The war in Ukraine has been the necessary excuse for many European countries to justify, before their public opinion, an increase in the Defense budget that, for decades, the Old Continent has been delaying over time despite the demands of the United States, on everything as far as the maintenance of NATO is concerned. France announced this week that its new Military Programming Budget (LPM) will amount to 413,000 million euros in the next seven years, which represents an increase of 100,000 million euros compared to the previous one.
“This LPM represents an unprecedented increase in the defense budget,” declared Sébastien Lecornu, French Minister of the Armed Forces, who also assured this increase is due to “the very rapid degradation of the geopolitical context” marked by the war in Ukraine, but also to “the appearance of numerous technological leaps that have a cost.”
For his part, this same week it was also known that the Secretary of State for Defense of the Netherlands, Christophe van der Maat, has addressed the country’s House of Representatives through a letter in which he explains that they are strengthening power of fire from the armed forces with the purchase of rocket artillery for the Army and long-range weapons for the Navy and the Air Force. These are systems that can aim at targets with great precision and power at longer ranges. Specific, Dutch Defense has opted for Israeli PULS systems for the land sphere, and American Tomahawk and Jassm-ER missiles, for the naval and air spheres, respectively. The estimated total cost reaches 4,000 million euros.
Rocket artillery, the Ministry of Defense explains in a statement, allows army units to eliminate enemy targets with precision. This includes air defense and fire support systems, headquarters, and logistics centers. With long-range weapons, ships can take out targets in the opponent’s field. At present, Dutch warships do not have powerful enough weapons that go far enough to disable enemy bunkers, for example.
As for the F-35 fifth-generation combat aircraft, of which 52 units have been acquired, it has weapons to combat ground targets that are relatively close, but not to attack distant targets. For that, long-range weapons are required. In this context, Van der Maat has highlighted that the war in Ukraine “shows once again that short, medium and long-range fire support is essential. This applies on land, from the air and from the sea. With the new systems, the Ministry of Defense further strengthens NATO’s common combat and deterrence power. This shows that the Netherlands is taking responsibility by making a strong contribution to this. Besides, the Netherlands thus promulgates the desire to possess its own rocket artillery and long-range weaponsas described in the Defense Policy Document 2022”.
In the terrestrial field, the Royal Army of the Netherlands is going to equip itself this same 2023 with the Israeli PULS (Universal and Precise Launch System), for an estimated price of just over 500 million euros. This gives you your own rocket artillery for the first time in years, allowing you to provide effective fire support on the ground.
ANDhe Ministry of Defense of the Netherlands opts for PULS to the detriment of the US HIMARS. In his note, he explains that he has evaluated two systems that meet his requirements: Himars and PULS, and concludes that the latter is distinguished in several areas. Compared to the US Himars system, it can carry more missiles, it also makes it possible to buy more rockets with the same budget, and they can also be available sooner. And to all this he adds that the PULS will be suitable for ammunition from European manufacturers in the future.
Denmark is also buying the PULS system, while Germany is interested, which “offers prospects for international cooperation to increase European autonomy.” The German company Krauss Maffei Wegmann (KMW) agreed last year with the Israeli Elbit Systems to develop a version for Europe, called Europuls.
The PULS system is the same one in which Morocco is also interested in equipping its armed forces.
In the naval field, the chosen one is the American Tomahawk system, with which frigates and submarines will be equipped. It is a weapon with a range of more than 1,000 kilometers and can be directed after launch to follow a different route to the target or assign a different target. The US and British navies, among others, use it. Spain became interested in it to equip its S-80 submarines, pending entry into service and which is designed to accommodate this weapon that it is not going to acquire at the moment.
For the air domain, the Netherlands has also chosen American-made long-range missiles with which to equip their F-35s. Specifically, it has opted for the Jassm-ER. It is a projectile with a range of about 1,000 kilometers.. The US and Australian air forces already have it in service, and in Europe, Germany, Finland and Poland are also acquiring it.
At the same time, with regard to land-based missile systems, The United States recently launched the Himars Europe Initiative (EHI), in which several NATO countries that already use or are studying the use of these high mobility systems participate, a project in which Spain is not involved either.
Currently, heThe Spanish Armed Forces do not have a rocket launcher capacity of this type, which with the war in Ukraine has increased its importance and is essential for defense, according to many experts. The beginning of the Russian invasion, in February 2022, has put this weapon in the focus of many countries due to the role that the 38 systems that the United States has supplied to Kiev since last June have been playing in the fighting for a few months. . Poland stands out among European countries for its interest in acquiring half a thousand Himars modules to be mounted on trucks plus another 18 complete systems, for an estimated cost of 10,000 million dollars.
Poland is precisely one of the countries that has opted for rearmament. Among many other items, it has announced the purchase of combat tanks with a first batch of 250 M1A1 Abrams, to which will be added a complementary purchase, valued at 1.4 billion dollars, for a second batch of 116 Abrams; K2 cars acquired from South Korea will also be purchased within an agreement that contemplates the arrival of 980 of them, of which 600 would be built in Polish facilities. Likewise, the Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa company will manufacture 1,400 units of the Borsuk, an Infantry Combat Vehicle (IVC) in which some 8,500 million euros will be invested, in addition to the aforementioned 18 HIMARS system launchers and hundreds of rockets that would include 45 M57 ACTAMS (Army Tactical Missile System) that has an estimated range of about 300 kilometers and high precision. To all this will be added 648 155/52mm self-propelled howitzers of the K9 type, from South Korea, the same country from which FA-50 light combat jets have been purchased, and 289 K239 Chunmoo rocket launchers. To all this are added the F-35s acquired or the Patriot anti-aircraft system, which entered service in 2022.
The sum of all this huge material acquired in the Polish rearmament, which should be delivered before the end of this decade, will substantially reinforce the structures of the Polish Army with truly capable systems and will give the Polish Defense industry manufacturing, maintenance and modernization that will be basic for programs that may arise in the medium and long term. (Octavio Díez Cámara)
While all this is happening in most European countries, Spain is still undecided on most of the projects underway, which runs the serious risk of falling behind again in its plans to acquire new weapons systems. Neither the acquisition of the F-35 to replace the obsolete F-18 has yet been decided, nor that of the F-35B to retire once and for all the Harriers that serve in the embarked wing of the LHD Juan Carlos I, nor A decision has been made regarding the rocket launcher, despite the fact that covering this deficiency has been marked as a priority within the future Force 2035: recovering the rocket capacity, lost more than a decade ago already, in 2011, with the withdrawal of the system Teruel; nor has it been decided to purchase Tomahawk missiles for the S-80 class submarines, which are prepared for launch…
Despite the fact that the Ministry of Defense is clear about its needs, the Government, perhaps given the prospect of general elections at the end of the year, prefers to let time pass without making decisions so as not to upset its Podemos partners and certain sectors ” pacifists” of his electorate. The fact is that our partners in NATO have taken a clear and resounding step forward in this regard, especially, for example, in the case of the acquisition of the F-35: Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Italy, Norway, Poland, The United Kingdom, Germany and now also Greece and Romania already have them or have announced their purchase.
In the case of the rocket launcher system, it is true that the Spanish companies Expal and Escribano presented their proposal for the development of a high mobility rocket launcher system (Silam) for the Army. This program is one of those that the Ministry of Defense will launch from next year with the increase in the budget, although for the moment little else is known about it.
The system will be based on the PULS (Precise and Universal Launching System) rocket launcher from the aforementioned Israeli firm Elbit. The project contemplates the transfer of technology for the development by Spanish companies of the launcher and ammunition (rockets and missiles). The companies propose a rocket launcher with a range from 40 km and 150 km with Accular and Extra rockets, respectively, up to 300 km with the Predator Hawk.
The battery will be installed on an Iveco Astra 6×6 vehicle and will be integrated into the Talos command and control system. The program also includes training responsible for its operation in the Army and also maintenance throughout the life cycle.
The PULS system has been selected for its benefits, system capacities, speed of deployment and guarantee of national sovereignty, after analyzing the systems of different technologists that exist in the market.. The idea, in the end, is to nationalize the production of this development. The national percentage has yet to be defined, however, it will be “very high”, sources familiar with the program explain to Infodefensa.com, far exceeding 50%.
As detailed by the companies behind the project, These types of systems have high mobility and speed for position entry and exit, characteristics that make detection and attack difficult. They provide long-range support to expeditionary operations with high-volume destructive, suppressive, and counter-battery fire. In addition, they have high precision through the integration of a guidance system that achieves greater efficiency in operations, while reducing collateral damage and optimizing effects on high-value targets.
The industrial plan is practically defined. Escribano will manufacture the mechanical elements, hydraulics and electronics, as well as the integration of armored systems. Expal, for its part, will produce components, launch pods and ammunition. Below there will be different companies as subcontractors such as Iveco, responsible for integrating the launcher into the Astra vehicle, or the SMS missile consortium, in charge of connecting the battery with the command post.
The prototype of the system could be a reality within 18 months from the launch of the program. “If they are launched before the end of the year, it could be by the end of 2023,” they point out.
This high mobility rocket launcher is one of the programs that will receive funding thanks to the increase in the Ministry of Defense budget. Specifically, the project has an initial budget of 22 million euros for next year in the section on Special Modernization Programs, better known as PEA.