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Pakistan wants to buy Chinese stealth aircraft: Minister

By on Monday, November 24th, 2014

The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has expressed interest in procuring fourth generation stealth fighter aircraft FC-31 from China.

Minister for Defence Production Rana Tanveer Hussain told Dawn.com on Friday the matter was being discussed with Chinese authorities.

It is for the first time that a senior government functionary has confirmed talks with China over purchase of the longer-range stealth aircraft — an issue that has been a subject of speculation in defence circles since the 10th edition of the Zhuhai Air Show (China) held earlier this month, when the aircraft was unveiled.

The Jane’s Defence Weekly had quoted an unnamed Pakistani official as saying that the PAF was holding talks with China for the purchase of 30 to 40 of the Shenyang FC-31 fighter planes and that discussions had gone beyond initial inquiries.

The FC-31 is being developed by China primarily for the export market. Chinese officials claim that several countries have expressed interest in the aircraft believed to be comparable to US F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

A prototype of the aircraft, designated as J-31, has been flown by the Chinese aircraft research and development firm Shenyang Aviation Company for a couple of years now.

What particularly interests the PAF is that FC-31 prototype (J-31) and JF-17 use the same Russian Klimov RD-93 engines.

Pakistan is increasingly relying on China as a reliable source for its defence procurements.

Mr Hussain said that Pakistan was also interested in Chinese attack helicopter Z-10.

China and Pakistan had earlier co-produced JF-17 Thunder. Pakistan has been eagerly trying to market this fighter aircraft.

“We have nearly confirmed orders from seven countries for JF-17,” Mr Hussain said.

Pakistan, which is at present producing Block-2 of JF-17 at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Kamra, is eying orders from countries in the Middle East and Africa.

“The PAF has a requirement of 250 aircraft, but now we have decided that we’ll sell some of the JF-17 Block-2 to international buyers besides fulfilling our local demand,” the minister said.

The minister sounded upbeat about the upcoming four-day defence exhibition IDEAS 2014 beginning in Karachi on Dec 1.

Some 175 companies, including 34 local firms, are participating in the international event this year.

Mr Hussain said a few MoUs and agreements on joint ventures were expected to be signed during the exhibition, but no orders were expected at the event.

“The basic spirit behind the exhibition is to increase interaction with defence industry (officials) of other countries and provide exposure to our own industry,” he said.

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Eurofighter, UK Minister Tout Capability Growth At Farborough Air Show

FARNBOROUGH, UK: The UK Defence Minister, Philip Dunne MP, gave his support to the Eurofighter Typhoon Program on Wednesday (16th July), when he gave the opening address at a major capability briefing aimed at evidencing exactly why the aircraft will play a major role as a backbone aircraft for the armed forces for many years to come.

The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State and Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology (including Defence Exports) spoke in support of the Program and its capability growth plans just 24 hours after Eurofighter unveiled a Captor-E AESA radar system on an Instrumented Production Aircraft for the first time.

The integration of this new radar comes hot on the heels of the delivery of the Phase 1 Enhancement (P1E) package and underlines what Eurofighter are calling a ‘Paradigm Shift’ in capability as the platform secures its place as the most effective, capable and powerful swing role aircraft currently available.

The endorsement comes as the Program celebrates 250,000 flying hours and one of its core customers, the UK RAF, 100,000 flying hours with the Eurofighter Typhoon. Across the 20 operational units using the Eurofighter Typhoon the EJ200 Eurojet engine has also notched up a milestone – half a million hours without a single engine fire or uncontained failure – an unique record of reliability in service.

Briefing media and delegates former RAF Pilot Paul Smith, now a ‘Capability Manager’ for Eurofighter said: “P1E builds on the multi-role experience of the RAF bringing true swing role capability to all all of the partner nations.The integration of the Captor-E radar on to the Eurofighter cements its position as the premier operational combat aircraft.

Captor-E has an unique combination of large antenna aperture, wide field of regard and miniature transmitter receive modules (TRMs). This gives unrivaled detection and track capabilities, at greater ranges and out to angles beyond the beam, offering significant tactical advantages. Key features are the main antenna which is mounted at a tilt for significant radar signature reduction and its novel repositioning system which delivers the wide field of view whilst saving weight and complexity. Add those unique features to the increased flexibility, reliability and multi-task abilities inherent in an AESA radar and you have a class-leading sensor.”

Smith said: “Typhoon is well known for its outstanding platform performance; P1E delivers an intuitive Human Machine interface for swing role operations.This new sensor, along with our current and new weapons program, will give unrivaled lethality and flexibility.”

The P1Eb enhancements feed in lessons from the operations in Libya, enhancing the air-surface capabilities and completely revise the Human Machine interface for swing-role operations. They allow the pilot to seamlessly switch between air-to-air and air-to-ground modes.

Smith added: “The P1E package also paves the way for the Eurofighter to deploy deep strike stand-off weapons that can target high value highly protected surface targets. We are already deep into the integration and flight test of the Storm Shadow stand-off weapon. Storm Shadow has a proven combat record of penetrating the most highly defended target areas. The stealth is in the weapon; minimizing the risk to pilot and aircraft – and that, for us, and our customers is the key. The aircraft is highly survivable but it is even smarter not to put yourself unnecessarily in harms way.” The Captor-E’s Synthetic-Aperture Radar functionality will also prove extremely useful in suveying or locating surface targets.

Smith, said that the Captor-E, in combination with the other sensors such as PIRATE, will allow Typhoon to detect its targets first and utilize the superior kinetic energy of the platform and its weapons, such as the Meteor Beyond Visual Range (BVRAAM) missile to best effect.

He said: “This will allow it to continue to deliver air dominance.The underlying advantage of the Eurofighter Typhoon is that it is a hugely powerful and agile platform. The Meteor BVRAAM has a much higher average speed than legacy missiles and when combined with Eurofighter’s kinetics this delivers a ‘No Escape Zone’ up to three times greater than that of comparable weapons.”

Alberto Gutierrez, the CEO of Eurofighter GmbH said: “There is now no doubt that, with Captor-E AESA radar and P1EB, Eurofighter Typhoon has ‘come of age’. We are extremely grateful to the UK Defence Minister for his support at this important time in the evolution of the Program and we are grateful too, for NETMA who, representing the Nations, have given their backing to our capability development program. I fully believe that Eurofighter Typhoon is now ther best option for any procurer looking for true operational flexibility and all-round competitive advantage. We already have several countries interested in what we have to offer; our aim now is to turn that interest into firm orders. The arrival of Captor-E AESA radar gives us a real chance of doing that.”

The P1Eb enhancement package for the Eurofighter also brings a suite of capability upgrades for the aircraft’s Defensive Aids Sub System (DASS) and the latest interoperability updates for the fighter’s Multifunction and Distribution Systems (MIDS) which together help ensure that the Eurofighter Typhoon is the most effective flying partner for allied aircraft.

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German defence minister backs use of armed drones

By on Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

Germany’s defence minister said Tuesday she wants the armed forces to be able to use armed drones under certain conditions.

A day before lawmakers debate the controversial issue, Ursula von der Leyen told Wednesday’s edition of the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper that she backed Germany having the option of drones capable of being armed if deployments were approved by parliament.

According to the pre-released comments, she said that in the case of a mission, parliament would be able “to decide on the question of arming the drones for the protection of the troops sent … based on the concrete case”.

The issue of drones has long generated an ethical debate in Germany, which does not use unmanned aircraft to fight battles but only for surveillance and reconnaissance missions in places such as Afghanistan.

Even reconnaissance drones are controversial in Germany due to their spying capabilities which evoke dark memories from past fascist and communist regimes.

Von der Leyen, who took over the portfolio under Chancellor Angela Merkel’s “grand coalition”, said she believed Germany had to join European efforts to develop drones capable of being armed.

“For such a project, that takes at least a decade, we will now look for partners,” she told the newspaper.

Germany currently leases Israeli Heron reconnaissance drones.

Last year Von der Leyen’s predecessor, Thomas de Maiziere, also called for combat drones to be incorporated into the air force, saying their lack created a disadvantage.

Germany abandoned last year a planned Euro Hawk program for unmanned surveillance aircraft with costly consequences over fears that aviation authorities would not certify it.

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French arms exports to top 7 bn euros in 2014: minister

By on Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

French arms exports are expected to top 7 billion euros ($9.5 billion) this year after a rebound in global orders, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Monday.

International weapons contracts rose by 42 percent compared to the previous year in 2013 to 6.7 billion euros, he told the opening of a weapons show near Paris, adding that he expects this year to be “even better”.

Much of the turnaround is down to a rebound in exports to the Middle East, which make up 40 percent of buyers, including the 500 million euro renovation of the Saudi fleet.

Expansion in Asia and Latin America, including the 300 million euro sale of communications satellites to Brazil, also helped push French arms exports to above their 2011 level after a lacklustre performance in 2012.

France is the world’s fourth-largest arms exporter, counting among its manufacturers giants such as Airbus Group.

Last year they accounted for 7.2 percent of the global weapons trade, behind the United States with 52 percent, Britain’s 13.4 percent and Russia’s 8.4 percent.

Le Drian also confirmed the imminent launch of Project Scorpio tank renewal program for “a little more than five billion” euros over ten years.

“This is the building of the army of tomorrow, with more than 2,500 armored vehicles interconnected by high-performance information systems in various ways,” he said.

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French foreign minister defends sale of warships to Russia

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius defended Tuesday in Washington the sale of two warships to Russia, despite US opposition — while leaving open the door to re-examine the contract in October.

Per a 2011 agreement worth $1.2 billion, France is to deliver two Mistral warships — an advanced helicopter assault ship — to Russia. The first is due October 2014 and the second in 2015.

France has so far resisted pressure to suspend the controversial contract, which has triggered protests from the United States and other NATO allies.

“France needs firmness lessons from absolutely no one,” insisted Fabius. “France will do its duty, whether in regard to Ukraine or elsewhere.”

However, “the rule with contracts is that contracts which have been signed are honored,” the foreign minister said at a press conference during his two-day visit in Washington.

“Legally, we don’t have the possibility of not honoring them,” he added, explaining that Russia has already paid out “more than half” of the agreed fee.

The United States has pushed for France to halt the sale, saying it would be a clear sign of global anger at what they said was the “aggression” of Russian President Vladimir Putin toward Ukraine

The State Department expressed “concerns” and the issue was discussed during Fabius’ meeting with his US counterpart John Kerry on Tuesday.

The French official said Kerry had not formally requested Paris renounce the military contract, and he repeated that “the final decision will be made in October.”

“It’s at that moment that we will see what the legal context of this decision will be,” he said.

He suggested that the sale could be hypothetically be halted if new international sanctions were imposed on Russia for its actions in Ukraine, in particular during upcoming May 25 elections.

“If obstruction makes the elections impossible, at that moment we could consider a higher grade (of sanctions) which could clearly concern any number of subjects — the subject of energy, the subject of finance, or the subject of defense,” Fabius noted.

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Russia to reinforce Crimea fleet: minister

By on Thursday, May 8th, 2014

Russia plans to reinforce its Black Sea Fleet based in Crimea, which it annexed from Ukraine in March, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday.

“This year, the Black Sea fleet will receive (new) submarines and new-generation ships,” Shoigu said in televised comments, without giving details of numbers.

New air defense units will also be opened at the fleet’s bases, the minister said.

Russia’s only warm-water fleet, providing it with access to the Mediterranean, and to the Atlantic and Indian Oceans beyond, is based at the Crimean port of Sevastopol.

Russia seized the port along with the rest of the peninsula in response to the fall in Kiev of a pro-Kremlin regime.

Shoigu said Russia has allocated a total of 86.7 billion rubles ($2.4 billion, 1.8 billion euros) to modernize the fleet up to 2020.

Russian media has reported that President Vladimir Putin will attend celebrations marking the anniversary of victory in World War II in Sevastopol on May 9, although this has not been confirmed by the Kremlin.

The Sevastopol celebrations will include a flypast of 70 planes, symbolizing 70 years since Sevastopol was liberated from Nazi occupiers, Shoigu said.

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South Africa Needs Bigger Defense Budget, Says Minister

By on Monday, April 28th, 2014

The SA National Defence Force (SANDF) needs a bigger budget, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said on Wednesday.

“I don’t think government has a choice at this point. We had to conduct this Defence Review in order to have an appreciation of the organisation we have, its capabilities vis-à-vis the missions assigned to it,” she said in Pretoria.

“Remember the defence force does not deploy itself. When such deployments are done, unfortunately there hasn’t been consideration of whether we have adequate resources.”

The minister was briefing reporters on the findings and recommendations of the long-awaited Defence Review, compiled by a committee of experts who scrutinised the SANDF.

She said the committee found a mismatch in resource allocation and defence missions.

“Our view, I am an optimist by the way, is that now that everybody has interrogated the Defence Review report and everybody will have an appreciation of the urgency of increasing the budget of the defence force.

“I think that in bidding this year for next year’s budget, Treasury will have to take into consideration this report,” she said.

Mapisa-Nqakula referred to the controversial 1999 arms deal. “For me the arms deal does not affect or impact on the work we are trying to do right now. We are projecting, trying to assist the defence force to survive and to restore its dignity for the next 20 years.”

Government acquired military assets, including 26 Gripen and 24 Hawk fighters, as part of the 1999 multi-billion rand arms deal.

In September 2011 President Jacob Zuma appointed a commission of inquiry, chaired by Judge Willie Seriti, to probe the acquisitions.

On Wednesday, SANDF chief General Solly Shoke said it was imperative for the defence force to increase its capabilities.

“The reality of the matter is that we are going to increase our footprint as a national defence force. Over 90 percent of our economy is through the sea and that requires that we should be able to defend our marine economy.”

The latest Defence Review committee was appointed by former defence minister Lindiwe Sisulu in 2011. The review was originally scheduled to have been formally approved at the end of 2012.

South Africa’s first Defence Review in 1998 had assumed that the armed forces would only deploy one battalion for external operations in Africa, but by 2006 four battalions were deployed across the continent.

Currently, there were South African battalions in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan’s Darfur region.

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