DSEI 2021: Leonardo reveals Team AW149 for NMH competition

by Gareth Jennings

Having previously disclosed its intent to bid the AW149 for the UK's New Medium Helicopter competition, Leonardo has now announced the industrial team it expects to secure the requirement. (Leonardo)

Leonardo has revealed the industrial team that it expects will secure it the UK's New Medium Helicopter (NMH) requirement to replace the Westland-Aerospatiale SA 330E Puma HC2 and three other types.

Announced at the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) 2021 defence exhibition in London on 14 September, Team AW149 comprises a further nine UK-based suppliers that will support Leonardo Helicopters in its bid to supply the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) with the AW149 from its production facility in Yeovil.

“Leonardo has spotlighted nine of these companies, all of which are supporting the AW149 as ‘the UK choice' for the MoD's New Medium Helicopter requirement. Representing towns and cities from across the UK, from South Shields to Gosport, each company provides a vital component to the AW149 military helicopter, from lights to avionics systems and other hardware and software components,” the company said.

The nine companies named are Abaco Systems, Aerco, Chelton, Ford Aerospace, Forged Solutions, Incora, LFD, RDDS Avionics, and Techtest Limited.

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UK to explore alternative PNT methods

by Richard Scott

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has awarded a cluster of contracts under which industry will explore novel means of timing and navigation in the event of disruption to global navigation satellite systems (GNSSs).

The Alternative Navigation research initiative will investigate alternative techniques to provide a position, navigation, and timing (PNT) solution in order to improve resilience to GNSS denial.

GNSSs operate by computing signals broadcast from a constellation of synchronised satellites. Its use increasingly underpins precise and secure navigation for military users, but it is vulnerable to interference, spoofing, signal blockage or constellation failure that may result in GNSS denial.

Accordingly, the Space Delivery Team within the MoD's Defence Equipment and Support organisation has placed seven contracts, worth a total of about GBP3.8 million, with six companies. Three different approaches to PNT are being addressed.

Teledyne UK was contracted to explore a resilient timing source that is designed to maintain accuracy if GPS is not available. The focus is on atomic clock technology, particularly Quantum Clocks.

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UK to deploy more intelligence personnel to monitor Russia and China

by Tim Ripley

Additional UK military intelligence personnel are being deployed to overseas locations as part of growing strategic competition with Russia and China, according to the head of the UK's Defence Intelligence organisation.

During a rare public appearance at DSEI 2021 in London on 16 September, the organisation's chief, Lieutenant General Jim Hockenhull, said this was part of a wider revamp of how Defence Intelligence gives early warning of crises to political decision makers and monitors the build-up of Chinese and Russian military capabilities.

He said this involves a move away from reliance on traditional classified intelligence-collection methods towards the exploitation of open-source information and commercial services, as well as the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence to process the “deluge of information” now available to intelligence analysts.

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Indian Air Force hastens its plans to buy ex-French Mirage 2000s

by Rahul Bedi

The Indian Air Force (IAF) is fast-tracking its EUR27 million (USD31.78 million) plan to purchase 24 second-hand Dassault Mirage 2000 fighters from France in a bid to boost its declining combat squadrons.

Thirteen of the 24 aircraft are in “completed condition”, needing only “servicing and basic maintenance” before becoming fully operational for squadron service, official sources told Janes on 17 September. They added that the 11 remaining Mirage 2000s, which are in a “semi-finished condition”, would be cannibalised for their subassemblies and spare parts to sustain the IAF's two upgraded Mirage 2000H squadrons, which comprise 49 aircraft that entered service from mid-1985 onwards.

The IAF refers to this endeavour as ‘reduce to produce'; in 2018 it obtained SEPECAT Jaguar airframes, assorted spares and subassemblies from France, Oman and the United Kingdom to support its ageing fleet of over 100 of these Anglo-French ground attack aircraft to improve their operational serviceability.

The IAF spokesman in New Delhi declined to comment on the intended Mirage 2000 buy, but industry officials indicated that the deal could be signed “soon”.

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