Philippines scraps Mi-17 order with Russia

by Akhil Kadidal

The cancellation of an order for Mil Mi-17s from Russia has the Philippines seeking alternative heavy-lift rotorcraft. (Mil)

The Philippines has scrapped a multimillion-dollar deal with Russia to acquire Mil Mi-17 heavy-lift helicopters.

A source in the Philippine Air Force (PAF) confirmed the cancellation to Janes and added that the Technical Working Group of the project is now considering other platforms with similar capabilities for acquisition.

The cancellation of the order has interrupted Manila's ability to close a long-standing requirement of the country for heavy-lift, utility helicopters. According to the PAF source, the Mi-17s would primarily have been used for high-cargo operations involving troops and equipment. The Philippines military had also planned to use the helicopters for High Availability Disaster Recovery (HADR).

The cancellation comes just months after the former Philippines Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana acknowledged on 10 March that a deal had been signed with Moscow in November 2021. The deal was among a handful of major military purchases approved by the former Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte before his departure from office in June 2022.

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Rafael buys mine plough maker Pearson Engineering

by Marc Selinger

Pearson Engineering's Full Width Mine Plough attaches to the front of a combat engineering vehicle. (Pearson Engineering)

Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has expanded its land warfare offering by acquiring British ground vehicle equipment provider Pearson Engineering, the buyer announced on 28 September.

Rafael paid about GBP100 million (USD107 million) to obtain Pearson and its subsidiary Responsive Engineering from UK-based Reece Group. Pearson, including Responsive, employs about 285 people and will become a subsidiary of Rafael.

Pearson managing director Craig Priday said that becoming part of a larger company like Rafael ‘‘will not only allow us to enhance our existing product portfolio, but will enable the development of innovative, class-leading products, and capabilities''.

Pearson's products include the minefield-clearing Full Width Mine Plough, which attaches to the front of a combat engineering vehicle. Following the acquisition, Pearson, which is located in Newcastle upon Tyne in North East England, will add to its repertoire by starting to locally manufacture Rafael's Trophy active protection system for armoured vehicles.

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Ukraine conflict: Parliament discusses record 2023 defence budget

by Matilde Stronell

Ukrainian Finance Minister Sergii Marchenko presented Kyiv's draft 2023 state budget to parliament on 21 September. The bill includes a record UAH857.9 billion (USD23.02 billion) allocated to defence, which is equivalent to a third of total government spending.

Around 40% of the budget, UAH355 billion, will be allocated to weapons and equipment procurement and modernisation as Ukraine seeks to replenish stockpiles lost during the continuing war with Russia. An additional UAH494 billion is available for personnel training and upkeep.

The Ukrainian defence budget is 30 times higher in nominal terms than it was when Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. Comparing its real dollar value now and in 2014 (USD3.65 billion), this is the equivalent of compound annual growth of around 23%.

Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine on 24 February prompted an unprecedented rise in military expenditure, which more than doubled to reach UAH383 billion in 2022. The new defence budget is 124% higher in nominal terms (98% in real terms) than the 2022 defence budget. Ukraine is now spending more than 15% of its GDP on defence, compared with an average of 2% during the decade before the Russian invasion.

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GA-ASI opposes possible Chinese corn plant near US airbase

by Marc Selinger

UK Royal Air Force crews are supposed to undergo training on the MQ-9B Protector UAV near the site of a proposed Chinese corn mill in the US. (Crown Copyright)

US defence contractor General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc (GA-ASI), which has a significant presence near Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota, is urging the US government to block Chinese company Fufeng Group from building an agricultural facility near the military installation, citing national security concerns.

GA-ASI asserted on 20 September that the Chinese government could use the proposed corn milling plant as cover to conduct electronic surveillance or other forms of military espionage. GA-ASI tests and evaluates unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), radar, and other military technology in the local airspace. At a facility near the base, GA-ASI trains UAV pilots and maintainers, and is scheduled to begin training crews from the UK's Royal Air Force (RAF) on their new GA-ASI MQ-9B Protector UAV in 2022.

“The proposed agricultural project represents a major vulnerability for maintaining the necessary secrecy and integrity of classified weapons, communications frequencies, satellite connectivity, and many other technologies vital to global security,” GA-ASI said.

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The Philippines has scrapped a multimillion-dollar deal with Russia to acquire Mil Mi-17 heavy-lift ...

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