The Weekly Wire: For Your Situational Awareness 10.25.16
Germany is set to buy five more K130-type corvettes for €1.5 billion to “meet new security needs in the Baltic Sea, in the Mediterranean Sea, and globally,” according to a joint statement by MPs Johannes Kahrs and Eckhardt Rehberg. While the Ministry of Defense has stated its support for the initiative, a budget line for the purchase still needs to be added into the 2017 defense budget and approved by Parliament. The goal is for two ships to enter service in 2019 and the remaining three in 2023. If the buy goes through, it will ease the growing capability gap arising from the continual delays of the Multi-Role Combat Ship 180 (MKS-180) program.
The Turkish military is looking to incorporate two different types of UAVs into its inventory after the Turkish procurement agency (SSM) released an RFI earlier this week. Possible contenders wishing to develop the drones must reply to the RFI by November 9. The Turkish military is seeking a multi-copter strike drone and a mini drone to expand their current UAV fleet amidst the threats posed by the PKK and ISIS to the country. Avascent Analytics has identified the UAV market in Turkey growing at a rate of 6% from 2016-2021, with 50.4% of the market remaining unaddressed. However, in a previous effort to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign-made drones, the Turkish government created a program to develop subsystems for UAVs, and has incorporated designs such as the Bayraktar medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) UAV and Karayel tactical UAV.
Japan will lease new land in Djibouti in 2017 to expand its existing military base in eastern Africa. Since 2011, the Japanese Self Defence Force (SDF) has occupied a 30-acre site for 180 troops next to Camp Lemonnier, the U.S. base at Djibouti’s International Airport. The expansion is intended to counterbalance growing Chinese influence in Africa, evidenced by Beijing’s decision last year to spend $60 billion on development and agriculture projects in Africa. Tokyo then committed in early 2016 to increase its infrastructure, education and healthcare support by an extra $30 billion. Japan is now involved in leasing negotiations with the Djibouti government and will consider deploying an undetermined number of C-130 transport aircraft, Bushmaster armored vehicles, and extra personnel to the expanded base, which Tokyo says may be needed to evacuate Japanese citizens from conflict or natural disaster areas such as South Sudan. In addition, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is seeking to give the SDF a greater regional and global role in its emergence from seven decades of pacifism. China began building its first overseas military facility – a coastal logistics base to resupply peacekeeping naval vessels – in Djibouti last year.
A joint venture of MBDA Deutschland Gmbh and SAAB Dynamics has delivered the first batch of Taurus KEPD 350K stand-off missiles to the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF). South Korea will integrate the new long-range air-to-ground strategic strike missiles on its fleet of 60 F-15K Slam Eagle fighter aircraft. The motivation for this purchase was most likely concerns over North Korea’s nuclear program, as the KEPD 350K is specifically designed to penetrate heavy air defenses to deliver precision strikes on high value targets. Avascent Analytics estimates that the air-to-ground missile market in South Korea from 2016-21 is worth $137.2M and is growing at a rate of 7% – figures consistent with a growing need for stand-off weapons given recent regional tensions. At present, over 50% of the market remains unawarded.
Reports that China will sell eight diesel-electric attack submarines to Pakistan were officially confirmed last week. Avascent Analytics anticipates a $5B deal financed through a long-term 20-year loan. Previous media reports suggested that four of the submarines will be constructed by China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC) and four by Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works Ltd. Details on cost and types remain undisclosed, but will likely be an air independent propulsion (AIP) equipped S-20, the export variant of the Yuan-class Type-039A/Type-041 diesel-electric attack submarine. Bolstering Pakistan’s naval capabilities could also prove beneficial to China, given its recent conflicts with India over the South China Sea. Pakistan currently operates a total of three French-manufactured Agosta-90B class diesel-electric attack submarines (inducted between 26 September 2008 and 21 December 2009), two French-manufactured Agosta-class diesel-electric attack submarines (between 14 December 1977 and 1 December 1978), and three indigenously-manufactured MG-110 class midget submarines (between 1988 and 1992). The addition of the reported eight Chinese submarines is expected to significantly boost the Pakistan Navy’s ability to deny their adversaries access to principal maritime approaches, particularly in the Arabian Sea.
On the sidelines of the 2016 BRICS Summit, Russia and India finalized a contract for India to lease a second Akula-class (Project 971) nuclear attack submarine. India began its ten-year lease of its first Akula-class submarine in 2012, which was renamed from Nerpa to Chakra when it left Russian service and entered the Indian Navy. The new contract is reportedly worth close to $2 billion. Reports have stated that an upgraded variant, the Akula-II (Project 971U), will be offered. However, it is unclear which Russian vessel will be leased. Earlier talks suggested that the Kashalot or the unfinished Iribis would be leased to India, neither of which are of the Akula-II upgraded variant. A portion of the nearly $2 billion dollars India will spend for the lease will likely go towards refurbishing, upgrading, or possibly finishing construction on whatever submarine India acquires. The addition of another Akula-class submarine will help the Indian Navy gain experience in operating nuclear-powered submarines. India recently commissioned its first nuclear submarine, the Arihant Sub-Surface Ballistic Nuclear (SSBN), and has a program to construct its own nuclear attack submarines following the acquisition of six DCNS-manufactured Scorpenes.