Kamis, Desember 30, 2010

ST Engineering's Aerospace Arm Secures Boeing 757-200 Passenger-To-Combi Conversion Contracts

NZ Airforce's Boeing 757 converted into multi-role combi configuration (photo : Aviation Week)

Singapore - ST Engineering today announced that its aerospace arm, ST Aerospace, has signed on its first commercial customer, Guggenheim Aviation Partners, LLC (GAP), to perform a passenger-to-passenger/cargo (combi) (PTC) conversion on a Boeing 757-200 aircraft for TNT Airways S.A. The aircraft is expected to be inducted into ST Aerospace's Singapore facility by end February 2011, and the converted aircraft is targeted for redelivery by end 2011.

This PTC conversion is ST Aerospace's first 757-200 combi conversion for a commercial customer. It has previously successfully designed and converted two Royal New Zealand Air Force's passenger aircraft into multi-role combi configuration. These two combi aircraft are currently in operational service.

Separately, ST Aerospace will also be working in tandem with the aerospace division of ST Engineering's US subsidiary, VT Systems, to undertake a PTC conversion programme, also for the Boeing 757-200 aircraft, for North American Airlines (NAA), a subsidiary of Global Aviation Holdings Inc. VT Systems' aerospace division and NAA entered into an agreement for the PTC conversion earlier this month.

VT Systems' aerospace division's maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facilities in Mobile and San Antonio are managed by ST Aerospace as part of its global network of MRO facilities.

ST Aerospace will offer both GAP and NAA a complete solution - from engineering design to implementing the conversion of the passenger-carrying aircraft into a combi configuration at its MRO facilities.

As part of the agreements, ST Aerospace will obtain Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and European Aviation Safety Agency Supplemental Type Certificates (STCs) for the PTC conversion. These STCs will be based on ST Aerospace's existing FAA-approved STC for the 757-200 Special Freighter passenger-to-freighter (PTF) conversion, which is to date the only STC developed based on Boeing's licensed passenger and freighter data.

These PTC programmes attest to ST Aerospace's strong engineering and design capability that complement its MRO expertise. ST Aerospace is a PTF Centre of Excellence and has performed numerous PTF conversions for the Boeing 727, 757-200, 767-300, DC10, MD10 and MD11 aircraft for almost two decades. Specifically for 757-200 PTF conversions, ST Aerospace has redelivered 50 converted aircraft to date, with a backlog of 56 aircraft.

These agreements are not expected to have any material impact on the consolidated net tangible assets per share and earnings per share of ST Engineering for the current financial year.

Six Additional Patrol Vessel Starting 2012

Second generation patrol vessel (photo : MalaysianDefence)

LUMUT, (Bernama) -- The government has issued a letter of intent to Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd for the building of six second generation petrol vessels under a programme starting in 2012, Chief of Navy Admiral Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Jaafar said today.

The additional vessels will ease the asset restraint that the Royal Malaysian Navy have had to endure since surrendering 17 of its ships to the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, he said when launching KD Selangor, the sixth RMN petrol vessel, at the base here.

KD Selangor is the last ship ordered under a programme which started in 1999. The other vessels are KD Kedah and KD Pahang, based in Kota Kinabalu, and KD Perak and KD Terengganu, in Kuantan.

KD Selangor will be based in Lumut alongside KD Kelantan.

Sabtu, Desember 18, 2010

Russia, China push fifth-generation fighter programmes to meet year-end milestones

This aircraft, like the first prototype, will be flown initially from the Dzemgi aerodrome adjacent to the Komsomolsk-na-Amure Aviation Production Association (KNAAPO) and then, following initial acceptance test flights, it will be transferred to the Gromov Flight Research Institute (LII) in Zhukovskiy.

Sukhoi General Director Mikhail Pogosian said the T-50 will take part in a flight display at the August 2011 Moscow Aviation and Space Salon (MAKS) as well as being on static display.

Both prototypes are powered by the same Saturn/Lyulka 117S engines fitted to the Sukhoi Su-35 while a new engine jointly developed by Saturn and the MMPP Salyut plant is in its design phase.

Russian aircraft programmes - even in Soviet times - have often had year-end deadlines to complete first flights that came down to the wire. Sources close to the programme told Jane's that "the end of the year deadline may not be met, but the aircraft will fly very soon - either before the end of 2010 or just after the new year".

The programme designation has been changed and is now officially being referred to as the 'PAK-FA/MI' (MI meaning Mnogofunktsionalniy Istrebitel, or Multirole Fighter).

Harriers embark for Ark Royal's final cruise

The UK's Joint Force Harrier has undertaken its last cruise aboard HMS Ark Royal before both the aircraft and the Royal Navy flagship are axed following the government's Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR).

Four BAE Systems Harrier GR.9 strike aircraft from Royal Air Force (RAF) 1(F) and 4 Squadrons and 800 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) based at RAF Cottesmore embarked aboard Ark Royal for the final voyage of the ship's 25-year career.

For its final cruise, Ark Royal sailed to Loch Long on the west coast of Scotland, where it was disarmed, before making its way around the northern coast of the UK to the site of the now-closed Swan Hunter shipyard on the River Tyne in Newcastle, where it was built in the late 1970s. It was just off Newcastle where the Harriers joined the ship.

Sabtu, Desember 11, 2010

Photos provide clues for Chinese Type 056 corvette design

The first images of a probable new corvette design for the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) have emerged following a visit by the deputy commander of the Hong Kong military garrison to a local college.

Photographs published on the Hong Kong University website showed Major General Wang Junli presenting a model of the vessel, which has an estimated displacement of between 1,000 tons and 1,800 tons and bears the pennant number 056, to the institution's vice chancellor during the visit on 4 November.

The presentation by a local military commander suggests that the new Type 056 corvette – if this is indeed its designation – may be intended to replace or supplement the PLAN's six Houjian-class (Type 037/2) fast attack craft (FACs). Armed with YJ-1 (C-801) surface-to-surface missiles (SSMs), these 528-ton craft have been based in Hong Kong since 1997.

According to Chinese sources, however, the new vessel is set to replace the Houxin-class (Type 037/G) attack craft and older Type 053S light frigates. Observers of the PLAN have known for some time that the service was planning an extensive construction programme for a corvette-sized vessel. This involved the procurement of well over two dozen units from several shipyards across China – along the lines of the Houbei-class [Type 022] catamaran FAC programme.

Kamis, Desember 09, 2010

T-95 Main Battle Tanks & Tank Support Vehicles to Augment Russian Armor Units

In 2009 the Russian Army is scheduled to receive a new main battle tank, claimed to be superior to existing designs. The new tank will introduce a new hull, power plant and drive train. It will also have improved firepower, comprising of new armament, target acquisition, fire control and surveillance systems.

The Russian Army is also planning to field the long awaited Tank Support Vehicle, scheduled to enter production at Uralvagonzavod next year. The first armor units are expecting the new BMPTs by 2010.

The tank is under development at Ural based Uralvagonzavod plant. Apart from the Russian Army, Saudi Arabia was reported to be interested in the new tank, according to a Sept, 2007 French News Agency report. However, since actual testing in Saudi Arabia were conducted with T-90s, it is assumed that the saudis are evaluating the T-90 rather than the radically new T-95.

According to Jane's, the T-95 (currently known as "Object 775") will have a weight of about 50 tons, with length and width similar to the existing T-72, T-80 and T-90 MBTs. Jane's believs this model will be equipped with a smoothbore 135 or 152mm cannon. The three crewmembers are seated in a hull mounted capsule seperated from the ammunition by an armored bulkhead.

Another main battle tank under development in Russia, the "object 640" (also known as 'Black Eagle'), is also under development at the Omsk-based Design Bureau of Transport Machine-building. Unveiled at an arms exposition in Omsk, Siberia, in 1999 Black eagle has not been seen since. This Black eagle also features a new chassis and turret but uses a manned turret with an automatic loader.

According to Makarov the new tank is expected to complete the current test series in 2008 and enter production in 2009. Makarov claimed the new tank will be competitive and superior to current main battle tanks. He admitted that while the local industry can deliver highly sophisticated weapon systems, there is still a shortage of high quality military components for such systems that resulted from years of neglect of military industrial infrastructure since the collapse of the Soviet military industry enterprises.

The unmanned turret design is already incorporated in another vehicle designed at Uralvagonzavod, known as 'Tank Support Vehicle' or BMPT. By 2010 the first Russian armor units are scheduled to be equipped with this vehicle, dubbed 'Terminator' - Russia's Ground Forces Commander, Colonel General Alexei Maslov, told news media that the first tank company will be equipped with BMPT by 2010.

The 'Terminator' will enter production in 2008. Uralvagonzavod developed the vehicle based on combat lessons learned during the war in Chechnya, but its implementation has been subject to delays. According to Novosti news agency, Uralvagonzavod Director General Nikolai Malykh, confirmed that his company received the first orders for the new vehicle, the first two BMPTs will be produced in 2008.

The BMPT uses the T-72 tank chassis. It is equipped with enhanced armor and improved armament for the engagement of airborne and surface targets, including light and medium armored vehicles. Its main armament consists of two 30-mm 2A42 automatic cannons, a coaxially-mounted 7.62-mm PKTM machine gun, and four launchers with laser-guided Attack-T anti-tank missiles. According to the Vzglyad business newspaper quoted by Novosti, "Several foreign countries have already expressed an interest in buying the Russian-made BMPTs".

Rabu, Desember 08, 2010

Israel develops aerodynamic helicopter cargo container

The Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk

The Israel Defence Force (IDF) has developed a new cargo container for carriage under a helicopter which, with specially designed aerodynamic wings, enables the aircraft to fly at almost regular speeds while carrying over a ton in supplies.

The new container was developed by the IDF's Technological and Logistics Directorate and the Israeli Ministry of Defence's (MoD's) Research and Development Directorate (MAFAT). IDF sources told Jane's that the MoD plans to issue a request for information (RfI) to local industries for large-scale production in the coming months.

The motivation behind the development of the new cargo container came from lessons learned from the IDF's war in Lebanon in 2006 when helicopters and C-130 transport aircraft were called in to transport supplies to forces operating behind enemy lines due to the difficulty the military encountered in opening land-based logistic supply lines.

The new container was aerodynamically engineered with stabilisers and add-on wings to enable IAF transport helicopters - Sikorsky CH-53 and the UH-60 Black Hawk - to carry large loads but without having to dramatically slow down their speeds.

"The upgraded container allows a helicopter to move with the same weight at three-quarters of its speed as opposed to about half its speed as was the case until now," an IDF officer told Jane's .

US sends aircraft carrier to Yellow Sea following North Korean attacks

USS George Washington (CVN 73)

The US is deploying the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) and four other US Navy (USN) warships to the West Sea (Yellow Sea), with the announcement of the deployment being made a day after a North Korean artillery barrage targeting the island of Yeonpyeong killed four South Koreans and injured 18 others.

George Washington will participate in joint naval exercises with the Republic of Korea Navy (RoKN) "in the waters West of the Korean peninsula" from 28 November to 1 December, according to a statement released by the USN's Seventh Fleet on 24 November.

The Japan-based carrier was already under way and bound for the bilateral 'Keen Sword' exercise with the Japan Self-Defence Force (JSDF), according to the navy. While at sea, the ship was tasked to join RoKN forces for the as-yet unnamed exercise.

The announcement follows a 23 November phone call between US President Barack Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak in which they agreed to combined military exercises "to underscore the strength of our alliance and commitment to peace and security in the region", according to a White House statement.

US embarks on study into future anti-ship missile family

The US Navy is set to kick off a wide-ranging analysis of alternatives (AoA) study intended to shape the characteristics of a new generation of long-range anti-ship guided weapons.

The Joint Resource Oversight Council approved the Offensive Anti-Surface Warfare (OASuW) initiative in early November after a capabilities-based assessment was signed off in May and an Initial Capabilities Document Requirements Review Board completed in August. A request for information (RfI) was issued to industry on 2 December for information to feed into the AoA.

According to Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), which is managing the OASuW effort, the AoA will "specifically address the OASuW engage gaps in the Find, Fix, Track, Target, Engage, Assess [F2T2EA] kill chain and will recommend a preferred system concept for an OASuW weapon family of systems [FoS] – with common subsystems/components – to support the Joint Force Commander's requirement to "gain and sustain access to the maritime battlespace".

Although NAVAIR has not released any specifics of the performance required of OASuW weapons, or of the existing guided weapons the new capability could replace, it characterises the FoS as "required to be mission effective in satellite-enabled, satellite-constrained, and satellite-denied environments to maximize lethality at critical points in the OASuW battle".

Selasa, Desember 07, 2010

Estonian Defence Forces Present New XA-188 Armored Cars

Estonia is buying 81 new armored cars from the Netherlands and they should gradually reach the members of the Defence Forces of Estonia by the year 2015.

The first 13 armored cars are handed over to the members of the Defence Forces of Estonia in Afghanistan in the near future.

The double armor protects from fire of heavy machine guns and from improvised explosives a lot better than armored cars used so far.

Breaking the Bundeswehr

The German Bundeswehr is currently in the process of reducing its armed forces by as much as a quarter. Despite its reputation as an advanced military nation and strong ally for global peacekeeping, it will be implementing the biggest cut since the end of World War II. Albrecht Muller takes a closer look at how the decision, set against a background of economic decline, could radically transform the nations' military standing.

In October, German Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg gave his backing to a radical restructuring of the Bundeswehr, including significant budget cuts and the reduction of the current 250,000 strong conscription army into a much smaller professional force.

Ending conscription, reducing the number of troops by around 70,000, trimming the military command structure, and cutting the Defence Department itself by more than half were three suggestions from a 112-page report, called "Thinking From The Mission. Concentration, Flexibility, Efficiency". The paper was delivered to Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg on 26 October by an expert commission, which was set up in April to examine the future Bundeswehr's structure.

Alongside the goal of developing a future structure, this reform is also supposed to help meet a number of savings objectives the ministry is currently facing. Back in June the German government had decided to slash a total of 8.3bn Euros from the current defence budget, which stands at around 31bn Euros as part of an overall effort to reduce its global expenditure by around 80bn Euros.

4bn Euros are to be saved in the course of the reform and 4.3bn Euros in the department's administrative sector.

The head of the federal employment agency Frank-J├╝rgen Weise suggested the military become a force of 180,000 professionals, temporary-career volunteers and volunteers, who would serve 15 to 23 months.

The 75,000 Bundeswehr's civilian employees should be cut to 50,000 and posts at the ministry of defence be reduced below 1,500.

At the same time the number of troops that could be deployed on a sustainable basis should rise from today's 7,000 to 14,000.

Command control

As part of these overall changes, the future Bundeswehr's command structure must also become more streamlined. The Generalinspekteur, Germany's highest-ranking military offiical, should be transformed into a Chief of Defence, which would give him command authority over all services and missions. At the same time, the chiefs of the services would be downgraded and placed outside of the Ministry of Defence.

The Bundeswehr Operations Command should also become more powerful while other military and civil command levels and institutions should be disbanded. For future Bundeswehr missions the commission suggested a four-level command structure: Defence Minister, Chief of Defence, Chief of Bundeswehr Operations Command followed by troops on the ground.

By the middle of 2011, after 55 years, Germany is set to witness the end of conscription. This was not only one of the suggestions in the commission's report, but has also been finally agreed upon by the last reluctant factions in Germany's parliament.

On 29 September the executive committees of both conservative parties cast an accordant vote, which will be officially affirmed at the party conferences.


The commission also criticised the Germany's military procurement system in its findings. It pointed to the two-decade-old NH90 helicopter program as an example, which is still not ready for service.

A report submitted by General Volker Wieker in September was especially scathing, stating that almost all major projects could be characterised by being too expensive, delayed and often not as capable as intended.

The general also criticised fragmented responsibilities as well as the existing procedures and processes, outside influence and inadequate funding. Both the commission and the Generalinspekteur therefore called for a fundamental change of the procurement process.

The commission's report suggested creating a procurement agency that would issue tenders and procurements alongside common commercial conduct, observing international anti-corruption rules, speeding up procurement, and generally buying arms and gear off-the-shelf.

In his September analysis Wieker also confirmed the need for massive cuts in ongoing arms projects. Already, in June, a 23 corresponding internal working paper titled "Prioritization Material Investments - Recommended Actions" was leaked, which suggested putting a large number of planes, helicopters and ships out of service as well as to cut down procurement, to save up to 9.3bn Euros over the long run.

The paper included instantly grounding 15 of Germany's current 86 Transall transport planes and reducing the number of its successor A400M aircraft. Also included is putting 100 of 185 Tornado fighter jets out of service as soon as possible and cancelling the last 37 Eurofighters currently on order.

The Navy cuts are just as sweeping, the report recommended placing eight frigates and ten fast attack boats from the current fleet out of service over the medium and long term, while reducing the number of new F125 expeditionary frigates from four to three. Mentioned in the paper as an urgent measure, the navy must also place all of its six older U206A diesel submarines out of service.

Recruiting the future

Like other German experts, the commission around Weise has also pointed out that as a complete voluntary service the German military will have to become a more attractive workplace.

For instance the work-life balance would have to be improved. To gain more personnel it should also made easier for people from other professions to enter the military at a later stage of their life and officials should even look at ways to allow for the enlistment of citizens of other EU or NATO countries.

A major part of all these considerations is Germany's ability to act within its alliances like EU and NATO. To help maintain current action levels and reliability the commission therefore suggested an intensified division of tasks and a deepening of military cooperation within these alliances as well as the European defence industry.

Looking forwards, at the handover of the commission's report Defence Minister zu Guttenberg said, that it would be the basis for a five-to eight-year effort.

A task force in the ministry of defence, headed by Permanent Secretary Walther Otremba, has been established to evaluate the report until January. In the first half of next year, the detailed planning of personnel, equipment and modernisation will begin. At the end, the basing concept will be established in the middle of 2011.

From the outset it's clear that changes are going to be sweeping, what isn't entirely clear as yet is how these changes will affect Germany's role as a militarised nation. Based on the commission reports, however, it is evident that Germany is a rusty war-machine and that only a serious overhaul will prepare it for the demands of 21st century conflict.