Wednesday, July 23, 2008

China licensed co-production of the helicopter Mi-17

China licensed co-production of the helicopter Mi-17
July 23, 2008: In 1990, the PRC placed its first order of military hardware from its old rival Soviet Union since the end of Cold War. The order came as 24 examples of the Mil Mi-17 multirole helicopters, a derivative of the Mi-8 transport helicopter developed by the Mil Design Bureau in the 1960s. The Mi-17 is the export designation, and the version in service with the Russian Army is designated Mi-8MT. These helicopters were produced by the Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant and delivered to the PLA in 1991. The deal also marked the beginning of the multibillion dollars arms trade between PRC and Russia in the following decades. In 1995, the PLA ordered an additional 60 examples in the improved Mi-171 variant and received these helicopters in 1997. The PLA was pleased with the performance of these helicopters and more examples were acquired in the next few years. By early 2003, the PLA had reportedly received 191 Mi-17, Mi-171, and Mi-17V5 helicopters. This figure increased to 216 with the order of 25 Kazan-built M-17V-7 helicopters in 2003/04. By 2007, the total number of the Mi-17/171 helicopters in service with the PLA had reached about 250. The latest purchases have shifted to the Mi-17-V5/V7 variant manufactured by the Kazan Helicopter Plant JSC. The Mi-17V5 differs to the Ulan-Ude-built Mi-171 in its 'dolphin' nose, more powerful TV3-117VM engine with new auxiliary power unit, an extra port door on the starboard side, and flat rear fuselage ramp for easier access. The improved Mi-17V7 variant features a more powerful VK-2500 engine for full performance in hot and high conditions. Design The Mi-17/171 has a conventional design, with a large five-bladed main rotor mounted over the powerpack at the fuselage midsection a three-bladed tail rotor. Twin turboshaft engines are mounted on top of the fuselage with two round air intakes just above the cockpit and rounded exhaust ports aft. The engine intakes of the Mi-17 series have deflectors to separate solid particles in the air (sand, dust etc.) and prevent them from ingestion. The tail boom tapers to the small, swept-back, and tapered fin with rotor on the port side, with small flats mounted forward of the fin. The Mi-17/171 has a round nose with glassed-in cockpit, a large sliding door forward on the portside, and a clamshell freight-loading door in the rear. The Mi-17-V5/V7 has a solid ‘dolphin’ nose, large sliding doors on both sides of the fuselage, and a single flat ramp giving easier access. The landing gear is a non-retractable tricycle type with a twin-wheel nose unit. On each side of the fuselage there is a pod for an external fuel tank. A box-shape device attached to the lower part of the rail beam houses the electronic countermeasures (ECM) system. Some Mi-17/171 helicopters in service with the PLA are fitted with an indigenous weather radar developed by 607 Institute of Wuxi, Jiangsu Province. The cockpit accommodates a crew of three (include pilot, co-pilot/navigator, and flight mechanic). The cockpit and the main cabin are heated with air condition as optional. The main cabin can carry up to 24 equipped soldiers, or 30 passengers, or 20 stretcher patients. The seats can be removed to carrying 4,000kg of cargo. Alternatively the helicopter can carry 3,000kg large-size cargo externally under sling. The helicopter has internal winch facilities in its main cabin and tie-down rings on the floor for cargo transport. An electrically-operated hoist (300kg) is fitted above the forward slide door on the port side for rescue missions. The helicopter is equipped with fire suppression and de-icing system to increase its survivability. Armament The Mi-17/171 helicopter is capable of carrying troops and cargo for air assault of infantry troops, special force team insertion, and reply of ground troops. The Mi-8 helicopters in Russian Army and many other countries have also often been used for conducting armed attacks and providing close air support with unguided rockets and machine guns. The Mi-17s sold to China were unarmed, but the PLA managed to fit these helicopters with external weapon pylons similar to those used by the Russian Army. External stores are mounted on weapons racks on each side of the fuselage, with a total of six hardpoints. So far Mi-17s in service with the PLA have been seen carrying the 12.7mm machine gun pod, 57/68mm unguided rocket launcher, 250/500kg free-fall bomb, or TY-90 air-to-air missile according to their missions. Powerplant A PLAAF Mi-17V7 search & rescue variant with under-nose TV/FLIR unit (Chinese Internet) The Mi-17 and Mi-171 are powered by two Klimov TV3-117MT turboshaft engines, each rated at 1,950hp. The helicopter can still take-off even with one engine shut down. An auxiliary power unit (APU) enables engine starts at altitudes up to 6,000m. The Mi-17-V5 is powered by two TV3-117VM(A) engines, each rated at 2,200hp. The latest Mi-17V7 has two VK-2500 turboshaft engines, each rated at 2,400hp. The VK-2500 engine also has a full-authority digital engine control (FADEC) for 'hot and high' conditions. The helicopter carries 1,870 litres of fuel in two flexible internal tanks and two external tanks. The total fuel capacity can be increased to 3,700 litres by installing up to two ferry tanks in the cabin. Some Mi-17/171s in service with the PLA are seen being fitted with internal and external fuel tanks for extended range. Licensed Co-Production In March 2007, the Russian Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant JSC set up a joint venture “Sichuan Lantian Helicopter Co. Ltd.” in Chengdu, Sichuan Province to repair and manufacture the Mi-17 series helicopters for both Chinese and international customers. In May 2008, Russian RIA Novosti reported that the Mi-17 production at Lantian had already begin. The plant will build 20 helicopters in 2008, using Russian Ulan-Ude-supplied kits. The production is expected to reach 80 helicopters per year eventually. The variants to be built by Lantian will include Mi-171, Mi-17V5, and Mi-17V7.

Russian aircraft industry seeks a marriage of convenience

Russian aircraft industry seeks a marriage of convenience July 23, 2008 - MOSCOW: At the International Air Show in Farnborough outside London, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, Russian air companies are expected to sign a series of major deals with their counterparts. The deals could cover both running projects, such as the Sukhoi SuperJet-100 civilian aircraft, and other upcoming projects. One of the latter is the MS-21 short- and medium-haul jetliner. Like the SuperJet, it is to be developed cooperatively with outside firms. In this case Chinese aircraft makers could become Russia's leading partners. Alexei Fyodorov, head of Russia's United Aircraft Building Corporation, was somewhat cautious in announcing this news at Farnborough. Russia, he said, was not against a joint venture with China in the development of the "most ambitious Russian project." This is not the first time the two countries have attempted to join forces in building an aircraft. In 2006, Russia proposed to China they both design and build a long-haul jetliner under a priority national project included in China's 2006-2010 five-year plan. As a starting point, Russia suggested the Russian-made Il-96-300. The results of this joint venture could compete with America's Boeing and Europe's Airbus. Russia was clear about its motives. Its air carriers today need between 200 and 300 passenger liners of this class. Unfortunately, many of them cannot afford new models and opt for cheaper used foreign makes. This is why Russia needs overseas partners: to share the risk. The Chinese, however, declined the offer, and Russia had to cancel the program. China's decision is understandable. They need aircraft designed for medium distances, and this is what they will build. One of them - the ARJ-21, seating 78-90 passengers - is expected to go into production in 2009. It was developed with the American firms and Ukraine's Antonov design bureau. Russia was left out in the cold. Last year, China decided to build a medium-haul 150-passenger airliner, and in May of this year the Chinese Commercial Aircraft Company was set up in Shanghai. But Russian producers have not abandoned hope. Sukhoi's General Director Mikhail Pogosyan visited Beijing late in May and said his company would cooperate with China in designing civilian aircraft. Now, at Farnborough, he is echoed by Irkut leaders, the corporation planning to build MS-21s. Unlike Russia, China has never built its own passenger planes. The 1980 project to develop the 178-seat Y-10, a rival of the Boeing-707, ended in failure as did a later attempt to launch mass production of an airliner similar in design to a McDonnel Douglas model. It may be that the Chinese will now look more favorably at Russian proposals. Russia needs cooperation. When Russian aircraft builders plan production quantities, they must know if their product will be in demand not so much in Russia as outside it. Industry and Trade Minister Viktor Khristenko said the domestic market in Russia is not large enough to make aircraft production commercially viable. In fact, Sukhoi Holding intends to sell 500 of the planned 800 SuperJet-100 models abroad before 2024. To make its position sure, it sold a blocking stake in its civilian segment to Italy's Alenia Aeronautica. The importance of two large players appearing on the Russian aircraft market is hard to overestimate. They would be capable of eliminating the present shortage of short- and medium-haul airliners. In the next few years, the Sukhoi SuperJet-100 could replace the veteran Yak-42, as well as the Tu-134, which, in many cases, is being written off as scrap. The MS-21, once it enters the market in 2015, will not only replace the Tu-154 and Tu-204, but also the A320, which will have reached the end of its service life by that time. What's more, Irkut promises the MS-21 will be 15% lighter than its European cousin and consume 25% less fuel, a factor to bear in mind as jet fuel prices continue to soar. Analysts say Russian air carriers will require 800 to 1,000 aircraft of various classes in the next decade. Russian aircraft builders will, unfortunately, be unable to prevail across the board. But medium-haul liners offer a glimmer of hope. Fyodorov says that the MS-21 and the SuperJet-100 can meet over 80% of domestic airline requirements for aircraft in this size range. Next year, at another show in Le Bourget, France, Irkut is planning to announce the results of international tenders for the production of MS-21 components. It will perhaps be known by then if the Chinese will participate in the project or opt for building their own airliner.

800-year-old footprint unearthed in Canada

800-year-old footprint unearthed in Canada OTTAWA, July 23, 2008 -- A footprint of 800 years old has been unearthed at one of Canada's top archaeological sites in the western Manitoba Province, scientists announced Tuesday. The footprint was discovered when archaeologists dug at the site located in the central area of provincial capital Winnipeg. The area has a rich history that includes aboriginal camping, the fur trade, the construction of the railway, waves of immigration and the Industrial Age. The place has been determined as the future site of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and archaeologists have been scraping away at the site for the basement of the building. Thousands of artifacts have been uncovered, including pottery and arrowheads, chief archaeologist Sid Kroeker said. The footprint, found about two meters below the surface, was probably left in the mud around 1200 A.D.. Pieces of pottery and fish remains were found underneath it, he said. "They stepped down and their foot pressed into the clay, left a footprint and either the ground dried out and hardened, or it froze. The next flood episode that came through put down a slightly different type of sediment, so that the two soils didn't meld together and obliterate it," he said. 800-Year-Old Footprint Unearthed A plaster cast of a footprint, estimated to be about 800 years old, unearthed at The Forks in Winnipeg. For the past few weeks, archaeologists have been scraping away at the future site of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights at The Forks, where the Red and Assiniboine rivers meet in central

Saudi Arabia - Continued Assistance in the Modernization of the SANG

Saudi Arabia - Continued Assistance in the Modernization of the SANG July 23, 2008: WASHINGTON --- The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Saudi Arabia of continued assistance in the modernization of the Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG) as well as associated equipment and services. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $1.8 billion. The Government of Saudi Arabia has requested a possible sale for the continuation of the United States supported effort to modernize the SANG by providing the following defense services: training, professional military advice and assistance, management assistance, contract administration, construction oversight, transportation of equipment, personnel training and training equipment, light armored vehicle training, spare and repair parts, management of repair and return of components, automation program support, and other related elements of logistics support. These support services would be for the period 1 January 2009 through 31 December 2013. The estimated cost is $1.8 billion. This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country which has been and continues to be an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East. The continuation of services under the SANG Modernization Program is an evolution of the SANG as an effective defensive force with the advice, assistance, and training of the U.S. Army. The Modernization Program ensures necessary training, logistics, support, doctrine development and force integration for the continuing expansion and use of their weapon systems. These services will remain the cornerstone of an effort to upgrade and enhance the infrastructure of the SANG organization. The proposed sale of this support will not affect the basic military balance in the region. The principal contractor will be Vinnell Arabia Corporation of Herndon, VA. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale. At present, there are approximately 215 U.S. Government personnel and 500 contractor representatives in country supporting the SANG Modernization Program. There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale. This notice of a potential sale is required by law; it does not mean that the sale has been concluded.

New Defense Acquisition Rules for Japan

New Defense Acquisition Rules for Japan
Jul 23, 2008: Buffeted by government scandals and the artificially high costs of developing defense gear, Japan’s new defense ministry has decided to adopt a more competitive style of acquisition, according to Japan-based U.S. analysts. With the current government’s defense team already savaged once by claims of gifts and other kinds of influence peddling by the trading companies, the defense ministry has adopted a plan to cut the growth in procurement costs, which includes radically revamping the way it orders its materiel to allow for competition. The initial task is for the defense ministry to develop a list of baseline costs for all of its hardware and supplies to include weaponry, aircraft, ships, computers and software, U.S. officials say. Suppliers will then be invited to bid for contracts by submitting plans for cost cutting. Any savings will be shared by the contractor and the defense ministry. To counter any tendency to manipulate prices while computing the catalogue of basic prices, the year-old defense ministry is establishing a strict set of rules and self-policing procedures to eliminate the opportunity for corruption and influence peddling. The rulebook is expected to be published this fall and in place for the F-X fighter replacement contract. The Japan Self-Defense Force’s (JASDF) legacy F-2 – sometimes described as a slightly larger F-16 at three times the cost – is an example of how the Japanese government operated in the past. To ensure political support, any purchase had to have a high ratio of indigenous industrial content. That also would help appease the politically powerful trade unions. But the scale of production was so small – since Japan cannot sell military equipment abroad – that costs for high-tech equipment were often stunning. Another contributing factor was the government’s reliance on trading companies to act as the military’s acquisition agency. These discretionary contracts essentially eliminated any real competition. No incentive Since defense purchases have been made through special orders without direct competition, there has been virtually no financial incentive to lower cost since the political benefits of contracts increased with their cost. A Japanese team this year visited Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter facility in Ft. Worth. More recently, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s director of defense planning, Lt. Gen. Hidetoshi Hirata, flew British Aerospace’s Typhoon. British officials describe their offering as a blend of superior maneuvering and forward stealth, while the F-35’s advantage is represented as very low observability combined with a battery of sensors for extraordinary situational awareness. Unofficially, the JASDF has given up its quest for the F-22 Raptor, citing uncertainty about getting export approval and the likelihood of a truncated technology package. The primary competitors for F-X are all designed for export. Hirata told Aviation Week that the JASDF wants stealth and speed, but some degree of stealth could be sacrificed for low cost and an advanced sensor package.

French Sailors Experience Flight Operations Aboard Roosevelt

French Sailors Experience Flight Operations Aboard Roosevelt July 23, 2008: USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT, At Sea --- USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) (TR) is conducting carrier qualifications with members of the French Navy during Operation Brimstone July 21-31. Pilots from the "Tomcatters" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 31 and French navy pilots are learning the value of camaraderie and the true meaning of the term 'shipmate.' "Every day we have close air support and air defense missions preparing us for carrier qualifications," said French Lt. Lebars "Barzy" Stephan, a Rafale pilot assigned to the 12th Fighter Squadron (Flotille 12F--Ed.) "It's very nice being aboard TR because we are learning to work together as allies so we can fight more efficiently and effectively. For me, it's also nice to compare the specifics between the F/A-18E Super Hornets and the French Rafale aircraft." While working together, the pilots of both navies recognize their similarities. "It's been a real treat to have them [the French pilots] around because of the camaraderie and to see the different aspects of their coalition capabilities," said Lt. Christopher "Buttercup" Jones, a pilot assigned to VFA 31. "Learning about each other's cultures helps us with our teamwork. They're just like us, because at the end of the day, we're still pilots and we share a lot of things in common, such as terminology, hobbies, and motivational skills." Other similarities include how flight operations are controlled and the importance of communications during flight deck operations and carrier qualifications. "I was called this year to participate in carrier qualifications aboard TR," said Lt. Cmdr. Yann Beaufils, French Air Boss. "Being an air boss is the same on an American or French aircraft carrier. In the tower, I have direct contact with all the French pilots as they're flying. Everything is pretty much the same on French and U.S. aircraft carriers. Both our navies are the only ones to operate with these catapults and arresting gear systems on the flight deck." During their training, French and U.S. Navy pilots train every day to ensure that TR carrier qualifications run smoothly. It's good for camaraderie, and also helps instill a sense of pride and teamwork, strengthening allied relationships in training and war-time environments. Commanded by Capt. Ladd Wheeler, Theodore Roosevelt is the flagship of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (TRSCG). The TRSCG is preparing for a scheduled deployment later this year.

Venezuela may spend $5 bln on Russian arms in next decade

Venezuela may spend $5 bln on Russian arms in next decade MOSCOW: July 23, 2008 - Venezuela may purchase weaponry from Russia worth $5 billion over the next 10 years, a Russian political analyst said on Wednesday. During his official visit to Russia on Tuesday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and the Russian leadership reaffirmed their mutual drive to strengthen bilateral defense cooperation. "Regardless of the situation on global arms markets, Venezuela under Hugo Chavez will continue to buy Russian weaponry, and may spend $5 billion or more over the next 10 years on imports of Russian military equipment," said Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies. In 2005-2006, Venezuela bought over 50 combat helicopters, 24 Su-30MK2 fighters, 12 Tor-M1 air defense missile systems and 100,000 AK-103 rifles from Russia. Current contracts are worth about $4 billion, according to various sources. Pukhov said Russia is the only country supplying a wide range of weaponry to Venezuela. "The European market is inaccessible to Caracas because of its high prices, and restrictions imposed by the U.S. on arms exports to Venezuela," he said. He also said future contracts to buy arms from Russia may be concluded on the basis of loans rather than direct payments. "It is clear that cash payments for Russian weaponry sales to Venezuela are a thing of the past. Future purchases will be made through transfers, and production licenses," Pukhov said. Future deliveries may include Amur-class diesel submarines, Il-76MD military transport planes, Il-78 aerial tankers and air defense missile systems. Chavez dismissed on Tuesday rumors that Venezuela may spend up to $30 billion on purchases of Russian weaponry in the next four years. "I do not know where these figures are coming from: $30 billion in four years? The amounts [in contracts] differ, it is a dynamic process," he told a news conference in Moscow.