TKMS Starts Construction of Singapore's Type 218SG Submarines

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SINGAPORE, -- The spokesperson said Chief of Navy Rear Admiral Lai Chung Han witnessed the steel-cutting ceremony at ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems' (TKMS') facility at Kiel on 24 June, which marked the commencement of construction for the service's future submarines, as part of an official visit to Germany.

Singapore signed a contract with TKMS for two new air-independent propulsion (AIP) submarines in December 2013. Initial details of the contract were scant, although a TKMS statement said the new design has been customised to meet the country's unique requirements, and includes capacity to accommodate additional equipment to meet future operational requirements. It will also feature an advanced combat system co-developed by Singapore Technologies (ST) Electronics, a subsidiary of Singapore defence prime ST Engineering Group, and the Bremen-based Atlas Elektronik.

Fresh details of the Type 218SG submarine finally emerged during the IMDEX 2015 exhibition that was held in Singapore in May 2015. According to specifications provided by TKMS, the Type 218SG will be 70 m in length, 6.3 m in beam, and will displace approximately 2,000 tonnes.

A company source told IHS Jane's that the Type 218SG is developed from the Type 214 design, although the new submarine has been extended in length to accommodate additional mission systems as well as to support future upgradability.

IHS Jane's was also told that the new design combines the "best features" of the Type 212A-class and the Type 214-class platforms. For example, the Type 218SG features an X-rudder stern configuration similar to the Type 212A, which offers enhanced manoeuvrability in confined littoral waters, as opposed to the Type 214's cruciform rudder arrangement.

"The Type 218SG will also use the same air independent propulsion (AIP) system found the Type 214 submarine," the source said. According to IHS Jane's Fighting Ships , the Type 214-class is equipped with an AIP system based on a pair of HDW/Siemens polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cell modules that generate up to 120 kW each.

Unlike the RSN's current 1,500 tonne Archer-class SSKs (ex-Type A 17 Västergötland) that were modernised and refitted to accommodate a Stirling Mk 3 AIP system, the Type 218SG will be AIP-capable in its baseline configuration.

The new submarines will replace the RSN's ageing Challenger (Type A 12 Sjöormen)-class submarines, which were first commissioned in the 1960s for the Royal Swedish Navy and acquired by Singapore in the mid-1990s.

TKMS Type 218SG Submarine scale model.

Two additional KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft for the RAAF

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CANBERRA, -- The Australian Government will purchase two additional KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force.

The two additional KC-30A aircraft will be delivered in 2018 and provide a substantial increase to the air-to-air refuelling capacity of the RAAF.

Defence has signed an update to the existing acquisition contract with Airbus Defence and Space for the two aircraft and associated conversion at a cost of approximately AUD $408m.

Each KC-30A has a fuel capacity of more than 100 tonnes, and can offload fuel via the 17-metre-long Aerial Refuelling Boom System or the two hose-and-drogue refuelling pods.

The aircraft is capable of refuelling F/A-18A/B Hornets, F/A-18F Super Hornets, E-7A Wedgetail, C-17A Globemasters and other KC-30A aircraft.

In the future it will refuel EA-18G Growler, P-8A Poseidon and the F-35A (Joint Strike Fighter) providing a force-multiplier so aircraft can remain on station longer, extending their range and persistence.

The KC-30A continues to play an important role in the Middle East region as part of Operation OKRA, refuelling both a growing number of Australian and Coalition fighter aircraft.

Since September 2014, the KC-30A deployed to Operation OKRA has delivered more than more than 10,800 tonnes of fuel.

The additional two aircraft will be based at RAAF Base Amberley, increasing our KC-30A fleet to seven.

The Royal Australian Air Force KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft.

USS Lassen to Experience Philippine Culture

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SUBIC BAY, -- The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG 82) arrived in Subic Bay for a port visit, July 1.

"With all the natural beauty the Philippines has to offer, I am honored and excited to bring Lassen back to Subic Bay," said Cmdr. Robert Francis, Lassen's commanding officer. "For many of our Sailors, this is a real treat to be coming back to such a beautiful country. I could not ask for a more exciting and culture-rich port to visit."

Prior to arrival, Lassen's crew of 320 Sailors, including members of the 'Warlords' of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 51, conducted presence patrols in the South China Sea and in waters around the Philippine Islands.

During the port visit, Lassen's crew will have the opportunity to interact with local citizens, experience Philippine culture, give back to the local community through several community relation projects and enjoy the natural splendor of the surrounding land and seascapes.

U.S. Navy port visits not only improve the quality of life for Sailors, but also play an important role in promoting peace and stability by strengthening relationships between the U.S. and the Philippines.

Lassen, one of seven destroyers assigned to Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15, is currently on patrol in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility in support of security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

The US Navy ship USS Lassen (DDG 82) Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer.

4th Russian-built submarine arrives in Vietnam

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HANOI, -- The fourth of the six Kilo-class submarines that Vietnam has contracted to buy from Russia arrived at Cam Ranh Port in the south-central province of Khanh Hoa on Tuesday morning.

The submarine codenamed HQ-185 Da Nang was transported by the Dutch-registered cargo ship Rolldock Storm.

The submarine was launched on March 28, 2014 at the Admiralty Shipyards in St. Petersburg, Russia, and then had a trial run on the Baltic Sea.

On May 14 this year, it started the voyage to Vietnam.

The first three submarines, named after Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Hai Phong, arrived in Vietnam in 2014 and early 2015.

The fifth submarine codenamed HQ-186 Khanh Hoa underwent trial run on the Baltic Sea on June 8.

The delivery of the sixth and last one, HQ-187 Ba Ria-Vung Tau, is scheduled for next year.

The six submarines are built under a US$2-billion deal signed during a Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung's visit to Russia in 2009.

Russia will deliver all by 2016, train Vietnamese crews, and supply necessary spare parts.

A Kilo submarine of the Vietnam Navy, arrived at the bay of Cam Ranh Port in Khanh Hoa Province. Vietnam and Russia signed a contract to supply six submarines worth more than 2 billion dollars.

In-Service Support Contract Awarded for HMAS Choules

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CANBERRA, -- The Australian Government has awarded an in-service support contract to maintain the Bay-Class Landing Ship Dock, HMAS Choules, over the next two years.

The maintenance contract awarded to Atlantic & Peninsula Australia Pty Ltd (A&P Australia) is a fixed-price performance-based commercial arrangement. The contact has an initial value of $60.6 million and will see the continuation of nearly 30 jobs in the Sydney region.

With a growing maritime industry in Australian, United Kingdom-based company A&P Group Limited expanded its operations by creating a local Australian subsidiary, A&P Australia.

Parent company A&P Group Limited has been maintaining HMAS Choules since the vessel was acquired from the UK Government in October 2011.

The entry of A&P Australia into the local maritime sustainment market strengthens Australian naval sustainment capability and will provide Navy with a valuable continuity of experience and knowledge, now and into the future.

The Royal Australian Navy HMAS Choules (L100) ship arrived at its homeport at Fleet Base East in Sydney for the first time after being formally commissioned into service in Fremantle on 13 December 2011.

Two Bell 412EP for the Philippine Air Force arrived

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MANILA, -- The Philippine Air Force (PAF) is set to receive two (2) addition brand new Bell 412EP helicopters from Canada.

The 3rd and 4th have reportedly arrived and being assembled and tested in a secured air force facility.

Earlier last month, the Philippine Air Force received the first batch of two Bell 412EP VIP heleicopter.  “We are looking at the minimum delivery of two units to a maximum of six,” Department of National Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo said in an interview with the government news agency.

The government entered into a government-to-government transaction with Canada through Canadian Commercial Corporation for the procurement of eight Bell 412EP helicopters worth PhP4.8 billion. The contract was signed March 2014.

“Three of these eight helicopters will be configured as VIP helicopters for the coming APEC meet in September,” Manalo said.

Five units of which will be configured as combat utility helicopters, and capable for relief operations, to beef up transport and lift capability of the Philippine Air Force.

The second batch of brand new  Bell 412EP for the 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing. The first two that was delivered earlier prior to this two was assigned to the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing of the Philippine Air Force. (c) Pinoy Aviators

Myanmar may be in Talks to Buy Thunder Fighters from Pakistan

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NAYPYIDAW, -- Myanmar could become the first overseas buyer of the JF-17 Thunder or FC-1 Xiaolong multirole fighter jointly developed by Pakistan Aeronautical Complex and Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group of China, according to China's official newswire Xinhua on June 28.

Li Yuhai, the deputy general manager of Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) said three Thunder fighters from the Pakistan Air Force were displayed at the Paris Air Show between June 15-21. A number of countries including Myanmar, Bangladesh, Argentina, Bulgaria, Nigeria, Venezuela, Zimbabwe and the Philippines reportedly expressed interest in purchasing the fighter from Pakistan.

Air Commodore Syed Muhammad Ali, spokesperson for the Pakistan Air Force told Agence France-Presse that one of the aforementioned nations had made a final decision to buy the fighter. An earlier report from Pakistan's 92 News had said Sri Lanka had already singed a contract to become the first overseas buyer of the plane. Wing Commander Gihan Seneviratne, spokesperson for the Sri Lankan air force, told Xinhua on June 22 however that his nation had not yet reached any deal with Pakistan for the fighters.

The Washington DC-based Defense News said the mystery nation is likely to be Myanmar because the head of the country's air force, General Khin Aung Myint, was in Pakistan at the end of May for a four-day visit where he visited various bases and installations though very little was said about his trip at the time.

Myanmar has a long tradition of operating Chinese military aircraft. It currently has 48 A-5C attackers, 52 F-7M fighters and four Y-8 cargo planes.

The PAC JF-17 Thunder, or CAC FC-1 Xiaolong, is a lightweight, single-engine, multi-role combat aircraft developed jointly by the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex and the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation of China.

Philippine Air Force to operate ultra-modern MRFs

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MANILA, -- The Philippine Air Force (PAF) will be joining the ranks of nations operating ultra-modern multi-role fighters (MRFs) by 2021.

This was highlighted by "Flight Plan 2028," a document released by the PAF early this June.

This is the Air Force's strategic acquisition and tactical plan.

Under Flight Plan 2028, the PAF intends to acquire and commission 12 MRFs by 2021 to augment the then existing fleet of South Koren-made F/A-50 jet fighters.

An MRF is a combat aircraft which is capable of conducting strike, surveillance and air-to-air superiority missions.

An example of an MRF is the McDonnell Douglas F-18 "Hornet" strike fighter which is being operated by the US and its allies.

By 2028, as stated in "Flight Plans 2028," the PAF will be able to build up its capability to detect, identify, intercept and neutralize incursions from "Area Readiness 3 to Area Readiness 1."

"Area Readiness 3" refers to 51 to 74 percent of Philippine territory while "Area Readiness 1" means 100 percent of the country's territory which is estimated to be 40,000 square nautical miles.

The PAF will do it once its modern radar systems, long-range patrol aircraft (LRPAs), airborne early warning and control system (AEWCS), surface-attack aircraft (SAA) , light interim fighter trainers (LIFTs), multi-role fighters (MRFs) and missile defense systems (MDS) get online by 2028.

Detection capability will be provided by modern radar systems, and the LRPAs, identification of the threat will be done by the AEWCS, while interception capabilities will given by the SAA, LIFTs, and MRFs.

While neutralization will be done by the MDS should intruding aircraft intrude over land.

PAF spokesperson Col. Enrico Canaya said that this is the breakthrough goal of the Air Force.

The decision to made public "Flight Plan is aimed at informing the public of efforts to modernize the PAF and make it more relevant.

"And by 2022, (the PAF) will (have) already build up its capability to detect, identify, intercept and neutralize incursions in the PADIZ and the West Philippine Sea from 'Area Readiness 4' to 'Area Readiness 3'," Flight Plan 2028 stressed.

PADIZ is short for the "Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone and Area Readiness" which was established in 1953.

It covers the entire Luzon region, parts of Visayas, and locations north of Palawan.

"Area Readiness 4" refers to 50 percent of known Philippine territory while "Area Readiness 3" means 51 to 74 percent of Philippine territories (including PADIZ and the West Philippine Sea).

 And by 2022, the PAF hopes to have in service 24 SAA and LIFTs, four LRPAs, six ADSRS (air-defense system radar systems) platforms, six ground based air defense systems, two AEWCS units, 12 MRFs, one C2C center, four electronic countermeasure aircraft, one AA (airborne aircraft) refueler, and four medium-to-heavy lift helicopters.

The Saab JAS 39 Gripen NG multirole fighter aircraft manufactured by the Swedish aerospace company Saab. The Philippines have expressed interest in Gripen.

Singapore debuts stealthy naval interceptor ahead of 50th anniversary parade

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SINGAPORE, -- The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) has unveiled a new high-speed and stealthy naval interceptor designed to perform a range of missions, including base defence for the service's two naval facilities, force protection, as well as maritime security operations alongside its existing Fearless-class patrol vessels and future Littoral Mission Vessels.

The new interceptor, called the Specialised Marine Craft (SMC), will be officially revealed to the public as part of the military display aimed at showcasing the Singapore Armed Forces' latest capabilities during the country's National Day celebration on 9 August. The SMC replaces the service's Fast Boats, which were retired in 2008.

According to specifications provided by the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF), the 40-tonne SMC - which is based on an aluminium hullform with a low radar cross section (RCS) design - measures 22 m in length and has a beam of 5.5 m. IHS Jane's understands that the draft of the vessel is approximately 1.2 m.

A screenshot from a publicity video showing the wide, low profile hull form of the new Specialised Marine Craft. The vessel's electro-optical sensor and what is likely to be a navigation radar can be seen mounted on its starboard mast. (photo : Republic of Singapore Navy)

Major Lee Pui Yau, commander of the SMC squadron, told reporters during a media preview event on 27 June that development of the SMC began in 2003 in collaboration with Singapore Technologies (ST) Marine, with the first vessel entering service in 2009 after extensive trials and design refinements in the intervening years.

Maj Lee said the vessel's complement of four comprises a commander, a coxswain, a navigator, and a weapons specialist. He added that the SMC is not designed to embark additional personnel.

Propulsion is achieved with two Hamilton waterjets, likely the HM series that are designed for marine craft ranging from 17 to 60 m, which enable unfettered operation in shallow waters, while enabling the vessel to attain maximum speeds in excess of 30 kt.

The SMC is armed with a foredeck-mounted stabilised Oto Melara Hitrole G remote weapons station that is equipped with a 12.7 mm FN Herstal M2HB QCB machine gun and complements the stealthy profile of the SMC with its low-RCS shield. According to company literature, the Hitrole G weapon station is capable of engaging surface and aerial targets and has an internal capacity for 400 rds of ammunition. Additional ammunition can be stored under the mount. The company also stated that the Hitrole G is also equipped with a daylight camera, a cooled infrared imager, and a laser rangefinder.

Specifics of the SMC's electronic systems were not disclosed, although MINDEF said the vessel features "advanced sensors" that provide "state-of-the-art surveillance capabilities" as well as a communications suite that enables improved integration with other RSN fleet assets and facilities. However, IHS Jane's understands from Maj Lee that the vessel is equipped with a mast-mounted electro-optical sensor turret as well as a radar system, although he declined to elaborate further on their origins.

According to Maj Lee, the RSN currently operates three vessels with a further five expected to enter service by 2017.

The Republic of Singapore Navy's Specialised Marine Craft (SMC)  high-speed and stealthy naval interceptor designed and built locally by Singapore Technologies Marine Ltd,.

First Royal Australian Air Force C-27J Spartan battlefield airlift aircraft touches down

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CANBERRA, -- The first of 10 Alenia C-27J Spartan tactical airlifters for the RAAF has touched down at its new home of RAAF Base Richmond.

The aircraft, A34-001, landed at Richmond at approximately 3:45 on Thursday afternoon at the end of the last leg of its delivery flight from prime contractor L-3’s Waco, Texas facility, where it departed on June 15.

A second C-27J, A34-002, is expected to be delivered to Richmond in August.

A34-001 had entered Alenia Aermacchi’s Turin assembly line in December 2012 and first flew on December 18 2013. It was ferried to L-3 in Waco in March 2014 for fitment of its ballistic protection matting, EW/self-protection systems, and communications suite.

The RAAF then accepted the first two C-27J Spartans onto the Commonwealth register, and commenced training on the aircraft at L-3’s facility at Waco, last December.

The C-27Js are being acquired as battlefield airlifters to replace the capability lost with the retirement of the DHC-4 Caribou in 2009. Ultimately the C-27Js will be based at Amberley.

The first C-27J Spartan for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) touched down at RAAF Base Townsville on 24 June 2015, before travelling onwards to its new home of RAAF Base Richmond on 25 June 2015.

USS Fort Worth Completes Its First CARAT Exercise with Philippines

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MANILA, -- The Littoral Combat Ship USS Fort Worth (LCS-3) completed its first-ever Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Philippines, ahead of bilateral CARAT engagements with other Asian partners later this year.

Fort Worth and two Philippine ships, BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF-15) and BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16), spent two days exercising in the Sulu Sea, according to a Navy statement. The CARAT event focused on combined operations at sea and maritime domain awareness, and included training events on tactical combat casualty care (TCCC), visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS), gunnery exercises, maneuvering in formation, air defense and search and rescue.

The Philippine Navy also used the time together to conduct deck landing qualifications on the LCS’s flight deck.

Fort Worth will refuel in Subic Bay, Philippines, before returning to the South China Sea for routine patrols. In mid-July the LCS will participate in another CARAT exercise with Singapore.

CARAT began in 1995 and comprises a series of annual bilateral exercises with various South and Southeast Asian nations. Later this year, U.S. forces will conduct CARAT exercises with Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Timor-Leste.

Fort Worth departed San Diego for a 16-month deployment in November and has so far performed better than expected in terms of operational availability and maintenance requirements. The ship skipped a maintenance availability to help search for the missing Air Asia Flight 8501 in January. And it has kept busy with its South China Sea patrols and exercises with Vietnam, South Korea and more.

Sailors refuel an MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter attached to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 35 aboard the littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) during a maneuvering exercise with Philippine navy ships BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PF 15) and BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF 16) in the South China Sea on June 24, 2015.

Republic of Singapore Extends Air Grading Contract with BAE Systems

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TAMWORTH, -- BAE Systems has been awarded an extension to its contract to support the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) Air Grading Centre (AGC) – Flying Training Institute (FTI) from its Flight Training Academy located in Tamworth, NSW.

BAE Systems will continue to provide the RSAF with aircraft, purpose built training facilities, instructor training, student accommodation and recreational facilities until the end of 2019.

Under the contract extension, the RSAF aims to increase the number of students that undertake air grading from 220 to 240 annually. The AGC will continue to be supported by a permanent detachment of 12 RSAF personnel who, along with their families, make a valued contribution to the local Tamworth community.

During the recent AGC Contract Performance Review, the RSAF Head of Air Training, Colonel Ho Yung Peng, stated that the excellent working relationship between the RSAF and BAE Systems has delivered solid contractual outcomes to date.

BAE Systems Australia Director Aerospace Steve Drury said: “We are honoured to continue providing the Singapore Air Force with aircraft and training equipment to meet their future aircrew training needs. We welcome the RSAF’s continued support for Flight Training Tamworth and BAE Systems as their on-going partner for air grading activities.”

Mr Drury continued: “This extension with the RSAF maintains our broad customer base beyond the Australian Defence Force, which is an important element of our long-term flight training business in Tamworth.”

CT/4B Air trainers basic trainer aircraft.

Philippines willing to acquire other excess Japanese defense equipment

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MANILA, -- The country is open to acquire other military equipment which may be declared surplus by Japan.

This was stressed by Department of National Defense (DND) spokesperson Dr. Peter Paul Galvez Thursday.

"If they(Japanese) will have excess defense articles (in the form) of Hueys (UH-H helicopters) and C-130 cargo planes, we will be very much interested in acquiring them," he said in Filipino.

Galvez said that it is easy for the Philippines to "absorb" these equipment as the country has the maintenance facilities, spare parts and know-how to operate these machines as the Filipino military has the same sort of planes at its inventory.

He earlier confirmed the DND's interest in acquiring P-3C "Orion" maritime patrol and surveillance aircraft from Japan.

"We are interested in acquiring them (P-3Cs) especially if they become excess defense articles as we can acquire it at a very reasonable price which is advantageous to the government," he added.

Sources said that Japan and the Philippines are talking about the possible transfer of two to four P-3C to the Filipino military.

Japan is in the process of replacing its P-3Cs with its homegrown Kawasaki Heavy P-1 patrol aircraft which has twice the range of the "Orion" which is pegged at 2,380 nautical miles.

The Japanese military is known to operate 70 plus units of the P-3Cs.

And when asked if the country is capable of maintaining and operating the P-3C, Galvez said that the DND will try to program it from its budget.

A Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force P3-C Orion taxis before taking off from Puerto Princesa, the Philippines.

Y-20 transport aircraft conducts high-altitude test in Yunnan

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BEIJING, --China is ready to test its Y-20 military transport aircraft over the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau, according to photos uploaded to a Chinese military website, the Sina Military Network based in Beijing reported on June 23. The internet photos showed a Y-20 with serial number 783 at Lijiang airport.

This is the first time Xian Aircraft Industrial Corporation will have tested the Y-20 in a high-altitude region. With the atmospheric pressure lower than at sea level, the aircraft needs more speed to take off and the atmosphere and high local temperature also affects the thrust the aircraft's engine can generate.

As Lijiang airport is only 2,200 meters above sea level, the Sina Military Network said this is unlikely to be the final altitude test for the Y-20.

Photos uploaded to the internet earlier this year revealed the Y-20 undergoing testing in low temperature conditions at an unknown airbase in northern China.

Tang Changhong, the chief designer of the Y-20, said the aircraft will complete all tests in different conditions by the end of the year.

A Y-20 military transport aircraft of the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) at last year's Zhuhai Airshow, Nov. 11, 2014.

Boeing stands ready to sell A-10 Warthogs to U.S. allies

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WASHINGTON, -- There is more of a push coming from Boeing to sell surplus A-10 attack aircraft. As Defence Watch readers know the U.S. Air Force wants to retire the A-10s. They are facing opposition from U.S. lawmakers who see the planes are top notch close air support aircraft.

Now the DoDBuzz website in the U.S. reports that Boeing has begun discussions with the USAF about potentially selling the Warthogs to U.S. allies. They cite Chris Raymond, a vice president at the company.

“There’s been talk about what the international opportunities might be,” he confirmed.

The USAF still has to make decisions on the numbers of aircraft they are willing to declare as surplus. Raymond said he didn’t want to speculate on such issues.

Congress has continued to protect the A-10 so there are questions whether the USAF would be able to declare the planes as surplus.

Boeing first starting raising the issue in May about the possibility of selling surplus USAF A-10s to other nations. Boeing would upgrade the planes in any such deal.

The firm owns the technical data package for modification and upgrade, Flightglobal magazine has noted. There are around 280 A-10s in the active USAF inventory.

An A-10C Thunderbolt II from the 40th Flight Test Squadron, moves down the runway at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

LRPA project still on go, says DND official

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MANILA, -- Department of National Defense (DND) Undersecretary for Modernization Fernando Manalo said on Thursday the country's "long range patrol aircraft" (LRPA) project is still on go.

But he clarified that the bidding process for the LRPA is suspended pending the approval and signing of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program.

This is in the wake of reports saying that defense officials of Japan and the Philippines are talking about a possible transfer of two to four P-3C "Orion" maritime patrol aircraft to the country's military forces.

Manalo said that the LRPA acquisition is a separate project from the P-3C

The DND's LRPA project is worth PhP5.9 billion and is for two aircraft.

The LRPAs are for the use of the Philippine Air Force.

Earlier, in a supplemental bid bulletin posted at the DND website, prospective bidders were told to submit aircraft designs with systems that allow autonomous operation.

"The aircraft must be equipped with a system that allows autonomous operation in remote bases ensuring electrical, pneumatic and hydraulic power on ground. The system must also be able to start the engines without ground support," it said.

This means that the LRPAs can be deployable in remote airfields lacking modern start-up facilities.

Aside from this, the planes must be equipped with a noise reduction system which is capable of reducing both cabin vibration and noise and eliminate many of the buzzes and rattles which would otherwise be a major source of annoyance and distraction for surveillance and patrol mission crew.

An Airbus Military C295 Maritime patrol / Anti-submarine warfare aircraft demonstrates release of Marte MK2/S anti-ship inert missile.

Indonesian Chief of Navy Visits Swedish Naval Base

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STOCKHOLM, -- The Indonesian Chief of Navy, Admiral Ade Supandi, recently visited the Swedish Armed Forces Naval base in Karlskrona in the southern part of Sweden, from 8 – 9 June, 2015. He was welcomed by the Chief of Navy of the Royal Swedish Navy, Rear Admiral Jan Thörnqvist and spent a day and a half at the base learning more about the Composite Ships currently in operation by the Royal Swedish Navy.

The visit also included a tour on board a Visby Class Corvette and a mine hunting vessel. In addition to that, the two Chiefs of Navy also visited the new Naval Warfare Centre with simulators and training equipment.

Head of Saab Indonesia, Peter Carlqvist together with Senior Director, Head of Naval Combat Systems at Saab, Stefan Hedenstedt, also had the opportunity to present Saab’s Naval portfolio and Saab Kockums Mine Counter Measures Capabilities, Composite and Stealth Technologies. They jointly presented Saab’s presence, activities and cooperation in Indonesia as well as the Stealth Fast Attack Craft (Trimaran) turnkey maritime solution to Admiral Supandi.

Admiral Supandi was accompanied by a delegation of high ranking Naval Officers, including Chief of Budgeting, Rear Admiral Agung Pramono and Chief of Operation, Rear Admiral Arie Henrycus Sembiring. Their Excellences, the Indonesian Ambassador to Sweden, Mr. Dewa Made Juniarta Sastrawa and the Swedish Ambassador to Indonesia, Mrs. Johanna  Brismar Skoog, also participated in this visit.

The Swedish Navy VISBY-class HSwMS NYKÖPING (K34) stealth guided missile corvette.

Second LHD Commences Sea Trials

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CANBERRA, -- The second Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) ship, NUSHIP Adelaide, has departed from the Williamstown shipyard in Melbourne to begin sea trials.

BAE Systems Australia stated that the LHD left Williamstown on June 17. After initial trials carried out in Port Phillip Bay, the future Royal Australian Navy (RAN) ship is expected to spend 10 days travelling to Sydney.

While in Sydney, NUSHIP Adelaide will be dry-docked so that the hull and flight deck can be cleaned and painted. The LHD will then set sail and undertake further sea trials during the return voyage to Melbourne, where she is anticipated to arrive in mid-July.

BAE Systems said in a statement that the current testing is paving the way for a second period of sea trials in August that will focus on the communications and combat systems, ahead of delivery to the RAN later this year.

“We will undertake approximately 240 hours of testing over 20 days to ensure all systems perform to their capability,” said Bill Saltzer, Director of Maritime. “Some of the trials will run concurrently, and cover everything from basic systems operations such as alarms to the ship’s manoeuvrability while at sea.

“We are on track to deliver NUSHIP Adelaide at the end of September this year. The ship is even more ready than HMAS Canberra was for her first sea trials, reinforcing that we have implemented lessons learned from the first of class, and we have continued to improve our productivity.”

The first LHD was formally commissioned into the Fleet in November.

The two Landing Helicopter Dock ships pictured at the Williamstown shipyard.

We'll Meet More Often, U.S. Navy Captain Says to China

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WASHINGTON, -- The U.S. expects further encounters at sea with China’s navy, according to the captain of a U.S. coastal combat ship that has patrolled the disputed South China Sea and met a Chinese ship last month.

The countries have agreed codes to help understand each other and talk via radio, said Commander Rich Jarrett, commanding officer of the USS Fort Worth. The language used is similar to that used 20 years ago with the Soviet Union, the U.S.’ former Cold War foe, he said.

The Fort Worth deployed the codes when it unexpectedly met a Chinese vessel near the disputed Spratly islands during a May patrol of the South China Sea. It was the first time a U.S. littoral combat ship operated in waters around the islands, which are claimed by countries including China, the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia.

“I expect that we may have a similar encounter because we’re operating in this part of the world,” Jarrett said in an interview Monday on the ship moored on the Philippines’ Palawan island. “But quite honestly I’m not sure that I’m going to do anything particularly different than what I’ve done in previous deployments.”

Tensions in the South China Sea have risen with China warning planes and ships away from reefs where it is reclaiming land. A U.S. surveillance plane was repeatedly told by radio to divert from its path last month.

Protecting freedom of navigation is important in waters that host more than $5 trillion of shipping each year and are home to about a 10th of the world’s annual fishing catch.

‘Language Barrier’

“There is a language barrier between China and the United States,” Jarrett said. “Having a common language that we can speak is helpful,” he said, and “it does help avoid any kind of miscalculation.”

Admiral Michelle Howard, the vice chief of naval operations, declined last month to say if the Fort Worth sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Spratlys during its patrol, or give further details of the encounter. Stars and Stripes reported the ship was followed closely by a Chinese frigate.

“I don’t think a day goes by anymore that our navy ships and PLAN ships aren’t communicating or seeing each other at sea,” Captain H.B. Le, deputy commander of Destroyer Squadron 7 whose unit tactically controls the Fort Worth, said in an interview Tuesday, referring to the People’s Liberation Army Navy.

“It’s becoming routine,” he said on Palawan. “I think it’s important that all navies are able to operate in international waters. So we look forward to seeing the PLAN out at sea as well as other countries’ navies.”

Japan Flight

The Fort Worth is taking part in a military exercise with the Philippines off the east coast of Palawan this week, near the South China Sea. The ship, which can operate in shallow waters near the coast, is in the midst of a 16-month deployment to the Asia-Pacific region.

Separately, the Philippine and Japanese navies held an air drill west of Palawan province -- the first time they flew together over the South China Sea, Philippine Navy spokesman Lued Lincuna told reporters Tuesday on Palawan.

“The exercise was conducted outside Philippine territorial waters,” Lincuna said, without giving details on where the planes flew.

The drill was focused on search and rescue, something that’s important for Southeast Asian nations including the Philippines that are frequently hit by typhoons, Hiromi Hamano, a commander of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force, said at the same briefing.

U.S. Navy Commander Rich Jarrett speaks during a media tour of the USS Fort Worth during the Cooperation Afloat Readiness And Training (CARAT) joint naval exercise. 

Fire Controlmen assigned to the littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3), discuss operations of the Rolling Airframe Missile with members of the Philippine Navy during Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Philippines 2015.

China to Retrofit 172,000 Civilian Ships For War

4:38:00 PM Add Comment
BEIJING, -- Chinese civilian shipbuilders have to ensure that their vessels can be used by the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) during times of ‘crisis’.

While the recruitment of civilian maritime assets for military purposes is not unusual, the recent announcement is nevertheless a sign of the growing aspirations of Chinese naval planners in developing naval expeditionary warfare capabilities.

 The Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily, citing a notice by the China Classification Society, reported Beijing has approved a number of technical guidelines to be adopted by commercial and civilian shipbuilders that will ensure new vessels will be able to transform for use by the military in the event of an emergency.

The new “Technical Standards for New Civilian Ships to Implement National Defense Requirements” will apply to five types of vessels: container, roll-on/roll-off, multipurpose, bulk carrier and break bulk.

In contrast, India has separate rules for combatant and non-combatant vessels. The Rules and Regulations for Construction and Classification of Indian Naval Combatant ships developed by Indian Register of Shipping have been released this month by Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral R K Dhowan.

Explaining the decision to retrofit merchant ships with military technology, People’s Liberation Army researcher Cao Weidong said, "Modern naval warfare often requires the mobilization and deployment of a large number of ships while the mass production of naval ships in peacetime is not economically sensible."

China has in the past adhered to liberal interpretations of what its national security entails, most recently in the South China Sea, where it has invested in extensive construction of artificial islands, landing strips, and even two lighthouses in the Spratly and Paracel Islands and the South Johnson Reef.

The China Classification Society, a group tasked with registering ships, approved of the plan to militarize civilian vessels, claiming it would “enable China to convert the considerable potential of its civilian fleet into military strength.”

Now the only question remain is that how soon is China expecting to have to engage in "naval warfare"?

China Shipping Lines

AFP deploys Navy troops to Ayungin Shoal

10:01:00 PM Add Comment
MANILA, -- The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has responded to China’s threatening moves around Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea by sending fresh Navy troops to replace the Marines pulled out from a grounded ship that serves as the base of Filipino troops in the disputed area.

Sources said the Marines at Ayungin Shoal have been pulled out from the grounded BRP Sierra Madrea nd another unit of the Philippine Navy took over their maritime and territorial duties at the shoal.

“The Marines are no longer guarding Ayungin Shoal as their deployment to the area has already been transferred to a special unit of the Philippine Navy,” said the source.

But he pointed out that the pullout of Marines was only made in Ayungin Shoal since the Marine Battalion Team-12 (MBLT-12) remains key to securing and guarding the country’s maritime sovereign rights in the entire Kalayaan Island Group (KIG).

China has been trying to dislodge the Marines from Ayungin by deploying Chinese coast guard vessels around the area to block the Western Command’s routine food resupply and troop rotation operations.

A member of the Philippine Naval Special Operations Group poses for photographers beside the Philippine Navy Agusta Westland 109 Naval Helicopter.

Royal ‪‎Brunei‬ Air Force to Screen for Potential ‪Pilots‬ with New

9:50:00 PM Add Comment
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, -- The Royal Brunei Air Force (RBAirF) will have a faster screening and selection process to identify potential pilot cadets with the installation of the new PC-7 flight training simulator at the CAE Brunei Multi-Purpose Training Centre (MPTC) in Rimba.

In a press statement issued yesterday, CAE Brunei MPTC said that the PC-7 flight training simulator will be used to conduct selection and screening processes for RBAirF officers who are interested in becoming a military pilot following the completion of their officer’s course.

Kevin Speed, CAE Brunei MPTC’s General Manager, explained that producing a military pilot requires a long and expensive process.

He esplained that the RBAirF previously conducted its screening and selections abroad, and that the results had a low passing rate.

However, CAE Brunei MPTC will provide the RBAirF with flexibility in conducting their training programmes which can yield better results.

He added that the trainees will receive help from training instructors who had previously served the RBAirF and the Royal Australian Navy.

CAE Brunei MPTC also said that the first class of potential cadet pilots had recently completed their two-week selection course using the PC-7 flight training simulator.

Besides the PC-7 flight training simulator, CAE Brunei MPTC also offers training programmes for the Sikorsky S-92 helicopter with its full-flight simulator at the centre.

The CAE Brunei MPTC will also be receiving an S-70i Black Hawk helicopter simulator in 2016.

The CAE Brunei MPTC was established in 2012 as a joint venture between Canada-based CAE and Brunei’s Ministry of Finance.

The training facilities began operating in September last year.

 view of the cockpit in the PC-7 flight training simulator.

Japan, U.S. join Philippines in South China Sea navy drills

7:45:00 PM Add Comment
PALAWAN, – The U.S. and Japan are conducting separate military drills with the Philippines near disputed islands in the South China Sea, signaling support for the country as China builds out reclaimed reefs in the waters.

The annual CARAT Philippines joint exercise started Monday off Palawan island and will run until Friday, according to U.S. Navy spokesman Arlo Abrahamson. The Philippine Navy and the Maritime Self-Defense Force are holding drills around the same island through Saturday, the MSDF said last week.

The exercise is seen as an opportunity to display the strength of Japan’s cooperation with the Philippines, with an eye on China’s controversial land reclamation on the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

About 20 personnel belonging to an aircraft group at MSDF Kanoya Air Base in Kagoshima Prefecture arrived in Puerto Princesa City, the capital of the Philippine island of Palawan in the South China Sea, on a P3-C Orion patrol aircraft on Sunday.

Personnel from the Philippine military are scheduled to to board the plane for a flight over international waters above the South China Sea starting Tuesday.

MSDF chief Adm. Tomohisa Takei, who visited the island in February during an official visit to the Philippines, said warning and surveillance activity “is not envisioned.”

At a summit in Tokyo on June 4, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to begin negotiations on an accord for the transfer of defense equipment and technology in the fields of disaster relief and maritime security, as their nations bolster security ties amid tensions over China’s reclamation work.

Although details have yet to be worked out, Japanese sources have said P3-C patrol aircraft and radar-related equipment are seen as potential export items.

The U.S., meanwhile, has backed Southeast Asian nations including the Philippines as tensions escalate with China over territorial claims in the South China Sea.

“This year’s exercise reflects more than two decades of increasingly complex training ashore, at sea and in the air,” Abrahamson said.

The drill includes a sea phase with the littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth, diving and salvage ship USNS Safeguard and a P-3 Orion surveillance aircraft, and at least one Philippine frigate, according to the U.S. Navy. It’s the first time a littoral combat ship has taken part in CARAT Philippines.

Tensions in the area have risen recently with China warning planes and ships away from reefs where it is reclaiming land. The Fort Worth had an encounter last month with a Chinese ship — it was reportedly followed by a frigate — and a U.S. surveillance plane was repeatedly warned by radio to divert from its path near the reefs.

“We prefer to look at it as a strategy of regional stability and less of defense,” U.S. Rear Adm. William Merz, commander of Task Force 74, told reporters on Palawan in response to a question about how the drills may boost the Philippines’ ability to defend territory. “We have a lot of history that these types of exercises, working with our allies, tend to lead to a very stable environment.”

China will construct facilities to meet “necessary” military needs and various civilian needs, after it finishes reclamation in the near term, its Foreign Ministry said in a statement this month. The construction doesn’t target any nation and won’t affect navigation or aviation freedom, it said.

Protecting freedom of navigation in the disputed waters resonates in the region because more than $5 trillion worth of goods is shipped through the South China Sea each year. It is also home to about one/tenth of the world’s annual fishing catch.

China criticized drills involving more than 11,000 soldiers from the Philippines, U.S. and Australia near the contested islands in April. The expanded war games were inappropriate and ran counter to efforts to ease tensions, the state-run Global Times said at the time.

“The intent of CARAT is enhancing capabilities, navy-to- navy capabilities, increasing interoperability,” Rear Adm. Leopoldo Alano, commander of the Philippine Fleet, told reporters Monday on Palawan. “These can be used both in wartime missions or missions other than war.”

A Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) P-3C Orion

Philippine Army to Acquire 123,630 High-Explosive Rounds of 40mm Grenades

7:05:00 PM Add Comment
MANILA, -- The Philippine Army (PA) has allocated Php268,277,100 for the acquisition of 40mm high explosive rounds for the use of its grenade launchers and other similar weapons.

Around 123,630 rounds are to be acquired.

The 40mm grenade is a military grenade caliber for grenade launchers in service with many armed forces.

PA spokesperson Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato said the 40mm grenade is part of their basic load requirement for their 40mm grenade launchers.

Pre-bid conference is scheduled for July 21, 9 a.m. at the Philippine Army Bids and Awards Committee Conference Room, Fort Bonifacio, Metro Manila.

While bid opening and submission is slated this coming Aug. 4, also 9 a.m.

Spike's Havoc 37mm launcher.

Philippines to Boost Patrol Boat Fleet to Target Poachers

3:48:00 PM Add Comment
MANILA, -- As part of an effort to crackdown on alleged poachers from Taiwan and China, the Philippines will buy up to 100 new patrol boats, officials said on Monday, increasing their fleet numbers several times over.

Most of the ordered vessels are expected to be delivered by the end of the year and, according to Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources chief Asis Perez, will include 71-short range boats for coast patrol and 27 mid-to-long range that will be able to go further out to sea.

The delivery will substantially increase the Philippines’ current small fleet of just 20 vessels, patrolling around 22,370 miles of coastline.

"This is just fulfilling our mandate," Perez told AFP. "Our country has eight times more sea area than land. We have 36,000 kilometers (22,370 miles) of coastline and over 7,100 islands."

Describing them as "law-enforcement" vessels, Perez said they would primarily serve to boost the agency’s 20 patrol boats and protect the Philippines’ fishery resources. He also added that the agency will be seeking more funding for 10 larger boats that can patrol the high seas.

"We need additional vessels," he said. "These are actually short of our needs but this is all we can afford."

Philippines authorities have arrested several Chinese and Taiwanese fishermen for allegedly poaching in disputed territories. The latest incident in May resulted in a standoff between Taiwanese and the Philippines patrol boats when the latter attempted to arrest a Taiwanese fishing boat off the Northern Batan islands.

Confrontations between the Philippines and Taiwan have risen in recent years after the fatal shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman by Filipino patrolmen in 2013.

Tensions have similarly been simmering between the Philippines and China over the South China Sea, with both countries laying claim to the waterway that sees an estimated worth of $5 trillion in ship-bound trade annually.

The Philippines accuses China of fortifying its sovereignty over the region through its construction efforts in the contested Spratlys archipelago, however, Beijing has maintained that this falls under the scope of its sovereignty. In response to the perceived Chinese threat, the Philippines has sought to purchase new weapons to augment its poorly equipped military and has strengthened its alliance with countries like Japan and the US.

The MCS Bantayan (MCS-3001) (Front) coastal patrol boat. The Philippines Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) is adding 100 new patrol boats of various capacities to its existing fleet.

Australian Navy Mulls $1bn Deal for Fire Scout Helicopters

3:31:00 PM Add Comment
CANBERRA, -- The navy is considering buying ­futuristic unmanned helicopters to operate from its new warships to greatly boost the potency of the fleet.

The full-size helicopter drones would be the first of their kind used by the Royal Australian Navy and would enhance its ability to conduct intelligence and reconnaissance operations.

The fleet of helicopter drones, which could cost more than $1 billion, would work in tandem with the navy’s 24 new MH-60R Seahawk Romeo helicopters now arriving in Australia under a $3.2bn deal.

The Northrop Grumman’s next-generation MQ-8C Fire Scout drone is under development but is expected to reach initial operating capability by the end of next year.

The navy is understood to be investigating their purchase but has made no final recommendation.

It is believed to be interested in using the drones on its future frigates, although they could also be deployed on its new Landing Helicopter Dock vessels.

“In terms of (Australia’s) interest, I know it’s been tied to the C5000 (Future Frigate) program as a potential feature requirement, not fully confirmed but it is in the discussion (and) perhaps there are other vessels that could benefit from the capability,” said Greg Black, a director of unmanned systems for Northrop Grumman.

The US Navy flight-test director for Fire Scout, David Belew, said the drone was able to stay on patrol for 12 hours at a time at up to 16,000 feet, allowing much longer surveillance than was possible with manned helicopters.

The US military operates 24 of the earlier B model of the Fire Scout, which were deployed in Afghanistan, and is expected to order the C models when they become operational. The US is eventually planning to have a one-for-one ratio between manned and unmanned helicopters on its ships.

Japan and several other countries are also interested in the C model of Fire Scout but no other country has placed firm orders for the drone, which uses the airframe of the Bell 407 helicopter.

The Fire Scout can carry mine detectors and be configured to carry rockets but its primary role is as an intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance platform for warships.

US Navy captain Jeff Dodge, who works on the Fire Scout ­program, said the unmanned ­helicopters would do the “dull, dirty and dangerous” jobs and would complement piloted helicopters.

“A lot of navies around the world are now looking at a lot of unmanned systems,” he said.

The Fire Scout would be most likely deployed on Australia’s new frigates, which are to be built in Australia in the early 2020s to ­replace the Adelaide-class and Anzac-class frigates.

Despite being unmanned, the Fire Scout is flown from the ground by qualified pilots and requires the same number of pilots and maintenance staff as are needed for manned helicopters.

“You can use a manned and unmanned team and really extend the mission performance and reduce the overall cost per flight hour because of the reliability and the time on station which the unmanned aircraft provides,” Mr Black said.

The Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout (UAV) takes First flight on USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109)

Final Acceptance of Three RTAF EC725 Helicopter

3:18:00 PM Add Comment
BANGKOK, -- Air Marshal Boon Anek Urai and Air Vice Marshal Wong Kee Chiranond Chairman of Technical Committee 1 inspected the first three helicopters EC725 manufactured by Airbus Helicopters at their base at Lop Buri  on June 2-3, 2015.

The Air Force maintains the capacity and capability of search and rescue in both military and civilian as the main unit of the Air Force.

Medium Helicopter's Project (Phase 1) to provide four units EC725s helicopter, scheduled for delivery to Air Force within a month. The fourth aircraft is due for delivery in July.

The Royal Thai Air Force  EC725 (H225M) medium Search and Rescue Helicopter.