Friday, January 27, 2012

U.K. to Develop Short Range Protection System for Warships---------Defense News

The weapon would be developed based on MBDA's Common Anti-air Modular Missile, above.
LONDON — Development of a short-range weapon to protect Royal Navy warships from fast jets and sea-skimming missiles has been given the green light by the British government.
Sources here said missile builder MBDA and the Ministry of Defence signed the deal just before the end of the year but have kept the move under wraps.
Neither the contractor nor the MoD was prepared to comment on the missile contract.
The Future Local Area Air Defence System (Maritime) program will provide a new-generation weapon to replace the long-serving Seawolf missile currently employed by the Royal Navy, when it goes out of service in 2016.
Details of the plan to develop the weapon based on MBDA’s Common Anti-air Modular Missile (CAMM) are scarce but the source said the deal could be worth in the region of 500 million pounds ($784 million).
The missile is expected to be initially deployed on existing Type 23 frigates but will later be used on the upcoming Type 26/Global Combat Ship.
Future iterations of the weapon are destined to replace the Rapier ground-to-air missile deployed by the British Army, as well as provide technology insertions for the Royal Air Force’s Advanced Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile on which the CAMM is loosely based.
CAMM is one of six missile programs placed into an assessment phase in 2008 by the MoD/industry partnership known as Team Complex Weapons.
The Team CW scheme was launched by the then-Labour government in 2006, ending competition over a range of weapons and bringing together the skills of the leading weapon suppliers here such as MBDA, Thales UK and QinetiQ in an effort to maintain sovereign capabilities at a time of declining demand for new weapons.
Other programs being looked at include an update of the Storm Shadow cruise missile, development of the ground-launched Fire Shadow loitering munition, light and heavy future anti-surface guided weapons, and air-to-ground precision weapons.
Late last year also saw the government extend the assessment phase of Thales UK’s work on the Future Anti-Surface Guided Weapon (Light) using its Lightweight Multirole Missile.
The missile will be fitted to the AgustaWestland Wildcat naval helicopters due in service by the middle of the decade.

Philippines Agrees to Greater American Presence

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines on Jan. 27 announced plans to allow a greater U.S. military presence on its territory, in a move analysts said was directly aimed at trying to contain a rising China.
Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said the Philippines was looking for more joint military exercises with its former colonial ruler, as well as having a greater number of U.S. troops rotating through the country.
“It is to our definite advantage to be exploring how to maximize our treaty alliance with the United States in ways that would be mutually acceptable and beneficial,” del Rosario said in a statement.
Del Rosario did not specifically name China as driving the Philippines’ push for a greater U.S. military presence, but highlighted “territorial disputes.” The most pressing territorial dispute for the Philippines is with China over claims to parts of the South China Sea, home to some of the world’s most important shipping lanes and believed to hold vast deposits of fossil fuels.
The Philippines and Vietnam, who also claims parts of the South China Sea, complained repeatedly last year of what they said were increasingly aggressive acts by China in the decades-long rift.
The accusations, which included a Chinese naval ship firing warning shots at Filipino fishermen, fueled fears among some nations in the region about China as its military and political strength grows.
In his statement, del Rosario said a greater U.S. military presence in the Philippines would help bolster regional security.
“Such cooperative efforts would as well result in achieving a balance of influence to ensure peace, stability, and economic development in the region,” he said.
Nevertheless, del Rosario and other officials emphasized there were no plans to allow a return of the large-scale U.S. military bases that existed in the Philippines until 1992, when Filipino senators voted to close them down.
Del Rosario said the increased U.S. military presence could include “planning more joint exercises to promote interoperability, and a rotating and more frequent presence by them.”
Aside from regular military exercises, the most notable U.S. presence in the Philippines in recent times has been a rotating force of about 600 troops that has been stationed in the southern Philippines for the past decade.
The U.S. special operations forces train local troops in how to combat Islamic militants but are not allowed to have a fighting role.
Del Rosario’s statement expanded on comments by U.S. State Department officials on Jan. 26, who said the two countries were involved in talks this week on increasing military cooperation.
Philippine officials said more talks would be held in March to determine specifics of the plans.
Political analysts in Manila said the Philippines’ decision to allow a larger U.S. military presence was a direct reaction to China’s perceived increased aggressiveness, particularly regarding the South China Sea.
“The Philippines is now playing the U.S. card to get more leverage against China,” said Rommel Banlaoi, head of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research.
Rene de Castro, a lecturer in international studies at De la Salle University said: “We are playing the balance of power game because we have no means to deal with an emergent and very assertive China.”
In a strategic shift that has angered China, the United States has been looking to increase its military presence across the Asia Pacific.
U.S. President Barack Obama said in November the United States would deploy up to 2,500 Marines to northern Australia. The next month a U.S. admiral wrote that the U.S. expected to station several combat ships in Singapore.

German Parliament Agrees to Reduce Afghan Troops-----------Defense News

BERLIN — German lawmakers voted Jan. 26 to extend the mandate for German forces in Afghanistan by one year but for the first time cut the number of troops to be deployed there.
The maximum number of troops will be set at 4,900 from Feb. 1, down from 5,350 now, while another 500 will be withdrawn by 2013.
“It is clear that the work there is not yet done,” German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in a statement. “The path to peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan is still long.”
Germany, which has the third biggest NATO-led force in Afghanistan behind the United States and Britain, said at the start of the year that it aimed to begin pulling out its forces, eyeing 2014 for a complete withdrawal.
Opinion polls have shown the mission, the first major Bundeswehr deployment outside of Europe since World War II, has been consistently unpopular in the country.
The NATO-led forces are all due to be withdrawn in 2014.

Sweden to consider Gripen Upgrade-------------Defense News

HELSINKI — Sweden’s government is expected to examine in the spring an Armed Forces Command (AFC) proposal covering a possible $5 billion upgrade for the Air Force’s 100 JAS Gripen multirole fighters.
The Ministry of Defense (MoD) has sought a cost appraisal from Saab, although the company says that it has not yet submitted a formal costing to the government.
The Gripen upgrade proposal was contained in the AFC’s proposition to the government in March 2011. This outlined how Sweden’s Air Force and air defenses could best be developed after 2020. The AFC’s submission noted that a decision on the Gripens was needed in order to plan for either upgrading or replacing the aging aircraft, adding that funding for a new project should begin to be incorporated into the annual defense budget no later than 2015.
The AFC is proposing to upgrade and develop an E/F version of the Gripen to ensure the fighter maintains its technological development capability and continues to operate up to 2040, and possibly beyond.
Avionics, sensors and radar will form a key part of any upgrade, as will improving the aircraft’s weapons-carrying capability and fuel tank capacity. Some 20 possible new configurations for a Gripen E/F version are being examined by Saab, the AFC and FMV, Sweden’s defense materials central procurement agency.
The upgrade proposal is regarded as a more cost-efficient option than funding a new fighter replacement program. The AFC advocates that the Air Force’s stock of C/D version Gripens be upgraded on a phased basis to spread the total cost over a five- to 10-year budgetary period.
The AFC views the impending government decision, which it anticipates will be made in March, as the most critical funding issue facing Swedish defense. A significant factor will be the AFC’s improved working relationship with government. This was underlined in 2011 when the MoD approved $900 million in new funding to strengthen the attack and tactical helicopter capability of the Air Force and Army by acquiring 15 Sikorsky Black Hawks.

NATO Russia Missile Defence Confidence deteriorating -----Defense News

BRUSSELS — NATO has made little progress on missile defense cooperation with Russia, possibly jeopardizing a planned summit in May, said NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
“Maybe we won’t clarify the situation until a few weeks before the [Chicago] summit,” Rasmussen said Jan. 26 at his monthly press conference.
A summit with Russia is scheduled to take place just before the NATO summit May 20-21.
“If there is no deal, there will probably be no [NATO-Russia] summit,” Rasmussen added.
Asked what he expected to come out of the NATO summit in terms of smart defense, Rasmussen said he hoped NATO would “adopt a political declaration” containing “a political commitment to a number of specific projects.”
It was “premature” to talk about them today, he said, adding that missile defense was “an excellent example of smart defense” with a number of allies providing input, such as hosting radar facilities.
He cited air policing as another example.
“At some stage, we’ll have to decide on a long-term arrangement for air policing in the Baltic countries,” he said. He cited it as a good example “because a number of allies do it on behalf of the Baltic countries so that the Baltic countries can focus on deployable armed forces for international operations.”
In summary, he described smart defense as “a combination of a number of concrete multinational projects and a long-term political vision of how to do business in the future.”
Looking ahead to the Chicago summit, he said, “We must renew our commitment to the vital trans-Atlantic bond” as it is “the best security investment we ever made.”
Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities are an area that NATO is looking into in terms of its smart defense project. According to a NATO official, it is “no coincidence” that NATO officials have been invited to the U.S.’s Schriever space and cyber defense war games in the last week of April, before the Chicago summit.
As to the growing concerns over the Strait of Hormuz, Rasmussen said individual allies are involved in the Iran question but that “NATO as an organization is not.” He urged Iran’s leadership “to live up to its international commitments, including stopping its [uranium] enrichment program and ensuring free navigation in the Strait of Hormuz.”
Referring to his 2011 annual report, Rasmussen said NATO had weakened the insurgency, strengthened Afghan forces and brought enemy attacks down by 9 percent; had conducted a “highly effective operation protecting the civilian population” in Libya; and captured 24 pirate ships off Somalia (half the figure for 2010).
Asked about Libya, he said, “NATO is not present in Libya and has no intention to return.”