France keen to buy 12 US Reaper drones: minister

 

France keen to buy 12 US Reaper drones: minister

France wants to buy 12 Reaper drones from the United States, Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Tuesday, as ministry officials put the cost at 670 million euros ($889 million).

Le Drian said he wanted two Reapers to be deployed in sub-Saharan Africa, where France is battling Islamist militants in Mali.

The 10 others would be deployed in French and European skies.

The deal needs the approval of Congress. Le Drian said that if it did not give a go-ahead, France could buy the drones from Israel.

The Reapers are made by California-based General Atomics.

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Su-35S Gets Ready for the Paris Air Show in France

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Training flights of the Su-35S take place these days at the Zhukovsky airfield at the M. M. Gromov Flight Research Institute in preparation for participation in the le Bourget-2013 International Air Show.

The Honored test pilot of the Russian Federation, the Hero of Russia Sergey Bogdan works on two sets of aerobatics – for normal and complex weather conditions.

Participants and visitors of the largest exhibition of the world aircraft industry achievements will be able to watch such a complex and spectacular flight figures as spatial barrels, somersaults, a flat spin, and, of course, the famous “Pugachev’s Cobra”.

Next week, upon completion of test flights, the aircraft will fly to France to continue getting ready for the flight program of the air show.

The newest multirole Su-35S fighter will be presented for the first time in a foreign air show. Its premiere flight program was held at the MAKS-2009 air show in Russia.

Su-35S is a deeply modernized super-maneuverable multirole fighter of the “4++” generation. The applied technologies of the 5th generation provide for the superiority of Su-35S aircraft over similar class fighters.

The aircraft has a much better flight characteristics compared with standing analog fighters and more perfect on-board avionics. Aircraft characteristics exceed all European tactical fighters of the 4th and “4+” generation like Rafale and Eurofighter 2000, as well as upgraded American fighters such as F-15, F-16 and F-18. Su-35S can also successfully counter the 5th generation fighters – F-35 and F-22A.

This aircraft, in particular, is the fastest (2,400 km/h at an altitude of 11 km) fighter, it has a higher thrust, it also has an almost two-fold benefit to the modern French (Rafale) and Swedish (Gripen) fighters in the flight range (without suspension tanks – 3600 km). The Gripen NG aircraft, for example, has only one engine, so it has a smaller combat survivability and reliability. The American F/A-18 fighter is inferior to the Russian Su-35S in the flight altitude.

France: National Liberation Front of Corsica (FNLC) separatists vow to attack France again

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Corsican separatists, who claimed responsibility for dozens of attacks last year, on Tuesday warned of fresh violence as France’s interior minister toured the crime-prone island.

“We will take up arms again so that France recognizes our national rights,” the Corsican National Liberation Front (FNLC) said in a statement, denouncing Paris for supporting a centralized republic.

But after vowing “zero tolerance” for mafia groups, Interior Minister Manuel Valls said: “We will not let ourselves be browbeaten by threats.”

The FNLC, which was set up in 1976, and various other factions intent on self-rule have staged hundreds of attacks in Corsica. They have also been blamed for armed robberies and extortion through so-called revolutionary taxes.

France confirms order for 34 NH90 troop transports

The French defence ministry has confirmed an order for 34 NH Industries NH90 troop transport helicopters for the nation’s army.

A deal had been expected earlier this year, but was delayed until the publication of the French government’s defence review in April. Further details of the contract are expected to be revealed at the Paris air show in mid-June.

 

Anthony Pecchi/Eurocopter

France already operates the TTH troop transport and NFH naval variants of the NH90.

French army receives first enhanced Tiger HAD

France’s DGA defence procurement agency has received its first Eurocopter Tiger in the enhanced HAD configuration for operation by the country’s army aviation units.

The delivery on 19 April follows acceptance of the type by the DGA earlier in April and certification in January 2013. Enhancements over the previous HAP air-support variant include uprated MTR390 engines, the addition of Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles and increased ballistic protection.

France has 40 Tiger HADs on order, with a further 24 examples ordered by Spain, including the retrofitting of six previously delivered aircraft.

Lutz Bertling, the outgoing Eurocopter chief executive, says the airframer is in discussions for at least one further Tiger order, although he plays down suggestions that any deal is close.

 

 Eurocopter

Meanwhile, France continues to mull the status of an order for 34 NH Industries NH90 troop transport helicopters, as it works to define its future defence spending priorities.

“The requirement is clearly there, but the French government is in the process of deciding which requirements will be prioritised depending on the available budget,” said Bertling at a media event in Marignane on 17 April.

Nonetheless, Bertling says he remains confident the order will come through, albeit in a modestly reduced form. “I don’t expect much deviation from 34,” he notes.

He refused to be drawn on the authenticity of a note, leaked to the French media, which purported to be from Eurocopter to the French government warning of the consequences for the NH90 programme should the commitment not be forthcoming.

However, Bertling pointed out the logic of the claims. “Any business, for whatever product, needs to make sense for a production line. Below a certain quantity it does not make such sense. Without this [French] contract we are facing a risk. We would anticipate export orders to have largely finished [by that point]. We would be facing a critical situation on that programme,” he says.

Eurocopter continues to eye further export opportunities for its military helicopters, with Bertling again highlighting the potential of the US Army’s as-yet-unlaunched Armed Aerial Scout programme. This comes despite last week’s US defence budget request for 2014, which saw the total number of UH-72 Lakotas trimmed by 30 units.

Chad pulls troops out of Mali’s ‘guerrilla’ war

Chad, one of the largest forces fighting in war-torn Mali, has announced it is withdrawing its forces.

President Idriss Deby decided to pull out Chadian troops just three months after the French-led invasion to oust Islamic extremists in Mali began.

“The Chadian army does not have the skills to fight a shadowy, guerrilla-style war that is taking place in northern Mali,” Deby said in a joint interview to France’s Le Monde newspaper, TV5 Monde and RFI radio.

“Our soldiers will return to Chad. They have accomplished their mission. We have already withdrawn a mechanised battalion,” he added.

Chad has suffered the worst casualties of any nation involved in the war. Three soldiers from Chad were killed in a suicide attack in Mali on Friday. In all, about 30 Chadian troops have died in the conflict in the former French colony.

Deby told French media that Chad has already begun removing the 2,000 soldiers active in Mali and that they would return progressively.

Chadian troops are specially trained in desert combat and have been instrumental in helping French troops oust elements of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in the mountanous north Kidal region.

According to GlobalPost senior correspondent in Africa, Tristan McConnell, it wasn’t so long ago that “Chad’s soldiers were being talked of as being exactly the kind of battle-hardened desert warriors that were needed to deal Mali’s jihadists a death blow.”

“Now it turns out they’re nothing of the sort,” McConnell said from Nairobi, adding:

President Deby himself says his troops are not up the job of fighting the “shadowy, guerrilla-style war” in Mali’s inhospitable north. Which begs the question, who is?

France has begun its drawdown of troops and while it hopes to maintain a force of 1,000 in its former colony, the withdrawal of Chad’s soldiers will make it that much harder to secure the considerable military gains against the Al Qaeda-linked militants.

Mali’s army is still far from fit-for-purpose and the regional African force mandate to deploy to Mali is in its infancy. Certainly the West African troops that will make up the African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA) will be no better able to deal with the jihadists than Chad.

In the longer-run the UN has proposed an 11,000 strong peacekeeping force but, for now, it remains theoretical with no agreed timeline for deployment.

Germany looking to buy weaponised drones from Israel

By on Monday, April 15th, 2013

Germany is in talks with Israel to buy weaponized drones for its military that are seen as more technologically advanced than US ones, the weekly Der Spiegel reported.

The news magazine’s Monday edition said the German defence ministry had already held two meetings with Israeli military officials, in November 2012 and February 2013, on the proposed purchase.

The chief of Germany’s air force, Lieutenant General Karl Muellner, was said to have recently gone to Israel to attend a presentation of Israel’s Heron TP drone, Der Spiegel said.

Berlin was believed to favour the Heron over the US-made Predator drones because it was seen as more cutting-edge, the magazine said.

Germany’s defence minister, Thomas de Maiziere, in February called for combat drones to be incorporated into the air force, saying their lack created a disadvantage.

At the time, he made no mention about which drones Germany would be interested in.

But Germany had expressed an interest in jointly developing drone technology with France, to avoid becoming dependent on US or Israeli drones.

The issue of drones has generated an ethical debate in Germany, which does not use unmanned aircraft to fight battles but only for surveillance and reconnaissance missions in places such as Afghanistan.