The Weekly Wire: For Your Situational Awareness 6.1.18
On May 24, Canada awarded Leonardo a contract to conduct mid-life upgrades (MLU) to its fleet of CH-149 Cormorants and acquire additional helos. Under the contract, the MLU will keep the rotorcraft in service until 2040 and includes the acquisition of up to seven AW101 helicopters, which is the same variant as the CH-149. While the exact cost of the program was not announced, Canadian officials said the MLU would cost more than $1 billion. The previous cost estimate for the program ranged between $391 million – 1.2 billion. Upgrades to the rotorcraft include replacing the avionic, communication, and sensor systems. Avascent Analytics previously reported on the CH-149 MLU program in which Sikorsky pitched its S-92 civilian helos as a possible replacement for the CH-149 fleet, claiming that purchasing the new helos would be cheaper than upgrading the Cormorants.
On May 25, Raytheon was awarded an initial $395.8 million contract to produce Romania’s Patriot air-and-missile defense system. The sale was approved in August 2017 and may be worth up to $3.9 billion, with a letter of offer and acceptance signed in November 2017. Further Patriot contracts will help Romania meet its announced commitment to keep annual defense spending at 2% of GDP until 2026. As Romania continues to bring its forces to NATO standards, Romania will need to further modernize its air defenses with new short-range air defense (SHORAD) systems to replace Soviet-era 9K33 Osa air defense systems. This future SHORAD acquisition is expected to begin in the early 2020s and could be worth around $250 million.
On May 25, Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party announced that Pakistan signed a contract to purchase 30 T-129 ATAK helicopters from Turkey. Although Pakistan mentioned that it plans to purchase the helicopters, no official approval has been confirmed by Islamabad. If the purchase goes through, it would be the first time that the T-129 has been exported since Turkish Aerospace Industries finished developing it. The new rotorcraft is meant to replace Pakistan’s aging AH-1F helicopters, and the purchase appears to be part of an effort on the part of Pakistan to augment its attack rotorcraft inventory, which also includes Mil Mi-35Ps, and AH-1Z Vipers.
Industry press reports that the Indian Ministry of Defence opened commercial bids for the Indian Army’s $1.5 billion very short-range air defense (VSHORAD) program. The new system, when selected, will replace the Army’s aging SA-18 Igla system. India opened the tender for the VSHORAD system in 2011. Potential finalists include the Igla-S by Rosoboronexport, Saab’s RBS 70 NG, and MBDA’s Mistral. Due to budget constraints, Avascent Analytics doesn’t expect India to award a contract before 2020. India faces threats from China and Pakistan which require short range air defense capabilities. Both neighbors share a disputed border with India and field increasingly robust air fleets.
Poland has proposed spending up to $2 billion dollars to support the deployment of a new US armored division in the country. The proposal is part of Poland’s move to greater align itself with NATO, and particularly the US, in the face of an increasingly aggressive Russia. The move would effectively double US ground forces in Europe which are currently limited to airborne and Stryker brigades augmented by a rotational armored brigade, and see US Army Europe approach its late Cold War strength when it was able to field the equivalent of two armored brigades. Whether this plan is implemented remains uncertain as it would force the Army to add additional force strength, and likely lead to heightened tensions with Russia. Russia would argue that it would violate the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act, which prevents the permanent basing of additional major combat forces in Central and Eastern Europe as long as the current security environment remained unchanged.