The Weekly Wire: For Your Situational Awareness 11.22.16
On November 14, Poland’s first two Leonardo Aermacchi M-346 advanced jet trainers were delivered to the Polish Air Force. The delivery comes nearly three years after Poland signed a $383 million contract with Alenia Aermacchi to acquire eight M-346s to replace their aging fleet of PZL Mielec-produced TS-11 Iskras. Modifications to the M-346s include a new data link, braking parachute and “blind hood” to support training in instrument meteorological conditions. The Polish Air Force’s 4th Training Wing Squadron in Deblin, Poland will operate the M-346s.
Kuwait / Qatar
On November 17, the U.S. State Department approved the sale of 72 F-15QAs to Qatar and 40 F/A-18E/Fs to Kuwait, after a delay of over two years due to strained military relationships between the United States and its traditional Gulf allies, as well as private opposition by Israel. Overall, the sale is expected to be worth around $31 billion. Qatar’s F-15QAs are similar to the F-15SAs of Saudi Arabia, which themselves are based on the F-15E Strike Eagle. The F-15QAs will replace Qatar’s aging Mirage 2000s, which were ordered in 1994. Kuwait’s F/A-18E/Fs will go towards replacing their fleet of 39 F/A-18C/D Hornets, which were ordered in 1988. Boeing, which manufactures both the F-15 and F/A-18, will be able to keep the production lines for both aircraft open into the 2020s due to this sale.
The first Airbus A400M transport aircraft was delivered to the Spanish Air Force on November 17. Spain originally ordered 27 transport aircraft from Airbus for $5.7 billion to replace their aging C-130 fleet, but recently delayed the second half of that order. In September 2016, an agreement was signed between Spain and Airbus in which 14 of the 27 A400Ms would be delivered to the country between 2016-2022, with the remaining aircraft set to be delivered beyond 2025. However, repeated delays of the A400M program has caused the Spanish Air Force to reevaluate their order for the remaining 13 aircraft once the initial 14 are delivered by 2022. It is likely that the Spanish Air Force may try to sell the remaining aircraft to another country or look to cancel the procurement of the final 13 A400Ms altogether. Avascent Analytics estimates that Spain will operate only 14 A400Ms and focus further investments on other aircraft acquisitions, potentially including three multi-role tanker transports (MRTTs) to replace the country’s KC-707 tankers.
The cost of Canada’s plan to replace its shrinking naval fleet with up to 15 new warships has been re-estimated to as much as CAD 40 billion, up from an originally-budgeted CAD 26 billion. Roughly half of the final price will go to ship hulls, with the other half going to combat systems which will equip the new platforms. It remains to be seen which companies will stand to benefit from Canada’s proposed naval renaissance. While Irving Shipbuilding of Halifax has been chosen as prime contractor, neither hull design nor combat system subcontractors have been chosen. That said, BAE Systems is rumored to be the favorite for its Type 26 frigate hull design, with competing bids from DCNS, Fincantieri, Navantia and ThyssenKrupp expected. Similarly, combat systems bids are expected from ThyssenKrupp, DCNS, Thales, Saab, Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics.