DSEI 2021: UK reveals contracts for new directed-energy weapon demonstrators

by Richard Scott & Peter Felstead

A computed-generated image of what a Wolfhound laser-based C-UAV system could look like. (Raytheon UK)

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has revealed the award of three contracts for the development and demonstration of experimental directed-energy weapon (DEW) systems.

Awarded to industry consortia led by Raytheon UK and Thales UK, the contracts – covering laser and radio frequency (RF) capability demonstrators for the British Army and the Royal Navy (RN) – are collectively valued at GBP72.5 million (USD100.3 million). Forming part of the MoD's wider Novel Weapons Programme, the systems will be integrated onto existing platforms for user experimentation from 2023.

DEW systems are powered by electricity and operate without ammunition, thus significantly reducing operating costs, increasing platform endurance, and providing a high degree of offensive and defensive flexibility. Their pinpoint targeting and scalable effects also reduce the risk of collateral damage.

Announcing the contracts at DSEI 2021, Minister for Defence Procurement Jeremy Quin said DEW systems constitute “a key element of our future equipment programmes” and that the UK aspires “to become a world leader in the research, manufacture, and implementation of this next-generation technology”.

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Philippines prioritises counter-purchases in defence trade

by Jon Grevatt

According to Janes Defence Budgets, the Philippines will have one of the fastest growing defence budgets in the Indo-Pacific over the next 10 years. (Janes Defence Budgets)

The Philippines is continuing to place strong emphasis on ensuring government procurement in sectors including defence support counter-purchases of local commercial commodities, official statistics provided to Janes show.

Statistics from the government's Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC) show that 80% of completed countertrade projects between 1993 and 2020 supported the counter-purchase or export of local commodities.

The total value of completed countertrade projects during this period was USD835 million, the PITC statistics show. While the majority of these deals supported counter-purchases, 15% enabled offsets including technology transfers, and 5% were designated by the PITC as “debt for goods”.

The PITC did not disclose what proportion of these countertrade programmes were linked directly to procurements by the Department of National Defense (DND).

However, according to statistics showing data between 1989 and 2014, about 26% of the total value of completed countertrade projects were linked to defence and military procurements.

An official from the PITC also told Janes

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Swedish defence budget continues upward trajectory

by Ana-Roxana Popescu

Sweden's Finance Ministry submitted the country's 2022 budget bill to parliament on 20 September, allocating SEK76.77 billion (USD8.6 billion) to defence and crisis preparedness for 2022, a nominal increase of 7.6% or 6.2% in real terms compared with 2021. The defence budget reached 1.45% of GDP, the highest level since 2005, after fluctuating between 1.1% and 1.3% during the decade to 2020.

Sweden's defence budget has been on a steady upward trajectory since 2014, with growth most noticeable since 2018, when it was increased by a nominal 6%. This was followed by nominal increases of 11.6% in 2019, 7.9% in 2020, and 9.8% in 2021. The 2022 budget is almost 40% higher in real terms than that of 2017, which was just under USD6.2 billion.

This increase is partly driven by investment spending. Allocations for section 1:3 Anskaffning av materiel och anläggningar (Acquisition of equipment and facilities) increased from SEK10.4 billion in 2017 to SEK19.8 billion in 2022 and from 22–25% of the core budget in 2017–20 to 28% in 2022. They are set to increase further, reaching SEK27.5 billion and 32.5% of the core budget in 2024.

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Update: AFA 2021: Kendall supports continuing advanced engine development despite proposed budget cuts

by Pat Host

The US Air Force's (USAF's) new Secretary Frank Kendall endorses continuing the service's Adaptive Engine Transition Program (AETP) despite the USAF's fiscal year (FY) 2022 budget request calling for drastic cuts to the effort.

Kendall, who took on the role in July, told reporters on 20 September at the Air Force Association's (AFA's) annual conference that the programme has been successful as the fuel savings and the thrust increase potentially have a lot of value. He has had discussions with Carlos Del Toro, the US Navy (USN) secretary, about the sea service being part of the programme moving forward. The engines being developed for the AETP are envisioned for the USAF's next-generation combat aircraft and the USN's F/A-XX programme.

The USAF could request funding contributions from the USN to keep the AETP moving forward. A former Pentagon Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter programme official told Janes on 8 September that the AETP is solely funded by the USAF and that the US military services are not out to “give anyone a free lunch”.

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The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has revealed the award of three contracts for the development and d...

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