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  • New Swedish government advocates for greater defense spending

    13 septembre 2018 | International, Aérospatial, Naval, Terrestre, C4ISR

    New Swedish government advocates for greater defense spending

    By: Gerard O'Dwyer STOCKHOLM — The Swedish military can expect to see a sizable increase in its annual budget regardless of the composition of the new government that will be formed in the wake of parliamentary elections. All of the mainstream parties, including the ruling Social Democrats (SDP), the Moderates, the Center, Liberals and the Sweden Democrats' right-wing nationalist party, campaigned on delivering a stronger national defense and channeling a much higher level of spending to the Swedish Armed Forces over the next 10 years. "Sweden needs a more resilient national defense capability that is better funded and resourced," said Stefan Löfven, the SDP's leader and Sweden's prime minister. The SDP is hoping to assemble a new government in partnership with the Leftist and Green parties. These three parties secured a 40.8 percent share of the popular vote in the recently concluded September 2018 election. Löfven's main challenge is the center-right Alliance group, which includes the Moderates, the Center, Liberals and Christian Democrats. Together, the four Alliance parties won 40.3 percent of the popular vote. The Alliance is looking to form a new government that excludes both the SDP and the Sweden Democrats. The Sweden Democrats raised its share of the popular vote to 17.6 percent. All mainstream parties have ruled out forming a coalition that includes the Sweden Democrats. Defense will be very much on the minds of Sweden's new government, against a backdrop of an unpredictable Russia and a domestic military that is unable to either fund major new procurement programs or work within the tight parameters of the current budgeting framework. By: Aaron Mehta “Sweden's national defense has been neglected for decades. What has happened is shameful. The budget allocated to the armed forces must reflect needs, operational realities and the requirement to replace outdated equipment. The goal should be to raise spending on defense to 2 percent of GDP, the recommended NATO level, inside 10 years,” said Ulf Kristersson, leader of the Moderates and someone being widely tipped to become Sweden's next prime minister. The Alliance supports a more ambitious spending plan for the military that would increase the armed forces' budget by $2.3 billion in the 2019-2021 budgetary period. “The [Swedish Armed Forces] needs to be able to afford to run essential equipment-replacement programs. We need more Army brigades, more fighter aircraft, and among other things an increased cyber defense capacity,” Kristersson said. Restoring the military's budget and finances to levels that actually reflect the force's capability requirements will take time. The organization's budget has been in decline since the Cold War era of 1963, when defense spending amounted to 3.68 percent of Sweden's gross domestic product. Spending as a ratio of GDP had dropped to 1.1 percent by 2015. It currently stands at about 1.03 percent, a historic low. A force development plan endorsed by the armed forces favors an increase in annual spending on defense to between $7.36 billion and $9 billion by 2025. In the longer term, and by the year 2035, the military would like to see defense spending rise to more than $12.1 billion. At the same time, the Swedish Armed Forces would be strengthened from the current 50,000 personnel of all ranks to 120,000 by the year 2035. This proposed new look, improved capability and reinforced organization would comprise at least four brigade-level units, a light infantry special forces regiment, a fleet of 24 surface combat naval vessels and six submarines, eight fighter squadrons, and 120 Gripen combat aircraft. Stefan Löfven's SDP-led government adopted new measures in 2017 to increase annual spending on the military from about $4.7 billion to $6.6 billion by 2019. Under the spending plan supported by the Alliance, defense expenditure would grow year on year after 2019, reaching $8 billion by 2024. Full article:

  • Air Force not considering new F-15 or hybrid F-22/F-35, top civilian says

    13 septembre 2018 | International, Aérospatial

    Air Force not considering new F-15 or hybrid F-22/F-35, top civilian says

    By: Valerie Insinna WASHINGTON — The two biggest manufacturers of military aircraft have been busy marketing new versions of their fighter jets to the U.S. Air Force, but the service's top official told Defense News in an exclusive interview that it's not actually interested in purchasing either of them at the current moment. This summer, Defense One broke two major stories about sales pitches from Boeing, which is proposing an advanced version of the F-15 to the Air Force, and Lockheed Martin, which has been pushing a hybrid version of the F-22 Raptor and F-35 joint strike fighter similar to what it is reportedly offering Japan. But just because those companies are offering new jets, doesn't mean that the Air Force wants them. In an exclusive Sept. 5 interview, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said she believes the service needs to expend its precious financial resources on stealthy, fifth-generation platforms — specifically the F-35 — and thus buying even an advanced fourth generation fighter like the so-called F-15X is not in the cards. "We are currently 80 percent fourth-gen aircraft and 20 percent fifth generation aircraft,” she said. "In any of the fights that we have been asked to plan for, more fifth gen aircraft make a huge difference, and we think that getting to 50-50 means not buying new fourth gen aircraft, it means continuing to increase the fifth generation.” What about a new fifth generation plane that would combine the F-35 and F-22? Wilson shut down that idea as well, saying that proposal "is not something we're currently considering.” In a statement, a Lockheed spokesman said that the company was focused on the F-35 program but also looking into generational leaps in capability “to ensure our technology, including existing aircraft, remains a step ahead of advancing threats.” Boeing declined to comment on this story. The Air Force secretary's proclamations seem to pour cold water on both Lockheed and Boeing's sales pitches, but it is always possible that others inside the service are in favor of buying the F-15X and F-22/F-35 hybrid — and that they could continue making the case to Air Force leadership, potentially winning them over. Sources that spoke to The War Zone said Boeing was in “very serious” talks with the Air Force over the F-15X, but that the service had shied away from making its interest public so as to not to derail it's number-one procurement priority, the F-35. Defense News has also heard from multiple sources that the Air Force has been in talks with Boeing over the F-15X for over a year, though it's unknown at what levels those conversations currently reside. Experts who spoke with Defense News said it's very likely that the Air Force intends to keep its focus on ramping up F-35 production for the time being, but that alternative platforms could very well be considered in future years. However, it is the F-22/F-35 hybrid, not the F-15X, that they believe stands a better chance of being adopted by the Air Force. Defense One, which broke the story about Lockheed's hybrid offer, wrote that the proposed jet would involve taking the F-22 airframe and outfitting it with some of the F-35's more advanced mission systems, though some structural changes could also be involved. “Every F-22 hybrid or derivative I've seen has been great,” said Rebecca Grant, a defense analyst with IRIS independent Research. The Air Force is in great need of such a stealthy air superiority aircraft because it only procured 183 F-22s, she said. Its other plane that specializes in the air-to-air fight, the F-15C/D, was originally fielded in the 1970s. Grant said she interprets Wilson's dismissal of the F-22/F-35 hybrid as a reflection of near-term requirements and priorities, noting that “job one is acquiring the F-35.” But in the future, that jet could be what the service decides it needs to contend with current and future threats. David Deptula, the dean of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Power Studies and a retired Air Force lieutenant general, agreed that the service should continue buying F-35s for the time being. However, the F-22/F-35 hybrid might be a good option for the service in the future, when it begins looking for a next-generation air superiority jet, which the Air Force has variously called Penetrating Counter Air and Next Generation Air Dominance. Full article:

  • French Naval Group and Germany’s ThyssenKrupp square off in Egyptian warship deal

    13 septembre 2018 | International, Naval

    French Naval Group and Germany’s ThyssenKrupp square off in Egyptian warship deal

    By: Pierre Tran PARIS – Naval Group finds itself in direct competition with German rival ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems in Egypt's acquisition of two more corvettes, Hervé Guillou, CEO of the French shipbuilder told Defense News. The contest comes after Egypt in 2014 placed an order for four Naval Group Gowind corvettes worth some €1 billion, with options for two more units. Winning that two-year option has since become anything but certain for the French company. “TKMS is not sitting on its hands,” Guillou said on Tuesday on the sidelines of the Summer Defense University event at the military staff college here. There already is a “permanent presence of the Germans” in Egypt, which operates a fleet of German submarines, Guillou explained. Egypt attracts strong international interest, with the Chinese, Koreans, Dutch shipbuilder Damen and French electronics company Thales very active, he added. The TKMS offer consists of two Meko 200 corvettes, worth €1 billion (US $1.2 billion) excluding weapons, business publication La Tribune reported Sept. 3. That is double the value of the two Gowind 2500 corvettes pitched by Naval Group, the report said. A spokesman for Naval Group declined to comment on the prices. If TKMS were to snatch the business in the end, the French interministerial committee overseeing arms export likely would approve a sale of MBDA-made Aster 15 missiles for the German ships, a French government official said. The company, a joint venture by Airbus, BAE Systems and Leonardo, is pursuing a “platform neutral” sales pitch, placing an emphasis on boosting foreign sales, according to an industry source. Guillou said he attended Egypt's launch on Sept. 6 of the first locally built Gowind, christened Port Said. “It all went well,” he said. The Egyptian Navy sails a FREMM multimission frigate and two Mistral-class helicopter carriers. The four Gowind corvettes will complement that fleet. The day before the Egyptian launch, Guillou was in Poland pitching three Scorpene diesel-electric submarines to the Polish authorities. “There is political support at the highest level,” he said, referring to the French government backing. That offer competes with TKMS offering its 212CD and Saab the A26 boat. Full article:

  • Estonia eyes mid-range air defense systems to rectify NATO ‘oversight’

    13 septembre 2018 | International, Terrestre

    Estonia eyes mid-range air defense systems to rectify NATO ‘oversight’

    By: Aaron Mehta WASHINGTON — Estonia's military is prioritizing the purchase of a midrange air defense system as the country seeks to plug a capability gap its defense minister called the result of a “total oversight” by NATO. During a Washington trip to attend Sen. John McCain's funeral, Estonian Defence Minister Jüri Luik told Defense News that NATO made a strategic mistake in the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union by not building up air defense capabilities, outside of rotational deployments of aircraft. “For a long time, there was no consideration that you would actively have to close the airspace at some point. So NATO countries have very weak air defense capabilities,” Luik said. “I think this is one of the priority systems, or priority areas, which every [one of the allied] countries should develop.” “I have to say with sadness that very few NATO countries actually have proper air defense capabilities. That is one of the areas which was gravely mismanaged, or was not under any attention,” he added. “I think that was a total oversight. But, of course, it was based on the idea that the era of big power tensions is over.” Luik hopes to put Estonia's money where his mouth is. The country in June signed an agreementwith MBDA to purchase more Mistral short-range air defense weapons, but has its eyes on adding another layer of protection. The country is looking at procuring a medium-range air defense system, similar to the Kongsberg network-centric air defence system, or NASAMS, purchased by Lithuania, which is also in use by Finland. While not declaring Estonia would also go after NASAMS, Luik acknowledged that regional air defense systems “should be as close as possible coordinated” with neighborhood countries. However, such a system is “the only step which is even theoretically available to our country with our defense spending,” Luik said, even if the upcoming March elections lead to a government willing to increase defense spending to about 2.5 percent of gross domestic product. (At the worst, Luik predicts, defense spending would remain flat.) Full article:

  • EU eyes beefed-up coast guard to protect outside borders

    13 septembre 2018 | International, Sécurité

    EU eyes beefed-up coast guard to protect outside borders

    By LORNE COOK | Associated Press European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker delivers his State of Union speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France, Wednesday, Sept.12, 2018. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias) BRUSSELS – European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday unveiled new plans to beef up the EU's coast guard and asylum agency to better police Europe's outside borders and speed the deportation of unauthorized migrants. The proposals come as EU nations bicker over who should take responsibility for people rescued in the Mediterranean Sea trying to seek better lives in Europe, even as the number of crossings has declined sharply this year. "External borders must be protected more effectively," Juncker told EU lawmakers in Strasbourg, France, in a self-styled "state of the European Union" address. He said the EU's executive Commission is proposing a standing corps for the border and coast guard agency numbering 10,000 staff, including guards and migration experts, to be up and running by 2020. Juncker said the corps should be funded by some 2.2 billion euros in EU money from the bloc's next long-term budget. But EU nations still have to endorse his plans. Beyond that, the Commission's idea of what the 2021-2027 budget should look like and what its priorities should be are certain to differ from that of member states. Full article:

  • Cyberattack risk poses biggest threat to airports, aviation

    12 septembre 2018 | International, C4ISR

    Cyberattack risk poses biggest threat to airports, aviation

    Ben Goldstein A senior official from Tampa International Airport (TPA) told US lawmakers the risk of cyberattack “without question represents the preeminent and persistent threat” to global aviation. The comments came during a Sept. 6 joint hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee's Cybersecurity and Transportation Security subcommittees, held to examine cyber threats to aviation. “In today's modern and technologically advanced airports, there are virtually no areas or functions that do not rely at some level on a digital network,” TPA EVP-IT and general counsel Michael Stephens said. “The operational importance of these systems ... makes airports immensely appealing targets and potentially vulnerable to malicious cyber threats, such as criminal organizations and state sponsored actors.” In his testimony, Stephens said US airports have reached a point “where voluntary compliance is no longer adequate,” and asked lawmakers to consider mandating the adoption of “uniform minimum cyber security standards and frameworks.” He also said the “human factor remains the most highly exploited vector” for breaching cyber defenses, and threat awareness and information security training programs for airport, airlines and aviation industry employees are “perhaps one of the most effective and cost-efficient ways of increasing airports' and airlines' cybersecurity readiness.” Lawmakers also heard from Christopher Porter, chief intelligence strategist at cybersecurity group FireEye, Inc., who testified that state-backed hackers are “routinely” targeting the US aviation industry through cyberespionage to steal industrial secrets from manufacturers, researchers and operators of military and civilian aircraft. Porter called cyberespionage the “most common cyber threat facing the aviation industry,” and said that hackers sponsored by China, Russia and more recently Iran have all “targeted the US or its close allies for theft of aviation secrets.” All three countries also routinely target ticketing and traveler data, shipping schedules and even partner industries like railways or hotels as part of their counterintelligence efforts, Porter added. However, Porter reminded lawmakers that, because cyber-espionage is routine, “it should not be viewed as destabilizing.” “When cyberespionage operators get a foothold on a system, they can often use that access for stealing information or to launch a disabling or destructive attack using the same technology,” Porter said. “But they rarely choose to do so, and in the US, there are significant redundancies in place to ensure safety. A crashed IT system does not mean a crashed plane, and it's important for the public to keep that in mind.”

  • DARPA Wants to Find Botnets Before They Attack

    12 septembre 2018 | International, C4ISR

    DARPA Wants to Find Botnets Before They Attack

    By Jack Corrigan The defense agency awarded a contract to develop a tool that scours the internet for dormant online armies. The military's research branch is investing in systems that automatically locate and dismantle botnets before hackers use them to cripple websites, companies or even entire countries. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency on Aug. 30 awarded a $1.2 million contract to cybersecurity firm Packet Forensics to develop novel ways to locate and identify these hidden online armies. The award comes as part of the agency's Harnessing Autonomy for Countering Cyber-adversary Systems program, a DARPA spokesperson told Nextgov. To build botnets, hackers infect internet-connected devices with malware that allows them to execute orders from a remote server. Because the virus sits dormant most of the time, the owners of infected devices rarely know their computer, smartphone or toaster has been compromised. Through the HACCS program, DARPA aims to build a system that can automatically pinpoint botnet-infected devices and disable their malware without their owners ever knowing. Launched in 2017, the program is investing in three main technologies: systems that uncover and fingerprint botnets across the internet, tools that upload software to infected devices through known security gaps, and software that disables botnet malware once it's uploaded. Packet Forensics' technology falls under that first category, the DARPA spokesperson said. Eventually DARPA plans to integrate each of those technologies into a single system that can spot, raid and neutralize botnet-infected devices without any human involvement. Because the tool would only target botnet malware, people could continue using the devices just as they had before, the agency said in the program announcement. During phase one of the three-part project, Packet Forensics will build a technology capable of scanning some five percent of global IP addresses and detecting botnets with 80 percent accuracy. By the end of the program, DARPA anticipates the system to analyze 80 percent of the global internet and correctly spot botnets 95 percent of the time. The effort is scheduled to last to four years, with the first phase running 16 months. Later phases include additional funding.

  • German ministry seeks data on quicker fighter jet deliveries

    12 septembre 2018 | International, Aérospatial

    German ministry seeks data on quicker fighter jet deliveries

    Andrea Shalal BERLIN (Reuters) - The German military has asked potential bidders in a high-stakes competition to replace its aging Tornado fighter jets about accelerating deliveries of new warplanes before an initial target date of 2025, sources familiar with the matter said. The defense ministry posed the question in early August in a follow-up to its initial request for information from Europe's Airbus (AIR.PA) and Lockheed Martin (LMT.N) and Boeing (BA.N), both from the United States, the sources said. The ministry had no comment on the latest twist in a tender that could be worth billions of euros. One of the sources said the request signaled concerns about the growing cost of servicing the current fleet of 85 operational Tornado jets. Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen says she favors a European solution - the Eurofighter Typhoon built by Airbus, Britain's BAE Systems and Italy's Leonardo SpA (LDOF.MI) - but Lockheed and Boeing still hope for a chance to bid for the work. Airbus and the U.S. government submitted data this spring about the four fighter jet models under consideration - the Eurofighter, Lockheed's F-35, and the Boeing F/A-18E/F or F-15E. Germany is studying a number of options, including buying one type of jet to replace the Tornado jets, a split buy of two aircraft types, and a service life extension of the Tornado jets, according to multiple sources familiar with the process. Germany has also asked Washington for information about the possibility of leasing Boeing F-15 fighter jets, two sources said, although that is seen as an unlikely outcome. Von der Leyen in July said she expected a preliminary decision on the next steps by the end of the year. POSSIBLE SPLIT BUY? One proposal calls for Germany to buy 40-45 Lockheed F-35 jets to replace those Tornados that can carry nuclear bombs, and about 75 new Eurofighters to replace both the other Tornados and a first batch of Eurofighters delivered between 2003 and 2008. Buying F-35s would allow Germany to keep a mixed fleet of fighter jets, a key requirement in its military strategy, while averting costly and time-consuming modifications to the process of certifying the Eurofighter to carry nuclear bombs. Although not a nuclear power, Germany hosts some U.S. nuclear warheads under NATO's nuclear-sharing policy and operates a number of Tornado warplanes that can deliver them. The U.S. has told Germany it could take 12 to 18 months to study the Eurofighter certification issue. German industry executives are pressing for quick answers, given that the already high cost of keeping the Tornado jets flying could rise once Britain and Italy phase out their fleets. “The cost of spare parts and operations keeps going up,” one industry executive said.

  • Air Force: High ops tempos, lack of aircraft, inexperienced maintainers among mishap risks

    12 septembre 2018 | International, Aérospatial

    Air Force: High ops tempos, lack of aircraft, inexperienced maintainers among mishap risks

    By: Stephen Losey A series of one-day safety stand-downs across all flying and maintenance wings has given the Air Force several clues on how to correct a string of troubling — and sometimes fatal — aviation crashes and other mishaps, the service said Monday. In a news release, the Air Force said the review identified six potential risks to aviation safety: stress caused by high operations tempos; a lack of time to properly focus on flying basics, mission activities and training; pressure to accept risk; a culture that pushes airmen to always execute the mission; decreased availability of aircraft; and the potential for airmen to become complacent when carrying out routine tasks. The full report summary, provided at Air Force Times' request, also raised concerns about the increasing requirements on maintainers, and low experience in some operations and maintenance personnel. The summary also cited “perception of ineffective training” as another area of concern. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein ordered the stand-down in May, after several high-profile mishaps including the May 2 crash of a WC-130 Hercules that killed the nine Puerto Rico Air National Guardsmen aboard. “The review proved tremendously helpful as we continue to seek both high levels of safety with intense and realistic training,” Goldfein said in the release. “As air superiority is not an American birthright, our training must continue to be challenging and meaningful. But I also want commanders to have the decision authority to determine how far to push.” The service has distributed those findings to the field, the release said, and flying and maintenance leaders are using those findings to help guide their decisions. The summary also cites the aging fleet of Air Force aircraft as a problem contributing to increased maintenance requirements and decreased aircraft availability. The summary said that major commands provided the Air Force Safety Center with their aggregate feedback after completing their safety stand-downs, so senior leaders could find out what issues and concerns were identified across all wings. The Air Force has already started putting plans into place to address airmen's concerns, including adding more support back to squadrons, reducing additional duties, “enhancing information processes for aircrew mission planning” and cutting staff requirements, according to the release. Full article:

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