The Weekly Wire: For Your Situational Awareness 8.9.18
On August 2, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced that the State Department approved a possible foreign military sale to Kuwait for 1,020 Mk-82 bombs, 1,002 Mk-83 bombs, and 600 Mk-84 bombs. These munitions are for Kuwait’s fleet of F/A-18 aircraft. On March 30, Kuwait signed a deal for 28 F/A-18s worth over $1.2 billion with deliveries starting in 2020. Kuwait already operates F/A-18 C/D aircraft, so the munitions will likely serve both the current and future fleets. In total, the munitions deal is valued at $40.4 million.
On August 2, the Swedish government announced it authorized the acquisition of the Patriot air-and-missile defense (AMD) systems, despite Swedish opposition leaders calling into question the government’s ability to pay for the AMD systems. Avascent Analytics previously reported on the concerns Swedish politicians had over the purchase, mainly the government’s ability to allocate enough funding for the acquisition in the 2019-2020 timeframe. Opposition leaders proposed funding the AMD acquisition separately from the defense budget. It is unclear with the latest authorization if the Patriot buy will be funded separately from the defense budget. Sweden had agreed to acquire the Patriot AMD system back in November 2017, choosing it over Eurosam’s SAMP/T. The US State Department approved the potential foreign military sale worth up to $3.2 billion. Sweden is looking to acquire a total of four Patriot systems with deliveries expected to begin in 2021.
On August 3, the State Department approved the possible sale of four Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters to Latvia for $200 million. The total cost includes several other items in addition to the helicopters themselves, including ten T700-GE-701D engines, five Talon Forward Looking Infrared Radars, and twenty AN/AVS-6 Helmet Mounted Night Vision Devices. The deal also includes spare parts, support equipment, and logistics support services. The four Black Hawks would address a badly-needed requirement for utility rotorcraft in the Latvian armed forces. The country’s entire helicopter fleet consists of four Russian Mi-17s. Despite the apparent shortfall in rotorcraft, top procurement priorities for the Baltic nation remain land vehicles and drones.
The US Air Force has released a pre-solicitation for the Light Attack Aircraft (commonly known as OA-X) ahead of the planned release of the RFP to industry in December. The pre-solicitation outlines that competition had been narrowed from a full-and-open competition to a more limited competition between Sierra Nevada Corporation and Textron Aviation. The two had been part of the Air Force’s Light Attack Experiment this past May, where Textron’s AT-6 Wolverine and SNC’s A-29 Super Tucano took part in a series of exercises and flight demonstrations at Holloman AFB, New Mexico. What remains to be seen, however, is whether the Air Force will take final action and initiate the program, which has yet to receive substantial funding or public long-term planning.
The Bulgarian Ministry of Defense plans to spend over $720 million on at least 90 new armored combat vehicles and at least 60 special and support vehicles. Another $140 million of spending is also planned for a variety of other goods and services including documentation, training equipment, communications systems, and fire control systems. With the exception of Bulgaria’s efforts to acquire new fighter aircraft, this is the largest procurement that Bulgaria is undertaking. Currently, Bulgarian Land Forces rely heavily on Cold War-era Soviet designed vehicles, or local versions of Soviet designed vehicles. Several firms are in the race to win this contract including GDELS with the Piranha V, Patria with the AMV, Nexter with the VBCI, Artec with the Boxer, and Otokar with the Arma. With 160 infantry fighting vehicles and 120 armored personnel carriers currently in service, this pending order for 150 vehicles may have follow-on orders in the long term, depending on future budget space.