The Weekly Wire: For Your Situational Awareness 5.10.17
On April 28, the Finnish government awarded a contract to Rauma Marine Constructions (RMC) to design four corvettes under Finland’s Squadron 2020 plan. Finland signed a letter of intent with RMC in late 2016 to design the multirole corvettes which would replace Finland’s Rauma-class fast attack vessels and the Hämeenmaa-class minelayers. The design contract is worth $8.3 million and a contract for the construction of the vessels is expected to be awarded in 2018. The anticipated cost of construction for the corvettes is $1.3 billion with deliveries taking place between 2020-2024.
On April 28, the State Department approved the possible sale of anti-radiation missiles to Australia worth $137.6 million. Australia requested 70 AGM-88B anti-radiation missiles, and up to 40 of the more advanced AGM-88E, among others. These missiles will equip the country’s EA-18 Growler aircraft. Australia will need to equip major platforms coming online in the coming years, including a fleet of fourteen F-35A fighter aircrafts, three Hobart-class air warfare destroyers, and eight P-8 maritime patrol aircrafts. Equipping the Hobart-class destroyers and replacing its existing stocks of Harpoon missiles will likely cost the Australian Navy $290 million over the next five years. Australia is also expected to make large purchases of the Joint Strike Missile for the F-35A and Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile to fit on the Anzac, Adelaide and Hobart surface combatants.
On April 28, it was reported that Sweden placed an order for additional RBS15 anti-ship missiles from Saab. The order is valued at approximately USD $56.7 million, and follows an order from Sweden for Saab to develop a next generation anti-ship missile that would be compatible with both the Gripen E fighter and Visby class corvettes. Currently, the demand for anti-ship missiles in Sweden is valued at $43.1M, and is expected to grow at a rate of 70.6% through 2021 due entirely to the development and production of the new RBS15 missile.
On April 24, the French government awarded a contract for the first installment of two newly-designed armored vehicle platforms as part of its Scorpion program. A temporary business grouping formed by Nexter Systems, Renault Trucks Defense and Thales will deliver 319 Griffon multi-role personnel carriers and 20 Jaguar 6×6 armored vehicles beginning in 2018 and 2020 respectively. France plans to order a total of 1,722 Griffon vehicles in five different variants to replace the French Army’s VAB 4x4s, and 248 Jaguar vehicles to replace the army’s wheeled light tanks. The Scorpion program is intended to update the French Army’s aging land vehicles. The main components of the planned acquisition include the Griffon and Jaguar as well as over 350 light armored vehicles, a common communication system to replace separate legacy systems, and the modernization of 200 Leclerc tanks. A $6.22 billion budget has been set for the first phase of the Scorpion program, which runs to 2025.
A special weapons committee has recommended a proposal by Elbit Systems for the replacement of the M109 self-propelled howitzer to the Israeli Ministry of Defense. The M109 has been in service for over 40 years, and roughly 240 systems remain active. The Elbit Systems proposal is a design based on its ATMOS self-propelled howitzer system. This ATMOS derivative will likely be integrated onto an M270 chassis, which was one of the requirements that the Israel Defense Forces’ laid out for the new artillery system. Israel is attempting to increase commonality of its inventory, which will streamline maintenance and keep O&M costs down. Avascent Analytics projects that Israel will spend roughly $1 billion on an initial order of about 160 units around 2019.
On May 4, Arianespace completed its first launch since the conclusion of French Guiana’s protests. The mission launched two telecommunication satellites on an Ariane 5 rocket. The launch vehicle carried Brazil’s 5700-kilogram SGDC (Geostationary Defense and Strategic Communications) satellite and KSat’s, the satellite division of South Korea’s KT Corp, 3700-kilogram Koreseat-7 satellite. Koreasat-7 represents KTSat’s most recent Asian expansion with the goal of using the 30 Ka- and Ku- band transponders to cover South Korea, the Philippines, Indochina, Indonesia, and India. Similarly, Brazil’s SGDC satellite focuses on using a payload of 50 Ka-band spot beams for civilian broadband services. However, seven X-band transponders are reserved for Brazil’s defense ministry. Visona Tecnologia Espacial, a joint venture between Embrarer and Telebras, built the satellite with assistance from Thales Alenia Space. The launch of SGDC represents a significant step towards Brazil’s creation of its own communications network. Avascent Analytics forecasts that this trend will continue and expects a follow-up SCDC satellite to be launched by 2022. The next SGDC satellite is projected to cost approximately $250 million. Avascent Analytics expects an expansion of the Koreasat system as well, with an upcoming launch scheduled for July on Falcon 9 and another Koresat satellite projected to be launched in 2027.