The Weekly Wire: For Your Situational Awareness 12.19.16
On December 11 in Amman, Jordan, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen delivered 16 Marder 1 infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) to Jordan, with a further 34 vehicles to follow, as part of a defense aid package called the “Reinforcement Initiative.” The initiative, which aims to bolster Jordanian border security, is part of the German government’s support for trustworthy states in troubled regions, and also includes Iraq, Tunisia, Mali and Nigeria. The defense aid package for 2016 is worth a total of €100 million, which will increase to €130 million for 2017. In addition, Jordan will receive €88 million over two years for armaments, as well as 70 trucks and 56 minibuses for military purposes.
Germany is planning to launch a tender for new anti-submarine warfare rotorcraft in 2017, for which it aims to select by the end of that year. Germany needs new aircraft to replace their aging fleet of 21 Westland Sea Lynx helicopters. The current contenders for the replacement include the NH90 Sea Lion, the AW159 Wildcat, and the S-70B Seahawk. In addition, the new rotorcraft will need to be interoperable with the F122- and F123-class frigates that Germany currently uses in conjunction with its Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) rotorcraft. The acquisition process is expected to occur on schedule, with deliveries finishing by 2023 so that the new platforms can enter service in 2025. Avascent Analytics estimates the market for maritime rotorcraft in Germany is worth $124.8M, with 48.2% open for new business, much of which is present in this planned tender.
On December 7, the State Department approved a sale of 48 CH-47F Chinook helicopters to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, valued at $3.51B. The deal includes associated spares, training, and support – usually a significant part of the whole contract value. The helicopters will fill a lacking heavy lift/cargo capability for Saudi troops currently embroiled in a war in neighboring Yemen, and will be in addition to orders for smaller UH-60 Blackhawks. The deal comes at a somewhat tenuous time in US-Saudi relations, as US officials have expressed interest in slowing weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and focusing on border protection instead. This potential deal for helicopters appears to be a first step in that direction.
On December 12, Israel received its first F-35 stealth jets, thereby becoming the only Middle Eastern country to own a fifth-generation fighter. US Defense Secretary Ash Carter joined Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a ceremony for handing over the first two planes that arrived at Nevatim air base in Israel’s Negev desert. The planes are the first of 50 F-35s that Israel has committed to buying, each estimated to cost around $100 million. There are a total of 12 global participants in the F-35 program: nine partner countries and three foreign military sales customers (including Israel). The total number of F-35s scheduled for production is more than 3,100.
The Italian Air Force finally received its first two ATR 72 maritime patrol aircraft on December 13. The project was first awarded to ATR in 2008, with four aircraft expected to be delivered by 2012. The remaining two ATR 72s are now expected for delivery in 2017. They will be able to conduct missions for up to 6.5 hours with a range of 200 nautical miles. The procurement of the aircraft cost approximately $397 million and will replace the country’s aging Atlantique fleet, first acquired in 1971. Unlike the Italian Air Forces’ Atlantique fleet, the ATR 72s are not equipped with anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities. However, it is possible the aircraft will be refitted to support ASW missions in the near-term in order to minimize that capability gap, and Avascent Analytics projects that the Italian Air Force will seek to upgrade the ATR 72s starting around 2020.
India has expressed interest in acquiring the General Atomics Guardian, a maritime patrol variant of the MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The Indian Navy has a requirement for 22 aircraft, though this number could increase. India joined the Missile Technology Control Regime in June, which makes the purchase of high-end UAVs like the Guardian more likely than it has been in the past. In addition, General Atomics stated in July that it would open an office in India by the end of 2016 to help expand its presence in the Indian market. Despite this drive to sell UAVs to India, there remain significant hurdles to overcome: the top concern is whether the incoming American administration will be willing to sell such advanced technology to India. Further, strict US export controls could hamper this and other Indian efforts to acquire high-end American defense technology.