Monthly Archives: August 2017

The world according to Shephard: Week 31

Ruling the waves

It’s been a busy week for naval and maritime news across the world with international deals signed, modernisation programmes announced and capabilities questioned.

Beginning in North America where US Navy CNO Adm John Richardson asked how the US Navy could restore its ‘agility and competitive edge to maintain superiority?’  He also emphasised the importance of producing more capable ships and the creation of a networked fleet to enhance naval power.


In Europe, Germany will upgrade its eight-strong P-3C fleet in a five-year, $158.5 million, programme that will maintain the aircraft as the backbone of the country’s maritime patrol capability.

Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri has had a week of ups and downs, after a thwarted attempt to purchase STX France was followed by the successful conclusion of a €5 billion deal for the construction of naval ships for Qatar.

Type 45 Dragon

Over in the UK Beth Maundrill reported from Portsmouth on BAE System’s progress to provide the Royal Navy with 60 Pacific 24 Mk 4 RIBs. Watch Beth’s video here.

After some delays in production, the 30th hull is currently on the production line. On the blog, Beth also discussed Portsmouth’s preparations for the arrival of the Queen Elizabeth-class carrier in a few weeks.

Meanwhile, Ian Keddie questioned the capability of China’s new domestically produced ocean gliders, describing China’s claims as ‘overhyped’.  Read the full story here.

Helicopter highlights

This week has also seen a flurry of activity in the rotorcraft industry, as Boeing was awarded a contract for three CH-47F Chinook Block II for the US Army.

As the Brazilian Air Force’s Black Hawk fleet reached 30,000 flight hours, Shephard noted that the Brazilian Army is expected to begin the process of replacing its incumbent fleet of Cougars and Black Hawks.


In more Black Hawk news, Sikorsky Australia secured a A$63 million contract to refurbish ten ex-US Army UH-60A Black Hawk helicopters for firefighting and disaster relief operations in Australia.

However, a Tiger attack helicopter crashed south of Tabankort, Mali. The helicopter belonged to the German Helicopter Detachment based in Gao, Mali.

The stimulus of instability

In the wake of another North Korean ICBM test, a new report in the US urges aggressive sanctions against the country and recommended warning China that the US is willing to use military force.

DPRK sanctions

As geopolitics continues to be unpredictable the level of global military spending is on the rise again. This week has seen a plethora of investments and contracts that demonstrate the importance of force modernisation and expansion for militaries across the world.

Romania has passed an endowment plan that allocates the necessary funds to reach NATO’s 2% of GDP target for defence spending. The plan provides €9.8 billion for force modernisation and procurement over the next nine years to bolster the country’s defence against a resurgent Russia.


In Ankara Cengizhan Çatal analyses Turkey’s growing defence industry, which has reported an annual turnover of $6 billion in 2016. The industry’s growth has been driven by increasing demand from customers across the Middle East and Asia.

On the blog this week, Gordon Arthur expresses his frustration with the organisation of this year’s Talisman Saber exercises forcing him to concede that it may be his last.

Don’t poke the bear

Following the recent release of Defense News Top 100 list of defence companies, Russian Helicopters is seeing red over its perceived omission.

Igor Korotchenko, director of the Centre for Analysis of World Arms Trade, stated in a release by Rostec: ‘A reasonable question comes up: how could it happen that the Russian Helicopters group which has steadily been on the list of 30 major global defence companies for the previous five years and ranked number 25 in the Top 100 Defense News rating last year suddenly drop out of it?’

Defense News commented on the missing company: ‘Russian Helicopters, another major player, is not included this year, because the company did [not] respond to multiple requests for 2016 defence revenue.’


The list aside it cannot be denied that Russian Helicopters – in the military and civil market – is one of the largest helicopter OEMs in the world, although recently its order book has been dented.

The state-controlled umbrella holding company, Russian Helicopters, which controls Russia’s two design bureaus – Kamov and Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant – in addition to five large manufacturing plants and six MRO facilities, reported delivery of just 189 helicopters compared to 271 in 2014 and 212 in 2015.

The company has been traditionally reliant on large military orders for export customers. Iraq has emerged as one of the most important customer for military models, taking delivery of ten Mi-28Ns and three Mi-35Ms.


Other international operators of Russian Helicopters military offerings include the Peruvian Air Force and the Belarus Ground Force.

Russian Helicopters also has a good foothold in Africa, and the company is delivering the first batch of Ka-52E helicopters to Egypt – the total order is for 46 and will be received over a course of three years.


Algeria has also proven to be a prominent customer too with a large Russian manufactured fleet featuring two Mi-26T2s and six Mi-28NEs.

On the civil side, Kenya earlier this year received the Mi-17V-5 multirole helicopter for the national police’s usage.


Its biggest foreign exporting country is China although this is predominantly related to the civil market.

On 25 July the company signed contracts with Hong Kong-based United Helicopters International Group (UHIG) for the delivery of ten helicopters for operators in China – the deal comprised of five Ansat light helicopters in medevac configuration, three Mi-171 in cargo configuration and two Ка-32А 11ВС.

In February this year, UHIG signed as an official distributor for Russian Helicopters aircraft in China, Malaysia and Australia.


In 2016, China remained the biggest customer for Russian-made civilian helicopter models, with one Mi-26TC, five Ka-32A11BC and two Mi-171E deliveries.

In addition, it is anticipated that by the end of this year, a contract will be finalised by China and Russia on an Advanced Heavy Lifter (AHL) helicopter project.

The AHL (referred to as the AC332 by AVIC) will have a maximum takeoff weight of 38.2t, including a 10t internal payload (loadable through a rear ramp) and a 15t underslung payload.

China’s demand for the AC332 is expected to stretch to 200 units for both military and civil use by 2040. China’s military lacks sufficient heavy-lift assets, so the AHL will be welcomed by the People’s Liberation Army Air Force.

The company claims it will be growing its order book to 500 aircraft this year. It seems the bear has been poked and is more than content to take the honey, as evidenced through its rhetoric to grow its order book in 2017.

All photos via Alex Mladenov and Russian Helicopters