Thursday, 22 March 2018

Saab to offer radar tech for KF-X fighter, if it lands maritime patrol aircraft deal

Saab ready to offer radar tech for new Seoul fighter, if it lands maritime patrol aircraft deal

By: Jeff Jeong  

SEOUL, South Korea — In an attempt to snatch up a maritime patrol aircraft deal in South Korea, Swedish defense contractor Saab has opened the possibility of transferring its advanced radar technology for the KF-X, Seoul’s indigenous fighter jet development program, a Saab representative revealed.

The offer was made as Saab is trying to convince the Defense Acquisition Program Administration, or DAPA, to decide open up for a competitive bid the $1.8 billion anti-submarine aircraft acquisition program, which is expected to go to U.S. Boeing offering the P-8A Poseidon.

Saab is pitching the Swordfish maritime patrol aircraft, built on the Bombardier Global 6000 business jet platform, which the Swedish firm claim shares 70 percent commonality with the GlobalEye airborne early warning and control aircraft.

“We’re open to discuss lots of areas with the DAPA and Korean government,” Richard Hjelmberg, head of Saab’s marketing & sales of airborne ISR, told Defense News during a round-table session at a Seoul hotel on March 20. “If we come to the table for full negotiations and discussions, we’re open to discuss other areas than ones related to the maritime patrol aircraft program.”

The local rules of offset program requires the value of any arms contract bidder to meet at least 50 percent of the total costs of the deal concerned.

Gary Shand, director of sales and marketing of airborne ISR, was more specific about Saab’s list of offset proposals, including the transfer of an advanced active electronically scanned array, or AESA, radar technology.

“We have been talking about the parts production happening in Korea obviously. We have been talking about local industry’s taking part in the integration of certain parts of our mission systems,” he said. “In addition to that, I think Saab has a wide variety of products in portfolio including AESA radar technology for the KF-X program. It could be a discussion point for us to look at the possibility and some cooperation on areas not directly related to the MPA program.”

The ideal of Saab’s AESA tech transfer is expected to draw key attention from the Seoul government since KF-X developers are striving to acquire proven AESA technology.

The state-funded Agency for Defense Development, or ADD, and Hanwha Systems, a local radar developer, joined hands in 2016 to build an indigenous AESA radar to be mounted onto the KF-X. The jet’s development schedule slipped a couple of years beyond its initial goal because of the lack of AESA technology, after the U.S. government’s disapproval of AESA tech transfer following South Korea’s purchae of 40 F-35As.

In May last year, Israel’s Elta Systems was selected by the ADD to support the AESA radar development. Under the contract valued at about $36 million, the Israeli firm is in charge of testing an AESA radar system in every phase of development and integrating it with the KF-X prototype.

“The ADD originally wanted to get AESA technology either from Saab or Thales, but the plan was ruptured due to the issues of requirements and budget,” a local defense source involved in the radar competition said on condition of anonymity. “Elta, after all, participated in the project, but some remain skeptical of Elta’s AESA technology level, as the Israeli company has not actually developed an AESA radar.”

An official at Hanwah Systems, formerly known as Samsung Thales, was trying to brush off worries about the ongoing indigenous AESA development but admitted the benefits of taking other nation’s AESA technology if possible.

“Elta is in charge of certifying every phase of the AESA design and development process, and cooperation with the Israeli company has been quite successful,” the official said speaking on condition of anonymity. “But if we get more advanced technology of AESA, the timeline for development will be advanced for sure.”

Saab had been a partner for the exploratory development of KF-X AESA radar in partnership with the ADD and LIG Nex1, a local precision-guided weapons maker. The Swedish firm still has a contract with the Korean partners for cooperation over AESA software development, according to an ADD spokesman.

“Saab was the first overseas company that participated in the KF-X radar project, so the firm obviously keeps good chemistry with the Korean team,” said Kim Dae-young, a research fellow at Korea Research Institute for National Strategy, a Seoul-based think tank. “Years after, however, a local developer was changed and the AESA development program was re-started with a new foreign partner. It is still unclear as to the future of the AESA development bid.”

Led by Korea Korea Aerospace Industries, KF-X full-scale development started in 2016 with the goal of producing six prototypes by 2021. Indonesia’s state-run defense firm PT Dirgantara Indonesia is the only partner for the $8 billion project, responsible for 20 percent of development costs.

About 120 KF-X aircraft are to be produced by 2032 to replace the South Korean Air Force’s aging fleet of F-4s and F-5s.

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United Technologies announces role on South Korea’s KF-X fighter jet program
S. Korea to import advanced maritime patrol aircraft
Saab to work on ROK AESA radar development
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Swordfish (MPA): Details
P-8 Poseidon: Details

Northern Fleet submarine claims Russian record in undetected tracking of enemy sub

Akula-class submarine -

K-317 «Pantera» was tracking the foreign submarine for days, one of the crew members says in a TV-interview.

By Thomas Nilsen

Filmed back in port at the naval base Gadzhiyevo north of Murmansk, crew member Aleksandr Brazgun tells to military TV channel Zvezda about the event.

«From the first contact with the foreign submarine happened, it lasted for several days and that was a record for the navy in terms of tracking,» Brazgun said.

No information was given about the nationality of the foreign potential enemy submarine, but the news article where the interview is posted says it was a NATO submarine. «Pantera» is a multi-purpose nuclear-powered submarine normally sailing the Barents Sea, Norwegian Sea and North Atlantic. In that area, NATO submarines are patrolling in a cat-and-mice hunting war-game.

Russia’s Akula class submarines are of the 3rd generation nuclear-powered submarines sailing for the Northern Fleet are considered to be much more quite in operation than former Russian noice submarines.

In another interview by TV Zvezda also posted on Friday, Commander of the Akula-class flotilla in Gadzhiyevo, Sergey Starshinov, told about a voyage by another submarine to the east coast of the United States. Starshinov said the submarine sailed unnoticed close to a US military base.

«This is our objective. To come and go undetected,» Commander Starshinov told. He said the submarine did not violated the American maritime border. The interview is made on the pier in Gadzhievo where both the «Pantera» and «Tigr» are moored. 

Update: Saturday, March 17. The news article with the interview was removed from the portal of TV Zvezda after Barents Observer published this article on Friday.

Screenshot of TV Zvezda article, removed.

TV Zvezda is operated by Russia’s Ministry of Defense.

The two TV interviews are part of a longer program about the Akula-class submarines’ operations and voyages, a program to go on air this Sunday. A third clip from the program shows an exercise on how the crew members of an Akula class submarine prepare to launch missile against a NATO aircraft.

Two U.S. and one British nuclear powered submarines are currently exercising underneath the Arctic sea-ice. The exercise ICEX 2018 will last for five weeks.

In January, the Barents Observer reported about an sharp increase in visiting American nuclear powered submarines to Norwegian waters, especially in the north. NATO submarines are now sailing inshore the coast of Norway 3 to 4 times monthly for crew-exchange or other purposes.

For NATO, keeping track of Russian submarines is of strategic importance. The so-called GIUK gap (Greenland, Iceland, United Kingdom) is where submarines from the Kola Peninsula can access the North-Atlantic. If not tracked, those submarines could potentially pose a threat to allied naval vessels sailing between Europe and North America. If NATO manages to block the GIUK gap, allied convoys would be safer in a possible war scenario.

Two years ago commander of NATO Maritime Command, Vice-Admiral Clive Johnstone, triggered the alarm bell and publicly said the alliance sees “more activity from Russian submarines than we’ve seen since the days of the Cold War.

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Commissioning of Russian Frigate Admiral Gorshkov Delayed Until End of Summer

Admiral Gorshkov frigate


Test trials of the antiaircraft weapon of the Admiral Gorshkov frigate will continue at a range for another 1.5 months. After that the weapon is to be returned to the warship for continued trials, President of the United Shipbuilding Corporation Alexey Rakhmanov said.....Read rest of article: HERE

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Admiral Gorshkov Class Frigate: Details

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Israel keeps quiet over F-35I's combat debut


Israel’s Lockheed Martin F-35I "Adir" is reported to have made its combat debut during strikes conducted against Syrian air defence systems last month. The action was mounted following a border clash that culminated in an Israeli air force Lockheed F-16 being shot down by a surface-to-air missile.

The F-35I's suggested offensive debut has not been confirmed officially, with Israeli air force commander Maj Gen Amikam Norkin having classified all operations with the type.

Air force officials have described the stealth fighter as a "super-intelligence collector" and a "game-changer", pointing to its ability to acquire and distribute data to other assets in the air and on the ground.

The Israeli air force's "Golden Eagle" squadron currently operates nine F-35Is, and is due to receive another six examples this year.

Israel has so far committed to acquiring 50 conventional take-off and landing F-35s, with its aircraft to be equipped with locally developed electronic warfare equipment and weapons.

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Thai Technical hopes to win 20% of regional MRO work



Thai Airways’ MRO arm, Thai Technical, hopes to incorporate its U-Tapao-based joint venture MRO with Airbus by the first quarter of 2020, for launch in 2022.

Speaking to FlightGlobal, Thai Technical’s director of MRO strategy and business development Wilarp Thonglaxsanawong adds that feasibility studies with Airbus are "around 80% complete” and that the joint venture agreement is expected to be signed by December.

Thonglaxsanawong’s comments follow a cooperation agreement in December 2017 between Thai Airways International and Airbus to explore MRO business opportunities at U-Tapao airport, after signing a memorandum of understanding in March 2017.

He adds that in 2021, Thai Technical will apply for certifications with the United States Federal Aviation Administration, European Aviation Safety Agency and the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand.

Thonglaxsanawong adds that should Airbus not proceed even after completing the assessments, Thai Technical will go ahead with the new MRO facility at U-Tapao.

Located 140km south of Bangkok in the eastern province of Rayong, U-Tapao airport has been earmarked by the Thai government as a capacity reliever for the capital’s Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports.

Thonglaxsanawong says that Thai Technical’s new MRO facility will occupy a land area of 83 acres, and offer various MRO services including line and heavy maintenance. It will also conduct wheel and brake work, as well as engine and component overhauls.

The facility will be able to support various aircraft types including the Airbus A380, A350, A330 and A320, as well as Boeing types such as the 747, 777, 787 and 737.

The U-Tapao Airport Authority has said that the MRO site will initially have a single hangar capable of accommodating three widebodies and four narrowbodies, with Thai Technical as the sole operator in the first five years of operations. Thereafter, the authority will look to construct a second hangar for third-party MRO work.

Thai Technical forecasts that the facility can generate $86 million annually after 10 years, and $629 million annually by 2072, a half century after operations begin. In addition, Thai Technical hopes to capture “at least 20%” of Southeast Asia’s MRO market.

“We have land at U-Tapao to cater to the growing aircraft fleet in this region and manpower cost are lower in Thailand as compared to our regional neighbours,” he adds.

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Russia to use SS-19 ICBMs as carriers for Avangard hypersonic glide vehicles

The Russian Strategic Missile Forces have successfully launched an RS-18 (SS-19 Stiletto) intercontinental ballistic missile from the Baikonur space center. © Sergey Kazak / Sputnik

Russia to use SS-19 ICBMs as carriers for Avangard hypersonic glide vehicles — source

About 30 UR-100N UTTKh liquid-propellant missiles were delivered from Ukraine for the ‘gas debt, according to the source

MOSCOW, March 20. /TASS/. Soviet-made UR-100N UTTKh (NATO reporting name: SS-19 Stiletto) intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) will be the first carriers for hypersonic glide vehicles of Russia’s most advanced Avangard missile system, a source in the Russian defense industry told TASS on Tuesday.

"In the early 2000s, about 30 UR-100N UTTKh liquid-propellant missiles were delivered from Ukraine for the ‘gas debt.’ After the disintegration of the USSR, they were kept at warehouses in their unfueled condition, i.e. they were actually new and capable of going on combat duty to serve for several dozen years. A part of these missiles will become the carriers of the first series of hypersonic glide vehicles in the next few years," the source said.

"With the acceptance of heavy RS-28 Sarmat missiles for service, such vehicles will be mounted on them as well," the source added.

Speaking about the combat characteristics of the new hypersonic glide vehicle, the source noted that the yield of the nuclear warhead mounted on it - "over 2 megatonnes in TNT equivalent" - was quite enough to fully destroy "especially important targets."

Today the yield of the armament of strategic nuclear carriers in Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, China and other countries normally does not exceed 1 megatonne. The world’s most powerful weapon was tested in the Soviet Union in 1961: the AN-602 thermonuclear air bomb had a yield of 58 megatonnes.

TASS has not yet received an official confirmation of the information provided by the source.

Avangard and UR-100N UTTKh missiles
Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov said earlier that the Defense Ministry had signed a contract on the production of the Avangard hypersonic strategic system. The new weapon was mentioned for the first time by Russian President Vladimir Putin in his State of the Nation Address to the Federal Assembly on March 1.

Russia’s Strategic Missile Force Commander Sergei Karakayev later specified that the trials of the Avangard hypersonic missile system had been successfully completed.

The Avangard is a strategic ICBM system carrying a hypersonic glide vehicle. According to open sources, the complex was developed by the Research and Production Association of Machine-Building (the town of Reutov, the Moscow Region) and was tested from 2004. The glide vehicle is capable of flying in the dense layers of the atmosphere at hypersonic speed, maneuvering along its flight path and by its altitude and breaching any anti-missile defense.

The new complex is expected to go on combat duty no later than 2019, after its test launch is conducted successfully, another source in the defense industry told TASS earlier. As the source also said, the number of missile divisions within Russia’s Strategic Missile Force will not increase: the most advanced systems will arrive for the existing missile formations.

The UR-100N UTTKh (SS-19 Stiletto) missile is a heavy upgrade of the UR-100 missile complex developed in the Soviet Union in the 1960s by the Design Bureau-52 led by Vladimir Chelomei. It was accepted for service in 1980. Currently, Russia’s Strategic Missile Force operates 30 silo-based missiles of this type, according to open sources. The missile has a takeoff weight of about 100 tonnes and a throw weight of around 4.5 tonnes.

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SS-19 (Stiletto)

The SS-19 Stiletto (RS-18) is an intercontinental-range, silo-based, liquid propellant ballistic missile system deployed by the Soviet Union and now the Russian Federation. Designed concurrently with the SS-17, with which it shares many features. SS-17, SS-18, and SS-19 were the first Soviet missiles to be equipped with Multiple Independent Reentry Vehicle (MIRV) warheads with separate guidance and targeting systems. The old MRV systems were not independent and simply saturated a single target area with warheads.1

There have been three models of the SS-19 (RS-18), the Mod 1, in service from 1975-1983, and the Mod 2, from 1977 to 1982, and the Mod 3, from 1980 to the present.

SS-19 Mod-1
The Stiletto Mod 1 could deliver up to six MIRV warheads a maximum of 10,000 km, each with a nuclear yield of 500 kilotons (kT). 2 A digital guidance and control system was used with an inertial guidance system, resulting in a reported accuracy of 550 m CEP. The missile had a length of 24.0 m, a width of 2.5 m and a launch weight of 92,700 kg, and used a two-stage liquid propellant engine.3

The SS-19 entered development in 1968 with the first flight test of the Mod 1 taking place in April 1973. The missile entered service in 1975 as the last of the fourth generation Soviet land-based missiles, and was initially deployed in heavily modified SS-11 silos.

SS-19 Mod 2
The Mod 2 was a single warhead version of the SS-19 which was briefly in service between 1977 to 1982. The USSR deployed a total of 60 of this variant, which were the first to be replaced with the MIRVed Mod 3.

SS-19 Mod 3
Due to a rushed deployment timeline, earlier versions of the SS-19 were found to have accuracy issues at long ranges. Only a year after the deployment of the SS-19 Mod 1, the Soviets began a redesign of the missile to correct the flaw, along with other operational improvements and overall resilience, which resulted in the Mod 3. 4

The USSR began deployment of the Mod 3 in 1980. By 1983 all deployed SS-19 Mod 1 and 2 missiles were of the Mod 3 variety. The Mod 2 had a throw weight of 4,350 kg made up of six MIRVed warheads, with a nuclear yield between 550 to 750 kT. Like the previous Mods, the Mod 3 had a maximum range of 10,000 km with a somewhat reduced, but more reliable accuracy 900 m CEP. 5

By the time the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, 300 SS-19 launchers were deployed. Of these, 130 were stationed in Ukraine. Ukraine claimed ownership of them and after its independence, subsequently dismantling the launchers. 6 

As of 2016, 20 SS-19 launchers remain in service. 7


SS-19 launches Condor

A World War Might Sound Crazy, but It Could Be America’s Last Act of Desperation

Image public domain

By Darius Shahtahmasebi 

The Anti-Media

Though some have been warning about the catastrophic potential for a third global conflict for years, it wasn’t until recently that these warnings became more mainstream. The calamitous nature of the violence in Syria — which has one nuclear power defending a government that has been the target of a regime change operation led by the world’s superpower — combined with 2017’s threats of “fire and fury” against another state intently pursuing a nuclear weapons supply of its own, has pushed the issue of a third world war directly into the public discourse.

While certain hotspots throughout the Middle East, Asia, and Eastern Europe (i.e. Ukraine) have seen some notable escalations in the last few years, a direct conflict between Russia and the United States is still yet to emerge. That’s because the idea of a third world war in today’s world is completely insane. If the two countries that currently possess the world’s greatest supplies of nuclear weapons go to war, there may not be a world left for the victors to inhabit after the war is done, thereby making it an unthinkable proposal.

Then again, the U.S. did just recently bomb a significant number of Russian-linked forces in Syria, reportedly killing scores of them. The targets of these air strikes were also predominantly Iranian-backed militias (just in case there weren’t enough state actors already involved in this ongoing conflict).

Speaking of Iran, Donald Trump recently fired Rex Tillerson as secretary of state and immediately appointed CIA director Mike Pompeo to replace him. Pompeo is a notable anti-Iran hawk who will almost certainly go further than Tillerson was ever prepared to go with regard to the Iranian nuclear accord, a deal Pompeo believes is “disastrous.”

There are also reports now emerging that Donald Trump is planning to oust his national security advisor, General H.R. McMaster. McMaster originally replaced anti-Iran war hawk Michael Flynn, but apparently, McMaster’s non-stop allegations against Iran were not enough to please Trump. McMaster was not on board with Trump’s attempt to completely derail the Iranian nuclear deal.

One should bear in mind that when Donald Trump made the decision to strike the Syrian government in April of last year in what amounted to one of the year’s most important and over-publicized geopolitical events, it was McMaster who drew up the strike plan options and presented them to Trump to choose from. If this is a man not hawkish enough for Trump’s administration, his looming removal from the administration is a worrying sign of what’s to come.

Donald Trump’s Nuclear Posture Review entails that, as Katrina Vanden Heuvel noted in an article published in the Washington Post:

“The United States reserves the right to unleash nuclear weapons first in ‘extreme circumstances’ to defend the ‘vital interests’ not only of the United States but also of its ‘allies and partners’ — a total of some 30 countries. ‘Extreme circumstances,’ the review states explicitly, include ‘significant non-nuclear attacks,’ including conventional attacks on ‘allied or partner civilian population or infrastructure.’ The United States also maintains a ‘portion of its nuclear forces’ on daily alert, with the option of launching those forces ‘promptly.’ [emphasis added]

Considering that a former analyst for the Council on Foreign Relations, Micah Zenko, just warned that Pentagon officials are actively searching for a “big war” against Russia and China, the trajectory we are currently on starts to make a lot more sense.

In other parts of the world, we are witnessing a new era of hostilities towards Russia. The debacle taking place in the U.K. right now, which has seen allegations of a Russian chemical attack on British soil, has prompted the U.K., U.S., France, and Germany to band together and condemn Russia for something that hasn’t even been conclusively investigated yet.

After years of constantly being painted as the enemy, Russia just declared via Twitter that a “Cold War II” has begun, and who can blame them?

A third world war might sound crazy, but it is only crazy if we fail to understand the desperation that continues to plague the men in suits who pull the strings guiding American foreign policy. Consider that the Syrian government, with Russian and Iranian backing, has managed to stabilize significant parts of the country despite all odds so that refugees can return home safely. It should be clear that the best way to solve the Syrian crisis is to discontinue America’s regime change policy in Syria and allow the people of Syria to normalize their own lives without Washington’s interference. Yet, after seven years of brutal violence, the U.S. still refuses to admit defeat in Syria. If anything, the U.S. has now officially set its sights on directly combatting Iranian influence in the country, raising the potential for significant escalations.

Maybe, just maybe, the U.S. is that desperate. Apparently, the U.S. has to remain in Syria out of necessity. It cannot afford to sit on the sidelines as Russia re-emerges as the major power broker in the region, eating up all the major contracts coming out of Syria (together with Iran) as it looks to poach American allies left, right, and center.

Additionally, Russia recently warned the U.S. that it will not tolerate Washington’s aggressive attacks on the Syrian government and will respond with strikes of their own should the U.S. military threaten Russian personnel. One should expect that eventually, there will be a point where Russia will no longer allow these attacks to go unanswered.

As America’s power and influence wane, the time will come for both Russia and China to make their mark on the global stage. Just on a side note, it should come as no surprise that Trump’s nominated ambassador to Australia, Adm. Harry Harris, is a known anti-China war hawk who recently warned Congress to prepare for a war with China.

Why should we need to prepare for a war with China? Who talks and thinks like that? A nation on a slow and inevitable decline that cannot refuse to admit defeat in almost any battle theater since World War II, that’s who.

Realistically, nobody wants a third world war, but as the U.S. increasingly thrashes to maintain its control of the global financial markets, its network of over 1,000 bases worldwide, and its status as the world’s global policemen, a third world war may be Washington’s only hope at staying afloat as the world’s top power.

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