Persian Gulf & Middle East Military News, Reports, Data, etc.


Jan 28, 2018
now noticed (dated January 24, 2018)
Kuwait moving ahead with F-18 purchase: Report
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and
Kuwait to Procure 28 Super Hornet Strike Fighters
Posted: February 16, 2018
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The government of Kuwait has decided to purchase 28 Boeing-built F/A-18E/F Super Hornet strike fighters, according to a Kuwaiti newspaper.

The news was published in the Feb. 16 edition of the Kuwait Times.

“Kuwait will buy 28 Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornets to replace a fleet of earlier versions of the U.S. fighter jets, a top official said yesterday. The value of the deal is not expected to exceed $5 billion, the KUNA state news agency reported the head of armament and procurement at Kuwait’s defense ministry as saying,” the article stated.

“Maj Gen Lafi Al-Azmi said the deal stipulates the supplier will repurchase the old Hornet fighter jets from Kuwait. He added that details of the sale would only be disclosed after it is officially signed. ‘Given Kuwait’s proximity to turbulent locations, we certainly need effective military equipment,’ he was quoted as saying.

“The U.S. State Department this month said it has authorized the deal, as well as the sale of 72 F-15 Strike Eagle jets to Kuwait’s Gulf neighbor Qatar at an estimated value of $21 billion. In April, Kuwait signed a contract with Italy’s Finmeccanica for the purchase of 28 Eurofighter Typhoon warplanes for under 8 billion euros ($8.5 billion). The National Assembly in March approved spending an additional $500 million as an advance payment for the jets,” the report said.

“That funding came on top of $10 billion additional defense spending already approved by parliament in January to upgrade the country’s military. Kuwait is a member of the U.S.-led coalition bombing Islamic State group targets in Syria and Iraq, and is also taking part in a Saudi-led coalition pounding Iran-backed rebels in Yemen. Last year, it bought 24 Caracal military tactical transport helicopters and French light armored vehicles.”

Kuwait’s air force operates older F/A-18A Hornets. It will be the second foreign nation to order the Super Hornet, Australia being the first.

“We’ve been working with the Kuwaiti government for some time on that sale and will continue to work with the Kuwaiti government,” Scott Day, a Boeing spokesman, told Seapower.

The U.S. Navy’s Super Hornet program office could not be reached for comment by press time.
 

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SAAB HIGHLIGHTS ITS MARKET-STRATEGY AS NICHE PROVIDER AND INTEGRATOR



On 23 February Saab rolled-out the first GlobalEye airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft at its Linköping facility. Integrated to the Bombardier Global 6000, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the launch customer of Saab’s next-generation intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) platform. It also builds upon Saab’s expertise in radar development (for both airborne and surface-based solutions) and success in exporting those solutions to many countries, among them the UAE, Pakistan, Greece, Brazil, Thailand and Mexico. By offering a comprehensive suite of robust airborne, land and maritime/sea radars and integrated solutions, the Swedish defence giant is poised to be a leading global supplier.

The GlobalEye AEW&C builds upon the Erieye AEW&C platform, the latter succeeding through the 2000s as an accessible AEW&C platform, resulting in Greece, Brazil, the UAE, Thailand, Mexico and Pakistan as its customers. Its marquee element is the Erieye Extended Range (Erieye ER) active electronically-scanned array (AESA) radar, which uses new gallium nitride (GaN)-based transceiver modules (TRM). The Erieye ER’s GaN TRMs not only double its power-efficiency (
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), but also reportedly providing a 70% range increase (
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). The preceding Erieye has an instrumented range of 450 km with a surface coverage area of 500,000 km2 and altitude coverage of over 60,000 ft (
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). Saab has also applied its GaN TRM technology to the next-generation of Giraffe radars, i.e. the Giraffe 1X, Giraffe 4A and Giraffe 8A. Saab hopes to leverage its technology to present a strong case for enhancing its end users’ capacity to detect stealthy targets, such as sea-skimming cruise missiles and next-generation combat aircraft.

The UAE is the launch customer of the GlobalEye. It ordered two systems in 2015 and added a third system to its order in 2017 (the third order cost $236 million U.S.). It currently operates two Erieye AEW&C on the Saab 340, these are slotted to be upgraded by Saab, but it is unclear if the upgrade will result in shifting the Saab 340 AEW&C into GlobalEye units or select subsystem additions from the GlobalEye.

Saab is interested in using the GlobalEye as a means to secure orders from NATO, especially as NATO intends to retire its E-3A fleet by 2035. According to Saab, the company is ‘having dialogues’ with the appropriate parties in this regard, though it is early to earmark any potential orders or other substantive traction. However, Saab’s proven record in successfully managing a diverse set of clients along with a strong product portfolio position it to access many big-ticket markets, including long-term recapitalization with existing customers, such as Greece and Pakistan.

While a substantial AEW&C upgrade, the GlobalEye – originally designated the ‘Swing Role Surveillance System’ (SRSS) – is meant for fulfilling multiple ISR roles. In this respect, Saab chose not to rely on its own intellectual property, but instead, acquire commercially-off-the-shelf (COTS) solutions. This includes the
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AESA radar for surface and maritime surveillance and FLIR Systems Star SAFIRE 380HD electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) turret. It appears that the Seaspray 7500E is the GlobalEye’s primary sensor for surface surveillance – including synthetic aperture radar with ground-moving target indication (SAR/GMTI) – for supporting land and naval combat operations. This could manifest in the GlobalEye using its Seaspray 7500E radar’s SAR/GMTI mode to produce a situational awareness picture of the ground and feed that information (e.g. terrain and target location) to friendlies on land and in the air. Granted, optimal utilization of this capability is contingent on information-exchange networks, but it is likely that countries interested in the GlobalEye would have such systems in the procurement roadmap.

For Saab, serving as integrator of subsystems from different original equipment manufacturers (OEM) is a key aspect to its strategy. With the GlobalEye/SRSS, Saab integrated its own Erieye ER with the Seaspray 7500E and Star SAFIRE 380HD to the Bombardier Global 6000. One aspect of this strategy is that it frees Saab from having to develop and sustain different streams of niche products. Rather, it can solely focus on and perfect its large radar portfolio (Erieye and Giraffe), while deferring the rest – such as systems for ground and maritime surveillance – to a company already succeeding on that front, i.e. Leonardo. Further to this fact, Saab’s selection of the Seaspray means that the third-party buyer (e.g. UAE) benefits from an ubiquitous and mature system with scale and guaranteed cost-effective support.

Interestingly, Saab’s role as integrator is even more apparent with its accompanying
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. In this case, the primary systems resulting in the Swordfish MPA are the Leonardo Seaspray 7500E, Star SAFIRE EO/IR pod and the Bombardier Global 6000. Instead of the Erieye ER, Saab is offering to tailor the Global 6000 for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and anti-ship warfare (AShW), which will involve external hardpoints for ASW torpedoes and anti-ship cruising missiles (ASCM). In theory, Saab could offer its RBS-15Mk3 ASCM and Lightweight Torpedo, but that does not preclude it from making the Swordfish MPA compatible with the MBDA Exocet and MU-90 or Boeing Harpoon and Mk.56.

Saab’s defence market strategy has steered towards highlighting the company’s strength as an integrator of proprietary IP with the IP of others. Granted, the availability of the Gripen fighter, A26 submarine and next-generation corvette designs show that Saab will not exit its role as a platform OEM, but it is also clear that the company views itself as an OEM partner and integrator. In the AEW&C and MPA space, Saab partnered with Bombardier and Leonardo; in the naval space, with
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; for offering short-range air defence solutions, with
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. In effect, Saab is not restricting the availability of its strengths to its own platforms (e.g. Gripen), but it is opening the door to prospective buyers to incorporate Saab’s IP into systems in numerous ways to enable for customized, but thoroughly-supported solutions.

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Quite an unusual arrangement.

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Risky Business: South Korea's Secret Military Deal With UAE
The hidden military pact was meant to seal the UAE-ROK nuclear power plant deal.

By June Park and Ali Ahmad
March 01, 2018

In Sweihan, a small town in Abu Dhabi, a South Korean special forces team operates under the name Akh, which means “brother” in Arabic. The Akh Unit operates under the slogan: “The world’s best special forces warriors, accomplishing missions together!”

Since the unit’s initial deployment in January 2011, about 1,600 South Korean soldiers have been dispatched to train the United Arab Emirates’ special forces and to conduct joint exercises and engage in exchanges with the UAE military. But in recent months its existence and activities have come under scrutiny in South Korea, as has the nuclear deal that apparently led to the elite unit’s presence in the UAE.

The Akh Unit came under the spotlight as part of an ongoing special investigation by the South Korean prosecutor’s office under the incumbent President Moon Jae-in on the allegations against former President Lee Myung-bak, who negotiated and sealed the ROK-UAE nuclear power plant deal. Lee’s former minister of defense recently admitted that an undisclosed military pact between South Korea and the UAE was signed to seal the nuclear power plant deal. The pact included a controversial clause that would obligate South Korea to intervene militarily to protect the UAE in the event of a crisis, in addition to the deployment of South Korean special forces – meaning the Akh Unit and possibly additional units – and the supply of military equipment on an ongoing basis.

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Apparently, the existence of such a pact played an instrumental role in South Korea’s success in winning the bid to build a nuclear plant for the UAE in 2009. Specific details of the pact surfaced when the current South Korean administration of President Moon Jae-in embarked on an attempt to redefine the relationship with the UAE, and the UAE responded by applying pressure to South Korean construction conglomerates SK and GS.

Almost a decade after the signing of the ROK-UAE agreement to build the UAE’s first nuclear power plant near Abu Dhabi, the first two units of the planned four 1,400-megawatt reactors are near completion. In September 2017, UAE energy minister Suhail Al Mazroui was quoted as saying that the UAE’s first nuclear power plant would be operational in 2018.

Military exchanges or deployments are not new to South Korea. However, of all the South Korean military units operating overseas – the Hanbit Unit in South Sudan, the Dongmyung Unit in Lebanon, the naval Cheonghae Unit stationed off the coast of Oman, and the Akh Unit in the UAE – only the Akh Unit has been granted the authority to conduct standalone missions and to engage in combat apart from carrying out peacekeeping operations.

The crux of the matter is a controversial clause in the ROK-UAE military pact that does not require approval from the South Korean National Assembly to engage in conflict, should there be a request for military assistance from the UAE. Such a level of military engagement has existed only under the U.S.-ROK alliance.

As far as South Korea’s domestic politics are concerned, deploying South Korean military forces to actively engage in conflict in the Middle East would almost be unimaginable without the existence of this secret pact. Convincing the National Assembly to authorize such a deployment would be a painstaking process that would require significant political capital of the president and ruling party. The pact, however, bypassed National Assembly approval and circumvented the legislature’s authority.

The decision to enter into such a pact shows the risks the Lee government was willing to take to secure the UAE’s nuclear deal, which was probably seen as a “gate opener” for future South Korean nuclear exports to the region.

It is telling that the former South Korean government was willing to deploy national security resources in support of a business deal without informing the public or the National Assembly, while risking military entanglement in an increasingly insecure region. It is not unheard of for nuclear technology suppliers to help with securing sensitive nuclear facilities in recipient countries like the UAE, but one wonders whether the South Korean government at the time had considered all the possible implications of such involvement in a volatile region. Lee Myung-bak’s denial that he knew about the hidden military pact adds to the questions about why and how such a decision was made, and who has benefited from it.

It is worth noting that the ROK-UAE nuclear deal also has been criticized in South Korea for being commercially weak. The bid was reported to be about 20 percent beneath the industry average bidding price range. Other unsuccessful bidders from France, Japan and the United States may now feel a bit better about losing out to KEPCO, knowing that there was more behind the deal than a mere cost discount.

And despite all the risks the former South Korean government was willing to take to seal the UAE nuclear deal, it’s not clear how much the contract will benefit South Korean as it seeks future nuclear deals. So far, South Korea has not managed to replicate its success in the UAE in other countries in the region or elsewhere – despite talk of being the preferred vendor for Saudi Arabia’s plan to build its first nuclear power plant. Going forward, South Korea’s nuclear export policy will likely also be under increased scrutiny because of the current administration’s anti-nuclear leanings.

South Korea will also face fierce competition from other strong contenders in the bidding races for nuclear power plant construction in the largely untapped Middle East region, including from China, Japan, the United States, Russia, France, and the United Kingdom.

Under the circumstances, future nuclear power generation deals between South Korea and the Gulf States may not unfold smoothly.

June Park is Research Fellow on Northeast Asia at Seoul National University Asia Center. Ali Ahmad is Director, Energy Policy and Security Program at the American University of Beirut
 

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RUSSIA: QATAR INTERESTED IN THE SUKHOI SU-35



Speaking to reporters (through
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), the Russian Presidential Aide for Cooperation on Defence Technologies Vladimir Kozhin, Qatar is interested in the Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E, stating that “talks are in progress” between Moscow and Doha.

Kozhin did not offer additional details, but the news follows earlier reports – based on statements from Qatar’s Ambassador to Russia Fahad bin Mohammed al-Attiyah – of Doha also being
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long-range air defence system produced by Almaz-Antey.

In October 2017, Qatar and Russia
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a memorandum-of-understanding (MoU) to enhance bilateral military and technical cooperation. The MoU was meant to begin facilitating the sale of Russian weapons to Qatar, though specific details were not provided at the time.

Qatar has drawn attention through its ambitious combat aircraft procurement program, which not only involves qualitative and quantitative improvements to its current fleet of 12 Dassault Mirage 2000-5s, but does so using different, but comparable, platforms from three different suppliers.

The Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF) is now expecting the delivery of
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,
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and
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fighters along with nine
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trainers.

From a technical standpoint, it is unclear why Qatar sought different platforms – each with its own logistics and maintenance channel, and that too from different countries.

One suggestion is that Qatar is using big-ticket arms purchases to curry favour with major countries, especially the US, UK, Western Europe and – if the Su-35 and S-400 reports are correct – Russia. However, this does not explain the insistence on different fighters, Qatar could focus on other big-ticket programs (e.g. naval combatants) and for comparable foreign relations objectives.

However, it should be noted that apparent Russian talks with the
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over the Su-35 in 2017 have yet to materialize. One can speculate that interest in Russian hardware from the likes of Qatar could be a mask for other objectives in relation to the US and Western Europe (e.g. inducing pressure for the release of restricted hardware, such as the F-35 Lightning II).United Aircraft C


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Lockheed to support construction of MMSC ships for Saudi Arabia...




"Lockheed Martin has been awarded a contract for services in support of the construction of four Multi-Mission Surface Combatant ships for Saudi Arabia.

The deal, announced Monday by the Department of Defense, is valued at more than $481.1 million under an undefinitized contract action for long-lead-time material."

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BAE Systems inks Saudi deal for 48 Typhoon fighter jets



Britain has signed a multi-billion-pound preliminary order from Saudi Arabia for 48 Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets, military equipment maker BAE Systems said on Friday. The lucrative deal was unveiled on the third and final day of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman's visit to Britain.

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Pakistan Navy Ship HIMMAT along with Pakistan Maritime Security Ship BASOL arrived in Doha to participate in Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition (DIMDEX-18).





Pakistan Navy Ship HIMMAT along with Pakistan Maritime Security Ship BASOL arrived in Doha to participate in Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition (DIMDEX-18). Pakistani flotilla is headed by Cdre Muhammad Faisal Abbasi who is the Mission Commander and is currently commanding the 25th Destroyer Squadron of Pakistan Navy.

The international exhibition hosts large number of navies/security agencies from around the globe on biennial basis. Pakistan Navy regularly participates in the event with latest and indigenously constructed platforms.

Both the ships are undertaking their maiden overseas deployments after induction in PN and Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA). PNS HIMMAT is an AZMAT Class Fast Attack Craft built in Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works (KS&EW) and equipped with state of the art weapons and sensors. It is also fitted with indigenously developed HARBAH Missile System and can perform variety of roles/ tasks in multi-threat scenarios.

PMSS BASOL is a HINGOL Class Multi Purpose Vessel (MPV) that has been built in China and fitted with state of the art systems for maritime surveillance. The Ship has been optimized to conduct maritime policing and SAR roles effectively.
 

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