10 December 2019

Global arms sales up 4.6% in 2018 according to SIPRI

The world’s 100 biggest defence manufacturers saw their arms and military services sales increase by 4.6% to $420bn worldwide in 2018.

Data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) showed US companies continuing to dominate the market and head the institute’s top 100 ratings.

According to SIPRI, the top ten arms sellers worldwide are Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, General Dynamics, BAE Systems, Airbus, Leonardo, Almaz-Antey, and Thales.

SIPRI found that total arms sales for the top 15 defence companies totalled almost £245bn in 2018.

SIPRI said: “For the first time since 2002, the top five spots in the ranking are held exclusively by arms companies based in the United States: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and General Dynamics.

“These five companies alone accounted for $148bn and 35% of total top 100 arms sales in 2018. Total arms sales of US companies in the ranking amounted to $246bn, equivalent to 59%of all arms sales by the top 100. This is an increase of 7.2% compared with 2017.” 

SIPRI identified mergers and acquisitions as a key driver in the US defence industry’s continuing dominance of the market.

SIPRI’s arms and military expenditure programme director Aude Fleurant said: “US companies are preparing for the new arms modernisation programme that was announced in 2017 by President Trump. Large US companies are merging to be able to produce the new generation of weapon systems and therefore be in a better position to win contracts from the US Government.”

SIPRI also found that Russian arms companies were continuing to have stable sales, but Russia’s total share of the top 100 sales fell from 9.7% in 2017 to 8.6% in 2018. Almaz-Antey, the maker of the S-400 missile system, was the only Russian company to make it into the top ten defence sellers.

SIPRI’s arms and military expenditure programme researcher Alexandra Kuimova said: “Arms sales by Almaz-Antey, the largest arms producer in Russia, continued to grow in 2018. This increase was due not only to strong domestic demand but also to continued growth in sales to other countries, particularly of the S-400 air defence system.”

The S-400 has achieved success on the export market, most notably being purchased by Turkey which resulted in the company being ejected from Lockheed Martin’s F-35 programme.

SIPRI also found that while French arms sales had increases, British and German sales had fallen. SIPRI’s arms and military expenditure programme researcher Nan Tian said: “Six of the eight UK-based companies listed in the Top 100 reported a reduction in arms sales in 2018. This was partly due to delays in the UK’s arms modernisation programme.”

SIPRI researcher Diego Lopes da Silva said that French growth was in part due to the success of Dassault Aviation, adding: “The overall growth in arms sales of the six French companies in the SIPRI Top 100 was mainly the result of a 30%  increase in sales by combat aircraft producer Dassault Aviation.”

The vast majority of the top 100 arms producers were from the US, Europe and Russia filling 80 spots. The listing does not include Chinese companies as SIPRI says there is a lack of consistent data available.

The first SIPRI arms database was released in 1989 and the organisation has tracked the growth and sales of the industry since.

9 December 2019

NSPA awards contracts for future surveillance and control capabilities

The Nato Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) has awarded contracts to support the development of Nato’s future surveillance and control capabilities. The selected companies will develop high-level technical concepts for the Nato requirement.

NSPA selected the six contractors under a Nato Security Investment Programme (NSIP). Awardees include General Atomics, Lockheed Martin, MDA, Airbus and consortiums led by Boeing and L3Harris Technologies.

The Boeing ABILITI consortium includes Leonardo, Indra Systems, Thales and Inmarsat.

Members in the L3 Harris team are Videns, Musketter Solutions, Hensoldt Sensors, 3SDL, Synergeticon, IBM UK, and Deloitte Consulting & Advisory.

Nato is working on acquiring a follow-on capability to replace the AWACS fleet, which is expected to retire in 2035.

The organisation set up the Alliance Future Surveillance and Control (AFSC) project for the requirement. It wants the industry to develop new concepts to meet future surveillance and control capabilities.

AFSC project manager Cagatay Soyer said: “We are very impressed with the strong industry participation and interest shown for this visionary project and we look forward to the first concept results in the coming months.”

The Concept Stage of the AFSC project was launched in 2017. NSPA is tasked with undertaking studies and developing concepts to help Nato in arriving at the decision to procure new systems.

NSPA stated that the programme will involve concept development and assessment activities in the period between 2020 and 2022.

Nato will assess and select the 'most promising’ concepts, which will undergo advanced development in the next phase of the programme.

9 December 2019

US Navy christens nuclear-powered aircraft carrier John F Kennedy

The US Navy has christened its newest Gerald R Ford-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier John F Kennedy (CVN 79) during a ceremony at Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding division.

The christening ceremony of the Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) John F Kennedy was attended by more than 20,000 members.

CVN 79 is named in honour of former US President John F Kennedy for his contribution to the country and the US Navy. It is the second aircraft carrier to be named after Kennedy, who served as the 35th President of the US.

The ship is sponsored by Caroline Bouvier Kennedy, the daughter of John Kennedy. Caroline Kennedy was posted as the US Ambassador to Japan from 2013 to 2017.

Retired US Marine Corps major general and former Nasa administrator Charles Bolden said: “This vessel is a symbol of our nation’s strength, technical achievement and critical service our men and women provide for this nation and the entire world.

“This incredible ship before us today serves as the biggest instrument of deterrence and carries our nation’s pride and hope for a better world.”

The first steel of the aircraft carrier was cut in 2011. Construction of the ship involved over 5,000 shipbuilders and suppliers from 46 states across the US.

HII noted that the PCU John F Kennedy will be launched into the James River and moved to a pier in the coming weeks.

The ship will undergo further outfitting and testing. The Newport News division is expected to deliver CVN 79 to the navy in 2022.

6 December 2019

General Dynamics wins Swiss contract for EAGLE reconnaissance vehicles

General Dynamics European Land Systems-Mowag (GDELS) has signed a contract with armasuisse to deliver 100 EAGLE 6×6 reconnaissance vehicles for the Swiss Army.

The Swiss federal office for defence procurement, armasuisse, has selected the EAGLE 6×6 after an international competition.

The vehicles will be part of the tactical reconnaissance system ‘TASYS’, which will gather intelligence for the Swiss Armed Forces. TASYS will also be used to support the civil authorities.

The system will comprise an EAGLE V 6×6 carrier vehicle, a data processing system and a multi-sensor system on a telescopic mast.

According to GDELS, the armoured EAGLE V 6×6 TASYS will feature a remotely controlled weapon station. The vehicle will offer enough payload reserves for future improvements, including the installation of additional sensors.

General Dynamics will begin production of the EAGLE V 6×6 TASYS in 2020 and field the vehicles between 2023 and 2025.

The EAGLE V 4×4 vehicle is being used extensively in Denmark and Germany.

Available in 4×4 and 6×6 variants, the EAGLE V is among the most modern protected wheeled vehicles in its class. The vehicle has already established its efficiency and reliability in several military missions.

GDELS said that the power reserves of the EAGLE make it an ideal platform to meet current and future requirements. Besides providing protection against mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the EAGLE V 6×6 offers a high payload and a large transport volume despite compact dimensions. The axle and drive system of the EAGLE V ensures off-road mobility and on-road driving safety.

The EAGLE V 4×4 was developed into the EAGLE V 6×6 variant due to operational experience and factors such as increased useful volume, more payload, compact exterior dimensions, high mobility and maximised protection.

General Dynamics European Land Systems-Mowag managing director and wheeled vehicles vice-president Oliver Dürr said: “We are very proud that the Swiss Army is the first customer to introduce the EAGLE V 6×6.”

6 December 2019

Czech Republic to buy Iron Dome from Israel

The UK Government’s Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA), along with the Ministry of Defence (MoD), is inviting proposals for phase two of the metasurface technology competition.

The competition is looking for companies that can harness advances in metasurface technology to maintain an electromagnetic tactical advantage for the front-line.

DASA intends to integrate the innovative solutions into devices and onto platforms to maintain ‘effectiveness in the increasingly congested electromagnetic environment’.

In a statement, DASA said: “Advantage may be realised by sensing and communication superiority over an adversary. This applies equally to enhancing your own capabilities, degrading those of your adversaries, or being better able to differentiate your own signals from those in the congested environment.”

The advanced metasurfaces technology is expected to provide an improved understanding of the battlefield and facilitate secure communication by allowing better control of electromagnetic waves. In addition, the solution will cut costs and reduce device footprint.

The competition seeks to invite experts in the private sector and academia to help develop innovative solutions. Under the first phase of the competition, DASA awarded contracts to nine companies.

Companies looking to participate in phase two will have to submit proposals incorporating metasurface science for applications in defence and security. The final round of the phase will require companies to make a practical demonstration of the work to defence and security end-users.

DASA added: “We are keen to promote teaming between organisations from across industry, academia, and broader supply chains to develop the role of metasurfaces in relevant applications.”

The metasurfaces competition phase two is set to be launched at a demonstration day for phase one next month. The organisation will provide at least £500,000 in funding for the second phase. Contracts are expected to be awarded by February / March next year.

5 December 2019

HMS Queen Elizabeth returns to Portsmouth base from Westlant 19

The British Royal Navy’s HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier has returned to its home base of HMNB Portsmouth following the completion of a three-month-long deployment overseas.

The vessel was welcomed at the base by sister ship HMS Prince of Wales, which is the second in the Queen Elizabeth class of aircraft carriers built for the navy.

HMS Queen Elizabeth was deployed to the US to undergo operational tests during the Westlant 19 exercise.

Other elements in the HMS Queen Elizabeth carrier strike group, including HMS Northumberland and RFA Tideforce, also returned to their home bases.

HMS Dragon, which supported the battle group, returned home earlier this week ahead of the arrival of the main group. The 65,000t, £3bn aircraft carrier left for the US in August to participate in trials with British F-35 fighter jets for the first time.

The carrier battle group was supported by Merlin and Wildcat helicopters.

HMS Queen Elizabeth commanding officer captain Steve Moorhouse said: “Homecomings are always a special occasion, but to be returning to Portsmouth with HMS Prince of Wales welcoming us home makes this a particularly special occasion.

"This has been an extremely successful deployment for HMS Queen Elizabeth. Embarking UK F-35 Lightning jets for the first time and integrating them within the carrier strike group is a significant milestone and we are well set for an equally demanding 2020 and our first operational deployment in 2021.”

The ship docked with Prince of Wales at the HMNB Portsmouth for the first time. Prior to welcoming the two ships, Portsmouth conducted upgrade work on the jetties.