The Year Ahead
Global politics will dictate the forthcoming year for the defence industry. This is heightened by new leaders taking office, as well as presidential elections throughout the world including those in Rwanda, Singapore, Germany, France and Iran.
Furthermore, on-going conflicts in Syria and recent terrorist attacks are sure to dominate the headlines.
Will changes in leadership bring a new set of procurement objectives for Western militaries in particular? Will defence budgets be less constrained? Time will tell.
Regardless of your politics, the world watches with bated breath as Donald Trump takes the helm on 20 January as the 45th president of the US.
It will be interesting to see if the commander-in-chief’s candour continues through his Twitter explosions of honesty.
He most recently lambasted the pricing of the F-35 and not forgetting his comments on Boeing and the cost of Air Force One. There’s bound to be a lot of anxiety amongst aerospace and defence companies stateside as Trump uses his second amendment right to an extreme.
Over in the US, BAE Systems is set to deliver its M88A2 recovery vehicles to the army this is expected from November this year.
The M1 and Bradley vehicles are scheduled to get the 3GEN FLIR night vision system. A preliminary design review was due at the end of 2016 and it is not clear if this has happened although a critical design review is scheduled for spring 2017.
Staying in North America, Canada is due to take delivery of all 500 TAPV vehicles from Textron by the end of the year with a schedule of 30 vehicles per month. Deliveries started in August last year.
Brazil is due to take delivery of 23 AAV7A1 amphibious vehicles from BAE Systems in February and this will continue until the end of the year.
China’s military strength is likely to remain a dominant media fixture this year. This was recently heightened by the People’s Liberation Army Navy aggressive taking of an unmanned underwater vessel of the US Navy just 50nm off the coast of the Philippines. It was returned five days later.
India is attempting to build an indigenous capability with the Rustom II MALE UAV that first flew last year. The platform is likely to carry out more flight testing in 2017, although the delayed programme has not inspired confidence in the navy, which has requested navalised MQ-9 Predators from the US.
Australia is worth keeping an eye on with its ambitious naval renewal programmes for new ships of the line and a fleet of new-build OPVs.
Another country motivated by China’s aggressive actions is Japan who recently enhanced its Self-Defence Force with a 1.4% funding boost for the FY to $43.66 billion. A budgetary increase also influenced by the nuclear testing undertaken by North Korea.
Contracts for the assessment phase of the Challenger 2 Life Extension Programme to the two remaining contractors, BAE and Rheinmetall were awarded in December 2016 and this year they will submit options to the British Army and we will find out what budget it has and the number of tanks it can keep.
Across Europe countries are beginning to move to what could one day make up the core of a European naval defence force, as cash strapped navies share assets, training and personnel in a bid to maintain some of their capabilities. Plans to create a European Coast Guard service also received backing by MEPs in 2016.
As dozens of helicopters were subsequently reassigned, to both find work for idle machines and to fill the gaps created by the H225 grounding, several owners of the Super Puma launched legal action against Airbus.
The big helicopter story of 2017 is likely to be the future of the aircraft, and its return to widespread service and whether the company is able to restore confidence in the type.
Whoever is in power, in control of the purchasing and/or the product developer, Shephard will be reporting on the deals and orders. We will see you on the show floor – starting with IDEX 2017.