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21 novembre 2012 3 21 /11 /novembre /2012 19:15



November 21, 2012 china-defense-mashup.com


2012-11-21 — China’s locally made early-warning aircraft have proven their operational capabilities in drills and can now direct different forces to respond more effectively to aerial threats, the People’s Liberation Army Daily reported yesterday.


Analysts said the report could be seen as a response to Western reports that downplay the effectiveness of China’s military modernisation effort.


The PLA Daily report, which appeared in an inside page, did not identify the aircraft that took part in the drills, but it was accompanied by an illustration of a KJ-2000 early waring aircraft in flight. It said the plane had become an air operational centre to command land, air and naval forces in several drills this year.


The aircraft is larger than ordinary fighter jets and can detect threats such as enemy airplanes.


“It is a historic leap for our army’s combat ability on the modern battlefield … as the combat information transport system successfully connected with our advanced fighter jets during the drills,” the report said, adding that China had spent more than five decades developing its early-warning aircraft systems.


“The new achievement also indicates our army has overcome some critical bottlenecks in multi-unit command.”


In June, a report by Japan’s Kyodo news agency quoted American and Taiwanese sources as saying the PLA had only nine such aircraft, including five small KJ-200s and four large KJ-2000s, and that they were at least 20 years behind the planes operated by the United States and Japan in terms of operational capability.


Andrei Chang, editor-in-chief of the Canada-based Kanwa Asian Defence Monthly, said China’s options were limited because it “doesn’t have enough advanced, big aircraft” suitable for the installation of early-warning systems.


“But it’s difficult to estimate how many years the PLA’s early-warning operation lags behind the Western countries because Beijing is trying to narrow the gap,” Chang said.


Lin Chong-pin, a former deputy defence minister in Taiwan, said the PLA Daily report was not propaganda, but further evidence of Beijing’s breakthroughs in the field.


“[The mainland] faced a developing bottleneck of military technologies in the 1990s, but it has made many breakthroughs in the 21st century, including the debuts of the J-21 and J-31 [stealth fighters] and the batch production of 052-D guided missile destroyers early this year,” Lin said.


He credited the rapid development to former president Jiang Zemin’s efforts to accelerate the army’s modernisation, including a funding boost and the unprecedented promotion of many officers with engineering backgrounds to decision-making positions.


The KJ series of early-warning aircraft debuted in the 2009 National Day parade, but the PLA Daily said the army had set up its first early-warning force five years earlier.

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21 novembre 2012 3 21 /11 /novembre /2012 17:35

SU-30MKI India photo USAF


November 21st, 2012 By Voice of Russia - defencetalk.com


The total number of the Su-30 fighter jets in the Indian air forces will reach 270, one of the chiefs of the Rosoboronexport Agency, Sergei Kornev, said.


Kornev will lead the Rosoboronexport delegation at the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, also known as Airshow China -2012 that will open in Zhuhai on November 13th.


The draft contract has already been submitted to the Indian side for approval. The first shipment of the Su-30 fighter jets arrived in India in 1996.

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18 novembre 2012 7 18 /11 /novembre /2012 12:45

Sukhoi T-50 (PAK-FA) source Ria Novisti


November 15, 2012 Andrei Kislyakov, specially for RIR - indrus.in


Modern Russo-Indian military and technical cooperation is focussed on research-intensive areas like aviation and missile manufacturing.


The hallmark of cooperation between Russia and India in the aviation sector is the joint development and manufacturing programme of fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) for the Indian Air Force. According to the Centre for Analysis of World Arms Trade’s latest estimates made in late October, the countries intend to start serial production of the FGFA in 2020. The plane – an Indian version of the Russian T-50 fighter – will be built at the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) production facilities. The Russian fifth generation fighter, code-named T-50, should be deployed in the Russian Air Force after 2017.


India’s Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Norman Anil Kumar Browne has stated that it will be a single-seat plane equipped with practically the same components as its Russian twin. Some of the equipment, however, such as onboard computers, will be different, as is the case with the Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter upgraded for use by India.


According to Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation, the Russian side will supply 117C engines, as well as stealth technology for the Indian planes. India plans to manufacture onboard computers, software, a targeting system, and other onboard systems for its fifth generation fighter.  This is keeping in line with Indian participation in the programme for the India-licensed manufacture of the Russian multi-purpose Sukhoi 30MKI fighters at Indian factories. As a result, Russian-made components in the serial model should make up 60 percent, compared with India’s 40 percent.


Official data estimates the total cost of joint Russo-Indian FGFA development to be $12 billion. According to Marshal Browne, “the project will be carried out on a parity basis. It includes financing for detailed design, a full battery of tests, and the production of prototypes.” He added that they are currently at the preliminary design stage, estimated to cost $295 million.


Meanwhile, the contract for developing the aircraft for India has undergone considerable modifications. The Indian Air Force originally planned to buy 214 fifth generation planes (166 one-seaters and 48 two-seaters). That number has since been reduced to 144. The original number would have been built if the plane had been ready for deployment by 2017, and if Russian factories had been able to deliver the first batch of the machines. However, because of delays with the production of the T-50, India has decided to expand its participation in FGFA development, pushing the starting date for the production of its Indian version back to 2020.


India is in the process of a large-scale upgrade of its Air Force. Around 130 Russian-made multi-purpose Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighters (which should increase to 270) and around 70 MiG-29s form the backbone of the country’s fighter fleet.


Besides modern equipment, the Indian Air Force also has 51 French Mirage 2000 fighters and around 200 MiG-21s, almost half of which will be decommissioned within the next two or three years, while the rest will be upgraded.


India recently held a tender for supplying its Air Force with at least 126 multi-purpose fighters for a total of more than $10 billion. The French Dassault Rafale fighter won the tender.


In addition to modern military aircraft, Russia and India continue close cooperation in missile building, including the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile.


Russia and India are working with BrahMos Aerospace to promote a family of all-purpose supersonic BrahMos land-launched and ship-launched versions of the missile based on the Russian medium-range P-800 Onyx anti-ship missile, which some experts believe is unrivalled in the global marketplace.


According to Russia’s deputy prime minister in charge of the defence industry, Dmitry Rogozin, BrahMos Aerospace is not only a successful Russo-Indian joint venture, but it also represents an optimal model for bilateral cooperation that has tremendous political importance for both countries.


In early October 2012, the missile was test-fired from the Teg frigate built in Russia to India’s order. A contract for the construction of three frigates of this type was signed in 2006. India said the test was successful, with the cruise missile hitting its target at a distance of 290km.


One thousand land-launched and ship-launched versions of the missile are scheduled for production by 2016, with half of this number intended for sale to third countries.


The joint venture BrahMos Aerospace is working overtime to create the hypersonic BrahMos-2 missile. With a speed of more than five times the speed of sound, it will be practically impossible to intercept.


First Deputy General Director of Russia’s NPO Mashinostroenia Aleksandr Dergachev announced in mid-October that air tests for the BrahMos-2 would begin next year.


During Dmitry Rogozin’s visit to India in mid-October, BrahMos Aerospace CEO Dr Sivathanu Pillai presented the Russian delegation with a strategic plan for the joint venture development through 2050, which includes the design and implementation of innovation technologies for the BrahMos missile family, allowing the company to remain a global market leader in this area. Dr Pillai pointed out the importance of deploying the BrahMos missiles in the Russian Navy, as well as the need to develop new systems as soon as possible to maintain a technological edge over other countries

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15 novembre 2012 4 15 /11 /novembre /2012 17:50

Yak-130 Combat Trainer


November 15th, 2012 By RIA Novosti - defencetalk.com


Malaysia and Vietnam are interested in buying Russian-made Yak-130 Mitten combat trainers, a source in the Russian delegation at the Air China aerospace show told RIA Novosti on Wednesday.


“Malaysia will need new combat trainers in the near future to replace the outdated Italian-made M-339 aircraft,” the source said.


“The chances are high that Malaysia may purchase the Yak-130 as the country has been one of the key buyers of Russian military aircraft and our planes have been tested there for years,” he said.


The same refers to Vietnam, which has bought Russian Su-30MK2 jet fighters in the past, the source added.


Russia’s Yak-130 is also a competitor in a tender for delivery of six light fighter jets to the Philippines to replace retired U.S.-built Northrop F-5A Tiger fighters.


The Yak-130 is a highly maneuverable aircraft with an extended range of about 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles) and a maximum speed of 1,060 km/h (600 m/h) in level flight. It can carry a combat payload of up to 3,000 kilograms (6,600 pounds), consisting of a variety of Russian and Western developed weapons.


The Yak-130 has been chosen as a basic aircraft for Russian Air Force pilot training. First deliveries started in 2009.

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14 novembre 2012 3 14 /11 /novembre /2012 08:05

Gripen EF Photo Stefan Kalm - saabgroup.com SKA0070 355x236

In 2009 Gripen submitted an offer for

36 Gripen NG fighters to Brazil.


November 13, 2012 defpro.com


Brazilian suppliers to become a member of GE’s global supply chain


Saab’s technology transfer plan regarding Gripen NG for the Brazilian F-X2 fighter jet competition has been further strengthened by its partner GE Aviation signing MOU´s with several Brazilian aerospace companies. The MOU’s enable Brazilian suppliers to become a member of GE’s global supply chain and strengthens the in-country component of Saab’s Gripen NG proposal to the Brazilian Air Force.


The MOUs with Grauna Aerospace S.A., Increase Aviation Service Ltda., TAP Maintenance and Engineering, Avio do Brasil and AKAER provide local expertise in different areas of aircraft maintenance, manufacturing and engineering.


"GE Aviation is pleased to build on our excellent relationship with Brazil, where we have developed cutting edge technologies with local industry and launched our most recent technology research center in Rio de Janeiro,” said Tom Champion, GE Aviation Industrial Cooperation director. "With on-the-job training, GE will help build industrial capabilities in Brazil that will position the country to compete in the aerospace market for years to come."


The potential co-operation for GE Aviation is to develop programs with the Brazilian aerospace companies to establish long-term aircraft support within Brazil. The programs would include technology transfer as well as training in maintenance and assembly and engine inspection and testing.


“I am very pleased with the continued and extended support from GE that demonstrates their comittment to our joint activities in Brazil. Saab and GE has a long term sucessful partnership in the Gripen program,” said Åke Albertsson Saab Country Manager in Brazil.

Akaer is already participating in the Gripen NG programme including design, tooling and industrialization and in May 2012 Saab strengthened its relation with Akaer through a financial investment furthering yet another important step towards further future design, development and production of Gripen NG in Brazil.


Saab’s proposal for Gripen NG in Brazil includes a Technology Transfer plan to equip Brazilian industry with the necessary capabilities (skills & knowledge) to perform development, production and maintenance of the Gripen NG.


The Transfer of Technology will be performed through hands-on development work and put into practice through the development, manufacturing, operation and future upgrade phases of the Gripen NG in Brazil. A strategic alliance with Brazilian industry where Brazil will become an equal partner in the development work of Gripen NG.

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30 octobre 2012 2 30 /10 /octobre /2012 11:35

MiG-29K taking off from INS Vikramaditya. Photo Oleg Perov


30.10.2012 by Livefist


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26 octobre 2012 5 26 /10 /octobre /2012 11:55
Modernisation des Atlantique 2 : Les industriels ont remis leur copie

26/10/2012 Mer et Marine


Les industriels impliqués dans le projet de modernisation des avions de patrouille maritime de la Marine nationale ont remis fin juillet leur dossier au ministère de la Défense. A l’issue d’ultimes négociations, celui-ci doit notifier le marché début 2013, afin que le premier appareil soit livré à l’aéronautique navale française en 2017. Alors que les marins craignaient que les contraintes budgétaires  menacent ce programme, son inscription au projet de loi de finances a été vécue comme un soulagement au sein de l’aéronautique navale, mais aussi de la force océanique stratégique, dont la sécurité repose notamment sur l’action des Atlantique 2.


Ces derniers mois, le projet initial, porté industriellement par Dassault Aviation, Thales, DCNS et le Service industriel de l’aéronautique (SIAé)  a évolué. A l’origine, la marine souhaitait une modernisation en trois étapes. D’abord le traitement des obsolescences, puis dans un second temps la mise en place d’un nouveau système de mission et de nouveaux équipements, et enfin l’ajout d’une capacité d’autoprotection.  Mais, finalement, les deux premières étapes ont été fusionnées.


Traitement des obsolescences et nouveaux équipements


Le chantier devrait donc directement intégrer, au-delà du traitement des obsolescences, l’installation d’un nouveau système central (calculateur de contrôle de mission) en lieu et place du Loti et le remplacement des principaux matériels. L’actuel radar Iguane pourrait, notamment, être remplacé par un radar à antenne active dérivé de la filière RB2A (AESA) développée par Thales pour équiper le Rafale.  Une nouvelle boule optronique sera également mise en place, ainsi qu’un système acoustique de dernière génération. Pour gérer ces équipements, les anciens pupitres feront place, dans la carlingue, à de nouvelles consoles de visualisation. Pour mener à bien ce chantier majeur, les appareils seront, in fine, totalement vidés. Toutefois, les ATL2 ne changeront pas extérieurement, aucune modification de structure n’étant prévue. Comme son prédécesseur, le nouveau radar sera, par exemple, logé dans l’appendice rétractable situé en position ventrale.


La refonte des Atlantique 2, livrés à 27 exemplaires à la marine française entre 1989 et 1997, permettra aux avions d’être mis aux standards les plus récents, tout en voyant leurs capacités nettement accrues en termes de détection, notamment sous-marine. Ils seront, ainsi, en mesure de traiter simultanément les signaux de plusieurs bouées acoustiques numériques, aux performances bien plus importantes que celles de leurs aînées. Le nouveau radar et la nouvelle boule optronique offriront, par ailleurs, de bien meilleures possibilités de détection et d’identification de cibles au dessus de l’eau.


Enjeu stratégique


Pour la France, la refonte de ces appareils constituent un enjeu stratégique puisque les ATL2 sont indispensables à la protection des sous-marins nucléaires lanceurs d’engins basés dans la rade de Brest. Ces appareils sont, aussi, des outils très précieux pour la sécurisation des approches maritimes, la lutte anti-sous-marine (au moment où on constate une prolifération des sous-marins dans le monde) et même les interventions au dessus de la terre. Leurs capacités de détection et d’écoute sont, de plus, mises à profit pour recueillir des renseignements, par exemple pour les besoins du contre-terrorisme et la localisation d’otages. De même, en océan Indien, ils rendent les plus grands services dans la lutte contre la piraterie.


Ces avions, que l’on considère souvent comme des « frégates aériennes », sont à même de remplir toutes ces missions grâce à leur grande autonomie (18 heures et 4300 milles), leurs importantes capacités d’emport en senseurs et armes (torpilles MU90, missiles antinavire Exocet AM39) et leurs puissants moyens de traitement et d’analyse des données recueillies. Un ensemble de capacités qui peut être exploité au mieux grâce à la présence, à bord, d’un véritable équipage de spécialistes, constitué de13 hommes, indispensable pour mener à bien des opérations aussi complexes que la chasse au sous-marin.


Maintenir les ATL2 jusqu’en 2030


Très attendu, le lancement du programme de modernisation des ATL2 ne concernera pas l’intégralité de la flotte. Mais les militaires espèrent qu’elle portera sur 22 appareils, ce qui permettra de maintenir la capacité de patrouille maritime de la Marine nationale jusqu’en 2030, date à laquelle un nouveau moyen de PATMAR devra entrer en service. Dans cette perspective, des études ont d’ailleurs été récemment lancées, notamment pour réfléchir à l’intégration de drones dans certaines missions.


En attendant, il n’est pas inutile de rappeler que la France est devenue le seul pays d’Europe à conserver, techniquement et opérationnellement, la maîtrise complète de son outil de patrouille maritime. Alors que l’Italie n’a pas prévu de remplacer ses vieux Atlantic par de nouveaux avions du même gabarit mais par des ATR 72 ASW, l’Allemagne et les Pays-Bas, notamment, s’appuient sur des P-3C Orion américains pour lesquels aucune grande mise à niveau n’est encore envisagée. Si l’Espagne a quand à elle décidé de moderniser ses P-3 avec un programme dans lequel est impliqué Airbus Military pour le système de mission, la Grande-Bretagne a, en revanche, fait une croix sur sa PATMAR avec l’abandon en 2010 de la modernisation des Nimrod, qui dépendaient de la Royal Air Force et non de la Royal Navy. Une décision considérée par tous les spécialistes comme très regrettable et dont la première conséquence est de fragiliser la dissuasion nucléaire britannique, en baissant le niveau de protection des SNLE de la Royal Navy, particulièrement lorsque ces bâtiments partent en patrouille ou rentrent de mission.

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26 octobre 2012 5 26 /10 /octobre /2012 07:20

RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 40 - Northrop Grumman


October 25, 2012 LtCol Jacek Sonta / Press spokesman for MOD - defpro.com


Polish Minister of National Defence Tomasz Siemoniak declared Poland's participation in AGS - NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance system at NATO ministerial in Brussels in October.

Application dated October 19 on joining the system by Poland is a result of the decision of Minister of National Defence and an announcement of Polish President during NATO summit in Chicago this year, during which AGS program was included in Defence Package.
AGS is one of the flagship initiatives of NATO. It has a key meaning for transformation of the Alliance and for development of its defence capabilities up to 2020. Realisation of the Defence Package guarantees reaching the capabilities necessary for accomplishing tasks set in Strategic Concept from 2010 including task of collective defence (article 5 of Washington Treaty).

AGS Program is an example of multinational engagement of NATO member states in developed at present Smart Defence initiative.
From Poland's point of view joining AGS Program will be very significant for increasing its meaning and strengthening its position in NATO structures. We will be among 14 NATO states building capabilities within that system and at the same time we gain possibility to strengthen cooperation with countries leading in modern technologies.

Moreover, participation in AGS will enable Polish Armed Forces to complement military capabilities of conducting image reconnaissance and will allow to use it in the future for realisation of national needs or in allied cooperation e.g. during joint exercises.

The AGS Core will be an integrated system consisting of an air segment and a ground segment. Reaching operational readiness is initially planned for 2015. At the moment 13 countries participate in the program: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Germany, Norway, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, USA and Italy. Canada and Denmark submitted their declarations too.

For more information, please go to http://www.nagsma.nato.int/Pages/AGS_General_Information.aspx

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25 octobre 2012 4 25 /10 /octobre /2012 06:35

MK-54 torpedo-test-03-2012


The U.S. military's shift to a more extensive Pacific presence includes the continued purchase by the Navy of P-8A maritime patrol aircraft.



Oct. 24, 2012 - By MARCUS WEISGERBER Defense News


The U.S. Defense Department plans to purchase weapons and equipment geared to combat in the Asia-Pacific, a maritime-heavy region that will require long-range, stealthy systems that were rarely used over the past decade of combat.


Even as it prepares to downsize, the Pentagon plans to purchase fighters, unmanned aircraft and intelligence aircraft in the coming years, while beginning development of systems, such as a long-range bomber.


“With the war in Iraq now over, and as we transition security responsibilities to the government of Afghanistan, we will release much of our military capacity that has been tied up there for other missions, like fostering peace and strengthening partnerships in the Asia-Pacific,” Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said during an Oct. 3 speech at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington.


“Naval assets that will be released from Afghanistan and the Middle East include surface combatants, amphibious ships and, eventually, aircraft carriers,” he said.


The Air Force will transition its unmanned systems, bomber and space forces to the Pacific, Carter said. The Air Force is also investing in a new aerial refueling tanker, the Boeing KC-46.


At the same time, the Army and Marine Corps will be freed up “for new missions in other regions.”


The Navy will install larger launch tubes in new Virginia-class submarines that will allow the vessels to carry cruise missiles, other weapons and small underwater vehicles. The service will also continue its purchase of Sikorsky


MH-60 helicopters, Boeing P-8A maritime patrol aircraft and the unmanned Broad Area Maritime Surveillance aircraft.


DoD also plans to invest in cyber, space and electronic warfare capabilities.


The Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps all plan to purchase the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in the coming years.


U.S. spending priorities are in line with a new military strategy DoD released in January. One of the key tenets of the new strategy is being able to fight in a contested or denied battle space. The wars of the past decade in Iraq and Afghanistan have been fought in benign airspace, which have allowed all types of aircraft to fly with little threat of being shot down.


But budget cuts remain a major concern. The Pentagon already is cutting $487 billion from planned spending over the next decade. But the larger issue is the possibility of an additional $500 billion in cuts to planned spending over the next 10 years. Those reductions were mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011 as a way to lower the U.S. deficit. These cuts, known as sequestration, are scheduled to go into effect in January.


Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other top defense officials have argued that the magnitude of these reductions would hurt the military’s ability to rapidly respond. They have also said DoD would need to create a new military strategy if the additional cuts are enacted.


Industry has said the spending cuts would lead to mass layoffs, although other defense analysts and observers have said the reductions would not be felt for several years and would not be as devastating as depicted.


While many in Congress have voiced opposition to sequestration-level spending cuts, a comprehensive deal to lower the U.S. debt is not likely anytime soon. Congress has been out of session since September so members can campaign for the November elections. The U.S. presidential election is also looming and could reshape U.S. spending.


Advisers for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney have said the former Massachusetts governor would restore all planned DoD spending cuts immediately.


A Romney administration would allot 4 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product to the defense base budget, said Roger Zakheim, one of Romney’s senior defense advisers, at an Oct. 11 breakfast with reporters in Washington. Zakheim is on leave from his job as deputy staff director and general counsel of the House Armed Services Committee.


The fiscal 2012 Pentagon budget proposal, the last budget before the first round of spending cuts were announced, called for $2.99 trillion in defense spending from 2013 to 2017. That projection was cut by $259 billion after Congress passed the Budget Control Act in 2011.


If Romney is elected, his administration would likely not release a budget until next spring, as opposed to early February.

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24 octobre 2012 3 24 /10 /octobre /2012 16:20

RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 40 - Northrop Grumman


2012-10-24 LtCol Jacek Sońta  / Press spokesman for MOD


Minister of National Defence Tomasz Siemoniak declared Poland's participation in AGS - NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance system at NATO ministerial in Brussels in October.


Application dated October 19 on joining the system by Poland is a result of the decision of Minister of National Defence and an announcement of Polish President during NATO summit in Chicago this year, during which AGS program was included in Defence Package.


AGS is one of the flagship initiatives of NATO. It has a key meaning for transformation of the Alliance and for development of its defence capabilities up to 2020. Realisation of the Defence Package guarantees reaching the capabilities necessary for accomplishing tasks set in Strategic Concept from 2010 including task of collective defence (article 5 of Washington Treaty).


AGS Program is an example of multinational engagement of NATO member states in developed at present Smart Defence initiative.


From Poland's point of view joining AGS Program will be very significant for increasing its meaning and strengthening its position in NATO structures. We will be among 14 NATO states building capabilities within that system and at the same time we gain possibility to strengthen cooperation with countries leading in modern technologies.


Moreover, participation in AGS will enable Polish Armed Forces to complement military capabilities of conducting image reconnaissance and will allow to use it in the future for realisation of national needs or in allied cooperation e.g. during joint exercises.


* * *


The AGS Core will be an integrated system consisting of an air segment and a ground segment. Reaching operational readiness is initially planned for 2015. At the moment 13 countries participate in the program: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Germany, Norway, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, USA and Italy. Canada and Denmark submitted their declarations too.

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9 octobre 2012 2 09 /10 /octobre /2012 17:45



October 9, 2012. David Pugliese - Defence Watch


This is written by U.S.A.F. public affairs Senior Airman Shawn Nickel:


Whether people recognize it by the Snoopy-like nose or by the flat black paint and red lettering on the tail, the U-2 has become an Air Force reconnaissance icon in its 50 years of military operations.


Since the first model was assembled in the 1950s, the aircraft’s original, shiny aluminum skin has evolved to the current flat black paint scheme, and its mission has broadened as intelligence imagery techniques have improved.


It was originally designed to fly high-altitude intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions during the Cold War to gather intelligence on opposition forces. Today the U-2S flies in support of a variety of missions from ground combat to disaster relief. The aircraft has been updated over the years with a 33 percent larger frame, fiber-optic wiring and an all glass cockpit. These improvements increase the aircraft’s payload and loiter time, making it easier to fly.


The U-2′s dynamic airframe can carry approximately 4,000 pounds of equipment, paving the way as a test platform for new technologies. With its immense and diverse payload capacity, it is capable of a multitude of missions. Some pilots describe it as the “Lego” airplane.


“It’s like Mr. Potato Head,” said Lt. Col. John, an instructor pilot with the 99th Reconnaissance Squadron. “You just take one part out and add a new one. There are so many new developments running through the works right now. New weapons systems are going to emerge and accelerate the curve of the U-2 even more.”


One of the aircraft’s primary missions is to capture imagery via the decades-old, wet-film camera, which is sharp enough to see roadside bombs from 70,000 feet and offers greater resolution than any digital sensors available.


“The U-2 started out only carrying a wet-film camera. Now, with today’s technology, I’m alone up there, but I may be carrying 40 to 50 Airmen via data link who are back at a (deployable ground station),” John said.


In addition to its other capabilities, the U-2 provides service members on the ground with the intelligence they need to effectively carry out their mission, said Capt. Michael, a 1st Reconnaissance Squadron instructor pilot. This could include acting as an antenna to troops on the ground in Afghanistan or providing detailed imagery during a natural disaster.


“We are up there to make a difference,” Michael said. “We are there to make an impact on the troops we support.”


For operational security reasons, many details about the U-2 and its mission are unknown to the public. When the airframe was in its infancy, even pilots coming into the program knew very little about it. One of those men is retired Lt. Col. Tony Bevacqua, one of the original Air Force U-2 pilots.


Since the jet was developed at the height of the Cold War, it was used extensively over the Soviet Union, Cuba, and other opposition countries. Bevacqua said every precaution was taken to keep the technology from leaking into enemy hands.


“I volunteered for an assignment I knew nothing about, and they wouldn’t tell me anything about the U-2,” Bevacqua said. “The aircraft was state-of-the-art back then; no one in the public knew about it.”


This first class of pilots had to learn everything about the aircraft from the ground up. They developed the first U-2 training program in a matter of weeks, much of which is still used today.


“Before I joined the Air Force, I’d never even built a model airplane, but we trained hard to learn everything about the U-2,” he said. “After weeks of being the first pilots in the U-2, we became the instructors for the second class of pilots.”


The program is considered an exclusive group, with less than 80 current U-2 pilots.


“There are more people who have Super Bowl rings than there are U-2 pilots,” said Lt. Col. Stephen Rodriguez, the 1st Reconnaissance Squadron commander. “There are less than 1,000 pilots in the history of this program. That’s less than some airframes train in one year.”


After flying for years in other military airframes, a pilot from any U.S. service can apply to fly the U-2, Rodriquez said. Following a strict interview process, he sends these prospective aviators on a series of training flights to test the pilot’s aptitude.


“We interview applicants to screen for airmanship, maturity and ability to adapt to the U-2′s unique landing characteristics,” he said. “Allowing inter-service transfers brings lessons from outside the Air Force, which helps us at operating in a joint environment.”


Although the pilots are the face of the U-2′s mission, hundreds of Airmen behind closed doors in windowless buildings exploit, disseminate and transmit the information the aircraft collects. These Airmen provide mission-essential assistance to commanders around the globe.


“To be able to support the warfighter from the U.S. is a great feeling,” said Master Sgt. Sean, the 9th Intelligence Squadron flight lead. “We contribute to the mission downrange whether we deploy and support the efforts with manpower and bullets or we support it through ‘intel’ from home station.”


The U-2 is at a high operational tempo and with the program schedule to endure through 2040, there are no signs of slowing down. U-2 pilots will continue to provide timely, relevant and persistent high altitude ISR to meet the needs of the nation’s leaders to support the current fight and any future challenges our nation may face.

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9 octobre 2012 2 09 /10 /octobre /2012 07:25

Yak-130 Combat Trainer


October 8, 2012 defpro.com


JSC IRKUT Corporation, (a part of JSC United Aircraft Corporation) handed over the first batch of six Yak-130 combat trainers to the Russian Air Force.


On October 5, pilots of Borisoglebsk training center of the Russian Air Force completed the transportation of three aircraft by air from Irkutsk aviation plant (branch of JSC IRKUT Corporation) to the base aerodrome in Borisoglebsk city.


55 Yak-130 combat trainers delivery by 2015 to the Russian Air Force is provided by the contract signed in December 7, 2011 between the Russian Ministry of Defence and IRKUT Corporation. Commenting the subject Anatoly Serdyukov, Minister of Defence, said: “Equipping the Air Force with Yak-130 aircraft allow achieving a desired level of pilot’s trainings to handle new generation combat fighters, which are to be mass procured by the Military Department.”


Oleg Demchenko, President of JSC IRKUT Corporation, noted: “Our Company will continue increasing the production rate of combat aircraft within the State defence order. Now, together with the Sukhoi Design Bureau we are testing new Su-30SM multirole fighters with pilot’s training functions. In 2012 IRKUT plans to transfer the first batch of aircraft this type to the Russian Ministry of Defence.”


Oleg Demchenko also stressed that the Yak-130 production is organized with modern digital technologies being implemented at the Irkutsk aviation plant, which allow to increase production quality and reduce manufacturing cycles.


Yak-130 Combat Trainer, developed by the Yakovlev Design Bureau – an IRKUT Corporation company, was chosen as the main aircraft for basic and advanced training of Russian Air Force pilots. Yak-130 can provide top-class pilots training to handle Russian and foreign-made combat aircraft of the generations “4+” and “5”.


Yak-130 aircraft is the basic component of the training complex including integrated system of the objective control, educational computer classes, flight and specialized training apparatus.


State trials of Yak-130 with weaponry included have been successfully completed in December 2009. Since February, 2010 Yak-130 aircraft have been inducted into the Russian Air Force.


In 2011 IRKUT Corporation finalized the first export delivery of the Yak-130 aircraft.

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4 octobre 2012 4 04 /10 /octobre /2012 17:10
Russian Air Force Accepts First Yak-130


MOSCOW, October 4 (RIA Novosti)


Russia’s Irkut aircraft-manufacturing plant delivered the first six Yakovlev Yak-130 Mitten combat trainers to the Russian Air Force on Thursday, a spokesman for the Western Military District said.


“On October 4, the first batch of Yak-130 combat trainers fly from the Irkut plant to the Borisoglebsk airfield [Voronezh region] after an extensive flight testing program,” Col. Andrei Bobrun said.


The Irkut aircraft maker and the Russian Defense Ministry signed in December 2011 a contract for the delivery of 55 Yak-130 jets by 2015.


The Yak-130 is a highly maneuverable subsonic jet with an extended range of about 1,250 miles (2,000 kilometers) and a maximum speed of 600 mp/h (1,060 km/h) in level flight. It can carry a combat payload of up to 6,600 pounds (3,000 kg), consisting of a variety of Russian and Western-developed weapons.


As an advanced jet trainer, Yak-130 is suitable for training or re-training pilots to fly fourth- and fifth-generation fighter aircraft.


It can also carry out a variety of light-attack and reconnaissance missions.

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3 octobre 2012 3 03 /10 /octobre /2012 17:15

MK-54 torpedo-test-03-2012


October 2, 2012 By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. – aol.defense


The Navy's jet-powered P-8 Poseidon patrol plane boasts plenty of advances over the P-3 Orion turboprops it will replace, but for the sensor operators the favorite feature will be very basic: They won't throw up as much.

The P-3's notoriously rough ride at low altitudes and the gunpowder-like stench from the launch tube shooting sonar buoys out the back meant that, "typically, every mission or two you'd have somebody get sick [and] start throwing up into their air sickness bag," said Navy Captain Aaron Rondeau, a P-3 veteran who now runs the P-8 program. "We haven't seen that much with the P-8."

With its more modern and less rigid wing, "it's a much smoother ride than the P-3," Rondeau explained, and the buoys are now launched by compressed air, without the old system's stink. And that just means, he said, that "If your aircrews aren't sticking their heads in barf bags, they can do their missions better."

Not everyone really cares whether the operators barf in the back and believe in the P-8's higher-altitude approach. "I don't think it will work as well," noted naval expert Norman Polmar said bluntly. "It's rather controversial."

In particular, after some waffling back and forth, the Navy decided to leave off a sensor called the Magnetic Anomaly Detector (MAD), which can detect the metal hulls of submarines -- if the plane flies low enough. MAD was crucial to the P-3's traditional low-altitude tactics. Significantly, the P-8 variant that  Boeing is building for the Indian Navy will still have it; only the US Navy P-8 will not. Both Rondeau and Boeing argue that the P-8 can more than compensate with more sophisticated sensors and by using its superior computing power to interpret their data.

So with the P-8, the Navy is not just replacing a sixties-vintage propeller plane with a more modern jet, derived from the widely used Boeing 737. It's also betting on new technology to enable a high-altitude approach to both long-range reconnaissance and hunting hostile submarines.

Traditional "maritime patrol aircraft" like the P-3 spend part of their time at high altitude but regularly swoop down, sometimes as low as 200 feet above the waves, to drop sonar buoys, scan for subs with the magnetic anomaly detector, launch torpedoes, and simply eyeball unidentified vessels on the surface. But jets like the P-8 are significantly less fuel-efficient at low altitudes than turboprops like the P-3.

"There's a misconception," said Rondeau. "Some people think that that means P-8 can't do low-altitude anti-submarine warfare [ASW]. We can, and it's very effective down low, [but] we will eventually get to the point where we stay at higher altitudes."

For some of the new sub-hunting technologies, Rondeau argued, going higher actually gives you a better look. Today, for example, one key tool is a kind of air-dropped buoy that hits the water and then explodes, sending out a powerful pulse of sound that travels a long way through the water and reflects off the hulls of submarines, creating sonar signals that other, listening-device buoys then pick up. (The technical name is Improved Extended Echo Ranging, or IEER). Obviously, an explosive buoy can only be used once, and the sonar signal its detonation generates is not precisely calibrated. So the Navy is developing a new kind of buoy called MAC (Multistatic Active Coherent), which generates sound electronically, allowing it to emit multiple, precise pulses before its battery runs down.

"It will last longer and you're able to do more things with it," Rondeau said. And because a field of MAC buoys can cover a wider search area, he said, "we need to stay up high... to be able to receive data from all these buoys and control all these buoys at the same time."

An early version of MAC will go on P-3s next year and on P-8s in 2014, but only the P-8 will get the fully featured version, as part of a suite of upgrades scheduled for 2017. The Navy is deliberately going slow with the new technology. Early P-8s will feature systems already proven on the P-3 fleet and will then be upgraded incrementally. The P-8 airframe itself is simply a militarized Boeing 737, with a modified wing, fewer windows, a bomb-bay, weapons racks on the wings, and a beefed-up structure.

This low-risk approach earned rare words of praise from the Government Accountability Office, normally quick to criticize Pentagon programs for technological overreach. "The P-8A," GAO wrote, "entered production in August 2010 with mature technologies, a stable design, and proven production processes." (There have been issues with counterfeit parts from China, however).

"We had to have this airplane on time," Rondeau said: The P-3s were getting so old, and their hulls are so badly metal-fatigued, that they were all too often grounded for repairs.

So far, Boeing has delivered three P-8As to the training squadron in Jacksonville, Florida. They were preceeded by eight test aircraft, some of which have just returned from an anti-submarine exerise out of Guam. The first operational deployment will come in December 2013, to an unspecified location in the Western Pacific. There the Navy will get to test its new sub-seeking techniques against the growing and increasingly effective Chinese underwater force.

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23 septembre 2012 7 23 /09 /septembre /2012 21:13

bae systems


23/09/2012 latribune.fr (avec AFP)


Les députés conservateurs s'inquiètent de voir passer une entreprise stratégique sous pavillon franco-allemand. Le ministère de la Défense britannique aurait ainsi posé comme condition à son feu vert au rapprochement l'adoption de garanties pour pérenniser les relations préexistantes dans le domaine de la dissuasion nucléaire, sur laquelle le Royaume-Uni collabore étroitement avec les Etats-Unis.


Le projet de fusion des groupes EADS et BAE Systems, inquiète outre-Manche. "Voilà ma vision de cette fusion: en l'état, il s'agit plutôt d'une OPA", a déclaré à l'AFP Ben Wallace, un député conservateur du nord-ouest de l'Angleterre, où est bien implanté BAE. Comme d'autres, il s'inquiète de voir passer une entreprise stratégique sous pavillon franco-allemand, avec des risques pour l'emploi mais également la perspective d'une gestion à l'opposé des habitudes britanniques. Le Royaume-Uni n'est en effet pas actionnaire de BAE Systems et n'intervient pas dans la vie quotidienne de l'entreprise. Le gouvernement se contente d'exercer en cas de besoin une action spécifique destinée à protéger les intérêts nationaux ou à encourager la conclusion de grands contrats d'armement à l'étranger.

"Des interférences de la part des Etats ont causé des problèmes chez EADS et Airbus dans le passé et c'est ce genre d'ingérence qui a empêché EADS de devenir le leader mondial qu'il pourrait être", estime Ben Wallace.


La France et l'Allemagne appleés à sortir d'EADS


"Le Royaume-Uni ne devrait donner son feu vert à l'opération que si la France et l'Allemagne se défont de leur participation, et laissent l'entreprise agir librement. Sinon, on court le risque d'interférences politiques et également de problèmes avec les concurrents américains", explique Ben Wallace. La relation avec les Etats-Unis est au coeur des inquiétudes des conservateurs, le parti du Premier ministre David Cameron, dont une partie se montre volontiers eurosceptique. "Je m'inquiète concernant nos échanges d'informations avec les Américains. Nous sommes unis étroitement avec eux sur les sous-marins nucléaires et je les imagine mal se réjouir" d'une menace de dilution des règles de confidentialité anglo-américaine, a ainsi déclaré Lord West, ancien chef d'Etat major de la Marine, dans le quotidien The Times.


Dissuasion nucléaire


Le ministère de la Défense britannique aurait ainsi posé comme condition à son feu vert au rapprochement l'adoption de garanties pour pérenniser les relations préexistantes dans le domaine de la dissuasion nucléaire, sur laquelle le Royaume-Uni collabore étroitement avec les Etats-Unis. Les sous-marins nucléaires lanceurs d'engins (SNLE) britanniques sont équipés de missiles balistiques Trident, fabriqués par l'américain Lockheed Martin. De même, BAE est fortement impliquée dans le très important programme américain d'avion de combat F-35.


Le groupe britannique est aussi le premier fournisseur étranger du Pentagone et, même si les budgets de la défense déclinent outre-Atlantique, les Britanniques aimeraient conserver cette relation industrielle privilégiée, déclinaison de la "relation spéciale" entre les deux pays sur le plan politique.


L'exemple du missile nucléaire français M51


Or, la fusion envisagée pourrait compliquer les choses, selon des experts.

"Je ne suis pas certain qu'une entreprise franco-allemande serait autorisée à détenir une filiale comme par exemple celle que possède BAE dans l'électronique de défense" aux Etats-Unis, estime ainsi Richard Aboulafia, analyste du cabinet américain Teal Group. Quant au nucléaire, le Royaume-Uni pourrait bien "sanctuariser" cette activité, avec des garde-fous garantissant que Français et Allemands n'y aient aucun accès. C'est déjà ce qui se passe pour le missile nucléaire français M51, construit par une filiale d'EADS mais sous supervision exclusivement française.


Mais cela risque de compliquer un peu plus la vie du futur groupe. "Plus chaque pays cherche à définir ses intérêts stratégiques, moins l'entreprise aura de flexibilité. Or une société doit avoir la liberté de rationaliser ses opérations et de faire circuler la technologie entre ses différentes filiales", observe M. Aboulafia.


"Les détails ne peuvent pas être débattus en public"


Sur le continent, la chancelière allemande Angela Merkel a déclaré samedi à l'issue de ses entretiens avec le président français François Hollande qu'"il n'y avait pas eu de décision" sur le projet de fusion EADS-BAE, mais qu'ils avaient eu de "bonnes" et "amicales" discussions. "Nous n'avons pas pris de décision, nous savons que nous devons donner dans un avenir proche une réponse aux entreprises. Les discussions étaient bonnes et amicales. Mais les détails ne doivent pas être débattus en public, notamment compte tenu des emplois", a dit la chancelière, soulignant qu'EADS était un bon exemple de coopération franco-allemande. "Sur le rapprochement EADS-BAE (...), nous, la France et l'Allemagne, sommes décidés à agir en concertation étroite parce que nous considérons que c'est un enjeu qui concerne l'Europe mais aussi nos deux pays, compte tenu de la composition du capital de cette entreprise", a déclaré François Hollande.


Evoquant les conditions d'un éventuel rapprochement entre les deux groupes, M. Hollande a déclaré: "les conditions, vous les imaginez, c'est l'emploi, la stratégie industrielle, les activités de défense, les intérêts de nos Etats respectifs. C'est là-dessus que nous sommes en discussion avec l'entreprise".


Ils ont promis tous deux de se prononcer dans les délais impartis.


Selon la réglementation boursière britannique, les industriels ont jusqu'au 10 octobre pour conclure leur rapprochement ou l'abandonner. Ils peuvent également demander un prolongement du délai des négociations, une option pour l'heure écartée par les parties qui veulent aller vite.

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19 septembre 2012 3 19 /09 /septembre /2012 12:35

US Air Force KC-46 Tanker Programme


September 19, 2012 by Zach Rosenberg – FG


Washington DC - Eighteen months into the Boeing KC-46 tanker programme, all is progressing as planned, says Maj Gen John Thompson, the US Air Force (USAF) programme manager.


The programme, meant to produce an aerial tanker to replace the Boeing KC-135, is 21% finished with its development schedule and remains on time and on budget.


The first parts - skin for the tail boom - have been produced, "so if someone tells you this is a paper plane, you can point at them and say, 'liar!'" says Thompson.


"I will have plenty of number two and number three priorities, but my number one priority is to successfully get through the critical design review (CDR) next year."


CDR is scheduled for July, 2013, with a plethora of subsystem PDRs to be completed beforehand. After CDR, the aircraft is built. The first flight of the new 767 variant upon which the KC-46 is based is scheduled for 2014, with a 2015 flight of the actual tanker aircraft.


Budget sequestration, scheduled to take effect in January, 2013 without Congressional intervention, would be "near catastrophic" for the programme, says Thompson.

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19 septembre 2012 3 19 /09 /septembre /2012 07:20



September 18, 2012 by Craig Hoyle – FG


London - Irkut is to accelerate its delivery schedule under a Russian air force order for 30 Sukhoi Su-30SM strike aircraft, with its first examples now to be handed over before the end of this year.


Moscow signed a production deal for the two-seat Su-30SM in March, when Irkut announced that the type would be handed over between 2013 and 2015. The new plan to deliver the first examples this year was announced by company president Oleg Demchenko, as Irkut also released an image of an aircraft on its final assembly line in Irkutsk.


In addition to its utility as a multi-role combat aircraft, the Su-30SM will also provide the Russian air force with an advanced training capability, as it looks to bridge the gap to the future introduction of Sukhoi's fifth-generation PAK-FA/T-50 fighter.


Irkut also expects to deliver a total of 15 Yakovlev Yak-130s to the same service this year, under a 55-aircraft order signed late in 2011. "The Russian air force has started a formal acceptance procedure of Yak-130 combat trainers," it says.

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15 septembre 2012 6 15 /09 /septembre /2012 18:29
Are More Mergers Ahead? BAE-EADS Talks Could Spark More Tie-ups


Sep. 15, 2012 - — Defense News


Pierre Tran in Paris, Andrew Chuter in London, Tom Kington in Rome and Zachary Fryer-Biggs in Washington contributed to this report.


For several years, defense contractors on both sides of the Atlantic have been biding their time, building up cash and reviewing possible combinations, awaiting the start of a consolidation wave that will reshape the global military industrial landscape in the face of sharp spending cuts in Europe and the U.S.


On one side, U.S. companies are waiting for the conclusion of presidential elections and the resolution of the budget battle in Congress that will determine the future of defense spending before making their move.


But on the other side, Europe’s not waiting.


The cannon blast that started the consolidation race went off Sept. 12 when BAE Systems and EADS confirmed talks to unite into a $96 billion giant that would be the world’s leading defense and aerospace titan.


The new company, already nicknamed “BEADS,” would be listed on the Frankfurt, London, Madrid and Paris stock exchanges, with EADS holding a 60 percent stake and BAE 40 percent. The combined firm would boast a formidable array of commercial and defense products, including fighter, transport and trainer aircraft; rockets and satellites; missiles and precision weapons; armored vehicles; unmanned systems; radars; command, control and communications gear; networks and cyber capabilities; ship repair and naval products; as well as intelligence and space services units.


The transaction is the brainchild of EADS CEO Tom Enders, who took office in June, to expand his company’s defense product line and balance its military-commercial business base, improve access to the U.S. and other key global markets such as India, and use the deal to change the company’s governance structure that now allows the French, German and Spanish governments to exert influence on EADS, allowing it to move toward a wholly commercial structure.


For BAE, the deal is a chance to boost its civil activity and balance its civil-defense mix.


The announcement prompted Boeing Chairman and CEO Jim McNerney to quip that EADS was trying to look more like Boeing by better balancing its defense-commercial product mix.


The two companies have until Oct. 10 to announce a deal, and while it’s unclear whether it will secure antitrust, financial, security and tax approval from regulators in five governments as well as the EU, companies will have no choice but to review their options.


“All mergers can succeed or fail, and BAE and EADS still need eight months to wrap it up and 18 months to see if it works,” one senior retired European executive said. “But other CEOs cannot afford to wait that long to see if it succeeds, and they will all be looking around right now to see how they should react.”


Indeed, hours after the two giants confirmed their interest in merging, speculation swirled about who might be next.


And just as an EADS link with BAE would tap the all-important U.S. defense market that remains the world’s largest despite spending cuts, U.S. companies are exploring linking with European firms.


“There is a huge amount of change going on in our sector with budget pressure and other issues. There will be a lot of activity over the next five years, but what direction it will take is unclear,” one senior British executive said. “Whenever you get a shift like this, it forces people to think. It has the potential to be a game changer in terms of scale and geographic footprint.”


Not a Done Deal


But before that happens, the would-be European partners have some high hurdles to surmount.


The British executive added that the deal won’t get out of the starting blocks as long as governments can exert influence in the new company, as they do in EADS.


“The important thing to consider is not their shareholding itself, it’s about the block voting rights. Before this deal can go ahead, at an absolute minimum those will have to be dissolved, dismantled and cease to exist,” he said. “If any shareholder has a share in the new company, all they will have are normal rights and nothing else. Unless the block rights are dismantled, this transaction cannot proceed.”


At issue is how that government shareholding could affect BAE’s lucrative North American business, with sales of some $15 billion annually, including across highly sensitive intelligence and other operations.


Since starting its acquisition of U.S. properties in the 1990s, BAE has operated them independently and under strict security guidelines to protect American technology. While that’s customary for all foreign companies that own or operate units in the U.S. that do business with the Pentagon, the British giant benefited from greater access to technology, thanks to the special defense relationship between London and Washington.


“If France and Germany maintain political control over EADS, this will be viewed poorly in the U.S., but I see it as unlikely that France would abandon EADS,” the retired European executive said.


Then there are the regulatory approvals that could prove challenging for the companies. The British, French, German, Spanish and U.S. governments would have to approve the deals, as well as EU regulators.


Steven Grundman, the defense industrial analyst at the Atlantic Council in Washington who oversaw defense mergers and acquisitions at the Pentagon during the Clinton administration, added that while governments should rightly view the new company as a trans-Atlantic industrial bridge, the combination still will face scrutiny on both sides of the Atlantic, including from competition authorities.


“Recall that the European Commission rejected the proposed merger of General Electric and Honeywell on a theory of ‘portfolio effects’ that took issue not with horizontal overlaps or vertical integration, but the supposed unfair challenge to competitors of the resulting conglomerate’s scale and scope,” Grundman said.


Antitrust regulators will solicit the views expressed by customer governments — the two companies do compete against one another for business worldwide — as well as take account of competitors who may attempt to argue the combination could materially disadvantage them.


Still, Grundman said he anticipates relatively few traditional antitrust problems on either side of the Atlantic, adding that security issues loom larger for the Pentagon. On the one hand, he said, DoD already supervises industrial security programs at both companies' U.S. businesses. At the same time, the Pentagon is sure to scrutinze closely the changing ownership of BAE’s U.S. assets.


Lockheed Martin Chairman and CEO Robert Stevens, however, told a Morgan Stanley investor conference in New York the merger could be a test for the Pentagon’s policy of not supporting any more consolidation at prime level.


DoD leaders have said that while they are open to consolidation on a case-by-case basis, they don’t want leading firms to unite.


“It might be an early test of whether the unfavorability of consolidation at that tier would in fact be changing or evolving,” he said.


Fight or Join


With or without the BAE-EADS merger, the deal pipeline is bulging, but anxiety over sequestration in the U.S. has acted as a brake on mergers and acquisitions.


With U.S. and European defense markets headed into a downturn, large prime contractors are expected to spin off units, offering targets for tier one and two equipment makers and service specialists.


“People are getting ready,” a U.S. industry executive said. “They’re standing [by], but they’re not yet ready to pull the trigger.”


In Europe, managers in aeronautics, space and electronics must decide whether to fight or join the planned mega-group.


“Other companies will need to think whether it is better to be integrated into the new behemoth, or to look to other alliances or mergers to get a countervailing strength,” said Nick Witney, senior research fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations think tank.


The proposed EADS-BAE merger is a highly specific, large-scale project, but if a deal is done, it could clear the way for further moves in a fragmented European defense industry hobbled by budget cuts.


“If the BAE-EADS merger goes ahead, it will lead to medium and long-term rationalization in other segments of defense industry in Europe,” said Loic Tribot La Spiere, deputy director of think tank Centre d’Etude et Prospective Stratégique.


Thales and Finmeccanica executives are likely watching the deal closely.


“If this initiative goes through, it will lead other big actors Thales and Finmeccanica to question their future,” said Jean-Pierre Maulny, deputy director of think tank Institut des Relations Internationales et Stratégiques.


“Thales and Safran will almost certainly merge,” the retired European executive predicted.


In France, the deal potentially puts Dassault, maker of the Rafale fighter and Falcon business jet, on the defense sidelines.


“And naturally, this will concern Dassault, the industrial shareholder of Thales, which will see a regrouping of two of its competitors in Eurofighter, and its partner in UAVs, BAE Systems, linking up with the German actor in this sector, EADS Cassidian,” Maulny said.


While on the presidential campaign trail, then candidate François Hollande criticized the previous administration for “bowing” before “private and financial interests,” a remark widely understood to refer to the 2008 choice of Dassault as industrial shareholder of Thales.


For Witney, the French government appears to be backing EADS in its merger plan, leaving Dassault to deal with the consequences.


“If Dassault takes a hit, it takes a hit,” Witney said.


EADS owns 46 percent of Dassault, a stake formerly held by the French state.


In Italy, Finmeccanica reacted positively to the merger plan, rebutting concerns it is threatened by the new company.


Finmeccanica “has established consolidated partnerships with both companies in the industrial, technological and commercial field, which will continue with the combined entity,” the company said in a Sept. 13 statement.


“There would be no short-term consequence for Italy, although it would require Finmeccanica to accelerate its focus on its core business,” said Michele Nones, head of the security and defense department at the Istituto Affari Internazionali, a Rome think tank partly funded by the Italian Foreign Ministry.


The retired European executive was not convinced.


“Italy could now find it has a minor role, or is excluded completely, from the next big European program, like a UAV,” he said. “When it was just the U.K. and France talking about UAVs, Italy could talk to Germany, but that is no longer the case.


“The Italian government can either now ask if Finmeccanica could enter the merger, but it would be the smallest and arrive uninvited, or it could look to France for an alliance or to the U.S. And all are difficult.”


One investment banker in London said much of the mergers and acquisitions activity could center on the growth of tier-one and aspiring tier-one companies such as Thales, Cobham and Rheinmetall as they pick up operations being shaken out by the prime contractors, as well as consolidating the supply chain by acquiring niche operators.


Investment bank Espirito Santo said in a market report issued following the BAE announcement of merger talks that “accelerating consolidation bodes positively for defense-centric plays in the U.K. like Chemring, QinetiQ and Ultra Electronics.”


Financial crisis is driving the expected mergers and acquisitions flow, as industry battens down the corporate balance sheet.


“We have expected consolidation in defense globally, because of a flattening and reduction in defense spending,” said Scott Thompson, U.S. leader of PriceWaterhouseCooper’s aerospace and defense practice.


“I don’t expect that there will be other consolidation amongst the other global primes,” he said. “In that sense, this may be an anomaly. But in terms of consolidation of defense, we absolutely expect that.”


The consolidation, however, is not expected this year until there is clarity on sequestration and the level of defense spending.


Mergers and acquisitions in aerospace and defense dried up this year, with about $5 billion in deals in the first half of the year, after a record 2011, which saw $43.7 billion in deals, Thompson said.


If suppliers — industry — are able to reorganize, that puts pressure on the customer — government — to be more rational, namely converge requirements and adopt more joint programs, Witney said. But that is another chapter in the defense book.

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15 septembre 2012 6 15 /09 /septembre /2012 17:56
BAE - EADS : questions pour une fusion géante


14/09/2012 Par Véronique Guillermard – Lefigaro.fr


Cette opération entraînerait un examen du portefeuille d’activités avec, sans doute, un impact sur l’emploi et l’outil industriel.
• Une fusion BAE-EADS pour quoi faire?

Depuis sa naissance en 1999, EADS, issu du regroupement des activités du français Aerospatial, de l’allemand Dasa et de l’espagnol Casa, souffre d’un déséquilibre entre ses activités civiles - Airbus - et militaires - Cassidian. Airbus a représenté, certaines années, plus de 100% des profits et, régulièrement entre 60 et 70% du chiffre d’affaires. Une situation dangereuse en cas de retournement du cycle aéronautique. Ces dernières années, la demande en avions neufs ne s’est pas démentie mais un revirement ne peut pas être exclu. La montée en puissance dans la défense a toujours été une priorité. En 2007, EADS formalise cet objectif dans le cadre du «plan 2020». «La fusion avec BAE, c’est le plan 2020 dès 2013», résume Marwan Lahoud, directeur général délégué à la stratégie et au marketing d’EADS.


De son côté, BAE effectue, avec beaucoup de pragmatisme, un virage à 180 degrés en revenant dans l’aéronautique civile dont il était sorti en 2006 en cédant à EADS sa participation de 20% dans Airbus. BAE estime que sa stratégie de «pure player» dans la défense a atteint ses limites. L’objectif des deux groupes est donc le rééquilibrage de leurs activités. Et cela de façon parfaitement complémentaire, puisque BAE est ancré dans la défense, là où EADS est relativement faible, et qu’EADS est leader mondial de l’aéronautique civil avec Airbus.

• L’environnement est-il favorable?

Oui. Pour plusieurs raisons. L’impératif d’assainissement des comptes publics a un impact direct sur les dépenses militaires en Occident. États-Unis et Europe réduisent leur budget de défense. Les industriels - américains et britanniques principalement - ne peuvent plus compter sur «le marché» des troupes engagées en Irak ou en Afghanistan puisque leur retrait a débuté. Conséquence: le Pentagone prévoit de réduire ses dépenses d’au moins 500 milliards de dollars dans les dix ans à venir.


En Europe, la Grande-Bretagne et la France, les deux grandes puissances militaires du continent, coupent aussi dans leurs dépenses. Les groupes d’armement vont devoir vivre avec moins de commandes nationales. D’où une féroce bataille commerciale qui s’annonce sur les marchés exports (acheteurs en Asie, Amérique du Sud ou encore dans le Golfe).


L’environnement est propice à une nouvelle vague de concentrations et de coopérations. À l’instar de celle déclenchée après la chute du mur de Berlin qui avait vu, quelques années plus tard, la création de géants. Aux États-Unis, Mc Donnell Douglas a été avalé par Boeing, Martin Marietta est tombé dans l’escarcelle de Lockheed, tandis que Grumman ou TRW basculaient dans le camp de Northtrop. De son côté, l’Europe donnait naissance à EADS.

• À quoi ressemblera le nouvel ensemble?

Si les négociations aboutissent, BAE et EADS donneront naissance au leader mondial de l’aéronautique et de la défense avec, selon les calculs d’Exane BNP Paribas, un chiffre d’affaires de près de 80 milliards d’euros en 2013 et un bénéfice net de 3,33 milliards d’euros. La super-entreprise compterait 226.615 salariés dans le monde et serait capable de déployer une gamme de produits très complète, des avions de lignes, aux lanceurs spatiaux en passant par les satellites, les sous-marins, les porte-avions ou encore les blindés, la guerre électronique et la cybersécurité.

Dans le seul secteur de la défense, BAE-EADS bousculerait la hiérarchie mondiale en dépassant Lockheed Martin (42,8 milliards de dollars de ventes en 2011) avec 49,4 milliards de dollars de chiffre d’affaires. Le nouvel ensemble deviendrait un fournisseur complet de matériels militaires destinés aux trois corps d’armée: terre, air et mer. L’activité du géant européen serait répartie quasi à parité entre le civil et le militaire ainsi qu’entre les États-Unis et l’Europe.

• Quelles synergies attendre?

Toute fusion entraîne un examen du portefeuille d’activité avec, souvent, pour conséquence un impact sur l’emploi et l’outil industriel. Dans le cas de BAE-EADS, il n’y a quasiment pas de doublons tant la complémentarité entre les deux groupes est réelle. En outre, les deux entreprises se connaissent bien et coopèrent déjà au sein de programmes dans les missiles, au sein de MBDA, et dans les avions de combat, au sein du consortium Eurofighter.

Les économies de coûts concerneront surtout Cassidian, l’actuelle filiale défense d’EADS, ainsi que les activités de BAE hors États-Unis, Grande-Bretagne et Arabie saoudite, ses trois marchés clefs. Les analystes d’Exane BNP Paribas estiment les économies entre 300 et 450 millions d’euros.


La force de frappe commerciale du nouveau groupe devrait lui permettre de mener une politique de prix agressive. «Ce colosse mondial aura une puissance de tir sans égal en termes d’approche commerciale. Pour Finmeccanica ou Thales, il sera beaucoup plus difficile de (le) concurrencer», estiment plusieurs analystes.

• Qui dirigera le nouvel ensemble? Avec quelle organisation?

Cette question est délicate. Les équipes des deux groupes se sont mis d’accord sur une valorisation qui constitue une base de travail: les actionnaires d’EADS détiendront 60% du nouvel ensemble et ceux de BAE, 40%. Le mariage BAE-EADS «serait mis en œuvre par la création d’une nouvelle structure juridique à double cotation, au sein de laquelle les deux entreprises fonctionneraient comme un seul groupe», a déjà expliqué BAE dans un communiqué. Il est également prévu de conserver une séparation stricte de certaines activités de défense aux États-Unis pour garantir que leur sécurité nationale ne sera pas compromise. De même, les activités sensibles (dissuasion) britanniques et françaises seront isolées du reste du groupe.


Quant à la future gouvernance du groupe, que ce soit au niveau de l’actionnariat ou de la répartition des postes, rien n’est à ce jour totalement arrêté. Les négociateurs de BAE et d’EADS devront éviter de cadenasser leur futur champion mondial dans un pacte d’actionnaires trinational qui graverait dans le marbre une égalité à tous les étages, du conseil d’administration jusque dans la plus petite filiale, entre anglais, français et allemand avec un zeste d’américain et d’espagnol.


Le retour d’expérience d’EADS, créé sur la base d’un pacte d’actionnaires franco-allemand qui permettait aux États allemand et français de peser sur la stratégie via les actionnaires privés de référence (Daimler et le Groupe Lagardère), devrait inciter à la mise en place d’une «gouvernance normale». En évitant de doublonner les postes avec deux présidents du conseil et deux présidents exécutif notamment. On se rappelle que la guerre des chefs déclenchée en 2005 a failli faire imploser EADS.


Pour Thomas Enders, le président exécutif d’EADS qui apparaît en position de favori pour prendre les rennes du futur géant, le mariage avec BAE offre une opportunité historique de libérer EADS de son pacte, de faire sortir les actionnaires historiques dont l’État français tout en faisant entrer des représentants de BAE. Cela, en permettant aux États de protéger leurs intérêts (dissuasion nucléaire notamment) et le groupe de toute attaque hostile grâce à la création d’action spécifique (golden share).

• Quel rôle pour les États et les actionnaires historiques?

Les États sont en position de faire réussir ou échouer le projet. Celui-ci n’aurait jamais pu avancer aussi loin - les premières négociations ont débuté en mai - sans «le feu vert» d’Angela Merkel, la chancelière allemande, et de François Hollande, le président français qui ont été mis dans la confidence mi-juillet. Certes, les commentaires publiques de Paris et de Berlin «manquent d’enthousiasme», selon l’expression d’un proche du dossier. Mais les deux gouvernements sont soucieux d’apparaître comme les garants de l’emploi et des intérêts nationaux auprès de la population et des salariés. Car la fusion concerne deux entreprises stratégiques dont l’activité relève de la souveraineté nationale et qui portent sur la dissuasion. Les États associés au capital veulent tout à la fois obtenir la meilleure valorisation possible et faire respecter leurs droits tout en protégeant leurs intérêts. À cet effet, il est prévu la création d’action spécifique (golden share) qui n’implique pas nécessairement la sortie de l’État français, qui détient directement 15% d’EADS du futur groupe.


La fusion va cependant entraîner une dilution mécanique de chaque actionnaire. La part de l’État français tombera à 10% environ, tandis que celle du groupe Lagardère devrait passer de 7,5 à 5% environ. De son côté, le bloc allemand (Daimler et le consortium bancaire Dedalus) devrait passer de 22,35% à 12,5%. Il n’est pas certain que les actionnaires historiques d’EADS sortent immédiatement. «L’État français restera au capital», estime un bon connaisseur du dossier. Quant aux actionnaires de BAE - majoritairement des fonds et des assureurs dont le français Axa - ils sont soucieux d’obtenir le meilleur prix pour leur titre.

• La parité retenue est-elle la bonne?

La valorisation retenue - 60% du capital seraient détenus par les actionnaires d’EADS et 40% par ceux de BAE - ne fait pas l’unanimité. À Londres, on juge la valorisation retenue pour BAE «historiquement faible» et on s’étonne de devoir verser une soulte de 200 millions de livres aux actionnaires d’EADS.


Mais la plupart des analystes estiment que la parité retenue est «très favorable à BAE». Avant l’annonce du projet, les analystes interrogés par Reuters estimaient plutôt cette parité à 75-25 compte tenu des perspectives beaucoup plus positives sur le titre EADS. D’autres analystes fixe la parité à 70-30% en faveur d’EADS.


Pour Yan Derocles, analyste chez Oddo Securities, «la parité 60-40 se justifie si l’on regarde les résultats des deux sociétés attendus pour 2013. En revanche, sur un horizon à 4-5 ans, en prenant en compte l’accélération de la génération de cash d’EADS, la parité ressort plutôt à 75-25».


Les chiffres parlent d’eux-mêmes. EADS pèse près de 50 milliards d’euros de chiffre d’affaires; BAE près de 24 milliards. Tirées par le dynamisme d’Airbus, les perspectives d’EADS sont prometteuses, notamment en termes de progression des bénéfices tandis que, freinées par la baisse des dépenses militaires, celles de BAE sont plus sombres. En Bourse, EADS vaut 24,5 milliards et BAE 13,3 milliards. Cette «prime» accordée à BAE est souvent à la charge de l’acheteur. Elle pourrait aussi être consentie en contrepartie de l’accès au marché américain de la défense, selon un analyste.


Tom Enders et Ian King, président exécutif de BAE, auront donc fort à faire pour convaincre leurs actionnaires. Un «road show» pourrait être organisé en octobre à cet effet.

• Quel calendrier?

Depuis que l’affaire a fuité sur la place publique, BAE et EADS ont 28 jours ,soit jusqu’au 10 octobre, pour finaliser leur fusion. Ils y sont contraints par la réglementation boursière à Londres. Mais ils peuvent obtenir un délai. Ce qui semble probable compte tenu de la complexité de l’opération.

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15 septembre 2012 6 15 /09 /septembre /2012 13:14

Europe Flag


sept 15, 2012 Nicolas Gros-Verheyde (BRUXELLES2)


Alarme de décrochage ! L’appel qu’a lancé Claude-France Arnould, la directrice de l’Agence européenne de Défense, au Berlin Air Show, jeudi (13 septembre), pour une action urgente en Europe dans le domaine des futurs systèmes aéronautiques (future air systems FAS), équivaut cette « alarme d’incidence » – comme disent les pilotes – qui retentit dans les avions en phase de décrochage. « L’industrie aéronautique européenne est menacée ». Son sous-financement a atteint un niveau critique. « D’importantes capacités industrielles sont en train de s’éroder. Sans une action concertée supplémentaire, la situation va bientôt devenir critique par exemple pour le développement de l’avion de combat futur (avion classique ou UAV) et les hélicoptères d’attaque. »


Pour cela elle s’appuie sur une étude réalisée par 30 industriels européens parmi les plus importants (BAE, Eurocopter, Cassadian, Dassault, Westland,…). L’industrie représente aujourd’hui environ 200.000 personnes, souvent avec des capacités technologiques de pointe, et a un chiffre d’affaires de 45 millions d’euros. Or le moindre investissement de défense va obliger l’industrie à se restructurer avec pertes de compétences à la clé. L’étude montre que le risque de perte de compétences est particulièrement « significatif » et rapide, « entre aujourd’hui d’ici 2020 ». Selon l’étude, les industriels « perdent des compétences, mois après mois ». Cela a plusieurs conséquences. Tout d’abord, dans un avenir proche, l’Europe n’aura plus la capacité de produire certains équipements, comme par exemple « les avions de combat ». Quand une capacité et des connaissances se perdent, il est extrêmement difficile de les récupérer. Reformer de nouvelles équipes est extrêmement dur. Et souvent la perte est définitive.


UAS : un marché à saisir… ou pas


La conséquence est aussi très économique. Dans une économie concurrentielle, « l’Europe risque de perdre des parts significatives (de marché) dans la compétition mondiale sur les capacités UAS », drones et autres systèmes aériens inhabités. D’ores et déjà, elle dépend largement des Etats-Unis et des Israéliens – sont les deux plus gros producteurs du marché – notamment pour les systèmes et sous systèmes. Un monopole qui n’est pas inné. « Ils ont su investir dans le passé », précise John Mattiussi expert analyste de l’agence européenne de Défense, dans un entretien à B2.  Le marché est important non seulement au niveau militaire mais aussi général, par exemple pour la surveillance maritime, les frontières… » Ainsi si l’impact des opérations en Afghanistan et en Irak a joué un facteur décisif pour ce développement aux Etats-Unis, avec un intérêt majeur – ne pas risquer la vie des militaires (*) ; c’est aussi l’identification comme un marché d’avenir qui a joué. « Et on peut se demander Où est l’Europe ? » Une Europe qui a quasiment tout misé et mise encore sur les avions de chasse. Un domaine où « il y a trop de capacités » et un potentiel de restructurations. « Nous avons 5 entreprises compétentes, qui se tuent entre elles. Mais personne sur le marché de l’UAS… ».


Des lacunes graves


L’étude a identifié plus de 100 facteurs de dépendance, dont 12 présentent de « grands risques »  : les matériaux composites (une production dominée par Japon et les Etats-Unis) ; le titanium (provenant de Russie en majorité) ; les circuits composés ; les semi-conducteurs ; les technologies de positionnement et de navigation ; les technologies de cryptage ; les minerais rares ; les senseurs d’UAS ; les mesures d’auto protection ; les modules transmission / réception à large bande… ; les capacités furtives…


Achat sur étagère… non sans risques


Dans ces temps de difficultés financières, la tentation peut être grande de faire un « achat sur étagères », donc en général auprès des alliés américains. Mais cette solution repose sur différentes inconnues qui peuvent être politiques, administratives ou industrielles. Le dispositif de contrôle des exportations américains peut avoir des conséquences, y compris lors d’opérations, par exemple pour avoir les pièces de rechange nécessaires. Autre « exemple concret de ce que la dépendance produit » explique-t-il. Faute de fournisseur européen, il faut 72 mois pour avoir un nouvel hélicoptère lourd Chinook. Une situation qui ne risque pas de s’améliorer dans le futur avec le gel du projet franco-allemand d’hélicoptère lourd.


Moment critique


« Nous sommes effectivement à un moment critique » confirme John Mattiussi expert analyste de l’agence européenne de Défense. « L’effet se fera sentir dans 3, 4, 5 ans. Et on aura des difficultés importantes pour remonter la pente. C’est le dernier moment pour réagir. » L’Europe ne pourra peut-être même plus espérer devenir un sous-traitant des USA. « Les États-Unis peuvent se tourner vers les Européens comme un partenaire ; mais si ce partenaire n’existe plus, ou n’a plus les compétences, ils chercheront ailleurs. D’autres acteurs — Russes, Coréens, Chinois, Indiens, Brésiliens… — cherchent à avoir une présence technologique là où les Européens baissent la garde. » 


Tout n’est pas perdu


Pour autant, tout n’est pas perdu. « Dans l’aéronautique ou l’espace, en étant plus intelligent, on peut facilement prendre la tête. Regardez ce qui s’est passé pour l’aviation civile. Avant l’arrivée d’Airbus, on disait que la bataille était perdue face à Boeing. Le marché était dominé par les entreprises américaines (trois entreprises essentiellement). Aujourd’hui 2 des 3 principales entreprises Us de l’époque ont disparu. Airbus s’est affirmé comme un des principaux constructeurs et principal concurrent de Boeing. L’Europe a changé la face de l’aviation commerciale » en travaillant ensemble et en raisonnant en logique de marché.


« Si on construit des synergies civiles et militaires, on peut déclencher un gros marché. Aujourd’hui le marché actuel est fragmenté, et trop limité. Et il manque de l’argent pour la recherche. » Mais l’Europe a un potentiel d’ouvrir le marché, important. Et il existe des budgets de recherche qui pourraient être débloquées (du coté de la Commission européenne). On aurait ainsi le contraire de ce qui se passait dans le passé – où un investissement militaire débouchait sur des applications civiles -. Aujourd’hui, on aurait un investissement civil débouchant sur des applications militaires. Encore faut-il que ce renversement de sens de la recherche soit accepté par les financeurs européens.


(*) Critère décisif pour Israël, avec l’objectif de permettre une surveillance discrète, en économisant au maximum la vie des pilotes de chasse (ressource rare au plan humain) et obligeant à une récupération délicate en cas de perte.
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14 septembre 2012 5 14 /09 /septembre /2012 16:40

Gripen EF Photo Stefan Kalm - saabgroup.com SKA0070 355x236


Sept. 14, 2012 defense-aerospace.com

(Source: Saab Gripen International blog; posted Sept. 12, 2012)


According to a news report in the Swedish daily Business World, Saab’s Head of Gripen Exports Eddy de la Motte says that Saab’s goal is to export at least 300 Gripens within the next ten years.


“If this objective is achieved, Saab will have 10 percent of the available market,” he added.


Eddy de la Motte also said that Saab’s visions include the establishing of Gripen NG as the world’s leading single engine multirole combat fighter, and to launch a Sea Gripen version for selected markets, within a joint development programme.

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14 septembre 2012 5 14 /09 /septembre /2012 11:50
EADS merger could harm BAE, investors warn


14 Sep 2012 By Helia Ebrahimi, and Graham Ruddick- TheTelegraph


Leading investors in BAE Systems have warned that a potential £30bn merger with Franco-German rival EADS risks harming the long-term interests of the British defence giant and its shareholders.


Shares in BAE fell more than 10pc as investors balked at news of the merger, which must win the backing of the British, US and European governments before shareholders can vote on the deal.


Investors are concerned about the level of political interference in the new company, given that 50.14pc of EADS is effectively controlled by the French, German and Spanish governments.


“It is not clear that this is in the best interests of shareholders,” said one top 15 investor. “Under the combined structure you are replacing institutional shareholders with large stakes held by the French and German governments. This is not a good outcome because often big stakes are used to influence companies to behave in a way other than for commercial reasons.”


Another major institutional shareholder said the deal remained “half-baked”, with doubts about how the management team would be structured and how investors in the two companies would be merged.


Analysts said the proposals put BAE in play as a bid target for US defence groups such as Boeing or Northrop Grumman. “BAE management have shown an openness to ideas,” said Edmund Salvesen at Brewin Dolphin.

Talks over the merger of BAE and EADS are understood to have begun as early as April after the failure of the Eurofighter Typhoon consortium, which the companies control, to win a multi-billion pound contract to sell the fighter jet to India.


At a meeting in Munich, BAE chief executive Ian King and Tom Enders, the boss of EADS, discussed greater co-operation between the companies as a way of boosting the Typhoon project. A feasibility study was then launched by internal strategy teams at BAE and EADS, and talks about a full-blown merger began in the summer.


The deal would offer BAE the revenue growth of plane maker.


Airbus, and EADS would secure a route into the US defence market. BAE management is understood to be seeking guarantees there would be no political interference in the new company.


“What we don’t understand is that overnight BAE’s board seems to be suggesting that being a defence company is a doomed strategy,” said a third investor, of the planned drive into civil aerospace. “If it was a problem, what has the board been doing for the last five years?”


Sources close to the deal believe David Cameron and the Coalition are supportive of the proposal, despite concerns from trade unions over jobs.


Philip Dunne, the new minister for defence equipment, support and technology, said: “At this stage we are in the very early days of discussions with both companies about conditions the government would place [on a deal].”


However, there are greater fears about whether France and Germany will back the deal.


The deputy leader in Angela Merkel’s CDU party said that Mr Enders must lead the enlarged group, while there are fears in France over job losses.

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8 septembre 2012 6 08 /09 /septembre /2012 16:45

Saab 340 MSA Sensorside


07 September 2012 by Guy Martin - defenceWeb


Saab is bringing its Saab 340 Maritime Security Aircraft (MSA) to the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exhibition later this month, in the aircraft’s second public appearance after the Farnborough Air Show in July. Saab is offering the aircraft to fulfil the South African Air Force’s requirement for new maritime patrol aircraft under Project Saucepan.


The Saab 340 MSA will spend 25 hours travelling 10 000 km over five days to get to Air Force Base Waterkloof outside Pretoria. It will depart Linkoping, Sweden, and fly to Europe, with a rest stop in Italy. It will then proceed to Egypt and fly along the east coast of Africa, including Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique, before landing at Waterkloof. The aircraft will be on display until the evening of Sunday September 23 and will depart for Sweden the following morning. Saab test pilot Magnus Fredriksson said the aircraft would arrive on the Sunday before the show, which starts on September 19.


Although the 340 MSA will only be on static display during AAD, the mission system will be up and running, allowing potential customers to view it in operation. Although the aircraft is coming out exclusively for AAD as South Africa is the prime focus, Saab is hoping to attract interest from the numerous foreign delegations that will be attending the exhibition. In particular, the aircraft will be promoted to the Turkish, Argentine and Vietnamese delegations.


Philip Willcock, Senior Marketing Executive: Air – Sub-Saharan Africa at Saab South Africa, said that Saab was hoping to attract interest in the 340 MSA from all over the world at AAD. Saab estimates a worldwide market for between 50 and 100 aircraft in the 340 MSA class over the next 15-20 years.


Willcock said that all Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries with coastlines are potential customers, such as Namibia, Angola, Mozambique, Tanzania and Kenya.


In South Africa, the Air Force has Project Saucepan underway, which seeks to find a replacement for its C-47TP maritime patrol aircraft. The project was signed off by the minister of defence in February but Saab is still awaiting a formal document from the project team. Willcock said that an ideal number of 340 MSAs for South Africa would be five, as five aircraft would be able to adequately cover the country’s coastline.


Saab is looking to fit South African made sensors onto the aircraft in order to maximise local content. Willcock said that Saab is teaming with Cobham to supply the satellite communications system and Carl Zeiss to supply electro optical equipment. In addition, the 340 MSA offered to South Africa would be equipped with the indigenous Link ZA data link.


Johan Rättvall, who is in charge of Saab 340 MSA marketing, said that the main markets for the 340 MSA are Latin America, Africa and Asia. After AAD, he said the aircraft would be displayed at Latin America Aerospace and Defence (LAAD) in April next year, the Paris Air Show in June and Dubai Air Show in November. The MSA demonstrator - which was built in 1998 and operated by Mesaba Airlines in Northwest Airlink colours until 2011 - is available for sale.


Rättvall said that over the last decade, many countries have realised how important the sea is in generating wealth, whether it is trade or fishing – 90% of world trade is conducted at sea. Rattval said that piracy and other illegal activities have created a rapidly growing market for maritime surveillance. “Saab as a defence and security company hopes to be part of that growing market,” he said. “Africa is one of the more interesting regions.” Indeed, piracy is rife off West Africa and in the Gulf of Aden and nations in the region have been purchasing maritime surveillance aircraft – Nigeria and Ghana recently bought Diamond DA 42 Guardian aircraft while countries with the European Union Naval Force fly P-3 Orions and other maritime patrol aircraft on the east coast.


The 340 MSA is not just a military platform and is being offered to coast guards as well – in fact, the first customer for the type was the Japan Coast Guard, which bought two aircraft in the late 1990s and then another two. The decision to pursue the 340 MSA was taken a few years ago when it was realised that conversions for organisations like the Japan Coast Guard were not one off orders and there was a dedicated market for this type of aircraft. The increase in terrorism around the world and the rise in homeland security spending were further incentives to develop the type, Saab said.


The 340 MSA is also offered for search and rescue, oil spill and pollution detection, fisheries inspection, counter smuggling surveillance, illegal immigrant control, transportation, medical evacuation and exclusive economic zone monitoring. There are no plans to arm the 340 MSA, as it is a dedicated surveillance platform.


The 340 MSA features a number of sensors for day and night operations, including electro-optical sensors and a 360° search radar. Saab has installed the Telephonics RBR-1700B X-band radar, with a maximum range of 120 nautical miles, and a FLIR Systems Star Safire III infrared turret, but these can be changed to other designs. Other avionics include an automatic identification system, satellite communications and mission management system. Optional extras include a side-looking airborne radar, V/UHF direction finder, UV/infrared line scanner, larger windows and an air drop door.


Maximum cruise speed is 480 km/h with an endurance of 6.5 hours and a maximum range 2 400 km, but this can be extended with optional auxiliary fuel tanks, for an endurance of around nine hours.


Willcock said that all of the 450 Saab 340 airliners built could be converted to MSA configuration. The conversion process involves rebuilding the airframe and overhauling the engines, resetting airframe hours to zero, and giving the aircraft a 45 000 hour or 30 year service life.


According to Willcock, that the 340 MSA is a cost effective platform as it uses a proven converted airliner airframe, but the 340 MSA mission system can be installed on just about any aircraft, as Saab has done with the Erieye airborne early warning system. He emphasised that the cost of ownership of the 340 MSA is low as the aircraft is in commercial service and there is a large spares market. Saab earlier estimated a unit price of US$20 million. Willcock added that the aircraft has proven reliability, with dispatch reliability of 98.3%.


Saab is just one of many contenders in maritime surveillance aircraft market. Visiongain last year estimated that the airborne maritime patrol market segment was worth more than US$6.5 billion for 2011 and US$78 billion for the ten year period through 2021. It projected robust growth in the segment. For example, L-3 expects to sell around 150 Spydr surveillance aircraft and said it had identified several potential buyers in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The company brought the Spydr out to South Africa last year.


Smaller, but more expensive than the Saab product, a basic Beech King Air 350ER system includes maritime search radar, electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensors, AIS and onboard mission workstations with options for a data link and drop hole. The aircraft has an endurance of up to nine hours. There are a number of King Airs currently operated in the maritime surveillance role, with the most recent being the MARS King Air 350ER for the US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) being built by Sierra Nevada Corporation at a cost of over US$22 million per aircraft.


Malta’s Armed Forces recently took delivery of a second new B200 from Aero Data of Germany, who won the contract to supply these aircraft at 12.2 million Euros each in Maritime Surveillance configuration.


Another contender in the airborne maritime surveillance market, and which is also being promoted to South Africa, is the C-295MPA/ASW Persuader. This features the Fully Integrated Tactical System (FITS) mission suite, comprising of a search radar, electro-optical/infrared sensor, magnetic anomaly detector, four multifunction consoles, sonobuoy or flare and marker launcher and three hardpoints for torpedoes, anti-submarine munitions or depth charges. Chile and Portugal have ordered the maritime patrol variant.


Some other examples or short/medium range coastal/exclusive economic zone surveillance aircraft are the Cessna Reims 406, Viking Twin Otter, Bombardier Dash 8, Casa 212 and CN-235MP, RUAG Dornier Do-228, ATR-42/72MP and Fokker F-50.

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3 septembre 2012 1 03 /09 /septembre /2012 17:50
Will Gripen-NG Project Bring More Defense Cuts for Sweden?


Sep. 1, 2012 By GERARD O’DWYER   Defense news


HELSINKI — Fears are growing in Sweden that the government’s plan to develop a next-generation (NG) “super” Gripen will further drain a largely static defense budget and force the Swedish armed forces into more cuts to core operations.


The government has put the total cost of acquisition for the planned 60 to 80 aircraft, including development costs, at $13.5 billion. The Swedish Air Force is expected to take delivery of the first JAS Gripen E/F aircraft in 2023.


The decision to develop a Gripen-NG E/F has split Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldts’ center-right coalition of Moderate, Liberal, Christian Democrat and Center parties.


The Moderates and Christian Democrats support the plan, but the issue has divided Center Party members. The Liberals oppose the project, which they fear will divert funding from core defense areas.


The government remains defiant. Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, a Moderate, on Aug. 29 described the ”super Gripen” project, which is tied to the sale of 22 aircraft to Switzerland, as an important step toward generating large-scale exports beyond the Swiss deal.


Under the agreement between the governments, signed Aug. 24, Switzerland will pay $3.25 billion for 22 JAS Gripen E/Fs. Sweden hopes to finalize contracts in 2013 and start first deliveries in 2018.


“This decision will make the JAS Gripen easier to sell globally,” Bildt said. “We will achieve the development and production of an advanced E/F version and hopefully find new buyers. This is a step in the right direction.”


The scale of the project, and the absence of a final cost, raises serious questions about how the program will affect core military spending and Sweden’s ability to protect and build on its present defense capability, said Allan Widman, the Liberal Party’s defense spokesman.


“The deal to sell 22 Gripens to Switzerland was agreed at a fixed price. This is a good deal for Switzerland, but leaves Sweden to carry the can for any budget overruns in development or production,” Widman said.


The Gripen upgrade report delivered by defense chief Gen. Sverker Göranson to the Ministry of Defense in March contained a project cost estimate, Widman said.


“This segment of that report remains classified. Not even the Parliamentary Defense Committee has seen it,” Widman said. “We still do not know what this program will cost, or if funding to finance it will come from the core defense budget.”


Reinfeldt defended the decision, saying the fighter sale and cost-sharing partnership with Switzerland forms part of a broader vision to grow Sweden’s reputation as a producer of high-end combat aircraft.


“The decision is necessary for our defense capability, but it is also positive for Swedish industry, job creation, exports, and research and development,” he said. “The defense industry employs over 100,000 people in Sweden. The fighter’s development leads to continuous technology creation and innovation.”


The Swiss alliance will enable Sweden to procure a high-capability fighter at a lower cost than if it funded the project alone, he said.


However, the government’s planned defense budget increase will be modest. Under the proposal, $45 million will be added to the defense budgets for 2013 and 2014 to cover JAS Gripen-NG related development costs. An additional $30 million will be included in defense budgets after 2014, Reinfeldt said.


The MoD has estimated development costs for the JAS Gripen-NG program at $5 billion.


The real cost may be higher, said Siemon Wezeman, a defense analyst with the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.


“We don’t know what the final cost will be,” he said. “The big problem with programs like this is that it is very difficult to know at the outset what the final cost will be.”


Technical hurdles, exchange rate fluctuations, problems with sourcing parts from foreign suppliers, and problems in the development and testing stages could all add to costs, Wezeman said.


“The Gripen E/F will be an almost completely rebuilt and unproven version,” he said. “This is not just an upgrade of the existing Gripen; it is a complete redesign, and essentially a new aircraft. Because of the small number to be built, the R&D costs per unit are likely to be very high.”


The upgraded Gripen would grow in length from 14.1 to 14.9 meters, it would have a slightly wider wingspan, and its maximum takeoff weight would increase from 14 to 16.5 tons. The number of onboard weapon stations would rise from eight to 10, engine power would increase by 22 percent, and range would expand from 3,500 to 4,075 kilometers.


Sweden’s agreement with Switzerland comprises three parts: the acquisition of the upgraded Gripen; cooperation in maintaining and upgrading the Gripen during its lifecycle, up to 2042; and a linked agreement that will see the Swiss Air Force lease Gripen C/D version fighters between 2016-2021.


The military has found itself in a difficult position, said Peter Rådberg, a Green Party member of the Parliamentary Defense Committee.


“The military wants this Gripen-NG upgrade program,” Rådberg said. “They see it as improving Sweden’s overall defense capability while raising the country’s ability to better protect the skies in the High North and the Baltic Sea area. The jury is still out on what this will mean for funding in the core branches of defense which are already underfunded.”


The military’s March report noted that personnel will cost an additional $180 million annually by 2019, and an extra $300 million a year will be needed beginning in 2015 to cover projected equipment procurement needs.


Speaking to the Almedalsveckan Politics and Society conference in Gotland on July 1, Göranson said the military may be forced to mothball parts of the Navy, Air Force and Land Forces if forced to absorb funding for the Gripen-NG program.


All existing concerns over the adequacy of defense spending will be discussed with opposition parties in coming months, Defense Minister Karin Enström said.


“There will be enough money in future budgets for defense,” she said. “The details can be worked out later.”

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17 juillet 2012 2 17 /07 /juillet /2012 17:30



July 17, 2012: Strategy Page


The U.S. Air Force has officially accepted the modified 30mm Mk44 Bushmaster automatic cannon as the GAU-23. For the last three years, modified (and continually tweaked) Mk44s have been operating on a dozen U.S. Air Force AC-130 gunships and, more recently as part of the U.S. Marine Corps Harvest Hawk ("instant gunship" via several pallets of sensors and weapons) version of the KC-130J tanker.


The 30mm Bushmaster cannon weighs 157 kg (344 pounds) and fires at 200 or 400 rounds per minute (up to 7 per second). The Bushmaster has 160 rounds available, before needing a reload. That means the gunner has 25-50 seconds worth of ammo, depending on rate of fire used. Each 30mm high explosive/incendiary round weighs about 714 g (25 ounces, depending on type.) The fire control system and night vision sensors, enables the 30mm gunners to accurately hit targets with high explosive shells. Earlier SOCOM AC-130 gunships are armed with a 105mm howitzer, a 25mm and 40mm automatic cannon. But the two smaller caliber guns are being phased out of military service. The air force is now equipping its gunships just with smart bombs and missiles as well as one or two GAU-23s.


The big thing with gunships is their sensors, not their weapons. Operating at night, the gunships can see what is going on below, in great detail. Using onboard weapons, gunships can immediately engage targets. But with the appearance of smart bombs (GPS and laser guided), aerial weapons are now capable of taking out just about any target. So gunships can hit targets that were "time sensitive" (had to be hit before they got away), but could also call on smart bombs or laser guided missiles for targets that weren't going anywhere right away. Most of what gunships do in Afghanistan is look for roadside bombs, or the guys who plant them. These gunships want to track back to their base, and then take out an entire roadside bomb operation.

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