The Weekly Wire: For Your Situational Awareness 9.1.17
On August 22, Norwegian defense minister Ine Eriksen Søreide announced the government’s intention to purchase four submarines from ThyssenKrupp in 2019. The deal is valued at $5.06 billion, with deliveries to begin in the 2020s. As a part of the proposed deal, Germany will also buy submarines from ThyssenKrupp, as well as missiles from Kongsberg. Northern European nations have invested in sub-surface capabilities in recent years to counter increasing numbers of Russian submarines allegedly operating in that region. According to Avascent Analytics, the market for submarines in Norway is expected to grow at a rate of 3% through 2021, but there are no open competitions in the market.
On August 21, Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski announced that the Peruvian Air Force (PAF) will acquire two C-130J Hercules transport aircraft, adding that the service could procure four more in the future. The value of the purchase has not been publicly disclosed. The C-130Js will add heavy-lift capabilities to Peru’s small fleet of three C-27J and two L-100 transport aircraft, and will be central to future disaster relief operations. Floods and mudslides earlier this year left over 150,000 Peruvians homeless and 100 dead, and the Air Force had to request help from friendly governments to make up for their limited transport capabilities.
On August 23, the Polish government passed a legislative amendment to allocate $55 billion to the defense budget over 15 years. Poland is one of the few countries that currently meets NATO’s 2% threshold, and aims to reach 2.5% of overall GDP by 2030. This comes after Poland released their Strategic Defense Review (SDR) in May which outlined the need to increase the defense budget to modernize its armed forces. The SDR emphasizes Poland’s ground and air forces which will play a pivotal role on the battlefield in the years to come, and views Russian aggression as the primary threat over the next 15 years. The SDR specifically mentions the acquisition of fifth generation fighters, main battle tanks, and a new air-and-missile defense system.
On August 24, Boustead Naval Shipyard launched Malaysia’s first Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), the Maharaja Lela. The LCS is based on the French Gowind-class frigate design, which was selected in 2011 for the $2.8 billion LCS program. All six LCS are expected to be delivered to the Royal Malaysian Navy (TLDM) by 2023. The LCS is part of a broader TLDM initiative to cut down the number of ship classes in service from fifteen to five; the LCS, Littoral Mission Ship, Multirole Support Ship, submarines, and the Next Generation Patrol Vessel. By the end of the plan, the TLDM aspires to have 55 surface combatants, of which only fourteen ships are currently either in service, under construction, or under contract. While there is no set deadline for the plan, progress will likely be slow considering Malaysia’s severe budget pressures. Avascent Analytics projects that between 2017 and 2021, Malaysia will spend on average $334 million per year on the “fifteen to five” project in order to build the five remaining littoral combat ships, four littoral mission ships, two multirole support ships, and refit the two Scorpene-class submarines in service.
On August 22, Elon Musk revealed the design of SpaceX’s Inter-vehicular activity (IVA) spacesuit. The IVA spacesuit will be worn by NASA astronauts flying on future crewed Dragon missions. Musk noted that the suits have been tested to double vacuum pressure and are fully functional. The first crewed Dragon space capsule is scheduled to launch in 2018. Assuming SpaceX maintains its stated capsule development schedule, Avascent Analytics projects that SpaceX will launch astronauts to the International Space Station five times through 2020.