The Weekly Wire: For Your Situational Awareness 4.6.18
On March 30, Kuwait signed a deal for 18 single-seat F/A-18E and six, two-seat F/A-18F Super Hornets worth $1.2 billion. The contract obligates $275 million immediately for engineering work, radar warning receivers, and aircraft armament equipment. The new aircraft will complement Kuwait’s current fleet of 39 F/A-18C/D Hornets, the only fighters the country’s Air Force possesses. During the next decade, the country’s fighter posture will become more diverse. Deliveries of 28 Eurofighter Typhoons will begin starting in 2020, as part of a 2015 agreement with Italy.
On April 2, the UK Ministry of Defence announced that it would rejoin Germany’s Boxer wheeled armored vehicle program and potentially purchase the vehicles for the army, in a contract that could be worth up to $4.2 billion. The UK had left the Boxer program in 2003 over requirement changes for the British Army and claimed that the vehicle would be too heavy to transport for its C-130 fleet. Germany then partnered up with the Netherlands to produce the 8×8 armored vehicle which both countries have procured, alongside Australia, Slovenia, and Lithuania. The UK has a requirement for approximately 400 vehicles under the Mechanized Infantry Fighting Vehicle program, which will form the core of the army’s new strike brigades. Rheinmetall, which has a 64% stake in the program, has begun discussions with potential UK partners such as Thales UK, Raytheon, Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems, and Pearson Engineering. The UK is hoping to finalize a deal in 2019 with a goal to have the vehicles enter service starting in 2023.
Commander of the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) Hadi Tjahjanto stated that he planned to have the TNI procure “large capacity transport helicopters” in order to provide logistical support to border security forces. The procurement would take place within the 2019-2024 timeframe as part of the broader Renstra II modernization program that is taking place across the whole TNI. This would appear to support rumors that Indonesia had selected the Mi-26T2 to replace its Mi-17’s, though it is not clear exactly what specific requirements Indonesia has set forth. If Indonesia does not require such a large platform like the Mi-26, it may look to continue procurement of H225Ms, which local firm Indonesian Aerospace (PTDI) has a hand in producing and supporting. Indonesia has recently taken delivery of several helicopters, including three H225M and three AH-64E last year, and an additional five AH-64E this year. Based on previous aircraft orders, an initial order of six aircraft is expected. But considering Indonesia’s size and geography, and the many competing priorities within Renstra II, Indonesia is likely to require additional large utility helicopters immediately following the 2024 end of Renstra II.
After some delay, Argentina announced on April 5 that it is moving forward with the acquisition of four L’Adroit-class OPV-90 offshore patrol vessels (OPV). Argentina had previously considered purchasing the vessels, but Argentine President Mauricio Mori deemed the initial price of the vessels too expensive. The current cost of the contract is unknown, however a meeting between the French and Argentine Foreign Ministers, Jean-Yves Le Drian and Jorge Faurie, resulted in a successfully negotiated price and the signing of a technical offer. The OPVs are produced by France’s Naval Group, and have been acquired by Egyptian and Malaysian naval forces.
On April 4, the US State Department preemptively approved the sale of 14 F-16 Block 70/72s and associated equipment and armaments to Slovakia ahead of the country’s competition to replace its 12 aging MiG-29 fighters. The deal, valued at $2.91 billion, was likely granted political approval in order to further the Trump Administration’s emphasis on improving exports. The deal would also include up to 16 General Electric F110 engines, 30 AIM-120 AMRAAMS, 100 AIM-9X Sidewinders, and 150 Joint Direct Attack Munition guidance kits. Slovakia is looking to replace its aging fleet of 12 MiG-29s with 14 new aircraft. Both Lockheed Martin and Saab are bidding on the project, with Saab offering the Gripen.