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Douglas Barrie

Douglas Barrie
U.K. Defense Spending On Same Old Trajectory
Commentary: Douglas Barrieis a senior fellow for military aerospace at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London
Western Interest Grows In Longer-Range Air-To-Air Intercepts 

China’s advances in upgrading its military capabilities are causing U.S. and Japanese military leaders to consider pushing more quickly for air-launched weapons that can hold the threat at arm’s length.

Japan is signaling interest in fielding its future fighter to replace the F-4 with a beyond-visual-range missile that could provide far more than current-generation advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles (Amraam) or even Meteor missiles.

U.K. Chinook Plans Coalesce 

The future of the U.K.’s heavy-lift rotary force is further taking shape with the Julius cockpit upgrade heading toward its first flight and a follow-on deal for 24 more CH-47s possible by year-end.

The Julius cockpit is also believed to be the configuration baseline for the additional Chinook order.

The additional 24 helicopters will be designated as Chinook Mk6s in Royal Air Force Service. Those undergoing the Julius upgrade will be known as Mk4s.

British Researching Flying UAVs In Civilian Airspace 

British research into flying unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in non-military airspace is once again underway following a funding gap that delayed the program by about 18 months.

The second phase of the U.K.’s Autonomous System Technology-Related Airborne Evaluation and Assessment (Astraea) was originally intended to dovetail with the initial three-year Phase 1 of the project. The effort, however, failed to make the cut in a previous funding round.

Manufacturers Vie To Close Fighter Generation Gap 

Savings at home and sales abroad are emerging as key drivers in the fighter aircraft market as manufacturers vie for export programs fundamental to their future welfare.

Some of the efforts are aimed at tempting prospective F-35 buyers to defect.

Building on its F-15 Silent Eagle template, Boeing is now offering a similar upgrade model for its F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

Affordability Curtails Israel’s Initial JSF Buy 

Protracted negotiations between manufacturer Lockheed Martin and the U.S. on the next lot of stealthy, single-engine F-35s are nearing a conclusion as program officials close in on a new baseline for the embattled program.

But the shock waves of recent cost increases to the multinational Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) continue to ripple; Israel, for one, is sharply curtailing its buy. Lockheed Martin, however, continues to insist the price is lower than estimated by the Pentagon (see p. 41).

Winter Of Discontent For European Militaries 

London will decide in September where the ax will fall on defense as Europe’s main spenders come under ever-increasing pressure. Serious cuts and delays are inevitable as governments tighten belts.

Liam Fox, the British secretary of state for defense, used the platform of the Farnborough air show to reiterate there was no option but change for the U.K. defense sector, for the ministry, the armed forces and industry.

Prime Ministerial Visit Presages Hawk Deal 

FARNBOROUGH and NEW DELHI — The planned visit next week to India of British Prime Minister David Cameron likely will coincide with the announcement of a deal for a further 57 BAE Systems Hawk advanced jet trainer aircraft.

The state visit will see Cameron meet Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The U.K.’s recently-elected Conservative-Liberal Democratic coalition government has already identified India as a nation with which it wants to build a strategic relationship.

MBDA Brainstorms Future Guided Missiles 

FARNBOROUGH — European missile manufacturer MBDA’s first Concept Visions effort examines very light guided weapons for infantry units intended for a notional capability around 2030.

The Concept Visions approach is effectively a quick look at the art of what may be possible in the guided weapons arena given emerging requirements combined with technology trends, all at a relatively low cost of £500,000 ($760,000).

Revised Industrial Strategy Will Follow U.K. Defense Review 

FARNBOROUGH — Liam Fox, the British secretary of state for defense, is committing the government to providing a revamped Defense Industrial Strategy to industry shortly after it concludes its strategic review.

Fox, in a keynote address at the Farnborough International Airshow here July 20, told an audience of senior industrialists that a “new Defense Industrial Strategy” would be published this year. The outcome of the government’s Strategic Defense and Security Review (SDSR) is expected to be made public in late October.

Converting Opportunities To Orders Critical For Saab 

In the fighter arena, activity—however hectic—is no guarantee of securing business, and the next few years will be critical to the Saab Gripen’s future.

Twists And Turns Of London’s Rotary Strategy 

After a decade of upheaval, the U.K. finally appeared to be ushering in a period of rotary stability with the conclusion of its Future Helicopter Strategy—made public in December 2009—but six months later a core element of the military’s program was again under scrutiny.

As of early July, the £6-billion ($9-billion) search-and-rescue helicopter (SAR-H) private finance initiative program remained caught up in the finance ministry’s review of projects awarded in the dog days of the previous Labour Government.

Moscow Mulls T-50 Pre-Production Batch 

Moscow continues to pursue a comparatively aggressive schedule for its fifth-generation fighter, with a pre-production batch of the Sukhoi T-50 planned to enter manufacturing in 2012.

The defense ministry, however, appears to be moderating previous claims that the aircraft would enter service in 2015, with senior officials now suggesting delivery of the first operational standard of the aircraft would begin in 2016. It remains to be seen if, even with a year’s slip, the revised schedule can be met.

Russian Air ForceExercises Long-Range Tactics 

Two Russian military aviation events are attracting the attention of U.S. analysts.

A Tu-160 Blackjack bomber made a record 24-hr. flight in early June, followed by a second record-setting cross-country flight by four strike aircraft, two Sukhoi Su-34 Fullbacks and two Su-24M Fencers that were refueled twice en route from Lipetsk air base near Moscow to the Far East Military District.

MBDA’s Strategic Challenge In The Tactical Arena 

European guided-weapons champion MBDA faces several near-term challenges that will determine its long-term health: managing flat demand in domestic markets, defending and strengthening its share of exports—including making inroads in the U.S.—and refreshing core elements of its product portfolio to reflect changing end-user requirements.

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