23 juin 2022 | International, Aérospatial

L'Espagne achète 20 Eurofighters à Airbus

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  • DoD asks Congress for a two-sub Columbia-class buy

    14 mai 2020 | International, Naval

    DoD asks Congress for a two-sub Columbia-class buy

    By: Joe Gould , David B. Larter , and Valerie Insinna  WASHINGTON ― The Pentagon is asking Congress for authority to buy two of its new Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines, a potential mega-deal worth as much as $17.7 billion with far-reaching implications for the ailing submarine industrial base. If approved, the proposal would potentially lower the price by promising General Dynamics a steady stream of work at its shipyard as the Pentagon and its network of suppliers grapple with COVID-19’s economic shocks. General Dynamics and the Navy have been negotiating the terms of a two-ship purchase, but nothing can be finalized until Congress authorizes the block buy. As the House and Senate Armed Services committees ready their drafts of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, it’s customary for the Defense Department to send legislative proposals for the annual policy bill. It was unclear how Congress will ultimately react to this one, but at least one key lawmaker would “seriously consider” the proposal. Senate Armed Services Seapower Subcommittee Chairman David Perdue, R-Ga., “certainly supports and has been working toward better business practices in the Department of Defense. He would seriously consider any proposal that achieves cost savings or increases efficiency,” said his spokesperson, Jenni Sweat. The Columbia-class program is meant to design and build 12 new ballistic missile submarines to replace the Navy’s current force of 14 aging Ohio-class boats. The president’s budget estimated the cost of the lead Columbia-class sub at $14 billion, the second at $9.3 billion, and total procurement costs for all 12 at $110 billion. The Navy wants to procure the first Columbia-class boat in fiscal 2021, the second in fiscal 2024, and the remaining 10 at a rate of one per year from 2026 through 2035. The Navy has already spent about $6.2 billion in advanced procurement for the Columbia, which leaves about $8.2 billion remaining for the first boat. A summary of its new legislative proposal, obtained by Defense News, said the move is intended to “permit the Navy to enter into one block buy contract for up to two Columbia-class submarines (SSBN 826 and SSBN 827), providing industrial base stability, production efficiencies, and cost savings when compared to an annual procurement with options cost estimate.” Complicating matters is the potential for the coronavirus pandemic to create construction or funding issues that delay SSBN 826’s first scheduled patrol in 2031, according to a recent Congressional Research Service report. To boot, it was unclear whether the Navy had accurately projected costs or whether stable funding would be available across the Navy’s procurement portfolio. The Navy is confident the program is on track and negotiations are ongoing in line with what the Navy has previously disclosed, said Capt. Danny Hernandez, spokesman for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition. “The Columbia program is on track, it is our top acquisition priority,” Hernandez said in an email. "Per the Navy’s Budget Submission, the Navy plans to award a contract modification for construction of the first two Columbia-Class ships as a priced option in FY20. "Formal option exercise and SSBN 826 construction start are planned for October 2020, following required Congressional authorizations and appropriation of funds.” This week, the Navy and General Dynamics were still negotiating on the terms of the two-ship buy, but what the ultimate savings would be for contracting for two together was not clear yet, according to a source familiar with the talks. No final deal can be negotiated until Congress has authorized the contract. Also unclear is how perturbations in the system from the COVID-19 outbreak might impact the supply and labor system, the source said. Indeed, the potential impact of COVID-19 on an already stressed submarine industrial base is one reason the strategy could be important, said Bryan Clark, a retired submarine officer a senior fellow at the Conservative Hudson Institute think tank. “There has already been advanced procurement money provided by Congress that has been used to build missile tubes, nuclear reactors and propulsion plants,” Clark said. "But there is a bunch of other equipment on the ship that you would like to buy in quantities: Pumps, valves, fans, a lot of habitability systems. “If you double the number of ships, you double the number that you buy and maybe you reduce your costs, but more importantly you support your industrial base.” To date, disruptions to the submarine supplier base and the Electric Boat shipyard have been comparatively mild, two sources familiar with the situation said. General Dynamics is interested in locking in a larger block buy for the remaining ten boats, and a source familiar with the company’s thinking said the precise savings would be clear once the company gets further along with construction of the first boat. The third ship will officially be procured in 2026, so it gives the parties time to understand the program better. The Navy has been public about its desire to buy the first two submarines as a block but given that it’s a new start program, that seemed premature, said Project On Government Oversight military analyst Dan Grazier. He noted that a multi-year procurement, under the law, would require a stable design, while a block buy would not. “The Navy claims the Columbia’s design is much further along in the process than the Ohio was at this point, but the Navy’s track record of designing and building ships recently is quite poor," Grazier said. "The Zumwalts, LCSs, and the Ford-class ships were designed using similar methods and the results have proven to be both costly and disappointing. It would be better to build the first boat and make sure the design actually works as intended because if it doesn’t, then the money we save now will actually cost us much more in the future.” Clark, on the other hand, argued that while early multi-ship buys on new classes of ships are usually a bad idea, Columbia might be a special case where the risks associated with early block buys are sufficiently offset. “You wouldn’t want to do a block buy if you thought the design was going to change significantly, as in you were going to buy one or two hulls and then revise it based on the results of testing or production issues,” Clark said. “On this one, more of the design is more complete so they are confident it is mature. "And with the experience General Dynamics has with submarine construction, they are confident in their path to build it without significant design changes.” The Navy is aiming to have more than 80 percent of the Columbia’s design complete prior to construction starting later this Fall, double where they were at the start of construction on the lead boat of the Virginia class. The Columbia class is not the only big-ticket weapons program where the Pentagon is seeking latitude from Congress in pursuit of savings. For the Lockheed-made F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, DoD has separately proposed to use department funds to again bulk buy F-35 components ― “material and equipment” in “economic order quantities,” the proposal synopsis says ― for Lot 15 in fiscal 2021 through Lot 17 in 2023. Lawmakers have historically been supportive of such moves, and Congress authorized the purchase of F-35 economic order quantity buys in the fiscal 2020 defense policy bill. In October, the Defense Department and Lockheed finalized a deal for F-35 lots 12, 13 and 14, but the order is structured so that lot 13 and 14 fall under separate contract options, differentiating it from a block buy. Lt. Gen. Eric Fick, who leads the F-35 program on behalf of the government, has said that arrangement would likely continue over the next several production lots. "To date, we are pursuing a base-plus-options production contract vehicle for [lots] 15 to 17,” Fick said in March at the McAleese and Associates conference. “The business case that supports a three year multi year has not been there. We have not seen from Lockheed a business case that merits tying up three years of appropriated funds.” Clarification: The story has been updated to clarify the specific transaction for which the Navy is seeking authority from Congress. https://www.defensenews.com/congress/2020/05/13/dod-asks-congress-for-columbia-submarine-block-buy/

  • Le Rafale de Dassault bientôt à nouveau en piste en Inde

    6 avril 2018 | International, Aérospatial

    Le Rafale de Dassault bientôt à nouveau en piste en Inde

    (Boursier.com) — L'Inde a fixé au 6 juillet prochain la date-butoir pour la soumission initiale des offres de renouvellement de sa flotte de jets de combat. Le pays veut s'équiper de 110 appareils mono et biplaces qui doivent être produits localement, a fait savoir l'armée de l'air. L'occasion pour Dassault Aviation de proposer à nouveau son Rafale, que Delhi a déjà commandé à 36 exemplaires en 2016, après un très long processus entamé en 2001. Initialement, l'Inde devait commander 126 Rafale, mais le contrat avait finalement été réduit à 36 appareils après plusieurs volte-face des autorités. Make in India Dassault a depuis joué la carte de la séduction en mettant les bouchées double dans le cadre de l'initiative gouvernementale "Make in India", qui vise à faire profiter à l'industrie locale des grands contrats signaux avec des groupes étrangers. Une usine a vu le jour en coentreprise avec Reliance à Nagpur, pour fabriquer des pièces à destination du contrat Rafale initial. Le groupe français a également exhorté ses sous-traitants à investir dans le pays, pour accroître ses chances d'obtenir un nouveau contrat. Le premier Rafale à voler pour l'Inde devrait être livré en 2019, 18 ans après que le pays eut décidé de moderniser sa flotte d'avions de combat. https://www.boursier.com/actions/actualites/news/le-rafale-de-dassault-bientot-a-nouveau-en-piste-en-inde-761709.html

  • For Europe, it’s naval business as usual

    25 octobre 2018 | International, Naval

    For Europe, it’s naval business as usual

    By: Tom Kington , Pierre Tran , Andrew Chuter , and Sebastian Sprenger Is there enough drive to reach a unified shipbuilding enterprise? ROME, LONDON, PARIS AND COLOGNE, Germany — As European shipbuilders prepare to transform their nations' rising military budgets into naval power, local priorities are acting as formidable forces against the integration of a fragmented market. Two years ago, Italian defense think tank CESI produced a document lamenting the fractured state of the European naval industry, warning that firms on the continent would be swept aside by foreign competition if they failed to team up and take on the world. The paper provided the ideological underpinning for proposals by Italian shipyard Fincantieri to jointly build vessels with France’s Naval Group, a plan being considered by both governments. But today, one of the authors of the report, Francesco Tosato, says that despite European Union moves to integrate the defense industry, little has changed in the naval sector. “We still have six or eight types of frigates, each with manufacturing runs of no more than 10 vessels, which is unsustainable,” he said. Supporters of integration say shipyards will be able to cut costs through synergies and avoid competing against each other in export markets. “The Germans are building U-212NG submarines with the Norwegians, but they are not integrating,” he added. A second analyst agreed that integration is not happening, but offered a positive outlook. “With European governments not wanting to spend on naval vessels, it is all about exports, and buyers in Asia and the Middle East want to deal with one government, not with Europe,” said Peter Roberts, director of military sciences at the Royal United Services Institute in London. “They may want a German frigate with a French radar and MBDA missiles, but they still want one national point of contact,” he added. Roberts also argued that European multinational shipbuilders risked stifling competition. “That could lead to poorer designs and higher prices,” he said. In addition, one European industrial giant may be unable to offer different types of vessels to export customers with a variety of requirements. “Customers have bespoke needs, which means systems integrators are crucial,” Roberts said. “Why not have systems intergrators working on a European basis? That could be the starting point for integrating Europe’s industry, rather than putting together shipyards.” German angst In Germany, meanwhile, industry officials and lawmakers are bickering over whether surface shipbuilding is, or should be, a national priority so critical that contracts must go to German yards. (The Ministry of Defence has only designated submarine construction as such a key capability.) That debate permeates the competition for the MKS-180 program, a novel multi-use combat ship. The thought that Dutch contractor Damen, one of the bidders still in the race, could win the contract over the purely German team of German Naval Yards and ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems has some coastal politicians and trade unions up in arms. There is a lot at stake for German shipbuilders. A recent MoD strategy document proclaimed a national objective of restoring the balance between out-of-area missions and homeland defense. The latter area has been chronically underfunded in the rush to provide troops at the tip of the spear with equipment that works, the argument goes. That dynamic will “inevitably mean an increase in forces, including warships and modernization of the fleet,” a spokesman for the Germany Navy told Defense News. For example, the service plans to buy at least one new warship annually over the next 10 years, plus 46 helicopters. Combined with a new deployment and manning scheme, officials hope to raise the entire fleet’s operational availability to 50 percent compared with today’s 30 percent, meaning more vessels theoretically will be ready to fight at any given time. Those plans could directly translate into jobs in Germany, and domestic shipbuilders, including heavyweight TKMS, are doing their part to support the demand for government favoritism toward their own yards. British exclusivity The situation is similar in the United Kingdom, where shipbuilding for the Royal Navy is by definition a domestic affair. It has been a little more than a year since the British government published a national shipbuilding strategy, which in part called for a greater surface warship building capability. BAE Systems has had a stranglehold on the business since it first merged and then in 2009 acquired VT Shipbuilding. BAE Systems' two surface warship building yards in Glasgow, Scotland, meet the government requirement that complex warships must be locally built. The Conservative government, however, made it clear in its shipbuilding strategy that while BAE would continue to build in Glasgow the planned eight Type 26 anti-submarine warfare frigates destined for the Royal Navy, it wanted another yard to build a fleet of five Type 31e general purpose frigates. Peter Parker, the author of the strategy report, justified the creation of a second naval build center, saying it would be unprecedented for BAE to run two new programs side by side. But it hasn’t been smooth sailing for British Ministry of Defence officials running the Type 31e program, as they seek sufficient bidders to hold a robust competition. Building frigates in a British yard with a price of no more than £250 million (U.S. $329 million) and an in-service date of 2023 has proved a challenge. The government stopped the competition earlier this year after it failed to attract a sufficient level of interest from qualified vendors. But officials got the show back on the road Aug. 20, restarting discussions with potential suppliers on a revised plan. Competition documents were issued to industry last month, with potential bidders mandated to reply by Oct. 19. With German and the British shipyards hoping to secure their respective turfs at home, the Fincantieri-Naval Group deal could still become the poster child for European naval-industry consolidation. At least, that's the theory. French maneuvers French officials appeared to get cold feet earlier this month on a key aspect of the merger arrangement: a proposed cross-shareholding of 5 to 10 percent. “Bercy is not keen,” said an industry executive, referring to the French Economy and Finance Ministry, located in a vast modern building resembling a bridge by the river Seine. A source with the French Armed Forces Ministry would only say: “Negotiations take time. We need more time.” Even before that wrinkle, the French and Italian governments requested “clarification” from Fincantieri and Naval Group after the two companies submitted dossiers in mid-July for a partnership. The request for clarification referred to the key elements of cooperation in research and development, common purchase of parts and offers in export markets, an industry executive told Defense News. Cross-border cooperation in foreign sales is seen as significant, as Naval Group has set a target of exports accounting for half of annual sales compared to the present estimated one-third of revenue. Competition with Fincantieri raises the cost of sales and cuts profit margins, as each seeks to submit competitive offers. If Naval Group and Fincantieri do manage to forge an industrial alliance, that will reverse a declining trend in cooperation. Previous French attempts to work with Italy in building a common MU90 light torpedo led to nothing, while the level of common parts on the FREMM multimission frigate fell compared to that realized on the Horizon air-defense frigate. European industrial cooperation also stalled on the Scorpene attack submarine, with Spanish shipbuilder Navantia opting to pursue its own S-80 diesel-electric boat rather than work with Naval Group. Tom Kington, Andrew Chuter, Pierre Tran and Sebastian Sprenger contributed to this report. https://www.defensenews.com/global/europe/2018/10/21/for-europe-its-naval-business-as-usual/

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