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RUSSIA ON THE PATH TO HYPERSONIC WAR

On March 1st, during his annual speech in front of the Parliament, Vladimir Putin made a statement regarding the new technologies developed by the Russian defense industry: six new strategic weapons including one new type of hypersonic missile.

The Kinzhal (Кинжал KH-47M2) is a long-range hypersonic air missile (12,000 km/h – Mach 10 speed) co-produced by the Russian companies Tactical Missiles Corporation and KB Mashinostroyeniya. It was originally designed for the Mikoyan MiG-31 (Микоян МиГ-31) aircraft however, Russian newspapers reported on July 6th 2018, that the authorities were going to also test it onboard the Tupolev (Tu-22M3 Туполев). This aircraft has a lower supersonic speed than the MiG-31 but the Government thinks it could raise the combat potential of the Russian Air Force.

The missile is characterized by an interchangeable warhead that can be either conventional or nuclear.  The Kinzhal is claimed to have maneuverable flight characteristics at any speed and can operate up to a distance of 2,000km.

It can hit aircraft-carriers, destroyers and cruisers. In December 2017, tests were fired over Southwest Russia and authorities affirmed that the tests were successful. However, the MiG-31 had to be modernized to be adapted to the new weapon. No explanation about the type of upgrade was given.

The Kinzhal has been compared to the Iskander missile (9K720 Искандер, NATO name SS-26 Stone). The only difference between the two is the range capacity, as the Iskander it is limited to a 500km distance.

The Kinzhal has been designed to overcome any known anti-missile defense system thanks to its speed. Indeed, it flies so fast that it cannot be perceived by ballistic systems, and therefore, cannot be intercepted. Such weapons would be able to overturn the balance of power between power states.

Another missile was also introduced in 2017: the Zircon. The Zircon (3M22 Циркон), is an anti-ship cruise missile developed by Russian company NPO Mashinotroyeniya. It is the hypersonic version of the supersonic cruise missile Brahmos, and authorities have declared that its speed capacity is of Mach 8, approximately 9,800km/h. The Zircon is expected to be installed on the 5th generation nuclear submarine “Husky” (developed by the Design Office of Malakhit). It has been engineered to be used on the same platforms as the anti-ship missile SS-N-26 Strobile (Oniks – 3M55) and SS-N-27 Sizzler (Kalibr – 3M54) such as in the following table.

First tests were fired on March 17th, 2016 and were reported as successful.

The 3M22 (Zircon) missile can be placed on naval vessels which means it can be fired from vertical silos or from a launching ramp. It is also adapted to the universal onboard shooting complex 3C14. Its cost is estimated between 1 and $2 million.

Although the new “Husky” is not a part of Russian fleet yet, it is expected to start the experimental design work in 2023 and to have delivered the vessel by the end of 2027. The Zircon will become the main weapon of this new submarine, as it is planned in the 2018-2027 Russian armament program.

The President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin also justified this development because of American military developments of anti-missile shields in Eastern Europe and in South Korea. International newspapers recently reported that several MiG-31 reinforcements are positioned in two areas: the Tiksi base on the Arctic Ocean and the Milerovo base on the Ukrainian border.

 

Written by Alix Van Den Bogaerde (Junior Analyst) for OIDA Strategic Intelligence

THE UNITED KINGDOM STEPS UP ITS MARITIME ELECTRONIC WARFARE

The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence has plans to recapitalize the Royal Navy’s maritime capabilities by combining two previous projects, the Radio Frequency RF and the Electronic surveillance and defensive aid, to create the Maritime Electronic Warfare Programme (MEWP). The MEWP illustrates the Royal Navy’s wish to lead in the area of electronic warfare and is a part of their intention to upgrade the whole United Kingdom’s Navy with over 70 new systems from 45 commercial partners in the forthcoming years.

The MEWP aims to upgrade the Royal Navy’s electronic warfare capabilities with state of the art equipment and cutting-edge technology. This programme is divided into two sections: the first step ‘Maritime Electronic Warfare System Integrated Capability’ (MEWSIC) which will deliver improvements in electronic surveillance, EW command and control (EWC2), and electronic warfare operational support (EWOS). The second phase is the Electronic Warfare Countermeasures (EWCM).

The MEWP takes over previous electronic warfare projects such as the MoD’s Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) organization which had been pursuing standalone Maritime Electronic Warfare Surveillance System (MEWSS) and Defensive Aids Suite – Surface Ship (DASSS) programs. MEWSS was intended to deliver a next-generation ship borne electronic support measures (ESM) capability, whereas DAS-SS was focused on the provision of improved soft-kill coordination and new RF countermeasures, with an initial focal point on upgraded Electronic Warfare Command and Control (EWC2).

The MEWSS and DAS-SS merged into the MEWSIC and EWCM sub-projects, which alone have been valued between £250-400 million (€283-453 million). This effort is intended to deliver a coherent next-generation EW surveillance and soft-kill protection capability for RN Type 23 frigates and Type 45 destroyers to address RF threats out to 2035. Other MEWP components are expected to be fitted on the Type 26 Global Combat Ship and the Type 31 light frigate in due course. For the moment, the MoD has not chosen its partners for MEWSIC, however Thales, BAE Systems, and CGI have teamed up against Lockheed Martin UK and Elbit Martin Systems UK to win the contract.

For the moment, the MEWP is still in its market research stage, more particularly in the Royal Navy’s Electronic warfare submarines capabilities area. In recent official documents, the MoD confirmed the scheduled start date of award procedures (2022) for the Future Submarine Warfare Surveillance System (F-SEWSS) and the Maritime Electronic Warfare Surveillance System L (MEWSS-L) projects, comprising in a first step of market research through Requests for Information which encompasses all Technology Readiness Levels from early developmental considerations to Commercial and Military Off The Shelf (COTS/MOTS).

Regarding the second phase, the EWCM, Electronic Warfare Countermeasures (EWCM) Request For Information initiated by the DE&S, confirms that market research for the second sub-phase, Balanced Countermeasures Suite Study (BCM2) has begun.

Adjacent projects funded by the MoD in Electronic warfare are also in the works. The MoD awarded an initial 5-year contract back in 2016, to Leonardo Airborne & Space Systems Division (£1-18.4 million – €1.3-20.78 million), BAE Systems Applied Intelligence (£11.6-19.7 million – €13.1-22.24 million), Atlas Elektronik UK (£2.1-12.4 million – €2.37 -14.1 million), and QinetiQ (£5-9.5 million – €5.6-10.7 million), for electronic warfare, cyber research, and technology, as one of the four core capacity packages. The aim is to provide a rapid tasking route to stimulate market performance and to increase external capabilities to ensure national EW&C capability for the MoD and wider UK government priorities.

 

Written by Alexandra Stafferton (Junior Analyst) for OIDA Strategic Intelligence

A NEW VENTURE INTO THE DIGITAL SECURITY INDUSTRY FOR THALES AS IT TAKES OVER GEMALTO

December 2017, the French aerospace company Thales and the digital security firm Gemalto (secure software, biometrics and encryption for businesses and governments to authenticate identities and protect data), jointly announced the agreement on a recommended all-cash offer for all issued and outstanding ordinary shares for Gemalto (€51 per share). The waiting period has been extended until 15th August 2018.

Thales will combine its digital businesses into Gemalto, which will continue to operate under its own brand as one of Thales’ seven global business units. By acquiring Gemalto, Thales adds around €3 billion of revenue for 2018 to its digital business sales and acquires a set of technologies and competencies which have applications across Thales’ five vertical markets (Aeronautics, Space, Ground transportation, Defence and Security).

The combination of the two signifies that the French-Dutch company Gemalto will return under the French flag as Thales takes its shares. The digital security firm is currently based in Amsterdam and run by top Chief Executive Officer Philippe Vallée (since 2016) and Non-executive Chairman Alex Mandl. The company was launched back in 2005, after a merger of Axalto and Gemplus. The governing principle between these digital firms is the current Gemalto’s NEC: Alex Mandl, as he was also CEO of Gemplus, In-Q-tel, and former CIA employee. As a reminder In-Q-tel is an American non-profit firm created to support American intelligence agencies such as the CIA, and funds amongst others Palantir Technologies (Data Analytics), Recorded Future (Predictive Analytics), and Interset (Security Analytics).  Therefore, he will continue to play a crucial part with the French CEO in the governance, direction, and intelligence of the company within the merger with Thales.

Gemalto’s unrivalled and innovative technology portfolio will put Thales in a highly differentiated position to provide not only to enterprises and government agencies but also implement gradually new security and technologies within its own different markets.

Thales’ interest in acquiring Gemalto reflects its recognition of several opportunities such as securing the American 3M’s Identity Management business which specialises in biometric technology, after losing the Safran Morpho deal to Oberthur Technologies (U.S. IDEMIA), and announced in 2017 new on-demand connectivity deals with consumer device makers like Microsoft, industrial players such as the PSA Group, and mobile operators like AT&T and Telefonica (see table below).

All in all, whilst Gemalto will appear under the French flag just like Morpho, it seems in reality to be highly influenced by American direction by reason of Alex Mandl, and its affiliation with its new U.S. subsidiary 3M.

From Thales’ point of view, acquiring Gemalto represents first and foremost an acceleration of its digital strategy: over the past three years, the aerospace company has significantly increased its focus on digital technologies, investing over €1 billion in connectivity, cybersecurity, data analytics and artificial intelligence, in particular with the acquisition of Guavus, Sysgo, and Vormetric.

In addition, further indications of Thales’ interest for digital security within the defence environment can be seen through its participation in the French “Matrice” program with the “Hackathon” project (“hacker” and “marathon”) which is now in its second year. Thales has partnered up with the French Navy and “l’Ecole 42” to create a 3-day competition for students to develop a collaborative sharing tool intended to feed a specific cloud for maritime users. This initiative represents the new direction the French Defence and Maritime industry is taking, notably with the Thales-Gemalto partnership leading the way.

 

Written by Alexandra Stafferton (Junior Analyst) for OIDA Strategic Intelligence

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