Oshkosh has received orders for the SandCat from Kazakhstan. 20 april in Astana showed the first armored vehicles purchased for the needs of the Armed Forces of Kazakhstan, reported military-informant.com.

The Sandcat is based on a shortened Ford F-350 Super Duty commercial pickup truck chassis. Newer vehicles are based on the F-550 Super Duty chassis.

Lightweight armor of the Sandcat is a combination of steel, ceramics and composite materials. This light protected vehicle has variable levels of protection. Various modular armor kits can be fitted. Vehicle can be uparmored in the field. Interior is lined with a spall liner. Later production vehicles have a V-shaped hulls and mine blast-absorbing seats. Sandcats produced since 2010 have twice the mine protection of an original vehicle. An NBC protection and fire supression systems are proposed as an option.

Recent versions are powered by a Ford 6.4-liter turbocharged diesel engine, developing 325 hp. There is also a 6.7-liter diesel, developing 400 hp. Engine is mated with a 5-speed automatic transmission. Vehicle has a 4×4 configuration, which can be switched to 4×2 on hard surface roads. It is reported that the Sandcat has excellent acceleration and handling for an armored vehicle. Self-recovery winch is optional. This light protected vehicle can be airlifted by CH-47 and CH-53 helicopters, as well as C-130 tactical cargo aircraft.
A Sandcat Plus is a stretched version. It has 8 seats and is intended for special operation forces. Another stretched version has up to 11 seats. Other variants include a mine protected patrol vehicle (M-LPV), special operations vehicle (SOV) with soft-top configuration, utility and transport vehicles.
The Indian Navy announced the First ship of Project 15B Guided Missile Destroyer christened ‘Visakhapatnam’ was launched on 20 Apr 15 at a magnificent ceremony at Mazagaon Dock Limited (MDL), Mumbai. The ship was launched from Slip Way No. 2 in MDL, Mumbai. The Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral RK Dhowan, was the Chief Guest for the occasion. In keeping with the nautical traditions, the ship was launched by Smt Minu Dhowan, wife of The Chief of the Naval Staff. After an invocation to the Gods was recited, she broke a coconut on ship’s bow, named the ship and wished the shipand “crew to be”, good luck.

Based on Project 15A Kolkata-class, the four ships of Project 15B ships being built at MDL,Mumbai have been designed indigenously by the Directorate of Naval Design,Delhi and bear testimony to the acclaimed legacy of Naval designers. With a displacement of 7300 tons, each ship will be spanning 163 meters in length and17.4 meters at the beam and will be propelled by four gas turbines to achieve speed in excess of 30 knots. 

The P15B destroyers incorporate new designconcepts for improved survivability, sea keeping, stealth and maneuverability. Enhanced stealth features have been achieved through shaping of hull and use of radar transparent deck fittings which make these ships difficult to detect. These ships will be equipped to carry and operate two multiple role helicopters.
These ships are also packed with an array of state of the art weapons and sensors, including vertically launched missile system for long distance engagement of shore and sea-based targets. The ship is one of the few warships of the world to be fitted with a Multi Function Surveillance Threat Alert Radar to provide target data to Long Range Surface to Air Missile system. The MF-STAR and LRSAM system is being supplied by M/s BEL. To protect against incoming airborne and surface threats at medium and close range, the ship has 76mm and 30mm gun mounts.

The first ship of Project 15B is scheduled for delivery in July 2018. The remaining three ships will be delivered at an interval of two years each.
On April 16 2015, DCNS started cutting metal for the very first GOWIND® 2500 corvette under construction in Lorient, in the presence of high representatives of the Egyptian Navy. This vessel is the first of a series of four units that will be delivered to Egypt before 2019.

The cutting of the first metal sheets for the first GOWIND® 2500 corvette built in Lorient symbolises the launch of the ambitious industrial program conducted by DCNS for the Egyptian Navy. It includes the construction of four latest-generation corvettes, both in France and Egypt. The delivery of the first vessel is slated for 2017, i.e., less than four years after the signature of the contract last summer. 

A new international success for DCNS
In the frame of an international call for tender, DCNS was able to offer the best product at the most attractive cost. The Group was able to comply with the very tight deadlines to adapt the product to the specific needs of this client for the construction of the vessels in France and in Egypt via technology transfer.

With this contract, DCNS has scored another success for the GOWIND® 2500. The Group had already won a first contract for the Royal Malaysian Navy, which covers the design and construction of six corvettes in Malaysia at the Boustead Naval Shipyard through technology transfer.

The first Egyptian GOWIND® 2500 corvette will be built on the DCNS site in Lorient, one of the most modern naval shipyards in Europe. The three following units will be built in Alexandria within the frame of a construction technology transfer agreement. “This industrial milestone is the concrete output of preliminary work to adapt the vessel to the specific needs of the Egyptian Navy, conducted over the last nine months by the DCNS teams. Today, we have started the construction of the very first GOWIND® 2500 corvette, the reference product on the corvette market. We are proud to produce this latest-generation vessel for the Egyptian Navy, declares Bruno Chapeland, director of the Egypt GOWIND® program at DCNS.

A long-term partnership
Over the last year DCNS has established strategic relations with Egypt in the frame of the modernisation of the country’s surface fleet. The sale of a FREMM multi-mission frigate in February 2015 and four GOWIND® 2500 corvettes in July 2014 are a demonstration of the trust placed in the Group. DCNS is pursuing a long-term partnership with the Egyptian Navy and Egyptian industry.

DCNS will provide them with its knowledge for the construction of three high-technology corvettes and the through-life support for an equally modern FREMM frigate. DCNS thus demonstrates the attractiveness of its corvettes and frigates as well as its experience in technology transfer.

Efficient industrial infrastructures
The start of production of the future Egyptian GOWIND® 2500 corvette underlines DCNS’s industrial capacity to manage and realise major programs in France. The DCNS site in Lorient is specialised in the design and construction of surface vessels of 1,000 to 8,000 tonnes. Currently, DCNS is simultaneously building there five FREMM frigates for the French Navy and the GOWIND® corvette for the Egyptian Navy. The DCNS teams are also preparing the delivery of the currently so-called FREMM Normandie, for Egypt.

Technical characteristics of the GOWIND® 2500
The GOWIND® 2500 is a reference product on the worldwide corvette market. This vessel responds to the needs of navies to have access to a complete and multi-mission combat vessel for sovereignty and maritime protection operations and the fight against illicit trafficking. Ten corvettes have already been ordered by our international partners: Malaysia (6 units) and Egypt (4 units).

The GOWIND® 2500 is bristling with the very latest technological advances, developed and implemented by DCNS for naval defence. It incorporates the SETIS combat system, developed by DCNS for FREMM frigates and GOWIND® corvettes, the “Panoramic Sensors and Intelligence Module (PSIM)” – an assembly bringing together the integrated mast with its various instruments as well as the Operational Centre and its associated technical rooms – and the high degree of integration, automation and conviviality of the DCNS systems.
Total length: 102 metres
Width: 16 metres
Displacement: 2,600 tonnes
Max. speed: 25 knots
Crew: 65 persons (helicopter detachment included)
Range: 3,700 nautical miles at 15 knots

Weapons: 8x Exocet MM40 Block 3 anti-ship missiles, 16x VL MICA surface to air missiles (both by MBDA), Torpedoes, a 76mm main gun (Oto Melara), 2x 20mm remote weapon stations and Sylena decoy launcher by Lacroix.

Sensors: Smart-S Mk2 radar, Kingklip hull mounted sonar, Captas 2 variable depth sonar, Vigile 200 Radar - ESM, Altesse Communication - ESM (all by Thales).
Russia to supply four Mi-35 attack helicopters to Pakistan in 2016, reported Channel 92. This will not only strengthen the defence of the country but also help force to counter-terrorism effectively.

The Mi-35M is a multi-role combat helicopter manufactured by Rostvertol, a subsidiary of Russian Helicopters. It is an export variant of Mi-24 Hind attack helicopter. Primarily designed for attack and military transport missions, the helicopter delivers superior flight performance and manoeuvrability than its predecessor.

The production of Mi-35M started in 2005. The aircraft integrates modern high-precision weaponry for destroying ground-based armoured targets and providing air support for ground missions. It can be modified as an attack, ground assault, medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) or transport platform.

The Mi-35M is one of the modern combat helicopters in the Russian Air Force inventory. It is also operated by the armed forces of Venezuela, Brazil and Azerbaijan.
As reported by colleague andrei_bt , Kharkov State Enterprise “Plant named after VA Malyshev,” completed the production of the second batch of five series of tanks BM “MBT-T” under contract with Thailand in 2011. Based on the above link to photos, the second batch of five tanks were ready at the beginning of 2015, although there is no information when the tanks is being sent to the customer.

The tanks were made ​​in pursuance of a contract worth more than $ 240 million signed by GK “Ukrspetsexport” September 1, 2011 for the supply of 49 new Thai Army tanks BM “MBT-T” and two armored recovery vehicles based on them, with the term of the contract is to the end of 2014.

Thailand is actually delivered to launch customer tanks BM “Oplot” developed by SE “Kharkiv Machine Building Design Bureau named after Morozov,” is a further development of the family of T-80U / UD. Performance of the contract “Plant named after Malyshev” began in April 2012 and the company has faced considerable difficulties in resuming tank production after more than ten-year hiatus.

As reported by colleague andrei_bt , Kharkov State Enterprise “Plant named after VA Malyshev,” completed the production of the second batch of five series of tanks BM “MBT-T” under contract with Thailand in 2011. Based on the above link to photos, the second batch of five tanks were ready at the beginning of 2015, although there is no information when the tanks is being sent to the customer.
The tanks were made ​​in pursuance of a contract worth more than $ 240 million signed by GK “Ukrspetsexport” September 1, 2011 for the supply of 49 new Thai Army tanks BM “MBT-T” and two armored recovery vehicles based on them, with the term of the contract is to the end of 2014.

Thailand is actually delivered to launch customer tanks BM “Oplot” developed by SE “Kharkiv Machine Building Design Bureau named after Morozov,” is a further development of the family of T-80U / UD. Performance of the contract “Plant named after Malyshev” began in April 2012 and the company has faced considerable difficulties in resuming tank production after more than ten-year hiatus.
Kazakhstan Air Force has received new Sukhoi Su-30SM. The Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Kazakhstan April 17, 2015 to announce the arrival at the air base in the city of Taldykorgan new Su-30cm.

This multi-purpose aircraft will greatly enhance the combat potential of the Air Defense Forces. In addition, the technical capabilities of the aircraft will achieve a high level of training of flight crews, “- said Air Force Major General Nurlan Ormanbetov.

Recall that in the near future Kazakh Air Force extended with new fighter Su-30cm 4 ++ generation. This will significantly increase the reliability of the protection of the air borders of our country – the Republic of Kazakhstan. Kazakh army every year is growing, the troops received modern military equipment, increasing the professionalism of our military personnel.
Lithuania is to begin negotiations with Germany over acquisition of an undisclosed number of Panzerhaubitze 2000 self-propelled artillery systems.

Disclosure of the talks, to be held beginning in May, was made by Lithuanian Minister of National Defense Juozas Olekas following a meeting with German Federal Minister of Defense Dr. Ursula von der Leyen.

"The Federal Defense Minister and I discussed the possibility for Lithuania to buy Panzerhaubitze 2000 self-propelled artillery systems from Germany and we have received a positive answer," he said. "That allows us to begin concrete negotiations in May that, let's hope, will lead us to acquisition of the so-needed capabilities in the nearest future."

Olekas also said Lithuania is interested in the possibility of purchasing infantry fighting vehicles from a German manufacturer.

Lithuania is located in the Baltics and was once part of the defunct Soviet Union. Like other Baltic states it is troubled and anxious over Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and continued Russian threats to the region.
Lithuania does not have an Air Force and depends on NATO countries -- Germany among them -- to provide security in its airspace.

"My German counterpart and I have agreed that the developments in Ukraine have not only changed the settled order in essence but have also given a new drive for our bilateral relations in the area of security, so that we would unify our capabilities and give an appropriate response to the emerging threats in the Baltic Sea region," Olekas said.
Washington is interested in developing cooperation with Moscow and Beijing in the field of security in outer space, US Assistant Secretary for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance Frank A. Rose said at the annual Space Symposium in Colorado Springs (Colorado) on Thursday.

"During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union found many areas of mutual interest in avoiding potentially destabilising actions," he said. "The 1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty, which prohibited the testing of nuclear weapons in outer space, started a fifty-plus-year string of bilateral arms control treaties and agreements with the Soviet Union, and later the Russian Federation. We also came to agreement in many other realms, including chemical and biological weapons," Rose said.

In this regard, Rose expressed his confidence that "it is reasonable to assume that most nations, if not all nations, would find it to be in their national interest to prevent conflict from extending into space, knowing that such conflict would degrade the sustainability of the space environment, hinder future space-based scientific activities, and potentially reduce the quality of life for everybody on Earth if the benefits of space-based applications were eroded. Convincing other nations, including China and Russia, of this objective is the role of diplomacy."

The US Assistant Secretary of State also said, "If diplomacy fails, and the use of force does extend to space, the United States must be prepared to protect our space capabilities and prevail in conflict. That is absolutely clear.
The UK government is unlikely to block any request by Argentina to buy Saab Gripen NG fighters, Brazilian defence minister Jacques Wagner told reporters on 15 April.

The statement at the Latin American Aviation and Defence exhibition comes nearly six months after Argentinian defence minister Agustin Rossi expressed interest in Brazilian-assembled Gripen NGs, despite a need to import key technologies such as the ejection seat and the radar from a historic rival in the UK.

So far, there has still been no official request by Argentina to import British technologies for either Gripen NGs or Embraer KC-390s, Lt Gen José Crepaldi, head of Brazilian air force acquisition programmes.

Argentina is one of the three international industrial partners in Embraer’s KC-390 tactical transport. Several KC-390 systems are supplied by British or British-controlled firms, such as BAE Systems flight control computers and active side stick controllers, Ultra Electronics electronic controls and sensors as well as Cobham’s fuel tanks, inflight refueling equipment and composite material nose radomes.

Wagner mentioned that to overcome any “obstacles” Embraer might have to substitute these blocked components by other international suppliers. Wagner did not elaborate on whether Brazil or Argentina would be required to pay for such redesign and recertification of the KC-390 or the Gripen NG.
According to Wagner, the full resolution of restrictive export policies will only be possible once the UK accepts to “discuss the issue of the Falklands Islands sovereignty with Argentina through UN-mediated talks”.

Separately, Wagner also acknowledged that the Brazilian government recently owed Embraer around $200 million in unpaid bills for the KC-390 development, but about $40 million of that total was paid last week.
Confrontation between Russia and the United States is gathering momentum and may, literally, soon assume a cosmic scale. This is in reference to technologies that are being developed in the US which, in the near future, may affect the global balance of power and threaten to level the role of Russia's strategic nuclear forces.

A little history
Once rockets were invented to travel to space, their creators decided on additional uses for them, including for delivery of the most powerful existing weapons: nuclear ones.
The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 banned the placement of nuclear weapons in outer space. However, this condition did not apply to conventional weapons. So, if you can not “bombard” the enemy with nuclear missiles from space, you can still intercept those missiles. This loophole was also dealt with in negotiations that culminated in the signing of the 1972 Treaty on the Limitation of Missile Defence.

Assured impunity
In 2001, the United States withdrew from the ABM Treaty. The US has now positioned marine and land-based Aegis systems capable of shooting down missiles with a range of up to 5,500 km in locations across the world. Additionally, there are silo-based interceptors GBI, the creation of a whole system of radars (including the floating SBX) and the placement of the latest complexes THAAD in South Korea to cover the “dark” areas for the US missile defence system over Siberia and the Russian Far East, where the initial and the most vulnerable flight zone of the Russian ICBMs is out of visibility range of American radar.

On April 12, 2015, the Russian EKO troops spotted a group of electronic reconnaissance satellites on the orbit. “This satellite constellation is being developed to carry out communications surveillance of the facilities based inside Russian Federation territory,” said Oleg Maidanovich, commander of the Aerospace Defence Forces' Space Command Troops.

The Ministry of Defence has not indicated the state affiliation of the satellites, but analysts point to the ownership of the spy satellites as the United States.

“Obviously, we are talking about the United States, which possess electronic reconnaissance satellites, in particular the series ‘Ferret-D’, working in the upper range of the radio spectrum, where the means of guidance, detection and missile defence operate,”- Igor Korotchenko, chief editor of ‘National Defense’ magazine, told TASS.

How will Russia respond?
Russia's abilities to respond to existing threats at this time are limited, not only from geopolitical, but also from the financial point of view. In the current situation, any response can only be asymmetric.
Given these circumstances, the Russian focus has been on the development of new ICBMs, the creation of universal air defence systems;PRO C-400 and C-500; and the modernization of the Moscow missile defence.

Tests are in progress for a new missile for the S-400 system, which has a range up to 400 km. This indicator applies to aerodynamic targets, such as aircraft. The exact distance and height at which missiles can be brought down (defeat range) is not specified, but it is reported to be capable of destroying missiles in the near space.

At the same time, work is underway on a system of air defence for new generation C-500 and the new system of the Moscow ABM A-235, which will work in tandem. The operation is scheduled to start in 2017. In the meanwhile, the Russian defence industry is going to raise the production of missiles for air defence and missile defence threefold, as compared with 2014.
In Russia, work is underway to ensure constant target intelligence. According to Anatoly Savin, the scientific director of JSC Almaz-Antey, an “original system of space intelligence” has been created which allows for detection and tracking the movement of US carrier-based compounds, as well as strategic NATO submarines, in the oceans.

“We began to keep virtually all of the world's oceans under constant surveillance,” he added. Additionally, in the near future, expansion of the network of autonomous radar (RLS) in the Arctic region has been planned.

The effort of all mankind is to prevent the transition to full-scale war in outer space. Today, the US is not willing to negotiate. This explains the failure of the country to support the draft of a comprehensive treaty to prevent the deployment of weapons in the outer space, which Russia and China have been preparing since 2007.

In this situation, the United States will require a great deal of convincing that the agreement meets their interests. And that would only be possible with the building up of the very asymmetric measures that are underway in Russia and China. To this end, China has already bought the Russian S-400 system.
Oshkosh Defense has started the production and deployment phase of the US Marine Corps' (USMC) P-19 replacement (P-19R) aircraft rescue fire fighting (ARFF) vehicle programme.
The USMC's P-19R ARFF vehicle programme seeks to provide marines with superior off-road capability, speed and transportability to better respond to an entire range of firefighting missions in future.

Awarded in May 2013, the P-19R contract has a performance period that runs up to 2018 and aims to replace the 1984 deployed P-19A fleet, which is nearing the end of its service life.
Since then, Oshkosh has successfully completed all necessary government development testing and evaluation and readiness reviews to achieve Milestone C approval and low rate initial production (LRIP) contract.

Oshkosh Defense, defence programmes senior vice-president John Bryant said: "The Oshkosh P-19R is backed by our company's unique combination of industry leading off-road military vehicle and ARFF expertise, providing marines with the latest innovative technology whether they're at a military base or an expeditionary airfield.

"Consistent with our strong track record of delivering programmes on-schedule and on-budget, we're proud to deliver the new P-19R capabilities and safety that marines need for future fire-emergency missions."

The P-19R vehicle is equipped with Oshkosh's TAK-4 independent suspension system, Command Zone, an integrated control and diagnostics system, and advanced Striker firefighting systems.
Its 600 horsepower engine enables the vehicle to deliver unprecedented levels of performance and speeds of up to 70mph.

Oshkosh's TAK-4 independent suspension system provides the payload capacity needed to carry 1,000 gallons of water, 130 gallons of foam agent, and 500lb of Halotron auxiliary firefighting agent.
The fully-automated Command Zone system allows marines to repair and troubleshoot vehicles, view real-time performance data and remotely access diagnostics information.

Oshkosh will start delivering the first LRIP vehicles to support production verification testing (PVT) in November.
The LCA Tejas has completed hot and high & winter trials, including cold soak starting tests of its engine and ensuing flight performance. The success of the January 2015 tests allows the flight team to heave a sigh of relief given that there had been trepidation about full load trials at high altitude.

According to ADA, with three consecutive start-ups of its engine after overnight soak in extreme cold (around -15ºC) conditions of Ladakh, that too without any external assistance, Tejas, the Indian Light Combat Aircraft has achieved yet another rare distinction.

Starting the fighter aircraft under such extreme condition without any external assistance or heating is a technology breakthrough.

The requirements become further stringent when the starting is to be done three times consecutively with a partially charged battery. Team LCA led by AERD&C of HAL, and members from ADA, NFTC, IAF, CEMILAC and DGAQA have succeeded in achieving this.
Progress on LCA Mk.2 cockpit config ::

The look and feel of the all-glass cockpit that the LCA Tejas Mk.2 will sport is fructifying with the Aeronautical Development Agency announcing that the main display will involve two 6×8 Smart MFDs and one 5×5 smart MFD in centre console “based on the latest and best design technologies currently available in the market.

The ADA is looking for a full solution to its SMFD needs for the LCA Mk.2 programme. The capability exists in country, though a competitive process will now ensue. The ADA is looking for active matrix TFT color liquid crystal display SMFDs with separate LED backlight for day and night modes with redundancy for backlighting in both the modes, touch screen capability (will be the first Indian aircraft to sport touch screen panels), anti-reflection coating, full sun readability and night vision capability, compatibility as per NVIS Class B MIL-STD-3009B, EMI protectio, the bezel shall have push buttons, rocker switches and rotary knobs, auto brightness control (ABC) of the display using illumination sensors placed on bezel, capability for windowed image overlay driven by the display processors, dual channel video to support redundant display processors, continuous health monitoring with periodic built-in-test reporting along with its normal operation, provision for operator Initiated Built-In-Test, In-situ programming capability. Conduction Cooled with no external cooling for the entire range of operating temperature.

Embraer and Saab today have signed an agreement that establishes a partnership for joint management of the F-X2 Project for the Brazilian Air Force following the Memorandum of Understanding announced on July 11th, 2014. The partnership agreement is part of Saab’s commitment to deliver industrial co-operation in relation to the F-X2 project. Under this agreement, Embraer will have a leading role in the overall performance of the programme. Embraer will also undertake an extensive share of work in the production and delivery of both the single and two-seat versions of the Gripen NG, Brazil’s next-generation fighter jet. 

Embraer will be responsible for extensive work packages in systems development, integration, flight test, final assembly and aircraft deliveries. Embraer will also participate in the coordination of all development and production activities in Brazil. Furthermore, Embraer and Saab will be jointly responsible for the complete development of the two-seat version of the Gripen NG. Beginning in the second half of 2015, a team of Embraer engineers and technicians will be based in Sweden to conduct initial training in the maintenance and development work for the Gripen NG. This skill and competence will subsequently be transferred to Brazil. Embraer and Saab will build an Engineering Centre at Embraer's industrial plant in Gavião Peixoto, in the state of São Paulo, to support operations of the Gripen NG fighters with the Brazilian Air Force.

“With this agreement, Embraer and Saab establish a long-term partnership on a strategic project for Brazil and for the Brazilian Air Force,” says Jackson Schneider, president and CEO of Embraer Defense & Security. “The Gripen NG will raise the operational standard of our Air Force and enable it, with the appropriate means, to fulfill its primary mission, which is the defense of our territory.”

“Through this partnership we will secure an excellent result for the Brazilian Air Force and we will establish solid ground for success with future business opportunities and customers. Not only do we share experience in the defense and aeronautical markets, but both organisations have a clear dedication to customer satisfaction that validates Gripen as the most capable and modern fighter system on the market”, says Lennart Sindahl, Deputy CEO at Saab.

“The Brazilian Air Force sees with great enthusiasm this additional incentive to the Brazilian industry, through the companies of the defense sector. This new strategic partnership confirms that we are building a promising future. The defense industry needs to be increasingly strengthened as it is one of the main drivers of scientific and technological development of our country”, said Aeronautics Commander, Air Force Brigadier General Nivaldo Luiz Rossato. 

The implementation of the partnership for joint programme management between Saab and Embraer is subject to the F-X2 contracts between Saab and COMAER (Brazilian Air Force Command) becoming effective. The contract between Saab and COMAER for Gripen NG and the associated industrial co-operation contract will come into effect once certain conditions have been fulfilled. These conditions are expected to be fulfilled during the first half of 2015.

The Gripen NG is a true multi-role fighter aircraft, based on the proven Gripen C/D platform. It is built to adapt to all of the changing threats and operational requirements currently faced by modern air forces. Gripen’s combination of very advanced operational capabilities with moderate through-life costs make the fighter absolutely unique on the world market.
The new Indian government’s decision ‘in principle’ to buy 36 Rafale combat aircraft direct from the Dassault production line in France, announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 10, appears to spell the end of the medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) acquisition process. Speaking on Indian television two days later, defense minister Manohar Parrikar acknowledged that the protracted delay in closing the MMRCA deal, caused largely by difficulty in agreeing terms and conditions for licensed production of the Rafale in India, had not served India well.

Under the MMRCA plan, the Indian Air Force (IAF) would have received its first squadron of 18 Rafales from France, 12 single- and six twin-seaters. A further 108 would have been produced in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). Now, the IAF will form only two Rafale squadrons, with a possible third to follow if an option for 18 more jets is taken up. The new deal is worth $4.25 billion, according to Dev Mehta, an analyst with London-based Strategic Defence Intelligence (SDI), although “various design and pricing issues need to be worked out,” he continued.

Modi said given “the critical operational necessity,” India wanted the Rafales on an urgent basis and “the terms and conditions [of the contract] would be modified’ accordingly. India apparently now hopes to receive its first Rafales in 2017, but this will require Team Rafale to significantly increase the production rate, which has been only 11 per year. The recent order by Egypt must also be accommodated. Further Rafale deliveries to the French air force may be almost suspended in favor of the export customers, to the benefit of the stretched French defense budget.

Parrikar said that the Rafale acquisition should have been a “government-to-government” deal from the outset. He added that a new defense procurement policy would be announced soon, and would be less complicated than the current policy, with its “Make in India” provisions. Mehta said the new Rafale deal “has given the IAF much-needed breathing space while keeping other options open. It is likely to free up funds that can partly be used for scaling up production of the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft [LCA] and the faster induction of the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft [FGFA] in collaboration with Russia.” AIN has learned that an additional 30 Sukhoi Su-30MKIs will be ordered in the meanwhile.

UK UAV manufacturer Search Systems Ltd., has developed a UAV-ROV crossover - the Mariner 600 - which is an unmanned multicopter with aquatic landing capability and interchangeable aerial and marine camera views.

Featuring a live video feed with military grade encryption, the Mariner 600 is ideally suited to difficult searches of inland waterways, under trees, riverbanks and quarries.

Designed to the same high specifications as their previous vehicles and aimed at the cost conscious buyer, the Mariner 600 is compatible with existing Search Systems ground stations and mobile command units, making it a low cost upgrade to existing unmanned assets or an excellent entry to the market with dual aerial and aquatic capability.

Utilising a multirotor flight control system with surface thrusters for driving on water, the Mariner 600 is the ideal vehicle for working over water or shallow searches. Working alongside a dive team, the UAV-ROV crossover provides pre-dive information on inaccessible points, potential entanglements and an aerial view of the search area.

Michael Thompson, Sales Director of Search Systems: “As a former diver, the benefit of an instant aerial view is fantastic but the ability to fly into tight spaces, reach the bottom of riverbanks or sheer quarry cliffs takes UAV assistance to a whole new level. Our early underwater footage was excellent and now with the Mariner able to manoeuvre on the surface, any UAV operator can fly and drive the Mariner with ease.”

The Mariner 600 includes an Electro Optical camera as standard with thermal available as an upgrade.

Coalition air forces have now conducted nearly 3,000 airstrikes on Iraq and Syria since Operation Inherent Resolve against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) began more than six months ago. But although Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) have retaken some territory, notably Tikrit west of Baghdad, ISIL remains in control of large areas. The situation in Syria is very confused, with independent reports suggesting that Islamist extremist groups have gained ground. Some Iranian troops are deployed in Syria, and Iran advised and armed the Shia militias that accounted for two-thirds of the force that retook Tikrit. 

In the first days of April, airstrikes by fighters, bombers and UAVs continued at an average of 10 per day over Iraq and five per day over Syria. Targets were almost 100 percent tactical, according to U.S. Central Command, including anti-aircraft guns, artillery pieces, excavators and vehicles, plus “checkpoints, command and control facilities, fighting positions, military garrisons and staging areas.” Canada extended its mandate to include Syrian airstrikes, joining Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the U.S. in that effort, plus possibly Qatar. Six other coalition partners—Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, the Netherlands and the UK—are limited to striking only Iraq. 

Centcom gave mixed signals on progress last month. On March 5, Lt. Gen. Lloyd Austin told Congress that the counter-ISIL campaign was still “in the early stages.” But on March 26 a spokesman said that “the tables are turning. Iraqi security forces are gaining ground.” The same day, Austin was back in Congress stating that ISIL could no longer seize and hold new territory in Iraq, although the group had greater freedom of movement in Syria.

The Jordanian F-16 shot down over northern Syria remains the only known coalition casualty. Its pilot was subsequently murdered by ISIL. The U.S. moved V-22 Ospreys used for combat SAR into Iraq following criticism from Arab partners that they were stationed too far away in Kuwait.

Meanwhile, another air war got under way over Yemen on March 26. With F-15s, Tornados and Typhoons, Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition that also comprises Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Qatar, Sudan and the UAE. Aircraft from all of these countries are trying to reverse the takeover of Yemen by Shia rebels backed by Iran.
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