In this news digest by Defencyclopedia, we bring you the most recent and relevant happenings in the world of defense. Each report will have our analysis and opinion about it. Special maps have been incorporated with the news in order to help the geographically-challenged, get their bearings on the world map.
Russia plans to deploy S400 and Iskander missile systems in Kaliningrad enclave||Russia deploys Bastion-P and Bal-E missile systems in the Kuril Islands
The Russian way of solving territorial issues and muscle flexing involves the deployment of its advanced, extremely effective missile systems in areas of interest. Nowadays, It is done by the deployment of the following missile systems. This allows them to go to the negotiation table with the situation firmly in their control.
- S400 : A long-range air defense system (400 km max range)
- Bastion-P : A coastal defense system with Onyx missile to attack large ships and land targets (600 km range)
- Bal-E : A coastal defense system with Uran missile to target incoming amphibious forces and smaller warships (150-250 km range)
- Iskander : A tactical missile system which can fire 500 km range ballistic missiles or 2500 km range Kalibr land attack cruise missiles.
The S400 and Iskander are slated to be deployed in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, which is geographically separated from Russia. It is accessed from the Russian mainland via the Baltic Sea. This deployment is a retaliation for the increasing NATO military buildup and their missile defense shield.
The Bastion-P and Bal-E have been deployed on the Kuril Islands, over which Russia has a dispute with Japan. The Bastion has been deployed on Iturup & Bal-E on Kunashir islands. Also, the Bastion-P is now war proven, after its recent combat usage in Syria.This move is sure to upset Japan, as these islands are just a stone’s throw from Japanese territory.
Russian Navy MiG-29KR crashes in the Mediterranean
Soon after reaching waters around Syria in the Mediterranean, a Russian Navy MiG-29K operating from their carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, crashed while returning back for a landing. This will be a setback to their operations as they have only 4 MiGs on board, which has now been reduced to 3. The cause of the crash is not a technical failure on board the aircraft as assumed earlier. According to Russian news sources, the MiG ran out of fuel while it was waiting in the air for a snapped arrestor wire on the carrier to be repaired. The source said
“Второй МиГ-29КР зацепился за второй трос аэрофинишера, порвал его и в конечном итоге зацепился только за резервный четвертый трос. Порванный второй трос запутался за третий и сделал невозможным использование его при посадке самолета.“
Didn’t get it? Well, here’s the translation.
“The second MiG-29KR caught the second cable arresting gear, broke it, and eventually caught the backup fourth wire. The torn second rope got entangled in the third and made it impossible to use when landing the next aircraft.”
The pilot who was low on fuel, could not make it to any land air base either. The engines were finally starved of fuel and shut down, forcing the pilot to eject.
First Arctic variant Mi-17AMTSh arrives in the Russian Arctic
The Russian workhorse Mi-17 is known to be a rugged helicopter. But it has been made even more rugged and advanced for deployments in the Arctic region. The beautiful Mi-17AMTSh is a heavily modified Mi-17, which features improvements like heating systems for oil and transmission which allow the engines to start at -60° C and the helicopter to operate without any trouble at -40° C. It features cabin heating and advanced insulation materials which prevent the crew and payload from turning into frozen blocks. It also has a navigational radar and electro-optic pod for operations in low visibility conditions. Its massive range of 1400 km will allow it to travel long distances in the vast region, where there are few places to land and refuel.
It has been painted red and black in order to make it easily visible to rescue units if a mishap occurs in the vast whiteness of the Arctic. The deployment of this helicopter will be followed by additional units in the future. Russia is steadily developing a slew of Arctic combat systems from air defense systems to helicopters, which will allow it to maintain military superiority in the northernmost part of the planet.
China’s aircraft carrier is ‘combat ready’, conducts extensive testing
The Chinese have declared that their sole aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, is now ready to undertake operational deployments and take part in combat operations if required. Having been subjected to extensive testing over the past year, it is not a surprise that the Chinese are now comfortable with their carrier and are confident about its combat capabilities. We can also expect details about the carrier battle group in the near future, which is expected to consist of Type-52D destroyers and Type-54A frigates. The Chinese are building a second carrier similar in design to the Liaoning. This is expefcted to be followed up by 3-4 additional carriers making use of electromagnetic catapults, nuclear propulsion and advanced fighter jets.
Indian Air Force tanker procurement party gets bigger
The long-delayed and twice-canceled tanker procurement contest of the IAF is all set to get more complicated as Boeing announced that it was offering it’s new generation KC-46A tanker. The other contenders are the Airbus A330 MRTT and the Russian Il-78MD90A. The Airbus offering had been selected in both the earlier contests due to its superior performance and long-term savings in operating costs and maitenance. The Boeing entry is equally advanced and can prove to be a strong contender for Airbus in the third iteration of the contest. The deal is very lucrative as the IAF has a requirement for 6 tankers, which could easily bloom to a total of 12-16. Both the KC-46A and the A330 come with boom/probe combination, which will allow India to refuel its P8Is and C-17 (which require a boom) along with their fighters( which require a probe)
Lockheed Martin to upgrade South Korean F-16 fleet
US aviation major Lockheed Martin has secured a 1.2 billion $ contract to upgrade 134 jets of the Republic of Korea Air Force’s F-16 fleet to the advanced ‘F-16V’ standard. The contract was originally secured by BAE systems, who lost out due to pricing issues. The upgrade will be an extensive one and will include
- Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar
- COTS (Commercial off-the-shelf)-based avionics subsystem
- A large, high-resoution display
- A high-volume and high-speed data bus
This upgrade is sure to include new weapons as well. Post the upgrade, the F-16 fleet of the ROKAF will be among the most advanced in the world along with that of UAE and Israel.
USS Zumwalt breaks down in Panama Canal, gets towed
Not to be left behind by problematic Russian ships hogging the headlines with their tugboats, the USS Zumwalt decided to break down in the lower half of the Panama canal. It was satisfied after being towed by a tug, to a former US Navy base, where it will be repaired before being sent to its home base in San Diego. The problem is said to have risen from the ship’s advanced Integrated Electric Powerplant. The ship will have its combat system installed in San Diego through 2017 and only then will it be capable of operational deployment. The centerpiece of the warship, the 2 x 155 mm advanced guns, will, however, serve as a showpiece as their ammunition procurement has been scrapped citing excessive costs. Although the ship is a technological and engineering marvel, one wonders how practical this white elephant will be in the future.
Boeing bags massive 32 billion $ fighter jet order to Kuwait and Qatar
The production lines of the F-15 and the F/A-18, which were on their last legs, have received a major boost with large orders from the middle east. Kuwait has ordered 32 F/A-18E and 8 F/A-18F Super Hornets in a 10.1 billion $ package, which includes the following.
- F414-GE-400 engines
- 41 x AN/APG active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars
- 240 x guided missile launchers
- 45 x AN/ALR-67(V)3 radar warning receivers
- 12 x AN/AAQ-33 SNIPER advanced targeting pods
- 48 x Link-16 systems
- 8 x conformal fuel tanks
The deal for 72 F-15s and their associated systems with Qatar would be worth around 21.2 billion $. This would include the weapons package, training, logistics and maintenance for the whole fleet. The order will keep the F-15 line running beyond 2020, but it looks like this may be the last order for the type and the line could close down after that.
Boeing pitches F/A-18 Advanced Super Hornet to India for local production under the ‘Make in India’ fighter program
Boeing again! The US aviation giant is not resting even after bagging massive deals from the middle east. It is eyeing a bigger slice of the pie as it tries to make an entry into the Indian fighter jet market after losing to the Rafale in the MMRCA deal. Since Rafale failed to secure the original deal of 126+63 jets and ended up with a 36 jet order, Boeing anticipates a requirement for the balance aircraft. Even though India is now hunting for 200 odd single engine fighters, there is still a requirement for 100-150 twin engine fighters in the medium weight category. Boeing is offering its cutting edge Advanced Super Hornet with a host of new technologies including conformal fuel tanks, new radar and electronic warfare systems, revamped glass cockpit with a large 10 x 9-inch display and enhanced warfighting capabilities.
Practically speaking, Boeing has little chance of securing a deal as Rafale has secured a place in the IAF and it makes sense to order additional Rafales instead of a new type. Boeing is trying to sweeten the deal by offering to shift the entire production line to India, create a local ecosystem for spares and assist India in the development of their 5th gen twin engine fighter. The ball is in Dassault’s court now. If they screw up the order for additional import/local production of Rafales to India, Boeing is standing in line as the next preferred option.
Canada to order 18 F/A-18 Super Hornets as a stopgap measure
The F/A-18 Super Hornet is selling like ice cream on a hot summer’s day. Canada, a satisfied F/A-18 Hornet operator for the last 30 years, is the latest customer. The tiny batch of 18 jets will ease the strain on their air force, which is operating a fleet of jets at the end of their service life. This is a temporary measure until a clearer decision can be taken on the replacement for the Hornet fleet. The replacement program has been constantly in the news for not being able to shortlist a fighter jet. The F-35 stands a chance as Canada will remain a JSF program partner for now. European jets like Eurofighter Typhoon, Rafale and Gripen are also in the fray to replace the legacy Hornet fleet.
Brazil orders 1580 amphibious armoured vehicles
The Brazilian Army has placed an order for 1580 VBTP-MR Guarani 6×6 amphibious armoured vehicles. Made by Iveco Latin America, these vehicles will be delivered to the Brazilian Army’s Logistics command. The whole deal is expected to cost 1.76 billion US $ and the vehicles will be delivered in several batches. The vehicles will arrive in different configurations like troop transport, communications, command post, ambulance, and 120 mm mortar vehicles. Some are expected to be fitted with remote weapons stations to improve their combat capabilities. These vehicles suit the Brazilian terrain and their amphibious capability will allow them to cross water bodies without the need for bridges to be built.
The UK will buy 26 MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles in a deal worth 1 billion $
The Royal Air Force is set to get a boost with the acquisition of 26 advanced Reaper unmaned combat aerial vehicles in a US $ 1 Billion deal. They will be an upgraded version of the Reapers already in service with the RAF. These UCAVs are extremely essential for operations in war-torn regions, in order to carry out precision missile attacks and reconnaisance with their advanced sensors. The new Reapers will have an enhanced 79-foot wingspan, immproved fuel economy for enhanced endurance and the AN/APY-8 Lynx IIe Block 20A synthetic aperture radar as its primary sensor. The Reapers of the USAF are seeing action over Syria at present.
German Navy to procure 5 additional Braunschweig-class corvettes
The procurement of 5 additional Braunchweig class corvettes for € 1.5 billion, has been approved for the German Navy. These ships will fill the void created by the retirement of the Gepard class missile boats. The Braunchweig class have a very advanced design and balanced weapons loadout, which makes them highly effective in surface and defensive ati-air warfare. The new batch of 5 will complement the 5 existing corvettes in service. These 1840-tonne ships are suitable for deployments in the Atlantic and Mediterrranean region. Some of the weapons and sensors on board these warships include.
- 4 x RBS-15 anti-ship missiles
- 21 x 2 RAM short range surface to air missiles
- 2 x 27 mm Mauser cannons
- TRS-3D multifunction radar
The lack of any anti-submarine capability makes it unsuitable for deployment in high-threat regions without a submarine or frigate escort.