NATO further extends Libya mission - 21 September, the North Atlantic Council agreed to extend the campaign's mandate by a further 90 days until late December.
The UK confirmed enduring participation, but will reduce its deployed force by withdrawing four Eurofighter Typhoons and three Westland/Boeing Apache AH1 attack helicopters from the Mediterranean region.
16 Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 strike aircraft, will remain forward-based at Gioia del Colle, Italy, and two Army Air Corps Apaches will continue to be employed on HMS Ocean. These will remain in-theatre "for as long as required".
India and UK join forces on Military Research and Development -
The UK MOD's Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Sir Mark Welland, has signed a Letter of Arrangement in London with Dr Vijay Kumar Saraswat, Director General of India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
The two countries will pool their world-class science and engineering expertise to work on projects such as unmanned aerial vehicles, advanced explosives, and factors affecting human performance on the battlefield.
In addition to developing new technologies for equipment, scientists will also explore better ways of defending against chemical and biological threats through protection, decontamination and medical countermeasures.
Let's hope it is a first step on a road that sees Typhoon selected for the IAF, and Type 26 for the Indian Navy!
Malaysia asks information about joining the Type 26 development - Malaysia is considering a number of defence joint ventures with the UK including the development of the Type 26 frigate. Brazil, India, Turkey and Australia have expressed interest in helping to develop the Type 26 frigate, or Global Combat Ship, but BAE’s reputation has made other potential partners nervous and Malaysia would want a guarantee that it would not be liable for budget overruns before it signed up.
Ministerial level talks have apparently taken place, with the UK government and industry ensuring that the tightest of cost control regimes will be applied to the new programme. BAE was also reported in July to be bidding for a tender to replace Malaysia’s MiG-29N with its Eurofighter Typhoon.
The Times said that the MiG-29N replacement deal could be worth £2.4 billion.
MBDA Germany works to develop Laser for C-RAM role - MBDA Germany successfully tested a 10kW laser illuminator designed for use with future Counter Rocket, Artillery, Mortar (C-RAM) laser weapon system. The laser evaluated in the recent test series was a 10kW illuminator matched with beam direction optics trough geometric coupling technology patented by MBDA Germany. The system enabled the laser to dwell for few seconds on a moving target, located more than two kilometers away while retaining a high quality beam. According to EADS announcement the system demonstrated tracking of dynamic objects and the effects on the object, performed over a distance of more than 2,300 m and an altitude differential of 1,000 m under real-life environmental conditions.
The successful tests by MBDA Germany have been conducted on behalf of the German Federal Office for Defence Technology and Procurement (BWB) at the latter’s WTD 52 testing site.
Laser technology if of great interest for this and other roles, and according to the SDSR the British Army should be given a C-RAM capability by 2020.
British Industry, including UK based suppliers, work for Saudi orders - Saudi Arabia has ordered 36 M777A2 howitzer and 17 M119A (the american variant of the L118 Light Gun), plus ammunition, radars and Humvees for support, to re-equip three artillery regiments. Workers in the UK will be involved in the production.
Meanwhile Creation UK has created a joint venture with Saudi Arabia's ERAF Industries to jointly develop and build its family of Zephyr multirole machines in the gulf nation. The two companies are hoping the tie-up will lead to a deal with the Saudi military to acquire the vehicle, as the armed forces of the country have a similar requirement.
The Zephyr has been under development for almost five years and was an early contender for the British Army's light protected patrol vehicle program, a contest eventually secured by Force Protection with its Ocelot design.
So far, Hampshire, England-based Creation UK has configured production-ready vehicles around protected patrol vehicle requirements, although the platform can also be used for applications such as a light logistics carrier, command and control, reconnaissance, battlefield ambulance and other specialist roles.
Gap SAR programme - Details have emerged about the UK government's interim search and rescue requirement, following the collapse of the £6 billion SAR-H project earlier this year. The new programme, which has been dubbed the Gap Search and Rescue Helicopter Service and became open to tender in July, was launched as an emergency measure in order to ensure continuity of service following the abandonment of the SAR-H programme after irregularities were found in the bidding process.
The Department for Transport (DfT) - the tendering department – has stated that the contract will be for six years with the option to extend a further 12 months. The department hopes to have the Gap SAR service operational in the spring of 2012 with the total cost of the contract estimated to be between £200 and £235 million.
According to Gap SAR tendering documents, the DfT is offering bidders the opportunity to make three bids: one that covers the two northern bases, one that covers the south bases and a bid that covers both regions. This may open the possibility of different providers operating the Scottish and south coast operations.
Currently, SAR helicopter operations are carried out by the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force flying the Westland Sea King, and by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) using a mix of S-92s and AW139s, provided by CHC under an interim contract operating from Portland, Lee on Solent, Shetland and the Isle of Lewis. That contract is due to end in the first half of 2012.
Under previous plans, the helicopters involved in the interim contract and the Sea Kings would have been replaced by a new single-type fleet purchased by preferred SAR-H bidder Soteria – a consortium of CHC, Thales and the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). The service would have begun operations when the interim contract ended, and was due to be fully in place by 2016, when the Sea King is planned to be retired.
It remains planned that all Sea Kings will be retired within 2016, so a long term plan for SAR provision is one of many things to be fixed, along with marinization of Merlin HC3 to replace Sea King HC4 and along with MASC/Crow's Nest to replace the AEW service of the Sea King MK7.
Falklands and the oil - British oil group Rockhopper Exploration has unveiled optimistic plans for a $2 billion oil infrastructure investment in the Falkland Islands announcing on 14 September that it expected to start pumping oil in 2016 from its four licensed Sea Lion concessions totaling 1,500 square miles, with a projected production rate of roughly 120,000 barrels of oil per day by 2018. Rockhopper Exploration said the fifth well in the Sea Lion complex "had found a high quality reservoir package and oil column."
The Sea Lion field is now estimated as having a 350 million barrel recoverable resource. The plan assumes that Rockhopper will use a leased FPSO, a ‘floating production storage and offloading’ vessel, to remedy to lack of existing infrastructure and to the issue of having no land-support at handy reach: with Argentina and Brazil denying access to Falklands-bound ships, material will have to come from the UK, adding challenges to the adventure. The UK Foreign Office is in talks with Rockhopper about the plans.
This roseate picture is somewhat clouded by several facts, including that currently Rockhopper Exploration has on hand a mere $170 million, enough to pay for two more scheduled wells. The latest well drilled gave good results, but to really launch the enterprise towards success, further good results will be necessary, along, very possibly, with a Big name coming in to help and fund the job.
Nevertheless, Rockhopper Exploration shares, which have outperformed the European index of oil and gas companies by 14 percent since August, were up 1.1 percent in early trading after the company's announcement. So far, Rockhopper is the only one company who had luck with the few wells drilled to this date. Last, but not least, Argentina's aggressiveness about the islands is higher than ever.
Falkland Oil & Gas Ltd., a U.K.- based explorer in the South Atlantic, delayed the start of drilling at its Loligo well and may sell stock late 2012 if the well is successful, Chief Executive Officer Tim Bushell said.
The company will probably start drilling the first well at Loligo, southeast of the Falkland Islands, in April instead of the first quarter as it expects to receive the Leiv Eiriksson rig more than a month later than planned.
Loligo, located to the east of the Falklands islands, holds as much as 5 billion barrels, Bushell said. The wells to be drilled will have to prove this true.