The Weekly Wire: For Your Situational Awareness 2.21.17
Poland’s defense minister has announced that Poland will receive 16 new multirole helicopters this year as part of a plan to spend approximately $15 billion in the next five years on new military hardware. Following the cancellation of the $3.5 billion Airbus deal to procure 50 H225M Caracal helicopters in October 2016, the Polish government has now earmarked $254 million for procurement of multirole helicopters. The proposed order will include two Black Hawks and several other helicopters from options offered by Lockheed Martin, Leonardo, and Airbus Helicopters. They will be divided equally between Poland’s Navy and special forces. A contract is expected to be awarded in 2017, with deliveries beginning in 2018. The new helicopters will replace Poland’s aging fleet of Mil Mi-8s, Mi-14s, and Mi-17s.
Germany’s Ministry of Defence intends to procure 6 MKS-180 multi-role warships instead of delaying a decision on two of these warships until 2030. According to the German Ministry of Defence, Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen decided to buy all six ships now because the need is there, though no new cost estimate has been provided. A tender for four MKS-180, valued at 4 billion euros, was delayed in October to ensure that quality standards were met. The new warships are expected to start entering service in 2023, though if delays continue that date may be pushed back to at least 2025. The three teams bidding to build the new warships are Luerssen and Thyssen Krupp Marine Systems; Blohm + Voss and Damen; and German Naval Yards with BAE Systems. The MKS-180 program marks the first time that the German government has opened a naval shipbuilding program for European competition.
On February 10, General Dynamics Land Systems – Canada received a $308 million contract amendment to upgrade 141 of the Canadian Government’s Light Armored Vehicles to the new LAV 6.0 configuration. The upgrade will provide protection and mobility enhancements and is based on a combination of lessons learned by the Canadian Army in Afghanistan and inputs from the Canadian government. The amendment will also ensure the consistency and availability of equipment for training and deployments. This furthers the goals of Canada’s Light Armored Vehicle III Upgrade Program, which will provide the country’s military with updated ground-based platforms. The amendment follows an earlier LAV III upgrade contract signed in 2011 for $811 million, which extended the service lives of 550 vehicles to 2035.
On February 15, India’s space agency launched a historic 104 satellites. 88 of the satellites consisted of small satellites weighing no more than 10 pounds manufactured by Planet Labs. The San Francisco-based firm has been carving out a niche for itself in the small- and cube-sat markets by building affordable platforms that can be launched in larger quantities; this latest launch continues that trend. According to the Indian space agency, it cost $10 million to launch 90 satellites in last Wednesday’s payload. Additionally, this constellation, called Flock, was launched using a high-risk technique demanding precision and reliability. The satellites were released from the rocket in a rapid-fire fashion as the vehicle travelled upwards. Any error in calculation would have caused the satellites to collide with each other and endanger the entire mission. If India’s space agency continues to conduct complex missions at a lower cost, it may become a more attractive provider for firms seeking cost-effective launch services while increasing the agency’s footprint in the market.