The Weekly Wire: For Your Situational Awareness 3.8.17
On February 27, Airbus Helicopters received an order from the German Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology, and In-Service Support to retrofit 26 CH-53GS/GE heavy transport helicopters, guaranteeing the helicopters’ functionality until at least 2030. The work will begin this year, with the German Ministry of Defense retrofitting six helicopters per year over the course of the next four years and the final two in the fifth year. The CH-53 Stallion helicopters, originally manufactured by Sikorsky, were procured in the late 1960s and have been upgraded at least three times since. This contract is worth $143.5 million.
On February 28, the U.S. Department of Defense announced that Navistar Defense LLC was awarded a contract to reset and upgrade 1,085 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected MaxxPro vehicles which had been sold to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The upgrade contract is valued at $46.4 million. The vehicles were classified as Excess Defense Articles (EDA), and the sale was originally approved by the U.S. State Department in 2014. According to reports at the time, the vehicles were purchased in order to increase the UAE’s ability to conduct humanitarian assistance missions and protect critical infrastructure.
Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) and Sikorsky Aircraft Company have signed a cooperation agreement aimed at enhancing business between the two companies. The agreement, signed in Ankara by TAI’s CEO Temel Kotil and Sikorsky president Daniel Schultz, involves the production of components used in a variety of military helicopter models. Under the deal, $270 million of components will be produced in the next ten years. The agreement adds another dimension to the cooperation that already exists between TAI and Sikorsky. In June 2016, the companies announced that they were teaming up to produce T70 utility helicopters based on Sikorsky’s multi-role Black Hawk helicopter.
On March 2, Sweden reinstated conscription for the first time since 2010. 4,000 18-year-old men and women out of an eligible 13,000 will be drafted for one year of service beginning in 2018. Unlike the previous draft, which lasted for over 100 years, the new policy will be extended to women, making Sweden the second European country after Norway to draft women into the military. By 2022, the number drafted annually could double from 4,000 to 8,000. Sweden had hoped to recruit 4,000 per year into the military after ending the draft in 2010, but the recruitment campaign proved to be less successful than hoped. In addition to the Russian annexation of Crimea and Sweden’s increased military activity around the Baltic Sea, Sweden also aims to address criticism from the United States focused on European contributions to NATO. Sweden is not a member of NATO, it cooperates closely with the alliance.
A quiet notification of a formal contract modification on NASA’s website, posted on February 21, was one of the few indicators that NASA signed a $373.5 million contract with Boeing for up to five additional Soyuz seats, providing for both additional U.S. crew members on the International Space Station (ISS) and margin for commercial crew delays. Two of the seats will be for Fall 2017 and Spring 2018, respectively, with the option of an additional three in 2019. Negotiations for the seats had been ongoing since January in legal filings with Russian company RSC Energia, from whom Boeing won the seats in a settlement involving Sea Launch. Given the timeframe, assignments for the two near-term spots will likely be limited to astronauts who will soon complete training, or who have recently flown on missions. The three additional seats represent a contingency plan for NASA against possible delays of Boeing and SpaceX’s commercial crew vehicles, though both companies say they remain on schedule to achieve their goal of NASA certification in the second half of 2018.