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North Korea is again assisting Iran’s missile programme, a US official told Reuters on 20 September.

The Khorramshahr was unveiled in September 2017. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

The Khorramshahr was unveiled in September 2017. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

“Iran and North Korea have resumed co-operation on a long-range missile project, including the transfer of critical parts,” said the anonymous official, who declined to say when the co-operation ceased and started again.

The official added that the US government assessed that Iran could have sufficient fissile material for a nuclear weapon by the end of this year.

That suggested the United States believes the 2.1 tonnes of low-enriched uranium the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported Iran as having on 4 September is sufficient for a nuclear weapon and can be rapidly enriched into fissile material.

Elliott Abrams, the new US envoy for Iran, confirmed the concern about the missile co-operation on the following day, but did not elaborate.

The US Treasury Department announced new sanctions on Iran on 21 September, including the designation of the Shahid Haj Ali Movahed Research Centre, which it said “has played a key role in Iranian-North Korean missile co-operation”.

Caracal, a firearms manufacturer from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has reaffirmed its commitment to building its CAR816 assault rifle in India.

The company’s announcement, on 21 September, comes one week after the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) cancelled its planned procurement from the company of more than 90,000 CAR816s in favour of sourcing the rifle requirement from local industry.

Caracal said in a press release that the company is committed to the MoD’s ‘Make in India’ initiative, with plans already underway to “fully manufacture” the rifles in India in partnership with local companies. Caracal added that it “remains on standby” to supply the CAR816 rifle to India.

UAE-based Caracal has reiterated a commitment to build its CAR816 rifle (pictured) in India. (Janes/R D Jones)

UAE-based Caracal has reiterated a commitment to build its CAR816 rifle (pictured) in India. (Janes/R D Jones)

“Caracal has already identified the required land, facility, and local partners to be able to commence production immediately,” said the company.

“Over 20% of the components fitted on the CAR816 are already made in India with Caracal now making a commitment to fully manufacture the rifles in-country, in alignment with the ‘Make in India’ initiative. The initiative will also see Caracal oversee technology transfer.”

Hamad Al Ameri, Caracal’s CEO, said: “We would like to reiterate our commitment to our bid and to the ‘Make in India’ initiative. With strong bilateral ties between our two nations, and with India being a key market for Caracal, we remain on standby to supply the product to the customer upon instruction.”

Janes reported in mid-September that an MoD committee opted to revoke the CAR816 acquisition alongside another programme to procure self-propelled anti-aircraft gun/missile (SPAAG/M) systems. The two procurements were in the final stages of being confirmed.

The Bundesheer, the Austrian Armed Forces, announced on its website on 21 September that it would procure 18 AW169M helicopters in co-operation with Italy. The EUR300 million (USD353.9 million) procurement also includes technology, logistics, training, and infrastructure.

Austria will procure 18 AW169M helicopters in co-operation with Italy. (Bundesheer Fotos)

Austria will procure 18 AW169M helicopters in co-operation with Italy. (Bundesheer Fotos)

The Bundesheer said the determining factor in choosing the AW169M was the willingness of Italy to co-operate in all aspects of operating the helicopter. Italy has already ordered 40 of the up to 100 AW169s that it plans to procure, according to the Bundesheer.

Co-operation in operations, training, and logistics would not have been possible with the Bell 429 offered by the United States as its armed forces do not operate the type, the Bundesheer explained. The AW169M will replace Austria's Alouette III helicopters that will be phased out by the end of 2023, which the Bundesheer said would have resulted in a capability gap of several years if it had selected the H145M, which it expected not to be available until 2025 and to be conducting normal flight operations at least a year later. In addition, Germany planned to offer the logistic support of its own industry, complicating co-operation or even making it impossible, according to the Bundesheer.

Austria is expected to begin negotiations with Italy soon, lasting around six months, followed by production lasting around 18 months, with the delivery of the first helicopter in mid-2022, the Bundesheer said.

 

The Royal Air Force’s (RAF’s) procurement of Boeing E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft is potentially being cut from five aircraft to three.

According to The Times, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) is planning to revise the current order of five aircraft to three, but may also reduce the order by one aircraft.

The MoD was unavailable for comment.

The RAF may now only receive three E-7A Wedgetail aircraft, instead of the five originally planned. (Crown Copyright)

The RAF may now only receive three E-7A Wedgetail aircraft, instead of the five originally planned. (Crown Copyright)

Former UK defence secretary Gavin Williamson signed a deal in March 2019 for five aircraft, valued at USD1.98 billion (then GBP1.51 billion), to replace the RAF’s fleet of E-3D Sentry AEW&C aircraft. The deal was met with some concern over the lack of adherence to a competitive tendering process by the UK, and the speed at which a decision was made. It was revealed in the UK’s Defence and Equipment Plan 2019–2029 on 27 February 2020 that the programme was valued at GBP2.16 billion.

In a written answer to parliament on 6 May, Minister for Defence Procurement Jeremy Quin clarified that “the cost of the acquisition of the E-7 Wedgetail aircraft has not increased. The figure of GBP1.51 billion relates to the value of the aircraft procurement contract, whereas the figure of GBP2.16 billion refers to the approved project costs, the scope of which covers more than just the acquisition of the aircraft including work on infrastructure and training and on future support/sustainment, hence the larger amount.”

The 75th Group Army of the People’s Liberation Army Ground Force (PLAGF) has received additional units of the Type 15 (also known as ZTQ-15) lightweight battle tank.

In an announcement made on 20 September via its WeChat account, the PLA’s Southern Theatre Command, under which the 75th Group Army operates, showed images of several Type 15s being inducted into service with a brigade during a ceremony held at an undisclosed location.

The PLA’s Southern Theatre Command announced on 20 September that several units of the Type 15 lightweight battle tank were handed over to a brigade under the 75th Group Army.  (Southern Theatre Command via WeChat)

The PLA’s Southern Theatre Command announced on 20 September that several units of the Type 15 lightweight battle tank were handed over to a brigade under the 75th Group Army. (Southern Theatre Command via WeChat)

The command did not reveal the name of the brigade, but unconfirmed reports claim that the tanks were handed over to the 32nd Mountain Combined Arms Brigade. In August 2018 media reports emerged stating that the tank was also being operated by the 75th Group Army’s 123rd Heavy Combined Arms Brigade.

Designed to operate in mountainous areas and over terrain that requires a low track pressure, the Type 15, which according to the Ministry of National Defense (MND) officially entered PLA service in late 2018, is also in service with units in the Tibet Military District.

The Type 15, which is armed with a 105 mm gun, is protected against hand-held anti-tank weapons. The gun is thought to be capable of firing an armour-piercing, fin-stabilised, discarding sabot (APFSDS) round that is probably capable of penetrating 500 mm of armour from typical combat ranges.

According to Chinese media reports, the tank is equipped with a 1,000 hp engine and has a crew of four, although there is speculation that an autoloader for its main gun may dispense with one crew member.

South Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MOLIT) has signed an agreement with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to support the production in South Korea of Airbus Helicopters’ H155 (formerly EC155 B1) light utility helicopter.

MOLIT said in a press release on 18 September that the new accord facilitates Airbus’ relocation of its H155 production line from Marseille, France to a facility in Sacheon, in the south of the country. MOLIT said the relocation will take place next year, with the aim to support the development of the national aerospace industry.

Airbus Helicopters and Korea Aerospace Industries are planning to collaborate on the production in South Korea of the H155 helicopter, which forms the base design of South Korea’s Light Attack Helicopter (pictured). (Airbus Helicopters)

Airbus Helicopters and Korea Aerospace Industries are planning to collaborate on the production in South Korea of the H155 helicopter, which forms the base design of South Korea’s Light Attack Helicopter (pictured). (Airbus Helicopters)

The ministry added, “Airbus plans to relocate its [H155] helicopter production line to Sacheon by 2021, and this business agreement contains the details of co-operation between the two sides to support smooth helicopter production in Korea.”

The Yonhap news agency in South Korea said the local production facility will be jointly run by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), which is based in Sacheon, and Airbus Helicopters. An official from MOLIT was quoted by Yonhap as saying, “Airbus and KAI will set up a joint company within this year in South Korea to manage the production and delivery of the [H155] helicopters.”

Janes has previously reported that Airbus Helicopters was planning to move its H155 assembly line to South Korea with in-country production set to run through to 2050.

The two likely offerors for the US Air Force’s (USAF’s) Boeing F-15EX Advanced Eagle fighter engine competition seek to reach annual production rates of 90–100 propulsion systems.

Shawn Warren, General Electric (GE) Aviation vice-president and general manager of large combat and mobility engines, told Janes on 17 September that the company wanted to produce its F110-GE-129 offering at a rate of 90–100 engines yearly. GE, he said, produced 10 of the engine in 2019 and will likely produce 30 of the propulsion system in 2020.

General Electric’s F110-GE-129 engine that it is offering for the US Air Force’s F-15EX engine competition. The company will produce 30 units of the engine in 2020. (General Electric)

General Electric’s F110-GE-129 engine that it is offering for the US Air Force’s F-15EX engine competition. The company will produce 30 units of the engine in 2020. (General Electric)

GE is forecasting, and working toward, being able to build roughly 100 units of the engine per year starting in 2024. Warren said that GE had produced propulsion systems at this rate before, and therefore it would be about re-energising the supply base to be able to return to this production pace.

Kinda Eastwood, Pratt & Whitney integrated customer solutions executive director, told Janes on 18 September that the company was offering its F100-PW-229 for the F-15EX engine competition. The company, Eastwood said, is seeking to support an annual production rate capacity of 96–120 propulsion systems per year for the competition.

Pratt & Whitney is implementing options to invigorate the supply base and invest in the production line to support this expected production rate. Eastwood said that this pace would fully support future international and Pentagon demand, including for the F-15EX.

NATO declared the initial operational capability (IOC) of its first Atlantic command since 2003 during a ceremony in Norfolk, Virginia, on 17 September.

JFC Atlantic commander US Vice Admiral Andrew Lewis (right) and his deputy, UK Royal Navy Rear Admiral Andrew Betton cutting the ribbon during the new command’s IOC ceremony. (US Navy/MC Specialist 1st Class Theodore Green)

JFC Atlantic commander US Vice Admiral Andrew Lewis (right) and his deputy, UK Royal Navy Rear Admiral Andrew Betton cutting the ribbon during the new command’s IOC ceremony. (US Navy/MC Specialist 1st Class Theodore Green)

Pointing out that NATO is a trans-Atlantic alliance, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg described the North Atlantic as vital for the security of Europe, adding that the command would ensure crucial routes for reinforcements and supplies from North America to Europe remain secure.

Co-located with the US Second Fleet, Joint Force Command (JFC) Norfolk will provide situational awareness, conduct exercises, and draw up operational plans for an ocean area stretching from the US East Coast through the Greenland-Iceland-UK gap to the Arctic.

JFC Norfolk commander Vice Admiral Andrew Lewis, who also commands the US Second Fleet, said at the IOC ceremony that the new command would ensure “a 360-degree approach for our collective NATO defence and security”.

 

Chinese state-owned television has released footage showing what appears to be a new amphibious armoured reconnaissance vehicle operated by the People’s Liberation Army Ground Force’s (PLAGF’s) 74th Group Army.

The PLAGF’s new amphibious reconnaissance vehicle has been fitted with a telescopic mast mounting what appear to be an electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) system, a laser-range finder, and an X-band radar. (CCTV 7)

The PLAGF’s new amphibious reconnaissance vehicle has been fitted with a telescopic mast mounting what appear to be an electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) system, a laser-range finder, and an X-band radar. (CCTV 7)

Released on 19 September by the China Central Television 7 (CCTV 7) channel, the footage shows the tracked platform, which seems to be based on the chassis of the Type 05 family of amphibious armoured vehicles, taking part in exercises both on land and at sea.

The footage shows that the vehicle has been fitted with a telescopic mast mounting what appear to be an electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) system, a laser-range finder, and an X-band radar.

The vehicle is also equipped with a manned weapon station mounting what seems to be a Type 88 (QJC‐88) 12.7 mm heavy machine gun.

It has also been fitted with a retractable catapult system for launching a small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to augment the range of the platform’s intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR) capabilities.

The video later shows a reconnaissance UAV being launched from the platform while at sea during an amphibious assault exercise conducted with other units off the coast of China’s southeastern Guangdong Province.

The footage shows how the data provided by the UAV is used in the exercise to detect targets. The data is shared with other PLA units, which then engage the targets to enable a less perilous beach landing.

A photograph has emerged on the WeChat social media account of the Western Theatre Command of China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) suggesting that the service has inducted a new 130 kg precision-guided bomb into service.

An image published on 17 September on the WeChat account of the Western Theatre Command of the PLAAF showing what appear to be two GB 100 precision-guided bombs being loaded onto a JH-7A fighter-bomber. (PLAAF)

An image published on 17 September on the WeChat account of the Western Theatre Command of the PLAAF showing what appear to be two GB 100 precision-guided bombs being loaded onto a JH-7A fighter-bomber. (PLAAF)

Posted on 17 September as part of an article on a PLAAF exercise the image shows what appear to be two Tiange GB 100 bombs being loaded onto a JH-7A fighter-bomber. No further details were provided about the weapon, which was first displayed to the public at the Airshow China 2014 defence exhibition in Zhuhai as part of the Tiange series of precision-guided bombs.

The Tiange series is produced by the China North Industries Group Corporation (Norinco), and includes the GB 500 bomb, which has been in PLAAF-service since 2017 as the JG-500B.

 


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