“Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword obviously never encountered automatic weapons.” – Douglas MacArthur.

Dear Readers,

The news this week has been dominated by the conflict taking place between Israel and the Palestinian Territories, in particular the rockets being fired by the Hamas militant organisation and the retaliatory bombing and shelling of buildings in the Gaza Strip conducted by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF). The loss of life in Gaza continues to escalate but Israel has largely been protected from the incoming rockets by its Iron Dome defensive shield.

The use of the Iron Dome defence system, supplied by Rafael Advanced Defence Systems, has been widely featured by many media broadcasters who have been showing live intercepts of missiles launched by Hamas as they arc in the sky towards targets in Israel, only to be intercepted and explode in mid-air.

While these are not precision guided weapons, their almost random target area means that their interdiction needs to be very precise, with the anti-missile batteries located strategically on the ground.

According to Rafael the system is 90 percent effective, a statement recently echoed by the IDF who operate it. It is designed specifically for this type of scenario, where it is required to engage and shoot down missiles and 155mm artillery shells fired from between four kilometres (2.5 miles) and 70kms (43 miles) away.

The heart of the system is its advanced Elta ELM-2084 multi-mission radar (MMR), which not only detects the incoming munition, but rapidly tracks its trajectory, indicating where it is likely to land. This is important in that the second part of the system, the battle management centre (BMC), can then prioritise target in terms of which are likely to cause the most damage. With tens of rockets being fired at a time from each location, this target selection is a critical part of the system to prevent the defensive intercepting missile batteries from being overwhelmed.

Each battery is said to comprise one radar, one BMC and three launchers holding 20 Tamir intercepting missiles. These are equipped with elecro optical sensors and steering fins which give it the high manoeuvrability necessary to quickly intercept the incoming munitions.

Iron Dome is not new, in fact it is now a decade old, having been first used in March 2011. Each missile launch has been reported to cost around $50,000, but in terms of protecting lives and cities it seems a small price to pay.

Best to all,





Asian countries are sleepwalking towards a scenario that will lead to China dominating the South China Sea (SCS), and the time to take action is slipping away.

Few countries in the region are openly condemning China for its illegal island grabbing. Even the Philippines, which won a ruling by the international tribunal in The Hague in 2016 that China had no legal basis to claim a historic right to its Nine-Dash Line claims in the South China Sea, refuses to go any further with the country’s President Rodrigo Dutert stating on Thursday 6 May that it was ‘just a piece of paper that could be thrown in the bin.’

During a virtual briefing on Wednesday 12 May entitled hosted by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), Bill Hayton, associate fellow, Asia-Pacific Programme, at Chatham House, London, highlighted the fact that Chinese militia thinly disguised as fishermen have been bullying Vietnamese and Chinese fisherman for some time around many of the disputed islands in the SCS. He said that there are in the region of 200-300 boats that don’t do any fishing but provide constant harassment to the nationalities of other nations working around contested reefs.

While the US Navy conducts Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPS) periodically to assert international rights, potentially to be joined by the ships of other navies such as the new Royal Navy carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth expected in the region later in the year, there is little resolution from any of the regional countries to play a direct and outspoken leadership role against China.

China’s incredible naval ship building programme has already ensured that it outweighs the US Navy is quantity, although not yet in quality. However, in terms of dominance China is operating in its back-water whereas the US Navy must rely on its supply bases in Japan, Okinawa and Guam, all of which can be reached by China’s long range missiles should conflict ever occur.

The squeezing out of the US Navy from the SCS would inevitably increase the pressure on Taiwan and position China as the dominant maritime force in Asia.


In a timely coincidence considering the story on Israel above, NATO’s biggest and most complex air and missile exercise in Europe began on Saturday 15 May, primarily off the Scottish coast and the Andova training site off Norway. it will run to Thursday 3 June.

Exercise At-Sea-Demo/Formidable Shield will encompass 15 ships and dozens of aircraft from ten NATO nations – Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

“Formidable Shield shows how Allies are working together to defend NATO forces and populations from the very real threat of missiles,” said NATO spokesperson Piers Cazalet. “In conflicts around the world, cruise and ballistic missiles are often the weapon of choice, both for state and non-state actors. So at a time when we see missile arsenals growing and becoming more complex, it is important that Allies continue to adapt and exercise our defences.”

The exercises will require naval vessels to ‘detect and track a missile flying at more than 20,000km/h’. A NATO statement said that other missions would require naval vessels to “defend against an array of anti-ship and other sub and supersonic missiles using NATO procedures. Allies will share common tactical pictures, conduct joint mission planning and coordinate in shooting down incoming missiles.”

Conducted by Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO on behalf of US Sixth Fleet, Formidable Shield is a live-fire integrated air and missile defence (IAMD) exercise designed to improve Allied interoperability using NATO command and control reporting structures.

US MAJOR ARMS SALES (Defence Security Cooperation Agency – DSCA).

10 May, 2021 – Canada, AEGIS Combat System
The State Department has approved a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Canada of AEGIS Combat System and related equipment for an estimated cost of $1.7 billion.


Highlighting a selection of $100 million+ government awarded contracts awarded between 10-14 May 2021 and Foreign Military Sales contracts.

14 May
Perspecta Enterprise Solutions has been awarded an Enterprise Information Technology (EIT) application development services production other transaction agreement with a not-to-exceed value of $500 million. This agreement is based upon the successful completion of the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency’s (DCSA) security enterprise architecture and data analytics prototype other transaction agreement which was competitively awarded to Perspecta on May 14, 2019. The transaction continues the development and operations of the prototype solutions pertaining to major components of a comprehensive IT system for managing all background investigations and security clearance adjudications for federal employees and contractors. Through use of the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) processes, this transaction will support the development, enhancement and expansion of defense business system capabilities throughout operations of the EIT application. DCSA Acquisition and Contracting is the contracting activity.

InfoScitex has been awarded two shared ceiling $243 million IDIQ contracts for completing research and development. The first contract is the Aerospace Systems Technology Research and Assessment (ASTRA) Aerospace Technology Development and Testing (ATDT) for conducting research, development, and demonstration of transformative aerospace capabilities and multi-domain operations (MDO) modelling, simulation, and analysis (MS&A). The second contract is for the ASTRA Multi-Domain Modelling, Simulation, and Analysis (MDMSA). The MDMSA contract will focus on MDO MS&A tool development and MDO analysis. The Air Force Research Laboratory is the contracting activity.

Northrop Grumman Systems, Military Aircraft Systems, received a $17 million that provides technical and sustainment support for E-2C/D aircraft common and unique requirements for the Governments of France and Japan. Foreign Military Sales funds in the amount of $16,584,235 will be obligated at time of award. The Naval Air Systems Command is the contracting activity.

Boeing is awarded a $16 million for Option Year Three labor and other direct costs for design agent services in support of the AN/USQ-82(V) Gigabit Ethernet Data Multiplex System (GEDMS). This involves Foreign Military Sales funds in the amount of $719,508 (five percent). The Naval Sea Systems Command is the contracting activity.

13 May
Delphinus Engineering; East Coast Repair & Fabrication; Integrated Marine Services; LPI Technical Services; Orbis Sibro; Q.E.D. Systems; Tecnico; and Valkyrie Enterprises, are awarded a combined $986 million IDIQ contract for design, installation and repair services for habitability systems, spaces, facilities, fixtures, and equipment. The Naval Surface Warfare Center is the contracting activity.

Textron Systems is awarded a $15 million IDIQ contract for a one-time mid-life upgrade engineering change proposal for the advanced boresight equipment (ABE) system to modernise and bring 100 fielded domestic and Foreign Military Sales units up to the current commercial off the shelf configuration. Additionally, this contract procures depot repair and upgrade support for the ABE currently installed on AH-1Z, AH-1W and MH-60R combat aircraft, ashore and afloat. Depot repair and upgrade support includes tear down and evaluation of ABE, as well as restoration, modification, and procurement of spare parts in support of ABE component and assembly repairs and upgrades. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division is the contracting activity.

Raytheon received a $9 million order to support the Evolved Seasparrow Missile (ESSM) Block 2 life, parts, and ESSM Block 1 test equipment supplies. This order combines purchases for the Navy (64 percent); international consortium nation navies (34 percent); and the government of Japan (two percent) under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. The Naval Sea Systems Command is the contracting activity.

American Ordnance was awarded a $304 million contract for the Family of Extrudable C-4 items. US Army Contracting Command is the contracting activity.

QuantiTech was awarded a $14 million modification contract for programmatic support for the Utility Helicopters Project Manager’s Office. Fiscal 2019, 2020 and 2021 other procurement, Army funds; fiscal 2021 operation and maintenance, Army funds; fiscal 2021 research, development, test and evaluation, Army funds; and 2021 Foreign Military Sales (Australia, Austria, Brazil, Colombia, Croatia, Egypt, Japan, Jordan, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand and Tunisia) funds in the amount of $14 million were obligated at the time of the award. US Army Contracting Command is the contracting activity.

12 May
Bren-Tronics; Inventus Power; Navitas Advanced Solutions Group; and Ultralife, will compete for each order of the $1.2 billion contract for the Conformal Wearable Battery. US Army Contracting Command is the contracting activity.

Noble Sales, doing business as Noble Supply and Logistics; and PAE-IMK International ($375 million), have each been awarded an IDIQ contract under solicitation SPE8E3-19-R-0001 for facilities maintenance, repair, and operations requirements. Using customers are Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support.

Noblis is being awarded a $263 million contract to provide advisory and assistance Services in support of the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program. The Defense Threat Reduction Agency is the contracting activity.

Huntington-Ingalls Industries has been awarded an $115 million modification contract for engineering and technical support for USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79). The Naval Sea Systems Command is the contracting activity.

11 May
(Highest award of the day). Aecom Technical Services; Parsons Government Services; Jacobs USAE JV; HydroGeologic; and APTIM Federal Services, will compete for each order of the $49 million contract to perform Military Munitions Response Program responses. US Army Corps of Engineers is the contracting activity.

10 May
Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace was awarded a $499 million modification contract for the Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station system. US Army Contracting Command is the contracting activity.


17-21 May, SOFIC (virtual).
Keynote speakers from top US Special Operations Command leadership, including USSOCOM’s Commander, General Richard Clarke, USA, and Mr. James Smith, Acquisition Executive, USSOCOM.

8-9 June – Air Land Integration Conference, Alexandra House, Wroughton near Swindon, UK
The Air Land Integration Conference is the leading unclassified forum for Air Land Integration at the Tactical Level in Europe.The ALI Conference will definitely take place as a live in-person event.


IDEF – 25-28 May now moved to 17-29 August, Istanbul, Turkey
The 15th IDEF International Defence Industry Fair, IDEF 2021, has been postponed from 25-28 May. Organisers of the event announced that it will be held between 17 – 20 August 2021 in İstanbul. IDEF is held under the management and responsibility of the Turkish Armed Forces Foundation.


  1. The Stearman Kaydet (Boeing) Model 75 is a biplane formerly used as a military trainer aircraft during World War II. It was used to train pilots in the United States Army Air Forces and the United States Navy.
  2. The Gloucester Gladiator was used by the Royal Air Force during World War II, with one of its most notable actions taking place during the Siege of Malta in 1940.
  3. The Italian Fiat CR.42 Falco (Falcon) was used by the Italian Air Force (Regia Aeronautica) throughout the war, latterly by the German Luftwaffe when Italy surrendered in 1943.

Best wishes,

Andrew Drwiega

Armada International / Asian Military Review