Armement : encore un succès de la France (Thales) en Australie

Par Michel Cabirol  |  24/11/2016, 10:00  |  572  mots

Le contrat de modernisation obtenu par Thales vise à doter les systèmes sonars des sous-marins australiens de la classe Collins des meilleures performances mondiales en matière de détection sous-marine (Crédits : ministère de la Défense australien) Thales a signé un contrat de conception et de pré-production avec le ministère de la Défense australien pour moderniser les six sous-marins de la classe Collins de la Marine royale. Un premier contrat de 70 millions d’euros.

Et encore un succès de la France en Australie dans le domaine de l’armement. Thales a signé un contrat de conception et de pré-production avec le ministère de la Défense australien pour moderniser les six sous-marins de la classe Collins de la Marine royale. Le montant de ce contrat s’élève à 100 millions de dollars australiens (soit 70 millions d’euros) mais il pourrait atteindre plusieurs centaines de millions d’euros si l’électronicien obtient les prochaines tranches concernant la production et l’installation des sonars.

Le gouvernement australien devrait donner en 2018 son feu vert définitif au programme de modernisation et les contrats devraient ensuite se succéder sur une dizaine d’années en fonction des besoins de la marine australienne, a précisé le vice-président des systèmes de lutte sous la mer de Thales, Alexis Morel lors d’une conférence téléphonique. Il estime que cette modernisation doit permettre « à la marine australienne de maintenir sa supériorité sous les mers dans la région ».

Meilleures performances mondiales en matière de détection

Thales aura pour mission de remplacer les antennes des sous-marins entrées en service au milieu des années 90 par des systèmes de sonars plus performants. Dans un contexte d’évolution permanente des menaces, ce contrat vise à doter leurs systèmes sonars des meilleures performances mondiales en matière de détection sous-marine, estime le groupe d’électronique.

Premier fournisseur de technologies sonars à l’Australie, Thales s’appuiera sur une forte expertise locale et internationale pour moderniser les antennes cylindriques, les antennes de flanc et leur traitement à bord. Ainsi, les antennes cylindriques seront remplacées par des antennes cylindriques modulaires (MCA), élaborées par Thales au Royaume-Uni. L’actuelle antenne de flanc sera, elle, remplacée par une antenne de dernière génération développée par les équipes Thales en France.

Dans ce cadre de la modernisation des Collins, Thales Australia engagera des sociétés australiennes comme Sonartech Atlas et L3 Oceania en vue de préparer ce programme, a précisé le ministère australien de la Défense dans un communiqué. « C’est un exemple clair de notre engagement à renforcer le potentiel d’innovation de l’industrie militaire australienne », fait observer le ministre de la Défense, Christopher Pyne. Les travaux d’intégration des systèmes de sonars s’effectueront sur le site de Thales à Rydalmere, à côté de Sydney.

« C’est très bien pour Thales en Australie : cela permet de renouveler des compétences et des emplois et nous maintient dans une position importante dans le pays », estime Alexis Morel.

Une étape importante pour Thales

Avec ce contrat obtenu en Australie, Thales a en ligne de mire un contrat que le groupe pourrait décrocher courant 2017. Un contrat de plus d’un milliard d’euros en vue d’équiper de sonars de nouvelle génération les 12 futurs sous-marins que DCNS et Lockheed Martin (système de combat) doivent construire pour la marine australienne (34 milliards d’euros au total). « Dans le contexte du grand contrat sur les futurs sous-marins, c’est évidemment une étape très importante pour nous », estime Alexis Morel. « On ne vend pas la peau de l’ours mais on aborde les choses avec confiance », affirme-t-il toutefois.

« Aujourd’hui, nous avons l’assurance que la confiance du gouvernement australien dans Thales pour moderniser ses sous-marins actuels est renouvelée », assure-t-il, en précisant que le processus de sélection pour ce contrat n’est pas encore défini.

Source: La Tribune.fr

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US moves to arm Indonesia’s growing F-16 fighter fleet

Written by Reuters

Monday, 27 August 2012

President Barack Obama’s administration has proposed to sell air-to-surface guided missiles and related gear to equip Indonesia’s growing fleet of U.S.-built F-16 fighter aircraft.

The sale, valued at $25 million, would be the latest U.S. move to boost security ties with friends and allies in a region stirred by China’s growing military clout and territorial assertiveness.

Indonesia has requested 18 AGM-65K2 « Maverick All-Up-Round » missiles, 36 « captive air training missiles » and three maintenance training missiles, plus spares, test equipment and personnel training, the administration told the U.S. Congress in a notice dated Wednesday, Reuters reports.

The AGM-65 Maverick, built by Raytheon Co, is designed to attack a wide range of tactical targets, including armor, air defenses, ships, ground transportation and fuel storage facilities.

« The Indonesian Air Force needs these missiles to train its F-16 pilots in basic air-to-ground weapons employment, » the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in the notice to lawmakers.

The arms sale would contribute to making Indonesia « a more valuable regional partner in an important area of the world, » the security agency added.

Such notices of a proposed sale are required by law and do not mean the sale has been concluded.

GIVING F-16s

The United States is giving, not selling, Jakarta two dozen second-hand F-16C/D fighter planes to strengthen bilateral ties and foster what the Pentagon has called a « much-needed » capability to protect Indonesian air space.

Obama and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia announced the F-16 transfer near the end of a nine-day Asia-Pacific tour that Obama used in November to re-emphasize U.S. interests in the region.

The F-16s are decommissioned and no longer part of the U.S. Air Force inventory. Once retooled and upgraded, they will boost Indonesia’s « interoperability » with the United States, the Defense Department said at the time.

Interoperability is the extent to which military forces can work with each other to achieve a common goal. The refurbished aircraft add to Indonesia’s existing fleet of 10 earlier-model F-16s.

The quantities of missiles being sought by Indonesia would support both the existing fleet and the 24 being provided as U.S. surplus, the notice to Congress said.

Jakarta is paying up to $750 million to upgrade the second-hand Lockheed Martin Corp fighters and overhaul their United Technologies Corp’s Pratt & Whitney-built engines.

Indonesia, the largest country in Southeast Asia and the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, is only one part of the growing U.S. emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region for national-security planning.

The United States also is building Guam as a strategic hub, deploying up to four shore-hugging littoral combat ships on a rotational basis to Singapore and preparing what is to be a 2,500-strong Marine Corps task force rotation as part of a tightening military partnership with Australia.

Source: defenceweb.co.za

Boeing vend 84 chasseurs F-15 à l’Arabie Saoudite

Le 30 décembre 2011 par Barbara Leblanc

Le groupe américain décroche le 29 décembre un contrat de plus de 22 milliards d’euros.

C’est l’administration Obama qui annonce la nouvelle. Les chasseurs conçus par Boeing seront dotés de technologies électroniques avancées. Le contrat prévoit la vente de 84 unités, mais aussi la modernisation de 70 chasseurs plus anciens.

Cela fait plus d’un an que les Etats-Unis avaient obtenu le feu vert du Congrès pour la vente de ces appareils. Mais le processus a été ralenti face aux tensions dans la région.

Selon la Maison Blanche ce contrat permettra la création de 50 000 emplois américains et de raffermir la coopération régionale en matière de défense avec l’Arabie Saoudite.

« Il illustre l’engagement américain en faveur d’une Arabie saoudite forte en matière de capacité de défense, qui est un élément-clé de la sécurité de la région, estime Andrew Shapiro, haut fonctionnaire du département d’Etat. A l’évidence, l’une des menaces pour l’Arabie Saoudite est l’Iran ».

Washington tout comme Ryad s’inquiètent du programme nucléaire de Téhéran, soupçonné de chercher à se doter de l’arme atomique sous couvert d’un programme énergétique civil. « Ce contrat est donc un message fort envoyé par Washington », assure-t-il.

Téhéran a menacé ces derniers jours de fermer le détroit d’Ormuz, par où transite entre un tiers et 40% du trafic pétrolier mondial, en cas de nouvelles sanctions internationales contre son programme nucléaire controversé, un geste qui exposerait la république islamique à une réaction militaire des Etats-Unis.

Source: L’usine nouvelle

Russia to modernize 60 MiG-31 interceptors by 2020

MOSCOW, January 2 (RIA Novosti)

The Russian Air Force will receive over 60 modernized MiG-31 Foxhound interceptor aircraft by 2020, the Defense Ministry said.

A modernization contract was signed by the ministry and Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation in December last year.

“We are planning to upgrade more than 60 MiG-31 interceptors to the MiG-31BM version by 2020,” Air Force spokesman Vladimir Drik said last week.

Relatively few MiG-31s have been modernized to the MiG-31BM version since the heavy interceptor entered service with the Russian Air Force in 1982.

The modernized version is fitted with upgraded avionics and digital data links, a new multimode radar, color multi-function cockpit displays, and a more powerful weapons-control system. It can detect airborne targets at the range of 320 kilometers (200 miles) and simultaneously track up to 10 targets.

The MiG-31BM can carry new air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles such as the AS-17 Krypton anti-radar missile.

MiG-31 interceptors are an integral part of a comprehensive aerospace defense network being created in Russia to thwart any potential airborne threats, including ballistic and cruise missiles.

Argentina aerospace firm delivers first project

26.07.2011

One year after its revival, Argentina’s state-owned aerospace manufacturer has announced delivery of its first major project to the national air force. On 8 July, Fabrica Argentina de Aviones (FAdeA) handed over an IA-58 Pucura counter-insurgency aircraft with a new set of maintenance upgrades.

It is the first step in a series of moves to upgrade the maintenance, communications, navigation and engines for the IA-58 fleet, which is entering its fifth decade of service.

The project is also the first step in the government’s attempted revival of a domestic aerospace industry. The IA-58 work re-establishes core operations of FAdeA, along with a similar programme involving the IA-63 trainer fleet.

Beyond those projects there are plans to further strengthen FAdeA and the company has launched development of a new jet trainer with Chile the IA-73.

Argentina has also committed to join the Embraer KC-390 twin-jet airlifter programme. The arrangement includes a deal allowing FAdeA to supply spoilers, flap fairings, tail cone, and electronic cabinet and doors for the nose landing gear and ramp for all KC-390s.

FAdeA was revived after the Argentinian government re-nationalised the company after a 15-year ownership by Lockheed Martin. The company traces its roots to 1927, when the former Fabrica Militar de Aviones began building European aircraft under licence.

Source: Flight International

Drone Impact On Pace Of War Draws Scrutiny

Jul 8, 2011

By Paul McLeary, Sharon Weinberger, Angus Batey
Washington, Washington, London

There is an unofficial but lethal drone war taking place over Pakistan, Yemen and Libya that has expanded the area of operation for U.S. forces beyond Iraq and Afghanistan, with no real acknowledgement from the government that anything extraordinary is happening. The undeclared conflict on these three fronts might be the first Drone War, and warfare has never seen anything like it.

On just one front of this undeclared war, in Pakistan, the U.S. had launched 37 drone strikes this year as of June and 118 in all of 2010.

The simultaneous use of remotely piloted unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) over Pakistan, Yemen and Libya, as well as Iraq and Afghanistan, typically operated by crews in the Nevada desert, raises certain questions. Would the U.S. engage in such a wide-ranging air campaign if it were conducted only with manned aircraft flying from overseas bases and carrier strike groups? Has the use of unmanned systems led to more warfare, in more places, because of the smaller logistics tail and the fact that pilots’ lives are not at risk?

“The issue is not whether or not the aircraft is manned,” says Lt. Gen. (ret.) David Deptula, former U.S. Air Force first deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and principal air attack planner during Operation Desert Storm, the runup to the 1991 Persian Gulf war. “We would do what we’re doing if the only way we could do it is with a man in the aircraft.”

Deptula maintains that operating over permissive environments such as Yemen or Pakistan—where the tacit or explicit approval of the host government has been granted—means that the threat to pilots is limited, and that “taking the human out of the cockpit simply allows the capability of persistence to be exploited.” In other words, the ability of remotely piloted systems to hover over targets for hours before striking is what leads policymakers and combatant commanders to make use of them in these situations, not because there is no risk to American lives.

In his view, UAVs don’t “lower the threshold to the application of force,” but enable “a perspective that we didn’t have when you had a person in the cockpit”—namely, persistence. A General Atomics Predator or Reaper drone can loiter well beyond the capability of a manned aircraft, which gives it the ability to wait out an enemy while it gathers the intelligence needed for a planning a strike. Deptula has long railed against the word “unmanned” when it comes to drones, since “it nominally takes about 180 people to maintain a single orbit. The majority of those people are analysts. You don’t have that in manned aircraft.”

From a legal standpoint, U.S. government officials are adamant that using a drone to kill an enemy is no different than employing manned aircraft. “[The] rules that govern targeting do not turn on the type of weapon system used, and there is no prohibition under the laws of war on the use of technologically advanced weapon systems in armed conflict—such as pilotless aircraft or so-called smart bombs—so long as they are employed in conformity with applicable laws of war,” Harold Hongju Koh, legal adviser to the U.S. State Department, said at this year’s annual meeting of the American Society of International Law in Washington. “Indeed, using such advanced technologies can ensure both that the best intelligence is available for planning operations and that civilian casualties are minimized in carrying out such an operation.”

A secondary question is whether drone operators are more or less likely to drop bombs than manned aircraft. Precious little research has been done on how the people operating drones—particularly those responsible for the weapons—are affected psychologically, or more importantly, whether they are affected differently than those flying manned aircraft. An Air Force Research Laboratory study in 2010 compared drone operators to gunship pilots and found similarities.

But there are also differences. For example, subject matter experts interviewed by the study’s authors cited cases where sensor operators, after having to kill enemy forces, decided they weren’t comfortable doing so and changed jobs. “They reported such SOs (sensor operators) performed their surveillance and reconnaissance duties well, but emotionally struggled with their role in taking lives of others, regardless of the threat enemy combatants posed to U.S. and allied forces,” the study found. “[Subject matter experts] reported such SOs experienced significant internal conflict with their role, and that such a conflict did not become apparent until the SO was faced with a real-life situation or fully educated about the nature of their combat-related duties.”

In other words, UAV sensor operators may have more problems with releasing weapons than gunship crews, and thus might require even more motivation to do their jobs, the authors wrote.

Pilots or drone operators can only fly where their military and civilian bosses tell them to and conduct the missions they’ve been tasked to do. The notion that having access to armed, unmanned platforms may make it easier for the order to be given to fly lethal missions, and therefore permit politicians to take nations to war sooner, or without the planning and deliberation that is essential to engaging in conflict, is one that the U.K. Defense Ministry has considered. The ministry’s Development, Concepts and Doctrine Center released a report titled “The U.K. Approach to Unmanned Aircraft Systems” in March, which states “ . . . the recent extensive use of unmanned aircraft over Pakistan and Yemen may already herald a new era. That these activities are exclusively carried out by unmanned aircraft, even though very capable manned aircraft are available, and that the use of ground troops in harm’s way has been avoided, suggests that the use of force is totally a function of an unmanned capability.”

“I actually disagree that [the U.K. is] doing anything differently because of the unmanned technology,” says Wing Cdr. Chris Thirtle, Royal Air Force desk officer and policy lead for remotely piloted air systems. “From a U.K. perspective, I sense there is no change in political appetite just because of the advent of unmanned aircraft. They don’t change what we do, they don’t influence what we do; they just give us a better, and hopefully safer, way of doing it.”

In Afghanistan, too, experience suggests that decisions to strike are not being taken more hastily because of remotely piloted platforms. Rather, it is another factor inherent in the current generation of unmanned aircraft that is changing the nature of warfare.

Thirtle and Deptula have much in common in their assessments of what capabilities UAVs give the U.S. and U.K., with the aircraft’s ability to loiter above a target for hours being the critical factor that changes the potential battlefield below. “What the unmanned system gives that we’ve not had before is the persistent presence that enables us to know when we want to deliver an effect and where we need to deliver it,” says Thirtle. “In a congested, cluttered, complex battlespace, persistence is becoming more and more valuable. A single snapshot just gives you a picture. Your understanding of that picture could change if you saw what was happening there 5 minutes before or 5 seconds later. That is what’s changing the way we consider how we use our pieces on the chessboard. I think we’ve understood the benefits of persistence,” he adds, “and you’ll see a drive to keep that card in hand.”

DTI saw the benefits of persistence at Bagram AB, Afghanistan, in September 2009, while embedded with the U.S. Army’s Task Force ODIN, an acronym for observe, detect, identify and neutralize. The task force’s mix of contractors and enlisted personnel teamed up to operate General Atomics MQ‑1C Warrior drones on surveillance and overwatch missions as well as lethal runs (DTI November 2009, p. 16).

Since the aircraft can fly 24 hr. at a time, teams would swap out every 7 hr. to keep a fresh set of eyes on the ground at all times. DTI was allowed into the flight-control pod to observe a live night raid at an undisclosed location in Afghanistan, and the hours on station that the drone provided gave the insertion team on the ground an unprecedented look into the “pattern of life” inside the compound’s walls hours before their helicopters touched down—intel that was pored over in real time by analysts in multiple locations via a secure online chat function.

Another mission the ODIN crews were practicing at the time—and which has since been put to lethal effect—was teaming with Army Apache helicopter crews. During the test runs DTI observed, an Apache crew would laser-designate a target that a Warrior UAV would hit, or a Warrior designated a target that an Apache would strike. In this mission the value of keeping a persistent watch on a target is combined with the ability of a helicopter crew to see a wider view of an area, something unavailable to a drone’s operators.

The stress operators can experience on long missions is a concern, however. There are advantages to removing a pilot from an airframe—the calm, comfortable “cockpit” environment of a drone operator and access to more intelligence and advice should enable greater concentration and better decision-making. But unmanned aviation technology has its own unique set of pressures—everything an operator sees, hears and reads is stored, and all decisions taken can be subject to a greater degree of analysis and evaluation after a mission than would be possible with a manned platform. The remote operator may be under increased pressure to justify every decision taken during a mission. Greater persistence also means longer time on station than for a manned platform, and the view through the “cockpit windshield” is not of ground several miles below, but close-up sensor footage of buildings, vehicles and people—friend and foe alike.

Air Cdr. Stuart Atha, the U.K. Defense Ministry’s head of Joint Capability, and in 2009-10 the air component commander in Afghanistan, addressed the question of the effect “prolonged exposure to death and destruction via near-real-time video” may have on aircrews in a recent speech to defense experts in London.

“The crews are distant but not detached,” he said. “While they operate at no direct physical risk they are subject to psychological and emotional stresses. Yet the evidence shows that occupational rather than operational issues, such as the long hours worked, the need to maintain a heightened awareness over long periods, and in particular the constant juggling of domestic and professional life, are the more prevalent causes of stress.”

In the present climate, with Britain’s economic uncertainties pointing to further cuts in defense budgets, remotely piloted operations offer a rare area of growth. And while the Reaper drone remains an Urgent Operational Requirement and is not at present expected to remain in the RAF inventory after the U.K. withdraws from Afghanistan, the Scavenger Istar (intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance) UAV requirement, set to be finalized in 2012 with a view to initial operating capability around 2018, will keep the RAF invested in remotely piloted air system capabilities. From being an uncertain berth in a changing service, remotely piloted aircraft may offer one of the more secure career paths in the British military.

While the U.S. isn’t hiding the fact that it is flying missions against targets in Pakistan and Yemen, the U.K. is more careful about its Afghanistan operations. Penetrating foreign airspace is still penetrating foreign airspace, Thirtle says, echoing Deptula’s contention that not having a pilot in the cockpit doesn’t really change the nature of the situation. “Speaking hypothetically,” Thirtle continues, “there’s much less political fallout from having a bunch of wreckage found on the wrong side of the border than a captured airman or a body. However, I’ve seen and heard nothing that gives me any sense that wreckage falling on the wrong side of the border is acceptable just because it’s unmanned.

“The U.K. operates remotely piloted aircraft systems only in Afghanistan. The border is considered so sacrosanct that you put another border inside the real border, so that even if your navigation system drifts slightly, there is no danger you will have infringed somebody else’s airspace.”

In the U.S., remotely piloted aircraft are also creating career paths. The Air Force Academy’s class of 2011 was the first in which graduates planned to specialize in operating remotely piloted aircraft—32 of 1,021 graduates selected this field. In the Army, enlisted soldiers operate the UAVs and surveillance equipment, though Army pilots or contract pilots handle takeoffs and landings.

The Wall Street Journal reported last month that the CIA is now preparing to launch a major drone operation over Yemen. The aircraft will conduct surveillance and attack missions, using operations over Pakistan as a blueprint. This, of course, adds another wrinkle to the debate over the increasing use of unmanned platforms for targeted killings in countries where the U.S. isn’t technically at war.

Source: defense technology international

La DGA livre le 1er hélicoptère Panther « standard 2 » à la marine

Mise à jour : 23/06/2011 16:30

La direction générale de l’armement (DGA) vient de livrer le premier hélicoptère Panther « standard 2 » à la marine le 31 mai 2011. L’ensemble de la flotte Panther de la marine, soit 16 hélicoptères, sera aux normes de ce nouveau standard à l’horizon 2016.

Cette nouvelle version améliore l’interopérabilité OTAN de l’hélicoptère grâce à l’intégration de la liaison de données L11. L’avionique a également été totalement modernisée et mise en conformité OACI (Organisation de l’aviation civile internationale) : intégration d’écrans de navigation et d’un écran de mission sur la  planche de bord, sécurisation des communications radios, installation d’un GPS, d’un répondeur mode S. Ces hélicoptères seront aussi équipés d’une caméra capable de filmer de jour comme de nuit.

La DGA a notifié un contrat d’un montant de 54 millions d’euros à Eurocopter en janvier 2007 et un autre de 7 millions d’euros au service industriel de l’aéronautique (SIAé) en mai 2007. Au titre de ce contrat, le SIAé est en charge du développement et de la fourniture des consoles tactiques qui viendront compléter ce nouveau standard.

Source: DICOD

Agustas to be weaponised

Written by Leon Engelbrecht

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

The South African Air Force has awarded Unionlet Ltd a R398 218,34 contract to procure, on its behalf kits to convert four Fabrique National 7.62m MAG machine guns from the Model MAG 58 infantry type to Model MAG 58m mounting type for mounting on the Agusta A109 light utility helicopter.

Unionlet is a comparatively small arms broker based in west London and is southern African gent for a number of defence manufacturers. Britain’s Guardian newspaper says Unionlet is co-owned by managing director Mark Ranger and his father. Ranger was previously with the UK Defence Export Services Organisation. South Africa has purchased assorted FN and Heckler & Koch small arms and spares via Unionlet since at least 2006.

South Africa bought 30 AgustaWestland A109 light utility helicopters for R2.451 billion under Project Flange as part of the 1999 strategic defence package (SDP). They are currently unarmed. The kits will allow a crewman to put down suppressive fire when landing or recovering troops. Similar kits are fitted to the Denel Oryx medium utility helicopter and the AgustaWestland Super Lynx 300 Mk64 maritime helicopters from time to time.

Source: defenceWeb

Goodrich Selected for Russian Helicopters Mi-34C1 Upgrade Program

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Goodrich Corporation has been selected by Russian Helicopters, JSC to provide the main rotor actuator and hydraulic power supply for its upgraded Mi-34C1 light helicopter. The agreement includes research and development, original equipment supply and aftermarket support for both units. Prototypes for flight tests have already been produced by Goodrich’s Actuation Systems business with entry into service planned for late 2012.

Mike Gardiner, president of Goodrich’s Actuation Systems business stated, « Goodrich’s experience and expertise producing reliable actuation systems brings added value to the Russian Helicopters Mi-34C1 upgrade. We are pleased to be cooperating on such a significant program in Russia and look forward to this and future collaboration. »

The upgrade to the existing Mi-34 known as the Mi-34C1 plans to achieve an increase in maximum takeoff weight to 1,500 kg (1.5 tons) and allows for the piston engine to be potentially replaced by a gas-turbine engine during future modernization.

Russian Helicopters, JSC is the subsidiary of UIC Oboronprom, a part of Russian Technologies State Corporation. It controls the following helicopter industry enterprises: Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant, Kamov, Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant, Kazan Helicopters, Rostvertol, Progress Arsenyev Aviation Company named after N.I. Sazykin, Kumertau Aviation Production Enterprise, Stupino Machine Production Plant, Reductor-PM, Novosibirsk Aircraft Repairing Plant and Helicopter Service Company.

Goodrich Corporation, a Fortune 500 company, is a global supplier of systems and services to aerospace, defense and homeland security markets. With one of the most strategically diversified portfolios of products in the industry, Goodrich serves a global customer base with significant worldwide manufacturing and service facilities.

India Set to Sign $2.4bn Mirage Deal with France

NEW DELHI

Faced with a dual threat from China and Pakistan, which have even come together to manufacture fighter jets, India is really cranking up military aviation contracts. Even as the $4.1 billion deal for 10 American C-17 Globemaster-III strategic airlift aircraft awaits the final nod from the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), another major contract is now headed that way.

Defence ministry sources on Wednesday said the long-awaited deal with France for the upgrade of 52 Mirage-2000 multi-role fighters in IAF’s combat fleet is « finally ready » at a cost of almost Rs 11,000 crore ($2.4 billion).

« This is also now going to CCS for approval. Another big contract, which was being progressed simultaneously, for around 450 MICA (interception and aerial combat missiles) systems to arm the upgraded Mirages is also in the final stages now, » said a source.

This comes after long-drawn negotiations with French companies Dassault Aviation (aircraft manufacturer), Thales (weapons systems integrator) and MBDA (missile supplier), which were « initially asking for much more », said sources.

Under the contract, the first four to six Mirages will be upgraded in France, while the rest will be retrofitted in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) with transfer of technology from the French companies.

This means the overall Mirage upgrade package, including the fire-and-forget MICA missiles and the infrastructure build-up at HAL, will eventually cross the Rs 15,000-crore mark.

It obviously raises questions whether it would be more prudent to simply buy new fighters rather than upgrade older ones at such a huge cost. IAF, however, argues the « retrofitted » Mirages — with new avionics, radars, mission computers, glass cockpits, helmet-mounted displays, electronic warfare suites, weapon delivery and precision-targeting systems — would remain « top-notch fighters » for almost two decades more.

With a depleting number of fighter squadrons (each has 16 to 18 jets), down to just 32 from a `sanctioned strength’ of 39.5, IAF is going for a mix of upgrades and new inductions to stem its fast-eroding combat edge over even Pakistan.

There is, for instance, the ongoing upgrade of 63 MiG-29s under a $964 million deal inked with Russia in March 2008. Then, India is also progressively inducting the 272 Sukhoi-30MKIs contracted from Russia for around $12 billion. Moreover, the first lot of the around 120 indigenous Tejas Light Combat Aircraft will begin joining the force from end-2013 onwards.

India also wants to ink by December this year the $10.4 billion project for 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA), in which only the French Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoons are now left in contention after ejection of the American, Russian and Swedish jets.

On top of this all, India hopes to begin inducting 250-300 advanced stealth fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA), being co-developed with Russia, from 2020 onwards, in what will be its biggest-ever defence project at around $35 billion.

Source: The Times of India