As was largely expected by many observers, South Korea has opted to move forward with the joint partnership of Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) and Lockheed Martin for development of its indigenous KF-X (Korean Fighter Xperiment) future fighter. Under the multibillion-dollar contract, which South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) expects to sign by the summer, the KAI-Lockheed team will develop a new fighter to replace the ROK Air Force’s aging fleet of F-4 Phantoms and F-5 Tornados. South Korea plans to procure as many as 120 of the new fighters, while its partner in the project, Indonesia, plans to purchase as many as 50 fighters to meet its own IFX (Indonesian Fighter Xperiment) requirement. Under the project outline, the KAI-Lockheed team will provide 20 percent of the development costs incurred, with South Korea and Indonesia fronting 60 and 20 percent of the funding burden, respectively.
F-35A Weapons Carriage (Lockheed Martin Photo by Matt Short)
As the world’s largest defense contractor, Lockheed Martin has been restructuring its operations to deal with a global defense downturn and the effects of sequestration in the USA.
To its credit, Lockheed Martin was already preparing for a downturn following the wind-down of hostilities abroad. Now, with sequestration reductions the law of the land, the firm has begun investigating further overhead and employment cuts while simultaneously ramping up lean manufacturing processes.
Heading down the finishing stretch to Britain’s general election on May 7, the question of what constitutes adequate defense investment has emerged as a thorny political issue.
Thrust into the forefront of electoral issues in recent weeks, questions regarding the state of the British armed forces in the face of ongoing fiscal cutbacks have prompted concerns from Britain’s leading ally, the U.S., as to whether the two militaries will be able to fight side by side in the future. Meanwhile, the U.K. House of Commons Defense Committee just published a report stating that the most recent defense strategy document has become a relic in the face of Russian recidivism and Moscow’s aggressive stance toward Europe.
HMAS Collins diesel-electric submarine SSK Australian Navy
Australia has invited France, Germany and Japan to bid for SEA-1000, its ambitious Collins-class submarine replacement program. The program, for 12 long-range, ocean-going, diesel-electric submarines, is valued at AUD50 billion ($38.8 billion). Competitive evaluation of the quotations is expected to take at least 10 months, after which the Defence Department will advise the government on the proposal most suited to Australia’s needs.
The flank array of the Thales S2076 system on the HMS Astute
The immediate future of Thales Underwater Systems’ Sonar 2076 appears solely linked the U.K. Royal Navy’s Astute-class submarine. The Sonar 2076, or Type 2076, is a fully integrated passive/active search-and-attack sonar suite installed on the Astute class and as part of the midlife update of Trafalgar class submarines. A total of four Sonar 2076 systems have reportedly been produced for Trafalgar class submarines, and seven have been ordered for the first batch of Astute class submarines.
Changes to its fiscal balance sheet and the broader security horizon for Europe have prompted Germany to rethink its approach to defense investment going forward, with the net effect being about a 5.7 percent increase to the country’s defense budget over the coming five-year period.
FS 1500 Almirante Padilla class due for replacement.
The Colombian Navy has unveiled requirements for its future fleet of frigates.
The acquisitions are part of the Navy’s “Force Planning 2030.” The plan aims to strengthen the institution’s control over Colombia’s coastlines through the establishment of an integrated coastal surveillance radar system and the acquisition of eight strategic surface platforms weighing between 3,000 and 5,000 tons.
MILES (Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System)
The MILES simulator, which uses lasers to replicate battlefield scenarios, continues to enjoy demand from the Pentagon and on the international market. Forecast International is projecting steady sales of the MILES (Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System) in multiple variants, in particular the MILES 2000, the Individual Weapon System (IWS), and the Instrumented-Tactical Engagement Simulation System, Increment II (I-TESS II).
U.S. House Republicans have proposed an FY16 budget plan that would allow the Pentagon to sidestep sequestration spending caps by adding $39 billion to the Overseas Contingency Operations account. There are aspects of the budget plan that will upset both Democrats and Republican deficit hawks, however, meaning the proposed blueprint is essentially dead-on-arrival.