US Navy Columbia-class programme lead ship faces construction delays, GAO says
25 January 2023
by Michael Fabey
The US Government Accountability Office said that the Columbia-class lead submarine faces potential construction delays. (US Navy)
There are concerns about lead-ship construction delays of the new Columbia-class strategic ballistic-missile submarines, according to the US Government Accountability Office (GAO).
“After more than a year of full-scale construction on the lead Columbia submarine, the shipbuilders are facing delays because of challenges with design, materials, and quality,” the GAO said in its report,
Columbia Class Submarine Program Lacks Essential Schedule Insight amid Continuing Construction Challenges
, released 24 January.
“The shipbuilders are working to mitigate delays using additional shipyard resources, such as more staff to complete work more quickly,” the GAO reported.
US Navy officials have maintained, repeatedly, that the
lead submarine would be in operation on time for its first scheduled patrols.
Because of the Columbia-class programme's essential role in strategic deterrence, it has priority status over most national defence-related programmes, including the Virginia-class attack submarine programme, the GAO said.
Ukraine conflict: General Atomics offers to donate two UAVs to Ukraine
03 February 2023
by Marc Selinger
An MQ-9A Reaper. (US Air Force)
US-based General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) has offered to transfer two company-owned MQ-9A Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), a ground-control station, and related equipment to Ukraine for the symbolic price of USD1 to help the war-torn country improve its airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, according to GA-ASI's chief executive.
US and allied forces have used Reapers extensively in combat, and providing such aircraft to Ukraine would have an “immediate impact” on the country's war with Russia, CEO Linden Blue said in a 1 February statement.
The offer includes free training for the first cadre of Ukrainian pilots and maintainers. It excludes the cost of readying the aircraft for combat, transporting them to Ukraine, setting them up in that country, obtaining satellite bandwidth, or providing additional supporting labour, all of which are “outside of our control”, according to Blue.
GA-ASI made its proposal public amid months-long US government resistance to sending the company's UAVs to Ukraine. While Ukraine has received artillery, tanks, and other much-needed military support from the West, it continues to lack “high-quality” UAVs, GA-ASI spokesperson C Mark Brinkley told Janes
Poland has ordered more Javelin anti-tank guided missiles, with which the WOT began training in 2021 (pictured). (Polish MND)
Poland has ordered 50 more Javelin Light Weight Command Launch Units and approximately 500 FGM-148F Javelin anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), the Polish Armaments Agency (AA) announced on its website on 31 January. Warsaw was exercising an option in a 2020 Foreign Military Sales (FMS) contract with the United States for 60 Command Launch Units and 180 Javelin missiles worth USD54.5 million for the Polish Territorial Defence Forces (Wojska Obrony Terytorialnej:WOT).
The original FMS contract included spare parts and repair equipment; training of instructors and operators on how to employ the Javelin, including with simulators; and on how to handle and use ammunition. The contract extension includes additional logistics and training packages.
Together, the original FMS contract and exercising the option are worth USD158 million.
Deliveries to the WOT, which has been using Javelin since 2021, are expected to be completed by 2026.
Saudi navy opts for MBDA SAM for Multi-Mission Surface Combatants
02 February 2023
by Jeremy Binnie & Richard Scott
A CAMM is ejected from a modified Mk 41 launcher during a test. (MBDA)
The Royal Saudi Naval Forces (RSNF) has selected MBDA, rather than Raytheon, to provide the primary surface-to-air missile (SAM) for its new frigates, the US Department of Defense (DoD) confirmed on 31 January.
It announced that MBDA's US subsidiary had been awarded a USD118.7 million non-competitive contract to deliver its Common Anti-Air Module Missile (CAMM) for Saudi Arabia's Multi-Mission Surface Combatants (MSSCs), which are being built by Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Wisconsin, with Lockheed Martin acting as prime contractor. Most of the work will be carried out at MBDA's plant in Stevenage in the UK, and the contract includes options that, if exercised, will bring its total value up to USD145.5 million.
When the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced in 2015 that Saudi Arabia's procurement of four MSSCs had been approved, it said they would be equipped with Raytheon's RIM-162 Evolved SeaSparrow Missiles (ESSMs) in two eight-cell Mk 41 vertical launch systems (VLSs), in addition to SeaRAM close-in weapon systems for RIM-116C Block II Rolling Airframe Missiles (RAMs).