Critical minerals: US DoD backs plan to revive antimony mine

by Marc Selinger

Perpetua Resources wants to revive this abandoned mine in the US state of Idaho. (Perpetua Resources)

US-based Perpetua Resources Corporation is trying to revive an abandoned mine in the state of Idaho that it says could eliminate the US military's reliance on foreign – and potentially unreliable – sources for antimony, a critical mineral used to make ammunition and missiles.

China and Russia produce most of the world's antimony, which has commercial and military applications. While most of the antimony from the Idaho mine would go towards commercial uses, such as batteries that store solar- and wind-generated energy, the site could provide enough antimony to meet the US Department of Defense's (DoD's) needs for “decades”, helping the DoD meet its goal of bolstering domestic production of critical minerals, Mckinsey Lyon, Perpetua vice-president of external affairs, told Janes in December 2022.

Minerals may be deemed ‘critical' if they are essential to economic or national security and are vulnerable to supply chain disruptions for political or other reasons. US lawmakers have expressed concern that many of the critical minerals the DoD uses to build advanced weaponry come solely or mostly from China and Russia.

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Update: GAO finds problems with F-35 costs and technology in new report

by Zach Rosenberg

A US triservice formation of the US Air Force F-35A (lead), the US Marine Corps F-35B, and the US Navy F-35C. (US Air Force)

On 30 May the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report about the Lockheed Martin F-35, finding that the programme has not adequately explained a cost increase of USD13.4 billion since 2019, that the upgraded Block 4 version has run into technical snags and a USD1 billion cost increase, and that the US Department of Defense (DoD) has not fully defined requirements for an engine cooling system upgrade.

The USD13.4 billion increase is because of greater acquisition costs, the GAO wrote. “The programme attributes the increased procurement cost to additional years of costs related to airframe and engine production, along with support costs for equipment, technical data, and training,” the GAO wrote. “According to programme officials, the programme is deferring the delivery of these 215 aircraft to later years at the request of the air force.” F-35 development costs have increased by a total of USD21.1 billion between 2012 and 2021, the GAO found. The programme's total 77-year lifespan cost now hovers around USD1.7 trillion.

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TKMS, Mazagon Dock enter submarine partnership

by Jon Grevatt

ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems and Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders are expected to offer the Indian Navy a version of the Type 214 submarine for the service's P-75I programme for six AIP-capable submarines. (Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft)

India's Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd (MDL) and Germany's ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) have signed an agreement to support the construction in India of air-independent propulsion (AIP)-capable diesel-electric submarines (SSKs).

The deal is intended to position the two companies for the Indian Navy's stalled Project 75 (India) (P-75I) programme – estimated to be worth about INR400 billion (USD4.8 billion) – to procure six AIP-capable SSKs.

MDL said in a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange that its “non-binding non-financial” memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed with TKMS on 7 June during German Federal Minister of Defence Boris Pistorius' visit to MDL shipbuilding facilities in Mumbai.

TKMS said that under the agreement, TKMS would be responsible for SSK design, engineering, and consultancy, while MDL would handle construction and delivery to the Indian Navy. TKMS said that if the proposal is successful, the submarines would feature “significant” levels of local content.

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Japan progresses anti-ship and hypersonic missile programmes

by Kapil Kajal

Japan's MoD has signed contracts with MHI to research hypersonic weapons and signed a contract with KHI to research new anti-ship missiles, an example of which is seen here on display at the DSEI Japan 2023 show. (Janes/Jon Grevatt)

Japan's Ministry of Defense (MoD) has signed contracts with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) to research and develop anti-ship and hypersonic missiles, according to an MoD press release on 6 June.

The MoD signed three contracts with MHI, which include hypersonic weapons research and the development of an upgraded Hyper Velocity Gliding Projectile (HVGP) and target observation rounds.

An MoD spokesperson told Janes that the country has allocated JPY200.3 billion (USD1.4 billion) to develop an upgraded HVGP with a longer range from the early deployment type.

“The development of an upgraded HVGP is scheduled to be completed in FY [fiscal year] 2030,” the spokesperson added.

The MoD has allocated JPY58.5 billion for hypersonic weapons research to develop missiles that can travel at hypersonic speeds and are difficult to intercept, the spokesperson said. “The research on hypersonic weapons is scheduled to be completed in FY 2031.”

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US-based Perpetua Resources Corporation is trying to revive an abandoned mine in the state of Idaho ...

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