The Weekly Wire: For Your Situational Awareness 2.1.19
As Indonesia and South Korea continue renegotiating their agreement on the joint development of the KF-X/IF-X 4.5 generation fighter jet, the Indonesian renegotiation team has submitted seven joint development proposals to the Indonesian House of Representatives. These are:
- Decreasing the value of contributions while maintaining industry targets set by the Indonesian government in terms of production capability, maintenance, modifications, and capacity building.
- Extensions of payments to 2031.
- Amendment of the technical assistance agreement so that PT Dirgantara Indonesia engineers can be involved in more of the component technologies of the aircraft.
- Obtaining intellectual property rights for Indonesian contributions.
- Obtaining the right for Indonesia to market the KF-X/IF-X for export.
- Staging IF-X purchases with an initial purchase of 16 aircraft, depending on future budgets.
- Trade returns as payment for contributions from the Indonesian and purchase of the IF-X version.
There was some ambiguous translation for proposal number six, where it was unclear if the proposal scaled back the planned number of aircraft to be procured, or if this proposed an initial batch of 16 with more to be procured in the future. Indonesia originally planned to procure 48-50 aircraft. If the 16 aircraft mentioned in the proposal is the first phase purchase, Indonesia could wait to procure the more advanced Block 2 and Block 3 versions of the KF-X. These later blocks will have improved electronics, sensors, and low observability. The Block 3 version would be a true fifth-generation fighter. The Block 1 version currently being worked on is planned to enter service in South Korea by 2026, though Avascent Analytics believes that delays are highly likely.
The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency has approved a potential $2.15 billion sale of AEGIS Ashore to Japan. The foreign military sale would support the delivery and construction of two AEGIS Ashore sites which have been in the works for the past several years as the threat of North Korean ballistic missile activity and nuclear weapon development has become more prominent amid heightened tensions in the region. The sale includes AEGIS weapon systems, Multi-Mission Core Processors (MMSP), refreshes of Command and Control Processors, IFF Systems, Global Command and Control-Maritime equipment, Inertial and Radio Navigation Equipment, construction for the placement and hardening of six vertical launch systems, and enough ordnance to support the overall systems, likely in the form of the SM-3 anti-ballistic missile. The proposed deal would take place over the course of eight years and the main prime contractor would be Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems, while the Command and Control Processor Refresh would be performed by General Dynamics. Japan expects to have the Aegis Ashore operational by 2023.
On January 25, the Swiss Federal Armaments Office announced that five companies have submitted bids to fulfill Switzerland’s fighter aircraft requirement. The bids include Airbus’ Eurofighter, Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet, Dassault’s Rafale, Lockheed Martin’s F-35A, and Saab’s Gripen E. Testing, analysis, and audits of the various offers by Swiss defense officials will start in February 2019 and continue until July, with a comparison period in late 2020. However, the total number to be ordered has not yet been determined. These new fighters will be used to replace Switzerland’s aging inventory of F-5 aircraft.
Industry press in Latin America reports that the Leopard 2 and M1 Abrams tanks are leading candidates to replace Brazil’s fleet of Leopard 1 main battle tanks. The Brazilian Army currently fields 220 Leopard 1A5BRs acquired in the late 2000s, and over 100 Leopard 1A1BE tanks are approaching retirement. Washington appears to be promoting an upgraded M1 Abrams variant as part of a larger defense package, which might include AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters, armored vehicles, and M-198 howitzers. The prospect of an American alternative comes as somewhat of a surprise, as São Paulo has largely turned to European firms for major platforms. The Saab Gripen will form the mainstay of Brazil’s fighter aircraft fleet, while France’s Naval Group is partnering with Brazilian industry to build four diesel-electric and one diesel-electric submarines. This opportunity for American firms reflects the Brazilian government’s more open approach to close ties with Washington under recently sworn-in President Jair Bolsonaro.
Bell Helicopter Textron Canada was awarded a USD $67.7 million contract for phase one of extending the service life of Canada’s CH-146 Griffon helicopters. Under the first phase of the service life extension, Bell Helicopter will draw up the proposed changes to the rotorcraft including upgrading the Griffon’s avionics systems, engines, cockpit display, and sensor systems. The overall service life extension will cost approximately USD $600 million and will keep the fleet operational to 2031. The fleet of CH-146s have been in service since the mid-1990s and are used to support special forces, troop transport, search and rescue, surveillance, and disaster relief situations.