Aug 07, 2017 04:58 UTC
Lockheed Martin has announced that the VH-92A
presidential helicopter has made its maiden flight
. Two flights were made by Engineering Development Model 1 (EDM-1) on July 29 at Sikorsky Aircraft in Stratford, Connecticut with both sorties lasting for one hour. During the test, the team made hovering control checks, a low speed flight, and a pass of the airfield. An additional EDM-2 is on track for its first flight later this year. Expected to enter service in 2020, both helicopters will transport the president and vice president of the United States and other officials.
In January 2005, the U.S. Navy selected the US101 as the new “Marine One” baseline helicopter, for use by the President of the United States. The US101 is an American variant of AgustaWestland’s successful AW101 multi-mission medium helicopter; it beat out Sikorsky’s S-92 Superhawk, which is already in use as a government VIP transport in countries like South Korea.
That $1.7 billion victory was first endangered, and then destroyed, by ongoing changes from the White House staff. In 2008, the program’s ballooning costs and requirements got a temporary reprieve when US Navy agreed to proceed with the VH-71, despite a cost per aircraft equal or greater than the President’s Air Force One 747s. By June 2009, however, the VH-71 program had shot itself down.
Another round of competition is on the way, and back in 2009 the Pentagon said it was considering buying 2 different helicopters in the VXX follow-on program. Faced with an initial Analysis of Alternatives deemed too expensive, the OSD accepted the Navy’s revised approach in May 2012, setting things in motion for a new program of record.
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Aug 03, 2017 04:56 UTC
The latest order of the Joint light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV
) program has been made by the US Army, with the service requesting the production and delivery
of 748 vehicles and 2,359 installed and packaged kits from manufacturer Oshkosh. Valued at $195 million, this has been the fifth JLTV buy since 2015 as part of Low Rate Initial Production orders, while testing and evaluation of the new landvehicle continues. It is anticipated that a decision on Full Rate Production of the JLTV will be made in fiscal year 2019 and first units delivered to the Army later that year.
Ultra APV demonstrator
In an age of non-linear warfare, where front lines are nebulous at best and non-existent at worst, one of the biggest casualties is… the concept of unprotected rear echelon vehicles, designed with the idea that they’d never see serious combat. That imperative is being driven home on 2 fronts. One front is operational. The other front is buying trends.
These trends, and their design imperatives, found their way into the USA’s Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) program, which aims to replace many of the US military’s 120,000 or so Humvees. The US military’s goal is a 7-10 ton vehicle that’s lighter than its MRAPs and easier to transport aboard ship, while offering substantially better protection ad durability than existing up-armored Humvees. They’d also like a vehicle that can address front-line issues like power generation, in order to recharge all of the batteries troops require for electronic gadgets like night sights, GPS devices, etc.
DID’s FOCUS articles offer in-depth, updated looks at significant military programs of record. JLTV certainly qualifies, and recent budget planning endorsements have solidifed a future that was looking shaky. Now, can the Army’s program deliver?
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Aug 01, 2017 04:58 UTC
BAE Systems, in conjunction with the British Royal Air Force (RAF), are testing a new package
of advanced weapons, software and avionics enhancements for the Eurofighter Typhoon
as part of its Project Centurion program. Upgrades already tested during the program—which looks to provide a seamless transition between use of the GR4 Tornado
and Typhoon—have included the successful live firing of the Brimstone air-to-surface missile. The ongoing operational testing and evaluation of the upgrades, known as the Project Centurion Phase 1 capability package, includes trials of MBDA’s Meteor ‘beyond visual range’ air-to-air and Storm Shadow deep attack air-to-surface missile software systems.
The multi-national Eurofighter Typhoon has been described as the aerodynamic apotheosis of lessons learned from the twin engine “teen series” fighters that began with the F-14 and F-15, continued with the emergence of the F/A-18 Hornet, and extended through to the most recent F/A-18 Super Hornet variants. Aerodynamically, it’s a half generation ahead of all of these examples, and planned evolutions will place the Eurofighter near or beyond parity in electronic systems and weapons.
The 1998 production agreement among its 4 member countries involved 620 aircraft, built with progressively improved capabilities over 3 contract “tranches”. By the end of Tranche 2, however, welfare state programs and debt burdens had made it difficult to afford the 236 fighters remaining in the 4-nation Eurofighter agreement. A 2009 compromise was found in the EUR 9 billion “Tranche 3A” buy, and the program has renewed its efforts to secure serious export sales. Their success will affect the platform’s production line in the near term, and its modernization plans beyond that.
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Jul 31, 2017 04:58 UTC
Electromagnetic testing of the KC-46A Pegasus
tanker has been completed
by a joint team involving Boeing, the USAF, and the Naval Air Systems command, moving the aircraft closer to its first delivery. Testing tool place at Naval Air Station Patuxent, Md. electromagnetic pulse laboratory and the Benefield Anechoic Facility at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif, which aimed to assess whether the aircraft could safely operate when confronted by the electromagnetic fields generated by equipment like radar. A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report in March had deemed the tests as one of the two key risk factors that could keep Boeing from meeting its delivery goals. However, Boeing has stated that the timing of the electromagnetic tests would not push back other key milestones and that the company still intends to deliver the first KC-46A this year.
KC-135: Old as the hills…
DID’s FOCUS articles cover major weapons acquisition programs – and no program is more important to the USAF than its aerial tanker fleet renewal. In January 2007, the big question was whether there would be a competition for the USA’s KC-X proposal, covering 175 production aircraft and 4 test platforms. The total cost is now estimated at $52 billion, but America’s aerial tanker fleet demands new planes to replace its KC-135s, whose most recent new delivery was in 1965. Otherwise, unpredictable age or fatigue issues, like the ones that grounded its F-15A-D fighters in 2008, could ground its aerial tankers – and with them, a substantial slice of the USA’s total airpower.
KC-Y and KC-Z buys are supposed to follow in subsequent decades, in order to replace 530 (195 active; ANG 251; Reserve 84) active tankers, as well as the USAF’s 59 heavy KC-10 tankers that were delivered from 1979-1987. Then again, fiscal and demographic realities may mean that the 179 plane KC-X buy is “it” for the USAF. Either way, the KC-X stakes were huge for all concerned.
In the end, it was Team Boeing’s KC-767 NexGen/ KC-46A (767 derivative) vs. EADS North America’s KC-45A (Airbus KC-30/A330-200 derivative), both within the Pentagon and in the halls of Congress. The financial and employment stakes guaranteed a huge political fight no matter which side won. After Airbus won in 2008, that fight ended up sinking and restarting the entire program. Three years later, Boeing won the recompete. Now, they have to deliver their KC-46A.
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Jul 27, 2017 04:57 UTC
Leonardo helicopters has been commissioned to provide support
for UK AW159 Wildcat
helicopters. The five-year Wildcat Integrated Support and Training contract, worth $333 million, will see Leonardo provide a range of support and training services for Wildcat variants operated by the Royal Navy and Army and will preserve some 500 jobs at its UK facilities. Navy Wildcats act as the core of the service's aviation capability, tackling ASW roles, force protection, transport and information, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance, while the Army variant performs reconnaissance, command and control, force protection, and transport missions.
Future Lynx naval
In 2006, Finmeccanica subsidiary AgustaWestland received a GBP 1 billion (about $1.9 billion at 02/07 rates) contract from the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) for 70 Future Lynx helicopters, and began a new chapter in a long-running success story. The Lynx is an extremely fast helicopter that entered service in the 1970s, and quickly carved out a niche for itself in the global land and naval markets. The base design has evolved into a number of upgrades and versions, which have been been widely exported around the world.
In Britain, Lynx helicopters are used in a number of British Army (AH7 & AH9) and Fleet Air Arm (Mk 8) roles: reconnaissance, attack, casualty evacuation & troop transport, ferrying supplies, anti-submarine operations, and even command post functions. The Future Lynx program reflects that, and British government and industry are both hoping that its versatility will help it keep or improve the Lynx family’s global market share. This is DID’s FOCUS Article for the AW159 Lynx Wildcat Program, describing its technical and industrial features, schedules, related contracts, and exports.
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Jul 26, 2017 04:55 UTC
Elbit Systems announced that it has flown a number of demonstration flights of its Hermes 900
UAV for an interested Philippine Air Force (PAF). Manila is in the market for new intelligence reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities for both patrolling its territorial waters and tackling an insurgency on the archipelago by jihadists affiliated with the Islamic State. Earlier this month, neighboring Singapore offered
to send UAVs and urban warfare assets to help the Philippine military tackle the insurgency, assets which contains fellow Israel firm IAI's Heron 1—which has a range of 200km and can stay in the air for 24 hours—and the Hermes 900's predecessor, the Hermes 450—which has half the range and a shorter flying time of 14 hours. The Hermes 900 meanwhile, boasts an endurance of 36 hours and a flight range of 1,850km.
Elbit Systems has enjoyed considerable domestic and export success with its Hermes 450, which sits at the smaller end of the MALE (Medium Altitude, Long Endurance) UAV spectrum. As UAVs proved themselves, Elbit wasn’t interested in ceding the market for larger and more capable MALE UAVs to the likes of IAI and General Atomics.
They invested company funds to create the larger Hermes 900, but those kinds of investments eventually need a buyer. In 2010, their home country of Israel stepped up, and became the anchor buyer for the “Kochav” (“Star”). They weren’t the last. A comparison with the popular Hermes 450 is instructive…
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Jul 21, 2017 04:56 UTC
Saab's JAS-39 Gripen has been pulled
out of Belgium's fighter competition, leaving Brussels with the choice of either the Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, or Lockheed Martin F-35. While Sweden's FMV defence materiel administration had initially touted the Gripen as a cost-effective solution that can easily fill the operational requirements required by Belgium, the request included the requirement that the delivering nation also provides extensive operational support—something that would require a change in both Swedish foreign policy and political mandate. As a result, Sweden and the FMV choose notto submit an answer to the Belgian request.
South African JAS-39D
As a neutral country with a long history of providing for its own defense against all comers, Sweden also has a long tradition of building excellent high-performance fighters with a distinctive look. From the long-serving Saab-35 Draken (“Dragon,” 1955-2005) to the Mach 2, canard-winged Saab-37 Viggen (“Thunderbolt,” 1971-2005), Swedish fighters have stressed short-field launch from dispersed/improvised air fields, world-class performance, and leading-edge design. This record of consistent project success is nothing short of amazing, especially for a country whose population over this period has ranged from 7-9 million people.
This is DID’s FOCUS Article for background, news, and contract awards related to the JAS-39 Gripen (“Griffon”), a canard-winged successor to the Viggen and one of the world’s first 4+ generation fighters. Gripen remains the only lightweight 4+ generation fighter type in service, its performance and operational economics are both world-class, and it has become one of the most recognized fighter aircraft on the planet. Unfortunately for its builders, that recognition has come from its appearance in Saab and Volvo TV commercials, rather than from hoped-for levels of military export success. With its 4+ generation competitors clustered in the $60-120+ million range vs. the Gripen’s claimed $40-60 million, is there a light at the end of the tunnel for Sweden’s lightweight fighter? In 2013 a win in Brazil started to answer that question.
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Jul 19, 2017 04:57 UTC
Israel has increased the scope
of its Leonardo Aermacchi M-346
"Lavi" advanced jet trainers after the successful upgrade of the aircraft's software. Additional external fuel tanks have already been added to the trainers with future enhancements planned includes the addition of live bombs which will allow for advanced training of air-to-surface strike missions. The aircraft are also being employed to support advanced training involving "fourth-generation" fighters.
Tornado refuels M346
Alenia’s Aermacchi’s M-346 advanced jet trainer began life in 1993, as a collaboration with Russia. It was also something of a breakthrough for Alenia Aermacchi, confirming that the Finmeccanica subsidiary could design and manufacture advanced aircraft with full authority quadriplex fly-by-wire controls. Those controls, the aircraft’s design for vortex lift aerodynamics, and a thrust:weight ratio of nearly 1:1, allow it to remain fully controllable even at angles of attack over 35 degrees. This is useful for simulating the capabilities of advanced 4+ generation fighters like the F/A-18 Super Hornet, Eurofighter, and Rafale. Not to mention Sukhoi’s SU-30 family, which has made a name for itself at international air shows with remarkable nose-high maneuvers.
The Russian collaboration did not last. For a while, it looked like the Italian jet might not last, either. It did though, and has become a regular contender for advanced jet trainer trainer contracts around the world. Its biggest potential opportunity is in the USA. For now, however, its biggest customer is Israel.
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Jul 18, 2017 04:59 UTC
Airbus Helicopters has received a $35.2 million contract modification
for the supply of parts and logistical support for the US Army's UH-72 Lakota
light utility helicopter. The deal includes orders for spare parts and logistical support to account for higher flying hours by the UH-72 fleet than originally projected. Work will be conducted at Grand Prairie, Texas, with a scheduled completion date set at December 31, 2017. $35.2 million in 2017 Army operations and maintenance funds have been obligated for the project.
DID’s FOCUS articles offer in-depth, updated looks at significant military programs of record. This is DID’s FOCUS Article regarding the US Army’s Light Utility Helicopter program, covering the program and its objectives, the winning bid team and industrial arrangements, and contracts.
The US Army’s LUH program will finish as a 325 helicopter acquisition program that will be worth about $2.3 billion when all is said and done. It aimed to replace existing UH-1 Hueys and OH-58 Kiowa utility variants in non-combat roles, freeing up larger and more expensive UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters for front-line duty. In June 2006, a variant of Eurocopter’s EC145 beat AgustaWestland’s AB139, Bell-Textron’s 412EP Twin Huey, and MD Helicopters’ 902 Explorer NOTAR (No Tail Rotor) design. The win marked EADS’ 1st serious military win in the American market, and their “UH-145” became the “UH-72A Lakota” at an official December 2006 naming ceremony.
Eurocopter has continued to field new mission kits and deliver helicopters from its Mississippi production line, while trying to build on their LUH breakthrough. A training helicopter win will keep the line going for a couple more years…
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Jul 14, 2017 04:59 UTC
Next » Latest updates[?]:
US Special Operations Command's C-130J
aircraft are scheduled to receive new electronic warfare systems
aimed to enhance the aircrafts' survivability equipment to detect, identify, locate, deny, degrade, disrupt and defeat various threats. BAE Systems will conduct the work, installing its Radio Frequency Countermeasure (RFCM
) system—designed to be integrated on the USAF's AC-130J Ghostrider and MC-130J Commando II aircraft—over the next 30 months in a $67 million contract modification. The contract’s total value, including all options, is expected to exceed $300 million.
RAAF C-130J-30, flares
The C-130 Hercules remains one of the longest-running aerospace manufacturing programs of all time. Since 1956, over 40 models and variants have served as the tactical airlift backbone for over 50 nations. The C-130J looks similar, but the number of changes almost makes it a new aircraft. Those changes also created issues; the program has been the focus of a great deal of controversy in America – and even of a full program restructuring in 2006. Some early concerns from critics were put to rest when the C-130J demonstrated in-theater performance on the front lines that was a major improvement over its C-130E/H predecessors. A valid follow-on question might be: does it break the bottleneck limitations that have hobbled a number of multi-billion dollar US Army vehicle development programs?
C-130J customers now include Australia, Britain, Canada, Denmark, India, Israel, Iraq, Italy, Kuwait, Norway, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Tunisia, and the United States. American C-130J purchases are taking place under both annual budgets and supplemental wartime funding, in order to replace tactical transport and special forces fleets that are flying old aircraft and in dire need of major repairs. This DID FOCUS Article describes the C-130J, examines the bottleneck issue, covers global developments for the C-130J program, and looks at present and emerging competitors.
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