The Weekly Wire: For Your Situational Awareness 6.8.18
MBDA has blocked the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) plans to integrate the Meteor air-to-air missiles onto additional IAF platforms. The move, likely driven by significant concerns over competing firms and adversaries having access to IP on the world’s most advanced BVRAAM, bars the Indian Air Force from integrating the missile on Russian platforms or platforms with Israeli equipment. This would specifically prevent integration on the Su-30MKIs which make up half the IAF fighter fleet and India’s indigenously developed Tejas, which features Israeli fire-control and radar systems. The Meteor is still bound for Indian inventory, however, as the IAF procured Meteor to equip its Rafales.
As Turkey has come under increased Western pressure as they look to acquire the Russian S-400 air defense system, the Italian government has looked to position Eurosam’s SAMP-T as an alternative. During meetings between the two nations, the Italian Ambassador to Ankara helped push for joint production of an improved SAMP-T air defense system that would see the Franco-Italian company partner with Turkey’s indigenous defense industry. As the negotiations and studies continue through 2019, they will add an additional twist in the continuing saga of Turkey’s attempt to procure an advanced air defense system, which has included a dismissed PATRIOT offer sidelined by limited technology transfer, a Chinese bid which was never finalized, and the impending S-400 acquisition from Russia which threatens Turkey’s position on the F-35 program.
On June 4, Chilean President Sebastián Piñera announced a change to how the country finances defense procurement. Piñera stated that Chile would replace the Copper Reserve Law, which currently funds Chile’s military purchases, with a multi-year budget and contingent liability fund. The Copper Reserve Law mandates that ten percent of the income from copper exports, via the state-owned Corporacion Nacional del Cobre de Chile (CODELCO), must go to the Higher National Defense Council, which is responsible for defense procurement. CODELCO is the world’s largest copper producer, and the military was appropriated $881 million from the company in 2017. The decision to replace the Copper Law would be a watershed moment in Chilean politics, as the law dates to the era of Augusto Pinochet, the Chilean general who ruled the country for 15 years after taking power in a coup in 1973. However, it remains to be seen whether the law will actually be repealed as past efforts to overturn it have failed, derailed by supporters of the military.
On June 1, Pakistan signed a contract for two Type 054A frigates from China, bringing its total order of Type 054As to four vessels. The initial order for two was placed in June of 2017. All four ships are expected to enter service by 2021. Over the past decade, Pakistan has spent increasing amounts of money buying Chinese designed vessels, some of which are being built in Pakistan. This latest order comes as Pakistan’s Maritime Security Agency took delivery in 2017 of the last of eight Hingol-class patrol vessels, which were built in China and Pakistan. Pakistan’s spending on Chinese ships and submarines is estimated to increase from about $55 million in 2015 to over $260 million in 2020, when including the order for the third and fourth Type 054A frigates.
On June 4, it was reported that Italy is preparing to order its first set of Centauro II mobile gun systems. The purchase has been delayed since 2016 due to budgetary issues, but a contract now appears to be imminent. The initial order will be for 11 gun systems, with a stated need from the Italian Army for 148 gun systems in total. The first tranche of 74 Centauro IIs is expected to cost about 500 million euros (approximately $589 million), but that has not yet been finalized.