Japan Opts for More Small Ships – and a Faster Build Rate

by Dan Darling, International Military Markets Analyst, Forecast International.

Faced with a growing People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) naval capacity and maritime presence in waters of the East China Sea, Japan’s government plans to accelerate, alter and expand a warship building project. Rather than continuing with a build rate of one new 5,000-ton destroyer per year, a decision was reached to shift to construction of two smaller 3,000-ton destroyers per year beginning with the launch of the fiscal year in April 2018. This will allow for an expansion of the class from four to eight ships, thus providing the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) with greater fleet capacity with which to counter the growing naval arm of the PLAN. Continue reading

Indian Navy on the Hunt for Multirole Carrier-Borne Fighters

by Dan Darling, International Military Markets Analyst, Forecast International.

Indian Air Force MiG-29

The Indian Ministry of Defense – acting upon the Navy’s formal requirement for 57 multirole carrier-based fighters (MRCBFs) – has issued  a Request for Information (RFI). The RFI comes with multiple queries, which range from weapons payload capability to license production agreements to transfer of technology. And, it also sends a signal that the effort to develop an indigenous naval fighter variant – via state-owned  Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd’s version of the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (the LCA-Navy) – faces further hurdles. Continue reading

Greece Aims for F-16 Upgrade, but F-35 Plans Remain a Pipe Dream

by Dan Darling, International Military Markets Analyst, Forecast International.

F-16V
Source: Lockheed Martin

The Hellenic Defense Ministry announced on February 7 that Greece intends to move forward on an upgrade to its large inventory of F-16C/D combat aircraft and begin exploring a future purchase of the new-generation F-35 from the U.S.

The first project represents a much-needed focus on deteriorating Greek military capabilities in the air-sea domain, while the second remains an over-the-horizon dream nowhere remotely near Athens’ current fiscal reality. Continue reading

Enhanced Polar System Should Avoid Ice Station Zebra Scenario

By Richard Sterk, C4I Analyst, Forecast International.

Enhanced Polar System (EPS).

In an attempt to prevent a real life Ice Station Zebra incident, the U.S. DoD has pumped money and technology into the Enhanced Polar System (EPS). The system’s mission – to provide around-the-clock protected communications in the polar north – is considered vital by the DoD.  Continue reading

The Ongoing A-10 Replacement Saga

by Ray Jaworowski, Senior Aerospace Analyst, Forecast International.

U.S. Air Force A-10 Warthog (Source: U.S. Air Force)

In early 2014, then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced plans to retire the U.S. Air Force A-10 fleet over a period of five years.  However, the proposal sparked considerable congressional opposition and, in FY15 and FY16 budgetary legislation, Congress blocked the Pentagon from retiring the attack aircraft. Continue reading

Mattis Budget Guidance Spans Multiple Budget Cycles, Calls for FY17 Growth

 by Shaun McDougall, Military Markets AnalystForecast International.

The Pentagon. Source: Department of Defense

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis released a memo on January 31 providing initial guidance for strengthening the armed forces through an FY17 budget amendment, the FY18 budget request, and the FY19-FY23 Future Years Defense Program.  The memo is a direct response to a memorandum on rebuilding the U.S. armed forces, released by the president on January 27.  Mattis outlines a three-phase approach: improve warfighter readiness; achieve program balance by addressing pressing shortfalls; and build a larger, more capable, and more lethal joint force.  Those objectives are centered around the completion of the FY17 budget process, and the release of the next two budget requests.

Continue reading

RUAG Expands into Cybersecurity

by Richard Pettibone, Aerospace & Defense Companies Analyst, Forecast International.

Not content to remain idle, RUAG has expanded the scope of its defense operations with a new focus on cybersecurity.

Over the past year, the company has initiated a strategy that will rapidly expand its presence in the growing cybersecurity market.  As part of this effort, RUAG established a dedicated Cyber Security business unit and plans to invest “multiple millions of Swiss francs over the next few years.” Continue reading

U.S. Army Lays Out $26.5 Billion Worth of Unfunded Priorities

 by Shaun McDougall, Military Markets AnalystForecast International.

Strykers on the way to the Raptor Fury training exercise
Source: U.S. Army

The U.S. Army has released a pair of unfunded priorities lists for FY17 and FY18 calling for $26.5 billion in additional spending.  The documents serve as wish lists for items not contained within existing budget plans.  The FY17 portion is a revision of a list released in March 2016, and supports end-strength increases contained in the FY17 defense authorization bill.  Continue reading

Thailand-Russia Relations Warm as Defense Industrial Collaboration Agreement Nears Finalization

by Dan Darling, International Military Markets Analyst, Forecast International.

Mi-8MTV-5 (export variant: Mi-17V-5) is a medium-lift military helicopter. Photo – Russian Нelicopters, JSC.

Ties between Russia and Thailand appear to be heating up on the defense front following a meeting in Bangkok on January 16 between Russian defense officials and military leadership of the Royal Thai Armed Forces. According to reports, the meeting involved discussions of a potential government-to-government accord aimed at military-technical cooperation. The agreement outline in question would extend Thailand partnership status on a jointly run production and maintenance facility for the Mil Mi-17V-5 transport helicopter export variant. Continue reading

India Launches Second Scorpene Submarine, but Capacity Pressures Still Haunt Navy

by Dan Darling, International Military Markets Analyst, Forecast International.

Scorpene class submarine

With India’s submarine capacity dwindling, small rays of sunshine are beginning to appear in the distance. The launching on January 12 of the second in a six-boat class of French-designed Project 75 Scorpene attack submarines (SSKs) marks another small, slow step in building up a capable submarine arm that has dangerously atrophied over the years. During the 1980s, the Indian Navy submarine inventory numbered 21 vessels, while today it features just 13 conventional submarines, plus one indigenous nuclear-powered ballistic missile (SSBN) submarine, the Arihant. Another boat, the Russian Akula-class Chakra, is leased and used only for training purposes. Continue reading