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1 juin 2011 3 01 /06 /juin /2011 08:00
BAE Systems, Dassault Await UAS Requirement



May 31, 2011 By Robert Wall aviation week and space technology


Warton, England - One of the flagship programs underpinning the ambitious Franco-British effort to establish a 50-year strategic partnership in national security is several steps closer to being clarified.


France and the U.K. have committed to jointly address their medium-, long-endurance unmanned aircraft (MALE) requirement under the new defense agreement that was formulated in November 2010. But much of the program’s success will hinge on devising combined requirements and a cohesive acquisition strategy. Progress on both fronts is being made, and a definitive shape is likely in the next few months.


The French defense procurement agency, DGA, has already dispatched a cadre to Abbey Wood, home of the U.K. defense ministry’s defense equipment and support organization, to help run the project. The detailed acquisition strategy is now being defined.


Many industry officials in Europe are eagerly anticipating the outcome, but probably none more so than BAE Systems and Dassault—they have agreed to jointly pursue the program. Others, such as Thales, are still pondering a commitment and EADS Cassidian is mulling over building a proposal featuring its Talarion unmanned aircraft concept.


While BAE Systems and Dassault have agreed on the broad outline, details are closely coupled to the requirements document. Although the two national prime contractors appear strange bedfellows, Ian Fairclough, project director for strategic unmanned aerial systems (UAS) programs at BAE Systems, argues that the two firms offer “complementary capabilities.”


Fairclough suggests that open competition and a sole-source approach to the Franco-British industrial partnership are under consideration; European competition rules could influence the outcome.


Regardless of what course is taken, Fairclough argues, there are benefits to moving quickly beyond just preserving the notional 2015-20 fielding agenda. A prolonged competitive process jeopardizes design engineering skills, which would otherwise be idle during that time.


Detailed program definition between the partners is still being worked out. What is less clear is how specific that document will be and whether it will be sufficient to begin detailed design activity.


One matter still under discussion is whether the system would have to be certified to civil requirements, which would ease operations in civil airspace but add complexity and cost.


Industry also is waiting for word from both governments over their preference for final assembly.


The current plan calls for BAE Systems to be responsible for defining the aircraft and engine selection—turbofans and turboprops are still in the mix—while Dassault would focus on systems integration and testing, Eric Trappier, executive vice president/international at Dassault Aviation, said recently.


The concept would be an evolution of the Mantis flying demonstrator developed by BAE Systems. Many details, though, remain undetermined, including how many air vehicles will be featured in each system.


Another decision revolves around devising an exportable system. The two countries “would like to minimize ITAR content,” Fairclough says of equipment governed by the complex U.S. International Transfer of Arms Regulations.


The air vehicle would be designed to be able to both target and deliver ordnance.


Cost estimates vary for the program. Some put the development/production bill at €1 billion ($1.4 billion), which would be shared equally, although a U.K. defense ministry document cites a £2 billion ($3.2 billion) life-cycle cost for the U.K. alone. That assumes around 20 aircraft, although no number has been set.


For the U.K., the program would take on much of the requirement of the so-called Scavenger UAS requirement, although it remains uncertain whether all aspects would be covered by the Franco-British effort. The U.K.’s UAS document, developed by the defense ministry’s doctrine center, suggests “the U.K. will consider if other complementary components are needed to fully satisfy the U.K. capability requirement.”


Although the program is bilateral, so far, Dassault’s Yves Robins, a counselor to Trappier, says that if the two governments change course, industry would adapt.

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16 mai 2011 1 16 /05 /mai /2011 21:30



May 16, 2011 (AP)


YOKOSUKA, Japan (AP) — The U.S. is developing aircraft carrier-based drones that could provide a crucial edge as it tries to counter China's military rise.


American officials have been tightlipped about where the unmanned armed planes might be used, but a top Navy officer has told The Associated Press that some would likely be deployed in Asia.


"They will play an integral role in our future operations in this region," predicted Vice Adm. Scott Van Buskirk, commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet, which covers most of the Pacific and Indian oceans.


Land-based drones are in wide use in the war in Afghanistan, but sea-based versions will take several more years to develop. Northrop Grumman conducted a first-ever test flight — still on land — earlier this year.


Van Buskirk didn't mention China specifically, but military analysts agree the drones could offset some of China's recent advances, notably its work on a "carrier-killer" missile.


"Chinese military modernization is the major long-term threat that the U.S. must prepare for in the Asia-Pacific region, and robotic vehicles — aerial and subsurface — are increasingly critical to countering that potential threat," said Patrick Cronin, a senior analyst with the Washington-based Center for New American Security.


China is decades away from building a military as strong as America's, but it is developing air, naval and missile capabilities that could challenge U.S. supremacy in the Pacific — and with it, America's ability to protect important shipping lanes and allies such as Japan and South Korea.


China maintains it does not have offensive intentions and is only protecting its own interests: The shipping lanes are also vital to China's export-dependent economy. There are potential flash points, though, notably Taiwan and clusters of tiny islands that both China and other Asian nations claim as their territory.


The U.S. Navy's pursuit of drones is a recognition of the need for new weapons and strategies to deal not only with China but a changing military landscape generally.


"Carrier-based unmanned aircraft systems have tremendous potential, especially in increasing the range and persistence of our intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations, as well as our ability to strike targets quickly," Van Buskirk said at the 7th Fleet's headquarters in Yokosuka, Japan.


His fleet boasts one carrier — the USS George Washington — along with about 60 other ships and 40,000 sailors and Marines.


Experts say the drones could be used on any of the 11 U.S. carriers worldwide and are not being developed exclusively as a counterbalance to China.


But China's reported progress in missile development appears to make the need for them more urgent.


The DF 21D "carrier killer" missile is designed for launch from land with enough accuracy to hit a moving aircraft carrier at a distance of more than 900 miles (1,500 kilometers). Though still unproven — and some analysts say overrated — no other country has such a weapon.


Current Navy fighter jets can only operate about 500 nautical miles (900 kilometers) from a target, leaving a carrier within range of the Chinese missile.


Drones would have an unrefueled combat radius of 1,500 nautical miles (2,780 kilometers) and could remain airborne for 50 to 100 hours — versus the 10 hour maximum for a pilot, according to a 2008 paper by analysts Tom Ehrhard and Robert Work at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. Work is now an undersecretary of the Navy.


"Introducing a new aircraft that promises to let the strike group do its work from beyond the maximum effective firing range of the anti-ship ballistic missile — or beyond its range entirely — represents a considerable boost in defensive potential for the carrier strike group," said James Holmes of the U.S. Naval War College.


Northrop Grumman has a six-year, $635.8 million contract to develop two of the planes, with more acquisitions expected if they work. A prototype of its X-47B took a maiden 29-minute flight in February at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Initial testing on carriers is planned for 2013.


Other makers including Boeing and Lockheed are also in the game. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. — the maker of the Predator drones used in the Afghan war — carried out wind tunnel tests in February. Spokeswoman Kimberly Kasitz said it was too early to divulge further details.


Some experts warn carrier-based drones are still untested and stress that Chinese advances have not rendered carriers obsolete.


"Drones, if they work, are just the next tech leap. As long as there is a need for tactical aviation launched from the sea, carriers will be useful weapons of war," said Michael McDevitt, a former commandant of the National War College in Washington, D.C., and a retired rear admiral whose commands included an aircraft carrier battle group.


Some analysts also note that China may be reluctant to instigate any fighting that could interfere with its trade.


Nan Li, an expert at the U.S. Naval War College's China Maritime Studies Institute, doubts China would try to attack a U.S. carrier.


"I am a skeptic of such an interpretation of Chinese strategy," he said. "But I do think the X-47B may still be a useful preventive capability for worst-case scenarios."


The Air Force and Navy both sponsored a project to develop carrier-based drones in the early 2000s, but the Air Force pulled out in 2005, leaving the Navy to fund the research.


Adm. Gary Roughhead, chief of naval operations, said last summer that the current goal of getting a handful of unmanned bombers in action by 2018 is "too damn slow."


"Seriously, we've got to have a sense of urgency about getting this stuff out there," he told a conference. "It could fundamentally change how we think of naval aviation."

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17 avril 2011 7 17 /04 /avril /2011 17:30
Pakistan wants drone technology: report

Apr 17 2011 THE NATION


Drone attacks in Pakistan are creating rifts between US and Pakistan, claims UK media. After difference with US, Pakistan has approached many other countries including China to get drone technology, says UK media. According to report, drone attacks in Pakistan are creating rifts between US and Pakistan. CIA is not taking Pakistan into confidence regarding airstrikes.

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9 avril 2011 6 09 /04 /avril /2011 06:00
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30 mars 2011 3 30 /03 /mars /2011 11:30

An artist concept showing the Global Hawk RQ-4B Block 40 configured for the NATO AGS core capability. Photo: Northrop Grumman


March 29, 2011 by Tamir Eshel DEFENSE UPDATE


Northrop Grumman Corporation submitted its final proposal for the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) core capability. NATO AGS system will employ an air segment consisting of six Northrop Grumman Block 40 Global Hawks specially missionized to provide persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to ground, maritime and air commanders, anytime and anywhere in the world. These Global hawks will be equipped with Northrop Grumman’s Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program (MP-RTIP) ground surveillance radar sensor, which will be capable of detecting and tracking moving objects throughout the observed areas, as well as providing radar imagery of target locations and stationary objects.


The primary ground segment component will consist of a number of ground stations in different configurations, such as mobile and transportable configurations, which will provide data link connectivity, data processing and exploitation capabilities, and interfaces for interoperability with Command, Control Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance(C2ISR) systems. The AGS Core ground segment will also include dedicated mission support facilities at the AGS Main Operating Bases (MOB), and ground stations for flight control of the UAVs. The Main Operating Base will be located at Sigonella Air Base, Italy. The Core system will be supplemented by interoperable national airborne stand-off ground surveillance systems from NATO countries, thus forming a system of systems.


NATO AGS program was approved by European heads of state and government as a priority capability initiative at the 2010 Lisbon Summit. In support of the new strategic concept, system will establish a network-enabled sensor system, supporting interoperability with national systems in support of all possible missions, including force protection, border and maritime security, counter- and anti-terrorism, crisis management, peacekeeping and enforcement, and natural disaster relief.


The current proposal is based on refinements introduced by the team to meet NATO requirements. “Our updated proposal offers an affordable, executable program that will provide an operationally relevant system to the Alliance,” said Pat McMahon, sector vice president of Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems’ Battle Management & Engagement Systems Division. Northrop Grumman is expecting contract award by July 2011.


NATO embarked on the AGS program in 1995, when the NATO Defence Ministers agreed to develop a pooled NATO asset, consisting of both manned and unmanned platforms, as well as ground control stations in various configurations. The manned platform was to be based on the Airbus A321 commercial airliner, and the unmanned platform on the Global Hawk high altitude long endurance UAV. Both the manned and unmanned platforms were to carry the Transatlantic Cooperative AGS Radar (TCAR). In November 2007, however, due to declining European defense budgets, NATO chose to move forward with a UAV-only solution based on the Global Hawk RQ-4B and the multi-platform radar technology insertion program (MP-RTIP). With this revision, the number of cooperating nations was reduced from 24 to 14.


NATO AGS is the first international sale of the Block 40 Global Hawk. The ground element, which provides real-time data, intelligence and target identification to commanders within and beyond line of sight, will be wholly produced by the team’s European industry partners, offering the potential for national re-use in other programs as well as direct work in the program for the participating nations. Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor for the program, leading a team which includes companies from each of nations participating in the acquisition.


The program is managed by NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance Management Agency (NAGSMA) and being implemented by the AGS Implementation Office (AGS IO) at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE). The agency was established in September 2009 after all participating nations signed the AGS Program Memorandum of Understanding. NAGSMA, was chartered to acquire the NATO-owned and operated core capability, and is responsible for the procurement of the NATO AGS capability until it has reached full operational capability at the NATO AGS main operating base in Italy.

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28 mars 2011 1 28 /03 /mars /2011 12:30
Northrop Grumman Submits Final Proposal for NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance

ELBOURNE, Fla., March 28, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE)


Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) submitted its final proposal last week for the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) core capability – a trans-Atlantic cooperation that will meet the security challenges of the 21st century. "The updated proposal offers an affordable, executable program that will provide an operationally relevant system to the Alliance," said Pat McMahon, sector vice president of Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems' Battle Management & Engagement Systems Division. "NATO AGS will be a critical component of the Alliance's response to threats to peace now and in the future."


Based on the Block 40 configuration of the RQ-4 Global Hawk high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aircraft, the NATO AGS system will provide persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to ground, maritime and air commanders, anytime and anywhere in the world. A contract award is anticipated in July 2011. The NATO AGS includes an air segment consisting of six Block 40 Global Hawks that will be missionized to meet NATO requirements. They will be equipped with Northrop Grumman's Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program (MP-RTIP) ground surveillance radar sensor, which will be capable of detecting and tracking moving objects throughout the observed areas as well as providing radar imagery of target locations and stationary objects. "The ground element, which provides real-time data, intelligence and target identification to commanders within and beyond line of sight, will be wholly produced by our European industry partners, offering the potential for national re-use in other programs as well as direct work in the program for the participating nations," said Matt Copija, director of Northrop Grumman's NATO AGS program. "As NATO's highest acquisition priority and Europe's highest visibility program, NATO AGS also represents the first international sale of the Block 40 Global Hawk."


Approved by heads of state and government as a priority capability initiative at the 2010 Lisbon Summit in support of the new strategic concept, the NATO AGS system will empower a network-enabled approach to support interoperability with national systems and to perform the entire range of NATO missions, including force protection, border and maritime security, counter- and anti-terrorism, crisis management, peacekeeping and enforcement, and natural disaster relief. It also includes mobile and transportable ground stations and a world-class mission operation support center at its main operating base in Sigonella, Italy. Flying up to 60,000 feet for more than 32 hours, the combat-proven Global Hawk has flown more than 53,000 hours thus far. The U.S. Air Force Block 30 Global Hawks continue to fly relief support missions over Japan in response to the tragic 9.0-magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami, and are also supporting the NATO-led coalition effort in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn over Libya.  The Global Hawk was also used for disaster relief and recovery efforts following the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010, Hurricane Ike on the Gulf Coast in 2009, and the California wildfires in 2007 and 2008.


As prime contractor, Northrop Grumman worked closely with the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance Management Agency (NAGSMA) and its industry team, which includes companies from each of the 14 nations participating in the acquisition, to refine the proposal to meet NATO requirements. NAGSMA, which was chartered to acquire the NATO-owned and operated core capability, is responsible for the procurement of the NATO AGS capability until it has reached full operational capability. NAGSMA was established in September 2009 after all participating nations signed the AGS Program Memorandum of Understanding.

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15 mars 2011 2 15 /03 /mars /2011 12:30
Drones : Dassault signe avec le britannique BAE



14/03/11 par Véronique Guillermard, LeFigaro.fr



Une fois obtenu le feu vert de Paris et de Londres, les deux constructeurs vont développer un drone d’observation (MALE) dans le cadre d’une coopération exclusive.


Quatre mois après la signature à Londres d’accords de défense et de sécurité entre Nicolas Sarkozy et le premier ministre David Cameron, les industriels entrent dans le vif du sujet. Dassault Aviation*, le constructeur de l’avion de combat Rafale, et BAE Systems qui est un des pays participant au programme rival Eurofighter, ont signé un mémorandum (MOU) qui trace les lignes d’une coopération exclusive dans le domaine d’appareils sans pilotes humains - drones - d’observation de moyenne altitude et longue endurance (MALE) de nouvelle génération.


A côté des porte-avions et de la défense antimissiles, les drones étaient au cœur des accords de défense signés le 3 novembre 2010 entre Paris et Londres. Les deux gouvernements étaient tombés d’accord pour identifier des grands domaines de coopération permettant, contraintes budgétaires obligent, de partager des ressources afin de développer des matériels pour les deux armées.


Dassault Aviation et BAE ont déjà bien avancé. Ils ont remis une étude de faisabilité de drone MALE à leur gouvernement. «Ce dont nous avons besoin à présent, c’est d’une décision rapide de lancement de programme par les deux gouvernements», souligne Éric Trappier, directeur général international du groupe français. Ce feu vert doit être donné dans le cadre des relations bilatérales au niveau politique le plus haut ainsi qu’aux niveaux des deux instances principales : le «Senior level group» et le «high level working group». Ce dernier étant composé des représentants des deux directions générales de l’armement des deux pays.


Dans le détail, la coopération s’inscrit dans le cadre d’un partenariat à 50-50 entre les deux industriels. BAE Systems est le maître d’œuvre du projet qui s’appuie sur la plateforme MANTIS, un démonstrateur de drone MALE bimoteurs équipé de turbopropulseurs PT6 du canadien Pratt & Whitney, construit par le groupe britannique. «Mantis offre une base de travail pour développer une plateforme nouvelle qui soit financièrement abordable et réponde aux besoins opérationnels des deux pays», précise un porte-parole du constructeur français. L’appareil sera construit en Grande-Bretagne. De son côté, Dassault Aviation développera le système de mission (l’électronique, l’avionique, les capteurs) ainsi que les stations de programmation terrestres. Ce drone sera proposé aux armées françaises et britanniques. Le budget du projet n’est pas encore calé mais il faudra investir plusieurs centaines de millions d’euros pour le développement.



Mise en service à la fin de la décennie


Les deux industriels visent une mise en service à la fin de cette décennie. Les deux partenaires espèrent également le vendre à l’export notamment dans les pays qui utilisent l’actuel système américain Predator de General Atomics.


Les deux industriels sont optimistes sur leur capacité à travailler ensemble. Les rôles de chacun sont bien définis et il n’y a pas d’ambiguïté en matière de leadership. De plus ils ont déjà joint leurs efforts dans le passé. En 1967, Bréguet Aviation (repris et fusionné ensuite avec Dassault) et British Aircraft Corporation (devenu BAE) avaient signé un protocole d’accord pour développer ensemble un avion de combat : le Jaguar. Fabriqué à plus de 600 exemplaires pour six pays, ce programme a été un succès. Les derniers exemplaires du Jaguar, mis en service en 1973, sont encore fabriqués sous licence en Inde à Bengalore mais l’appareil a été retiré du service actif en 2005 par la France et en 2007 par la Grande-Bretagne qui en avait utilisé une dizaine pendant la guerre du Golfe.



* Dassault Aviation est une filiale de dassault, propriétaire du Figaro

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2 mars 2011 3 02 /03 /mars /2011 23:01
Teal Group Predicts Worldwide UAV Market Will Total Just Over $94 Billion in Its Just Released 2011 UAV Market Profile and Forecast


March 1, 2011 Source: Teal Group


WASHINGTON --- Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have been the most dynamic growth sector of the world aerospace industry this decade, report Teal analysts in their latest integrated market analysis.


Teal Group's 2011 market study estimates that UAV spending will almost double over the next decade from current worldwide UAV expenditures of $5.9 billion annually to $11.3 billion, totaling just over $94 billion in the next ten years.


"The UAV market will continue to be strong despite cuts in defense spending," said Philip Finnegan, Teal Group's director of corporate analysis and an author of the study. "UAVs have proved their value in Iraq and Afghanistan and will be a high priority for militaries in the United States and worldwide."


The study suggests that the US will account for 77% of the worldwide RDT&E spending on UAV technology over the next decade, and about 69% of the procurement. "We expect that the sales of UAVs will follow recent patterns of high-tech arms procurement worldwide, with the Asia-Pacific representing the second largest market, followed very closely by Europe," said Teal Group senior analyst Steve Zaloga, another author of the 458-page study. "Africa and Latin America are expected to continue to be very modest markets for UAVs."


The eighth edition of the sector study, World Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Systems, Market Profile and Forecast 2011, examines the worldwide requirements for UAVs, including UAV payloads and companies, and provides ten-year forecasts by country, region, and classes of UAVs.


Teal Group analysts already cover the UAV market in their World Missiles and UAV Briefing, which examines the UAV market on a program-by-program basis. The sector study examines the UAV market from a complementary perspective, namely national requirements, and includes both a comprehensive analysis of UAV system payloads and key UAV manufacturers.


UAV Payloads


The 2011 study provides 10-year funding and production forecasts for a wide range of UAV payloads, including Electro-Optic/Infrared Sensors (EO/IR), Synthetic Aperture Radars (SARs), SIGINT and EW Systems, C4I Systems, and CBRN Sensors, worth $2.6 billion in Fiscal Year 2011 and forecast to increase to $5.6 billion in Fiscal Year 2020. The UAV electronics market will grow steadily, with especially fast growth and opportunities continuing in SAR and SIGINT/EW, according to Dr. David Rockwell, third author of the new study.


"The payload portion of the 2011 study includes many new systems and system types, with expanded coverage of SIGINT/EW and SAR markets," said Rockwell "Few now question the U.S. Air Force's claim that ISR is 'the centerpiece of our global war on terrorism, with production beginning for major endurance UAV systems such as MP-RTIP and ASIP,' new RDT&E programs such as wide angle EO/IR systems, and a variety of ground and foliage-penetrating radars, and future development efforts to bring large-aircraft capabilities to small UAVs; tactical and mini/micro/nano-UAVs will continue to offer some of the best electronics opportunities over the next decade."


UAV Companies


The study also includes a UAV Manufacturers Market Overview that reflects the worldwide UAV market "continuing as one of the prime areas of growth for defense and aerospace companies," said Finnegan. The new study reflects the rapid growth of interest in the UAV business by increasing the number of companies covered to some 35 US, European and Israeli companies, and reveals the fundamental reshaping of the industrial environment.


"Smaller companies can successfully compete against larger players, as AAI Corp., Insitu, General Atomics and AeroVironment have all shown," Finnegan said. "Now the prime contractors are buying the successful smaller companies." In the past year, L-3 Communications bought Airborne Technologies, a small UAV developer and manufacturer, and VT Group purchased Evergreen's UAV fee-for-service operations.


As prime contractors and small companies compete in the dynamic UAV market, they are adopting widely different strategies. "Our overview tracks the widely varying approaches being taken by these key companies, ranging from outright acquisitions to teaming arrangements and internal development of new UAV systems," said Finnegan.


The Teal Group is an aerospace and defense market analysis firm based in Fairfax, Virginia USA. It provides competitive intelligence to industry and government worldwide.

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2 mars 2011 3 02 /03 /mars /2011 00:23
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1 février 2011 2 01 /02 /février /2011 21:06
Defence Requirements Trends for 2011 - 'Writing on the Wall' or 'Fresh Slate'?


Posted: 01/31/2011

Contributor: Defence Dateline Group, provides monthly and on-demand analysis of current security and defence issues.


As we place one hesitant foot in front of the other this new year, it seems the timing is right to offer the defence industry some predictions and likely trends in purchasing requirements for the coming twelve months. Without being foolhardy, it might do the industry some good to attack the issue head on - from the perspective of ‘big policy’, no less. Not all of these trends are commercially reassuring, but the world is not running out of conflicts or threats and 2011 will bring opportunities in a range of non-traditional markets.


The continent plans more cuts

Clearly, 2011 will be a year of some belt-tightening. Both Germany and the UK have already announced major cuts to their defence budgets, with the UK cutting 8% each year for four years, and Germany targeting air assets and troop numbers as it cuts by €8.3bn. Though France has been loath to implement austerity measures, in 2011 it will be forced to follow suit. Rumblings from the bond markets will combine with public protest at potential cuts to social benefits, making defence spending look like an easy target.


The US seems unlikely to follow this trend. In November 2010, the Republican Party won the midterm elections on a platform of deficit-cutting zeal. Yet they have remained vague as to where their cuts should fall. In a time of war, and with one eye on China, few congressmen will want to risk criticism from the political right. At a time of high unemployment, none will countenance the cancellation of procurement programmes in their own districts. Finally, with government divided between Democrats and Republicans, President Obama will be carefully choosing his conflicts, and major reductions in defence spending are unlikely to be one of them.


Pressure, though, will come from Defence Secretary Robert Gates, who has intimated that he will retire during 2011. He has made fiscal restraint a centrepiece of his attempts to reform the Pentagon, cutting jobs, and ending the Future Combat Systems and F-22 Raptor programmes. At the beginning of the year he announced a $78bn reduction in proposed spending, including cutting the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, the Marine Corps’ troubled amphibious tank. He will be determined to gain a valedictory success in this field.


American investment strategy for defence

However, he is likely to face a bitter battle with the incoming chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Howard McKeon, who has already stated his firm opposition to defence cuts. Perhaps the most likely outcome is that major capital programmes such as the EFV will be permitted to continue, in return for the implementation of administrative and manpower cuts. In particular, the defence industry will have to adapt to proposed new rules on contracting which shift the onus for cost overruns onto contractors.


Meanwhile, service and personnel contractors will face some political pressure, but probably little action. There is a consensus in the policy community that oversight of private contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq should be increased and the December 2010 US defence bill went some way towards this aim. However, the White House will come under increasing public pressure to demonstrate that troops are returning from Afghanistan, meaning that contractors will continue to be too vital to the war effort to significantly restrict them at this point.


There will be more to 2011 than cuts and avoiding being on the wrong end of them. North Korea and a more assertive China are likely to make life in East and South-East Asia feel rather dangerous. South Korea and the Republic of China are obvious potential customers, but Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand may all look to add submarines to their naval forces.


Asian power struggles

Meanwhile, China’s close relations with Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and the likelihood that it will shortly have carrier strike capabilities, will continue to worry India. India is already expanding its own submarine and carrier capabilities, but may also seek to refine and improve its anti-ballistic missile shield. As a potential partner to balance against China, the US will continue to promote cooperation with India, and it may offer some further military hardware in addition to the eight P-8I maritime patrol aircraft it sold to the Indian Navy in March 2009.


A similar logic of fear applies in the Middle East. Tensions will continue over Iran, and with oil prices remaining high, the GCC countries will look to add to their arsenals. Mine clearing vessels, missile defence systems and prestigious fighter jets will remain the top priorities.

Moving northeast from Iran, the war in Afghanistan will continue to rumble on. A dispute between General Petraeus and President Obama over the precise number of troops to return home in 2011 is likely, but suffice to say that the majority of NATO forces there now will still be there in 12 months time.


However, new capital spending on the war is likely to taper off; there will be continued purchases of the latest counter-IED equipment, but little else will be required.


UAVs and cyber

No set of defence predictions would be complete without mention of the obvious headline areas for 2011: UAVs and cyberspace. With most of the major purchasers having already selected their next generation of drones, developments here will be in the fields of R&D, and in their sale to new users. Many of these new users will be countries with remote borders, interested in the homeland security and border patrol applications of UAVs. One counterintuitive effect of the continuing Iranian nuclear crisis is that defence cooperation between Israel and Russia is likely to deepen, with UAVs at the centre of this.


In cyberspace, almost all the major defence spenders will slowly emulate the US by creating a unified cyber-command. Meanwhile, in March 2011, a report on CYBERCOM’s strategy will be submitted to Congress. Given the sheer complexity of setting up CYBERCOM, and the vagueness of its remit, it may be predicted that it will at some point offer consultancy contracts to help with the organisation and implementation of its mission, as well as to supplement its own know-how and force levels. Its imitators will likely have to do the same.


Covering purchasing requirements as a first step might be viewed as a narrow approach. Certainly, it does not begin to touch on mergers and acquisitions, legal disputes and all the other issues that consume middle level and upper management in what has now become a turbulent industry. Yet, there are enough predictions here to keep your average defence executive up at night, whether through excitement or trepidation. What may be said with certainty is that as some familiar conflict areas resolve themselves, levees continue to break in others. Perhaps one modest prediction would be to add that disruptions of rising powers and rogue states will ensure that there will be a role for the defence industry - indefinitely.

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