The world according to Shephard: Week 35
This week procurement, modernisation and deliveries dominate European defence news as the Shephard team gears up for MSPO, which kicks off in Poland on 5 September.
Turning to modernisation first, the Polish Army is embarking on a decade-long effort to modernise its artillery units, making them a pillar of the nation’s security. One of the most ambitious programmes is the procurement of Krab 155mm tracked self-propelled howitzers.
Poland is also investing in an upgrade of its fleet of 4×4 light all-terrain vehicles with a number of procurement programmes. The aim is to replace legacy platforms with new vehicles within the next few years, which will better serve the needs of infantry, airborne, reconnaissance and special forces units.
Meanwhile, Romania is pursuing large-scale modernisation programmes, following the Romanian Supreme Council for National Defence’s decision to begin large-scale redevelopment of the country’s armed forces with a funding boost of €9.8 billion ($11.69 billion).
Find Shephard’s full MSPO coverage on the show news site.
High in the sky
In rotary news this week, Pakistan’s Army Aviation Corps has received four Mi-35M attack helicopters after ordering the rotorcraft in a $153 million deal in August 2015. Pakistan aircrews are currently training on the aircraft, although it remains unclear what armaments and munitions Pakistan has opted for.
Across the border in India, the country’s fledgling helicopter industry received some reassuring news this week as the Ministry of Civil Aviation promoted helicopter operations in the second bidding phase for the Regional Connectivity Scheme, an attempt to encourage connectivity to smaller and remote towns.
However, helicopter news from Poland is not so up-beat as its helicopter purchases continue, slowly. Despite being labelled as an ‘urgent requirement’, the second iteration of the Polish tender to meet urgent requirements for new helicopters for ASW/SAR and special operations forces has proved to be a prolonged process.
In the deep end
As the submarine market expands, Saab is seeking to tap into this growth as it reveals its new submarine models. Saab Kockums is predicting a demand for 80 new submarines to be replaced over the next 15 years.
Closer to shore, Taiwan’s coast guard outlined a ten-year $1.7 billion buildup plan. The plan will see 141 cutters, including 12 coast guard versions of the Tuo Chiang-class catamaran joint the fleet by 2027.
According to Charles Au, the plan underscores Tsai Ing-wen administration’s intention to accelerate the capability of Taiwan’s maritime forces in the belief that the coast guard will serve as an auxiliary navy beneath the command of the Republic of China Navy (ROCN) in time of war.
And on a visit to the Gulf the UK Defence Secretary secured the use of facilities at Duqm Port, Oman, as completion of the UK Joint Logistics Support Base at the port nears. The port provides Britain with a strategic asset in the Middle East and boasts dry dock facilities capable of accommodating submarines and HMS Queen Elizabeth.
Gordon Arthur reported on Australia’s embarrassing amphibious gap as it struggles to deliver its M1A1 AIM Abrams main battle tanks (MBT) ashore from the Royal Australian Navy’s Canberra-class landing helicopter dock (LHD) ships.
Gordon revealed that the LCM-1E landing craft embarked aboard the LHDs is struggling to handle the weight of the Abrams MBT.
Asia tensions escalate
Alarmed by Kim Jong-un’s shenanigans in North Korea, such as the launch of a missile over Japan, the South Korean government in Seoul has announced a proposed boost to defence spending next year by 6.9%.
Over on the blog, Grant Turnbull, editor of Digital Battlespace, takes a look at ballistic missile defence technologies, which are receiving significant investment from the US and NATO. However these systems are not free of costs. Read more here.
Finally, guest contributor to the blog, Sam Bocetta, takes an in depth look at the recent US-Japanese military exercise, Northern Viper, which underlined the close relationship between the US and Japanese militaries.