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Mustering the air power for Afghanistan

October 5, 2014 by · Comment
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British Watchkeeper drones begin combat ISTAR missions over Afghanistan

September 29, 2014 by · Comment
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Global Hotspots Report – 8/2014

August 9, 2014 by · Comment
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U.S. Force in Afghanistan May Be Cut to Less Than 10,000 Troops

April 25, 2014 by · Comment
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U.S. Force in Afghanistan May Be Cut to Less Than 10,000 Troops

April 25, 2014 by · Comment
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U.S. Force in Afghanistan May Be Cut to Less Than 10,000 Troops

April 25, 2014 by · Comment
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After NATO withdrawal Afghanistan could slide into a regional proxy conflict

April 18, 2014 by · Comment
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Royal Air Force’s II(AC) Squadron foils insurgent bombers in Afghanistan

April 10, 2014 by · Comment
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Australia Continues Heron I Mission in Afghanistan

March 6, 2014 by · Comment
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Marine Corps to Support Afghan Electronic Attack Missions from Qatar

February 24, 2014 by · Comment
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Forces from the UK, Denmark and Estonia Form Safe Corridor for US Forces in Helmand

January 31, 2014 by · Comment
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German Herons log 15,000 Combat-Operation Hours in Afghanistan

July 22, 2013 by · Comment
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Israeli Weapon Systems on the Flying Gunship?

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K-MAX Crashes on a Mission in Afghanistan

Landing support team Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 5 rush toward a hovering Kaman K1200, "K-MAX," unmanned helicopter in Helmand province, Afghanistan, May 22. Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 2 made history with the CLB-5 Marines by performing the first ever unmanned, mid-flight cargo hookups, also known as "hot hookups." Photo: USMC Cpl. Lisa TourtelotOne of two K-MAX unmanned helicopters supplying the U.S. Marine Corps in Afghanistan has crashed June 5th at Camp Leatherneck near Kandahar. The helicopter crashed at a landing zone when it was operating an autonomous resupply mission, as it was...

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K-MAX Crashes on a Mission in Afghanistan

Landing support team Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 5 rush toward a hovering Kaman K1200, "K-MAX," unmanned helicopter in Helmand province, Afghanistan, May 22. Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 2 made history with the CLB-5 Marines by performing the first ever unmanned, mid-flight cargo hookups, also known as "hot hookups." Photo: USMC Cpl. Lisa TourtelotOne of two K-MAX unmanned helicopters supplying the U.S. Marine Corps in Afghanistan has crashed June 5th at Camp Leatherneck near Kandahar. The helicopter crashed at a landing zone when it was operating an autonomous resupply mission, as it was...

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K-MAX to Stay in Afghanistan Until the 2014 Withdrawal

March 18, 2013 by · Comment
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kmax_support_2012650The U.S. Marine Corps will keep the two K-MAX unmanned helicopters in Afghanistan 'indefinitely', at least, until the withdrawal or US troops from the country next year.

Remotely Controlled Flail Assists Counter-IED, Demining Missions

January 1, 2013 by · Comment
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The US Army has been using the M160 remotely controlled flail robot built by the Croatian company DOK-ING in Afghanistan for route clearance missions.

Is There a Market in Afghanistan and Iraq for U.S. Defense Contractors?

Now that the U.S. is beginning to seriously drawdown troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and scale back their missions the focus will move to building up those countries internal security and armed forces. Much of their training and equipment so far has been provided through the U.S. either by direct transfer, sales or funding. The removal of U.S. forces will accelerate these kinds of deals. Iraq, unlike Afghanistan, has its own funding available through its oil production which gives it a little more leeway in deciding what to buy.

The U.S. is committed right now to withdraw the last of its 47,000 troops from Iraq in this year. The two governments are in discussion of whether to extend the presence but no decision has been made yet. The British have already removed all of their forces. The end of that mission would mean security of the entire country of Iraq would belong to its Army and Ministry of Interior forces.

The U.S. has provided large amounts of equipment and training to Iraq. Much of this has been of Russian design although produced all over the world. Alliant Techsystems (ATK) for instance has been given contracts to provide “non-standard” ammunition. The company is the largest producer of ammunition in the U.S. and makes different types of bullets and shells for the U.S. military. “Non-standard” in this case means in the former Soviet Union sizes for use by Iraq and Afghan forces that tend to be equipped with AK-47 and Russian support weapons. ATK will use sources in Eastern Europe to provide them.

Afghanistan has also recently signed contracts with two U.S. companies for training helicopters and aircraft. MD Helicopters received a $186 million contract to build six light helicopters to train new Afghan rotary wing pilots. Initially six aircraft will be purchased but up to fifty-four could be. Cessna Aircraft, part of Textron (TXT), just won a fixed wing training contract worth about $88 million. This will be for six Cessna 182T and 26 208B aircraft for basic training.

One of the largest current contracts is through the U.S. State Department with DynCorp, privately held by Cerberus Capital. This is for training support to the Afghan military and police. The contract was controversial in that it was protested by then Blackwater who felt the billion dollar deal should have been awarded to them. This provides an example of the amount of money that is out there for these kinds of contracts.

The next step will be to determine what future opportunities are there. The Iraqi military will be buying much more heavy equipment then a nation like Afghanistan. It already has purchased tanks, armored vehicles, aircraft and helicopters. Many of these while not American made are bought through the U.S. military or with financial aid. Further contracts like this may be expected. For example last week the U.S. Army negotiated a contract with Russian company, Mil, to provide 21 Mi-17 helicopters to Afghanistan at a cost of up to $300 million. U.S. companies while they won’t be supplying hardware will be able to provide training, maintenance and program support to both the U.S. and the Iraq and Afghan users of these kinds of items.

One issue that hangs over all of this is the need for U.S. contractors to gain more overseas businesses. The U.S. defense budget will decline in the near future. In order to maintain the current level of sales and earnings more business will be needed from foreign sources. The Iraq and Afghanistan markets should favor the U.S. but due to the needs of those countries, their familiarity with Russian types of weapons, and the low level of technology they are buying it might be difficult. Certainly in a few years Iraq might be looking at American fighters such as the F-16 or F/A-18 but not in the immediate future. Technology transfer rules also affect the ability of these types of sales.

U.S. contractors have already made a great deal of money supporting the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Much of this has been through logistics and training support rather then providing hardware directly to these two new governments. There may be opportunities in the future for larger, more complex contracts but it may take several years as the two militaries are built up. In the short term though it will be contracts for supply, maintenance and training where the market will be. Much of the money for those efforts will still be provided by the U.S. taxpayer either directly or through foreign aid. The time when Afghanistan and Iraq place large orders with their own tax money is still a ways off.

Photo from Photo from Christian Brigg’s Flickr photostream.

Article first published as Is There a Future Market in Afghanistan and Iraq for U.S. Defense Contractors? on Technorati.

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AAR to Provide More Airlift for U.S. in Afghanistan

The United States’ Transportation Command (TRANSCOMM) awarded AAR (AIR) a contract to provide airlift for U.S. troops and services in Afghanistan. The contract if all options are awarded is worth about $120 million. It consists of one year plus four option years.

Due to the terrain and threat in Afghanistan the U.S., its Allies and the Afghan forces are heavily dependent on airlift to move men, equipment and supplies. The U.S. uses a mix of its own Army, Marine and Air Force assets as well as contractors to do this. AAR will provide their services on this contract with DeHavilland Canada Dash 8 aircraft and rotary wing assets.

There is heavy use of Russian helicopters such as the Mi-8 and 17 to provide cheap, effective transport. The U.S. military also uses their UH-60 Black Hawks, CH-53 and CH-47 heavy lift helicopters and the V-22 Osprey. The demands of the fighting require more lift then the U.S. military can provide so the heavy use of contractors like AAR.

Photo from Deaster1983′s flickr photostream.

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£189m for new equipment in Afghanistan announced

July 7, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: afghanistan, Syndicated Industry News 
£189m for new equipment in Afghanistan announced
July 7, 2010

The Government is providing £189m from the Treasury Reserve for new equipment for UK troops in support of operations in Afghanistan, Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox has announced today.

This additional funding will be used to buy a range of base protection equipment, including surveillance equipment, communications equipment and logistics equipment.

It will enable UK forces to continue to increase the number of bases in theatre as the force thickens in central Helmand, and to partner the Afghan security forces more effectively.

Together with the £67m for the counter-improvised explosive device (C-IED) campaign announced by the Prime Minister on 10 June 2010, this totals £256m (£189m and £67m) of Reserve funding allocated to equipment since the beginning of June 2010.

This extra funding will allow the Ministry of Defence to equip an increase in the number of specialist C-IED teams and reflects the continuing move towards partnering the Afghan National Army and Police and the thickening of our force across the area of operations.

As the Secretary of State for Defence has made clear, countering the IED threat faced by our forces in Afghanistan is a top priority for the new Government. He said:

"There are real challenges; the threat does not stand still and nor does our response.

"I will make sure that everything possible is done to ensure that our forces have what they need to deal with this indiscriminate threat.

"They deserve nothing less. As I have seen during my visits they are doing fantastic work in Afghanistan in support of the UK's national security."

The Secretary of State has also made it clear when looking to the future that when the Afghan security forces have been sufficiently trained to take control, our troops can withdraw:

"...our forces are making progress. In Helmand, the heartland of the insurgency, six districts were under government control in 2008 - now 11 out of 14 are.

"We are also ahead of target in training the Afghan National Security Forces. As soon as they are able to keep their country secure our forces can come home."


The Ridgback armoured personnel carrier
[Picture: Corporal Ian Forsyth RLC, Crown Copyright/MOD 2009]

The equipment package for operations and pre-deployment training includes the following:

• Base equipment (£158m) including:

- secure communications systems;
- ground-based ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) systems to protect bases.

• Dismounted Close Combat equipment (£19m) including:

- Osprey body armour and helmets;
- weapons systems including light and heavy machine guns and combat shotguns;
- weapon sights and night vision equipment.

• Other (£12m) including:

- additional MAN logistics support vehicles modified for use in Afghanistan (equipping existing vehicles to Theatre Entry Standard to allow them to deploy).

The C-IED equipment package announced by the Prime Minister on 10 June 2010 (£67m) includes:

Mastiff protected mobility vehicles;
remote-controlled vehicles;
specialist IED disruptive and exploitation equipment;
highly trained military working dogs.
These additional resources are aimed at dealing both with the IED threat of today whilst looking to the future by partnering with the Afghans, to whom responsibility for security will be transferred.

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House Armed Services Committee: Skelton on SIGAR Report Identifying Flaws in Assessing Capabilities of the Afghan National Security Forces

June 29, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: afghanistan, Syndicated Industry News 

House Armed Services Committee: Skelton on SIGAR Report Identifying Flaws in Assessing Capabilities of the Afghan National Security Forces
Ike Skelton, Chairman
June 29, 2010

Skelton on SIGAR Report Identifying Flaws in Assessing Capabilities of the Afghan National Security Forces

Washington, D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) released the statement below on the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction’s (SIGAR) report on serious flaws in the system used to assess the capabilities of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF):

“Developing Afghan National Security Forces capable of providing security for the people of Afghanistan is critical to our success, so it does not do any good to rely on a flawed system that cannot actually show us if these forces are ‘good enough’. While it is always troubling to receive an auditor’s report of our failings in Afghanistan, I insisted on the creation of Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction to help us find and correct exactly these sorts of problems.

“I am pleased that the command in Afghanistan agrees that the ratings system is flawed and is changing the system based on the Special Inspector General’s recommendation. Hopefully the new system will give us an accurate sense of the state and capability of the ANSF so we can focus our efforts and develop effective security forces in Afghanistan. As we continue to aggressively step up the fight against terrorists and win the war in Afghanistan, it is important to make sure that the ANSF are fully capable of standing on their own.”

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General Officer Announcement

June 25, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: afghanistan, Syndicated Industry News 
General Officer Announcement
June 25, 2010

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates announced today that the President has nominated Army Gen. David H. Petraeus for appointment to the rank of general and assignment as commander, International Security Assistance Force/commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan. Petraeus is currently serving as commander, U.S. Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.

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House Armed Services Committee: Skelton Statement on President’s Decision to Change Commanders in Afghanistan

June 23, 2010 by · Comment
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House Armed Services Committee: Skelton Statement on President’s Decision to Change Commanders in Afghanistan
Ike Skelton, Chairman
June 23, 2010

Skelton Statement on President’s Decision to Change Commanders in Afghanistan

Washington, D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) released the following statement on the President’s decision to accept General Stanley McChrystal’s resignation and appoint General David Petraeus as commander in Afghanistan:

“General Petraeus is the best that we have. I have great confidence in his ability to bring about a successful outcome in Afghanistan. The Commander-in-Chief must have confidence in his commanders in the field. It is time to move on and return our focus to waging the war in Afghanistan.”

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Relyant Gets U.S. Contract to Clean Up Old Battlefields

Afghanistan has been a scene of combat since the Soviet invasion in Christmas, 1980. The Russians left and the government they left behind was overthrown by the Taliban. That group fought different opponents until Winter of 2001 when the U.S. and its Northern Alliance allies through them out. This means that the country is littered with old ordnance, weapons and equipment. Tennessee company Relyant has now been given a contract by the U.S. Army to help clean up these old weapons in Afghanistan.

The contract is worth about $49 million and has one base year and two option years. Relyant already provides support services to the U.S. military in Afghanistan including construction, transportation and security. The company has expanded quite a bit since its formation in 2006 and operates in the U.S. as well as Africa and Asia.

The company will actively demine areas of Afghanistan. They will primarily be looking for old ordnance from the Soviet fighting.

Despite the shift in focus with the Obama Administration and the current Congress from using contractors they will be necessary to provide services to deployed military. The U.S. Armed Forces are not large enough to do everything and contracts like this will still need to be issued. It may be that smaller companies such as Relyant may have an advantage in winning these contract as the larger suppliers such as Halliburton and Dyncorp have been tainted rightly-or-wrongly by past events and contracts.

Photo from The National Guard flickr photostream.

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