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March 5, 2024 | International, Naval

Rearming US Navy ships at sea is no longer an option, but a necessity

Opinion: Fortunately, rearming VLS cells at sea is not an impossible engineering problem.

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  • How Poland plans to land an F-35 deal and ‘Fort Trump’

    August 30, 2019 | International, Aerospace

    How Poland plans to land an F-35 deal and ‘Fort Trump’

    By: Jaroslaw Adamowski This story has been updated to provide details about President Trump's decision to stay in the United States rather than make a planned visit to Poland in order to deal with a hurricane at home. WARSAW, Poland — By 2026, the Polish Ministry of Defence plans to allocate about 185 billion zloty (U.S. $47 billion) toward acquiring new weapons and military equipment, with fifth-generation fighter jets a top priority. Twenty years after Poland joined NATO, and despite the integration of some Western-made fighter jets and armored vehicles, the country still uses Soviet-designed gear dating back to the 1955 Warsaw Pact. Poland and other allies in Eastern Europe are intensifying their military modernization efforts in response to Russian activity along NATO's eastern flank and its annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine. For 2019, the Polish MoD set a record budget, at more than 44 billion zloty, as required by the country's plan to raise defense spending to 2.1 percent of gross domestic product in 2020, and reach 2.5 percent in 2030. A significant share of the country's defense spending is to be directed at the acquisition of Western-made gear. Warsaw's potential acquisition of fifth-gen fighters is one of the top modernization projects in the pipeline. In May, Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said the ministry sent a letter of request to the U.S. regarding Warsaw's plan to acquire 32 F-35A aircraft. The fighters are to replace the Air Force's outdated, Soviet-designed Sukhoi Su-22 and Mikoyan MiG-29 jets. Negotiations for the jets are taking place as Warsaw is seeking a permanent U.S. military presence in Poland, dubbed “Fort Trump.” Warsaw offered to allocate at least $2 billion toward the project under which the U.S. would build a military base in the country. On June 12, Polish President Andrzej Duda met with U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington to discuss the initiative and ink a joint declaration on defense cooperation regarding U.S. force posture in Poland. “The United States plans to enhance its current military presence of approximately 4,500 rotational U.S. military personnel in Poland. This enduring presence is expected to grow by about 1,000 additional U.S. military personnel in the near-term, and would focus on providing additional defense and deterrence capabilities in Poland,” the declaration read. “With the understanding that the increased U.S. force presence in Poland is made sustainable with Polish support, Poland plans to provide and sustain jointly determined infrastructure for the initial package of additional projects listed below, at no cost to the United States and taking into account the planned level of its use by U.S. forces.” Trump was scheduled to visit Poland, but he canceled the trip to deal with a hurricane at home. The topics of a stronger U.S. troop presence in the country, as well as a potential F-35 sale, were expected to come up. Trump is instead sending Vice President Mike Pence to observances Sunday marking the 80th anniversary of the start of World War II and for meetings with Polish leaders Monday expected to include new military and energy deals. But F-35 acquisition negotiations will likely be separate from Fort Trump discussions, as the logistics and technical aspects of a troop deployment deal are nearing a conclusion, according to Tomasz Smura, the director of the research office at the Warsaw-based Casimir Pulaski Foundation. “If Poland decides to buy the F-35, this will open an array of new possibilities before the Polish Air Force in the upcoming decades. This aircraft offers stealth and interoperability capacities that are currently not available to the Polish military,” Smura told Defense News. “However, there are also some critical voices on this potential purchase. Some analysts doubt whether we should introduce a second type of fighter instead of expanding Poland's fleet of 48 F-16s. This number of modern fighter jets doesn't match Poland's military needs and the country's size. Other analysts add that we're simply not ready to fully use the capacities offered by the F-35, and that further F-16s would suffice to match the current state of development of the air forces of our eastern neighbors.” Despite the country's rising defense expenditure, some observers also doubt Poland's capacity to finance the F-35 acquisition alongside other ambitious military procurements, such as the Wisla air defense program. In March 2018, Poland signed a letter of offer and acceptance with the U.S. government to purchase Raytheon's medium-range Patriot system. Under the deal, Warsaw is to acquire two Patriot Configuration 3+ batteries fitted with Northrop Grumman's Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System, as well as Lockheed Martin-made Patriot Advanced Capability-3 Missile Segment Enhancement missiles. Deliveries are expected by the end of 2022, with plans to reach an initial operational capacity around the 2023-2024 time frame, according to data from the Polish MoD. Warsaw's other procurement plans include short-range air defense systems, combat helicopters for the country's Air Force, new submarines for the Polish Navy, UAVs for various military branches, and the buildup of cyber warfare capacities using new hardware, the ministry said.

  • Post-Brexit Defense Review Challenged By Costs And Coronavirus

    March 24, 2020 | International, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR, Security

    Post-Brexit Defense Review Challenged By Costs And Coronavirus

    Tony Osborne Post-Brexit Britain is taking its first steps toward understanding its place in the world and the military capabilities it may need to ensure it can hold onto that status. A review, described by Prime Minister Boris Johnson as the most extensive of its kind since the end of the Cold War, is examining the UK's foreign, defense, security and development policies. And it is proceeding despite the challenges and costs surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Although it will examine the work of several government departments—notably the Foreign Office, the Defense Ministry and the Department for International Development—considerable focus is likely to be on defense. It has the largest budget of those under the microscope and an oft-criticized procurement process that some in government are eager to overhaul. The process will run in parallel with the government's comprehensive spending review. That assessment decides UK government spending for the next three years and will deliver its findings potentially as early as this summer. Some critics argue that is simply too soon for a thorough analysis of Britain's future defense needs. “If you are to have a strategy that is worth the name, you must address ends, ways and means together. . . . If you do not do the whole package, including the money, together, then you do not have a strategic review,” Jock Stirrup, a former chief of the Royal Air Force (RAF) and UK Defense Staff, told parliamentary defense committee hearings on March 17. The 2020 review represents a break from the traditional defense-led Strategic Defense and Security Review (SDSR) usually held every five years. Some analysts contend the 2020 edition could shape defense capabilities for decades to come. Jack Watling, Land Warfare research fellow at the London-based Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) says the review would have to make “hard choices” but that these would “determine the trajectory of the UK's defense capabilities for a generation.” He notes that for a post-Brexit Britain looking to expand its trading and security partners, future conflicts may be difficult to avoid. “Security and trade partnerships are closely intertwined. . . . If ‘Global Britain' means diversifying our economic partnerships, it will be necessary to build meaningful security ties as well,” Watling says. The UK must look at its role in the Euro-Atlantic alliance and in the Great Power competition, in addition to other global issues and homeland security, Defense Minister Ben Wallace told Parliament. The review will also “place prosperity and manufacturing at its heart,” he added. The assessment comes at a challenging time for Britain's defense and its equipment-procurement plans. The National Audit Office recently warned that for a third consecutive year there will be shortfalls in the budget. The ministry's plans call for the spending of £183.6 billion ($214 billion) over the next 10 years, equivalent to 42% of the ministry budget during that period. Auditors say the Defense Ministry has a shortfall of at least £2.9 billion over that period, but this could be as high as £13 billion. Although the UK is expanding its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities with the upcoming arrival of the General Atomics Protector unmanned aircraft system and deliveries of the Boeing P-8 Poseidon maritime patroller—two of which have already arrived—capability gaps in the ISR mission are imminent. The planned retirement of the RAF's long-suffering Boeing E-3D Sentry fleet has been pushed to December 2022. But the Boeing E-7 Wedgetail, the 737-based platform planned as its replacement, is not due to enter service until the end of 2023, potentially leaving a yearlong capability gap. The RAF also plans to retire its Raytheon Sentinel radar-reconnaissance platform in March 2021. It got several reprieves after its Afghanistan duties ended, but its departure would leave the UK without a standoff ground-moving-target-indicator and synthetic aperture radar platform. Several commitments made in the 2015 SDSR, such as the UK's decision to commit all 138 Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters across the lifetime of the program, have also not been budgeted, auditors note. Current plans forecast only the costs of the first 48 aircraft. The government says that “decisions on future numbers and aircraft variants will be taken at the relevant time,” but it is unclear whether this will be considered in the review. The British government is aiming to maintain the target of 2% of GDP set by NATO for all allies. Defense ministers have said they will fight to meet that share, and more if needed, although the UK has a history of not fully funding post-review defense portfolios. “It is not a ​review designed to cut costs,” says Jeremy Quin, minister for defense procurement. “It is a review designed to ensure we know what we are doing in the world and that [this is achieved] through really effective equipment.” Along with defining capabilities required for land, sea and air, the review is also likely to conclude that the UK should make additional investment in both the cyber and space domains.

  • Avion de combat : la France et l'Allemagne veulent travailler ensemble

    April 5, 2018 | International, Aerospace

    Avion de combat : la France et l'Allemagne veulent travailler ensemble

    ANNE BAUER Les ministres de la Défense française et allemande souhaiteraient réaliser ensemble un « système de combat aérien du futur ». Un projet pour remplacer à terme les Rafale et les Eurofighter. C'est une visite importante pour les industriels du secteur. La ministre de la défense allemande, Ursula von der Leyen, vient ce jeudi à Paris rencontrer son homologue Florence Parly. Après cinq mois sans gouvernement, la ministre, confirmée à son poste par Angela Merkel, devrait maintenir l'agenda de coopération bilatérale défini lors du conseil des ministres franco-allemand du 13 juillet dernier. Notamment pour la réalisation en commun d'un grand nombre d'équipements militaires du futur : avions de combat, drones, chars... Vers un avion de combat franco-allemand L'engagement de la ministre est important alors que le SPD, traditionnellement hostile aux interventions militaires et aux exportations d'armes, a imposé en partie ses réticences dans le programme de gouvernement du quatrième mandat d'Angela Merkel. Toutefois, depuis juillet, les administrations et les états-majors des armées ont maintenu leurs travaux, ce qui permettra à Florence Parly et Ursula von der Leyen d'annoncer la réalisation en coopération du « système de combat aérien du futur », probablement un ensemble d'avions pilotés et de drones, voire d'outils de défense sol-air ou air-air, lors du Salon aéronautique de Berlin qui démarre le 25 avril. A cette occasion, les deux ministres signeront ensemble un document réalisé par les états-majors français et allemand sur leurs besoins futurs. « Ce document est essentiel pour exprimer les besoins des armées, et sera ensuite décliné entre les industriels français et allemands (Dassault, Safran, MBDA, Airbus, etc.) pour converger peu à peu vers une feuille de route pour construire le système d'avion de chasse qui remplacera à l'horizon 2040 les Eurofighters de l'armée allemande et les Rafale de l'armée française », explique l'entourage de Florence Parly. La Grande-Bretagne en attente Un sujet majeur pour la survie de l'industrie aéronautique européenne et un symbole très fort de la nouvelle volonté de la France et de l'Allemagne de renforcer l'Europe de la défense. Si l'Allemagne et la France parviennent à travailler de concert sur l'avion de chasse de 5e génération, la probabilité que l'Allemagne choisisse l'avion de combat américain F-35 de Lockheed-Martin pour remplacer ses vieux Tornado s'éloigne. A l'hôtel de Brienne, on estime possible de faire converger les études des différents industriels jusqu'à la définition d'un projet concret en 2019. Pas question de répéter les erreurs de l'avion de transport militaire A400M. L'Allemagne et la France veulent d'abord bien définir le projet avant d'ouvrir le projet à d'autres pays. D'autant plus que la Grande-Bretagne, empêtrée dans ses problèmes de Brexit, ne semble plus vouloir poursuivre le projet de drone de combat du futur engagé avec Dassault et BAE, ce qui oblige à une redéfinition des enjeux. Des drones européens en 2025 Une autre coopération est en bonne voie : le futur eurodrone de moyenne altitude et de longue endurance (MALE), piloté par l'Allemagne en association avec Airbus, Dassault et Leonardo, qui doit aboutir à un contrat de réalisation l'an prochain en vue d'une livraison vers 2025. Ce projet, dont le développement sera essentiellement financé par le Fonds européen de défense en discussion à Bruxelles, doit permettre à l'Europe de regagner une part de souveraineté, alors qu'elle doit aujourd'hui acquérir des drones Reapers américains pour sécuriser ses opérations extérieures. La France s'engagerait à acquérir 12 eurodrones (4 systèmes de trois drones) à partir de 2025. Le tabou des exportations D'autres coopérations sont en cours, à court terme pour la modernisation des hélicoptères Tigre, le partage des données satellitaires ou la communication et à long terme pour définir le char de combat qui remplacera les Leclerc français et les Leopard allemands. La volonté franco-allemande de renforcer l'Europe de la défense, notamment en collaborant pour rationaliser l'industrie de l'armement européenne, demeure. Toutefois, un sujet de fond n'est pour l'instant toujours pas traité : la possibilité ou non d'harmoniser les règles d'exportation. Un sujet essentiel pour l'avenir des projets communs, à l'heure où le Parlement allemand souhaite interdire les ventes d'armes en Arabie saoudite pour protester contre ses agissements au Yemen. Anne Bauer

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