EDR N°53 - September / October 2020

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N° 53 • September/October 2020

MAGAZINE European Defence Review

Adm. (ret.) Matteo Bisceglia, OCCAR’s Director, talks on Air and Space programmes UK Defence Aerospace Industry on Hold

Australian Army: modernising Down Under The persistent UASs in the maritime domain The Tiger sharpens its claws


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I S S U E N° 52 2020

Publisher: Joseph Roukoz Editor-in-chief: Paolo Valpolini Aviation & Space Editor: David Oliver Naval Editor: Luca Peruzzi European Defence Review (EDR) is published by European Defence Publishing SAS www.edrmagazine.eu

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A Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon with the full weapons load. In late June Eurofighter and NETMA signed the contract for the Integration of the ESCAN radar on the Luftwaffe aircraft, Germany becoming the first Typhoon user to adopt the new sensor. © BAE Systems

Adm. (ret.) Matteo Bisceglia, OCCAR’s Director, talks on Air and Space programmes By Luca Peruzzi

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UK Defence Aerospace Industry on Hold

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Australian Army: modernising Down Under

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The persistent UASs in the maritime domain

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The Tiger sharpens its claws

By David Oliver

By Ian Kemp

By Luca Peruzzi

By Ian Kemp

EDR | September/October 2020

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Adm. (ret.) Matteo Bisceglia, OCCAR’s Director, talks on Air and Space programmes By Luca Peruzzi

A British A400M in flight; the OCCAR manages a number of European multinational programmes, becoming the contractor that deals with the industrial teams. © Airbus

Admiral (ret.) Matteo Bisceglia is the Director of the Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d’Armement, OCCAR in short. © OCCAR

Luca Peruzzi interviewed Admiral (ret.) Matteo Biceglia, who was appointed Director of the Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d’Armement / Organisation for Joint Armament Co-operation (OCCAR) in September 2019. Adm. Bisceglia already served within the organisation along his career, so he was far from new to the organisation he was called to direct. This an excerpt of the overall interview that can be read on the EDR On-Line website at the following address (https://www.edrmagazine.eu/occar-at-the-core-of-european-defence-cooperation-interview-with-adm-ret-matteo-bisceglia). This shortened version deals only with Air and Space programmes managed by OCCAR.

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A summary of the programmes currently part of the OCCAR portfolio; Adm. Bisceglia looks forward at adding some more in the near future.

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n his opening remarks Adm. Bisceglia underlined some of the key aspects of his organisation, starting from the fact that nations must renounce to an yearly analytical calculation of the return on investments, which brings duplications of efforts and inefficiencies that endanger the competitiveness of the European Defence industry, considering instead a multi-programme/multi-year balance. To expand the scope of the OCCAR to smaller programmes, he unveiled the proposal he made to his Board of Supervisors aimed at creating a Small Programmes Division, that will allow avoiding duplicating commercial and financial positions, one element being sufficient to run more than one programme considering their limited dimensions. He also underlined the optimal and fruitful relationship with other entities, such

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as the European Defence Agency (EDA) and the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), as well as with the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA). Among its task the OCCAR has that of following the qualification of new capabilities of the A400M Atlas tactical transport aircraft. Š Airbus


An A400M refuels a French transport helicopter during the qualification of the Airbus aircraft in the tanker role. Š DGA

He also underlined the low overhead cost of OCCAR over the programmes it manages, the total operations budget being around 1.3 per cent of the overall value of the managed programmes. Hoping that the COVID pandemia will have a lesser impact on defence budgets than the 2008 financial crisis, and stating that the Brexit issue, the UK is one of the OCCAR funding nations, should not have an impact on the organisation, save some issues with custom duties, he definitely mentioned the need for an harmonisation of export regulations among European countries to favour export, the only way to achieve economy of scale and keep alive Eurpean Defence industry production facilities. As for Air and Space programmes, here is the excerpt of the interview: Which are the latest developments of the A400M, and the planned milestones and activities for 2020 and 2021? The A400M is a fantastic and unique strategic and tactical transport aircraft, and all the crews that fly it are extremely pleased with the capabilities that the aircraft already provides. Among recent achievements to further expand its overall capabilities, in late May the A400M platform received the certification for automatic low-level flight, initially for visual meteorological conditions and later on, to be certified in Q2 2021, for instrumental meteorological conditions. Moreover, at the beginning of June, the aircraft completed full paratrooper simultaneous dispatch certification with a maximum of 116 paratroopers using both side doors (58+58).

A Spanish A400M in flight; Spain was not part of the OCCAR founding nations and joined the organisation in 2005. Š Airbus

The re-baseline of the programme in June 2019 resulted in a significant contract amendment in terms of development, production and retrofit plans. The aircraft offers great potential for Partner Nations, as well as existing and further export customers, to achieve greater capability and significant through-life cost savings by maintaining a common aircraft standard and common in-service support. An Aircraft Global Support Project is developing according to a stepped approach, with the second step signed in June 2019 that provides a range of support services for all Nations until 2023. The long-term retrofit strategy has been established based on a two-step retrofit campaign, where the first is well in progress and on schedule with nine additional aircraft in 2020, while the Step-2 Retrofit campaign is planned to start this month. The current year will also see the delivery of the first aircraft to Belgium and Luxembourg, with the first and only aircraft to be delivered to Luxembourg in June and the first aircraft delivered to Belgium in late summer. In line with the Nations agreement on Global Rebaselining production will ramp-down, total deliveries to Participating States and Malaysia having now reached over 90 aircraft, more than half of current orders. On the export side, Airbus Military Sociedad Limitada continues to explore numerous opportunities and campaigns, with the full support of OCCAR and the Participating States. Activities continue in order to complete the development, with the achievement of interim aircraft standards NSOC2 and NSOC2.5 (New Standard Operating Capability) to be followed by EDR | September/October 2020

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The key programme aiming at providing Europe with full independence in the Medium Altitude Long Endurance drone field is the MALE RPAS. © OCCAR

the final SOC3 (Standard Operating Capability) aircraft standard scheduled in 2022. Further progress are being and have been achieved in delivery capabilities, including aerial delivery and Electronic Warfare. In addition to the already mentioned automatic low-level flight capability and full paratrooper simultaneous dispatch certifications, the programme also successfully completed the initial helicopter air-to-air dry refuelling trials, wet trials being due to take place in the coming weeks. The Engine Global Support Contract is expected to deliver further progress towards Engine Support Cost reduction, with work ongoing to replace the current contract in 2021. Moreover, in March 2020, the Programme Board confirmed the move to commercial premises in

Four of the six OCCAR nations, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, are actively working on the MALE RPAS programme. © OCCAR

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Madrid; the relocation is expected to be completed by summer 2022. A continuous assessment is underway, with Industry and Nations, to identify and mitigate any impact to the programme caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. Before the pandemic outbreak a potential contract award for the Development, Production and In-Service Support for the MALE RPAS was set for Q3 2020. Are you confident to reach this milestone within the mentioned period? The MALE RPAS, a critical capability identified by the European Council in 2013, will grow to be another “lighthouse project” of OCCAR, once the contract for the Development, Production and Initial In Service Support is signed, hopefully by the end of 2020, in light of delays suffered also


The Multinational MRTT Fleet, which aims at pooling European air-refuelling capabilities based on the Airbus A330-200 MRTT, is open also to non-OCCAR nations. © NATO

An MRTT aircraft takes off from Getafe with Spanish markings; the Spanish facility is the A330 conversion centre where commercial jetliners become MRTT aircraft. © Airbus

due to the COVID. As you can imagine, it is a very big contract for which the initial offer was received on 29 May 2019. Industry was given indications on where to rework the offer to reach convergence with the 7.1 Billion € requested by nations. So far, the Programme Division is working with nations and industry in order to reach a common position. I would not like to de-scope the requirements. I believe the MALE RPAS has to go forward with a competitive configuration, and a competitive price. Europe cannot afford to miss this opportunity. I’d like to praise the work of the staff members of the MALE RPAS Division, performed in an extremely professional way, despite the uncertainties of the programme, due to the very challenging ongoing negotiation. I am confident we will reach the agreement to sign the contract as scheduled.

a small participation of 100 flight hours, thus becoming the sixth nation to participate to this initiative. The European Defence Agency (EDA) has been supporting OCCAR, alongside MMF nations, looking for synergies with other MRTT users and in general in the Air-to-Air-Refuelling (AAR) and transport domain, and further nations have shown interest in this system and are willing to join the programme.

The Multinational MRTT Fleet (MMF) programme continues to reach new milestones. Do you expect additional customers to join with new aircraft procurement and options? The MMF is a complete success, a programme that is working on time, cost and performance to the satisfaction of its customers. In 2020 we want to deliver the first three MMF aircraft in time despite the COVID-19 crises. The first contract was launched in 2016 by the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Germany and Norway joined in 2017 and Belgium in early 2018. The Czech Republic joined the programme in 2019 with

Canada interest seems to be growing very strong. They have an ageing fleet of Airbus 310 (like Germany), and one of them is permanently based in Europe. Denmark has also expressed interest. And we also have France, that in June 20019 at Le Bourget signed a Letter of Intent for cooperation with the MMF. OCCAR could for instance find synergies with the French programme for spares. The current customers are considering increasing their initial orders, namely Luxembourg and Norway. Luxembourg e.g. has announced a flight hour increase of 1,000 hours, which means an additional plane for the MMF programme. This summer we intend to sign the contract amendment for aircraft MMF 9. Norway has indicated that it may intend to increase its flight hours between 500 and 2000. This increase from Norway could lead to two more MMF aircraft. This would implement all three options and the MMF programme would have a total of 11 aircraft. So there are various interested parties to join or cooperate in this very successful programme and we are very optimistic about the future of the MMF. EDR | September/October 2020

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The Tiger combat helicopter programme, initiated by France and Germany, was placed under OCCAR responsibility since its legal status was achieved in 2001. © Airbus Helicopters

Recently you have announced a contract award for the new Tiger Mk III mid-life upgrade programme by the beginning of next year. Which are the main upgrade elements? There are upgrades in the airframe and in the weapons systems. For instance, the Mk III will bring real time sharing of threats, mission data and situational awareness thanks to new digital avionics and a new battlefield management system. It foresees new air-to-ground missiles with man in the loop, new air-to-air missiles, new laser

OCCAR is managing the Tiger Mk III Mid-Life Update that includes airframe upgrades and a complete reshuffling of the avionic suite. © Airbus Helicopters

guided rockets, a new gun pod and an improved turreted gun, to complete the panel of latest generation weapons. It also improves targeting with new high performance sensors, helmets, and the latest detection and identification capabilities, and reduces the crew workload thanks to the state-of-the-art digital avionics suite and its five 10-inches colour displays. Among the upgrades managed by OCCAR we find the Tiger ASGARD (Afghanistan Stabilization German Army Rapid Deployment), which included the addition of sand filters on engines’ intakes and add-on ballistic protection for the crew. © Airbus Helicopters

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This ensures that the Tiger keeps will remain a formidable attack helicopter for Participating States. It is almost a brand new helicopter! I am strongly pushing to manage that the Participating


A pictorial showing the concept of the Future Combat Air System; this programme is not under the OCCAR auspices, but it might well fall under it in due time. Š Dassault Aviation

States agree to a single configuration. A lot of work has already been accomplished to this end, but there are still some specific requirements that make the cooperation not as successful as it could be, and endanger the savings that can be achieved in the Development and In-Service Support, besides jeopardizing the export potential. Which are the next milestones for the Multinational Space-based Imaging System (MUSIS) Stage 2 programme following the contract award? The MUSIS is currently in its full development phase. Taking into consideration contractual requirements and the system operational concept,

the MUSIS team is focused in developing the system architecture (both logical and physical), in defining the relevant information that the two systems will exchange and the definition of technical specifications at system and subsystem level, including those for ILS and ISS. The Preliminary Design Review (PDR) was achieved in June, and the Critical Design Review (CDR) is planned for late September this year and will mark a turning point in the whole development process. The MUSIS is an example of very constructive cooperation between Italy and France. Despite the negative impact of Covid-19, the team has strengthened its internal cohesion working together to achieve objectives for the success of this challenging programme. What can you foresee about the FCAS future, as far as OCCAR is concerned? The OCCAR core business has been so far the management of large complex programmes, the organisation structure is better suited for those. It does not prevent our Member States to entrust OCCAR with small programmes if so they wish, however, I must confess it is the FCAS programme that I would like to see integrated into OCCAR, my organisation being more than ready to take this challenge. It might thus become a flagship programme one day, which will boost the EDTIB (European Defence Technological and Industrial Base).

The mock-up of the Future Combat Air System exhibited at the Paris Air Show 2019; the programme team includes three nations that are part of OCCAR, France, Germany and Spain, although the programme is not currently part of the OCCAR portfolio. Š Dassault Aviation

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Production of BAE Systems Hawk and Typhoons will soon come to an end unless new orders are gained. © BAE Systems

UK Defence Aerospace Industry on Hold By David Oliver

During the Queen’s Speech on 19 December 2019, the UK Government announced plans to conduct an Integrated Security, Defence and Foreign Policy Review. Heralded as the most radical reassessment of the UK’s place in the world since the end of the Cold War, the review promised to cover all aspects of international policy from defence to diplomacy and development. In the first phase of this inquiry, the Defence Committee was exploring how Government should conduct this exercise and looking to identify lessons learned from the timing, methodology and structure of previous UK’s security and defence reviews. The Committee would then use the findings of this inquiry as a framework to collect evidence on the future of UK defence in Phase II of the inquiry. However, the review has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Most of the Integrated Review was due to be completed later this year but it is now not expected to start until 2021. Another casualty of pandemic was the UK aerospace industries’ shopwindow, as the 2020 Farnborough International Airshow was cancelled leaving a gap that will take some considerable time to fill.

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Eurofighter Typhoons to the UK Royal Air Force (RAF) on 27 September 2019. The line at Warton has begun work on 22 aircraft for Qatar, with deliveries to begin in 2022 and although Saudi Arabia signed a memorandum of intent (MOI) for 48 additional Typhoon aircraft in March 2019 no production or delivery details have been disclosed. If the price of oil remains low, Saudi Arabian fighter procurement may face additional delays.

RAF Eurofighter Typhoons flying in Finland with a Finnish Air Force Hornet during HX programme trials. © BAE Systems

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he UK defence sector was already facing slowdown even before the pandemic caused production shutdowns and delays which saw dramatic drops in the share value of major aerospace companies operating in the UK, including BAE Systems, Leonardo and Airbus. BAE Systems Warton delivered the last of 160

Components of RAF Lockheed F-35B Lightning IIs are manufactured by BAE Systems at Samlesbury. © David Oliver

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In order to ensure future production at Warton, the company is targeting four high value fighter competitions for which the Eurofighter is being offered. Launched in 2014, Finland’s HX programme involves the overhaul of Finland’s air combat capability with new aircraft, weapons, and sensors to completely replace its current fleet of Boeing F/A-18C/D Hornets. Among the five contenders, BAE Systems is bidding for the €10 billion contract on behalf of the Eurofighter consortium. In January 2020, two RAF Typhoons were put through their paces in a series of evaluations in the cold conditions of Tampere. The aircraft were tested under harsh weather conditions to verify the performance claims made in the responses to the Request for Quotation documents submitted last year, along with performance values previously verified in laboratory tests. Finland’s HX programme remains on schedule with a procurement decision anticipated in 2021. In May 2020 Switzerland gave bidders in its CHF8 billion (US$8.27 billion) Air2030 fighter and ground-based air defense tender additional time to deliver their proposals due to the coronavirus pandemic although the programme itself remains

Leonardo UK has an MoD contract to maintain AAC Apache AH-Mk1s until they are replaced by Boeing-built AH-64Es. © David Oliver


was temporarily closed on 24 March, but reopened in the first week of May. As part of the company’s Tempest Future Combat Air System (FCAS) scaleup, around 100 employees at the Brough site will be transferred from manufacturing roles into engineering positions but apart from that BAE Systems has no new orders for Hawk production at this facility. Brazilian Navy Super Lynx, AAC AW159 Wildcat and Norwegian Air Force AW101s may be some of the last helicopters built at Yeovil. © Leonardo

on track. The country took the decision to extend the deadline for responses from industry from August to November this year. An RAF Typhoon undertook a month-long evaluation in Switzerland in April 2019 as part of the Airbus-led bid for the Air2030 programme. Neither the type nor the number of aircraft has yet been determined but the Federal Council is expected to make its choice at the beginning of 2021. In April 2020 it was reported that the German defence minister, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer had suggested that Germany purchase 93 new Eurofighters plus 30 Boeing FA-18E/F Super Hornets and 15 EA-18G Prowlers to replace the Luftwaffe’s fleet of Tornados. However, no firm contract for either aircraft has yet been issued. Canada’s long-running effort to buy 88 new fighters to replace its air force’s fleet of CF-18 Hornets faces another delay. In April the federal government announced that it was once again delaying acceptance of bids for the Can$19 billion contract for new fighters. Originally supposed to be submitted in May 2019 and then pushed back to June 2020, it is now not expected before the end this year. In a report issued in an Italian publication, Egypt is negotiating the sale of 24 Eurofighters although why the country would want to operate the aircraft alongside its fleet of 24 Dassault Rafales is unclear. BAE Systems factory at Brough, where the last of nine Qatar-bound Hawk were being completed,

Other BAE Systems contracts include the production of the aft fuselage, horizontal and vertical tails of the Lockheed Martin F-35B which is operated by both the US Marine Corps and the Royal Air Force at its Samlesbury facility as well as AN/ASQ-239 Electric Warfare/Countermeasures (EW/CM) systems for the Lightning II. The UK’s second largest aerospace manufacturer is Leonardo’s UK-based helicopter business in Yeovil. In January 2019 the MoD announced a £293 million Apache AH.Mk1 Integrated Operational Support (IOS) contract with Leonardo to maintain the Army Air Corps fleet until its out of service date in March 2024 when they will be replaced by 50 Boeing AH-64E Apaches. A total of 59 AH.1 Apaches were built at Yeovil by Westland, now Leonardo Helicopters, and delivered to the Army Air Corps by 2004. However, their replacement will not be built in the UK. In July 2016 the UK MoD announced that Boeing will deliver 50 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters to the British Army under a US$2.3 billion Foreign Military Sale (FMS) contract. Boeing was also awarded an additional US$19.2 million contract for post-production support services and warehouse management services for the UK AH-64E Apache fleet of 50 aircraft and three Longbow crew trainers. Work on both contracts will be performed in the US at Mesa, Arizona. In May 2019, the UK MoD announced the delivery of the first Commando Merlin Mk.4 helicopters designed for Royal Marine operations on Royal Navy EDR | September/October 2020

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carriers under a £388 million contract. The MoD also awarded Leonardo a £271 million AW159 Wildcat support and training contract. Leonardo is the prime contractor for the upgrading of 14 Royal Canadian Air Force CH-149 Cormorant SAR helicopters and the conversion of two additional former US Presidential VH-71 Kestrel helicopters. The upgrade, that will be carried out in Canada, will bring Canada’s CH-149s to the latest AW101-612 standard as used by the Royal Norwegian Air Force which includes the Osprey radar. Leonardo has delivered 10 of 16 Norwegian Air Force AW101 Mk612s on order along with the Italian Air Force’s HH-101A Caesar’s configured for Combat Search and Rescue operations (CSAR) and for support to the Special Forces. Eight Brazilian Navy Super Lynx Mk21B helicopters are being upgraded at Yeovil, the first of which was delivered in January 2020 and the first of five Portuguese Navy Super Lynx Mk95s also being upgraded was due to be delivered in March. However, with only four Polish AW101 and six Norwegian AW101 in production and no additional orders in sight, AW101 and AW159 Wildcat production at Yeovil will soon be at a standstill. Support and upgrade contracts will not support the 3,000 employees at Yeovil. Leonardo’s multi-role medium-lift AW149 helicopter was planned to be based in Yeovil for demonstrations to potential European customers. The 9-tonne helicopter is designed to meet a wide range of military missions including troop transport/ troop insertion carrying up to 16 fully-equipped troops, cargo re-supply/external lift, CASEVAC/MEDEVAC, search and rescue (SAR) and Special Forces (SF) operations. The AW149 has been certified by the Italian Directorate of Air Armaments (ARMAEREO) and Leonardo is pitching it for the Polish Army’s requirement for a multi-role helicopter with its subsidiary PZL-Świdnik, which is also the prime contractor for four AW101s ordered for the Polish Navy. The only customer to date for the AW149, which first flew in November 16

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2009, is the Royal Thai Army which has taken delivery of five helicopters, all of which were built in Italy. There has been another report in an Italian publication of an unconfirmed order from Egypt for 24 AW149s helicopters for land-based and shipborne troop transport and SAR missions. Leonardo is ready to offer the AW149 to the UK MoD as a replacement for the RAF’s Puma fleet which is is expected to be retired from service in 2025. Leonardo UK is one of the BAE Systems-led Tempest team members along with MBDA and Rolls-Royce working together with the Royal Air Force’s Rapid Capabilities Office and the UK MoD, who share a joint vision to develop the technologies needed for the next generation of Combat Aircraft. Launched at Farnborough in 2018 with £2 billion of government funding to oversee the design and build of a new Future Combat Air System (FCAS) through to 2025, when a final decision would be taken on the programme’s future. In July 2019, the UK and Sweden signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) agreeing to examine the possibilities for joint development of FCAS over the next decade. Italy followed Sweden on 11 September 2019 with a commitment by the UK and Italian government to work together on future Combat Air capabilities including Tempest. At the time, it was hoped that other countries, such as Japan, would be attracted to the programme but in March 2020 it was reported that the Japanese Ministry of Defense had rejected proposals by foreign manufacturers to develop its next generation F-X fighter.

Leonardo’s AW149 multi-role medium helicopter being offered to Poland for its army requirement, was planned to be based at Yeovil. © David Oliver


Airbus D&S looks to work with Her Majesty Government to highlight the value creation and contribution to the prosperity agenda that company, with high levels of investment, R&D and large workforces, bring to the UK. The trade organisation for companies in the UK aerospace, defence, and security sectors, the ADS Group, believes that by accelerating a number of planned Team Tempest has until December 2020 to complete their analysis of a defence programmes, activities and programme critical to the future of Britain’s combat air capabilities. through placing orders and work with © BAE Systems industry earlier, this will help maintain In January 2020, the Team Tempest members activity in the supply chain and stimulate activity in announced that the number of people working on adjacent sectors. ADS Chief Executive Paul Everitt the programme would increase from 1,000 to 2,500. said: “As the UK looks to support its recovery from The Team has until December 2020 to complete the Covid-19 pandemic, the defence industry can their analysis of a programme critical to the future play a major role in stimulating the economy and of Britain’s combat air capabilities. However, this saving vital manufacturing jobs, if the Government was before the coronavirus pandemic took hold acts to bring forward key defence projects. “The of country. Obviously for a post-COVID-19 and UK Government has an opportunity to use defence post-Brexit Britain, the financial and working procurement to kick start the recovery and support relationships necessary to achieve a broader global high value supply chains, impacted by the crisis in success will be challenging. civil aerospace.” During a recent lecture at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London, the CEO Airbus Defence and Space, Dirk Hoke, argued why now is not the time for Europe to under invest in its space and defence sectors and why continued UK participation in European space and defence programmes is in all of our interests. He suggested that given the pressures of Covid-19 and Brexit, when the IR 2021 resumes, it is likely to have a sharp focus on value for money, challenging industry to do more with less and to do it quicker, while increasingly pushing industry to take the lead and selffund much of the future development. Dirk also expects to see the overall industrial strategy reworked to support the recovery of UK industry and job creation in a post-Covid world which will be underpinned by investment in UK skills, capability and Intellectual Property. He said it is encouraging that the UK is maintaining its doctrine of Open Global procurement and

However, it is clear that post Covid-19 and Brexit will increase pressure on the UK defence budget that is already under pressure and cut will be inevitable. Consequently, the UK MoD could be expected to renegotiate a number of existing contracts to slow or reduce deliveries and new procurement and development programmes might be postponed, reduced in scope or even cancelled.

Airbus facility at Filton is responsible for the production of the wing assembly of the A400M Atlas. © David Oliver

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Australian Army: modernising Down Under By Ian Kemp

The Rheinmetall Boxer Cavalry Reconnaissance Vehicle (left) is in production to replace the GDLSCanada ASLAV (right). © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence

The Australian Army is undergoing the most comprehensive modernisation in its history. Ian Kemp reports on the four pillars of the future armoured vehicle fleet. The past decade has seen a significant restructuring of the Australian Army in preparation for the delivery of a new fleet of armoured fighting vehicles over the next decade. The reorganisation was inspired by lessons identified during more than 10 years of combat operations, which began with the East Timor crisis of 1999 and continued with Australia’s participation in the USled military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. The army’s aim is to develop a “relevant and sustainable Reinforced Combat Brigade that is able to operate and win across the spectrum of conflict”. The first step was Plan Beersheba, launched in December 2011, to transform the army’s three regular manoeuvre brigades - the 1st, 3rd and 7th Brigades - from uniquely organised formations - mechanised, motorised and light infantry into three similarly organised Multirole Combat Brigades (MCBs).

The brigades were restructured to consist of an armoured cavalry regiment (ACR), two standard infantry battalions, an artillery regiment, a combat signals regiment, a combat engineer regiment, and a combat service support battalion. Beersheba placed the three brigades on a 36 month ‘set, ready, reset’ force generation cycle of EDR | September/October 2020

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Rheinmetall will produce 133 Boxer Cavalry Reconnaissance Vehicle equipped with Rheinmetall’s two-person Lance turret armed with the MK 30-2/ ABM 30mm automatic cannon. © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence

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12 months preparing for operations, 12 months ready for operations or deployed, and 12 months in a reset phase. Each of the three MCBs is paired with two Army Reserve brigades which can generate trained subunits and, if required, a light infantry battle group to augment the MCBs.

soldiers and up to 110 vehicles including M1 tanks using MRH-90 helicopters and four landing craft, vehicles being hosted on two decks - one for light and the other for heavy vehicles. Although 2RAR will remain the amphibious specialist all brigades will receive amphibious training.

One infantry battalion, 2nd Battalion Royal Australian Regiment (Amphibious), is outside of the brigade structure because of its unique role as the army’s first amphibious battalion. It was assigned this role to exploit the introduction of the Royal Australian Navy’s two Canberra Class Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) ships - HMAS Canberra and HMAS Adelaide, commissioned in November 2014 and December 2015 respectively. Each 27,000 tonnes LHD can land a force of 1,046

The MCBs are supported by three specialist brigades: • the 16th Aviation Brigade with 22 Airbus Helicopters Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters, 47 NH Industries MRH90 helicopters (six of which are operated by the navy), 20 Sikorsky S-70 Black Hawk helicopters, and 10 Boeing CH47F Chinooks; • the 6th Brigade groups the army’s command support and intelligence, surveillance, target ac-

An ASLAV drives from a Royal Australian Navy landing craft during Exercise Talisman Sabre 2019. © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence

Each of the three armoured cavalry regiments is equipped with a squadron of M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks. © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence

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quisition and reconnaissance units into a single formation to improve training and readiness; • and, the 17th Combat Service Support Brigade which commands the army’s deployable operational level logistics units. The “2016 Integrated Investment Program” (2016 IIP), published conjointly with the “2016 Defence White Paper”, announced the expenditure of A$195 billion in defence modernisation through FY 2025-26. From A$24-33 billion was allocated to modernising the “four elements of the armoured vehicle capability: armour - based on the Abrams; cavalry - based on the current ASLAV and the future replacement Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle; armoured mobility - based on the current M113AS4 Armoured Personnel Carrier and a future replacement Infantry Fighting Vehicle; and, armoured Combat Support and Combat Service Support (specialist versions of the above mentioned platforms).” The Beersheba restructuring was completed in October 2017 and was immediately followed by Plan Keogh which introduced further structural changes as the army prepared for major recapitalisation projects to replace its armoured and protected mobility vehicles, soldier systems, command and control systems, and logistics systems. Under Beersheba it was intended that the three ACRs would operate the planned infantry

M1A1 Abrams tanks en route to conduct live fire training. © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence

fighting vehicle (IFV) to provide the infantry lift. It was subsequently decided that the IFV’s potential would be better exploited if they were integral to the infantry sections - the structure common among Australia’s allies. One battalion in each brigade was designated as a mechanised battalion and equipped with the M113AS4 armoured personnel carrier (APC), the final modernised model of the ubiquitous American M113 which has been in Australian service since the mid-1960s, until the fielding of the new IFV. The other battalion was designated as a motorised infantry battalion and equipped with the Thales 4x4 Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicle (PMV). Before Beersheba, the 1st Armoured Regiment was the only regiment equipped with M1A1 main battle tanks (MBTs) while the 2nd Cavalry Regiment and the 2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment

An M1A1 Abrams of the 1st Armoured Regiment conducts gunnery training at Shoalwater Bay Training Area, Queensland. © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence

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of additional tanks. On 5 May 2020, Australia’s Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG) released a notice to industry for the Land 907 Phase 2 Abrams M1A2 Immersive Tactical Trainer which stated that Gate 2 approval for Phase 2 is scheduled for September 2021. To meet this timetable the full scope of Land 907 Phase 2 should become clearer later this year.

Homegrown Hawkei RDA delivered the first three Boxer CRVs in the Multipurpose Vehicle configuration for verification and validation testing in September 2019. © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence

Australia plans to upgrade its M1A1 MBTs to the latest US Army M1A2C standard. © US Army

(Queensland Mounted Infantry) both operated the General Dynamics Land Systems Canada 8x8 Australian Light Armoured Vehicle (ASLAV) in the reconnaissance role. Although the three regiments maintain their historic titles, they are each organised as an ACR with three sabre squadrons - an armoured squadron equipped with 14 M1A1s, and two reconnaissance squadrons each equipped with 20 ASLAV reconnaissance variants.

The Thales Australia 4x4 Hawkei represents a homegrown solution to meet the Project Land 121 Phase 4 requirement for a new class of vehicle, the Protected Mobility Vehicle - Light (PMV-L), offering high levels of ballistic and blast protection. Australia was an original participant in the US Joint Light Tactical Vehicle project until December 2011 when the Australian government decided to quit the project in favour of funding the continued development of the Hawkei. Land 121 Phase 4 covers the acquisition of 1,100 PMV-Ls in two variants and 1,058 trailers. The 4-door PMV-L will be configured for specific roles such as: command, carrying four personnel and fitted with a battle management system; liaison, carrying four personnel; and reconnaissance, carrying up to four personnel operating in the light infantry, reconnaissance and Royal Australian Air Force security roles. The 2-door PMV-L Utility carries two personnel and has a flatbed which can be used to carry cargo, such as up to four NATO pallets, or for specialist applications such as a radar carrier. With a weight of 7 tonnes the Hawkei will be the only armoured vehicle

Abrams upgrade Australia bought 59 M1A1 Abrams Integrated Management (AIM) Situational Awareness (SA) variants through the US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme in 2005 to meet the Land 907 Phase 1 MBT requirement. The army plans to spend up to A$1 billion on the Land 907 Phase 2 Main Battle Tank System Upgrade to modernise the Abrams fleet to an unspecified M1A2 configuration and acquire an unspecified number 22

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The M113AS4 APCs which equip Australia’s three mechanised infantry battalions will be replaced by a new IFV. © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence


later this year for the remaining 1,000 production vehicles and 958 trailers. The contract to Thales Australia also includes through-life-support of the PMV-L. Final Operational Capability is expected to be achieved in June 2023.

Following Project Keogh the M113AS4 APC is now integral to the army’s three mechanised infantry battalions. © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence

in service capable of being transported by the army’s CH-47D Chinook helicopters. The 4-door PMV-L can be fitted with an overhead weapon station although the project does not include funding for such a system. Thales is proposing other variants, such as a special operations vehicle, to meet future Australian requirements or the needs of export customers. For Stage One, Engineering and Manufacturing Development, Thales delivered 10 vehicles and five trailers while for Stage Two, Low-Rate Initial Production, it supplied an additional six vehicles and four trailers for reliability testing and verification/validation activities, and 100 LRIP vehicles and trailers. The government is expected to approve Stage Three, Full-Rate Production,

PMV-Ms line up for a range practice at the Taji Military Complex, Iraq. © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence

Developing the Hawkei, Thales utilised the experience gained from the production of the Bushmaster which entered service in 1997 to meet the Infantry Mobility Vehicle requirement and was later designated the PMV - Medium. The Australian Defence Force bought 1,052 Bushmasters in eight variants for the army and the Royal Australian Air Force’s security forces squadrons, and Bushmaster has been used extensively on operations. New and refurbished Bushmasters have been exported to at least seven customers. The army has used the Bushmaster extensively on operations, including Afghanistan and Iraq, and the service believes the vehicle’s design has saved more than 300 lives. The service is developing the specifications for a replacement to allow the remaining 985 PMV-Ms to be retired from 2030.

Reconnaissance Boxer The largest acquisition programme in the army’s history is Project Land 400, Land Combat Vehicle System (LCVS), a multi-phase project to acquire: a Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle (CRV); a tracked IFV; a tracked Manoeuvre Support Vehicle (MSV); and, an integrated training system. Land 400 Phase 2, Mounted Combat Reconnaissance Capability, will replace the 25-year old ASLAV. A total of 257 ASLAVs, were delivered in seven variants from 1994 to 2007, and these were used extensively in East Timor, Afghanistan and Iraq. Australia awarded Rheinmetall Defence Australia (RDA) an A$3.3 billion contract in August 2018 to develop and produce 211 8x8 Boxer CRVs. The contract followed a 12-month competitive evaluation in 2016-17 of four Boxer prototypes and four BAE Systems AMV35 prototypes. EDR | September/October 2020

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RDA will produce 133 CRV reconnaissance variants equipped with Rheinmetall’s two-person Lance turret armed with the company’s MK 30-2/ ABM 30mm automatic cannon. These variants will also be armed with the Rafael Spike LR2 long range anti-tank guided missile, which will be produced by a joint venture with Australia’s Varley, and a remote weapon system (RWS), with Block 1 vehicles equipped with a Kongsberg RWS and Block II vehicles with the Australian Electro Optic Systems RWS. Other variants comprise 21 surveillance, 15 command and control, 13 multipurpose (MPV), 11 recovery, 10 repair and 8 joint fires vehicles. Compared to the 13.45 tonne ASLAV, the 38.5 tonne Boxer CRV offers much greater protection against improvised explosive device and mine blasts as well as ballistic threats, and the vehicle may be equipped with the Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Trophy MV active protection system. On 24 September 2019, RDA delivered the first three Boxer CRVs in the MPV configuration for verification and validation testing which began the next month. The first 25 vehicles will be

built in Germany with the remaining vehicles to be produced at RDA’s new Military Vehicle Centre of Excellence (MILVEHCOE) in Ipswich, Queensland, which is expected to be completed by the end of the year. The first Australian-build Block 2 Boxer vehicles are scheduled to roll out of the facility in 2021 and the last in 2026. According to the DOD’s CASG “the Australian Industry Capability level for this project is over 65 per cent, with an expected $10.2 billion, 30-year investment in Australian industry over the life of the project.”

IFV contenders Land 400 Phase 3, Mounted Close Combat Capability, worth an estimated A$10-15 billion, is intended to provide up to 450 tracked IFVs and 17 Manoeuvre Support Vehicles. The requirement calls for an IFV, operated by a three-strong crew and carrying a six-strong infantry section, that provides STANAG 4569 Level 6 kinetic and Level 4a/4b blast protection, and mobility comparable to that of the M1A2 MBT. The 2016 IIP states: “These vehicles will be equipped with superior firepower, networking and protection and will be

The army’s three field artillery regiments are equipped with M777A2 Lightweight Howitzers. © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence

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deployable rapidly by air in small numbers and in larger numbers by Canberra Class amphibious ships and logistics support vessels.” The 450 vehicles will comprise 312 IFVs, 39 combat engineer vehicles, 26 C2 vehicles, 18 repair vehicles,16 joint fire vehicles, 14 each ambulance and recovery vehicles, and 11 engineer reconnaissance vehicles. The Plan Keogh structure allocates 114 IFVs to each brigade with each mechanised infantry battalion fielding 87. In October 2019, Australia awarded two risk mitigation contracts, each worth A$50 million, to Hanwha Defense Australia for the AS21 Redback IFV and RDA for the Lynx KF41 IFV. Both vehicles were developed specifically for the Land 400 requirement and Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price stated the two contenders were the best able to meet army requirements while also offering value for money. The contracts require each competitor to deliver three prototypes by November 2020 for a twoyear test and evaluation programme, including destructive testing. The preferred option is expected to be presented to the government for a decision in 2022 which is scheduled to lead to an initial operating capability (IOC) in 2024-25 with a full operating capability expected by 2030–31. Rheinmetall is arguing that the KF41 offers significant cost savings as it will be equipped with

Thales Australia will supply 1,100 Hawkei Protected Mobility Vehicles Light in two variants and 1,058 trailers. © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence

the same Lance Block II turret as the Boxer CRV. The AS21 Redback is based on Hanwha’s KT21 IFV that has been in service with the Republic of Korea Army since 2009. It will be equipped with a new two-person T2000 30mm turret developed by Australia’s EOS. Like the Boxer CRV, the IFV will also be equipped with the Spike-LR ATGW and an RWS.

Back on track Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced five days prior to the 19 May 2019 federal election that Australia would acquire 30 Hanwha Defense K9 Thunder 155mm/52cal tracked self-propelled howitzers, 10 K10 ammunition resupply vehicles, and associated equipment. The AS-9 Aussie Thunder, an Australianised version of the K9 developed by a team led by Raytheon Australia, was selected for Phase 1C, the self-propelled portion of the Land 17 Artillery Replacement Program before that phase was cancelled in May 2012. The first acquisition phase of Land 400 involved the 2009 purchase through the US Foreign Military Sales programme of 35 BAE Systems M777A2 155mm lightweight towed howitzers to equip two of the three regular field artillery regiments and following the termination of Phase 1C, the government purchased an additional 19 M777A2s in October 2012. Each regiment now fields three gun batteries each equipped with four M777A2s, and is equipped with the Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATDS), a fully automated digital battle management system developed by Raytheon to meet US Army and US Marine Corps requirements. The SPH requirement has been revived as Land 8116 Protected Mobile Fires. “Land 8116 is the fourth Pillar of Army’s protected manoeuvre system, intimately supporting combat reconnaissance vehicles, infantry fighting vehicles, and main battle tanks,” wrote Brigadier Richard Vagg, Director General of Systems and Integration in Army Headquarters, in the Royal Australian Artillery Liaison Letter. EDR | September/October 2020

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A Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles Australia HX77 heavy rigid vehicle supports Operation Bushfire Assist earlier this year. © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence

On visit to Geelong, Victoria in January, Sungsoo Lee, CEO of Hanwha Defense, said: “We look forward to Geelong and Hanwha working together to build industrial capacity for Australian Defence Self Reliance. Our aim is to collaborate with local industry to create a centre of expertise for the assembly and maintenance of the K9 Self Propelled Howitzer and K10 ammunition resupply vehicle family of vehicles.” The proposed Hanwha Armoured Vehicles Centre of Excellence would produce the AS 21 Redback if it is selected as the army’s IFV.

Logistics boost Defence Minister Linda Reynolds announced on

Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles Australia will supply 3,751 vehicles and 4,730 mission modules to the ADF. © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence

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7 February 2020 the declaration of IOC for the ADF’s new fleet of logistics vehicles. In 2016, Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles Australia began deliveries of its HX series vehicles – including 4x4, 6x6 and 10x10 HX 2, 8x8 HX 77 and 8x8 HX 81 models – to meet the A$5 billion Land 121 Project Overlander requirement for medium and heavy capability field vehicles, modules and trailers. Separate Land 121 Phase 3B and 5B contracts cover the delivery of 3,751 vehicles and 4,730 mission modules from RMMVA and 2,565 trailers from Haulmark Trailers (Australia). More than 1,000 vehicles will be supplied with integrated armoured cabins designed to provide a higher level of land mine/ IED blast protection than modular armour cabs. The IOC declaration marked the fielding of enough vehicles, about 100, in three configurations - integrated load handling system, heavy recovery vehicle, and truck-tractor – to support a battlegroup. Reynolds said the Overlander fleet “will be used for a range of military deployments, from resupplying combat operations to supporting Defence’s assistance to Australian and regional communities after natural disasters” as was demonstrated over the 2019-20 summer when the initial vehicles were used as part of the ADF response to the Townsville floods and for Operation Bushfire Assist.


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General Atomics-ASI MQ-9B certifiable version of the Predator B comes in the land SkyGuardian and naval SeaGuardian versions. The potential launch customer for the latter version is expected to be the Indian Navy. © GA-ASI

The persistent UASs in the maritime domain By Luca Peruzzi The use of Unmanned Air Systems (UAS) in the maritime domain to conduct long-range missions in support of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) operations executed by manned platform is becoming more common in nowadays worldwide navies. However technological developments in the UAS capabilities are pushing towards a wider use of unmanned vs manned platforms, as the former are addressing, developing and testing anti-submarine warfare (ASW) as well as search & rescue (SAR) capabilities, allowing manned platforms concentrating on operations requiring on-board crew. In addition to longer and persistent missions, the Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAS platforms offer advantages in terms of system’s managing, personnel, and life-cycle reduced costs, as well as platform survivability as ISR operations require to operate at altitudes and distances from targets significantly lower than advertised manned/unmanned platform highest-level capabilities.

General Atomics’ Sea Guardian The GA-ASI (General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc) US company has developed a variant of the Predator B UAS designed to meet NATO STANAG 4671 and to be eligible, in cooperation with global authorities, to meet airworthiness certification standards around the world. The MQ9B is highly modular and is easily configured with 28

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a variety of payloads in addition to a state-of-theart detect and avoid system developed by GA-ASI, which is a key technology for UAS to fly safely in civil aerospace alongside manned aircraft. In addition to the land-based SkyGuardian variant of the MQ-9B, which was acquired by the UK MoD and selected by Australian and Belgian Defence, GA-ASI also developed a maritime variant called the SeaGuardian, which has attracted international


endurance of over 40 flight hours. With a 4 meters larger wingspan and extended endurance thanks to additional fuel capacity compared to the MQ9A, in a basic maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) configuration, the SeaGuardian can be equipped with a highdefinition (HD) EO/IR sensor with laser designator, a multi-mode 360° radar with Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), Inverted SAR and ground moving target indication (GMTI) main capabilities, an Electronic Support Measures (ESM) suite and Automatic Identification System (ASI). The company is also working on adding an AntiSubmarine Warfare (ASW) capability, based on the demonstration activities carried out in October General Atomics-ASI is working on providing the SeaGuardian UAS an Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) capability. The company has already demonstrated remote detection and tracking of underwater targets capabilities using sonobuoys to collect acoustic data, relayed via SATCOM to the ground control station. © GA-ASI

Designed by IAI for both tactical and strategic missions, the new generation Heron Mk II MALE UAS maritime version will feature an ASW suite including a sonobuoys dispensing system and a magnetic anomaly detector (MAD) system. © IAI

interest, with the Indian Navy being the potential launch customer according to different local reports. With a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 5,670 kg and a payload capacity of 2,177 kg to be transported internally and externally on nine (external) hardpoints, the SeaGuardian is equipped with a Honeywell TPE331-10 turboprop engine offering a maximum speed of 210 knots, a maximum altitude of over 12,000 meters and an

2017, when the company trialled remote detection and tracking of submerged targets using an MQ-9A platform launching sonobuoys to collect acoustic data which were relayed via SATCOM to the ground control station (GCS) to be processed. In June 2018, the GA-ASI UAS became the first MALE UAV to complete a trans-Atlantic flight between the USA and the UK covering 6,964 km in 24 hours, 2 minutes.

Leonardo’s Falco family The SeaGuardian MALE UAS has been extensively demonstrated in Europe during evaluation trials conducted from a Greek air force’s base in late 2019. © GA-ASI

Unveiled as a mock-up during the Paris Air Show 2019, while the prototype was prepared for the flight test campaign with the close cooperation and support of the Italian Air Force, EDR | September/October 2020

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IAI unveiled the Tactical Heron, or T-Heron, for tactical operations during Paris Air Show 2019. With a MTOW of 600 kg and a payload of up to 180 kg, the T-Heron has a 24 hours endurance and will be available from 2021. © IAI

the Leonardo’s largest-ever UAS Falco Xplorer air vehicle was successfully flown in January 2020 by an Italian Air Force’s test flight pilot. Building on the success of the company’s Falco UAS family, the new MALE platform features a 1.3 tonnes MTOW with a payload capacity of 350 kg and an endurance of 24+ hours, with a satellite communication capability for beyond-radio-lineof-sight (BLOS) operations. These characteristics and payload capacity fully satisfy the surveillance and intelligence requirements in the maritime domain, as already demonstrated by Leonardo’s smaller Falco Evo version under the 300 flying hours campaign service contract flown from Lampedusa island in the Central Mediterranean under the Frontex Maritime Aerial Surveillance project in summer 2019. The Falco Xplorer system is designed in accordance with NATO STANAG 4671 and is undergoing military type certification by the Italian MoD Air Armaments and Airworthiness directorate. During the lockdown, the activities continued with the implement of new software updates and aerodynamic enhancements, but due to the pandemic Leonardo was forced to stop flight operations with the prototype, resuming them in late May from Trapani-Birgi air base in Western-Sicily. As of today the Falco Xplorer’s development, testing, evaluation and certification programme is expected to see an initial milestone with a system’s initial operational capability (IOC) within Q1 2021, while the full certification process is planned to be completed later on in 2021. The Falco Xplorer is readily exportable as it is not 30

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Leonardo’s smaller Falco Evo version successfully completed a 300 flying hours campaign service contract from Lampedusa island under the Frontex Maritime Aerial Surveillance project in the Central Mediterranean in summer 2019. © Leonardo

subject to International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) restrictions and its technical characteristics place it within the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) class II category. Leonardo is in discussion with different international customers which could benefit from the IOC milestone UAS availability (if they don’t require the certification), while the support and cooperation provided by the Italian Air Force could be the sign of a strong interest in the platform, as the service will have to replace its fleet of Predator A+. With a 18.5 meters wingspan, a maximum speed of 115 knots and over 7,315 meters operational altitude, with a max endurance at 200 km distance from base of 24 flying hours at 20,000 ft ISA with a 200 kg payload, the Falco Xplorer features a ‘V’ tail assembly and is powered by a Rotax Heavy

Leonardo’s largest-ever UAS Falco Xplorer, which conducted its maiden flight in January 2020, is expected to be available in late Q1 2021, while the full certification process is planned to be completed later on during 2021. © Leonardo


Fuel Engine (HFE). Even if Leonardo is currently working only on an ISR version, the aircraft has been designed to carry underwing hardpoints for external payloads, but no further details were released. The platform will come initially equipped with a Leonardo-provided suite including the Gabbiano T-80UL multimode radar with advanced SAR/ISAR/GMTI capabilities, up to 20’’ HD EO/ IR sensor and AIS, in addition to a dual-band (L/Ku) SATCOM capability and SAGE electronic intelligence (ELINT) system for maritime use. The system can however carry a sensor suite in-line with customers’ requirements, including third-party equipment. The sensors will be integrated through Leonardo’s powerful mission management system, while the platform’s GCS allows aircraft and payload control, in addition to data exploitation, mission data analysis, planning, training and simulation capabilities. Leonardo, however, continues to offer the smaller Falco Evo, which is flying in Congo from 2019 under a service contract awarded by the United Nations in October 2018, in addition to one of the four Falco customers, of which two in Central Asia and two in the Middle East.

Designed according to STANAG 4671 standard, the Hermes 900 Maritime Patrol version is a persistent long-range unmanned maritime surveillance system tailored for littoral and blue water operations, with up to 30 flight hours endurance. © Elbit Systems

IAI’s Heron family Based on the over 40 years’ experience as the world pioneer in the sector, the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) group has further developed and enlarged its family of Heron UASs, introducing the smaller Tactical Heron or T-Heron as well as the Heron Mk II aside the Heron I and the larger

strategic Heron TP. This UAS family has a MTOW ranging from 600 to 5,700 kg, and is capable of lifting payloads from 180 kg to more than one tonne. Being at the leading edge in addressing maritime operations, IAI added new capabilities to the Heron UAS family, preparing the MALE segment platforms to assume ASW capabilities. Based on the combat proven family’s heritage with hundreds of thousands flight hours, serving more than 20 customers, IAI is today proposing and demonstrating to its customers the new generation Heron Mk II MALE UAS for both strategic and tactical missions. With a 1,350 kg MTOW and capable to carry a payload up to 470 kg including sensors, mission equipment and fuel, the Heron II has demonstrated an endurance of up to 45 hours and is capable to reach an over 10,668 meters ceiling. Offered in proven operational configurations for intelligence, maritime patrol, persistent surveillance and other missions thanks to its multi-sensor carrying capability with up to six systems simultaneously, proven safe dual automatic takeoff & landing (ATOL) system, state-of-the art avionics and communications, the Heron demonstrated a mission radius of over 1,000 km in SATCOM BLOS missions and over 350 km in LOS operations. With a 16.6 meters wingspan and the Heron family’s typical twin tail boom architecture in addition to a well-proven 135 hp Rotax family engine, the Heron II has a maximum and loitering speed of respectively 140 and 60-80 knots. In addition to the sensors and mission suite, a Heron Mk II mock-up has been shown during the Singapore Air Show 2020 with four underwing hardpoints for external payloads, ranging from missions pods to inflated liferafts for search and rescue missions. The Heron Mk II typical maritime surveillance missions suite could include the IAI-Taman M19 22.6’ turret HD EO/IR multi-sensor large payload suite with very longrange HD thermal imager, day and SWIR cameras, laser range-finder, pointer and laser designator, the IAI/ELTA Systems ELM-2022A multipurpose radar with SAR/ISAR/GMTI capabilites, ELINT/ COMINT, AIS and SATCOM link payloads. IAI has developed an ASW suite, which in addition to the aforementioned sensors, adds a sonobuoy dispensing system and a magnetic anomaly detector (MAD) allowing simultaneous detection EDR | September/October 2020

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Elbit Systems recently unveiled a unique lifesaving capability added to the Hermes 900 patrol version, integrating sensors and systems suite, droppable inflatable life-rafts on four underwing hardpoints, and precision dispatch capability for survivors’ search and rescue. © Elbit Systems

and tracking of submarines in shallow and deep waters, with systems’ suppliers coming from national and international industries. In addition to being in service with the Israel Defence Forces for naval operations, as well as worldwide operators including the Indian and Ecuador navies, the Heron UAS family has a track proven record of service contracts with European agencies and international customers, the last being that signed with the Hellenic Ministry of National Defence last May. As part of the agreement, the Israel MoD will lease the Heron Mk I system in its maritime configuration to Greece over three years, with an option to purchase the system upon completion of the leasing period. During the PAS 2019, IAI unveiled the Tactical Heron or T-Heron to be deployed for tactical operations, including

maritime surveillance duties. With a MTOW of 600 kg and a payload weight of up to 180 kg, the T-Heron was designed according to NATO STANAG 4671 UAS airworthiness requirements, has a 24 hours endurance and is capable to reach 7,315 meters ceiling; its maximum speed is 120 knots while loitering speed is 60-80 knots. With an over 300 km LOS and over 1,500 km BLOS mission radius, the T-Heron has a multipayload configuration capability with up to four simultaneous payloads, including ELINT and COMINT suites, a smaller ELM-2022UL radar version with 70% of the performances but 50% of the weight of the standard version, an EO/IR payload and AIS, together with SATCOM BLOS link. Four hardpoints are available under the wings to carry pods. The T-Heron is today under development but is expected to be ready for demonstration to customers by next year.

Having demonstrated its capabilities during recent combat operations in Syria as well as over the Mediterranean Sea, the TAI-developed Anka MALE UAS in under procurement by Turkish armed forces and Government agencies in addition to the Tunisian Ministry of Defence. © Turkish Aerospace Industry

Elbit Systems’ Hermes family

Iceland has been the first EU country in 2019 to use the Elbit Systems Hermes 900 UAS patrol service provided by Portoguese company CEiiA under the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) auspices. © Elbit Systems

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Leveraging on over three decades of experience in the UAS sector and in maritime C4I, Elbit Systems developed a maritime patrol version of its family of Hermes 900 MALE UASs, which is enjoying both sales and lease/service contracts success. Designed according to STANAG 4671 standard, with a 1,180 kg MTOW and capable to carry a payload up to 350 kg, according to Elbit Systems, the Hermes 900 Maritime Patrol version is a persistent long-range unmanned maritime surveillance system tailored for littoral and blue water operations, with up to 30 flight hours


endurance and a service ceiling of 9,144 meters. The payload suite can feature an HD EO/IR turret, a multipurpose radar with SAR/ISAR/GMTI modes such as the Leonardo Gabbiano T-200 system, ESM/ELINT and COMINT/DF suites, AIS receiver, Emergency Position-indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) receiver and SATCOM link enabling BLOS up to 1,850 km. The platform aerodynamic efficiency allows to frequently change flight profiles, enabling visual identification of vessels at sea in addition to the radar-provided ISAR images. The ground command and control station has the ability to control two UAS simultaneously using the two redundant datalinks, and is maritime mission-optimized in a single mobile shelter or onboard configuration at sea. Elbit Systems recently unveiled a unique lifesaving capability added to its platform, integrating sensors and systems suite, droppable inflated life-rafts, and precision dispatch capability. The Hermes 900 MP platform is equipped with four underwing hardpoints which can carry the same number of six-person life-rafts. Once the survivors are detected with sensors and a rapid calculation of the drop-point is made, the life rafts are dispatched beginning inflation from a 180 meters low-altitude to a safe distance from the survivors. Such a configured Hermes 900 MP UAS was recently delivered to an undisclosed customer in South-East Asia, according to Elbit Systems. In addition to the Israeli Air Force, the Hermes 900 UAS has been selected or is in service with different customers in Europe, South America and South-East Asia. In the latter region, the latest customer addition, never mentioned by the company, is the Philippines which procured different Elbit Systems UASs including both Hermes 900 and 450. Elbit Systems also started operating the so-called maritime UAS patrol service available to countries in the European Union under contract between the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) and the Portoguese company CEiiA. Iceland has been the first EU country to use the particular long-range UAS patrol service based on the Hermes 900 platform in summer 2019. Operating from a national airport under Iceland maritime authorities control, and adapted to withstand the strong winds and icy conditions common to the North Atlantic Ocean, the UAV was able to cover

more than half of the Iceland Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Last February, Elbit Systems UK was also selected by the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to conduct maritime demonstration flights using a number of its UASs including the Hermes 900. The Israeli company believes the UAV in the overmentioned SAR configuration could have an edge over manned aircraft in these kind of operations, including the MCA’s second generation UK’s SAR-2G (UKSAR2G) programme requirements.

Turkish Aerospace Industry’s Anka family The TAI’s developed Anka MALE UAS has demonstrated its capabilities during recent combat operations in Syria as well as over the Mediterranean Sea. With a 1,750 kg MTOW and capable to carry a payload up to 250 kg, the Anka UAS has achieved an endurance of over 24 hours and is capable to reach over 9,144 meters ceiling. Offered in combat proven operational configurations for battlefield surveillance and air-to-surface attack missions, intelligence and maritime patrol thanks to its multi-sensor carrying capability and underwing hardpoints (up to four), proven safe dual ATOL system, operations in ice and extreme environmental conditions, state-ofthe art avionics and communications, the Anka is in service with the Turkish Armed Forces,

The Anka MALE UAS equipped with a naval mission suite includes the L3 Wescam CMX-15D or the new Aselsan CATS HD EO/IR reconnaissance, surveillance and targeting system, the Aselsan SARPER multi-mode radar with SAR/ISAR/GMTI capabilities and AIS. © Turkish MoD

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TAI recently unveiled the Anka S plus version which mainly features a new wing design and a locally-built engine, increasing both payload and endurance. © Turkish MoD

Gendarmerie and other national agencies in both the Anka B and Anka S versions. The latter differs being the series production model equipped with indigenous avionics and SATCOM BLOS capabilities. With a 17.5 meters wingspan, the Anka UAS was flown for the first time in December 2018 with the new indigenous TEI PD170 170 hp engine, offering increased power and altitude performances. Together with a new wing design, the locally-built engine are the main features of the new Anka Plus version to enter in service in the near future, according to TAI, with an increased payload and enhanced endurance. The Anka B is in service with the Turkish Navy to be followed soon by the Anka S, in a typical maritime surveillance mission suite including L3 Wescam CMX-15D or the new Aselsan CATS HD EO/IR reconnaissance, surveillance and targeting system, the Aselsan SARPER multimode radar with SAR/ISAR/GMTI capabilities, AIS and SATCOM link (Anka S) payloads. The Tunisian MoD is the first international military customer of the Anka UAS with a contract signed in late 2019 for three systems with CGSs.

Boeing Insitu’s ScanEagle family Having registered the first combat deployment with the US Marine Corps in 2004 during the Iraqi war, the ScanEagle surpassed the one million 34

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Since its first operational deployment during the Iraqi war in 2004, the ScanEagle has increased the number of naval customers, the latest additions being the Royal Malaysian and Indonesian Navies. © US DoD

operational flight hours in 2017. Boeing Insitu continues to enhance its products portfolio, which includes ScanEagle, Integrator and RQ21A Blackjack UAS, and to add new customers. Since its first operational deployment, the ScanEagle has enlarged the number of customers using the small UAS for maritime operations, among the latest additions being the Royal Malaysian and Indonesian Navies. The current ScanEagle2 version maintains the same airframe layout of the original product with a purpose-built heavy fuel propulsion engine, higher MTOW and expanded payload options in addition to rapid payload integration and aircraft architecture common to all Insitu systems, saving on lifecycle costs and training. With a MTOW of 26.5 kg and a payload of 5 kg, the ScanEagle 2 has an endurance up to 18 hours and a 5,950 meters ceiling, and can carry different and multiple sensors payload. The new ScanEagle 3 bridges the gap between the ScanEagle family and the new Integrator UAS, with a new airframe that doubles the payload capacity, maintaining compatibility in terms of pneumatic launcher and SkyHook recovering runway-independent systems. Both UASs can use the Sentient Vision Systems’ Vidar suite providing automatic daytime scanning, detecting and cueing platform electro-optical sensors to find elusive objects over vast areas of water.


The Tiger sharpens its claws By Ian Kemp

Airbus Helicopters returned the first of 36 Tiger HAPs upgraded to the HAD configuration in December 2017. Š Airbus Helicopters

Airbus is expecting a contract to develop a mid-life update for the Tiger attack helicopter for France, Germany and Spain, and is hoping to persuade Australia to join the project. Ian Kemp reports Airbus Helicopters reached two significant milestones in its Tiger attack helicopter programme in early 2020. The last of 18 Tiger HAD helicopters for the Spanish Army was delivered on 14 January. Less than a month later, on 5 February 2020, the last serial production Tiger HAD helicopter for the French Army was delivered at Marignane, France. These deliveries finished the order book for new-built Tigers.

A

irbus Helicopters has produced 185 Tigers in UH, HAP, HAD and ARH configurations for the three European nations - France, Germany, and Spain - and Australia, the only export customer for the

multirole attack helicopter. Over the coming years Airbus Helicopters will be upgrading the European helicopters to a new Tiger Mk III mid-life update (MLU) configuration and hopes to do the same for Australia. EDR | September/October 2020

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Airbus Helicopters has built 80 Tigers for France, 22 for Spain and 68 for Germany. © Airbus Helicopters

France and West Germany signed a declaration of intent in March 1987 to develop a multirole attack helicopter as an alternative to buying the American AH-64 Apache. Germany’s original plan was to buy 212 UHT (Unterstützungshubschrauber Tiger) Tiger Support Helicopters, while the French Army wanted 215 helicopters in two configurations 140 Tiger HAP (Hélicoptère d’Appui Protection) Support and Escort Helicopters and 75 HAC (Hélicoptère Anti Char) Anti-tank Helicopters. Both countries regarded the project as an opportunity to consolidate their helicopter industries and France’s Aerospatiale and Germany’s MBB received equal shares in the development contracts signed in November 1989. Three years later the Eurocopter Group was formed, and the company was renamed Airbus Helicopters on 2 January 2014. The prototype of the four-bladed, twin-engine, tandem seat design made its first flight in April 1991. It was the first all-composite helicopter developed in Europe and from the beginning included advanced features such as a glass cockpit and stealth technology. The pilot and gunner are seated in crashworthy seats in an armoured cockpit. The Tiger is powered by two government furnished MTU/Turbomeca/Rolls-Royce MTR390 turboshaft engines mounted behind the cockpit and have shrouded exhausts to reduce the helicopter’s infrared signature. Weapons are primarily mounted on two stub wings. The German UHT is distinguished by a Sagem Osiris mast-mounted sight and can be armed with a combination of HOT or TRIGAT-LR (known as the PARS 3 LR in German service) long-range anti36

EDR | September/October 2020

tank guided missiles, Hydra 70mm air-to-ground rocket pods, Stinger air-to-air missiles, and 12.7mm gun pods. Both French variants are equipped with a Sagem Strix roof-mounted sight and are distinguished by a chin-mounted Nexter AM-30781 30mm gun turret. The Tiger HAC can be equipped with Mistral or Stinger AAMs and HOT or TRIGAT-LR ATGMs. The HAP can carry 68mm SNEB unguided rockets and Mistrals. Although at the launch of the project France expected to achieve initial operational capability (IOC) in 1997 and Germany the following year, it was not until 18 June 1999 that France and Germany placed orders, worth €3.3 billion, for an ‘initial’ batch of 160 helicopters - 80 Tiger UHTs for Germany, and 70 Tiger HAP and 10 Tiger HAC for the French Army. At that point, each customer still intended to order 120 helicopters. In 2004, Spain joined the Tiger project as a partner with the intention of ordering 24 Tigers in a new HAD (Helicóptero de Ataque y Destrucción) variant developed to meet the Spanish Army’s specific requirements. Spain bought six Tiger HAP-E variants to allow training to begin and provide an initial capability before the delivery of its HAD models. France altered its Tiger order from the 70 HAP and 10 HAC helicopters originally sought to 40 HAP and 40 HAD variants. The Tiger programme was among the first placed under the management of Europe’s OCCAR (Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière


The Spanish Army operates 18 Tiger HAD helicopters. © Spanish Army

A pair of Tiger HAD helicopters provide air support for the II Spanish Legion Brigade during training. © Spanish Army

d’Armement / Organisation for Joint Armament Co-operation) in 2001 when the organisation achieved legal status. On 30 November 2005, Eurocopter and OCCAR signed a formal contract for the Tiger HAD which covered 18 helicopters for Spain and the upgrade of the six HAP-Es to the HAD standard, and 40 HADs for France, a combination of new build and upgraded helicopters.

Spéciales to support special operations forces. In July 2009, France deployed three Tiger HAPs to Kabul, the first deployment of the helicopter on active operations. As well as continued rotations to Afghanistan, French Tigers were later deployed on combat operations in Libya and Mali. Work on upgrading France original Tiger HAPs to the HAD standard is scheduled to continue until 2025 to enable a standard fleet of 67 HAD models.

The HAD is powered by Enhanced MTR390E engines which provide better ‘hot and high’ performance and lift heavier payloads. As well as being equipped with the Nexter 30mm gun turret the Tiger HAD is certified to carry the Lockheed Martin Hellfire II (ordered by France) and the Rafael Spike ER (used by Spain) anti-tank missiles. The production Tiger HAD made its first flight in December 2007. After Spain joined the project, Airbus Helicopter’s established a third production facility at Albacete, Spain which complements those at Marignane, France, and Donauwörth, Germany. Following a decision to cut its Tiger UHT order from 80 to 57, as part of larger cuts to its armed forces, Germany signed a deal with Airbus Helicopters which included the manufacturers buying back 11 Tigers already delivered.

Service history The first Tiger HAP was delivered to the French Army in March 2005 and Tigers now equip two squadrons of the 5e Régiment d’Hélicoptères de Combat and a flight of the 4e Régiment d’Hélicoptères des Forces

The Germany Army’s first Tiger UHT was delivered in 2005, and the 68th and last in July 2018 although 11 were since sold back to the manufacturer. The helicopters are operated by Kampfhubschrauberregiment 36 (36th Attack Helicopter Regiment), organised into two squadrons, assigned to the Division Schnelle Kräfte (Rapid Forces Division). UHT Tigers were deployed operationally for the first time when four were sent to Afghanistan in December 2012. These were upgraded to the ASGARD (Afghanistan Stabilization German Army Rapid Deployment) configuration which includes the installation of new defensive systems, sand filters for the MTR390 engines, and an enhanced communications suite. In 2017, Germany deployed pairs of Tigers to support the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). Germany’s Ministry of Defence detailed the future of the Tiger fleet in its June 2019 defence procurement plan. Two helicopters will be phased out and another 33 upgraded to the ASGARD standard to produce a standard fleet of 51 helicopters. The first is expected to come out of retrofit later this year and the last in 2024. EDR | September/October 2020

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From 2024, work will begin on the ASGARD+ configuration which will include improvements to the sighting sensor and the communications system, and the integration of new 70mm laserguided rockets and a new air-to-surface missile. The service plans for work to begin on the Tiger Mk III in 2028 with the expectation that this will extend the Tiger’s life beyond 2040. Spain’s Fuerzas Aeromóviles del Ejército de Tierra’s (FAMET, Army Airmobile Force) received its first Tiger HAP-E models in 2007 and in December 2014 Airbus Helicopters began delivering the HAD-E model. FAMET’s single attack helicopter battalion, Batallón de Helicópteros de Ataque I, operates Spain’s Tiger fleet. Although the army had initially intended to upgrade its six HAP-Es to the HAD configuration, it has decided to use these aircraft for spares and in the development of the Mk III version. Spain expects to sign a contract for the Mk III around 2022. Airbus Helicopters and OCCAR signed a tri-lateral ‘Global Support Contract’ in December 2019 with the aim of boosting the readiness and availability of the Tigers in French, German, and Spanish service over the next decade and beyond. The contract covers continuous improvement and obsolescence treatment as well as securing repair and spares capabilities from all of the company’s suppliers. The agreement is tailored to meet the needs of individual nations. For example, the French Army is guaranteed parts availability up to 98% and the simplification of logistics as Airbus Helicopters will directly take over the supply of new parts, as well as repaired parts and other expendables.

The Safran roof-mounted Strix sight, shown here on a Spanish Tiger HAD, is a gyrostabilized electro-optical system equipped with a thermal imager, daylight camera and laser rangefinder. © Spanish Army

New generation Tiger On 27 September 2018, OCCAR commissioned Airbus Helicopters, on behalf of the French, German and Spanish defence procurement agencies to perform de-risking studies for the development and retrofit phases of new avionics, mission, and weapon systems to modernise the Tiger helicopter to a new Mk III standard intended to keep the type operational beyond 2040. MBDA and Thales were also awarded studies contracts for various subsystems. The DGA said the Tiger Mk III “will have new networked combat capabilities: connection to the [French] Army’s Scorpion system and direct communication with drones. It will also be able to benefit from the European Galileo satellite positioning system, in addition to the American GPS.” The “OCCAR Business Plan 2020”, published in January, stated: “The future Mark III midlife upgrade will integrate advanced technologies such as a new avionics suite and an improved weapon system, allowing Tiger to maintain superiority on the battlefield for the following decades. In

An Australian Army Tiger ARH launches a missile during the Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2019. © Commonwealth of Australia, DoD

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EDR | September/October 2020


Airbus Helicopters is competing the Australian Army’s Land 4503 project to replace its 22 Tiger ARH with 29 new helicopters. © Commonwealth of Australia, DoD

order to secure and de-risk the new stage Mark III timeline, activities were launched in 2018 to investigate potential solutions and performances.” The plan noted that Mk III de-risking activities are scheduled to finish this year and negotiations of a Mk III contract will begin. Airbus Helicopters told EDR Magazine that it is premature to discuss details of the Tiger Mk III project before a contract is signed. Linked to the Tiger Mk III, is the Missile Air-Sol Tactique Futur (MAST-F) air-to-ground missile which is expected to become the 15th project managed by OCCAR. In 2016, France’s DGA launched the MAST-F programme definition and Tiger Mk III integration de-risking studies have been underway since 2016, with the last study due to deliver this year. The MAST-F will replace the Hellfire II missile in French service. The DGA issued a non-competitive invitation to tender to MBDA on 31 July 2019 and received a response in September 2019. According to the OCCAR plan, the integration of the programme into OCCAR will occur this year with the signature of both a programme decision and a contract. Australian Tiger ARHs from the Australian Army School of Aviation at Oakey provided reconnaissance support to civilian emergency services fighting fires in New South Wales and Queensland in late 2019. © Commonwealth of Australia, DoD

France intends to replace the current Safran Electronics & Defense Strix HAD optronic sight and Thales Avionics TopOwl Conf3 digital helmet with the Strix NG and TopOwl DD (Digital Display). In 2016, the DGA launched a concept study to enable the crew members to observe the images and videos coming from the Strix in their TopOwl visors. A ground test campaign in 2018 made it possible to validate the feasibility of this coupling and was followed by a first flight test campaign carried out in January and February 2019 in Istres. Several day and night flights on a Puma test bench helicopter were conducted by engineers and test pilots from the DGA, Gamstat and Airbus Helicopters. Rheinmetall and Thales signed an agreement on 10 January 2020 to collaborate on the development,

A Germany Army Tiger UHT lands at the test range in Vidsel, Sweden during cold weather trials in January 2020. © Bundeswehr

qualification and production of the 70mm guided and unguided rockets solutions for the Tiger Mk III programme as well as potentially other new German platforms. Germany’s UHT Tigers are already armed with Thales 70mm rocket and the weapon is certified for use by the Airbus H145M helicopter, 15 of which were delivered to the German Air Force in 2015-16 to support special operations forces. Under the new agreement, Rheinmetall Waffe Munition GmbH will lead marketing efforts to the Bundeswehr.

Australia decision In 2001, Australia ordered 22 Tiger helicopters to meet the Australian Army’s Air 87 Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH) requirement. Deliveries began in December 2004 and continued until December 2011. Airbus assembled 18 heliEDR | September/October 2020

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The German Army operates 57 Tiger UHTs compared to the 212 in planned to buy when the project was conceived. © Bundeswehr

copters at its Brisbane facility which has supported the helicopter since its introduction. Although the army wanted a MOTS solution, the Tiger ARH is actually a new variant based on the Tiger HAP, with its undernose 30 mm cannon, but with expanded anti-tank capability including the AGM-114M Hellfire missile. Technical difficulties, compounded by supply chain problems, delayed the achievement of full operational capability (FOC) by seven years until mid-2016. The Tiger ARH equips two squadrons of the 1st Aviation Regiment. The regiment deployed four Tiger ARHs aboard HMAS Canberra during the Royal Australian Navy’s three-month Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2019 (IPE19) to train aircrew and ground staff for day and night deck landing and certify the type for operations on the two Canberraclass Landing Helicopter Dock platforms.

maintenance; operational maintenance of aircraft allocated to training; aircrew and technician training including maintenance of training devices; design services including OEM design incorporation; systems and software development and testing; complete parts support including MRO, purchasing, storage and distribution; technical publications; maintenance policy; and, fleet management.

Project Land 4503 Armed Reconnaissance Capability is intended to field up to 29 helicopters, including five training aircraft, to replace the Tiger ARH from 2026 with an initial operating capability of one squadron of 12 aircraft to be achieved in Fiscal Year 2025-26 and full operating capability to be achieved in 2029. Three responses were received to the request for information issued in July 2019 - Bell Helicopter and BAE Systems proposing the Bell AH-1Z Viper, Boeing offering the AH-64E Apache, and Airbus Australia proposing an upgrade to the Tiger ARH. Companies were also asked to describe the interoperability of their helicopters with unmanned systems such as the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc armed MQ-9 Reaper which is planned to enter service later this decade. An Airbus Helicopters spokesperson told EDR Magazine: “Following Airbus’ response to the Commonwealth of Australia’s Request for Information for the Project LAND 4503 last year, we submitted an unsolicited proposal to the Australian Defence Force in March this year, to

The army has yet to deploy the Tiger ARH on combat operations, but the helicopter’s surveillance capabilities have been used to support civilian emergency services fighting bush fires most recently during the 2019-20 winter. In April 2019, the Department of Defence awarded a 5-year extension, through 2025, of the Tiger ARH through-life support contract to Airbus Group Australia Pacific. The extension includes: more extensive aircraft and component deeper 40

EDR | September/October 2020

In German (shown) and Spanish Tigers the gunner is seated in front of the pilot in the tandem, stepped armoured cockpit while the French Army seats the pilot in front of the gunner. © Bundeswehr


Germany deployed Tiger UHTs upgraded to the ASGARD standard to support the ISAF mission in Afghanistan and the MINUSMA mission (shown) in Mali. © Bundeswehr

extend and upgrade the Army’s existing ARH Tiger fleet. The platform enhancement ensures that the ARH Tiger will remain an effective and reliable Defence asset. We welcome the fair and objective assessment from Defence of our proposal. Airbus is fully committed to keeping the Tiger in service in Australia, well beyond 2025 which is the timeframe in the recent TLS contract extension. We are confident that we can offer a cost effective modernisation of the platform to take it through to the 2040s.” Airbus Helicopters claims that upgrading the Tiger ARH to the Mk III standard would result in more than A$3 billion in savings against the expected budget. “Tiger is an extremely agile, effective, and digitally connected armed reconnaissance helicopter,” said Andrew Mathewson, Airbus Australia Pacific Managing Director. “Since delivery, the Australian Tiger has matured into a fully operational army capability and is integrated into the combined arms team. It continues to prove itself as an adaptable platform and is now a key element of Australia’s amphibious capabilities on-board the Canberra Class Landing Helicopter Docks.” The company notes that the cost per flight hour of the Tiger ARH has fallen by more than 30% since its introduction while the sortie success rate had surpassed 95% by 2019.

France intends to replace the Thales Avionics TopOwl Conf3 Helmet Mounted Sight & Display system with the company’s TopOwl DD (Digital Display). © Thales

These arguments have found some supporters in Australia. For example, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in December 2019 published a report entitled “Accelerating autonomy: Autonomous systems and the Tiger helicopter replacement” which suggests that the Australian Defence Force should cancel the acquisition of a new ARH and instead “keep the Tiger in service while investing around $1 billion of the funds saved in the development and acquisition of autonomous systems” which could perform some of the roles of a manned helicopter, possibly more cheaply, and without putting lives at risk. If Australia selects the Airbus Helicopter proposal for Land 4503 the company will retain its only export customer. EDR | September/October 2020

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