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10 février 2012 5 10 /02 /février /2012 13:40

http://info-aviation.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Saab-Gripen-en-piste.jpg

 

10 février 2012 par Edouard Maire – INFO-AVIATION

 

La firme suédoise Saab est prête à réduire le prix de son avion de chasse Gripen assorti d’une garantie de l’État suédois jusqu’en 2040.

 

Une semaine après que Dassault ait proposé 18 avions Rafale à 2,7 milliards de francs suisse (soit 400 millions de francs de moins que le Gripen), Saab réagit en proposant une diminution du prix du Gripen.

 

« Le prix définitif sera en dessous de 3,1 milliards », aurait précisé Anders Carp, le directeur de Saab Gripen Suisse, au journal Tages-Anzeiger. Le quotidien zurichois évoque, selon des sources internes, une fourchette de prix allant de 2,5 à 2,8 milliards.

 

Pour appuyer cette nouvelle offre, le ministre de la défense suédois Hakan Jevrell, a indiqué au quotidien zurichois qu’en cas de commande suisse, cet achat pourrait jusqu’à bénéficier d’une garantie de l’Etat suédois que tous les avions seront bien livrés à terme. Ceci au cas où Saab devait connaître des difficultés d’ici à 2040, durée de vie approximative des avions. Plutôt qu’avec le constructeur, le contrat serait donc signé avec le gouvernement suédois, pour autant que le parlement suisse donne son feu vert à cet achat.

 

Saab tient également compte du plan d’économies du Conseil fédéral suisse qui vise à consolider et à financer l’armée (PFA 2014). Celui-ci prévoit des coupes à hauteur de 800 millions de francs suisse en deux étapes, notamment dans les secteurs sensibles tels que la formation, la recherche, l’agriculture ou l’aide au développement. Les oppositions à l’acquisition de nouveaux avions de combat risquent donc de s’additionner, à l’heure où le Groupe pour une Suisse sans armée (GSsA) et la gauche se disent prêts à lancer un référendum contre le PFA 2014.

 

En novembre 2011, le Conseil fédéral avait préféré acheter 22 avions Gripen pour un 3,1 milliards de francs (2,6 milliards d’euros) au lieu du Rafale de Dassault suite à son appel d’offres pour remplacer la flotte vieillissante de chasseurs F-5.

Le gouvernement suisse doit approuver officiellement la transaction en février avant d’être envoyé aux législateurs pour l’approbation finale plus tard dans l’année.

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9 février 2012 4 09 /02 /février /2012 13:55
Images / Anurag Rana

Images / Anurag Rana

February 09, 2012 by Shiv Aroor LIVEFIST

 

These superb 3D impressions of the Dassault Rafale in Indian Air Force colours have been made available exclusively to Livefist by artist/illustrator Anurag Rana. If the Rafale manages to pull off the MMRCA deal, this is what the jet will look like when delivered.

 

More pics

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8 février 2012 3 08 /02 /février /2012 18:50
UK to buy eighth C-17 transport

The RAF's C-17s play a vital role in supporting UK operations in Afghanistan – photo UK MoD

 

Feb 08, 2012 by Craig Hoyle- Flight Global

 

London - The UK is to order another Boeing C-17 strategic transport, with the acquisition to boost the Royal Air Force's fleet of the type to eight aircraft.

 

Announced by prime minister David Cameron on 8 February, the purchase represents the potentially final addition to the UK's C-17 fleet, which plays a vital role in sustaining its "airbridge" with Afghanistan. Seven are flown by the service's 99 Sqn from its air transport super base at RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire.

 

Writing on his Twitter account, minister for defence equipment, support and technology Peter Luff described the decision as "really good news for Defence and for [the] RAF".

 

Further details about the acquisition will be announced by the UK Ministry of Defence later today, with Boeing declining to comment in advance of its customer's statement.

 

In May 2011, the RAF marked the completion of its first decade of operations with the C-17, an initial four of which were flown under a lease agreement with the USA. These were subsequently purchased outright, with orders later placed for two and one aircraft respectively.

 

The UK operates the second-largest fleet of C-17s, behind the US Air Force, although India recently completed the process of ordering a fleet of 10 to enter use from later this decade.

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8 février 2012 3 08 /02 /février /2012 12:30
Comment Dassault aviation a préparé son offensive en Suisse

 

7/02/2012 Par Michel Cabirol – la Tribune

 

Après avoir perdu la compétition fin novembre face au Gripen, le constructeur du Rafale a tenté en janvier de tordre le bras de Berne en faisant une nouvelle offre très attractive. Une contre-attaque menée par le patron en personne.

 

Quand Berne a choisi fin novembre l'avion suédois, le Gripen, Dassault Aviation, qui était encore confiant au début de l'automne dans le succès du Rafale en Suisse, a pris une sacrée douche glacée. Quinze jours avant, le coup de gueule des Emirats arabes unis (EAU), qui ont mis en compétition l'Eurofighter face au Rafale, avait déjà quelque peu ébranlé la confiance - certains parlent d'arrogance - des dirigeants de Dassault Aviation. Malmenés, critiqués, voire brocardés, ils sont alors au fond du trou. Ils viennent de perdre la Suisse, sont complètement « groggy » aux Emirats et sont très pessimistes sur l'Inde. Bref, rien ne va début décembre même si les relations font mine de se détendre avec Abu Dhabi.

 

Charles Edelstenne à la manoeuvre

 

C'est sans compter sur la pugnacité de son PDG, Charles Edelstenne. Une fois l'agitation médiatique retombée, il repart aussi sec à Abu Dhabi dès la fin du salon aéronautique pour renouer le contact et remettre tout à plat avec les autorités émiraties. Avec succès. Mais c'est en Suisse que la contre-attaque sera spectaculaire. Elle sera pilotée et orchestrée en personne par Charles Edelstenne. « C'est lui, et lui seul, qui a imposé de revenir en Suisse avec une offre imbattable et c'est lui qui a décidé de repartir au combat, explique un bon connaisseur du dossier. Il n'a pas voulu baisser les bras ». Pourquoi ? Selon certains, « il est soucieux de l'état dont il va laisser l'entreprise à son successeur. Il avait besoin d'un succès à l'export ». Est-ce que cela peut influer sur sa sortie ? La question reste entière. Selon un connaisseur de la famille, la succession serait réglée. La rumeur évoque Olivier Dassault à la tête de Groupe Industriel Marcel Dassault (GIMD), la société holding, et le directeur financier de Dassault Aviation, Loïc Segalen, l'homme en qui Charles Edelstenne a le plus confiance, aux commandes de l'avionneur.

 

Soupçons d'irrégularité pour "l'avion-Ikéa"

 

De fait, Dassault Aviation a envoyé un courrier aux parlementaires suisses leur proposant l'acquisition de 18 Rafale pour 2,7 milliards de francs suisses (CHF) soit 2,24 milliards d'euros au cours actuel. Le constructeur du Rafale avait perdu en novembre un appel d'offres pour remplacer la flotte vieillissante de F-5 Tiger de l'américain Northrop dont est équipée depuis des décennies l'armée de l'air suisse. Le gouvernement fédéral lui a préféré le Gripen (Saab), l'offre la moins onéreuse, en achetant 22 exemplaires au prix de 3,1 milliards de francs (2,57 milliards d'euros au cours actuel). Le Parlement doit encore donner son aval au contrat et le dossier doit être examinée en commission le 13 février.

 

En outre, concernant le Gripen, des soupçons de manipulations et d'irrégularités lors de l'appel d'offres, comme dans beaucoup de dossiers concernant la vente à l'international de l'avion de combat suédois. Le marché porte sur l'acquisition de 22 appareils (3,1 milliards de francs suisses) selon la presse helvétique, qui a de façon ironique surnommé le Gripen "l'avion-Ikea". Ce n'est pas la première fois que le Gripen est rattrapé par des affaires. Au début des années 2000, des soupçons de corruption ont plané en Tchéquie après la commande avortée de 24 appareils et en Afrique du Sud (26 appareils). Enfin, le Gripen devra aussi convaincre les Suisses. Une votation (référendum) sur l'achat des 22 avions de combat pourrait se dérouler à l'automne 2013. Le ministre suisse de la Défense Ueli Maurer espère encore échapper à ce scrutin.

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5 février 2012 7 05 /02 /février /2012 09:05
Rafale photo Livefist

Rafale photo Livefist

 

5 Feb, 2012, Bennett Voyles - economictimes.indiatimes.com

 

Many global arms industry observers were surprised this week when the Indian Air Force announced that it had chosen French firm Dassault Aviation as its preferred bidder for a roughly $11-billion deal to supply India with 126 jet fighters. After all, despite 12 years of heavy sales bombardments all over the world that sometimes even included the president, only the French air force has ever actually bought the Rafale.

The deal isn't done yet - the French have just won the right to an exclusive negotiation - but it is close enough that shares in Dassault shot up by 20% the day of the announcement.

So how did Dassault finally pull it off? And not just any deal, but what some say is the biggest cross-border military aviation contract of all time? Of course, the Indian government said it went to the low bidder, but that seems unlikely - particularly since the final price hasn't been set, and no one picks up jet planes just because they're on sale.

The Deal

 
French firm Dassault won $11 billion contract to supply 126 Rafale jets.
Snapped it up with lower bid against Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft.
The size of the contract could eventually go up to 200 aircraft.

The Aircraft

 
Rafale is a twin-engined, delta-wing jet Can fly up to 2,130 km per hour in high altitude.
In service for the French Air Force since 2006.
Has been playing air support roles in Afghan war Part of Nato campaign in Libya in 2011.

The Company

 
Dassault family is the majority owner. EADS, a co-producer of competing Typhoon, owns 46% of the equity.
The company has delivered 7,500 civil & military aircraft to 75 countries.
Dassault came close to selling aircraft to Brazil and Switzerland, but failed to secure a contract as yet.
UAE was reportedly in final negotiations to buy 60 Rafale in June 2010, but drama unfolded when Eurofighter Typhoon was allowed to submit a counter-offer.
French defence minister gave an ultimatum that Rafale production would be halted if the jets could be sold abroad.


And The Snag

 
The file containing the offset proposals of contenders went missing in December 2010. Later found on the roadside in south Delhi. The episode threatened to derail the tendering process itself.

Others in the race

 
Six contenders were subjected to extensive field evaluation trials.
Four aircraft eliminated last year on technical grounds were American Lockheed Martin's F-16 and Boeing's F/A-18, Russian United Aircraft Corporation's MiG-35 and Swedish SAAB's Gripen

With billions on the table, and the national security at stake, the French plane must have edged out the multi-national Eurofighter for a number of reasons. Nine possibilities:

A Better lunch


Of course, nobody makes an important decision for the food, but the prospect of hanging out in Bordeaux, home of the Dassault assembly line, instead of Halbergmoos, Germany, couldn't have hurt. On the one hand, you're in the heart of the French wine country, in a rich and sunny part of France. On the other, you're in cold, grey Bavaria, facing a few years of sausages, sauerkraut, and beer served in mugs the size of small aquariums.

 

DASSAULT WAS HUNGRY


Dassault has failed to sell the Rafale abroad since 2000. Although its Mirage planes were popular in the 1970s, Dassault hasn't had a similar success with the Rafale line. Deals with the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Brazil all fell through.

To top it off, President Nicolas Sarkozy is very unpopular and faces an uphill election campaign. After all the economic troubles under his tenure, bringing home a little jambon would be seen as a positive - particularly as France has reportedly sunk more than $50 billion on the Rafale's development, a lot of money for a country that spends around $60 billion a year on defence.

Despite the fact that chairman and chief executive officer Serge Dassault is a member of Sarkozy's political party, owns the leading French conservative newspaper (Le Figaro) and even serves as a French senator (where he is vice-finance chairman), the government had recently announced plans to cease production in 2021 if outside buyers could not be found.

BECAUSE I'M WORTH IT


L'Oreal, the French cosmetics company, made a fortune selling its more-expensive home hair dye with ads that showed some sultry blonde saying she'd chosen L'Oreal, "because I'm worth it". Now that India has become a much wealthier country, it can afford the best for its pilots - and Rafale is arguably the best.

"They kind of went for the 'fun to fly' factor rather than the best value factor," says S Amer Latif, a visiting fellow in US-India policy studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, DC.

"If you ask me which plane is better, I'd answer Rafale is a more mature and already multi-role plane," says David Cenicotti, an Italian military aviation blogger. "The Eurofighter is a younger technology, believed to be cheaper and to have a more political clout because it is built by four European countries."

However, this can also be a flaw in times when financial crisis has seen the same four countries much distant from one another on the strategy to save eurozone.

DASSAULT IS SMART


Although the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Rafale began as more or less the same aircraft, Dassault pulled out of the design consortium in 1985, and in recent years the Rafale has made some technical gains. First, the Rafale has a more advanced radar system than the Eurofighter Typhoon. Unlike the Typhoon, it's also already possible to configure to landing on an aircraft carrier - an adjustment that can be difficult, according to James Hardy, Asia-Pacific editor of Jane's Defence Weekly.

The company has also had a tradition of being on the cutting edge. A 1973 profile of Dassault described the company as viewing sales differently than American aircraft companies: "Whereas most American aircraft companies commonly look on development as an unavoidable and not particularly attractive prelude to production, Dassault seems to view production as a buffer work assignment to fill capacity not absorbed by development."

 

DASSAULT IS NOT AMERICAN


American arms deals tend to come with strings attached - inspections, and possibly spare parts embargos if they don't approve of the uses to which a plane is put - as happened after India's nuclear tests in the 1990s. Buy American and you get the American agenda free.

"The US sells weapons under quite strict conditions - how to use them and where to use them," says Siemon Wezeman, senior researcher at the Stockholm International Research Institute. The US also requires buyers to submit to regular inspections, he says, which some countries find humiliating.

The French, on the other hand, tend to be more laissez-faire and more independent of the major powers - in their own way, not unlike the Indians. "The whole idea that the French are sometimes very independent vis-a-vis some of the big countries, may give them an added advantage," Wezeman adds.


OR BRITISH AND GERMAN AND SPANISH AND ITALIAN


An important part of the deal is the transfer of the technology to India. The Eurofighter is a joint product, which runs off four different production lines. This could have led to a lot of complexity down the line, particularly as the agreement calls for setting up a production line and transferring the technology to India. "It seems to me that the Eurofighter's technical transfer might have been a bit more complicated than the French," says Latif of CSIS.

FRANCE MAKES ALL THE PARTS


Even as most arms makers, including American manufacturers, have tried to cut costs and boost political consensus by creating global supply chains, France still tries to maintain an independent military industrial base. That makes things more expensive for the French taxpayer, but the Indian Air Force may see this as an advantage: rather than worry about maintaining relations with a group of countries, almost all the parts for the Rafale are sourced within France, simplifying the logistics, according to Wezeman.

THE ARAB SPRING SPRANG THE RAFALE INTO THE NEWS


To most of us, war is a horrible tragedy. To arms dealers, it's a great sales tool. Muammar Ghaddafi was a big fan of the Rafale, and even expressed interest in purchasing a number of them in 2007. Although he later changed his mind - a decision he may have regretted last spring - the one time fan inadvertently helped sell them: French Rafale fighters provided key support for Libyan rebels and reportedly performed very well.

 

BEAUTY IS IN THE WALLET OF THE BEHOLDER


In the late 1980s, Dassault was involved with a helicopter procurement scandal in Belgium that ended in the conviction of the minister of defence, the chairman of the Socialist Party and a number of other Belgian politicians and government officials, and 18 months' probation for CEO Serge Dassault.

However, it should be noted that at the time, Dassault was not actually breaking French law - bribing French officials was illegal but bribing foreign officials was fair game: until 2000, foreign bribery expenses were even tax deductible.

More recently, Dassault seems to have continued to have problems with his cash targeting system. In 2008, he won reelection of mayor (it's possible to hold several offices simultaneously in France) in Evry, a town south of Paris, but in 2009, the State Council invalidated results on allegations that he paid some voters for their support.

So far, no official allegations have been made about the Rafale contract, outside an outlandish claim last April by Subramanian Swamy, Janata Party leader, that a kind of criminal Italian sorority had engineered the deal, comprised Carla Bruni, the half-Italian first lady of France, and Sonia Gandhi, the head of the National Advisory Council, and Mrs Gandhi's sisters.

Whether a few fat envelopes closed the deal or not, one analyst says suspicion of corruption could still unravel the contract. "I think the biggest risk is when somebody starts shouting corruption even if there isn't anything, because it has to be investigated," Wezeman says.

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5 février 2012 7 05 /02 /février /2012 08:15
Estonia Joins NATO Ground Surveillance Network

 

TALLINN, February 4 (RIA Novosti)

 

Estonia will be part of NATO’s Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) project, the country’s Defense Ministry said.

 

The North Atlantic Council decided on February 2 to collectively cover the costs for operating the AGS network as a NATO-owned and operated capability.

 

The AGS will be acquired by 13 Allies (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and the United States), and will be made available to the Alliance in 2015-2017.

 

The network will include five U.S.-made Global Hawk RQ-4B reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and the associated command and control base stations.

 

“The AGS core capability will enable the Alliance to perform persistent surveillance over wide areas from high-altitude, long-endurance, unmanned aerial platforms operating at considerable stand-off distances and in any weather or light condition,” NATO said.

 

The main operating base for AGS will be located at Sigonella Air Base in Italy.

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3 février 2012 5 03 /02 /février /2012 18:25
NATO to Acquire Unmanned Aircraft

Feb. 3, 2012 defense-aerospace.com

(Source: Norwegian Ministry of Defence; issued Feb. 3, 2012)
(Issued in Norwegian only; unofficial translation by defense-aerospace.com)

NATO Defence ministers have made a very important decision to acquire unmanned aircraft for surveillance of land and oceans - NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS).

“Common solutions have tied NATO together for over 60 years and give the nations of the Alliance access to strategic capabilities that are disproportionately expensive to acquire alone. This decision is therefore a very good example of why it is important for Norway to join the NATO,” says Norwegian Defence Minister Espen Barth Eide.

It is important that the Alliance has real time information about the situation on the ground and at sea. AGS will give NATO the ability to monitor large areas from high altitude, long range under all weather and lighting conditions. The monitoring is done with unmanned aircraft of the type of the Global Hawk, which has a range of 16,000 kilometers and can fly at altitudes up to 60,000 feet. The aircraft will be controlled from a ground station in Italy.

“NATO nations show, with this decision, that there is a political will to work together to invest in public safety, despite the difficult economic situation that affects many countries,” said Minister of Defence Espen Barth Eide.

Norway's share of the investment is estimated at 320 million. The acquisition will also provide contracts for Norwegian industry.

NATO will own and operate the unmanned surveillance aircraft. In addition, to meeting military surveillance needs, the aircraft will have the capacity to contribute to the monitoring of large ocean areas, transportation routes, oil and gas installations and environmental monitoring. This is a capacity that will also be suitable in the far North.

It is expected that the aircraft will be operational in 2017.

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2 février 2012 4 02 /02 /février /2012 17:35
L'Eurofighter a perdu tous ses duels face au Rafale

 

01/02/2012 Michel Cabirol - LaTribune.fr

 

A chaque fois que l'Eurofighter a été en compétition face au Rafale, c'est ce dernier qui l'a devancé. Même si cela n'a jamais été un gage de réussite au final pour l'avion tricolore. L'Inde confirme la prédominance du Rafale face à l'Eurofighter.

 

Face au Rafale, l’Eurofighter (BAE Systems, EADS et Finmeccanica) n’y arrive décidément pas… Car, en dépit de ses quelques succès à l’exportation (Autriche, Arabie saoudite), cet avion de combat a toujours été devancé par l’avion tricolore fabriqué par Dassault Aviation dans les compétitions auxquelles ils ont tous les deux participés. Ce qui donne un éclairage à la victoire du Rafale e en Inde, sélectionné par New Delhi pour entrer en négociations exclusives.

 

C’était déjà le cas aux Pays-Bas début 2002 quand l’armée de l’air néerlandaise a évalué les appareils en compétition (85 avions de combat). Le F-35 de Lockheed Martin devançait très légèrement le Rafale (6,97 contre 6,95). En revanche, l’Eurofighter Typhoon se traînait loin derrière avec une note de 5,83. La même année, l’appareil fabriqué par le consortium européen était éliminé en Corée du sud dès la phase de présélection (short list) dans le cadre de l’appel d’offre "KF-X" portant sur l’acquisition de 40 avions de combat. L’armée de l’air sud-coréenne classait le Rafale premier des trois appareils évalués (F-15E de Boeing, Eurofighter) à l’issue des évaluations techniques, financières et des offsets (compensations). Au final, c’est Boeing qui avait remporté la compétition sur des critères exclusivement politiques.

 

Nouveau duel, cette fois-ci dans le ciel de Singapour en 2005. Là aussi, le ministère de la Défense de la ville-Etat, qui souhaite acquérir 20 chasseurs dans le cadre de l’appel d’offre "NFRP", élimine l’avion européen. Le Rafale affronte une nouvelle fois en finale le F-15E de Boeing. L’offre américaine s’impose en septembre 2005 sur des considérations politiques. Le communiqué de Dassault Aviation est d’ailleurs sans équivoque : « le poids américain donne une fois de plus raison au proverbe chinois : le bambou penche toujours du côté de celui qui pousse le plus fort ». Dassault Aviation a également perdu en raison de la faiblesse du dollar cette année-là.

 

Nouvelle douche froide pour l’Eurofighter le 1er octobre 2008 au Brésil, qui l’élimine de la compétition « F-X2 » tandis que le Rafale, le Gripen NG (Saab) et le F-18E/F Super Hornet (Boeing) sont présélectionnés. Au final, les Brésiliens entrent en négociations exclusives avec Dassault Aviation mais, coup de théâtre en décembre 2010, le président brésilien Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva déclare, lors d'une interview à la télévision, qu'il ne prendrait pas de décision avant la fin de son mandat le 1er janvier sur l'achat de 36 avions de combat, une commande estimée entre 4 et 7 milliards de dollars.

 

Enfin, le dernier duel perdu par l’Eurofighter contre le Rafale est récent. C’est en Suisse en 2011, où le Rafale est également arrivé en tête des évaluations. Mais c’est le Gripen NG, l’avion le moins performant qui a gagné.

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1 février 2012 3 01 /02 /février /2012 13:11
Le Rafale, au-delà des idées reçues



01/02/2012 Alain Ruello – LesEchos.fr

L'avion de combat de Dassault vient de réaliser sa première percée à l'exportation en gagnant l'appel d'offres indien portant sur 126 appareils. Gouffre financier ou réussite industrielle ? Vingt-cinq ans après son premier vol, le Rafale en cinq questions...

Gouffre financier, appareil impossible à exporter, joujou technologique... En France, les échecs à répétition du Rafale en ont fait une cible facile. L'appel d'offres, qui vient d'être remporté en Inde, démontre que l'avion de combat de Dassault vaut sans doute mieux que sa caricature, et dispose d'atouts incontestables face à la concurrence. Un quart de siècle après son premier vol, et à l'occasion de son premier succès à l'étranger, anatomie d'un des fleurons de l'industrie française...

Qui le fabrique ?

Le programme Rafale est piloté par Dassault, associé, au sein d'un GIE, à deux partenaires principaux : Snecma (groupe Safran), qui fabrique le moteur, et Thales, pour tout ce qui touche à l'électronique. L'armement est fourni par MBDA, une filiale d'EADS, BAE Systems et Finmeccanica. En tout, plus d'une centaine de sociétés sont impliquées, assurant 10.000 emplois directs en France, aux cadences actuelles qui sont de 11 exemplaires produits par an. Point fondamental, l'avion a été voulu et conçu dès le départ pour s'affranchir des règles américaines « Itar » de contrôle des exportations de matériels sensibles. Un point clef pour garantir l'indépendance nationale en matière d'avions de combat. Pour la France en effet, pas question de dépendre d'une technologie étrangère pour l'un de ses armements les plus stratégiques. L'Etat maîtrise donc le moindre boulon du Rafale -ou presque -, s'assurant ainsi que personne ne peut l'empêcher d'en construire ou d'en faire voler. Et qu'il peut en vendre à qui il veut, sans avoir de permission à demander.

Qui l'utilise ?

L'armée de l'air française a dû attendre 2006 avant de constituer son premier escadron. La Marine, qui avait touché ses premiers exemplaires plus tôt, a pu éprouver l'appareil pour la première fois en Afghanistan, depuis le « Charles de Gaulle ». Depuis lors, Dassault ne se prive pas d'accoler le logo « Combat proven » - « Testé en situation de combat » -à ses présentations commerciales, dénigrant au passage l'Eurofighter, le concurrent européen, qui était également en lice en Inde. Ce dernier, produit par le trio BAE-EADS-Finmeccanica, a bien fait la campagne de Libye, mais il n'était pas capable de larguer des bombes tout seul. A ce jour, la France a reçu un peu plus de 100 Rafale sur les 180 commandés. La mise au point de l'avion ayant duré beaucoup plus longtemps que prévu, tous ne présentent pas la même configuration. D'où une coûteuse mise à jour pour porter les modèles les plus anciens au dernier « standard ». Baptisé « F3 », celui-ci permet d'emporter le missile nucléaire ASMP-A, l'exocet dernier cri, ou encore l'armement par guidage laser. Reste une question : la France achètera-t-elle 286 exemplaires comme prévu ? Avec l'explosion des déficits publics, rien n'est moins sûr.

Qui en veut ?

Enzo Casolini, le patron du consortium Eurofighter, a fait en 2008 un aveu surprenant au « Financial Times » : « ses » Etats membres n'en font pas assez pour promouvoir l'avion à l'étranger. Ses Etats membres ? Royaume-Uni, Allemagne, Espagne et Italie, qui ne comptent habituellement pas leurs efforts en matière d'exportation. « Regardez ce que Sarkozy fait pour la France », s'est-il même exclamé ! Chez Dassault, on a dû encadrer l'article. Car pour son PDG, Charles Edelstenne, c'est bien la confirmation que la vente d'un avion de combat est avant tout un acte politique. De fait, depuis l'échec calamiteux de la campagne marocaine du Rafale, Nicolas Sarkozy affiche sans complexe son rôle de « VRP » des champions industriels nationaux, servi par une équipe resserrée de hauts fonctionnaires. Résultat, l'avion français a engrangé les campagnes commerciales, aux Emirats arabes unis (qui négocient l'achat de 60 exemplaires), au Brésil (qui promet une décision cette année...), ou encore au Qatar (un appel d'offres est en cours). En Inde, le contrat portant sur 126 appareils ne demande plus qu'à être signé (lire page 19). En Suisse en revanche, c'est le Gripen du suédois Saab qui a été préféré, même si Dassault a contesté sa défaite auprès du Parlement helvétique.

Un avion moderne ou dépassé ?

Conçu dans les années 1990, comment le Rafale se situe-t-il par rapport à ses concurrents américains, russes ou européens ? A quelle génération d'avions de combat peut-on le raccrocher ? Entre la quatrième (F18, dernière mouture de Boeing par exemple) et la cinquième, dont seul le F35 en développement chez Lockheed Martin peut se prévaloir ? Chez Dassault, on refuse tout classement. « Génération », explique-t-on au siège du groupe, est un mot qui a le tort de figer les choses. Pour vanter les mérites de son bébé, l'avionneur préfère le qualifier d' « omnirôles ». Explications : quand un Mirage F1 prenait l'air dans les années 1960, il n'était programmé que pour un type de mission. Pour faire autre chose, le pilote devait se poser, changer l'armement et repartir. Avec un Rafale, on peut tout faire en vol ou presque : reconnaissance, combat aérien, attaque au sol. Un peu comme avec Windows : on ouvre Word, Excel et PowerPoint et on passe d'un logiciel à l'autre par un jeu de touches. Ce qui n'en fait pas le premier de sa classe. Comme le résume un pilote, le Rafale « a pour lui d'être bon en tout, à défaut d'être le meilleur partout ».

Quel est son coût ?

La question est complexe, car un programme d'armement comme le Rafale accumule sur plusieurs décennies coûts non récurrents, liés au développement initial, et récurrents, liés à la fabrication en série. Avec, entre les deux, des évolutions technologiques prévues ou non, des achats de pièces de rechange ou encore des compléments de formation. Sans oublier les évolutions du prix des matières premières. En 2010, la Cour des comptes a calculé qu'au total le programme devrait coûter 40,7 milliards d'euros TTC aux contribuables. Soit 142 millions par appareil si on va au bout des 286 commandes prévues. Il ressort de ces chiffres que le prix unitaire a augmenté de 16,5 % par rapport au devis initial de 1988. Pourquoi une telle dérive ? Principalement parce que dans les années 1990 les différents gouvernements ont alterné ouverture et fermeture des vannes budgétaires. Rien de mieux pour alourdir la facture du développement. Depuis l'entrée en production en revanche, les prix de série restent constants, affirme la Défense. A quelle hauteur ? Secret commercial, car c'est un chiffre qu'il ne faut pas porter aux oreilles de la concurrence. La Cour des comptes a moins de pudeur. Selon elle, chaque Rafale sorti de chaîne coûte 101 millions. Soit une hausse de 4,7% seulement, toujours par rapport au prix de départ, ce qui confirme les affirmations des militaires. Les détracteurs du Rafale, et ils sont nombreux, n'en n'ont cure : l'avion reste à leurs yeux un gouffre financier. Ils pourront toujours se consoler en regardant ce qui se passe de l'autre côté du channel. Selon le « National Audit Office », le prix unitaire de l'Eurofighter a augmenté de... 75 %, pour dépasser les 250 millions d'euros pièce !


Dans le sillage du Mirage


Monstres de technologie. Conçu à la fin des années 1950, le Mirage III s'est vendu à 848 exemplaires à l'export, auxquels se sont ajoutés 146 appareils construits sous licence. La France, elle, en a commandé 407. Pakistan et Egypte, entre autres, comptent parmi les bons clients de l'appareil qui a bénéficié de l'énorme publicité que la guerre des Six-Jours lui a apportée. Le Mirage F1 a connu un beau succès aussi, même s'il ne s'est vendu « qu'à » 480 exemplaires à l'étranger, en Grèce, en Espagne, en Irak ou encore en Jordanie. Nombre d'entre eux sont en cours de modernisation. Entré en service au début des années 1980, le Mirage 2000 s'est vendu 601 fois, un peu plus en France (315) qu'à l'étranger (286). Quasiment tous sont encore en service. Quant au Rafale, on estime qu'il devrait s'en vendre à l'export au moins 200 durant les vingt prochaines années. Les avions de la génération actuelle sont plus polyvalents, il en faut donc moins pour se défendre. Monstres de technologie, ils sont aussi devenus très chers. Surtout, depuis la fin de la guerre froide, Washington ne « tolère » plus la concurrence occidentale.

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30 janvier 2012 1 30 /01 /janvier /2012 21:48
Rafale: Le gouvernement suisse n'a pas reçu de nouvelle offre de Dassault

photo Armée de l'Air

30.01.12 20minutes.fr

La Suisse n'a pas reçu de nouvelle offre du groupe français d'aéronautique Dassault qui serait prêt, selon les presse suisse, à réduire le prix de ses avions de chasse Rafale, a déclaré lundi une porte-parole département fédéral de la Défense.

 

Une meilleure offre que Saab

Selon la presse dominicale, Dassault a offert de vendre 18 Rafale pour 2,7 milliards de francs suisses (2,24 milliards d'euros), un montant inférieur aux 22 Gripen du groupe suédois Saab qui ont été retenus pour 3,1 milliards.

Le gouvernement suisse avait annoncé fin novembre qu'il avait choisi de renouveler sa flotte d'avions de combat avec les appareils du suédois, préféré au Rafale et à l'Eurofighter Typhoon du consortium européen, dont fait partie EADS.

Ce contrat est destiné à remplacer la flotte vieillissante de Northrop F-5E/F Tiger acquis en 1976 et en 1981.

 

La procédure d'attribution relancée ?

Selon la presse, qui cite une lettre de l'avionneur français, Dassault affirme qu'il n'a jamais pu optimiser son offre sur la base des besoins de la Suisse. Il offrait précédemment 22 exmplaires Rafale pour un total de quatre milliards de francs.

La décision du gouvernement suisse n'est pas définitive puisque le parlement doit encore donner son feu vert. Si un rejet est toujours possible, la procédure d'attribution devrait alors redémarrer depuis le début, avec tous les participants mis sur un pied d'égalité, explique la porte-parole.

La semaine précédente, la commission de politique de sécurité du Conseil national avait décidé de constituer une sous-commission afin d'examiner le déroulement de la procédure qui a entériné le choix de l'avion de combat Gripen de Saab.

La Suisse, qui prévoyait initialement de commander jusqu'à 33 appareils, avait lancé son appel d'offres il y a trois ans.

Dassault n'est pour le moment toujours pas parvenu à vendre un seul exemplaire de son Rafale hors de France.

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30 janvier 2012 1 30 /01 /janvier /2012 17:50
Défense : comment Dassault a tissé sa toile

 

 

30.01.12 Dominique Gallois LE MONDE ECONOMIE

 

Les questions de défense entrent en campagne, avec la visite, lundi 30 janvier, de François Hollande sur la base des sous-marins nucléaires de l'Ile-Longue, à Brest. Début mars, le candidat socialiste précisera sa politique, notamment en matière industrielle. Partout dans le monde, les budgets militaires sont en baisse, notamment aux Etats-Unis, ce qui va pousser les industriels américains à chercher d'autres marchés à l'étranger. La compétition, déjà sévère, s'annonce encore plus rude avec la montée en puissance des acteurs russes, chinois, coréens, indiens. Or, les Européens se présentent en ordre dispersé. L'exemple le plus flagrant est l'aéronautique militaire. Sauf rebondissement (édition abonnés), le Gripen suédois l'a emporté en Suisse face au Rafale français et à l'Eurofighter Typhoon, un avion germano-hispano-italo-britannique. Le Rafale et l'Eurofighter se disputent aussi le "contrat du siècle", la vente de 126 avions à l'Inde.

 

Si l'industrie de défense est concentrée au Royaume-Uni autour de BAE Systems et en Italie autour de Finmeccanica, respectivement 2e et 8e mondiaux, il n'en est rien en France. Six groupes figurent dans les cinquante premiers mondiaux, du franco-allemand EADS (7e) à Dassault Aviation (54e), selon le palmarès annuel du magazine américain Defense News.

 

Le plus petit de ces acteurs n'en est pas moins celui qui bénéfice le plus des faveurs de l'Etat. Avec son soutien, Dassault est devenu l'actionnaire industriel du groupe d'électronique Thales, qui pourrait être le pivot d'un pôle de défense français regroupant les activités maritimes de DCNS et demain l'armement terrestre de Nexter.

 

Les questions sont nombreuses autour de ce projet. A commencer par les fonds que cela nécessitera. L'Etat est impécunieux et Dassault n'a peut-être pas l'envie d'investir assez dans ces domaines pour en prendre le contrôle. L'autre hypothèque tient au futur du groupe Dassault. Les enfants de Serge Dassault auront-ils la même stratégie que leur père lorsqu'ils en prendront les rênes ?

 

Quel que soit le prochain président, il devra aborder le futur de l'industrie de défense. L'Etat en tant que client, garant de la souveraineté nationale, mais aussi actionnaire des grands groupes, aura un rôle clé. Mais Dassault restera incontournable.

 

La montée en puissance de Dassault au sein de l'industrie de défense a lieu en trois étapes : d'abord la conquête de l'indépendance, puis celle de Thales (électronique de défense), et enfin la montée en puissance chez DCNS (sous-marins et navires) et Nexter (véhicules blindés et canons).

 

CONTRÔLE DE LA SOCIÉTÉ

 

En ce printemps 2002, Charles Edelstenne, le patron de Dassault Aviation, est satisfait : la famille Dassault vient de franchir la barre des 50 % en acquérant en Bourse le 1 % manquant pour détenir le contrôle de la société. "Pendant vingt-cinq ans, on nous a fait chanter. Aujourd'hui, nous sommes libres de nos mouvements", lit-on dans Le Monde du 29 mai 2002.

 

Dégagé de la menace des droits de vote double que revendiquait l'Etat français, libéré du pacte d'actionnaires avec EADS, qui est devenu simple minoritaire avec 46 % du capital, le PDG envisage avec sérénité les prochaines échéances stratégiques, qui se feront "à son rythme et à ses conditions", affirmait-il. Il soulignait aussi que les succès de son avion d'affaires, le Falcon (75 % du chiffre d'affaires), libéraient Dassault de la dépendance vis-à-vis des commandes militaires du gouvernement, et lui donnaient plus de marge de manoeuvre.

 

M. Edelstenne évoquait également son intérêt pour le groupe d'électronique de défense Thales, dans lequel il avait pris près de 6 % en échange de l'apport de ses activités électroniques. Il entendait ainsi profiter du désengagement annoncé d'Alcatel.

 

Viendra alors la deuxième étape, celle du renforcement de la participation de Dassault chez Thales, pourtant également convoité par EADS. Le groupe bénéficiera pour cela de l'appui de Nicolas Sarkozy, que Serge Dassault a largement soutenu dans sa course à l'Elysée.

 

Elu en 2007, le président de la République, Nicolas Sarkozy, n'a rien à refuser au sénateur UMP et au propriétaire du Figaro. Il se fait d'ailleurs fort de vendre le Rafale à l'étranger, une façon de rappeler que son prédécesseur, Jacques Chirac, n'y était jamais arrivé. Le chef de l'Etat s'engagera au Brésil et aux Emirats arables unis... pour l'instant en vain.

 

Informé dès le printemps 2008 d'un projet de reprise de Thales par EADS, l'Elysée fera savoir qu'il n'y est pas favorable. Mieux, il éconduira le groupe franco-allemand, dont il est pourtant actionnaire et bien que son offre soit financièrement plus avantageuse que celle de Dassault.

 

L'un des arguments évoqués est de privilégier une filière franco-française plutôt que de donner la gestion de Thales à un groupe franco-allemand. Dassault obtient ainsi d'entrer chez Thales sans lancer d'offre publique d'achat (OPA), et de participer à sa gouvernance. Il devient alors l'opérateur industriel d'un groupe trois fois plus important que lui.

 

BÉMOL

 

Fin 2011 intervient la troisième étape, avec la montée en puissance de 25 % à 35 % de Thales chez DCNS, tandis qu'est évoquée une prise de participation dans Nexter (ex-GIAT). Celle-ci serait dans un premier temps de 25 %. Avec, là encore, la bénédiction de l'Etat, ce dernier étant propriétaire des deux groupes.

 

Le groupe Thales, opéré par Dassault, pourrait alors faire une offre complète sur tous les marchés, en regroupant des fabricants de plateformes (chars, avions de combat, navires) et un fournisseur d'équipements électroniques tels les radars ou les équipements de télémesure.

 

Seul bémol, "Dassault n'a qu'une participation minoritaire dans Thales et ne peut rien faire s'il n'en prend pas le contrôle", note un banquier. Or, cela ne serait possible qu'avec le soutien de l'Etat, auquel Dassault est lié par l'intermédiaire d'un pacte d'actionnaires. Mais l'un et l'autre des actionnaires ont-ils la volonté ou la possibilité de financer une telle opération ?

 

aaa Pour l'Etat, la réponse est négative, la priorité étant désormais à la réduction des déficits budgétaires, qui pourrait passer au contraire par des cessions de participations.

 

Pour Dassault, c'est différent. "Toute la question est de savoir si Dassault veut développer cet ensemble ou faire fructifier son placement en réorganisant Thales, estime un analyste. La deuxième hypothèse semble la plus probable." Mais pour l'instant, en raison de la chute des marchés boursiers, l'investissement de l'avionneur s'est déprécié.

 

Le durcissement de la compétition mondiale peut toutefois changer la donne. Les grands groupes ayant déjà une présence internationale sont mieux armés pour s'affirmer sur le marché mondial et initier des rapprochements. C'est le cas d'EADS, de Safran et de Thales. Mais en fait, seuls les deux premiers ont la capacité financière pour mener de véritables regroupements.

 

SUCCESSION

 

Une première tentative s'est esquissée durant l'été 2011. Des rumeurs ont évoqué la possibilité d'une OPA lancée sur Thales par Safran. Un montage auquel se serait opposé... Dassault, même si le prix proposé aurait été celui qu'il avait payé pour son entrée dans Thales. L'Etat, pourtant actionnaire de deux groupes concernés, n'aurait pas donné suite. L'idée était de constituer un grand groupe fournisseur d'équipements et de grands systèmes d'aéronautique dans les domaines civils et militaires.

 

Les cartes pourraient à nouveau être rebattues, sauf si Dassault décroche entre-temps un contrat pour le Rafale aux Emirats arabes unis. Une telle commande permettrait d'alimenter ses bureaux d'études, et surtout ceux de Thales, pendant près de quatre ans. Autre avantage, cela permettrait au ministère de la défense d'étaler le programme de livraison des Rafale à l'armée française, la priorité étant donnée aux éventuels clients à l'exportation. Ainsi pourraient être financés d'autres projets.

 

Mais il faudra d'abord régler les questions de gouvernance, notamment la succession de Charles Edelstenne qui, l'année prochaine, quittera à 75 ans son poste de PDG. L'inconnue majeure reste la stratégie des enfants Dassault quand l'heure sera venue de remplacer leur père, Serge, âgé de 86 ans. "Il n'y aura pas de vacance de pouvoir dans la société, la continuité sera assurée. Chaque chose viendra en son temps et sans l'avis de tous ces "fameux experts"...", affirmait en décembre, dans Le Figaro, M. Edelstenne. Une manière de rappeler que toute décision appartient... à la famille.

 


La France au 4e rang des exportateurs d'armes

 

Rang Avec 6% du marché mondial (un peu plus de 5 milliards d'euros), la France se maintient en 2010 au 4e rang des exportateurs d'armes, après les Etats-Unis, la Grande-Bretagne et la Russie.

 

Emplois L'industrie de la défense représente 165000 emplois directs, au moins autant d'emplois indirects et un chiffre d'affaires de 15 milliards d'euros, dont le tiers environ est donc réalisé à l'exportation.

 

Budget En 2012, le budget du ministère de la défense augmente de 1,6%, pour atteindre 30,6 milliards d'euros. La part prévue pour les équipements est de 16,5 milliards (+ 500 millions).

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27 janvier 2012 5 27 /01 /janvier /2012 08:25
USAF, Army Still Squabbling Over C-27J

Photo: C-27J Team

Jan 26, 2012 By Amy Butler - aviation week and space technology

Washington - U.S. military officials are keen on saying they never intend to fight the last war. This is their way of indicating a focus on future conflicts, not on the past.

Apparently, this sentiment does not apply to the interservice skirmishes at the Pentagon. The U.S. Army and Air Force are in the final throes of hashing out an updated agreement on the time-sensitive, direct-support airlift mission, the latest chapter in a years-long saga over how to ship supplies to remote soldiers despite two wars and one stunted buy of Alenia’s C-27J.

The agreement is being made between the chiefs of staff of both services. At issue is how the time-sensitive airlift mission will be handled; this includes the shuttling of small loads of supplies to forward Army units in the field.

The outcome of this cargo rub between the two services could be the first of many such roles-and-missions scrapes. As the Pentagon looks to save money by killing some programs or nixing new ones, the Army and Air Force are also on a crash course regarding the small fleets of tactical, fixed-wing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft that each have procured since the start of the Iraq invasion in 2003. In the case of the General Atomics Gray Eagle and Reaper UAS, the developmental Enhanced Medium-Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System (Emarss) and MC-12W Project Liberty aircraft, the services operate very similar systems. In at least one case—with Emarss and the MC-12W—lawmakers have suggested that only one service manage a unified fleet.

As it did with its rotary-wing fleet, the Army is trying to reduce the number of unique airframes in its tactical ISR fleet, says Maj. Gen. Anthony Crutchfield, who heads up the Army Aviation Center of Excellence at Fort Rucker, Ala. “We have a plan to divest of some of the different types of aircraft [and shift to] fewer single airframes.” Without saying which aircraft would be let go, Maj. Gen. Tim Crosby, the Army’s program executive officer for aviation, says the service must “pick those that have been the best bang for the buck.”

Though Crosby notes there is still more work to be done on this, the airlift debate is raging.

“The concern is the logistics part,” says Crutchfield. “What we have to sort out is: ‘Who does that?’”

If this sounds familiar, it is.

The last installment of this tug-of-war took place in 2005 when, during his first major speech to the Air Force Association, the then Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen. T. Michael Moseley, announced he wanted a new light cargo aircraft. This was considered odd as the Army was in the midst of setting up its future cargo aircraft program, which was then crafted to replace old C-23 Sherpas and provide more immediate access to commanders for cargo support. At the time, the Army moved ahead with its own program because it felt that it had lackluster support by the Air Force to properly back its needs.

Underscoring the need for direct-support activities were the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that called for distributing supplies around small, remote Army outposts. Not only were the Sherpas aging, they lacked pressurized cabins, making it difficult to operate them at high altitude in places such as Afghanistan, says Col. Patrick Tierney, director of the Army’s aviation directorate.

Moseley’s push, along with his similar and later move to take over the Army’s burgeoning UAV force, was seen as an abrupt roles-and-missions grab by the Air Force in the midst of these two wars. In the case of the cargo aircraft role, the USAF won.

At the direction of then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates, in 2009 the Air Force took over authority for the C-27J buy and control of the direct-support mission; service officials said they would combine the use of C-27Js and C-130s to provide cargo lift for the Army (though Army officials had long complained that C-130 support was inefficient owing to underloading of these larger aircraft).

Army officials say that in actuality, the CH-47 Chinook fleet has been unduly burdened in providing timely support because the helicopters are used to shuttle goods from C-130s that land at hubs to the remote locales where soldiers are stationed.

“The major rub to us is responsiveness and not efficiency,” says one Army official who requests anonymity. “When a part is needed at the front line, it flies” and shouldn’t have to wait for enough requests to fill a C-130, the official adds. “We are more about effectiveness than efficiency, and [the Air Force is] more about efficiency than effectiveness.”

So, the questions now are: What is the right number of small cargo-lifters for the direct-support role, and how should the mission be managed?

Though both branches agreed to USAF control of the mission in the 2009 pact, the Army is now insisting that language be added to clarify its needs—specifically emphasizing responsiveness, especially when parts or supplies are called for at forward-operating locations.

USAF Lt. Gen. Herbert Carlisle, deputy chief of staff for operations, acknowledges what he calls a “natural tension” for Army commanders wanting quick support.

The outcome of this deal will directly impact how soldiers at such sites are supported in Afghanistan.

Army officials had long argued that an Army officer must oversee this mission to ensure that its commanders’ needs take priority; the fear is that the USAF will de-emphasize Army unit requirements against the more strategic priorities of regional cargo movements. USAF, however, has long countered that it best knows how to provide airborne logistics support across a fleet of aircraft, including the C-27J, C-130 and C-17.

In 2009, the Air Force conducted a demonstration of the direct-support mission using C-27Js and C-130s in Iraq; this validated the service’s plans for a mix of the two for the mission.

Two C-27Js were deployed to Afghanistan in late July 2011 and quickly started flying operational direct support missions, Gen. Raymond Johns said last fall. The C-27Js are apportioned to Army officials there via Tacon (tactical control), although USAF pilots fly the missions, but the C-130s are not. This means the C-27Js are specifically set aside only for intratheater/direct-support missions under Army authority. Though C-130s are used for this mission, they can be reassigned elsewhere in the area, if needed, Johns said.

Army officials are less than satisfied with the Air Force’s delays in delivering C-27Js to the field. At least six were to be in Afghanistan by now, and why they have not been deployed is the “golden question,” the anonymous Army official said.

One industry official says the Army is “trying to hold the Air Force’s feet to the fire to do what they signed up for” in the 2009 pact.

Alenia has delivered 13 of 21 C-27Js on contract. Originally, Alenia officials projected the U.S. market for the C-27J (including Army/Air Force buys) to support as many as 125 aircraft. Tierney said that in 2005, the Army’s projections set a low risk of handling the mission with a fleet of 78 C-27Js and a moderate risk at 54. When Gates shifted the C-27J program from Army control to the Air Force, the buy shrank to 38 aircraft.

The sharp reduction in procurement numbers prompted Alenia to scrap its plans to open a final assembly facility in Florida; the aircraft are being delivered from a plant in Italy.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz indicated during a recent testimony to Congress that the C-27J faces termination—possibly before all 38 are delivered—due to fiscal pressure. Service officials contend that maintaining a separate fleet for this mission adds to its spending for unique training and logistics, whereas a C-130-based mission could build off of an existing infrastructure. It is unclear whether the service would keep the C-27Js already delivered or divest of them entirely.

Numerous lawmakers and governors associated with states slated to host C-27J Guard units have written to Schwartz, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter advocating the program. Some of them argue not only for the national security advantages of the aircraft but also note that without those units, jobs in their districts will be in jeopardy.

Meanwhile, Crutchfield notes that the Army’s C-23 Sherpas still support war operations. Without better direct support from USAF, the Army would have to pay $350 million to keep old C-23s operating, and they would still lack a pressurized cabin, Tierney says. Carlislie expects the updated pact to be signed in days.

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20 janvier 2012 5 20 /01 /janvier /2012 13:35
NATO to sign delayed AGS deal by May

Nato AGS – photo Northrop Grumman

January 20th, 2012 by Craig Hoyle - Flight Global

London - NATO's long-running process to order an Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) capability could at last achieve a contract signature within the next few months, although the scale of its programme appears to have again been revised.

"We have the contract, and it's under negotiation," said US Air Force Maj Gen Steve Schmidt, commander of the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force. A 13-nation deal should be signed before the next NATO summit, in Chicago from 20-21 May, he added.

"I fully expect to see the announcement that NATO has purchased AGS by that summit," Schmidt told the AEW and Battle Management conference in London on 17 January.

Schmidt valued the pending acquisition at about €1 billion ($1.3 billion) for five Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 40 unmanned air vehicles, each equipped with a Northrop/Raytheon surveillance payload. An associated 20-year operational support package is expected to total a further €2.2 billion, he added.

This assessment contrasts with a previous plan, which had called for the purchase of six Global Hawks, to be operated from NAS Sigonella in Sicily from later this decade. Northrop officials last October said a deal was expected to be signed in early November 2011.

Although NATO was able to access information from a USAF Global Hawk that flew a limited number of sorties during last year's Libya campaign, Schmidt said the availability of an Alliance-owned fleet "would have been a game-changer" during the seven months of Operation Unified Protector.

Beyond its application during such coalition operations in the future, Schmidt said additional uses for the AGS fleet would include crisis management and cooperative security tasks.

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20 janvier 2012 5 20 /01 /janvier /2012 08:25
Temporary Plateau For Indian Defense Spending

photo Sirpa Air

Jan 19, 2012 By Neelam Mathews - defense technology international

New Delhi - The Indian defense budget for fiscal 2012 (April 2012-March 2013), adjusted for the 12.9% decline in the value of the rupee to the dollar last year, is less than 2011 in real terms. Plans are to allocate $36 billion, or 2.6% of GDP, to defense this year. In 2011, the budget was $35.2 billion, or 2.03% of GDP.

Based on the current value of the rupee, this yields a budget with buying power of $31.4 billion in 2011 dollars. And while the defense budget’s share of GDP is up 28% from 2011, India’s rate of GDP growth was 16.6% less than in 2010—7.5%, compared with 9%.

The rupee’s loss of value is attributable to worried investors selling emerging-market assets on the presumption that Europe’s debt crisis will lead to global recession. Nevertheless, major programs are under way by the air force, navy and army, as India undertakes a $50 billion modernization drive in the next five years that will improve the capabilities and power projection of its forces. One factor driving modernization is the rise of China as a regional power, expanding its presence in the Indian Ocean and building forces and infrastructure in Tibet and Pakistani-occupied Kashmir. India lags China in ICBMs, nuclear submarines, antisatellite weapons and fifth-generation fighter aircraft. The defense budget seeks to fill at least some of these gaps.

The biggest deal this year is the $11 billion Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) program for the air force, which will see a bidder selected for the 126 aircraft by March—at least according to the current timeline. The downselected bidders are Dassault Aviation with the Rafale and Eurofighter with the Typhoon. If the deal goes as planned, it will boost the air force’s share of the defense budget to a projected 35% this year from 28%. This in turn will affect allocations for the army, which received 51% of the budget last year, and the navy, which got 15%. (Allocations for these services had not been announced at press time.)

On the other hand, homeland security, which is under the jurisdiction of the Home Affairs Ministry, has a budget that will increase, says Laxman Behera, research fellow at Indian Defense Strategic Affairs. Homeland security’s budget was $4.4 billion last year. “Internal security has urgent needs that cannot wait. Overall, we are compelled to modernize forces including the police,” adds Behera. The homeland security budget will be announced on Feb. 29.

International defense and aerospace companies are seizing opportunities in India’s competitive and rapidly expanding market. India’s modernization plans and recent upgrades mean the military is importing more than 70% of its arms. Factors behind this effort include protection of its robust economy based on trade and challenges ranging from border conflicts with Pakistan and China to terrorism and piracy.

Meanwhile, with contracts for the long-delayed upgrades of 51 Dassault Mirage jets signed and the down payment made in late 2011, the $2.4 billion project is finally underway. Dassault and Thales will modernize onboard equipment and systems to bring the aircraft to Mirage 2000-5 standards. Clearance for procurement has also been given for 450 MICA multitarget air-to-air intercept and combat missiles from MBDA for the Mirages. MICA has a maximum operating range of 60 km (37 mi.).

The upgrade involves new avionics including the Thales RDY2 multimode radar, as well as new navigation and electronic countermeasures. The MPDU mission computer, also on the Rafale, will be installed in the Mirages. Thales will now need to tap current and potential partners for offsets and finalize its joint venture with Samtel.

The first two Mirage aircraft will be upgraded in France within 44 months. The next two will be modified over 14 months by Dassault, Thales, and government contractor Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) in Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore). HAL will then upgrade the rest.

A contract to integrate Rafael Advanced Defense System’s Derby medium-range air-to-air missile with India’s Tejas light combat aircraft is in the works. Delivery of the missiles is expected in the second half of 2012. The active radar- and infrared-guided Derby, which provides all-weather, beyond-visual-range capability, has been acquired for the navy’s Sea Harrier FRS51 fighters, 14 of which have been modified for the missile.

The Defense Research and Development Organization will spend $4 billion over the next three years on locally manufactured strategic and tactical missiles, including the Astra air-to-air missile, BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, Akash surface-to-air missile and the Shourya ballistic missile. Also scheduled for production are 1,100 Pinaka rockets, 1,000 84-mm rocket launchers and 7,500 missiles.

Honeywell became the sole vendor in a bid to re-engine the air force’s Jaguar fleet when Rolls Royce pulled out. Honeywell will supply its F125IN engine, which has 9,850 lb. of thrust. It is projected to save the service $1.5 billion in lifecycle costs. The engine includes a dual full-authority digital engine control system, modular construction, integrated engine-monitoring system and high thrust-to-weight ratio, according to Honeywell.

The air force has started taking delivery of six Lockheed Martin C-130J transports. A letter of request has been sent to the U.S. for procurement of six more, according to Defense Minister A. K. Antony.

HAL is planning to modernize its facilities to better handle impending orders for such aircraft and programs as the fifth-generation fighter, a joint project with Russia; the medium transport aircraft, a joint venture with Irkut Corp. and Ilyushin Design Bureau of Russia; indigenous light combat aircraft; the light combat helicopter; MiG-29 upgrades; and the intermediate jet trainer.

Navy leaders are working to give India a new fleet with greater range. Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma says force levels will increase to 150 warships and 500 aircraft. The navy’s current fleet strength is 118 surface ships, 14 submarines and 216 aircraft. When he speaks of range, he means “deployment at long distances with the ability to stay for some time.” In other words, “reach and sustainability.”

India’s plans to construct its first indigenous aircraft carrier at Cochin Shipyard suffered delays following problems in design and integration of the propulsion system and procurement of critical equipment. Verma says the carrier should be launched “by the middle of 2012, or so.”

The navy plans to soon commission the refitted aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya (formerly the Soviet carrier Admiral Gorshkov). It also wants to add nine surface warships. These include a Shivalik-class frigate; Kolkata-class destroyer; antisubmarine warfare corvette; offshore patrol vessel; two Talwar-class frigates from Russia; three catamaran survey vessels; and 25 fast interceptor craft.

The largest army initiative, a $13 billion modernization program, will add 90,000 soldiers and raise four new divisions along India’s border with China. “The army will purchase 2,600 vehicles as part of its future combat vehicles program, and is likely to see strong public and private sector participation from ordnance board and industry players such as Tata Group,” says Rahul Gangal, defense advisory and investments director at aerospace specialist Aviotech of Hyderabad.

The purchase by the army of 197 light helicopters has been re-tendered, following an objection by Bell-Boeing. This delays the award to one of two short-listed contenders: Eurocopter with its Fennec AS550 C3, and Kamov with the 226T. There has been no indication as to when the contract will be announced.

Defense Minister Antony told parliament recently that priority was being “given to ensure that artillery units are equipped with modern weapons.” The army reportedly needs 1,580 155-mm/53-caliber towed guns; 180 155/52 wheeled and self-propelled guns; 145 155/39 ultra-light howitzers; and 100 more 155/52 tracked guns.

Analysts advise that India should sustain its defense expenditures at a consistent pace for an extended period. This is likely, given that defense is in modernization mode. If the current momentum of budgeting is sustained, defense spending is likely to be around $100 billion by the end of 2021, resulting in significant market opportunities for industry in India and outside.

Until recently, the defense ministry has been unable to spend all of its annual allocations due to complicated procurement procedures. As a result, large programs have suffered delays, which in turn led to cost escalation and technology obsolescence. This situation is changing, though it remains to be seen to what extent.

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16 janvier 2012 1 16 /01 /janvier /2012 13:30
South Korea Creates A Jet Fighter

photo KAI

January 16, 2012: STRATEGY PAGE

South Korea has ordered twenty locally made FA-50 fighter-bombers, for $30 million each. The aircraft will be equipped with South Korean, American and Israeli electronics. The single engine, single seat aircraft is intended to eventually replace South Korea's aging fleet of 150 F-5 fighters. But first, the initial twenty FA-50s will have to show what they can do in active service. The first FA-50 will be delivered next year, and the last of them the year after that.

The FA-50 is the combat version of the South Korean designed and manufactured T-50 jet trainer. This aircraft was developed over the last decade, at a cost of over two billion dollars. The first test flight of the T-50 took place in 2002. The 13 ton aircraft is actually a light fighter, and can fly at supersonic speeds. With some added equipment (radars and fire control), the T-50 becomes the FA-50, a combat aircraft. This version carries a 20mm auto-cannon and up to 4.5 tons of smart bombs and missiles. The T-50 can stay in the air about four hours per sortie and has a service life of 8,000 hours in the air. At $20 million each, the T-50 is one of the more competitive jet trainers on the market. About 100-150 of these aircraft are bought each year by the world's air forces. But it is a tough market, and so far the only export customer for the T-50 has been 16 sold to Indonesia.

Nearly a hundred T-50 type aircraft have been produced or are on order. In addition to the FA-50 variant, there is a light bomber variant (the TA-50) that costd $25 million each.

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16 janvier 2012 1 16 /01 /janvier /2012 08:25
F-16s Versus Su-30s Over Indonesia

source Ria Novisti

January 15, 2012: STRATEGY PAGE

Indonesia has signed a contract to buy six more Su-30 jet fighters from Russia for $78 million each. Indonesia already has ten Su-27s and Su-30s, but wants at least 16 of these modern aircraft so they will have a full squadron. Although expensive, the Russian fighters are modern, and look great. They are also relatively cheap to maintain. This was all part of a plan to switch from American fighters (ten F-16s, and 16 F-5s) to Russian Su-27s and 30s. But used F-16s are so much cheaper than Su-27s, and the public pressure forced the Indonesian politicians to hang on to the F-16s, and upgrade existing F-16s, an expensive proposition that appeals to corrupt Indonesian officials.

Although Indonesia wants to buy 180 Su-27 and Su-30 fighters from Russia, they are now also rebuilding their older force of early model F-16s. In addition, Indonesia has ordered 24 used, but modernized, F-16Cs for $31 million each. The ten older F-16s will also be modernized to the same standard.

Indonesian Air force generals opposed the acquisition of the F-16s because they fear this will lead to a reduction in the procurement of new Russian fighters. The generals believe the Russian fighters are a better match for the 80 F-18Es that neighboring Malaysia is acquiring, and the F-35s that Australia is buying. But the F-16s have a proven combat record that the Su-27s and Su-30s lack.

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12 janvier 2012 4 12 /01 /janvier /2012 08:50
La Russie vend 6 chasseurs à l’Indonésie pour 500 millions de dollars

11 janvier 2012 par Edouard Maire / info-aviation

En décembre 2011, la Russie a conclu avec l’Indonésie un contrat portant sur la livraison de six chasseurs Su-30MK2. Un pied de nez aux américains qui sont liés par l’embargo sur les ventes d’armes imposé à Jakarta.

« Ce contrat de 500 millions de dollars est important, parce qu’il renforce la position de la Russie sur le marché indonésien des armements tant convoité par les Américains qui proposent leurs anciens chasseurs F-16 aux Indonésiens », a déclaré le 10 janvier à Moscou le directeur du Centre d’analyse des stratégies et technologies Rouslan Poukhov.

Le contrat jette en outre les bases de la coopération russo-indonésienne dans la construction d’avions civils, notamment de l’avion MS-21, a ajouté M.Poukhov. En 2012, la Russie doit commencer la livraison de nouveaux moyens-courriers Sukhoi SuperJet-100 à l’Indonésie.

La Russie avait déjà signé un contrat de vente de trois avions de combat Su-30MK2 et de Su-27SKM en 2007. En 2003, la Russie a également signé un contrat de vente de deux avions Su-27SKM et deux avions de combat SU-30MK.

Le Ministre de la Défense de l’Indonésie Purnomo Yusgiantoro avait déclaré en octobre 2010 que son pays avait besoin d’un escadron complet d’avions de combat composé de 16 avions de type Sukhoï, ainsi que de Su-30MK2 pour sa Marine.

Depuis l’embargo des États-Unis sur l’achat d’armes à l’Indonésie en sanction contre les violations des droits de l’Homme (Timor oriental), l’Indonésie se tourne vers la Russie et la Chine pour se procurer des avions de combat et d’entraînement. Au total, la Russie a déjà fourni dix chasseurs Sukhoi, dix hélicoptères Mi-35, 14 hélicoptères Mi-17, 17 blindés de transport de troupes TMP-3F, 48 blindés BTR-80A et 9.000 fusils d’assaut Kalachnikov AK-102 à l’Indonésie. Quant à la Chine, elle a proposé d’exporter ses avions de combat légers FTC-2000 à Jakarta.

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10 janvier 2012 2 10 /01 /janvier /2012 18:30
Armement: Moscou renforce sa position sur le marché indonésien

MOSCOU, 10 janvier - RIA Novosti

Le contrat conclu avec Jakarta en décembre 2011 sur la livraison de six chasseurs russes Su-30MK2 renforce la position de la Russie sur le marché indonésien des armements, a déclaré mardi à Moscou le directeur du Centre d'analyse des stratégies et technologies Rouslan Poukhov.

"Ce contrat (de 500 millions de dollars-ndlr.) est important, parce qu'il renforce la position de la Russie sur le marché indonésien des armements tant convoité par les Américains qui proposent leurs anciens chasseurs F-16 aux Indonésiens", a noté l'expert.

Le contrat jette en outre les bases de la coopération russo-indonésienne dans la construction d'avions civils, notamment de l'avion MS-21, a ajouté M.Poukhov.

En 2012, la Russie doit commencer la livraison de nouveaux moyens-courriers Sukhoi SuperJet-100 à l'Indonésie.

Au total, la Russie a déjà fourni dix chasseurs Sukhoi, dix hélicoptères Mi-35, 14 hélicoptères Mi-17, 17 blindés de transport de troupes TMP-3F, 48 blindés BTR-80A et 9.000 fusils d'assaut Kalachnikov AK-102 à l'Indonésie.

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8 janvier 2012 7 08 /01 /janvier /2012 09:00
U-2s Ends A 22 Year Mission

photo USAF

January 7, 2012: STRATEGY PAGE

On December 18th, the last (for the moment) American U-2 mission was flown over Iraq. These missions began in 1990, after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, and continued until December, 2011. The last decade has been the busiest for the U-2 in decades. Because of the spy satellite quality sensors carried by U-2s, and a limited number of spy satellites up there, there was always more demand for U-2s sorties than could be provided. Three years ago, for example, two 41 year old U-2s achieved a record 25,000 hours in the air. One of these aircraft had made three belly (landing gear up) landings, requiring extensive rebuilding after each incident.

With a range of over 11,000 kilometers, the 18 ton U-2s typically fly missions 12 hours long. All U-2s have been upgraded to the Block 20 standard, so they can be kept in service until the end of this decade. Or at least until the 13 ton Global Hawk is completely debugged and available in sufficient quantity to replace it. The U-2 has been in service since 1955 and only 103 were built, of which 26 remain in service (plus five two-seat trainers). The current U-2S aircraft were built as TR-1s in the 1980s, and later refurbished and renamed U-2S. Fewer than 900 pilots have qualified to fly the U-2 in that time.

The heavy use of the U-2 has been hard on the pilots. Missions can be as long as 12 hours and pilots operate in a cockpit pressurized to conditions found at 10,000 meters (31,000 feet). This puts more strain on the pilot's body. That, and the fact that they breathe pure oxygen while up there, means they tend to be completely exhausted after returning from a long mission. U-2s fly missions daily over the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Korea.

This wasn't supposed to happen. Six years ago the U.S. Air Force wanted to retire its U-2s and replace them with UAVs like Global Hawk. But Congress refused to allow it, partly for political reasons (jobs would be lost, which is always a live political issue) and because some in Congress (and the air force) did not believe that Global Hawk was ready to completely replace the U-2. This turned out to be correct. New Global Hawks continue to appear but there is so much demand for the kinds of recon work the two aircraft can do that both pilots and robots will coexist for a while. But eventually the old reliable U-2 will be retired.

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7 janvier 2012 6 07 /01 /janvier /2012 08:10
Seoul Orders 20 FA-50 Attack Aircraft In a $600 Million Deal

TA-50 breaking formation. Photo: KAI

 

January 6, 2012 Richard_Dudley – DEFENSE UPDATE

 

With the New Year barely underway, South Korea is once again demonstrating a determination to build a formidable military force capable of dealing with potential enemies. The government has signed a $600 million deal with Korea Aerospace Industries (KIA) for 20 FA-50 fighter/attack aircraft based on the highly regarded T-50 advanced jet trainer.

 

KAI is reporting that the aircraft will be delivered between 2013 and 2014. The FA-50 is a lightweight fighter/attack aircraft incorporating the most advanced technology available in the T-50 Golden Eagle family of aircraft.

 

KAI also believes that South Korea may increase the order to as many as 60 aircraft for use as replacements for the aging 150 Northrop F-5 aircraft currently being operated.

 

The FA-50 aircraft ordered are expected to be equipped with the Link 16 tactical link, Elta Systems EL/M-2032 pulse Doppler radar, radar warning systems and a night vision imagery system. Northrop Grumman and Raytheon previously selected the FA-50 as a prime candidate for being outfitted with the same version of active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar slated for use in a United States Air Force F-16 upgrade.

 

The FA-50 is built to carry a weapon’s payload of 9,920 pounds that includes Boeing’s Joint Direct Attack Munitions and Textron’s CBU-97 Sensor Fused Weapon. In addition, the FA-50 is also fitted with a 20mm cannon and is configured to carry air-to-air missiles.

 

KAI has also included in the Golden Eagle family, along with the T-50 and the FA-50, a T-50B aerobatic aircraft and an armed TA-50. All versions of the Golden Eagle family feature a single General Electric F404 engine.

 

South Korea is expected to issue a call for bids for its F-X III project in February to select a replacement for its F-4 Phantom jets. The candidates competing for this lucrative contract include the Boeing F-15 Silent Eagle, Lockheed Martin F-35, Sukhoi PAK FA, and the Eurofighter Typhoon.

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4 janvier 2012 3 04 /01 /janvier /2012 13:40

http://www.flightglobal.com/assets/getasset.aspx?itemid=43688

photo Korea Aerospace Industries

 

January 4, 2012 By Greg Waldron – Flight Global

 

Singapore - South Korea has placed a $600 million order with Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) for 20 examples of the FA-50 attack variant of the T-50 advanced jet trainer.

 

KAI said that under the deal it will deliver the aircraft from 2013 to 2014. Seoul could acquire a total of 60 to 150 FA-50s to replace its fleet of more than 150 Northrop F-5s.

 

The FA-50 is the most advanced variant of the T-50. It will have the Link 16 tactical data link, as well as an Elta Systems EL/M-2032 pulse doppler radar.

 

Northrop Grumman and Raytheon have said the FA-50 is a candidate for their respective active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars developed for the Lockheed Martin F-16. If the FA-50 does get an AESA radar, it is likely to be the same one chosen for the eventual F-16 radar upgrade for the US Air Force and Republic of Korea Air Force.

 

The FA-50 is the most advanced variant of KAI's T-50 Golden Eagle

 

The FA-50 also has a radar warning recover and a night vision imaging system. It is capable of carrying 4,500kg (9,920lb) of weapons, including the Boeing Joint Direct Attack Munition and Textron CBU-97 Sensor Fused Weapon. Like the TA-50, it also has a 20mm cannon and can carry air-to-air missiles.

 

Aside from the original T-50 and FA-50, KAI has also produced the T-50B enhanced manoeuvrability aerobatic variant and armed TA-50. All of these are powered by a single General Electric F404 engine.

 

Separately, Seoul is expected to issue a request for proposals in February for its F-X III competition to replace 60 McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantoms. The contenders are the Boeing F-15 Silent Eagle, Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin F-35 and Sukhoi PAK FA.

 

Industry observers have said Japan's recent selection of the F-35 for its 42 aircraft F-X fighter requirement will enhance the type's chances in South Korea as well.

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4 janvier 2012 3 04 /01 /janvier /2012 13:30
Su-27 Survives On Upgrades

 

January 4, 2012: STRATEGY PAGE

 

Despite being in service for 25 years, the Su-27 continues to appear in updated models. The most recent one is the Su-27SM(3). The Russian Air Force received a dozen of these in 2011. The SM(3) version has more powerful and durable AL-31M1 engines and a reinforced airframe that enables the aircraft to take off with three more tons of fuel or weapons. There were also updated electronics and a "glass" (full of touch screens) cockpit. Russia considers the Su-27SM(3) twice as capable as the original model, the Su-27S, in air-to-air combat and three times as effective in ground attack.

 

Things are not doing so well with existing Su-27s. Last year, Russia grounded all of its Su-27s. This necessary until it could be determined what caused one to crash on January 14th, 30 kilometers from its airbase at Dzemga (in the Far East). The pilot died in the crash, but the flight recorder was recovered. A year earlier, two Su-27s crashed. The Su-27 entered service in the 1980s and some of them are showing their age. It's still a first line fighter, but only as long as updated models can be developed and built. Russia's Sukhoi aircraft company has sold over a billion dollars' worth of these aircraft (plus components and technical services for them) a year for the last few years. Sukhoi mainly supplies Su-27/30 jet fighters to India, China, Malaysia, Venezuela and Algeria. The 33 ton Su-27 is similar to the U.S. F-15, but costs over a third less.

 

Developed near the end of the Cold War, the aircraft is one of the best fighters Russia has ever produced. The government helped keep Sukhoi alive during the 1990s, and even supplied money for development of an improved version of the Su-27 (the Su-30). This proved to be an outstanding aircraft, and is the main one Sukhoi produces. There are now several Su-30 variants, and major upgrades. While only about 700 Su-27s were produced (mostly between 1984, when it entered service, and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991), adding Su-30 production and you have over 1,000 aircraft (including license built ones in China and India).

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2 janvier 2012 1 02 /01 /janvier /2012 13:05

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-V50pHjyJQHM/Tv5XM49BiCI/AAAAAAAALs8/f33__5SgoR0/s400/Su-30%2BVietnam.jpg

Su-30 of the Vietnam People Air Force (photo : Jetphotos)

 

02.01.2012 DEFENSE STUDIES

 

Interfax-AVN - Russia successfully carried out a contract to supply Vietnam 12 multifunctional fighters Su-30MK2.

"In accordance with the timetable agreed with the customer next four Su-30MK2 posted on Friday from Komsomolsk-on-Amur in Vietnam," - said a source in the military-industrial complex.

 

He recalled that the delivery of the first four aircraft were delivered in June this year.

 

(Interfax)

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29 décembre 2011 4 29 /12 /décembre /2011 08:00
Airborne Platforms Bolster Ocean Patrol

Photo: Boeing

 

Dec 28, 2011 By David Eshel - defense technology international

 

Tel Aviv - Regional threats to stability, growing tension over the exploitation of natural resources in economic exclusion zones (EEZ), the impact of piracy and terrorism, and criminal activities in the littorals are among factors driving demand for advanced airborne maritime surveillance assets.

 

Maritime surveillance is one of the fastest-growing defense markets, with countries seeking a range of technologies to improve their ability to monitor traffic in territorial waters and secure ports and other shore facilities from threats. For naval forces, airborne assets are needed to track and warn of submarine activities and protect disputed territories. Strong and effective surveillance is also a key component in assembling international coalitions for stability operations and in fighting piracy.

 

Effective and far-reaching maritime monitoring is a priority in the Middle East and Asia-Pacific. In the eastern Mediterranean, deep-sea drilling has yielded major deposits of oil and natural gas off Israel and Cyprus, and shown the importance of defending offshore rigs (DTI November, p. 22). In Asia the dramatic growth of the Chinese navy has increased tension with countries such as India over energy sources and territorial claims, and led to a surge in submarine fleets, and with it demand for maritime patrol and antisubmarine-warfare (ASW) aircraft.

 

The Lockheed P-3 Orion has compiled a decades-long record of maritime patrol, and is in use with the U.S. Navy and other maritime forces around the world. Modernization programs have kept the iconic aircraft relevant in a rapidly changing world of evolving threats and capabilities. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) was awarded two contracts worth $37 million to integrate the EL/M-2022A surveillance radar, developed by IAI and its Elta subsidiary, onto P-3s. The contracts were awarded by two undisclosed militaries that are upgrading their patrol aircraft. The radar sets were tailored to fit in the nose and tail. One forward-looking antenna will provide 240-deg. coverage and two additional antennas will provide 360-deg. coverage.

 

The EL/M-2022A is an advanced, multimode surveillance system incorporating synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and inverse SAR 3-D technology, as well as expertise gained by missions conducted by the Israeli military. EL/M-2022A can be deployed on maritime aircraft in support of ASW, EEZ patrols, coastal defense, drug smuggling and fisheries patrols, and search-and-rescue missions. The radar’s modular architecture permits integration onto rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). It has a high degree of commonality with Elta’s EL/M-2032 fire-control radar. Excluding the operator’s console, EL/M-2022A hardware weighs less than 100 kg (220 lb.).

 

A patrol aircraft developed by Boeing, the P-8 Poseidon, will replace the U.S. Navy’s remaining P-3Cs. The P-8A is a long-range multi-mission platform. It has an advanced mission system that ensures maximum interoperability in battlespace. According to Boeing, all sensors on board contribute to a single fused tactical situation display, which is shared over military standard and Internet Protocol data links, allowing for seamless delivery of information among U.S. and coalition forces.

 

After several years of debate, the Navy decided to replace its specialized versions of P-3 reconnaissance aircraft with UAVs by the end of the decade. Northrop Grumman is team leader and prime contractor for the MQ-4C Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) UAV. The high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) platform is based on the Global Hawk, and designed to cruise at 60,000 ft. Unlike Global Hawk, which flies only at high altitude, MQ-4C is required to descend to lower altitude to get a closer view of suspected targets. To fly safely with manned and unmanned aircraft, the MQ-4C will be equipped with sense-and-avoid radar, which alerts an operator to air traffic in its vicinity. The MQ-4C will have 36-hr. endurance and operate at 60,000 ft., avoiding strong winds and severe weather. The payload is 3,200 lb. The UAV will have 2-D advanced, electronically scanned array radar for 360-deg. coverage of vast sections of ocean.

 

Another UAV for maritime use, Northrop Grumman’s MQ-8B Fire Scout, a vertical-takeoff-and-landing rotorcraft, accommodates a variety of sensors. It was deployed for the first time aboard the USS McInerney.

 

The P-8A and BAMS programs are in their advanced stages. Last January, Boeing received a $1.6 billion contract for low-rate initial production of the first six aircraft. Initial operational capability is slated for 2013. In 2008, the Navy awarded Northrop Grumman a $1.16 billion System Development and Demonstration contract for BAMS.

 

The P-8A/MQ-4C duo already provides a role model for Asia-Pacific nations that are challenged with covering vast ocean areas from shore bases. The Royal Australian Air Force, currently operating 18 Lockheed AP-3Cs, has expressed interest in the P-8A and its HALE component. As part of Project Air 7000 Phase 1, Canberra is expected to buy eight P-8As to replace its 18 AP-3Cs. The P-8A aircraft will be augmented by seven UAVs to fulfill the remaining roles. Australia completed the last upgrade of its AP-3Cs in 2005, which included the installation of an Elta’s EL/M-2022(V)3 maritime surveillance radar and a FLIR Systems Star Safire II thermal imager.

 

Israel is investing in its maritime surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to protect new finds in offshore oil and gas deposits, which have become a security priority for coming years. One segment that will likely get much attention is enhancing unmanned maritime surveillance in the eastern Mediterranean, to guard the gas and oil drilling platforms being moved within Israel’s vulnerable EEZ and in other areas.

 

Eli Gambash, marketing manager for IAI’s Malat division, says the company’s Heron-1 and Heron-TP UAVs, equipped with the new EL/M-2022 inverse SAR and automatic identification system, are ideal for maritime surveillance, coastal protection and antipiracy missions. The Heron-TP has also been tested with SAR for maritime surveillance, with the antenna stored in a belly fairing. “The Heron-1 with Elta radar covers a 400-nm. radius and identifies objects amid the clutter of the sea with enormous precision,” says Gambash, a captain in Israel’s naval reserve. “With the Heron you can remain in a certain place, completely passive, yet be in full situational control.”

 

India is rapidly expanding maritime surveillance, targeting and ASW capabilities with acquisitions of advanced systems. The country is a pioneer in the use of unmanned systems for surveillance. Its navy has been operating Israeli Searcher II and Heron I UAVs for years—Searchers carry EL/M-2022U lightweight maritime surveillance radar, and Herons are equipped with a suite of sensors, including radar, electro-optic payloads, sigint, comint and electronic support measures sensors, and line-of-sight or satellite data links. Israel is believed to have offered the newer Heron-TP to India to augment current UAVs.

 

India is also embarking on two maritime patrol programs to upgrade the littoral surveillance capabilities of the navy and coast guard. New Delhi is evaluating a potential buy of six aircraft, as part of the navy’s Medium-Range Maritime Reconnaissance program. These aircraft would cover 500 nm., flying 6 hr. on station, and replace the navy’s Dornier Do-228 aircraft, currently used for littoral surveillance.

 

A similar platform is being considered to replace the coast guard’s Britten-Norman BN-2B Islanders.

 

A third program in the planning stage seeks nine amphibious aircraft for surveillance over territorial waters in the Andaman Sea. The platforms likely to meet the requirement are the CASA/IPTN CN235MP—produced and supported in Indonesia—and the Saab 2000 MPA. The latter will be offered with advanced AESA radar from Selex, addressing what Saab considers a new Indian requirement. The plane will be fitted to carry RBS-15 antiship missiles, manufactured by Saab Bofors Dynamics. Optional weapons include the Boeing Harpoon missiles India is buying for the P-8I, the Indian version of the P-8A aircraft.

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28 décembre 2011 3 28 /12 /décembre /2011 08:30

http://www.upi.com/story/image/fs/13250044436017/Israel-navy-scraps-warship-plans-amid-cuts.jpg

 

TEL AVIV, Israel, Dec. 27 (UPI)

 

Amid an intense political battle over Israel's defense budget, the navy scrapped plans to buy two next-generation missile ships and the air force is thinking of buying second-hand U.S. Air Force F-15s rather than more expensive new jets.

 

Indeed, the procurement plans for Israel's armed forces have "come to a complete halt," The Jerusalem Post reported, as the government haggles over cuts to the defense budget.

 

The chief protagonists in the escalating battle are Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

 

Steinitz is pushing hard for greater transparency and accountability by the Defense Ministry, which has a free hand to a large extent, certainly more than other ministries.

 

Barak, a former military chief of staff and prime minister, adamantly refuses to surrender any of his ministry's powers and argues that the military cannot be pinned down on spending if it's to defend the Jewish state against its foes.

 

"I'm stubborn," Steinitz told the liberal Haaretz daily. "I don't intend to give up. We're going to pursue justice with no mercy.

 

"I've declared war on Ehud Barak on the issue of transparency and control and it will happen -- if not now, then later through Knesset legislation."

 

The pressure for defense cutbacks stems largely from unprecedented protests across Israel for greater social spending to counter rising prices, housing shortages and unemployment amid a global recession.

 

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's right-wing coalition government was forced to agree to improve conditions swiftly.

 

Since the Defense Ministry gets the lion's share of government funding, it was tapped to initiate major cutbacks, despite growing security threats ranging from Iran's alleged drive for nuclear weapons to the upheavals of the Arab Spring and a growing missile threat.

 

The cutbacks hit the Defense Ministry five-year development and procurement plan, known as the Hamalish Plan, which was scheduled to begin in 2012.

 

This is based on the premise there's a growing possibility Israel will be caught in a multi-front war in the near future. Analysts say that's likely to mean an unprecedented barrage of missiles and rockets on Israeli cities that could be sustained for two months.

 

Critics say the defense budget has been growing since the 2006 war with Lebanon's Hezbollah in which serious shortcomings in Israel's military were exposed. Barak claims defense spending has actually been shrinking, while the military has had to develop defense systems to counter the missile threat.

 

"To convince us that it's impossible to make cuts in the fat and inflated military budget, he's using the familiar method of scaring people," said one commentary in Haaretz.

 

"Barak is simply pulling the wool over our eyes. He doesn't tell us that … five years ago the budget stood at $12.4 billion but in 2012 will reach $14.8 billion, a 22 percent leap."

 

The United States, which provides Israel with $3 billion a year in military aids, provided $205 million in extra funds for Iron Dome in the spring. The Defense Ministry said Sunday Washington will cough up another $235 million for more batteries of Iron Dome, developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.

 

But other military systems are being dropped, like the two missile warships the navy wanted to expand its surface fleet. The plan was to buy designs from Germany's Blohm+Voss and build the vessels in Israel for $500 million.

 

That's out, and now the plan's to order two new smaller Sa'ar 4.5-class missile corvettes built in Israel, financing the deal by retiring two older Sa'ar 4 vessels.

 

That's a major setback for plans to enlarge the navy as its operational zones expand into the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea off Iran.

 

In 2010, the air force, which will bear the brunt of any conflict with Iran, ordered 20 Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighters worth $2.75 billion to maintain its long-held supremacy in the air. But delays in the F-35 program mean Israel may not get the jet -- the first of 75 it plans to buy -- until after 2017.

 

It has mulled buying upgraded Boeing F-15 Eagles and Lockheed F-16 Falcons as a stopgap.

 

But even that's likely to be too expensive in the current economic climate. So now the air force is looking at a cheaper alternative.

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