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18 janvier 2013 5 18 /01 /janvier /2013 13:35



January 18, 2013: Strategy Page


Photos from China confirm rumors that the air force there has been developing an air transport similar to the American C-17. The new Chinese aircraft is called the Y-20 and appears to have a max weight of 220 tons and a max payload of 80 tons. In most other respects it appears very similar to the C-17. The Y-20 will likely include many characteristics of the 195 ton Il-76, a Russian heavy transport that can carry up to 50 tons and that the Chinese have been using for decades. The two Y-20 prototypes have been undergoing ground taxi tests, which usually happens within months, or up to a year before the first flight.


The C-17 entered service 17 years ago and each one has a useful life of 30,000 flight hours. The 290 ton C-17 can carry up to 100 tons (including one M-1 tank) anywhere in the world because of in-air refueling. The C-17 costs about $250 million each. Britain, with eight, is the largest foreign user of the C-17. Australia and the UAE each have six while Canada and Qatar each have four. India has ordered ten. The U.S. Air Force operates 203. China does not need that many Y-20s, but it does want to get away from depending on Russia for heavy transports. Dealing with Russia can be difficult.


Last year China revived, in part, a 2005 deal to buy Il-76 transports from Russia. The new arrangement only involved China buying ten refurbished Il-76s. Back in 2005, China placed a $1.5 billion order for 38 Il-76 transport planes and Il-78s (tanker versions of the Il-76). A year later China cancelled the deal when Russia tried to up the price 27 percent. China went looking elsewhere, including urging its domestic aircraft manufacturers to come up with something. That process eventually led to the Y-20, but in the meantime China needs some more jet powered military transports.


Similar to the older American C-141, the Il-76 was originally only manufactured in Uzbekistan. That's because one of the Russian aircraft plants moved east during the German invasion of 1941, and ended up in Central Asia, a part of the Soviet Union that became independent Uzbekistan in 1991. Over the last decade Russia has been moving Il-76 production from Uzbekistan to Russia.


Over 900 Il-76s were manufactured over the last thirty years, most by what is now the Chkalov Tashkent Aircraft Production Company in Uzbekistan. Nearly a hundred Il-76s were exported, so far, mainly to Cuba, Iraq, China, India, Libya, and Syria. However, until the 2005 Chinese order came along, Chkalov was surviving by manufacturing wings and other components for the An-124, An-70, and An-225 transports. In addition, it made replacement parts for the Il-76 and Il-114 aircraft.


Russian commercial aircraft survived during the Cold War partly because they had a captive market (the former Soviet Union, the East European nations the Soviets dominated) and were attractive to a few other nations looking for cheap, often free, and rugged aircraft. While many old Soviet transports still serve on in secondary markets, these designs are no longer competitive. Western models, while more expensive, are cheaper and easier to operate. The old Soviet era aviation firms have tried hard to compete, but that competition will eventually kill off most of the Soviet era producers, leaving only a few who managed to catch up with the rest of the world or found a specialized niche.


China is no longer interested in buying 38 Il-76/78s but is willing to work with Russia in developing a Chinese replacement for the Il-76. That’s the Y-20 which is using Russian engines and much more Russian aviation technology as well.

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16 janvier 2013 3 16 /01 /janvier /2013 08:35

C-27J – photo3 Alenia Aermacchi


14 Januari 2013 Defense Studies


The Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Geoff Brown welcomed the re-establishment of No.35 Squadron today at RAAF Base Richmond. 
“The re-establishment of No.35 Squadron will see it prepare for our fleet of ten C-27J Spartan Battlefield Airlift aircraft, due to arrive in Australia from 2015,” Air Marshal Brown said. 
“No.35 Squadron has provided combat airlift for Australia in several conflicts, and the C-27J is ideally suited to continue this legacy of support for personnel deployed on combat, peacekeeping, or disaster relief operations,” Air Marshal Brown said. 
No.35 Squadron will be re-established under the command of Wing Commander Brad Clarke with 25 personnel but will grow to approximately 250 members after the first C-27Js arrive in 2015. 
“Our first tasks are to work with the Battlefield Airlift Transition Office to map the required workforce structure, operating procedures and introduction plan for the C-27J Spartan,” Wing Commander Clarke said. 
“No.35 Squadron will send the first aircrew and maintenance personnel to train on the C-27J in the United States in 2014.” 
“Once in service, our C-27Js will greatly increase the number of airfields Defence can operate in to, increase the level of fixed wing support available on the battlefield, and synchronise with the existing C-130J Hercules and C-17A Globemaster fleet,” Wing Commander Clarke said. 
No.35 Squadron was first established in Western Australia in March 1942 and provided air transport around Australia and in New Guinea until its disestablishment in June 1946.
In July 1964, the RAAF Transport Flight Vietnam was formed with the DHC-4 Caribou transport to provide combat airlift throughout the conflict in that country. It was coined Wallaby Airlinesafter its callsign ‘Wallaby’, and re-formed as No.35 Squadron in June 1966. Throughout the warWallaby Airlines carried about 677,000 passengers and 36 million kilograms of freight, without a single fatality.
On return to Australia in 1972, No.35 Squadron was based at RAAF Base Richmond before relocating to RAAF Base Townsville in 1974, where it remained until its disestablishment in 2000.
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11 janvier 2013 5 11 /01 /janvier /2013 12:35
Dassault, India tussle over supply chains

BANGALORE, India, Jan. 11 (UPI)


India's defense ministry reiterated that Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. will remain lead integrator for producing 108 Rafale fighters under the medium multirole combat aircraft contract.


Replacing HAL as integrator would jeopardize the procurement process carried out to secure the $15 billion deal with Dassault Aviation in France that was signed in January 2012.


The MMRCA contract called for final and exclusive negotiations with Dassault before production begins.


Under the tender issued in 2007, the first 18 of 126 of the twin-engine delta-wing fighters will be supplied by Dassault from its facilities in France. The remaining 108 will be produced under license by HAL at its Indian factories.


A deviation from the tender issued for the project would need to be approved by the Defense Acquisition Council and legal issues could arise, ministry sources told the Press Trust of India.


The ministry issued its statement after coming under pressure from Dassault to clarify the role of HAL so the French manufacturer could explore options for working with other companies.


Defense officials said it would convey final details of the relationship to Dassault and HAL this month, the PTI report said.


HAL is a Navratna company -- a government business -- and has 19 production and overhaul divisions and 10 research and development centers in India, the company's Web site said. It has 33,000 employees of which around half have "more than a decade of aircraft industry experience."


Dassault has been pressing the government for more freedom to choose its supply chain partners in light of a deal it signed -- shortly after getting the MMRCA contract -- with India's Reliance Industries Ltd. for working together in defense and homeland security agreements.


"Dassault Aviation, a major player in the global aerospace industry, has entered into a memorandum of understanding with Reliance Industries, for pursuing strategic opportunities of collaboration in the area of complex manufacturing and support in India," officials of the two companies told PTI shortly after Dassault landed the MMRCA deal.


The PTI report said Dassault had told the ministry that if it had overall responsibility for the project, it should have the freedom to decide on the proportion of work done by HAL and other private companies.


In February the PTI reported that Dassault must reinvest 50 percent of the worth of the deal back into Indian defense sector.


The aerospace and security division of the Reliance Industries is headed by Vivek Lall, who has been closely associated with the MMRCA deal while spearheading the campaign for Boeing in the deal.


Dassault won the hard-fought MMRCA contract by beating EADS with its Eurofighter Typhoon, Boeing with its F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Lockheed Martin's F-16, the Russian-made MiG-35 and the Gripen from Swedish firm Saab.


The loss was a blow to EADS which less than two months before, in December 2010, had lost out to Lockheed Martin's fifth-generation fighter F-35 Lightning II in a major Japanese military contract.


Japan chose the F-35 also over Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet in a deal estimated at around $7 billion for 42 planes.

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10 janvier 2013 4 10 /01 /janvier /2013 13:40

Su-30SM Fighter source Ria Novisti


January 10, 2013: Strategy Page


The Russian Air Force recently ordered another 30 Su-30SM two-seat fighters. Thirty of these were ordered back in April and deliveries to the Russian Air Force were to begin in six months and the first one did arrive six months later. All this was pretty impressive when you consider that that Su-30SM flew for the first time last September 21st. All 60 SU-30SMs are to be delivered by 2016. Before this order Russia had only 11 Su-30s in service, far fewer than China and India. All Russia could afford until recently was the older Su-27.


The Su-30SM is a Russian Air Force version of the Su-30MKI that has long been exported (to India, Algeria, and Malaysia). For the last two decades Russian defense manufacturers have survived on exports. The Russian military halted most procurement spending after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 (largely from financial mismanagement).


In the last decade the Russian military has gradually resumed buying. Initially the Russian military could not afford the best stuff (like the Su-30MKI). But that has changed, and now the Russian military is catching up. This is the first Su-30 model for the Russian Air Force that uses thrust vectoring (the ability of the engine to direct its exhaust a bit and enhance maneuverability).


Both the Su-30SM and Su-30MKI are most similar to the two seat American F-15E fighter-bomber. The Su-30MKI, even though equipped with Western electronics, costs less than $40 million each, about half of what an equivalent F-15 costs. The Russian version will have Russian electronics and other Russian made gear but otherwise be nearly identical to the Su-30MKI. The Su-30MKI/SM can carry more than eight tons of bombs and hit targets over 1,500 kilometers away. The Su-30SM is able to use a large range of missiles and smart bombs.

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10 janvier 2013 4 10 /01 /janvier /2013 13:35



January 10, 2013: Strategy Page


Recent Chinese TV coverage of Chinese Air Force training revealed that the code word for the main Chinese training base is “Area 52”. This is an interesting shout-out to the U.S. Air Force Tonopah Test Range (also known as Area 52) in Nevada. This has long been the site for testing new aircraft, and providing advanced training for fighter pilots. Nearby is Area 51, an even more secretive base used for experimental aircraft and, according to local lore, UFO activity.


What this shows is how much China understands that the only way to achieve victory in the air is to adopt Western pilot training methods. China is doing this in a big way. China is already getting rid of its thousands of old Cold War era warplanes. These were copies of Russian designs and Chinese air force experts noted that no one ever won a war with these aircraft. Since the 1990s China has been acquiring Western-style designs (MiG-29, Su-27/30) from Russia and developing similar aircraft. But these aircraft are only effective if operated by highly trained and experienced pilots. So China has provided the large quantities of fuel and spare parts needed to keep their several hundred modern fighters in the air a lot. This, however, was not enough. The pilots who started out on the old Cold War style aircraft did not become much better when moved to modern fighters, even after a lot of time in the air. Something was missing, and that turned out to be technical education and specialized training in the intricacies of modern air combat. That meant greater use of realistic flight simulators (so very dangerous maneuvers could be practiced). So the Chinese are taking care of all this, including establishing a “pilot university” that provides a four year academic and flight training program. All this closely follows methods and techniques pioneered by the United States.


The Chinese Air Force now has a training unit that will accurately (as possible) portray enemy (especially American and Indian) aircraft and combat tactics. Thus there are three Blue-Army Aggressor Squadrons (Blue is the bad guys in Chinese training, Red is the good guys) for this. One is equipped with Su-30s, to represent American F-15s or Indian or Vietnamese Su-30s. Another has the J-10A, which is similar to the F-16. The third squadron has J-7s (Chinese copies of the MiG-21), which represent low end threats, like the many MiG-21s India still uses.


Using your own aircraft for "aggressor (or dissimilar) training" began in 1969, when the U.S. Navy established the original "Top Gun" fighter pilot school. This was done in response to the poor performance of its pilots against North Vietnamese pilots flying Russian fighters. What made the Top Gun operation different was that the training emphasized how the enemy aircraft and pilots operated. This was called "dissimilar training". In the past, American pilots practiced against American pilots, with everyone flying American aircraft and using American tactics. It worked in World War II because the enemy pilots were not getting a lot of practice and were using similar aircraft and tactics anyway. Most importantly, there was a lot of aerial combat going on, providing ample opportunity for on-the-job training. Not so in Vietnam, where the quite different Russian trained North Vietnamese were giving U.S. aviators an awful time. The four week Top Gun program solved the problem. The air force followed shortly with its Red Flag school. In the early 1980s, the Russians established a dissimilar air combat school (and began building Western style fighters), and the Chinese followed in 1987.


Over the last four decades the two American training programs have developed differently, and the entire concept of "dissimilar training" has changed. The navy kept Top Gun as a program to hone fighter pilot's combat skills. The air force made their Red Flag program more elaborate, bringing in the many different types of aircraft involved in combat missions (especially electronic warfare).


After the Cold War ended in 1991, it became increasingly obvious that none of our potential enemies was providing their fighter pilots with much training at all. In other words, the dissimilar training for U.S. fighter pilots was not as crucial as it had been during the Cold War. Actually, it had been noted that flying skills of Soviet pilots was declining in the 1980s, as economic problems in the USSR led to cuts in flying time. During that period American pilots were actually increasing their flying time. Moreover, U.S. flight simulators were getting better. American pilots were finding that even the game oriented combat flight simulators had some training value. But now, with China aggressively doing all they can to improve pilot quality, the U.S. has to pay more attention to staying ahead.

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10 janvier 2013 4 10 /01 /janvier /2013 12:35

Hawk Mk-132 Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT)


January 9, 2013: Strategy Page


The Indian Air Force is facing yet another round of embarrassment over the mismanagement of its pilot training program. This time it was the news that a quarter of its Hawk jet trainers were out of action because of an avoidable spare parts shortage. This is not the first time the Indian Hawks have embarrassed the air force leadership. The Hawks were, in fact, meant to take care of an earlier leadership failure.


This came from the fact that India has long had problems with advanced trainers or, rather, the lack of them. For a long time new pilots went straight from propeller driven trainer aircraft to high performance jets like the MiG-21. This was fatal for many of those new pilots. The MiG-21 has always been a tricky aircraft to fly. Pilots normally get some time on a jet trainer aircraft before taking on a jet fighter. The Indian approach resulted in a high loss rate from peacetime accidents. The solution to this was obtaining a jet trainer but it took decades for this simple solution to make its way through the defense procurement bureaucracy.


Eight years ago, after two decades of effort, BAE Systems finally sold 66 Hawk jet trainers to India, at a cost of some $25 million each. The delays were caused by the Indian unwillingness to spend the money, plus the efforts of French, Russian, Czech, and American aircraft manufacturers to put forward their own candidates. Finally, the growing number of Indian MiG-21 aircraft lost forced the government to close the deal. The Hawk advanced jet trainers are the most successful Western aircraft of this type, at least in terms of sales (over 900 have been sold). The U.S. Navy uses the Hawk and India felt the Hawk was the most suitable for preparing MiG-21 pilots, as this nine ton aircraft was designed to train pilots who will eventually fly jet fighters. The Hawk can also be armed and used for ground attack. Four years ago India decided to buy another 40 British Hawk jet trainers.


India has also had problems with basic (propeller driven) trainers. This has recently been addressed as well. Last May the Indian government finally agreed to buy 75 Pilatus PC 7 trainer aircraft for the Indian Air Force. The aircraft cost $7.5 million each and begin to arrive this year. It took the air force several years to get approval. In the meantime, pilot training and flight safety suffered because of the shortage of basic trainers.


There are actually three different aircraft trainers Indian pilots use during their flight schooling. All of the current ones are elderly and overworked. The HPT-32 is used for primary (basic) flight training. Intermediate training uses the Kiran Mark II and then the Hawk Jet Trainer is used for advanced training for fighter pilots. After that the pilots are sent to combat units where they learn how to operate a specific type of aircraft.


Back in 2009, all 116 HPT 32 basic trainers had to be grounded because of age related problems. HPT reliability has gone down even more since then. The HPT 32 entered service three decades ago and there have been over a hundred serious accidents, killing 23 instructor and trainee pilots. Because of the HPT 32 problems the 96 Kiran Mk1 intermediate trainers had to increasingly be used for both basic and intermediate training. These aircraft are being worn out but even then most pilot trainees are only getting a third of the required hours before being moved along in their flight training. This leads to more accidents as pilots are pushed into the next phase of their training without adequate flight time.


For over three years the air force has been trying to get permission to buy 75 Pilatus PC 7 single engine turboprop trainers to replace the HPT 32s. While the HPT-32 was designed and manufactured in India, the Swiss built Pilatus was seen, by Indian pilot training experts, as a better choice. The PC 7 is a two seat, 2.7 ton aircraft. The instructor sits behind the trainee and both have an ejection seat. Nearly 500 PC 7s have been built in the last three decades and they are used by 24 nations. But because the Pilatus is a foreign aircraft, buying it has become a political issue and the actual purchase was continually delayed by politicians or Indian aircraft manufacturers. Indian pilots made it clear that they did not want another HPT 32.

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9 janvier 2013 3 09 /01 /janvier /2013 17:55



09/01/2013 Par Valérie Lion (L'Express)


Vente du Rafale en Inde, projet du futur avion de combat européen, rapprochements industriels... Bien décidé à garder son rang dans le secteur militaire, l'avionneur joue son destin en 2013, alors qu'un nouveau PDG, Eric Trappier, prend les commandes.


Ce 19 décembre, le gratin militaro-industriel s'était donné rendez-vous sur la base aérienne d'Istres, au bord de l'étang de Berre. Serge Dassault était suivi de près par son fils aîné, Olivier. Eric Trappier, futur PDG de Dassault Aviation, disputait la vedette bien malgré lui à Charles Edelstenne, sur le départ - la passation de pouvoir entre les deux hommes devait se faire sans tambour ni trompette, mercredi 9 janvier, à Saint-Cloud, au siège de l'avionneur. Laurent Collet-Billon, délégué général à l'armement, avait même fait le déplacement, séchant pour l'occasion une séance plénière de la commission du Livre blanc sur la défense. Devant quelque 400 invités, à 10 h 55, dans un ciel d'hiver nuageux, le Neuron, dernière réalisation de la maison, a décollé pour un vol inaugural de dix minutes avant de revenir parader le long de la piste. Aucun pilote n'a salué la foule de la main, et pour cause : le Neuron est un prototype de drone de combat, commandé à distance. Le premier du genre sur le Vieux Continent.



Chiffre d'affaires 2011, en milliards d'euros.


Difficile de savoir ce qui, ce jour-là, a le plus étonné les nombreux participants à l'événement. Cet appareil futuriste aux lignes presque inquiétantes ? Ou le discours d'Edelstenne, d'une tribune où étaient plantés le drapeau européen et ceux des six pays partenaires du programme (France, Suède, Suisse, Espagne, Italie, Grèce) ? Du jamais-vu dans la maison Dassault : réputée pour sa conduite solitaire des affaires, elle a toujours cultivé un splendide isolement. "Non à la fédération des incompétences", n'a cessé de répéter Edelstenne, pendant les douze ans de son mandat, sans perdre une occasion d'ironiser sur les difficultés des programmes multilatéraux tels que l'A400M ou l'Eurofighter, rival du Rafale. Et pourtant, ce 19 décembre, les dirigeants de l'avionneur ont lancé un vibrant plaidoyer en faveur d'une coopération européenne pour le futur avion de combat. Avant de laisser les invités méditer ce virage sur l'aile autour des six buffets, honorant la gastronomie de chacun des pays représentés. Une belle variété, propre à ouvrir l'appétit.


Celui de Dassault est grand. Pas question de perdre sa place dans le cercle mondial très restreint des fabricants de chasseurs. Le choix d'Eric Trappier pour remplacer Edelstenne traduit clairement la volonté du groupe, qui réalise pourtant les trois quarts de son chiffre d'affaires avec les jets d'affaires, de rester un acteur majeur de la défense. Trappier ? L'homme du militaire et de l'international, rompu aux arcanes politiques et seul représentant de l'industrie de défense dans la commission du Livre blanc. Cet ingénieur, passé très vite du bureau d'études aux ventes, a conclu le dernier contrat export en date de Dassault, la vente de 30 Mirage 2000-9 aux Emirats arabes unis, en 1998. Il est à la manoeuvre depuis près d'un an dans la négociation finale avec l'Inde pour la vente de 126 Rafale - le contrat de la dernière chance à l'export pour cet avion dont le premier vol à Istres remonte à... juillet 1986.


Cinq ans de travail suspendus au contrat indien


Le lendemain de sa nomination, le futur PDG se refusait en public à tout commentaire, fidèle à la tradition maison, mais il affichait, en privé, sa sérénité quant à l'issue des négociations. Complice d'Edelstenne, Trappier a aussi toute la confiance de Serge Dassault - "les clients le connaissent et l'apprécient", assure le pater familias. Mais la pression sur les épaules de ce quinqua est immense : Trappier doit absolument rapporter de New Delhi la signature tant attendue, qui devrait garantir cinq années de travail aux usines de l'avionneur et pourrait ouvrir d'autres marchés. A plus long terme, il lui faut aussi assurer la pérennité du bureau d'études - près de 2 000 personnes qui risquent fort de se tourner les pouces si le Rafale n'a pas de successeur. "Le système Dassault, c'est avoir toujours en parallèle un avion en fabrication et un autre en développement", rappelle Louis Gautier, président du think tank Orion.


Le Rafale absorbe 30 % des dépenses d'équipement !


Or il n'y a aucun nouveau programme à l'horizon. Le danger guette : partout, dans le monde occidental, l'heure est à la réduction des budgets de la défense. Une diète qui attise la concurrence à l'export et contraint les industriels à se regrouper. En France, la prochaine loi de programmation militaire, pour 2014-2019, élaborée d'ici à l'été, en sera le douloureux reflet. D'où la démonstration de force du 19 décembre. L'opération de com a été montée en moins de quatre semaines, au lendemain de la réussite, loin des caméras et des photographes, du tout premier vol du Neuron, le 1er décembre. Objectif : convaincre que seul Dassault est capable de fédérer efficacement des partenaires étrangers pour développer une technologie de pointe. Et encourager les gouvernements, au premier rang desquels la France, à poursuivre l'aventure.


Au passage, le groupe en a profité pour exposer son savoir-faire dans les avions sans pilote, alors que le ministre de la Défense, Jean-Yves Le Drian, doit bientôt choisir qui de Dassault ou d'EADS fournira le drone de surveillance intermédiaire - à moins que, pour des raisons d'économies, la France se résigne à acheter américain. Par la voix d'Eric Trappier, dans Les Echos du 2 décembre, Dassault a tendu la main sur ce dossier à EADS, le frère ennemi, deuxième actionnaire de la société réduit depuis des années au rôle de figurant au conseil d'administration. Et lors de leurs auditions à l'Assemblée nationale, à l'automne dernier, Trappier comme Edelstenne ont spontanément parlé d'Europe, à la grande surprise des membres de la commission de la Défense. Cette évolution en laisse d'ailleurs plus d'un sceptique. "La coopération à la mode Dassault ? C'est simple : les autres paient, lui décide", raille un observateur averti. Ainsi, la société n'a pas mis un centime dans le programme Neuron.


Le changement de tête à Saint-Cloud ne fait guère illusion non plus : "Une page se tourne mais l'auteur du livre reste le même", glisse un syndicaliste. Trappier a combattu sans relâche sur les marchés export le britannique BAE et le franco-allemand EADS, fabricants de l'Eurofighter. Quant à Charles Edelstenne, il a beau lâcher le manche de Dassault Aviation, il reste administrateur et s'installe au Rond-Point des Champs-Elysées, à la direction générale du holding familial, GIMD. A charge pour lui de veiller au rang de Dassault dans la défense et de calmer la guerre de succession qui fait rage entre deux des fils de Serge, Olivier et Laurent. "Il va tout contrôler", glissait en aparté, ravi, Serge Dassault, le 19 décembre. Ce jour-là, Edelstenne a d'ailleurs balayé sèchement l'hypothèse d'un rapprochement Dassault-Thales-Safran, évoqué par Laurent Dassault : "Cette idée a fleuri quelque part, oubliez-la !"


Le gouvernement devra - encore - compter avec l'inflexible "ChE". Pas facile, même pour les socialistes, de prendre ses distances avec la maison Dassault. Le contrat indien est ainsi vital pour l'Etat français : il permettra de desserrer la contrainte budgétaire - le Rafale, avec ses 11 avions par an pour les forces françaises, absorbe en moyenne 30 % des crédits d'équipement ! L'Etat n'a guère de moyens de pression sur Dassault. Tout au plus peut-il jouer sur des commandes annexes, comme la modernisation des avions de patrouille maritime Atlantique 2, repoussée à 2013, ou les drones de surveillance. Sous Sarkozy, la société s'est rendue incontournable en entrant au capital de l'électronicien de défense Thales, un groupe quatre fois plus gros qu'elle. "C'était un moyen tactique d'éviter que les grandes orientations se fassent contre elle", estime Louis Gautier. Une position qui a bloqué toute restructuration. Aucune synergie n'a été développée entre Dassault et Thales, aucune ouverture vers des coopérations européennes n'a été engagée, déplorent les spécialistes. Le PDG, Luc Vigneron, a été un simple exécutant, avec pour seul mot d'ordre : améliorer les comptes. Mais la brutalité de son management a déclenché une crise sans précédent, jusqu'à son éviction le 20 décembre.


C'est Charles Edelstenne en personne qui a lâché le nom du successeur de Vigneron, la veille d'un conseil d'administration décisif. Sans doute soulagé d'avoir enfin trouvé une solution, mais prenant aussi un malin plaisir à couper l'herbe sous le pied du gouvernement, privé de la primeur de l'annonce. Certes, Dassault n'a pas réussi à imposer son choix chez Thales, comme il y a trois ans déjà. Mais comme il y a trois ans, le gouvernement n'a pas non plus fait prévaloir ses vues. Et comme il y a trois ans, c'est un candidat de compromis qui a finalement été nommé, après moult tractations. Jean-Bernard Lévy, ex-PDG de Vivendi, aura- t-il la latitude de développer une vision stratégique pour Thales ? Rien n'est moins sûr. Les deux actionnaires lui demandent d'abord de ramener la paix sociale. Après ? "On discutera", a lâché Edelstenne, qui n'avait jamais rencontré Lévy auparavant.


Pourtant, "Thales est l'un des pivots naturels de la consolidation européenne, c'est le groupe le plus diversifié et le plus international", assure Philippe Plouvier, consultant chez Roland Berger. Dassault, lui, rêvait plutôt d'une intégration verticale à la BAE, lui permettant d'être présent dans l'aérien, la marine et le terrestre. Un schéma qui n'a pas les faveurs du nouveau gouvernement. "Faire un champion national n'a pas de sens, surtout si le budget domestique est fortement réduit", martèlent en choeur les sénateurs Daniel Reiner et Jacques Gautier, chevilles ouvrières de la commission de la Défense au Palais du Luxembourg. Les deux hommes soulignent aussi la nécessité de ne pas se mettre dans la main d'un "monopoleur" : "Les Etats-Unis ont su consolider leur industrie tout en gardant deux acteurs majeurs dans chaque secteur pour faire jouer la concurrence", rappellent-ils.


L'Etat prêt à soutenir des rapprochements


Que prônera Jean-Yves Le Drian ? Le ministre s'est montré étonnamment prudent - et discret - sur le sujet. Son entourage répète à l'envi qu'il ne jouera pas les marieurs : aux entreprises de discuter entre elles et de trouver les meilleures formules. Le gouvernement se voit plutôt en facilitateur, prêt à soutenir des rapprochements surtout s'ils ouvrent la voie à des solutions européennes. Mais le précédent EADS-BAE n'est guère encourageant : si Le Drian en a vite saisi l'intérêt, il n'a pas su entraîner Matignon et l'Elysée. Après l'échec de la fusion des deux groupes, l'Hôtel de Brienne s'est empressé de commander à un cabinet de conseil renommé une étude sur les stratégies possibles de consolidation dans la défense. Il s'efforce aussi de ramener dans le jeu les Allemands, marginalisés par l'axe franco-britannique développé sous l'ère Sarkozy. Mais une chose est sûre, comme ses prédécesseurs, Le Drian devra faire avec l'avionneur de Saint-Cloud. "C'est le meilleur sur le plan technologique, il respecte les coûts et les délais, et c'est une société purement française", résume un fin connaisseur. Une fois de plus, il faudra bien sauver les ailes Dassault.


Rafale: vaincre le signe indien



Le contrat indien ? "Les discussions se poursuivent dans l'état d'esprit de conclure au plus vite." Fermez le ban. Eric Trappier a officiellement bien mis ses pas dans ceux de Charles Edelstenne. Pas question d'extrapoler davantage sur le "contrat du siècle" - estimé à 15 milliards d'euros, dont environ un tiers pour Dassault - tant qu'il n'est pas signé.


D'abord espéré avant le 31 mars, le dénouement des négociations, entamées en février 2012, pourrait intervenir plus tard dans l'année. "Les discussions sont complexes, explique un expert. Il ne s'agit pas seulement de l'achat d'avions, mais des modalités de fabrication." Dernier épisode en date : un vif débat entre Dassault et les autorités indiennes sur le rôle de Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) dans la production de 108 des appareils (les 18 premiers seront assemblés en France, chez Dassault). Certains doutent que HAL ait les compétences pour garantir la qualité des avions, mais Dassault ne veut pas assumer cette responsabilité s'il n'a pas la maîtrise du choix des partenaires et sous-traitants.


A Saint-Cloud, on se veut confiant : à ce stade, le risque d'un échec retentissant, avec à la clef le retour d'un concurrent dans le jeu, semble mince. Comme en 2012, la direction a promis 1 % d'augmentation générale en 2013 pour tous les salariés si le contrat est signé. "Sinon, il faudra prendre des mesures d'économies", avait lâché cet automne le DRH en comité d'entreprise.

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9 janvier 2013 3 09 /01 /janvier /2013 12:35



January 5, 2013 defense-update.com


U.S. Air Force officials have decided not to renew a contract with Italian aircraft manufacturer Alenia North America to support and induct the small, Italian-made C-27A transport aircraft into the Afghan Air Force. This is the second U.S. blow aimed at the Italian aircraft manufacturer, after the termination of acquisition of C-27J Spartan by the US Air Force. According to the Air Force, Alenia failed to generate a sufficient number of operational aircraft for effective Afghan Air Force airlift capability. Aviation Week reports.


In 2008, the U.S. paid $314 million for the purchase of 20 former Italian Air Force G.222s — designated the C-27A by the Air Force — to give to the fledging Afghan National Army Air Corps, later the Afghan Air Force, an independent tactical transport capability to replace Soviet-era Antonov An-32s.


However, their introduction to service has been far from smooth. Only 16 of the aircraft have been delivered to Afghanistan, with four remaining in Italy. Despite a deployed team of contractors, the aircraft struggled with serviceability issues and have been grounded twice — once in December 2011 on airworthiness grounds, and again in March 2012 because of safety issues that delayed the training of Afghan personnel.

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28 décembre 2012 5 28 /12 /décembre /2012 08:30


Chinese made Z-9 helicopter. (photo : K.L. Yim)


 24.12.2012 Defense Studies


Choppers Cambodia-bound
Cambodia's air force will be strengthened by the arrival of 12 military helicopters, including four attack choppers, from China next year, government officials said yesterday.
Prak Sokha, a spokesman for the Royal Cambodian Air Force, told the Post yesterday that 25 Cambodian pilots and mechanics were training in China in preparation for the Kingdom receiving the Chinese-made Z-9 helicopters between April and August.
“We expect that by April, some of them will finish their training and will return with two helicopters,” he said.
Of the 12 helicopters, four would be used for fighting purposes, six for general transport and two for transporting high-ranking officials, Sokha said.
These comments echoed earlier reports quoting Royal Cambodian Arm Forces commander Pol Sarouen and Royal Cambodian Air Force commander Soeung Samnang saying similar things.
“What I am not so clear on is whether the Cambodian government has bought these or whether they have been granted to us,” Sokha said.The government, boasting of a new era of cooperation with China, announced in August last year it had struck a deal with the superpower to receive a batch of Z-9 helicopters for $195 million. Media reports at the time suggested a loan from China would cover the cost.
About 100 tanks and 40 armoured personnel carriers, believed to be from Ukraine, arrived at Sihanoukville port in late October, one of the largest single shipments of military vehicles in Cambodia’s recent history.
Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Son Chhay said he was concerned about the percentage of the national budget allocated to military spending and the fact the government was making decisions about purchases without debate in parliament.
“We have doubts about equipment that is not accounted for or [deals] that are not transparent,” he said.
Chhay said military equipment from China was often expensive and of poor quality and the origin and volume of Cambodia’s military acquisitions were a topic for parliament.
“We as parliamentarians have a right to know,” he said.
Mey Vann, a director from the Ministry of Finance, could not be reached for comment.


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28 décembre 2012 5 28 /12 /décembre /2012 08:30
F-35: Still on Asia’s Radar?

December 27, 2012 By Trefor Moss - thediplomat.com


Several Asian countries are interested in the American F-35 JSF. But Canada’s U-turn on buying the jet won’t encourage Asian partners to sign up any time soon. Will the program survive?


For a stealth plane, the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) certainly attracts a lot of criticism.

It was the future weapon system that promised so much — enough for the United States and its allies to draw up wide-eyed plans for over 3,100 JSFs while the plane was still little more than an idea. The JSF was going to guarantee air superiority for the U.S. and its partners well into the middle of this century. But ever since rising costs, technical complexities, and missed deadlines have badly hurt the machine’s credibility, to the point where some critics advocate freighting the F-35 straight to the museum before it ever enters active service.


Of all the program’s setbacks, this month’s announcement that Canada was hitting the “reset” button on its procurement of 65 aircraft is probably the most serious. Ottawa, one of eight international partners working with the U.S. on the program, had been staunchly pro-JSF until an independent audit found that the fleet would cost $45.8bn over its 42-year life span — almost double initial government estimates. The reset doesn’t mean that Canada has dumped the F-35 entirely, but it would now look politically clumsy for the government to do another 180 degree turn and buy the jet after all. At any rate, Ottawa is examining cheaper alternatives.


Other partner nations are also wavering, but the biggest threat to the program could be in the U.S. itself, where up to $500 billion may need to be shed from the defense budget over the coming decade, in addition to cuts already agreed too. As the Pentagon’s most expensive program — currently pegged at $396bn for basic procurement and $1.45 trillion for total through-life costs — it is hard to see how the JSF could emerge unscathed, and for the U.S. to buy the 2,400 models the military desires, if huge savings from the defense budget must be found.


Despite all these uncertainties, a number of Asian customers and potential customers are still keenly tracking the JSF’s progress in the hope that it will eventually live up to its original promise. Australia and Japan have already ordered F-35s, though, like Canada, both have expressed misgivings about rising costs. South Korea is in the process of selecting a new fighter jet, with the F-35 one of three main contenders. Singapore is currently evaluating the aircraft. And India has been tapped by Washington as a future customer, in particular for the JSF’s naval variant.


Flight check


Lockheed Martin, the JSF program’s main contractor, is naturally more interested in trumpeting the aircraft’s progress, rather than dwelling on its missteps. And the program is undeniably moving forward. “The F-35 is making very substantial progress in its test program,” explains Dave Scott, the director of F-35 International Customer Engagement at Lockheed. With 16 aircraft now undergoing flight tests, Lockheed has “a high degree of confidence that [the testing program] will complete in 2016,” Scott says. Production aircraft are now rolling out of the factory. The DoD and Lockheed reached an agreement in November — after testy and prolonged negotiations — on the cost of the latest batch of 32 aircraft. The U.S. Air Force is preparing to begin pilot training in January. And down the line, the Marine Corps is planning to deploy F-35s to Japan in 2017.


This forward momentum strongly suggests that the F-35 program will endure, not least because the U.S. has hundreds of ageing aircraft that it needs to retire and nothing else to replace them with. It would also be unthinkable for the U.S. to dump its stealth fighter as China and Russia forge ahead with their own. But is the original goal of building over 3,100 aircraft still realistic? “Absolutely, that target is achievable,” Scott insists.


If Lockheed is to have any hope of building that many F-35s, it needs to encourage partners in Asia and elsewhere to keep faith with the project. But cost is the Catch-22: Lockheed needs more buyers to drive down the price, but concern over cost is what’s keeping those would-be buyers at arm’s length.


Locating the actual cost of an F-35 is perhaps trickier than spotting one on radar. The latest batch may be costing the Pentagon over $200m per copy, according to some estimates, though once in full production the unit cost could fall to under $100m. The information on price in the public domain may be ambiguous, but Scott says that potential customers are fully briefed on costs and receive assurances that they will not pay more than the U.S. itself. Costs are steadily falling, he adds, expressing Lockheed’s continuing “confidence that this will be a very affordable airplane along the lines of an F-16 or an F-18”. He admits, however, that the unit cost will partly depend on the number of aircraft being built.


Asian outlook


As the F-35’s principal cheerleader, Lockheed of course subscribes to the most optimistic of the program’s many possible fates. Not everyone follows suit. “In my opinion only the foolhardy or clairvoyant would risk saying anything definitive about a program like the F-35, as there are too many unknowns still to play out,” argues Simon Michell, the editor of RUSI Defense Systems at the Royal United Services Institute. But while cautioning against over-optimism, Michell agrees that, “if you are a nation that can afford it and is willing to wait, the F-35 is the best aircraft”. For Asian customers, “buying F-35 is also a political statement [as] it ties them closely to the U.S.,” he adds. “The looming presence of China is focusing minds on future strategic alliances.”


Japan ordered 42 F-35s back in December 2011. It remains contractually committed only to the first four aircraft, but it seems unlikely in the context of rising tensions with China that Tokyo would choose to back out, despite some alarm over the aircraft’s price tag. The Japanese are developing their own stealth aircraft, but its future is even less certain than the F-35’s. Lockheed’s Scott says that the company is on track to deliver Japan’s first four JSFs in 2016, adding that work is currently underway to set up an assembly line in Japan so that deliveries of the remaining 38 aircraft can begin in 2017.


Neighborhood rivalry means that South Korea is more likely to procure F-35s in light of the Japanese program. Seoul is currently evaluating three aircraft — the F-35, the Boeing F-15SE, and the Eurofighter Typhoon — with a view to ordering 60 of the winning design, probably in 2013 (Scott says that Lockheed is unaware of when a decision might come). With a potential need to engage targets in North Korea, Seoul arguably also has more of a need for the JSF’s stealthy strike capabilities than most, although the F-15, which South Korea already operates, would be a safe fallback option if Seoul feels that too many “ifs” and “buts” still surround the JSF program.


Australia is the Asia-Pacific market where the JSF program could be in the most trouble. Having originally outlined plans to procure 100 JSFs, Canberra has only placed a firm order for two planes so far, and a serious internal debate is underway ahead of the publication of a new defense White Paper as to whether Australia should emulate Canada’s decision. An ongoing round of defense spending cuts certainly makes the JSF vulnerable. “There are two major areas where the government can cut defense funding,” explains James Brown, a military fellow at the Sydney-based Lowy Institute. “The JSF and submarines are the obvious targets.” While the Australian military continues to make its case for the F-35, “the arguments for saying that we need 100 are looking a bit spurious,” Brown reasons.


With funding in short supply, “the most likely option now is a small additional order of [Boeing F/A-18] Super Hornets,” Brown continues. A reduced F-35 procurement could then follow later in the decade, allowing Australia to save money in the medium term and remain on the sidelines while the JSF program matures.


Singapore, another potential buyer, could be arriving at a similar conclusion, with little news on JSF procurement emerging from the Ministry of Defense. “The key from Singapore’s point of view is the need to maintain a technological edge over its adversaries, and that’s what makes the F-35 attractive,” explains Tim Huxley, executive director of the Singapore-based International Institute for Strategic Studies – Asia. “Having said that, the decision from Canada and perhaps also Australia [to back out] suggests that MINDEF will be looking at this very closely indeed,” Huxley continues. “Rumors of 100 F-35 certainly seem to be unrealistic. They will buy, but they’ll be looking at a smallish buy, perhaps 20 aircraft.” As with the Australian option of acquiring more F/A-18s as a stopgap measure, Singapore could add to its F-15 fleet in the medium term, and buy itself more time to evaluate the JSF program as it gathers pace. “There’s no reason for Singapore to rush into a decision,” Huxley adds.


Lockheed Martin’s Scott also acknowledges some potential partners may want to soft-pedal. “In all my conversations [with potential customers] there’s a growing recognition that the F-35 is the plane that will provide security and stability,” he says. “The question now is, when is the right time to buy?”


India, the other likely Asian buyer, also has the luxury of time. New Delhi is still in the process of procuring the Dassault Rafale, and will only then begin to think about what might come next. That being said, there is already speculation that India is reducing its participation in Russia’s stealth fighter program with a view to instead joining the F-35 camp later in the decade.




For all Lockheed’s boundless optimism that it can still break the 3,000 aircraft threshold, there is a real risk that if too many partners reduce the size of their orders and defer their procurements, the JSF program will never reach that critical mass — the point where the unit cost becomes truly affordable. The window of opportunity in which the F-35 can succeed would then be narrow indeed.


Procuring the most advanced 4th generation aircraft, armed with the latest weaponry, could be a viable near-term alternative for many countries, argues RUSI’s Michell, while stealthy unmanned platforms may be capable of fulfilling most or all of the F-35’s anticipated roles sometime in the 2020s. “Their time is coming,” Michell believes, though even then he expects a mix of manned and unmanned platforms to be retained by most air forces.


The attractiveness of the unmanned option will also be a cultural issue for the country in question. “Stealthy UCAVs are at least a decade away, but given the timescale for inducting the F-35s it would make sense to look at substituting UCAVs for the later phases of the F-35 program,” says Huxley. “Singapore has a particular affinity with unmanned platforms of all types, and they will be acutely aware of that option.” Australia, on the other hand, is more likely to see the manned F-35 as the long-term answer to its future air power needs. The Lowy’s Brown points out, “Our approach to air combat is very conservative; our air force is opposed to the widespread use of unmanned technology. And there’s now enough momentum in the F-35 program to give you the sense that it will get through to its conclusion.”


There is little doubt that as Western partners scale back their ambitions for the F-35, the U.S. is looking to new Asian partners to pick up the slack. With their participation, the F-35 program can still succeed. However, the program cannot afford any more stumbles if it hopes to convince Asian buyers that the F-35 is worth the money — and the risk — before newer, and perhaps cheaper, technologies take its place in the skies. 

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21 décembre 2012 5 21 /12 /décembre /2012 12:45



20 December 2012 Pacific Sentinel



The fuselage of the first C-27J for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has arrived at the Alenia Aermacchi Turin plant for final assembly.
Manufactured at Alenia Aermacchi’s Capodichino Naples site, the fuselage, reached Turin both by truck (from Capodichino to the Port of Naples and from Genoa to Turin) and sea freight (from Naples to Genoa).
The Australian order for 10 aircraft was placed through the US Foreign Military Sales Joint Cargo Aircraft program last May.
C-27J Spartan (File Photo)
The first C-27J will arrive in Australia in early 2015, and will be used for tactical airlift. They will replace the piston-engine Caribou, which were retired in 2009 after 45 years of service.
In the tactical transport role, the C-27J provides the best possible integration with the existing Australian Defence Force fleet. It will provide an airlift capability between the CH-47 Chinook and C-130J Hercules, as well as integrating with the much larger C-17A Globemaster.​ 
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20 décembre 2012 4 20 /12 /décembre /2012 16:59

Un Rafale tire un missile AASM de Sagem (photo DGA)


Paris, le 20 décembre 2012 Sagem Défense Sécurité


La Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA) a réalisé avec succès, le 12 décembre 2012, le dernier tir de qualification de l’Armement Air-Sol Modulaire développé et produit par Sagem (Safran) en version guidage terminal laser (SBU-54 Hammer dans la désignation OTAN).


La réussite de ce tir va permettre de clôturer la phase de qualification de l’AASM laser, et de livrer les premiers AASM de série à guidage laser à l’armée de l’Air et à la Marine nationale pour une mise en service opérationnelle en 2013.


Le test a été réalisé au centre DGA Essais de Missiles de Biscarrosse par un Rafale de série mis en œuvre par DGA Essais en Vol depuis la base aérienne de Cazaux.


Un véhicule 4 x 4 téléopéré représentant la cible était éclairée par un pod Damoclès de l’avion tireur lors des dernières secondes de vol de l’AASM. Evoluant à vitesse variable, le véhicule était à cet instant à plus de 15 km du Rafale, avec une vitesse de 50 km/h à l’impact. De plus, la cible a été engagée avec un fort dépointage (90°) pour une frappe en incidence oblique.


Grâce à ses algorithmes de détection et d’asservissement de la trajectoire sur la tache laser et à sa manœuvrabilité, l’AASM a percuté la cible avec une précision inférieure au mètre. La chaine complète de tir laser a donc été qualifiée en environnement représentatif, l’illumination étant réalisée par l’avion tireur lui-même.


Cette version GPS/inertiel/laser enrichit la gamme AASM, qui comprend déjà deux versions qualifiées sur Rafale : GPS/inertiel et GPS/inertiel/infrarouge. Elle se distingue par un autodirecteur laser en lieu et place de l’imageur infrarouge et par des algorithmes de poursuite activés en phase terminale.


En rupture opérationnelle par rapport aux armes air-sol de précision existantes, l’AASM SBU-54 Hammer permet d’engager des cibles mobiles terrestres ou maritimes rapides et manoeuvrantes, avec une précision métrique1, notamment dans des actions d’opportunité, comme démontré lors des conflits récents2.


Développée et produite par Sagem, la famille AASM Hammer, constituée de kits de guidage et de kits d’augmentation de portée, s’adapte à des corps de bombe existants de 250 kg, mais aussi, à terme, de 125, 500 et 1000 kg.


1             Lors d’un essai d’un AASM Hammer à guidage terminal laser, le 21 avril 2011, l’impact a été démontré sur une cible fictive évoluant à une vitesse supérieure à 80 km/h.

2             Pour l’opération Harmattan, volet français de l’opération Unified Protector de l’OTAN en Libye dans le cadre de la résolution 1973 de l’ONU, l’Armée de l’air et la Marine ont procédé depuis Rafale au tir de 225 AASM (Commission de la défense de l’Assemblée nationale – rapport du 4 octobre 2011 - Audition du Ministre de la défense), en versions INS / GPS et INS / GPS / Infrarouge.

* * *


Sagem, société de haute technologie de Safran, est un leader mondial de solutions et de services en optronique, avionique, navigation, électronique et logiciels critiques, pour les marchés civils et de défense. N°1 européen et n°3 mondial des systèmes de navigation inertielle pour les applications aéronautiques, marines et terrestres, Sagem est également n°1 mondial des commandes de vol pour hélicoptères et n°1 européen des systèmes optroniques et des systèmes de drones tactiques. Présents sur tous les continents via le réseau international du groupe Safran, Sagem et ses filiales emploient 7 500 personnes en Europe, en Asie du Sud-est et Amérique du Nord. Sagem est le nom commercial de la société Sagem Défense Sécurité. Pour plus d’information : www.sagem-ds.com

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18 décembre 2012 2 18 /12 /décembre /2012 12:55
Succession à risques pour Dassault


13 décembre 2012 Par Hassan Meddah -  L'Usine Nouvelle n° 3311


ENQUêTE  EN COUVERTURE  Le plan de vol est chargé pour le futur patron de Dassault Aviation, qui doit être nommé ce mardi 18 décembre. L'Usine Nouvelle, dans son édition du 13 décembre, consacrait son dossier de une aux défis qui attendent le successeur de Charles Edelstenne : il lui faut vendre 126 Rafale aux Indiens, sortir renforcé de la crise des jets d'affaires et assurer l'indépendance de son groupe.


Zone de turbulences en vue, veuillez attacher vos ceintures. » L'avertissement vaut pour la direction du groupe Dassault, le fabricant du Rafale et des jets d'affaires Falcon. Ses dirigeants opèrent une manoeuvre délicate : le changement de pilote alors que le plan de vol du groupe s'annonce chargé. À 75 ans, Charles Edelstenne, qui a solidement tenu le manche de Dassault Aviation comme PDG depuis les années 2000, a atteint la limite d'âge. Dans ce groupe qui a la culture du secret, l'identité du futur PDG ne devrait être dévoilée que le 18 décembre. Toutefois, son mode de désignation laisse entrevoir une forte continuité. « Il a été désigné par Serge Dassault et Charles Edelstenne. Il ne devrait pas y avoir de rupture avec la politique précédente », analyse un cadre en interne. Deux candidats se détachent : Éric Trappier, le directeur général international et « vendeur en chef » du Rafale, et Loïk Segalen, le directeur général des affaires économiques et sociales.



La tâche du successeur d'Edelstenne ne sera pas simple, car les prochains mois se révéleront cruciaux pour Dassault. En jeu, l'avenir du Rafale, le leadership du groupe sur le marché des jets d'affaires et, plus encore, son indépendance, questionnée depuis le projet de méga fusion entre ses concurrents EADS et le britannique BAE Systems. Le nouveau PDG devra tout de suite entrer dans le vif du sujet et sauver le Rafale, la fierté de la maison Dassault. Les négociations entrent dans leur dernière ligne droite avec les autorités indiennes, qui veulent conclure fin mars au plus tard. Le contrat porte sur l'achat de 126 appareils, pour un montant de plus de 10 milliards de dollars. Or rien n'est acquis comme l'a rappelé Charles Edelstenne lors de sa récente audition devant la commission de la Défense de l'Assemblée nationale. « Je suis relativement optimiste, mais pas définitivement tant qu'on n'a pas reçu le premier chèque », indiquait-il. Sans nouvelle commande de l'étranger, la chaîne d'assemblage des Rafale située à Mérignac (Gironde), qui tourne à un appareil par mois, pourrait s'arrêter. L'échec n'est pas permis.


  • Conclure le contrat indien du Rafale, estimé à plus de 10 milliards de dollars pour 126 exemplaires.
  • Dominer le marché européen des drones de combat face à EADS.
  • Réussir l'industrialisation du futur jet d'affaires SMS, dont le premier vol est prévu pour 2014.
  • Maintenir les compétences de ses bureaux d'études dans le domaine des avions de combat.
  • S'imposer en tant que leader dans des programmes industriels en coopération.

Premier vol pour le SMS en 2014


Autre enjeu moins visible mais plus vital : tirer profit de la reprise des jets d'affaires, qui assurent au groupe l'essentiel de ses ventes et de ses bénéfices. Sur les 3,3 milliards d'euros de chiffre d'affaires réalisés en 2011, les trois quarts proviennent de la vente de Falcon (lire l'encadré ci-dessous). Un marché difficile sur lequel la crise de 2008 continue de peser. L'avionneur compte livrer 65 appareils cette année, soit à peine deux de plus que l'an dernier. Son carnet de commandes commence toutefois à reprendre des couleurs. En 2011, le groupe a engrangé 36 ventes contre un solde négatif net de 9 commandes l'année précédente. Sur les chaînes d'assemblage, la production a retrouvé un niveau intermédiaire entre les 12 appareils produits par mois quand le marché battait son plein et les trois avions par mois au plus fort de la crise. Aujourd'hui, avec des chaînes cadencées pour sortir 7 appareils, l'inquiétude des équipes reste de mise, d'autant plus que le recours à la sous-traitance s'est accéléré.


Falcon 7X, le produit phare du groupe

Au prochain salon de l'aviation d'affaires du Moyen-Orient (Meba), qui se tiendra à Dubaï du 11 au 13 décembre, le Falcon trônera en bonne place. Dans un marché en crise depuis 2008, et qui commence à peine à redémarrer, le groupe peut compter sur son dernier-né, le Falcon 7X, commercialisé depuis 2005, vendu entre 40 et 50 millions de dollars pièce. Dassault devrait livrer, courant 2013, le 200e exemplaire de ce véritable best-seller, qui totalise près de 40 % de ses ventes civiles. À sa sortie, le modèle renouvelait radicalement l'offre sur le segment des appareils à large cabine et long rayon d'action. Il était aussi le premier à être équipé d'un système de commandes de vol totalement numérique inspiré du Rafale. Dix ans plus tard, la concurrence commence seulement à proposer les mêmes équipements. La faible consommation de carburant du Falcon 7X séduit la clientèle d'affaires. Capable de relier Paris à Los Angeles ou Tokyo sans escale, il peut atterrir sur des pistes de 600 mètres. Depuis peu, l'avionneur propose une version avec douche à bord !


« Il y a un coup de frein sérieux sur les embauches dédiées à la production. En quatre ans, l'effectif de production a été réduit de 400 salariés pour tomber à environ 2 150 personnes », précise Raymond Ducrest, du syndicat CFDT chez Dassault. Le prochain PDG devra impérativement réussir le lancement du SMS, le futur jet d'affaires du groupe. Pour surprendre la concurrence, le plus grand secret a été imposé aux équipes et aux fournisseurs. Le groupe a même tenté de brouiller les pistes en laissant entendre que l'appareil se positionnerait en entrée de gamme. Seule certitude, l'importance du budget dédié. « En termes de développement de produits, jamais les investissements n'ont été aussi hauts », a assuré Charles Edelstenne.


Le projet SMS mobilise 1 500 ingénieurs chez Dassault et ses partenaires. « La conception détaillée de l'avion est désormais figée. Les premières pièces destinées aux tests de résistance sont entrées en production », précise le bureau d'études de l'avionneur à Saint-Cloud (Hauts-de-Seine). Si la phase de conception s'est déroulée comme prévu, reste à mener l'industrialisation de l'appareil dans un calendrier serré : une présentation aux clients en 2013, un premier vol en 2014... de façon à être prêt quand le marché aura rebondi. Le nouveau patron devra trancher sur la pertinence d'ouvrir une ligne d'assemblage de Falcon en Chine. Le pays, où les milliardaires sont de plus en plus nombreux, a contribué l'an passé à la moitié des ventes de l'avionneur. Le marché potentiel est de l'ordre de 1 000 appareils pour les dix années à venir. Le brésilien Embraer et l'américain Cessna assemblent déjà en Chine, évitant ainsi de lourds droits et taxes de douane à l'importation. Dassault s'est lui contenté d'une filiale et d'un centre de services.


Un risque de marginalisation


Ultime défi : assurer la sacro-sainte indépendance de Dassault Aviation, « dernier groupe d'aviation au monde encore détenu par la famille de son fondateur et portant son nom », aime-t-on à rappeler au siège parisien du holding familial. Le sujet est hautement sensible. Ainsi, quand l'un des héritiers de Serge Dassault, son deuxième fils Laurent, a évoqué la possibilité de fondre le groupe dans une entité avec Safran, Thales et Zodiac, il a été immédiatement désavoué et contraint de rentrer dans le rang. Le risque d'une marginalisation du groupe existe bel et bien, comme l'a révélé la méga fusion avortée entre BAE Systems et EADS en septembre. « Ce projet a montré que la grande majorité des industriels français et européens n'ont pas la taille critique pour porter les investissements nécessaires au cours des prochaines années. [...] Cette taille se situe aux alentours des 30 milliards de dollars de chiffre d'affaires pour prétendre jouer les premiers rôles sur des programmes majeurs dans l'aéronautique », analyse Philippe Plouvier, le directeur des activités aéronautique et défense chez Roland Berger.


Neuron, une double réussite


Le fabricant du Rafale est-il condamné à être un acteur de second rang ? Peut-être pas, si le nouveau PDG manoeuvre aussi habilement que son prédécesseur. Charles Edelstenne avait en effet, dès 2008, racheté 26% de Thales, devenant l'actionnaire industriel du principal électronicien de défense européen avec 13 milliards d'euros de chiffre d'affaires. Dassault joue depuis un rôle central dans le secteur de la défense en France, grâce notamment aux 35% de Thales dans le capital de DCNS (chantiers navals de défense) et le rapprochement opéré avec le fabricant de blindés Nexter. À défaut d'être le plus gros, Dassault démontre qu'il est l'un des plus agiles. Le groupe a marqué les esprits avec le pilotage du programme Neuron, ce démonstrateur de drone de combat qui a effectué son premier vol le 1er décembre depuis la base d'Istres (Bouches-du-Rhône). « Ce premier vol constitue une double réussite pour Dassault. Il devance BAE et prouve qu'il n'a pas raté le virage des drones. Et le groupe a aussi prouvé qu'il pouvait travailler en bonne intelligence avec les grands partenaires européens », analyse Damien Lasou, le responsable mondial de l'activité aéronautique et défense du cabinet Accenture.


Neuron 01 dec 2012 photo2 dassault-aviation.com


Pour le démonstrateur Neuron, Dassault a travaillé conjointement avec l'italien Finmeccanica, le suédois Saab, le suisse RUAG, la branche espagnole d'EADS... Dassault Aviation a réussi à décrocher la maîtrise d'oeuvre industrielle parce que l'État français a financé à lui seul la moitié des 400 millions d'euros de ce programme européen. Le successeur de Charles Edelstenne pourra-t-il compter sur un tel appui ? À l'heure où l'État réfléchit à l'avenir de sa défense, c'est un paramètre, et non des moindres, que le futur pilote de Dassault Aviation ne maîtrise pas.

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18 décembre 2012 2 18 /12 /décembre /2012 12:55

Rafale assembly line in Merignac


18 décembre 2012 Info-Aviation


Le 4 décembre, le Président de Dassault Aviation, Charles Edelstenne, a été auditionné  par la commission de la défense à l’Assemblée Nationale dans le cadre du Livre blanc sur la défense.


Dans l’esprit collectif, Dassault Aviation évoque les activités de défense à travers les programmes Mirage III, Mirage 2000, Rafale, et nEUROn. Mais celles-ci ne représentent que 25% des activités du groupe contre 75% pour l’aéronautique civile avec les programmes Falcon 900, 2000, 7X et le futur SMS. Autre idée reçue : le Rafale est trop cher à l’exportation. Qu’en est-il vraiment ?


Selon le président de Dassault, le Rafale a d’abord permis de maîtriser les coûts de la défense. Alors que les forces aériennes françaises comptaient près de 690 avions en 1995 (armée de l’air et marine confondues), il est aujourd’hui prévu de remplir les mêmes missions avec 286 avions pour un coût global de 90,3 millions d’euros hors taxes, moyennant une dérive de 4,7%.


En comparaison, l’Eurofighter d’EADS affiche un coût unitaire global de 147 millions d’euros pour 160 avions et un dérapage des coûts de 75% (source : National Audit Office).


Quant au F-22 de Lockheed Martin, il a vu ses coûts exploser avec un coût unitaire chiffré à 282,3 millions d’euros pour 700 avions initiaux et une dérive budgétaire de 386%. Enfin, le F-35 Joint Strike Fighter qui devait être initialement produit à 2856 exemplaires pour les 3 corps d’armée US (Navy, USAF et Marines), est aujourd’hui ramené à 2443 avions pour un coût unitaire global de 98,4 millions d’euros et un dérapage de 77%, sachant que son développement n’est pas terminé.


Du côté des ventes, le Rafale a été mis en service dans l’armée de l’air française en 2006. L’Inde l’a sélectionné dans son appel d’offres en 2012 et des négociations exclusives sont en cours. Le Mirage 2000, dont 50% de la production a été exportée, enregistre lui aussi un beau succès en Inde avec la modernisation de 51 avions de l’Indian Air Force.

Charles Edelstenne rappelle que l’influence des USA est écrasante sur le marché des avions de combat : « La Corée a cru brièvement qu’elle pourrait acheter des avions français sans l’accord des États-Unis et Singapour est un porte-avions américain. »


Il ajoute avec une pointe d’ironie qu’au Maroc « l’efficacité du système français a réussi un tour de force : malgré une demande du roi adressée au Président de la République pour l’achat d’avions français, le royaume a fini par acheter américain. ».


Charles Edelstenne évoque aussi le lien politique étroit qui encadre la vente d’un avion de combat. « Certains pays seraient prêts à acheter un fer à repasser au prix d’un avion de combat pour acheter avec lui la protection du parapluie américain – réelle ou illusoire ». Une allusion à peine dissimulée au choix du Japon pour le F-35.

Quant à l’appel d’offres en Suisse, M. Edelstenne impute l’échec du Rafale « aux déclarations politiques critiquant son système bancaire et fiscal formulées au moment même de la phase finale des négociations ont orienté ce pays vers l’achat du Gripen », précisant toutefois que « l’histoire n’est pas encore terminée. »

Le président de Dassault a évoqué la force du dollar dans les appels d’offres.

« Pour la négociation du marché brésilien, nous avons l’avantage de la compétence, mais le prix du Rafale, initialement inférieur à celui de son concurrent américain (F/A-18), est finalement supérieur en raison de l’incidence des taux de change ».


Charles Edelstenne a également souligné l’importance de distinguer les rôles.


« On a assisté dans le passé à un mélange des genres : les politiques et l’administration ont fait du commerce, ce qui est une catastrophe. Les politiques doivent donc créer l’environnement permettant une bonne relation avec les clients potentiels, et nous devons quant à nous [les industriels] défendre notre produit et négocier nos prix. Le Président de la République et le ministre de la défense semblent partager ce point de vue. »

Le maintien des compétences

Le transfert des compétences des ingénieurs est un point crucial d’après Charles Edelstenne pour développer de nouveaux programmes en 2035-2040 et maintenir le Rafale opérationnel durant 30 ans.

« Quatre générations d’ingénieurs ont ainsi travaillé sur le Rafale et le nEUROn, ce qui a permis un transfert de compétences correspondant à une capitalisation permanente de savoir-faire depuis la fin de la Seconde Guerre Mondiale. La question est maintenant de savoir comment transmettre ce savoir-faire aux générations suivantes. »

L’objectif de Dassault est aussi de garantir une avance technologique à la France notamment face aux pays clients du Rafale qui bénéficieront d’un transfert de technologie comme l’Inde et peut-être le Brésil.

Le nEUROn en voie d’apparition

Le coût du programme nEUROn est de 400 millions d’euros, dont 50% ont été financé par la France. Il s’agit du premier avion de combat furtif sans pilote en Europe dont le premier vol eut lieu en décembre.

M. Edelstenne rappelle qu’il n’est pas question que Dassault finance un quart de son développement comme pour le Rafale : « Le nEUROn est d’abord un démonstrateur technologique qui n’a pas de débouché civil à terme sur lequel nous pourrions récupérer cet investissement. »


NEURON assemblage-60ea9 Photo Dassault


Le développement d’un drone de combat (UCAV) avec le Royaume-Uni pourra peut-être financer un nEUROn II mêlant l’expérience du nEUROn et celle du TARANIS britannique.


Sources :

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10 décembre 2012 1 10 /12 /décembre /2012 18:35


SU-30MKI India photo USAF


7 décembre 2012 par Daniel Favre – INFO-AVIATION


L’Inde négocie actuellement avec la Russie une modernisation supplémentaire de 80 chasseurs Su-30MKI afin de les élever au niveau du Super-30. L’opération pourrait se chiffrer à 1 milliard de dollars (source : Russia & India Report).


Cette modernisation concernerait le lot de 80 chasseurs Su-30MKI* déjà achetés à la Russie (consortium Suhkoï/Irkout). Les avions Su-30MKI sont livrés à l’Indian Air Force (IAF) en quatre étapes. Selon le plan actuel, leur modernisation devrait être réalisée au cours des trois ou quatre prochaines années.


Au total, l’Inde possède 170 appareils Su-30MKI. L’IAF envisage aussi d’acheter 272 avions supplémentaires. Une commande pour 230 appareils a été déjà passée.


Ce contrat se cumulerait donc au contrat de modernisation Super-30 de 42 Su-30MK livrés à l’Inde entre 1997 et 2004, chiffré à 3,77 milliards de dollars et qui est susceptible d’être signé lors de la visite du président russe Vladimir Poutine à New Delhi le 24 décembre.


La modernisation Super-30 prévoit entre autres l’installation de nouveaux radars, d’ordinateurs de bord, de nouveaux systèmes électroniques et de missiles de croisière supersoniques BrahMos d’une portée de 300 km. Elle devrait commencer en 2015 et effectuée sous licence par la société publique Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).


L’Indian Air Force (IAF) devrait donc pouvoir créer son huitième escadron de Su-30MK en décembre 2012. Il sera basé à Sirsa d’Haryana, près de la frontière avec le Pakistan. Il s’agira du troisième escadron de Su-30MK à être déployé à proximité de la frontière avec le Pakistan depuis 14 mois. Les deux derniers escadrons sont situés à Jodhpur au Rajasthan et à Punjab Halwara.


* Le Su-30MKI est fabriqué en Inde sous la licence de HAL. Il est facilement reconnaissable des autres variantes Su-30 par l’ajout de plans canard et de tuyères à poussée vectorielle.

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6 décembre 2012 4 06 /12 /décembre /2012 08:30

Su-30SM Fighter source Ria Novisti


MOSCOU, 5 décembre - RIA Novosti


Les deux premiers chasseurs biplaces Sukhoi Su-30SM sont arrivés au Centre des essais en vol d'Akhtoubinsk, dans la région d'Astrakhan, a annoncé mercredi à Moscou le porte-parole de l'Armée de l'air russe Vladimir Deriabine.


"Deux chasseurs Su-30SM en provenance d'Irkoutsk se sont posés à Akhtoubinsk, après avoir fait deux escales de ravitaillement à Novossibirsk et à Tcheliabinsk", a indiqué le lieutenant-colonel Deriabine.


La remise prochaine à l'armée des chasseurs à haute manœuvrabilité Su-30SM augmentera considérablement le potentiel de combat de l'Armée de l'air russe.


Le chasseur polyvalent à haute manœuvrabilité Su-30SM est un appareil de la famille des Su-30MK, adapté aux exigences de l'Armée de l'air russe. L'avion possède de nouveaux radars à antenne à balayage électronique (AESA) et des systèmes de liaison radio et d'identification. Ses armements et autres systèmes ont aussi été modifiés par rapport à la version originale. Le groupe Irkout doit produire 30 chasseurs polyvalents Su-30SM d'ici 2015, conformément à un contrat signé avec le ministère russe de la Défense en mars 2012.

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5 décembre 2012 3 05 /12 /décembre /2012 20:25

Su-30SM Fighter source Ria Novisti


MOSCOU, 5 décembre - RIA Novosti


Les deux premiers chasseurs biplaces Sukhoi Su-30SM sont arrivés au Centre des essais en vol d'Akhtoubinsk, dans la région d'Astrakhan, a annoncé mercredi à Moscou le porte-parole de l'Armée de l'air russe Vladimir Deriabine.


"Deux chasseurs Su-30SM en provenance d'Irkoutsk se sont posés à Akhtoubinsk, après avoir fait deux escales de ravitaillement à Novossibirsk et à Tcheliabinsk", a indiqué le lieutenant-colonel Deriabine.


La remise prochaine à l'armée des chasseurs à haute manœuvrabilité Su-30SM augmentera considérablement le potentiel de combat de l'Armée de l'air russe.


Le chasseur polyvalent à haute manœuvrabilité Su-30SM est un appareil de la famille des Su-30MK, adapté aux exigences de l'Armée de l'air russe. L'avion possède de nouveaux radars à antenne à balayage électronique (AESA) et des systèmes de liaison radio et d'identification. Ses armements et autres systèmes ont aussi été modifiés par rapport à la version originale. Le groupe Irkout doit produire 30 chasseurs polyvalents Su-30SM d'ici 2015, conformément à un contrat signé avec le ministère russe de la Défense en mars 2012.

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5 décembre 2012 3 05 /12 /décembre /2012 18:06

Rafale assembly line in Merignac


05 décembre 2012, Hassan Meddah - Usine Nouvelle


Dans les prochains jours, le successeur de Charles Edelstenne à la tête de Dassault Aviation sera connu. Bouclage des négociations pour la vente du Rafale en Inde, stratégie d'alliances dans le casse-tête de défense français... les dossiers difficiles ne manquent pas pour le futur dirigeant.


Une nouvelle ère va commencer pour Dassault Aviation. Charles Edelstenne a pour la première fois publiquement évoqué son départ du poste de PDG qu'il occupe depuis 2000. "Mon départ est programmé le 9 janvier. […] Le nom de mon successeur sera officialisé dans les jours qui viennent", a-t-il sobrement précisé aux députés qui l'interrogeaient sur sa succession lors de son audition devant la commission de la défense nationale et des forces armées de l’Assemblée nationale, mardi 4 décembre. Le dirigeant est rattrapé par la limite d'âge des 75 ans,inscrite dans les statuts de l'entreprise.


Pour changer cette règle, il aurait fallu l'autorisation des deux tiers des actionnaires, et donc convaincre l'État et EADS. Serge Dassault, son prédécesseur ne l'avait pas fait en son temps, Charles Edelstenne n'y aurait donc pas tenu non plus. Pourtant des échéances cruciales s'annoncent pour l'avionneur. Les négociations avec l'Inde pour l'achat des 126 Rafale, le contrat du siècle pour la maison Dassault estimé à plus de 10 milliards de dollars, entrent dans la dernière ligne droite avec une conclusion attendue pour mars au plus tard. Et sur le segment des avions civils, il faudra préparer l'industrialisation du futur avion d'affaires du groupe, le fameux SMS dont le premier vol est prévu en 2014.


Charles Edelstenne garde son siège à la holding Dassault


Qui lui succédera? Pour mener quelle stratégie? Quel influence conservera Charles Edelstenne non plus aux manettes de Dassault Aviation mais depuis son siège au sein de la holding Dassault? Ce faux départ pose de nombreuses questions. Une chose paraît certaine, Charles Edelstenne sera d'une façon ou d'une autre présent dans les grandes décisions. "Je le vois mal jouer au golf toute la journée", indique un cadre du groupe. Si certains craignent une succession improvisée, cette source interne est convaincue du contraire : "Il a préparé cette affaire depuis longtemps. Le tuilage devrait se faire de manière fluide". Le futur ex-PDG siège en effet au comité des sages de la holding Dassault. De là, l'ancien patron du Gifas (groupement des industriels de l’aéronautique et de la défense) devrait donc continuer de garder un œil attentif sur l'évolution des négociations indiennes. Mardi 4 décembre, il donnait d'ailleurs les dernières nouvelles du front aux députés. "Les négociations sont dures […] Il y a une volonté d'aboutir de part et d'autres. Je suis relativement optimiste mais pas définitivement tant qu'on n'a pas reçu le premier chèque", indiquait-il. Le dirigeant a raison d'être prudent tant son groupe joue gros sur ce contrat. En cas d'échec, la chaine d'assemblage des Rafale basée à Mérignac (Gironde) qui tourne déjà au ralenti avec une production d'un exemplaire par mois, pourrait s'arrêter. La dernière livraison aux armées françaises est programmée en 2017.


Et maintenant ? Henri Proglio ? Une succession interne ?


Toutefois, ce sera à son successeur de dessiner la future stratégie du groupe. Mais de qui s'agit-il ? "Le mystère a été bien gardé", souligne un cadre reconnaissant que lui-même ne connait pas l'identité de son futur patron. Le nom du patron d'EDF, Henri Proglio, a  circulé un temps comme successeur potentiel. Toutefois une solution interne paraît plus probable, les quatre PDG précédents étaient soit issus de la famille soit du groupe. Trois noms ont circulé plus que les autres. Primo, celui du directeur général international Éric Trappier, également vendeur en chef du Rafale à l'export. Il cumule un double handicap : même si la vente avec l'Inde est bien engagée, le Rafale n'a pas encore été vendu à une puissance étrangère et l'homme serait trop marqué du sceau des activités militaires alors que celles-ci ne représentent qu'un quart du chiffre d'affaires de Dassault Aviation (3,3 milliards d'euros en 2011). Autre dirigeant pressenti, le directeur directeur général des affaires économiques et sociales et de fait directeur financier, Loïk Segalen. Il aurait la confiance de Charles Edelstenne... lui-même ancien directeur des services financiers de Dassault au début des années 60. Il a toutefois le défaut de connaître "davantage Dassault Aviation à travers des colonnes de chiffres que par des visites d'ateliers", critique toutefois sur son blog un syndicaliste du groupe. Enfin, il n'est pas exclu qu'un Dassault revienne aux commandes dans une structure plus collégiale. Ainsi l'ainé des enfants de Serge Dassault, Olivier, pourrait diriger les activités aéronautiques, secondé par les deux directeurs promus au rang de vice-président.


Héritage d'une figure emblématique


Quelque soit le successeur retenu, Charles Edelstenne sera difficile à remplacer tant l'homme a incarné et défendu farouchement le groupe. Sa récente intervention auprès des députés a été encore un exemple. Avec ses analyses froides et directes, il n'hésite pas à prendre le contrepied des idées dominantes. Par exemple sur l'impact sur son groupe de la fusion EADS et BAE : "Je n'étais ni content ni inquiet mais totalement indifférent. Notre seul point de friction portait sur les avions de combats. Or BAE et EADS sont déjà partenaires sur l'Eurofighter, donc ce rapprochement n'aurait rien changé sur les coûts et les performances de l'appareil". Ou encore ses critiques cinglantes vis à vis de la concurrence. Notamment sur le consortium Eurofighter qu'il qualifiait "de fédération des incompétences" car chaque pays membre revendiquait la brique technologique qu’il ne sait pas faire. Mais surtout, Charles Edelstenne s'est toujours imposé comme le premier défenseur de la maison Dassault. Ainsi devant les députés, il a encore tenu à tordre le cou "aux idées reçues" sur son entreprise. "Non, Dassault ne vit pas aux crochets de l'État. 75% de notre activité concernent le civil pour lequel nous ne réclamons ni avances remboursables, ni subventions, ni participations au grand emprunt", a-t-il souligné égratignant au passage son grand voisin Airbus. Quant au "coût exorbitant" du Rafale, il a donné ses chiffres aux députés compilés et sourcés auprès des autorités de comptes publics des différents pays fabricants d'avions de combat: 90 millions de dollars de coût unitaire pour le Rafale, 147 millions pour l'Eurofighter, 98 millions pour le JSF de l'américain Lockheed Martin...


Dassault Aviation doit atteindre la taille critique


L'avenir du groupe n'en reste pas moins incertain. La question de la taille critique se pose plus que jamais pour Dassault Aviation. Le projet de fusion EADS/BAE a été un révélateur au point que le ministre de la défense Jean-Yves Le Drian s'était lui même inquiété de la marginalisation possible de son fournisseur d'avion de combat. "Ce projet a soulevé beaucoup de questions et montré que la grande majorité des industriels français et européens n'ont pas la taille critique pour porter les investissements nécessaires dans les prochaines années. Nexter, Dassault Aviation, Rheinmetal... ne font pas le poids dans la nouvelle compétition mondiale. Aujourd'hui la taille critique se situe aux alentours des 30 milliards de dollars de chiffre d'affaires pour prétendre jouer les premiers rôles sur des programmes majeurs dans l'aéronautique" nous confiait alors Philippe Plouvier, directeur des activités aéronautique et défense chez Roland Berger. Et avant même le départ de l'actuel PDG, certains ont affiché la volonté d'accélérer la stratégie d'alliance jusqu'ici développée à travers le groupe Thales (participation dans DCNS, accord avec Nexter...) dont Dassault est actionnaire à 26%. Ainsi , le second fils Dassault, Laurent, militait récemment pour un regroupement de son groupe avec Safran et Thales (ses deux partenaires dans le GIE Rafale) ainsi que Zodiac Aerospace. Clairement, cette succession ne se fera pas sans remous. Le statu quo ne paraît guère possible. Reste à savoir dans quelle direction le futur pilote de Dassault Aviation voudra orienter son groupe dans la zone de turbulences qui s'annonce.

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5 décembre 2012 3 05 /12 /décembre /2012 16:55

Europe Flag


October 2012 - By Major Michael Wise, US Army - disamjournal.org


The European Union (EU) is an institution founded upon the precept of shared economic prosperity to prevent conflict. The idea of increasing interdependence in the coal and steel industries expanded into a trade union that eventually led to a common currency for seventeen of the EU’s twenty-seven members. The economic benefits of this regional trade liberalization scheme are apparent, but what are the effects of integration and coordination on industries that are undeniably strategic in nature? One might expect that the efficacy of EU and European Defense Agency (EDA) would not transcend into the aerospace and defense industry, but it turns out that the EU and EDA have a positive effect on exports in this arena. The consequences of this phenomenon reinforce the foundation upon which the European project set out to accomplish. There are lessons to draw from integration of the aerospace and defense industry as well as indicators that the US government and defense firms alike should consider.

The EU

European integration is an endeavor that has failed throughout the ages, often resulting in competition and bloody wars. As Adreas Staab puts it, “From the Roman Empire of Julius Caesar to Napoleon, Hitler, and Stalin, European history is marked by many attempts to organize the multitude of nations and ethnicities into a more or less coherent political entity with competing views of how the different states should be related and the degree to which autonomy and sovereignty should be preserved.“1 But something encouraging has transpired in Europe since the end of WWII. A few forward thinking elites gathered together to establish an economic union that would bind the war-making industries of coal and steel production among the usual states perpetrating war. Jean Monnet, a French entrepreneur and functionalist, presented a plan that would sow the seeds to what would develop into the EU. While there was always disagreement on the role and scope of institutions in integration, a constructive environment (owed largely to US security guarantees and fiscal support) allowed for a lasting peace and functional institutions to emerge. The debate between minimalism versus maximalism translated into proponents of intergovernmental models versus supranational bodies. This debate goes on even today, especially as the EU attempts to manage itself through a real challenge for the first time where the economic benefits are difficult to see amidst the current economic crisis.


Aside from the challenges of integration from nationalist tendencies and questions of sovereignty, the EU delivers massive benefits in the form of a common market with minimal barriers to trade among its members. The common currency is the obvious example of reducing trade costs whereby the drag of currency exchange is evaporated. Among members there are also customs agreements that essentially liberate any trade barriers within the EU and coordinate external economic policies resulting in a uniform arrangement. The EU tries to keep competition fair among its members and maximize industry potential by exploiting the benefits of comparative advantage and economies of scale. It also attempts to address the advantages of state aid among members. Article 87(1) of the European Community Treaty prohibits state aid in the form of subsidies, provided it affects trade between member states.2 This distinction is important as will be pointed out in the pursuant discussion on World Trade Organization (WTO) cases involving US and European aerospace firms.


In sum, the EU facilitates European firm competitiveness by keeping trade barriers low and allowing for firms to maximize their productivity through specialization and market access through free trade areas. The implications are profound across a variety of industries. Surprisingly (or perhaps unsurprisingly, depending on one’s perspective), these advantages are translated even to the aerospace and defense industries. The ability of EU member states to generate war-fighting equipment is becoming increasingly interdependent.




A regional cooperation of states, such as the members of the EU, will tend to view threats to their individual (and collective) national security differently. They will thus arm and equip themselves according to those different, sometimes divergent, assumptions. In theory, this doesn’t necessarily have to result in completely uncoordinated defense acquisitions. After all, maritime or land powers might simply adjust volumes and concentrations of the major categories of defense equipment. But in practice, European militaries developed a hodgepodge of equipment that is sometimes able to be integrated among (some) members and sometimes is only workable in an autonomous environment. Indeed, under Article 296 of the European Community Treaty, member states are permitted to make the bulk of their defense purchases on a national basis. With the view that European military forces must promote interoperability through tactics, techniques, and procedures, so must their equipment procurement be coordinated. In 2004, the Council of Ministers established the EDA to coordinate defense capabilities. In doing so, it implemented strategies to promote research, development, and armaments cooperation, and strengthen the European Defense Technological and Industrial Base (EDTIB).3


The strategy to strengthen the EDTIB is grounded upon three underlying principles. The “three C’s,” serving as a guide in EDTIB enhancement, are capability driven, competence and globally competitive. The EDA endeavors to ensure Europe is equipped and capable to deal with security threats of the future by clarifying priorities with regard to military and industrial capabilities, consolidating demand, increasing investments, considering security of supply and increasing competition and cooperation within the industry.4 The EDA initiated efforts to improve Europe’s industrial capabilities in the aerospace sector with the Future Air Systems Project. Among other things, the main contribution of the EDA in this project is to examine the supply chain and to promote engagement with EU bureaucracies.


The idea of a coordinated strategy in European defense and procurement planning is not generally regarded in a positive way. This may be a reflection of an antipathy for real coordination among members’ national priorities. The EDA recognizes the apparent challenges of managing twenty-seven different views and has set its own top capabilities priorities appropriately. They include counter-IED, medical support, ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance), helicopters, cyber-defense, multinational logistics support, CSDP (Common Security and Defense Policy) information exchange, strategic and tactical airlift and finally fuel and energy.5 These priorities reflect a shift from territorial defense to a force projection capability. It happens that while conventional territorial defense warfare is more simplified for the warfighter, the limited intervention mindset involving projection of small forces is less industry intensive (think less tanks and more agile light units). This prioritization allows the European defense firms to focus on a more narrow market.


Analysis of institutional Effects on Performance


The EU seems to increase productivity by allowing its members to specialize in those areas where they enjoy a comparative advantage, and the EDA seems to allow its members to specialize within the global aerospace and defense market according to its strategy. The consequences of exploiting such advantages are extremely beneficial to the European aerospace and defense industry. This study analyzed export data from UN Comtrade of thirty-nine European countries from 1996 to 2010. The EU and EDA status is depicted in figure 1. It accounted for changes in membership status during the expansion years of 2004 and 2007. This analysis is limited to commodities related to aerospace and defense, in addition to components. These included ammunition, missiles, armored vehicles, warships and aircraft (civilian and military). Figure 2 is a graphical representation of total exports and depicts a steadily increasing trend. Other reports confirm this trend. The EU Observer cited SIPRI data indicating EU arms trade growth despite the economic crisis that embroils the rest of European industry.6

What could cause such an increase? The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) published a study indicating that while European defense spending cumulatively fell over the period covered here, expenditures on equipment remained constant (see figure 3). The increase is clearly not the result of domestic consumption. One might expect that integration would encourage specialization and dispersion of factor production; thereby supply chain effects might explain the increase in exports. This appears to be part of the story, but not all of it. Figure 4 shows the total exports separated by trading partners outside the EU and intra-EU trade. The intra-EU trade rises steadily as expected but exports to the rest of the world increase even more rapidly. These results indicate that European aerospace and defense firms are increasing their competitiveness abroad.


What is most interesting is that a regression analysis of exports on institutional membership makes a compelling case for the EU and EDA. This study included multivariate regressions where the independent variables included institutional membership status as well as a qualified and quantified variables depicting conflicts. These conflict variables normalized for an increase or decrease in global conflict that might have spurious effects on aerospace and defense export volume. These variables were generated from the Uppsala Conflict Data Program from the International Peace Research Institute in Oslo. The analysis further considered fixed effects of trading partners of the exporting countries. Furthermore, the logs of the export volume served as the dependent variable so that data from low volume exporters could be compared to that of high volume exporters. The results showed that both EU and EDA membership serve as reliable predictors of export growth.


At the Firm Level


Using data from Defense News Top 100 firm rankings reported each year from 2000 to 2010, this study is able to depict individual firm trends during a similar period. Figure 5 displays defense revenue of every European defense firm that made the Defense News list from 2000 to 2010. Table 1 lists the top European defense firms for 2010. It is apparent that most firms enjoy the same trend of increasing revenue as was observed on European aerospace and defense exports. All this during an increasingly sparse domestic market for these defense-related products. This trend is confirmed by the EU Observer’s report on SIPRI’s 2010 analysis noting that most of the large firms saw measured growth while a few smaller firms witnessed contraction in revenue.7


The results and trends demonstrated in figure 5 beg more in depth investigation of some of the notable cases. The top performing firms vary in state involvement, product specialty and location, though all reside in the larger economic powers of the core of Europe. This study will examine BAE Systems, EADS, Finmeccanica and Thales.


BAE Systems is a London-based defense firm that currently ranks second only to Lockheed Martin (US) in defense revenue. It is a multinational company with strong markets in the EU, US, Saudi Arabia, Australia, and India. Its products range from cutting-edge aerospace technology to conventional armored vehicle production. It is closely tied to US defense firms and has an integral part in the production of the multinational joint strike fighter, the F-35 Lightning. The firm plays an important role in the UK’s nuclear technology as well as high-end shipbuilding. BAE also develops cyber defense and information technology systems. Though primarily a UK based firm, it is also invested in several European aerospace and defense firms.


The European Aeronautic Defense and Space (EADS) Company is a conglomerate of several consolidated defense firms in Europe. Headquartered in the Netherlands, its main subsidiaries are in France, Germany and Spain. These include Airbus and Eurocopter. It mainly produces aircraft and electronic systems and its primary markets are in the UK, North America, the Middle East, Russia, India, China, Brazil and Australia.


Finmeccanica is one of Italy’s largest industrial groups and is partially nationalized (30 percent). It also mainly produces aerospace technologies and develops components of Europe wide defense products like the Eurofighter (joint venture between BAE and EADS). 


The Thales Group is a French defense firm specializing in communication technology. It is also a somewhat nationalized firm, with state ownership at about 27 percent and is closely associated with Dassault Aviation.


The contrast and confluence of these competing firms is remarkable. BAE and EADS are publicly traded while Finmeccanica and Thales rely heavily on state support and investment. Finmeccanica, BAE and EADS work closely on the Eurofighter project among others.


EU and state programs give these firms even greater advantage, sometimes in a controversial manner. Airbus, the European civilian passenger aircraft manufacturer, and Boeing, the US aerospace firm, are engaged in a tit for tat legal battle citing improper subsidies on both sides. The US filed suit to the WTO that Airbus received an unfair advantage in government loans and launch aid. The EU countered with accusations of illegal tax breaks for production facilities in certain US cities. After nearly seven years of legal arguments, the WTO ruled in separate findings that both parties had cause to their accusations, though not as severe as initially brought forth. The competition and complaints are likely to continue for years to come. This case demonstrates two key advantages of the EU institutions. First, the very launch aid that the WTO declared illegal provided the necessary capital to get the industry up to a profitable level in Europe. Second, the EU was organized and large enough to bring great weight to the WTO in advocating the European industry’s case.


What About Externally Generated Competition?


This study has shown the advantages the European aerospace and defense industry enjoys due to its integrating and coordinating policies. The EU maintains regulations that protect firms from adverse effects of competition within the confines of its members, but firms also compete with each other in the external market. For instance, the top firms attribute their most important markets to the US, the Middle East, Australia, and India. Regulations on the conduct of member states in serving as an advocate for domestic industries do not appear to exist.


Competition for lucrative fighter aircraft contracts is generally fierce. In 2011, after years of deliberation, Switzerland announced that it would award Saab (Sweden) with the contract to furnish its military’s new aircraft. Saab had been in competition with Dassault Aviation (France) and Eurofighter (BAE/EADS/Finmeccanica). The evaluation was highly politicized, and leaked documents exacerbated speculation of unfair political pressure. Fast-forward a few months to January 2012 and the competition is eerily familiar, this time in India. The Indian military announced it would award its aircraft procurement contract to Dassault Aviation. This follows intense lobbying by the French government to woo buyers for its fighter. A foreign market is essential for France in particular because of the high priority it places on its strategic independence. Without a foreign buyer, its production lines would have to cease since it cannot afford to perpetuate production given its own budgetary constraints. Having been the lowest bidder in the Indian competition, it is entirely likely that the French government subsidized some of the costs in the agreement, thus undermining its competitors at Saab and Eurofighter. This kind of undercutting could also have taken place in bidding in the UAE and Brazil.


What are the Implications for the Future?
The characteristics of the EU institutions and proclivity to export could be defining a new type of military industrial complex. This European military industrial complex is one that enjoys the benefits of government advocacy but does not influence state fiscal policy. Instead, the European aerospace and defense industry maximizes profit and productivity by selling its war fighting equipment abroad. The trend of diminishing defense spending coupled with increased defense revenue points to the likelihood of such a scenario. The EU and EDA are likely to act as complementary institutions to facilitate and coordinate specialization in a way few countries will be willing to do. These firms will have all the aforementioned advantages but will not be constrained to a domestic market that will demand exclusivity. Instead, they will be allowed—and even encouraged—to pursue profit maximization while various member states exert political influence to secure contracts. The pursuit will not be uniform, as exemplified by nationalized firms in France and Italy. That said, European firms would most likely become even more integrated to reap economic benefits. The European aerospace and defense industry market penetration is also interesting to consider. These firms produce products that are not necessarily the most advanced (the US firms still clearly hold the advantage), but are very competitive in a cost to capability perspective. They court areas where there is a demand for their products at their price. Considering that these areas are places like the Middle East, India, Brazil, and the Pacific, these firms are likely to continue to do well. These areas are not only emerging markets with enormous potential, but also they are highly prone to armed conflict. With the influence the European aerospace and defense industry may exert upon the EU, it is not inconceivable that EU foreign policy (however uncoordinated) might seek to stabilize its market by accepting conflict abroad.    


On the other hand, the US military industrial complex must take note of these trends. It is fortunate the US firms are so integrated with European firms. The US leadership of the F-35 program is an important multinational production proof of concept. The problem is that the US commands a great amount of influence due to its own consumption capacity. The estimated US share of orders accounts for half of the demand. With more and more participants reevaluating their orders, that share is likely to increase. This actually perpetuates the status quo of the US military industrial complex generating a supply and forcing domestic consumption. It also reinforces the European firms’ practice of benefiting from an export surplus. The US is likely to seek to maintain its dominance on innovation and comfortable lead in technology. It must seek to exploit comparative advantage across the aerospace and defense industry. In doing so, it might be worth increased cooperation with the EDA or even to establish somewhat of a bilateral body to maximize efficiencies in the transatlantic defense industry. Such an arrangement would have limitations, of course. The Boeing and Airbus competition is not likely to subside, but then neither is competition among EU members abroad.    


Members of the defense cooperation community should take heed of these trends and seek to support cooperation with European firms and take advantage of internal EU competition where possible. The EDA’s priorities should serve as a guide to where the EU would like to head with respect to capacity development. The US has a lead in some of these areas. It might be worth engaging the EDA to narrow its list to further maximize comparative advantage vice duplicating efforts of US firms willing and able to sell products like ISR and strategic airlift equipment. The US has a lead in these sectors. Furthermore, US security and industry would profit from factor specialization, particularly in cyber defense, fuel and energy. Efforts in defense cooperation in key emerging markets such as Brazil and India will benefit greatly from understanding developing trends in the European defense industry. If the Dassault Aviation case serves as a guide, officers should pay attention to important contract competitions—not for the winners, but for those who lost out in recent battles who must secure a contract in order to maintain production. These firms may receive benefits from the state in the form of diplomatic persuasion or subsidies (or both) in the interest of maintaining domestic industry and employment. It is more probable that the nationalized firms would profit from such action compared to the consortium or public companies. Those firms might have their own method of lobbying through private means.




The results of this study indicate that not only do EU institutions and policies benefit European consumption but they also enhance their export capacity abroad. This is most likely attributable to the efficiency-promoting incentives of EU policies and coordinating efforts of the EDA. In doing so, industries across European borders are able to pursue their comparative advantages and reap the benefits of specialization. These benefits do come with a trade off. In specializing, the European military industrial complex becomes dependent upon mutual cooperation and coordination. This is exactly what Jean Monet had in mind at inception of the European Coal and Steel community. As the EDA progresses and European defense products increase their global market share, the world will observe a new type of military industrial complex. This new model is one that does not influence its government to put its products to use (as in the US), but rather may encourage others to fight among themselves.


About the Author


MAJ Michael Wise, US Army, is a Foreign Area Officer (FAO) specializing in European Affairs. He holds a BS from the United States Military Academy and is pursuing an MA from the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University. His assignments in Europe include Germany and France.




1  Staab, (Kindle Locations 114-116).

2  Artis and Nixson, 137.

3  European Defense Agency.

4  Ibid.

5  Ibid.

6  Nielsen.

7  Ibid.



UN Comtrade. “United Nations Commodity Trade Statistics Database.” Accessed online 1 May 2012 at http://comtrade.un.org/db/default.aspx


Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP) and Centre for the Study of Civil Wars, International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO). “UCDP/PRIO Armed Conflict Dataset.” Version 4-2009.


Berteau, David; Ben-Ari, Guy; Hofbauer, Joachim; Levy, Roy. July 29, 2011. “European Defense Trends: Briefing Update.” Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Washington DC.


Andreas Staab. The European Union Explained, Second Edition: Institutions, Actors, Global Impact. Kindle Edition.

European Defense Agency. “Official Website of the EDA.” Accessed online 6 May 2012 at http://www.eda.europa.eu/Aboutus/Whatwedo/Missionandfunctions


Artis, Mike; Nixson, Frederick. “The Economics of the European Union: Policy and Analysis.” Third Edition. Oxford University Press


Nielsen, Nikolaj. February 27 2012. “EU Arms Trade Booming Despite Crisis.” EUObserver. Accessed online 6 May 2012 at http://euobserver.com/13/115380


BAE Systems. “BAE Systems Website.” Accessed online 6 May 2012 at http://www.baesystems.com/home?_afrLoop=217640151098000


EADS. “EADS Website.” Accessed online 6 May 2012 at http://www.eads.com/eads/int/en


Finmeccanica. “Finmeccanica Website.” Accessed online 6 May 2012 at http://www.finmeccanica.it/Corporate/EN//index.sdo


Thales. “Thales Website.” Accessed online 6 May 2012 at http://www.thalesgroup.com/Group/Investors/Shareholding/

Defense Industry Daily. 29 April 2012. “Switzerland’s F-5 Fighter Replacement Competition.” Accessed online 6 May 2012 at http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/switzerland-replacing-its-f-5s-04624/


Rothman, Andrea; Rupert, James. January 31 2012. “Dassault Aviation’s Rafale s Lowest Bidder in India Jet Fighter Contract.” Bloomberg News. Accessed online 6 May 2012 at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-01-31/dassault-rafale-is-lowest-bidder-in-india-combat-jet-contest-2-.html


JSF.mil. 10 November 2009. “Estimated JSF Air Vehicle Procurement Quantities.” JSF PSFD MOU. Accessed online 6 May 2012 at http://www.jsf.mil/downloads/documents/JSF_PSFD_MOU_-_Update_4_2010.PDF

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28 novembre 2012 3 28 /11 /novembre /2012 12:05

C-295 photo Airbus Military source FG


November 27, 2012 By Jay Menon Source: Aerospace Daily & Defense Report


NEW DELHI — India has issued a request for proposals for 56 cargo aircraft to replace its air force’s aging fleet of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.-built Hawker Siddeley 748M Avro aircraft, according to a defense ministry official.


Under the deal, the first 16 aircraft will be directly procured from the chosen foreign vendor, which will then have to partner with an Indian firm that will manufacture the remaining 40. Out of those 40, 16 must have 30% indigenous components, while 24 must have 60% locally procured parts, the official says.


The Indian air force (IAF) is looking at several options including IL-114 variants from the Russian Ilyushin Aviation Complex, Ukrainian An-148 Antonov, the twin-turboprop European EADS Casa C-295 and Italian Alenia C-27J Spartan medium-sized military transport aircraft.


“The RFP made it clear to foreign players that they will have to select an Indian partner for this project,” the official tells Aviation Week. The first aircraft is expected to be delivered in the next four to five years, after an official agreement is signed. The entire deal is estimated to be worth $2.5 billion to $3 billion.


The program is expected to boost manufacturing of transport aircraft in the country and bring in new business opportunities for Indian private players in the aviation market.


The twin-engine aircraft is planned to have a 6-8 ton payload capacity, cruise speed of 800 kph (500 mph) and a range of 2,500-2,700 km (1,600-1,700 mi.).


The IAF is estimated to be operating around 30 vintage Avro HS-748 aircraft, capable of carrying loads of up to 7 tons. The aircraft were inducted during the 1960s to transport both personnel and equipment.


State-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) will not participate in the project because it is busy with the licensed production of Su-30MKI fighters and upgrades of the Mirage, MiG-29 and Jaguar aircraft for the IAF, the official says. HAL also will be involved in the licensed production of India’s Multi Medium Range Combat Aircraft, once the deal for 126 jets is signed with France’s Dassault.

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28 novembre 2012 3 28 /11 /novembre /2012 12:05

Su-30SM Fighter source Ria Novisti


28 novembre 2012 par info-aviation


Le groupe aéronautique Irkout a livré le 22 novembre aux forces aériennes russes deux premiers chasseurs Su-30SM.


Aux termes du contrat signé en mars 2012 avec le ministère de la Défense, le groupe fournira 30 chasseurs de ce type. Le commandement aérien espère utiliser ces appareils biplaces pour augmenter la puissance de frappe de l’aviation russe, mais aussi pour familiariser les pilotes avec les chasseurs de cinquième génération.


Interrogé sur les avantages offerts par le SU-30SM en matière de manœuvrabilité, le général Khartchevski a déclaré : « Grâce à sa manœuvrabilité extraordinaire, cet avion inaugure une nouvelle ère dans le pilotage ».


« Il est en mesure de supporter non seulement les facteurs de charge traditionnels – positif et négatif – mais aussi l’accélération latérale. Cela permet au pilote de concevoir sa manœuvre en trois dimensions, ce quoi est indispensable pour gagner un combat aérien. À son tour, l’apparition d’avions offrant une grande manœuvrabilité a fait naître une nouvelle tactique de combat »,  a indiqué le général russe.


Selon lui, la livraison de ces nouveaux chasseurs est une étape très importante du réarmement des forces aériennes russes.


« Les possibilités de ces appareils permettent d’améliorer le potentiel de frappe de notre aviation. Les forces aériennes russes ne disposaient pas jusqu’à présent d’avions permettant de remplir les missions à un niveau tellement élevé ».


Il a ajouté que ces chasseurs « ne seraient pas livrés en exemplaires limités, mais par escadrilles entières ».


« Le Su-30SM possède une plus grande capacité de détection et de destruction des cibles, ce qui le rend en mesure de neutraliser plusieurs cibles simultanément. Le potentiel de cet avion est comparable à celui de deux avions de génération précédente. Ce n’est pas sans raison que les pilotes indiens volant à bord de Su-30MKI ont remporté des combats d’entraînement contre les pilotes américains », a conclu le général Khartchevski.


Développé par le groupe Irkout, le Su-30SM a effectué son premier vol (2 heures) le 21 septembre 2012. Il est spécifiquement adapté aux exigences de l’Armée de l’air russe.


Dérivé du Su-30MK, il possède de nouveaux radars et systèmes de liaison radio et d’identification. Ses armements et autres systèmes ont aussi été modifiés par rapport à la version originale.

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27 novembre 2012 2 27 /11 /novembre /2012 18:55

J-15 test 12


Nov. 27, 2012 defense-aerospace.com

(Source: China Daily; published Nov. 27, 2012)


Fighter Jets Successfully Land On Aircraft Carrier


China has moved closer to its goal of building a blue-water navy, with pilots successfully landing on and taking off from the Liaoning, the country's first aircraft carrier, according to military experts.


Dai Mingmeng, a squadron leader from an aviation regiment of the East China Sea Fleet, landed a J-15 carrier-based fighter jet on the Liaoning on Friday morning, marking a milestone for the People's Liberation Army navy, according to the Beijing-based Mirror Evening News.


Following Dai, another four pilots also landed J-15s on the carrier and later took off, the PLA Daily reported on Sunday.


"This is a new landmark in the Chinese navy's efforts to develop the combat capability of its carrier battle group," Du Wenlong, a senior researcher at the PLA Academy of Military Science, said on Sunday.


"The carrier-borne fighter jet is the core of a carrier battle group and the success of landing and take-off tests is of unparalleled importance as pilots further their training," he said, adding that the successful exercises indicate the Liaoning and the J-15 have met the navy's requirements.


"It also proves that our personnel training system for the aircraft carrier is successful."


Xu Yongling, a former test pilot and military aviation expert, said: "The landing operation is totally up to the pilot's manual manipulation of the aircraft. Together with the risks of the whole landing process, it is far more difficult than performing an outer space mission.


"The achievement and significance of the first landing on the carrier is equivalent to a breakthrough in aerospace exploration," he said.


China Central Television broadcast footage of the landing and take-off on Sunday. It showed a J-15, which took off from an airport in an unidentified location, approaching the Liaoning.


The pilot then lowered the tailhook, a hook attached to the rear of the plane and used to rapidly decelerate during landings, and engaged the second arresting cable. The J-15 taxied about 50 meters and stopped.


The plane folded its wings and technical checks were made. After take-off preparations were complete, the pilot restarted the engines and flew off the deck.


According to Southern Metropolis Daily, the earliest landing test that was disclosed on the Internet took place on Nov 20 when a J-15 landed on the Liaoning. Details about the earlier test remain unknown.


Advanced jet unveiled


The Liaoning, a refitted Soviet-era carrier, entered active service in September and is now in the middle of its second sea trial after joining the navy.


Since being commissioned to the PLA navy, its crew has completed more than 100 training and test programs, according to Xinhua News Agency.


Earlier this month, reports and photos appeared on the PLA Daily and the website of the Defense Ministry stated that the Liaoning successfully completed a touch-and-go test on Oct 29. The reports did not disclose which aircraft carried out the test and how many jets were involved in the operation.


However, according to military observers, it was conducted by a J-15 fighter jet.


The news of the landing test also marked the debut of the J-15 as China's first generation multi-purpose carrier-borne fighter jet, the PLA navy said.


It has been given an official nickname - Flying Shark.


According to aviation fans and Western media reports, the twin-engine J-15 was developed by Shenyang Aircraft Corp, a subsidiary of the Aviation Industry Corp of China, and at least 12 prototypes have been manufactured and used in tests.


Xinhua said the J-15 is able to carry anti-ship, air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles and precision guided bombs. It quoted military experts as saying the J-15 has comprehensive capabilities comparable to those of Russia's Sukhoi Su-33 and the US F/A-18 Hornet.


Although it was developed based on the Su-33, the avionics and weaponry on the J-15 are more advanced than those of the Su-33, and the jet features domestically developed, cutting-edge technologies, such as an active electronically scanned array radar, radar absorbent material and an infra-red search and track system, military experts said.


The J-15 "likely exceeds or matches the aerodynamic capabilities of virtually all fighter aircraft currently operated by regional militaries, with the exception of the US' F-22 Raptor", according to Gabe Collins, a China observer in the US, and Andrew Erickson, professor at the US Naval War College, in an article on their website, chinasignpost.com.


The J-15 is particularly good in an aerial dogfight, due to its maneuverability and high thrust-to-weight ratio, said Kanwa Defense Review, a Canadian online magazine on defense affairs and weapon technology.


In addition to the advanced jet, the landing also cast the limelight on the arresting gear on the Liaoning, which is one of the most sophisticated mechanical instruments on aircraft carriers.


Only a handful of nations have the technology and ability to develop and manufacture arresting gear and none of them will export such technology to other countries, defense industry insiders said, noting that the situation left China no other choice but to develop the equipment itself.


More time needed


In spite of great success, the completion of the landing and take-off tests is only a small step toward the Chinese aircraft carrier's fully possessing combat capability, experts said.


"The tests were carried out in daytime and under relatively simple circumstances," Du Wenlong said. "Our pilots haven't performed landing and take-offs at night or in complicated situations, and they will need more training on how to intercept enemy aircraft and destroy targets at sea."


"Considering the experiences of other countries, I think we have to wait at least two years before our carrier-based fighter jets become fully operational," said Zhang Junshe, a researcher from the Naval Military Studies Research Institute.


"And taking the time needed to provide training for other planes, such as airborne warning and control system aircraft, and anti-submarine aircraft, into account, it will take four to five years for our carrier to obtain full combat capability."


The J-15 fighter jets will begin to conduct combat and formation drills only after other aircrafts complete landing and take-off training, he added.


To become a pilot for a carrier-based fighter jet, a PLA aviator has to pass four rounds of tests, said Zhang Hongtao, a senior officer of the PLA navy who is in charge of selecting pilots.


The selected pilots must be under 35 years old and have at least 1,000 flight hours, he said, adding that they also must possess a strong mind and have quick responses.


"A pilot in the US Navy usually spends at least 21 months in training before he is deemed qualified to perform duties on an aircraft carrier. I don't think we can do it in less time," Du said.


"A take-off process alone requires 65 actions by our flight deck personnel and each step cannot allow any error," said Li Xiaoyong, deputy chief of the aviation section on the Liaoning.


"Although this work is arduous and dangerous, none of us has shown cowardice, for we are 'super warriors' on the carrier."


"After the landing and take-off tests, those who once looked down on China's capabilities can no longer call it (the Liaoning) a shark without teeth," said Chen Bing, a news commentator.

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26 novembre 2012 1 26 /11 /novembre /2012 13:51
Sunday Interview: BAE boss Nigel Whitehead : relations with EADS have strengthened

25 Nov 2012By Angela Monaghan - telegraph.co.uk


Ahead of the decision on whether to close one of BAE's main British yards, Nigel Whitehead, the defence giant's UK CEO reveals his future plans.


Without any degree of understatement, this has certainly been a pretty significant year for the British defence giant BAE Systems and the drama is not over yet.


As the company tries to draw a line under its failure to merge with the Franco-German civil aviation giant, EADS, there are pressing matters closer to home. And there, as the head of BAE's

UK business, Nigel Whitehead is in charge.


On a cold and blustery day at BAE's training centre in Preston, Lancashire, Mr Whitehead calmly runs off the list of just some of the challenges his business is facing.


These include the Ministry of Defence's shrinking budget as George Osborne presses ahead with austerity measures; attempts to snatch back from France's Dassault Aviation a $10bn (£6bn) contract to provide India with Eurofighter Typhoon jets; and last but definitely not least is BAE's imminent decision on which dockyard it will close as part of a plan to consolidate British shipbuilding.


The latter process is a hugely contentious and emotive subject, putting thousands of jobs at risk. It boils down to a decision about whether to close BAE's Portsmouth shipyard, or one of its two Glasgow shipyards, located in Govan and Scotstoun.


Mr Whitehead says BAE is working closely with the MoD on the matter, with the decision predicated on future workloads once the two Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers at present being built are completed. Industry insiders expect the ultimate blow will be dealt to Portsmouth, which has naval roots dating back to the 13th century, and is where the Mary Rose was built between 1509 and 1511. "We will be making decisions this year, so we have a number of weeks in which to do that," says Mr Whitehead.


The challenge facing the MoD and BAE is to be realistic about the flow of work required to sustain Britain's shipyards, as well as preserving crucial defence skills within this country over the long term.


"The issue is how do we consolidate but make sure that we've preserved the capability to design and manufacture complex warships," says Mr Whitehead.


"We all understand that what we're dealing with is industrial capability which has to be maintained if we're going to make the next generation of ship. It's a mature way of looking at it."


He won't be drawn on what the future might hold for Portsmouth, Govan and Scotstoun, nor does he shy away from the reality that ending shipbuilding at one of the sites will almost certainly be part of the story.


"We anticipate that there will be a reduction in footprint and we anticipate that part of that might actually be the cessation of manufacturing at one of the sites."


A few miles down the road from the Preston training centre is BAE's sprawling military air facility at Warton, where around 6,000 staff are engaged on a number of programmes, including the Typhoon, Tornado and the high-security development of unmanned aircraft prototypes for the future of British defence.


The Typhoon programme was one of the driving forces behind BAE's desire to merge with Airbus owner EADS, in what would have created a £30bn European defence and aerospace giant to rival America's Boeing.


After losing out to Dassault's Rafale aircraft in the latest stage of negotiations with India, the Typhoon joint-venture partners decided a more formal partnership would help their cause on future bids.


Mr Whitehead says that although the collapse of talks – which the companies were forced to abandon when Angela Merkel personally intervened to block the deal – would slow BAE's international ambitions, something constructive had been gained for the Typhoon programme.


"The relationship with EADS has been strengthened. The mutual trust has grown as a result of the fact we were very authentic and honest with each other, and there was no sense of trying to outdo each other. So from that perspective there is a warmth between the two companies, and a willingness to focus our attention on jointly working to win export opportunities. It's positive."


As well as trying to snatch back the Indian contract from the jaws of defeat, BAE is also hoping to win a lucrative contract to provide the United Arab Emirates with 60 of its Typhoon fighter jets.


On that project, BAE and its partners have had considerable help from David Cameron, who travelled to the Middle East earlier this month to strengthen relationships with the UAE and other countries, and to smooth the path for future Typhoon orders.


The significance of the Prime Minister's personal intervention is not lost on Mr Whitehead: "It makes a huge, huge difference. First of all, it sends a very strong message to our customers. BAE Systems tends to sell to nation states rather than to individuals, and those nation states look for the nature of the relationships they have with the UK.


"It also sends a message internally within government, that this is something the Government wants to do. It is an active leadership and it is one that has had a big ripple effect through government and through industry.


"The onus is now on me to come up with compelling propositions and proposals within the export market. But I'd rather be in that position than trying to persuade others to help me."


He says the support given by the Government to British manufacturing is "very real", and suggests this is a major change compared with pre-crisis times.


"As recently as six years ago, I gave a public speech where a government official stood up and said: 'Why doesn't your company decide what it wants to be when it grows up? Why don't you just get out of manufacturing and do some high-level intellectual stuff instead?' I would not hear that today.


"Manufacturing is actually on the up in the UK. It still provides 10pc of all the employment in the UK, and we're still the sixth-biggest manufacturer in the world as a nation."


Of course, BAE is also involved in the "high-level intellectual stuff" too, including its cyber security and intelligence business, Detica, which employs around 2,500 people in the UK.


Back at the training centre though, it is building and preserving defence and manufacturing skills in the UK that has brought Mr Whitehead to Preston on a cold Monday morning, and he is clear on the need to catch people at a young age.


"Although we design and produce some of the most complex machines conceived by human beings anywhere on the planet, the reality is that the organisation rests very heavily on those who are employed post their GCSEs, and we grab them at that stage and mould them into the sorts of people that can make a contribution in the type of workplace that we need to create these complex machines.


"It is by no accident that we end up in a position in a meritocracy where our organisation is run by ex-apprentices."


Mr Whitehead is critical of some fellow manufacturers, accusing them of being "lazy" when it comes to training skilled workers. "Only 8pc of companies have apprentice-ships, and only 11pc of manufacturing companies in the UK have apprenticeships and that's a concern. And a number of companies have taken advantage of the downturn and assumed that they can employ people with skills and experience without having to train."


He says it is left to companies such as BAE to try to bridge the gap in the employment market, which has left more than 1m 16- to 24-year-olds out of work in what Mr Whitehead describes as "a national tragedy".


But he recognises that paying for training is not easy for many smaller companies, so he is helping some of BAE's UK suppliers by establishing a scheme to train 50 apprentices.


If BAE and others do not take responsibility for training young people, Britain will miss out in "the global economic race", says Mr Whitehead. The country has been warned.


Nigel Whitehead CV



Age 49

Born Aberdeen

Family Married to Heather, two daughters

Career Joined Rolls-Royce as an engineering apprentice. Aerodynamicist with British Aerospace, later group MD of BAE's military air solutions unit. In 2008, became UK head of BAE Systems

Not a lot of people know... he is passionate about painting and harbours an ambition to be a professional artist

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24 novembre 2012 6 24 /11 /novembre /2012 19:21



November 23, 2012. David Pugliese - Defence Watch


From JSC Irkut:


JSC Irkut Corporation (part of JSC United Aircraft Corporation) handed over the first 2 Su-30SM fighters to the Russian Air Force. The delivery-acceptance act was signed on November 22 at the Irkutsk aviation plant – branch of JSC IRKUT Corporation.


Oleg Demchenko, President of JSC IRKUT Corporation, at the signing ceremony said: “We’ve been working for export for many years, and now started to deliver aircraft to the Motherland. 9 of our new Yak-130s are flying at the Borisoglebsk training center to date, and now we are delivering the first 2 Su-30SM fighters to the Russian Air Force. This is a historic event for our team, for the Sukhoi company and for the whole United Aircraft Corporation”.


Alexander Harchevsky, Chief of the Military research and training center named after N. Zhukovski and Y. Gagarin said at the event: “Su-30SM will improve combat capabilities of the Russian Air Force”. The famous military pilot, who headed the Center of retraining pilots named after V. Chkalov for many years, having experience in piloting the type of fighters mentioned such capabilities of the Su-30SM as simultaneously engage and destroy multiple targets as well as super-maneuverability. “It’s very important that the aircraft is in serial production and will be supplied to the Air Force not by units, but squadrons” – stressed Maj. Gen Harchevsky.


Su-30SM multirole super-maneuverable fighter is the further development of the Su-30MK combat aircraft family. JSC Sukhoi Design Bureau’ specialists designed the fighter in accordance with the requirements of the Russian Air Force in terms of radar system, radio and recognition system, ejection seats and a number of support systems. The weaponry configuration was changed as well.


The contract on 30 multirole fighter delivery by 2015 was signed between the Russian Ministry of Defence and JSC IRKUT Corporation in March 2012.

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22 novembre 2012 4 22 /11 /novembre /2012 22:42

le-rafale photo source india-defence


22 novembre 2012 Usine Nouvelle (Reuters)


Les négociations exclusives entre l'Inde et Dassault Aviation pourraient aboutir d'ici à la fin avril. Le ministre de la Défense français ne s'y immisce pas, mais souhaite garder sa fonction d'encadrement et d'arbitrage en la matière.


Le ministre de la Défense Jean-Yves Le Drian a déclaré le 22 novembre espérer que les négociations de Dassault Aviation avec l'Inde pour un contrat de 126 avions de combat aboutiraient en 2013, consolidant ainsi le partenariat stratégique noué depuis 1998 entre Paris et New Delhi.


Les négociations exclusives avec le constructeur du Rafale, annoncées fin janvier, pourraient aboutir d'ici la fin de l'exercice budgétaire qui court en Inde jusqu'à fin avril, selon des propos de l'ambassadeur indien à Paris rapportés par la presse début novembre.


La campagne des élections législatives indiennes de 2014, qui devrait démarrer l'été prochain, pourrait compliquer les négociations sur un contrat aussi sensible que celui d'avions de combat.


Jean-Yves Le Drian a précisé que son rôle se limitait à créer un terrain propice à l'export.


"Si un ministre s'immisce dans le détail d'une négociation commerciale, il y a confusion des genres", a-t-il noté, lors d'une audition par les commissions de Défense et des Affaires étrangères de l'Assemblée nationale pour la présentation au Parlement du rapport sur les exportations d'armement en 2011.


"Par contre l'Etat est dans son rôle lorsqu'il encadre, lorsqu'il garantit et lorsqu'il arbitre", a-t-il ajouté. "C'est bien souvent sur la base de relations étroites que j'appelle partenariats stratégiques que nous pouvons bâtir une relation à l'export".


La France a exporté pour 6,5 milliards d'euros d'armes en 2011 contre 5,1 milliards en 2010. Sur la période 2002-2011, l'Arabie saoudite, le Brésil, l'Inde et les Emirats arabes unis ont été ses quatre premiers clients.


Jean-Yves Le Drian a déclaré avoir déjà travaillé récemment à la consolidation d'une telle relation avec les Emirats arabes unis et le Brésil et qu'il comptait le faire prochainement avec l'Inde et l'Arabie saoudite.


L'appel d'offres du Brésil pour 36 avions de combat ne cesse d'être reporté et les négociations avec les Emirats arabes unis semblent dans l'impasse depuis un an.


Concernant les recompositions industrielles en France, le ministre de la Défense a estimé que le champ était ouvert.


"On a dû avoir une période de pause pendant que se développait pour aboutir à un échec de l'opération EADS-BAE, elle est terminée au moins pour un certain temps", a-t-il noté. "Les questions se reposent, le jeu est totalement ouvert".


Jean-Yves Le Drian a déclaré à la mi-octobre qu'il regrettait l'échec de la fusion entre le groupe européen d'aérospatiale et de défense et le britannique, estimant toutefois que cet échec ne contrariait pas les efforts de la France pour bâtir une Europe de la Défense.

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