The Weekly Wire: For Your Situational Awareness 8.16.18
A potential $1.5 billion helicopter deal between Turkey and Pakistan may be suspended due to increased diplomatic tensions between Turkey and the United States. Pakistan’s purchase of 30 T129 attack helicopters is facing pressure as the US may block export licenses for US-made parts for the Turkish Aerospace Industries aircraft. The main component involved is likely the LHTEC T800-4A turboshaft engine, which is an export variant of the CTS800 manufactured by a Honeywell-Rolls Royce joint venture. The pressure would be part of the escalating row between the United States and Turkey over a range of topics including positions in Syria, the detention of a U.S. pastor, increasing Russo-Turkish defense ties, and positions on Iran that has already sparked a financial crisis in Turkey and cratered the Turkish lira.
The Indonesian government continues to work on acquiring 11 Su-35 fighter aircraft from Russia but is concerned about potential sanctions from the United States regarding the acquisition. Indonesia is looking to replace its aging fleet of F-5s with Russia’s Su-35. The estimated value of the purchase is $1.14 billion, and payment will likely occur through trade in goods rather than currency. However, the acquisition could be compromised by sanctions against Russia from the United States. Indonesia has also agreed to purchase five C-130 Hercules aircraft from the United States and attempts to purchase Russian aircraft while the United States is applying sanctions could complicate one or both of those deals. If the Su-35 order goes through, the first aircraft would likely be delivered in 2019.
The Philippines Secretary of National Defense, Delfin Lorenzana stated that Russia was willing to provide the Philippines with a soft loan if it orders Russian submarines for its submarine acquisition program. The Philippines plans to acquire at least two submarines, with the Russian Kilo-class under consideration. Lorenzana said that other suppliers are being considered as well. The acquisition was scheduled to occur in Horizon Three of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program, which runs from 2023-2028, but a Department of National Defense spokesperson stated that the acquisition would take place during Horizon Two, which runs from 2018-2022. The budget for the submarine acquisition is about $5.5 billion, which is assumed to include the cost of acquisition and construction of submarine support facilities. Considering this would be the Philippines’ first submarines, significant funds will likely be spent on operations and maintenance. Although budgeted Philippine defense procurement has been growing, a $5.5 billion program spread out over several years will be difficult to fund. If the loan is not large enough, other planned high-value acquisitions, such as multi-role fighter jets, maritime patrol aircraft, and new corvettes would need to be delayed, reduced, or even cut, to make room for the large submarine program.
On August 10, Canada’s Davie Shipyard was awarded a CAD $610 million (USD $465 million) contract to purchase and convert three icebreakers for the Canadian Coast Guard, a win for Davie whose had a minimal role in the Department of National Defense’s National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS). The NSS, which was launched in 2010, is a multi-billion dollar initiative to replace the Royal Canadian Navy and Coast Guard’s aging vessels. Under the Harper Administration, Irving Shipbuilding Inc. and Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyard were awarded contracts to build combat vessels for the Navy and non-combat vessels for the Coast Guard respectively, excluding Davie as one of the prime contractors for the NSS. The acquisition and conversion of the icebreakers by Davie Shipyards does not fall under the the NSS. Despite Canadian officials saying Davie, alongside other shipyards, will continue to have the opportunity to bid on contracts related to the NSS, it is highly unlikely the Canadian government will reopen major contracts for competition. Davie Shipyards recently completed a conversion of a containership to an auxiliary oiler replenishment vessel for the Royal Canadian Navy dubbed MV Asterix, which will be leased to the navy for five years with the option to continue leasing it for an additional five years.
On August 9, the US State Department approved the possible sale of six Evolved Seasparrow tactical missiles (ESSM) and two Evolved Seasparrow telemetry missiles to the Mexican Navy worth an estimated $41 million. The total cost includes one MK56 VLS launcher, eight MK30 canisters and MK783 shipping containers, and associated parts and training. The ESSMs will be fitted on the Navy’s Sigma 10514 frigate from Dutch firm Damen Schelde. The frigate is currently being assembled in Mexico, and test trials are expected to begin in 2019. In addition to a new frigate, the Mexican Navy has stated plans to buy four amphibious logistics ships worth $200 million and two oiler support ships worth $113 million by 2021.