Report Urges Industry Diversification in UK Shipbuilding Projects

By: Andrew Chuter, November 29, 2016

LONDON – The UK government could use the new Type 31 frigate program to boost national shipbuilding capabilities and end BAE Systems’ monopoly on the construction of surface warships here, said a report into the future of the industry released Nov 29.

Having the Type 31 built by an industry alliance not led by BAE could be a « pathfinder » towards the rejuvenation of naval shipbuilding, Sir John Parker said in a report about the implementation of a national shipbuilding strategy commissioned by the government.

The report has been published just days after the Ministry of Defence announced it was throwing open to public consultation a possible revamp of its wider defense industrial strategy. Parker’s recommendations will be considered as part of the wider strategy work.

Under new Prime Minister Theresa May, the government is championing the introduction of a new industrial strategy to boost Britain’s manufacturing sector.

Britain committed to building eight Type 26 anti-submarine warfare frigates and five Type 31 general-purpose frigates in the strategic defence and security review last year.

Parker, currently the chairman of Anglo American but previously a highly regarded figure in the shipbuilding sector here, recommended that all the Type 26’s should be built by BAE at its two yards in Glasgow, Scotland, but the Type 31 program should be led by another company or alliance.

BAE responded to the report issuing a statement saying that as the « custodian of the UK’s capability to design and build complex warships we are confident that we will continue to play a prominent role in the delivery of future UK warships. … The commitment to five River-class offshore patrol vessels and eight Type 26’s protects this capability and our shipbuilding skills providing continuous warship building production at our facilities in Glasgow into the 2030s. »

Parker justified the two-primes approach saying, « There is no precedence for building two first-of-class Royal Navy frigates in one location [in a similar timeframe]. »

The executive said the Type 31 program should « harness » regional shipyards in the UK that have demonstrated their competitiveness and capability to build fully outfitted blocks of the warship.

If the recommendation is accepted by the government it could open the door to largely commercial shipyards like the A&P Group, Babcock’s Appledore facility, Cammell Laird and Harland & Wolff.

Parker never mentioned the issue but most of the potential block builders are English-based and their presence on a program like the Type 31 would leave open some options to the government in London were Scotland to vote for independence in any future referendum.

Ahead of the last referendum in 2014 the government threatened to pull it’s warship orders out of Scotland had voters north of the border voted for independence.

Parker said there was already a renaissance in shipbuilding in a range of regional shipbuilding companies.

The national shipbuilding strategy « could take the industry on a transformational journey similar to that experienced by our rejuvenated car industry, » he said.

Once the world’s largest warship builder, the industry directly employs around just 15,000 people today.

Parker said an alliance approach could also be used to allow British yards to bid against international rivals for the construction of three large logistics supply ships. Contract award is expected in 2020.

Logistics vessels are not required to be built in Britain, unlike complex warships like the Type 26.

The Royal Navy’s two 70,000 tonne aircraft carriers now coming to the end of their build program at Babcock International’s Rosyth, Scotland, yard contracted out the construction of modules to several yards around Britain.

The BAE-led industry alliance responsible for the program had the huge modules floated around the coast of Britain to Rosyth where they were assembled like a giant Meccano set.

The Ministry of Defence recently announced it expected BAE to cut the first steel on the lead Type 26 frigate next summer.

The first warship is needed by 2023 to start replacing the Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigate fleet.

The Type 31 timeline has not been made public but work is someway behind the anti-submarine warfare frigate.

For the moment, the general-purpose warship is in the pre-concept stage, with program officials still looking which of several potential designs to adopt.

« The Type 26 is critical for the Royal Navy and the nation while the Type 31 is urgently required to maintain frigate fleet numbers.To establish a separate lead shipyard or alliance would appear to be the best way forward for Type 31e to minimise the overall risk, » Parker said.

One industry analyst, who asked not to be named, queried Parker’s take on which approach offered the greatest risk.

« Is it giving BAE two warship types to build or signing up a contractor who may not have built a complex ship of this nature in a generation? » he said.

The analyst said the problem for BAE in losing control of the Type 31e program would come in a design department which is likely to see a rundown in Type 26 work around the end of 2019.

BAE would still be able to compete for combat systems and block building work, said Parker.

The Anglo Amercian executive said he had called the general-purpose frigate the Type31e to emphasize the warship had to be exportable.

Parker said the MoD needed to get on and procure the Type31e as rapidly as possible and place it in service as early as possible in the 2020s.

If the money is not available to match the timeline, « wider government support should be provided to allow early vessel build, » he said.

Money is a real issue if Parker is to meet his aspirations for an early start to the Type 31e.

« There is no money in the government’s ten-year equipment plan for Type 31e, and it would likely take somewhere between £1.5 billion and £2 billion to get the program on the road in the timescale Sir Peter is recommending, » said one industry executive who asked not to be named.

The report said the MoD needed to come up with a 30-year naval shipbuilding road plan for the different shipbuilding programs, with assured budgets not subject to « random » program changes triggered by annual budget adjustments.

Parker didn’t restrict his recommendations to the industrial aspect of shipbuilding. The executive also took a pot shot at MoD’s procurement and program governance shortcomings.

The executive said naval procurement took far too long. « There are too many people who think they have a vote and even a veto in the process. »

« There was a lack of governance systems that grip design and specifications to budget and time to contract, » he said.

Trevor Taylor, a defense-management analyst at the Royal United Services Institute think tank in London, said the report highlighted longstanding acquisition issues at the MoD.

« The report reflects the problems in defense acquisition that were visible at the time of the Smart Acquisition initiative in 1998.The Royal Navy appears to have learned little about the management of the supply base or the link between requirement and cost, » said Taylor

Source: defensenews.com

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Type 26: Next generation warship unveiled by MoD

Contributor:  Andrew Elwell
Posted:  08/28/2012

The Ministry of Defence has released designs for its next generation warship, the Type 26 Global Combat Ship (T26 GCS).

BAE Systems has been working on the plans since 2010 and the MoD confirmed last week that the baseline design of the GCS has now been agreed. The next stage of the process is to agree on “the detailed specifications of the vessel.”

The Type 26 is expected to come into service after 2020 and will be used by the Royal Navy in combat and counter-piracy operations, and to support humanitarian and disaster relief work around the world.

“The Type 26 Global Combat Ship will be the backbone of the Royal Navy for decades to come. It is designed to be adaptable and easily upgraded, reacting to threats as they change,” Peter Luff, the Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, said. “I am delighted the programme has been endorsed by the investment approvals committee. The build of these vessels will secure thousands of skilled jobs across the UK, helping to sustain an industrial surface warship capability.”

At 148 metres long the Type 26 GCS will displace 5,400 tonnes and carry a medium calibre gun. It will have a hangar to accommodate a Merlin or Wildcat helicopter, and a flexible mission space for unmanned air, surface and underwater vehicles, or additional boats.

“The T26 GCS will be a multi-mission warship designed for joint and multinational operations across the full spectrum of warfare, including complex combat operations, maritime security operations such as counter-piracy, as well as humanitarian and disaster relief work around the world,” said First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope. “It will be capable of operating independently for significant periods or as part of a task group and will play a major role in the defence of this country for many years.”

Source: Defence iQ

Les Philippines abandonnent l’idée des Mirage 2000-9 pour son armée de l’air

29/06/2012

Manilles abandonnerait l’idée d’acquérir des avions Dassault pour équiper son armée de l’air. Le pays souhaiterait en effet s’équiper de 12 appareils d’interception et d’attaque anti-navire dans les deux ans à venir ainsi que de six autres pour la lutte contre la guérilla.

Selon la récente déclaration de Patrick Velez du Ministère philippin de la défense les fournisseurs potentiels pour les chasseurs seraient la Corée du Sud, l’Italie, le Royaume-Uni et la Russie. Exit donc la France avec ses appareils émiriens voire qatarie un temps évoqué.

Les six autres appareils d’attaque au sol pour remplacer les vénérables OV-10 Broncos pourraient être acquis auprès des États-Unis, de la Corée du Sud ou du Brésil toujours selon le responsable du DND philippin. Exit donc les AMX italiens un temps envisagé.

Un autre contrat pour six appareils d’entrainement et d’attaque au sol est toujours en discussion.

Les Philippines se disputent territorialement les îles Spratleys avec le Vietnam et surtout la Chine. La recrudescence d’activité de la Chine dans la zone fait craindre des tensions de plus en plus fortes du fait d’une mauvaise coordination entre adminisitrations chinoises comme le révèle l’International Crisis Group.

David Campese

 

 

Thales signe un accord avec L-3 Communications

Par Barbara Leblanc – Publié le 11 avril 2012

Le groupe français vend son activité de simulation de vols basée en Grande-Bretagne pour 132 millions de dollars.

L’opération visant à la cession de la filiale ThalesTraining & Simulation Ltd  doit être bouclée d’ici à l’été. La filiale est spécialisée dans la simulation et la formation pour l’aéronautique civile.

Au total, elle emploie quelque 400 personnes et pourrait enregistrer un chiffre d’affaires de 150 millions de dollars en 2012.

Elle va venir accroître le portefeuille de L-3, dont le chiffre d’affaires annuel dépasser les 15 milliards de dollars. L’entreprise est spécialisée dans les systèmes de contrôle, communication, renseignement, surveillance et reconnaissance, et notamment l’aéronautique civile et militaire.

Source: l’Usine Nouvelle

BAE signs Saudi-Eurofighter deal

London : Wed, 04 Apr 2012

British defence contractor BAE Systems said a contract to build 48 Typhoon aircraft in Britain for the Saudi Arabian air force had been signed but changes to the price of the deal had yet to be agreed.

BAE had expected changes to the terms of the deal to be signed off in 2011, but it warned in January this year that talks over proposed adjustments to the final assembly of the last 48 of the 72 Typhoon aircraft would continue into 2012 and could hit 2011 profit.

The proposed changes — such as the creation of a maintenance facility in Saudi Arabia, the addition of new capability to some aircraft and the formalisation of price changes — could affect the price of the deal.

The Salam deal to build a total of 72 aircraft was signed in 2007 and is worth around 4.5 billion pounds ($7.21 billion), with the first squadron of 24 already delivered to the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF).

‘The contract for the final assembly of 48 Typhoon aircraft in the UK has now been signed and final assembly has commenced at our Warton facility, discussions are ongoing with regard to the creation of a maintenance facility in Saudi Arabia and the formalisation of price variations,’ BAE said in an email sent to Reuters on Tuesday.

‘In terms of … conversion to Tranche 3 and formalisation of price escalation, good progress has been made with budgets approved in December 2011 through the royal decree. Negotiations on price escalation will continue into 2012.’

Conversion of the jets to a Tranche 3 variant will see new missile and radar technology added to the Typhoon.

The Saudi royal decree, which was signed off at the end of 2011, releases some 1.5 billion pounds ($2.40 billion) on top of the existing Salam programme commitment for a series of enhancements, BAE said.

Saudi Arabia’s Defence Minister Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz is due to meet British Prime Minister David Cameron and Defence Secretary Philip Hammond in London later on Tuesday. Saudi Arabia is a key Arab ally and a major buyer of British-made defence equipment.

Prince Salman is responsible for securing multi-billion dollar arms purchases, which have been used to cement Saudi Arabia’s ties with the West. He is also seen as a possible candidate to one day rule the conservative Islamic kingdom.

Earlier this year two Western defence sources said Saudi Arabia, which placed a $29.4 billion order for new Boeing F-15 jets in late 2011, was in the early stage of talks to increase its Typhoon order by as many as 48 aircraft.

Earlier this year BAE said talks with Saudi over changes to its order for 72 Eurofighter Typhoon jets would continue into 2012. The delay hit its earnings last year, which fell 7 percent.

Source: Reuters

EADS pose ses conditions pour renoncer à des dommages-intérêts

Le 02 novembre 2011 par Astrid Gouzik

Selon une information du quotidien allemand Financial Times Deutschland, le groupe EADS pourrait compenser les annulations de commandes de son Eurofighter avec des offres d’achat pour son drone Talarion.

Les différents minitères européenns succomberont-ils à la proposition faite par le groupe aéronautique ce mercredi 2 novembre ? Il pourrait renoncer à demander des dommages-intérêts pour l’annulation de commandes d’Eurofighter si ces mêmes gouvernements lui commandaient des drones.

Selon le Financial Times Deutschland, ce seraient les Allemands, les Britanniques et les Italiens qui auraient annulé les commandes de 124 avions de combat.

Outre-Rhin, la réplique laisse planer le doute : « Ces négociations ne sont pas terminées« , indique un porte-parole du ministère de la défense. Il « refuse de prendre part à des spéculations« .

L’Allemagne a récemment annoncé son intention de sabrer dans le budget de la Défense. Pour dégager les 8 milliards d’euros d’économies nécessaires, le gouvernement a indiqué qu’il réduirait les achats de blindés et d’avions militaires. Sa commande d’avions de combat Eurofighter est donc passée de 177 unités à 140.

Source: L’Usine Nouvelle

La Royal Air Force complète sa flotte de Chinook

Le 22 août 2011 par Barbara Leblanc

14. C’est le nombre d’hélicoptères militaires de type Chinook que le Royaume-Uni commande à Boeing.

D’après le communiqué publié le 22 août par le ministère britannique de la Défense, le contrat permet de compléter la flotte actuelle de la Royal Air Force qui compte déjà 46 appareils de ce type. Soit la plus importante au monde après celle des Etats-Unis.
Les hélicoptères Chinook permettent de transporter 40 personnes ou dix tonnes d’équipements. Ils seront livrés dans une version modernisée entre 2013 et 2015.

Le ministre de la Défense, Liam Fox, a souligné que les Chinook supplémentaires permettront de « renforcer la mobilités des troupes britanniques lors des conflits et seront équipés de technologies leur permettant d’opérer de manière plus sûre en conditions difficiles, notamment dans les environnements désertiques comme l’Afghanistan ».

Au total, le contrat est estimé à 1,14 milliard d’euros.

Source: L’Usine Nouvelle

Indra Awarded Contract by Agustawestland to Develop Simulators for the UK Ministry of Defence

Aug. 9, 2011

Indra, the premier IT Company in Spain and a leading IT multinational in Europe, after being selected as a result of a competitive process, is pleased to announce their partnership with AgustaWestland for the design and development of the Aircrew Training Equipment (ATE) the British Ministry of Defence will use to train pilots of the new AW159 Lynx Wildcat helicopter.

The devices will be operational and in service to provide training for the Army form early 2013, and for the Royal Navy form early 2014.This contract positions Indra into the UK simulation market as a reference supplier for one of their most representatives’ platforms.

Indra will provide state-of-the-art synthetic training technology including two Full Mission Simulators (FMS), a Flight Training Device (FTD) and Cockpit Procedures Trainer (CPT). All devices will be capable of delivering Army or Royal Navy conversion and mission training. Each of the Full Mission Simulators has movement freedom and reproduces the vibrations of the aircraft during flight in order to provide the acceleration and the same feeling associated with helicopter flying. The simulators comply with the Joint Aviation Requirements (JAR-FSTD-H) standards, level D, the highest realistic training available.

Indra training devices will be installed in the Training Centre AgustaWestland has been contracted to build at RNAS Yeovilton in South West England, alongside Royal Navy and British Army AW159 Lynx Wildcat squadrons.

The AW159 is the latest twin-engine multi-role, maritime and utility aircraft developed as a replacement for the extremely successful AgustaWestland Lynx family of helicopters. Designated the Lynx Wildcat by the UK MOD, the AW159 is the multi-role helicopter chosen by the UK to meet maritime attack, surveillance and land reconnaissance requirements.

Also available to the international marketplace, the platform is equipped with a comprehensive and highly capable integrated avionics suite, which includes a state-of-the art radar for the naval variant, electro-optical imaging and electronic surveillance measures and an integrated self-defence suite, among others. All these systems for navy and army applications will be simulated and integrated into the simulators to provide the most realistic training.

This contract reaffirms Indra’s position as a major supplier of helicopter simulators in the international market and strengthens its relationship with AgustaWestland, one of the main manufacturers of this type of aircraft worldwide. This contract underlines Indra’s commitment to provide the highest quality of training equipment for aircrew, thereby ensuring the best possible training to front line units needs for whatever missions they may undertake.

Indra is the premier Information Technology company in Spain and a leading IT multinational in Europe and Latin America. It is ranked as the second European company in its sector according to investment in R&D with nearly EUR 500 M during the last three years. In 2010 revenues reached EUR 2,557 M of which a 40% came from the international market. The company employs more than 31,000 professionals and has clients in more than 110 countries.

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

BAE Systems, Dassault Await UAS Requirement

Jun 1, 2011

By Robert Wall
Warton, England

One of the flagship programs underpinning the ambitious Franco-British effort to establish a 50-year strategic partnership in national security is several steps closer to being clarified.

France and the U.K. have committed to jointly address their medium-, long-endurance unmanned aircraft (MALE) requirement under the new defense agreement that was formulated in November 2010. But much of the program’s success will hinge on devising combined requirements and a cohesive acquisition strategy. Progress on both fronts is being made, and a definitive shape is likely in the next few months.

The French defense procurement agency, DGA, has already dispatched a cadre to Abbey Wood, home of the U.K. defense ministry’s defense equipment and support organization, to help run the project. The detailed acquisition strategy is now being defined.

Many industry officials in Europe are eagerly anticipating the outcome, but probably none more so than BAE Systems and Dassault—they have agreed to jointly pursue the program. Others, such as Thales, are still pondering a commitment and EADS Cassidian is mulling over building a proposal featuring its Talarion unmanned aircraft concept.

While BAE Systems and Dassault have agreed on the broad outline, details are closely coupled to the requirements document. Although the two national prime contractors appear strange bedfellows, Ian Fairclough, project director for strategic unmanned aerial systems (UAS) programs at BAE Systems, argues that the two firms offer “complementary capabilities.”

Fairclough suggests that open competition and a sole-source approach to the Franco-British industrial partnership are under consideration; European competition rules could influence the outcome.

Regardless of what course is taken, Fairclough argues, there are benefits to moving quickly beyond just preserving the notional 2015-20 fielding agenda. A prolonged competitive process jeopardizes design engineering skills, which would otherwise be idle during that time.

Detailed program definition between the partners is still being worked out. What is less clear is how specific that document will be and whether it will be sufficient to begin detailed design activity.

One matter still under discussion is whether the system would have to be certified to civil requirements, which would ease operations in civil airspace but add complexity and cost.

Industry also is waiting for word from both governments over their preference for final assembly.

The current plan calls for BAE Systems to be responsible for defining the aircraft and engine selection—turbofans and turboprops are still in the mix—while Dassault would focus on systems integration and testing, Eric Trappier, executive vice president/international at Dassault Aviation, said recently.

The concept would be an evolution of the Mantis flying demonstrator developed by BAE Systems. Many details, though, remain undetermined, including how many air vehicles will be featured in each system.

Another decision revolves around devising an exportable system. The two countries “would like to minimize ITAR content,” Fairclough says of equipment governed by the complex U.S. International Transfer of Arms Regulations.

The air vehicle would be designed to be able to both target and deliver ordnance.

Cost estimates vary for the program. Some put the development/production bill at €1 billion ($1.4 billion), which would be shared equally, although a U.K. defense ministry document cites a £2 billion ($3.2 billion) life-cycle cost for the U.K. alone. That assumes around 20 aircraft, although no number has been set.

For the U.K., the program would take on much of the requirement of the so-called Scavenger UAS requirement, although it remains uncertain whether all aspects would be covered by the Franco-British effort. The U.K.’s UAS document, developed by the defense ministry’s doctrine center, suggests “the U.K. will consider if other complementary components are needed to fully satisfy the U.K. capability requirement.”

Although the program is bilateral, so far, Dassault’s Yves Robins, a counselor to Trappier, says that if the two governments change course, industry would adapt.

Source: AviationWeek