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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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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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2 février 2012 4 02 /02 /février /2012 08:25
Thales welcomes pragmatic Defence & Security White Paper



01 February 2012 Thales UK

In an era when Government funding is in decline, technologies are evolving at record speeds and Britain aspires to maintain its leading international role, it’s clear that the UK approach to acquisition and technology needs to be brought up to date.

We therefore welcome the clarity that the White Paper brings, and support the use of competition and ‘off the shelf’ acquisition, which is a pragmatic recognition of the approach that Thales has taken on many of its UK programmes. Critical to the delivery of this approach is the Government’s recognition of the importance of UK-based systems integration skills and key technologies that provide the battle-winning edge.

On the ground in Afghanistan, both the military and the Exchequer have benefited from Thales UK’s ability to fit ‘military off the shelf’ solutions to UK forces’ needs. Whether in Armoured Vehicles such as Mastiff or UAVs like the Hermes 450 (which has flown over 50,000 hours in support of operations in theatre) recent experience demonstrates the feasibility of combining an international supply chain with domestic integration skills to deliver battle-winning capability. What matters to the soldier on the ground is not where a piece of kit was manufactured, but whether it delivers the capability he needs.

UK Armed Forces must have unique capabilities which give them an edge in the field, on the seas, in the air and in cyberspace. The challenge going forward, however, is that the specific circumstances of each capability area vary wildly, frustrating one-size-fits-all approaches. We therefore look forward to working with Government to understand how the high level strategy laid out in this Paper will carefully be put into effect in a timely manner in each case.

The Paper also confirms the need to make special arrangements for a specific set of ‘strategic’ technologies, and the inclusion of capabilities like electronic warfare and cryptography highlights how C4ISR technologies are central to delivering ‘operational advantage’ in the 21st century.

Research and Technology underpins all of the UK’s Defence goals – responding to fast-changing threats in an agile way, improving export market share and performance, convergence with Security capabilities, and reorienting the economy towards advanced technology skills and manufacturing. Whilst the White Paper’s commitment to a consistent level of funding provides certainty, it is clear that this level will need to rise significantly above current levels if the UK is to achieve its broader goals.

Exports and strategic relationships are clearly critical in developing future capability and creating economies of scale, and Thales welcomes the commitment to Anglo-French collaboration as a key contributor in realising the UK’s ambitions at a time of constrained budgets.

Similarly, Government’s emphasis on the use of service-based solutions is an effective and pragmatic response to the decline in military headcount. This recognises the benefits generated through Contractor Support to Operations in recent years, and looks forward to the emerging Whole Force Concept where reservists and industry play greater roles supporting the military force.

Victor Chavez
Chief Executive
Thales UK

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23 janvier 2012 1 23 /01 /janvier /2012 18:05

http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02116/HMS-Westminster_2116808b.jpg

HMS Westminster Photo: Chris Ison/PA

 

23 Jan 2012 The Telegraph

 

A Royal Navy warship is to set sail today on a seven-month mission to provide security in the Middle East.

 

Type 23 frigate HMS Westminster, which will be leaving its home port of Portsmouth Naval Base, will also carry out counter-piracy patrols during its deployment and police busy shipping lanes.

 

Commanding officer Captain Nick Hine said: ''It takes a tremendous amount of effort to get a complex and sophisticated warship ready for operations and I am extremely proud of my ship's company for the work they have done in getting us to this point.

 

''Operations are what the Royal Navy is all about and we are itching to get going.

 

''We sail into a region of heightened tensions and great challenges and we are ready and up for it.''

 

Last year HMS Westminster was deployed at short notice to the Mediterranean to assist in evacuating UK nationals from Libya and to conduct operations in support of United Nations Security Council resolutions against the Gaddafi regime.

 

Many of the ship's company who are deploying to the Middle East are still on board from the mission off Libya, including Operations Officer Lieutenant Commander Andy Brown.

 

He said: ''We learnt a lot last year on our successful involvement in the Libyan operations and we will carry that experience forward to our next mission.

 

''The ship's company are excited about the deployment ahead and we are all determined to make it a success.''

 

The move comes as Britain, America and France delivered a pointed signal to Iran, sending six warships led by a 100,000 ton aircraft carrier through the highly sensitive waters of the Strait of Hormuz.

 

This deployment defied explicit Iranian threats to close the waterway. It coincided with an escalation in the West's confrontation with Iran over the country's nuclear ambitions.

 

European Union foreign ministers are today expected to announce an embargo on Iranian oil exports, amounting to the most significant package of sanctions yet agreed. They are also likely to impose a partial freeze on assets held by the Iranian Central Bank in the EU.

 

Tehran has threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz in retaliation. Tankers carrying 17 million barrels of oil pass through this waterway every day, accounting for 35 per cent of the world's seaborne crude shipments. At its narrowest point, located between Iran and Oman, the Strait is only 21 miles wide.

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10 janvier 2012 2 10 /01 /janvier /2012 18:45
Watchkeeper Misses Key Schedule Milestone

Jan 10, 2012 By Robert Wall - AviationWeek.com

LONDON - The U.K.’s flagship unmanned aircraft program, the Thales Watchkeeper, has failed to meet its target for delivering the first air vehicles to troops in Afghanistan.

Watchkeeper is among the ongoing U.K. Defense Ministry procurements with the largest schedule delays, according to the National Audit Office. It was running more than a year behind schedule and also has come under scrutiny at the ministry.

The program only barely escaped being named to the ministry’s “programs of concern” list when it was first issued last year. At the time, the government said another review was expected “around the turn of the year.”

One of the key milestones for the program last year was to begin deliveries to deployed forces in Afghanistan. However, a Defense Ministry official notes that “Watchkeeper has not yet been delivered.” A reason for the delay was not given.

The military was hoping to have sufficient numbers of Watchkeepers fielded to sustain three orbits in April, with the number of orbits to reach six in October. Fifty-four Watchkeepers are being bought under current procurement plans.

The in-service date for the program was initially planned for June 2010.

Once Watchkeeper is fielded, it is supposed to allow the ministry to start drawing down Hermes 450 unmanned aircraft being used on a fee-for-service basis in Afghanistan.

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10 janvier 2012 2 10 /01 /janvier /2012 08:55
Gérard Longuet veut ouvrir le projet des drones MALE à d'autres industriels



09 janvier 2012 par Barbara Leblanc – L’USINE NOUVELLE

Au cours d’une rencontre avec des journalistes aéronautiques, le ministre de la Défense, Gérard Longuet, a précisé [que le projet des drones MALE] n’est pas réservé à Dassault et BAE Systems.

"Je pense que ce projet franco-britannique doit accepter l'idée que (...) nous sommes engagés dans la construction européenne et nous ne pouvons pas ignorer délibérément des pays qui font encore des efforts de défense et qui ont des capacités industrielles", estime le ministre Gérard Longuet.

Il semble donc revenir sur sa position initiale sur ce projet qui devrait être un des thèmes du prochain sommet franco-britannique prévu pour février. Il annonce notamment que Paris et Londres pourraient être en mesure dans les prochaines semaines de définir ce que doit être le programme MALE. Les deux pays devront encore s’accorder sur la manière d’y répondre, via un appel d’offres mondial ou en passant commande à des industriels européens.

"Nous disons aux Britanniques que nous souhaitons avoir une securité de long terme sur l'approvisionnement, ce qui nous conduit à privilégier les solutions industrielles s'appuyant sur les entreprises détenues par les Européens, explique le ministre. Les Britanniques ne sont pas hostiles mais ce n'est pas leur culture naturelle, (qui est) un appel d'offres mondial".

Le développement d’un drone MALE a été confié cet été à Dassault aviation en coopération avec le britannique BAE Systems au détriment d’EADS et de son drone Talarion. Une décision intervenue après la signature en novembre 2010 d’un traité franco-britannique de coopération militaire.

La division défense du groupe européen Cassidian a alors répondu en s’alliant avec le constructeur italien Alenia pour développer des drones de surveillance et de combat pour l’Allemagne et l’Italie. Le marché des drones MALE est actuellement dominé par les américains General Atomics et Lockheed Martin et les israéliens comme Israel Aerospace Industries.

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19 novembre 2011 6 19 /11 /novembre /2011 08:55
Royal Navy Sea Kings making a big difference in Helmand

photo UK MoD

 

November 18, 2011 defpro.com

 

Royal Navy Sea Kings have over the last five months helped seize more than seven tonnes of drugs and stop insurgents in Afghanistan building over 1,500 homemade bombs.

 

The Sea King Airborne Surveillance and Control helicopters of 854 Naval Air Squadron act as 'eyes in the sky', and have guided forces on the ground in making a series of busts in a summer and autumn of successful operations.

 

The Sea King crews' success can be attributed to the helicopter's cutting-edge radar which tracks insurgents so the crews can inform ground troops where to pounce.

 

The helicopters, based at Camp Bastion, are flying up to 50 hours a week, using the specialist radar in a large grey 'bag' on the side of the aircraft - which gives them their 'Bagger' nickname - to follow the movements of insurgents thousands of feet below on the ground.

 

In the past fortnight alone 854 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) - which comprises fewer than 50 personnel in Helmand - has directed troops to three men travelling in a truck which was carrying 570kg of opium, while a large amount of heroin was found on another vehicle.

 

The Sea Kings, known as 'cloudwalkers' by Afghans, have also this summer helped with the seizure of 7.2 tonnes of explosives - enough to produce more than 1,500 ten-pound (4.5kg) small improvised explosive devices which are then used to kill and maim British, Allied and Afghan troops, and Afghan civilians.

 

In addition to these successes, the past two weeks have also seen the helicopters pass on 70 intelligence tip-offs for ground troops to follow up.

 

Commander Pat Douglas, Commander Maritime Sea King Force, said: "Individually, these 'busts' are quite small, but, collectively, our small force is making a very big difference.

 

"We may be only operating over Helmand and environs but the impact of what we do spreads across the entire country.

 

"Every single time a vehicle we've tracked is stopped and drugs or explosives are found by ground forces, we are making things a percentage safer for Afghan civilians and the forces there who are protecting them."

 

The Baggers have been in Afghanistan since May 2009, with 854 NAS and her sister squadron from Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose, 857 NAS, taking it in turns to constantly monitor insurgent activity.

 

Although their missions are hundreds or thousands of feet above Helmand and the helicopters are based many miles from the scene of the various interdiction operations, Allied troops are very quick to pass on their gratitude for the intelligence the Baggers provide.

 

Commander Douglas added: "We're told quite quickly the outcome of our actions and the feedback we get is that we're making a difference, which has a big effect on morale - really satisfying."

 

Crews initially used their sorties over Helmand to build up their knowledge and experience of each area and to understand life on the ground, day-to-day traffic and seasonal movements (such as harvest-gathering).

 

With two-and-a-half years' experience under their belts, Commander Douglas said his men and women are well-attuned and familiar with their operating areas, making it easier for them to spot the unusual: "Operations now are more focused, more targeted and much more effective because we know the ground - there's a lot of knowledge in the squadrons," Commander Douglas added.

 

"We are on a campaign footing. We will continue to do the job out there as long as we are needed - we stay until our job is done."

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15 novembre 2011 2 15 /11 /novembre /2011 12:50
Le HMS Astute lance son 1er missile Tomahawk – photo Royal Navy

Le HMS Astute lance son 1er missile Tomahawk – photo Royal Navy

 

15 novembre 2011 Par Rédacteur en chef. PORTAIL DES SOUS-MARINS

 

Le HMS Astute, le plus récent sous-marin nucléaire d’attaque de la Royal Navy, a tiré pour la 1ère fois des missiles Tomahawk dans les cieux américains dans le cadre de ses essais.

 

 

 

 

Le HMS Astute se trouve dans le golfe du Mexique pour y effectuer les premiers essais du système. Il pourra embarquer une combinaison de 38 missiles Tomahawk et torpilles Spearfish.

 

La Grande-Bretagne est le seul pays à qui les Etats-Unis fournissent la technologie Tomahawk.

 

Le HMS Astute va poursuivre ses essais aux Etats-Unis jusqu’au début du printemps, avant de rentrer en Grande-Bretagne pour son entraînement avant son premier déploiement opérationnel.

 

Référence : Royal Navy

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13 novembre 2011 7 13 /11 /novembre /2011 12:30
L'Eurofighter défie le Rafale aux Emirats arabes unis

13/11/2011 Michel Cabirol, laTribune.fr

 

Les Emirats arabes unis, agacés par la gestion brouillonne des Français, font monter les enchères et demandent à BAE Systems de concurrencer l'offre de Dassault Aviation avec leur Eurofighter.

Douche glacée pour le Rafale et la France ce dimanche lors de l'inauguration du salon aéronautique, le Dubaï Airshow. Les Emirats arabes unis (E.A.U.), jusqu'ici en négociations exclusives avec Dassault Aviation pour l'acquisition de 60 Rafale, pour un montant éstimé entre 6 à 8 milliards d'euros, ont révélé avoir demandé au consortium Eurofighter (BAE Systems, EADS et l'italien Finmecannica) de lui faire une offre commerciale (« Request for proposal » ou RFP). Une annonce qui a complètement pris au dépourvu tous les industriels et officiels français présents au salon.

Les discussions entre Abu Dhabi et BAE Systems, qui porte la proposition commerciale de l'Eurofighter aux Emirats, ont débuté il y a moins d'un mois. Le 17 octobre dernier, le groupe britannique a présenté l'Eurofighter Typhoon aux Emiriens, qui, dans la foulée, ont demandé à BAE Systems de formuler un RFP.

Pris à froid, les industriels et officiels français, interrogés au Dubaï Airshow par « La Tribune », minimisent ce coup de théâtre. Ils assurent pour la plupart qu'il s'agit d'une tactique des E.A.U. pour faire baisser le prix du Rafale, jugé trop cher. La ficelle semble grosse mais aujourd'hui les industriels veulent croire à leur analyse. « Est-ce un moyen de faire courir un lièvre devant Dassault Aviation ou les E.A.U. cherchent-ils vraiment une alternative », se demande un industriel tricolore. « Il y a différentes grilles de lecture celle que l'on privilégie pour le moment, c'est celle d'une tactique de négociations des Emiriens », estime un autre. Il est vrai que les E.A.U. avaient déjà fait en 2010 à Boeing une demande d'information technique pour le F/A-18 Super Hornet. Sans aller beaucoup plus loin.

Pas de pilote dans l'avion

Le ministre de la Défense, Gérard Longuet, confirme que « cette demande de cotation apparaît plus comme une mesure d'animation de la procédure ». Il veut encore croire que la France est proche « du point final d'une négociation très bien engagée ». « Selon la position que l'on occupe, chaque froncement de sourcils peut rapporter ou coûter quelques centaines de millions d'euros », dit-il. Une chose est sûre, si Abu Dhabi choisit l'Eurofighter, il ne pourra plus compter sur la France pour lui reprendre les 60 Mirage 2000-9 que l'Emirat avait la possibilité de céder en cas d'accord sur le Rafale.

Pourtant, depuis plusieurs semaines, les clignotants s'étaient mis au rouge pour l'avion de combat de Dassault Aviation. La décision des E.A.U. de mettre en piste l'Eurofighter est donc clairement « un signal envoyé à Dassault Aviation », estime un industriel. L'échec cuisant du Rafale au Maroc a été semble-t-il aujourd'hui trop vite oublié. Et pourtant ce n'était qu'en 2007, un temps pas si lointain où Nicolas Sarkozy voulait constituer une équipe de France unie, qui parle d'une seule voix à l'exportation pour gagner les grands appels d'offres internationaux civils et militaires en général, et ceux concernant le Rafale en particulier. Car le chef de l'État s'est secrètement fixé le défi d'être celui qui vendra enfin l'avion de combat tricolore à un pays étranger. Pour ce faire, il avait nommé un pilote, Claude Guéant, alors secrétaire général de l'Élysée, en qui il avait toute confiance, et créé un outil, la « war room », censée impulser une stratégie et une cohérence à ce qu'il appelait « l'équipe de France ». Le bilan est plutôt mitigé au bout de cinq ans mais au moins, la France parlait d'une seule et même voix à ses interlocuteurs.

Las. Claude Guéant, parti au ministère de l'Intérieur, la cacophonie semble être revenue dans cette « équipe de France » privée de capitaine. Chassez le naturel il revient au galop. C'était le cas il y a peu de temps encore pour le Rafale aux Emirats. Abu Dhabi, qui a relancé les négociations en plein été et a maintenu un rythme intensif, y compris lors du ramadan en août, entendaient depuis quelques semaines plusieurs sons de cloche au gré des visiteurs venus vendre les qualités et les prouesses du Rafale. « Les Emirats avaient trop d'interlocuteurs, l'industriel mais aussi beaucoup trop d'étatiques », confirme-t-on au ministère de la Défense, qui stigmatise plutôt « l'État et ses chapelles trop nombreuses ». Il manque visiblement à nouveau un pilote d'autant que le nouveau secrétaire général de l'Élysée, Xavier Musca, n'a vraiment pas le temps de gérer ce dossier jugé « mineur » au regard de toutes les catastrophes qui s'abattent les unes après les autres sur la zone Euro. Par défaut, le dossier échoit au chef d'état-major particulier du président de la République Benoît Puga, un officier de la Légion étrangère, ancien patron des opérations spéciales et qui était auparavant à la tête de la Direction du renseignement militaire. Le général, qui a remarquablement géré l'intervention militaire française en Libye (opération Harmattan), selon la plupart des observateurs, est semble-t-il moins aguerri sur ce type de dossier.

Incompréhensions

À Abu Dhabi, l'incompréhension monte de plus en plus. À tel point que furieux le prince héritier d'Abu Dabi, Cheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, qui a l'impression que les Français ne l'écoutent plus, fait une visite express de quelques heures à Paris après l'été en septembre pour rencontrer Nicolas Sarkozy à l'Élysée. Mal préparée, la visite, censée tout remettre en ordre, ne fait pas avancer d'un pouce le dossier du Rafale. Bien au contraire. Mal briefé, le chef de l'État, pensant que le dossier Rafale était enfin réglé, aborde cette rencontre avec un angle de politique régionale, évoquant entre autre la question de la Palestine. Cheikh Mohamed repart de Paris sans avoir les réponses qu'il attendait. D'autant qu'il se plaindrait d'un gros écart de prix. C'était pourtant l'une de ses trois demandes personnelles à Nicolas Sarkozy : obtenir un prix raisonnable. Ses deux autres souhaits : disposer d'un avion plus performant que le Mirage 2000-9 et que la France finance une partie des coûts « non récurrents » du Rafale.

« Le débriefing de la visite de Cheikh Mohamed à l'Élysée est violent », rapporte un observateur. Conséquence, quelques jours plus tard, Nicolas Sarkozy décide de confier le dossier au ministre des Affaires étrangères, Alain Juppé. « Il fallait une personne de poids pour remettre le dossier à l'endroit », explique-t-on à « La Tribune ». La « nomination » d'Alain Juppé, en tant que nouveau patron des négociations, a semble-t-il permis de remettre le dossier sur les rails. Trop tard ? Les E.A.U., boudeurs, ont quant à eux mis très longtemps pour désigner un nouveau patron des négociations. Et ont décidé de mettre à l'épreuve les Français avec l'Eurofighter. Mais, dans le camp français, certains, comme Gérard Longuet, continuent de parier sur la possibilité d'une annonce le 2 décembre, jour du quarantième anniversaire de la fédération des E. A. U... 

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25 octobre 2011 2 25 /10 /octobre /2011 18:20

http://defencesummits.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/french-air-force-reuters-640x480.jpg

 

Source: Reuters

 

10/25/2011  Richard de Silva - defenceiq.com

 

This past summer, Defence IQ spoke with Lieutenant General Friedrich Wilhelm Ploeger, the Deputy Commander of NATO’s Allied Air Command Ramstein, who joined us on the line direct from Ramstein Airbase in Germany.  For some background, Lt Gen Ploeger has a long and coloured history within airpower dating back to his enlistment in the German Air Force in 1967 up to his current position in this senior leadership role.  Throughout his career, which has seen him take up numerous command and staff assignments, he’s been awarded the Silver and Gold Cross of Honour of the Bundeswehr, the Order of Merit on the Ribbon of the Federal Republic of Germany, and the Black Eagle Order Third Class of the Republic of Estonia…

 

Defence IQ     A very good afternoon General, it’s a pleasure to have you with us today.

 

FWP      Yes.

 

DIQ      I trust you’re well?

 

FWP      Pretty well, accustomed to the European Time Zone again after a lengthy stay in the US for very important cause at Maxwell Air Force Base and then ten days of I think at least some leave!

 

DIQ      Excellent, well we’re glad to have you back on this side of the Atlantic.  For now, thank you very much for making some time for us.  I think for those who perhaps need clarification, could you just start by telling us how important a role does the Alliance play in both European defence and in global defence?

 

FWP      Yes.  The answer is quite obvious.  When we look at the new strategic concept we see that the Alliance is and remains the cornerstone of defence for its member nations and the importance of Article V has been highlighted again.  The Alliance started as an alliance of necessity during the Cold War period when we faced a common Russian threat but it changed after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Iron Curtain to an alliance of choice.  But we again see a change in the Alliance as an alliance of necessity because of the changed financial environment we are moving into and I will come to that field again when I look at Alliance air power and sea power. 

 

When you look at the history of the Alliance, NATO has always been a sea and air power Alliance and these are of course very expensive and critical capabilities that require a lot of financial investment and when we look at the current situation, due to the high costs of state of the art technology, the Alliance, especially in the area of air and sea power, will continue to be an alliance of necessity because otherwise we will not be able to achieve the required capabilities to cope with the current and future challenges in front of us.

 

DIQ      Well looking at these current and future challenge, being that much of the air power focus has been towards irregular warfare of late, what developments have been made in recent years in the way air support actually provides reliable ISR, specifically for counterinsurgency operations.

 

FWP      I think ISR is that field where we see the most dramatic developments, especially technologically both in process and in experience.  The most obvious signs of this are through the introduction of new assets with vastly improved capability, whether that’s through better product, that is vastly improved sensors, better loiter time, extended loiter time through those unmanned systems like Global Hawk and Predator or survivability by the introduction of stealth capabilities.  While overall processes continue to develop, particularly through experience gained in recent and ongoing operations, when we look at Afghanistan and Libya, our ability to exploit this capability has developed in parallel with the technological changes giving us a truly networked capability to exploit in real time.  Traditional ISR is the primary role of unmanned area systems, but full motion video capability makes it more than competent in filling, especially for a time sensitive targeting or coined missions, and furthermore changed detection software allows an effective use in any coined scenarios, especially when we look at the threat posed to our forces in Afghanistan by IEDs.

 

DIQ      Okay, what about the use of electronic warfare with modern airborne operations? I think it’s known that the ISAF mission has recognised a lack of EW assets to meet the necessary requirements – that’s on public record – but do you think the reaction to this should simply be a drive to increase EW assets or are there alternative options open in insuring that we have that required capability?

 

FWP      I think we should be aware of the fact that we will always have a demand for additional assets.  So the demand for electronic warfare assets will always outstrip our ability to provide them and looking at the financial situation we are in, there is at the moment no light at the end of the tunnel that we would be able to procure more specialised electronic warfare systems.  So we need to look for alternative options and there is one option that looks into the area of increased availability of electronic warfare assets.  Because they are getting a bit older we need to look at ways how to make them more available for our operation, we need to look at the way we use those assets, whether we do it really effectively enough or whether there are ways we improve them. And we need to look at a more balanced and effective mix of the systems, that is airborne systems as well as ground systems that are helping our forces in Afghanistan to cope, especially with the IED [threat] and with the threat by the Afghan Taliban forces.  So a mix of those measures should help us to overcome that problem.  In the end, there is also the way to acquire additional capabilities in the Alliance through cost sharing and common procurement but that is still an area that needs to be debated in Brussels in the political fields.

 

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DIQ      Just curious…does the deficit in the use of EW stem at all from a concern over inadvertently disrupting civilian systems?  I mean is it just that there’s a need to be as cautious as possible?  Is that holding us back at all in terms of either acquiring the technology or knowing when best to use it?

 

FWP      No, definitely not.  It needs to be well coordinated with all parties involved in such an operation, but of course we also need to maintain operation security, so there are various fields that need to be observed and the necessity not to overly disrupt civilian communication systems does not really impact on our mission.  I think we can cope with the situation.

 

DIQ      Yes, good to know.  Just going back to your mentioning earlier of Libya, the operation there is of course primarily an Allied air mission, can I ask what have been the key lessons learned to date on dealing with an adversarial air and ground force from the perspective of the Alliance and are there any gaps that you can point to, either technological or tactical, that have been identified in the needs of the Allied forces?
[eventodf]

 

FWP      When we look at the Libyan operation, the air mission of course is in focus also and especially in the media.  We should, I think however, not forget that the operation Unified Protector as it is called in NATO is an operation that also encompasses embargo operations performed by our fellow comrades at sea.  When I look at the threat posed by Libyan air forces I can state that they do not pose a real challenge because air superiority and air dominance was quickly achieved already during Operation Odyssey Dawn that proceeded Operation Unified Protector when we started to implement the no-fly zone, thus the Libyan Air Force is no longer a factor of ours.  The Libyan ground forces have demonstrated the capability to quickly adapt in tactics.  For instance they are copying opposition tactics thus making NATO’s air-to-ground operations to protect civilians from attack by Gaddafi forces very demanding and very complex.  Operation Unified Protector [brought to light] the importance of the enablers, that is especially to add to our refuelling, ISR, unmanned area systems and last but not least, low CDE weapons, weapons with a very low collateral damage factor.  The contribution of the US Air Force in those fields for mission success is essential and is vital because the European NATO nations alone do not possess enough capabilities.

 

Another lesson learned from Libya operations was that air operations of that type require a robust Air-Sea II organisation that could only be built up in the Libyan case by heavy augmentation from throughout the NATO command structure, thus highlighting the need to adjust personnel feelings for Air-Sea II in our new NATO command structure that was agreed upon by our defence ministers – thank God – in their footprint decision in early June. So an earlier, let’s say ‘lack of personnel’ was properly corrected when our defence ministers decided on the footprint of the NATO command structure in early June, this was already I think the most important lesson identified and then learned and corrected by the Alliance.

 

DIQ      Are there any particular examples that you could possibly give us in terms of the Libyan forces adopting ground tactics from others in order to make the lives of your officers in the air a lot more difficult?

 

FWP      Yes, it is quite obvious when they learned that whenever they used their normal tanks, their normal weapon systems, which the Libyan Gaddafi forces used for attack against Libyan civilians, they were constantly under attack.  They quickly changed by applying opposition forces tactics, that is, that they also used pick-up trucks and mounted their howitzers and mortars on those, and rather than running around in uniform, they started running around in civilian clothes, et cetera, et cetera, thus making life for us really difficult.

 

DIQ      Okay, we’ll look at that in a moment, but I just wanted to pick up on this topic of air superiority first and I think it’s perhaps a given to say that UAVs are still being seen by most as the future of this domain.  But can you tell us what the inherent challenges are in actually rolling out an increased unmanned capability and how is this likely to shape the future of the Alliance?

 

FWP      Let me start with some principles.  The basic elements of air power still remain the same and they are the key to air power superiority.  These are the characteristics: speed, range, flexibility, and with the UAVs now we add a new dimension to those basic three characteristics, and that is persistence – beyond the physical limits of an air crew – so that should be kept in mind.  That’s the typical areas for unmanned systems are the so-called Dirty, Dull and Dangerous missions, provided that that is at the moment an area that needs to be kept in mind, provided that they are operating in an uncontested environment.  Thus, especially when you look at persistence capability of unmanned systems, the concentration on ISR in developing UAV capabilities revolutionised this field, and it will continue to influence the development of tactics, techniques and procedures in the Alliance.

 

The increased use of unmanned systems of course has impacted on our Air-Sea II processes and especially the training of personnel to start with the simple operation of the UAVs, that is the pilot or the ground crew and the maintenance crew, to employ the UAVs in their operations to exploit the capabilities of the UAVs to their limits and finally to do command and control of UAVs in air operations.  The key tasks however will still be the domain of manned systems that is gaining and maintaining air superiority, especially in contested environments.

 

DIQ      And of course UAVs hosting electronic warfare systems are at present primarily being used to disrupt communications as you said, is this likely to mature soon to a more focused attempt to disrupt weapons or IEDs or those types of ordinance?  In other words, how long before you see UAVs contributing more than the relatively modest role that they seem to be playing at this time?

 

FWP      I think the main driver will be the demand and the requirement coming from ongoing operations and when ongoing operations continue to require development in these fields there will be more specialisation.  When you look at the development in the Israeli Air Force, they also developed their capabilities following the requirement coming from their operations to deal with insurgents, to deal with certain threats and thus they developed their unmanned systems capability to a very tremendous capable air force.

 

DIQ      So I suppose it has to be, from what you’re saying, an organic process.  We won’t know until we know.  I am also curious, in going by the recently publicised accounts of successful air operations, such as with Prowlers apparently being used in the elimination of key Al Qaeda targets, the ongoing air operations in Libya as we’ve been discussing, or the effectiveness of airborne COIN in Afghanistan specifically, does this all suggests the need for a rethink by those defence ministries who are scaling back their air forces as to whether that really is appropriate – and is it possible for us to see these types of achievements that we’re witness to today with less varied air capability in terms of, for example, a single platform like the Joint Strike Fighter or indeed a predominantly unmanned fleet?

 

FWP      This is indeed a very interesting question and the answer is not easy.  I think most of our defence ministers are fully aware of the needs, but they need to find the middle way between what is required by the mission they give to their defence forces and what is financially available and then there is the second argument that scaling back in numbers does not necessarily mean that it is also a scale back in capability.  The capabilities when you look at the new weapons systems are today far more superior than those capabilities that we used during the Kosovo air campaign for instance just over a decade ago in terms for instance of targets destroyed per mission.  When you look at those times, eleven years ago in March ‘99, we were able as a rule to attack one target with one aircraft.  Now with more modern aircraft and more modern air to ground weapons we can attack several targets with one sortie, with one mission, so this multiplies the capability of forces.

 

With regard to new platforms such as the Joint Strike Fighter, they bring enormous capability to our inventory, not least of which is through their ability to network and that is complimented by the versatility of their enhanced technology.  An unmanned fleet is not, and I repeat what I said before, is not a stand alone item but complimentary to the very capable platforms we currently have and will acquire in the future with for instance the joint strike fighter and our challenge will be to use these new assets as effectively as we can and again this may require the Alliance look at its members, member states, specialising for instance in particular roles and capabilities and probably working to new areas of role and responsibility sharing.

 

DIQ      It’s good to have an authoritative voice on that subject.  Just to retread very quickly on an issue you raised earlier with ground forces reportedly exploiting civilian populations and the difficulty that air forces have in perhaps identifying combat adversaries …given the intensity with which civilian casualties are again reported in the press and the huge impact that this can sometimes have on missions overall, particularly when adversaries may seek to exploit these incidents to build up public pressure, is a more focused effort needed do you think to enhance combat identification and situation awareness in general, and how are strikes coordinated from the ground to actually minimise these risks?

 

FWP      You can believe me – and this is a true, honest answer – that especially civilian casualties is an area of greatest concern for us, for the air forces, especially when we look at our Afghanistan mission.  Because this field has a huge impact on public opinion and how NATO forces are in total seen in Afghanistan and thus we try and do our best to reduce any collateral damage during incidents and enhance our ability to distinguish between friend and foe.  Although this is a highly challenging task we can for instance point to the Libya operation where we achieved the best success rate ever …and the occasional weapon that was going astray because there was a technological problem was quickly identified by us and we came forward with the announcement that this was a weapon going astray due to a technical failure, so that Gaddafi was not able to really exploit this mishap.

 

DIQ      Right.

 

FWP      On the other hand we try to perfect really – we can not say ‘to enhance’ – we try to perfect our processes to 100% non-failure process so that any weapon that is delivered to a target is under full control, both by the air crew as well as by the ground crew and to achieve this goal we invest a lot in intensive training for especially our forward air controllers and technical air control parties on the ground in Afghanistan to make sure that no unintended collateral damage is really achieved so that there is the risk of civilian casualties reduced to zero if possible and the achievement over the last one and a half years was really immense, immense and we are now, when you look at the bare figures, only responsible for a very, very small fraction of the number of civilian casualties we see in Afghanistan.

However, there is still this challenge and we have to cope with any situation where a ‘civ/cas’, civilian casualty, even occurred and we will investigate every event to learn from these events and to exclude any mistakes in the future.

 

DIQ      Is there one thing that you would put that success down to?

 

FWP      I think the most important element is our enhanced training of the ground crews, the forward air controllers and of course the enhanced distribution and availability of equipment, modern equipment available to the forward air controller crews like rover equipment so that both the air crew and the controllers on the ground have the same picture.

 

DIQ      Outstanding.  Well it does make sense for it to be a priority and we’re delighted to hear that it’s having such great progress in such a short time.  Lieutenant General Ploeger we do have to end there for now, but may I say it’s been a privilege sir to hear your thoughts on these issues.  Thank you very much indeed for your time and I wish you all the best of luck to you and all of those serving at the Alliance.  Thank you.

 

FWP      Yes, thank you very much for the opportunity to speak to you and to answer your questions.

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16 octobre 2011 7 16 /10 /octobre /2011 17:55
Tornado Goes Out Fighting

photo UK MoD

 

October 16, 2011: STRATEGY PAGE

 

Libya has been a major combat effort for the British Royal Air Force (RAF), which sent over fifty aircraft. These included Tornado and Typhoon fighter-bombers plus several types of support aircraft. The small force of British Tornado fighter-bombers flew over 1,400 sorties (out of 19,000 flown by all aircraft from all nations) and spent over 7,000 hours in the air. Up to 16 Tornados, flying out of Italian air bases, carried out recon and combat missions over Libya, day and night. This was a major contribution for a 30 year old aircraft nearing the end of its service life.

 

Recon proved to be a more important mission that first anticipated. Back in July, four additional Tornadoes were sent to serve mainly for reconnaissance missions, to keep a better eye on the complex Libyan battlefield. The four additional Tornados were equipped with four of the eight RAPTOR digital photo recon pods the RAF. RAPTOR can spot targets at 72 kilometers in daylight and at 36 kilometers at night using infrared sensors. The digital images can be seen by the pilot, and transmitted to other aircraft, ground units or ships, in real time.

 

Four more Tornados are not needed for bombing largely because Britain has a small guided missile (Brimstone) that enables fighters to carry a dozen of them, and hit a dozen individual targets with high accuracy. Originally developed as an upgraded version of the American Hellfire, Brimstone ended up as a Hellfire in general shape only. Weighing the same as the Hellfire (48.5 kg/107 pounds), Brimstone was designed to be fired by fighter-bombers, not just (as with Hellfire) from helicopters and UAVs. Aircraft can carry more of these lightweight missiles. These are perfect for small targets, including vehicles that need to be hit, without causing injuries to nearby civilians or friendly troops.

 

Not all missions were flown out of Italy. On August 10th, six Tornado GR4 fighter bombers took off from an air base in southern Britain, flew 2,400 kilometers (1,500 miles) to Libya, and launched a dozen Storm Shadow stealth cruise missiles at key targets. The round-trip mission from Britain took eight hours, with aerial refueling aircraft available over the Mediterranean to provide sufficient fuel to get back to Britain. This was the first RAF combat mission launched from Britain since World War II.

 

The Storm Shadow air launched stealthy cruise missile got its first combat experience over Iraq eight years ago. The 5.2 meter (16 foot) long, 1.3 ton missile has a 250 kilometer range and carries a penetrating warhead. The missile is a British modified version of the French Apache missile and entered service in late 2002, costing about $1.2 million each.

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20 septembre 2011 2 20 /09 /septembre /2011 07:30

http://www.meretmarine.com/objets/500/36395.jpg

 

Puma et Caracal s'approchant d'un BPC de la Marine nationale

crédits : EMA

 

20/09/2011 MER et MARINE

 

On en sait un peu plus sur les moyens mis en oeuvre pour couvrir la visite de Nicolas Sarkozy et David Cameron en Libye le 15 septembre. En complément du service de protection mis en place par l'Elysée, la sécurité du président français et du premier ministre britannique a été assurée par les unités déployées dans le cadre de l'opération Harmattan, à commencer par les bâtiments de la Marine nationale intégrés à la Task Force 473. L'opération s'est déroulée en deux temps avec deux dispositifs parallèles, explique l'Etat-major des Armées. A l'aéroport de Tripoli tout d'abord, où le nouvel A330 présidentiel a atterri en milieu de matinée. Partis du bâtiment de projection et de commandement Tonnerre, qui croisait à quelques nautiques de la capitale libyenne, cinq hélicoptères de manoeuvre Caracal et Puma, appuyés par deux hélicoptères de combat Tigre, y attendaient les autorités, avec à leur bord des éléments de protection de l'armée de l'Air et du personnel médical. Leur mission a consisté à acheminer la délégation en toute sécurité vers le centre-ville, où Nicolas Sarkozy et David Cameron ont donné une conférence de presse commune. Une fois cette prise de parole terminée, ils ont effectué la manoeuvre inverse jusqu'à l'aéroport.


Puma devant l'avion présidentiel (© : EMA)

Un second BPC devant Benghazi

Le président de la République, le premier ministre britannique et leurs délégations ont ensuite gagné Benghazi par avion en début d'après-midi. La seconde phase de l'opération « Autorités » commençait pour les marins, terriens et aviateurs de la TF 473. Au large de Benghazi, c'est du BPC Mistral, cette fois, qu'un groupement d'hélicoptères a décollé pour être en mesure d'accueillir les autorités et leurs délégations à leur arrivée à l'aéroport, prendre en charge leurs déplacements et assurer leur protection.


Pendant toute la durée de l'opération, les deux frégates de la TF 473 ont accompagné chacune un BPC dans les eaux libyenne : le La Fayette aux côtés du Mistral et le Cassard près du Tonnerre. En parallèle, un important dispositif aérien était engagé par l'armée de l'Air et l'aéronautique navale. Des avions de combat, un drone Harfang et deux avions de patrouille maritime Atlantique 2 ont, ainsi, assuré dans le ciel l'étanchéité de la bulle de sécurité.




Puma au dessus du littoral libyen (© : EMA)


Puma accompagné de deux Tigre (© : EMA)

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16 septembre 2011 5 16 /09 /septembre /2011 21:35

http://www.defense.gouv.fr/var/dicod/storage/images/base-de-medias/images/operations/autres-operations/harmattan/110916-libye-l-operation-harmattan-en-appui-de-la-visite-presidentielle-en-libye/l-operation-harmattan-en-appui-de-la-visite-presidentielle-en-libye-2/1373566-3-fre-FR/l-operation-harmattan-en-appui-de-la-visite-presidentielle-en-libye-2.jpg

 

16/09/2011 defense.gouv.fr Sources : EMA

 

Le 15 septembre 2011, les unités engagées dans l’opération Harmattan ont participé à la sécurité du déplacement du chef de l’Etat français et du premier ministre britannique en Libye, en complément du service de protection mis en place par l’Elysée.

 

Dans le ciel, un dispositif aérien constitué de chasseurs, du drone Harfang  et de deux avions de patrouille maritime ATL2  a assuré l’étanchéité de la bulle de sécurité.

 

Pour la TF 473 déployée en Méditerranée depuis près de six mois, la visite du président de la République sur le sol libyen a constitué une véritable « opération dans l’opération ».  Elle s’est déroulée en deux temps avec deux dispositifs parallèles.

 

A l’aéroport de Tripoli tout d’abord, où l’avion présidentiel a atterri en milieu de matinée. Partis du bâtiment de projection et de commandement (BPC) Tonnerre  qui croisait à quelques nautiques de la capitale, cinq hélicoptères de manœuvre, appuyés par deux Tigre , y attendaient les autorités, avec à bord des éléments de protection de l’armée de l’Air et du personnel médical. Leur mission a consisté à acheminer les autorités en toute sécurité vers le centre-ville où ils ont donné une conférence de presse commune. Une fois cette prise de parole terminée, ils ont effectué la manœuvre inverse jusqu’à l’aéroport.

 

Le président de la République, le premier ministre britannique et leurs délégations ont ensuite gagné Benghazi par avion en début d’après-midi. La seconde phase de l’opération « Autorités » commençait pour les marins, terriens et aviateurs de la TF 473. Au large de Benghazi, c’est du BPC Mistral  cette fois qu’un groupement d’hélicoptères a décollé pour être en mesure d’accueillir les autorités et leurs délégations à leur arrivée à l’aéroport, prendre en charge leurs déplacements et assurer leur protection.

 

Pendant toute la durée de l’opération, les deux frégates de la TF 473 ont accompagné chacun des BPC : le La Fayette   aux côtés du Mistral et le Cassard  aux côtés du Tonnerre  dans les eaux de Tripoli.

 

http://www.defense.gouv.fr/var/dicod/storage/images/base-de-medias/images/operations/autres-operations/harmattan/110916-libye-l-operation-harmattan-en-appui-de-la-visite-presidentielle-en-libye/l-operation-harmattan-en-appui-de-la-visite-presidentielle-en-libye-3/1373561-3-fre-FR/l-operation-harmattan-en-appui-de-la-visite-presidentielle-en-libye-3_article_pleine_colonne.jpg

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14 septembre 2011 3 14 /09 /septembre /2011 18:15

http://info-aviation.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Tornado-GR4.jpg

 

14 septembre 2011 par Edouard Maire – INFO AVIATION

 

Durant trois jours, les avions britanniques ont à nouveau mené des tirs d’armes à longue portée contre les bases militaires restantes du colonel Kadhafi.

 

Le 8 septembre, les Tornado GR4 de la Royal Air Force (RAF) ont participé avec d’autres appareils de l’OTAN à une attaque majeure contre une base importante située près de Birak, à 650 km au sud de Tripoli, dans le Sahara.

 

« Les renseignements de l’OTAN ont révélé que ce site, très utilisé par le régime de Kadhafi dans le passé, a été une fois de plus utilisé comme un quartier général. De nombreuses cibles militaires dans l’enceinte de la base ont été détruites », a déclaré le Major général, Nick Pope, directeur de la communication de l’état-major.

 

Le lendemain, les avions de la RAF ont également aidé l’OTAN à maintenir ses patrouilles de reconnaissance au-dessus d’autres parties du pays. Des Tornado et des Typhoon ont notamment détruit une installation de contrôle près de Hun dans le centre de la Libye.

 

Le 10 septembre, des missiles à longue portée Storm Shadow ont été tirés par les Tornado GR4, de la base RAF Marham (comté de Norfolk), pour frapper un poste militaire important utilisé par les troupes de Kadhafi dans la ville de Sebha, à 50 kilomètres de Birak.

 

Une autre mission a permis de repérer un blindé embusqué du régime Kadhafi à Bani Walid. Une bombe guidée Paveway a été largué depuis un Typhoon pour le détruire. La même patrouille a ensuite repéré un lance-roquettes, caché dans une rangée d’arbres, qui a également été détruit par une Paveway.

 

Cette communication de l’armée britannique n’est pas anodine puisque la guerre en Libye sert aussi de vitrine aux industriels militaires européens (en l’occurrence MDBA).

 

Le missile air-sol Storm Shadow est en effet la version britannique du missile SCALP (Système de croisière conventionnel autonome à longue portée) fabriqué par MBDA. Il est compatible avec le Rafale français qui est en lice pour les appels d’offres au Qatar, au Brésil et aux Émirats Arabes Unis.

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9 septembre 2011 5 09 /09 /septembre /2011 11:55
Watchkeeper flies to new endurance record

Photo Thales UK

 

09/09/11 By Craig Hoyle SOURCE:Flight International

 

Operational trials with the British Army's Watchkeeper unmanned air system (UAS) remain on track to start next month, after the WK450 air vehicle has set a new endurance record in testing.

 

Maj Matt Moore, SO2 UAS for headquarters, Royal Artillery, said a WK450 completed an almost 14h flight in early September from West Wales airport.

 

With current approvals restricting test flights to daylight hours only, the aircraft landed with around 4h of fuel remaining, he said.

 

During the record-breaking UK flight, the aircraft's dual mission payload of an Elop Compass IV electro-optical/infrared camera and Thales I-Master/Viper synthetic aperture radar/ground moving target indication sensor were employed, along with its data link.

 

 The WK450's dual mission payloads, data link and software were tested during the record-breaking sortie

 

The UAS was also taken to its 16,000ft (4,880m) service ceiling and 115km (62nm) away from the airport, Moore told the UK Air Warfare Centre's remotely piloted air systems symposium in Shrivenham, Wiltshire, on 8 September. The aircraft also flew using its operational-standard software, prime contractor Thales UK said.

 

Operational trials with the Watchkeeper will be conducted in October and November, with the first training flights over Salisbury Plain to be made from the Ministry of Defence/Qinetiq Boscombe Down site in Wiltshire in December.

 

Watchkeeper vehicles and equipment will be deployed to Afghanistan from late this year, to deliver one daily "task line" from the first quarter of 2012. A full service using six task lines should be in place within 12 months, Moore said.

 

In addition to continuing flight testing, other Watchkeeper activities currently include preparing modifications - such as the addition of covert lighting - for deployment in Afghanistan, Moore said.

 

Development testing with the WK450 has now passed 230 flights and 320h in the UK and Israel.

 

Thales UK/Elbit Systems joint venture Utacs is responsible for delivering the Watchkeeper system, which will replace an interim service in Afghanistan currently using leased Elbit Hermes 450s.

 

The service has delivered 50,000h of intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance services for the British Army since April 2007.

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7 septembre 2011 3 07 /09 /septembre /2011 16:50

http://www.flightglobal.com/assets/getAsset.aspx?ItemID=41755 

The Nimrod MRA4 project was axed photo BAE Systems

 

07/09/11 By Craig Hoyle SOURCE:Flight International

 

Late last year, the UK armed forces were rocked by the effects of a Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) process overseen by a new coalition government determined to tackle a massive budget deficit head-on.

 

Almost 12 months later, the defence industry will gather for its largest post-SDSR coming-together at the Defence & Security Equipment International show, or DSEi, which will be held in London's Docklands on 13-16 September.

Since the event was last held two years ago, the UK has lost its fixed-wing carrier strike capability with the early retirement of its BAE Systems Harrier GR7/9s, and seen its replacement maritime patrol aircraft, BAE's Nimrod MRA4, axed after a programme investment of over £3 billion ($4.8 billion).

 

Also gone are two of the Royal Navy's three Invincible-class aircraft carriers and the Royal Air Force's last Panavia Tornado F3 fighters and Nimrod R1 electronic intelligence aircraft. Two squadrons equipped with the Tornado GR4 strike aircraft have also recently been disbanded, with the move having also trimmed a fleet that is expected to remain in use until around 2020.

 

Dramatic in nature, these cuts were adopted against a backdrop of the UK's recent withdrawal of forces from Iraq, and with plans in place for the country to end its combat commitment in Afghanistan around 2015, following the progressive transfer of control to local authorities. But the rise of the "Arab Spring" movement in nations across the Middle East and North Africa throughout this year has provided an unexpected test for a military hard-hit by the spending cuts introduced by UK defence secretary Dr Liam Fox.

 

In announcing the recommendations of the SDSR last October, UK Prime Minister David Cameron said his country's coalition government was seeking to tackle an investment "black hole" inherited from the previous Labour administration, which it valued at £38 billion. Failure to tackle this shortfall now could result in a more "severe recalibration in the future", Fox told the Royal United Services Institute's Air Power conference in London in mid-July.

The SDSR has received much criticism for the swift nature of its completion and the severity of its cuts. Speaking at the same event, one analyst described the process as having been "four years in anticipation, but only four months in gestation".

 

Sir Brian Burridge, Finmeccanica UK's vice-president, strategic marketing, and formerly one of the RAF's most senior ranking officers, drew a different analogy when referring to the loss of key capabilities. "The concern is that this government might come out of the supermarket without a balanced meal, and that the next time it goes the shelves will be empty," he said.

 

RAF Panavia Tornado GR4, SAC Simon Armstrong/Crown Copyright
 © SAC Simon Armstrong/Crown Copyright
Tornado GR4s will serve until around 2020

 

DSEi will provide a focus for the UK's defence contractors to pursue already planned deals and fresh business, both at home and on the international stage. It will also highlight the security opportunities available, with London preparing to host the Olympic Games in mid-2012.

 

Speaking at a pre-show media briefing on 6 September, minister for international security strategy Gerald Howarth identified the role that global defence and security sales could play in helping to repair the UK's economic prospects. "Exports are critical to a sustainable recovery," he said. "The UK defence industry is proving itself to be well-placed to weather the storm."

 

With UK defence exports having totalled around £6 billion in 2010 - when it was second only to the USA in terms of total exports - and security systems around £2 billion more, selling on the global stage is a vital requirement at a time of domestic squeeze. Current targets include closing a proposed government-to-government deal to supply Eurofighter Typhoons to Oman, and a campaign to offer the same type for India's medium multi-role combat aircraft deal.

 

The Typhoon made its combat debut for the UK as a multi-role platform earlier this year, with the RAF employing the type's air-to-surface weapons against regime targets in Libya. Perhaps crucially for the European type, the fighter also looks set to receive an active electronically scanned array radar enhancement, while MBDA's Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile also should be available for operational use from around 2015.

 

But more attention at DSEi will be given to Lockheed Martin's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), which will be on display as a full-scale mock-up. However, reflecting the UK's last-minute decision to swap to the C-model carrier variant, the design on show will be in the short take-off and vertical landing guise.

 

To meet the Joint Combat Aircraft requirement from late this decade, the F-35C will be flown from the Royal Navy's (RN's) two future aircraft carriers, with the combination to reintroduce a big-deck operating model last employed by the UK in the late 1970s.

 

UK Carrier with F-35s, BAE Systems
 © BAE Systems

F-35Cs will fly from the UK's future carriers

 

One source previously involved with the JSF programme describes the SDSR's surprise variant switch as potentially "one of the most catastrophic procurement decisions ever made". Abandoning years of experience in flying vertical/short take-off and landing Harriers could end up costing UK taxpayers billions of pounds extra, the source claims, as a result of the additional training needed to ensure pilots maintain proficiency. Regaining this skill is already a focus of attention, with the RN looking to train a new cadre of Fleet Air Arm officers on US Navy Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets.

 

The UK's exact requirements for the F-35 have yet to be set, but the Ministry of Defence has previously identified a need for up to 138 of the aircraft. An initial three F-35Bs were ordered to participate alongside the US military during initial operational test and evaluation of the new aircraft, but the allies are working out the details of a deal to exchange the last example for an F-35C.

 

The new type could achieve initial operating capability as a land-based asset from roughly 2018, before launching embarked operations around 2020. Its introduction must be balanced with the planned draw-down of the Tornado GR4 force: an activity that Fox says will be "particularly challenging".

 

Some level of funding commitment will be required next year, to cover the order of long-lead items for an initial batch of around 16 aircraft to be built during the programme's low-rate initial production phase.

 

"We are still in the midst of the post-defence review figuring our conversion from -35B to -35C, and there's an awful lot of work still in that rescheduling process," says Air Marshal Kevin Leeson, the UK's chief of materiel (air).

 

For now, while the UK's carrier strike capability lapses, the strong performance of the Army Air Corps' Westland/Boeing Apache AH1 attack helicopters over Libya in May 2011 from HMS Ocean has highlighted one likely means by which the nation could respond to other such contingencies until its future aircraft carriers and F-35Cs enter use.

 

Plans to buy the JSF were safeguarded in July, when the government announced a planned £3 billion increase in defence spending for the five-year period starting 2015-16. This sum will help to cover initial spending on the F-35C, as well as the costs of converting both Queen Elizabeth-class carriers with catapults and arrestor gear.

 

The commitment also enabled the MoD last month to sign a £1 billion order for 14 Boeing CH-47 Chinook HC6 transport helicopters and to complete the acquisition of three Air Seeker (RC-135 Rivet Joint) surveillance aircraft. A memorandum of understanding covering logistics support activities and capability updates for the latter fleet until 2025 was also recently signed, with this valued at more than $850 million. The aircraft will replace the retired Nimrod R1s from 2014.

 

One glaring capability shortfall created by the SDSR has yet to be addressed, however. The cancellation of the Nimrod MRA4 has left the MoD having to improvise on the provision of long-range maritime patrol aircraft cover by using RAF Lockheed C-130J transports and RN AgustaWestland AW101 Merlin HM1 shipborne helicopters.

 

Proposals have been made by industry to adapt some C-130Js to assume the role on a more formal basis, but other contractors are looking at any potential demand to field a smaller aircraft, possibly using an airframe such as the Alenia Aeronautica C-27J or Hawker Beechcraft King Air. With money to remain tight for some years to come, the idea of acquiring a more dedicated type - such as Boeing's 737-based P-8, now in development for the US Navy - seems fanciful.

 

Apache/Ocean, Crown Copyright
 © Crown Copyright

The Apache/Ocean pairing could sail again

 

Importantly, the costs associated with supporting NATO's Libyan operation since March have been covered from the Treasury reserve, and not the over-stretched defence budget.

 

The Libyan campaign has underlined the importance of the pending introduction of 14 Airbus A330-200-based Voyager tanker/transports from late this year, and of past investments in weapons systems such as MBDA's Storm Shadow cruise missile and dual-mode Brimstone air-to-surface missile, and Raytheon Systems' Paveway IV precision-guided bomb. It has also highlighted the value of the Bombardier Global Express-based Sentinel R1 surveillance aircraft's synthetic aperture radar/ground moving target indication sensor, months after it was identified in the SDSR for disposal after the needs of Afghanistan.

 

The jury is still out as to whether the government's cuts to date and commitment for a future spending increase will cover the armed forces' procurement plans. Answers could be quick in coming, however, with an independent body having been tasked with conducting an "affordability audit" late this year on the MoD's top projects.

 

Looking at the likely equipment spending bill out to 2018-19 in his Defence Analysis publication, military analyst Francis Tusa says: "The spend curve looks far from balanced, and [SDSR] could well cause as many troubles as it resolved." He adds: "The extra 1% annual defence budget rise is only kicking in after 2015, so one has to ask how the books have been balanced prior to that time, when some £3 billion in funding will be needed."

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27 août 2011 6 27 /08 /août /2011 08:05

http://www.flightglobal.com/assets/getAsset.aspx?ItemID=41618 

Photo SAC Simon Armstrong/Crown Copyright

 

26/08/11 By Craig Hoyle SOURCE:Flightglobal.com

 

The UK Royal Air Force’s Panavia Tornado GR4-equipped 2 Sqn has completed its contribution to the NATO mission in Libya, after achieving a notable first using a Raytheon Systems Paveway IV precision-guided bomb.

 

On 18 August, a GR4 operating from Gioia del Colle air base in Italy dropped a 226kg (500lb) Paveway IV to engage a moving patrol craft which was being operated by pro-Gaddafi forces near the Az Zawiyah oil refinery.

 

“This was the first time a Tornado crew had used a Paveway IV bomb to take out a moving target of this nature,” the UK Ministry of Defence said, adding that the target had posed a threat to Libyan civilians.

 

RAF Tornado strike aircraft have again used their Storm Shadow missiles during long-range missions flown from the UK

 

Separately, a package of GR4s flying from RAF Marham in Norfolk attacked a headquarters bunker in the Gaddafi stronghold of Sirte overnight on 25-26 August using an undisclosed number of MBDA Storm Shadow long-range cruise missiles. Tornado aircraft from Gioia del Colle also destroyed a surface-to-air missile system located near Al Watiyah on 25 August.

 

The RAF’s Tornado force has accumulated more than 5,400 flying hours in support of the UK’s Operation Ellamy since March. Its contribution is now being provided by the RAF’s 9 Sqn.

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23 août 2011 2 23 /08 /août /2011 16:40
Mastiff protects engineer team from Helmand IED blast

A huge Mastiff armoured vehicle overshadows a young Afghan boy, on his way to fetch water from the village well, in the Shahzad region of Helmand province - [Picture: Staff Sergeant Mark Jones, Crown Copyright/MOD 2009]

 

23 Aug 11 UK MoD - A Military Operations news article

 

A group of soldiers whose task it is to clear routes in Helmand province of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) recently emerged from their Mastiff armoured vehicle unscathed when a device exploded underneath it.

 

31 Armoured Engineer Squadron (31 AES), 32 Engineer Regiment, normally based in Hohne in northern Germany, are currently part of the Task Force Helmand Engineer Group.

 

They are the leading route proving and clearance squadron and their job is to travel across the UK's area of operations in their Mastiff armoured vehicles to make sure routes are safe from IEDs and bombs.

 

On one of their many patrols recently, the team were clearing one of the main routes through Helmand when their vehicle struck an IED. Sapper Gareth Addy said immediately they knew what it was:

 

"There was a massive explosion that seriously rocked the vehicle. It was the biggest I've ever experienced. Immediately afterwards it went very quiet and then you start to realise what's happened and worry if everyone is OK."

 

The team quickly began their drills to assess the situation and check whether there were any injuries. Despite the size of the bomb and the force of the blast, none of the people in the Mastiff were hurt.

 

The vehicle sustained some damage, but, thanks to the armour and design of the Mastiff, it was only minor, and after a further assessment by the team of the route, the patrol continued with their journey.

 

 

 

Mastiff protects engineer team from Helmand IED blast

Sapper Gareth Addy, 31 Armoured Engineer Squadron, ready to go out on patrol in his team's Mastiff vehicle - [Picture: Crown Copyright/MOD 2011]

 

Sapper Addy, aged 31 from Bridlington, who is a Mastiff driver and gunner, said it was only when they returned to Camp Bastion some hours later they realised how lucky they had been:

 

"The vehicles we use really do work and everyone now knows that, should the worst happen, they will do a good job of protecting us. In a strange way, that incident increased everyone's morale and confidence for the remainder of the tour."

 

The Mastiff is a heavily armoured, 6x6 wheel-drive protected patrol vehicle which carries eight people, plus two crew. It is used in Afghanistan to transport troops and protect large convoys as well as directly engaging the Taliban with its advanced weapons systems.

 

Although heavily armoured, these wheeled patrol vehicles have a less intimidating profile than tracked vehicles and give commanders on the ground in Afghanistan more options to deal with the threats they are facing.

 

Part of the Mastiff's resilience towards mine explosions comes from the fact that its hull is V-shaped, as opposed to flat, which pushes the force of any explosion outwards.

 

During Operation HERRICK 14, the engineers from 31 AES have played an important part in enabling both troops and locals to move more freely from one area to another and with greater confidence in their security.

 

31 AES is part of the Task Force Helmand Engineer Group, made up of Royal Engineers from both 32 Engineer Regiment based in Hohne, Germany, and 24 Commando Engineer Regiment based in Barnstaple, North Devon.

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19 juillet 2011 2 19 /07 /juillet /2011 05:45

http://www.flightglobal.com/assets/getAsset.aspx?ItemID=40918 

image © Craig Hoyle/Flightglobal

 

18/07/11 By Craig Hoyle SOURCE:Flightglobal.com

 

The UK Royal Air Force marked the 10th anniversary of its introduction of Boeing’s C-17 strategic transport by sending one of its aircraft to the Royal International Air Tattoo for the first time in several years.

 

ZZ177, the seventh and currently last planned C-17 to enter service with the RAF’s 99 Sqn, arrived at the show early on 17 July, before being opened to the public while on static display.

 

But highlighting the C-17 fleet’s continued heavy commitment to the NATO-led operation in Afghanistan, it was held at short readiness to leave the show if required to perform medical evacuation duties in support of the UK’s deployed armed forces.

 

http://www.flightglobal.com/assets/getAsset.aspx?ItemID=40919

image © Craig Hoyle/Flightglobal

 

The UK took delivery of its first C-17 under an initially four-aircraft lease deal with Boeing in May 2001, one year after signing a deal with the company. Now purchased outright and joined by a further three of the airlifters, these deliver a key part of the UK’s “airbridge” with the Afghan theatre of operations.

 

ZZ177 entered operational use with 99 Sqn at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire during February, by which point the unit's other aircraft had flown more than a combined 65,000 flight hours.

 

RIAT’s organisers estimate that around 138,000 visitors attended this year’s show at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire.

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17 juillet 2011 7 17 /07 /juillet /2011 19:00

http://www.spacedaily.com/images-lg/libya-raf-tornado-gr4-marham-base-lg.jpg

 

Jul 15, 2011 London (UPI) spacewar.com

 

Britain is sending four more Tornado warplanes over Libya to support NATO military operations as an international contact group explores ways of ending the stalemate pitting the U.N.-backed armed rebels against loyalist forces of Moammar Gadhafi.

 

The military measures were announced amid intensive mediation at different levels on securing an end to five months of an inconclusive campaign in support of the rebels' Transitional National Council.

 

The council received formal support from the contact group of NATO and Arab diplomats meeting in Istanbul but China and Russia stayed away.

 

The rebels are receiving weapons and ammunition from France, logistical and medical support from Britain and substantial quantities of unspecified weapons and backup operations from Qatar and other Arab countries.

 

British military experts are helping rebels in and around Benghazi and other British teams of mostly undercover special agents are reportedly on the ground but not acknowledged in official reports.

 

The dispatch of the additional four British air force Tornado warplanes takes to 16 the total number of the attack and surveillance aircraft active over Libya. British officials have said the Tornado's 3,000-mile missions to carry out attacks on Libyan military sites were the longest range bombing missions conducted by the air force since the Falkland Islands conflict with Argentina in 1982.

 

British air support for the Libyan rebels has also included laser-guided bombs, deployed with the LITENING targeting pod, and Brimstone missiles.

 

British Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt said the aircraft were well-equipped for surveillance and reconnaissance.

 

"It is important to have this capability available," he said.

 

The British announcement followed a plea from NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen for more aircraft to support operations protecting Libyan civilians against government forces' assaults on rebel-held communities.

 

NATO warplanes have conducted more than 5,000 air missions since the action began in March, officials said.

 

European concerns over the escalating costs of the military operations in Libya resurfaced at the Istanbul meeting. However, diplomatic analysts suggest some of the costs could be defrayed by NATO accessing Libyan state funds frozen at the start of the crisis.

 

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said at least $3 billion could be released to cover the cost of humanitarian assistance to tens of thousands of Libyans displaced by the conflict or trapped in battle zones.

 

The actual NATO costs in Libya are mired in mystery amid conflicting statements, some designed to deflect public criticism of the campaign.

 

British Prime Minister David Cameron, frequently queried over the British spending, has yet to give any updated total after early reports that about $40 million-$50 million was spent. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said British operational costs in Libya were "tens rather than hundreds of millions" of dollars.

 

NATO Supreme Allied Commander U.S. Navy Adm. James Stavridis told the U.S. Senate "hundreds of millions" could already have been spent in the NATO operation.

 

U.S. officials said the military intervention cost the Pentagon alone at least $608 million in bombs, missiles and logistics. Pentagon estimates set the monthly cost of the air campaign to the United States alone at $40 million.

 

French military costs in Libya were estimated by Parisian defense analysts at more than $600 million.

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15 juillet 2011 5 15 /07 /juillet /2011 06:15

http://www.sldinfo.com/fr/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/RAF-Tornado-crew.jpg

 

Crédit photo : SLD, salon du Bourget, juin 2011

 

14.07.2011 sldinfo.com

 

Par Robbin Laird
Adapté de l’anglais par Virginie Lecat [1]

 

 Lors du Salon du Bourget, MBDA a invité deux pilotes de chasse de la Royal Air Force à présenter le retour d’expérience de leurs opérations en théâtre libyen, notamment quant à l’utilisation du Tornado et des armes de précision : Mark Lawson, pilote, et James Cooke, officier de système d’armes, appartenant à l’escadrille 9 RAF Marham.

 

 

Un équipage de deux hommes opère le Tornado, déployé pour la première fois en opération en 1982. Opération la plus longue depuis la Seconde guerre mondiale, les premières missions en direction de la Lybie ont été effectuées depuis le sol britannique, impliquant trois ravitaillements en vol. Des patrouilles mixtes Tornado-Eurofighter ont également permis aux pilotes de la RAF de bénéficier d’une meilleure appréhension de la menace.

Opération la plus longue depuis la Seconde guerre mondiale, les premières missions en direction de la Lybie ont été effectuées depuis le sol britannique, impliquant trois ravitaillements en vol. Des patrouilles mixtes Tornado-Eurofighter ont également permis aux pilotes de la RAF de bénéficier d’une meilleure appréhension de la menace.

Le missile de croisière Storm Shadow a été employé en premières frappes avec un taux de réussite particulièrement élevé. Le Brimstone, arme de choix pour les cibles en théâtre urbain, fut par ailleurs utilisé en un deuxième temps pour venir à bout des blindés lybiens. La RAF a aussi déployé pour la première fois en opération le missile AIM-132 fabriqué par MBDA. Il s’agit d’un missile air-air de courte portée ASRAAM (Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile), lequel remplace les Sidewinder AIM-9 au sein des armées de l’air britannique et australienne. Il peut notamment détruire des cibles aéroportées, blindées, voire des missiles sol-air. Son rôle essentiel est celui d’interdiction aérienne. Autre équipement essentiel : Le RAPTOR (Reconnaissance Airborne Pod TORnado), fabriqué par la Goodrich Corporation. [2]

L’utilisation des équipements a bien-sûr varié selon la nature des missions et des cibles préétablies, ce qui a notamment conduit à passer rapidement du Storm Shadow au Brimstone, une des contraintes majeures en matière de frappes de haute précision étant la limitation des dommages collatéraux

 

———–

Notes et Références

[1] Voir aussi côté anglais : Operation Ellamy Update

[2] D’après Wikipedia, « ce pod de reconnaissance dont la RAF est équipée pour sa flotte de Tornado GR.4A conti enta un capteur de reconnaissance DB-110, un système d’enregistrement en imagerie et un système de liaison de données sol-air. Le capteur est infrarouge et électro-optique, permettant les missions de jour comme de nuit. La retransmission de données permet à l’imagerie d’être exploitée quasi instantanément ».

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13 juillet 2011 3 13 /07 /juillet /2011 05:55
Britain Supports Eurofighter Bid For Indian MMRCA

 Typhoons photo: Geoffrey Lee

 

Jul 11, 2011 By Jay Menon AviationWeek.com

 

NEW DELHI — Britain has outlined its strong support for the Eurofighter Typhoon’s bid for the Indian air force’s $11 billion Medium-Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) program, as the U.K. seeks to advance its defense industrial cooperation with the country.

 

“The Eurofighter Typhoon not only provides India with cutting-edge operational capability, but also unmatched potential for an enduring strategic partnership in developing future defense technology,” said U.K. Defense Secretary Liam Fox after a meeting with Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony in New Delhi July 8.

 

According to a British High Commission statement, Fox’s visit to India underlines the commitment at the highest levels of the British and Indian defense establishments to ensure that defense cooperation is a fundamental pillar of the enhanced partnership between the U.K. and India as set out by U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last July.

 

“In today’s world of multi-layered security and economic interdependence, the U.K. and India are looking for relationships that are built on partnership and respect, not one-off transactions,” Fox says.

 

The Tyhpoon is pitted against French company Dassault Aviation’s Rafale for the MMRCA program. Indian authorities are set to open final bids for the 126-aircraft order.

 

The Eurofighter consortium comprises Italy’s Alenia Aeronautica, BAE Systems of the U.K., EADS CASA and EADS Germany. Recently, France and Germany also made last-ditch efforts to boost their companies’ chances to win the fighter program.

 

French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet had pitched the Rafale during his visit to New Delhi in May, and the Eurofighter Typhoon topped the agenda during German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s discussions with Prime Minister Singh on May 31. German Defense Minister Thomas de Maizere also met Antony on May 31.

 

EADS has even invited India to become a partner for the Typhoon program if the aircraft wins the contract. Eurofighter’s offer to establish a production line in India could give it an edge.

 

The Rafale has the advantage of being logistically and operationally similar to the Mirage 2000. The Indian air force has similar fighters, and the Rafale’s inclusion would require fewer changes in existing infrastructure.

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2 juillet 2011 6 02 /07 /juillet /2011 06:55
U.K., France Fine-tune Libyan Air Ops

Jul 1, 2011 By Bill Sweetman, Angus Batey, Christina Mackenzie-  defense technology international

 

Washington, London, Paris

 

Initial lessons learned from air operations over Libya have been both encouraging and embarrassing for European air forces. The Royal Air Force has found itself dependent on capabilities that the U.K. government plans to cancel, and France found itself with the wrong weapons.

 

While the RAF believes it is too soon to talk about lessons learned from the ongoing Libya operation, it is clear from April speeches by Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton, the chief of air staff, and his deputy, Air Vice Marshal Barry North, that platforms scheduled for termination have been of vital importance. Dalton told the Royal Aeronautical Society that Britain’s support of the NATO no-fly zone, known as Operation Ellamy by the U.K. Defense Ministry, “has proved further validation of the Combat Istar (intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance) concept, with a layering of—and cross-cueing between—dedicated intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and Combat Istar assets and capabilities achieving a synergy that is greater than the sum of their parts.”

 

That synergy is provided by three Istar platforms—E-3D Sentry, Sentinel R1 and Nimrod R1—of which only E-3D remains part of the RAF’s long-term future. The electronic intelligence-gathering Nimrod R1 was due to leave service at the end of March. The capability is to be replaced by the acquisition of three RC-135W Rivet Joint aircraft, which the RAF will call Air Seekers. The first of these is still undergoing conversion work in the U.S., and the platform is not due to be operational until 2014. The Nimrod’s out-of-service date was postponed because it was needed over Libya. DTI understands that the two aircraft will go out of service on June 28, but any capability gap will be short. Joint RAF and U.S. Air Force crews will co-crew USAF-owned Rivet Joint aircraft ahead of delivery of the U.K.-owned airframes. British aircrew have been training with their American counterparts at Offutt AFB, Neb., since early this year. Co-crewed operations will begin in the summer.

 

Less clear is the future of the capability provided by the RAF’s Astor (airborne stand-off radar) platform, Sentinel R1. Sentinel’s ability to switch between synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and ground-moving target indicator (GMTI) modes makes it the fulcrum of the “scan, cue, focus” methodology the RAF practices. In their speeches, Dalton and North outlined how, on a hypothetical “typical” Ellamy mission, Sentinel performs initial assessment of both wide and specific areas of interest to inform further investigation by other platforms, as well as pointing out possible targets when in GMTI mode.

 

The coalition government’s Strategic Defense and Security Review of 2010 opted to retire the Sentinel force (comprising five Raytheon-modified Bombardier Global Express business jets and associated systems) once operations in Afghanistan end. While this date is not yet known, neither is the route by which the capability will be replaced. The Defense Ministry has a requirement for a future unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), called Scavenger, which is expected to include key elements of the Sentinel capability, but no preferred solution is due to be identified until 2012, so an operational system is some years away.

 

Reaper and the soon-to-be-fielded British Army Watchkeeper UAV offer SAR, and both Reaper and Sea King 7 have a GMTI capability; but neither Reaper nor Sea King is likely to be risked in contested airspace, and neither has been deployed to Libya.

 

The unexpected Libyan conflict has pointed to crew management challenges in the RAF’s fast-jet fleet. The need for ground-attack-capable Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft and crew forced a reordering of operational priorities for the force, which had been concentrating on transitioning Britain’s air defenses from Panavia Tornado F3s to Typhoons (the last F3s were retired from service on March 31). Result: When the Libya operation was stood up, the RAF had—as planned for that timeframe—only eight pilots trained and current in the ground-attack role.

 

DTI understands that several of these were instructors on the Operational Conversion Unit (OCU), and this meant that OCU activities were wound down for some days as qualified crew deployed to Italy, the staging area. OCU activity has since restarted, with training priorities realigned in light of the changed operational need. The RAF now has 20 Typhoon pilots combat-ready for ground-attack missions.

 

Tactics initially adopted partly to take account of the crewing situation have become established best practice. The most challenging part of single-seat, fast-jet operations is laser-target designation, and in Typhoon’s first combat missions, the aircraft flew with a GR4 to “buddy lase.” Deployed Typhoon crews are now able to self-designate, but most missions are still flown in Typhoon/Tornado pairs.

 

This enables commanders to use the most appropriate munitions, conserving higher-cost precision weapons for missions where low-collateral strikes are needed. And crew tours are being kept relatively short—aircrews typically spend 6-8 weeks in Italy—to ensure that skill fade is reduced. This is a lesson learned with Harrier crews in Afghanistan. The RAF found that due to mission demands, skill sets such as night-flying or aerial refueling were not being used in-theater and had to be regenerated once crews returned home from six-month deployments.

 

For the French air force, the principal lesson learned from operations in Libya is that it needs smaller and more precise air-to-ground missiles. The Sagem AASM (Armement Air-Sol Modulaire), in the 250-kg (550-lb.) version in service, is too big. It’s like using a brick instead of a fly swatter to kill that pesky fly on the window.

 

“Everyone has precise, expensive, complex armaments which carry a heavy military charge,” French observers, who spoke on condition they not be named, told DTI. “We need to be able to use our air forces to very precisely destroy targets with low value and we are missing small effectors to do it with,” they say. “What we need, and nobody, not even the Americans have it, is something much smaller, such as a multiple missile-launcher. Everyone wants weapons that can do everything but the result is that we end up with things that are over-dimensioned for the job.”

 

In the absence of the Brimstone missile used by the RAF, which is smaller and more accurate than the AASM and can take out targets embedded in towns, the French air force decided to use inert AASMs in some situations. These weigh the same as live AASMs, but rubber or concrete replace the explosive. RAF Tornados destroyed Iraqi tanks with similar concrete bombs in 2003.

 

The inert bombs are equipped with the same GPS navigation systems as the real ones and are also accurate to within 1 meter (3.3 ft.). Dropped from a Rafale, they hit their target at a speed of 300 meters/sec. and do a good job of destroying a tank without causing collateral damage in a 200-meter-dia. circle around the point of impact.

 

The live AASM has two modes—programmed ahead of the mission if the target is a building or ammunition depot, for example; or programmed by the aircraft crew during the mission in Time Sensitive Targeting (TST) mode. Laser and infrared (IR)-guided versions of modes are in development and are not being used in Libya, a spokesman for manufacturer Sagem tells DTI.

 

The French air force was first to strike, on March 19, when it used AASMs to destroy a column of armored vehicles near Benghazi in eastern Libya. AASMs were also used to destroy a Russian-made S-125 (SA-3 Goa) surface-to-air missile system base from beyond its effective range, and, on March 24, to destroy a Yugoslav-built Soko Galeb jet trainer that had broken the no-fly embargo and was detected by an AWACS. The decision was made to destroy it once it had landed.

 

There is also an agenda that lies just below that of actual operations over Libya, one that has been brought into sharp focus over the past month: export sales. India’s decision to eliminate the Lockheed Martin F-16IN, Boeing F/A-18E/F and JAS 39 Gripen means that the aircraft downselected—the Typhoon and Dassault Rafale—are in their first head-to-head sales battle to date (see related story on p. 38). One of the ways each side will try to differentiate itself is by showing that its aircraft is truly “proven in combat.”

 

Dassault, backed by Thales and Snecma, will automatically say its product has been tested in battle already—Rafale first flew sorties over Afghanistan in 2002, although initial flights were limited to refueling Super Etendards involved with air-to-ground activities, and combat air patrols.

 

Once fully integrated into the NATO air-to-ground strike infrastructure, the Rafale has been included in close-air-support activities over Afghanistan. The first reported missions were in 2007, with Rafales flying from Dushanbe, Tajikistan, and the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle. However, little was made of these missions at the time, and the news tended to seep out through conference papers and the Internet, rather than being exploited for marketing purposes.

 

The trend of information arriving in the public domain about Rafale on operations, almost as if by osmosis, has continued with Libyan operations. French Rafales were seen from Day One armed with the Safran/MBDA AASM multi-seeker guided-bomb system, including the INS/GPS/imaging-IR version, apparently being carried for the first time. But one would be hard-pressed to know this from the downbeat French defense ministry press releases.

 

The U.K., on the other hand, has been far more upfront in trumpeting the multirole claims of the Typhoons deployed to Gioia del Colle, Italy. An April 13 press release announced the first operational drop of an Enhanced Paveway II (1,000‑lb.) laser/GPS-guided bomb by an RAF Typhoon, although its impact was reduced by the dispute about whether the RAF had enough qualified air-to-ground pilots.

 

—With Francis Tusa in London.

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23 juin 2011 4 23 /06 /juin /2011 07:45
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23/06/2011 MER et MARINE

 

A l'occasion du salon aéronautique du Bourget, qui se déroule cette semaine, Français et Britanniques ont réaffirmé leur volonté de renforcer leur coopération dans le secteur des missiles. Cette démarche a été considérée mardi d'une « importance stratégique » par Peter Luff, ministre britannique des achats de défense et Laurent Collet-Billon, délégué général pour l'armement, tous deux présents sur le stand du missilier européen MBDA. « Conformément aux décisions du dernier sommet franco-britannique du 2 novembre 2010, la Direction Générale de l'Armement et le DE&S travaillent à la mise en place d'un secteur des missiles plus cohérent autour d'un maitre d'oeuvre industriel européen unique, devant conduire à des gains significatifs (jusqu'à 30%) pour les États », explique la DGA. Laurent Collet-Billon et Peter Luff ont échangé en amont de la présentation des premières analyses sur l'optimisation du tissu industriel franco-britannique prévue début juillet. Parallèlement les deux pays travaillent au rapprochement des méthodes de travail en vue « d'une gouvernance de plus en plus commune ».

Pour soutenir le renforcement de la coopération des deux côtés de la Manche, la DGA et le DE&S prévoient toujours de lancer une série de projets, comme le développement d'un nouveau missile antinavire léger (FASGW(H)/ANL), l'évaluation des améliorations à apporter aux missiles de croisière Scalp/Storm Shadow, ainsi qu'une feuille de route commune pour les technologies de défense aérienne à courte portée.

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22 juin 2011 3 22 /06 /juin /2011 06:30
Les missiles au cœur de la coopération franco-britannique

 

21/06/2011 DGA

 

Peter Luff, ministre britannique des achats de défense et Laurent Collet-Billon, délégué général pour l’armement, réaffirment, le mardi 21 juin 2011 sur le stand de MBDA au salon aéronautique du Bourget, l’importance stratégique de la coopération franco-britannique dans le domaine des missiles.

 

Conformément aux décisions du dernier sommet franco-britannique du 2 novembre 2010, la Direction générale de l’armement (DGA) et le DE&S travaillent à la mise en place d’un secteur des missiles plus cohérent autour d’un maitre d’œuvre industriel européen unique, devant conduire à des gains significatifs pour les États (jusqu’à 30% de gains).

 

Laurent Collet-Billon et Peter Luff ont échangé en amont de la présentation des premières analyses sur l’optimisation de notre tissu industriel prévue début juillet. Parallèlement les deux pays travaillent au rapprochement des méthodes de travail en vue d'une gouvernance de plus en plus commune.

 

La DGA et le DE&S prévoient également de lancer une série de projets pour consolider cette initiative : lancement du développement du missile antisurface naval léger (FASGW(H)/ANL), évaluation des améliorations des missiles de croisière Scalp/Storm Shadow et feuille de route commune pour les technologies de défense aérienne à courte portée.

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