chandler Macleod for support of recruiting efforts. See an article here. While overall recruiting for the Australian Armed Forces is going well they are having a hard time attracting the highly sought after technical recruits they need. This 5 year, $400 Australian, contract will help in that effort. Interestingly since the Australians have been fighting since 2001 they have actuall

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Looks like Australia will go with the JSF

Australia had being going back and forth on wanting the F-22 instead of the JSF. China, I am sure, has a lot to do with this. According to this story, the decision has been made to go with the F-35. America has a law preventing the export of the F-22, but Australia had asked for it anyway. There was some desire from the USAF to sell it, as every FMS sale lowers the price and the Air Force would like some more. The only way that is going to happen is to get it cheaper. So it will have to be seen if any sales overseas are made. Certainly Australia and the UK would be the prime customers for the F-22.

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Northrop Grumman wins BAMS SD&D contract

As reported yesterday the BAMS DAB was held. The Navy awarded the contract to Northrop Grumman for a version of the Global Hawk long range, large UAV. See a story here. Boeing and Lockheed Martin were the losing bidders. On top of the KC-45 contract this can be seen as a blow to Boeing by Northrop Grumman. Read more

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Australian government cancels the SH-2 contract

In 1997 Australia decided to buy 11 upgraded SH-2 aircraft from Kaman to outfit their Navy. Unfortunately the work required to integrate the helicopters with the newer generation of equipment that the Navy possessed was harder and more complicated then originally thought. Imagine that? Anyway ten years and millions of dollars later the program is still not complete. According to this article the new liberal government has decided to axe the contract. There will obviously be some termination costs involved, and now they are back to square one on the aircraft. Perhaps they will look at the US Navy’s MH-60?

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Australian government now attacks F/A-18 buy

The Australian Defence Minister, Mr. Fitzgibbon, now has decided that the plan to buy F/A-18 and then JSF for the nation is a bad idea. Just a few days ago, here, he was applauding the F/A-18. He now states that the US aircraft were not necessarily the way to go to buy modern fighter aircraft. The options, though, were limited. Australia could have bought Russian, or the Eurofighter, or SAAB Viggens, I guess? But I don’t know if the cost would have been comparable. He continues to say that the country really wants F-22 aircraft, which is currently not allowable under US law, even though the US DoD have expressed some support for the idea.

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Australia awards IT contract to Unisys

February 25, 2008 by · Comment
Filed under: Australia, Contract Awards, IT, Unisys 

Earlier, here, we had written about some concern in Australia about awarding Unisys a IT contract based on some issues they had with American contracts. According to AustralianIT they went ahead and awarded the contract worth $240 M (Australian) to the company.

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US law prevents Australia from acquiring F-22

Australia has expressed an interest in procuring F-22 Raptor aircraft. Currently they are planning on buying JSF ultimately. Currently US law prevents the export of the F-22. In this article from News.com.au, the US Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, expresses the sentiment that Australia would be good stewards of the F-22 if they received them. Obviously the law is to prevent the transfer of what is considered the best technology that the US has, but there are certain allies in the past that have been able to share it. As previously discussed technical transfer laws have become very restrictive and have affected US programs.

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Now playing on iTunes: Led Zeppelin – Kashmir (Album Version)
via FoxyTunes

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BAE Systems – Navistar Defense – ArvinMeritor Team Delivers Australian Joint Light Tactical Vehicle Prototypes

December 31, 1969 by · Comment
Filed under: Syndicated Industry News 

ARLINGTON, Va.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–BAE Systems, through its U.S. Combat Systems business, along with partners Navistar Defense and ArvinMeritor, delivered three right hand drive operation configured Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) prototypes in a ceremony today in West Point, Mississippi. Each of these prototypes will be sent to Australia for durability testing that mutually supports both U.S. and Australia interests. The BAE Systems – Navistar – ArvinMeritor team handed over a Category A Gene



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