On the Horizon
ROBERT DAY
© 2009 FrontLine Defence (Vol 6, No 6)

LAND FORCES
Canadian Army seeks to accelerate Close Combat Vehicle project
The Canadian Army is attempting to accelerate the CAD2.2 billion CCV (Close Combat Vehicle) acquisition project before the government changes or reconsiders the project in light of the current fiscal deficit.

The project proposes to acquire up to 138 CCVs and was first announced by the government in July, however, plans to issue a solicitation of interest and qualification on 15 September, to be followed swiftly by a request for proposals, have been delayed because of the need for the competitors more time to develop and organize their industrial benefits proposals.

Current plans for the 30-45 tonne CCV will not replace any current inventory but will instead bridge the gap between the army’s current LAV III 8x8 light armoured vehicles and Leopard 2A4 and A6 tanks. The army wants the CCV to be able to deliver fully equipped infantry and forward artillery observers to the battle area for close combat operations, in medium- to high-threat environments, with Leopard tank support where necessary.

Indian Army may turn to 1950s-vintage artillery
The Indian Army’s artillery directorate is considering the acquisition of additional Soviet-designed 130 mm M-46 field guns from surplus stocks within the former Soviet republics to augment its severely depleted firepower. Official Indian sources have stated that the delays and constant postponement in acquiring new howitzers that were to replace and supplement the 410 Bofors 155 mm/39 cal guns procured in the late 1980s had promoted this possibility in a bid to plug the army’s artillery shortfall.

India has been the largest export customer for M-46 artillery pieces, with an estimated 800 purchased since the late ‘60s.

Following the conflict, under the Indian Armies Field Artillery Rationalization Plan that was finalized in the late 1980s, the army aimed to acquire (by 2020-25) a mix of around 3,200 to 3,600 155mm/52cal and 155mm/39cal towed. The new artillery, a mixture of wheeled, tracked and light howitzers were intended to replace the six ­different calibres the artillery currently deploys.

New U.S. Army contracts mean beginning of the end for T-10 parachutes
The US Army has began the phasing-out of its existing inventory of 52,000 T-10 parachutes with new contracts worth a total of USD34.8 million, to replace the T-10’s with a newer parachute system.

Aerostar International, Airborne Systems North America, and BAE Systems have all been selected by the US Army to supply the first deliveries of around 8,000 T-11 Personnel Parachute Systems. A total of USD220 million has been set aside by the Department of Defense for between 45,000 and 50,000 of the new parachutes. All deliveries are to be finalized and completed by 5 October 2014.

Afghan forces continue with non-NATO weapons rearmament
Alliant Techsystems (ATK) has won a USD21 million contract to supply Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) with an armoury of non-NATO standard weapon systems. ANSF troops currently carry AK-47 rifles on operations and this latest contract will continue to support that policy with Russian-type weaponry, although the US Combined Security Transition Command (Afghanistan) has begun transitioning to NATO-standard small arms, with the delivery of up to 75,000 Colt Defence 5.56mm M16 assault rifles.
 
AIR FORCES
A330 MRTT makes first hose-and-drogue contact
The Airbus program to develop a Military A330-200 Multirole Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft has made its first ‘wet’ contact with an aircraft using its hose-and-drogue system. The trial, which comes just three weeks after the first wet contact of the Air Refuelling Boom System (ARBS). Both tests involved the use Royal Australian Air Force MRTT and involved the use of the F/A 18’s as target recipients.

Royal Australian Air Force to buy F35’s
Sources in the US indicate that Australia is set to buy an initial batch of 14 conventional take-off and landing F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters at an estimated USD130M a copy. Details regarding the breakdown of costs or maintenance arrangements are expected to be revealed when the formal announcement is made.

USAF to explore using cheaper jet fuel
The US Air Force Petroleum Agency has announced that it will conduct tests over the next 12 months to explore the viability of commercial jet fuel as a cheaper alternative to current military-standard JP-8 fuel.

Tests will take place using Lockheed C5 Galaxy, Boeing C17 Globemaster III and Lockheed Martin C130 Hercules airlifters which are based at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware; Little Rock AFB, Arkansas; McChord AFB, Washington, DC; and Minneapolis-Saint Paul Air Reserve Station, Minnesota.

AFPA officials currently estimate that the use of Jet A commercial fuel could save USD40 million a year at the test sites and these savings would increase as the use of Jet A expands across US military installations in the country.

The US military would save money by using Jet A because it is more available than JP-8. Furthermore, the use of Jet A would reduce infrastructure costs since the military would be able to run the fuel through shared pipelines without being concerned over it intermingling with JP-8.

The project will also attempt to reduce or eliminate certain military additives currently present in JP-8. Reducing the number of additives would shrink the US military’s logistics footprint in combat operations without the loss of capabilities.

USAF reports the JSF alternative engine causing concern
Problems with the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter’s (JSF’s) alternative engine in tests earlier this month are under investigation. Rolls-Royce spokesman George McLaren said minor damage to some turbine blades was discovered during a routine inspection of the General Electric/Rolls-Royce F136 engine.

The engine has achieved 75% of its test phase objectives and had recently achieved three hours’ non-stop maximum power. It was during this trial that the problems were discovered during a scheduled testing shutdown sequence. Rolls-Royce believes that it has determined the potential cause and is now working to confirm it, according to McLaren.

The F136 testing troubles came after the US Congress had adopted a compromise version of the Fiscal Year 2010 (FY10) defence authorization bill on 8 October that included USD560 million for F136 research, development and procurement. However, US President Barack Obama’s administration has threatened to veto the legislation if it includes funding for a second engine at the expense of F-35 fighter jet procurement.

Super Hornet favourite in Indian and Brazilian tenders
The Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet appears to be well positioned to provide an aircraft that will meet both the Indian and Brazilian fighter requirements. Boeing and its partners – Raytheon and General Electric – presented a broad ranging review of the F/A-18E/F’s position in both the Indian Air Force’s Medium-Multirole Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) programme for 163 aircraft plus 63 options and the Brazilian Air Force’s F-X2 tender for the first 36 of what is projected to be a total of 120 fighters.

Two major factors which make the Super Hornet competitive in both markets include: economies of scale that result from both the aircraft and its major subsystems still being on hot (active) production lines (steadily reducing the unit cost); also, the modular nature of the aircraft’s sensors and propulsion system permit technology insertion dramatically increases performance at minimal expense.

“The history of the F/A-18E/F’s development has now seen a negative slope in terms of cost and a positive slope in terms of capability. For this reason we feel for the first time we are competing on even terms with the [Lockheed Martin] F-16 in terms of price,” stated Boeing Military Aircraft IDS President Chris Chadwick.

Raytheon representatives, emphasized that “Raytheon provided the first AESA [active electronically scanned array] radar sets to both the USAF and USN.” Raytheon continues to leverage technological advance­ments across its product lines in improving the Super Hornet’s AN/APG-79 radar.
 
NAVAL FORCES
Astute to embark on sea trials
MOD UK announced that HMS Astute, the first of a new generation of nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN) for the UK’s Royal Navy (RN), is preparing for its maiden voyage. Plans for the initial voyage will see it move from prime contractor BAE Systems’ submarine production facility at Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, to her new home at Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde at Faslane in Scotland.

On its arrival at Faslane, Astute will begin a two-phase series of sea trials to test handling while at sea and to prove out the SSN’s warfighting capabilities, such as the effective use of sensors and weapon systems. HMS Astute is scheduled to officially commission in the spring of 2010.

Russia plans reactivation of two Kirov-class cruisers
The Russian Federation Navy (RFN) has decided to reactivate two laid-up Kirov-class (Project 1144) battle cruisers, according to Russian media.

Colonel General Vladimir Popovkin has reportedly said that the RFN has decided to renovate and modernize its heavy nuclear-powered missile cruiser (tiazhyeliy atomniy raketniy kreiser/TARK) units Admiral Lazarev (ex- Frunze) and Admiral Nakhimov (ex-Kalinin).

The 24,300-ton ships were originally commissioned into the then Soviet Navy in 1984 and 1988, the second and third vessels in a class that eventually numbered four. However Col Gen Popovkin made no mention of the lead ship, Admiral Ushakov (ex-Kirov), which entered service in 1980 and was decommissioned in 2004, which appears to confirm earlier reports that it is was likely to be scrapped.

The RFN has currently one ship of the class in service, Pyotr Velikiy (ex-Yuri Andropov, ex-Kuibishev), which was launched in St Petersburg in 1989 and commissioned in 1998.

Upgrades Make German Type 209 Submarines Competitive Once Again
For the past 40 years, the international diesel-submarine market has been dominated by Germany’s Type 209 design. These 1,000-ton submerged displacement boats trace their lineage to the German Navy’s smaller (450 tons displacement) Type 206 submarines. While somewhat larger, they use many of the same components, in some cases by doubling up on certain equipment such as generators. By adopting a single-hull construction arrangement, the CO, standing at a central position by the periscope, can see along the entire length of the pressure hull – from the torpedo tubes in the bow to the end of the engine room.

The characteristics of submerged reach, speed and handling went on to establish the Type 209 as the export submarine of choice for two generations. With the use of new technologies such as improved passive sonar, improved propulsion systems and upgraded weapons and electronic system the Type 209 has once again become a leading contender in the conventional submarine market.

Sweden set to sail with multirole support ship
Sweden’s Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) expects to begin project definition phase for a purpose-built combat support ship next year. It is intended to enter service in 2015 to meet a range of afloat replenishment, logistics, sealift and amphibious support missions.

An extensive capability gap analysis pinpointed shortfalls in afloat logistic support, limitations on the deployability of the amphibious battalion, and an inability to support helicopter operations in the maritime domain.

A new multirole vessel (which has been given the designation L10) was identified as a major requirement by the Royal Swedish Navy in late 2005/early 2006.

Speaking at the MAST 2009 conference in Stockholm on 22 October, Commander Kjell-Ove Schramm, L10 requirements officer, said that following an initial analysis phase, “the decision was taken that the requirements were to be stated for a single type of vessel for fleet logistic support and replenishment as well as providing the amphibious lift and sea lift role.”
 
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Rob Day is a regular contributor to FrontLine Defence
© FrontLine Defence 2009

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