Regional Economic Integration and Politics: The Case of SAPTA

Padmaja Murthy, Associate Fellow, IDSA


"Even the highly technical economic groupings such as customs union were primarily the outcome of political and security considerations."

Jacob Viner in The Customs Union Issue (New York 1950) as referred to by S.D.Muni, "Political Imperatives", in Bimal Prasad ed., Regional Cooperation in South Asia, Problems and Prospects.


In 1993, the member countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), entered into a regional economic arrangement, the SAARC Preferential Trade Arrangement (SAPTA) which became effective in 1995. It was considered as a major step forward for regional cooperation in South Asia and was hailed by one and all. SAPTA marked the transition of SAARC from a functional approach in regional cooperation to moving into core areas. However, while all the accolades are well deserved, to understand the development SAPTA in the right perspective, it is important to examine it in the context of the global trends of regional economic arrangements.

The aim of this essay thus is three-fold. First, to examine the concept of regional economic integration and the recent trends observed in them. Second, to study SAPTA as an example of regional economic arrangement, with an attempt to place it in the broader trends of regional economic arrangements. Third, the analysis of the above is sought to be done with regard to the political factors which influence such regional arrangements.

Section I examines the types of regional economic arrangements and focusses on the two phases of such arrangement in the post-World War II period. Section II deals with SAPTA—its various provisions and mechanisms and the factors which resulted in its agreement. Section III, briefly examines the working of SAPTA and attempts at a very selective comparison in a limited manner on certain aspects of the European Union (EU) and Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN). Section IV tries to look at the issue of lack of commitment among member states of SAPTA.



A regional economic arrangement aims at integrating independent national economies into a larger economic region. It, therefore, involves the removal of trade impediments and establishment of coordination and cooperation among the countries concerned.1 Depending on the level of integration, the regional economic arrangements take a variety of forms. The principle ones are the free trade area, customs union, common market and economic union. Among the developing countries, the preferential trade areas are also an important form of arrange- ment. It has been noticed that 119 countries that account for some 82 per cent of the world's trade are members of at least 23 regional arrangements.2

Preferential Trade Area

A preferential trade area is one where the member countries partially bring down tariffs towards each other's goods . It is important to remember that tariffs still exist in trade among them. What they have done is to give preference to the goods of the member countries in comparison to the rest of the world.

Free Trade Area

A free trade area is an arrangement whereby the member countries do not have any barriers and restrictions with respect to trade among themselves. However, each of the member countries is at a liberty to determine the tariff structure with respect to the imports originating from non-member countries.

Customs Union

A customs union facilitates free flow of trade among the member countries, like that in a free trade area. However, unlike a free trade area, the member countries have an understanding for a common external tariff towards non-members.

Common Market

A common market has all the features of a customs union. In addition it is accompanied by free movement of factors of production. Thus, it is assumed that there is no constraint whatsoever among the member countries, whether it is transfer of goods, capital or services.

Economic Union

An economic union exists if a common market is characterised also by union-wide economic policies.

Going by this taxonomy, it may be deduced that the various economic arrangements are like steps towards different degrees of economic integration. However, in practice, the steps need not follow sequentially and these categories are indicative rather than clear-cut.

A glance at the above types of economic arrangements might lead one to conclude that the reasons for forming such arrangements are purely economic. However, there have been schemes that were proposed for definite political reasons. It might be safe to conclude that it is the combination of the political as well as the economic rationale which goes into the making of an economic arrangement.

The economic factors that generally give rise to such arrangements are the following:3

(a) An enhanced efficiency in production made possible by increased specialisation in accordance with the law of comparative advantage.

(b) Increased production levels due to better exploitation of economies of scale made possible by increased size of the market.

(c) An improved international bargaining position made possible by the large size, leading to better terms of trade. It is clear that if each of the member countries of the EU was taken individually in the international forum, it would have little influence. However, together, the fifteen members of the EU are a force to reckon with and they can influence decisions. The Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT) negotiations were concluded only after the EU and USA ironed out their differences.

(d) Enforced changes in economic efficiency brought about by enhanced competition.

(e) Changes affecting the amount and quality of the factors of production due to technological advances.

Some of the political factors that motivate the formation of economic arrangements can be understood through the following examples.

(a) If one were to pay attention to the source of imports or destination of exports, it would be observed that political allegiance is positively correlated with the strength of trade links. The geographical trade patterns have political significance. Many a times economic arrangements are a means to divert attention from political differences, which exist among the countries. This can be performed by first cooperating in economic areas and by applying these successes to amicably settle the political differences. For example, the formation of the European Economic Community (EEC) was a politically motivated move towards forming a West European Union. Even the erstwhile COMECON (also known as CMEA i.e. Council for Mutual Economic Assistance founded in 1949) included the strengthening of political ties as one of its fundamental goals. These countries were bound together by the ideology of Communism. They basically catered to their needs of exports and imports by trading among themselves.4

(b) In some cases, economic arrangements may even act as a low cost method of achieving political goals of foreign policy. In such situations, the trade policy becomes the foreign policy. The EU's pyramid of preferences with the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries is such an example. Through such arrangements, the EU is able to extend its sphere of political influence, even in the post-colonial period.5 Even the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Area), is a vital tool in the hands of the USA to influence the regional actors politically. It can be safely argued that India has a clear goal of serving its national security through giving tariff free access to goods from Bhutan.

(c) Further, an economic grouping acting in a cohesive manner has the bargaining strength in matters both political and economic.

(d) The Southern African Customs Union ( SACU), unlike other regional arrangements in Africa, was considered successful. One of the reasons attributed for this was that South Africa under apartheid was willing to pay a visible budgetary price to acquire a certain amount of political respectability in its immediate neighbourhood. Of course, there are many who opine that it reaped economic benefits too in terms of gaining access to captive markets.6

Having spelt out some of the political and economic factors which motivate countries to form regional economic arrangements, the two phases in the emergence of regional economic groupings are spelt out in the following paragraphs.

The Evolution of Regional Economic Groupings

During the 1930s, as countries carving out their own colonies proliferated, the areas open to trade on equal terms greatly reduced. As a consequence, towards the end of the World War II period, free trade had become the biggest casualty with the emergence of restrictive trade practices. The post-World War II economic order, therefore, sought to put an end to such attempts at regionalisation through the establishment of an International Trade Organisation (ITO) to oversee the conduct of free and fair trade based on non-discriminatory practices.

Though the attempts at establishing an ITO failed, GATT came into existence in 1948. Its core principle is non-discrimination, as specified in Article 1 of GATT.

"...any advantage, favour, privilege or immunity granted by any contracting party to any product originating in or destined for any other country shall be accorded immediately and unconditionally to the like product originating or destined for the territory of all other contracting parties."

In sum, the cornerstone of GATT is the extension of unconditional most favoured nation treatment to all fellow signatories. However, there is one exception to this Article which is contained in Article 24. It states the conditions under which GATT signatories may form customs unions and free trade areas provided they fulfil some specific conditions which would be economically sound for the overall goal of free trade. However, there were clear political motives behind this Article, one of which was tment of the CMUP. All seven are due to be operational at the 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota, early next year, about two years ahead of the rest of the fleet.

Block D includes the capability to carry joint direct attack munitions (JDAMs), a low-cost 908kg (2,000lb) bomb guided by inertial navigation and global positioning system targeting signals.

The first operational sortie involved dropping JDAMs on targets in the Utah test range.

Up to 24 JDAMs can be carried in the B-1B's weapons bays. Block D includes a new defensive countermeasures system, featuring a towed decoy, and a new communications/navigation system.

The upgrade builds on Block C, which allowed the aircraft to deliver cluster bombs. Future improvements planned for CMUP Block E include the capabilities to handle the wind-corrected munition dispenser, joint standoff weapon (JSOW), and joint air-to-surface standoff missile (JASSM).

Block E is due to begin operational service in 2002, while Block F, which includes further defensive system upgrades, is scheduled for operational service in 2003.

Modification of all 93 B-1Bs, to include JDAM and improved communication/navigation systems, is due for completion in 2001. (Flight International, December 16-22)

Clean-up under way on F/A-18E/F wingdrop solution

A "Transonic clean-up" is under way on the Boeing F/A-18E/F to reduce the performance penalties associated with the solution devised for the earlier wing drop problem.

The porous wing fold fairing which eliminated the manoeuvre wing drop has increased drag, which has reduced range and acceleration marginally. While the single-seat F/A-18E still exceeds its range specifications, the two-seat F/A-18F now falls slightly short of its interdiction range target, the US Navy acknowledges.

Efforts also continue to reduce the "residual lateral activity" that remains after elimination of the wing drop. The navy describes this as "small twitches in the extremes of the envelope," and says similar characteristics are exhibited by the current F/A-18C/D.

Recently completed operational testing of the F/A-18E/F confirmed that wing drop no longer exists, says the navy. Unusually, their report has been classified, but the navy says testers found the aircraft to be "potentially operationally effective and potentially operationally suitable" and recommended continued development. The navy says the report concludes that "...the positive attributes demonstrated by the aircraft outweigh the negative impacts in all critical operational issues."

Several issues were raised which the navy hopes to cure before full operational evaluation begins in May. These include the residual lateral activity, buffet and drag resulting from the wingdrop fix; and potential concerns about the impact of noise and vibration on the service life of wingtip-mounted AIM-9 missiles. The service acknowledges that the larger E/F does not match the current C/D in all performance areas, notably acceleration, but says the E/F " a different aircraft tactically. We will develop new tactics around the capabilities of the aircraft."

The navy says the E/F has higher pitch pointing accuracy and better departure resistance, which improve air combat capability. In 75 per cent of engagements against F-14s, F-16s, F/A-18As and F/A-18Cs "...the F-18E got in the first shot," it says. (Flight International, December 23-January 5)

JSF engines tested in STOVL modes

Pratt & Whitney has exercised all short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) modes of the propulsion systems under test for the Boeing and Lockheed Martin Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) concept demonstrators. All four JSF119 engine variants were on test by late November.

Programme manager Bob Cea says the shaft-driven lift fan on the JSF119-611S powerplant for the Lockheed Martin X-35B STOVL demonstrator has been run to full thrust, and the three-bearing main engine nozzle vectored through the full 108º. Meanwhile, the twin direct-lift nozzles on the JSF119-614S engine for Boeing's STOVL X-32B have been vectored past 90º, he says.

The Boeing engine has demonstrated fan efficiency "...beyond what we predicted, at temperatures lower than predicted and at SFCs (specific fuel consumption) better than anticipated," Cea says. In STOVL mode, the two-dimensional thrust nozzle closes, diverting the exhaust to "Pegasus-style" lift nozzles.

The "big unknown" with the Lockheed Martin engine was the lift fan, Cea says. Engaging the shaft-driven fan in STOVL mode "...doubles the work of the turbine," he says: "We've just run at maximum engine airflow and maximum lift fan thrust--and it works. Stresses were as expected, and fuel flows and efficiencies look better."

Tests of the basic F119-based engines for the conventional takeoff and landing variants of the JSF demonstrators produced "outstanding results," says Cea, with "...maximum flow at rotor inlet temperatures lower than anticipated, compressor efficiency better than expected, low vibration, low stress and excellent behaviour."

P&W is now building two more sets of engines, for flight clearance testing. These will be less heavily instrumented, and will have flight-weight lift-system hardware. The company will then build two flight test engines, and refurbish one ground-test example as a spare, for each JSF team. Cea says 2,500h of testing will be done before the demonstrator first flights in 2000.

The demonstrator engines are built around a core identical to that of the F119s powering Lockheed Martin/Boeing F-22 development aircraft, but run at higher temperatures to produce more thrust. Cea says engines proposed for the JSF development phase will be based on the F119 core, but incorporating "supercooled" turbine blades and vanes to extend life at the higher temperatures.

Cea says P&W has just run JSF-type blades and vanes for 1,500 cycles in a testbed engine, with 500 more cycles planed by year end. Despite the apparent rapid progress in the 23 months since P&W won the JSF contract, Cea says 1999 "...holds lot of challenges." (Flight International, December 28-January 5)

ACTIVE takes step to propulsion control

A NASA-led research team has taken what it calls the "first step" towards achieving full control of an aircraft using propulsion alone for all phase of flight and not just emergency situations.

The landmark was achieved during Phase III of the F-15 ACTIVE (Advanced Control Technology for Integrated Vehicles programme which involves Boeing, the US Air Force and Pratt & Whitney.

During this lates phase, due to have ended around December 15, the aircraft's two pitch yaw balance beam, thrust vectoring nozzles were integrated with the testbed aircraft's fly-by-wire flight control system (FCS) to achieve "inter-loop" thrust vectoring control.

The initial phase of 14 flights was completed using the reversionary mode of the FCS " if any problems cropped up, or we exceed the limits of the envelope, it would automatically turn itself off," says NASA ACTIVE programme chief project engineer Gerard Schkolnik.

The integrated system "performed flawlessly" in all tested areas of the envelope. This included operations at 20,000ft (6,100m) and 0.6 Mach, 37,000ft and 0.75 Mach, angle-of-attack limits of 30º at 20,000ft and 30,000ft and a top speed of 1.2 Mach at 30,000ft. "We did more than double what we set out to do," says Schkolnik.

"Some of the most exciting stuff was achieved when we performed vectoring only tasks," he adds. The ACTIVE F-15 is fitted with two FCS gain sets that can be used to turn off all longitudinal inputs except for thrust vectoring, and all lateral inputs in the same way. "We turned off the longitudinal (pitch) and did advanced manoeuvering and tracking in vectoring mode only. The pilot gave it between one and two on the Cooper-Harper rating scale (one is best)," adds Schkolnik.

In standard formation-keeping flight and other tasks, all three project test pilots unanimously rated it with a one on the Cooper-Harper scale. "All three had never given any aircraft that rating before in their lives, so we are extremely pleased with the way it worked out."

Schkolnik describes ACTIVE's integrated control system as the "next logical step beyond PCA (propulsion controlled aircraft)," the get-you-home emergency flight control system developed by NASA in the wake of the Sioux City McDonnell Douglas DC-10 crash.

Further tests of the integrated system, this time in non-reversionary mode, are planned for later in 1999. "In that mode, we will fly beyond the limits of the baseline controller, for example, doing take-offs and landings using vectoring only. We will also fly high to unlimited angles-of-attack and to speeds of Mach 2," he says.

Other landmarks achieved during the initial phase included the first application of the versatile control augmentation system (VCAS) on a manned aircraft. The VCAS was first tested on the McDonnell Douglas DC-X and X-36 projects, both of which were remotely controlled.

The test flights also marked the first use of pitch vectoring only control in an operational, rather than an emergency, environment. They also marked the first use of a sophisticated software writing tool, the Matrix X auto-coder. This effectively analyses the aircraft's control system and converts it to Ada code. "Once the code is generated it is completely untouched," says Schkolnik. (Flight International, December 28-January 5)



Israel modifies CH-53

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) has made some modifications to its transport helicopters to prevent a repeat of the February 1997 collision between two CH-53 transport helicopters. The navigation lights and anti-collision systems were blamed for blinding a pilot and causing the collision between the CH-53 helicopters. All the helicopters are now fitted with the BVR Technologies collision-avoidance and debriefing flight system and a contract has been placed for painted navigation lights, which filter visible light and lessen possible impact on other pilots. (Jane's Defence Weekly, November 25)


Rooivalk makes first public flight

DEXSA's opening ceremony witnessed the inaugural public flight of the first production model of the Rooivalk AH-2A attack helicopter and handing over of the aircraft to the South African Air Force. The first Rooivalk's are due to be delivered to 16 Squadron in Bloemspriuit from the beginning of 1999. (Jane's Defence Weekly, November 25)

South Africa unveils Mi-24 Hind upgrade kit

South Africa's Advanced Technologies and Engineering (ATE) has unveiled plans for a sensor and weapons upgrade kit for Mil Mi-24 Hind helicopters. The company expects to complete modification of one aircraft shortly, for use as a marketing demonstrator. Flight tests are due to get under way early next year.

The kit comprises a turreted 20mm chain gun, a Kentron 550mm stabilised mount fitted with infrared/electro-optics sights and a target designator, and a cockpit upgrade to support a new sight display and provide improved night vision equipment compatibility. The standard Soviet-built Mi-24 has either a turret mounted four-barrel 12.7mm machine gun or a fixed fuselage-mounted twin 30mm cannot, with low light television and magnification systems and an electro-optical sensor.

The ATE gun and sensor turret are located forward of the existing weapons operator's cockpit, replacing the existing chin-mounted sensor and weapons.

The upgrade kit may also be marketed in conjunction with the Denel Kentron Ingwe and Mokopa anti-armour missiles. Kentron confirms that the company is cooperating closely with the manufacturer in the development of the package.

The Mi-24 upgrade concept evolved partly from previous Denel Aviation proposals to upgrade Polish air force W-3 Sokol helicopters to W-3BW Huzar standard. The Mi-24 upgrade market has "significant potential," according to ATE general manager Carel de Beer, with more than 1,500 Mi-24s still in operational service around the world.

Earlier this year, Israel Aircraft Industries' Tamam division concluded a deal with India to update 25 Mi-24s with cockpit avionics and targeting sensors. (Flight International, December 9-15)


Evans looks to lead in Turkish forces bid

Evans & Sutherland (E&S) plans to lead a bid to build and operate a privately financed helicopter training centre for the Turkish armed forces.

A request for quotations is expected by year-end, says vice-president for business development David Janke. The centre would house simulators for the Eurocopter Cougar, Sikorsky Black Hawk and Seahawk and possibly the Bell AH-1W, as well as for the country's planned new attack helicopter.

The programme would be run along the lines of the UK's private finance initiative (PFI), under which the military pays for the use of training centres constructed and operated by industry. E&S has teamed with CAE, Raytheon and Thomson Training & Simulation, and well as local companies Havalsan and Transvero.

Turkey has been briefed by the UK, Janke says, and is prepared to sign the type of long-term contract needed it banks are to finance the project. The UK has signed five PFI training contracts so far; the Defence Helicopter Flying School, Medium Support Helicopter Aircrew Training Facility and WAH-64 Apache attack helicopter training system--for which E&S is supplying visual systems--and a Hawk training school and Tornado GR4 Synthetic Training service programme. (Flight International, December 9-15)


Merlin enters Royal Navy service for flying trials

The Royal Navy formally introduced the Merlin HM1 helicopter into service on December 1 at RNAS Culdrose, where the aircraft will begin flying trials with the Intensive Flying Trials Unit, 700M Squadron.

The squadron, which is likely to operate four Merlins, will be responsible for introducing service operating procedures and training personnel, as well as for assessing the future potential of the aircraft.

The naval Merlin is a joint project between Lockheed Martin ASIC, the lead contractor, and GKN Westland. The navy has so far received seven Merlins, which have been used for performance, support and electromagnetic compatibility trials. A total of 44 Merlins is due to be received by the RN by 2001, with the first front line squadron in service in the latter half of the same year. The programme is worth around £1.5 billion ($2.5 billion).

The Merlin features an advanced mission system including Marconi Blue Kestrel search radar, Marconi/Thomson-CSF dipping sonar, Marconi AQS 903 acoustic processor, Racal Orange Reaper electronic support measures and a datalink, an innovation for RN helicopters. The three-engined helicopter will operate from the RN's three Invincible-class light carried and Type 23 frigates. (Flight International, December 9-15)

Bell Helicopter Textron Begins Final Assembly on MV-22

Bell Helicopter Textron has begun final assembly of the first production MV-22 for the US Marine Corps at Bell's facilities at the Arlington Municipal Airport.

The aircraft is the 11th V-22 built, and the first to be produced under the Defence Dept's Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) initiative for the tiltrotor aircraft. Following functional testing early next year, first flight is set for February or March, according to Jack Gallagher, the company's executive director of military tiltrotor programmes. It is scheduled to be delivered at the end of May and enter initial service with the Marines in June.

As part of the LRIP initiative, the 12th aircraft also will be completed at Arlington and delivered in July or August. Beginning with the 13th aircraft, however, MV-22s are scheduled to be produced at a new tiltrotor facility under construction at Amarillo, Tex. The first aircraft to be completed and tested entirely at Amarillo is scheduled to be delivered in the summer of 2000, Gallagher said.

MV-22 fuselages, which are built by Boeing in Philadelphia, will be airlifted to Amarillo on board US Air Force C-17s for wing mate and final assembly. Gallagher said the MV-22 programme is "running about 3 per cent under budget targets," and that only subtle changes have been made to the LRIP aircraft, chiefly to facilitate production and maintenance.

He said the four engineering manufacturing development (EMD) aircraft, based at NAS Patuxent River, Md, have accumulated about 900 hr of flight testing including 150 hr in the past 45 days. One aircraft recently completed high-altitude tests at Yuma, Ariz, and two MV-22s have participated in operational training with the Marines at Eglin AFB, Fla.

Envelope expansion is being completed as well as night-flying evaluations and carriage of external loads, and the programme is transitioning from testing to training units to operate the MV-22. The EMD process "has not shown us anything in the design or performance areas that need major attention," Gallagher said.

The ninth V-22 built is undergoing preparations at Patuxent River, Md, for final engine demonstrations, and the 10th aircraft is scheduled to begin sea trials early in 1999 abroad the USS Saipan, he said.

Plans call for remanufacturing the seventh and ninth EMD V-22s at Arlington and converting them into the first CV-22s for the US Air Force special operations units, according to Gallagher. (Aviation Week & Space Technology, November 30)

Robocopter 300

Northrop Grumman and Schweizer have reamed up to offer an unmanned derivative of the Schweizer 300 helicopter, known as the Robo-Copter 300, in a contest to meet a US Navy VTOL UAV requirement. (Flight International, December 2-8)

US Army faces helicopter mix for C2 upgrade

A shortfall in funding and a projected mix of UH-60 Blackhawk platforms are two of the development challenges facing the US Army's Airborne Command and Control System (A2C2S) upgrade programme.

The upgrade will provide Blackhawk helicopters with information processing and connectivity equivalent to ground-based tactical command posts, allowing the helicopters to serve as airborne tactical command posts for corps, division, and manoeuvre brigade commanders.

The aircraft demonstrated its digital connectivity with two A2C2S prototype system that took part in the Task Force XXI Advanced Warfighting Experiment (TF XXI AWE) conducted at the National Training Center, Ft Irwin, California, in March last year.

A lack of full funding subsequently led service planners to assess the A2C2S project as "amber" for the near-, mid-, and long-term periods in the US Army 1998 Modernisation Plan. The plan indicate available funding to upgrade 133 airborne C2 platforms against an identified requirement for 207 systems. The funding level will provide full A2C2S capabilities to Force Package (FP) I and II units but will only field the system for 50 per cent of FP III elements.

Moreover, other recent funding decisions have reportedly led to the cancellation of an A2C2S Limited User Test (LUT) that had been scheduled for next August. Instead, the two new A2C2S qualification systems planned for use in the LUT are now scheduled to participate in Initial Operational Test and Evaluation late in FY00.

Programme participants have been conducting internal debates over the airframe options slated for upgrade. Under current plans, the army will modify existing command aviation company aircraft with the A2C2S package. While a small number of those divisional companies have been equipped with the newer UH-60L models, most upgrade platform candidates are the older UH-60A helicopters.

The 1998 plan raised the performance disparity between these two airframes by saying that "these UH-60A, first fielded in 1978, have insufficient lift to fully meet Air Assault and Command and Control Mission requirements."

Although the service projects a UH-60 Modernisation/Life Extension Programme to begin in FY02, some programme participants are concerned about the possibility that some A2C2S assets will be based on UH-60A airframes.

Most recently, representatives from the US Army's 4th Infantry Division have reportedly criticised the UH-60A as "the wrong airframe" since the 816kg A2C2S mission equipment package will preclude the aircraft's ability to perform throughout the five-hour mission profile specified in the programme's Operational Requirement Document.

The critics stressed that the payload "max'd out" the airframe and provided no margin for any type of system growth.

Although some proponents hope for a standard upgraded airframe with specialised designation for A2C2S (as with the MH-60K or new UH-60Q Medevac) it appears that near-term programme development will continue on existing UH-60A airframes. (Jane's Defence Weekly, December 2)



Euro rocket system seeks new FCS

The four members of the European Multiple-Launch Rocket System (MLRS) consortium--France, Germany, Italy and the UK--are considering a programme to replace the current US-designed computerised fire-control system (FCS) installed in their European-built 227mm (12-round) MLRS systems.

Although the current system was designed in the USA, it was built under licence in Europe by the then Marconi Command and Control Systems of the UK. The components of the current European-built FCS are now becoming obsolete and the US Army is already upgrading its Lockheed Martin Vought Systems MLRS with a new fire-control system.

Europe has decided to develop and place in production its own fire-control system with the French Service des Programmes d'ARmement Terrestre (SPART) acting as the executive agency for the four European countries.

Expressions of interest by European companies with a proven record of FCS expertise were due to be submitted to SPART late last month. A contract is expected to be awarded next year to build a demonstrator FCS, followed by production. In all, 284 MLRS systems were built in Europe.

The new FCS will enable the MLRS to fire the existing unguided rockets as well as the new generation of longer range rockets now under development, including a new guided round. (Jane's Defence Weekly, December 2)


Indian Navy scores success in naval Trishul missile test

India has successfully test-fired the naval variant of the Trishul I ('Trident') short-range surface-to-air missile from a specially-constructed launcher at INS Dronacharya, the Indian Navy's shore-based facility at Cochin.

Trishul is being developed to meet a tri-service requirement under the auspices of India's Integrated Guided-Missile Development Programme.

In last week's tests, Defence Research and Development Organisation officials said the single-stage propulsion missile was fired three times within four days at an electronically-simulated target which it locked on to within 2.5 seconds after firing.

The naval variant is intended to be deployed initially aboard INS Brahmaputra, the fourth Godvari-class frigate due for commissioning in the next few months, and the two remaining frigates of this class that are now under construction at the Garden Reach Shipyard in Calcutta. (Jane's Defence Weekly, November 25)

KOREA (North)

Japan: 'N Korea's August launch was missile test'

Japan's Defence Agency (JDA) has concluded that the North Korean missile launch last August was a test of a multi-stage missile system and not a satellite launch, according to a report selectively released on October 30.

"The primary objective was to verify various technological aspects with an intention to develop longer-range missiles," the report said. "North Korea's missile development has been progressing rapidly."

Officials also said that the multistage system was based on mounting a 'Scud-B' missile on a first stage made up of a basic Nodong-1. The JDA believes that Nodong is now fully developed, making it suitable for the first-stage boost.

As a result of the launch, Japanese scientists have concluded that the Taepo'-dong 1-derived missile has a 1,500km-plus range and could reach the "whole area of Japan." This, the report says, poses a serious security challenge for Japan as well as for northeast Asia. Future tests and missile proliferation are forecast in the report: "North Korea seems to have certain programmes for further missile development as well as a plan to transfer missiles and related technologies to foreign countries," says the report. North Korea is now assessed as developing its ballistic programme through launching test vehicles such as Nodong in 1991 and 1993.

The report's authors suggest that the August 31 launch differed from a traditional ballistic-missile launch because the apex of the trajectory was "lower...and flatter...that that of an ordinary ballistic missile."

The JDA dismisses North Korean claims that a satellite was launched successfully because even if there was a small payload, it could not achieve the velocity needed for a successful orbit.

No signal transmission has been heard from the alleged satellite and there is "no indication that any object has entered orbit round the earth." (Jane's Defence Weekly, November 11)

North Korea Plans Booster Tests Soon

North Korea is racing to complete another test of its multi-stage Taepo dong 1 missile before year's end, say US military analysts.

To the further consternation of its neighbours, the politically and commercially isolated nation is building new sites from which to test and perhaps operate medium range ballistic missiles.

"A whole series of tests are coming, absolutely," said one long-time intelligence official. "The next will probably come before year's end, if everything goes smoothly. If there are technical glitches, it could slide into the spring."

North Korea, with its economy in shambles and many of its citizens suffering from malnutrition, is trying to scrounge up $1 billion a year for overseas grain purchases. Multi-stage rocket booster technology for ballistic missiles and space-launch vehicles is one of its few potential high-dollar exports.

"They're trying to build a sales brochure for Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and the rogue nation markets," the official said. "They want to say, we can give you a space launch vehicle, a medium-range missile like the Taepo dong 1 or a long-range missile with the Taepo dong 2." But before the advertisements are viable, "the North Koreans have to demonstrate they can conduct a space launch, verify the accuracy of the Taepo dong 1 and prove the Taepo dong 2 can even get off the ramp."

Politicians and military analysts in both Japan and the US are waiting for the other technological shoe to drop--the second launch of a North Korean booster--across the Sea of Japan and the mainland itself. The first space launch vehicle was fired from the Hwadaegun missile test facility, about 60 mi south of Ch'ongjin on August 31. The attempt surprised US officials, who were expecting a more conventional two-stage booster test.

In addition to boosting sales and proving its prowess in space launches, North Korea needs the additional tests to provide leverage for Pyongyang's demands that the US cough up $1 billion per year for 3 years to convert missile production plants to something less threatening.

However, while the satellite launch attempt may have impressed potential investors with improved North Korea technology, its route over the mainland has alarmed Japanese officials and riveted the attention of average citizens in that island nation as never before. The subject will monopolise extensive, year-end news analyses, said Yoshiki Hidaka, a visiting senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and the star of "Mr Hidaka's Report from Washington," on TV Tokyo. Japanese government officials also are reconsidering earlier decisions to go slow on developing anti-missile defences.

Japan had been reluctant to move ahead with missile defences for fear of provoking China, which is obsessed with anything that could shift the balance of power in the region. In fact, Japan's Defence Agency had been preparing to abort plans for a joint study, with the US, of theater missile defence. Now, Tokyo is taking a new look at missile defences, and the Japanese cabinet has approved a plan to build and orbit a constellation of four reconnaissance satellites by 2002, Japan's first.

North Kora, with some degree of insensitivity to international concern, is also working on at least two new Taepo dong 1 test and launch facilities. According to Pentagon officials, a launch facility is being built at Yongo dong (in the center of the country about 50 mi south of the Chinese border), which includes bunkers for storing fuel and a launch platform.

Another site is under construction at Chiha-ri, a support base for North Korea's Scud missile brigade about 35 mi north of the demilitarised zone that forms the border with South Korea. The unit serves as part of the artillery corps positioned to support military action in the Seoul corridor. According to US analysts, the missile brigade, artillery corps and special forces are the only units sustained at high levels of readiness. The Defence Intelligence Agency reported that while longer-range missiles are usually stationed well north, forward-based sites for the missiles have been built.

The new North Korean launch sites are likely being prepared for tests and commercial launch demonstrations, and not as part of an offensive military buildup, said Charles Vick, senior research scientist at the Federation of American Scientists. Otherwise they would be "built into the ground or into caves" to protect them from attack, he said.

Military officials are not so sure. "No one is more practiced and adept at underground construction than the North Koreans," said a senior US analyst. "Don't take it for granted that those are simple launch structures. However, I wouldn't say they are ready yet for deployment of Taepo dong 1 (as an offensive weapon)."

US analysts are still debating exactly what space technologies the North Koreans used in their first, unsuccessful attempt to put a satellite into orbit.

The Taepo dong 1 booster was used as the basic space launch vehicle to carry the Kwangmyongsong (Bright Star) No. 1 satellite. The fact that it had been modified to three stages was a surprise, and all of them, particularly the third, still hold some mysteries.

Vick suggests that the first stage was the basic Nodong booster. It was married to a Korean-modified Scud C or D booster as a second stage. The third stage, he believes, may have been a 15,000-45,000-lb-thrust solid motor from an SA-2 antiaircraft missile system modified for vacuum-thrust operations. North Korea has an indigenous production capability for the Soviet-designed SA-2, which they call the HJ-2. However, analysts say it is cheaper for the North Koreans to buy new Russian-built solid fuel motors than to manufacture them.

David Wright, a Physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, believes other options may have been available. For example, "The French Stromboli SW motor...was developed for a French sounding rocket and is believed to have been copied by Pakistan for its Hatf 1 and 2 missiles and could have been passed to the North Koreans," he said.

If the Chinese M-11 missile has two-stages, as the newest Air Intelligence Agency reports show, the upper segment "might be roughly the right size for the North Korean missile. Pakistan is believed to have some tens of unassembled M-11 missiles that it purchased from China."

Wright believes the second stage of the North Korean booster would have accelerated the payload to about 3.5 km per sec, but its 1-ton weight would have required its acceleration by the third stage to 8-9 km per sec to achieve the elliptical orbit the North Koreas planned. The standard SA-2 motor likely would not have provided the necessary extra 4.5-5.5 km per sec, he contends.

The use of an underpowered third stage could have at least two explanations, Wright said. First, the North Koreans may have wanted to disguise what was actually the test of an intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM). Or, second, that they knew they could not orbits a satellite, but they simply wanted to conduct as much of the test as possible and collect data for a future attempt.

Some US Air Force analysts reject the notion that it was a IRBM test disguised as a satellite launch. They contend that such an attempt would have ruined the test data for the North Koreans and made the launch virtually worthless, unless the goal of the test was simply to verify their ability to successfully employ a multi-stage booster.

The North Korean attempt may have come to grief for other reasons, Vick said. After the second stage was fired, the third stage began to rotate or spin in a cone-shaped movement, he said. Because the North Koreans don't have the means to observe and control the spacecraft down range, they fired the third stage too early, at too low an altitude and possibly in the wrong direction. Therefore, instead of boosting the satellite into a higher orbit, the firing actually caused the orbit to decay.

While the test of either an IRBM or a space launch vehicle was not a complete technical success, "it was politically successful," said Joseph Bermudez, a North Korea technology specialist and analyst.

Moreover, the North Koreans did not show the world all its technology in this test, Bermudez contended. He predicts that if relations with the US deteriorate, the North Koreans would probably conduct another launch attempt, perhaps using the newer Taepo dong 2 technology.

Military officials are silent on the subject, saying only that they don't expect the North Koreans to begin testing the Taepo dong 2 booster "for a few years." (Aviation Week & Space Technology, November 30)


New missile for Sosna system

The Moscow-based KB Tochmash Design Bureau is now building the prototype of its private-venture Sosna air defence system which was first revealed last year.

It is expected that Sosna will make its first public appearance sometime next year. The Sosna is a trailer-mounted system armed with the same twin 30mm 2A38 cannon which is installed on the 2S6M Tunguska self-propelled air-defence system and two surface-to-air missiles (SAMs). It has a passive fire-control system positioned on the front of the mount. This ball-type electro-optical fire-control package has a day/night sighting system with laser range finder.

In a typical target engagement, the missiles would be used to engage targets at long-range with the 30mm guns being used against targets too close to be engaged by the missiles.

It was originally believed that Kolomna KBM Igla (SA-18 'Grouse') or older Igla-I (SA-16 'Gimlet') missiles would be used but it has been revealed that a new longer range laser-guided missile called Sosna-R will be employed.

This new missile, which is believed to have the designation 9M337, is very similar an appe-arance to the 9M311/9M311M used by the 2S6M and the 9M335 used by the Pantzyr- S1 truck mounted air-defence gun/missile system.

The Sosna-R, however, is smaller and much faster with a maximum speed of 1,200m/s compared to the 900m/s of the older 9M311. The missile is 70mm in diameter with the booster motor having a diameter of 130mm. The electro optical package has been modified to accept the laser-guidance system for the Sosna-R which is claimed to be very effective and difficult to jam.

The missile takes 11 seconds to reach a range of 8km and is claimed to have an effective altitude of up to 3.5km and an effective range from 1.3 to 8km. The missile weighs 25kg with a 5kg warhead fitted with a 12-channel laser proximity fuze. The missile is transported and launched from a sealed 36kg container.

In addition to being used with the Sosna air defence system the laser-guided Sosna-R can also be used with the naval Palma air defence system. (Jane's Defence Weekly, November 11)


South African naval SAM is due for corvettes

Kentron, part of South Africa's Denel, is developing a vertically-launched naval surface-to-air missile (SAM) for point defence against aircraft and missiles.

The Umkhonto ('spear') system is intended for the patrol corvettes that are due to enter South African Navy service from about 2002. It will have an engagement range of about 12,000m. Vertical launch and autonomous missile flight control will give all-round cover and simulataneous multiple-target engagement.

The missile will use a lock-on-after-launch mode, with the inertial mid-course guidance system using target coordinate updates supplied by the ship to allow the missile to follow the optimum flight path against a moving target. A digital autopilot will control the missile using tail fins and thrust-vectoring vanes in the motor nozzle.

It will have a 20kg blast/fragmentation warhead and an active proximity fuze that will be effective against sea-skimming missiles.

The missile uses an infrared (IR) seeker developed from the U-Darter IR air-to-air missile, and will use several 'building blocks' from the SAHV-3 SAM, developed to replace the Crotale SAM used by the South African Air Force.

The 3.3m-long, 125kg missile will have a 180mm diameter with a 40mm wingspan. The rocket motor, developed by Denel's Somchem division, will use high-performance low-smoke propellant grain in a composite material casing.

The system will comprise several sets of four missiles in sealed canisters; a missile control panel; a SAM system controller, providing the interface between the missile group and the combat system; several missile sequencer subsystems to control the missile during the launch phase; a telecommand transmitter unit to send target coordinate update information to missiles in flight; and a gas supply subsystem to provide compressed air for the cryogenic cooling of the missiles's seeker before launch.

The planned upgrade path provides for an active radar seeker and a larger rocket motor, to give full all-weather capability and a greater intercept range. (Jane's Defence Weekly, November 11)

Somchem unveils warhead

Denel's Somchem division has unveiled a concept demonstrator for a new type of anti-shipping missile warhead, designed to enhance the effect of impact shockwaves in causing structural damage. Somchem is now seeking a development partner to enable full development of the warhead to proceed.

The warhead comprises 35 shaped charges arranged around a central fuzing mechanism, with the interior space filled with a main charge of 60kg of high explosive.

According to Somchem officials, the shaped charges are designed to detonate sequentially as the missile penetrates a ship hull. This would weaken the hull structure to the extent that the missile shockwave, impacting milli-second later, could inflict an increased level of damage prior to the detonation of the main charge.

The "focussed anti-ship warhead" underwent initial testing at the Alkantpan weapons range in South Africa late last year.

Company officials confirmed that initial talks have been held with European missile producers with further discussions "possible" in the near future.

The concept demonstrator is based on an 863mm diameter missile airframe, but Somchem officials indicate that the design could be scaled down to fit a wide variety of existing missile types. (Flight International, December 9-15)


Italy and Spain will share AMRAAM costs

Italy and Spain have agreed to pay all the costs of integrating the AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missile on the Boeing AV-8B Harrier II Plus. Boeing has been awarded an $85.5 million contract, funded 50:50 by Italy and Spain, to perform the work.

The Europeans had expressed concern that the US Marine Corps, which developed the radar-equipped Harrier II Plus under a collaborative programme with the Italian and Spanish navies, was dragging its feet on AMRAAM integration because it has no operational requirement for the weapon.

The Marine Corps confirms it will pay nothing towards the integration effort, but will act as the flight clearance authority. Boeing will develop the software and manufacture integration kits for installation in-country on Italy's 17 aircraft and Spain's eight radar-equipped AV-8Bs. The aircraft is scheduled to be operational with AMRAAM by December 2001.

The Italian and Spanish navies will arm their aircraft with the AIM-120B version, carrying the medium-range missile on four underwing pylons. The Marine Corps, while emphasising that it has no current requirement for the AMRAAM, says it would, if the need emerged, fit the upgraded AIM-120C. This would require separate integration tests, it says.

The Europeans have also asked for integration of the AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missile on the Harrier II Plus, and say proposals for a joint programme have been rebuffed by the USA. The Marine Corps, however, says it is not aware of any interest in integrating the Harpoon on the aircraft. (Flight International, December 23-January 5)


First UK Tomahawk right on target

A UGM-100 Tomahawk land-attack missile (TLAM) launched from the UK Royal Navy (RN) nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN) HMS Splendid successfully hit its target in a first live-firing demonstration off the west coast of the USA last week.

The TLAM is being introduced aboard RN submarines under a £190 million ($316 million) project to give the UK a long-range precision-strike weapon. An initial operational capability is expected by year-end according to the UK Ministry of Defence Lockheed Martin Federal Systems is the prime contractor for weapons system integration, which was brought forward by three months.

As planned, seven boats of the current fleet of 12 Swiftsure-and Trafalgar-class SSNs were due to receive a TLAM capability. Plans laid out in July's Strategic Defence Review mean the SSN force will drop to 10 boats by 2006. However, all will be equipped to fire TLAM.

Splendid fired the Block III Tomahawk from a submerged position some 500n miles off the coast of southern California.

Both involved missiles fitted with a parachute recovery system instead of a warhead. "Following a simulated aerial detonation above the target, the parachutes were deployed, allowing the missiles to be refurbished for future operational use by the RN. These missiles were fitted with Terrain Contour Matching in addition to GPS and DSMAC," said the MoD.

The UK has acquired 65 Block III Tomahawk missiles, built by Raytheon, under a foreign military sales agreement signed in October 1995. This deal also covers the supply of the shipboard Advanced Tomahawk Weapon Control System and a shore-based Mission Planning System for missile targeting support. This is located at a new Cruise Missile Support Authority (CMSA) building at Northwood, home of the RN's Fleet Command and the Permanent Joint Headquarters. The UK's CMSA will link into the US Navy's own CMSA facilities.

All targeting for RN Tomahawk missiles will be undertaken ashore, with target data pre-loaded before deployment or signalled to the SSN while on patrol. There are no plans yet to give individual submarines an onboard capability for tactical targeting. (Jane's Defence Weekly, November 25)


USA signs for Euro partners on new guided MLRS rocket

Lockheed Martin Vought Systems (LMVS) has signed a deal to develop a new extended-range guided rocket for the Multiple-Launch Rocket System (MLRS).

It will be developed under a 48-month, $120 million contract signed by the US government on behalf of the other partner nations--France, Germany, Italy and the UK.

LMVS, the original manufacturer of the MLRS, will develop the rocket to replace the MLRS M26 bomblet rocket early next decade.

Partner countries will meet proportional costs of the development programme and the Royal Netherlands Army is also likely to buy the new MLRS rocket.

The M26 is the standard 227mm unguided rocket for the MLRS with a range of about 32km and carries 644 M77 Dual-Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions (DPICM).

The rocket is likely to have a range of 60-70km with a self-destruct fuze fitted to the DPICM's new XM85 grenades, which is not a feature of the M77 munitions.

Production is expected to begin early in 2002. (Jane's Defence Weekly, November 11)

USN/Boeing to split cost of new Harpoon

The US Navy and Boeing have agreed to share the cost of developing the Harpoon Block II naval anti-ship missile modified to attack land targets.

Approved for engineering, manufacturing and development, the USN has given Boeing the goahead to market the missile internationally. Although not in the budget, the USN supports the missile concept and retains the option to add Harpoon Block II to its inventory in the future.

Boeing is funding development of the missile and ship launch control variants. The USN will support test and evaluation and provide programme oversight. The weapon will be available for fielding in 2000.

Armed with a 220kg (485lb) blast warhead, the Block II variant incorporates a global positioning/inertial navigation system (GPS/INS) from the Joint Direct Attack Munition and the software, mission computer and the GPS antenna and receiver from the Standoff Land Attack Missile (Expanded Response).

* The UK Royal Navy submarine HMS Splendid test fired an armed Raytheon Tomahawk land attack missile for the first time on November 18, marking the navy's entry into service of the long-range weapon. The firing took place from a location off the coast of southern California, and the weapon flew 800km (500 miles) before hitting its target on San Clemente Island. The test follows two trial launches of unarmed missiles. The UK purchased 65 of the missiles in a $300 million deal. (Flight International, November 25-December 1)

JASSM enters 40-month EMD phase

Lockheed Martin has been awarded an additional $133 million to begin engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) of the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) which is destined to serve the US Air Force and US Navy.

Forty months of EMD work was authorised on November 9 by US Department of Defence acquisition chief Jacques Gansler, with the signing of the acquisition decision memorandum.

EMD follows the completion of the 24-month programme definition and risk reduction (PDRR) phase of the joint USAF/USN weapons project, which is worth more than $2 billion.

The Pentagon selected Lockheed Martin Integrated Systems last April to develop and build the stealthy weapon. Lockheed Martin beat Boeing in the competition to provide at least 2,400 JASSMs to the USAF.

The USN has also earmarked the delivery of an undisclosed number of weapons, but its support for the programme has been luke-warm at best and no final decision has been taken. The navy has previously preferred Boeing's SLAM-ER Plus weapon to meet its short-term requirement.