The Weekly Wire: For Your Situational Awareness 8.17.17
On August 9, the Turkish Ministry of National Defence awarded a contract to BMC for 529 tactical wheeled armored vehicles for the Turkish Armed Forces. The contract value is estimated to be $300 million. The vehicles will be deployed in the country’s southeast, where the armed forces continue to clash with Kurdish fighters. In addition to the purchase of tactical wheeled armored vehicles, Turkey is moving forward with plans to procure armored amphibious assault vehicles as well, and the contract was awarded to FNSS on August 9. Turkey will procure 27 vehicles from FNSS, though a total contract value was not disclosed.
India is reportedly facing maintenance problems with its fleet of 45, Russian-made MiG-29Ks, the backbone of the Navy’s aviation wing. Routine landings on the INS Vikramaditya, the country’s only aircraft carrier, have damaged the aircraft. As a result, the fighter jets will be taken out of service for repairs. India is dependent on Russia for support of the aircraft, and senior defense officials in Delhi are frustrated by Moscow’s inability to find a solution to the problem. This development highlights a stated opportunity for 57 fighters to be used on India’s future aircraft carriers. After rejecting the naval variant of the indigenously-built Tejas fighter, the Navy has likely narrowed down the competition to Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet and the Dassault’s Rafale, also signaling its intent not to procure additional MiG-29Ks in the process. Avascent Analytics estimates that the procurement of new fighter aircraft for the Navy will cost $2.2 billion.
On August 8, the Hellenic Coast Guard of Greece prepared a set of procurement programs geared towards improving its ability to perform interdiction and search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean. The purchase was likely motivated in part by a relatively high tempo of operations focused on rescuing migrants and interdicting suspected drug traffickers. The total value of these acquisitions is approximately $495 million. The programs themselves are focused on purchasing high speed patrol boats, rigid inflatable boats, patrol boats, off-shore patrol vessels, general support vessels, and improved coastal surveillance capabilities. Dialogue has already begun for several of these efforts, and formal tenders are expected to be released in the near term. Funding for the procurement of these vessels will likely be shared between Greece and the EU Internal Security Fund.
On August 10, Indonesia and Russia signed a memorandum of understanding which provides a route for Indonesia to acquire eleven Su-35s to replace the country’s sixteen aging F-5 Tigers while allowing Russia to circumvent some economic sanctions. The countertrade agreement will allow state-owned Indonesian trading company PT Perusahaan Perdagangan to sell agricultural products including coffee, palm oil, and tea, in exchange for which Rostec will provide Su-35s. Avascent estimates that payments on the aircraft will begin next year, with deliveries to be completed between 2020 and 2023. The deal is estimated to be worth $924 million, equal to approximately 308,000 tons of Arabica coffee or 1.4 million metric tons of palm oil.
On August 11, Ukraine reached an initial agreement to purchase up to 17 Island-class patrol boats as part of a broader effort to build up its naval force after losing much of their naval capability following Russia’s annexation of Crimea. The potential $25 million deal may see ships arrive by November at the earliest. Other naval projects that Ukraine is currently undertaking include the Gurza-M class of small armored artillery boats, multipurpose corvette (Project 58250), and the Centaur high-speed assault boat. By 2020, Ukraine hopes to expand its naval and coast guard fleet by 40 to 50 ships.
On August 12, Virgin Orbit reached an agreement with SITAEL to launch a small satellite in collaboration with European and Italian Space Agencies. Virgin Orbit plans to send SITAEL’s all-electric µHETsat to low Earth orbit via LauncherOne in 2018. Other commercial customers scheduled to use the launch system include OneWeb, Space and Sky Global, and Millennium Space Systems. Avascent Analytics currently projects that Virgin Orbit will conduct 16 LauncherOne missions through 2020, assuming the rocket maintains its current development schedule.