The Weekly Wire: For Your Situational Awareness 8.25.17
On August 16, a Russian Proton M rocket launched the Blagovest 1 (11L) communications satellite to geostationary transfer orbit. The satellite will cover Russian territory and provide high-speed internet, television, radio broadcast, and video conferencing services for Russian civilian and military users. Roscosmos is currently scheduled to launch seven Proton M rockets through 2020. The chart displays the spacecraft Roscosmos has attempted to launch from 2010 through present day, by mission area.
On August 14, the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) mid-life upgrade of the SEPECAT Jaguar fighter aircraft reached a milestone with the flight of the two-seat, maritime strike variant. The IAF first initiated an upgrade of 59 of its aging fleet of 123 Jaguars to DARIN III (Display Attack Ranging Inertial Navigation) standards in 2008, but the program has been behind schedule due to disagreements in 2012 between the IAF and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.’s (HAL) over the avionics package. This has caused the delivery schedule to be pushed back from 2012 to 2017. Avascent Analytics anticipates further delays through at least 2020 for the completion of the program given the complexity of the upgrades. The IAF purchased 165 SEPECAT Jaguar fighter aircraft in 1979 with 35 units acquired off the shelf and the remainder license-produced by HAL.
On August 16, the Swedish government agreed to increase the defense budget by $841 million from 2018 to 2020. According to Minister of Defense Peter Hultqvist, the $841 million will go towards procurement and O&M, while also boosting troop numbers and providing training for troops. This follows a previous announcement in March that the Swedish Armed Forces would receive additional funding in the amount of $61.5 million for this year. In early 2017, Sweden’s Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces stated that the military would need at least $800 million during the 2018-2020 period to meet demands laid out in 2016-2020 Swedish Defense Policy. Sweden currently spends $5.5 billion on defense for 2017, and has outlined what the defense budget will look like up to 2020 under the 2016-2020 defense policy. Prior to the additional funding of $841 million, Sweden planned to spend $5.3 billion in 2018, $5.5 billion in 2019, and $5.6 billion in 2020.
On August 17, the Mexican Navy held a keel-laying ceremony for its first SIGMA 10514 corvette, which it ordered earlier in 2017. This variant of the SIGMA is designed for long range patrol missions, carrying lighter armament than the SIGMA 10514 that was built for the Indonesian Navy. The SIGMA 10514 joins the Polaris II-class, Tenochtitlan-class, and Oaxaca-class patrol vessels, which have all had units delivered to the Mexican Navy recently. Over the past three years, Mexico has spent over $440 million acquiring the three classes of vessels. With the addition of the SIGMA 10514, the Mexican Navy is expected to spend another $70 million in 2018 to continue modernizing its fleet of patrol vessels.
After months of delay, the Italian Ministry of Defense revealed a new defense budget on August 13, with spending set to decline slightly from $15.71 billion to $15.54 billion. This comes as Rome struggles with pressure by the United States to increase its defense spending to align with NATO guidelines, a fact that Prime Minister Gentiloni says “will be a gradual process” as “Italy has certain limitations when it comes to budget.” The budget this year features $11.53 billion for personnel, $1.49 billion for operations and maintenance, and $2.52 billion for procurement, while the Ministry for Economic Development will add an additional $3 billion in procurement to support the Italian Defense industry. As over half of Italian procurement spending is dedicated to supporting the defense industrial base, the Ministry of Defense’s share of procurement will fall to $2.52 billion this year and will dip to $2.49 billion in 2018 before rising to $2.54 billion in 2019. According to the budget’s authors, this decline in spending has the potential to impact the delivery timelines for NH90 helicopters, FREMM frigates, VBM infantry fighting vehicles, and Eurofighters.
On August 18, Taiwan debuted a new indigenously delivered active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar system. The new AESA radar has a number of features, including a synthetic aperture radar (SAR), counter electronic counter-measures (C-ECM) capabilities, and multi-target tracking. The new radar system will be installed in the Advanced Jet Trainer and is expected to also be installed on the future Advanced Indigenous Defence Fighter as well. The former platform is being used to replace Taiwan’s AT-3 and F-5 trainers, while the latter will replace their Mirage 2000 fighters.