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.

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