Royal Navy awards HMS Queen Elizabeth maintenance contract to Babcock

14 January 2019

The UK Royal Navy has awarded a contract to Babcock’s Rosyth dockyard in Scotland to perform the first planned dry-dock maintenance of HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier.

Under the £5m contract, Babcock will carry out a routine, planned hull survey and maintenance of underwater systems of the 65,000t carrier over a period of six weeks.

To be performed in the summer, the contract work will create around 100 jobs.

UK Defence Minister Stuart Andrew said: “After a phenomenal year of trials off the East Coast of the US, this dry-docking contract is an important step for HMS Queen Elizabeth as she gears up for operations.

“The largest ship in our Royal Navy’s history, which was assembled in Rosyth, will now return for this multi-million-pound routine maintenance work as she gets set to represent Britain across the world for decades to come.”

The UK’s second aircraft carrier and HMS Queen Elizabeth’s sister ship, HMS Prince of Wales is currently stationed at the Rosyth yard where it is undergoing the final stages of construction.

HMS Prince of Wales was powered up for the first time in November last year and is expected to be delivered to the Royal Navy later this year. Bae Systems signed an agreement to supply the HMS Queen Elizabeth and the HMS Prince of Wales with mission system support.

Meanwhile, HMS Queen Elizabeth is anticipated to resume aviation trials later this year with British-owned F-35s.

The aircraft carrier will enter operational service in 2020, with the first deployment slated for 2021.

Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) Ships Support director Russell Brown said: “The teams at Defence Equipment and Support are committed to bringing the national flagships into operational service and this dry docking is a crucial step on that journey.”

South Korea boosts defence spending by $242bn to 2023

14 January 2019

According to the defence ministry, South Korean defence spending will increase by an aggregate of KRW270.7tr ($241.9bn) over the next five years to 2023.

The Ministry of National Defence announced on Friday that, in order to expand “independent capabilities to counter threats from all directions”, the government plans to spend KRW94.1tr on improving defence capabilities and the remaining KRW176.6 on the management of troops, upgrading equipment and improving facilities over the period.

A ministry spokesperson said: “The ministry has decided to focus on building independent defence capabilities while reasonably adjusting the force management cost by redesigning the personnel management structure and enhancing operational efficiency.”

Under the five-year plan, annual average defence spending is set to increase by around 7.5%. The details of the blueprint state that spending, which currently stands at KRW46.7tr for 2019; will increase to KRW50.3tr in 2020; KRW54.1tr in 2021; KRW57.8tr in 2022; and finally, KRW61.8tr in 2023.

The 7.5% average annual rise is higher than the previous average of 4.9% experienced over the last decade. This also includes a 10.8% rise in average defence capabilities spending and a 5.8% rise for force management.

Of the total aggregate spending, the ministry said that KRW65.6tr will be used for a variety of projects over the next five years including counter-measures to combat nuclear arms threats and weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) from North Korea.

To achieve this, South Korea will be investing in surveillance equipment, such as military satellites, medium and high-altitude drones and long-range, air-to-surface guided missiles. The ministry will also aim to implement a new missile defence programme using early warning radars and Cheolmae II interceptors, which can shoot down incoming projectiles at a height of up to 20km.

The increased budget will help establish a more independent South Korean defence industry, and the ministry will be investing in its ability to lead wartime operations, by doubling counter-fire capabilities, using advanced counter-artillery radars and investing in 230mm-calibre multiple launch rockets.

The government will also introduce more South Korean-made destroyers and fighter jets equipped with Aegis technology and will invest KRW21.9tr for upgrading other high-tech weapons and defence systems.

With China, Australia and Japan ramping up defence spending in the Asia-Pacific region, and the political uncertainty of North Korea, South Korea’s defence spending plans could signify an elongated Asian arms race.

The five-year spending plan is subject to internal review by the Ministry of Economy and Finance, and after parliamentary approval.

Norway to procure Heckler & Koch HK416 assault rifles

11 January 2019

The Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency has awarded a contract to German defence manufacturing company Heckler & Koch for the delivery of HK416 assault rifle sets.

The HK416 modular assault rifle platform was first adopted by the Norwegian Armed Forces in 2017. The weapon replaced the AG3 rifle used by the armed forces.

With 5.56 x 45mm calibre, the 781-933mm long HK416 rifle has a magazine capacity of 30,880m/s muzzle velocity and a rate of fire of 700-900 shots per minute.

It is used by soldiers from all divisions of the Norwegian Armed Forces. Featuring a red dot sight and a flashlight, the rifle can be installed on Nato rails.

The contract has an overall value of nearly €22m and a period of performance of more than 36 months. Deliveries under the order will start this year.

Designed for military users and law enforcement, the HK416 can be customised according to customer and mission requirements without having to reduce its accuracy and handling safety.

Several European armies such as Germany, France, Spain, Lithuania, Latvia and the UK have been equipped with a standard assault rifle by Heckler & Koch.

Some of the rifle variants deployed by the aforementioned users are G36, HK416AIF and SA80A2/A3, in addition to HK416.

Specifically created for the German Armed Forces, the lightweight G36 weapon is suitable for use by dismounted infantry and single fire in long-range combat.

Furthermore, one or more Heckler & Koch-manufactured weapon models are also used by many military and police commando units.

US Army selects Envistacom to upgrade Phoenix satellite terminal

10 January 2019

The US Army Program Executive Office Command Control Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T) has awarded a contract to Envistacom for the upgrade of Phoenix satellite terminal.

The Prototype Project Subagreement will facilitate faster development and integration of a new satellite platform for improved tactical communications deployment.

According to the company, it will accelerate the progress of the five-year development cycle into 18 months, which will also involve the testing and certification phase to be performed in partnership with US Army Project Manager Tactical Network (PM TN) Phoenix programme office.

The contract was awarded on behalf of Consortium for Command, Control and Communications in Cyberspace (C5) through the Other Transaction Agreement (OTA) with Consortium Management Group (CMG).

Envistacom senior vice-president Alan Carson said: “Deployed US Army warfighters need modernised systems that are resilient and reliable to support global missions.

“We are honoured for the opportunity to collaborate with the army on this project, and I am confident that Envistacom is the right partner to deliver the next generation Phoenix system with resiliency and mobility to enhance mission flexibility and improve readiness.”

System modernisation efforts delivered by Envistacom will result in a relocatable and manoeuvrable system, with reduced size, weight, and power.

Additionally, the company’s cybersecurity team will use combined typical cyber defence approaches with cyber threat intelligence to enable the system to respond and be able to quickly adapt to cyber attacks.

Envistacom Cyber Strategy and Emerging Technologies VP Dr Ebonese Olfus said: “In support of the Phoenix programme, Envistacom’s cybersecurity team will collaborate with our government sponsors and industry partners to adopt effective new concepts and apply solutions in awareness, resiliency, and threat-based defence to all Phoenix terminals.”

The Phoenix satellite terminal is mounted on M1152A1 expanded capability vehicles (ECVs) and provides the army Expeditionary Signal Battalions (ESBs) with high-capacity tactical satellite communication.

Kellstrom Defense purchases military aircraft parts maker WAM

9 January 2019

US-based Kellstrom Defense Aerospace (KDA) has acquired Williams Aerospace and Manufacturing (WAM), a military aircraft spare parts and ground support equipment manufacturer.

Financial details of the transaction have not been disclosed by the companies.

However, KDA noted that the total global sales of the combined companies are expected to exceed $160m for this calendar year.

Based in San Diego County, California, US, WAM has been a Lockheed Martin Hologram Product Program licensee since 1987.

As part a long-term agreement, WAM is a licensee for the P-3 and C-130 and produces parts for the C-5, F-16 and other US original equipment manufacturer (OEM) defence platforms.

According to the company, KDA Engineered Products operating segment will benefit with the addition of WAM’s manufacturing capabilities.

Following the completion of the deal, WAM will still retain its brand identity in the market.

KDA CEO Chris Celtruda said: “The addition of Williams Aerospace and Manufacturing to our group of companies adds a significant breadth of capability that supports our strategic growth plans and the needs of our global customer base. We expect to rapidly integrate the Williams Aerospace and Manufacturing business while investing in product development to expand our solution set for military aircraft sustainment.”

WAM co-owners William Cary and Shane Nonthavet said: “Joining the KDA team offers the right solution for us to continue to be engaged with our employees and customers while creating new opportunities for future growth.”

PNC Mezzanine Capital and Barings have served as financial backers for KDA while Blue Torch Capital acted as lead arranger for the senior debt financing.

Houlihan Lokey served as KDA’s financial adviser and placement agent for the transaction.

Russian missile units to be rearmed with Iskander-M systems

7 January 2019

The Russian Armed Forces intends to complete the rearmament of its missile units of the Land Forces with the Iskander-M operational-tactical missile system.

As per the state defence order, the operational-tactical systems will be transferred to the missile brigade of the Western Military District by the manufacturer this year.

The brigade set comprises more than 50 units of equipment, which include transporting-charging machines, command post vehicles, launchers, maintenance vehicles, and life-support vehicles.

Also known as SS-26 Stone, the missile can engage targets with an operational range of up to 500km.

The Iskander-M is an upgraded version of the Russian Army’s 9K720 Iskander mobile-theatre ballistic missile system.

It features inertial and optical-guidance systems for improved firing accuracy and an electro-optical seeker for self-homing capabilities.

It comprises two kinds of missiles: ballistic and cruising. The complex is intended to attack enemy missile launchers, anti-missile and air defence systems, aircraft at airfields, command posts and infrastructure.

According to the Ministry of the Defence of the Russian Federation, the Iskander-M is considered to be ‘the best missile system in its class’ that can ‘overwhelm any missile defence’.

Enterprises of the military-industrial complex of the Russian Federation are undertaking modernisation to boost their combat and operational characteristics.

Russian Land Forces will receive more than 1,850 pieces of automotive and special equipment this year.

Defence industry enterprises will provide modern automobile vehicles for the Russian Defence Ministry. Samples have already indicated that they can efficiently operate in various climatic zones.

Troops will also receive Typhoon-K and Typhoon-U armoured vehicles.

RKhM-8 chemical reconnaissance vehicles will also be supplied to the Russian Land Forces.

The ministry’s intelligence units will be reinforced by Tigr-M armoured vehicles featuring the Arbalet-DM combat module with remote control, Aistenok portable radar and Fara-VR.

Signal troops will secure more than 60 modern R-441LM and R-444NL satellite communication stations.

Honeywell wins Kunsan Air Base infrastructure modernisation project

7 January 2019

Honeywell has secured a contract to modernise infrastructure at Kunsan Air Base (AB), a US Air Force (USAF) Base located in South Korea.

The $28m project requires Honeywell to undertake facility upgrades aimed at improving infrastructure and equipment reliability.

Once the project is completed by November 2020, the air base is expected to save approximately $7.1m of energy.

Overall annual energy consumption is projected to be reduced by more than 14 million kilowatt-hours or more than 18%, while water consumption is set to be lowered by over 7%.

The energy savings performance contract, which was awarded by Kunsan AB, the Air Force Civil Engineer Center and Defense Logistics Agency-Energy, is valid for a term of 25 years.

Honeywell Building Solutions president John Rajchert said: “The changes and updates we’re able to provide Kunsan aim to not only improve its mission readiness, but help to improve the quality of life and work environment for the brave men and women on the base.

“The upgraded solutions and better visibility into building-level energy usage will help Kunsan greatly improve its environmental impact and fuel usage, helping it to be more energy resilient in its remote location.”

Under the contract, Honeywell will help upgrade building controls and centralise management of the air base using its Enterprise Buildings Integrator (EBI).

EBI will provide a single point of control, enable improved mission readiness and resiliency, and offer insights for swift identification of operational issues.

The integrated platform will also offer equipment scheduling capabilities that will help optimise energy demand and efficiency.

Additional enhancements at Kunsan Air Base include retro-commissioning of existing equipment in seven dormitories and an upgrade of controls in 14 buildings, as well as the installation of LED lighting upgrades, including wireless controls.

In order to boost water conservation efforts, Honeywell will also retrofit existing sink fixtures with flow control devices, as well as flushometer recommissioning and upgrades.

Kunsan AB houses 2,800 USAF members, soldiers, US civilians, and local national employees.

A total of around 630 buildings covering an aggregate area of 4.1 million square feet are located at the air base.

Germany to lead Nato’s very high readiness joint task force

7 January 2019

Germany has assumed the responsibility of Nato’s very high readiness joint task force (VJTF), which is a joint force consisting of a land component supported by air, maritime and special forces.

The VJTF will be able to deploy at short notice when tasked, between two to seven days, to combat threats against alliance sovereignty.

The force is part of the alliance’s larger Nato Response Force (NRF), which comprises 40,000 troops.

The NRF’s land forces will be controlled by 1st German / Netherlands Corps this year with the entire NRF commanded by admiral James Foggo from Nato’s Joint Force Command in Naples, Italy.

Based on a German brigade, the 9th Panzerlehrbrigade, 2019’s VJTF will comprise a multinational brigade of approximately 8,000 troops.

Partners for this rotation include the Netherlands and Norway, which will provide capabilities such as aviation and mechanised infantry while France, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Czech Republic, Latvia and Lithuania will provide forces.

Nato spokesperson Oana Lungescu said: “The VJTF is a substantial contribution to our collective defence.

“In 2019, nine allies will contribute to the VJTF. This is a strong display of our capabilities and our resolve to work together. Once activated, the VJTF, our spearhead force, is available to move immediately to defend any ally against any threat.”

The creation of VJTF was agreed at the 2014 Nato Wales Summit to enhance the capabilities of the NRF amidst changes in the security environment to the east and south of the alliance’s borders.

The NRF for this year was certified during Exercise Trident Juncture 18, which mainly focused on Nato’s ability to move personnel and armour quickly across Europe.

The exercise saw the participation of around 51,000 personnel, including six army brigades and marine ground forces supported by air, maritime and special forces.

Last year, the VJTF lead brigade was provided by Italy.