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Australian SilverShield to Protect Afghan Security Vehicles from IEDs

The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) will soon equip their vehicles with a newly developed Australian made counter-IED device called ‘SilverShield’. According to a contract awarded by the Australian defense ministry to L-3 Micreo, the company will deliver 13,000 communications jammer units to the Afghan forces, bringing the total sales of Australian C-IED jammers to Afghanistan to A$85 million.

US Drone Maker Cleared to Export Jet Powered Combat Drones

March 15, 2018 by · Comment
Filed under: Australia, Kratos, Syndicated Industry News 
Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, a manufacturer of jet-powered tactical unmanned aerial drone systems, will soon offer its Mako militarized, combat unmanned aerial vehicles systems for export, following approval of such export by the U.S. State Department to certain European and Asia Pacific region countries.

Australia to Buy +200 Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles from Germany

March 14, 2018 by · Comment
Filed under: Australia, Syndicated Industry News 
The Prime Minister of Australia, The Honourable Malcolm Turnbull MP, has announced today that Rheinmetall has been selected by the Australian Government to provide its next-generation 8x8 Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles (CRVs)The German-designed Boxer 8x8 wheeled armored reconnaissance vehicles will replace the Piranha-based ASLAV armored vehicles currently in service under the Land 400 Phase 2 Project.

Canada to buy Australia’s used Hornets

December 24, 2017 by · Comment
Filed under: Australia, Boeing, Canada, Syndicated Industry News 
Canada plans to buy 18 used F/A-18 Hornet fighter planes from Australia to fill the air forces’ fighters shortage. The purchase is regarded as a stopgap measure as Ottawa moves forward with a more permanent selection of a future replacement for the CF-18.

Aussie Super Hornets to Return Home from Iraq in January 2018

December 22, 2017 by · Comment
Filed under: Australia, Syndicated Industry News 
Australia is set to pull out six F/A-18F Super Hornets currently operating as part of Operation Inherent Resolve. Australian Air Task Group flying Super Hornets was part of the allied forces since 2014, supporting the Iraqi forces in their battle against the Islamic State. The strike aircraft deployed as part of the Air Task Group […]

Australia Enters an A$1.4 Billion Army Digitisation Phase

November 28, 2017 by · Comment
Filed under: Australia, Boeing, Elbit Systems, Syndicated Industry News 
The Australian Defence Department approved today the second phase of the army digitization program known as LAND 200. The program comprises the Land 75 and Land 125, each separated into Tranche phases. Delivering a holistic Land networking solution for two Army Brigades, Land 200 also supports the training and simulation establishments, Special Forces and other […]

Thales Introduces the F90MBR Modular Assault Rifle

September 11, 2017 by · Comment
Filed under: Australia, Syndicated Industry News, Thales 
Thales' F90MBR is a Modular Bullpup Rifle, based on the proven F90, designed to support the modern integrated solider. Photo: Thales

Australian Forces Select Aerovironment’s Wasp-AE Mini-UAVs

The Australian defense department selected AeroVironment's Wasp AE small unmanned aircraft system for use by the Australian Defence Force (ADF). The Australian order will deliver mini-drones within a period of three-year period, and support the systems for ten years. The contract is worth A$101 million(USD 74.6 million), of which the about half (US$36.5 million) will be the original manufacturer's share.
              

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Australia Shortlists Boxer, AMV-35 for Future Combat Recce Vehicle

July 28, 2016 by · Comment
Filed under: Australia, Syndicated Industry News 
AMV35_1021The Australian Defense ministry announced that two European companies - British BAE Systems and German Rheinmetall, as the bidders shortlisted as potential suppliers of armored combat vehicles for the Australian Army’s Mounted Combat Reconnaissance Capability, also known as 'Land 400 Phase 2' program, to become the successor of the 8x8 ASLAV currently in service. The Australian Minister for Defence Industry, Christopher Pyne, announced.
              

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GDLS, Thales team to offer new wheeled armored vehicles to Australia,

March 10, 2015 by · Comment
Filed under: Australia, Syndicated Industry News, Thales 

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Largest amphibious landing ship joins the Royal Australian Navy

November 28, 2014 by · Comment
Filed under: Australia, Navantia, Syndicated Industry News 

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Australia Continues Heron I Mission in Afghanistan

March 6, 2014 by · Comment
Filed under: afghanistan, Australia, IAI, MDA, Syndicated Industry News 

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British Taranis Stealth UCAV is Expanding Flight Envelope over Australia

February 16, 2014 by · Comment
Filed under: Australia, BAE Systems, Syndicated Industry News 

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Austal Launches USNS Fall River (JHSV 4)

January 15, 2014 by · Comment
Filed under: Austal, Australia, Syndicated Industry News, U.S. Navy 

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Britain is stepping up the Taranis UCAV development

July 20, 2013 by · Comment
Filed under: Australia, Syndicated Industry News 

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F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Foreign Intrigues Continue

The F-35 “Lightning II” Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) will be used not only by the U.S. military to replace its aging F-16, A/V-8, F/A-18 and A-10 aircraft but also by many other NATO countries and allies. It is being purchased as a F-16 replacement by many of these and like the successful F-16 program will have manufacturing and parts co-share agreements with different international partners.

The delays and cost increases to the program have been well documented and these have caused some early planned users to question the financial sense of continuing the program. Many of these countries, though, have already contributed through development funds as well as already had their aerospace contractors sign contracts and agreements with Lockheed Martin (LMT) to produce parts for the aircraft which continues in its Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP).

Canada, the Netherlands and Australia have had and continue to have debates about their purchase of the advanced aircraft rather then existing systems like the F/A-18, Eurofighter, Rafael, SAAB Gripens and Russian alternatives. In Canada they are reviewing the whole cost analysis that had led to the decision to continue the purchase which could technically end it and look at other aircraft. That leads to editorials and articles like this one, “The Case for the Super Hornet As The RCAF’s New Fighter” from Canada or analysis in Australia such as this: “Politics first as white paper fails on big issues”.

At the same time the U.S. has been successful in adding Foreign Military Sales (FMS) of the aircraft most notably to Israel and Japan. There has also been interested expressed by other U.S. allies like the U.A.E.

The commitment of the foreign partners is somewhat critical to the whole program as a reduction in buy quantity will have a ripple effect on the whole program. Less purchased in total and annually will cause a cost increase for each aircraft and the whole program. The F-35 PEO, Lt Gen Bogdan, identified this risk in Congressional testimony in April. If somebody drops out the price the others pay will go up putting more pressure on their budgets and perhaps cause them to drop out too. This would then become a spiral causing issues for the U.S. and all of the other nations involved in the program.

Despite the issues with the aircraft over the last decade the U.S. remains committed to the program. Over 100 are on order and there is discussion to award a new 2 year production contract this summer for a further 60-70. Training is underway for both aircrew and maintainers of the U.S.A.F., Navy, Marines and allies. The big questions remain though about completing development, how many will be built, and who ultimately will operate the aircraft.

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Australia Requests Buying 24 Super Hornets

February 28, 2013 by · Comment
Filed under: Australia, Boeing, Syndicated Industry News, United States 
super_hornet_pairAnticipating potential delays and uncertainty about the future of the F-35A, the Australian Defence has requested to buy up to 24 Boeing Super Hornet fighters - 12 F/A-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft and 12 EA-18G Growler Electronic Attack aircraft from the USA, at an estimated cost of $3.7 billion

Supacat, Thales Deliver prototypes for Australian Testing and Evaluation

January 14, 2013 by · Comment
Filed under: Australia, Syndicated Industry News, Thales 
Evaluation of new combat vehicles for the Australian Army will sonn begin, with the delivery of the first Hawkei protected vehicle by Thales, for Project LAND 121 Phase 4. Supacat also delivered the first improved Special Operations Vehicles (SOV) developed under Project JP2097 Phase 1B.

Supacat, Thales Deliver prototypes for Australian Testing and Evaluation

January 14, 2013 by · Comment
Filed under: Australia, Syndicated Industry News, Thales 
Evaluation of new combat vehicles for the Australian Army will sonn begin, with the delivery of the first Hawkei protected vehicle by Thales, for Project LAND 121 Phase 4. Supacat also delivered the first improved Special Operations Vehicles (SOV) developed under Project JP2097 Phase 1B.

Australia to Stretch Out F-35 Deliveries

One of the key components of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program was the early participation by U.S. allied countries. Unlike traditional Foreign Military Sales (FMS) these countries provided some of the development costs and committed early to buy the the aircraft rather then wait for the establishment of production and get it after the aircraft entered U.S. service. These included Great Britain, Australia, Canada and The Netherlands.

These countries planned to buy different amounts of the three types of the F-35. Britain to operate from their new carriers and replace the Harrier Jump Jet, Canada to retire their CF-18 fleet and the other two to upgrade from the aging F-16. In fact the F-35 would be similar to the F-16 program with parts and components made by the buying countries. Norway, Japan and Israel have also decided to buy the F-35 over other potential aircraft.

The F-35 has seen serious delays and cost growth due to testing and development issues. It is currently in Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) as well as continuing testing. The U.S. in their latest budget proposal have decided to stretch production out to save money in the near term. Australia has now decided to do the same thing.

That country’s budget plans now call for delays of accepting the majority of their aircraft to mirror current U.S. plans. The goal is to save over $1.6 billion in the next few eyars. The first two Australian aircraft are in production and should be delivered in 2014-15 to start training but their first squadron will not stand up now for a few years after that.

The problem with stretching out production buys is that while it does save money in the near term the same number of systems will have to be bought over a longer time. Due to inflation alone as well as the loss of production efficiencies the average price per aircraft will increase causing the whole program to get more expensive. One potential problem that may arise is that the total number to be bought will be reduced.

Canada is also re-considering their F-35 buy due to issues with how the contract was awarded last year. These decisions will be a blow to Lockheed Martin (LMT) as they reduce near term revenue and earnings.

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Austal Gets Their 2 Littoral Combat Ships As Well

Following up on this mornings post about Lockheed Martin (LMT) getting a contract for two more Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) is an announcement that Austal USA, Austal’s American subsidiary, received a contract for two of their design as well.

The option for LCS-10 and LCS-12 was announced today. This is the third and fourth ship under the 10 ship contract the company received a little over a year ago. The ships will be built at Austal USA’s Mobile, AL yard.

LCS-10 will be named for Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) who is recovering from an attempted assassination attempt.

Photo from Official U.S. Navy Imagery flickr photostream.

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U.S. Navy Orders 2 of Last 3 JHSV from Austal

Yesterday the U.S. Navy announced that it had executed a contract option for 2 more Joint High Speed Vessels (JHSV) from Australian ferry builder Austal. This brings the total number of these ships ordered to 9.

Austal is close to finishing the first and has two more in production. The contract yesterday will allow the builder to begin buying long lead items and components for the two ships.

The JHSV is a fast transport based on Austal’s ferry designs that was originally planned to be used by the Navy and Army for rapid transport of troops and supplies to needed areas. It was decided that the Navy would manage the whole program and the ships were transferred to them.

Originally it was thought that up to 23 of the ships would be procured but in their FY13 budget proposal the Obama Administration reduced the planned number to 10. This means that 9 of them are now on order with the chance that only one more will be purchased.

Austal is building the ships in their Mobile, AL yard where they also make the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). They have a contract for up to 10 of these. Interest

Photo from HerrKrueger’s flickr photostream.

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Army Orders More CH-47 from Boeing

The U.S. Army and other services have made heavy investments in their rotary wing forces over the last decade. Due to the terrain and the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan heavy use of helicopters were required to provide fire support and logistics transportation. This meant that not only was the existing fleet of aircraft being heavily used but more were needed as well as new systems.

The U.S. Army cancelled the RAH-66 Comanche program in 2004. This was an advanced scout attack helicopter. They utilized the funds to build new programs such as the UH-60M, UH-72A and CH-47F aircraft. The Marines and Air Force also made a heavy investment in the V-22 OSprey tilt rotor aircraft.

One aircraft that has made a major contribution to the fighting is the large, cargo helicopter CH-47 Chinook. Not only has the U.S. Army increased its inventory of these aircraft but also many other countries have bought it to support their combat troops in Afghanistan. These have included the U.K., Canada and Australia. Due to the altitude and temperature conditions the CH-47 is the most capable aircraft for carrying large loads of supplies or troops.

The CH-47 is manufactured by Boeing (BA) at their plant in Pennsylvania and they just received yet another production contract for the aircraft. A further 14 were ordered with an value of around $370 million.

These aircraft will be used by the U.S., Australia and the U.A.E. continuing to demonstrate the FMS value of the CH-47.

The expected budget cuts will most likely slow down the investment in aviation by the Army but not end programs. The U.S. needs to either re-capatilize or replace systems that have seen a great deal of use in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even with smaller ground forces it makes sense to continue to increase aviation assets as it is easier to quickly build up infantry units then rotary winged ones.

The CH-47 due to its demonstrated capability will remain a core component of the U.S. Army’s aviation forces and will continue to see steady overseas sales.

Photo from The California’s National Guard Flickr photostream.

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GD to Begin Design of Mine Warfare System for Littoral Combat Ships (LCS)

The Navy’s new Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) are small combatants that are optimized for missions in-shore. They are being designed to operate different modules depending on the missions that will add to and expand the capabilities of their standard gun and helicopter armament. One primary mission for them will be reconnaissance and clearing of minefields.

Currently there are over 20 LCS on order from two different builders who are offering two different designs. Lockheed Martin (LMT) and Willamette Marine are building a more traditional hull design while Austal USA, part of the Australian shipbuilder Austal, is offering a trimaran hull based on fast ferries they have previously built. Lockheed’s ships are being built in Wisconsin and Austal in Alabama. The decision to use two suppliers means that the LCS will be built and in service rather quickly.

Even though the two designs are very dissimilar they will operate the same weapons and combat modules. These will include ones that provide capabilities for the anti-air mission, to attack ships and mine warfare. The modules will be designed to plug into the ships.

Now General Dynamics (GD) has been awarded a contract to begin developing one of the mine warfare systems for the LCS. This is the Surface Mine Countermeasure Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (SMCUUV) which is an autonomous system that will be used to search and classify mines. It will also collect environmental data to support operations. The contract has an initial value of $87 million.

More details about the SMCUUV may be found at the U.S. Navy’s website here.

The key to the LCS will be the ability to develop these modules and make sure that they work efficiently with the two different designs of ships.

Photo of the Austal design from Surfaces Forces’ Flickr Photostream.

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Japan Reportedly Considering JSF for New Fighter

Currently there are two major fighter contests on-going as Brazil and India work to consider a new advanced fighter for their defense needs. Now it has been reported that Japan is interested in also starting a competition to add a later generation aircraft to its fleet of F-15J fighters. Sometime this month the country will want bids for 40 new aircraft.

In Brazil the discussion seems to be between the United States’ F/A-18 made by Boeing (BA) and the French company Dassault Rafael fighter. That contest continues to be delayed as Brazil faces some economic issues and re-thinks its commitment to spending so much money on defense items. One component of the contest that is key is the construction of manufacturing facilities in Brazil and the transfer of technology to help the South American country improve its aerospace industry.

In India the contest has reached a point where they downselected to only two bidders both European. After looking at proposals from Boeing, Lockheed Martin (LMT), MiG, Eurofighter and Dassault only the last two were chosen to proceed in the contest. The decision was a blow to the the American bidders as they had hoped this contract would offset potential reductions in U.S. defense spending.

Now the reports are that Japan will receive bids from Boeing, Lockheed and Eurofighter for their requirements. The Lockheed F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) is considered the front runner despite its cost and the current schedule issues the program is facing. This is primarily due to its more stealthy qualities over the earlier generation fighters.

The F-35 is in development and low rate production for the U.S. military, the U.K., Netherlands, Canada and Australia. Other foreign partners include Norway and Israel. The addition of Japan to the program would not be a big leap although they expect that the jet they order in the next few months would be in service by 2016. JSF production should be ramping up to higher quantities by then but any major cuts to the U.S. defense budget may affect production rates and quantities. If the JSF cannot meet the Japanese schedule they may end up considering one of the other options.

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