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19 août 2011 5 19 /08 /août /2011 05:30

http://www.flightglobal.com/assets/getAsset.aspx?ItemID=41505 

NATO AGS - photo Northrop Grumman

 

18/08/11 By Stephen Trimble SOURCE:Flight Daily News

 

Canada has become the second country to withdraw from the Northrop Grumman RQ-4 alliance ground surveillance (AGS) program, but the remaining NATO partners are "very close" to signing a contract, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.

 

The decision means AGS will lose another source of funding that must be compensated for by the 13 NATO members still committed.

 

In June, Canadian TV broadcaster CBC reported that Canada also is withdrawing from the NATO partnership operating the E-3 airborne warning and control system (AWACS).

 

The AGS program had lost another key partner last June. Denmark also decided to withdraw from the partnership acquiring a six-aircraft RQ-4 fleet in June 2010.

 

Meanwhile, Northrop and NATO officials are likely to sign a contract to launch the development phase of the AGS programme within several days. The contract award may still have to be approved by each of the national partners before it becomes official.

 

Previously, Northrop officials had predicted that the long-awaited contract award milestone might not be reached around October.

 

Northrop is offering to deliver six RQ-4 air vehicles configured with the US Air Force's Block 40 equipment, which includes a wide area surveillance sensor called the Northrop/Raytheon multi-platform radar technology insertion program. It will perform the same role as the USAF E-8C joint surveillance target attack radar system.

 

European partners, including EADS, will supply mobile ground control stations for the NATO RQ-4 fleet, which will be based at Sigonella AB, Sicily.

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3 juin 2011 5 03 /06 /juin /2011 23:00

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/73/Rafale2_ag1.jpg

 

Jun 3, 2011 By Bill Sweetman Aviationweek.com

 

Washington - The European fighter development community’s views on the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) have become more negative since 2005-06, and this is not, primarily, the result of marketing. The commentary expressed in offline meetings at conferences and shows is much more negative than on-the-record statements suggest.

 

People at Saab, Eurofighter and Dassault are of one voice on JSF and do not believe it will deliver its promised affordability, whether in acquisition, upgrades or operational cost, or that it will deliver capability on its present schedule. They expect that when JSF emerges from development, its stealth technology will be less valuable than expected, and that it will be inferior in other respects to European products.

 

The non-competitive selections of the JSF by the Netherlands, Norway and Canada are attributed to three main factors: political pressure by the U.S. (suspected for years but confirmed in 2010 by WikiLeaks), U.S.-oriented air forces, and political vacillation enabled by the fact that full-rate production JSFs are not available for order.

 

This worldview underpins the Europeans’ determination to keep their programs alive until the JSF program runs its course, or unravels, as they expect it to.

 

India’s decision to eliminate all but two contenders for its Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) requirement was a blow to Boeing and Saab, the companies in the losing group who had reason to hold out most hope in the competition (see p. 21). For the survivors, Eurofighter (Typhoon) and Dassault (Rafale), it means a bruising duel to win the contract and—for the winner—a major challenge to fulfill it.

 

Indian officials say the winners scored highest on technical grounds, which is not surprising. Typhoon and Rafale are larger and more powerful than Saab’s Gripen. The former is better at high altitude and the latter excels in payload and range. The European fighters also have a more contemporary aerodynamic design than Boeing’s Super Hornet.

 

But a word of caution—what is being offered in both cases is not what is coming off the production line today. Boeing’s Super Hornet proposal seems to have been close to the in-production F/A-18E/F Block 2, with the exception of General Electric’s Enhanced Performance Engine (EPE) version of the F414. Gripen NG rests on a development program that is well underway.

 

Whether Rafale or Typhoon is selected, the program will aim to achieve several things simultaneously, including co-developing improvements such as an active, electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and Meteor air-to-air missile (AAM) integration; dealing with obsolescence issues that are inevitable in long development cycles; transfering technology and launching joint indigenous production; and transplanting a complex all-digital aircraft into the Indian air force, all on a tight timescale.

 

If Rafale wins, and is also successful in Brazil, Dassault and its partners—Safran and Thales—will be doing much the same thing, 9,000 mi. from India.

 

Good luck with that. The Indian customer, however, may take the view that the burden of risk will fall on the contractor—and ultimately its domestic government stakeholder, which is unlikely to want to see problems erupt into public finger-pointing.

 

Boeing and Saab, meanwhile, can take comfort in depicting the Indian decision as something less than an outright repudiation of their approach to fighter design and the market. Boeing can present it as a choice to not rely on the U.S. for a principal weapon system, and Saab can point out that either finalist represents a move to closer ties with the major powers of Europe.

 

The current competitive situation of the three “Euro-canard” fighters, however, is shaped by economic, operational, technical and historic factors, and whether one or all survive into the 2020s as viable programs depends on all of them.

 

The historic factor dates to the mid-1980s, when France and the Eurofighter partners went their separate ways. Germany and the U.K. argued that one-nation programs no longer had the critical mass to compete with those from the U.S. France believed multinational programs without a clear leadership structure were impossibly cumbersome.

 

Both arguments were right.

 

Rafale works, but is being built at such slow rates that costs are high. To increase rates would be to starve other national programs of resources. Typhoon’s production and upgrade program has been successively delayed and restructured as the sponsoring nations have wrangled over how much should be spent on each step, and when.

 

Sweden escaped these outcomes because it had always structured its fighter programs differently. Design, integration and most manufacturing remained in Sweden, but subsystems such as the engine, radar and weapons were co-developed with foreign partners or imported. Combined with a uniquely authoritative and highly skilled government arms-development agency, Gripen’s development has been affordable on a national basis.

 

Technically and operationally, Rafale and Typhoon are more different than the distant view suggests. At its conception, Typhoon was expected to enter service at a point where Tornado, developed by three of its four partners, would be at its mid-life point. Combined with the emerging threat of the MiG-29 and Sukhoi Su-27, this drove the design toward air-combat performance, with a configuration that accommodated large radar and a standard, low-drag, six-missile load-out, and aerodynamics and propulsion optimized for agility (including supersonic maneuver) and acceleration.

 

The RAF considers the Typhoon second only to the Lockheed Martin F-22 in the air-to-air regime. Armed with Meteor ramjet-powered AAMs and equipped with a high-end infrared search-and-track (IRST) system, it will be more formidable yet. The problem is that few customers face adversaries with large or modern fighter forces.

 

Also, there is a difference of approach among the four Typhoon nations. The U.K. has recognized since the early 2000s that the Typhoon will have to take over some or all Tornado missions and developed an interim air-to-ground precision-strike capability. But the other partners have not seen this as an urgent need (and are less involved with air operations in Iraq and Afghanistan), so funding for definitive solutions has been slow to materialize.

 

Nonetheless, the Typhoon team continues to promote future variants, including evolved designs with thrust vector control (TVC)—which, among other things, improves handling with heavy external loads—and even a carrier-based version, which is of interest to India (and to the U.K. if JSF has problems). TVC is linked to carrier landing capability, as it permits a trimmed approach at a lower angle of attack and overcomes a problem with earlier “Seaphoon” studies—the big radome that interposed itself between the pilot’s eyes and the ship.

 

afale, by contrast, was designed to permit a one-type air force for France, including the navy, with missions ranging from close air support to nuclear strike. The result was a small aircraft with the ability to carry a large external load and lower top-end performance than Typhoon. Another tradeoff was to accept less radar range in return for flexibility and light weight, with the relatively small passive phased array of the RBE2.

 

The Rafale has impressive capabilities, including discretion, which the French prefer to the term “stealth.” Rafale visibly shows more marks of low-observables technology than its contemporaries, and there is evidence that its Thales Spectra electronic warfare system has an active cancellation mode.

 

The Rafale team has, since the mid-2000s, done reasonably well at keeping its plans to mature and upgrade the aircraft on schedule. It can self-designate with the GBU-12 laser-guided bomb and carries the Sagem AASM extended-range, precision-guided weapon family. For the destruction of enemy air defenses mission, presentations show one Rafale targeting with radar from outside lethal range, while another approaches in terrain cover and delivers a pop-up AASM. The latest version to be tested is the imaging-IR model. Rafale is also operational with the Thales Areos multiband, long-range oblique reconnaissance pod.

 

Stealth, meanwhile, appears to be the hallmark of Gripen development, in that it is moving forward under a shroud of non-publicity. Sweden has taken the strategic decision to retain a small but capable air force, which will be based on Gripen until at least 2040. The only currently planned route to that goal is through the JAS 39E/F Gripen NG.

 

The next milestone is the return to flight of the Gripen Demo prototype, equipped with the E/F’s new avionics system, designed to reduce the cost of upgrades by partitioning mission systems from flight-critical functions. Selex Galileo is pushing forward with the Skywards-G IRST—the first system of its type to operate in dual IR bands—and the Raven ES-05, the first wide-angle AESA.

 

The first new-build Gripen NG is due to fly in 2012. Reports describe stealth enhancements including diverterless inlets. The enhanced performance (EPE) engine would be a useful addition—at its highest reported rating, its non-afterburning output would be over 90% of the maximum thrust of the C/D’s RM12 engine, although Saab may elect to take a smaller thrust boost combined with longer engine life to reduce ownership cost. GE claims that the EPE is relatively low-risk.

 

There’s a lot of work to be done if European programs are to remain viable, but so far, industry considers it worthwhile.

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20 avril 2011 3 20 /04 /avril /2011 19:00

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7b/HMCS_Victoria_SSK-876_near_Bangor.jpg

 

20 avril 2011 Par Rédacteur en chef. PORTAIL DES SOUS-MARINS

 

Après 5 années de travaux, le seul sous-marin canadien basé sur la côte Pacifique, sur la base d’Esquimalt, a repris la mer au cours du week-end. Dimanche soir, le HMCS Victoria est sorti de bassin pour être mis à quai dans le chantier naval du port d’Esquimalt. Il s’agit d’un moment important pour le programme canadien de sous-marins, puisque le HMCS Victoria est seulement le 2ème sous-marin à pouvoir prendre la mer, malgré le maintien de certaines restrictions [d’emploi]. L’autre sous-marin, le HMCS Corner Brook, est attendu à l’été à la base navale de Victoria en provenance d’Halifax (côte Atlantique) pour effectuer des patrouilles. Le HMCS Victoria faisait l’objet ; depuis 5ans — la moitié de sa « vie » sous pavillon canadien — de travaux importants d’entretien, de réparation et de modernisation. « Le Victoria est le premier sous-marin de sa classe sur lequel nous avons effectué des maintenances d’un niveau aussi complexe », a déclaré le Cmdr. Christopher Earl, l’autorité technique de la marine canadienne pour les sous-marins, lors d’un interview en février dernier. Il a ajouté qu’il ne pouvait donner d’estimation des coûts de réparation et de modernisation, parce les travaux se poursuivaient sur le HMCS Victoria. A l’issue des essais en mer, ce sous-marin sera le tout premier complètement opérationnel et capable de lancer des armes. A terme, l’objectif de la marine canadienne est de disposer, simultanément, de 3 sous-marins opérationnels, le 4ème étant alors en période d’entretien aux chantiers navals de Victoria, a indiqué Earl. « Tous les 6 à 8 ans, tout système embarqué doit être réparé ou entretenu, » a-t-il expliqué. « Notre programme n’est pas foncièrement différent de celui des autres forces sous-marines. »

 

L'analyse de la rédaction :

Pour mémoire, la durée d’un “grand carénage” de sous-marin nucléaire français, comme celui que subit actuellement le Vigilant, est d’environ 2 ans, 2 ans et demi. Et encore, cette durée comprend la modification du système d’armes liée au passage au missile M-51. Les travaux réalisés lors d’un “grand carénage” de sous-marin nucléaire sont autrement plus complexes que ceux réalisés à bord d’un sous-marin classique, fût-il de la classe Victoria...

 

Référence : Saanich News (Canada)

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13 avril 2011 3 13 /04 /avril /2011 22:30
Treize ans après leur achat, les sous-marins canadiens ne peuvent toujours pas lancer de torpilles

 

13 avril 2011 Par Rédacteur en chef. PORTAIL DES SOUS-MARINS

 

Treize ans après avoir acheter 4 sous-marins peu utilisés par les Britanniques, le Canada n’est toujours pas parvenu à les remettre en état de combattre. Actuellement, un seul des 4 sous-marins de la classe Victoria est capable de prendre la mer. Aucun ne peut combattre tant que leurs tubes lance-torpilles n’auront pas été convertis pour lancer des torpilles Mk 48 américaines [1]. Les kits de conversion ont enfin été commandés et ils devraient être installés d’ici 2 ans, si le Congrès américain ne s’y oppose pas. De tous ces déboires, le Canada a appris que les sous-marins sont des bâtiments couteux à construire et à entretenir, même s’ils sont d’occasion.

 

Les anciens Upholder britanniques

 

Tout a commencé dans les années 90, lorsque le Canada a voulu remplacer ses sous-marins classiques datant des années 60. Cela ne semblait pas possible, parce que des sous-marins neufs auraient couté près de 500 millions $. Dans le même temps, la Grande-Bretagne a décidé de passer à une force sous-marine entièrement nucléaire et a désarmé 4 sous-marins de la classe Upholder, mis en service entre 1990 et 1993, peu utilisés donc. Elle les vendait pour 188 millions $ pièce. L’affaire a été conclue en 1998, la livraison devant commencer en 2000. Le Canada a désarmé ses sous-marins de la classe Oberon en 2000. C’est alors qu’il a découvert que les sous-marins britanniques avaient besoin de travaux de remise en état : réparer des fuites, installer du matériel canadien... plus que cela n’était prévu. Ce n’est qu’en 2004 que les sous-marins ont enfin été livrés. Mais l’un d’entre eux, pendant le trajet vers le Canada, a été endommagé gravement par un incendie. Ce sous-marin devait être remis en service l’année prochaine. D’ici la fin de cette année, 3 sous-marins devraient être de retour en service. Peut-être. Ne pas avoir de sous-marin opérationnel depuis près de 10 ans est devenu un problème majeur au Canada. Le problème est que, au départ, les sous-marins ont été achetés sans un examen complet. Ce n’est qu’ensuite qu’il a été découvert que les principaux systèmes avaient des problèmes qui devaient être réparés (pour un cout considérable). Par conséquent, ces sous-marins ont passé la majeure partie de leur temps, au cours de la dernière décennie, à subir des réparations ou des améliorations. La réparation finale sera de faire fonctionner les tubes lance-torpilles. Le seul sous-marin de la classe Victoria qui soit opérationnel est actuellement en patrouille dans le Pacifique, à la recherche d’activités douteuses que, s’il en trouve, il devra signaler aux autorités compétentes... sans pouvoir lui-même intervenir.

 

Notes :

[1] Les sous-marins ont été conçus pour lancer des torpilles britanniques, Tigerfish et Spearfish.

 

Référence : Strategy Page (Etats-Unis)

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2 avril 2011 6 02 /04 /avril /2011 06:00
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24 mars 2011 4 24 /03 /mars /2011 12:30
CAE décroche des contrats d'une valeur totale de 100 millions

 

23 mars 2011 La Presse Canadienne

 

Le fabricant de simulateurs de vols CAE (T.CAE) a récolté pour 100 millions de dollars de contrats militaires dans une dizaine de pays, dont le Canada, Taïwan et les États-Unis. La société fournira ainsi ses services-conseils au ministère de la Défense nationale du Canada et réalisera des contrats de sous-traitance pour le compte du géant Lockheed Martin, dans le cadre du programme d'avion de transport militaire Hercule C-130J. L'entreprise construira par ailleurs des dispositifs d'entraînement pour les avions de patrouille maritime Lockheed P-3C Orion de la marine taïwanaise. CAE offrira en outre des mises à niveau à celle des États-Unis pour l'entraînement sur les hélicoptères de patrouille MH-60S. Ces appareils servent notamment à des missions antimines, à la recherche et au sauvetage de combat ainsi qu'au ravitaillement. L'entreprise dont le siège social est situé à Montréal emploie aujourd'hui 7500 personnes dans plus de 20 pays.

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