31 Maret 2010

India's Light Combat Copter Makes First Flight

31 Maret 2010

India's LCH attack heli (all photos : Indian Defence Forces)

As the helicopter taxied slowly along the airstrip, a little knot of designers and executives from Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) watched silently, the sweat beads on their foreheads from more than just the Bangalore heat. March 29 had been selected for a landmark attempt: The first flight of the indigenous Light Combat Helicopter (LCH). Already a year late, and facing criticism for having gone several hundred kilograms overweight, the LCH had much to prove.

Attack helicopters involve the most complex aeronautical, stealth, sensor and weapons technologies. HAL’s state-of-the-art LCH aims to gatecrash an exclusive club of light attack helicopters that includes Eurocopter’s Tiger and China’s ultra-secret Zhisheng-10 (Z-10). In high-altitude performance, the LCH will be in a class by itself: Taking off from Himalayan altitudes of 10,000 feet, operating rockets and guns up to 16,300 feet, and launching missiles at UAVs flying at over 21,000 feet.

At 3.30 pm, the twin Shakti engines roared to a crescendo and the LCH pilots, Group Captains Unni Pillai and Hari Nair, lifted off the ground. The futuristic helicopter, all angles and armoured sheets, flew for a distance just a few feet above the runway; then cheering and clapping broke out as it climbed to 50 feet. Over the next 15 minutes, Pillai and Nair put the LCH through its first flight test, doing a clockwise and then an anti-clockwise turn, hovering motionless and circling the airport four times.

“It is a big day for all of us, especially those involved in the LCH’s design and fabrication,” Ashok Nayak, chairman and managing director of HAL, told Business Standard. “We were going to have the first LCH flight in December but, for one reason or another, it kept getting delayed.”
A feared predator in the modern battlefield, the attack helicopter is a key weapon system against enemy tanks. Once an enemy tank column is detected, attack helicopters speed to confront them, flying just 20-30 feet high to avoid radar detection with enemy rifle and machine-gun bullets ricocheting off their armoured sides. Hiding behind trees or a ridgeline, they pop up when the tanks are about 4 kilometres away to fire missiles that smash through a tank’s armour.

Excess weight has been the main reason for the delay in the LCH programme. The heavy armour needed for protection against enemy fire conflicts with the need for a light, highly mobile helicopter that can twist and dodge and hover stationary to allow pilots to aim and fire their missiles. The LCH was supposed to weight just 2.5 tonnes when empty; but the design team found that it actually weighed 580 kg more than that.

At lower altitudes, this would not be a significant drawback. But, at the LCH’s flight ceiling of 6,000 metres (almost 20,000 feet), this would significantly reduce the LCH’s payload of weapons and ammunition.

Last September, the chief of HAL’s Helicopter Complex, R Srinivasan, told Business Standard that the LCH’s weight would be progressively reduced over the first three Technology Demonstrators (TDs) of the LCH. “We will find ways of cutting down TD-1 by 180-200 kg; TD-2, will be another 100 kg lighter; and TD-3 will shave off another 65-75 kg. That would leave the LCH about 200 kg heavier than originally planned, but the IAF has accepted that.”

HAL chief Ashok Nayak today confirmed to Business Standard that this schedule was on track. “The weight reduction that we had targeted for TD-1, which flew on Monday, has been met. The second prototype, TD-1, which will make its first flight by September, will be lighter still.”

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has said that it needs 65 LCHs; the army wants another 114. If the development programme is not delayed further, the LCH will enter service by 2015-2016. To meet its needs till then, the Ministry of Defence floated a global tender for 22 attack helicopters. With only three companies responding, that tender was cancelled last year.

But HAL remains confident since most of the key technologies in the LCH — e.g., the Shakti engine, the rotors and the main gearbox — have already been proven in the Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter, 159 of which are being built for the army and the air force.

Simultaneously, the LCH’s weapons and sensors are being tested on a weaponised version of the Dhruv. These include a Nexter 20 mm turret-mounted cannon, an MBDA air-to-air missile, and an EW suite from SAAB, South Africa. India’s Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO) is developing an anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) for the LCH. Based on the already developed Nag ATGM, the HELINA (or HELIicopter-mounted NAg) missile can destroy tanks from a distance of seven kilometres.

ST Engineering's US Shipyard wins US$165m Contract to Build 4th Fast Missile Craft

31 Maret 2010

Ambassador Mark III - fast missile craft (photo : USMilnet)

Singapore - ST Engineering today (29/03) announced that its US shipyard VT Halter Marine Inc (VT Halter Marine), has secured an undefinitised contract in excess of US$165m (about S$232.5m) with the US Navy for a fourth Fast Missile Craft (FMC) for the Egyptian Navy. This most recent contract brings the total value for the FMC project to approximately US$807m (about S$1.1b). Work on this fourth FMC will commence by mid 2011 and delivery is expected by end of 2013. VT Halter Marine has begun construction on the first FMC which it expects to deliver by mid 2012.

This contract is not expected to have any material impact on the consolidated net tangible assets per share and earnings per share of ST Engineering for the current financial year.

ST Engineering announced on 1 December 2005 that it had secured the initial Phase I functional design contract for approximately US$29m. Two subsequent contract modifications were awarded in November 2006 and June 2007 respectively for procuring the FMC project's long lead items which added US$206.5m to the contract. Subsequent changes in the scope of work further increased the Phase I contract value to US$249.2m. With the award of Phase II of the FMC project in September 2008, the total contract value awarded to ST Engineering for the first three FMCs amounted to US$642m. This latest US$165m contract reflects non-recurring cost reductions from the first three vessels contracted earlier and government furnished equipment which was previously provided by VT Halter Marine.

The FMC is designed to perform coastal patrol, surveillance, interdiction, surface strike and naval battle group support for the 21st century. The vessels will allow the Republic of Egypt to maintain the security of its coastal regions for both itself and friendly countries, while denying access to the areas by any potential adversaries. Each vessel will be approximately 62m in length and will incorporate ship signature control technology. High speed and maneuverability are two of the ship's primary assets to fulfill these roles. The vessels will also incorporate numerous combat system assets and electronic sensors, equipping the vessels with capabilities in anti-aircraft, anti-surface and electronic warfare.

(ST Engineering)

30 Maret 2010

Global Hawk is Offered to Australia, Singapore, and Japan

30 Maret 2010

RQ-4 Global Hawk (photo : Air Attack)

Northrop puts Global Hawk on show in Japan

Northrop Grumman has been making a major push in Japan for its RQ-4 Global Hawk in an effort to have procurement of such unmanned air vehicles included in the country's next five-year plan.

Japanese military and defence officials were able to see a full-scale model of the Global Hawk on display in Tokyo on 24-25 March. Japan was the last stop in an Asia-Pacific tour that also saw the Global Hawk model displayed in Australia, Hawaii, Guam and Singapore.

Japan's defence establishment has been studying the Global Hawk for several years and Northrop's latest marketing push comes as it works to formulate its five-year fiscal plan for 2011-15.

If Japan orders the Global Hawk it would need to get US government export approval.

"Capable of flying well above all civil air traffic at altitudes of up to 60,000ft [18,300m] for the more than 32h at a time, Global Hawk is a suitable intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance asset for Japan," says Curt Orchard, Northrop Grumman international vice-president for Japan.

Japan has a need for greater intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability because it has three potentially hostile neighbours: China, North Korea and Russia.

Tokyo and Beijing have territorial disputes over outlying islands and sea borders, while Pyongyang continues to test missiles - some of which have flown over Japan - and Moscow occupies the Kuril islands, some of which it annexed from Japan in the last days of the Second World War.

Northrop says the Global Hawk "is the only unmanned air system to receive both US Air Force and US Federal Aviation Administration certificate of authority allowing routine operation in civil air space."

The Global Hawk's range of 16,100km (10,000nm) means a single mission can span north-east and South-East Asia, it says.

(Flight International)

Rebut Bisnis Perawatan Pesawat dari Singapura

30 Maret 2010

Dengan tumbuh pesatnya armada maskapai lokal maka perawatan pesawat akan menjadi bisnis yang sangat menjanjikan (photo : Kompas)

SALAH satu bisnis yang dibidik PT Dirgantara Indonesia (DI) saat ini adalah maintenance pesawat terbang. Pasar perawatan pesawat terbang di Indonesia kini didominasi Singapura. Karena itu, PT DI berharap agar maskapai yang banyak beroperasi di Indonesia mengalihkan perawatan burung besinya ke PT DI.

"Singapura memang lebih besar dan kuat. Kalau soal kualitas dan fasilitas, tidak banyak perbedaannya," kata Direktur Integrasi Pesawat PT DI Budiwuraskito. Budi -sapaan Budiwuraskito- mengatakan bahwa potensi perawatan itu sangat besar. Sebab, maskapai yang beroperasi di Indonesia sangat banyak. Tiap tahun jumlah pesawat yang harus dirawat terus bertambah. ''Ini peluang strategis,'' ujarnya.

PT DI, menurut Budi, sudah memiliki sejumlah jasa layanan maintenance pesawat untuk perawatan bodi pesawat dan aircraft service di bawah PT Nusantara Turbin Propulsi (NTP). Namun, kondisi itu tidak sejalan dengan maskapai penerbangan milik Indonesia sendiri, yakni Garuda Indonesia. Maskapai pelat merah tersebut mempunyai pusat perawatan pesawat sendiri yang juga dikomersilkan bernama Garuda Maintenance Facilities (GMF).

Saat ini, ucap Budi, ada keinginan dari Kementerian BUMN untuk menggabung semua pusat perawatan pesawat dan helikopter milik negara di satu atap. Tidak hanya pesawat komersial, tapi juga militer. Alasannya, itu bisa menghemat ongkos sekaligus membesarkan bisnis perawatan pesawat. Peluang untuk menggusur dominasi Singapura pun terbuka lebar.

Budi mengatakan, kalau itu bisa terwujud, perawatan pesawat di tanah air bisa diintegrasikan dalam satu atap. Mulai struktur pesawat, avionic system (sistem atau software pesawat), hingga mesin.

Namun, kata Budi, proses merger tersebut tak bakal bisa singkat. Sebab, yang disatukan tidak hanya tempat. Tapi juga sumber daya manusia (SDM). Kalau sekadar menggabung, struktur dan tenaga kerjanya bisa sangat gemuk dan malah tidak efektif. "Mungkin masih perlu dua tahun lebih untuk mewujudkannya," jelas dia. (aga/c10/iro)

(Jawa Pos)

Road Map Industri Dirgantara Korea

30 Maret 2010

Industri pertahanan Indonesia banyak diwarnai oleh pengaruh Korea Selatan, dimulai dengan pembuatan LPD, panser kanon, dan rencana pembuatan pesawat tempur bersama.

Berikut ini adalah gambaran mengenai roadmap industri pertahanan Korea dalam pengembangan kedirgantaraan.

Sangat jelas kemauan Korea untuk mandiri dimulai dari penetapan visi, disusul pentahapan teknologi yang mereka harus kuasai dan bermuara pada jenis-jenis produk yang akan dibuat di dalam negeri, dimulai dari pesawat bersayap tetap, helikopter, UAV dan teknologi ruang angkasa.

29 Maret 2010

Caesar And The Archers

29 Maret 2010
Archer - truck mounted howitzer (photo : Defense Industry Daily)

Sweden and Norway are each buying 24 Archer truck mounted artillery systems. Both nations had funded a $150 million, 14 year, development effort to create Archer. BAE will manufacture the systems. Archer is an FH77 155mm/L52 howitzer mounted on a modified Volvo 6x6 dump truck. The vehicle, with the howitzer on board, weighs 30 tons. L52 means the barrel is 52 times the caliber (8 meters/25 feet). When the vehicle halts, the four man crew can extend the metal braces in the rear, raise the barrel, and being firing within minutes. After firing, the vehicle can be moving in less than a minute. Archer uses the Excalibur GPS guided round, which means Archer and an ammo vehicle can supply lots of effective firepower without the need for constant resupply. Each Archer vehicle costs about $4.2 million.
Caesar - truck mounted howitzer (photo : MSPO)

Archer is not the first weapon of this type, but is a heavier and more modern one. About the time development began on Archer (1995) a French firm was developing a similar system (Caesar). Last year, France sent eight of its Caesar, truck mounted, 155mm howitzers to Afghanistan. The roads in Afghanistan are pretty bad, and wheeled combat vehicles have a hard time of it. But Caesar was built to handle cross country operations. Afghanistan was the first time Caesar has served in combat.

A decade ago, the French Army agreed to buy a single battery of the novel new Caesar vehicles. Developed by GIAT as a private venture, it was a 155mm howitzer mounted on the back of a heavy truck. Before being fired, the gun was backed off the rear of the truck, onto the ground. This took less than a minute. It was a marvelous system, but Caesar was having a difficult time attracting export customers. It was believed that having even one battery in service with the French Army would help attract export sales. Once they go to use it, the French army liked Caesar so much that they eventually bought 72 of them. And there were export sales as well.

Caesar uses a 52 caliber 155mm howitzer mounted on the back of a 6x6 ten ton truck. While it is self-propelled, it only has light armor in the driver/crew cab up front. Caesar only weighs 18 tons and will fit into a C-130 transport, something that traditional tracked self-propelled artillery cannot do. Caesar's long barrel enables it to fire shells up to 42 kilometers. With on-board GPS, it can be ready to fire in minutes. The truck carries the crew of six in an air-conditioned compartment.

PT DI Akan Membuat 50 Pesawat Tempur untuk TNI-AU

29 Maret 2010

F/A-50-pesawat tempur rancangan Korsel (hasil pengembangan dari T-50 Golden Eagle bersama Lockheed Martin) yang membutuhkan mitra pengembangan dari negara lain (photo : KDN)
Upaya PT Dirgantara Indonesia Bertahan di Industri Pesawat Terbang

Bangkit Lewat Ketiak Sayap Airbus

Dalam beberapa kesempatan, Prof Dr Ing Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie mengaku sangat kecewa melihat nasib PT Dirgantara Indonesia. Sebab, industri pesawat terbang yang dirintisnya itu kini jalan di tempat. Bagaimana kondisinya sekarang?
" KITA pernah mengembangkan sendiri pesawat terbang CN-235 dan N-250 untuk membuktikan bahwa SDM Indonesia mampu menguasai dan mengembangkan teknologi secanggih apa pun. Di mana itu semua sekarang?" tegas B.J. Habibie, mantan presiden RI, di depan peserta kuliah umum bertema Filsafat dan Teknologi untuk Pembangunan di Balai Sidang Universitas Indonesia (UI), Depok, Jumat lalu (12/3).

Ya, PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PT DI) memang tidak bisa dibandingkan dengan ketika perusahaan itu masih bernama Industri Pesawat Terbang Nurtanio (IPTN) dan Habibie masih menjabat presiden direktur. Saat itu IPTN memiliki 16 ribu karyawan. Kompleks gedung IPTN di kawasan Jalan Pajajaran, Bandung, berdiri megah, menempati lahan seluas 83 hektare.

Yang paling laris adalah pesawat CN-235. Pesawat berkapasitas 35 sampai 40 orang itu paling banyak diorder dari dalam negeri maupun luar negeri. Selain itu, ada pesawat C-212 (kapasitas 19-24 orang). Produk chopper alias helikopter juga tak mau kalah. Ada NBO-105, NAS-332 Super Puma, NBell-412, dan sebagainya. Semua produk burung besi tersebut begitu membanggakan bangsa saat itu.

Namun, persoalan muncul saat krisis ekonomi menggebuk Indonesia pada 1998. Ketika itu, PT DI yang bernama Industri Pesawat Terbang Nusantara (IPTN) mendapat order membuat pesawat N-250 dari luar negeri. Pesawat terbang ini berkapasitas 50 hingga 64 orang. Sebuah kapasitas ideal untuk penerbangan komersial domestik. Umumnya pesawat domestik di tanah air saat ini menggunakan pesawat dari kelas yang tak jauh berbeda dari N-250.

PT DI menerima pesanan 120 pesawat. Ongkos proyek yang disepakati USD 1,2 milliar. PT DI langsung tancap gas. Ribuan karyawan direkrut. Mesin-mesin pembuat komponen didatangkan. ''Kami berupaya keras menyelesaikan proyek itu sesuai target,'' tutur Direktur Integrasi Pesawat PT DI Budiwuraskito saat ditemui Jawa Pos di Bandung pekan lalu.

Namun, PT DI harus menelan pil pahit. Pemulihan krisis ekonomi bersama International Monetary Fund alias IMF mengharuskan Indonesia menerima sejumlah kesepakatan. Salah satunya, Indonesia tak boleh lagi berdagang pesawat. ''Itu benar-benar memukul kami,'' kata Budiwuraskito, pria Semarang ini.

Padahal, kata Budi, PT DI telanjur merekrut banyak karyawan. Sejumlah teknologi dan peralatan sudah didatangkan. Semua siap produksi. Pesawat contoh bahkan sudah jadi, sudah bisa terbang, dan siap dijual. Tinggal menunggu proses sertifikasi penerbangan. ''Nggak tahu, mungkin ada negara yang takut tersaingi kalau Indonesia bikin pesawat,'' ujarnya mengingat sejarah kelam PT DI itu.

Bayangan menerima duit gede USD 1,2 milliar menguap. Malah, PT DI harus memikirkan cara menghidupi karyawan yang telanjur direkrut. Proyek memang batal, tapi orang-orang yang hidup dari PT DI juga tetap harus dikasih makan. ''Akhirnya, mau tidak mau, kami mem-PHK karyawan secara baik-baik,'' katanya.

Pada 2003, PT DI memutus kerja sembilan ribu lebih karyawan. Jumlah itu terus bertambah. Dari 16 ribu pekerja, PT DI hanya menyisakan tiga ribu pekerja. Baik di bagian produksi maupun manajemen. Kondisi itu semakin membuat PT DI terpuruk. Apalagi, tak ada lagi order pesawat yang datang. Roda perusahaan pun tak berjalan.

Namun, PT DI berupaya mempertahankan diri. Semua pasar yang bisa menghasilkan duit disasar. Mulai pembuatan komponen pesawat hingga industri rumah tangga seperti pembuatan sendok, garpu, dan sejenisnya. Salah satunya membuat alat pencetak panci.
''Pabrik-pabrik pembuat panci itu kan perlu alat pencetak. Biasanya mereka impor dari luar negeri. Mengapa harus impor kalau bisa kita bikinin. Dan, itu lumayan untuk membuat roda perusahaan berjalan,'' kata Budi. Tapi, urusan panci itu tak banyak membantu. Pada 2007, BUMN yang didirikan pada 26 April 1976 itu dinyatakan pailit alias bangkrut.
PT DI tak lantas almarhum. Pemerintah masih punya keinginan mengembangkannya meski modal yang diberikan tak terlalu deras. Dan, kendati sudah dinyatakan pailit, masih ada rekanan dari mancanegara yang percaya akan kualitas produk PT DI.

Salah satunya British Aerospace (BAE). PT DI mendapat order sebagai subkontrak sayap pesawat Airbus A380 dari pabrik burung besi asal Inggris itu. Juga ada order dari dua negara Timur Tengah enam pesawat jenis N-2130. Apalagi, Indonesia sudah menceraikan IMF. Artinya, PT DI sudah leluasa berdagang pesawat.

Budi menuturkan, order enam pesawat itulah yang bisa dibilang ''menyelamatkan'' PT DI saat itu. Laba dari pesanan itu digunakan sebagai modal pengembangan. Selain itu, PT DI semakin fokus menggarap pasar komponen dan bagian-bagian pesawat dengan menjadi subkontrak atau offset program. Antara lain bagian inboard outer fixed leading edge (IOFLE) dan drive rib alias ''ketiak'' sayap milik Airbus A380.

Airbus A380 adalah pesawat bikinan Airbus SAS (Prancis) yang sudah kondang di jagat dirgantara. Pesawat ini biasanya digunakan untuk penerbangan internasional lintas benua dengan muatan 500 hingga 800 penumpang. ''Kita mencoba meraih untung dengan menjadi subkontrak dari pemain besar,'' kata Budi.

Kondisi PT DI terus membaik. Dalam waktu dekat mereka akan memproduksi pesawat tempur dengan dana urunan bersama pemerintah Korea Selatan (Korsel) sebesar USD 8 milliar. Indonesia menyumbang USD 2 milliar, sedangkan pemerintah Korsel USD 6 milliar. ''Tapi, untuk Indonesia itu akan kita konversikan dalam bentuk tenaga, teknologi, dan pengembangan pesawat tersebut,'' katanya.

Kemampuannya tak jauh berbeda dengan F-16 Fightning Falcon, pesawat tempur kondang buatan Amerika Serikat yang digunakan 24 negara di dunia. Rinciannya, 200 unit untuk Korsel dan 50 untuk Indonesia. ''Proyek ini memakan waktu sampai tujuh tahun,'' kata Budi.

Selain itu, order dari Timur Tengah terus berdatangan. Sejumlah negara memesan CN-235 untuk pesawat pengawas pantai, pengangkut personel militer, dan pemantau perbatasan. Dari dalam negeri, Kementerian Pertahanan (Kemhan) juga memesan enam unit helikopter dan Badan SAR Nasional (Basarnas) empat unit.

Budi mengakui, tren industri dirgantara di Indonesia terus naik kendati perlahan. Paling tidak, tujuh tahun ke depan, PT DI bisa meraup laba yang lumayan dari membuat pesawat. Sebenarnya, kata Budi, keuntungan itu bisa didongkrak bila ada keberanian mencari pinjaman. Tapi, itu bakal sulit. ''Tidak banyak bank yang mau. Sebab, risikonya terlalu tinggi. Padahal, semakin tinggi risiko, janji revenue juga besar,'' kata Budi yang lulusan Teknik Penerbangan, Institut Teknologi Bandung (ITB), dan menyelesaikan gelar MBA di Belanda itu.

Strategi pengembangan PT DI saat ini, kata Budi, tak bisa terlalu ekspansif. PT DI memilih berjalan perlahan dengan memanfaatkan margin keuntungan sebagai modal pengembangan. ''Begini saja, lebih aman,'' kata Budi lantas tersenyum. (aga/c2/iro)


Gen Anupong Scraps Airship Purchase Plan

29 Maret 2010
Thai's airship (photo : The Nation)

Army chief Anupong Paojinda has decided to scrap the controversial 350-million-baht airship purchase project, an army source says.

Gen Anupong's decision came after Virginia-based Aria International, the airship supplier, repeatedly failed to fulfil its contract, and delayed delivery by six months, said the source.
The decision has yet to be officially announced.

In several tests, the airship proved unable to fly at 10,000 feet (3,048m) above the ground as stated in the contract. It went as high as only 3,150 feet (960m), a height considered unsafe for a surveillance operation in the deep south, the source said.

The committee set up to examine the airship and recommend to the army whether or not to acknowledge delivery had also refused to approve the delivery due to the aircraft's substandard specifications, the source said.

After being told about the committee's decision, Gen Anupong tried to convince Wut Wimuktalop, chief of the Department of Army Transportation, to sign to acknowledge delivery of the airship, according to the source.

However, Maj Gen Wut refused to do so, which forced the army chief to reconsider his position.

The Budget Bureau, which had inquired about the airship purchase budget, had also asked the army for an explanation of how the budget would be disbursed by the end of this month.

These factors had led to Gen Anupong's decision to scrap the airship project by refusing to accept delivery.

The army would also sue the US supplier for breaching the contract, and demand the company return the 70% purchase payment made by the army to the company, the source said.

28 Maret 2010

Uncertainty Clouds Prospects of Korean Fighter Plans

28 Maret 2010

KFX, the South Korea's new fighter project (all photos : Militaryphotos)
South Korea's efforts to equip its airmen with hundreds of high-tech fighter aircraft, including stealth jets, are apparently being stuck in limbo in the face of budget restraints and uncertainty over candidate planes and the country's fighter procurement methods.

Following the previous two phases of F-X projects for 60 F-15K aircraft built by the U.S. Boeing Company, the country is scheduled to open the bidding process next year for another batch of foreign fighter jets, probably stealth aircraft.

The F-X program is aimed at introducing 120 high-end warplanes by 2020 to replace the aging fighter fleet of F-4 and F-5 planes.
On top of that, the country wants to build and produce indigenous fighters under the KF-X initiative.

The KF-X program aimed at developing a Korean made F-16 type fighter has also been under heated debate over its economic and technical feasibility.

For the F-X III competition, the F-35 Lightening II being developed by Lockheed Martin of the U.S. has often been referred to as a frontrunner because of the ``fifth-generation'' fighter's inherent stealth technology that helps it evade enemy radar detection.

But recent reports over a series of cost overruns and delays related to the F-35 development program have apparently disappointed South Korean procurement officials, dimming its prospects in the F-X III contest.

``There is a lot of uncertainty as to the F-X III and KF-X plans, so I can't even provide the prospects of the fighter acquisition programs,'' a researcher on air force improvement programs at the state-funded Korea Institute Defense Analyses (KIDA) told The Korea Times. ``As for the F-X III, truth be told, the fate of the F-35 program is a key factor in increasing uncertainty.''

F-35 Problems

Earlier this month, the U.S. Air Force announced a two-year delay in the production of the F-35 stealth fighter, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).

The aircraft had been scheduled for use by 2013, but the U.S. Air Force said the aircraft would not be ready until the end of 2015.

Lockheed Martin had been confident that its F-35 would get the upper hand in the third phase of the F-X competition and said South Korea would be able to procure aircraft as early as 2014.

In February, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates sacked a key official in charge of the F-35 program over the projected delay and cost overruns.

The Pentagon believes the cost of the F-35 will be more than double the original price. According to the Pentagon's chief weapons buyers, the cost of the aircraft would go from $50 million a jet in 2001 to about $113 million.

Lockheed officials told Korean authorities earlier that the cost for the F-35 would be between $50 million and $63 million each.

The KIDA researcher said he believes South Korea's purchase of F-35 aircraft would be scrapped or delayed for several years later than scheduled. He earlier indicated that adopting an early version of the F-35 could cause operational risks.

The F-35 development program has been underway with nine international contractors and government partnerships, including Britain, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey since 2001. The JSF has three different versions ― A-type for air force operations, B-type for short takeoff and vertical landing for naval and marine missions and C-type for operations with aircraft carriers.

The F-35 is a single-seat, single-engine fighter that can perform close air support, tactical bombing and air defense missions.

More F-15Ks?

Boeing is expected to capitalize on the emerging problems with the F-35 when it touts its F-15 Eagle aircraft to the South Korean Air Force.

But the winner of the first and second phase F-X competitions will also face an uphill battle this time to persuade South Korea to buy more of the aircraft, which some critics call a good but older platform.

``Needless to say, the F-15K is one of the best fighter jets in the world,'' an Air Force official said. ``But there is doubt as to whether a fleet of only F-15Ks would be efficient, or if a combination of long-range and stealth aircraft would be better. The Air Force, KIDA, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration and other parties concerned will study this issue more during the year.

''In a move to attract South Korea's fresh attention, Boeing unveiled a new version of the F-15 aircraft, the Silent Eagle, which the aerospace firm says has a ``semi-stealth'' function while retaining the F-15's traditional long-range, large payload capability.

Boeing completed radar-cross-section (RCS) trials for the Silent Eagle prototype last August and September and is looking to its first flight in coming months.

Industry sources, however, say it remains to be seen whether or not the U.S. government will approve the sale of radar stealth technology for the new jet, or how much higher levels of RCS Boeing will offer to meet South Korean requirements.

Joe Song, vice president of Asia-Pacific international business development with Boeing Defense, Space and Security, said during last year's Seoul Air Show that his company would offer a key option to transfer advanced fighter development technologies to South Korea for a homegrown fighter under the KF-X project.

``We're considering connecting the third phase F-X deal to the KF-X program if necessary, given that packaging some related programs, in general, creates a synergy effect,'' he said.

In the KF-X program, South Korea aims to develop and produce between 120 and 250 F-16 type fighters beginning in 2013, with technology support from foreign aerospace companies.

If Silent Eagle's marketing proves to be unsuccessful, Boeing could offer the F-15K variant with improved avionics and radar systems, sources said.

The twin-engine F-15K is capable of air-to-ground, air-to-air and air-to-sea missions day or night, under any weather conditions. It has a 23,000-pound payload and can fly at a maximum speed of Mach 2.3, with a combat radius of 1,800 kilometers. A single aircraft costs around $100 million.

European Option

The European consortium Eurofighter wants to look for an opportunity in South Korea but is still suffering the trauma of a defeat in the F-X I competition in the early 2000s.

European industry officials believe the Rafale built by French aircraft firm Dassault initially received more favorable reviews from the Korean military than Boeing's F-15K, but the Korean government selected the U.S. fighter jet allegedly due to a political consideration.

Eurofighter wants South Korea to join its Eurofighter Typhoon program and says it could offer more lenient technology transfer for the KF-X program.

``Eurofighter apparently has a chance to compete for the F-X III given the two main U.S. competitors are not in a good position now. But the European firm has not been so active in promoting its fighter,'' an official at the Defense Acquisition Program Administration said. ``It's up to the European firm and what the company will offer in the competition.

''The Eurofighter Typhoon is Europe's biggest-ever military aviation program with about 700 aircraft under contract with five European nations and Saudi Arabia.

The Typhoon is a twin-engine canard-delta wing multirole fighter. Powered by two Eurojet afterburning turbofans, the stealth aircraft has a maximum speed of Mach 2.0 and can supercruise at up to Mach 1.5 without using afterburners.

The fighter has a maximum range of 3,790 kilometers and can carry a typical payload of two laser-guided bombs, four beyond visual-range air-to-air missiles, four short-range air-to-air missiles and two standoff-range weapons.

Government and Military Made Plans to Improve the Military from 2011 to 2020

28 Maret 2010

K1A1-Army need new MBT replacing the old inventory (photo : Militaryphotos)

Government and military is being conducted in a military improvement program over the next 10 years is from 2011 to 2020 replacement plan provides an overview military is 9 years since 2006 to 2014, conducted during the year 2006 and was updated again in 2007.

The new plan will be divided into 2 period is during the first 5 years (2011 to 2015) and over 5 years after (2016 to 2020) the budget and 4 billion baht (average of 4 billion baht per year) and increased budgets military level to 1.6% of gross national product, or GDP. A goal that took place since the time when the military plans to provide an overview at 9 years now, the defense budget would be relatively close to target. TAF is not expected to be seen to increase defense budgets as tacit John Key last couple of years ago. Except in 2011 the defense budget will increase to 1.7 billion baht a year from 2010 to around 1.5 billion baht, but defense budget should be increased every year in the proportion similar to the growth of GDP of the country if need treatment behind this goal.

We expect the overall plan was not likely to be different from the overall military plan, providing a significant 9-year player John Key. But only partial exception of military plans to provide an overview of the 9 should not appear in the Army plans to improve 10 years who are new. As has been provided to the resident this calculation was likely to be approximately 20% of all plans so important implication that John should add to the 10-year plan will be a new demand during and after 5 years to improve existing conditions to the new plan, improve military 10 years.

Not much detail for the details of military plans, but each believes that TAF will not be much different. The map feature has been disclosed in the press, Army budget request of approximately 7 billion baht to establish a military division to number 3, which is close to the amount of TAF was estimated that the division now and horse must be the main tank (Main Battle Tank) approx 3 battalion total number of 150 to 200 trucks transporting troops armor vehicles and then again around 6 battalion from 300 to 350 vehicles and parts support. The superiors various positions, including the need to open more.

The main goal of the Navy is still the number 2 submarine aircraft, which is expected submarine used to spend 2 billion baht, with data that are selected a Navy submarine class, or Type-209 from South Korea. Song from China, including construction equipment is needed to support various operations with the submarine. There are also African boat needs new floor Gate which is expected to be similar to the African demand for ship Gate protection plans provide military air in a 9-year overview.


27 Maret 2010

Hawk 209 dengan Warna Baru

27 Maret 2010

Hawk 209 TNI-AU dengan warna loreng baru (photo : TNI-AU, frdyDA-Indoflyer)

Hawk 209 TT-0223 tampil dengan warna loreng baru. Setelah sebelumnya menggunakan kombinasi warna coklat-hijau, kali ini kombinasi warna yang digunakan adalah abu-abu-biru.

Pesawat ini berasal dari Skadron Udara 1 Lanud Supadio, Pontianak, Kalimantan Barat.

Indonesia membeli pesawat Hawk 209 dari BAe-UK sebanyak 16 buah pada periode 1996-1998 dan ditambah lagi 16 buah pada periode 1999-2000.
Pesawat Hawk 209 dioperasikan oleh Skadron Udara 1 Pontianak, Kalimantan dan Skadron Udara 12 Pekanbaru, Sumatera.

(Defense Studies)

Kapal Survei Hidrografi Buatan Indonesia

27 Maret 2010

Kapal durvei hidrografi KM Tanjung Perak (photo : Detik)

Tanjungperak, Kapal Kecil Periset Pantai

Jakarta, Dengan kecepatan 4-7 knot, menumpang kapal motor jenis Katamaran Tanjungperak tidak seperti menumpang kapal motor wisata biasa yang mengangkut penumpang dari Pantai Marina Ancol ke pulau-pulau di Kepulauan Seribu.

Tidak ada angin yang menerpa rambut ataupun lompatan-lompatan kapal menerjang ombak, karena kapal berbahan fiberglass itu begitu lambat bergerak, seperti tanpa tujuan.

KM Tanjungperak memang bukan kapal motor biasa, tetapi kapal motor khusus untuk survei pemetaan kelautan yang dilengkapi selain sistem navigasi juga berbagai peralatan survei hidrografi atau batimetri untuk memetakan laut.

Peralatan itu antara lain "multibeam echosounder" Odom ES3, "Singlebeam echosounder" Simrad EA 400 dual frekuensi, Sound Velocity Profile Valeport Midas, Global Positioning System (GPS) tipe geodetik dan navigasi, Automatic Tide Gauge hingga perangkat lunak CARIS HIPS 6.1, serta dua boat kecil untuk kepentingan pertolongan dan pencarian atau Search and Rescue (SAR).

"Survei pemetaan kelautan memang membutuhkan kecepatan hanya 4-7 knot, meski kalau mau masih bisa dikebut sampai maksimal 12 knot," kata Kepala Pusat Pemetaan Dasar Kelautan dan Kedirgantaraan Badan Koordinasi Survei dan Pemetaan Nasional (Bakosurtanal) Agus Santoso MSc di atas kapal bertonasi 70 ton itu.

Kapal motor yang dipasang tenaga mesin 300 pk sebanyak dua buah, kiri dan kanan sebagai kaki katamarannya ini, lanjut dia, ukurannya disesuaikan untuk wilayah laut dekat pantai, dengan panjang hanya 22,2 meter dan lebar 7,5 meter serta draf hanya 1-1,5 meter saja.

Penyesuaian ini terkait dengan peralatan survei batimetri "multibeam echosounder" yang hanya berkapasitas kedalaman 60 meter, atau khusus untuk kawasan laut dangkal seperti pantai.

"Tahun ini akan ditingkatkan untuk kedalaman 300 meter, sehingga bisa lebih ke tengah laut, termasuk dataran Sunda dan dataran Sahul," katanya.

Data yang diambil oleh kapal survei ini misalnya batimetri (informasi morfologi dasar laut), arus laut dan salinitas untuk memetakan sumber daya laut, serta jenis endapan dasar laut, ujarnya.

Kapal ini dilengkapi dengan teknologi komunikasi seperti GPS, radio, radar komunikasi dan peta elektronik. KM Tanjung Perak mampu melakukan survei hidrografi yang bisa mengukur hingga kedalaman 60 meter di bawah permukaan laut. (photo : Detik)

Yang Pertama

Kepala Badan Koordinasi Survei dan Pemetaan Nasional (Bakosurtanal) Rudolf W Matindas yang bersama Menristek Suharna Surapranata memberi sambutan dalam peluncuran KM Tanjungperak di Pantai Marina Ancol, Kamis, ini mengatakan, sangat bangga, pada akhirnya Bakosurtanal bisa memiliki kapal survei pemetaan kelautan.

Kapal dengan jarak jelajah 2.000 mil laut yang dibiayai APBN Bakosurtanal senilai Rp4 miliar ini memang merupakan kapal yang pertama milik Bakosurtanal, akunya.

Sebelumnya untuk pemetaan laut dangkal Bakosurtanal hanya menyewa kapal nelayan sekitar Rp1 juta per hari.

Namun selain tidak nyaman karena kotor dan terlalu bau amis untuk sebuah riset, juga daya jelajah dan fasilitas yang ada sangat tidak memadai.
Sedangkan untuk pemetaan laut dalam Bakosurtanal memanfaatkan kapal-kapal riset Baruna Jaya II, III dan VIII milik LIPI dan BPPT serta Geomarine III milik Kementerian ESDM yang memiliki jelajah lebih luas dan kemampuan "multibeam echosounder" lebih tinggi.

Ia juga menyatakan sangat bangga, kapal berlambung ganda ini merupakan buatan anak-anak bangsa di mana Rancang bangun dan konstruksinya dilakukan oleh Institut Teknologi 10 November Surabaya (ITS) dan perusahaan nasional Maruline Maju Utama.

Menurut Matindas, untuk meliput seluruh wilayah pantai Indonesia yang panjangnya lebih dari 100 ribu km idealnya diperlukan enam kapal jenis ini.

"Karena itu kapal ini jadi model untuk pengembangan kapal-kapal survei pemetaan berikutnya," katanya.

Menurut dia, selama 15 tahun survei pemetaan kelautan Indonesia yang memiliki luas laut 6,279 juta km2 dan panjang pantai lebih dari 100.000 km, Bakosurtanal baru memetakan 25 persennya saja pantai lingkungan Indonesia.

"Kita negeri kepulauan dengan luas laut sekitar 3-4 kali daratan, tetapi kita sangat sedikit mengenal apa yang ada dalam laut kita, potensi sumber dayanya, hingga kondisinya saat ini," katanya.

Dengan kapal ini, ia berharap, survei untuk penyusunan peta lingkungan pantai Indonesia yang akan dimulai April mendatang bisa diselesaikan lebih cepat, sekaligus mempercepat layanan dan dukungan data untuk keperluan pembangunan kelautan serta informasi batas laut wilayah.

Menristek Suharna Surapranata menambahkan, Kementerian Ristek berencana membangun pelabuhan-pelabuhan kapal riset Indonesia seperti di Bungus untuk wilayah Indonesia barat dan di Ambon untuk wilayah timur.

"Survei pemetaan kelautan penting, selain memetakan dasar laut kita yang luas, kita juga perlu memetakan potensi sumber daya laut kita, ikan kita, rumput laut, terumbu karang dan lain-lain," katanya.

Inisiator dibangunnya kapal survei Tanjungperak, Prof Sjamsir Mira, yang juga Guru Besar Hidrografi Institut Teknologi Bandung (ITS), mengatakan, meski kapal ini sangat tidak sebanding jika disandingkan Kapal riset Sonne milik Jerman atau kapal riset Perancis, Marion Dufresne, namun kapal ini tetap membanggakan.

"Kita harus terus bangun yang seperti ini, supaya tidak makin ketinggalan dalam riset kelautan," katanya sambil menambahkan, di masa lalu Indonesia cukup maju dalam survei kelautan namun karena selama 40 tahun terakhir pemerintah tidak mengalokasikan dana yang cukup bagi riset, maka kini mulai tertinggal.

26 Maret 2010

Was Iron Dome Defense System Actually Built for Singapore?

26 Maret 2010

The Iron Dome system (photo : Rafael)

A Paris-based online magazine covering intelligence and security issues this week called Singapore one of the most important customers of Israel's defense industry, laying bare the active, though secret, relationship between Israel and Singapore that began more than 40 years ago - a statement that comes after years in which Israel censored all local articles on the subject.

Intelligence Online, which is published in English on a bimonthly basis, states that the Southeast Asian island state helped finance the Iron Dome system designed by Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems to intercept short-range missiles and rockets, in exchange for which it is supposed to receive several Iron Dome systems to deploy on its territory.

Even more interesting is the possibility the article raises that Iron Dome was designed first and foremost for the benefit of Singapore - not for the protection of Sderot and the southern communities in Israel that suffered from Qassam rocket attacks and mortar fire for seven years and are still suffering (though Iron Dome is not capable of intercepting mortar shells). Israeli media have previously hinted at this, but the Defense Ministry has vehemently denied it.

The suspicions were bolstered by the fact that after the system was developed and one battery had been deployed as an Israel Defense Forces base, it turned out that the Defense Ministry had no budget for additional batteries. In that case, why was there a need to develop a system for which there is no budget and which the IDF does not intend to deploy?

According to Intelligence Online, which focuses on arms transactions between countries and corporations and on appointments of intelligence personnel and their clandestine activity, the Iron Dome transaction is the latest between Israel and Singapore.

The Web site, whose articles are available only to paid subscribers, has thousands of readers, including Israelis.

The Iron Dome concept (image : Rafael)

Iron Dome, which its developers said was tested successfully a few months ago, as Israeli media have previously reported, cost roughly $250 million to develop.

One battery, whose production cost is about $50 million, has already been deployed at a base in the south of the country, but so far has not been readied for operational purposes and has not yet been activated.

The anti-aircraft division of the Israel Air Force, which is responsible for operating Iron Dome, is training teams at a base in the north.

They will be operating the system in Israel, with the aim of intercepting Qassam and Katyusha rockets up to a distance of 40 kilometers.

Vulcan-Phalanx: Cheaper and More Accessible

Intelligence Online also repeats an argument published in recent years in Israel to the effect that if the Defense Ministry had really wanted to protect the residents of the south quickly and cheaply, it could have acquired a cheaper and more accessible defense system than Iron Dome: the batteries of the Vulcan-Phalanx cannon system manufactured by Raytheon.

The land-based version of the batteries, called Centurion, are deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq, where they are used to protect American and NATO forces.

Although Defense Minister Ehud Barak has told Haaretz several times that Israel will acquire the Vulcan-Phalanx system, that has yet to happen.

In other words, the Defense Ministry may have given Rafael a development budget as a way of positioning the project as an Israeli military system that is ostensibly being used by the IDF but is really aimed at improving Israel's chances of selling it to Singapore and other countries.

Small Country, Hostile Population

The cooperation between Israel and Singapore rests on the two small countries' shared sense of being under threat, since both are surrounded by a hostile Muslim population and want advanced weapons systems to maintain a qualitative advantage over their neighbors.

The Intelligence Online article argues that the fight against fundamentalist Islamic terror over the past decade has increased the cooperation between the two countries, as well as their sense of a shared destiny. In recent years, Singapore has confronted threats by Jemaah Islamiyah, a terrorist group that operates in Southeast Asia.

The island state, a neighbor of Indonesia and Malaysia, has arrested dozens of the group's operatives and exposed plans to attack the Israeli, American and Australian embassies, along with ships from those countries. One of Singapore's main sources of income is the Port of Singapore, which claims to be the busiest port in the world.

According to the article, immediately after Singapore declared its independence in 1965 it asked Israel to help it establish an army. IDF officers including Rehavam Ze'evi (who became a right-wing cabinet member assassinated in 2001) and Benjamin Ben-Eliezer (now the industry, trade and labor minister) were sent to Singapore to head large delegations of military advisers, and helped build the army on the model of the IDF. Israeli military representatives have been active since then at the Israeli Embassy in Singapore, which was opened in 1969.

One of the issues the IDF representatives deal with is promoting large arms deals. Transactions mentioned in the article include Singapore's purchase of Barak surface-to-air missiles manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries and Israel's upgrading of fighter planes belonging to Singapore's air force.

In addition, Rafael supplied drones for naval missions and Israel's Elbit Systems supplied its Hermes drone.

Intelligence Online also says there is naval cooperation between the two countries, and notes that the commander of Israel's navy, Admiral Eli Marom, had previously represented Israel in Singapore.


US Offers Latest ASTOR Airborne Radar to India

26 Maret 2010

RAF's Airborne Stand-Off Radar (photo : RAF)

New Delhi. After F 35 JSF, F 16 Super Viper, F 18 Super Hornet and P8I aircraft and other weapon systems, the US has now offered another sophisticated system to India, the Airborne Stand-Off Radar (ASTOR).

According to Admiral Walter F Doran, President Asia for Raytheon, Indian officials had alredy been briefed on “this latest radar, for highly effective 24-hour surveillance and target acquisition capability.” The system is being operated now by the British Army and Royal Air Force (RAF) in Afghanisatan with five ASTOR aircraft and eight ground stations.

Admiral Doran told India Strategic during a visit here recently that Raytheon, a military technology giant, had also submitted a formal proposal to the Indian government. He declined to give details.

First deployed in 2008, ASTOR can even detect minor variations in surface levels, like digging and filling of earth at the same place, and draw conclusions about activity. The system consists of an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar on board the Bombardier Global Express ‘Sentinel’ business jet.
Indian officials first visited the aircraft displayed at the Paris Air Show in June 2009 and have followed up with discussions.

Admiral Doran, a former US Navy’s 7th Fleet Commander, said that “the capability on board the ASTOR was unmatched,” pointing out that although Raytheon did not make platforms, its combat systems were on board most of the US aircraft, ships, spacecraft and land vehicles. For instance, the AESA radar on board the Boeing F 18 Super Hornet, F 15 Eagle and P8 Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft (for the US and Indian Navies) is built by Raytheon.

The company has also built an AESA radar for F 16s, should a country buying it make the choice in its favour.

So was the Mini-SAR, or the Miniaturized Synthetic Aperture Radar, on board India’s lunar mission Chandrayaan-1 which located ice on the polar surface of moon through high resolution imagery.

Raytheon provided the Mini-SAR to NASA, which gave it to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for its lunar mission as part of their cooperative venture. NASA later sent another mission with a higher resolution SAR camera.
Admiral Doran said that ASTOR flies high enough – 40,000 to 45,000 feet – to cover a large ground area, and to be beyond the range of most Surface to Air Missiles (SAMs). It is also equipped with a self protection suite to put out flares and chaff to confuse and deflect any threatening missiles.

ASTOR’s main equipment includes a dual-mode SAR and Moving Target Indicator (SAR/MTI), part of the AESA system. The aircraft can fly for nine hours at a stretch.

There are three consoles for monitoring the ground, two for image analysts and one for the Airborne Mission Commander, besides the pilot and co-pilot. Data from the aircraft is fed to the ground stations from where action against hostile targets is initiated if required.

RMN's Scorpene Submarine Can Now Dive

26 Maret 2010

The Royal Malaysian Navy Scorpene-type submarine KD Tunku Abdul Rahman was floated out and made ready to resume its training schedule. (photo : standupper)

SINGAPORE— The spanking new Royal Malaysian Navy Scorpene-type submarine KD Tunku Abdul Rahman, which recently suffered technical setbacks, is now ready for dive trials.

Its designer and builder, DCNS, said today, the submarine had completed its first sea trials off the Malaysian coast, following scheduled maintenance at its home port in Teluk Sepanggar, Sabah.

In a statement here, the company said the trials confirmed the boat’s readiness for underwater service. It said following maintenance, KD Tunku Abdul Rahman was floated out and made ready to resume its training schedule, including dive trials by the Malaysian crew off its home coast.

“These trials demonstrate that the Royal Malaysian Navy has successfully established the country’s first ever submarine force,” said Pierre Quinchon, head of DCNS Submarine division.

The contract between the Malaysian Government and DCNS for two Scorpene submarines and associated logistics and training was signed in June 2002.
The second submarine, KD Tun Abdul Razak, currently in Toulon, is scheduled to sail from France to Malaysia in May.

Apart from Malaysia, two other countries have ordered the Scorpene submarines — Chile (two units) and India (six).

The Scorpene was designed by DCNS and developed jointly by DCNS and Spanish naval shipbuilder Navantia.

First Five Super Hornets Arrived

26 Maret 2010

Five RAAF's Super Hornets fly towards Brisbane (photo : Australian DoD)
Super Hornets are Here

Air Force today welcomed home the first five of 24 Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet fighter jets.

The aircraft touched down at RAAF Base Amberley in Queensland at 1:34pm local time, following a formation flight over Southeast Queensland with some of the F-111s they will replace.

Defence leaders along with local Government, United States Navy and Boeing dignitaries were on-hand for the welcome ceremony.

Minister for Defence, Senator John Faulkner said, “The Super Hornets’ arrival marks a new chapter for Air Force.”

“Australia’s 24 Super Hornets will be the bridging air combat capability during the transition to the Joint Strike Fighter force and will maintain our regional air superiority as our F-111s are withdrawn,” Senator Faulkner said.

Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science, the Hon Greg Combet MP, said, “The Super Hornet project is on-budget and on-schedule. It has been an outstanding example of an accelerated acquisition and model partnership.”

The Super Hornets, known affectionately as ‘Rhinos’, will be operated by Numbers 1 and 6 Squadrons at RAAF Amberley.

The US-built multirole fighters are Australia’s first new combat aircraft type in 25 years. They will replace RAAF’s 37-year-old F-111 fleet, which will retire at the end of the year.

While the new fighters share a strong resemblance with Air Force’s existing F/A-18A/B ‘classic’ Hornets, they feature stealth characteristics, an enlarged airframe, more powerful engines, greater weapons and fuel payload, advanced avionics and state-of-the-art radar.

New Virtual Reality Parachute Trainers for Armed Forces

26 Maret 2010

A computer-generated image of the new Virtual Reality Parachute Trainers (photo : UK MoD)

The MOD has signed a contract for Virtual Reality Parachute Trainers for the Parachute Training School at RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, that will help Armed Forces personnel hone their parachute jumping skills.

Under a contract worth over £300,000, Gloucestershire-based Pennant Training Systems Limited will design, manufacture, install and support the eight Virtual Reality Parachute Trainers.

The trainers will work with students hanging from a metal frame by standard issue parachute harnesses and wearing virtual reality goggles that recreate a jump in a range of virtual environments.

Instructors will be able to control conditions, including the ability to simulate rain, fog and snow, and choose the time of day - daytime, night-time and dusk. Wind speed and direction can also be adjusted to make the descent more difficult.

Parachute instructors will be able to simulate situations where a jump goes wrong, monitor a student's performance, and provide feedback using digital video recordings.

Project Manager Martin Gabb from the Defence Equipment and Support Flight Simulation and Synthetic Trainers Project Team, based in Bristol, who are responsible for the contract, said:
"The Virtual Reality Parachute Trainers will give students a real-time experience in a virtual world that simulates a parachute descent in either free fall or static line.

"It will allow trainees to practise parachuting and malfunction skills in a safe but realistic virtual environment."

Squadron Leader Alistair Hunt, the Airborne Forces Equipment Requirements Manager from the Brize Norton-based Airborne Delivery Wing, which is responsible for the Parachute Training School (PTS), said:
"The PTS has used virtual reality training for a number of years. However, the Virtual Reality Parachute Trainer proposed and demonstrated by Pennant has proven to be a step change in capability.

"The new system has a superior operating system and graphics so training within the virtual world will become significantly more realistic.

"Additionally, the system faithfully reproduces the variety of parachutes and equipment used at the school, a facility not previously available, which considerably enhances the training experience.

"Whilst the trainer will not replace live descents for the trainee parachutists, the opportunity to repeatedly practise drills and react to emergency situations in a safe and, importantly, realistic virtual environment, is invaluable and will greatly enhance training delivery and ultimately safety."

Students will be able to jump in three environments, including a village, a wooded area and water, as well as practise jumping as individuals and as a 'stick' (when a group of parachutists exits the plane one after the other) within the same virtual environment.

The equipment is expected to be ready for training later this year.

25 Maret 2010

Thailand to Add to Black Hawk Fleet

25 Maret 2010

Soldiers of the 1st Special Forces Regiment, Royal Thai Army, fast-rope down from a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter at Camp Pawai, Thailand, during Exercise Cobra Gold (photo : US DoD)

The Thai government has approved a proposal to purchase three additional Sikorsky Black Hawk helicopters for the Royal Thai Army (RTA), Jane's has learnt.

The helicopters will supplement the three UH-60L aircraft that it has ordered from the US under a Foreign Military Sale (FMS) announced by in August 2009. Both batches of helicopters are expected to cost around USD150 million.

A source in the Thai government revealed the plan to Jane's on 24 March and confirmed that the additional aircraft will be used in a number of roles. He also said that unspecified Russian helicopters were considered to meet the requirement, but that the acquisition of the Black Hawks "was less complicated".

The six Black Hawks will join the RTA's current inventory of seven Sikorsky S-70-43 Black Hawks that are stationed in the RTA base in Lopburi, central Thailand.

Malaysia Issues RFIs for Fighters and AEW Aircraft

25 Maret 2010

Boeing F/A-18EF Super Hornet (photo : Flight Global)

Malaysia has issued a request for information for fighters and airborne early warning aircraft, with a view to placing orders in 2011-15.

The sudden flurry of activity has occurred because Malaysia's government is now formulating its 10th five-year national plan for the 2011-15 period, say industry sources.

Sukhoi Su-30MKM (photo : XAirforces)

Kuala Lumpur wants information on fighters such as the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Lockheed Martin F-16 and Saab Gripen. Russian arms export agency Rosoboronexport has stated publicly that it will offer the Sukhoi Su-30.

Malaysia wants to order enough aircraft for one to two squadrons, potentially totalling 36-40 airframes. It is seeking to phase out its older fighters, such as the Northrop F-5, and simplify its fleet.

Saab Gripen (photo : Aereo)

Boeing and Sukhoi are arguably the strongest contenders because Malaysia already operates eight F/A-18Ds, that it ordered in the early 1990s, and 18 Su-30s that it ordered in 2003.

Meanwhile, the RFI for two AEW aircraft will bring the Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye and Saab Erieye system in contention. The Swedish manufacturer has already been successful in selling one Erieye-equipped Saab 340 to Thailand, in addition to a first batch of six Gripens. The radar has also already been integrated with the Embraer EMB-145 and Saab 2000.

Lockheed Martin F-16 (photo : David Raykovitz)

Northrop has previously sold E-2Cs to Japan, Singapore and Taiwan. The company is considered unlikely to offer the developmental E-2D for the Malaysian requirement.

Even though Malaysia has issued the new RFIs, suppliers have reason to be sceptical about its ability to progress to a contract award, as it has twice launched similar competitions in the past. A failure to follow-through with orders this time could result in some companies being reluctant to entertain future requests, some industry sources warn.

Malaysia to Order CN-235 Maritime Patrol Aircraft from Indonesia

25 Maret 2010
RMAF's CN-235 (photo : Flight Global)

Malaysia is planning to sign a letter of intent in April for four Indonesian Aerospace CN-235 maritime patrol aircraft.

Air force officials, including chief of staff Rodzali bin Daud, have been negotiating with Indonesia's state-owned aircraft-maker PT Dirgantara Indonesia for the purchase, say industry sources.
The two sides hope to sign a letter of intent at the Defence Services Asia show in Kuala Lumpur in late April, they add.

Malaysia needs maritime patrol aircraft because its air force has been relying largely on four Beechcraft Super King Airs that it received in 1994. One of these was recently upgraded with a Thales radar and a second is to undergo the same work in the coming months.

The air force wants the CN-235MPAs to widen its operations and improve payload performance, say industry sources. The service already operates CN-235 transports, so Indonesia's offering provides some fleet commonality.

Malaysia has considered other types, such as a version of the Fokker 50. Fokker Services Asia had pushed the model as a cheaper alternative, and made a proposal to have some commercial Fokker 50s recently phased out by Malaysia Airlines converted for the maritime patrol mission by national maintenance, repair and overhaul firm Airod. Malaysian government investment firm Penerbangan Malaysia Berhad owns the retired aircraft.

First Super Hornets to Arrive Friday

25 Maret 2010
RAAF's F/A-18E/F Super Hornet (photo : Paul Sadler)

The RAAF’s first five of 24 F/A-18F Super Hornets are due to arrive at Amberley on Friday March 26 after their trans-Pacific delivery flight.

The jets, A44-202 to -206, are being flown from NAS Lemoore near Fresno in California via Hawaii, Samoa and New Zealand by crews from 1SQN, and are being accompanied by an Omega Air KDC-10 tanker and an RAAF C-17 carrying spares and support personnel.

The Super Hornets, led by 1SQN commanding officer WGCDR Glen Braz, will be escorted into Amberley by a couple of F-111Cs, and welcomed by Defence Minister John Faulkner, Chief of Air Force AIRMSHL Mark Binskin, Boeing Defense, Space & Security president and CEO Dennis Muilenburg, and local dignitaries.

Following their delivery, 1SQN will work up the jets and their crews and is scheduled to delare an initial operating capability (IOC) next year, while 6SQN will retire its final F-111s later this year and start taking its Super Hornets in 2011. Full operational capability (FOC) is expected in late 2012.

Australian Aviation will feature extensive coverage of the delivery flight and a full background on the capability the Super Hornets will bring to the RAAF in our May issue.

24 Maret 2010

Tim Marinir ke Rusia Tinjau BMP-3F

24 Maret 2010

BMP-3F (image :Kurgan)

Jakarta (ANTARA) - Korps Marinir akan mengirimkan tim teknis ke Rusia untuk melihat langsung penyelesaian pengadaan tank amfibi BMP-3F yang kontrak pengadaannya disepakati pada Agustus 2008.

Komandan Korps Marinir Mayjen TNI (Mar) M.Alfan Baharudin ketika di konfirmasi ANTARA di Jakarta, Selasa mengatakan, semula tim berangkat pada Maret 2010, namun karena masih ada kegiatan latihan rutin, maka tim berangkat akhir April 2010.

"Tim akan meninjau persiapan akhir penyelesaian pengadaan tank amfibi BMP-3F secara langsung, dan kemungkinan tiba di Indonesia sekitar Agustus tahun ini," ungkapnya.

Alfan menambahkan, ke-17 unit tank amfibi BMP-3F itu akan dioperasikan di Brigade Infanteri 1/Surabaya sebanyak 10 unit dan Brigade Infanteri 2/Jakarta sebanyak tujuh unit.

Sebelumnya, Korps Marinir TNI Angkatan Laut memperoleh hibah sepuluh tank amfibi dengan jenis landing vehicle track-7A1 dari Korea Selatan yang merupakan tank buatan Amerika Serikat tahun 1983.

Landing vehicle track (LVT)-7A1 ini sama kelasnya dengan tank amfibi PT 76 dan tank amfibi BTR 60 yang sudah dimiliki Indonesia. Kerja sama ini berawal dari pembicaraan tahun 2007. Saat itu Korea Selatan telah menawarkan LVT-7A1 kepada Indonesia. Namun, karena menunggu izin dari AS, kesepakatan ini baru bisa diwujudkan.

Tank amfibi LVT-7A1 merupakan hasil modifikasi dari jenis LVT yang dijuluki Alligator. Tank yang hingga kini masih digunakan Marinir Korea Selatan sama dengan yang digunakan dalam serangan Inggris ke Falkland, Perang Teluk, dan Perang Irak.

Korea Selatan juga memberikan satu paket suku cadang. LVT-7A1 mempunyai berat 22,8 ton, panjang 7,94 meter, lebar 3,27 meter, dan tinggi 3,26 meter.

Japan's Fighter Contest Heats Up

24 Maret 2010

Eurofighter Typhoon (photo : AviationNews)

TAIPEI and LONDON - After years of delay, Japan is moving forward on the F-X multirole fighter competition, and a request for proposals (RfP) could be issued as early as next month.
The F-X fills a requirement for 40 to 50 fighters to replace aging
F-4EJ Kai Phantoms; first deliveries could begin in 2015 if a decision is made this year.

Contenders include the Eurofighter Typhoon, Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).

The competition has been delayed since 2007 due to budgetary constraints, political bickering and procurement scandals. The Japan Air Force also delayed the decision, hoping the U.S. would release exports of the F-22 Raptor, but production was canceled last year.

Sources indicate the RfP includes dual-engines for extended operations over water, a local role in the integration of the active electronically scanned array radar, an indigenous weapon system and licensed production by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which is facing a drop in work once production of the F-2 fighter ends.

F-35 JSF (photo : Locjkheed Martin)

One defense industry source in Tokyo expressed doubts that licensed production of only 40 to 50 fighters would be economically viable.

"The real challenge for the Japanese is to find work for the local industry without breaking the bank," he said. "Starting from scratch on an aircraft program like that is going to be astronomical in costs for the tooling and everything else. So who is going to start an entire assembly line for 40 to 50 aircraft? That doesn't mean they won't try to do something on the assembly of the aircraft, but licensed production is going to be expensive."

Tokyo may have to wait until the F-XX competition, the follow-on fighter competition after the F-X, for 200 to 250 fighters, which would be more cost-effective from a licensed production perspective, the source said. The F-XX competition is at least a decade away.

Despite cost challenges, all three competitors are offering local industrial participation.
"We understand that industrial base is a key element of Japan's national security posture," said John Giese, senior manager for international communications, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. "We feel F-35 offers significant opportunities for Japanese industrial participation, both in production and sustainment."

F/A-18E/F Super Hornet (photo : Richard Seaman)

The U.S. government and Lockheed responded to Japan's formal request for F-35 data in 2007.
Giese said the selection of a fifth-generation fighter like the F-35 would be an "inflection point" that would give the Japan Air Force a "transformational capability" for the future.

Boeing is offering Japan licensed production of the Block II Super Hornet.

"We will work with Japanese industries to ensure that we provide for the licensed production of these aircraft," said Joseph Song, vice president for international business development, Boeing - Asia Pacific.

Song, along with a team from Raytheon, was in Tokyo last week to promote the Hornet.

The push to sell the Typhoon to Japan is led by Alenia, BAE Systems and EADS, which also sent a delegation to Tokyo this month to meet with industry and government officials.

The Europeans see an opportunity in Japan as the new Tokyo government grapples with Washington over the U.S. military base on Okinawa and other political issues. In 2009, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) unseated the long-standing Liberal Democratic Party and has since threatened to reduce the U.S. military presence.

"For Eurofighter, it wouldn't be easy as U.S. links there are strong and deep, but there is a feeling that the offer will be evaluated in a more neutral environment," a Eurofighter industry source said. "The Eurofighter position has also been helped by the good political support for the sale from the four Eurofighter nations."

F-4EJ (photo : Yahoo.Japan)

On Eurofighter's chances, Song said Boeing had to take them seriously, "especially with the change in government, and the relationship between the DPJ and the Europeans is improving."
However, Japan has never bought European fighters, and some say interest in the Eurofighter is nothing more than a ploy.

Though the Rafale fighter will not be competing, Charles Edelstenne, Dassault Aviation's chairman and chief executive, dismissed chances Japan would buy a European fighter: "The Japanese will buy American. They say they might buy European, but that's just a way of putting pressure on the Americans."

The Japanese are looking to have the first aircraft by about 2015, and recent delays and cost overruns on the rival F-35 could make it difficult for Lockheed to make deliveries until 2020.
"The other problem for JSF is that there will be a very small, if any, role for Japanese industry in a program where supporting the local aerospace industry is a key requirement along with capability," the Eurofighter source said.

Lockheed's Giese denies the F-35 is hobbled by recent program troubles.

"The F-35 program fully meets Japan's F-X acquisition timeline and delivery requirements," he said. "The adjustments in the F-35 program have, in fact, strengthened the program for Japan."
Giese said production was on track and resources have been added to development. "The more conservative development schedule reduces concerns of programmatic risk," he said. "F-35 is on track to deliver fifth-generation fighter capability to meet Japan's requirements."

(Defense News)