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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

In the defense news…

Whilst I am working a private contractor cyber-defence job for a large financial conference, it seems apropos to summarise some recent intel from Janes.

The DOD is selling two THAAD missile interceptor batteries to the United Arab Emirates, This is the first international sale. I wonder who they are defending against..

US chooses Super Tucano for Afghan Air Force
Sierra Nevada and Embraer have been selected to deliver A-29 Super Tucano’s the Afghan Air Force (AAF) and 15 more for the USAF. This is also interesting because Sierra Nevada is developing the DreamChaser orbital space plane.

The Saudi’s are buying 84 new F-15SA Eagle’s with Raytheon’s APG-63(V)3 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, a digital electronic warfare system (DEWS) and a Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS). I wonder who they are defending against…

General Atomics has the contract for Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) and Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) configurations for the UK’s Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier programme. Mass Drivers as we call them in the space business, are a key technology for lunar industry.

The US Missile Defense Agency has selected Boeing to oversee the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system in a multibillion dollar sustainment effort. This system will defend the US against a rogue state attacks. At the same time a bunch of orders were placed at the end of 2011 as noted here and above. Raytheon’s SM-3 was also in the mix. On the downside, the Boeing 747-400F carrying the YAL-1 Airborne Laser Testbed (ALTB) is being mothballed as the development has been terminated.

The Indian Navy has gone nuclear with the Akula-class (Project 971) nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN) now in its hands on a 10 year lease from the Russians. The 9,246 tonne (dived) INS Chakra (ex- Nerpa ) recently finished sea trials three years behind schedule.

15 comments to In the defense news…

  • Dave Walker

    You’re not the only one asking the “I wonder who they are defending against” question, Mr Amon; various high-profile weapons deals (especially those with the Saudis) have had me wondering exactly the same thing, for years, as well as expecting that the deals we know about are the tip of the iceberg. Thing is, on a need-to-know basis, I don’t need to know :-(.

    I like the connections you’re making regarding miltary technology and space technology; the former has driven the latter for years, and I wonder whether we’ll see much going the other way soon, involving technology developed by the private space sector. It could be a nice extra source of revenue for them.

  • John B

    The more obvious one is the enemy that was declared nuke-less in 1997 contrary to all common sense and logic (and probably their own real intelligence assessments as well) but is now suddenly a threat.
    DEBKAfile has some interesting news(Link)

  • John B

    I am sorry. I meant 2007.

  • Dale Amon

    Perhaps my little joke on geopolitics went over some people. Let me put it this way. When Iran gets nukes on missiles, the first target is the Saudi’s because that’s business. They’ll use them on Israel, but that’s for pleasure. The Saudi’s are probably already quietly acquiring nukes.

  • Does that place me in the entertainment business, Dale?:-)

  • Dale Amon

    With respect to the evil sect which passes itself off as a religion… yes. They’d be dancing in the streets and firing their AK-47’s in the air after nuking Tel Aviv. The mullahs of Iran are really not that much different from a european paganist of the 1940’s…

  • John Miller

    Oh come it’s obvious…the aliens are clearly on their way!

  • Dale Amon

    You don’t mean… it couldn’t be true… Ahmadinijad is another cockroach from space!!!???? I wonder if he’s wownwy too?

  • Subotai Bahadur

    Mr. Amon,

    While I applaud anything that will advance mass driver technology; I think this contract is going to be less than it appears. From my observation of the dog’s breakfast that is British defense; the QUEEN ELIZABETH and PRINCE OF WALES are never going to be built due to costs. Not only the costs of the ships, but also the costs of reconstituting a real fixed wing Fleet Air Arm years from now, which has been dismantled, the cost of building and manning sufficient escorts, which have been mothballed en route to being scrapped, and reconstituting the mothballed/scrapped fleet train to support operations.

    In re: a Saudi nuclear deterrent

    They have had up to 100 Chinese made CSS-2 MRBM’s and 24 launchers based at Al Sulayyil Missile Base [20°43’07″N 45°35’01″E] and Al Joffar [or Al Jufayr] Missile Base [ est. 24 degrees 13′ 08″N 46 degrees 17′ 56″ E] since the late 1980’s. Open source satellite imagery is available. Given the profligacy of North Korea and Pakistan with nuclear technology, and Saudi wealth; it would be unwise to assume automatically that they do not already have at least a limited strike force.

    Interesting times, indeed.

    Subotai Bahadur

  • JC

    The Super Tucano has a political diffficulty, i.e. it is the product of a Brazilian corporation subject to the whims of its government. It was, yes, developed with the aid of Grumman Nothrup, but is produced exclusively by Embraer.
    When the US .gov was considering a replacement for the Beechcraft T-6 Texan trainer/spotter, the decision was made to avoid the Brazilian alternative due to the exclusive nature of the support contracts. The aircraft would only be supported (supplied with spare parts, and so on) if the aircraft was used in engagements which had the official political support of the Brazilian government.
    Considering the volatility of the government in question, there is no wonder that it was a dicey call.

  • Dale

    You wouldn’t have heard anything about an ATMS order for Taiwan a couple of years ago (2010)? It’s not clear whether the order was blocked by PRC lobbyists, or…

    Our local defense reporter either doesn’t know, or is not prepared to talk about it in public (especially in the last couple of weeks given that Taiwan’s presidential and legislative elections are held tommorow).

  • brad

    Regarding the Independent article on libertarianism: I am sending the author the following email:

    Hi Tom

    Interesting article about Ron Paul in The Independent. However, I do think you have completely misunderstood libertarianism.

    Every political direction has its extremists, and the extreme libertarians are indeed the cold-blooded, survival-of-the-fittest Ayn Rand types. However, presenting this as the core philosophy of libertarians is rather like saying that all conservatives are fascists, just because fascism is an extreme form of conservatism.

    Libertarian means, quite simply, small government. Governments are not magical, holy entities, but rather large bureaucracies made up of normal people. While there are a few things that only the government can do, this number is indeed very small. Because of the perverse incentives present in government bureaucracies, Libertarians generally believe that Government involvement worsens a situation.

    Take agriculture as an example: Governments throughout Europe regulate agriculture, and heavily subsidize it. The result is, frankly, a mess. Reducing government involvement and eliminating the subsidies would result in a healthier, more efficient marketplace.

    Alternatively, you’re in Britain, so look at the NHS. At its heart, it is well-meant, but the bureaucracy is incredible. People with chronic but non-life-threatending health problems may wait months, or even years for treatment.

    Here in Switzerland, we are travelling down the same path. A decade or so back, the government mandated health-coverage for everyone. This had an immediate effect: health insurance costs immediately doubled. Since then, health-care costs have continued to climb, as the government tries to correct the problems of government intervention by involving itself ever more deeply in health-care.

    It was all done with the best of intentions, of course, but the result has been almost entirely counterproductive. The previous, free-market situation was better all around. But government programs never die, they only continue to grow, and grow ever more inefficient.

    This is the world-view of a middle-of-the-road libertarian.



  • Johnathan Pearce

    Brad, nice letter, but there was no need to make that swipe about Ayn Rand or other hardline theorists of liberty. They play an important part in a movement. And Rand has been very influential on the young, which is important.

    She did not believe in some sort of Darwinian “survival of the fittest” – how could she, given her belief in the axiom of non-aggression and belief in the benefits of voluntary relationships, from which everyone, clever and not-so-clever, can profit?

    Also, let’s not forget that some of the energy around the Ron Paul campaign has come from a renewed interest in, and knowledge about, the full-throated support for an open, liberal order and capitalist economy that Rand, and others, advocated. And there is nothing remotely “cold blooded” about a the idea that we are entitled to live our lives to the max, both materially and spiritually and that a life of rational men and women is a benevolent one.