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Saudi Arabia looks at Phalanx upgrade

Key Points

  • A US FMS deal would see five Saudi Phalanx Block 0 systems upgraded to Block 1B Baseline 2 standard
  • The cost of the sale is estimated at USD154.9 million, of which the equipment component would amount to USD72.5 million

Saudi Arabia is looking to upgrade five existing Phalanx Block 0 close-in weapon systems (CIWSs) to the latest Block 1B Baseline 2 standard, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has revealed.

In an 11 February release, the DSCA said the State Department had approved the possible Foreign Military Sale (FMS), which would cover the supply of upgrade kits plus training and logistics support.

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Spain to trial Piranha 5 8×8 AIFV

The Piranha 5 from General Dynamics (GD) has taken a step nearer to becoming the future 8×8 armoured infantry fighting vehicle (AIFV) for the Spanish Army, with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) signing an agreement for it to be put through extensive technological trials. While a definitive purchase is still to be agreed, industry sources have told IHS Jane’s that preparing the vehicle for a test package makes the Piranha “now almost certain” to be the final choice. It is understood that five vehicles will be used for tests as part of a programme that will run through 2017. The following year the MoD is expected to give its final decision on a planned acquisition of between 300 and 400 vehicles. Besides GD, the project also involves SAPA, for the motors, and Indra for the command and control and missions systems.

Neither the company nor the ministry has commented yet on the technological trial contract, but the source says it was signed on 4 December. Earlier this year the Spanish government allotted EUR89 million (USD97 million) for the 8×8 development programme for what it calls the Veh culo de Combate sobre Ruedas (VCR): a project that is being financed by the Ministry of Industry. Once a purchase is agreed, initial orders are expected to focus on troop carriers and scouting and command versions before following up with more specialist versions in later orders.

The initial acquisition is likely to be worth between EUR1.1 billion and EUR1.5 billion.

The new 8×8 is due to replace the ageing and under-armoured BMR (Blindado Medio de Ruedas), which has been in service for more than 30 years.

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New PLAN replenishment ship type emerges

New PLAN Replenishment Ship Type Emerges

Internet images of a replenishment ship that may well be the first PLAN Type 901 vessel, in build in Southern China. Source: Chinese internet, via cjdby.net

Internet images have appeared showing what may be a new type of replenishment ship under construction for the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). The location of the shipyard where the vessel is in build is probably in China’s southern Guangdong province. The development is another PLAN move to enhance logistics support for deployed ships.

The class designator for the ship appears to be Type 901. Details are limited at this stage but the ship’s estimated dimensions are a displacement of 40,000-45,000 tonnes and a beam of 31.5 m. Although photographs – shown on the cjdby.net website, for example – have only just emerged, the ship is at an advanced state of construction and a launch in early 2016 seems probable.

Construction of a second vessel may already be under way.

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