Forces: September 29, 1999


The Southeastern Europe Peacekeeping Brigade was activated in mid-Sept. It included mechanized battalions from Greece, Turkey, and Italy; Bulgaria, Albania, Romania, and Macedonia will each provide various support companies.--Stephen V Cole

Italy will mothball its last five hydrofoil fast attack craft during October; two of the seven were discarded earlier. The Italian Navy bought the hydrofoils to provide a combat punch that could close the Adriatic to Soviet shipping, but with the demise of the USSR that mission was no longer necessary. The Italian Navy is now involved in long-term surveillance and patrol missions, mostly to stop illegal immigrants from reaching Italian soil. This new mission can be better done by larger ships with lower operating costs. Italy expects its four new 1,500-ton NUMC patrol corvettes to start entering service in 2001, and wants to build four more ships with the same hull and engines but a cheaper weapons fit to use for the new type of patrolling.--Stephen V Cole

South Africa has finally approved the expected large weapons packages that had been discussed for over a year. The package includes four Meko-200 patrol corvettes (for delivery 2002-4), three Agosta Type-209/1400 diesel submarines (for delivery in 2005-2006), 23 British Aerospace Hawk-100 trainers (for delivery in 2005-2006), 27 Saab Gryphon fighters (for delivery 2006-2011), 30 Augusta A109 light utility helicopters (for delivery in 2002-2005), --Stephen V Cole

Jordan has received the first shipment of 14 Challenger-1 tanks from Britain. These have been renamed the Al Hussein in honor of the late King Hussein. The Jordanians are believed to have obtained the tanks at rock-bottom prices, and to get enough of them to completely replace the 293 Tariq (Centurion) tanks already in service and badly needing replacement. Jordan has 274 Khalid tanks in its fleet; these are basically Chieftain armed with the same 120mm L11 cannon as the Challenger-1. (This will at least standardize the ammunition supply.) While the Challenger-1 is a considerable improvement over the Tariq, the British had been forced to write it off as an expensive flop and were going to take all 420 of them out of service within two years. About 100 Challenger-1s may be rebuilt as engineer and other vehicles for the British Army.--Stephen V Cole

France plans to merge its naval air arm into the Air Force sometime around 2010 after the two forces are operating the same aircraft (Rafale and NH90).--Stephen V Cole




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