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India, one of the world’s biggest defence importers, has announced a ban on procuring more than 100 military products from foreign suppliers.

The new policy – announced on 9 August – is line with a government campaign to achieve self-reliance and is intended to “apprise India’s defence industry about anticipated requirements … so that they are better prepared to realise the goal of indigenisation”, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said.

The new ‘import embargo list’ features 101 defence products, with emphasis mainly on land and sea-based equipment including artillery, armoured vehicles, destroyers, submarines, and a range of related components.

India’s new list of banned imported defence products includes light combat helicopters, reflecting Indian firm Hindustan Aeronautics’ recent development of a similar platform (pictured). (HAL)

India’s new list of banned imported defence products includes light combat helicopters, reflecting Indian firm Hindustan Aeronautics’ recent development of a similar platform (pictured). (HAL)

However, although the list includes some air platforms – such as light combat aircraft and light combat helicopters – that are currently being produced by Indian defence firm Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, it also features some advanced technologies – including electronic warfare systems and air-to-air missiles – that would be integrated on to these platforms.

The MoD said the banned list will be “progressively implemented” over the next few years. Accordingly, the list names items that will be barred for import from December 2020 (69 products), December 2021 (11 products), and December 2022 (21 products). The MoD added that the embargo list would be expanded progressively.

“This is a big step towards self-reliance in defence,” said the MoD. “It offers a great opportunity to the Indian defence industry to rise to the occasion to manufacture the items … by using their own design and development capabilities or adopting technologies designed and developed by [state-owned] Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).”

The Japanese Ministry of Defense (MoD) has revealed plans to build a Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) base, as well as a training site for US carrier-based aircraft on Mage Island off Kagoshima Prefecture.

Japan’s Mage Island off Kagoshima Prefecture. The MoD in Tokyo revealed on 7 August that the island will be used as a JSDF base, as well as a training site for US carrier-based aircraft. (Geospatial Information Authority of Japan via Japan MoD)

Japan’s Mage Island off Kagoshima Prefecture. The MoD in Tokyo revealed on 7 August that the island will be used as a JSDF base, as well as a training site for US carrier-based aircraft. (Geospatial Information Authority of Japan via Japan MoD)

The new base, where between 150 and 200 JSDF personnel are set to be stationed, will enable field carrier landing practice (FCLP) for the US Navy (USN) once or twice a year, the MoD announced on 7 August.

The JSDF will use the new base to practise take-offs and landings with its future shipborne F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters, as well as to carry out drills with several other aircraft, including its recently acquired MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft.

The base will have two runways, a fuel facility, an ammunition storage, a hangar, and several ports, according to the MoD.

Japanese media have reported that the two runways will be about 2,450 m and 1,830 m long, respectively.

 

A major structural test programme has subjected a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Hawk BAE Systems Hawk Mk127 lead-in fighter trainer (LIFT) to the equivalent of 50,000 ‘flying’ hours: more than 10 times the actual flying hours currently accrued by most of the RAAF’s 33-strong Hawk fleet.

Based on current usage, the fatigue life remaining in the Hawk airframe would allow the aircraft to continue operations well into the late 2040s, BAE Systems Australia pointed out in a 10 August statement.

The statement follows the 31 July deadline for responses to a request for information (RFI) issued by the Australian Department of Defence (DoD) that could lead to the replacement of the Hawks in RAAF service under Project Air 6002 Phase 1. The type entered service with the RAAF in 2001.

A RAAF Hawk Mk127 LIFT aircraft. (BAE Systems)

A RAAF Hawk Mk127 LIFT aircraft. (BAE Systems)

The test programme involved a Hawk airframe being subjected since 2006 to 14 years of fatigue testing under a joint activity with the Defence Science and Technology (DST) Group in Melbourne, said BAE Systems.

While the RAAF’s Hawks have a planned fatigue life of 10,000 hours each, the tested airframe was subjected for 50,000 hours to the range of loads that it would experience in actual flight, based on projected operational requirements.

 

Taiwan’s Lungteh Shipbuilding launched on 4 August the first of four fast minelaying ships being built for the Republic of China Navy (RoCN).

The 41 m-long vessel, which bears the designation FMLB-I (Fast Mine Laying Boat-I) on its hull, entered the water in a ceremony held at the company’s facilities in Yilan County.

Work on the ship, which is expected to be handed over to the RoCN by the end of 2020, began on 24 May 2019, with the keel being laid on 14 November.

Taiwan’s Lungteh Shipbuilding launched the first of four fast mine-laying ships being built for the RoCN on 4 August. (RoC Military News Agency)

Taiwan’s Lungteh Shipbuilding launched the first of four fast mine-laying ships being built for the RoCN on 4 August. (RoC Military News Agency)

Construction of the second one is progressing, with its keel being laid on 4 August to coincide with the launch of the first vessel. The shipyard began working on the third and fourth ships of the class on 17 April. Construction of the last three vessels is expected to be completed in 2021.

According to computer-generated imagery released by the RoCN, each minelayers will be 41 m long, 8.8 m wide, have a hull draught of 1.7 m, and a full-load displacement of 347 tonnes.

 

The Australian Department of Defence (DoD) announced on 7 August that it has selected the Saab AUV62-AT autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) system as part of an AUD11 million (USD7.9 million) investment to acquire an advanced anti-submarine warfare (ASW) training capability for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said in a statement that the new “intermediate anti-submarine warfare training target will enhance Australia’s warfighting capabilities” as it will simulate submarines and torpedos, providing “highly realistic live training scenarios for submariners, aviators, and surface vessel combat teams”.

A scale model of Saab’s AUV62-AT on display at the Pacific 2015 international maritime exposition in Sydney.  (Janes/Ridzwan Rahmat)

A scale model of Saab’s AUV62-AT on display at the Pacific 2015 international maritime exposition in Sydney. (Janes/Ridzwan Rahmat)

The capability, which is part of plans announced on 1 July in the 2020 Force Structure Plan, will improve the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF’s) ASW proficiencies for more complex operations and environments, added the minister.

 

Ukraine has deployed the S-125 surface-to-air missile (SAM) system in the country’s northeastern Kharkiv region, close to the Russian border. The Ukrainian Air Force’s Eastern Command published a report on its website on 6 August with images showing soldiers of an anti-aircraft regiment operating the system during a training exercise conducted the same day.

Mobile launchers of Ukraine’s S-125 SAM system during an exercise close to the Russian border. (Ukrainian Air Force)

Mobile launchers of Ukraine’s S-125 SAM system during an exercise close to the Russian border. (Ukrainian Air Force)

The soldiers were shown deploying mobile launchers, as well as P-18 VHF band and P-19 early warning radars. One of the elements of the training exercise was to practise countering unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), stated Lieutenant Colonel Mikhailo Povkhovych, the commander of the anti-aircraft unit. He said one of his unit’s priorities was to counter UAVs, given that they have been used in the Donbass conflict, not only for reconnaissance but also for combat operations. Tactical training of the unit with live firing will take place at the Yagorlyk state test site in September, the report added.

Elbit Systems’ Canada-based subsidiary GeoSpectrum Technologies is set to make the first delivery to a military customer of a through-water communications system featuring its C-Bass family of compact very low frequency (VLF) underwater transducers.

The undisclosed NATO customer is expected to receive the long-range acoustic communications system before the end of August.

The C-Bass towed body projector configuration used in an LRAM system. (GeoSpectrum Technologies)

The C-Bass towed body projector configuration used in an LRAM system. (GeoSpectrum Technologies)

Originally developed by GeoSpectrum for marine seismic applications, C-Bass sound sources are now being marketed for a range of military subsea applications. These include communication/transmission from shore or surface units to submarines, diver alert and communications, communications with unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) for control/positioning, acoustic influence sweeping, and submarine signature augmentation/emulation.

According to GeoSpectrum, many existing high power underwater VLF (1 Hz – 200 Hz band) sources are large, costly, and require a crew of at least a dozen people to operate. The C-Bass family of transducers has been engineered for small size and weight while maintaining high power output and a wide bandwidth, thereby making possible applications that were previously considered impractical.

Generating high power at low frequencies from a small source represents a technical breakthrough, said GeoSpectrum’s president Paul Yeatman. “The standard technology that we use is piezo-electrics, but they didn’t cut it for these really low frequencies,” he told Janes. “We also looked at moving coil projectors, but these are horrendously inefficient, which means you need a lot more power, and they also generate a lot of heat which becomes problematic.”

The US Army has finished its first month-long Robotic Combat Vehicle (RCV) operational experiment with soldiers and is compiling the lessons learned to help guide development of its forthcoming fleet of unmanned vehicles.

From early July through early August, the service conducted the experiment at Fort Carson, Colorado, using two manned Bradley-based control vehicles to manoeuvre four RCV surrogates built around the M113 armoured personnel carrier chassis. Although not all the technologies tested during the event are ready for fielding, programme leaders said the service and industry now has additional data and soldier feedback to guide RCV development.

“This experiment was 100% successful because we learned,” Brigadier General Ross Coffman, director of the Next Generation Combat Vehicles Cross Functional Team, told reporters on 6 August.

”The whole purpose was to learn where the technology is now and how we think we want to fight with it in the future,” he added. “Some knocked our socks off and some we’ve got a little bit of work to do.”

More specifically, the service was “blown away” with a map interface that allowed soldiers to see where the robots were, Brig Coffman said. To a lesser degree, the army was also pleased with the software linking the robotic vehicle and the control vehicle.

”The aided target recognition works while stationary but part of the challenge is how you do that on the move and how that is passed to the gunner,” the one-star general explained. “So, we’ve got some work to do with that.”

Additional work is also needed on the weapon stability system to ensure that it is secure enough to move across varied terrain.

The US Army has been conducting a Robotic Combat Vehicle (RCV) soldier operational experiment at Fort Carson, Colorado, over the past few weeks. (US Army )

More details have emerged about a new helicopter-launched anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) that was used in training exercises by the aviation units of the People’s Liberation Army Ground Force (PLAGF).

Chinese state-owned media released video footage on 6 August showing the weapon being fired from several Changhe Aircraft Industries Corporation (CAIC) Zhishengji-10 (Z-10) attack helicopters assigned to the PLAGF’s 161st Air Assault Brigade under the 83rd Group Army.

A screengrab from CCTV 7 footage released online on 6 August showing two units of a new ATGM being loaded onto one of the launchers of a PLAGF Z-10 attack helicopter. The launcher is also carrying what appears to be a pod. (Via js7tv.cn)

A screengrab from CCTV 7 footage released online on 6 August showing two units of a new ATGM being loaded onto one of the launchers of a PLAGF Z-10 attack helicopter. The launcher is also carrying what appears to be a pod. (Via js7tv.cn)

The missiles were shown striking targets, including tanks and other armoured vehicles, after being fired from some distance, suggesting that this is a fire-and-forget weapon. Each of the launchers under the helicopter’s stub-wings was seen carrying two missiles along with what appeared to pods, although their precise function was not immediately clear.

The Z-10s were seen working in conjunction with at least one Z-19A attack helicopter equipped with a mast-mounted millimetre-wave (MMW) radar that is similar in appearance to the Lockheed Martin AN/APG-78 Longbow fire-control radar fitted to the Boeing AH-64 Apache.

As Janes previously reported, the new missile somewhat resembles the China North Industries Corporation (Norinco) Blue Arrow 21 (BA-21) missile that was displayed at the Airshow China 2018 defence exhibition in Zhuhai.

The BA-21 appears to be an improved export version of the AKD-10 third generation, precision-guided battlefield missile carried by the PLAGF’s Z-10 and Z-19 rotorcraft. The BA-21, of which no official information has emerged, is believed to have a range of about 18 km and be fitted with a dual-mode MMW radar/semi-active laser seeker.

South Korea has unveiled an indigenous active electronically scanned-array (AESA) radar prototype for use by the Republic of Korea Air Force’s (RoKAF’s) next-generation multirole fighter aircraft, which is being developed under the Korean Fighter eXperimental (KF-X) programme.

The radar, which has been under development since 2016 by South Korean company Hanwha Systems and the country’s Agency for Defense Development (ADD), was unveiled in a ceremony held on 7 August, according to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).

The radar will now undergo further ground performance and installation tests before being integrated with the first KF-X prototype for further testing, said South Korean officials, adding that Elta Systems – a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) – has collaborated on the programme and is assisting with the testing phase.

Very few details have emerged about the AESA radar, which officials have described as a “state-of-the-art system capable of detecting and tracking more than 1,000 targets simultaneously”.

South Korea unveiled a locally developed AESA radar prototype on 7 August for use by the country’s next-generation multirole fighter aircraft under the KF-X programme. (DAPA)

South Korea unveiled a locally developed AESA radar prototype on 7 August for use by the country’s next-generation multirole fighter aircraft under the KF-X programme. (DAPA)

The latest developments come after South Korean aerospace and defence company Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) revealed in July that it plans to roll out the first KF-X prototype in April 2021. No further details were provided about the programme but Janes understands that the prototype is expected to conduct its first flight in 2022.


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