MRAPs for Poland
(NSI News Source Info) October 10, 2008: Forecast International reports that an Aug 20/08 land mine attack that killed 3 Polish soldiers in their Hummer is causing the same kind of rethink that other advanced armies have been experiencing.
In response, reports in the Polish press indicate that Poland is seeking an emergency buy of 40 MRAP vehicles, with deliveries to conclude before the end of 2008. The contenders are reported to be BAE OMC’s RG-31 Mk5E extended version, Force Protection’s Cougar, or KMW’s Dingo 2. This early buy is expected to be followed by a follow-on tender for 140 vehicles, using more standard tender procedures.
Now, an article in the Polish press hints that the competition may have been pre-empted by a leasing arrangement.
Force Protection’s Cougar is in widespread use by the US military, and its vehicles were the catalyst for the US military’s 15,000+ vehicle MRAP program, though it has fallen to 3rd place now after Navistar and BAE Systems. Its Cougar vehicles are also used by the British, Canadian, and Yemeni militaries, and a variant serves with the Iraqi military as the Badger.
Germany was an early adopter of mine-protected vehicles within the NATO alliance, and KMW’s Dingo vehicles are playing a growing role in its future force. The Dingo-2 has also been featured in a number of international competitions, losing some but picking up wins in neighboring Austria (20), Belgium (352), The Czech Republic (4, facing issues including delivery delays), and Luxembourg (48).
The RG-31 was designed in South Africa, which pioneered mine-resistant vehicles several decades ago. It has been deployed by the UN, Canada, the Netherlands (on loan from Canada), and the US military, who considers it their favored MRAP vehicle for Afghanistan. Spain has also ordered RG-31s, but has yet to take delivery.
BAE’s Diverse MRAP Orders
The USA’s Mine-Resistant, Ambush Protected (MRAP) program has been a long road for BAE Systems. In the wake of the US Army’s belated realization that mine protection was critical for vehicles in theater, BAE’s designs, long-standing experience in the field, and production capacity had made them an early favorite.
By June 20/07, however, contracts had been issued for 3,266 Category I patrol & Category II squad-sized MRAP vehicles, fully 42% of a the program’s planned 7,774 orders. Force Protection had racked up orders for 1,780 Cougar vehicles, and Navistar/Plasan Sasa had come out of the tests at Aberdeen with orders for 1,216 of its MaxxPro joint design. BAE sat in 4th place with orders for just 90 vehicles – 2.8% of the total. It had to be a humbling experience for the firm that went into 2004 as the world leader in the field.
BAE has worked hard to catch up, and recent contracts have put them solidly back into the competition, even as the number of MRAPs in the program more than doubled to over 15,000. The latest orders widen their lead over 3rd place firm Force Protection, and make them one of just 2 firms with a foothold under the new MRAP-II qualifications. MRAP-II includes protection against EFP (explosively-formed projectile) land mines that fire the equivalent of a cannon shell at the vehicle, in addition to the standard underbody blasts.
The Global C-17 Sustainment Partnership
(NSI News Source Info) October 10, 2008: The C-17 Globemaster III remains the backbone of US Air Mobility Command inter-theater transport efforts around the world, and its ability to operate from shorter and rougher runways has made it especially useful during the Global War on Terror.
C-17 over Hawaii
The USA may cap production at 191 planes (though the House has inserted 10 more in the FY 2008 bill), but a fierce fight is underway to preserve the program and even think tanks are lobbying hard. Meanwhile, various upgrades (including LAIRCM defensive systems) continue – along with heavy usage that is accumulating fatigue hours far faster than originally planned.
Which brings us to the subject of maintenance. The rising cost of maintenance has made it a greater concern to the world’s militaries, and new contract vehicles are reflecting that. Under the C-17 Globemaster III Sustainment Partnership, Boeing has total system support responsibility for the big transport aircraft, including materiel management and depot maintenance, for fleets around the world. The goal is total aircraft sustainment support under a single contract, with the goal of achieving improvements in logistics support and mission readiness while reducing operating and support costs. The initial contract had an estimated total value of $4.9 billion, which is likely to grow slightly just as Boeing’s customer base has done via deliveries to Australia (4), Britain (6), Canada (4), Qatar (2), and a likely NATO buy (3).
US Army Stocks Up on Auto-Grenade Firepower as FY 2008 Closes
(NSI News Source Info) October 10, 2008: As “Britain’s GMG Order Illustrates 2 Key Trends” discusses, 40mm grenades are a potent battlefield weapon.
Many of the current conflicts are essentially infantry battles, which makes firepower overmatch a critical goal. Whether fired singly from an M203 rifle mount, used in a remote-control vehicle system like CROWS, or as an infantry platoon’s crew-served heavy weapon, the 40mm grenade brings considerable firepower to the infantry fight. It’s also lethal against unarmored or lightly armored vehicles. Some companies are even offering shotgun-style repeating launchers, like Milkor’s MG-32 – or even weapons that can be fired around corners!
As FY 2008 ticked down to a close, the US military issued over $120 million worth of contracts for its staple 40mm weapon – the Mk19 grenade machine gun. It also got set to begin testing an interesting addition to infantry firepower – a programmable 25mm air bust weapon that offers comparable lethality, but can be carried by a single soldier
Korean Air Force Gets Last Batch of F-15K Fighters
(NSI News Source Info) October 10, 2008: The Air Force received its last batch of three F-15K fighters Wednesday from Boeing in the United States under the 40-plane first-phase F-X program to introduce 120 high-end multi-role combat aircraft, Air Force officials said.
Korea’s new F-15K fightersF-15K fighter jet lands
With this latest addition the Air Force has a total of 39 F-15K aircraft, since a unit crashed in the waters off Pohang, some 320 kilometers southeast of Seoul, during a night mission in June 2006. The three F-15Ks were delivered to the Air Force's 122 squadron of the 11th Fighter Wing based in Daegu, they said. “With the gradual delivery of F-15Ks since October 2005, a F-15K squadron has been fully operational since July 1. Another squadron will enter service early next year after pilots undergo related training programs,'' an Air Force spokesman said. In 2002, Boeing's F-15K Eagle was selected for the 40-plane, $4.2 billion first phase of the F-X project. South Korea signed with Boeing over the $2.3 billion, 21-plane second phase F-X program early this year. The U.S. aircraft giant is to hand over the aircraft between 2010 and 2012 under the contract. The F-15K is capable of air-to-ground, air-to-air and air-to-sea missions day and night, in any weather conditions. It has a 23,000-pound payload and can fly at a maximum speed of Mach 2.3, with an operational radius of 1,800 kilometers. A single aircraft costs about $100 million. Its armament includes Boeing's SLAM-ER air-to-ground precision-strike missiles, Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) bombs, and AIM-9X tactical air-to-air missiles built by Raytheon of the United States. The third phase of the F-X program is scheduled to begin in 2011 with a focus on equipping the Air Force with stealthy fighters.
The second Littoral Combat Ship
(NSI News Source Info) October 10, 2008: The second Littoral Combat Ship, LCS-2 Independence, seen during its Oct 4 christening at the Austal shipyard in Mobile, Alabama. USA.
Russia notifies EU of pullout from Georgia buffer zones
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - October 10, 2008: Russia has officially notified the EU that it has completed the full withdrawal of its peacekeepers from buffer zones adjacent to South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.
"The Russian permanent mission to the European Union in Brussels has handed a note to the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union, confirming the full withdrawal of Russian peacekeeping forces from zones adjacent to South Ossetia and Abkhazia," the ministry said on its website.
The Russian and French presidents, Dmitry Medvedev and Nicolas Sarkozy, agreed in September that Russia's full withdrawal from undisputed parts of Georgia should take place on October 10. EU monitoring teams were deployed in Georgia on October 1 in preparation for the handover.
The withdrawal of troops following a five-day armed conflict between Russia and Georgia was completed on Wednesday, two days ahead of the deadline.
Russia denies nuclear weapons on ships bound for Venezuela
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - October 10, 2008: Russian warships en route to Venezuela to take part in naval exercises are not carrying nuclear weapons, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said Thursday.
"There are no tactical nuclear weapons on board these ships," Andrei Nesterenko told a news conference at RIA Novosti.
He said the presence of the nuclear-powered Pyotr Veliky missile cruiser in Latin American and Caribbean waters would not violate the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.