The Weekly Wire: For Your Situational Awareness 7.6.17
On June 29, the US State Department approved the possible sale of about $1.4 billion in defense equipment to Taiwan. This includes Mk 54 lightweight torpedo conversion kits, AGM-154C JSOW, Mk 48 Mod 6AT heavyweight torpedoes, SM-2 Block 3A anti-air missiles, AGM-88B anti-radiation missiles, AN/SLQ-32(V)3 electronic warfare systems, ancillary equipment, and about $400 million worth of operations and maintenance work. The current Tsai administration in Taiwan is likely to increase requests for equipment from the United States, of which opportunities for technology transfer will be of particular interest, especially for submarine related equipment. President Tsai has vowed to revitalize the local defense industry and increase indigenous production of arms. Avascent Analytics projects that Taiwanese annual procurement spending will increase from $2.7 billion this year to $4 billion by 2021, though the country will have a difficult time increasing procurement spending beyond $4.5 billion.
On June 26, the State Department approved a possible sale to India of one Boeing C-17 aircraft worth an estimated $366 million, although the final figure could be lower. The announcement came during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s official visit to Washington, D.C. India already fields ten C-17s, the last of which was delivered in 2015. Strategic lift is a priority for the Indian armed forces, which must often deliver troops and materiel to isolated border outposts. The aircraft will be particularly relevant to India’s defense of its northeastern border with China, which stretches across 2,000km of difficult terrain. The two countries fought a border war in 1962, and the subject remains a flashpoint in the relationship between Beijing and Delhi.
On June 28, Saab announced that it won a $120 million contract with Switzerland to equip their armed forces with its next generation anti-tank weapon. Currently Switzerland is approaching a capability gap in this area, as their previous man-portable anti-tank systems are either retiring or close to the end of their service lives. With this purchase, the Swiss military will start receiving new anti-tank weapons in 2018, with deliveries finishing up in 2021. This is the largest purchase of Saab’s new anti-tank weapon system thus far, and it represents a substantial portion of the Swiss market for man-portable weapons.
On June 26 the HMS Queen Elizabeth, UK’s first aircraft carrier of that class, set sail from Rosyth Dockyard to start her first stage sea trials off the coast of Scotland. She will spend about six weeks at sea to test fundamentals such as speed, maneuverability, and power before returning to Rosyth for further testing and maintenance. After testing her mission systems during second stage sea trials, the HMS Queen Elizabeth will transit to her home port at Portsmouth Naval Base and handed over to the Royal Navy later this year. The lessons learned in its building may cut the time to fabricate, equip and assemble the second of the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, HMS Prince of Wales, by around nine months.
On June 26, the Danish Defence Acquisition and Logistics Organisation awarded a contract to General Dynamics European Land Systems (GDELS) for the procurement of 36 Eagle 4×4 Armored Patrol Vehicles. The total value of the procurement was not made public, but deliveries to the Danish Army are set to begin in 2018. GDELS’ Eagle APV beat out several competitors including General Dynamics Force Protection Europe, Nexter Systems, Oshkosh Defence, and Otokar. Under the current contract with GDELS, Denmark has the option to include other variants of the Eagle APV – including vehicles designated for electronic warfare or reconnaissance – in addition to the patrol variation.
On June 28, Arianespace launched the HellasSat 3/Inmarsat S-EAN and GSAT 17 communication satellites via Ariane 5 from French Guiana. The launch of the GSAT-17 continues the expansion of India’s space-based telecommunication network and further demonstrates India’s expertise in developing satellites for a wide range of missions including meteorology, planetary science, and earth observation. Avascent Analytics currently projects that there will be 11 satellites manufactured by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) launched in 2017.