PARIS — A letter of intent from Qatar for exclusive
negotiations with Nexter has opened talks for various versions of the VBCI
armored vehicle and an exploration of onboard systems, weaponry and services,
according to three French defense executives.
The Gulf state has chosen the VBCI in a vehicle tender
and signed the letter for talks with Nexter, the French Armed Forces Ministry
said Dec. 9.
A lengthy Qatari competition led to a last round fought
between the French state-owned land systems company and Patria’s armored
modular vehicle, an executive said.
The three defense executives, one of whom works for a
defense company and the others as consultants, spoke to Defense News on
condition of anonymity.
Qatar has picked the VBCI chassis and will now seek to
decide which of the 490 units will be fitted for missions including infantry
fighting vehicle, troop carrier, reconnaissance, command post, mortar, and
ambulance, a second executive said. Weapons and ammunition will require large
budgets on top of the planned vehicle purchase.
Discussions on weapons will likely include a CTA
International 40mm and Kongsberg 30mm cannon. Nexter and BAE Systems are joint
venture partners on the former.
Other weapons to be pitched include remotely operated
7.62mm and 12.7mm machine guns, the second executive said. The MBDA MMP
anti-tank missile could compete with the Lockheed Martin Javelin.
Lockheed has a strong presence in Qatar, and the U.K.
unit will likely pitch its 40mm gun turret against the Nexter model, the
CMI, a Belgian firm, could also pitch its gun turrets, a
third executive said.
There could be offers of mortar versions armed with TDA
81mm and 120mm weapons, according to the second executive.
Onboard digital systems will be offered for a battle
management system and communications, such as those developed for the French
Army’s Scorpion program, the second executive said.
Thales gave a Nov. 24 demonstration to armed forces of
SYNAPS, the export version of its Contact software-defined radio.
A vehicle service contract will also need to be
negotiated, which could lead to an “enormous Nexter service workshop,” the
executive said. Service offers a steady income for decades.
Qatar has been keen for local assembly of the vehicle
rather than receiving all the vehicles “built up,” the third executive said.
One of the possibilities considered is a first batch of 100-150 built-up units,
with the rest assembled in Qatar.
The 30-ton, eight-wheel drive VBCI will replace Qatari
fleets of wheeled and tracked vehicles, including the French AMX-30 and AMX-10.
Qatar has also ordered the Leopard 2 heavy tank from Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and
Nexter has completed delivery of 630 VBCI to the French
Army and has been actively seeking export orders amid concern in the workforce
that work was drying up at its site at Roanne, central France.
The French company presented the VBCI 2 export model at
the DSEI trade show in London two years ago.
Qatar announced the pick of the VBCI along with
exercising an option for a further 12 Rafale fighter jets, bringing the total
order to 36.
62 Leopard 2A7+ series main battle tanks (MBTs) and 24
PzH 2000 155mm/52 self-propelled (SP) artillery systems, which were ordered
under a €1.89 billion contract placed early in 2013 by Qatar.Source: janes.com
Turkish defense contractor Roketsan has said its future
missile systems will use fully domestic turbojet engines created for Turkey's
stand-off-munition cruise missile, SOM, as of next year.
The turbojet engines will add to Turkey's growing list of
domestic defense products. SOM cruise missiles were developed by the Scientific
and Technological Research Council of Turkey's (TÜBİTAK) Defense Industry
Research and Development Institute (SAGE) and produced by Roketsan.
Recently the Undersecretariat of Defense Industry and
Kale Aviation Industry Inc. signed a contract that included the design,
production, testing, technology demonstration, training, maintenance and
technical data package of the turbojet engine and related subsystems to be used
in the mass production of SOM missiles, as required by the Turkish Air Force
Kale Aviation is getting ready to finalize its efforts
for turbojet engines supplied from abroad. Turbojet engines will be used in SOM
missiles as of the middle of next year. So, a critical part of the missiles
will have been procured more economically and possible export restrictions will
have been prevented.
The finished system could also be used in SOM-like
systems, unmanned aerial vehicles and small-class aircraft with minor
The project has allowed making significant gains in the
reduction of external dependency on engine technologies.
The first gain is the development of sub-systems such as
alternators, fuel pumps, fuel control systems, electronic control units and
pyrotechnic igniters, which could also be used in other engines. In addition,
the project also saw the development of compressors, core engines, combustion
chambers and turbines. The second major gain is national and original
development of all development testing mechanisms, considered a must to develop
a new jet engine. The SOM missile family, designed for use against ground and
sea targets, comes in different variants including the SOM-A, SOM-B1, SOM-B2,
The missiles have an operational range of more than 250
kilometers and offer low visibility, high precision, resistance/endurance
against mixing measures, network-based movement suitability, engagement with
opportunity targets and selection between pre-planned tasks during flight,
target definition during flight, selectable stroke parameters and universal
weapon interface compatibility.
Airbus Helicopters has completed the deliveries of the
final two AS565 MBe Panther helicopters to the Mexican Navy.
The Mexican Navy is the first naval force to launch the
new version of the Airbus aircraft and the delivery follows an order for a
total of ten AS565 MBe Panther helicopters, which was originally placed in
The first four helicopters were delivered last year,
while the remaining six were supplied earlier this year.
“It is a modern, multi-mission helicopter
that we can use in both maritime and land environments for a wide range of
AS565 MBe Panther helicopters are capable of conducting
an average of 300 flight hours for reconnaissance, patrol missions and training
The aircraft are currently stationed at three naval bases
in the Mexican states of Veracruz, Sonora and Michoacan respectively.
Mexican Navy Naval Aviation general director admiral Jose
Maria Garcia Macedo said: “The arrival of the MBe Panther has enhanced the Navy
Aviation’s operational capabilities.
“It is a modern, multi-mission helicopter that we can use
in both maritime and land environments for a wide range of missions, including
maritime search and rescue (SAR), disaster relief, external load operations and
even air ambulance.”
AS565 MBe Panther aircraft use a variety of advanced
mission equipment such as a cargo hooks, rescue hoists and a forward-looking
infrared (FLIR) for night-time rescue missions to allow them to conduct a
wide range of operations effectively and easily.
They also comprise a total of four stretchers each for
medical evacuation purposes.
In addition, the new Panther helicopter features two
Safran Arriel 2N engines in order to improve the aircraft’s performance in hot
and high conditions, as well as allow it to attain a top speed of 278km/h and a
maximum range of 780km.
MBe Panther aircraft are also equipped with a new main
gearbox, advanced tail rotor and four-axis autopilot that minimises the crew’s
workload and improves performance during demanding missions such as SAR.