The Weekly Wire: For Your Situational Awareness 6.14.18
On June 8, the Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF) received the first of 12 upgraded AH-1F/S Cobra helicopters from Northrop Grumman and Science and Engineering Services (SES). The Cobra’s avionics package received a FlightPro Gen III mission computer, full suite of LCD displays, embedded digital software map, and navigation controls. The RJAF fields almost 50 AH-1F/S helicopters and they are the mainstay of its attack helicopter fleet, which also includes over a dozen Boeing AH-6i light attack helicopters. Avascent Analytics estimates that Jordan will begin searching for a new attack helicopter in the next few years and award a contract by 2022.
On June 12, Estonia agreed to buy a short-range missile defense system from MBDA in a deal worth $59 million (EUR 50 million). The missile defense system will utilize Mistral surface-to-air missiles, and the deal includes training missiles and simulators. Deliveries are expected to begin in 2020. Additionally, there is an option in the contract which would allow Estonia to buy up to $118 million (EUR 100 million) worth of Mistral missiles. Estonia is purchasing a new short-range missile defense system as part of a larger effort to enhance its ability to deter Russia.
As India looks to procure six AH-64Es for the Indian Army, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency has approved a potential $930 million Direct Commercial Sale of supporting equipment and weapons. The equipment accounted for in the deal includes T700 engines, AN/APG-78 Fire Control Radars and their Block III Radar Electronic Units, Embedded GPS/INS systems, AN/APR-48B Modernized Radar Frequency Interferometers, and MTADS-PNVS vision systems. Additionally, 180 Hellfire Longbows, 90 Hellfire IIs, and 200 Stinger missiles would be delivered alongside an unspecified amount of 30mm ammunition, rockets, training missiles, and training, support, and ancillary equipment to arm the attack helicopters.
Uncertainty continues to surround the US Air Force’s JSTARS Recap program as congressional committees have not reached consensus on the program’s fate. The Air Force indicated in its FY19 budget request that it would cancel the program and reallocate funding towards developing a distributed Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) instead. While the Senate looks to be in line with the Air Force about canceling the program, the House is hoping to keep the JSTARS Recap afloat. The Senate Armed Services Committee increased funding towards developing ABMS, but the recent release of the FY19 spending bill by House Appropriations Committee’s and the House Armed Services Committee have both requested that funding continue for the JSTARS Recap. The JSTARS Recap program would replace the Air Force’s fleet of E-8Cs which are currently based in Georgia’s Robins Air Force Base, but mentions of cancelling the program last year prompted Georgia’s congressional delegation to voice their concerns to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. In light of these concerns, the Air Force recently announced its intentions to house ABMS at Robins Air Force Base, a decision which was received favorably by Georgia’s congressional delegation.
As the Indonesian government began discussions on its national budget for 2019, the Ministry of Finance has set an initial budget limit for the Ministry of Defense of Rp 106.9 trillion, or $7.65 billion, only slightly higher than last year’s defense budget. It is also less than half of the Defense Ministry’s budget proposal of Rp 216 trillion, or $15.46 billion. About 40% of the $7.65 billion will be spent on personnel alone. Although Indonesia’s GDP has been rising, a weakening rupiah and efforts to reduce government deficits has led to the Ministry of Finance being satisfied with not raising the government spending to GDP ratio. The various government ministries will begin negotiations that may increase their budgets, but the Ministry of Defense already has the largest budget of the government ministry. Considering Indonesia’s recent incidents with ISIS-affiliated terrorists, which included multiple bombings in Surabaya and a terrorist-led prison riot, the government may prioritize raising funding for domestic law enforcement.