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September 26, 2022 | International, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR

Despite economic woes, UK leaders tout massive defense-spending hike

Analysts question whether the Ministry of Defence could even spend the amount of extra money envisioned by the Truss government.

On the same subject

  • First KC-46 delivery stalled by Mattis’ departure

    January 2, 2019 | International, Aerospace

    First KC-46 delivery stalled by Mattis’ departure

    By: Valerie Insinna ASHINGTON — Boeing won't be delivering the first KC-46 tanker to the Air Force in 2018 as planned, due to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis' surprise ouster from the Pentagon, a source told Defense News on Monday. The Air Force had intended to accept the first KC-46 by the end of December and was awaiting signature from Mattis, which would finalize the delivery plans, Reuters first reported on Dec. 20. However, later that day, Mattis announced that he would step down from the top Defense Department post in February, and just three days later, President Donald Trump tweeted that Mattis would wrap up his work as secretary of defense by the end of 2018. With sweeping changes in leadership at the Pentagon imminent, a decision on KC-46 was pushed out, a source close to the program told Defense News. The situation was further complicated because Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan — who by the end of Dec. 31 will temporarily take over Mattis' role as defense secretary — is a former Boeing executive and must recuse himself from all decisions involving the company. Boeing declined to confirm that the delivery would not take place on Dec. 31. “KC-46 remains a top priority and we look forward to delivering tanker aircraft in partnership with the Air Force,” said Kelly Kaplan, a spokeswoman for the company, in a statement to Defense News. The Air Force did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The delay is a blow for Boeing, which had promised to deliver the first tanker by the end of 2018 after a string of missed delivery dates stemming back to August 2017. “We continue to make steady progress toward final certification of the KC-46 tanker,” Boeing's CEO Dennis Muilenburg said in an October earnings call. “We are working with our U.S. Air Force customer toward completing all the steps required to deliver the first tanker aircraft this quarter." The company has now racked up more than $3 billion in pre-tax charges on the program, as it is responsible for any costs beyond the $4.9 billion fixed price contract value originally awarded in 2011. Boeing officials are hopeful that the Air Force will be able to move forward with delivery after a set of meetings in early 2019, one source said. But at the moment it is unclear who will authorize the KC-46 delivery with Shanahan barred from the process, though it may fall to Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson or to Ellen Lord, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment. The Air Force plans to buy 179 KC-46s throughout its program of record. McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas is set to become the first installation to receive the new tankers, and training for pilots and boom operators has already begun.

  • Switzerland names contenders in $8 billion ‘Air 2030’ program

    April 5, 2018 | International, Aerospace

    Switzerland names contenders in $8 billion ‘Air 2030’ program

    By: Sebastian Sprenger COLOGNE, Germany — Swiss officials have unveiled details of their envisioned reboot of the country's air-defense complex, setting the stage for purchases of aircraft and ground-based missiles totaling more than $8 billion. The head of Switzerland's defense and civilian protection department, Guy Parmelin, on Friday unveiled a list of requirements for the “Air 2030” program that the neutral country wants to begin fulfilling in the mid-2020s to defend its skies and repel intruders. The existing fleet of decades-old F/A-18 and F-5 jets is considered too outdated for the task. New aircraft under consideration include the Airbus Eurofighter, Dassault's Rafale, Saab's Gripen, the F/A-18 Super Hornet from Boeing and Lockheed Martin's F-35A, according to the March 23 list of requirements published by the defense department. Ground-based weapons on the short list are the Eurosam consortium's SAMP/T system; the David's Sling missile shield from Israel; and Raytheon's Patriot system. Swiss officials want to protect an area of 15,000 square kilometers with ground-based weapons, which is more than one-third of the country. They also seek to intercept targets up to 12 kilometers high and 50 kilometers away. The envisioned concept of operations dictates that a fleet of roughly 40 aircraft will intercept those targets outside of the ground weapons' range. Officials want enough capacity to have four planes in the air at any given time during crises. Request for proposals for an acquisition program are expected to be published in the summer, Renato Kalbermatten, a spokesman for the defense department, told Defense News in an email Tuesday. Before a referendum is held about the project in the first half of 2020, ministry officials want to finish qualification of all potential vendors. That includes studying the data from a first round of proposals and collecting final offers from those still in the running at that time, according to Kalbermatten. Referendums are a key tool of the Swiss political process. Asked by a Swiss news agency this month if the country would still have an air force if the population voted against spending money on Air 2030, Parmelin responded dryly: “That's policymaking in Switzerland.” The Swiss won't be asked which type of aircraft the country should buy, only about the program as a whole. Government analysts would then decide which system is best suited for the task, Parmelin said. A 2014 plebiscite saw the acquisition of Sweden's Gripen defeated, a rare outcome for a referendum on security policy matters, Swiss national broadcaster SRF commented at the time. Notably, Germany's future TLVS air and missile defense system, a development based on the trinational Medium Extended Air Defense System, is missing from the lineup of candidate ground-based weapons. That is because the Swiss consider that system suitable only for short and medium ranges, according to Kalbermatten. “As Switzerland has not had a defense system for long ranges since 1999, the first goal is buying a long-range system,” he wrote. Exactly how much money will go to aircraft purchases and how much to ground weapons will depend on the interplay between the two program components ultimately picked, according to officials. However, previous estimates assume that $6 billion or $7 billion would be spent on planes. Winning bidders must agree to arrange for 100 percent of the program cost to flow back into the Swiss economy through so-called offset agreements. Those can be negotiated after final contracts are signed, according to the defense department. The government is looking for aircraft and missile hardware as is, meaning few to no “Helvetizations,” or Swiss-specific tweaks, would be made to the weapons, the new requirements document states. The ministry wants to purchase a single plane type under a “one-fleet policy.”

  • Top Aces logs 80,000 hours of air combat training

    August 15, 2019 | International, Aerospace

    Top Aces logs 80,000 hours of air combat training

    Top Aces Inc. announced that it has broken its own record of 75,000 hours of operational air combat training, reaching an industry leading 80,000 flight hours. No other adversary air provider in the world has delivered this number of flight hours carrying out live air training missions. The milestone came on July 30, 2019, during two-ship Red Air support for German Air Force (GAF) Eurofighters from the Tactical Luftwaffen Wing 71 Richthofen in Wittmund, Germany. The pilots, Elmar “Elmo” Besold and Raimund “Lendi” Lendermann, are among Top Aces' most experienced. A proud provider of advanced and innovative adversary air services to the world's leading air forces in Canada, Australia, Germany, and soon the United States, Top Aces has earned a reputation for its commitment to professionalism, safety, and efficiency. “Our dedication to serving our customers as well as our motivation to always do better have allowed us to reach a record-breaking and unblemished 80,000 flight hours,” said Paul Bouchard, president and CEO of Top Aces. “We are very pleased with this milestone and are committed to continue to deliver the next generation of highly-representative adversary air to all our customers worldwide.” With a current fleet mix of Dornier Alpha Jets, Douglas A-4 Skyhawks, Learjet 35As, Westwinds and a future fleet of F-16s, Top Aces has a flexible offering ready to meet growing client needs. The company has plans for expansion as early as this year. At the prominent Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) in the United Kingdom last month, Top Aces had the opportunity to meet with senior leadership from the world's leading air forces to explore growth opportunities. “We are extremely proud to announce this exciting accomplishment for our company,” said Top Aces' chief commercial officer, Russ Quinn. “Our vision remains to be the most trusted provider of advanced air combat training solutions by delivering industry-leading standards of safety, airworthiness and operational excellence.”

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