industry news

Germany seeks $2.5bn sale of MQ-4C Triton UAS from US

10 April

The Government of Germany has requested the sale of four MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) from the US for an estimated cost of $2.5bn. The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency has notified Congress of the possible foreign military sale as part of the development, which has been approved by the State Department.

Germany has proposed the purchase of one mission control station under the deal, which comprises a main operating base (MD-3A) and one forward operating base (MD-3B), as well as ten Kearfott inertial navigation system / global positioning system (INS / GPS) units and ten LN-251 INS / GPS units.

Furthermore, the potential sale would include one spare Rolls-Royce engine, communication equipment and support equipment, in addition to a mission planning element consisting of a joint mission planning system, global positioning system items, communications security equipment and other support services.

The planned deal will see Germany receive a modified version of the US Navy’s MQ-4C UAS Triton configuration, which is intended to enable the country’s armed forces to monitor and deter regional threats, as well as improve bilateral and NATO interoperability. The MQ-4C Triton aircraft will also be deployed to support national security requirements and enhance intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. Additionally, the aircraft is expected to improve the collective security of the European Union and NATO.

Northrop Grumman has agreed to serve as the prime contractor for integration, installation and functional platform compatibility testing of the payload in connection with the sale. Airbus Defence and Space will act as the prime contractor to Germany for the development and manufacturing, as well as the management of the functional testing, end-to-end testing and installed performance of the equipment.

Spain requests $1.3bn sale of CH-47F helicopters from US

9 April

The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency has notified Congress of a possible $1.3bn foreign military sale of CH-47F cargo helicopters to Spain. The potential sale has been requested by the Government of Spain and approved by the US State Department. Under the proposed deal, Spain has requested to purchase 17 of the CH-47F aircraft with custom modifications, in addition to 21 units of the AN / AAR-57A(V)8 common missile warning system, and 42 embedded global positioning system inertial navigation systems.

Additional items such as the delivery of mission equipment, hardware and services are required for the implementation of customised modifications, communication and aircraft survivability equipment. Also included is navigation equipment, including AN / ARC-231 multi-mode radios, AN/ARC-201D SINCGARS radios, AN / ARC-220 high frequency radio, Identification, Friend or Foe, AN / AAR-57A(V)8, and the radar signal detecting set, AN / APR-39A(V)1.

The CH-47F helicopters will help enhance Spain’s heavy lift capability to enhance the country’s homeland defence while deterring regional threats. Other related logistical and programme support services will also be included in the sale. It will help support the US foreign policy and national security objectives.

Boeing Helicopter Company, based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US, will serve as the principal contractor for the deal. Developed by Boeing, the CH-47F is an advanced multi-mission helicopter that comprises a fully integrated digital cockpit management system, common aviation architecture cockpit, and advanced cargo-handling capabilities. With a 60ft rotor diameter, the CH-47F aircraft can travel at maximum speed of 302km/h and has a cruise speed of 291km/h.

Slovakia seeks $2.91bn sale of F-16 Block 70/72 V configuration aircraft

9 April

The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency has notified Congress of a possible foreign military sale (FMS) of F-16 Block 70/72 V configuration aircraft to Slovakia for an estimated cost of $2.91bn. Under the potential deal, the Slovak Republic has proposed to acquire 14 F-16 Block 70/72 V configuration aircraft, up to 16 F-16 F110 General Electric or F100 Pratt and Whitney engines, 15 M61 A1 Vulcan 20mm guns, and 16 APG-83 active electronically scanned array radars.

As part of the FMS, the country has also requested 14 modular mission computers, 14 Link-16 (MIDS-JTRS) secure communication systems, 16 LN260 EGI embedded global positioning system inertial navigation systems (EGI), 14 joint helmet-mounted cueing systems, as well as 14 improved programmable display generators and other support services.

The fourth-generation F-16 fighter aircraft are being purchased to modernise Slovakia’s Air Force and will replace the current fleet of MiG-29s, which are not interoperable with US forces or regional allies. The F-16s will also be deployed by the country to strengthen its homeland defence and support NATO defence goals.

The deal will also support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the US and will help improve the security of NATO partner, Slovakia. Lockheed Martin will serve as the prime contractor in connection with this sale. The F-16 Block 70 is the newest generation of Fighting Falcon and features improved radar systems, advanced weapons capabilities, and enhanced battlespace awareness.

Saudi Arabia requests $1.31bn sale of howitzer systems from US

6 April

The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency has notified Congress of a possible foreign military sale of 155mm M109A5 / A6 medium self-propelled howitzer structures to Saudi Arabia for conversion to M109A6 Paladin howitzer systems. The possible $1.31bn sale has been requested by the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and approved by the US State Department.

Under the deal, Saudi Arabia has proposed the acquisition of 180 155mm M109A5 / A6 howitzer structures for conversion to 177 units of 155mm M109A6 Paladin medium self-propelled howitzer systems. The sale package also includes three fire support combined arms tactical static training devices, 180 M2 HB .50 calibre machine guns, and eight advanced field artillery tactical data systems.

In addition, the FMS includes M109A5 / A6 upgrade, conversion and modernisation services, special tools and test equipment, basic issue items and driver’s vision enhancer wide system, as well as a quality assurance team, programme management support, verification testing, system technical support, and transportation.

Saudi Arabia’s security capabilities are hoped to be enhanced by the sale. It will cover US Government and contractor engineering, training, and technical services. Other related logistical and programme support services will also be included. The possible sale will help enhance the Royal Saudi Land Force’s interoperability with US Armed Forces and support US foreign policy and national security objectives. The upgraded howitzers will be added to the existing M109A2, A3 and A5 howitzers in the RSLF inventory. They will help improve the nation’s ability to strengthen its deployed forces and protect its borders.

Exercise Alligator Dagger cancelled following two aircraft accidents

6 April

The US Naval Forces Central Command has called off the remainder of exercise Alligator Dagger, following two separate accidents near the African coast of Djibouti on 3 April. In the first incident, an AV-8B Harrier aircraft from the US Marine Corps’ 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) crashed at Djibouti Ambouli International Airport.

A CH-53 Super Stallion helicopter from the 26th MEU suffered structural damage on the same day during a landing at an approved exercise landing zone at Arta Beach in Djibouti. The aircrew of the Super Stallion was not injured during the landing and the helicopter was grounded at the landing site for additional evaluation.

With the occurrence of the two accidents, the US air operations in the East African country has been put on hold. Both incidents are currently under a joint investigation and a safety stand-down has been initiated for all exercise participants. Routine operations for other units assigned to the Naval Forces Central Command remain unaffected by the cancellation of the exercise. US Naval personnel will also continue to carry out maritime security operations throughout the region.

Exercise Alligator Dagger is a routine, scheduled training event that involves US personnel and operations in the areas close to Djibouti and Arta Beach Range. The exercise is the largest regional amphibious combat rehearsal designed to integrate and synchronise the Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade’s warfighting capabilities, and those of adjacent US Naval Forces Central Command and special operations forces units.

General Dynamics buys CSRA for $9.7bn

5 April

General Dynamics (GD) has acquired federal information technology services provider CSRA in a $9.7bn all-cash deal. CSRA will become a part of General Dynamics Information Technology, intending to create a premier high-tech IT provider for the government market.

According to GD, the transaction is expected to add to GAAP earnings per share and to free cash flow per share next year. In addition, it is anticipated to generate annual pre-tax cost savings of nearly 2% of the combined company’s revenue by 2020.

General Dynamics chairman and chief executive officer Phebe Novakovic said: “The combined CSRA and GDIT offers innovative, competitive and compelling solutions to our customers, and provides attractive free cash flow coupled with good incremental return on capital for investors.

“GDIT is positioned to deliver cost-effective, next-generation IT solutions and services to the Department of Defense, the intelligence community and federal civilian agencies as they modernise their information systems.”

The acquisition follows CACI’s announcement last month that it withdrew its offer to acquire all outstanding shares of CSRA for $7.2bn, along with the $2.8bn in assumed debt. CACI backed down after GD renewed its offer by increasing its bid to $9.7bn, including $2.8bn in CSRA debt, which was accepted by CSRA’s board.

Australian DoD begins new space surveillance technology project

4 April

The Australian Department of Defence has commenced a new project that is intended to enhance the safety, speed and fuel consumption of the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) vessels using enhanced space surveillance capabilities. The new A$1.1m ($0.84m) Defence Materials Technology Centre (DMTC) development is the first of four initiatives to be progressed under DMTC’s High Altitude Sensor Systems (HASS) programme. It is slated to focus on improving efficiency regarding the use of unmanned aerial platforms in order to deliver enhanced capabilities to the RAN.

Australian Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne said: “This project aims to develop miniaturised, high-frequency sensor systems for deployment on CubeSats and other unmanned aerial platforms, advancing passive radar technologies related to the processing of both line-of-sight and reflected GPS signals in real-time.

“The initial application of this technology could enable defence to deploy unmanned aerial vehicles to accurately estimate sea-state conditions, leading to improved safety, speed and fuel consumption for navy vessels.”

Partners currently involved in the DMTC initiative include Seaskip and the University of New South Wales’ Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research.

Pyne added: “Defence’s ongoing involvement through a senior stakeholder group gives the end customer for this activity an awareness of promising new technologies and an opportunity to play their part in promoting the growth of an emerging industrial base. The DMTC model makes every dollar invested by the government go further.”

The HASS programme is slated to help improve the company’s defence capabilities, as well as develop an industrial capacity in sensor and on-board data processing technology for unmanned aerial systems and small-satellite platforms. It was initially launched in September 2017 using A$2.7m ($2.07m) in seed funding from Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.

UK MoD to benefit from extra £800m funding in next financial year

3 April

UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond and Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson have jointly confirmed the addition of an extra £800m towards the country’s 2018-2019 defence budget. The UK Ministry of Defence will have access to £600m for the Dreadnought submarine programme under the initiative, in addition to £200m that was previously agreed as part of the Supplementary Estimates.

UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson added: “This is a welcome boost to our Armed Forces, ensuring we can continue to back-up our national security with the ultimate capability. In a world of intensifying and evolving threats, we must strengthen and maintain our ability to seize opportunities and counter challenges as they emerge. I have launched the Modernising Defence Programme to ensure we have the capabilities we need to keep Britain safe in an increasingly dangerous world.”

The £600m financing package has been withdrawn from the Dreadnought contingency fund, which was originally announced in 2015. The funding is expected to make sure that work under the programme is carried out on schedule. In addition, the extra funding will also ensure that the Dreadnought submarines are handed over to the service within the agreed £31bn budget, which was outlined in the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond said: “Our commitment to defence and national security is unwavering. The UK’s defence budget is the highest in Europe and the second highest in NATO, and ensures Britain can continue to respond effectively to the ever-changing threats we face.

“We will continue to invest in our world-class Armed Forces, and this additional investment of £600m will ensure the UK is protected by the nuclear deterrent provided by the new Dreadnought fleet into the 2030s and beyond.”

The Dreadnought submarine will be designed to deliver a continuous at-sea deterrent and provide the country with round-the-clock protection.